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Test Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2010

General 1. The classic de Havilland DHC–2 Beaver is a large, single-engine, high-wing bush plane made in Canada.

Technique: When Abnormal turns ugly

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2010

It’s ironic that when practicing emergency procedures we can sometimes set ourselves up to create the very problems we’re trying to avoid. “Don’t let a simulated emergency turn into the real thing,” flight instructors are told, and that’s great advice.

Test Pilot

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2010

General: 1. What is the Cessna 305? 2.

Technique: Helping other pilots

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2010

We’ve all been there. The sun is still well below the horizon, you are planning to take off around dawn, and you’re digesting the weather briefing you just received.

Technique: Running on empty

Article | Mar 01, 2010

We’ve all heard the maxim—“The only time there’s too much fuel in an airplane is when it’s on fire.” That’s not entirely true, of course, but carrying an insufficient amount of fuel, or not being able to get it to the engine(s), has been a frustratingly persistent cause of aircraft accidents for generations. About 200 GA accidents in the past five years were attributed to pilots running out of fuel, according to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.

Technique: Spanning two worlds

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2010

With more general aviation pilots flying behind glass cockpits today, the need for glass-specific training has grown tremendously. In the case of instrument training, one of the questions being raised is the possibility of creating two distinct tracks that a student might follow.

Technique: Plain Language

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2010

You want a good grade from the FAA when traveling in Class C and D airspace, because the alternative is a violation reported to your local FAA Flight Standards District Office. Yet it may have been years since you had to deal with either class of airspace.

Technique: Plain Language

Article | Dec 08, 2009

You want a good grade from the FAA when traveling in Class C and D airspace, because the alternative is a violation reported to your local FAA Flight Standards District Office. Yet it may have been years since you had to deal with either class of airspace.

Technique: Plain Language

Article | Nov 02, 2009

Determining the route to file on an IFR flight plan shouldn’t be difficult. But experienced instrument pilots, instrument students, and even CFIIs can get tripped up on this supposedly pedestrian process.

Technique: Rotten air

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2009

Flags stood straight from their poles, plastered in place by blustery winds. It was a good day to grab Frederick, Maryland, instructor Tom O’Neill and conduct a research flight in search of practical tips to use for battling rough air.

Technique: Emergency winning Performances

Article | Aug 03, 2009

Shortly after this year’s Academy Awards, the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) managers issued some awards of their own. Normally ASRS receives reports of confusion or problems that need to be addressed to improve air traffic control or the national airspace system.

Technique: Seeking your own level

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2009

Where do you go—high or low—when picking an altitude for flight? The right altitude may seem obvious at first glance. But you may gather information and find yourself torn between factors that tell you to go high and others that say to fly lower.

Technique: Instinctive response

Article | Jun 01, 2009

Can a pilot stumble through stalls, botch the balked landing, turn terribly, and still impress a check pilot more than another pilot whose maneuvers are sharp as a tack? Absolutely, and not because the observer can’t tell the difference. The check pilot may grasp that the out-of-practice pilot is rusty, but has superior know-how.

Technique: Vital function

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2009

It sounds like the easiest pilot gig on the planet. Climb aboard and watch for traffic while the other pilot logs time flying under simulated instrument conditions.

Technique: Back to basics

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2009

Routine is always best Every aircraft, from the supersonic stealthy sled to the general aviation family flier, starts its aviation day by taxiing. Proficient pilots fly their aircraft from engine startup until engine shutdown.

Technique: The preflight

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2009

Avgas trucks never use a single-point refueling nozzle. As you sip your coffee in the pilot lounge looking through the window at your airplane, it seems like a fuel truck that has a second hose outfitted with a single-point nozzle just pulled away from your airplane.

Technique: City Lights

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2008

Nearing the end of a 10-hour flight in 1994 from Frederick, Maryland, to Wellington, Kansas, I could see the destination had to change. The goal was Wellington to take an AOPA sweepstakes aircraft, the “Better than New 172,” in for its engine work.

Technique: Missed Approach Musings

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2008

Those of us who are instrument rated and current practice missed approach procedures on a regular basis—in VFR weather. But a real-world missed approach in below-minimums weather is something altogether different.

Technique: On Final, on the Gauges

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2008

While it may be true that passengers judge a pilot’s competence by the quality of their landings, we know better. When it comes to precise flying, excellent judgment and staying ahead of the airplane, nothing is a better test of competence than flying an instrument approach.

Short Matters

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2008

There’s an island in the French West Indies where the jetsetters play, but you can’t land a jet there. It’s called Saint Barthélemy —St.

Technique: The Accidental Stall

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2008

The Piper Cherokee 140 was airborne, but it wasn’t happy. In ground effect all had seemed normal; symptoms only began appearing when the aircraft tried to climb.

Technique: Star Performance

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2008

Whether you’ve logged a lot of actual instrument time, are a rusty instrument pilot, or have a newly issued instrument rating, a review of safe IFR procedures is never out of style. That’s especially true when you’re nearing your destination.

Technique: I Wear My Sunglasses at Night

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2008

The cold night wind swirls through the rear cockpit of the Waco YMF Super as I tuck my chin, turtle-like, into the warmth of my jacket’s upturned collar. I’ve flown this gorgeous biplane around the Atlanta area countless times in the last five years in my weekend job as a scenic rides pilot.

Technique: Windy Day Departures

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2008

Wow, it’s windy this morning. Definitely a hold-onto-your-hat kind of day.

Technique: Am I a good pilot?

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2008

It afflicts each of us. Every pilot who has pushed a throttle forward for takeoff has, at one time or another, wakened in the chill of the pre-dawn hours nurturing that very private uncertainty: “Am I a good pilot or do I just think I am?” Some pilots are incapable of the necessary introspection and self-evaluation required for the answer; some deal with it by deciding not to care, too often proving their disregard by creating the most foolish of impacts with the earth; and the majority of us are willing to pursue the question and want to find a working definition as to what a good pilot is so that we might enter that most exclusive of human fraternities.


Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2007

Remembering Pilgrim Airlines Flight 203 My memory of Pilgrim Airlines Flight 203 resurfaced recently after a report about an unfortunate pilot who ditched and drowned near the shoreline of Lake Michigan after running out of fuel. The Pilgrim Airlines Twin Otter ditched into Long Island Sound just five miles short of the Groton-New London, Connecticut, airport on February 10, 1970.


Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2007

Emergency landing strategies Some lessons we are taught, or teach, often lead to new ones being learned. For instance, when practicing a simulated engine failure as a student pilot, we often do so from a number of different altitudes, from a low-level failure with little time to deal with the problem to a cruise altitude failure with loads of time to troubleshoot and try to restart the engine before committing to an emergency landing, possibly off the airport.


Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2007

The step-by-step solution to emergencies So you are flying along, smooth operator that you are, when all of a sudden something goes wrong. That "something" could be anything: oil on the windscreen, smoke from the engine compartment, a violent shaking that is making the airframe sound as though you are inside of a washing machine full of tennis shoes.

Bragging Rights

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2007

While sitting in a hotel recently, I was getting my logbook caught up to date, and I had reached the end of the page. While I was totaling up the numbers, I realized that I had made my 5,000th landing — 5,003rd to be exact.


Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2007

More thoughts on engine failures after takeoff The response made me feel much better: You get it, or at least you got it after reading about it in these pages. What's this to "get"? The response — the push — you need to condition yourself to make if you experience an engine failure immediately after takeoff in a light airplane.


Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2007

Standard techniques for nonstandard runway conditions We had pilot reports from the day before, and the weather had been dry for several days. But with a backcountry air-strip you never know.


Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2007

It's the visibility that counts From the time we learn to fly, we learn some basic weather rules. As a student, much is made of cloud clearance requirements and the minimum visibility required in given airspace.

AOPA Pilot - Technique

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2006

A compass, a clock, and a sectional chart "Meanwhile, Pancho Barnes was following the pilot's friend, the iron compass — railroad tracks. The pilots all agreed that they were never lost, simply momentarily disoriented." — The Powder Puff Derby of 1929 by Gene Nora Jessen Once, during my youth, I flew a 1947 Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Soldotna, Alaska.


Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2006

Your first move when the engine fails The message had been delivered via cell phone just a few minutes before: There's been a terrible accident; we think it was Leo; there were no survivors. The details were, of course, sketchy, but it was day visual meteorological conditions at Falcon Field in Atlanta that morning.


Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2006

Yanking and banking toward trouble Quickest way to die in an airplane? Horse around at low altitude. If your pilot friends don't believe you, print out a copy of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's 2005 Joseph T.


Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2006

Putting your professional side to work on every flight Bent metal, charred wreckage, and ruined lives point to the many failures in pilot decision making, but the clues to what makes a competent pilot decision maker are far from clear. Competence in aeronautical decision making is quite different from the skills that we learn in becoming pilots.


Article | Aug 01, 2006

I was never the kind of student who aced everything, especially anything to do with math. Ironic, given that my grandfather was a mathematician who worked for NASA at one time.


Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2006

Worldwide tips on emergency landings "Surprise yourself by closing the throttle without premeditation or assessing the wind direction and strength, and break it off when you are in an ideal position because the hard part is already done."—Edward Jones, Cabair College of Air Training Actually the prop usually windmills if engine power is lost but "The prop windmills here" just didn't work as a title. In preparing this article, I heard that there are flight schools in the world where props are intentionally stopped — to be clear, at these schools the engines in single-engine airplanes are shut down during routine training.

'Say Again?'

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2006

I recently was leaving the gate at a small Midwestern airport. Small, of course, is relative.


Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2006

A man's got to know his limitations It seems there's been a lot of bad aviation karma in the news lately: a boundary fence overrun at Chicago Midway International Airport on an icy and snowy night; a wing strike during landing on a windy evening in Alaska; a crash in Greece because no one seemed to speak the same language. It didn't hit me immediately, but I eventually realized that all these accidents involved airlines, and even further, the Boeing 737, the same airplane I fly.


Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2006

Staying sharp when time is short When we posed the question of proficiency to AOPA members, we asked what specific procedures and maneuvers they would practice to stay proficient if they only had an hour, or a single flight, in which to accomplish these tasks every month. Let's set aside the debate for a moment, which begs the question: Can a pilot stay proficient while flying one hour a month? "I don't think I can stay sharp anymore.


Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2006

Flying into big airports can be fun — really "Reading departure signs in some big airport/Reminds me of the places I've been." So sings the captain of Air Margaritaville himself, Jimmy Buffett, in his song, Changes in Lattitudes, Changes in Attitudes. I sometimes think of that song when I am sitting in the terminal of a little airport, one that doesn't have but a fraction of the air-carrier operations of the megaplexes.

On the Way Down

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2006

We've all heard the rumor that a stabilized approach can lead to a good landing. Great, we can always use more good landings.


Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2006

Is dependence on GPS steering you wrong? Doctors at Wright State University in Dayton call it "in-flight geographic disorientation," or IGD. It means you get lost, land at the wrong airport, but at least can say, "I got down (IGD)." The better-publicized cases of landing at the wrong airport involve airlines, and you'll find 70 examples from over the years by following the Internet link at the end of this article.


Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2006

Depending on fuel gauges is not a good idea Research shows that just about every other day a general aviation airplane is involved in an accident in the United States because of fuel starvation, exhaustion, or contamination. This statistic doesn't even include incidents or unreported events.


Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2006

When landing to "look-see" is the best option An emergency clears the decks. You distill possible actions to address the task at hand — correcting the problem or getting the airplane safely on the ground.

Racing the Weather

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2006

The weather that dominated the week of the 2005 Air Race Classic was an echo of the whole long summer: A stubborn high-pressure system — a necklace of H's — choked the midsection of the country. Good flying weather? Well, essentially yes, but not the prettiest, or the most fun.

Fill 'Er Up?

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2005

It's a rare day that a pilot of a light general aviation airplane doesn't head for a destination with a full tank of fuel. The only barrier to this practice is almost always going to be some kind of performance consideration, such as a short runway, a full airplane, a hot day, or a combination thereof.

Up and Out

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2005

Last year, Pilot published an article on VFR arrivals (see "Approaching the Airport," May 2004 Pilot), describing how best to approach an airport in visual conditions, and in response received the following e-mail from flight instructor Mark Hutchins in Virginia: "As a person who flies in and out of the traffic pattern a lot, I appreciate your article on pattern entry. I hope you will do an article on VFR departures from a nontowered field.