Technique

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Not Deadly -- But Costly

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2005

Ask experienced pilots of complex aircraft what they fear most as far as accidents go, and you likely won't hear about obvious crises such as an engine failure or a loss of control on an instrument approach. No, the most competent, careful pilots I know — to a one — say, "I'm afraid of landing gear up." Why would a normally nonfatal event — many gear-ups don't even qualify as accidents — strike fear into the hearts of skilled, high-time pilots? Because they know it's one that only takes a couple-minutes lapse of attention, or distraction, or misunderstanding to cause.

One Step Ahead

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2005

Do we continue the takeoff or do we abort, do we land or go around? There are times in aviation when our whole world can change in the blink of an eye. The V1 decision — to go or not to go — is probably the most famous split-second decision that we have to make, and we do it on every flight.

Getting to Know You

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2005

It was the pilot's first flight in the 1977 Mooney 201, which he had just acquired with a partner. Conducting the checkout was an instructor who had more than 100 hours of Mooney experience — in a 1981 model.

A Personal MEL

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2005

One of the common threads in aviation — general aviation, the airlines, corporate, the military, and even the space program — is the problem of dealing with something on the aircraft that is broken. Hardly a student or a renter has not had to deal with an airplane that has a broken part.

Me, Myself, and I

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2004

Last week you were flying with Perfect Pilot, the King of Crew Resource Management (CRM). Perfect knew everything, shared it willingly, was a great stick, helped little old ladies across the street, and even paid for dinner.

Scanning for Traffic

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2004

Cirrus Three-Four-Golf, traffic 10 o'clock, five miles, 1,000 below your altitude." "New York...looking...no joy...Three-Four-Golf." "Cirrus Three-Four-Golf, traffic is now two miles, 10 o'clock." "New York...no contact, Three-Four-Golf." "Cirrus Three-Four-Golf, clear of traffic." "New York, we never saw traffic, Three-Four-Golf, roger." We all have difficulty identifying potential conflicting traffic. During some flights we may never see half the traffic called by controllers.

The Flap About Flaps

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2004

As Shakespeare didn't say, "To flap or partial flap, that is the question." Flap usage becomes a matter of experience and, therefore, personal opinion. That may be why, over the years, pilots of single-engine airplanes have hotly debated the issue.

Details, Details

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2004

One of the most important lessons that a young pilot learns is to properly preflight an airplane, and with good reason. Would you really want to get airborne knowing that you had not checked the oil or the security of the fuel caps? Much attention is given to checking details before flying.

Checklist Flows

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2004

The team of three pilots climbed into the cockpit of the simulator and went immediately to their assigned tasks. Hands glanced over the buttons, switches, and dials of the Boeing 747-100 as each worked through his section of the panel, preparing the simulated airplane for flight.

Slow Down and Take It Easy

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2004

Much is made of the transition from a training airplane to a "bigger" airplane. For the pilot who has trained in a Cessna 152, the step up to a 172 or a Piper Cherokee 180 can be pretty daunting.

Which Way Now?

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2004

No one task is more open to interpretation than the transition from cruise flight to the approach to an airport. That's why standard arrivals are spelled out for instrument pilots in busy terminal areas — creativity can lead to scraping metal in the clouds.

No-Wake Zones

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2004

Wake turbulence is a hazard to airplanes of nearly all sizes. You can't see it, but you can sure feel it.

Beyond the Flat Earth

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2003

Part of the wonder of flight is exploring the world and its mountains, forests, deserts, and cities from the air. But flying while enveloped in a damp towel of gray prevents you from seeing that world — then the wonder becomes finding your way to the destination merely from a combination of paper charts and six dials on a flat panel.

Touchdown!

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2003

It's like a ballet of hands, feet, and head that all pilots perform on every flight. Its procedures aren't on any checklist.

Tiptoeing into IFR

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2003

You got the instrument rating, but your ticket's essentially dry. Maybe you're like most instrument students: You spent a lot of time under the hood during training, but only an hour or two (at most) in actual instrument conditions.

Flying Final

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2003

"Good approaches make good landings." You've heard this adage many times in your flying life. And it's true: If you're all set up on the final approach leg of the pattern, the job of gracefully touching down is much, much easier.

Going PVFR

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2003

Some years ago, I was detailed to Kotzebue, Alaska, in late February to assist in conducting a moose survey in the Selawik River drainage area. Kotzebue lies well north of the Arctic Circle, and in February, the sun angle is very low.

Did I Miss Something?

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2003

I got a thank you note the other day from someone I had mentored at the company I fly for. Kaitlyn had just passed her first year's probation and was pretty happy.

Pattern Perfection

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2003

You're at a nontowered airport on a warm, sunny, severe-clear late afternoon. It's been a great day for flying, and it's nice to take in the airport ambiance as the sun begins to cast its golden, setting glow.

Advice to Pilots

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2003

The Navy has its Grampaw Pettibone, an ancient aviator who has infinite experience and knowledge, and a sometimes sarcastic tongue when offering advice on flight accidents and problems. We civilians have Grampappy Altovogel (a modified German phrase for old bird), and after nearly 60 years of flying he is willing to let us have the benefit of his aeronautical experience.

Get Down!

Article | Feb 01, 2003

You're VFR, not used to flying high or even flying very far, but the best winds are at 9,500 feet above the ground. So you're up there, marveling at being almost two miles into the sky, and wondering when you should descend.

Hitting the Spot

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2002

I was talking recently with my friend Darryl, a budding private pilot close to solo, about takeoffs and landings. Darryl was lamenting the difficulty of staying on the runway centerline all the time and was wondering how important it really was.

Battling the Babble

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2002

With the heightened congestion on air communication frequencies these days, one of the most difficult portions of flight training has become efficient radio communication with air traffic control (ATC) as well as with other pilots on unicom frequencies. At the big airports during airline rush hours, dead air on ATC approach and surrounding center frequencies can be such a rare occurrence that even if you manage to get a word in, you must make sure it's quick, meaningful, and professional sounding, or else you could be denied access to that airport or its airspace until the traffic subsides.

Short Runways

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2002

Bush pilots land in a few hundred feet — or else The white refrigerator door marks the touchdown zone of my not-so-generous 600-foot runway with trees at both ends — but I am flying a Helio Courier, one of the world's best short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft. It has a three-blade, 96-inch-diameter propeller that boosts climb performance, Fowler flaps that extend outward and down to improve slow flight characteristics, and leading-edge slats that drop forward at slower speeds and double the lift generated by the wing.

Engine Out!

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2002

It can be one of a single-engine pilot's worst nightmares: total engine failure shortly after takeoff. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, there were 4,187 accidents attributable to engine failure during a recent five-year period.