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Weekly tips, technique and training from IFR.

pilot checklists
Over the years, you can collect a startling number of different checklists from sources like the manufacturer, type clubs, simulator training, etc. Gather them all and pick the best from each.

DIY Flow and Check

You know your cockpit procedures. Now, take the training wheels off your checklist and organize what remains into a logical flow pattern and a new, efficient checklist.

Think about it. Can you do an engine runup without referring to the instructions? You probably already do the entire sequence without referring to the “check” list. You see, “Runup” on the paper, so you set the power, check the mags, cycle the carb heat or open the alternate air, cycle the prop and check the ammeter and vacuum meter. Then you look back at the paper and perhaps skip through the next seven or so items because you just did them without looking. There’s a better way.

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helicopter

Rotary Revelations

Managing helicopter operations around fixed-wing aircraft demands a little finesse and a lot of clarity on the part of pilots and controllers.

Growing up, I enjoyed Vietnam War helicopter-pilot memoirs, like Robert Mason’s Chickenhawk. U.S. Army Air Cavalry helos were a lifeline for American troops, but clear landing zones were rare in the deep jungle. Pilots got creative when wounded soldiers and critical supplies were on the line. Mason describes literally hacking down trees with the main rotor of his UH-1 “Huey” to land where he needed to be.

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IFR flying

Currency Reflections

Some of you might recall that almost two years ago I retired as an airline captain. Then, due to various circumstances both in and out of my control, I took a year hiatus from all self-piloted flight. The result was some serious catching up to do to get ready to fly my own personal flivver. Being an opportunistic magazine editor, I used that need to also create a number of articles for the magazine about the process.

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aircraft control panel

Reader Feedback: January 2017

This gets into how these various Advisory Circulars are updated. Once an AC is issued, it’s assigned a number and a version letter, such as AC 00-45G, Aviation Weather Services. That version can be revised by issuing changes. So, the full specification of the most recent document is AC 00-45G, Change 2. The main document—original version—is what is returned by the various searches; you’ve got to dig just a bit further to find the changed versions.

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DIY Flow and Check

You know your cockpit procedures. Now, take the training wheels off your checklist and organize what remains into a logical flow pattern and a new, efficient checklist.

Think about it. Can you do an engine runup without referring to the instructions? You probably already do the entire sequence without referring to the “check” list. You see, “Runup” on the paper, so you set the power, check the mags, cycle the carb heat or open the alternate air, cycle the prop and check the ammeter and vacuum meter. Then you look back at the paper and perhaps skip through the next seven or so items because you just did them without looking. There’s a better way.

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plane crash illustration

Stupid Pilot Tricks

It’s that time of year when we who have successfully covered up our own boneheaded mistakes snicker over the antics of those less fortunate flyers who have failed and got caught. This review of NTSB accident reports from 2013 makes no pretense of learning from others’ mistakes. The following acts of aerial mayhem are a reminder that no matter how bad your own decision making might be, there’s always someone eager to lower the bar. We skip fatal accidents and usually give errant student pilots a pass, because their brains aren’t yet fully developed.

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garmin flight stream 510

Garmin Connext V2

We’ve taken wireless connections granted for years now in our daily lives. But, when our airplanes play, it’s again pretty exciting. We wrote about Garmin’s Flight Stream 110 and 210 in February 2016. Now, the next generation of this device will cut your database costs and effort to boot.

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airport approach landing distance

The Spartan Approach

You’re eager for your day trip to meet the gang and head to East Lansing, Michigan for a Spartans football game—provided you can get yourself to Tecumseh, southeast of Michigan State University. No big deal; it’s less than two hours’ flight from your home base and you’re in your trusty Cessna 182. So far so good, until you actually see what’s in store for you.

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weather forecasters

Forecast Accuracy

One secret to effectively using a weather forecast is knowing whether you can trust it. Determining whether you can trust it is a different can of worms.

Walk into any flight operation and they’ll tell you that safety is the top priority. As of 2016, accident rates across the board from GA to commercial operations have fallen to an all-time low. This is thanks to the cooperative efforts of pilots, controllers, technicians, instructors, and the organizations that support them. Given the great improvements in safety and the stringent standards that apply to everything from replacement of a torque link bolt to the handoff of an aircraft by ATC, it might seem strange that we’re approaching the year 2020 and busted TAFs (Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts) are still a fact of life.

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circular contrail in sky

On the Air: January 2017

We flew N123CT to Dallas to visit friends on New Year’s Eve. Looking over the en route charts, I noted the MEEOW intersection southwest of Little Rock. As it happened, on New Year’s Day, we flew from Dallas to Little Rock with four feline-loving passengers aboard for a short day trip. Though off the direct route, it was possible to overfly MEEOW inbound to KLIT. So I requested routing “Present position, direct MEEOW, direct.”

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IFR Briefing: January 2017

After completing its investigation of two fatal midair crashes last year in which seven people died, the NTSB in November issued a Safety Alert urging general-aviation pilots to make use of cockpit technologies that can help them see and avoid other aircraft. The inaugural Sport Aviation Showcase kicked off in Deland, Florida, in November, providing a new venue for fans of light sport aircraft. Boom Technology of Denver, Colorado, unveiled its XB-1 one-third-scale supersonic demonstrator in November. NBAA’s annual Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition was held in Orlando, Florida in October, and led with big news from Cirrus that they have achieved FAA certification for their single-engine jet.

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IFR magazine

Download the Full January 2017 Issue PDF

Unless you’ve already made your own checklist(s), chances are you’ll want to add a few items to what you’ve got so far. Say you mostly fly IFR. You’ll want IFR-specific items in your checklists. So, consider adding items for flight plan (checked), departure briefing, approach briefing, etc. Or, perhaps you’ve found that turning off your fuel pump during the After Takeoff check is something you often forget. Consider making a redundant entry in the Cruise check.

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