Proficient Pilot

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Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2012

The expression "behind the curve" apparently has to do with being on the left side of the so-called bell curve, the type of curve that many teachers use to issue grades. Being behind the curve also refers to something or someone unable to keep up with the norm.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2012

Whenever receiving my new copy of "Plane and Pilot", I almost always flip first to the last page of the magazine for my visit with Budd Davisson, one of my favorite aviation writers (and a regular contributor to "Flight Training" magazine).

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2012

When I was preparing for my private pilot "rating" in 1955, the night experience required by the Civil Air Regulations (CARs) consisted only of 10 takeoffs and landings. A cross-country flight at night was not required then as it is now.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2011

No one likes to admit failure, and I'm certainly not an exception to the rule. One misstep I dislike mentioning is when I failed the flight test for my flight instructor certificate in 1956 when I was 18 years old. I was in the rear seat of the Aeronca 7AC Champion and looking forward at the back of the examiner's head as I completed the 720-degree steep turn.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2011

The old Piper Apache was anything but a muscle machine. Its pair of 150-horsepower four-bangers could barely lift it into the sky. Yet there I was pointing down Oakland, California's longest runway with a full load of fuel. And I mean full. In addition to burgeoning wing and auxiliary tanks, the cabin was stuffed with a humongous ferry tank also filled to capacity.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2011

Although I do not think that many young nonpilots read this column, that is exactly the audience I would like to reach this month.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2011

Mentioning certain types of military aircraft often conjures thoughts of single missions for which they were most famous. The North American B–25 Mitchell reminds us of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo (April 18, 1942), and you cannot think of the Boeing B–29 Superfortress without being reminded of the role it played in America's use of the atomic bomb to end World War II. The "Superfort" was the only airplane capable of performing that historic mission. So it was that upon completion of my feature article about the B–29 ("The Lady has a History"), I thought it remiss not to include my thoughts about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, the two most violent acts of war ever committed. Or were they?

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2011

My friend, Hal Fishman, and I used to have an ongoing and vigorous disagreement about which was best, high- or low-wing airplanes, a subject that has been hotly debated since before the 1903 Wright Flyer. Tongue-in-cheek historians claim that Orville and Wilbur’s biplane was a compromise; its main disadvantage was having twice as many leading edges from which to remove bugs.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2011

If I were king of the FAA I would require students to become glider pilots before allowing them into the cockpit of an airplane. Soaring offers a certain purity of flight that teaches fundamentals by eliminating the masking and distracting effects of power and propeller.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2011

Sometimes when I write about the so-called “good old days,” I can usually anticipate some readers accusing me of being an aeronautical dinosaur. I can understand that kind of sentiment directed toward someone who refuses trying to embrace new technology.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2011

As an 18-year-old flight instructor in 1956, I tried to be clever and original in the way I taught. There were times, though, when I was too clever.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2011

One question I am frequently asked is, “What is your favorite airplane?” I answer candidly that I don’t have a favorite. It depends on my mood and the purpose of the flight.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2011

During a recent rainy-day gabfest at my home airport, one of the local pilots asked me to explain the principles of inertial navigation and why, in this age of GPS, inertial navigation systems (INSs) are still in use by the airlines. I told them that this is a subject more easily explained in writing than during the informality of hangar flying.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2011

Every pilot who flies a single-engine airplane with a constant-speed propeller is instructed by the emergency checklist to position the propeller in high pitch (low rpm) following engine failure. This is because a windmilling propeller creates less drag in high pitch than in low.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2011

Last April’s column touched on three unrelated topics, items that individually did not justify a full column but were thoughts nevertheless worthy of discussion (“Proficient Pilot: 3 in 1”). Here we go again.

Proficient Pilot

Article | Dec 01, 2010

The other day I read an article by Ross Detwiler in the October 2010 edition of Business & Commercial Aviation. The article conveyed a concept so simple in principle yet so profound in potential benefit that I immediately decided (at the risk of appearing plagiaristic) to pass it along to readers of this column.

Proficient Pilot

Article | Nov 01, 2010

Since retiring from TWA in 1998, I have made it a point to submit to an instrument proficiency check almost every year. In each case, I have used an airplane equipped with analog gauges.

Proficient Pilot

Article | Oct 01, 2010

Safety in flight relies on the health of both man and machine. Most of us are thorough and meticulous when it comes to the care and feeding of our aircraft, but many of us are not as careful about taking care of ourselves.

Topics Events

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2010

Every airline pilot has his favorite flight segments. Domestically, mine was the route between Los Angeles and Denver (or vice versa).

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2010

There are two basic kinds of flight instructors. The first comprise the majority, those who instruct by rote, the do-as-I-demonstrate types.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2010

Several years ago I wrote about my desire to fly as many different types of aircraft as possible. My initial goal was to reach 300.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2010

In 1927, the Ford Motor Company used the first of its Tri-Motors to fly auto parts between Chicago and Dearborn, Michigan. This is when a young Ford engineer, Eugene Donovan, developed and patented the “four-course, loop-type, low-frequency radio range,” the first radio aid to air navigation.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2010

My last international flight for TWA was in 1998 and involved navigating across large chunks of ocean by following a magenta line on a moving-map display from coast-out to coast-in. It was little different than the way we now use GPS, a matter of flying direct from one waypoint to the next.

Proficient Pilot: 3 in 1

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2010

I marvel at how newspaper columnists develop ideas for numerous columns every month while I have such difficulty coming up with just one. So it was this month as I scrounged through my file of scribbled notes intended to remind me of possible column ideas.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2010

I have celebrated 71 years on Earth, including 27,000 hours above it. Spending the equivalent of three years in a cockpit nurtures a perspective that gives one the right to reflect on events aeronautical with some credibility.