Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

10 Flying Techniques From Great Aviators

Some of America's best pilots offer advice on how to fly smarter

One of the great joys of this job is that I've been allowed to interview and get to know some of the most interesting pilots in aviation. All of these folks made their living in our industry, and all had insightful thoughts on the basic tenets of flying an airplane. Perhaps surprisingly, none of their concepts were all that revolutionary. Most of them were plain, simple truth and common sense.

1 Roy LoPresti—aircraft designer. LoPresti's accomplishments weren't strictly confined to the drawing board. He was best known as an aircraft designer with credentials stretching back into NASA's Apollo Program of the '60s. LoPresti truly was a rocket scientist.

He worked for Grumman on the design of the Lunar Module, and later, in the '70s, when the space program was winding down, LoPresti redesigned the Grumman-American Traveler to
create the Cheetah and Tiger. Both airplanes were groundbreaking models with fixed gear that were universally at the head of their class. The GA Tiger was as fast as the early retractable Piper Arrow and Beech Sierra.

Later, LoPresti went on to upgrade the Mooney Executive to the 201, help get the Beech Starship certified, serve a stint at Piper and design the LoPresti Fury. Sadly, LoPresti died in 2002 before he could see his Fury design reach fruition.

Although LoPresti was an aeronautical genius, he was also an accomplished pilot with some firm ideas on how pilots could improve their flying. "It's old advice," said LoPresti, "but some pilots don't seem to understand that they need to make the airplane do what they want it to do. A good pilot should be trimming in any steady state flight condition. That means on takeoff, climb, any change in speed or pitch, and obviously on landing and for any adjustment of power.

"It's especially important to keep the airplane properly trimmed during landing and to maintain an appropriate approach speed. I've seen so many pilots try to force an airplane onto the ground at too high a speed, often resulting in a bounce or even a porpoise."

2 Rod Machado—author, instructor. Certainly one of the foremost aviation instructors on the planet, Machado is a well-known lecturer and writer on the subject of aviation. He has owned and flown several airplanes, a Beech 36 Bonanza, a Cessna Pressurized Centurion and, most recently, a Cessna 150. Guess which one he calls the most fun of the three?

Machado and I worked together on the ABC "Wide World of Flying" series in the 1980s, and I've flown with him a dozen times in conjunction with that series and other editorial projects. He's unquestionably one of the most knowledgeable pilots I've ever known.

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