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Stupid PIlot Tricks

As another year dawns bright on aviations horizon its time to glance back with jaundiced eye at what our fellow pilots have accomplished in the you-wont-believe-this department. Each year we scour the latest NTSB accident/incident reports for which probable cause has been determined and cherry pick those aviators whove made the supreme effort to ding a wing or to go the extra mile on the last whiff of avgas. We seek the best of the worst-the crme de lbuffoons-whove taken pranging airplanes to new lows and survived. Well analyze 2009, but given that we pilots try the same spar-bending antics over and over again, hoping for different results (the very definition of insanity), this could be from any year.

High-Latitude Approach

You asked for an iPad 4 last month, but the guy in the red suit brought you a mini. You want to visit him to discuss his error, so you plan a trip to the airport closest to the north (magnetic) pole: Resolute Bay. But, when you open the approach plates, youre confused.

Deadly Disorientation

Any activity that regularly kills between one half and one percent of its participants has room for improvement. Cutting the GA accident and death rate has been a cause celeb recently, and we heartily approve. Here at IFR, we decided to make our own contribution by delving into the accident rate specifically for IMC, focusing on where the outcomes were fatal.

Making IMC Transitions

Mark Twain once said, If you hold a cat by the tail, you learn things you cannot learn any other way. Thats also true of flying a Cat I ILS to minimums. No amount of training, except maybe in the best simulators, prepares you for what its like to reach DA and see … very little.

Handling ILS anomalies

Our CRJ-200 was sliding down through an overcast layer, following the glideslope to Runway 28 at Chicago OHare. Everything was normal, just like it always is. My airline job means I make this approach a couple of times a week.

Tactical circle-to-land

Circle-to-land gets a bad rap as a dangerous maneuver fit for only the expert or the insane. Then again, maybe thats a bit deserved. The circle-to-land maneuver is the proverbial enough rope: Give it to a pilot who isnt careful and hell hang himself on an unseen tower just when he thinks hes about to pull off another successful flight.

Cutting Corners

It's Food Network's fault. You and your buddies from Jacksonville have a hankering for some Cajun food from New Orleans. Hundred dollar gumbo, here...

Danger Below MDA?

Recently, an airline began to receive notices that crews flying the RNAV (GPS) RWY 36 approach into Birmingham, Alabama (BHM) were receiving GPWS alerts while descending from the MDA to the runway. Since it wasnt an isolated incident, the airline suspected that the approach was flawed and notified the FAA, who flight checked the approach. The results of that inspection are educational to instrument-flying pilots at all levels.

Fly Into BigCity IntL

If none of your vast experience involves a major international airport, it is incomplete. There are times when flying into a big airport is...

Fine Tune Your ILS

My instrument instructor was a glass half-full kind of guy. His response to my first ILS was, Well, at least there is room for improvement. An ILS became the one approach I most dreaded. But now that Ive got a bunch of em under my belt, its actually the approach I prefer. Howd I get there? Im glad you asked.

On Top of The World

There are actually two pieces to this. There's the clearance to maintain altitude "VFR-on-top" itself, but there is also the variation mentioned in "Tame...

Which Way to Turn?

Every seasoned pilot occasionally finds a stubborn thunderstorm blocking the path like a bully in the schoolyard. We wonder not only where to deviate but whats on the other side. If you have a weather display, youve got a better idea of what lies ahead, but theres always uncertainty about how safe it is to cross the area. An understanding of thunderstorm patterns and ingredients, and considering the basic meteorology pattern of the day is…