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Flight Instructor Blog

Posted by on December 19, 2009 23 Comments

Differences Between LNAV/VNAV and LNAV Minima on a GPS Instrument Approach

Why are LNAV and LNAV/VNAV minima different on RNAV GPS Approaches? Author and 2008 National Flight Instructor of the Year Max Trescott explains the differences between LNAV and LNAV/VNAV minimums on a RNAV GPS instrument approach that can be flown with a WAAS based GPS receiver.

Posted by on December 2, 2009 8 Comments

More Robert Osborn Illustrations

A couple of months ago, I shared with you some illustrations that I found on the back cover of some older FAA Aviation News. These illustrations were done by the illustrator and cartoonist Robert C. Osborn. Little did I know that finding and preserving more of these illustrations would turn into my new […]

Posted by on November 20, 2009 12 Comments

Aircraft Engine Starting Techniques

Flying in a new or different airplane is always fun.  Such is the case with Jacob who had the joy of flying in his friend’s Mooney.   Unfortunately, the technique that his friend used to start the Mooney’s engine left him a little confused about starting techniques so he writes in asking:
I was flying in a […]

Posted by on November 19, 2009 5 Comments

Should you contact ATC during practice approaches?

Kent wrote me this morning asking:
While flying recently with my friend a question came up which has come up for me several times in the past. I firmly believe that while flying VFR practice approaches (as published) into an uncontrolled airport that radio communication with the controlling ATC needs to be made-I always thought the […]

Posted by on November 18, 2009 5 Comments

How do I select a flight instructor?

Bill writes me asking:
How do I select a flight instructor? I’m 49, good health, been around aircraft my whole life and finally beginning to find the time to learn.
Great question Bill. Choosing the right flight instructor is the first step in a successful flight training experience.  Your flight instructor will influence your attitude and approach […]

Posted by on November 14, 2009 0 Comments


During preflight this morning I came across an interesting NOTAM:
WEF 0911141600-0911141800
So what does HIBAL stand for ?
HIBAL is the Notam contraction for high altitude balloon. Most likely, a National Weather Service balloon with radiosonde.   A radiosonde is a small device that is suspended about 80 […]

Posted by on October 27, 2009 38 Comments

How do I renew my pilot’s license?

Robert wrote me this morning asking:
I stopped flying over 20 years ago and would like to start again. What do I need to do to get reissued my license?
Hi Robert,
First off, congratulations on making the decision to start flying again. There have been some really neat advances in technology since 1989, especially in avionics. […]

Posted by on October 15, 2009 7 Comments

Should you practice approaches with a student pilot?

Here is a question from a new CFI concerning practicing approaches with a student pilot:
I am a new CFI-A, and currently finishing up one of my first students. While just buzzing around with the student under the hood performing unusual attitudes, climbs/ descents and turns, I would like to introduce to my student a little […]

Posted by on October 15, 2009 1 Comments

The Automatic Eliminator

“Safe to Solo – What every young aviator should know” by Frederick M. Reeder and Robert C. Osborn.  This was published by Harper and Brothers in 1947 (now HarperCollins) but I dare you to find anything in the following paragraphs that isn’t true today.  If you read nothing else on this entire site, please read […]

Posted by on October 13, 2009 0 Comments

What does it mean to “Fly the Wing” ?

James was reading a flight training manual that mentions “Flying the Wing” so he writes to ask:
I am in the early stages of learning the art of flying, what exactly does flying the wing mean/entail? Thank-You.
The term “Fly the Wing” (as I understand it) refers to the practice of controlling the airplane with emphasis being placed […]

Posted by on October 12, 2009 3 Comments

An ILS where the DA is higher than the MDA

Jim is working on his Instrument rating and spotted an interesting approach procedure:
Not surprisingly, an ILS approach will have lower minimums that a non-precision approach, such as a localizer. However, I have found at least one airport in my area where the localizer MDA (580′ MSL, 564′ AGL) is lower than the ILS DA (743′ […]

Posted by on October 6, 2009 4 Comments

The Don’ts of Aviation

I am a sucker for old books, especially related to aviation. I recently purchased “Modern Flight” by Cloyd P. Clevenger. My copy was printed in 1941 but I believe it was first published by Alexander Industries in 1927. Modern Flight is a manual (one of the very first) on “Practical Flying”. Four chapters […]

Posted by on October 1, 2009 12 Comments

Use your smarts, get current charts

About a week ago, I purchased 78 copies of “FAA Aviation News” from the 1970s on eBay. My wife was home when I opened the package and she asked why in the world I ordered all these old magazines. “They’re cool” I said. “Well, where are you planning on putting them?” “In the basement” […]

Posted by on September 25, 2009 10 Comments

Are current charts a required item?

I received a question last night from Ed and this is what he wrote:
While performing a practice BFR for reinstatement, the P.P. said that current sectional charts are no longer a required item!?  Can not find any reference to this on web or AIM.
This is one of those questions I was SURE I knew the […]

Posted by on September 16, 2009 4 Comments

Missing you in Southern California (Video)

I know very little about this flight training video except that 1) it was developed by the USAF and 2) it is one of the best videos I have ever seen on collision avoidance tips.   I think the background to this movie is that it was developed for GA pilots who flew in and around […]

Posted by on September 16, 2009 8 Comments

How to Fight Clutter in the Cockpit

I love telling people I have the world’s greatest office view.  The only bad part about my office and the incredible view is the occasional lack of space. Cockpits can be pretty cramped spots to begin with and then when you add sectional charts, plotters, calculators, E6Bs, AFDs, sunglasses, pens, etc. well…it can get […]

Posted by on September 10, 2009 12 Comments

Inside an Altimeter

Has this ever happened to you?  Sometimes, you just look at a mechanical part and think, “I wonder what’s inside that?”  or maybe you ask yourself,  “How does this thing exactly work?”  Pilots by nature I believe are pretty inquisitive creatures.  For us, surface or book knowledge alone does not suffice.  We want to personally […]

Posted by on September 3, 2009 4 Comments

How do I find my airport weather station information?

Christian writes with a simple enough question we have all wondered at some point in our training:
Hello. I’m a student pilot. Could you do me favor please? Tell me the KBXK ASOS or AWOS and how to get it? Thanks in advance.
Hi Christian.  Thanks for your question.  Here are three quick ways to find […]

Posted by on August 29, 2009 2 Comments

Crosswind Takeoffs and Landings (Video)

Crosswinds can be a real problem – “On Landings Part I”
That is a actually a pretty good summary of how most pilots feel about crosswind takeoffs and landings.
Here are two usual methods taught  in accomplishing a crosswind approach and landing:

Posted by on August 28, 2009 1 Comments

Disorientation (Video)

Disorientation is a critical danger to flight safety not only because of how often it occurs but also because of how often the cases of disorientation result in fatal accidents.  In fact, during a recent 5 year study by the FAA it recorded over 500 accidents where disorientation played a large part in the accident.   […]

Posted by on August 28, 2009 0 Comments

All it Takes is Once (Video)

Even the best of pilots can be distracted in flight by preoccupation with personal problems, ranging from nagging wives to pressing business matters.  Mental distraction is a serious flight hazard (especially in the age of twitter and iPhones).  How five psychological problems frequently encountered by general aviation pilots affect their performance is dramatically presented here.
25 […]

Posted by on August 28, 2009 0 Comments

Safety By the Numbers (Video)

In this film a seagoing lumber barge becomes lost and a twin-engine aircraft is used for the search and rescue operation. A pilot’s switch from familiar single-engine operations to twin-engine aircraft is illustrated along with proper in-flight procedures to follow in the event of engine failure. The film is especially scenic and the dramatic search […]

Posted by on August 28, 2009 2 Comments

How Airplanes Fly (Video)

What makes an airplane get off the ground and stay aloft? This question and many more are answered in this easy-to-understand film which combines animation and live sequences to explain basic aerodynamics for general aviation pilots and high school science students alike. Forces of lift, weight, thrust and drag are shown in relation to flight. […]

Posted by on August 28, 2009 2 Comments

Eagle Eyed Pilot (Video)

The eagle is acclaimed for its keen eyesight and superior flying ability. This film, beautifully photographed in Alaska, stresses that a pilot’s “eagle” vision and flight safety go hand-in-hand. It acquaints the general aviation pilot with the physiology of pilot vision, particularly highlighting the limitations of the eye in flight and factors that can affect […]

Posted by on August 28, 2009 6 Comments

Density Altitude (Video)

This film follows a young married couple on a vacation flight from New Orleans to Lake Tahoe. In crossing the Rockies and the High Sierras, they learn the hard way about the effect of high altitude and temperature on light aircraft performance.  The film illustrates proper operation of airplanes under density altitude conditions.  29 minutes, […]