Weekly tips, technique and training from IFR.

Airplane Pilot

An SOP for GA? Seriously?

Over the last few months, we’ve run a series of articles to guide you towards your own personal SOP. The final article of that series is in this issue. But, you’d be wise to ask if you really need an SOP for general aviation flying. After all, do you really want to further complicate the process of flying a small plane in IFR? Do you really want to fly, “Just like the airline pilots”? Part 91 doesn’t have that thick book of requirements that impedes (guides?) the pros. Do you really want to trade the liberation and fun of GA flying for that kind of strict regimentation?

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Going Downhill Fast

Keeping your instrument-flying skills sharp is like high school football. No, not the social activities after the game; we mean the combination of drills and scrimmage. This sim challenge is a bit of both.

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Flight Data Station

Flight Data Controller

The unsung hero of the ATC radar room works hard behind the scenes to keep the system running smoothly.

A radar controller’s primary concern is the safe sequencing of airplanes. Accomplishing this requires more than just good judgment, clear communication, effective working speed, and knowledge of aircraft and airspace. It depends also on up-to-date information and the ability to stay focused on his airplanes.

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Garmin DR Processed

What If GPS Doesn’t?

Anything that can go wrong, will, and at the worst possible moment—so states Finagle’s corollary to Murphy’s Law. This notion is drilled into pilots from the beginning, so that it becomes second nature to have a plan to handle all sorts of potential failures that could be experienced in flight. Engine failure: check. Instrument and system malfunction: got it covered. Communication failure: no problem. GPS failure... Uhhh, what? Hang on a minute.

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Put It Together: DIY SOP

We’ve discussed the benefits of personal standard operating procedures (SOP) for our own flying. We’ve taken the main elements (“Using an SOP in GA,” September 2016) and began creating our own (“DIY SOP Considerations,” February 2017). Meanwhile, we tried to wean you from your do-list in favor of a flow and check (“Change Your Checklist,” October 2016 and “DIY Flow and Check,” January 2017).

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Windshear Microburst

Handling Windshear

Really big winds and airplanes are not compatible. Of course, our first desire is to avoid those big winds. But, occasionally they sneak up on us even when we’re diligent about avoiding them. Then what should you do?

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FL300 Wind Chart

The Weather Aloft

In Wx Smarts, we go beyond the basics you learned in flight school. Sure, you know that winds are stronger at higher altitudes, and that you find fronts near where the jet stream is, but why? What makes the winds flow from the southwest at 20,000 feet when there’s a storm system approaching? Let’s go past the usual weather playbook to look at why the given upper-air pattern is in place.

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Miami Key West

Readback: May 2017

I’m not sure why you think general aviation is dying as you state in your Remarks in March. Kit aircraft are flying off the shelves and many are backordered. Deposits are even flying in for aircraft kits that aren’t in production yet. We have so much business instructing that we have to turn some away due to not enough pilots and aircraft in the fleet.

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Briefing: May 2017

President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal, released in March, aims to privatize air traffic control. General-aviation advocacy groups were quick to rally against the effort, although AOPA said it was open to discussion as long as user fees were off the table. The airline industry has been lobbying since Trump’s election for the formation of a nonprofit corporation to run the national airspace system, with a board of directors dominated by airline representatives.

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On The Air: May 217

Every spring, eastern South Dakota skies are filled with geese as they return home to Canada for summer nesting. On any given day during March more than a million geese, (Snows, Brants, Canadians, and lesser Canadians) can be found roaming stretches of eastern South Dakota. It can get crowded.

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