Five Tips From ATC »

We bow to no one in our willingness to reject ATC clearances and forcefully but politely seek what we want and need from a controller. Since our chair usually is moving faster than their's, we cop the attitude that our needs are more important than ATC's. At the same time, we certainly understand controllers often have little flexibility in responding to our needs, whether due to their own requirements, conflicting traffic we know nothing about or high workload. But they also need things from us: basic airmanship, concise communication and the ability (willingness?) to follow instructions. To put it another way, both sides of the pilot/controller relationship have expectations. We know what ours are; What are their's? To find out, we asked a controller-friend working in an ARTCC in the Midwest U.S. to share with us his top five pet peeves. Here's what we learned. More

You Landed — Now What? »

I love GPS. It's absolutely great the way you can program the most complex route from anywhere to anywhere else. With a little help from your friends at the other end of the radio, you can often even just make a straight (great-circle) line to your destination, or at least to some intermediate point. GPS is great. More

Missing the Point »

Few situations require quick judgment like deciding to go missed with weather at minimums. Arriving at missed approach point or decision altitude, the pilot must determine if the runway environment is in sight and the required flight visibility is evident. If these conditions are met, is the aircraft in a position to land and is the runway condition suitable? All of this must be accomplished while flying through a sea of obstructions at about 150… More

Doctored Strangelift (or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Zombie Drone Invasion) »

In "Brainteaser #203," we asked how the drones will affect aviation and what, if anything, should be done to prevent total chaos. Should drones be regulated and their operators licensed? Should it be legal to shoot them out of the sky during designated seasons with the proper permits? (Or perhaps in any season, if they're headed over the White House fence?) More

Five Landing Fixes »

Especially when looking at recent accidents involving scheduled airliners, it occurs that some people are still having problems with their landings. Yes, they can be difficult to master, especially when crosswinds or other factors complicate things and distract us. But this shouldn't be so hard. More

The Art of Crashing »

When considering how to crash, my first bit of advice is don't do it. Since the reality of any flight is that things can go wrong, that isn't particularly helpful, I know. What can go wrong? Your crankshaft can break, your fuel lines can clog or, if you are a damn fool, you can run out of gas. The point is, someday your engine may stop working for reasons beyond your immediate control and your next option is an off-field landing, or worse. If you're lucky, you will be mid-field downwind at your home airport and it will work just like the last time you practiced engine-out procedures—you do still practice those, right? More

Build It Better »

In aviation, one pin out of place can result in disaster. Details matter. More

A Test Pilot Spins »

Experimental flight testing involves taking new or modified aircraft designs to, and sometimes beyond, the edges of their performance envelopes. Most of the time the steps into the unknown go smoothly. It's the times that they don't that when test pilots earn every cent of their pay while discovering that even the most carefully made plans can suddenly come unraveled. A experienced test pilot recalls spin testing that didn't go quite as planned. More

Engine Heaters: Probes, Bands or Pads? »

Unless you operate your aircraft in a warm climate, we think fixed engine heaters are essential accessories. Even if you store the aircraft in a heated hangar, there could be times when you're faced with an engine-stressing cold start. More

Whether a Refurb? »

Not surprisingly, as the rate of price increases for new airplanes left the rate of inflation in the dust, the business of giving new life to aging airplanes became a growth industry. When it's time to step up from your current airplane, the right step up might well be to keep it and have it refurbished. More