Minimum Altitudes

Instrument training is littered with acronyms and abbreviations. Altitudes like MEA, MCA, MOCA, OROCA can end up being the bane of students. And that’s just the en-route altitudes. When we get into the terminal environment, we then have the procedural MEAs on SIDs and STARs and, of course, the minimum—and sometime maximum—altitudes for the various […]

Changing of the Guard

You’re flying along, listening to a controller issue instructions to many aircraft. From one second to the next, you suddenly start hearing a different controller’s voice. You haven’t changed frequencies. They’re seemingly picking up where the first one left off. Controllers are used to hearing voice changes from an aircraft. Many times a day, I’ll […]

Who’s On First?

It was an IMC day with plenty of arrivals and departures taxing out. For a VFR tower like ours, IMC days are the easiest because the pattern is closed and it’s generally one in and one out. The TRACON was pushing metal all around. All air traffic was on IFR flight plans, so it was […]

First Come, First Served

Most pilots have heard at some point that ATC separates aircraft on a first come, first served (FCFS) basis, but have experienced the opposite. Many of us pay for our aircraft by the hour, so it’s understandable to get impatient when you’re first up and Tower tells you there will be others ahead of you. […]

Your Instructor Lied

Whether it’s a result of faulty instruction or an accumulation of bad habits over time, I often see pilots who come in for a Flight Review or Instrument Proficiency Check who exhibit habits that either make no sense or worse yet, contribute to poor piloting technique. Being able to recognize these mistakes and correct them […]

The Honorable Pilot

Recently I got a request from an instrument student. He needed help fielding the inevitable systems and scenario-based questions about the G1000’s many failure modes. I authored an article on that topic in 2010 for IFR, but it was insufficient given the depth and breadth of questions he could face. So I added that he […]

Revisiting RAIM

Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring is a mouthful, but it’s descriptive. RAIM independently assesses the integrity of positions reported by a GPS receiver. RAIM is essential because half a dozen error sources can result in position errors ranging from negligible to unsafe. RAIM detects and, in some cases, corrects these errors. Only then can a pilot know […]

Threading Needles

It’s not fun trying to make a left turn out of my neighborhood. It exits onto a busy, six-lane road. There’s no traffic light, just a gap in the median. Cutting across steady traffic demands patience, timing, and good judgment. Mistakes can be costly. The asphalt is littered with shrapnel from cars whose owners tried […]

When Ya Gotta Circle

It’s a cloudy, breezy day, and you’re flying the family from northern Iowa to Chanute in southeastern Kansas. Other than a headwind and a Convective SIGMET covering part of the way, there’s no significant weather occurring, and the forecast is steady. So the concern at hand is the approach: Which one? There are two choices, […]

Increased Workload

Since starting in 1984, I’ve logged over 1800 hours in more than 45 aircraft types. As much of this has been in the past four years under the employ of a major avionics shop, the recent experience factor provides a bit of confidence, especially since I’m quite familiar with most avionics offered today. A trip […]

Too Old To Fly?

For most of us, flying is a passion we absolutely do not want to give up. This article will discuss clues on when it is time to reconsider your flying status. Even in our prime, we humans are not good at self-assessment. To be a pilot requires self-confidence, but when might that become self-delusion? During […]

Extending the Glide

Few of us will never need a 180-degree turn back to a runway following a power failure. But, if you ever do, here is a trick for you to consider. Recently, a Beechcraft B36TC Bonanza was cleared for takeoff from Runway 10L at North Perry Airport (KHWO), located six miles southwest of Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International […]