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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.

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…

 

 

Sunday, October 1, 2006

10 Tips For Happier Passengers


Putting the backseaters at ease



10 Tips For Happier Passengers At any airport social gathering, you can expect to come across a group of grinning avgas burners in one room, enthusiastically telling tall hangar tales, their hands weaving imaginary flight paths through the air over their heads. They’re comparing fancy “must-have” equipment, optimistic “true” airspeeds and brilliantly heroic escapes.

 

Friday, September 1, 2006

Santa Maria’s New Build A Plane Project


Kids join in a project to rebuild a Cessna 172



Santa Maria's New Build-A-Plane ProjectDan Williams has always been interested in aviation. “I had my first flight lesson at 18, but I had no money to finance further lessons in college,” he recalls. Though he maintained his interest in aviation, it wasn’t until the end of his first marriage that Dan could get back to flying, only now he was also interested in a project working with kids. So when he met Stephen Walker, owner and director of Avionics West, Inc., at Santa Maria Airport in California, the two bonded over their love of aviation and their mutual desire to get kids similarly interested and involved with flight.

 

Friday, September 1, 2006

Is 35 Hours Enough


If you don’t fly much, make each hour pay for itself



The world’s flying community looks at the 35-hour yearly average for U.S. pilots and shakes its collective head. They bemoan what they perceive as a general lack of proficiency and place blame on the pilots, as though they’re doing it on purpose.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Romancing the Stone


Her husband’s love for aviation and camping inspired Carlana to learn to fly



Romancing The StoneCarlana Stone and her husband John Lawson love nothing better than going camping with their 1977 Maule M5-235, fondly nicknamed Molly. Lifting off from Whiteman Airport in the busy Los Angeles area, they fly to campgrounds ranging from remote bush strips, such as Idaho’s Johnson Creek, to local romantic getaways in the vineyard country of Santa Ynez. Typical camping activities ensue: pitching a tent under Molly’s wing, exploring the area and swapping flying stories around the campfire.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

ADS-B: The FAA’s Bold New Bid To Change The Way We Fly


What’s this new technology we’re hearing so much about?



Aircraft owners usually cast a wary eye when the FAA introduces a new technology. With each announcement, owners are concerned about paying a price to retain their rights to use the country’s airspace, and there’s usually a mass grumbling that begins with “What’s in it for me?”

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Build A Plane


Another high school adds a real airplane to its curriculum!



Build A PlaneIt was late in the afternoon by the time the big truck pulled up outside of John Burroughs High School in Burbank, Calif. The kids had been waiting for hours and they crowded around to see if there was any truth to the news that had flashed throughout the school.

 

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Bernoulli Or Newton: Who's Right About Lift?


Misconceptions abound about one of the most important forces in flying



Just about every pilot would agree that studying certain aspects of flight can be a time-consuming mental workout. Any attempt to master complex aviation subjects can be frustrating, if not impossible, when pilots are given conflicting or incorrect data. One topic in particular, how lift is generated, tends to muster a tremendous amount of heartache among aviators and aerodynamicists alike. In fact, if you look at five different aviation references, you’re likely to find five different explanations about how lift comes to be. Even worse, some sources advocate a specific theory, while rejecting the premises favored in others.
Saturday, July 1, 2006

The Traveling Polosons


Explorers of the Yukon for three decades



The Travelling PolosonsIn 1978, Bert and Grace Poloson, both licensed pilots, flew a wheeled Cessna 182 from their Montana home into northern Canada. From the air, they surveyed the expansive scenery and the myriad remote lakes, and they pondered what it would be like if they brought a floatplane on their next trip.

 

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Soloing At 14 Years Old


He’s the world’s youngest air show pilot and much, much more



Soloing At 14 Years OldJamail Larkins took his first airplane ride when he was twelve. As he recounts, “I remember going out to the airport. It was a partly cloudy day in the middle of summer. Mr. Fox pulled out his 1956 Cessna 172 and I watched him preflight. Then we hopped in and I helped him go through the checklist. I remember thinking, ‘I really can’t believe that I’m in the middle of an airplane right now.’”
Thursday, June 1, 2006

Jobs and Schools: Accelerated Flight And Instrument Training (AFIT)


Helping you become a superb and comfortable IFR pilot



For safety’s sake, it’s imperative that people who fly light planes for business or vacation travel hold and use an instrument rating. When flying on a hectic business schedule, for example, it’s likely that occasional work obligations may press a strictly VFR pilot into marginal conditions that could more easily and safely be handled by a competent instrument-rated pilot.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Finding Weather


More and more information outlets are available for pilots



Finding WeatherWeather happens, and the vast majority of us mere mortals will probably never understand it. WX (as it’s rarely abbreviated) is almost universally regarded as the subject pilots understand least and fear most. For most aviators, it’s flying’s great question mark. Some people may have a perfect understanding of Bernoulli’s principle, but still consider weather a mystery.

 

Monday, May 1, 2006

Getting To Know AOA


This is an angle you should know more about



It’s a pristine, fair-weather day, so you can’t resist the urge to hit the sky for some pattern work. After a few rounds, your circuits begin to get a bit messy, which you attribute to a slowly escalating wind. It’s time to call it quits. On base to final, the darned wind is blowing even harder than before, causing you to overshoot. You crank over toward the runway and pull back. But to your surprise, the plane quickly rolls more than you expected and now you’re looking at the runway, but it’s upside-down. You’ve just become a stall/spin statistic.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Avoiding CFIT


Despite constant warnings, controlled flight into terrain continues to vex general aviation pilots



It seems as though every time you read a paper, there’s something about a pilot crashing a perfectly good airplane into the ground. These sad events are typically referred to as controlled flight into terrain or CFIT. Most of these CFIT catastrophes result from a pilot’s breakdown in situational awareness (SA) instead of one of the more arresting emergencies, such as an engine failure or a fire. In other words, these accidents are, for the most part, entirely preventable by the pilot.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Earn A Pilot’s License In Two Weeks?


Light sport aircraft are producing sport pilots in a remarkably short time



Earn A Pilot's License In Two WeeksA little more than a year ago, the FAA passed legislation creating a new category of airplane, light sport aircraft (LSA), and a new rating, the sport pilot license. The idea was to make flying more accessible (driver’s licenses became the new medicals), easier to complete (minimum flight hours were reduced from 40 for a private pilot to 20 for a sport pilot) and less expensive (LSA are significantly cheaper to own and operate). Despite all the kudos from aviation groups, no one really knew just how successful the new aircraft and license would ultimately be.