Two very different types of flying

For most of us amateurs and professionals, flying involves risk management. While boating has its own satisfactions (and accidents), the reward-risk level in aviation is substantially higher, and this to me indicates that aviation attracts people who are more likely to be “risk-takers.”

Avionics: advancing or retreating?

For some ancient, bureaucratic reason my Piper is not allowed to use the same newer, more capable and less expensive avionics and autopilots that experimental airplanes do, although we all fly the same airways, airspace and systems. Is TSO’d equipment really twice as good and twice as reliable as today’s non-TSO’d?

Accident? No, it’s a screw-up!

Most “accident” reports should be labeled "lack of judgment" investigations. Ian Seager says that too often we fail to learn from our own and other pilots’ errors.

In the air, trust is all we have

False bravado in the left seat can get you killed. The trust that you carry has to be inviolate: a certainty that you know what to do, how to do it and when. For me, that trust has been an off-and-on thing.

Mission possible: flying starfish

Why do I fly? What is it about being in the air that compels me to spend spare time, and even more scarce resources, to pursue aviation? Actually, it’s pretty simple: it’s about sharing my insatiable passion with others.

Proposal for a new IFR certification

From time to time, the FAA changes the qualifications for a license or rating and even adds a new designation of pilot. Steve Phoenix has made a study of the pilot population and gives here his recommendation for a new category of instrument pilots.
Plane crash

Why do we stink at being safe?

Pilots are an interesting sub-species of human. Although every pilot has their own unique traits, there are certainly some strong stereotypes that apply to almost all aviators. Unfortunately some of these characteristics are diametrically opposed to safety.

Accentuate the positive!

Spend enough time reading this site or any other aviation publication, and you’ll eventually get to the articles or comments sections stating how there just simply isn’t enough interest in general aviation for it to survive. Instead, why don’t we ask ourselves what we can do to improve the flying experience?
Malibu crash newscast

Malibu down

It is an old, sad story that only becomes sadder in the seemingly endless retelling. Today’s newspaper headline reads, “Lifelong pals, wives perish in air crash… foggy conditions may have played a role.” The deceased were all in their early or mid 40s, and leave behind six children. What are we to do?

Changes at Air Facts: the torch is passed

A couple of years ago when we were hatching the idea for an online magazine called Air Facts, I made it clear that, because of my age, I certainly couldn’t be the future of any such publication. Now we are adding a masthead.

Top 12 articles of 2012

2012 was quite a year at Air Facts. We welcomed more readers than ever before and tackled a wide variety of aviation topics, from the fun to the serious. Here is our list of the top 12 most popular articles of the year.
aviation mentors

Aviation mentorship

Most of us can look back and identify at least one person who took us under their wing and helped out. They probably didn’t have the official title of “mentor” and it wasn’t under a formal program, but they certainly contributed to our overall success. Knowing how powerful this can be for someone that is on the outside looking in, how do we go about doing it?
Airline pilots on strike

Losing pilots

New pilots have been declining for a while, this is nothing new. But why… well if we knew that as pilots we’d change it, wouldn’t we! Here are some ideas though and perhaps that will spark someone else into an idea how to solve it.
Flight instruction

It isn’t always the instructor’s fault

After reading the blog post Bad instructors by David Huprich, I thought it might be good to hear the other side of the story (from an instructor point of view) about some of my bad students over the years. Reflecting on David’s article reminded me of several interesting experiences that I have had helping students transition to new airplanes, complete flight reviews, and training primary students.
Aztec on one engine

Considering a twin

It's the eternal debate: are twins safer than singles? This author, an experienced multiengine CFI, says yes--but only if you're willing to make a serious commitment to safety. Read his prescription for safer twin flying.

Recent letters

We welcome your letters at Air Facts. Whether you want to ask us a question, comment on a story or share an opinion, send us an email. Here are two of our most recent letters, both of which share some of the unique moments that only pilots experience.

Are we our brother’s keeper?

The line between trying to help and being a nosey know-it-all is narrow. A little soul searching before criticizing others might make us all better pilots. Yet, you can't in good conscience see an accident waiting to happen and do nothing. What to do is a judgment call.
Cessna 310

50 years ago in Air Facts: Double Trouble?

In this groundbreaking article, first published in the July 1965 edition of Air Facts, Richard Collins raised the question--heretical at the time--of whether twin engine airplanes really were any safer than singles. His cogent, well-researched argument started a debate that rages to this day.
Cessna 150 Checklist

Is your checklist really necessary?

Do you really need a massive checklist to fly a single pilot Seminole or Duchess? From the time a student first steps into an aircraft, he should not have to rely on a checklist as a crutch. Checklists are indeed a Good Thing in the big jets, but I sometimes wonder are they really necessary in light aircraft?

Older pilots are safe pilots

Much has been said lately about the relative safety of senior pilots. After the Reno Air Race crash, many people asked if the age of the pilot might have had anything to do with the tragedy. With 84 years, 65 since my first solo, behind me, I have some strong feelings about the subject.