Home :
  • Print
  • Email

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.

Friday, February 1, 2008

When The Propeller Stops Propelling

Engine-out emergencies: Planning and training are your best defense

propeller openerThere aren’t many mechanical contrivances that are more reliable than an aircraft engine. At the same time, there aren’t too many mechanical contrivances upon which our physical well-being is so clearly dependent. The good news is that engine failures almost never happen. The operative word being “almost,” it has to happen only once to ruin your day. If you keep your wits about you, however, and you plan for the possibility of an engine failure, you greatly increase the probability that you’ll survive the unscheduled reunion of airplane with earth.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008


What’s technically legal isn’t necessarily safe

vmc cs vfrIn basic flight training, student pilots memorize the cloud clearance and visibility criteria for operation under visual flight rules and instrument flight rules (VFR and IFR). Flight schools and instructors drill into students the cloud clearance and visibility requirements for VFR operations in various categories of airspace, all the while neglecting to mention that none of this has much to do with the ability to keep an airplane upright during periods of restricted visibility and/or lack of terrain definition.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Winter Flying: A Strategic Approach

Tips for staying safe in a cold season

winter flyingWinter presents many complications for those who live in northern latitudes. Residents of warmer states like Florida and Arizona probably consider us northerners to be their somewhat slow-witted (and perhaps crazy) cousins, but winter offers its own set of pleasures—and challenges.
Saturday, December 1, 2007

Icing Folklore

Avoid flying by rules of thumb

icing folkloreIcing is already a terribly complex topic without the many old wives’ tales and rules of thumb making it even more difficult. Rules of thumb generally plead ignorance. Ignorance often leads to bad decisions. When the weather is on its worst behavior, rules of thumb rarely apply and can actually be dangerous. Here are a few of my pet peeves when it comes to icing folklore.
Monday, October 1, 2007

Myth Bustin'

Exploring 20 aviation myths

myth bustinRight up front I should post a very clear caveat: Myths within any technological field almost always have a grain of, if not truth, at least enough fact that they have some ardent supporters who swear by them. (They “know” it’s true and can prove it because a friend of an uncle knew someone who had it happen to a cousin.)
Monday, October 1, 2007

Get The Balance Right

If you think weight and balance are boring and unimportant, you need to read the following

get the balance rightIt was 1985, and I was refueling a Cessna 425 Conquest I at Tenerife in the Canary Islands on my way to Johannesburg, South Africa. I’d instructed the fueler to fill the wing tanks first, then begin topping the three 110-gallon internal ferry tanks starting with the front tank. I turned away to fill out the necessary paperwork, heard the pump running for a few minutes and as I finished the fuel request, heard a sickening crunch behind me.
Saturday, September 1, 2007

Back In The Saddle

Returning to the cockpit can be exhilarating and difficult, but worth every frustrating minute

Back In The SaddleThe first thing I did was introduce myself to her. I did it quietly as I touched her spinner and as my flight instructor ambled off to untie the right wing. The last thing I needed was my instructor thinking I was crazy for talking to a machine. This was, after all, a machine—a complex assembly of aluminum, cables, spars and wires. There could be no life in this 2,000-pound craft of the air, but I knew better.

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.
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


Can GPS replace ILS?

WAAS Up?!Lately, several new acronyms have entered the GPS field; most notable among them is WAAS, which stands for Wide Area Augmentation System.
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.