Cirrus in flight

Cirrus and Bonanzas dominated their eras

No two other airplanes dominated their time as the premier personal piston single. And each succeeded by being different in very fundamental ways.

Pilots are not smarter, they are just better prepared

Ask any group of pilots to raise their hands if still a student, and you will be surprised at how many hands go up.  The pace of progress for aviation instruments requires pilots to be lifelong students, and they know it. 

The hidden benefits of learning to fly

Learning to fly takes time, dedication and commitment. But the reward can serve you in life far beyond flying an airplane. You probably know the benefits of flight - speed, saving time, maximizing productivity - but have you considered the benefits of learning to fly?

The Chart Supplement and “Deer, coyotes, and birds on and invof arpt”

The Chart Supplement can spell out the huge words “waterfowl” or “jack rabbits,” but can’t spell out the word “airport,” but instead uses “arpt?”  Or “invof” versus “in the vicinity of?” Why not abbreviate bears, to “brs?”  Or “buffalos” to “bfflo?”  Reason?—because all the bfflo were sht by bfflo-hntrs in like 1885.
Super Cub landing

Which controls which? Throttle/elevator and airspeed/altitude

There’s an old story about an insane asylum in which nobody ever thought up any new jokes, so all the old jokes were given numbers. This meant that telling a joke only required giving its number. In that same spirit, here is a list of arguments as to whether pitch or power controls airspeed or altitude. Now pilots can discuss the issue more succinctly by tossing numbers around.
J-3 Cub on floats

No good reason to fly, but this is why I do

Flying is expensive, but then again, it has always been expensive. Perhaps you too have had enough of the touch-and-goes, and the "$100 dollar hamburger" flights to your favorite non-towered field. The thought of cruising the beach once again does not exactly motivate you to race to the airport. But I do it because it’s fun!
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.