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Sport-Pilot Training

Our pilot training articles are designed to help you improve your flying proficiency. Bone up on beneficial skills as well as the biggest mistakes to avoid as a pilot. Fly right with articles on topics such as dealing with ice and the most dangerous things you can do as a pilot.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TransPac Aviation Academy


Drawing from its Pan Am training heritage, TransPac positions itself for the future



transpac academyTradition goes a long way in aviation. A rich history aloft is respected and admired, whether it applies to pilots, aircraft or—in the world of ab initio training—flight academies. With its legacy steeped in the fabled lore of one of the greatest airlines in history, Pan Am International Flight Academy is long on tradition and legacy.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Last 50 ft.


Making it all come together



the last 50 ftWhen you’re on short final and descending through 50 feet, it really doesn’t make much difference how good you are at centering airways, whether you can spout FARs or if you scored 100% on the written: The only thing that counts is how well you actually fly. Everything else is superfluous because every single thing you know about actually flying the airplane is compressed into a 10-second time span and an ever-decreasing sliver of altitude. This is literally where the rubber meets the road and where every one of your moves has measurable consequences.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ticket To Ride


Earning a sport pilot license: Part I



ticket to rideEnough trash already. This endless washboard-road turbulence promises to reintroduce me to the hot dog and greasy fries I just ate. Note to self: Next time, have an avocado salad.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cell Phone To The Rescue


In the air or on the ground, it could save your life



cell phoneI was doing my first solo out to the practice area north of the airport. I was doing some ground reference maneuvers and noticed that the GPS and NAV lights were on. I thought that was strange, then noticed the annunciator flash, “low fuel.” I knew the fuel tanks were full because I checked them during preflight.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sport Pilot Daze


What’s up with the light-sport ticket, and what/where/when can I fly with it?



sport pilot dazeBehold the rapidly beating heart of light-sport aviation: A YouTube video chronicles a pilot’s dead-stick takeoff. Not landing...takeoff. He points his engine-off LSA down a 35-degree mountain slope, rolls into a hang glider–style launch and lands—still dead stick—on a sandbar 1,500 feet below and two miles away.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Controlling Control Pressure


On becoming one of the “smooth ones”



controllingWe’ve all seen super-pilots, such as Patty Wagstaff and Sean Tucker, who seem so in control of their airplanes that they’re never where they’re not supposed to be. Their airplanes flow from one position to another in a seamless rendition of flight that we know, for a fact, we can’t come close to duplicating. Or can we?
Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Learn To Fly: Fun Things You Can Do With Your Certificate


Flying an airplane is an unmatched experience, and you can do some amazing things once you earn your certificate



learn to flyAh, if only you knew how to fly! You could escape the shackles of your humdrum life and soar above its stresses. You could wake up in Nebraska, eat a cheeseburger for lunch in Colorado and settle in for the night on a crystal lake in Idaho. You could fly biplanes or jets or spiffy little yellow Cubs with smiling bears painted on their tails. But how much will it cost, how long will it take and how safe is it? What can you do with a pilot’s license?
Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Going The Distance


Tips for planning a long cross-country



going the distanceAs pilots, we’re used to flight planning. Flights are usually straightforward and easy to plan, but occasionally, they involve multiple legs and traversing congested or complicated airspace. Longer flights require more-than-normal flight planning. I recently completed a 1,600-mile flight in my Garmin G1000–equipped Columbia across seven western and midwestern states and three time zones. It was apparent to me that, to do it right, longer flights entail more than just sitting longer en route and making additional fuel stops, particularly when the flight is more than 1,000 miles.
Saturday, November 1, 2008

Flight Planning In The Real World


Realistic flight-planning requires far more than simply measuring the distance, figuring the book speed and fuel burn and then launching



flight planning My first airplane, a 1947 Globe Swift, purchased in 1966 for $3,700 when I had a whopping 80 hours in my logbook, was a cute little devil. It offered quick handling and was a ball to fling around the sky, but it obviously hadn’t read its own press releases. The stock Globe GC-1B came up short in virtually every performance parameter—it wasn’t nearly as fast as advertised, didn’t climb as it was supposed to, burned more fuel than the POH suggested and couldn’t carry nearly as much weight as it “should” have. I learned the airplane’s true nature by trial and error, probably not the best method in any aeronautical pursuit.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Go/No-Go Decision In Winter


The rules change when the weather turns cold



It had been a long day. It was January 2003, and I’d departed Reykjavik, Iceland, in a 58 Baron; destination Iqaluit, Nunavit, Canada, with stops in Greenland, where it was clear and cold—in this case, minus-20 degrees C. I’d landed on the gravel runway at Kulusuk in the dark of noon, refueled as quickly as possible to avoid having the engines cool down, and leaped back off across the ice cap for the old U.S. air base at Sondre Strom Fjord, well above the Arctic Circle. The weather remained perfect as I spanned the cap at 14,000 feet in smooth, frigid air.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

True Confessions


NASA reports are good for your certificate, as well as the air safety system



If aviation in the United States was a religion, its confessional would be the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS). Pilots, air traffic controllers and other people involved in aviation are encouraged to send reports to ASRS when they’re involved in, or observe, a situation in which aviation safety might have been compromised. These reports are often called NASA reports because they’re submitted to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Telling The Truth On Your Medical


What You Need To Know



telling the truthA few days ago, I received a call from a pilot who was being seen by a physician in the emergency room. Did he want a second opinion? No, he wanted to know if the condition affected his medical certificate!
Monday, September 1, 2008

Crosswind Survival


Does your adrenaline level skyrocket on gusty days?



We can all admit that, at some point, we’ve scared ourselves in a crosswind. Sure enough, most flying accidents occur during landing, and most of those are in crosswinds. Almost all crosswind-related accidents happen due to loss of control after touchdown; only a tiny portion involve a crash on approach or on a go-around. To stay safe, we should examine the true risks we face when landing in a crosswind, and the big risks come after touching down.
Monday, June 23, 2008

Wingipedia, Part III


In our final installment, we conclude with “Alberto Santos-Dumont” through “Zulu time”



WingipediaWe’ve finally reached the end, my friends. In “Wingipedia, Part I” [March 2008], we covered “acrobatics through “induced drag.” And in “Part II” [May 2008], we took care of “Jenny” through “roll.” It has been fun, but our aviation version of Wikipedia has reached the end of its line. Wikipedia, which asserts that its name is “a portmanteau of the words wiki (a type of collaborative website) and encyclopedia,” is an online encyclopedia that’s written and edited by its visitors, i.e., people like you and me.
Thursday, June 19, 2008

Making ADS-B Work


The technology looks promising, but there are still unanswered questions about its implementation



ADSWhen it comes to owners being told they must install expensive new equipment in their planes, it’s always better to offer them more carrot and less stick as an incentive. For now, the FAA’s proposed mandate on Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is looking like too much stick and too little carrot.
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Do You Have An Accident Personality?


Making sense of accident risks



accident personalityAre you a pilot who turns down the radio’s volume and does a straight-in at an uncontrolled airport when there are four other aircraft neatly spaced in the traffic pattern? Do you think your lungs are so good that you can cruise at 15,500 feet MSL without supplemental oxygen? Are you convinced that you’re experienced enough to avoid using checklists? If so, you may be displaying some of the characteristics that aviation psychology researchers suggest can increase the chances of an accident.
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Getting Out Alive


Survival experts show pilots what to do when the propeller stops spinning



Getting Out AliveFew topics in aviation are as popular as that of survival after a forced landing. Since the tragic September 2007 disappearance of adventurer Steve Fossett, the topic has been the subject of countless hangar flying sessions and pilot’s lounge discussions.
Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Desire To Go Lower


Making sense of low IFR approaches



Desire To Go LowerOn February 16, 2008, the general aviation community lost one of its members. A single-engine aircraft crashed to the right of runway 10R at Portland International Airport in Portland, Ore., while attempting an ILS approach for the second time in very low IFR (VLIFR) conditions. The pilot sustained fatal injuries and the aircraft was destroyed. Because the NTSB is still investigating this fatal accident, we don’t know if this pilot had Category II authorization. According to the preliminary NTSB report, we do know that conditions two minutes prior to the accident were well below Category I minimums for the approach, with a broken ceiling of 100 feet and a runway visual range (RVR) variable between 800 and 1,600 feet. Without Category II authorization, attempting this approach more than once was an accident waiting to happen.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wings In The Wilderness


Flying safely in the backcountry



WildernessThe runway lights are still on at Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) in Hailey, Idaho, as the Cessna 182 levitates off the pavement, the pink glow of dawn just spilling over the ridgeline of the Wood River Valley. The harsh, pitted lava plain of the Craters of the Moon lay behind us, and ahead, another day of exploring Idaho’s backcountry and its challenging airstrips. Guiding us is the man who literally wrote the book on the subject: Galen Hanselman, author of Fly Idaho!, Air Baja!, Fly the Big Sky! (Montana) and the new two-volume Fly Utah! Hanselman’s books are the ultimate pilot’s guides to the backcountry, providing essential information on the airstrips and airport environment. Yet, they’re also elegant, miniature coffee-table books that brim with beautiful photography and pithy text covering history, local lore and practical information on what to do and where to go at each location.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pilot Career: From Dream To Reality


Everything you need to know to step into a professional cockpit the modern way



pilot careerFor the first time in 30 years, becoming a professional pilot is within the reach of people who once only dreamed of it. We’re in an unprecedented time of skyrocketing demand for pilots, and the number of aviation jobs grows daily. The sky is calling, and if that has been your dream, now is the time to act.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

Pilot Careers 2008


Get inside the cockpit



careersOpportunities for professional pilots are at record levels for civilian aviators. No matter what your goal, if you work hard, fly well, present yourself professionally and are flexible with schedules and work locations, chances are extremely good that you’ll find a professional pilot seat waiting for you.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

Understanding RPM


Whether you fly behind a fixed-pitch or constant-speed prop, a little knowledge definitely is not a dangerous thing



rpmIt was just after 6 p.m. when I turned final for runway 4R at Honolulu International Airport. My 2,160 nm crossing from Santa Barbara, Calif., into the wind had required 13 hours and 15 minutes, yielding an average speed of 163 knots. I’d maintained 8,000 feet in the new Mooney Ovation for most of the trip, climbing up to 10,000 feet for the last 500 nm into Hawaii to take max advantage of the standard trade winds.