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By Thomas Turner

Sometimes it's the plane... sometimes it's the pilot... often, it's the way the two fit together -- or don't -- that brings an end to them both.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

Well, it's cold, flu, and who-knows-what-hellish-other-kinds-of-sickness weather season again and that means it's time for a quick review of the “dos and don’ts” of flying while medicated...  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

What’s required, and how does one teach mastery of a “conventional gear” airplane? This weekend, I’ll start checking out a friend in a tailwheel airplane...  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Barry had endured quite a bit of lecture to help prepare him for his tailwheel checkout -- eventually, though, we had to actually get into the airplane.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Barry’s grin was so wide I swear I could see it from the back seat of the Bellanca Citabria.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Barry, friend and student who is working toward his tailwheel endorsement and the 10 hours of flight instruction required by insurance to fly as pilot-in-command of the Bellanca Citabria, took to rudder control and thinking ahead of the airplane pretty quickly... in calm wind conditions.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Instrument pilots routinely bet their lives on the gauges and even VFR pilots depend on the instruments at times, especially at night...  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Far down on the list of national priorities, but still part of the collateral damage of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks, is the backbone of general aviation as we in the United States know it -- the Fixed Base Operator.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

Engineers at Boeing, Lockheed and Gulfstream say they’ve come up with several designs for next-generation supersonic jets that could fly at nearly 2,500 mph, or more than three times the speed of sound, with merely a “sonic puff” instead of window-shaking booms. The jet sketches and even a prototype model are slated to be shown at the Farnborough Air Show in England next month. Aerospace engineers have struggled to come up with a viable supersonic jet design since the Concorde was retired following a crash in Paris in 2000 that killed 113 people. But advances in computer modeling and quieter engine designs could prove pivotal. The engineers haven’t gone into specifics about what makes the new designs quiet enough to fly without emitting sonic booms. Such a jet would be quiet enough to fly over land, and fast enough to go from London to Sydney, a distance of more than 10,000 miles, in only four hours. But bringing such a jet to market would be expensive and time-consuming: A supersonic business jet would be unlikely to fly before 2020, and a larger model for airline passengers might not be ready until 2030.

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/travel/blogs/travellers-check/son-of-concorde-london-to-sydney-in-four-hours-gets-closer-20120625-20xdm.html

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By Paul A. Craig

Two-way communication radios can be very frustrating, but there are some reasons that things get worse in the summertime.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

I remember the old "Star Trek" series, in which the communications officer would utter those famous words as she established contact with another vessel. "Hailing Frequencies Open, Captain," Uhura would say, to indicate that the captain could talk to the other ship.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

In-Flight! was a weeklong summer workshop designed to show minority high school students what it was like to go to college and learn about aviation. The students in the program completed at least a dozen projects -- like learning to navigate using a Sectional Chart, making and launching their own rocket, and making an aviation history time-line. But we also wanted the students to read. The idea was to have every student read the same book so that later they could talk about it together. I selected one of my favorite books: Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

The high school students in the In-Flight! program spent a week on a university campus and learned about going to college and aviation careers. They launched model rockets, watched movies, had a talent show, went to the recreation center, and ate pizza well after midnight. But it was not all fun and games. The students discovered that aviation is filled with great role models.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

I spent last week with 40 minority students who will be high school juniors and seniors in the coming academic year. I had applied for a grant to lead a workshop that would introduce these students to college life and careers in aviation. Later I received word that I had been selected and was awarded $50,000. It didn't take long to spend the money...  Continue»

By Editor Staff

New research presented at a scientific meeting in San Francisco this week found that moderate and severe clear-air turbulence can occur miles away from convective activity and doesn’t have to be associated with mountain waves or the jet stream. Researchers compared pilot reports and data on flight conditions logged by flight data recorders with computer simulations of specific weather events. The studies showed that “ripples” of moderate and severe turbulence can move outward from thunderstorms for many miles. The research could lead to better short-term turbulence forecasts, giving a pilots an idea of which areas in the vicinity of thunderstorms to avoid for a smoother ride.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZoin08JK3w&feature=player_embedded

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By Editor Staff

STCs that let aircraft owners convert their planes to run on conventional automotive fuel, or mogas, have been around for decades. But with the price of 100LL rising, supplies scarce in many parts of the world and government agencies studying the environmental effects of the fuel, leaded gas may have its remaining days numbered. A recent analysis by the Aviation Fuel Club, an advocacy group founded by the man who developed many of the mogas STCs on the market, found that 80 percent of the active general aviation fleet could run on unleaded fuel with little or no modifications. The 127,000 eligible aircraft include many Cessna and Piper models as well as older cropdusting aircraft and even the DC-3. But many high-performance aircraft like newer Bonanzas, the Cirrus and many large twin-engine piston planes wouldn’t be able to take advantage of those STCs. The study indicates that a large portion of the GA fleet could keep flying with little interruption if avgas stopped coming out of pumps. Meanwhile, several companies are developing high-octane unleaded replacements to avgas, though the certification and approval process can take years.

http://www.121five.com/stories_new.aspx?story_id=683

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By Editor Staff

A student pilot returning from his first solo cross-county flight who hit an SUV on short final now says he’s giving up flying. The pilot and the truck’s occupants were uninjured, but the Cessna Skyhawk was heavily damaged, as was the SUV. The accident happened at Northwest Regional Airport near Dallas on Saturday, an uncontrolled field with a road about 30 feet north of the approach end of its runway. A displaced threshold on the runway is meant to keep planes high enough as they fly over the road, and faded markings on the road tell drivers to stop and look for planes. But video shot by the pilot’s wife on the ground shows the SUV driving across the final approach path without stopping as the plane passes less than 10 feet overhead. The Skyhawk’s landing gear hit the top of the truck, and the plane stopped upright at the beginning of the runway pavement.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/11/suv-and-plane-collide-at-texas-airport/

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By Editor Staff

It was a routine private pilot checkride for Brian Garrett on Saturday up until one of the three propeller blades on his Sting Sport LSA separated in flight. Garrett was unsure exactly what had happened at the time, only that the engine started running rough before stopping completely, making a forced landing inevitable. Garrett put the plane down in a fallow farm field; neither he nor the designated pilot examiner was injured. After the hard landing, DPE Drew Chitiea said Garrett had demonstrated everything he needed to for the private pilot checkride. Garrett has been flying for several years with a light sport certificate; he owns the two-seat TL-2000 Sting Sport plane with several other people. Garrett credited his flight training for teaching him exactly what to do in the situation; Chitiea, the examiner, said Garrett was the one flying the plane throughout the entire incident.

http://www.timescall.com/news/longmont-local-news/ci_21450136/longmont-emergency-crews-investigate-report-plane-down

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By Chad Austin

Are the avionics in your airplane yours or someone else's?  Continue»

By Chad Austin

A few months ago, I was walking down the flight line, and I noticed that one of my favorite airplanes on the line was missing.  Continue»

By Mark Roberts

I crashed and died the other day ... and took my CFII to the grave with me.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

Steep Turns, also called Steep Power Turns, are another "performance" maneuver that is useful for more than passing your checkride, or expediting a course reversal in visual conditions.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Is it worth it to get an instrument rating -- or will it just encourage you to fly in poor weather when your instrument skills haven't been used for weeks?  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

It seems that the most obvious thing can become elusive when you don't concentrate on the details. A pilot and controller together looked past the obvious and almost caused a tragedy in Charlotte, North Carolina, one night.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Pilots are confronted with an inflow of information (radio communications, spotting other traffic, flight and engine instruments, etc.) at all times during a flight. We can only do so much with this information and must decide which bit of information or which potential conflict should we attack first, second, and third.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Pilots have enough problems in the dynamic flight environment without making things worse on themselves. But sometimes pilots impose unnecessary distractions on themselves that compound and aggravate an already challenging situation.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

WHERE'S THE ENGINE!? There are probably as many ways to rationalize why we fly as there are pilots, but it’s hard to argue with the beauty, simplicity, and performance of soaring.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

Getting vectored onto an IAP close to the final approach fix definitely saves time, and it makes efficient use of busy terminal airspace -- but now you’re actually working under another set of rules that most of us don’t know too much about.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Private Pilot applicants once were required to perform a one-turn spin and recover within 10 degrees of original heading to pass the checkride -- things have changed.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Spin accidents don't happen every day, but when they take place they are almost always deadly.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Most pilots want two things: to fly fast, and to log as much time as possible -- the problem is that these are contradictory goals.  Continue»

By Reader Submission

Never known for their production of military aircraft, Spartan did build a few primary trainers for the United States Navy.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

When an unauthorized airplane interrupts a Space Shuttle launch the results can be dangerous and expensive -- both to NASA and the pilot -- but the occurrence isn't as uncommon as you might think.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

It could take three more months to inspect and repair the Boeing 717s in Southwest’s fleet flying AirTran’s colors, since Boeing doesn’t have the parts on hand to fix the fuselage fatigue cracks, the airline said in a filing with the FAA. The cracks, found on two planes so far, are similar to cracks that have been found on some MD-80s in the past and are the result of airframe stress from repeated pressurization cycles. Southwest flies 88 of the Boeing 717s in use and plans to phase them out in the next few years, leasing some of them to Delta. If the FAA doesn’t agree to the 90-day extension for inspecting the fleet and repairing cracks, the airline could be forced to ground its 717s, which it says would have a large impact on its operations. The repair kits cost almost $100,000 per airplane, though the inspections themselves are much less expensive. Boeing has said it plans to have more kits in stock in the coming months.

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-07-03/boeing-southwest-seek-delay-in-plane-inspections

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By Editor Staff

South Africa tries aircraft to chase rhino poachers

More than 550 rhinos have been killed by poachers in South Africa this year, a record high, and that has wildlife officials turning to a new tool to track poachers. The country got its first Seeker Seabird surveillance plane recently, equipped with thermal cameras to find poachers before they kill rhinos. South African rhino deaths have soared in recent years as organized criminal groups have started exporting rhino ivory to Asia, where it is believed to have medicinal benefits. The ivory sells for more than $40,000 per pound. The Seabird is a two-seat pusher prop that can cruise as slow as 65 knots and stay in the air for seven hours at that speed. The plane will be used primarily over a large game preserve in South Africa that is home to several thousand rhinos. Spotters on the plane will direct officials on the ground to poachers’ locations in an effort to make more arrests before the poachers kill their targets.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-safrica-rhinosbre8b30ni-20121204,0,3740191.story

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By Reader Submission

The most successful British fighter of WWI (1,294 “kills”), the Sopwith Camel was also one of the most heavily produced.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

Adventurers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg want to fly their solar-powered plane around the world over the course of 20 days and nights in 2015, the pair announced in an interview on “60 Minutes.” Earlier this year, the four-engine electric plane flew from Switzerland to Morocco over the course of about a week, its longest trip to date. About 12,000 solar panels atop Solar Impulse’s wings power the motors and charge batteries that allow the plane to keep flying at night. Piccard says the most challenging part of a circumnavigation will be the segment across the Pacific Ocean, which he estimates would take five days. There are few options for landing or diverting in the case of bad weather; even stiff headwinds can ground Solar Impulse, which averaged 32 mph during its summer trip from Switzerland to Morocco. Piccard and Borschberg are modifying the aircraft and plan to fly it from California to Virginia sometime in 2013.

http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112741590/solar-impulse-2015-world-120412/

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By Editor Staff

The one-seat solar powered aircraft Solar Impulse landed safely in Rabat, Morocco Tuesday, ending a two-leg mission that took the plane on its first flight from one continent to another. Solar Impulse was grounded in Madrid for about 10 days as the plane’s two test pilots waited for better winds aloft. Adventurer Bertrand Piccard flew the 19-hour leg this week by himself at an average speed of just 32 mph; the other pilot, André Borschberg, flew the equally long leg between Switzerland and Madrid. Solar Impulse departed Madrid hours before sunrise Tuesday morning, using electricity stored in its batteries to power the four electric motors spanned across its 208-foot-wide wings. Solar Impulse now goes back to the workshop, where the aircraft’s developers will refine a new prototype aircraft they hope to fly around the world by 2014.

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/06/07/solar-plane-completes-maiden-intercontinental-trip

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By Editor Staff

Solar Impulse, the solar-powered plane in development since 2003, made one of its longest flights yet last week, the first of two planned legs that will take it from Payerne, Switzerland to Rabat, Morocco. The 17-hour flight from Payerne to Madrid crossed the Pyrenees mountains at 27,000 and cruised at an average speed of 55 mph. The adventurer Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are taking turns piloting the plane. The crew delayed the second leg of the trip, from Madrid to Rabat, from Monday until Thursday due to stronger than predicted headwinds aloft. Solar Impulse made its first flight in 2009, and its backers had hoped to fly it around the world by this year. That goal for the single-seat airplane has moved back to 2014. The plane relies on nearly 12,000 solar cells spread across the top of its wings and horizontal stabilizer to power four electric motors, each with a two-blade propeller. The plane has a 208-foot wingspan, but seats only one person.

http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/24/11861805-solar-plane-takes-off-for-its-first-transcontinental-flight?lite

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By Jeff Pardo

I don't know about you, but most pilots who have never had the opportunity to take off straight up usually think that holding a cyclic and collective in your hands automatically confers upon you unheard-of preternatural powers.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

...And other sounds an Airplane SHOULDN'T MAKE! When you think about it, most airplanes are incredible pieces of formed metal.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

How are your radio skills? I happen to subscribe to the notion of multiple intelligences when it comes to assessing the potential accomplishments of my fellow man (along with perhaps the idealistic notion that everybody is good at something). Still, aside from those few peripheral oddities having comical inequities among their relative abilities in different areas, most of us do seem to squeak by with a fairly even balance. This equilibrium usually manifests itself in various ways. In my opinion, there seems to be a fairly reliable correlation between what someone looks like they might have to offer in the way of conversation, and how well they can actually articulate what's on their mind. This often holds true at least, until they first try their hand at speaking in public. And such exceptions invariably surface within the fellowship of aviation whenever a pilot first learns to key a microphone...    Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

Every once in awhile, we make mistakes -- then again, every so often we get treated to the experience of almost making a mistake.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

“Sloshing” is a process where a fuel tank sealant is put into a metal fuel tank, and the tank is rocked back and forth, to evenly distribute the sealant ... it has nothing to do with beer.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

Altitude is your friend, sure, but not when you're too high on final approach because you misjudged your perspective of the runway. Then again, you might make a conscious decision to stay too high if you have engine trouble and you want altitude in the bank until you're sure you have the runway made. Or let's say you're trying to get over obstructions on the approach path to a short runway, and having full flaps isn't quite enough. The solution for regaining your figurative footing that's called for in these slippery situations is (as if I didn't give it away already): the slip.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

The regional airline SkyWest finalized its order for 100 new Mitsubishi regional jets this week with options for an additional 100 aircraft in a deal worth $4.2 billion. While SkyWest announced plans to make the purchase over the summer, the company had previously disclosed buying just 100 of the jets at first. The purchase is the biggest yet for Mitsubishi, which is hoping its 70- and 90-seat MRJ models will be able to gain a fifth of the regional jet market share in the coming years and compete against Embraer and Bombardier, which dominate the market. SkyWest currently runs about 740 aircraft on 4,000 flights a day in North America. Its fleet comprises older Bombardier CRJ200 regional jets, as well as Embraer Brasilia turboprops and larger CRJ variants.. The airline joins Japan’s All Nippon Airways and the U.S. regional carrier Trans States Holdings as the only customers for the MRJ, which now tallies 325 firm orders and options.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323981504578176572218303766.html

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By Editor Staff

Several of the skydivers aboard a Beech 18 that crashed in Illinois last month, killing its pilot, reported that the plane's stall warning horn sounded at 11,000 feet and the plane suddenly rolled to one side as they prepared to jump. The NTSB's preliminary report of the accident provides new details of the flight's last moments but few other indications of why the 1959 twin-engine Beech G18S crashed. All 12 skydivers on board safety jumped out of the plane and were uninjured, but several of the last jumpers said the plane was partially inverted as they started their jumps. The plane landed in a home's backyard and was destroyed in the crash, but no one on the ground was hurt. The NTSB said several skydivers had helmet video cameras that may have captured the plane's descent and crash, and that they were reviewing the videos for additional evidence.

http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief.aspx?ev_id=20120811X45234&key=1

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By Editor Staff

A prominent Kansas businessman, his wife and their four children all died Thursday when their Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprop crashed in central Florida about 50 miles east of Tampa. While much of the plane was recovered damaged but intact in a swampy area, parts of the aircraft were found two miles away from the crash site, indicating that a mechanical or structural issue may have been a factor in the crash. The plane was cruising at 26,000 feet before the crash. Witnesses reported seeing the plane either spiraling or tumbling through the air as it descended; first responders said it appeared to have partially broken up in flight. The Pilatus was returning to Kansas from the Bahamas and had departed an airport in southeast Florida less than 30 minutes before the accident. So far there is no indication whether or not the pilot declared an emergency with air traffic controllers.

http://www.theledger.com/article/20120607/NEWS/120609512?p=2&tc=pg

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By Thomas Turner

In a single-engine airplane engine failure introduces relatively few decision steps. The airplane's tendency during the emergency is to continue ahead in a straight line, descending. This characteristic helps prevent either a stall or a spiral. In a twin, engine failure introduces a large number of sequential pilot decisions, each with potentially adverse consequences ... all while the airplane (under the influence of asymmetric thrust) is attempting to radically diverge from a controlled path in all three axes. It takes regular, intense training (ideally in a simulator where such things can be realistically presented and safely practiced) to be proficient in overcoming aircraft tendencies, and making safe and proper decisions.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

It’s hard to argue the 'single vs. twin' debate ... especially with someone who had just put a single-engine airplane down off-airport following a catastrophic engine failure.  This endless debate has no statistically provable answer (many twin-engine failures end with a successful single-engine landing and no accident report, and even some in-flight engine failures in single-engine aircraft end up with a glide to a runway and don’t land in the record books).  I do have some information, however, that helps draw some conclusions about the relative safety of single- and twin-engine airplanes.  Continue»

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