The Great Debate: are straight-in approaches OK?

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The vast majority of airports in the United States (some 20,000) have no control tower, a fact that shocks many non-pilots. But the traffic pattern at these airports usually operates quite smoothly, with pilots flying prescribed routes and announcing their positions on CTAF. But do you have to fly the classic four leg pattern?

Cub love: is simpler really better?

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Hang around pilots long, and you’re sure to see someone get all teary-eyed about the J-3 Cub, Piper’s venerable taildragger that turns 75 this year. That yellow color, the open door, the grass in the tailwheel–it’s all part of the mystique. But for a while, I just didn’t get it.

Threat and Error Management: a primer

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Brent Owens, a new Air Facts writer, offers an introduction to Threat and Error Management–“defensive driving for pilots.” He says it’s not just for airline pilots, and that through anticipation, recognition and recovery, pilots can improve safety. Read on to learn what it’s all about.

Go or No Go: Florida build-ups

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Today’s flight is a quick one, from the Atlantic coast of Florida (West Palm Beach, PBI) to the Gulf Coast (Tampa, TPA). The weather doesn’t look too bad as you drive to the airport around noon, but the afternoon is yet to come. In Florida, you’ve learned to expect the unexpected, as conditions change quickly. Read the weather report below, then decide if you’re going or not going.

ATC: friend or foe?

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Like most of us, I always regarded ATC as my best friend, always there to help and guide me, a calm and trusted resource. As you will see, that all changed one spring day in Oregon. Now I am more likely to think of them as the Air Traffic Cops and, sadly, I don’t think of them anymore as my friends.

Defining the Cessna 310

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The author played a key role in designing and testing the ground-breaking Cessna 310. In this one-of-a-kind article, he shares some of the struggles that went on behind the scenes, including issues with stability and performance. He also shares his suspicions, untold for over 50 years, about a unsigned drawing he discovered.

The big bucks: a reason for the declining pilot population?

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From the comments on our series about the declining pilot population, there is no question that a lot of people think that the cost of flying is driving old people away and scaring away new people. I said that I though cost was an excuse, not a reason, and some of you took issue with that. Having been an active pilot and observer of the scene since 1951, I will try to put some of this in context.

Your comments on the declining pilot population

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Last week, we launched a special report called Mayday! The declining pilot population. Five authors shared their thoughts on how things got so bad and how to turn them around, each with a unique perspective and interesting suggestions. As always at Air Facts, our readers really drive the conversation, and over 300 comments were written during the week.

The world has changed–we haven’t

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It’s time for a radical re-thinking of what general aviation means and who it appeals to. But so much of the talk these days is disappointing. It’s as if the right engine has quit, the vacuum pump has failed and there’s smoke in the cockpit, but we’re running the checklist for a burned out landing light.

Trouble in Paradise?

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Aviation has lost none of its ability to provide incredible, life-enhancing experiences. It’s safer than ever before, and there are millions of people out there with the time and money to fly. We also have an incredibly strong community. Aviation seems to have an uncanny way of attracting some of the finest people in the world, and in this work ahead of us, they are probably our most important asset of all.

From frustration to aspiration

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Modern educational theories have a lot to say about the importance of meaningful experience, personal relevance (aspiration), and “scaffolding” to support and strengthen the process of acquiring new knowledge and skills. I can’t help but think – or at least hope – that a flight training program that uses these principles for training and post-training support could do a lot to get ‘em flying … and keep ‘em flying, too.

The chocolate bomber

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They were ragged and starving, these kids who had gathered, amid the ruins, to watch airplanes bring food to Berlin. It was mid-July 1948. Twenty-seven-year-old Lt. Gail Halvorsen had been on the airlift for two weeks, flying an exhausting three round trips each day.

New Speed Record: George Nelson

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Air Facts is proud to announce the latest Speed Record. George Nelson of California set the record for the 186-235hp class, from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back, flying his Cessna 182. Read the full details of his trip and learn you how can submit your own Speed Record.

Super long flights

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After reading Dr. Stephen Gray’s article about his trans-Pacific flight in a Beech Duchess, I had one of those old deja vu all over again feelings. In the first years that I worked for Air Facts, starting in 1958, we reported on a number of long distance flights. Some were flown by Air Facts contributors who then wrote about their flights in our magazine.

Go or No Go: Northeast freight run

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The weather isn’t pretty today, but that’s why you get paid the big bucks as a charter pilot. Your job tonight is to fly from Rockland, ME (KRKD) to Providence, RI (KPVD) to get those packages where they need to be. It’s time for a weather briefing, then you decide if you would fly the flight or cancel.