Send me BRIEFINGS from IFR, FREE!

Weekly tips, technique and training from IFR.

NASA satellite weather image lake Michigan
It looks like a nice flying day on November 7, 2015, except for Michigan that is getting the brunt of autumn lake-effect showers.

A Change of Seasons

The most immediate change that meteorologists and pilots see in the weather pattern is an increase in the tropospheric flow across the United States and southern Canada at all levels. This starts in earnest in September and continues through October. Temperatures decrease rapidly in the polar regions as fall progresses, dramatically strengthening temperature contrasts between high latitudes and the tropics. This enhances the jet stream pattern and surface patterns alike. So across the board we see an increase in clear air and mechanical turbulence everywhere.

Continue Reading

NASA satellite weather image lake Michigan

A Change of Seasons

The most immediate change that meteorologists and pilots see in the weather pattern is an increase in the tropospheric flow across the United States and southern Canada at all levels. This starts in earnest in September and continues through October. Temperatures decrease rapidly in the polar regions as fall progresses, dramatically strengthening temperature contrasts between high latitudes and the tropics. This enhances the jet stream pattern and surface patterns alike. So across the board we see an increase in clear air and mechanical turbulence everywhere.

Continue Reading

Dog Brenneman flight class

Flying Classes for Pilots

All around the country, at small airports and large, are seasoned instructors with a wealth of knowledge to impart. We attended one class offered by our own Dog Brenneman.

To call Richard “Dog” Brenneman seasoned is like calling the Taj Mahal a nice building or the Mississippi River a little stream. Dog Brenneman was a career U.S. Air Force pilot who cut his teeth as a Vietnam-era F-4 jock. Unfortunately, during that “conflict,” enemy fire provided him a lengthy stay in the POW wing of the Hanoi Hilton where, he said, the room service sucked and management didn’t care.

Continue Reading

aircraft runway approach

Approach Charts: Read the Fine Print

After selecting a specific approach, reviewing the other approaches might provide useful information. For example, until recently one Runway 16R approach at Reno/Tahoe (KRNO) had the note: “Caution: intensive glider activity between PYRAM and WARMM up to 12,000.” Seven other approaches transit the same area but offer no such warning.

Continue Reading

slow aircraft descent

When Air Traffic is Light, ATC Lets You Take Your Time Landing

Controllers can’t just look where the traffic is now. We’re mentally projecting every route ahead to see future conflicts. If I’ve got two 120-knot aircraft at the same altitude converging on a point 20 miles away, in 10 minutes they’ll be waving to each other. Something—like an altitude change—must be done in 10 minutes. If I need to use “immediately” in that altitude clearance, I screwed up by waiting way too long.

Continue Reading

Change Your Checklist

Checklists get taken for granted—settle into your seat in the cockpit, pull out the booklet or laminated cards, turn to the “Before Engine Start” page and start following the steps. Fire up the engine(s) and proceed down to “After Engine Start” and “Before Taxi.” Sound familiar? For most flying under 14 CFR Part 91, this read-then-do routine is the norm all the way to “Parking and Securing.” While many pilots with a fair amount of experience—particularly those with their own aircraft—will often go a step beyond and make their own checklists, there are far more efficient methods to get things done on time and in the proper order.

Continue Reading

IFR flying

Deflated Ego

A few months back I admitted here that I’d not flown in a year, but was correcting that shortcoming. My ego told me I was a retired airline pilot with many thousands of hours, who had been flying over 75 hours a month, so returning would be no big deal and I’d easily do it. The editor in me considered the more responsible, conservative and methodical approach I would espouse in writing. Fortunately, the more conservative path won out.

Continue Reading

On the Air: October 2016

I got the dreaded “write down this number to call the FAA” last week. We were flying into Lancaster, south of Dallas, for breakfast. After taking off from my local airport in a V-tail Bonanza in VFR conditions, the predicted scattered clouds at Lancaster turned out to be a low overcast. We were on VFR flight following, so I called DFW approach and got a pop up IFR clearance to shoot the GPS 31 approach. About the time we reached the FAF, we got the call to copy down a phone number.

Continue Reading

Not Quite an ILS

Among these procedures you’ll find a surprising variety of features. But here are the common threads: The LDA is made up of a localizer transmitting a course signal with the expected beam width of three to six degrees, but it will be offset by as much as 30 degrees, even when advertised with a specific runway.

Continue Reading

Readback: October 2016

The minimum vectoring altitude near my home ’drome is about 3000 feet MSL because of our distance from the radar site. That’s higher than the 2000-foot crossing at the FAFs so we always get cleared for a full approach. However, our ADS-B reception is currently around 1000 feet MSL/700 AGL. After 2020, when the traffic picture is nearly full via ADS-B and closer to the ground, do you foresee MVAs being lowered in areas that have been limited primarily by poor radar coverage?

Continue Reading

EAA AirVenture, Replacing Aftermarket ECI Cylinders, General Aviation Accidents Decreasing

The FAA issued its final rule in August on a controversial airworthiness directive requiring the replacement of aftermarket ECI cylinders in 6200 Continental aircraft engines. It took 13 years from start to finish, but in July the SolarImpulse team succeeded in its quest to fly a solar-powered aircraft around the world. It may not be the world’s sleekest or most beautiful aircraft, but the Airlander 10 is unique, and in July it left its hangar and flew for the first time. The number of general aviation accidents decreased in 2015 compared to the year before, continuing a recent trend, according to the 25th Joseph T. Nall Report by AOPA’s Air Safety Institute.

Continue Reading

Download the Full October 2016 Issue PDF

Download the Full October 2016 Issue PDF

In fact, since many pilots learned to do things with canned checklists from the very beginning, they go about things following rote instructions rather than practicing a higher level of understanding and cockpit resource management. Later on, this can make training for advanced aircraft more challenging, since pilots must then adapt to the other methods we’ll discuss below. Note that we’re not talking about eliminating checklists insofar as written guidance to structure your operations.

Continue Reading