Things Were Forced to Do
My friends with high-performance engines will probably stop returning my phone calls for a few months after I say this, but its finally time for the EPA to push getting the lead out of avgas. And, no, I dont believe its time because our aviation lead is poisoning the brains of squirrels and small children who live under approach paths. Lead isnt healthy for anyone, but were probably too small a source to make that much difference.
Drinking From the Wrong Glass
I recently heard a radio story about training New Yorkers to use chain saws. Pretty funny deal to a guy who grew up heating on wood and now lives in Maine. One chain-saw expert made this biting comment: Can you believe they sell these things in Home Depot?In a way, thats my take-away from the latest NTSB finding that glass-cockpit aircraft dont appear to be safer than those with conventional instruments. My inbox was all atwitter with people commenting on this, and everyone seemed to think these findings supported their point of view.
IFR is Dead – Long Live IFR
It doesnt take much insight to see where instrument flight is headed. Nonetheless, intrepid editors are supposed to prognosticate on such things, so Ill give a shot at plucking some of this low-hanging fruit.It wont be too long-perhaps 10 years, perhaps longer-before terrestrial navaids will all but disappear. Instead, everything will be RNAV-based, from T and Q Routes replacing todays Victor and Jet airways to RNAV approaches. Conventional SIDs and STARs will morph into RNAV procedures. Unfortunately, terrain will still require us to fly circling approaches. However, its entirely possible that those circling approaches will be charted and in the database, making them little more difficult than a charted arc or hold is today.
How Old is Too Old?
Many times Ive mentioned that my day job is flying airliners. With flying as a second career for me after 30 years in the computer industry, Im often asked how long I intend to fly. My flip answer has always been, Until I bust a sim check, line check or medical, or until the company pisses me off one too many times. I never thought to add, Until I age out.Im reaching that numerical age where yesterday, according to the FAA, I was suitable to hold responsibility for all those lives in my-thus far-capable hands, but tomorrow I am not. This barrier has caused me a lot of reflection.
Pistons in the System
The needle on my GA-o-meter registered an optimistic uptick this morning. In other words, Im getting more submissions for On The Air, IFRs much-loved back page. Over the past five years at the helm of this magazine (five years exactly with this issue), OTA has been my barometer for how much people are flying light GA and in what way.Theres a predictable uptick every spring and Im beginning to see it. History says it should peak in May and then spike again in August or September. Winter sees fewer submissions, and the ones that do come in are mostly from airline pilots or folks running all-weather aircraft.
ADS-B Out – Why Bother?
Naysayers tell us, ADS-B Out does nothing for the pilot. The faulty reasoning behind this statement is that ADS-B helps controllers, not pilots. Uh, hello? Anybody?
Advanced Basic Training
Even as a kid, I recognized the hyperbole in the old clich about my elders having it tough, walking to school two miles through heavy snow-uphill in both directions. So any time I start down the path of When I was younger… something inside me clicks and I quickly change gears. Until now.
Man, Did He Ever Get Fat
Maybe its the looming specter of my 25th high-school reunion thats got me worrying about getting fat and sloppy. Living in the land where donuts and coffee are staple foods, Ive been passing on the former while muttering renewed resolutions about spending more time at the gym.
The Myth of Multitasking
I was in the car with two other pilots while the guy in the back seat was reading out loud a column by a well-known aviation writer (whom we all respect): ... Now anxiously switching the Avidyne EX500 between the map/NEXRAD display, the on-board radar, the METAR and TAFs and the stored approach charts for KLEB, I was completely concentrated ...
Fly The Black Line (Now Available In Pink)
Back in 1984, IFR magazine debuted as a full-color, glossy magazine. It dove deep into the minutia of instrument flying with a practical stance and acerbic wit, while respecting it for the high art that it truly is. The color didnt last long-too expensive to print-but the mission remained. In the ensuing 25 years, weve been exploring not just the chicken-scratch details of IFR, but the shade of the flecks in the chicken scratch.
This issue begins my third year at the helm of IFR-I survived the first two years without any airframe-threatening severe turbulence. But it hasnt been a smooth ride, either. Indeed, each month delivers at least some moderate chop.
Hangars Are For Aircraft
One of the battlefields for continued airport existence is the use or misuse of hangars by the airport residents. A common argument cited by airports to justify their existence is the airports economic benefit. To document that economic benefit, airport tenants are shown to provide both direct (rent, fuel, taxes, etc.) and indirect (promoting business, transportation hub, etc.) revenue. If tenants simply store stuff in their hangars, neither of those purposes is served very well. To compound that problem, federal funds to build those hangars are predicated on aviation use to promote, you know, flying.