Three Point vs. Wheel Landings

dc3Much like our politics, amateur tailwheel pilots tend to suffer from polarization.

You are either in the three point or wheel landing camp. This is not a grown up way to learn about your favorite hobby.

Why? Because each aircraft type, set of conditions or the landing environment will help you choose the right solution.  It will drive home that there is rarely a panacea via “one solution.”

In the spirit of Dale Carnegie, I’ll start with my own biased world view. I have a fair amount of tailwheel time, but mostly in one aircraft type – the Cessna 180 / 185 family. Whether there was 230 or 300 hp on the nose, one thing to me became clear – this make and model, under most conditions, preferred wheel landings.

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Evaluate vs. Teach (Flight Instruction)

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Duchess in flight thanks to Denis Hersey

I recently added my MEI (multi engine instructor) to my FAA CFI license.  (Certificated Flight Instructor).

This is a simple way for expired old timers (me) to get back in the game of teaching flying.  The FAA flight instructor rating expires if you don’t teach enough (and endorse enough) or take the proscribed renewal classes.  I fell off the teaching wagon in 2001 and lost the legal ability to teach.  This was no travesty until I aged a bit, moved to the Bay Area and realized that I not only like teaching, but I like specific types of teaching such as tailwheel training and endorsements, bush flying, TAA (technically advanced aircraft) as well multi, turbine and high performance transition related training.   Continue reading

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No Coffin in My Corner – Airplane Talk Demystified

One of the strangest flight characteristics to the uninitiated non-pilot types, or even fixed wing private pilots, is that jet aircraft have aerodynamic qualities in the upper flight level that are a design limitation: They can both overspeed and fall out of the sky, at pretty much the same speed.

Coffin corner is a great concept to explore since it is both the yin and yang of flight. Or put another way, it is a strange intersection of where too slow meets too fast. The most noteable accident that was a stall that started near coffin corner was Air France 447, which is a good example because after suffering the effects of it, the crew wasn’t able to diagnose that a stall had even happened.  Continue reading

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BFL and why it matters

BFLFor those pilots out there this post will cause you to wonder “why is he writing that?” followed by: “I know about that.”

I know you do – this isn’t for you.  It’s for everyone else.  With the high profile accident at Bedford, MA (KBED) this past weekend with a Gulfstream G-IV N121JM running off the departure end of its runway, it at least warranted a post.  While the cause of the accident is yet to be determined, a lot of our non-flying followers and members queried us about what happened.  While we can’t answer, we thought it at least appropriate to have a balanced field length or BFL explanation since when everything works as advertised, balanced field length is what makes every departure, or aborted take off go smoothly.

The good news is that BFL is all about safety.  And while a non-pilot will never have to compute it, knowing what it is will at least make you feel better about those hot and heavy take offs on days when you think that the airplane is working extra hard.  Continue reading

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Accepting Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

1200px-MQ-9_Reaper_in_flight_(2007)Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or Drones) to the rest of us, are something that we all kind of know is growing (8.5% of US Air Force as of this article) but somehow we think that we won’t be around when the sky is darkened by them or our next airline flight is done with no one up front.  For now we’ve accepted that they handle most surveillance and virtually all of the dark stuff that the military might want to try without putting an actual person in harm’s way. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are relevant since they highlight just how integrated our lives are becoming with automation, technology and the omnipresence of the eye in the sky.

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Staying Relevant as an Astronaut or Bus Driver

900px-Astronaut-EVAGlamor fades.  Whether it is the sun, radiation, or just the sum total of alcohol consumed by pilots, the trend is that we are on our way out.  And many of us don’t like such talk.  But this article on Sully and the Miracle on the Hudson really brought it home for me.  Learning years ago was harder since you had to do more of it yourself.  With a pen.  Or pencil.  And an E6B maybe.  Oh, and a watch.

The best quote from the article might have been: “Twenty-five years ago, we were a step below astronauts,” says one veteran pilot. “Now we’re a step above bus drivers. And the bus drivers have a better pension.” Continue reading

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Surfair Suffering from Convention

Pilatus_PC_12Revolution is tough without that disruptive nugget.  Not having that nugget has led Surfair to retreat into the conventional operation of what could have been a novel membership based system.  I’ve followed them since their birth since I’m no stranger to the concept of moving Pilatus PC-12s around with people in them whilst attempting to make money.  What was great about Surfair, is that they validated our own Grabajet aspirations that I had designed with my business partner.

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