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.
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 »
The question is, should you modify your OEM checklist in any way? Here’s why it’s not an easy call.
In safety bulletin published earlier this week, the FAA is warning pilots about using an aftermarket checklist instead of the one published in the airplane’s POH. In its letter, the agency discussed a non-injury landing accident in which the pilot in command was using an aftermarket checklist to troubleshoot a problem with a gear extension more »
Flying low and VFR is fun and freeing—as long as you don’t hit anything while you’re doing it
When it comes to sheer volume of accidents, running into man-made obstacles, radio transmission towers, power lines and tall buildings and bridges is not a common way that pilots come to harm. Yet every year it seems a few pilots fly their perfectly functional airplanes into man-made obstructions at relatively low level. Sometimes the accident more »
Learning how to train yourself to relax in the face of danger
You read the accident reports, hoping to learn something from someone else’s troubles. Often, I imagine, you’re left with a nagging sense that things just don’t add up. Why did the highly experienced pilot do that? Why didn’t the CFI grab the controls and take over? The answers might lie in a kind of stall more »
From airfactsjournal.com. Ask a native English speaker what method he uses for constructing a sentence and you’ll probably get a blank stare. After all, most of us don’t read a textbook and come up with a formal approach to grammar before we write an email; we just write what sounds good. So why do we insist on a robotic approach when it more »
“Brace, brace, brace!” I repeated in my head. Knowing impact was imminent, I crossed my arms, gripped my hands neck-level to the top of my belt straps and dug my chin deep into my chest. I only managed one small, shallow breath before the plane flipped and rushing waters overtook me. My initial reaction was more »
Unexpected circumstances will always be part of flying. From minor inconveniences to full blown emergencies, there is absolutely no way to plan everything well enough to keep out of trouble forever. That said, back when I began flying I had no idea how many complications could be avoided with a more comprehensive approach to flight more »
How to keep task saturation from turning into disaster
If you’re a pilot, you’ve probably been there. A busy flight suddenly gets too busy for you to keep up with. At first it’s annoying, but at some point it can become a crisis, or worse. Task saturation happens in many arenas. By definition, it’s the mental bind we find ourselves in when we have more »
Do you want to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your flight training? Listen to these four simple words: Look out the window. That is all there is to it. By simply keeping your eyes outside a majority of the time, you will fly better, perfect maneuvers and landings in less time, and more »
From airfactsjournal.com. At its most basic, flying an airplane is a never-ending series of decisions. Is the airplane airworthy? What’s the weather like? Where’s that other airplane going? When should I turn base? Failing to ask these questions and make timely decisions is a serious mistake—one that will earn you a place in an NTSB more »
Soaring gets more people involved in flying and turns out pilots with outstanding stick-and-rudder skills.
Hands on, or hands off? That’s a looming question facing general aviation. The NTSB and the FAA are taking increasing notice of the category of stupid pilot tricks called departure from controlled flight, or loss of control, a type of accident that more often than not has fatal results. While the safety of light aircraft more »
Don’t automatically lock your airplane in its hangar this winter. The cold months can be some of the best times to fly.
Defining winter by the severity of cold weather on the North American continent can be a difficult task. In most years, anything south of a line through Atlanta, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Santa Fe and Los Angeles has a good chance of a modest winter. Any location above 35 degrees north latitude can reasonably expect more »
If you fly above 10,000 feet, be aware of the warning signs of hypoxemia. Learn how to avoid it and what steps to take if it happens to you.
Climbing through 16,000 for 23,000 feet, it dawned on me that I was feeling weird. It wasn’t sudden or severe, but once it had my attention, hypoxemia was my first thought. Hypo is low or below. A hypodermic needle goes below the dermis, the skin. Ox is oxygen, of course, and emia refers to blood. more »
Loss of control is the number-one cause of aircraft accidents, even in jets, but Upset Prevention and Recovery Training can help prevent you from becoming a statistic
It can be upsetting, but the attitude of most people, even smart ones (maybe especially smart ones), is that we’re stubbornly resistant to alteration, by the evidence. So here’s a fact about aircraft accidents that’s upsetting and that alters not only some cherished attitudes, but also airman certification standards, some aircraft airworthiness certification standards and more »
The future is not only coming, it might be here already
Pulleys. Pushrods. Electrical connectors swabbed with stabilant goo. Aircraft have untold connecting points that translate an input to an action. And, as those long-ago games of elementary school “telephone” demonstrated, every time a command moves from one node to the next, there’s potential for corruption or failure. Of all these connection types, one holds an more »