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Safest Word In Flying

With a new private ticket in his wallet, the now-instrument student finished his preflight. No supervision needed, right? Out strode his CFII, who walked around the airplane, checking critical items. He glanced up and spotted a missing inspection cover under the wing. Pointing out this omission, the student asked, “We can still go, right?” The […]
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Remember VORs?

Area navigation using GPS has been around (for us) for about 30 years. Before that we did mostly the same thing using LORAN for a while. But, the National Airspace System was designed around VHF Omni- Range navigation stations, VORs, that long preceded GPS. Technically, there are three types: VORs that just provide azimuth information, […]
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Accidents: Shear

Once again we delve into aviation accidents. The official 2019 numbers won’t be out until November, but the 2018 NTSB release showed there were 1347 accidents with 393 fatalities. The vast majority of these, as we might expect, were general-aviation accidents, with a sizable number of them due to weather. The airlines, charter operators, and […]
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Deal With Distractions

Many of life’s distractions are enjoyable, but cockpit distractions can have tragic consequences. For years, the NTSB has made “Eliminate Distractions” one of their Ten Most Wanted safety improvements.  In Ernest Gann’s Fate is the Hunter, he describes a night approach as a DC-2 First Officer while Captain Ross lit matches in front of Gann’s […]
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BasicMed Lacks Admin

While BasicMed was mistakenly called third-class medical reform, it didn’t replace the third-class medical, but it did give pilots another option to fly. It has been popular with pilots who only need a third-class medical, but BasicMed does have some restrictions compared to a third-class medical. Since April 2020, more than 55,000 pilots are flying […]
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Pilot Deviations

Simply fly long enough and you’ll eventually make a boneheaded or innocent mistake that gets in ATC’s way. Those may say a Pilot Deviation (PD) is where they “screwed up” or “ATC is blaming me for…” I’ve personally heard it put in many different—often creative—ways; I should keep a list.  Here is how the FAA […]
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Most Capable, Best Served

For years, aviation adhered to the service principle, “first come, first served.” This easily implemented, inherently fair doctrine is officially enshrined in the controller’s handbook, Section 2-1-4 directing that controllers, “Provide air traffic control service to aircraft on a ‘first come, first served’ basis as circumstances permit…” FCFS worked when aircraft were similarly equipped, with […]
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Keeping the Lights On

While the COVID-19 pandemic raged around us, I was standing in our approach control’s radar room and my supervisor had just taken a call from our overlying center. Eyebrow raised, I asked, “Bad news?” “Center took a COVID hit,” my sup said, “So they’re closing down overnight for cleaning.” Controllers normally work in close quarters, […]
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Tech Talk: Stall-Warning Systems

Aerodynamic wing stall accidents have been a concern since the canard was removed around 1910. Approximately 40 percent of General Aviation fatal accidents are due to loss of control with the majority of those being from stalls. One element of stall awareness training that’s not often taught is the details of sensors used to detect […]
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What’s Your Profile?

Let’s discuss profiles—for flight, not social media—that provide whatto- do-at-each-point guidelines that govern how you fly your airplane. During an IFR lesson, I often get questions like: “What speed should I be flying before intercepting the localizer?” Or, “When is a good time to put the gear down?” These and many other questions can be […]
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Got GPS?

Our IFR avionics are getting evermore capable, allowing us single-pilot fliers to shoot RNAV approaches once reserved for the big iron. While most standard satellite-based approaches have become basic fare, there are now some new notes we’re finding on the charts that require figuring out what the onboard GPS really is allowed to do. This […]
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Do You Know ICAO?

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) dwells in the deep recesses of general aviation operations. We now file ICAO flight plans, only vaguely aware that ICAO is some wispy regulatory body that seems to have the pull to make it happen. ICAO does indeed have major chops. Formed in 1947, it is one of the […]
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