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Forecast Models

From the 1930s until the 1980s, many pilots got their weather briefings from a meteorologist at a flight service station or airline dispatch counter. The counter often ended up being a center of discussion about the World Series and chatting with other pilots who arrived for their briefing. Those in-person briefings gave way to weather […]

Controller Training

During my time as a controller, I’ve had a lot of pilots ask about what’s involved with ATC training and how it compares to pilot training. Unlike for some pilots, it’s not one and done, nor should it be. The Big Picture ATC has many different functions and jobs. Most pilots know of the main […]

Going Below Minimums

Operations below minimums on an instrument approach can be quite simple if the ceilings and visibilities are significantly above minimums. But when the chips are down along with the ceilings and visibilities, things aren’t quite so simple. Let’s take a deep dive into what it takes to get an airplane on the ground after a […]

Briefing: May 2022

TEXTRON BUYS PIPISTREL In an announcement that surprised many industry watchers, Textron revealed it was buying Pipistrel Aircraft, a Slovenian company that has been at the forefront of light aircraft innovation, most recently in the electric and hybrid airplane sector. In the announcement, Textron CEO Scott Donnelly said the acquisition will result in the creation […]

That Illusive Proficiency

Simulators first made a believer of me when I got a Pacer Mk II in 1978. In 10 years, I put over 1000 hours on it. It augmented my Cessna 172 so faithfully that I successfully moved 15 pilots through their instrument rating and completed 40 IPCs with its help. An FAA authorization allowed 15 […]

Reinventing NOTAMS

Air Canada Flight 759 almost landed at night on a taxiway adjacent to closed SFO Runway 28L on July 7, 2017. At the last moment, the pilots aborted. The NTSB estimated it came within 14 feet of another aircraft. Investigators discovered the NOTAM closing the runway was buried on page 8 of their 27-page flight […]

FAA Says Hand Fly More

Autopilots are great. First and foremost, they’re safety-enhancing devices. They free us from the mundane, but often consuming, task of simply keeping the airplane where it should be. This allows us to better manage the myriad other things we have to do. Plus, of course, it reduces fatigue. What could be better? Indeed, that’s all […]

The 5G Brouhaha

Before we dig into this topic, we need to define some terms. Recall your private ground school where they talked about the different types of altitude measurement? Absolute altitude was one, and it’s the actual distance the aircraft is above the ground at any point, as if you stopped midair and extended a tape measure […]

Coping with CAMI

FAA’s Office of Aerospace Medicine (AAM) in Washington, D.C., led by Dr. Susan Northrup, the Federal Air Surgeon, has jurisdiction over CAMI. The divisions of CAMI we care most about are Aerospace Medical Certification (AMCD), Medical Specialties, and the nine Regional Flight Surgeons (RFS), who can issue or deny most medicals. They can help resolve […]

Questions Answered

Just like pilots, controllers get plenty of questions, comments, concerns, and sometimes complaints. Bonus: Writing these articles gives me an opportunity to address some items in print. Of course, I’ve dealt with my share of good and bad remarks on and off frequency. It’s not at all unusual for a pilot to wonder; “What is […]

GOES Satellite Imagery

You’ve probably heard someone tossing around the term “GOES satellite” at one time or another. This refers to a NOAA satellite program that has been in operation for 47 years. GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, in other words, a weather satellite that’s parked 22,236 miles (35,786 km) above the Earth’s surface, directly above […]