Fun Flies When You’re Doing Time



Responding recently to a reader’s inquiry, I had to dig through the magazine archives. Along the way, I realized that this issue is a milestone of sorts.

The milestone of sorts that I discovered is that this issue marks my fifth anniversary at the helm of IFR. Now, in many views, that’s simply not noteworthy. Other editors in the Belvoir Aviation family, like Jeb Burnside at Aviation Safety, have been at this for, well, a very long time indeed.

Then, of course, there’s Paul Bertorelli. I think he may have made a trip to Dayton to interview a couple brothers in a bicycle shop about their unlikely dreams of manned, powered flight. He probably poked fun at their absurd notions in print, too, although I’m not sure if he used ink or hammer and chisel.

So, five years isn’t a big deal in the overall scheme. But, it’s nonetheless a milestone that I’ll use as an opportunity for a little reflecting.

In the time I’ve been here, GPS has gone from simply meaning well-equipped to being virtually mandatory and the foundation for the future. Do any of you actually fly today without a GPS, at least one in your lap if not in your panel? In the last five years, I’ve personally gone from none to one in the panel andone in my lap.

How about the ICAO flight plan format? Actually, we published an article about that in my first year because the deadline was a few months ahead. And, it remains a few months ahead.

I’ve long been an advocate of simulator training. But, during the last five years we’ve seen a dramatic growth in sim capabilities while affordability and the resulting accessibility have significantly improved. If you haven’t flown a modern sim to sharpen the edge-of-the-envelope skills that you simply can’t explore in an actual aircraft, please do so. You’ll be a far better pilot for your effort and you get a lot more for a lot less than when flying an aircraft.

Some things, of course, haven’t changed much. We still see too many stupid pilot tricks. General aviation is still shrinking. There’s always something more to learn… or relearn correctly. The FAA (okay, the whole damned guvm’nt) still fights for proper funding each year.

With fear and frustration, we’ve followed Washington’s near-annual attempt to take ATC away from the public and give it to the airlines a private corporation under the guise of user fees. Each attempt seems more serious, better organized than the previous ones, but none have yet succeeded. It’s probably inevitable, but until then we have something to get spooled up about every year or so.

Here at IFR we keep searching for the practical realities hidden in the regs and common practices. We try to explore them in a way that first doesn’t put you to sleep with yet another version of what you’ve been reading for decades, but entertains you with the information you need to maximize your utility while managing your risks.

Also unchanged is your willingness to ask pointed questions that we try to answer and your readiness to keep us on track and correct the errors that slip by our best efforts. Please keep up the good work, keep us on the right path and, with luck, I’ll get to reflect some more in another five years. If the stars align, we might even have to file ICAO-formatted flight plans by then.


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