Technique

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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.

An Awakening

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2002

I've hit wake turbulence (real wake turbulence) twice in my short career. I recovered from one encounter because of my aerobatic experience; the other time I crashed because there was nothing else to do.

Columbia in the Clouds

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2001

All general aviation pilots dream of the day that they can trade in their underpowered aircraft for a machine that flies higher and faster and, let's admit it, looks sexier. My dream came true last year when I took delivery of the first production Lancair Columbia 300, the fastest certified fixed-gear single on the market.

Avoiding the Cancellation Trap

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2001

"Cessna Two-Seven-Two-Eight-Charlie, cleared to Foster Outer Compass Locator, hold northwest as published, maintain five thousand, expect further clearance 1930; you are number three for the approach." You read back the clearance, examine your chart to find Foster (the outer marker for the ILS approach to Victoria Regional Airport in Texas), and plan your holding-pattern entry. The controller is busy; he talks nearly nonstop.

The Point of No Return

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2001

To paraphrase Henry Higgins, from My Fair Lady, "Why can't a nonprecision approach be more like an ILS?" A precision approach offers a three-dimensional chute down to the runway—as opposed to a minimum descent altitude (MDA) that lures pilots into descending as quickly as possible and then changing configuration to motor on to the missed approach point. But yes, Professor Higgins, there are nonprecision approaches out there that imitate, to a certain extent, the profile given on a typical ILS.

The Stabilized Approach

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2000

The pilots of a Boeing 737 recently attempted to land on a relatively short runway in Burbank, California, after a high-speed, unstabilized approach. Twenty seconds after touchdown, the baby Boeing punched through a fence and came to rest in a Chevron station off the end of the runway.

On Autopilot

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2000

Fighting wrong-way needles Everybody hates a back course (BC) instrument approach because it can be such a confusing, demanding experience, and because many instrument landing system (ILS)-equipped airports don't use back course approaches. So, needles that give wrong-way steering information—and a lack of practice—combine to make back course approaches avoided.

On Autopilot

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2000

Who's flying—you or the autopilot? Who's flying? You or the autopilot? The question may sound a mite daft to any pilot who has spent any time at all flying with a basic autopilot. Why, of course you know who's flying.

IFR Strategies

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2000

You've got the runway in sight. Are you ready to land? You're coming to the end of what has been a well-executed night instrument approach.

Staying Sharp

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2000

Maybe your funds for the $100 hamburger went for a new clutch, or a home appliance, or college tuition, or closing costs. And then Christmas came, followed by lousy winter flying weather…has it been awhile since you flew? If so, Dan Mooney of CP Aviation in Santa Paula, California, has a few tips for you.

A Prelude to Takeoff

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2000

It seems that every time you fly with somebody new, you learn an additional item to check during the preflight stage. Different instructors teach students to look for different things.

Back to Basics

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2000

Arriving in style, VFR or IFR You're 20 miles out, and it's time to start thinking about just how you'll handle the landing at your destination airport. Some important strategic decisions are at hand, and how you conduct yourself over the next 10 minutes or so will have a huge bearing on the quality of your arrival.

Fear of Needles

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2000

If the day should ever come when the last nondirectional beacon (NDB) is unplugged and hauled off to a museum, I hope that the celebration will pause long enough for someone to write a nice epitaph for the pilots, least favorite nav system. I also hope that the historians responsible for documenting aviation's technological phases will leave room in their volumes for a chronicle of the peculiar spell NDBs and their airborne receiver, the automatic direction finder (ADF), cast on generations of pilots.

Wind-Triangle Computers

Article | Apr 01, 2000

Philip Dalton’s E-6B computer continues to set the standard In the beginning, pilots had their hands full just getting off the ground and keeping their machines in the air. But as engines and airframes became more reliable than a politician’s promise, pilots began to venture farther afield.

All Shook Up

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2000

The flight began innocently enough: an early morning departure from Glenwood Springs to Boulder, Colorado, in late spring. The early departure was intended to avoid the usual turbulence that begins as sunlight fills the valleys of the Continental Divide.

Mighty Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 1999

Baby boomers may recall the Terry Toons Mighty Mouse theme song, sung by a squeaky little mouse in a superhero costume: "Here I come to save the day! Mighty Mouse is on his way." Give yourself a chance to feel the same way. Depending on which package you buy, United Services, a division of United Airlines, now offers pilots and nonpilots alike a chance to fly one of its $20 million full-motion simulators.

Tips From Test Pilots

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 1999

When a new Cessna 172, 182, or 206 is rolled out for its first test flight at the Cessna Aircraft Company in Independence, Kansas, how long would you guess the preflight lasts? Thirty minutes? An hour? "One week," said Dan Andrew, the chief pilot for single-engine production flight testing. Subsequent preflights are shorter — more like those that most pilots do, but more thorough.

The 'Mystery' Airplane

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 1999

FAA Supervisory Operations Inspector Jack Patrick and I were climbing out of San Diego's Montgomery Field in a Piper PA-28-201 on a flight to Imperial, California. I was flying from the left seat, and he was giving me an FAA annual proficiency check.

Pilot Decision Making

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 1999

In many cases, the airline way is the right way Decisions, decisions — as pilots, we make hundreds of decisions each time we fly. Most of them, thankfully, are sound ones.

No Go-Around

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 1999

Like the moon floating serenely across the sky, a spacecraft in Earth orbit is in a constant struggle to escape gravity and streak boundlessly toward outer space. It is an exquisite blend of forces that allows an orbiting projectile to free-fall toward our planet at exactly the same rate at which the Earth's curvature falls away.

Looking for Traffic

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 1999

"This would be a good time for a midair." I wasn't trying to spoil the party when I said it. Under the circumstances it was simply true, and it couldn't hurt to point it out.