Thanked, Spanked, or Dead

What do you do when youre only 90-percent sure you know what ATC wants? Some folks would just do what they think they were told. Others would try-no matter how futilely- to get a clarification. Still others would do nothing, assuming the controller will call back because they didnt acknowledge the instruction.

European IFR changes

It may surprise U.S. pilots to know that much (perhaps most) private instrument flying in Europe is done in U.S.-registered aircraft using an FAA-issued pilots certificate. But the times are a-changing. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is now the sole authority across much of Europe, enforcing by law what was an amalgamation of voluntary agreements between countries.

Live ATC for your Sim

Theres no question that practicing on your desktop flight simulator will help your instrument flying. It exercises your instrument scan, it solidifies your procedures such as chart briefings, and it keeps you connected to flying when grabbing a real airplane isnt an option.

Unpublished Holds

Keeping your holding skills up-to-date these days feels like keeping a working fax machine around; well, I suppose this might come in handy. Someday. Maybe.

Approach Light Secrets

As much as we drill instrument students on the 10 items from FAR 91.175 (c) you could see to go below DA/MDA, in the real world if we see anything that might be part of the runway, we land on it. Its nearly certain that youll first see the ALS, allowing you to descend to 100 feet AGL and search for something resembling a runway.

Why We Crash

The FAA says we should stop crashing-good idea, yes? The problem, though, is to figure out why we crash so we can stop doing whatever it is that makes us crash. I have a few broad-brush ideas about why we crash: bad luck, incompetence and bad judgment.

How To Breathe Easy

You never thought about oxygen during your training until after your advanced ratings years later when you finally started flying at altitudes requiring oxygen. At first you probably just borrowed a portable bottle. Perhaps later you flew a plane with a built-in system. But you never liked that cannula stuck up your nose, so you bought a pressurized twin Cessna 421 with its requisite built-in oxygen system. With pressurization, you again no longer think about oxygen.But…

XMWX vs. FIS-B Weather

The U.S. pilot population doesnt have a good track record with weather safety. Inadvertent VFR into IMC was responsible for over half of 2010s 55 weather-related accidents, of which 83 percent proved fatal. Projections are for that to get worse. Do we just not see the weather coming, causing us to innocently fly where we shouldnt? …

A Little Help From ATC

ATC has myriad restrictions and rules, all of which are designed to maximize safety and, believe it or not, also maximize overall efficiency. But, sometimes that overall view of things just doesnt work out for you. Youve got three choices: 1) Comply with the instruction, 2) Tell em youre unable, and 3) Work out an alternative to meet your needs and the controllers.

AIMing Higher

Given the many things to anxiously anticipate in life, the twice-yearly AIM updates do not likely make the list. Grinding through all that turgid prose behind the update is probably even less popular than updating your Jepp charts, if youve ever done that.