The art of staying at home—a letter from a monk to pilots

Flying at 500 feet off the shore or ruttering S-turns over the river is one of the most meditative things I’ve ever done. Thoreau, who as Pico Iyer reminds us was “one of the greatest explorers of this time,” wrote in his journal, “It matters not where or how far you travel—the farther commonly the worse—but how much alive you are.” Flying the Cub with the doors and windows open is the most alive I’ve ever felt.
Aeronca 7AC

The rising cost of membership in club general aviation

Recently I’ve read a few aviation blogs that suggest hangars are in short supply. Based on my observations over the past several years, I would tend to agree with that statement. What is interesting to me however, is the fact that at several of the general aviation airports I’ve visited, many hangars are filled with “hangar queens.”
airline pilots

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?
GTN screens

The greatest aviation safety improvement is…

The improvement in aviation safety is astonishing. No major US airline has suffered a fatal crash since 2001. Before this incredible 20-year period, the longest stint without a major airline fatal crash was barely more than two years. Though many factors contribute to the enormous advance in aviation safety, the single greatest factor is development of GPS.
Chart on iPad

Are IFR Approach Charts Obsolete?

Why did we as a crew, and even more critically a single pilot, spend valuable time reading from an approach chart information and functions that the FMS had accomplished automatically, and clearly displayed, with a single entry? Because the approach briefing from a chart is a leftover from the days when we had no other options to obtain the necessary information to fly an approach.
Mountains

The joy in flying

When you push the throttle in and initiate that gentle shudder of anticipation, and motion blurs in a receding landscape, there is potential, there is anticipation, there is the raw feel of something magical in that moment. You look at the landscape speed past and then with a gentle tug on the yoke, the moment of pure joy is realized.
FAR/AIM

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.
Reading chart

Are pilots still navigating?

I was giving a flight review the other day and in the words of Claude Rains (Casablanca), I was shocked, positively shocked that the pilot I was flying with had virtually no knowledge of basic navigation. With the technology available today, I probably should not have been that surprised, but after working in aviation safety for many years, I have a concern.
Together in cockpit

Hangar flying: you are qualified to fly like this

The pastime of many pilots is not necessarily piloting real, honest-to-goodness, airplanes. Rather, it is something known far and wide as “hangar flying.” We know that there have been times when we have had just as much fun and fellowship talking to other pilots about being a pilot than when we were actually piloting a plane toward that overpriced $100 hamburger.

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.
LBB track

Know your limitations

One of the hardest things to do in life is to acknowledge our limitations. We all have them, and most of the time they are benign, but not always. A doctor with less than stellar skills can kill someone. A sub-par lawyer can cause someone to spend years in jail. There are people in every walk of life who make mistakes, some more than others. Pilots are no exception.
Bonanza

Flying old school

I am an Old School pilot. I don’t have a sophisticated, built-in navigational system, nor even an autopilot in our plane. That does not mean I do not know how to fly a 530, but I learned to fly on a float plane on Lake Union in Seattle when I was 19 and the experience formed much of my view of flying.
Flight planning

Let’s put the do back in due diligence

One of the greatest challenges that I face as a flight instructor is getting my younger students to do their homework. Things like keeping up with online ground school lessons, preparing a flight plan, studying the Aircraft POH, etc. The simple fact of the matter is that flying is, hands down, just a whole lot more fun than reading dry textbooks.

Top 10 articles of 2020 on Air Facts

We published over 250 articles on Air Facts in 2020, written by a diverse group of over 200 pilots from all over the world, but these 10 were the most popular. Read this list for some thought-provoking articles on all aspects of aviation, from close calls to airplane history to safety debates.
VFR on top

VFR over the top: legal, but not clever

In many countries, you can’t fly VFR without reference to the ground. This is applicable even to sport, recreational, and student pilots in America, but usually after you are a private pilot you can. But what if you need to land?
Flight instructor

Flying with good and bad pilots—what I’ve learned as a new CFI

I became a flight instructor late in life (my mid-50s) and it has been fascinating after many years of “left seat” flying to take this next step in my flying career. Shameless plug and article spoiler: If you’ve ever thought about becoming an instructor after years of flying, you’ll be fascinated by what you experience and learn in the process of training toward the CFI and even more once you earn the certificate and begin your CFI flying.
G1000 panel

Assumptions can be dangerous in the air

In flight, assumptions are the Achilles heel in safety. One cannot press on with the assumption that all is well, when a crushing burden of mounting evidence is screaming against further pursuit. The fallacy of not knowing the unknowns ahead leads one to despair.
Kid in Cessna

Should you take your grandchildren flying?

Both of our kids were in the backseat of our Mooney 201 headed off to visit one grandmother or the other before they were two weeks old. Stancie and I never really gave it a second thought. But that was 40 years ago. And much has changed—actually, almost everything has changed—when it comes to risk assessment for young children.
Pterodactyl

High wing or low wing? Ask Mother Nature

I agonized over this for a very long time before I bought my first airplane. It seems to be one of those endless hangar discussions that divides pilots into one of three camps that almost serves as a form of introduction. And so, “Hi, my name is Dan, I’m a high-wing guy. How about you? Oh, you like low wing aircraft because you can see the numbers as you turn base to final?”
Young Eagles

Aviation Education to the Masses: How do we do it?

While we were hanging onto the balloon to keep it on the ground, a group of high school age kids approached us. They were obviously super excited about being up and close with it, which is great—I love seeing it. But after conversing I realized that they didn't understand general aviation at all. What I gathered from them was that everything with flying seemed out of reach.