A memorable flight

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I had flown down to St Just Airport at Land’s End, the southernmost airport on the mainland UK. Thinking back on my many years of flying and all that I have experienced, I will never forget that day. The simple beauty, the breathtaking views, the exhilaration, the sense of privilege. What’s your most memorable flight?

Pioneer aviator Foster Lane

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Foster Lane was born in 1903, the year the Wright Brothers changed everything with their first powered flight. He started flying in 1925, getting his first ride in a barnstormer’s Curtiss JN4 Jenny. Lessons began and he bought his first airplane, a used Waco 9, in 1928. He literally lived the birth of aviation in the 1920s.

The Great Debate: pilot shortage?

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It seems like someone is always warning of a looming professional pilot shortage, but most often the dire predictions never come to pass. Now, a coalition of industry and government officials are asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate the issue. Is this time really different?

7 good things about general aviation

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Pilots are famous for being passionate about flying, but they’re also famous for being pessimistic about flying. Call me hopelessly naive, but I think there is still a lot to be thankful for as pilots. With that in mind, I’d like to offer seven good things about general aviation right now.

Time Capsule: Leighton Collins flies an early 707 to Europe

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From time to time, we revisit an original Air Facts article that we think would make enjoyable and worthwhile reading today. So it is with Leighton’s “Flight 700,” his story of flying with iconic Captain Robert Buck in a 707 at the beginning of the Jet Age. This is a detailed description of a flight, and like us, you will no doubt marvel at how much has changed.

Top 12 articles of 2012

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2012 was quite a year at Air Facts. We welcomed more readers than ever before and tackled a wide variety of aviation topics, from the fun to the serious. Here is our list of the top 12 most popular articles of the year.

Go or no go: heading north

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Talk about “get-home-itis.” Your trip today is the final leg of a marathon freight dog run, with over 1 billion legs in the logbook so far. The flight has gone flawlessly, but you’re dead tired and would really like to get home to the Mrs. (Claus, that is). But just because you’re the big red man doesn’t mean you can skip the weather briefing, so you take one last glance at your iPad before takeoff.

Check rides: I have known and loved

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Most of us remember notable things about our flying, check rides for example. When I was starting out and collecting certificates and ratings, it seemed like I was constantly either preparing for, or taking check rides. Some were more fun than others and I can honestly say that none made me nervous.

I held three jobs on one flight

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It was a day like any other day. I was the flight test engineer/observer on the Cessna M310 prototype and we were taking off on a routine test flight, the purpose of which I’ve forgotten, but it was to be a long one. Right after lift off, a loud metal popping noise was heard at the nose of the airplane.

8 SOPs for instrument flying

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Do you fly with SOPs? Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are commonly used in the corporate and airline flying world, as a way of formalizing the do’s and don’ts of a flight department, but they can be very useful for private pilots, too. Here are eight SOPs I follow when I fly IFR.

Fields of vision: carving hills into airports

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When the Wright brothers finally had a flying machine that could take off and fly under complete control, they still had no place to fly it from. Phil Scott shares the fascinating history of how airports came to be, from grass fields to WPA airports in the 1930s.

The great debate: the “spouse factor”

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Before every flight, pilots make some sort of go/no-go decision, even if it happens nearly instantly. A good decision-making process involves a review of the weather conditions, the health of the pilot and the condition of the airplane. But there’s another factor that comes into play more than we probably admit: passengers.

The silent killer

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Some years ago I got interested in the role of pilot incapacitation in serious general aviation accidents. There are some who think sugar-coating helps on things like this. I don’t. What I found was revealing and it is worth a review.

The production T-37 “Tweet” serves up an enduring mystery

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In very early 1952, I was an undergraduate working part time in Cessna’s Flight Test, Aerodynamics and Preliminary Design Group when a request for proposal for the TX came in from the Air Force. The TX was to be the first, that is the primary, trainer in a series of three new trainers which would finish with the TZ, a supersonic one.

The sorry state of weather training

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It’s become fashionable to complain about the lack of stick and rudder training today–just tune into our long-running debate about stall training if you don’t believe me. But before we run off and mandate 100 hours of taildragger training for every pilot, we should look at the numbers.