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?

The Great Debate: pilot shortage?

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?

Time Capsule: Leighton Collins flies an early 707 to Europe

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

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

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.

Washington Report: changes in stall training

Stall training has been a hot topic for many years, but it’s taken on even more importance in the wake of some high profile airline crashes in recent years. The FAA has now responded, with Advisory Circular 120-109, covering training for stalls and stick pusher activation.

The great debate: the “spouse factor”

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.