Upon reviewing accidents from the past few years, it’s clear there is a disturbing trend in modern cockpits: pilots struggle to control the airplane after the autopilot quits flying. Now before you start bemoaning the state of stick and rudder skills and urging all pilots to start flight training in a Cub, let’s consider another (more nuanced) option.
The headline is so over the top that it looks like a parody. The front page of the USA Today screams “Safety last: lies and coverups mask roots of small-plane carnage.” Words like lies and carnage are a dead giveaway that the article to follow will be a hatchet job, not serious journalism, and Thomas Frank’s three-part “investigation” doesn’t disappoint.
I’ve been flying with my dad for literally my entire life, growing up in the back of different airplanes while he flew me and my three brothers around the country. 2000+ hours later, I can’t imagine life without aviation in it. More importantly, I can’t imagine my relationship with my dad without flying.
The checkride is a time of transition, when new pilots go from the clearly defined instructor-student relationship to the much fuzzier examiner-applicant relationship. Who’s in charge? The simple answer is the applicant, but an accident from late 2013 shows how tricky this question can be in real life.
Have you ever met a “real pilot?” I sure haven’t–at least not the ones some aviation experts talk about. According to them, real pilots only fly taildraggers, real pilots don’t use GPS, real pilots don’t cancel flights, etc. I have a different definition of a real pilot.
After spending a nice Easter weekend at home, tonight you’ll be flying from Wichita Falls, TX (CWC) to Wichita, KS (ICT) for a presentation at a big conference. The only question is (as usual), will the weather cooperate?
Light Sport Aircraft entered the world with high–probably absurd–expectations. These lighter weight, lower cost airplanes allow pilots to fly without a medical certificate, and were supposed to introduce a new generation to the glories of personal aviation. What happened?
According to Hemingway, a man goes bankrupt gradually, then suddenly. The same could be said of the way pilots crash airplanes: a series of small mistakes slowly build up until a final mistake suddenly ends the flight. A 2009 Pilatus PC-12 accident in Montana is a tragic example.
Everyone wants to be a better pilot. The real question is: how do we become better pilots in the most efficient way? Fortunately, the past decade has seen a boom in the science of how people learn and improve their skills. This research has much to offer pilots.
Everybody loves a good approach plate. At least Air Facts readers do. After we shared seven bizarre instrument approach charts last year, we had hundreds of positive comments and numerous requests for more. As we like to say here, the readers are PIC, so here we will indulge your desire for more torturous procedures.
As much as we romanticize night flight, it’s not something most pilots do very often. It’s foreign territory, and the poor accident records backs this up. So what can we do to fly safer at night? Let’s consider terrain, spatial disorientation, weather, fuel and fatigue.
Richard Collins has famously said there’s really no such thing as a single go/no go decision. Rather, weather flying can be seen as a series of “continue flying or land short” decisions. Tonight is a perfect example. After a long weekend with friends in Hilton Head, SC (HXD), you’re headed home to suburban Atlanta (RYY).
Here’s a number that should be on the front page of every major newspaper: 224. That’s how many people died–worldwide–in airline crashes last year. Around 3 billion people flew on airlines last year, which makes 224 a simply incredible number.
As a community, pilots do a pretty good job of getting kids interested in flying. But I think we do ourselves a great disservice when we tell prospective pilots that learning to fly is all fun and excitement. It’s not, and we know it’s not.
A pilot complained: “It used to be, pilots were real aviation enthusiasts. But this new breed of pilots, especially the guys who learn to fly in a Cirrus, they don’t care about the joy of flying. They just use their airplanes to travel.” The obvious question is: so what?
A non-pilot friend recently asked me, “what do pilots want for Christmas this year?” Since he knows I work at Sporty’s, I think he was really looking for the hot aviation gadgets of 2013. But as I thought about what would make pilots happy in the year ahead, some much bigger wishes came to mind.
Ah, the holidays. A fun time for relaxing with family, right? Maybe, but first you have to get to grandmother’s house for the big turkey dinner. And by looking out the window, it’s clear that the weather stinks. Are you flying your Baron or staying home?
In describing a new policy on obstructive sleep apnea that will soon take effect, the FAA basically put pilots on notice that if you’re too fat you might lose your medical. There’s no other way to read this outrageous proposal.
Almost everyone today, pilots included, is less spontaneous and less accepting of risk. That’s probably a good thing overall (we’re living longer), but it’s less than ideal for getting the most out of a pilot’s license.
Any discussion of general aviation’s future must include light airplane engines and the fuel they burn. While avionics get a lot of press, it’s the engine technology that really determines how reliable, affordable and useful an airplane is. And trouble is brewing.