Proficient Pilot

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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.