Instrument Rating

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IFR Fix: Routine ride, or psychological thriller?

Article | Jun 29, 2012

To hear the passenger talk about it, it had been one harrowing flight. No words of distress had been spoken in the cockpit or on the radio, but you know what they say about cutting tension with a knife. Was the cover-up worse than the crime?

IFR Fix: What's 'visual'?

IFR Fix | Jun 25, 2012

All it take is a cross-channeled radio to blockade the airspace and breed bedlam. On any IFR flight in moderate weather, pilots face the decision: Cancel aloft, possibly speeding up the arrival, or remain on the IFR flight plan to touchdown.

Resuming the Journey: Wrapping up the flight review

Article | Jun 25, 2012

After nearly a decade on the ground, a pilot wraps up a thorough five-lesson flight review. On to soft-field landings, short runways, no towers, and lots of adventure in Alaska.

FAA accepts knowledge-test reform plan

Advocacy | Jun 21, 2012

The FAA has embraced the majority of an advisory committee's recommendations for improving its testing materials in a prompt show of its support for the joint effort with the aviation industry to improve pilot knowledge tests.

IFR Fix: What's 'actual'?

IFR Fix | Jun 18, 2012

A pilot turns to the current page of his logbook to enter the day's data after a two-hour, 30-minute IFR flight. How much actual instrument time should he log?

Resuming the Journey: Short- and soft-field takeoffs, Alaska style

Article | Jun 12, 2012

Can short- and soft-field practice at a 5,200-foot pave runway prepare this pilot for operating on a 1,700-foot grass runway, with the last 500 feet sloping downhill at a 15-percent grade?

IFR Fix: Sigmet surprise

IFR Fix | Jun 11, 2012

You hesitate to cut off your friends' chatter as a short radio call (a Center Weather Advisory) comes and goes. Whatever. You'll have to try to catch up with that radio call at some point. But it's getting bumpy--and surprise, it's raining! Your right-seat passenger is dying to ask you what a "convective sigmet" is, but refrains because you appear preoccupied.

American Flyers partners with university on aviation program

Article | Jun 01, 2012

American Flyers and Nova Southeastern University are hoping to train more pilots at a time when many in the aviation industry have predicted a pilot shortage.

IFR Fix: The value-added pilot

Article | Jun 01, 2012

An instrument rating opens doors, but with privilege comes obligation. When IFR and VFR worlds collide, instrument pilots whose pride of place has gone awry have been known to evoke the ire of others.

Safety Pilot: Landmark Accidents: Three strikes

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2012

In baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out. In aviation, after a critical foul-up you might get another chance.

'Snoopy 1' travels country, visits DC area

Article | May 31, 2012

The MetLife blimp travels with a crew of 13, including the pilots, mechanics, and crew, along with three trailers that carry all the equipment. Snoopy 1 films PGA tournaments, football games, and horse races.

Resuming the Journey: More takeoffs and landings

Article | May 30, 2012

Her confidence shaken after a bruising round of touch and goes, a pilot returning to flying after a long hiatus sought the wisdom of two experienced pilots.

IFR Fix: The Casanova overshoot

IFR Fix | May 25, 2012

Of all the ways an IFR flight can get off to a rocky start, hearing air traffic control ask where you think you're going must be one of the most painful.

IFR Fix: Power and forgiveness

IFR Fix | May 18, 2012

You have an instrument rating, and now, a distant destination. Time to book your old IFR trainer for a new kind of outing. Wait - here's a better idea. It's time to start flying aircraft designed with long-distance travel in mind.

IFR Fix: And, what are we forgetting?

IFR Fix | May 04, 2012

The voice checked in with approach, reporting "out of ten for three with Foxtrot," or something like that. He received and acknowledged instructions to expect the ILS. Then the voice made a curious request. "And Approach, how about saying the localizer frequency for that."

IFR Fix: The way it WAAS

IFR Fix | Apr 27, 2012

Remember curved approaches? Pilots of a certain age recall a time when pilots flew their ILS approaches with the thought in mind that, someday, a technology called the microwave landing system would change the way aircraft got down through the stuff. Now, thanks to satellite-based navigation, GPS approaches are doing the job.

Many pilots play roles in next chapter of spaceflight

Article | Apr 26, 2012

A successful test of parachutes that will safely ease the Orion manned spacecraft to landing was overshadowed by the final flight of the space shuttle Discovery on April 17. In Houston, the Arizona desert, and elsewhere, Orion's test and development crew, many of them pilots, were focused on the future.

IFR Fix: Knowledge is power

IFR Fix | Apr 20, 2012

A pilot is seeking rainy-day advice from two IFR-rated friends about training for the instrument rating. When should he take the knowledge test? One says hit the books first; the other recommends getting instrument experience before taking the test. Who's right?

Resuming the Journey: Takeoffs and landings

Article | Apr 19, 2012

A pilot's first lesson after a nine-year hiatus left her feeling increasingly confident in regaining her skills. But how would she handle the second lesson: takeoffs and landings with winds of 13 knots gusting to 18?

IFR Fix: A truer test

IFR Fix | Apr 06, 2012

Looking for a challenge that will tax your IFR knowledge to the limit and hone your skills, leaving you dry-mouthed and drained? Try explaining what it means to be an instrument pilot to someone who knows nothing about aviation.

Resuming the Journey: Aircraft familiarization

Article | Apr 04, 2012

After being out of the cockpit for nine years, a pilot getting back into flying might be a little nervous. Is taking off and landing like riding a bicycle again after nearly a decade?

Pilot Briefing

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2012

‘This is what I must do’ Namesake pursues Amelia Earhart's dream A Denver TV news reporter with a distinctly aeronautical name is reaching for a future in aviation modeled on an ancestor’s historic past. KUSA-TV 9 News reporter Amelia Rose Earhart says she knew after taking a first flight lesson in 2004 that she and her famous ancestor had more than a name in common.

IFR Fix: 'Coupled' approaches

Article | Mar 30, 2012

"Will you be my safety pilot on Saturday?" A fellow pilot has popped The Question. Assuming no red flags have surfaced this can be a learning experience for you and good service to the other.

IFR Fix: The instrument takeoff

IFR Fix | Mar 23, 2012

Would you depart under IFR if you would be unable to return immediately and land? Even if you're a pilot whose personal minimums prohibit departure under low conditions, much learning arises from practicing an instrument takeoff with a CFII.

AOPA Aviation Roundtable group descends on SimCom

Article | Mar 22, 2012

For some, it was a chance to visit an airplane from the past. For others, a chance to experience a whole new category of flying. For all, a chance to meet other pilots from across the country and share flying stories. Typical of AOPA Aviation Roundtable experiences, the strangers in the room became instant friends once aviation pleasantries were exchanged.

Resuming the journey: A pilot's return to flight

Article | Mar 20, 2012

A journey that began with backcountry flights in Alaska takes twists and turns for one woman to become a pilot, only to have to put those dreams aside as life events interfere. Now, an opportunity to return to Alaska for some summer flights has once again ignited the desire to get back in the left seat.

IFR Fix: Just answer the question

IFR Fix | Mar 16, 2012

Lucky you. It's instrument proficiency check day! In honor of spring, this ride will also count as a rental checkout at the FBO. First stop is the classroom, where the chief instructor goes over the aircraft, then asks you to ponder this IFR scenario for any questionable elements.

IFR Fix: Not to be redundant

IFR Fix | Mar 02, 2012

Any pilot who has ever dropped a pen into the abyss beneath the seats while copying a complicated clearance immediately learns one of aviation's overarching lessons: Carry more pens.

New Voices for GA

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2012

A new crew is ready for takeoff. Their mission: Build strong local general aviation communities and strengthen AOPA's relationships with state and local governments across the country. AOPA's new team of regional managers has deep roots in aviation, and their arrival marks the first overhaul of AOPA regional advocacy and representation in decades.

IFR Fix: Real or imagined?

IFR Fix | Feb 24, 2012

How are things in the real world today? Give flight service a call. Tell the briefer we need weather for a trip from here to the real world and back. In the remarks section, please be sure to note when you file that this is a training flight with a focus on IFR flying under real-world conditions.

Flying the Pacific on 93 gallons of fuel

Article | Feb 22, 2012

Matevz Lenarcic completed the longest over-water leg of his round-the-world journey on Feb. 22, landing on Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean after more than 15 hours in the air, crossing 1,984 nautical miles of trackless ocean in a single-engine motor glider.

IFR Fix: The case of the misplaced planet

IFR Fix | Feb 13, 2012

The Cessna was tracking outbound for an NDB approach, timer ticking. Stabilized on course and altitude, it seemed to the pilot a good chance to check on the rear-seat passengers, who were experiencing instrument conditions--a medium-low stratus deck--for the first time.

IFR Fix: Did you peek?

IFR Fix | Feb 03, 2012

Whether the view-limiting device you use makes you look like a welder, a scuba diver, or a student in a college chem lab, remember that you are preparing for the time when you can't just peel off the gizmo and squint at splendid scenery.

Rally GA: Pay Up

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2012

Imagine paying $25 per landing, $15 for a flight service briefing, or $50 to utilize an ILS approach.

IFR Fix: Not on speaking terms

IFR Fix | Jan 06, 2012

Flying IFR is a contact sport. Sooner or later you will need to contact ATC, with a strong bias toward sooner. When the plan isn't working, people can get into trouble.

AOPA fields team of talented representatives

Advocacy | Jan 03, 2012

The new crew is ready for takeoff. The mission: build strong local general aviation communities and strengthen AOPA's relationships with state and local governments across the country.

Walking back on

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2011

Jane Wicker was seated on the floor of the living room in her Northern Virginia townhome a few years ago, sorting through a pile of videocassettes. She had a batch of memories she wanted to transfer to DVDs—memories of her former life as a wing walker. She put a videocassette into the player and watched her younger self standing on top of a 1943 Stearman, waving to the crowd as her then-husband, Kirk Wicker, put the airplane through its paces.

Never Again

Article | Nov 01, 2011

As a fairly new pilot with 120 hours, I was very excited about an upcoming flight from my home airport in Blue Ash, Ohio, to my favorite vacation spot: Traverse City, Michigan. I was looking forward to the opportunity to fly this trip during the fall color season.

Hangar Talk

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2011

Regular readers may have picked up on the fact that Managing Editor Julie Summers Walker is not a certificated pilot. (“Hey, I have 65 hours of instruction!”) Originally a white-knuckle flier and still a big baby in turbulence, Walker has, however, fallen in love with general aviation and is a great copilot—as long as the weather is perfect.

Profile: Stuart Woods

Article | Sep 01, 2011

Stuart Woods, a best-selling mystery writer with 46 books published and more on the way, can churn out a chapter in an hour and spend the rest of the day on a restored antique boat somewhere. That "somewhere" could be in Maine, New York, or Key West, Florida. Woods found public acclaim with "Chiefs" in 1981 and stays on the New York Times bestseller list with his Stone Barrington and Holly Barker series. Like many popular authors, Woods' name appears on the cover of his books in larger type than the title. His latest book is "Bel-Air Dead." His publisher dictates mandatory nationwide book tours, but, "If I had to fly the airlines, I wouldn't do book tours," Woods said. "I like landing, backing the car up to the airplane, and we drive away. That's my idea of travel," he said.

Dogfight: NDB approaches

Article | Sep 01, 2011

Editor at Large Tom Horne and Senior Editor Dave Hirschman have a lot of things in common: lots of ratings, lots of experience in lots of airplane models - and lots of opinions (as well as similar haircuts). We last turned them loose on the topic of production and Experimental aircraft (see "Dogfight: Experimental Versus Standard," September 2011 AOPA Pilot and the response to two different schools of thought on this topic garnered interesting opinions from a large number of readers

FAA adopts final pilot certification rule

Article | Sep 01, 2011

The FAA has enacted a pilot and flight school certification rule that permits concurrent applications for a private pilot certificate and instrument rating, and allows counting dual cross-country instructional flight time toward eligibility requirements for concurrent training. A proposal to eliminate the requirement for single-engine commercial pilot applicants to fly 10 hours in a complex aircraft and replace it with 10 hours of advanced instrument training was dropped from the final rule.

Never Again: Blowing in the Breeze

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2011

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I have a passion for general aviation and have found various ways to feed this passion ever since earning my private pilot certificate in 1979 and an instrument rating in 1984.

Pilots:

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2011

After Joe Hopkins delivered two missionaries to their Brazilian villages, he took off for home base. But the highway he had planned to follow was obscured by low scud.