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By Paul A. Craig

When was the last time a controller asked, 'Hey give me a Lazy Eight out there!'  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Students who learn to fly at controlled airports never know any different, but students who learn at an uncontrolled airport can develop a fear of the radio. All pilots must eventually get past the stage fright associated with the radio and get to the point where communications become conversational.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

My first instructor told me prior to our first night lesson that the airplane does not know that it is dark outside. The airplane flies exactly the same, it's the human body that acts differently at night. Night flying can be wonderful. But it has dangers that the pilot must respect.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

I was giving a stage check to a pilot who had just soloed the day before and I asked him to do the "turn around a point" maneuver. He flew a great maneuver, but he had no idea why it was a good thing to know.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

You do not have to be an Instrument Flight Instructor (CFII) to give instrument flight instruction? No, the only time a CFII certificate is required is when a person is training for the instrument rating. Initial instructors give instrument training all the time.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Emergencies are rare but that does not mean it's a good idea to be unprepared for them. Emergency possibilities offer an endless number of scenarios. Here are a few to get you thinking...  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Every flight you will ever take consists of a series of decisions -- it's the quality of those decisions that determine the level of your safety. Unfortunately many pilots take decision making for granted.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

The following is an airspeed maneuver example of how the real-world element can be a part of everyday flight training, with the goal being not only to train as a pilot but to train to become Pilot in Command.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Flying away from the friendly confines of your home airport offers another great flying challenge. It also offers an unlimited number of "what if" scenarios. When the airlines use "LOFT" scenarios, they are always playing out a flight going to somewhere (LOFT is Line Oriented Flight Training -- Line, as in flight line or route). Creative instructors and inquisitive students can "war game" cross counties forever. Here is just one and it's a true story.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

To any student pilot the practice area is like the minor leagues is to a baseball player. In the practice area you learn your craft, yet -- with an instructor on board -- the stakes are not all that high. To the student pilot the traffic pattern is the major leagues. The pattern is the show.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Pilots should practice cross country planning -- even on days when it does not look like a flight is possible due to weather. Call and get a weather briefing anyway. Get the wind and temperatures aloft so that you can still calculate the groundspeed and fuel requirements. Instructors, have your students practice making the Go/No Go decision. As an instructor I always go behind the student and get my own weather briefing.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

It's nearing midnight. A damp fog rolls lazily off the Gulf of Mexico, thick clouds blurring the lines between earth, sea and sky. Lights pierce less than a mile through mist and fog under a 100-foot overcast. Dark silence envelopes the salt marshes of the Florida panhandle. Suddenly an otherworldly shriek shakes the trees and swamp, a wail punctuated with a dull thump, the squawking of birds, then a return to silence. An airplane lay mangled in the steaming marsh, its pilot dead at the controls. Why?  Continue»

By Editor Staff

Researchers who scoured a remote coral atoll in the South Pacific Ocean earlier this year think they’ve found debris from the wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra, which crashed somewhere in that part of the ocean in July 1937. After reviewing reams of sonar data and hours of underwater video footage from two submersibles, researchers found what appears to be a debris field that is separate from a British steamer that ran aground on the reef in 1929. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, which mounted the expedition this year, said the underwater debris field matched what looked like man-made debris in a grainy photo of the island taken two months after the crash. TIGHAR speculates that waves swept the debris in the photo, which they’ve interpreted to be an upside-down landing gear assembly, out into the reef. The team is also analyzing a jar of skin cream found on the island dating from that period. The American-made cream contained mercury, used to bleach out freckles, which Earhart was known to have had. But that evidence is circumstantial, and the team plans to return to the reef to try to recover the objects it found underwater.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/48707048/ns/technology_and_science-science/#.UDJw2RxO45Q

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By Jeff Pardo

Next to being on fire or having an engine failure, experiencing an electrical (or vacuum) failure in IMC probably gets the bronze medal for dread and distress -- dead radios would run a distant third, but it can still ruin your day.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Flying 'under the influence' of alcohol or drugs can produce disastrous consequences, but there is a more common problem that is likely to affect us all -- abstinence or not.  Continue»

By Reader Submission

In the mid-1950’s, a very unusual modification of the De Havilland Tiger Moth began to appear over the English countryside.  Continue»

By Reader Submission

Long considered one of the most beautiful aircraft ever produced, the Comet was originally designed for one specific contest, the MacRobertson Race from England to Australia.  Continue»

By Reader Submission

One of the greatest bushplanes to come out of aviation’s short history was the De Havilland Otter.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

Question: Why do dangerous clouds always appear dark?
A) They don't. Clouds associated with severe weather can be as white as the driven snow, but still contain dangerous turbulence or super-cooled water.
B) Water is anything but dark; in fact it's clear. When it is suspended in very small airborne droplets, it reflects light and appears white. However, when the droplets coalesce into rain, the drops of water absorb more light and will usually appear somewhat darker, especially from below.
C) It has nothing to do with the scattering or absorption of light on an individual droplet or raindrop level. It is simply a matter of attenuation of visible light with increased depth. Storm clouds are usually dark because they are generally quite deep, as with cumulonimbus clouds.
D) They do when the air is dirtier than usual. When air contains particulate matter in sufficient quantity, the clouds will be dark.
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By Chad Austin

We have covered a lot of ground on the fueling of airplanes lately, but you can imagine our surprise when we heard a new risk to fueling aircraft. That risk allegedly comes from that ubiquitous communication device of the 90's, the cell phone. It seems that someone wants us to think that these little boxes, designed to allow us to communicate between each other whenever we want to, from wherever we happen to be, can really put some excitement into fueling your aircraft or any other vehicle.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

A cockpit is one of the best classrooms. When you fly, there are always chances to learn lessons from what you are doing. Whether it is a long cross-country flight into an unfamiliar area, or handling the chores of a hard IFR flight, each time you get into the plane and turn the key you start a new learning session... provided you are willing to learn.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

I HAD A FRIEND WHO WAS A PILOT, AND WHO OWNED A BEECH SUNDOWNER. The Sundowner had a reputation as a well-built plane, and was one of Beech's first of a less expensive breed of airplane. The truth be told, while rugged, the Sundowner was a little on the slow side, but was still a lot of fun to fly. It was basically an upgraded Musketeer, but in this new incarnation, shared many components with the Sierra, which was a retractable model, and the Duchess twin model.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

WORDS TO LIVE BY: Don't play cards with someone whose first name is a city, don't mess with mama, and don't fly near thunderstorms.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

Following a year in which unmanned surveillance aircraft assisted in a record number of drug seizures and arrests along the U.S.-Mexico border, Customs and Border Protection is asking Congress for hundreds of millions more dollars to expand the program. The agency currently flies 10 Predator B and Guardian drones, each of which cost about $20 million. While the drones are sometimes grounded by bad weather, last year they were used to help seize 58,000 pounds of drugs and apprehend more than 1,400 people while flying a record 5,500 hours of missions. Those numbers are small compared to the agency’s total number of drug seizures and arrests each year, but they are a big increase over the UAV program’s previous totals. Now, the agency has put forth a plan to buy as many as 24 more drones from General Atomics at a cost of $443 million over the next five years, though Congress has not yet approved spending that money. The contract proposal comes five months after a government audit criticized Customs and Border Protection for wanting to expand its aerial surveillance program without first having a comprehensive spending plan in place.

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Border_agency_looks_to_expand_drone_aircraft_fleet-179906411.html

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By Jeff Pardo

Back in aviation's formative years, spins were widely accepted as being non-habit forming -- once caught in a spin, there was no known way out -- until...  Continue»

By Reader Submission

Although some of the of the two-place Curtiss-Wright Travel Air 12 series airplanes had radial engines (there were both Warner- and Kinner-powered versions), the most popular was offered with an inline engine.  Continue»

By Reader Submission

One of the most successful of early pioneer designs was the Curtiss Pusher series of biplanes.  Continue»

By Reader Submission

With its elliptical wing and handcrank-operated gear, the Culver Cadet was an interesting little airplane.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

Sad stories like this one don’t turn up very often; fortunately for the rest of us, they leave lessons behind.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

You've been cleared to "taxi to the runway" when you come up to a red "ILS" sign and double-stripe, yellow taxiway marking -- can you taxi further?  Continue»

By Editor Staff

The pilots of an Air France flight bound for Beirut, Lebanon that diverted to Damascus, Syria took an unconventional approach when it came to paying for fuel after the landing. The flight diverted due to protests in Beirut, but didn’t have enough fuel to make it to Amman, Jordan. Instead, the plane landed in Syria, with which France severed its diplomatic ties earlier this year over the Syrian government’s handing of a civil war there. After the plane landed, airport authorities refused to take a credit card to pay for refueling the plane and demanded cash. That prompted the crew to ask passengers to contribute to paying the fuel bill. In the end, the cash wasn’t needed; neither the airline nor the airport would say how they settled the tab. Air France also declined to say what the total fuel bill was, or how much cash the passengers had been willing to contribute.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/16/uk-syria-crisis-airfrance-idUSLNE87F01M20120816

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By Chad Austin

Every plane has at least one -- a crack in a formed part, or more than likely, a composite part or fairing of some sort on the airframe.  Continue»

By Greg Brown

'Howdy Greg, My name is Baldy and I am a working 'wagon trash' cowboy in northern Arizona. Have a '41 T'craft I use on the ranches - I'm based at P23 [Seligman] and just built a Starduster Too. I enjoy reading your columns as it's always apparent how much you LOVE our passion, which is flying. Having said this I hope you'll visit my free web site www.pilotsharetheride.com as I am trying to help people share our love of flight and maybe expenses as well. If a $25 a day working cowboy can afford to fly, anyone can. Well sir I thank you for your time and look forward to your articles as it's great to see someone who totally tries to help the little guy get started. If you are ever around Seligman it would be a pleasure to meet you. I day-work only now on ranches and shoe 30 horses in PHX every 5-6 weeks. Well sir take care and fly safe, Adios for now from Baldy in No. Az.'  Continue»

By Editor Staff

A French court this week reversed the manslaughter convictions against Continental Airlines and a mechanic in the July 2000 crash of a Concorde as it took off from Paris, killing 109 people. The surprise ruling all but ends more than a decade of litigation in the case; Continental, which is now owned by United Airlines, paid out damages to Air France and the victims’ families several years ago. Accident investigators determined that the Air France Concorde crashed because it struck a metal strap on the runway as it took off, blowing a tire on the Concorde and sending pieces of rubber into the supersonic jet’s fuel tank, which exploded. Investigators traced the strap to a Continental DC-10 that had departed a few minutes ahead of the Concorde. Several weeks before the crash, a mechanic in Houston attached the wrong strap to the DC-10. A French court previously ruled that the mechanic was criminally liable for the accident for the error in attaching the strap. This week’s reversal of the convictions is noteworthy because France’s justice system often attempts to find people or companies criminally responsible in accidents. But the French appeals court found that the mechanic in Houston had no way of knowing that his error would result in the fatal crash weeks after the repair work.

http://world.time.com/2012/11/29/french-court-overturns-concorde-crash-conviction/

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By Jeff Pardo

Why a hurricane and bathwater always spins counter-clockwise ... er, one of those, anyway.  Continue»

By Reader Submission

With a crew of 15, a wing span of 230 feet, and six 3,500 hp pusher Pratt & Whitney engines, the B-36 “Peacemaker” (as it was sometimes called) was a very impressive airplane.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

Imagine helplessly watching as your airplane wrenches itself (and you with it) into an unusual attitude, rolls over on its back and points (nose down and inverted) at a schoolyard.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

From 1983 to 2000 there were 230 fatal takeoff accidents among pilots within their first 1,000 hours of flight experience.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

In one of its last votes before the fall campaign recess, the Senate approved a bill that will shield U.S. airlines from having to pay a carbon tax to European authorities on transatlantic flights. That means each passenger will save a few dollars on a ticket to Europe, since carriers were likely to pass the fees on to travelers. The EU regulation, which went into effect earlier this year, charges several hundred dollars or more per flight based on its total flying distance, not just the portion of the flight over the EU. The money is meant to go toward alternative energy efforts. But the U.S. and more than a dozen other countries have protested the tax as a violation of international law.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/24/uk-usa-carbon-airlines-idUSLNE88N00K20120924

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By Paul A. Craig

Class G, or uncontrolled airspace, is down low... most of the time, and not everywhere.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

If you experience the full or partial loss of your two-way radio communications, you can still land at an airport -- even one with a control tower -- if you know how to get their attention.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

The soot from the low-cost rockets that commercial spaceflight companies like Virgin Galactic plan to use could be as a big a contributor to global warming as all other commercial airline flights combined in just 10 years. Commercial spaceflight companies are gearing up to take space tourists on low-orbit excursions and to ferry supplies to the International Space Station. By 2021, they will have taken as may as 13,000 tourists on space flights, a tiny fraction of the number of global air travel passengers. Most commercial rockets use a relatively low-cost combination of synthetic hydrocarbons and nitrous oxide which create large amounts of soot, or black carbon, during combustion. And with hundreds of commercial spaceflights possible each year in the near future, that could add up to thousands of tons of black carbon in the upper atmosphere. The rockets produce little carbon dioxide, a significant greenhouse gas, but the soot can have similar effects at high altitudes, where it can stay in the atmosphere for years.

http://revmodo.com/2012/09/13/as-space-tourism-grows-climate-impacts-will-rival-all-airplanes/

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By Paul A. Craig

If you can break the color code you can 'see' a lot more than the airspace on a sectional chart.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

Cold weather has arrived -- rather brutally this year for many of us. Whether that cold weather translates to life in the mid-50's (as it often does in the southern climes), or in the sub-zero's (for northerners), cold weather means we need to keep an eye on our aircraft's tires, to make sure they stay properly inflated.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

Researchers in Japan have developed a coating that can be painted onto airplanes that prevents ice from forming in flight. The coating is made of microscopic particles of a material similar to Teflon, forming a hydrophobic layer that water can’t attach to. That means super-cooled water droplets would simply slide off the wing in flight, instead of freezing on contact and accumulating into clear or mixed ice. The material works on a microscopic scale because water droplets need a molecularly smooth surface to stick to, but the Teflon particles create a rough surface. Only a small amount of energy from air flowing over the wings is then needed to dislodge the water droplets. The researchers are in the early stages of refining the material and haven’t tried it in flight tests yet.

http://www.theengineer.co.uk/design-engineering/news/hydrophobic-coating-prevents-the-build-up-of-ice-on-aircraft/1014681.article

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By Jeff Pardo

With things the way they are, a lot of pilots will either choose to (or be otherwise 'convinced' to) stay on the ground and, if that's your fate, there are still ways you can become a better pilot.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Flying in the clouds may be the most demanding of pilot skills, but does flying IFR stretch a pilot's capabilities beyond the limits of safety?  Continue»

By Chad Austin

I was talking with an old friend the other day, and he related a story to me that quite honestly threw me for a loop.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

If you're about to land and it's VFR weather, just how long do you have to wait before you own that runway?  Continue»

By Editor Staff

Under the terms of a deal signed earlier this week, Cirrus Aircraft will build most of the amphibious Icon A5’s airframe. The light sport aircraft is set to begin deliveries next year, though Icon is waiting for a ruling from the FAA that would let the aircraft be 250 pounds above the normal LSA weight limit. The production deal means Icon doesn’t need to acquire the composite material production equipment and expertise at its own southern California facility, though that plant would still be used for final assembly and testing. Cirrus will build large portions of the airframe at its Grand Forks, N.D., facility, then ship them to Icon’s California facility. Neither company released any financial terms of the deal, nor said how long the manufacturing agreement would remain in effect. The A5 uses a novel “spin-resistant” design that puts the plane into a conventional mushing stall when pro-spin inputs are added. The amphibious pusher prop is listed at $140,000, and Icon says it already has a backlog of more than 800 orders. Signing the deal with Cirrus means that Icon will be able to ramp up production at a greater rate than if it had to start its own assembly line.

http://www.iconaircraft.com/dl/news/pdf/20120806_ICON_Aircraft_and_Cirrus_Aircraft_Partner_on_A5_Production.pdf

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