After a great day at the beach, it’s only a 40-minute flight home. But the sun has long since set, and an uncooperative alternator makes even a short VFR flight complicated when you consider navigation, communication, and regulations. Even the simplest choice isn’t so simple when you look at the big picture, and the destination […]
Your destination airport is just on the other side of a broken cloud deck, and there’s at least one big hole right below you, right over a lake that’s obviously free of obstructions. Is there a safe way to get in from above? How about from the valley on either side? Or, is this just […]
It’s a perfect day for a flight to Yellowstone National Park, but the choice of route is anything but clear. Will you go high or low? Will you go direct or take one of the long ways around? How will you weigh the risks and benefits for a flight out and back in the high […]
One risk of retractable-gear aircraft is that the wheels might not come down no matter what you do. Now you’re faced with picking the kind of gear-up landing you prefer: two wheels or none, grass or pavement? Don’t think this one is just for retract pilots. Gear issues happen in all airplanes.
Bang: You have no engine and no hope of getting it back. In the next 30 seconds, you must decide where to put this airplane down with your daughter, your dog, and all your gear aboard. Ditch it in the lake or fly it into the trees? Think fast, you get lower with each passing […]
The winds are favoring one runway, but the other pilots are using a different runway and a crosswind one at that. Will you forgo the normal traffic pattern entry and fly a straight-in, attempt a normal traffic pattern entry, or go against the flow of traffic and land on the runway no one else is […]
Fire might be the most terrifying thing a pilot can face. Even the possibility of a fire is enough to warrant an immediate diversion. But what if the nearest place has no assurance of landing, and the surest one is practically your destination anyway? And what if it’s not fire but just the smell of […]
Sport planes and a Sport Pilot Certificate can be tools for real travel by air, with a few limitations. There’s no night flight, usually no instrument flight, and light wing loading can make turbulence challenging. That means creativity might be required to complete the mission—or sometimes just to get back on the ground.
Difficult situations can crop up on beautiful days and without anything actually going wrong. In fact, these might be the most insidious of traps because they lure you in. Watch how a series of reasonable decisions creates a tough conundrum. How would you handle a situation where every option leaves you feeling uncomfortable?
A day of fair-weather flying, tailwinds, and an on-airport restaurant with the tastiest barbecue in the county: What could be better? The after-lunch departure, however, leaves you deciding between departing uphill and upwind, or downhill and downwind. Trees off one runway end complicate matters further. Don’t wait too long; this fair weather won’t last.
VFR into IMC might be the deadliest trap for non-instrument pilots. It’s easy to say you’d just turn around, but the reality of cross-country flying is that deteriorating weather lures even the most resolute souls when it occurs slowly, and with tempting options–that can vanish in moments if the conditions are right.
It’s the perfect sunny day to take your new airplane and three friends for a day off the coast of California. The only catch is a bank of fog lingering just off your destination airport. The ASOS calls it IFR, but you see the runway in the clear. Will you still try and land?
A weekend reunion with family is only one short flight away. After a delayed start, things seem on track: You have the airport in sight from miles away, winds are right down the runway, all the airplane gauges are in the green. Yet something doesn’t seem right. What’s that little voice inside trying to tell […]