Magic moments

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Throughout my often-interrupted flying history, there have been many memorable events, some standing out for how I scared myself through dumb cluck mistakes, and some for their delectable simplicity and beauty. The one I offer here has no drama, no risks avoided or skills demonstrated; it was just, well, a great place to be that evening. It was a place that only airmen can experience.

Moments of sheer terror

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At about the time that I intercepted the localizer course, I went into a personal “brain dump” that could have cost me my life and defines this moment of terror. I had engaged the autopilot coupler and was in that dangerous “fat, dumb and happy” mode as I flew toward the runway exactly on course. I was in clouds and fog when something made me glance out the window.

13 questions for Mac McClellan

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When we asked Air Facts editor Richard Collins 13 questions in a recent article, readers told us they wanted more. So we put EAA Director of Publications Mac McClellan on the spot in this latest edition. For over 30 years, Mac was the Editor-in-Chief of Flying magazine, where he was known for honest opinions. He shares more in this article.

Go or no go? Marginal VFR to New Hampshire

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Your planned flight today is from Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport (KBKL) to the Claremont Municipal (KCNH) in New Hampshire. Since you do not have an instrument rating, the flight will be VFR, but your Cirrus SR-20 is well-equipped. Vacation awaits–will low clouds cancel your getaway?

Are we our brother’s keeper?

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The line between trying to help and being a nosey know-it-all is narrow. A little soul searching before criticizing others might make us all better pilots. Yet, you can’t in good conscience see an accident waiting to happen and do nothing. What to do is a judgment call.

Ohio to Alaska by Swift

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In this must-read article, an Air Facts reader shares his once-in-a-lifetime trip from Ohio to Alaska in his award-winning Swift. Read his day by day account, complete with stunning pictures. As the article proves, flying to Alaska is not as difficult as you might think.

The Great Debate: too old to fly

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We have had the debate on pilot age and it goes on. For this one we are talking about airplanes. Will our fleet of older airplanes fly on for five more years? Ten? Forever? Do you feel as comfortable about mechanical reliability in an older airplane as in a newer one?

Go or No Go: winter 182 trip

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This article is the first in a series called “Go or No Go?” We’ll present actual weather conditions for a planned trip. You study the forecast and tell us if you would fly the trip or stay on the ground–and why.

Why do we do it?

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It doesn’t take much of a thermal to have me prepping the little white bag, so my flights are not always a pleasant experience. At least that’s what my stomach is telling me. My spirit, and flying soul, well they tell me something completely different.

Mnemonic Devices: words to fly by

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Who can forget how much there is to remember piloting an airplane? FARs, cockpit procedures, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t recall right now. To make it worse, after age 26, the brain starts shrinking to the tune of two grams of tissue each year. Sometimes I’m just happy to remember to put on socks in the morning. Luckily for pilots, there were the ancient Greeks.

The Great Debate: boy v. girl pilots

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It is my opinion that we males have created a fraternal bond in flying that largely excludes females. If so, how do we change that so more females will feel welcome as general aviation, airline or military pilots? None of the past efforts have helped. What do you think would help? Or do you think we should work to keep this wonderful activity a boy’s club?

My night from hell

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It was a dark and stormy night. Sounds like the opening line of a bad novel, but the night of May 24, 1996, was dark and stormy as we rocked our way in a 172 from St. Louis to Cincinnati Lunken. We pushed the envelope beyond reason and might not have seen the dawn except for a piece of luck that arrived at precisely the right instant.

The Great Debate: are glass cockpits better?

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Glass cockpits like the Garmin G1000 are standard in almost all new airplanes, and they’re starting to show up in older airplanes as well. The rapid adoption of this new technology brings large displays and reliable AHRS sensors in place of gyros and vacuum pumps. But some pilots are worried that these pros are outweighed by the cost and complexity of keeping glass cockpits up to date. Cast your vote!

John’s blog: holiday accidents have a lesson

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We are all salesmen to a certain extent when we fly with family. We want to prove that all the money and time we spend on airplanes is worth it, and brings value to the entire family. But you only have to be wrong once, and the airplane doesn’t care if this trip really counts, and it doesn’t care if your family is on board.

Technique Geek: tailwind landings

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Both the FAA and NTSB tend to suddenly discover things that have long been a factor and make a big deal out of them. One or more accidents usually gets this ball in motion. The latest hot button, from the NTSB, is what they choose to call tailwind landings. In what could have been a deadly serious accident, but wasn’t, an American Airlines 737 went off the end of the runway at Kingston, Jamaica.

The Great Debate: are great pilots born or made?

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“Boy, he sure is a great pilot.” We’ve all heard some version of this, usually standing around the airport as someone passes judgment on a fellow aviator. But what makes a “great pilot?” Is it experience and training or just natural ability? Does it have more to do with decision-making or stick and rudder skills? Or do you simply know it when you see it?

Top 12 iPad tips for pilots

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An experienced iPad pilot and flight instructor shares twelve of his most useful tips for flying with the iPad. With everything from a simple pre-flight check to a handy “night mode” for viewing charts, there are plenty of tricks for both new and experienced users.