Check rides: I have known and loved

Most of us remember notable things about our flying, check rides for example. When I was starting out and collecting certificates and ratings, it seemed like I was constantly either preparing for, or taking check rides. Some were more fun than others and I can honestly say that none made me nervous.

The silent killer

Some years ago I got interested in the role of pilot incapacitation in serious general aviation accidents. There are some who think sugar-coating helps on things like this. I don’t. What I found was revealing and it is worth a review.

Lighten up, Sandy baby…

Weather expert Richard Collins shares his perspective on Sandy, the super storm that hammered the northeast US this week. Learn why the storm turned back to the west, and how Collins rode out the storm.

A DC-3 dream: fleeting as it was

Dick Collins shares a confession: “almost 60 years ago I wanted very badly to become an airline pilot.” He explains why in this trip through history, complete with DC-3 flights, local service airlines and $7 airfares.

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

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.

Letters on the pilot population

In addition to the hundreds of comments, we received some thoughtful letters to the editor about our recent Special Report on the declining pilot population. We’ve published a few of them here, and we invite your comments.

Mayday! The declining pilot population

The dwindling number of pilots in the U.S.A. has the attention of a lot of people. There are currently far more questions than answers and it is unlikely that those answers will come from one source. To that end Air Facts is working to get a dialogue going.

Super long flights

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.

Make the case for your airplane

To each pilot, the primary airplane chosen for flying has some appeal that tends to stand out. Here, we want to get pilots to comment on what they like best about the primary airplane flown, whether owned, leased or rented.

Neil Armstrong: the ultimate aviator

We watched the moon landing on July 21, 1969 with some British friends. After the landing, one Brit, who worked on elements of the space program, said, “You must be proud to be an American.” I was and still am thanks to the fact that I have shared and still share this great country with some wonderful and exceptional people. This brings me to Neil Armstrong, Gone West on August 25 at 82.

A what? An exciting bit of weather action

I don’t spend much time watching TV news but my wife keeps it playing at times. I kept overhearing a new word (to me) after the June 29th storm that turned out lights from the middle west to the East Coast. The word sounded to me like “deratio” but Wikipedia lists “de-ray-cho” as the correct pronunciation.

The IFR conundrum: is it as it appears?

Back in the good old days, there was a lot of scud running and not much real IFR. A lot of us thought that the best way to improve the general aviation safety picture would be to get more people into IFR flying. But one of life’s simplest pleasures comes in realizing that you were wrong about something and that is true here.

4 or 6 or 8 things to think about for summertime flying

A thunderstorm is, by nature, unstable. That relates both to the atmosphere that creates and supports it and to the capricious nature of the storm. They are constantly changing, literally from moment to moment, and where one flight might pass through with a bit of turbulence, one a minute later might encounter a severe wind shear.

Is the NTSB stupid or do they just not pay attention?

The NTSB recently made a startling (to it) discovery that there is latency involved with the Nexrad pictures that pilots are looking at as they try to avoid weather. To read the NTSB Safety Alert on the subject, you get the feeling that they just crawled out of a hole and discovered weather in the cockpit.

The ultimate responsibility: thoughts on family flying

After the tragic crash of a Pilatus PC-12 in Florida, Richard Collins reflects on flying with family. He says, “One of the reasons I became such a weather geek over the years was if I was going to fly my family in clouds, I was going to understand everything there was to know about those clouds.” Does flying with family change the way you fly?

Anyone for a Speed Record?

Today Air Facts is launching an exciting new feature–Speed Records. This contest, based on a similar program from the original Air Facts magazine, is an unofficial and informal way for pilots to claim speed records between 29 major cities. The contest is divided into horsepower classes, so everyone can participate.

What was wrong with V-tail Bonanza pilots?

I sort of stirred up a hornet’s nest with a recent post about Cirrus airplanes and Cirrus pilots. A few commenters compared the discussion with ones about the Beech V-tail (Model 35) Bonanzas a long time ago. That airplane was actually referred to by many as the “V-tail doctor killer” back in its heyday. As with the Cirrus, the problem was more with pilots than with the airplane.

Happy 75th birthday, Piper

Piper Aircraft Corporation was formed in 1937 by W. T. Piper, Sr. Over its 75 years there have been many ups and downs and changes. A brief history is available on Wikipedia. Here I would like to offer some anecdotes about how I related to the company over the years.

What’s wrong with Cirrus pilots?

Despite all the safety features it has, from a glass cockpit to a whole airframe parachute, the Cirrus SR-22 has a higher fatal accident rate than most similar airplanes from other manufacturers. Why has this come to be true? It can only be because of one thing: the Cirrus pilot.