Debate: do you have to be an enthusiast to be a good pilot?

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?

One pilot’s Christmas wish list

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.

To grandmother’s house we go or no go?

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?

Have pilots lost their sense of adventure?

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.

Continental Motors – betting big on diesel

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.

7 instrument approaches you have to see to believe

In spite of what new instrument students might think, not all IFR approaches are straight-in ILSs to 200 and 1/2. Some airports just don’t lend themselves to an approach. But one look at the examples in this article shows that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Thunderstorm flying in the age of datalink weather

Datalink radar or onboard radar? XM or ADS-B? Panel mount display or iPad? The options for receiving and viewing in-flight weather have never been greater, with a proliferation of affordable and capable avionics. Which one is best? And what’s the right way to use each tool?

Drones: the good, the bad and the ugly

There’s a lot of talk about drones recently, some of it reasoned but most of it not. Which side is right? Probably both. If we look close enough, there may be a silver lining to this cloud–but the forecast is still cloudy.

Angle of Attack isn’t a miracle cure

Hop on the bandwagon–Angle of Attack (AoA) is the new must-have aviation accessory. This year’s Oshkosh fly-in was just the latest evidence, with a number of new product introductions, safety seminars and ad campaigns all proclaiming the life-saving potential of AoA instruments.

The Hungry Pilot: Sky Galley, Cincinnati

The Sky Galley is an institution in the Midwest, having welcomed pilots and local diners for decades. It’s located right inside the beautiful old terminal building at Cincinnati’s Lunken Airport, so the location is a strong point. In addition to the history of the art deco building, the Sky Galley features a large outdoor patio that looks right onto the ramp.

FAA wants your data – will you give it to them?

In the wake of disturbing stories about pilots being tracked and detained for no reason, the FAA is considering a new data-monitoring program for pilots. “Big data” may help the GA safety record–but only if pilots give up their data. Right now, that’s a tough sell.

The new “killer items” for IFR pilots

Many pilots learn the “killer items” checklist during their flight training–fuel, flaps and trim. But for instrument pilots, GPS receivers and WAAS approaches have brought new traps to be aware of. Here is an IFR “killer items” checklist to consider before shooting your next approach.

5 things general aviation needs right now

General aviation isn’t dying, it’s just changing. To successfully navigate this major transition, we need to face up to some critical issues, like avgas, NextGen and certification. We also need to look in the mirror.

A revolution in remanufactured airplanes

Have we seen the last clean sheet piston airplane? It’s a fair question given the current state of new airplane sales. But a handful of new companies may point to an alternative–remanufactured airplanes that are as good as new ones for half the price.

The Hungry Pilot: Airport Cafe, Urbana, Ohio

With this article we are launching our latest feature, called simply “The Hungry Pilot.” We’ll highlight the best airport restaurants, from small town diners right on the runway to five star establishments within walking distance of an airport. As usual with Air Facts, we want to hear from you, too.

Fly safely – think like a golfer

At first glance, flying small airplanes and chasing a tiny white ball around a golf course seem like completely different activities. But while the stakes are certainly higher in aviation–nobody ever died from a bogey–I think there’s a lot for pilots to learn from elite golfers.

Safety: our greatest challenge

Pilots spend an awful lot of time talking about safety, and we’re no exception here at Air Facts. Some readers have suggested we actually do it too much–quit the morbid talk about crashes and promote the positives in aviation, they say. Are we really overdoing it?