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Weather Flying, fifth edition – the legendary book flies on

When Bob Buck’s book Weather Flying was released in 1970, it became an instant classic. Wolfgang Langewiesche said of it, “Other books explain how weather is made; this book explains how weather is flown.” Truer words were never spoken.

11 keys to safer instrument flights

Let’s look at some of the things we can do to minimize the chances of hurt while instrument flying. All along the way, remember that an important part of the operation is to continually ask yourself what comes next and what comes after that, and on and on.

Brighter days ahead? Depends on how bright you want it…

Those first rays of sunshine after a storm passes are a welcome sight indeed. There is hope and the promise of better things ahead. Is there any chance that general aviation could be about to fly into clearer weather?

Crash course: lessons to be learned

To show that things do happen in threes, there have been two more high-profile accidents on visual approaches since the Asiana crash. These accidents are equally thought-provoking and offer more lessons to learn.

President Paul – 1921 to 2013

Paul Poberezny, the legendary founder of EAA and the father of the Oshkosh airshow, died last week at 91. Here, Richard Collins–who knew Paul for over 45 years–reflects on his accomplishments in aviation and the legacy he leaves behind.

Nose or tail? Wheel that is

One thing about tailwheels that is not true is that you aren’t a “real” pilot until you have mastered a tailwheel. It’s not what you fly but the care and precision with which you fly that makes you a “real” pilot. It can even be done in an Ercoupe or a Tri-Pacer.

Wrecks and recession: is there a connection?

The question I have relates to serious accident activity in general aviation. We all know that the accident rate does not vary by much so the number of fatal accidents tells us a lot about flying activity. What has happened here during the economic collapse and rebound and the general aviation collapse without a rebound?

The Asiana crash: rampant speculation?

The fact of the matter is that the airplane crashed on a beautiful day, there was apparently no mechanical failure, and the public feels entitled to all the speculation that anyone cares to offer. That is just the way things work. From what is known, the crew just turned in a truly lousy job of flying.

A flight well flown: you be the judge

After every landing we’d all like to hear that it was a flight well flown, even if the pronouncement comes from self. In the past, I have written articles about self-grading of all flights and have always thought that a pilot can be a great judge of himself—if he is objective.

Flying clubs, then and now – different?

There is a lot of talk about flying clubs these days. Over 50 years ago, Dick Collins helped run the Fort Rucker Flying Club, and he offers some thoughts on what made this club successful. Can it be repeated?

The Altar of Safety: does the FAA know it all or does it know anything?

The FAA has rediscovered the fact that the general aviation safety record is not good many times. Each time, they come up with things that need to be done to shape us up. In the latest utterance the FAA proposes seat belt air bags, angle of attack instrumentation and two-axis autopilots.

The weight – and the balance

The video of the 747 crashing after takeoff from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan is hard to watch. As pilots will do, after watching the video I came up with an idea on what I thought might have happened.

The dream v. the reality: it’s a tough world

It might also be true in other areas, but it has always seemed to me that general aviation is littered with more broken dreams than any other field. As an observer for about 60 years, the length of the list of failed projects amazed me when I wrote down the ones that I remember.

The perfect copilot–of many years

I took Ann for her first ever airplane ride on May 30, 1956, in my Piper Pacer. I had been flying for five years then. A couple of years later we got married and she had really signed on. I took her for her final airplane ride on August 19, 2007.

What’s in a name?

Names for various airplanes have always been interesting to me. After WWII, Beech came up with the hands-down best name ever for an airplane: Bonanza. It flies on 67 years later and is, and has always been, a survivor. That is probably because the airplane is as good as the name. My second choice in the name game is Gulfstream.

Move the wheel and wiggle the pedals

When we let the electronic systems fly the airplane, we are still flying, if by proxy. That means that a big part of the pilot’s job is to fully understand the computers we use to tell the autopilot what to do. That puts the operation of the flight control system squarely in the “airmanship” category.

Aerial encounters

The sight picture of the approach end of the runway was perfect. The speed was perfect. It was a great day right up to the point where the innocence of the moment was lost. There was a flash of something, followed by quite a bit of noise, followed by the feeling that our Cub was injured and being jerked around.

A dream of the 1970s: the Bede-5

To say that Jim Bede was controversial is an understatement. Some called him a visionary, others had descriptions that were not so kind. The undisputed fact, though, is that Jim Bede excited and then disappointed a lot of pilots in the 1970s. He was a hard guy not to like and he exuded infectious enthusiasm even if he didn’t always deliver.

Changes at Air Facts: the torch is passed

A couple of years ago when we were hatching the idea for an online magazine called Air Facts, I made it clear that, because of my age, I certainly couldn’t be the future of any such publication. Now we are adding a masthead.

Tale of a winter month: a look at February accidents

Dick Collins has been reading accident reports for over 50 years. In this new feature, he reviews all the general aviation accidents from February 2010. What can we learn from these sad events?