10 questions for new AOPA President Mark Baker

From time to time, we ask a particular aviation personality to answer some random questions. Today it’s Mark Baker, the new president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). We asked him about his background and his vision for the future of GA.

Go or No Go: storms in the panhandle?

After a productive day of meetings in Savannah, GA, (KSAV) your plan is to return home to New Orleans, LA (KNEW) tonight in time for dinner with your family. Here’s the weather picture that greets you as you sit down at the FBO computer in Savannah. Read the details, then tell us if you’re making the trip or spending the night.

Connie flight from Paris to Cairo, 1951

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 Bob Buck’s “Flight to Cairo,” the legendary airline pilot’s story of flying a TWA Constellation from Paris to Cairo in the days before jet engines and GPS.

Goodbye PTS, hello ACS?

The Practical Test Standards (PTS) have been the guide for student pilots for decades, spelling out exactly what tasks will be covered on the checkride. But this could be changing soon. An industry group was recently formed to design an enhanced version of the PTS that is more suited to the 21st century.

The Great Debate: are air shows dying?

Air shows have been slowly fading for the past few decades, mirroring the overall decline in general aviation. This year, the federal government has dealt the final blow, thanks to the budget sequestration. Are air shows a dying species? Join our debate.

Summer Writing Challenge

Attention all pilots from 16 to 24 years old. Your voice needs to be heard as part of the general aviation community. All summer long, Air Facts will publish stories from young pilots in addition to our usual content of stories about safety, history, weather, technique and a dozen other topics.

The Great Debate: are diesel engines the future?

With traditional piston engines fading, and small turbines and electric motors unable to pick up the slack, all eyes have fallen on the diesel engine. While these have been around for decades, diesels are earning renewed attention because of their relative fuel efficiency and their ability to burn Jet-A. What do you think?

Go or No Go: home from the Bahamas

After a relaxing week of vacation in the Out Islands of the Bahamas, it’s now time to head home. The good news is your Cirrus SR22 is a capable machine, and you should be landing in Ft. Pierce to clear customs about an hour and a half after takeoff. The bad news is your secluded beachfront villa is totally disconnected from the outside world.

From the archives: Molt Taylor on flying cars

This article, published in the January 1959 edition of Air Facts, shows just how long we’ve been talking about flying cars. Molt Taylor was perhaps the most successful (or least unsuccessful) flying car entrepreneur of the last century. Many of the questions he asked are still being asked today about the Terrafugia Transition and other flying car concepts.

Top tip: get a “big picture” weather briefing

Checking the weather is one of the few constants in aviation. Pilots of all experience levels do it, whether it’s a trip around the pattern in a Cub or a trip across the Atlantic in a Gulfstream. But how do you get a good weather briefing? Is a look at the current METAR enough?

The Great Debate: is ADS-B good or bad?

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is an awkward phrase that was virtually unknown to pilots just a few years ago. Today, as the 2020 deadline approaches for equipping with ADS-B Out pilots are starting to learn what this new system really entails. But not everyone likes what they see.

NTSB shouts – will anyone listen?

The National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB) recently held a much-publicized meeting in Washington that focused on general aviation safety. The message was clear: the board views the GA accident rate as unacceptably high, and they want action. Their first step was to release five Safety Alerts targeting the leading causes of accidents. The question is, will anyone listen?

Go or No Go: marginal VFR?

You’re headed to Minneapolis today to pick up your daughter from college and bring her home to Milwaukee for a family wedding. Since winter is starting to recede, it looks like a good chance to dust off your 1978 Cessna 172 and make the 2 1/2 hour flight. Read the weather briefing, then decide if you’re making the trip or not.

The Great Debate: should the 3rd class medical be eliminated?

The FAA medical exam, a key milestone on a pilot’s journey towards a private certificate, is under fire. For years, many pilots have blasted the whole process as a bureaucratic mess that does nothing to improve safety but does a lot to discourage new student pilots. Should it go away?

Leighton Collins on flight training, 1944

Nearly 70 years ago, Air Facts editor Leighton Collins called out the need for a better flight training system. In particular, he lamented that “we have never had a flying system designed for the civilian.” His comments are a surprisingly relevant contribution to today’s debates about flight training.

Washington Report: sequestration and the FAA

The series of automatic spending cuts called sequestration is scheduled to kick in on March 1 if the President and Congress do not act to prevent it. This week, FAA administrator Michael Huerta sent a letter that outlines some of the ways his agency will be impacted.

Go or No Go: game time

Your friend got you tickets to the Super Bowl to see your beloved Baltimore Ravens play. To make an adventure out of it, you’ve decided to fly your 1995 A36 Bonanza to New Orleans for the game. But will you be able to make it?

The Great Debate: are flying clubs the answer?

In an industry that is battered by a variety of negative forces (fuel prices, regulation and demographics to name a few), almost everyone is looking for a solution. While some ideas look fairly hopeless, one concept that has caught on lately seems more realistic: flying clubs. Are they a great idea or a hopeless waste of time?