https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Fotolia_30936528_Subscription_XXL-scaled.jpg 1478 2048 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2021-12-30 08:01:272021-12-30 13:52:28Top 10 articles of 2021 on Air Facts
This year was another busy one at Air Facts: we celebrated our 10th year online by publishing over 250 articles, including personal stories and lively debates, first solos and harrowing military adventures. For now, we wish you a safe and happy new year—and hopefully one filled with flying. Enjoy the 10 most popular articles of 2021.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Garmin-Pilot-screen-LUK.jpg 1103 1714 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2021-12-13 08:31:422021-12-10 09:24:20The datalink weather revolution: safer and less stressful flights
I put the iPad down after a few minutes and said to the other pilot flying with me, “we’ll just keep going and see how that line develops when we get closer.” I suspect that’s a common phrase for many Air Facts readers who fly cross countries—and indeed, this was just another day at the office—but that doesn’t make it any less miraculous. Quite simply, datalink weather has changed how we fly.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/KRHP_from_the_air.jpg 756 1008 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2021-11-08 08:41:582021-11-04 14:42:19It’s time to reform Obstacle Departure Procedures
What’s the most overlooked and misunderstood part of IFR flying? I nominate the obstacle departure procedure (ODP). While almost any instrument pilot can recite trivia like holding pattern entries or VOR test requirements—important but relatively rare procedures—many are quite shaky on ODPs. That’s a shame, because ignorance of this procedure can be fatal.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Screen-Shot-2021-09-29-at-3.44.31-PM.png 836 1358 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2021-10-04 09:02:132021-10-04 17:15:53General aviation trends in charts—2021 update
Four years ago, I tried to capture the state of general aviation in 12 charts, covering everything from new airplane shipments to fatal accident rates. An industry as varied as general aviation cannot be summed up in a few charts, but sometimes graphics tell the story better than thousands of words. Many things have changed since 2017—some for the better—so I thought it was time for an update.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/RV6A-Lowering-cloud.jpg 778 1381 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2021-08-18 08:02:402021-08-18 08:41:37The right pilot mindset: realistic, not conservative
You’ve heard the cliche: flying isn’t dangerous, it’s just unforgiving. The unforgiving nature of aviation has serious consequences, which we should remember every time we sit in the left seat. The stakes are simply higher than in almost any other part of life, so our day-to-day risk management tools are not enough.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/img.jpg 600 1200 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2021-06-30 09:01:292021-06-28 15:11:28Sustainable aviation and the trouble with high performance airplanes
For many environmental activists, politicians, and even public company CEOs, the goal is not to limit the damage but to achieve net zero emissions. This campaign is starting to achieve real results: the European Union is expected to ban internal combustion engines in new cars by 2035. So whether you think climate change is an existential threat or a hoax doesn’t really matter—it is a serious issue for the aviation industry, at least from a public relations standpoint.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/1280px-Shark_ULL.jpg 657 1280 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2021-05-25 11:16:372021-05-25 11:16:37Rethinking light airplane limits
There are rumblings of an important announcement this summer, perhaps at Oshkosh. The headline is a new group of airplanes, somewhere between an LSA and a traditional Part 23 airplane, to be called Light Personal Aircraft (LPA). This would offer a major boost in performance, including higher gross weight, more powerful engines (perhaps up to 200 hp), and the option for retractable gear.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Joby-on-ground.jpg 1252 1880 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2021-04-07 03:44:332021-04-05 12:00:14What if flying cars are just a bad idea?
Billions of dollars have been invested in flying car startups over the past decade, and if the press releases are to be believed, tilt-rotor aircraft will soon be a reality in American cities. But I’m increasingly convinced that Americans don’t actually want a flying car in the first place. Maybe the problem isn’t the technology, but the product-market fit, to use the popular venture capital term.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Richard-Collins.jpg 422 500 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2021-03-15 09:22:162021-03-09 16:50:24Ten years of Air Facts
Ten years is a long time on the internet, so the fact that Air Facts has survived is an achievement, but it’s done much more than that—it has thrived, and grown into its own bustling community. In fact, it has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, with over 1 million visitors last year from all around the world. Even more satisfying are the 1,900 articles we have published since 2011, written by 760 different writers.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/cirrus-perspective-cockpit.jpg 579 940 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2021-02-01 09:15:442021-01-31 19:43:29Do we want flying to be hard or easy?
Earning a pilot certificate is one of the most difficult things you can do as a hobby. While technology has made many activities easier these days, pilots still have to learn about magnetos and Morse code, bank angle and Bernoulli. For some aviation boosters, that’s a problem; for others, it’s an opportunity.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Flight-activity-charts.jpg 2250 2043 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2020-12-28 08:48:032020-12-23 10:24:10What I learned about flying in 2020
The end of the year may be a magical time for personal reflection, but my latest trip down memory lane was caused by something much more prosaic: filling out my annual insurance renewal form. Besides a feeling of gratitude for the hours I logged this year—and a burning desire to reschedule some canceled trips in 2021—I came away with a few lessons learned. None of these are exactly revolutionary, but at least a few were surprising to me.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Screen-Shot-2020-10-23-at-2.17.28-PM.png 738 1194 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2020-10-26 10:01:552020-10-24 21:05:26GA safety trends: what should we worry about?
FAA regulations are written in blood, according to the cliche, but it doesn’t seem like flight training reacts to accidents quite so consistently. That’s a mistake. While being a good pilot means more than just avoiding an accident, that goal is certainly a good place to start. That mindset is what makes accident statistics so valuable for general aviation, and the recently released Nall Report from the AOPA Air Safety Institute is a gold mine.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/172-on-short-final.jpg 509 800 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2020-09-14 09:31:342020-09-14 10:04:06Stop calling it the impossible turn
Pilots love a good debate, and some topics seem to come in and out of fashion like bell bottoms. Right now the wars over lean of peak and angle of attack indicators have cooled (thankfully), but the war over “the impossible turn” seems to be heating up. In the last few months I’ve seen multiple articles, videos, and forum threads on the subject. It’s fun to debate, but what problem are we trying to solve here?
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Mapping-FAA-1.jpg 500 840 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2020-08-10 10:15:572020-08-10 10:16:29Are pilots rediscovering how to travel by light airplane?
By long standing tradition, baseball players never talk to a pitcher in the middle of a perfect game—if everything is going well, why jinx it? The same mindset applies to pilots, who are often hesitant to acknowledge good news for fear of chasing it away. I’m going to violate that unwritten rule because I think it’s worth exploring an interesting development: general aviation is doing surprisingly well during the coronavirus pandemic.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/172-sales.jpg 1024 1280 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2020-07-06 10:54:032020-07-06 10:53:17Five airplanes every pilot should fly
While all airplanes have stories to tell, some are more important and more interesting than others. Here are five I believe should be in every pilot’s logbook or on their to-do list. These aren’t necessarily the best or most exciting airplanes ever to take to the skies, but they define specific ages in general aviation and make up the rich history of our industry. Call it the general aviation canon.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WEB-AdobeStock_85669666-696x464-1.jpg 464 696 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2020-06-10 10:01:512021-01-31 19:03:28What pilots can teach the world about managing risk
When talk around the dinner table turns to Covid-19 these days, I find myself increasingly using the language of risk management, as if I were evaluating a tricky go/no-go decision in an airplane. I’m certainly not suggesting pilots are experts on infectious diseases, but I do believe the lessons learned by the aviation industry over the last 50 years have something to offer as we all think about life in a world of risk.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/LegendCub.jpg 534 800 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2020-04-20 11:16:192021-01-31 19:04:36What will general aviation look like after COVID-19?
Making predictions about COVID-19 is a fool’s errand right now, with a year’s worth of news happening in a week. But that doesn’t mean we can’t think in broad outlines about the future of flying. I’m obviously biased because I love light airplanes and the freedom they offer, but I genuinely believe general aviation will come out of this crisis stronger. This isn’t just wishful thinking; there are reasons to be optimistic.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/1l-Image-27.jpg 400 600 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2020-02-24 08:50:232020-02-24 10:07:15Light Sport Aircraft aren’t selling well, but the LSA rule has still worked
Time to update an old debate: have Light Sport Aircraft (LSAs) taken off in popularity over the last five years? Are Sport Pilot certificates more common now that the economy is stronger? At the risk of provoking another argument, my review of the data suggests no. The Light Sport world is still alive, but it’s a niche industry with few real winners. But there is a silver lining.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Italy-Venice-crowd-in-front-of-St-Marks-Basilica1.jpg 409 615 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2019-12-17 08:45:272019-12-17 09:13:33More travel, less tourism – how aviation can take us beyond the guidebook
I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but if I had to commit to one for 2020 it would be to spend more time traveling and less time as a tourist. That might sound like a distinction without a difference, but I believe the change in mindset is profound—especially for a pilot.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Cirrus-over-clouds.jpg 900 1200 John Zimmerman https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Zimmerman2019-10-30 09:00:302019-10-30 09:00:45The discipline to say no
The most famous decision pilots make happens before we even get airborne: to go or not to go? But after a busy summer of flying, I have learned that this is actually one of the easiest decisions in aviation. Saying “no” may be stressful when you’re on the ground, desperate to fly, but it’s much harder once you’re in the air. Call it plan continuation bias or get-there-itis; whatever the name, it is a worthy opponent.