Engine Out! One AVweb Staffer's Eventful Flight »

It's something every pilot practices (or should) for the eventual day when all his knowledge, skills and nerve will be tested: the day when his or her airplane becomes a glider and the only way out is down. AVweb News Writer Liz Swaine had always wondered how she would handle losing an engine if and when it ever happened. Would she panic? Would she freeze? Like most of us, she was not particularly eager to find out. Fate, though, had other ideas, and on Sunday, August 27, Liz became one of the newest members of the Forced Landing Club. Now she'll never have to wonder how she would react again ... until the next time. How would you do? More

Up Close and Personal: Formation Flying »

Formation flying demands an exceptionally high level of pilot skill; it's demanding, disciplined, rewarding, and a lot of fun -- come to think of it, it's all about why many of us learned to fly in the first place. AVweb's Jennifer Whitley joined members of Formation Flying Inc., the FAA-approved issuer of non-aerobatic, non-warbird formation-flying credentials, and reports that getting up close and personal with other airplanes is a wonderful addition to your flying repertoire. More

IFR Cram Course Diary »

What's it like to take one of those ten-day instrument rating courses? With the ink still wet on his private certificate, Southern California pilot Yin Shih did exactly that...and somehow found time to keep a detailed play-by-play, approach-by-approach diary. Although his PIC training was plagued by unforeseen contingencies—both mechanical and meteorological—he passed his instrument checkride on the afternoon of the tenth day. Here's his story. More

Recovering from Usual Attitudes at Unusual Airspeeds »

Given an airplane's natural tendency to enter a descending turn — a spiral — recovering to level flight shouldn't be thought of as an unusual maneuver. But an airplane in a spiral also builds speed — rapidly. According to AVweb contributor R. Scott Puddy, the skill pilots need to perfect is not recovering from unusual attitudes but recovering from usual attitudes at unusual airspeeds. More

The Take on Takeoffs »

The takeoff is a maneuver that's treated as a no-brainer by many pilots, but there's a whole lot more to a properly-planned takeoff than meets the eye. AVweb's Linda Pendleton discusses what pilots should think about before every takeoff, how to know if a rejected takeoff is warranted, and how to deal with takeoff emergencies if it's too late to abort. More

The Deadly Spiral »

The phenomenon is known by many names — death spiral, graveyard spiral, suicide spiral, vicious spiral. It has been with us since the Wright Brothers, and over the years has claimed many pilots and airplanes, heavy iron and flibs alike. Legendary NWA captain Paul Soderlind looks at two classic cases, both four-engine transports flown by seasoned airline crews. He then discusses how and why these spirals develop, how to avoid them, and what to do if you find yourself in one. More

The Whys and Hows of VFR Flight Following »

Flying VFR without talking to anybody is still legal most places, but it's the aviation equivalent of living in the wilderness with no electricity or running water. Most of the time, for most of us, asking ATC for VFR flight following is safer and more civilized. Here's a review of the benefits, procedures, phraseology, and gotchas of radar traffic information service. More

The Black Hole Approach: Don't Get Sucked In! »

Whether you fly a piston single or a heavy jet, a long straight-in approach at night over featureless terrain is a well-proven prescription controlled flight into terrain. AVweb's Linda Pendleton examines the optical illusions involved, and offers suggestions for making sure that you don't become a thing that goes bump in the night. More

Transitioning to the Pattern »

Ever found yourself confused about how to enter the traffic pattern at a non-towered airport? Of course — it's happened to all of us! In this article, an experienced CFI based at one of Florida's busiest uncontrolled fields describes a simple, safe, sure-fire transition technique that works every time. More

The Bootstrap Approach to Aircraft Performance
(Part Three — Maneuvering)
 »

Okay, bootstrappers ... time to cut loose and have some fun! In the first two bootstrap articles by aviation physicist John T. Lowry — Part One on basics for fixed-pitch aircraft, Part Two on constant-speed-prop aircraft — the airplane was kept at full throttle, or perhaps gliding, and always wings level. But eagles don't soar wings-level. (Then again, neither do buzzards.) This article takes the airplane, still at full throttle, and lets it bank and turn. Since bootstrap calculations are easy and realistic, we'll be able to calculate interesting turn performance numbers and bring up some new concepts. To do that, two downloadable Excel spreadsheets are included: banks.xls, on geometric aspects of level turns, and bootstp3.xls, details on maneuvering a fixed-pitch airplane. More