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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
Her husband’s love for aviation and camping inspired Carlana to learn to fly
Carlana Stone and her husband John Lawson love nothing better than going camping with their 1977 Maule M5-235, fondly nicknamed Molly. Lifting off from Whiteman Airport in the busy Los Angeles area, they fly to campgrounds ranging from remote bush strips, such as Idaho’s Johnson Creek, to local romantic getaways in the vineyard country of Santa Ynez. Typical camping activities ensue: pitching a tent under Molly’s wing, exploring the area and swapping flying stories around the campfire.
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.
What’s this new technology we’re hearing so much about?
Aircraft owners usually cast a wary eye when the FAA introduces a new technology. With each announcement, owners are concerned about paying a price to retain their rights to use the country’s airspace, and there’s usually a mass grumbling that begins with “What’s in it for me?”
He’s the world’s youngest air show pilot and much, much more
Jamail Larkins took his first airplane ride when he was twelve. As he recounts, “I remember going out to the airport. It was a partly cloudy day in the middle of summer. Mr. Fox pulled out his 1956 Cessna 172 and I watched him preflight. Then we hopped in and I helped him go through the checklist. I remember thinking, ‘I really can’t believe that I’m in the middle of an airplane right now.’”
Misconceptions abound about one of the most important forces in flying
Just about every pilot would agree that studying certain aspects of flight can be a time-consuming mental workout. Any attempt to master complex aviation subjects can be frustrating, if not impossible, when pilots are given conflicting or incorrect data. One topic in particular, how lift is generated, tends to muster a tremendous amount of heartache among aviators and aerodynamicists alike. In fact, if you look at five different aviation references, you’re likely to find five different explanations about how lift comes to be. Even worse, some sources advocate a specific theory, while rejecting the premises favored in others.
In 1978, Bert and Grace Poloson, both licensed pilots, flew a wheeled Cessna 182 from their Montana home into northern Canada. From the air, they surveyed the expansive scenery and the myriad remote lakes, and they pondered what it would be like if they brought a floatplane on their next trip.
Helping you become a superb and comfortable IFR pilot
For safety’s sake, it’s imperative that people who fly light planes for business or vacation travel hold and use an instrument rating. When flying on a hectic business schedule, for example, it’s likely that occasional work obligations may press a strictly VFR pilot into marginal conditions that could more easily and safely be handled by a competent instrument-rated pilot.
It’s a pristine, fair-weather day, so you can’t resist the urge to hit the sky for some pattern work. After a few rounds, your circuits begin to get a bit messy, which you attribute to a slowly escalating wind. It’s time to call it quits. On base to final, the darned wind is blowing even harder than before, causing you to overshoot. You crank over toward the runway and pull back. But to your surprise, the plane quickly rolls more than you expected and now you’re looking at the runway, but it’s upside-down. You’ve just become a stall/spin statistic.
More and more information outlets are available for pilots
Weather happens, and the vast majority of us mere mortals will probably never understand it. WX (as it’s rarely abbreviated) is almost universally regarded as the subject pilots understand least and fear most. For most aviators, it’s flying’s great question mark. Some people may have a perfect understanding of Bernoulli’s principle, but still consider weather a mystery.
Light sport aircraft are producing sport pilots in a remarkably short time
A little more than a year ago, the FAA passed legislation creating a new category of airplane, light sport aircraft (LSA), and a new rating, the sport pilot license. The idea was to make flying more accessible (driver’s licenses became the new medicals), easier to complete (minimum flight hours were reduced from 40 for a private pilot to 20 for a sport pilot) and less expensive (LSA are significantly cheaper to own and operate). Despite all the kudos from aviation groups, no one really knew just how successful the new aircraft and license would ultimately be.