Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

From The Editor: Backcountry In Style

It was the perfect mission of exploring Moab—Utah's popular base for national parks such as Arches and Canyonlands—and the perfect airplane, a Pilatus PC-12 that can land just about anywhere and carry just about anything. This month, contributor John Hayes and Western Air pilot Vaughn Olsen did just that. Launching out of Canyonlands Fields Airport, they flew the do-it-all turboprop over the area's scenic buttes and canyons to try out the new synthetic vision on the Honeywell Primus Apex system, practice emergency descents and crosswind landings, and more.

This issue's additional pilot report features a first-of-its-kind aircraft: a fully aerobatic light-sport biplane. On a warm Florida afternoon, Light-Sport Editor James Lawrence flew the FK 12 Comet with Jim DeHart of Atlanta Light Sport Aviation, a flight school that has been very successful with LSA students. Enthusiasm for the Comet is high, and DeHart hopes that it will prompt a new category of competition airplanes for the International Aerobatic Club.

It's a common tale of a life change—career, family or other—that obliges a pilot to take a break from flying. Sometimes, this can even be an extended break over multiple years. But, the flying itch never goes away, and we eventually find our way back to the skies. When it's time to sharpen skills that have been laying dormant for too long, many factors can come into play, from concerns over age to frustrations of the first few hours in the cockpit. For those of you getting back in the saddle, Budd Davisson offers six golden rules to make the transition safe and smooth.

An important part of getting back into flying is becoming night current again. Senior Editor Bill Cox has flown hundreds of ferry flights, and his first 40 trips across the North Atlantic Ocean were at night. "Why sleep when you could be flying?" as Bill puts it! The airplane doesn't know it's in the dark, but pilots are prone to errors that wouldn't happen in the daytime. Bill gives us 20 important considerations for night flying, for all phases of flight, beginning with flight planning.

If you've been on a break from flying, one aspect that's sure to have changed is cockpit technology and pilot gear. Advances are happening rapidly, with smarter, faster and smaller handheld devices that have been transforming the general aviation cockpit. This month, contributor Marc Lee takes a look at handheld devices that we think are great.

For those of you just getting started with flight training or working on an advanced rating, finding means to pay for flying can often be a challenge. However, there are many options from scholarships of all types and dollar amounts to Federal grants and loans, as well as GI Bill benefits. Flight schools are even seeing students who get specific credit cards for the sole purpose of training. Marc takes us through all the options to help decide what's best for you.


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