Cherokee 140

Reflections and predictions

That new Cherokee 140 that came out of the factory with a sticker price of $12,000 is now going for 5 times that, even though it’s 55 years old.  It’s not hard to spend as much upgrading a panel as you spent for the whole airplane.
Cessna on grass

The great intermission: a renaissance in general aviation?

There is a lot of discussion about the state of GA, whether we are in decline or at the beginning of a renaissance. Briefly setting this ever tempting discussion aside, I’ll propose we are in an intermission: at nearly a million strong in the 1980s, active pilots halved a decade later; now, we are told, there’s been an increase every year since 2016. Somewhere between the GI Bill of our grandparents and the innovations in flight tech that are bringing our kids (and all ages) back to flight, we drift.
Cessna 172

Unstable (Final) Approaches – History, Fiction, and Fact

A score and more years ago, “stable approach” came into vogue as an attempt to reduce airline accidents. Why? All those airline landing accidents came from unstable approaches, so unstable approaches must be the major causal factor, right? Reality may be a bit more complicated than that—especially for GA pilots.
Middlesboro, Ky

An accident waiting to happen?

There are some predictions I wish hadn’t come true. This is one of them. I didn’t know the guy personally, but I vicariously knew his airplane. It was an A36 Bonanza, and the way I got to know it was that any day I happened to look at what was going on at Downtown Island Airport in Knoxville, it seemed this particular plane had taken off, headed for Middlesboro, Kentucky. Time wise it made no sense, but if he wanted to fly for the fun of it, it was an excellent excuse. Most mornings.
Corsair V8

The $20/hour Cessna 172 experiment—Update

With the FAA’s decades-long crusade to eliminate leaded avgas and lower noise, we mistakenly believed the agency would at least consider, if not welcome, any feasible solution. After all, we had a flying prototype that proved the concept and a 60% lower cost that was needed for a solution to be adopted. We soon learned that the FAA was less than enthusiastic about certified aircraft transitioning to experimental, regardless of their age or condition.
Panel with devices

When does technology become a dangerous distraction?

I was surprised when I posted this picture of my Cessna 182S panel and about 100 pilots vehemently criticized my panel as amounting to an “unsafe distraction.” On the other hand, another 100 or so vigorously defended my panel as safe. So is there a point where random backup technology becomes unsafe?
Preflight planning

Long range learning: what do we bring from the flight school?

In my time as a student pilot, much slower and lower than I usually fly nowadays, I always wondered how much of that knowledge I was being trained and evaluated on would be applicable to the rest of my career. It turns out that, at least when it comes to the operational part of it, we can directly relate many of the student pilot concepts to the airline environment: a good surprise, for sure.

Is Top Gun: Maverick based on the Bob Hoover story?

Like many of us, the summer of 2022 was spent seeing Top Gun: Maverick. The movie has become immensely popular both inside and outside of aviation circles. The reviews have been glowing, but one critique I have seen is that the ending was a little too cheesy, unbelievable, or “Hollywood.” But what if the most unbelievable part of the movie was actually based on a true story?
Constellation cockpit

Where have all the pilots gone?

I have noticed the aviation industry is once again experiencing another pilot shortage. So, let’s take a little trip back in time and see how we keep getting in to these so called “shortages.” A long time ago—when dinosaurs ruled the earth, beer was only a nickel, and I had no gray hair—the airlines were regulated and all was well upon the land. For a captain flying at night on an international flight, the salary was as much as God.
Autonomous ucar

Who is in charge of your safety?

I have a GPS that will provide me navigation support and let me access almost anything I need to know to continue on a safe flight. All these things are nice and helpful, and I would not enjoy flying as much if I did not have them. But there are two essential elements I can’t do without, and if they are not working, I’m not flying: SA and ADM.
Facebook group

How the web and social media have encouraged aviators

Ever since the earliest days of the internet, when Usenet newsgroups were the main source of shared information, aviation has had a presence. With the advent of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, it wasn't long before aviators and aviation enthusiasts built their first websites. When social media arrived in the 2000s, aviation once again established a firm foothold and has used the medium to its full extent.
Home simulator

Simulators: focus on saving time, not logging time

In the context of flight training, the discussion around simulator time that can be logged versus not logged is an important one. There is a general argument that if the FARs do not allow the time to be logged, then why spend more time in a simulator? Let's examine why that reasoning is flawed.
CFI with student

Why you should think like a pilot

After many years working as a TV producer and network executive, I turned my hobby (flying small airplanes) into a second career as a flight instructor. While you might not be excited by the prospect of getting behind the controls of an aircraft, every day that I teach new pilots I realize the skills essential to safe flying apply just as well to making you better at whatever you do. From that, a few suggestions.
Logbook entries

The only flight time that counts

Local environments produce interesting flying hours, especially if other pilots are not likely to obtain the “correct” time a local pilot may enjoy. I was informed that I could never obtain true pilot-hood until I had logged the following.
172 landing

The (unofficial) rules of flying

The following are a collection of rules or sayings I have collected, borrowed, and forgot to return later—filing off the serial numbers or just stolen over the years. They come from different times, from a variety of situations, and from pilots I have known and flown with. Some of the rules you may already know.

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.