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From the archives: Wolfgang Langewiesche on mountain flying

Wolfgang Langewiesche is famous for writing the bible on flying, Stick and Rudder. He was also a friend of Air Facts founder Leighton Collins and a frequent contributor for the magazine. In this detailed article from 50 years ago, Langewiesche offers some timeless tips for flying in the mountains.

Instrument flight

Do we need a basic instrument rating?

Would more pilots fly IFR if it were easier to get an instrument rating? Would it improve aviation safety if they did? A recent proposal by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to create a “basic instrument rating” should have pilots asking those exact questions, and not just in Europe.

Cherokee 140

The day I almost didn’t take off

As I advanced the throttle, the acceleration on takeoff was less than I thought it should be, but I justified this with the thought it was a 140 and not the 180. No alarms were going off in my mind yet. What could go wrong with almost 760 lbs of people and full fuel?

Pennington on Huey

That gut feeling might save your life

As pilots we’ve all experienced it, that nagging feeling that something’s not quite right. The instruments are all in the green. The navigation is spot on and you know exactly where you are. The weather couldn’t be better but… Call it what you will. Gut feeling, experience, or lack of it. Even when passengers or crew don’t share that gut feeling, you should pay attention to it. It might save your life.

ADDS icing report

Ice, acorns and blind hogs

Flying out of El Paso earlier this week I picked up a little airframe ice. It would have been a non-event for a more capable airplane, but the anti-ice equipment on 32A (pitot heat and windscreen defrost) just wasn’t up to the task.

Area Forecast replacement – what does it really say?

The old Area Forecast (FA) is going away, and I for one say good riddance. This textual forecast product has plenty of valuable information, but its ALL CAP format is a leftover from a previous era, making it a pain to use. Besides, almost everything in the FA can be found elsewhere these days. Everything, that is, except cloud top forecasts.

pilot passed out

An unconscious pilot – and it’s a good thing

I was flying as well as I ever had, and even though fatigue was at work I was happy. Then the unexpected happened. After fitting into a four-plane pattern at home base, on short final I realized the pilot was unconscious! Relax. I was perfectly alert and awake. My loss of consciousness might even have been a good thing. Allow me to explain.

60 seconds airborne: the end of Sabre 26710

As we passed over the end of the runway at about two hundred feet above ground level, a massive explosion (accompanied by a transitory smell of smoke) was heard and felt aft of the cockpit coupled with a complete loss of acceleration. The sudden cessation of over seven thousand pounds of thrust was noticeable.

Pilot in cockpit with instructor

The truth about learning to fly

As a community, pilots do a pretty good job of getting kids interested in flying. But I think we do ourselves a great disservice when we tell prospective pilots that learning to fly is all fun and excitement. It’s not, and we know it’s not.

9 questions for Harry Clements

From time to time, we ask a particular aviation personality to answer some random questions. Harry Clements was an aeronautical engineer for many years with his hand in the design of some well-known airplanes. Now retired, we posed these questions to Harry to delve into the mind of an engineer.

DHS team with guns

FAA wants your data – will you give it to them?

In the wake of disturbing stories about pilots being tracked and detained for no reason, the FAA is considering a new data-monitoring program for pilots. “Big data” may help the GA safety record–but only if pilots give up their data. Right now, that’s a tough sell.

Preflights and distractions

One cold day, I was taxiing out to the runway in our Cessna 172 when another pilot says over the Unicom, “Uhhhh, Skyhawk taxiing out, you still have your cowl plugs in.” Ugh, how embarrassing. I was with my wife and had my tail thoroughly between my legs as I hopped out to remove them.