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Flying an airplane is an unmatched experience, and you can do some amazing things once you earn your certificate
Ah, if only you knew how to fly! You could escape the shackles of your humdrum life and soar above its stresses. You could wake up in Nebraska, eat a cheeseburger for lunch in Colorado and settle in for the night on a crystal lake in Idaho. You could fly biplanes or jets or spiffy little yellow Cubs with smiling bears painted on their tails. But how much will it cost, how long will it take and how safe is it? What can you do with a pilot’s license?
In our final installment, we conclude with “Alberto Santos-Dumont” through “Zulu time”
We’ve finally reached the end, my friends. In “Wingipedia, Part I” [March 2008], we covered “acrobatics through “induced drag.” And in “Part II” [May 2008], we took care of “Jenny” through “roll.” It has been fun, but our aviation version of Wikipedia has reached the end of its line. Wikipedia, which asserts that its name is “a portmanteau of the words wiki (a type of collaborative website) and encyclopedia,” is an online encyclopedia that’s written and edited by its visitors, i.e., people like you and me.
While the right instructor can inspire and motivate, the wrong one can destroy the desire to fly
The 26-hour student pilot sees the numbers approaching. Though he’s had problems with landings, he’s determined to get it right this time. He eases back for the flare, watching the far end of the runway. He balloons too much. Suddenly, the instructor catches a word in his throat and lurches forward. He grabs the yoke, makes the landing and yells, “What were you thinking? I’ve shown you a million times!” Embarrassed and frustrated, the student quits. He never flies again.
Opportunities for professional pilots are at record levels for civilian aviators. No matter what your goal, if you work hard, fly well, present yourself professionally and are flexible with schedules and work locations, chances are extremely good that you’ll find a professional pilot seat waiting for you.
Last month, we brought you the first installment (“acrobatics” through “induced drag”) of Wingipedia, our aviation-based encyclopedia. Here, we present the second installment. If you think that something’s missing, log on to planeandpilotmag.com to contribute your own additions.
In this edition, "acrobatics" through "induced drag"
The computer generation has come to depend on digital explanations for everything courtesy of Wikipedia (and, no, we don’t know where the name came from). That being the case, we thought we’d come up with our own, more common sense, aviation-based encyclopedia, hence “Wingipedia.” If you think something’s missing, add your two cents through the link at the end of this article.
Smooth handling: some advice on how to make every landing a squeaker
On 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.
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.
A 14-year-old boy, trained in Compton, solos both a helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft!
If anyone thinks that they can’t do what they put their mind to, they should meet Jonathan Strickland. Like any typical teenager, his vocabulary gravitates toward words such as “yeah” and “cool.” But what sets him apart from the rest is quite extraordinary. Jonathan can’t drive a car yet, but he can fly both an airplane and a helicopter!
Let’s play the Practical Test Standards Game again
There’s a wonderful line in a Toby Keith song that laments, “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.” It’s a bar room tale complaining about the aging process and the awful fact that it can’t be stopped. Luckily, that’s not necessarily true of pilots. Flying isn’t about party stamina but about skill, and that doesn’t have to slide downhill just because time is passing—assuming, of course, a pilot wants to halt that erosion.
Andover Flight Academy’s stick and rudder training brings out the bush pilot in everyone
It’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.
After 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?
Is the best-selling aircraft appropriate for student pilots?
According 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.
Another high school adds a real airplane to its curriculum!
It 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.
It’s more than learning to take off and land on water. It’s a brand-new flying experience.
For many pilots, attaining a seaplane rating is near the top of their must-do list. Runways are rendered obsolete when you’ve got a seaplane; just head for the nearest lake or river. Fortunately there are an abundance of schools worldwide that offer courses in water flying, but few are quite as unique as Italy’s Aero Club Como.“Pilots come from all over the world to learn here,” says the club’s president, Cesare Baj. Lake Como is among the most beautiful places on earth, and seaplanes have been operating there continuously since 1913.
A young girl from Arkansas celebrates in a special way
The sun was not up yet, but Kristin and her father were. She was already busy preflighting the family’s Cessna 152 for a flight from their home in Sea Ridge, Ark., all the way across the state to Jonesboro, Ark. A dozen hours, two oral exams and two check rides later, Kristin would be back home with two new ratings in her hand—a private-pilot license and an instrument-pilot rating she earned that day. Not a bad present on your 17th birthday.
Every day—yes, even Christmas—between 50 and 150 kids show up at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM), an incredibly unique nonprofit flight school in Compton, Calif. First they must finish their homework (there are even tutors there to help), and then they can take advantage of a variety of opportunities to earn money. The jobs might include graffiti mitigation, picking up trash from a local community park or even washing the occasional Cessna on the school’s flight line. But the money they earn is not available to the kids as hard cash. Instead they receive credit for flight lessons at the TAM flight school. The result is that an amazing number of kids from a tough inner-city Los Angeles neighborhood are learning to fly.
There are a whole lot more places to land when your airplane can get wet
You 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?