Weekly tips, technique and training from IFR.

August 2017

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Briefing: August 2017

The Paris Air Show opened in June with the usual displays of military hardware and the latest passenger jets, but new and emerging technologies also attracted a lot of attention. Volocopter, a German company that has been developing a two-seat electric VTOL, announced it will work with the government of Dubai to test fly semi-autonomous air taxis by the end of this year. Boom unveiled the final design for a subscale prototype of its supersonic airliner, and said it will fly next year, with three GE engines. Airbus said it’s working on a new helicopter with a “box-wing” design that will cruise at 215 knots while maximizing efficiency. The Racer demonstrator will fly in 2020, Airbus said.


Misfortune of OthersSubscribers Only

While some readers probably welcome a refresher on turbulence, shear, and thunderstorm dangers, others might see it as beating a dead horse. But Wx Smarts is that intersection between my 30 years of forecasting and your thousands of hours of instrument time. Within these articles I guarantee there’s always something that wasn’t fully covered in flight school or the FAA circulars. Whether it’s more detail or just an unusual situation, the goal is to keep you interested, thinking outside the box, and having more insight into aviation meteorology than the average pilot.

TAA Ruin Your ScanSubscribers Only

Situational awareness is critical when you’re on the gauges, right? Few of us will argue that with a good EFIS it’s child’s play to maintain that situational awareness, regardless of the quality of your scan. So far, so good.


Shakespeare elegantly downplays the importance of naming in Romeo and Juliet, writing: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” What matters is the subject and not what the subject is called. But this is an over-simplification because changing the subject would make the quote non-sense: That which we call a fish by any other name would smell as sweet. Words have meaning.

Points in SpaceSubscribers Only

The first GPS I used in the air was a Garmin 95 portable. Brick-shaped and nearly brick-sized, it’s etch-a-sketch screen was a still a revelation. We could go direct to airway fixes and watch the little black pixels approach just as the CDI needles swung to center. This was back when we taught instrument students how to eyeball a course “direct” to a fix defined by two VOR radials.

ATC History

Which came first: the chicken or the Federal Egg Administration? Impossible to say. Physics teaches us that when Bernoulli found lift, his nemesis, Newton, said there must be an opposing reaction. So, when the Wright brothers flew, government pondered how to keep them from impacting all those other aeronauts. Little happened because of Newton’s Law of Administrative Inertia: An agency at rest remains at rest until acted upon by an un-ignorable force. …

Which Way to Turn?

You are flying the VOR-A approach into Salem Memorial (K33) in your Cessna 182. The airport has no tower, with Class E airspace starting at 700 feet AGL. The winds favor Runway 17. You “dive ’n drive” after the DME stepdown and break out at 680 feet AGL with the runway in sight two miles ahead. Do you (a) cross midfield and make left downwind to 17, or (b) turn right to the upwind leg for Runway 17 and make left traffic from there, or (c) turn left before reaching the airport and make right traffic for 17.

On the Air

On The Air: August 2017

I was flying with a particularly weak student doing off-airport operations. We were combining high-altitude ops with a pinnacle approach to Pleasants Peak, at 4007 MSL. I wanted this student to call SoCal Approach for a brief bit of flight following to the mountain. I told my student exactly what to say to SoCal. “SoCal Approach, this is helicopter 8490D, 5 south of Pleasants Peak for flight following at 4000 feet.”


Readback: August 2017

In April Killer Quiz, “The Prof and the Pilot,” I don’t think that the answer to the last question is correct. With tailwind, one should reduce the airspeed below best glide speed, which in turn reduces the sink rate. Gliders pilots are very familiar with these concepts.Unfortunately, Cessna doesn’t publish sink rates at various speeds to compute that accurately, so we are left to back-of-the-envelope calculations. We know that at best-glide speed (65 knots.


GPS: Safety of Flight

If you live west of the Mississippi, out where most of the military airspace and where most of the testing is done, you’re well familiar with those pesky NOTAMs announcing interference testing of GPS or outright loss of the GPS signals. Most of us ignore them.