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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.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Synthetic Vision


Beyond Today’s Glass Cockpit



synthetic visionFor instrument flight, the glass panels that are increasingly common in today’s general aviation fleet may be a huge improvement over old-fashioned round “steam gauges”—but if the weather closes in, you’re still depending on instruments to provide an artificial substitute for a view of the terrain and runway environment. The primary flight display (PFD) in a typical glass panel combines the functions of yesterday’s attitude indicator, airspeed indicator, altimeter and course/deviation indicator on a single screen.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Lazy Pilot’s Guide To Single-Pilot IFR Success


It’s all about managing your workload



The Lazy Pilot's Guide To Single-Pilot IFR SuccessYou can be proud of the hard work you’ve put into reaching pilot status—especially if you’ve gone the extra mile to become instrument rated. Our aviation culture admires and encourages people to keep busy and work hard. We have checklists for checking everything—often more than once. We’re told to tune and identify VORs along our route of flight, even if we’re navigating with GPS, just because we might need them. We’re often reluctant to use the autopilot for fear that we’ll lose our flying skills. The work ethic is alive and well in general aviation.
Sunday, July 1, 2007

Deciphering Accident Statistics


Digging beyond the numbers for the complete story



Deciphering Accident StatisticsThe aviation industry sure loves its statistics—there’s an X% chance of this, and one aircraft is Y times safer than Z. But what if you were told that just about everything you’ve heard about aviation accident statistics isn’t true? Most pilots feel pretty good about the commonly published statistics claiming that all types of air travel are safer than driving. But if the numbers are presented in a certain way, general aviation flying can appear more dangerous than driving.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

What’s RVSM?


A great idea that allows ATC to fit more airplanes into smaller, radar-less airspace



The problem was simple: too many airplanes and too little sky. This flies in the face of traditional wisdom that suggests it’s a very big sky. While that’s unquestionably true above places such as Chad, Antarctica and the Gobi Desert, there are other places where there’s an uncomfortable amount of aluminum vying for roughly the same airspace.
Sunday, July 1, 2007

WAAS Up?!


Can GPS replace ILS?



waas upLately, several new acronyms have entered the GPS field; most notable among them is WAAS, which stands for Wide Area Augmentation System. To VFR pilots, WAAS is just a new level of GPS that’s more accurate and reliable, but to IFR pilots, it brings a confusing array of new options. Look at one of the new RNAV (GPS) approach plates, and you’ll see unfamiliar terms, especially in the minimums: LPV, LNAV and LNAV/VNAV. It’s enough to leave a pilot scratching his or her head, but in the next few pages, I’ll try to make sense of it for you.
Friday, June 1, 2007

Flight Level Fliers


How to stay safe at high altitudes



Flight Level FliersWe live in the best of times and the worst of times. Imagine flying with glass panels that allow you to visualize terrain, position, weather and traffic all at the same time. Fly coast-to-coast with only a nod to weather. Anytime, anywhere, faster than ever before.

 

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Best Aviation Careers!


Which one will you choose?



Best Aviation CareersDo you catch yourself gazing skyward when you hear an airplane flying overhead? If you find yourself irresistibly drawn toward aviation, then why not consider making it your career?

 

 

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Greasing It On


Smooth handling: some advice on how to make every landing a squeaker



Greasing It OnOn any given flight, the landing is the maneuver that concerns pilots the most. It concerns the pilot because, when it comes to aircraft handling, the takeoff is pretty simple, and once in the air, controlling the aircraft is far less complicated than driving a car in traffic. Nevertheless, at the end of every flight is the dreaded landing. Every professional pilot has found his or her techniques for a smooth landing. A perfect landing every time under all ground and wind conditions isn’t easily obtainable or necessary for a safe flight.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Designing Your Flight Review


Customizing your training will make you a safer, smoother and more efficient pilot



flight reviewLike many newly minted instructor pilots, my first “dual given” was a flight review. I didn’t know how to put together a review. At the time, the regulations gave almost no guidance and didn’t require a minimum amount of time on the ground or in the air (this has since changed).
Sunday, April 1, 2007

Getting That Sport-Pilot Ticket


Sport-pilot certificates are an invitation to fly



Getting That Sport-Pilot TicketIt’s been official since September 1, 2004, and it’s working: the sport-pilot rule is a reality; light-sport aircraft (LSA) and flight training are available; and maintenance facilities are catching on. So, how does one get that sport-pilot certificate? What does it take, and how much does it cost?

 

Sunday, April 1, 2007

When To Abort


Continuing a flight with a known problem may be possible, but is it wise?



I was just over three hours out of Santa Barbara on my way to Honolulu in a Piper Chieftain when the HF radio suddenly went quiet. “Hmm, not good,” I thought, “but not a world-shaking emergency.” The HF was my old reliable Kenwood TS-50S ham rig, temporarily “mounted” on the right front seat. For 12 years, it had served me well on the oceans with never a hiccup. Now, it was dead.
Thursday, March 1, 2007

Learn To Fly: Solo At 14


A 14-year-old boy, trained in Compton, solos both a helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft!



Learn To FlyIf anyone thinks that they can’t do what they put their mind to, they should meet Jonathan Strickland. Like any typical teenager, his vocabulary gravitates toward words such as “yeah” and “cool.” But what sets him apart from the rest is quite extraordinary. Jonathan can’t drive a car yet, but he can fly both an airplane and a helicopter!

 

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Test Yourself


Let’s play the Practical Test Standards Game again



Test YourselfThere’s a wonderful line in a Toby Keith song that laments, “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.” It’s a bar room tale complaining about the aging process and the awful fact that it can’t be stopped. Luckily, that’s not necessarily true of pilots. Flying isn’t about party stamina but about skill, and that doesn’t have to slide downhill just because time is passing—assuming, of course, a pilot wants to halt that erosion.

 

 

 

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Severe Weather Flying


Dennis Newton’s book reviewed



severe weather flyingSevere weather. Who would ever think about flying in it, or around it? Yet a book about severe weather flying has been highly popular and successful for over 20 years, and is now in its third edition.
Thursday, February 1, 2007

Earning A Tailwheel Endorsement


Andover Flight Academy’s stick and rudder training brings out the bush pilot in everyone



Earning A Tailwheel EndorsementIt’s still an airplane,” insisted Damian DelGaizo, as I hesitantly leveled out over a grass strip much shorter than I was used to. “Don’t overthink it.” In the flare, I tried my best to pretend that the Top Cub’s main wheels weren’t actually there, per Damian’s coaching, but it’s not that easy to ignore 31-inch tundra tires. Easing the stick back, I focused on the tailwheel instead. After a dance between altitude, airspeed and imagination, we touched down on all three wheels. But before I could even exhale—“Rudder, rudder, rudder!” exclaimed my instructor. “Stay alive on the rudder.” Although we were earthbound, the landing was far from over. Small jabs—playful yet authoritative—on the rudder pedals kept our yellow beauty pointed in the same direction we were moving. Slowing down, small inputs became large ones, and we rolled to a stop on the bumpy grass.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Box Canyon Hazards


Beyond mountains, airspace restrictions & tall buildings can also define tight spots



Box Canyon HazardsThe visibility isn’t the best going up the mountain pass. On the far side lies better weather and home. Behind are a tent, camp, cold and wet weather, and insufficient gas to go elsewhere. The pilot continues deeper into the pass, hoping conditions will improve. The ceiling is steady, but the terrain is rising. They’re headed south, and winds are westerly at 20 knots, with gusts. The pilot hugs the right side of the pass for traffic.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Learning To Fly In A Cirrus SR22 Part II


Navigating cross-country with a glass panel



Learning To Fly In A Cirrus SR22, Part IIAfter having successfully completed several solo flights in the Cirrus SR22, I entered the next phase of my private pilot training: cross-country navigation. My concerns as a student pilot in a glass-panel cockpit were twofold: would the state-of-the-art avionics be overwhelming; and if not, would I become so dependent on them that I wouldn’t be able to navigate with an “old school” sectional chart?

 

Monday, January 1, 2007

Make New Year’s Resolutions Count


All of us should be able to handle one self-promise per month



Make New Years Resolutions CountThe human race has an insatiable need for self-delusion, so every year we make promises to ourselves. Even though they’re made in earnest on December 31st, they usually prove very hard to keep as the year progresses. Hey, when it’s July and you’re gorging yourself at a picnic, it’s hard to remember that six months earlier you pledged to lose weight. Twelve months is a long time.

 

 

Friday, December 1, 2006

Winter Flying


With careful preparation, cold-weather flying can be great fun



Winter FlyingWinter—it’s cold, it’s dark and sometimes it seems like spring will never come. But, lots of pilots live in cold country, and there’s no sense letting our airplanes sit idle all winter. Although it takes more effort and better preparation, winter flying can indeed be tolerable and sometimes even downright fun. So, if you’re up for the challenge, let’s consider some things you can do to mitigate the effects of winter and enjoy some flying.

 

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Learning To Fly In A Cirrus SR22


Is the best-selling aircraft appropriate for student pilots?



Learing To Fly In A Cirrus SR22, Part IAccording to Cirrus, the all-glass panels in their planes make learning to fly easier and safer than with the round gauges that pilots have used almost since the beginning of aviation time. We weren’t so sure, so we put their claims to the test. I was to earn my private pilot license in a Cirrus SR22.

 

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The Go/No-Go Decision


Putting the pieces together



The Go/No Go DecisionIt’s probably the toughest decision a pilot must make, and it’s often tainted by factors that shouldn’t even be considered. To paraphrase the Bard, “Go or no go, that is the question.”

 

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The Littlest Emergency


What To Do If Your Door Pops Open



The Littlest EmergencyPicture this: You’re cruising straight and level at 8,500 feet in your A36 Bonanza. You’re luxuriating in smooth air and sunshine, and there’s perfect weather at your point of departure, destination and all points in between. The engine is running perfectly, everything is working well, your passengers are happy and then…