Instrument Rating

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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.

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.

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

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.

July 1, 2011, issue of 'AOPA ePilot' newsletter

Article | Jul 01, 2011

ePilot: Obama bashes aircraft; LightSquared blames GPS; Dogfight: Say it right; Helo meets bull: Lose-lose; Turning up the heat on the FCC; Quiz Me: Flight reviews

License to Learn

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2011

Several months ago, I wrote “License to Learn: The Limited Flight Instructor Certificate” (February 2011 AOPA Pilot). The article produced many positive comments, but one fellow wrote to express his dismay about permitting private pilots to become limited flight instructors (or sport pilots to become sport pilot instructors).

GA Serves America: Tennessee time machine

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2011

James Dillard takes the call from a factory manager in rural Mississippi. The manager, who oversees production of parts used in household furniture, tells Dillard, “I have an entire third shift who doesn’t know if they’re working tonight.

Pilots:

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2011

Six teams from the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (NDSDF) traveled to the northeast coast of Japan in March to help find survivors buried in the ruins created by the devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck March 11. The teams of six dogs and their firefighter handlers are a part of the only organization in the United States dedicated to partnering rescued dogs with firefighters to train them to find live victims, conscious or unconscious, in disaster areas.

ABCs of Simulators

Article | May 01, 2011

SimCom’s Pilatus PC12 Level 1 flight training device provides pilots with a near-real-world view out the cockpit. Though the device doesn’t move, the psychosomatic feedback of the wrap-around visuals gives a convincing sense of movement.

High anxiety

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2011

As pilots, we often think about nervous passengers and how best to calm and reassure them before and during flight. But what happens when the pilot is the one filled with anxiety and paralyzing self-doubt? Can a once-enthusiastic general aviation pilot recover the joy of flying after his self-confidence has been lost? David Fern, 48, an electrical engineer in San Diego, California, and an instrument-rated private pilot with 20 years of flying experience, had to confront those uncomfortable questions after a debilitating series of panic attacks convinced him to ground himself nearly a decade ago.

Oh, the places you’ll go!

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2011

Bob Gannon in Palmyra, Syria It’s been a peaceful 10 years for Bob Gannon’s next-door neighbors in Las Vegas, Nevada. But when noises started coming from his place around mid-January 2011, there was no cause for alarm.

License to Learn

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2011

A Polish immigrant visited his local flight surgeon to take a third class medical exam. The doctor had him stand in a specific spot, then pulled down a chart showing the letters: CVOKPTNXZYKV.

Pilots:

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2011

Most Hollywood celebrities become actors before becoming pilots. Treat Williams was a pilot first and an actor second.

AOPA Action

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2011

NATIONAL ACTION DOT report shines spotlight on ADS-B program risks, cost AOPA agrees with concerns raised by a Department of Transportation inspector general’s report on the FAA’s planned implementation of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) program, which shined a needed spotlight on management risks, cost burdens, and disincentives for early participation in the program by pilots. The report makes nine recommendations to smooth the implementation and enhance contract oversight of ADS-B, which is to be a major component of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).

Buying Sky Manor

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2011

Pilot conversations at Sky Manor Airport (N40) in Pittstown, New Jersey, one afternoon didn’t focus on fun places to fly or good airport restaurants. Instead, the topic was the future of their home field.

Letters

Article | Nov 01, 2010

It was impossible not to finish the article “Pride of WWII” written by Barry Schiff (September 2010 AOPA Pilot). This was by far the best article I have ever read in AOPA Pilot.

Pilots

Article | Nov 01, 2010

The seeds for Doris Alexander’s yearning to fly were planted when she was a teenager gazing skyward at aircraft darting across the sky. But these were no ordinary aircraft.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2010

I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the mid-1960s living in the Peruvian Andes, where a small group was working hard to establish a wildlife refuge for the endangered vicuña—a wild cousin of the llama and alpaca—which live in the high plains of the towering mountain chain. Poachers were taking a toll on the vicuña, and it was critical to find a remote and expansive habitat to sustain the animals, prized for their soft wool, long recognized as the world’s best.

Pilot Products: Online flight planners

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2010

When it comes to flight planning, modern technology and innovation has given us untold options. You can still plan with paper and pencil, but computer programs and websites can do it faster, and often much better.

Technique: Advice that sticks

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2010

What’s the best advice you ever heard—advice that you use on every flight? For me, it’s two tips I read years ago, and both are about making better landings. They are both from author Ron Fowler in his book, Making Perfect Landings.

Safety Pilot: A deadly invincibility

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2010

One of the necessarily frustrating things about NTSB reports is that they generally do a good job of telling us what happened, but the why is often left to interpretation and the imagination. This month’s “Landmark Accident” fits that description perfectly and leaves us to wonder why the pilot made the decisions he did.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2010

General aviation pilots can easily be confused about the concept of “night” as it relates to the rules requiring recent piloting experience, and as it relates to the flight rules governing VFR weather minimums. I must confess that sometimes I have been, and that I sometimes need a reminder.

10 mistakes JFK Jr. made

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2010

On July 16, 1999, John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. took off from Essex County Airport in Caldwell, New Jersey, at 8:39 p.m.

Letters

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2010

I have flown into Shelter Cove for more than 20 years and have never driven there (“Fun to Fly Sweepstakes: Adventure By Remos,” May 2010 AOPA Pilot). One time my wife and I landed and were greeted by two bull elks chewing their cud about one-third up the runway from the south end about five yards off the runway in the rough of the golf course.

Safety Pilot Landmark Accident: I think we’re alone now

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2010

It is often the flimsiest circumstances that bring two aircraft together. This non-fatal mishap is not the usual VFR-into-IMC, descent-below- minimums, midair collision, thunderstorm, or icing-related accident, but rather a series of relatively common events that by themselves meant little.

Pilotage:

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2010

It’s a gorgeous winter day, ideal for flying, even if the flying involves a checkride. Sweating through a checkride is what I’m supposed to be doing right now.

Pilot Briefing

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2010

This could have been written in the 1920s, although barnstorming then wasn’t done on a schedule. The American Barnstormers Tour continues its multiyear run with a new tour in the central United States from June to July.

Pilot Counsel:

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2010

There is a subtle but important legal distinction between logging pilot-in-command time and acting as pilot in command. We now have an interpretation by the FAA Chief Counsel that seeks to explain this distinction in a fairly typical situation in which many of us could find ourselves.

Let's Go Flying!

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2010

Spending a quarter of a century in love with one person is something to be celebrated, preferably in an exciting and memorable way. And for their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Dave and Sue Passmore of Great Falls, Virginia, did just that by earning their instrument ratings on October 4, 2009, about a week after the big day.

Turbine Pilot: Simulating reality

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2010

We’ve sure come a long way since Ed Link invented the first flight simulator with parts from his father’s pipe organ and piano company. Regardless of the levels of virtual reality, one thing’s for sure: Simulators save time, money, and—most important—lives.