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Volume 25, Number 13a
March 26, 2018
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Airshow Pilot Charged In Fatal Crash
Mary Grady

Airshow pilot Andrew Hill, 53, whose 1955 Hawker Hunter crashed in August 2015, killing 11 men, has been charged with “manslaughter by gross negligence” in a British court. He will appear before a judge on April 19. The 11 who died were either in vehicles on the road or standing on the roadside, outside the airfield. Twelve others, plus Hill, were injured. Hill had attempted to perform a loop during his airshow display, but failed to complete it, and crashed. He also will be charged with endangering an aircraft.

Since the accident, warbird performances in the U.K. have been shifted to sites over water. Hill, an experienced airshow pilot, hit the top of a loop 800 feet lower and 50 knots slower than required for the Hunter and was not able to recover. Investigators said he had recently renewed his airshow performance permit on a Jet Provost, which has different performance characteristics than the Hunter, and “a possible error path was that the pilot recalled the wrong numbers, essentially mixing up the two aircraft.”

Video, by Dan Tube, published August 2015

Guest Blog: CFI Navel Gazing
Paul Berge

The text message was familiar: “Have to cancel today’s lesson.” The accompanying sad-face emoji didn’t mitigate the fact that too many flying lessons never get off the ground, stalled by self-imposed realities of alleged real-world issues. Over a quarter-century of instructing, I estimate about half of all appointments cancel and not simply because the student suddenly remembers a parole hearing or spots his name in the obituaries. Cancellations can be due to illness, job demands—boss demands you show up—poor weather or even good weather that might lure a student to the beach rather than into the sky. Flight instructing in old airplanes is no way to make a living, but it is a great life, provided you …

Don’t do the math. I charge $45 per hour (plus sales tax) for instruction, which no doubt has you thinking, “That’s darn near as much as my yoga instructor gets!” I’ll admit it’s a racket, getting paid to go for airplane rides with some of the most creative aviators on and above the planet. When lessons aren’t cancelled I get to skid through uncoordinated turns, dive toward runways in nose-first approaches that would qualify for kamikaze merit badges and explain, again, that the crosswind doesn’t go away simply because we’ve made it to the vicinity of the centerline without taking out the runway lights or peeling the tires off the rims. All this in the comfort of an aluminum can with little cabin heat in Midwest winter and sweat-box luxury in August. Oddly, I love it.

When someone asks, “What’d ya spend becoming a pilot?” I shrug. I dunno, a lot, too much, not enough. Doesn’t matter. It’s like asking what it cost to raise my daughter. Same answers with similar results. It doesn’t make fiscal sense, but, man, it’s worth it. Even if she isn’t a pilot … and is marrying a New Jersey boy.

Getting into flying because there’s the shimmer of a gilt-edged airline job on the horizon is like going to medical school because your doctor drives a Porsche, and wouldn’t it be cool to park yours beside hers at the country club and skip tipping the valet parking attendant who smiles politely and then spins doughnuts in the back parking lot with your Teutonic status symbol while you’re inside sipping mimosas, which you don’t really like, but they’re a thing now, so you do. Yeah, I used to be a parking attendant.* That’s what happens. Anyhow, wrong motivation for flying.

Some of us fly because there’s a sky up there, and we don’t belong down here. I teach flying because I’m too old to sit, as I did in grade school, staring out the window at airplanes plowing through clouds while forced to listen to gravity-challenged adults complain that I’m daydreaming again. They make it sound like a bad thing. I fly because I’m a daydreamer. I teach because there’s a grass runway beside my hangar, and there’s no greater satisfaction than sitting in the back seat of a tandem taildragger as the student suddenly understands how to gently hold the stick back and into the wind, while keeping the nose pointed down the runway with rudder as this planet that binds accepts our offering of stalled wings and wheels splitting puddles and slinging mud, before the throttle moves forward to launch our daydream, again, into the unteachable, unlearnable sky.

It’s the other half. Half of all flying lessons get cancelled, not from lack of interest but from misinterpretation of reality. For the other half with the students who distrust reality, I’ll fly and teach in a fool’s effort to learn how it is that humans, we clumsy bags of water, bone and giddy notions can—with relatively little effort—leave planet Earth at will. Luckily, I’m no closer to finding the answers than I was the day in 1973 when a flight instructor, charging $4 per hour, pointed at a faded Cessna 150 and said in a Sam Elliot voice straight from the sky, “This is a wing; it produces lift, the giver of life …” 

*Best car to spin on an icy New Jersey parking lot? 1971 Cadillac Eldorado.

Personal Flight Simulators 101: Introduction
Rick Durden

We’ll admit our bias up front: We like flight simulators. A lot. Being cheap, we came to like them originally because we could use them to keep our instrument skills up for a fraction of the cost of getting in an airplane and putting on the hood—whether we could log the time or not. As time went by and the quality improved, we liked that we could use them to reduce the cost of checking out in an airplane new to us, piston, turboprop or jet. And because we spend a lot of time looking at aircraft accident reports, we’re sadly aware of the number of fatal training accidents that occurred prior to the advent of decent simulators and the fact that training accidents still occur when simulating emergencies that turn into the real thing because the student does something terribly wrong or the airplane chooses that moment to break something important.

With that as background, we’re starting another one of our periodic series of reports on specific areas of interest to general aviation pilots—this one on flight simulators, with emphasis on those that are designed to be personally owned and used. We know this is a hugely complicated field, that there are a lot of people who are creating their own personal simulators or wildly customizing off-the-shelf equipment and software. We’re going to approach it from the standpoint of the general aviation pilot who wants to know what’s out there that is turnkey—it provides extensive value out of the box—and can be used for credit for both flight training toward a rating and proficiency afterward. We’re going to be taking the Chicago politics approach to personal flight simulators: “What’s in it for me?”

In this article we’re going to go into the background of the simulator world, terms used, the devices that we consider to be personal flight simulators and what they can do for us, particularly as instrument-rated pilots. After this article on the basics, we’ll move on to look at individual sellers of personal flight simulators and what they offer—and what they cost.

From the perspective of personal flight simulators—something that is reasonably affordable to have at home—we are going to concentrate on ones that can be used as credit for flying time toward ratings or recent experience required to file and fly IFR. That means the looking at what are technically known as Aviation Training Devices (ATDs). There are two categories of ATDs as defined by the FAA in Advisory Circular AC 61-136A: Basic (BATD) and Advanced (AATD). An ATD is approved by the FAA after a request from the original manufacturer and sold as a complete product. We’ll look at the features each category is required to have—which should make it clear that a BATD is perfectly satisfactory for a home simulator—and how you can use them to meet FAA requirements for a new rating and stay current with your instrument rating.


A BATD is what we think of as an entry-level, FAA-certified sim. It must have certain physical controls (not a computer keyboard, mouse and gaming joystick) and may have touchscreens. The physical controls must represent a class of aircraft with reasonable accuracy and effect in operation. The controls and the way the simulated aircraft flies do not have to accurately match any specific aircraft—although, with technology and software advances, many do a remarkably good job.

BATDs are not required to have an “Out the Window” (OTW) visual capability. However, all of the ones we are aware of and will be covering in this series have at least a limited OTW capability, something we think is important. In fact, as we researched this series, we found that 80 percent of how our bodies perceive motion is through vision. Accordingly, because the OTW capabilities of what we consider to be home flight simulators have skyrocketed in recent years, we are of the opinion that some of the BATDs on the market are excellent trainers for VFR operations, without the need for them to be on a motion base. Motion is expensive. High-quality visuals used to be, but the cost has dropped radically.

AC 61-136A, Appendix 2, sets out the ATD requirements in detail. In general, a BATD must have physical controls for the master switch, mags, alternator, fuel pumps, avionics master, pitot heat and exterior lights. It has to have physical controls that include a self-centering yoke/stick and rudders that allow continuous adjustment in pitch, bank and yaw with corresponding reaction in heading and roll; power controls (throttle, mixture, prop) with continuous movement and corresponding reaction in pitch and yaw; and controls for such things as flaps, trim, nav and com radios, clock, gear and altimeter. The display is required to have instruments and indicators that are located and replicate the aircraft represented. They must reflect dynamic behavior of an actual aircraft display—a VSI reading must be accompanied by an appropriate display of altitude change, for example.

There are instructional requirements for a BATD that allow the instructor to pause the system, and manipulate the system to set appropriate parameters for staring a session “in the air.” The system has to record horizontal and vertical track, allow the instructor to “disable” instruments and it must have a nav database that includes at least the local training area and uses data that is based on instrument procedures in Part 97.


Once the sim world steps into the level of the Advanced Aviation Training Device, we think it may have moved beyond that of what a pilot is going to buy for home use. Nevertheless, we’ll give a quick rundown of what makes an AATD an AATD. Not surprisingly, it starts by meeting all of the BATD requirements.

An AATD has to have what the FAA refers to as a realistic cockpit. This doesn't mean a full enclosure for the pilot, but it does mean correctly sized and positioned controls and instruments and real switches, knobs and levers in correct arrangements and the correct distance from the pilot. The simulator has to be capable of performing all of the emergency procedures outlined by checklist in the aircraft’s POH.

There must be a digital avionics panel and a realistic GPS navigator with moving map to meet AATD requirements. At least a two-axis autopilot is required. Even the seat must be realistic for the kind of aircraft represented. An OTW display that is capable of representing the virtual environment through which the airplane is flying with realistic visual cues for day and night VFR as well as IFR conditions is required. Visibility and ceiling must be adjustable. We note that most AATDs (and many BATDs) have quite sophisticated weather and visibility controls for the instructor.

An AATD must have a separate instructor operating station (IOS) that is capable of at least overseeing tracks along airways, holds and instrument approaches; functioning as an air traffic controller; changing weather; and creating complete and partial failures of aircraft systems, nav and com equipment.

Logging Time

The downside of simulators is that it takes some care to determine whether and how you can log the time flying one toward a rating or for instrument currency.

Time flying an ATD, either BATD or AATD, is time flying an ATD—not an airplane. A pilot cannot log it as airplane-flying time or PIC time. However, it can be used as credit for a portion of the time required for the private and instrument ratings. Under Part 61, with an instructor present, a student working on a private rating may get credit for as many as 2.5 hours in either a BATD or AATD (FAR 61.109(k)). A pilot working on a commercial rating may credit a maximum of 50 hours toward the total aeronautical experience requirements in either a BATD or AATD (FAR 61.129(i)). For the instrument rating, it’s 10 hours in a BATD and 20 hours in an AATD (FAR 61.65(i)). If the pilot is going through an FAR Part 141- or 142-approved training program the numbers change—in general, more time in a BATD or AATD is allowed to be credited toward the requirements of the rating.

FAR 61.57(c) sets out the requirements for recent experience to file and fly IFR. Subsection (3) refers to the use of an ATD—what we consider to be a home simulator—and provides: “Within the 2 calendar months preceding the month of the flight, that person performed and logged at least the following tasks, iterations and time in an aviation training device and has performed the following—” and goes on to specify three hours of instrument experience; holding procedures and tasks; six instrument approaches; two unusual attitude recoveries (with conditions); and interception and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems. FAR 61.51(g)(4) does require that for the BATD or AATD time to count for recent experience it has to be with an instructor and an appropriate logbook entry made.


We think the world of home simulators—at the BATD level—shines when it comes to allowing an instrument-rated pilot to stay current economically in realistic conditions. We like the amazing visuals of some of the current generation BATDs as well as their ability to replicate the real world at a level suitable for instrument training and recurrent training. We like the ability to practice the nasty stuff—emergencies—in a safe environment where there is no penalty for falling off the tightrope as you brush the rust off.

In the coming months we’ll be looking at what’s on the market with capabilities and costs. So far, we like what we’re seeing.

Rick Durden is a CFII, holds an ATP with type ratings in the Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation and is the author of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It, Vols. 1 & 2.

AVweb Classic: Why This Landing Went Bad
Paul Bertorelli

St. Barts, in the eastern Caribbean, is famous for having a short, narrow runway with a tall hill off one end. It's tricky to get into and more than one pilot has come to grief in trying. In this video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli reviews a landing that went wrong and why.

Question of the Week

Each week, we poll the savviest aviators on the World Wide Web (that's you) on a topic of interest to the flying community.

Here is this week's question:

Would You Take Lessons in an Electric-Powered Trainer?

Visit to participate in our current poll.

Click here to view the results of past polls.

AEA Opens This Week In Las Vegas
Joy Finnegan

The Aviation Electronics Association Convention powers up Monday, March 26 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The annual event offers a way for manufacturers, distributors, technicians and business leaders to connect and learn about regulatory issues impacting their business, according to the association.

AEA says their exhibit hall will have more than 135 companies exhibiting this year and exhibit space is sold out for the event. “During the opening session, we will be announcing our annual member of the year award recipients and there are 38 companies that plan to introduce new products and services during that session. Those companies will have four minutes to introduce their new product in a rapid-fire format,” says Geoff Hill, director of communications for the group.

The opening ceremony takes place Monday morning at 8:30 where President Paula Derks will give the State of the Association address. Additionally, AEA’s technical training workshops, which occur throughout the program, will provide product information, troubleshooting tips, installation recommendations and answers to certification issues. The event boasts that 75 hours of regulatory, technical and business management training will be available to attendees.

AVweb will provide full coverage of the convention beginning Tuesday.

Lycoming 'When can an engine give you 200 extra flying hours?'
Airlines Pitch In For NASM Exhibit
Mary Grady

The “America by Air” gallery of the National Air & Space Museum, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., will be “transformed” thanks to $28 million in gifts from nine airlines, museum officials have announced. “The generous contribution by the airlines not only signals their commitment to the storied history of air travel, but to inspiring young people to pursue careers in aviation and engineering,” said Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey, director of the museum. “These gifts help launch the museum on a trajectory to realizing the transformation of this important place.” The gallery is scheduled to close later this year, and the newly renovated gallery will open in approximately 2021. The visitor experience will be improved through a refreshed layout with new design and graphics, new interactive exhibits and better accessibility throughout, the museum said.

“America by Air” is one of the three main halls at the museum’s flagship building on the National Mall. Through exhibits that include aircraft as well as artifacts such as uniforms, models and engines, the gallery traces the history of commercial aviation in the United States. The exhibits explore how improvements in technology have revolutionized air travel and how the flying experience has changed. The gallery highlights include a Douglas DC-3, the nose of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet that visitors can enter, a Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor and a Douglas DC-7. Most visitor favorites will remain in the gallery, and new features will be added, including the Lincoln-Standard H.S. and the Huff-Daland Duster, which are currently on display at the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The contributing airlines are: Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United.

Short Final: “I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain!”

While traveling into Valdez, Alaska for the annual fly-in and STOL competition, a couple of planes were trying to hurry in before the airspace closed for aerobatic practice. A couple minutes after tower gave “best forward speed” instructions to a Lake amphibian (not known for great forward speed), the following exchange was heard:

Tower: “Lake 123 you’re doing great, just keep pedaling harder.”

Lake 123: “I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain!”

Jim Freeman

Mobile, AL

Navy Pier, Chicago, Illinois
This gorgeous photo was taken on a night flight over Lake Michigan, a half mile off shore from Navy Pier.

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