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

Hoover acknowledges that spins aren't much of an event in a Pitts, Super Decathlon or Extra. Most of the time, they're easily controllable and will recover almost immediately to proper control inputs, but Hoover feels there are still too many unknowns about spins. Variations of rig, CG, rough air and a dozen other irregularities can make spins unpredictable.
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.

5 Max Conrad—ferry pilot, long-distance flyer. Conrad was one of the world's most famous ferry pilots back in the 1950s and '60s, and his long-distance flights remain practically legend. One of the longest he flew was in a Comanche 250 from Casablanca, Morocco, to Los Angeles in 1959, 7,668 sm in 58 hours, 38 minutes.

Conrad even had a personal connection to Plane & Pilot. He taught Don Werner, founder of this magazine, to fly. When I edited Plane & Pilot back in the last century, Conrad was one of my columnists on his column, "Ask Max." Conrad claimed he had 50,000 flight hours (that's three hours a day, seven days a week for 50 years), but whatever the actual number, he had a wealth of real- world experience.

I once asked Conrad if he had any universal advice for young pilots, and he said, "Whatever the airplane, always remember that the health of the engine(s) is a result of the cumulative effect of your treatment. If you make enough little mistakes, such as operating the engine too lean or too hot, forget to open the cowl flaps for climb, ignore the effects of shock cooling or get in the habit of running the oil level too low, you may eventually have to pay a penalty. In flying the ocean for 50 years on 180 separate delivery trips, most often ferrying new airplanes overseas, I always tried to keep in mind that the engine was my security blanket. I knew if I took good care of it, it would probably keep me warm and dry."

6 Duane Cole—air show performer, author. Duane Cole was perhaps best known for his clipped-wing Taylorcraft BF-50 with his name written upside down on the aft fuselage.

That's because Cole spent so much of his time inverted in the little, single-seat T-craft. Cole and two brothers, Lester and Marion, comprised the Cole Brothers Air Shows, and their performances were a staple of flight demonstrations all over America in the 1950s and 1960s.

So much of Cole's life was wrapped up in aerobatics that he wrote two books on the subject, Roll Around A Point and Conquest Of Lines And Symmetry. Therefore, it's not hard to understand that the air show pilot felt every aviator could benefit from aerobatic training.

Cole's logic was irrefutable, and he proved that to me on that afternoon in Alexandria. Although I had done some acro in the Great Lakes area, I had treated it as an interesting diversion rather than a life-saving alternative. Cole's command of the airplane was phenomenal, and he explained to me the very real benefits of learning aerobatics as escape maneuvers.

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