Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From The Editor: When Weather Gets In The Way

Each cross-country flight is an adventure, but when things don't go as planned, it doesn't have to become a misadventure. This past winter, while air show star Patty Wagstaff was ferrying her Extra 300S from Florida to Central America, she learned just that. Patty encountered worse-than-forecast weather along the way, and a delay of several days almost caused her to miss the air show she was scheduled to perform at. In this issue, she shares her journey to Ilopango, El Salvador, and poses a flying challenge to all of us for branching out in 2012.

Challenging yourself with unusual flying missions, such as the one Patty puts forth, is a good way to grow as a pilot. But it's also something you can do on every flight, even if staying local. Budd Davisson offers simple suggestions that can be applied each time you're in the air, and will go a long way toward honing your flying skills. His goal checklist covers each phase of flight, and can serve as an incentive to be a better pilot. Earning a new rating, even if it's one you may not use often, or undertaking a new type of training, also are great ways to stay sharp.

This month's guest speaker, Judy Phelps, instructs in aerobatic platforms, and was awarded the honor of 2011 National CFI of the Year. She discusses emergency maneuver training, and why all pilots can benefit from having experienced spins, upset recovery and unusual attitudes. Even if you may not become the next Patty Wagstaff, by pushing yourself, you'll develop a new skill set and be rewarded with increased confidence in the air.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone isn't just about stick-and-rudder skills. It was with a healthy dose of skepticism that Senior Editor Bill Cox—who loves the "old-fashioned" knob dials on his Mooney's Garmin 430—went for a demo flight at Sun 'n Fun to try out Garmin's new touch-screen GTN 650 and 750 systems. But soon after launching, Bill was won over by the simplification that the touch screen offers and a multitude of additional, new improvements. Visit to see video from his flight.

Most pilots welcome new technologies, and contributor Colin Summers is no different. Colin is an avid user of his iPad in the air, and he provides 20 useful apps, from extensive flight planners, to simpler yet handy apps, such as a wind component calculator. We feature specialized kneeboards that will make your cockpit life much easier, and GPS units to ensure a stronger signal when airborne. What's your favorite aviation app? Let us know at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last month, Bill Cox analyzed mistakes that pilots make during takeoff, and what you can to do avoid them. In this issue, he focuses on the landing portion of flight. Bill reveals a handful of perilous situations that he has encountered throughout his flying career of almost 50 years. His past mistakes include overlooking an obvious solution to a brake failure, and ground looping a taildragger on a runway covered in black ice.

You know your little airplanes, but do you know the big ones? Every pilot or aviation enthusiast worth their salt should be able to tell the difference between an Airbus and a Boeing. President of NYCAviation, Phil Derner Jr., explains the telltale signs, such as differences in winglets and wheels, which can help us to distinguish planes, and impress our colleagues!


Add Comment