Our pilot training articles are designed to help you improve your flying proficiency. Bone up on beneficial skills as well as the biggest mistakes to avoid as a pilot. Fly right with articles on topics such as dealing with ice and the most dangerous things you can do as a pilot.
Customizing your training will make you a safer, smoother and more efficient pilot
Like many newly minted instructor pilots, my first “dual given” was a flight review. I didn’t know how to put together a review. At the time, the regulations gave almost no guidance and didn’t require a minimum amount of time on the ground or in the air (this has since changed).
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.
It’s been official since September 1, 2004, and it’s working: the sport-pilot rule is a reality; light-sport aircraft (LSA) and flight training are available; and maintenance facilities are catching on. So, how does one get that sport-pilot certificate? What does it take, and how much does it cost?
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.
Beyond mountains, airspace restrictions & tall buildings can also define tight spots
The visibility isn’t the best going up the mountain pass. On the far side lies better weather and home. Behind are a tent, camp, cold and wet weather, and insufficient gas to go elsewhere. The pilot continues deeper into the pass, hoping conditions will improve. The ceiling is steady, but the terrain is rising. They’re headed south, and winds are westerly at 20 knots, with gusts. The pilot hugs the right side of the pass for traffic.
All of us should be able to handle one self-promise per month
The human race has an insatiable need for self-delusion, so every year we make promises to ourselves. Even though they’re made in earnest on December 31st, they usually prove very hard to keep as the year progresses. Hey, when it’s July and you’re gorging yourself at a picnic, it’s hard to remember that six months earlier you pledged to lose weight. Twelve months is a long time.
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?
With careful preparation, cold-weather flying can be great fun
Winter—it’s cold, it’s dark and sometimes it seems like spring will never come. But, lots of pilots live in cold country, and there’s no sense letting our airplanes sit idle all winter. Although it takes more effort and better preparation, winter flying can indeed be tolerable and sometimes even downright fun. So, if you’re up for the challenge, let’s consider some things you can do to mitigate the effects of winter and enjoy some flying.
Picture this: You’re cruising straight and level at 8,500 feet in your A36 Bonanza. You’re luxuriating in smooth air and sunshine, and there’s perfect weather at your point of departure, destination and all points in between. The engine is running perfectly, everything is working well, your passengers are happy and then…
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.
At any airport social gathering, you can expect to come across a group of grinning avgas burners in one room, enthusiastically telling tall hangar tales, their hands weaving imaginary flight paths through the air over their heads. They’re comparing fancy “must-have” equipment, optimistic “true” airspeeds and brilliantly heroic escapes.
If you don’t fly much, make each hour pay for itself
The world’s flying community looks at the 35-hour yearly average for U.S. pilots and shakes its collective head. They bemoan what they perceive as a general lack of proficiency and place blame on the pilots, as though they’re doing it on purpose.
Dan Williams has always been interested in aviation. “I had my first flight lesson at 18, but I had no money to finance further lessons in college,” he recalls. Though he maintained his interest in aviation, it wasn’t until the end of his first marriage that Dan could get back to flying, only now he was also interested in a project working with kids. So when he met Stephen Walker, owner and director of Avionics West, Inc., at Santa Maria Airport in California, the two bonded over their love of aviation and their mutual desire to get kids similarly interested and involved with flight.