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My near fuel emergency

The extra RPMs to compensate for the half-opened carb heat, a probably too conservative mixture, and of course stronger than forecasted winds aloft resulted in a much higher fuel burn than expected. Surprisingly, the FBO pumped 34.5 gallons into our Skyhawk! That calculates to only 3.5 gallons remaining.

Fly-by-wire for beginners

What makes a fly-by-wire airplane fly-by-wire? The term is broadly used nowadays, but not often explained. Since we have many GA colleagues here, and fly-by-wire is a concept more common to the military and airline world, it might be interesting to share some pilot perspective about its way of working and our way of flying it. Since I spent the last couple months transitioning between the only two Boeing fly-by-wire models, I thought it would be worth sharing it with you.

Long range learning: what do we bring from the flight school?

In my time as a student pilot, much slower and lower than I usually fly nowadays, I always wondered how much of that knowledge I was being trained and evaluated on would be applicable to the rest of my career. It turns out that, at least when it comes to the operational part of it, we can directly relate many of the student pilot concepts to the airline environment: a good surprise, for sure.

From Private to ATP—the closing of a cycle

It was a humid spring, nine years ago, when I first arrived in Florida full of dreams: I was on a mission. Having taken an unpaid leave from the airline for which I was flying for as a flight attendant in Brazil, I had less than one year to go “from zero to hero.” In a bit less than the 300 days I spent in the United States between 2012 and 2013, I started my Private in the Cessna 152, finished it, went through the Instrument in the Cessna 172, the time building and, last but not least, the Commercial Multiengine in the Seneca.

The Boeing 787’s ten years of service—a pilot perspective

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a marvel that serves as a reference for anything that came after: quieter, smoother, more fuel efficient than any other jetliner designed before or after. From my perspective, having spent almost four years flying it (nearly half of its service time) and logging over 2300 flight hours in one of the pilot seats, I really feel proud of the level the 787 has brought me as a professional.

The art of being a co-pilot

During the last days of 2018, a Learjet 31A was being repositioned from England to Portugal. The captain, almost a decade older, asked the first officer during the descent if he agreed with doing a barrel roll. Because there were no voice recordings, it is impossible to tell what he said, but the fact is that the roll occurred. But the focus today is on the right seat guy. What was his role in it?

The best regulations

Of all the many fascinating aspects about aviation, a very underrated one is regulation. Yes, you read it right, I have a profound respect for the rules that govern our activity. Of course there is always room for improvement, but the whole shape they have nowadays and how they have been perfected through time, is a testament of how good the concept was in the first place.

Boring is the new black

The more I fly, the less space for ego I see in flying. Yet, if there is one killer in this business, it is precisely that. We see it in the statistics, we see it on some colleagues, and we see it within ourselves.

High energy approaches: student edition

Recently, a video of a Cessna 172 crash into a hangar after landing in Canada went viral. The student pilot got out of it with minor injuries, but the fact that he was just another one saved by Cessna’s generous engineers underscores a critical point in training that might have been overlooked. It is a systemic issue across the industry, and it has to be mitigated, like any threat.

Unstable approaches in a pandemic world

Who would have guessed? Most pilots—notably airline ones—are flying less than ever since March, and the number of unstable approaches has skyrocketed. According to a recent report from the International Air Transport Association, the rate of unstable approaches per thousand flights jumped from around ten to fifteen monthly in the last two years to 28 in April and 37 one month later.

Pilot-induced oscillations: are you a sinner or a victim?

You have probably seen this before: a GoPro video showing a pilot struggling with large inputs on the yoke, giving the throttle a hard time with either high thrust or idle power, and after a fair amount of time focused on that demanding approach, a smooth touchdown followed by a reassuring smile. On the title of the video, something mentioning a high crosswind component, and below, the comments saying that the pilot nailed it like a boss. Did he or she?

Flying out of the pandemic

With the honorable exception of the freighters, fighting the pandemic directly and covering for most of the belly cargo network lost due to the lack of passenger flights, pretty much everyone else in aviation has been flying less, perhaps not at all, during the last couple months. That is not healthy, either for humans or machines.

Collecting sunsets

People like to collect stuff. From postal stamps to magnets, from paintings to whiskey, and for more wealthy ones, cars and warbirds. I started collecting something lighter, more ephemeral, and extremely limited. Not for the supply itself, since it has been available for billions of years. But the number of sunsets we, as humans, can see in a lifetime is arguably restricted.

A fifty-fifty decision in Florida

Spring, 2016. On the last week of my vacation, I did my favorite activity for any vacation: I traveled to the United States to fly. Since my last FAA checkride (Commercial Multiengine) had been over two years before, I was required to do this in order to act as pilot in command of an American registered aircraft again. But there was another guy to do an arrangement with: Colin.