Technique

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Tale of Two Crossings -- PC-12

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 1998

First of two parts Trucking across the North Atlantic Things like this don't happen every day, the Pilatus folks at their U.S. headquarters at the Jeffco Airport in Broomfield, Colorado, told me.

Infrequent Flyer Points

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 1998

Been flying? Been up lately? Unless we are burning up the airways, most of us tend to answer these questions with studied vagueness — "A little, here and there" or "always looking for the $100 hamburger" are casual code words that betray our relative inactivity. None of us wants to admit to our buddies at the airport that we aren't flying much; to do so would subject us to pity or ridicule.

Contrails Tell a Story

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 1998

Except for those unforgivable mental lapses when we've left the Colombian coffee behind, most of the contrails that I've had a hand in making have been, I'll admit, monotonously straight. No daydreaming child ever conjured up a puppy dog or favorite cartoon character looking at one of mine.

O2 Issues

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 1998

Most pilots don't think too much about using portable oxygen. Sure, everyone knows that you have to use supplemental oxygen if you fly more than 30 minutes at cabin pressure altitudes of 12,500 feet or higher.

Going the Distance

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 1998

According to the DUATS flight planner, the distance from Boulder, Colorado, to Memphis is 779 nautical miles — a bit of a stretch for my Cessna 185 Skywagon; without help from the wind gods, we would need a stop somewhere between central Kansas and northwest Arkansas to replenish the fuel tanks. On the morning of the flight, with high ceilings and excellent visibility, I decided to go VFR.

Beyond the Book

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 1998

It has often been said that, with the exception of the nuclear power industry, aviation is the most regulated activity in the country. In many ways we must fit our operations around, beside, and on top of the restraints that the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) place upon us.

Headwork

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 1998

"Thanks for the memory ..." Who could ever forget that song that old What's-her-name used to sing: "Memories, like the BLAH blah blah blah blah ... misty BLAH blah blah BLAH memories—of the blah blah blah." Well, you know how it goes.