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VFR Separation

Flying is a great joy. There is plenty of airspace on the planet for all of us to go our own way and still have miles between us and another aircraft. You could probably say the same thing about driving if we didn’t have to follow the roads. But similarly, a good portion of us […]
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Aircraft Mods

Some aviators are perfectly happy flying what’s available. Others of us yearn for ever better-equipped aircraft. Somewhere in the middle is taking what you’ve got, and modifying it to better suit your mission, or even just your wishes. There are many avenues by which you can modify your aircraft. Let’s explore the most common. (Note: […]
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Code of Conduct

The word “Model” is in the title because it articulates ways to achieve flying excellence without a canned set of rules. Tailor the code to help you become the best, safest aviator possible. Prerequisites The first prerequisite is a clear understanding of the fundamentals of flight. The code is not specific, but those four fundamentals […]
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Under Pressure

Dialing in the altimeter setting is perhaps one of the most universal, timeless rituals of aviation, spanning decades, continents, and cultures, and tying all pilots to one another. This underscores the importance of atmospheric pressure and its effect on flight safety. But how much do you know about where those numbers come from? In this […]
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One After Another

A long-awaited family reunion is finally happening in Buffalo, New York, just over two-hours’ flight time from your home in Elkhart, Indiana. Two hours, that is, going direct, 331 miles, KEKM-KBUF. You’ve never flown to Buffalo, but you already know direct won’t be possible thanks to some busy airspace up ahead. So you’ve set aside […]
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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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