Hone your pilot skills with the articles and advice below. Our sport-pilot articles cover topics of interest to novice and advanced general aviation pilots. Trust our ongoing training articles to improve your piloting skills.
An airplane rating would make learning this machine a breeze. Or so it seemed on the first date
There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing. You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do. Part One of this three-part series ended with my first sustained “controlled” hover—nothing steady or rock solid about it, more »
There’s no difference between flying in daylight and flying at night—except you can’t see anything.
There’s no difference between flying in daylight and flying at night—except you can’t see anything. So goes the sage advice from my old flight instructor, and he’s essentially right. The airplane doesn’t know or care that its pilot is visually impaired during the hours of darkness. It performs and responds just as it does in more »
The first step in learning to fly helicopters, a lifelong dream of one pilot, was learning to hover. But would that first step also be his last?
I was bewildered during preflight and startup—vaguely familiar but with way more steps that I didn’t fully understand—couldn’t yet correlate. I was sure that once we got going—got airborne—I’d be at home. After all, I’d been flying airplanes for many years. This was my introductory flight lesson for the rotor wing add-on rating to my more »
Developing good habits is critical for our flying. So why is it that so few of us are any good at it?
It’s often said that habits get started early in life and stick with us. Unfortunately, that’s true for habits both good and bad. So it’s important to develop good habits early and nurture them while learning how to keep from picking up bad habits along the way. If you’re a pilot, you understand how fundamental more »
Crosswinds can be tricky, so take some time to arm yourself with the knowledge you need.
Subscribe today to Plane & Pilot magazine for industry news, reviews and much more delivered straight to you! Land being the valuable commodity that it is, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find an airport offering a choice of runway directions—other than the two alternate ends of a single strip of pavement. And so, more more »
Flying in the high country provides its own set of challenges to pilots. Here are a few basics to know.
Subscribe today to Plane & Pilot magazine for industry news, reviews and much more delivered straight to you! My home is located on a public use airport in a Colorado mountain valley at an elevation of 8,300 feet. When I step out my front door, I can count seven peaks within seven miles that top 14,000 more »
The need for airline pilots is reshaping how new pilots are learning to fly
Are you an aviation enthusiast or pilot? Sign up for our newsletter, full of tips, reviews and more! Not too long ago, there wasn’t much hiring going on at the airlines. Many pilots interested in airline jobs took flight instructing positions and kept them for a while, building hours well beyond the 1,500 hours total time more »
Take maximum advantage of this low-risk chance to sharpen your skills.
Are you an aviation enthusiast or pilot? Sign up for our newsletter, full of tips, reviews and much more! Flight reviews come to all of us every couple of years, if not supplanted by an equally rigorous evaluation and training requirement. Under Federal Aviation Regulation 61.56(c), no person may act as pilot in command unless a more »
Five things the tower tells you to do that don't seem to make much sense, and why they say them.
Are you an aviation enthusiast or pilot? Sign up for our newsletter, full of tips, reviews and more! It’s a given that air traffic controllers like to talk. I mean, why else would we have chosen this career? I like to talk, and to my credit, most pilots hear what I say. But the question is, more »
Know what loss of control looks like and how to stop it before it ruins your day.
Are you an aviation enthusiast or pilot? Sign up for our newsletter, full of tips, reviews and more! Even though they might be technically correct, when an NTSB report cites loss of control as the cause of a crash, it’s really not much help. It’s only slightly more informative than saying that colliding with terrain was more »
Some tips to cut risk when you descend on an approach
Back in the day, vertical guidance on final approach was reserved for the Cadillac approaches, which almost always meant an ILS. Airports whose tax base or FAA grant status didn’t cut it were stuck with non-precision approaches. Without vertical guidance, we’d cross a fix and step down to the next altitude, fix after fix, until more »
A longtime pilot discovers the joys of backcountry flying
“Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and, sometimes, in the middle of nowhere you find yourself.” — Author Unknown Running parallel to and between two sharp turns in the Deschutes River—deep in a narrow canyon—Bull Run is barely discernable as a landing strip. The tan summer grass blends into the reddish beige more »
For plenty of pilots, learning to fly an airplane doesn’t come naturally
On an introductory flight, the gray-haired man who would eventually become my CFI, Paul, coached me through gentle turns on the western banks of the Chesapeake Bay and assured me that if he could learn to fly, anybody could. He was jovial and enthusiastic about everything the flying life had to offer. All that stood more »
Planning a departure alternate before leaving the ground can make all the difference in an emergency
I’m paranoid about emergencies on IFR departures. Maybe it’s because I’ve had four attitude indicator (AI) failures in flight, twice in IMC. One of those was even a certified primary flight display (PFD) from a major manufacturer, so don’t assume glass panels are immune. Indulge me in the retelling of one of those to illustrate more »