Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

From The Editor: Lights, Camera, Action!

It's a fact: Pilots love to share their flying stories. Good landings, bad landings and everything in between. These days, the pre-takeoff mnemonic "lights, camera, action" has a whole new meaning in the cockpit. Video from high-definition, point-of-view cameras not only make great memories for YouTube, but the footage is also very useful within the flight-training environment. Cockpit cameras can be mounted in a variety of creative ways, including suction cups for glareshields and adhesives on headsets. Some even have aviation-specific features, such as the ability to record cockpit audio. We take a look at five of the most popular cockpit cams and the features to consider when deciding which one is right for you.

Wherever you fly this summer, Bill Cox's article on understanding density altitude is sure to be of help. With summer's warm temperatures come extra considerations for flying. Bill takes an in-depth look at DA, with subtle-but-crucial tips, such as calculating aircraft performance based on actual runway surface temperature, not the reported OAT. He provides techniques to save time before takeoff—and engine overheat—and to handle turbulence, often unavoidable on a hot summer day.

Flying, especially in conditions such as high density altitude, involves a decision-making process. In this issue, Airbus captain Mike McEllhiney applies training and safety tools he has learned through crew resource management in the airline world to the smaller GA cockpit. McEllhiney even dispels the notion that CRM principles can only apply to multiple-pilot cockpits, so even if you're flying single pilot, there are actions you can do better to increase your safety.

Also this month, Senior Editor Bill Cox flies a new Diamond DA40 XLS with Mike Fabianac of KCAC West, a Diamond Aircraft distributor for California that's growing with locations in Hayward, Long Beach and soon, Van Nuys. They put the "Star Wars-design" airplane through its paces over southern California's Catalina Island. Bill also interviews Peter Maurer, president of Diamond Aircraft in Canada, for an update on Diamond programs including the D-Jet and the DA52.

Over on the East Coast, James Lawrence flies the Rans S-7LS Courier with Rans pilot Jana Morenz. The sporty LSA taildragger has been reworked with upgrades for 2012, including increased fuel capacity, greater payload and more responsive handling.

Another LSA in this issue is the Remos GX. Reader Gregory Lettieri was working on his commercial license, and also wanted to build time toward a sport-pilot instructor license. So, he and CFI David Jensen set out from Long Island, N.Y., to the Florida Keys in the Remos. They returned 25 flight hours and several days later. Lettieri tells the story of a slow but amazing cross-country adventure that he'll never forget. Send your most memorable flight, with photos, to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for a chance to be published in an upcoming issue.

We've launched a new blog! Keep up to date with our contributors, such as Patty Wagstaff—who's spending the summer flying OV-10s in northern California for the state forestry department—and James Lawrence—our LSA editor who shares the latest news on the world of light-sport aviation. Go to


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