Know thy airplane

An airplane departs with all three static ports blocked, and the pilots quickly become confused. The altimeters appear consistent, but the computer is flashing contradictory automation warnings, and the pilots can’t understand. Eventually the stall warning alarms, at the same time their airspeed looks to be excessive. The pilots crash their airplane into the ocean, killing 70 people, all because the static ports were taped over by a maintenance worker.

Continue reading

Are you the pilot in command of your life?

Every single aircraft in flight right now has a person on board that’s known as the “pilot in command.” Whether the aircraft is carrying one person or one hundred, there is a single pilot in command for each and every flight. This person is responsible for the airplane, and the passengers, and the safety of those on the ground. The Federal Aviation Regulations describe their role as follows:

Continue reading

Sharing the love of aviation with others

Loading the airplane and getting ready for departure at Gaithersburg.

Loading the airplane and getting ready for departure at Gaithersburg.

Being a pilot has a number of advantages: the ability to travel immediately comes to mind. But there are many others, including the ability to share the magic of flight with friends. Humans have only been able to leave the earth for a few hundred years, and so the magic of flight is still something that enthralls us.

Continue reading

A brand new paint job

Paint is an important component of an aircraft: it helps prevent corrosion, reduce drag, and also helps the airplane look good. Many people attribute appearance with quality or safety (even if the two aren’t related), so having a well-painted aircraft is an important part of assuring nervous passengers that the aircraft is airworthy. Plus, having great paint is a source of pride.

Continue reading

The most valuable rating

Last weekend, Debbie and I traveled to Maine to visit a friend. Two days before, I had headed up to Vermont to give a talk to the Burlington PHP group. Both of these flights had something in common: the flight conditions made visual flight alone impossible. My instrument rating was the most important difference in each of those trips.

Continue reading

Fly it like an airline pilot

One of the things that sticks with me from my instrument training is the saying of my flight instructor Meredith, who taught me “each time you fly, fly like an airline pilot!” What she meant in that is follow the checklist, be procedural in how you approach aviation, follow the rules, and be methodical. This approach to flying, especially on instruments has meant a lot to me as I’ve developed my piloting skills.

Continue reading

All Available Resources – The Growth Of Technology In The Cockpit

stratusThe modern era of GPS and the iPad has opened up a new world of technology options for pilots in the cockpit. The development of GPS allows pilots to know with absolute certainty their positions on earth at any given moment. And the advent of services like XM Weather and ForeFlight Stratus open up a whole host of new options for seeing the weather in real time.

Continue reading