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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, November 1, 2005

Aircraft And Engine Preheat Is A Big Deal


Pilots need to stay warm during the winter months. Your airplane deserves the same consideration.



Aircraft Engine Preheat Is A Big DealYour engine needs preheat. Starting a cold engine can give it the equivalent of 500 hours of cruise wear and tear, according to engine authorities. Assuming no other potentially catastrophic damage occurs, this single event easily could raise the hamburger price to a healthy four-digit value.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

How High Are We Now?


We all fly at erroneous altitudes—even when accompanied with a GPS. Here’s how to determine and understand the best way to get the most precise reading.



How High Are We NowIf you have a GPS and a blind encoder in your panel, you may have three independent ways to determine your altitude. But which one is most accurate? We all grew up on baro altitude, so after a short review, we’ll plunge into the GPS world of the WGS84 datum, your height above ellipsoid (HAE) and mean sea level (MSL) altitudes.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Busting TFRs


Pilots continue to fly into restricted airspace. Are the feds losing their patience?



Busting TFRsOnce upon a time, you could pull the airplane out of the hangar, fire up the engine, point it into the wind and fly. Wherever you want, whenever you wanted. As time went on, rules and procedures began to be as much a part of a pilot’s skills as the ability to fly with a stick and rudder.
Thursday, September 1, 2005

Thunderstorms: Managing The Risk


Day or night, how do you fly responsibly?



Thunderstorms: Managing The RiskIt was June 1977, and I had climbed out of Reading, Pa., in a new Rockwell Commander 114, heading for Bethany, Okla. The weather was characteristic June gloom, hot, hazy and humid, typically unstable for summer in the Northeast.
Thursday, September 1, 2005

Flying With Floats


There are a whole lot more places to land when your airplane can get wet



Flying With FloatsYou ready for your check ride?” asks Tom Brady of Traverse Air nonchalantly. What the heck is he talking about? That was only my second flight! My mind raced with the implications of a check ride and the possibility of failure. I think I’m getting the skills of flying a floatplane on and off the water, but how can I be proficient enough to take a check ride already?
Monday, August 1, 2005

Avoiding Midair Collisions


Here’s what you can do to “see and be seen” when flying into high-traffic airspace



Avoiding Midair CollisionsIt was over so fast, it was almost as if it hadn’t happened. And, of course, fortunately for everyone, it hadn’t. It was only a blur in my peripheral vision, so fleeting that I wasn’t really sure it was there. It may have been a Seneca or Twin Comanche, angling in from my 10 o’clock. The airplane was slightly below me, and I had one of those terrifying, stop-action glimpses of two people in the cockpit, the pilot looking down at his instruments and the right-seater staring at him.
Monday, August 1, 2005

Top 10 Pilot Errors


Here’s a smart way to look before you leap onto the next flight



Top 10 Pilot ErrorsOne of the most disturbing statistics about general-aviation accidents is that more than 75% of them are made because of pilot error. Considering that it’s unlikely that pilots are going away anytime soon, the solution comes in the form of prevention. Saying this is easy, but actually making progress toward this goal is rather problematic. The first step toward eliminating pilot error is to examine the enemy. Just what types of errors are pilots committing and why? Then, armed with this information, pilots can make a concerted effort to avoid such mistakes through a fusion of training, planning and keen attention.
Friday, July 1, 2005

Moving On Up


Advanced training is the easiest way to become a better pilot



Moving On UpIs there life after the check ride? The obvious answer is a re-sounding yes, there is definitely life after the check ride. Before the check ride, you’re a student; after it, you’re a pilot and the world is open to you.
Friday, July 1, 2005

Saving Money On Fuel


With the price of avgas at record highs, here are some thoughts on getting the most out of your budget



Saving Money On FuelI was told when I bought my first single-engine airplane back in the last century that I could estimate my total hourly operating cost by multiplying fuel expense by three. In those days, I flew a Globe Swift that burned six gallons an hour. Fuel was only about 70 cents per gallon as I remember, so I figured my fuel cost at $4.20 per hour and total cost to operate the Swift at a whopping $13 per hour, an intimidating number in those days.
Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Control The Crosswind!


It can be vexing to any pilot, but is there a right and wrong way to take on the wind?



Control The Crosswind!There are several ways to start an argument. They range from the old favorites, politics and religion, to the blonde/redhead/brunette thing. Or you can simply state that there’s only one right way to land an airplane in a crosswind and that’s the way you do it. Stand back, folks, brutal words to follow.
Wednesday, June 1, 2005

12 Tips To Beat The Heat


Here are a dozen effective suggestions for safer summertime flying



12 Tips To Beat The HeatMost new-production and many high-performance aircraft have fuel-injected engines. There are some advantages of fuel injection over carburetion, but one drawback is that injected engines can be difficult to start when hot. Fuel vaporizing in fuel pumps and lines needs to be purged before the engine can fire. Here’s where a good read through the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) is worthwhile—it should contain a hot-start procedure that takes into account the airplane’s design and make of its fuel-injection system. What is good hot-starting practice in some types can be downright damaging in others.
Wednesday, June 1, 2005

The Stigma Of Mayday


As reluctant as we all can be to declare an emergency, there are times when nothing else makes sense



The Stigma Of MaydayFace it, no one likes to admit mistakes. Probably because of the Superman syndrome, pilots are especially reluctant to acknowledge errors to authority figures. Aviators are even more reticent to confess to dangerous mistakes if they have passengers on board.
Sunday, May 1, 2005

Don't Be Dense About Density Altitude


As the warm weather arrives, your airplane’s performance can really suffer



Don't Be Dense About Density AltitudeIt can prevent you from taking off from the same runway you did the day before. It will sap power from your engine. It can eliminate any chance of a climb rate on departure. It can drastically increase your takeoff and landing rolls. What aviation phenomenon has this much power over your flying? Density altitude. And if you fly without paying it due attention, you may find yourself staring down the end of a runway without hope of stopping or taking off. Even if you do make it in the air, high-density altitudes can cause you to quickly meet up with terrain that has a gradient superior to your ascent.
Tuesday, March 1, 2005

The FAA’s Capstone Project


Phase II brings this remarkable high-tech situational awareness a step closer to the Lower 48 states



capstoneGeneral aviation in Alaska is different. Changeable weather and difficult terrain create an environment where you’d expect most flying to be done on instruments, but an antiquated route structure and limited navaids make this impossible in many places. Yet many towns and villages depend on aircraft to a degree that’s almost unknown in the rest of the country.
Tuesday, February 1, 2005

The 10 Commandments Of Aviation Safety


There are some things you should absolutely positively know about any airplane you’re flying before you even start the engine



The 10 Commandments Of Aviation SafetySafety has always been a tough sell. Ask Bruce Landsburg of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Landsburg has been in the safety business for 25 years, having worked for FlightSafety in Wichita, Kan., before moving to AOPA. “The sad thing is,” says Landsburg, “much of the time, safety consciousness is a direct result of an accident post-mortem.”
Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Why Every Pilot Should Take Acro


Learning the basic maneuvers is more important than you think



Why Every Pilot Should Take AcroYou may wonder about the benefits of aerobatics to general-aviation pilots, especially when most pilots’ main mission primarily consists of pleasure flights to try another $100 hamburger. After all, why bother with inverted loops when you can merely enjoy the view and have a pleasant flight? The answer is simple: Anyone who practices aerobatics becomes a better, safer pilot, and the skills you learn from a professional aerobatics instructor not only can be applied to your general-aviation flights, but also to saving your life one day.
Wednesday, December 1, 2004

University of North Dakota/Aerospace


Training helicopter pilots for the U.S. Army



Most aviation insiders feel that the University of North Dakota (UND)/Aerospace is to aviation what Harvard is to law and business, partly because of its technologically advanced complex for collegiate aviation. And just like Harvard Law School, UND/Aerospace, which offers seven aviation majors, is a big part of a quite highly respected, four-year liberal arts university.
Friday, October 1, 2004

The New Sport-Pilot License Is Here!


Landmark changes from the FAA have just made Flying cheaper and easier



The New Sport-Pilot License Is Here!It took more than 2 ½ years to review the more than 4,700 comments on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) 2002 proposal to simplify pilot training and make the sport more affordable and accessible. After a tremendous amount of debate, research and consideration (and a certain amount of suspense), the FAA made its announcement on September 1, 2004: The new sport-pilot license became official, and with it came an entirely new category of planes, the light-sport aircraft (LSA).
Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Taking On Extreme Runways


Flying into backcountry strips makes you a better pilot and can be a welcome relief to your flying routine



Taking On Extreme RunwaysHave you ever wanted more from lightplane recreational flying than driving from point A to point B for the $200 hamburger? (Well, there’s aerobatics, but that’s another story.) So, instead of thinking of flying from A to Burger, how about A to Backcountry? Before you dismiss this with a “Hey, my airship is a 172, not a Super Cub,” read on.
Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Mastering The Panel-Mounted GPS Part 2


Last month, we explored the commonality of the Bendix/King KLN94 and Garmin’s CNX80, and 430 or 530 for VFR operations. This month, we’ll discuss how to use these units during instrument procedures.



Mastering The Panel-Mounted GPS Part 2The Honeywell Bendix/King KLN94 and Garmin’s CNX80 and GNS 430 or 530 are representative of IFR-approved GPS units, and their commonality extends to IFR operations, in which flight plans are modified in very interesting ways as IFR procedures are added. So, we’ll explore the addition of IFR procedures, which can complicate a simple VFR flight plan.
Sunday, August 1, 2004

The Last Spin


Why do experienced and inexperienced pilots alike fall victim to this all-too-common traffic-pattern accident?



The Last SpinThis is how it happens. The pilot turns base to final and notices a following wind is causing him to overshoot the centerline. He adds a little left uncoordinated rudder in an attempt to bring the nose of the aircraft back toward the runway. The aircraft rolls a bit to the left and he compensates by adding some right aileron to hold the 30-degree bank angle.
Thursday, July 1, 2004

Challenge Yourself


There are lots of ways to have more flying fun. But if you sign up for advanced ratings, you’ll also end up being a better pilot.



Challenge YourselfNo question about it—earning the private license is a major accomplishment. Some pilots will never need to seek additional ratings. The private allows pilots to operate in a wide variety of conditions, and many aviators content themselves with the entry-level ticket.