Part of the team – what it means to be a pilot

It's one of the great pleasures of being a pilot--we get to play on the same field as the greats. Very few sandlot baseball players get to pitch at Fenway Park, but as brand new private pilots we can fly from Washington Dulles to New York LaGuardia in a 172. That's an honor we shouldn't take lightly.

Security theater – 5 things pilots shouldn’t have to live with

It's worth reviewing some of the wasteful and ineffective security programs we put up with. That's not because we should forget what happened that day, but because bad security measures hurt everyone: they cost taxpayers lots of money, they discourage pilots from using their hard-earned certificates and they distract security organizations from doing real work.

Remote ATC towers – coming to an airport near you?

The concept of remote towers, once the stuff of research papers and futurists, is now a reality--and it might be coming to the US sooner than you think. Is that a bad thing?
autopilot screen

The emergency procedure nobody practices

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.

USA Today, with help from trial lawyers, gets it exactly wrong

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.

Dad is my copilot – Father’s Day flying thoughts

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.

10 things “real pilots” do

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.
Cessna Skycatcher

The Skycatcher’s death proves the LSA rule is a failure

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?

Practice makes perfect–sometimes

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.

The approach plate olympics – more crazy charts

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.

Have we won the safety battle?

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.
Pilot in cockpit with instructor

The truth about learning to fly

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.

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.

New FAA medical policy – fixing a problem that doesn’t exist

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.

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.

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.

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.
DHS team with guns

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.