License to Learn

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License to Learn: Somebody pinch me

Pilot Magazine | Sep 04, 2014

It’s called an Ercoupe. Built by Fred Weick and first manufactured in 1939, the two-place coupe was so revolutionary that even birds tweeted about it.

License to Learn: Media mania

Article | Aug 05, 2014

My approval/disapproval relationship (mostly disapproval) with the news-entertainment industry began in 1978, when a TV news anchor described how a collision occurred between a Boeing 727 and a Cessna 172 over San Diego.

License to Learn: Anxiety be gone!

Pilot Magazine | Jul 31, 2014

Several years ago, a fellow pilot, whom I’ll call Norm, confessed to an anxiety he developed about flying his airplane.

License to Learn: Attention grabber

Pilot Magazine | Jun 04, 2014

There was no mental drift when I sat down to take the Air Safety Institute’s online eFIRC (Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic) a few months ago.

License to Learn: The four C-note lesson

Pilot Magazine | May 12, 2014

A friend recently took his first flight lesson at a Midwest flight school and paid $400 for 1.2 hours of dual instruction. Shocked?

License to Learn: What’s in a date?

Pilot Magazine | Apr 04, 2014

AOPA has been nothing less than a caped crusader protecting the liberty of everyone who flies.

License to Learn: Managing our agreements

Pilot Magazine | Mar 06, 2014

Many years ago,I saw half a house moving down the street on a flatbed truck.

License to Learn: Aviation poetry

Pilot Magazine | Feb 12, 2014

Novelist Arnold Bennett once wrote, “I myself have seen it empty buildings that had been full; and I know that it will scatter a crowd more quickly than a hose-pipe, hornets, or the rumour of plague.

License to Learn: Submarine knowledge

Pilot Magazine | Dec 19, 2013

The best lessons I’ve ever learned about the mental game of flying an airplane didn’t come from studying books on aviation psychology. Instead, they came from reading history.

License to Learn: Confirmation bias

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2013

Have you ever flown with someone who agreed with every decision you made, even the ones that played out badly? I’m speaking of someone who kept saying yes to your every muse.

License to learn: Two minds—if you don’t mind

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2013

My father told me, “Never to go to bed without having a really good question on your mind.” I told him I’d think about it.

License to Learn: Having a clue or two

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2013

If you know what to look for, there’s something deeply satisfying about watching a runway’s geometry grow proportionally in your windscreen.

License to Learn: Ties the bind us

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2013

We actually do quite well at training people to make good decisions regarding their safety. People in industries ranging from commercial aviation to the nuclear industry have made impressive improvements in their safety record over the years.

License to Learn: Turbulence—yuck!

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2013

I don’t like clear air turbulence, and my passengers like it even less. It’s one of those things that saps the fun from flying, because it affects the neural nooks that are the primitive levels of our biology. It’s unlikely that you or your passengers will learn to like turbulence, but by understanding and sharing with your passengers what it can and can’t do to your mind and airplane, you can make turbulence tolerable.

License to Learn: The backseat

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2013

In the early 1980s I was offered a trip by airplane to a speaking engagement by a fellow named Pete, who had hired me to speak. He had just purchased a Comanche 250. Given my assumption of riding right seat, I eagerly accepted.

License to Learn: Aviation photography

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2013

I don't understand contemporary art. Neither did a night janitor working the London's Eyestorm Gallery in November 2001.

License to learn: The dark night rises

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2013

I remember the time I spent an entire day at a nearby airport filming video segments for an online aviation magazine. It was the perfect confluence of airplanes, sunlight, and even more sunlight.

License to learn: Bang for your buck

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2013

Four lessons from steep turns

License to learn: Ice follies

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2013

Some interesting cockpit applications

License to learn: Steppin' in it

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2012

Everyone makes mistakes on the radio now and then.

License to learn: Free to choose

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2012

So how many is too many?

License to learn: Natural hazards

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2012

Many moons ago, on a dual flight to a rustic little airport, my student (we'll call him Bob) was about to begin his landing flare when things got a little squirrely. A squirrel popped up, periscope-like, near the VASI and then made a mad dash across the runway. Thump! The squirrel had failed to hide his hide.

License to learn

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2012

I knew my article in the April 2012 issue of AOPA Pilot ("License to Learn: In Defense of Stick-and-Rudder Training") was a hot topic, but I didn’t know how sizzling it was until the letters rolled in. Every letter I received--except one--supported emphasizing stick-and-rudder basics during primary flight training.

License to learn

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2012

Our story begins in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on a sunny spring morning. The pilot of a Beech Baron prepared to depart on a cargo flight at 9:30 a.m. After starting his engines, he did something each of us does on most flights. He reached for his radio switch and turned it on. This time, however, his right wing exploded. Kaboom!

License to learn

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2012

Everyone believes in a myth at one time or another. This is especially true for those convinced that the world will expire on December 21, 2012, because the Mayan calendar abruptly ends on that date.

License to learn

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2012

It happened in the early 1990s. That was the time we saw the diminishing influence of World War II-era flight instructors (and their instructional progeny). Our pilots didn't fly jets, they flew airplanes that demanded exceptional stick-and-rudder skills.

License to learn

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2012

I remember sitting on a runway with a flight review student, years ago, waiting for a takeoff clearance. The crosswind was exceptionally gusty

License to learn

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2012

I remember sitting on a runway with a flight review student, years ago, waiting for a takeoff clearance. The crosswind was exceptionally gusty

License to learn

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2012

Reasonable people can disagree about how to fly an instrument approach, with both sides of the argument having some merit. This applies to a discussion I had with an experienced instrument flight instructor about how to descend to the minimum descent altitude (MDA) on a nonprecision instrument approach. We disagreed over two approaches to approaches. The constant airspeed technique (my recommendation) has a pilot making a descent to the MDA, leveling off, and flying to the missed approach point (MAP). If the pilot has the required visibility and identifiable runway environment, he descends and lands, but only after reaching the visual descent point (VDP).

License to learn

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2011

An FAA-designated pilot examiner once told me about the most anxious private pilot candidate he ever experienced on a checkride. Aside from sweating and mumbling during the oral exam (the applicant, not the examiner), the ultimate demonstration of in-flight nerves began when the examiner requested a steep turn.

Predict the future for pleasure

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2011

Aviation is an enterprise whose front end is loaded with warnings, caveats, regulation, and a dizzying supply of do's and don'ts (mostly don'ts). Not even a Houdini can escape this saturation of safety information. Don't get me wrong. Safety information is good, but too much good can be bad.

License to Learn

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2011

Electric airplanes, synthetic vision, and iPad accessories these things, abundant at this year's EAA AirVenture.

License to Learn

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2011

Albert Einstein gave us E=MC2, one of the most venerable of physics equations. It's an equation that allows us to understand the relationship between mass and energy. Aviation also has its venerable equations, and one of my favorites involves no math at all. This equation expresses the relationship between attitude, power, and performance. It's to be taken seriously, but not literally. It reads: Attitude + Power = Performance (A+P=P).

License to Learn

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2011

There are only three things that can get me to run out of the house and gaze skyward. The first is a UFO mother ship.

License to Learn

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2011

Do you know what magic is? It’s pretty simple. It’s the exact opposite of what a (good) teacher does.

License to Learn

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2011

Several months ago, I wrote “License to Learn: The Limited Flight Instructor Certificate” (February 2011 AOPA Pilot). The article produced many positive comments, but one fellow wrote to express his dismay about permitting private pilots to become limited flight instructors (or sport pilots to become sport pilot instructors).

License to Learn

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2011

Every few years, I find my way to Reno, Nevada, to attend some aviation function. This year I was there for the Women in Aviation International (WAI) conference.

License to Learn

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2011

At a recent aviation seminar, I listened to a fellow lament the substantial cost of learning to fly. He confessed to spending upwards of $14,500 to obtain his private pilot certificate.

License to Learn

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2011

Riddle me this: When is an airplane not an airliner? Answer: When it’s not an airliner. But that reality hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of many to fly their small, single-engine airplanes as if they’re operating a jumbo jet.

License to Learn

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2011

A Polish immigrant visited his local flight surgeon to take a third class medical exam. The doctor had him stand in a specific spot, then pulled down a chart showing the letters: CVOKPTNXZYKV.

License to Learn

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2011

When Randy stepped into his Piper Warrior on a recent Sunday morning, he had no idea how difficult it would be to apply power for takeoff. His airplane was fine; his anxiety level wasn’t.

License to Learn

Article | Dec 01, 2010

When country and western singers lament long enough, they’re often inspired to sing songs with snappy titles such as, “I’m So Miserable Without You It’s Almost Like Having You Here.” While I’m not about to make my thoughts go airborne, I do lament that student pilots seem to be taking longer to solo than they did many years ago. Perhaps this explains why some of them are singing, “I’m Feelin’ So Low Cause I Ain’t Nearin’ Solo.” In Barrett Studley’s 1936 issue of Practical Flight Training, he states: “Ten hours of dual instruction is considered the requisite amount to enable a student of average aptitude to solo safely.” Studley’s assertion assumes that students trained an hour a day or every other day (but no more than an hour at a time).

License to Learn

Article | Nov 01, 2010

Are you nervous about stall practice? You have copious company. One student I inherited from another instructor became so nervous during the stall sequence that he developed a peculiar habit of humming along with the stall horn.

License to Learn

Article | Oct 01, 2010

In 1998, Sen. John Glenn returned to space at 77 years of age on shuttle mission STS-95.

License to Learn

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2010

With a serious face, I tell my safety seminar audiences about my successful career transition—from Chippendale dancer to flight instructor. They always burst out laughing at this tall tale, which is of course totally humiliating.