Aviation Innovators: Rod Rakic »

AVweb is beginning an occasional series on innovators who are making a difference in general aviation. Today's focus is on Rod Rakic, co-founder of OpenAirplane, the Internet-based service that allows pilots to rent airplanes across the country based on one checkout, which is renewed annually. More

Instrument Proficiency »

For most pilots the FAA minimums are not sufficient to perform at a level to feel comfortable in the system. So what does it take to be truly proficient? While the definition of "proficient" may vary with the individual it is the ability to function in the instrument environment, in IMC conditions, where the safe outcome of the flight is never in doubt. More

Make It Different; Make It Social »

A byproduct of the process of expanding one's aviation horizons is meeting people with similar interests in those horizons—and it's not unusual for long-lasting friendships to form. And when those friends decide to get together to do some flying that is a little out of the ordinary, the result can be some of the most fun you can have in aviation at a reasonable cost. More

Flying Both Sides »

When it comes to WWI aircraft, Airdrome Aeroplanes shows no favorites. More

Retrofit Autopilots: You'll Pay For Precision »

Proposals for new autopilot upgrades can be shocking. Even entry-level wing-leveling systems start at $10,000, not including installation. But that won't buy much. Higher-end models with add-on options can easily snowball a project to $40,000. That's roughly the cost of an average engine replacement—or an average Skyhawk. More

Steam Gauges Are Safer »

Technically advanced aircraft (TAA)—those with a primary flight display (PFD), multi-function display (MFD), and GPS—are sexy. Pilots are drawn to them like Pooh Bear to honey. Besides being eye-catching, TAA attempt to address some of the biggest problems in aviation by providing pilots with a lot of supplementary safety information. Moving maps designed to improve situational awareness make it almost impossible to get lost. Databases store more information at the touch of a button than a thirty pound chart case. We can display more weather information in the cockpit than was even available 30 years ago. Combine all that with an autopilot that provides time to gather and interpret, and you'd think we'd be a lot safer. More

Short- And Soft-Field Landings »

Obstructions, sand, mud, wandering animals and other surprises like the end of the runway rushing up to meet you...these are just some of the hazards common to short and soft fields. We all think we're trained for them, but there's a big difference between training and reality. I'm not knocking what CFIs teach or what's required on the practical tests, but what you learned in your training may be insufficient to prepare you for the real thing. More

Used Aircraft Guide: Pitts Special »

Until the advent of the Pitts Special, aerobatics was a horizontal affair, even in the hairy-chested, fuel-sucking, 450-HP Boeings and Wacos. Practitioners pirouetted under the stern God of Energy Management—gravity and drag meant vertical maneuvers were brief events. More

When the Power Seems Low »

The inability to achieve normal power output (e.g. poor static power) can be an insidious, difficult-to-troubleshoot condition that ultimately affects almost every small engine sooner or later. Sometimes, the cause can be pinpointed quickly, especially via multi-probe engine analyzers. But many times it can't. The best bet is often analyzing all the power instruments that you do have, not just one. More

Too Laid Back? »

Aviation lore is full of heroes like Chuck Yeager, who saved the day while calmly muttering on the radio something about "some little fire going in them engines" or such. The quiet, unflappable, laid-back flyer has been the role model for young pilots since the days of the Lone Eagle. But is there such a thing as "too laid-back?" More