Friday Photo: early evening in a Cub

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This photo was taken on the return leg of a day trip to Osceola, Wisconsin, from the Twin Cities, where there is still a grass runway to play on with this fun little taildragger. After a few landings with the wire and cork gas gauge telling us it was time to take a break, we took the courtesy car into the beautiful old town area for a look at Cascade Falls and lunch. Back to the airport for some gas, a few more times around the patch for good measure and then back home to finish off a perfect day of aviating.

Flying out of the pandemic

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With the honorable exception of the freighters, fighting the pandemic directly and covering for most of the belly cargo network lost due to the lack of passenger flights, pretty much everyone else in aviation has been flying less, perhaps not at all, during the last couple months. That is not healthy, either for humans or machines.

Beast on Paris Mountain: racing a thunderstorm

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We banked north and both of us saw what had been developing while we were engrossed in our pattern work. There was a beast sitting on top of Paris Mountain and it seemed intent on eating airplanes. KGMU was in front of us at around one thousand feet of elevation. Paris Mountain was only four nautical miles north, extending another thousand feet above that. The beast stood a few thousand feet over Paris—close and imposing.

Threat and Error Management for the GA Pilot

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“Threat and Error Management” has become synonymous with the airline industry and particularly within the major carriers who, due to the sheer scale of operations, require structured solutions to risk. This does not mean we are risk adverse as an industry; it can’t by the very nature of what we do. But it does mean we have to manage risk in a way that always keeps us in the middle of the envelope.

Friday Photo: Lake Champlain

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Lake Champlain, lying north to south and bordered by the Adirondacks to the west and Green Mountains to the east, represents one of the beautiful natural environments to fly. Even when life feels overwhelming, flying is a reminder of a sense of calm and distraction and the good fortune of being a pilot.

Automated flight—are you ready?

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Only a few years ago, a fully integrated automatic flight control system (AFCS) with an autothrottle was the sole domain of the air transport aircraft and heavy iron business jets. However, today’s AFCS with autothrottle (AT) are becoming common on single engine turboprops. Are you ready?

If only… The friends I’ve lost in airplane accidents

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I’ve struggled with writing about this tragedy for a long time. I wanted so much to give other pilots a glance at this image, hoping a few might take a moment before a flight to see if there were any gotchas they missed amid their haste and distractions. But I recoiled against the prospect of telling a very personal, painful, and graphic story about a good pilot buddy. Finally I decided to just start writing.

Video: instrument approach lighting systems

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Instrument pilots spend a lot of time thinking about approaches, but that usually means glideslopes and GPS procedures. Often overlooked in such discussions is the lighting system you hope to find at the end of the approach. This video tip, from Sporty’s Instrument Rating Course, explains what all those lights mean and how pilots can use them to transition from instrument flight to visual flights.

Friday Photo: Cheyenne Bottoms

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The ecological significance of Cheyenne Bottoms is impressive. It is estimated that 45% of the North American shorebird population stops at the Bottoms during spring migration. It was a beautifully calm morning in Kansas and it was a true joy to see the area from above. Flying brings us so many different perspectives!

A satisfying long cross country, with one flaw

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I planned to have Piper 4308M from 0900 to 1300 for my long solo cross country. As I pulled into the parking lot, my instructor’s pickup was already there. I had spoken to him about arriving early to pre-flight the Piper. I had been obsessing about the weather leading up to this flight and repeatedly looked at each airport along my route. I was worried about high winds in the days prior to my flight.

Once was enough—riding the Aluminum Overcast

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I grabbed a chance to take a ride on the Experimental Aircraft Association’s restored B-17, Aluminum Overcast. I had grown up with stories of those airplanes and the men who flew in them. I had to take the chance to ride in one. And so it was that one beautiful spring day, I clambered aboard and took a seat in the back of that big machine.

Go or No Go: low IFR in a Baron

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It’s a typical late afternoon flight for you, with the mission of returning your boss to his home in Lexington, Kentucky (LEX) after a day in Greensboro, North Carolina (GSO). The trip should take just under two hours in your Beechcraft Baron, which you fly professionally. Take a look at the weather briefing below and tell us if you would make the trip or cancel.

Flying in the coronavirus sky—a freight pilot’s perspective

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Today, there is no global terrorist threat or war keeping airplanes out of the sky. The threat is a microscopic organism, silent but still deadly as it spreads around the world. On the ground, people’s lives have been disrupted, in ways small and large. But from 33,000 feet, the silence gives the feeling of a much more dramatic shift: like a Twilight Zone episode, in which everyone below me has disappeared.

Friday Photo: IFR between layers

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It is 98 degrees and 80 percent humidity in Mississippi, and you are shooting practice approaches with an instrument instructor sitting in the right seat. It’s hard to remember why you are putting yourself through this for an instrument ticket. Then the day comes when you are able to turn a six hour drive into a 90 minute flight. I remembered that it was all worth it. 

A tribute to an aviation supermom

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As I walk into the terminal building to grab my handheld radio, the K model Skyhawk works its way back to the end of the runway for yet another student solo. A momentous occasion for sure, but not that abnormal at our busy little airport. But tonight is different you see. A very special mother is PIC on this flight. My wife, Megan, mother to our (one at the time) son is making her first solo on this calm, quiet Sunday night.

A medevac tale of two cities

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I came on shift as pilot for the fixed-wing at 7am, and the request for medevac was relayed to me. By now the snow was letting up and weather was forecast above minimums. I called the snowplow operator for an update on conditions. He had been plowing in the storm, the runway was acceptable, and he promised to continue working on it. Less than an hour later, we were on approach.

A long ferry flight: the Bermuda Triangle, icing, and more

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The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, is a loosely defined area between Bermuda, Miami, and Puerto Rico. There have been many cases of ships and aircraft along with their crews mysteriously disappearing with no trace. There have been theories from plausible to ridiculous, including it being occupied by aliens from outer space. The following account is from personal experience.

What to practice with limited flying time

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No matter what you fly or why, you’re certainly doing less flying now as the country tries to survive the Covid-19 virus. So how can we get the most effective practice and proficiency retention out of the limited flying we can do? Practicing landing is important, for sure, but I think there are some other maneuvers that can test and refine your skills more effectively in less flying time.

Friday Photo: waiting to land

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SCTB is a busy general aviation airport on the eastern edge of Santiago, Chile, with a busy flying club and restaurant on the field. This photo from Gaspar Galaz shows the lineup for the runway as he approaches to land, with the airport looking like an oasis in a desert of buildings.