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.

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.

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.