Category: Entertainment

Falling Back On Pilotage After an Equipment Failure

Shawn Arena

Hello, and welcome back to another installment of one of my ‘lessons learned’ stories from personal flying experiences over the years. This story illustrates “always have a Plan ‘B’ when Plan ‘A’ fails,” and the usefulness of learning navigation techniques like pilotage and dead reckoning.

Another Breakfast Trip to Northern Arizona

Like a previous story about a breakfast flight to northern Arizona, this story has a similar theme, but with quite a different start. This flight experience takes place in May 1999. I had rented and was flying one of my favorite Cessna 172’s (N361ES) from the local flight school at Glendale Municipal Airport (GEU) to Earnest A. Love Field (PRC) in Prescott, Az. As I remember, takeoff was uneventful. However, less than five minutes following takeoff (and about the time I was switching radio frequencies from GEU Tower to Albuquerque Center (ABQ Center) for flight following), my navigational equipment failed. But as the late radio personality Paul Harvey used to say, “now for the rest of the story.”

Technology is Wonderful … When it Works

At the timeframe of my flight, avionics technology had jumped leaps and bounds from strict analog instrumentation to digital. Specifically, this flight school’s aircraft were transitioning to global positioning system (GPS) navigation with a ‘moving map’ feature. Now having been an aviation geek and assistant professor for an aviation college, I prided myself in keeping up with all the latest trends, especially those related to flight navigation. I had read up on the ‘moving map’ capability and was intrigued and excited to see it operate in person.

First, a trip down memory lane (for those old enough to remember). When television had matured enough in technology in the mid-1950’s for Joe and Jane Public to purchase, it was a thrill (so I was told…) to see electronic images on a relatively small black-and-white screen, of real live television. Fast forward to our flight, and I was just as thrilled to try out this new ‘gadget’ called a moving map.

Well, I got about 4.5 minutes of my new experience, when ‘Poof’ it disappeared! After the first initial “What just happened?” moment, reality set in and a little voice (maybe my first flight instructor, Lance) in my head said, “Shawn, they have been flying airplanes since the Wright Brothers, using easy to follow navigational methods called ‘pilotage’ (the art of flying using fixed visual references on the ground by means of sight to guide oneself to a destination, sometimes with the help of a map or nautical charts) and ‘dead reckoning,’ (calculating one’s current position by using a previously determined position), so I just switched mental gears and the flight continued uneventfully.

Lessons Learned From That Day That We Are Still Learning Today

As the saying goes, “If one does not learn the lessons from the past, it will repeat itself over and over again.” Such is the case with this small incident. To this day, I tell my aviation safety and human factors students that this was the best thing to happen to me in my venture into electronic avionics. To simply switch navigational processes to those like pilotage taught in ground school and basic flight training turned out to be a non-event for me since I was taught “the old fashioned way” of flight navigation.

Unfortunately in this ever increasing reliance-on-technology world that we live in, things are great until a failure occurs. In theory, to lessen the flight crew’s burdens of manually flying the aircraft by conducting repetitive manual inputs, automation was a great invention. However, therein lies the trap: over-reliance on one system and complacency. Two recent high-profile commercial aviation accidents attributed to technology failure of automated avionics during the last 7 years bring home the point – always have a backup plan.

June 1, 2009, Air France flight 447 was flying through the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) over the Atlantic Ocean in a severe thunderstorm, en route to South America. It crashed as the automated flight control system became unstable and overloaded due to task saturation. This accident is now deemed one of the classic technological failure events in aviation. (It must be noted, however, that a post-accident report indicated that the flight crew had not been trained to recognize automation failure that resulted in an aerodynamic stall).

Asiana Airlines Flight 214, on final approach to San Francisco International Airport on July 6, 2013, hit the seawall and crash landed on the airport. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report revealed that the flight crew did not have enough experience in the automated system of the Boeing 777, and when the autopilot disconnected, airspeed and altitude began dropping without anyone on the flight deck recognizing it until it was too late to conduct a missed approach.

A Boeing 777 in flight

Photo by: BriYYZ

The moral of these examples and of this story is to not only have an intimate knowledge of your avionics but be prepared to manually fly the aircraft if necessary. As these examples demonstrate, it’s important to maintain currency in manual flight, including techniques like pilotage. It doesn’t matter if you are flying a Cessna 172 or a Boeing 777, the principles remain the same: always stay ahead of the airplane OR the airplane will take you where you don’t want to go!

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Additional Aircraft Safety Articles:

Positive Exchange of Flight Controls and Language

How Crew Resource Management Makes Flying Safer

Competency vs Proficiency: A Look at Flying Aircraft Safely

Featured Image: Todd Lappin

When Is a Private Pilot Ready to Fly With Family and Friends?

Dr. Mary Ann O’Grady

Prior to making the decision to take family and friends flying, a new or recently licensed private pilot should carefully review the appropriate FAA Regulations under Sec. 61.113Private pilot privileges and limitations: Pilot in command as follows:

  • (a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) through (h) of this section, no person who holds a private pilot certificate may act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying passengers or property for compensation or hire; nor may that person, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of an aircraft.
  • (b) A private pilot may, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of any aircraft in connection with any business or employment if:
    • (1) The flight is only incidental to that business or employment; and
    • (2) The aircraft does not carry passengers of property for compensation or hire.
  • (c) A private pilot may not pay less than the pro rata share of the operating expenses of a flight with passengers, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees.
  • (d) A private pilot may act as pilot in command of a charitable, nonprofit, or community event flight described in Part 91.146, if the sponsor and pilot comply with the requirements of Part 91.146.
  • (e) A private pilot may be reimbursed for aircraft operating expenses that are directly related to search and location operations, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental feeds, and the operation is sanctioned and under the direction and control of:
    • (1) A local, State, or Federal agency; or
    • (2) An organization that conducts search and location operations.
  • (f) A private pilot who is an aircraft salesman and who has at least 200 hours of logged flight time may demonstrate an aircraft in flight to a prospective buyer.
  • (g) A private pilot who meets the requirements of Part 61.69 may act as a pilot in command of an aircraft towing a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle.
  • (h) A private pilot may act as pilot in command for the purpose of conducting a production flight test in a light-sport aircraft intended for certification in the light-sport category under Part 21.190 of this chapter provided that –
    • (1) The aircraft is a powered parachute or a weight-shift-control aircraft;
    • (2) The person has at least 100 hours of pilot-in-command time in the category and class of aircraft flown; and
    • (3) The person is familiar with the processes and procedures applicable to the conduct of production flight testing, to include operations conducted under a special flight permit and any associated operating limitations.

Once the new private pilot has determined that he or she is in compliance with the FAA regulations in Sec. 61.113, which prohibit remuneration for the services of the new PIC, his or her willingness to carry passengers is typically positively correlated with his or her level of self-confidence in his or her ability to fly the airplane. Although the acquisition of a private pilot’s certificate is often regarded as a prized possession, it is wise to remember that it is essentially a license to [continue to] learn, and as such, it is ranked as the most sought-after of the four levels of the more basic pilot certifications (private, student, recreational, and sport). Pilot certificates can be compared according to the following criteria: instruction flight time, solo flight time, total flight time, average total flight time, average costs, aircraft weight, aircraft seating, aircraft occupancy, aircraft max speed, aircraft range, aircraft engine type, aircraft max horsepower, aircraft number of engines, aircraft propeller types, aircraft landing gear configuration, aircraft max altitude, night flight experience, bad weather flight experience, international flight experience, sightseeing charity flight experience, and airport / airspace experience which reflect the skill level and practical experience of the pilot.

Private pilot and a Cessna aircraft on the runway

Photo by: Juraj Patekar

The private pilot certificate has the fewest limitations, and by earning additional training / endorsements it can be upgraded to include more advanced capabilities, such as flying in IFR weather conditions or flying complex aircraft with two or more engines, retractable landing gear, faster cruise speed, etc. The acquisition of more advanced endorsements through additional flight training can easily result in logging hundreds of hours of flight time which also serves to enhance flying skills and expand the awareness of safety practices. The FAA ensures that flying remains a very safe activity by certifying aircraft to a very high, rigid standard, and requiring that pilots undergo regular refresher training.

An excellent way for new private pilots to save money while they fly, enjoy access to great aircraft while spending time with friends and family is to join a flying club. Flying clubs are conveniently located across the country and open to all levels of piloting skills. A flying club can be described as an aviation co-op uniting a group of people who are interested in sharing the cost of aircraft ownership in an effort to make flying more affordable. Undoubtedly, dividing the acquisition cost of an airplane, the monthly recurring costs, such as hangar fees, annual maintenance, and insurance among several people makes great economic sense, but flying clubs offer a great deal more than just affordable flying. This includes quality flight training opportunities, the access to a variety of aircraft, and the opportunity to construct a sense of community among aviation-minded individuals whether they are just entering the field of aviation or reigniting their passion for flying.

The governance of flying clubs is guided by the FAA’s Minimum Standards 5190.6B which specifically grants them the rights of an individual rather than a commercial operator. This document allows flying clubs the right to form and operate at an airport in the same way that an individual has the right to base his/her airplane on the field. If an airport does not have a published Minimum Standards document, the airport manager is the final authority regarding the types of operations in which the flying club can engage. Generally, flying clubs are governed as follows:

  • Flight club members CAN receive flight training in the flight club aircraft from anyone who is authorized by the airport authority to provide flight instruction on the field.
  • Flight club members who are CFIs CAN provide instruction to other club members in the club aircraft.
  • Flying club members who are mechanics CAN perform maintenance on aircraft that belong to their club.
  • Compensation for member-performed maintenance and flight instruction depends upon approval from the airport manager.
  • Flight clubs CANNOT offer scenic flights, charter service, or any other commercial activity.
  • Flight clubs and their members CANNOT lease or sell any goods or services to anyone other than other members of the club (unless it is the sale or exchange of its capital equipment).
Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Aviation Safety: Just Fly the Plane

Welcome back to the fourth installment of one of my ‘lessons learned’ stories from personal flying experiences over the years that highlight aviation safety. This story reinforces that age-old aviation adage: “Just Fly the Plane!”

Shawn Arena

A Breakfast Trip to Northern Arizona

This story occurs circa 1996-97. I was working as the Noise Abatement Officer at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) and one of my co-workers named Doug (an IT Specialist at PHX) wanted to take a trip to Prescott, AZ (PRC) for a Saturday breakfast at the airport café. At that time, I was renting aircraft from Chandler Municipal Airport (CHD) which is located about 30 miles southeast of PHX. On the appointed day, Doug met me at CHD and off we went in our Cessna 172 to enjoy our breakfast at PRC. Now Prescott Airport (officially named Ernest A. Love Field), was (and still is) a busy facility – not only because of fly-ins like us on the weekend but PRC is the western U.S. location for a popular school’s resident campus, so the pattern is filled with “Echo Romeo” call signs from students transitioning the local airspace. The airport café (which I recommend to any pilot looking for a great meal) is decorated with all sizes of historic and current aircraft hanging from the ceiling – what else can a hungry aviator ask for! Needless to say, we enjoyed the food and scenery, and then it was time to return to CHD.

“What’s That Noise?”

Similar to many airports throughout the country, PRC has noise abatement procedures that aircraft are to follow immediately after departure (as my job title denoted, that was my “day” job at PHX to monitor). At PRC, in order to avoid neighboring homes to the southwest, aircraft are to maintain runway heading (210 degrees) for 3 miles before turning. As we approached the 3 mile mark to begin our turn further south, I heard a terrific noise and immediately saw that Doug’s door had flown open – the noise is something similar to opening a window while a car is cruising down the highway, only amplified – and we were wearing noise canceling headsets!

Almost simultaneously as the door opened, I heard my former flight instructor Lance in my ear saying “Just fly the plane, stick to aviate, navigate, communicate.” I had heard stories about pilots meeting their demise when the passenger door would fly open and upon reaching to close it, they caused the plane to ultimately end up in a spin. Fortunately for me, Doug was riding in the right seat, and without hesitation, he reached over and slammed the door shut – end of crisis. At the time, we didn’t seem to be that concerned about our moment of terror, as we uneventfully completed our flight home to CHD.

My “Then It Hit Me” Moment

After Doug and I parted ways at CHD on our respective drives home, I started critiquing my airmanship skills (this is something that Lance taught me years before, always evaluate how you conducted your flight so as to learn for next time), it was then that the gravity of our door incident hit me. I was fortunate to not only have a passenger with me to assist but one that did not even blink an eye and immediately nipped the situation in the bud by slamming it shut. (Later that following week when he and I were collaborating on a work project, did he sheepishly admit that he had trouble closing the door upon leaving PRC, which he surmised caused the door to fling open). So in my best Chuck Yeager (ah-shucks) moment, I told him no harm no foul as we made it back in one piece.

What I did not tell him, though, was that one situation made an indelible mark on me, reminding me of the age-old aviation safety adage: “Just Fly the Plane.”

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Additional Aviation Safety Articles:

Halley’s Comet and the Go No-Go Decision

How Not To Impress a Friend With Carburetor Icing

Flight Safety: Breaking the Chain of Events

Feature Image: Simon Moores

5 General Aviation Aircraft Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Anders Clark

There are a vast amount of different types and models of general aviation aircraft from a variety of manufacturers. And there are a lot of interesting facts and information about these different aircraft.  Here are five lesser known facts from the world of general aviation aircraft that you will hopefully find as interesting as I did.

The Longest Continual In-Production General Aviation Aircraft

So, you’ve probably heard before that the Cessna 172 Skyhawk is the most produced aircraft of all time. However, though this is true, it’s not the general aviation aircraft with the longest continual production run. Delivery of the first of 172s started in 1956, but in 1986, Cessna was forced to stop production of all single engine aircraft for a decade due to the increasing cost of lawsuits and insurance. So, who’s the winner?

The Beechcraft Bonanza, the longest continually produced general aviation aircraft, in flight

Photo by D. Miler

Buh bah duh buh bah duh buh bah duh buh, Bonanza! The Beechcraft Bonanza, that is. With the first Bonanza’s being delivered in 1947, the Bonanza has been in continual production for 69 years, making it the winner. During this time, more than 17,000 Bonanzas (including variants) have been produced, putting it a respectable 15th on the all-time production list. Even more amazing, during the aforementioned period of hard times in the 80s and 90s that hit all aircraft manufacturers and stopped production of most other single engine aircraft, Beechcraft was able to keep the Bonanza (and their twin-engine Baron) in production.

The next closest competitor was the Russian-made Antonov AN-2, a single engine Biplane. The AN-2 started production in the same year, 1947, as the Bonanza. However, production stopped in 2001, after 54 years. China started building variants of this aircraft around that time, which some think keeps the streak alive, but in the case of a tie, I figure the Bonanza gets the win with the clearer claim.

The First Airplane Manufacturer

Speaking of aircraft manufacturers, who was the world’s first to start making production aircraft? You may expect a name like Cessna, Boeing, or Piper to pop up, but it was actually some brothers. No, not those brothers (though they weren’t far behind), but rather the Irish Short brothers, Eustace, Oswald and Horace. The Short Brothers actually started their business in 1897, to manufacture baloons. However, in 1908, after hearing reports from the Royal Aero Club of the Wright Brothers demonstration of their aircraft in Le Mans, they shifted gears towards production of airplanes. By November of 1908, the three borthers had registered their partnership under the name Short Brothers and were ready to start taking airplane orders.

Their first two orders came from Charles Rolls (one of the co-founders of Rolls-Royce) and Francis McClean, a founding member of the Aero Club and repeat customer who would also act as a test pilot for the Short Brothers. So they set to work on a pair of designs, and exhibited McClean’s aircraft, the Short No. 1 Biplane, in March 1909 at the British Aero Show. They also were able to obtain the British rights to manufacture aircraft based on the design by the Wright Brothers.

Short Brothers is still around today though it was acquired in 1989 by Canadian aerospace giant Bombardier. In addition to making aircraft components, engine components and flight control systems for Bombardier, they also provide these services to Boeing, Rolls-Royce, General Electric and Pratt and Whitney. Not bad for a trio of brothers a little more than a century ago.

OK, So What Was the First Mass-Produced General Aviation Aircraft?

Well, there appear to be two candidates for this honor, the Wright Model B, and the Bleriot XI. After achieving sustained, powered flight with the Wright Flyer 1 in 1903, the Wright Brothers developed a series of additional models, including the Wright Flyer III which is considered their first practical model, and was their first to carry a passenger. By 1910 (a busy year in which they were also establishing the first flight school), they arrived at the Wright Model B. Built and sold by the newly formed Wright Company, this was their first mass produced general aviation aircraft. From 1910 – 1914, they built an estimated 100 of these aircraft, with four of them going out a month at the height of production. Despite the number built, only one original Wright Model B survives fully intact, and it’s currently displayed in the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There is a second Wright Model B on display at the United States Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, but it appears to have been manufactured after the original production run. Orville Wright is said to have inspected the airplane when it was displayed at the 1924 International Air Races, and called it a “mongrel.” Harsh, man.

Meanwhile, during this same time, Louis Bleriot was making waves over in Europe, after becoming the first person to successfully fly across the English Channel. He achieved this feat on July 25th, 1909, in his Bleriot XI. After the flight, demand for this aircraft took off (bah dum CHH) and by September 1909, Bleriot had received 103 orders for this aircraft. They started building, and production continued until the outbreak of World War I. Two of these aircraft have been restored to airworthy condition, one in the UK and one in the US, and they are thought to be the two oldest flyable aircraft in the world.

A Bleriot XI restored to flying condition

Owner Mikael Carlson flying a restored Bleriot XI, photo by J Klank

The Highest Fixed-Wing Landing Ever

So, there are some high altitude airports out there, with the recently opened Daocheng Yading Airport in China being the highest, at 14,472 feet (4,411 m). However, the highest landing by a fixed-wing aircraft ever is still thousands of feet above this. In April 1960, a prototype of the Pilatus PC-6 Porter, nicknamed “Yeti,” was landed on the Dhaulagiri Glacier at an altitude of 18,865 feet (5,750 m). The Porter, well know for it’s STOL capabilities, was described by Flying magazine as being “one of the most helicopter-like airplanes in terms of takeoff performance.”

And if that wasn’t enough street cred for one plane, the Porter also holds the record for the most take offs and landing in a 24 hour period, set while helping Skydiver Michael Zang achieve his goal of 500 skydives in a 24 hour period. Takeoff, reach 2,100 feet, Zang jumps, land, pick up Zang, and repeat. 500 times. The average length of each of these cycles was roughly 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Also, the Porter pilot Tom Bishop holds a record for the most consecutive takeoffs and landings with 424 over a 21 hour period.

Speaking of High Altitudes

The highest altitude obtained by a piston engine, propeller driven airplane is 60,866 feet. This was achieved in 1995 by a Grob Strato 2C, a twin-engine experimental aircraft specially designed for high altitude flight.

Italian Pilot Mario Prezzi, after setting the altitude record for single engine general aviation aircraft

Mario Prezzi

So, how about the single piston engine, propeller driven airplane altitude record? That would be 56,047 feet (17,083 m), a record set by Italian pilot Mario Pezzi. But here’s the truly incredible thing: Prezzi set this record on October 22nd, 1938, and the record still stands today. He set it in a Caproni Ca. 161 Biplane, with a pressurized, airtight cabin, and wearing a special pressure suit.

In Conclusion

These achievements and stories regarding general aviation aircraft reflect only a fraction of the ingenuity and achievements attained during the history of aviation. They represent a monumental push onward and upward, one that is joined and continued every day by scientists, engineers, pilots, and adventurers. I think the early pioneers of flight would be astounded by just how far we’ve come. Here’s to seeing how far we can go.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

How Not To Impress a Friend With Carburetor Icing

Shawn Arena

Welcome back for another installment of one of my ‘lessons learned’ stories from my personal flying experiences over the years. This particular story, about carburetor icing, could have just as well been sub-titled: “How do you un-declare an emergency?”

A Beautiful Flying Day with a Beautiful Friend

Our story this time takes place in the summer of 1986. I was living in a one-bedroom airport in Costa Mesa, California, about one and one-half miles from John Wayne/Orange County Airport (SNA) in southern California. By that time I had my private pilot license about two years and enjoying every venture I took to the air – but today’s venture was more than what I was expecting.

A very beautiful young woman Abby had moved in to the same apartment complex and we became good friends – not dating or anything, but more than ‘Hi, how are you?’

She would come over to my place, or I would visit hers and we would talk about the day’s events or just chit-chat. One day I got up enough nerve and asked if she would be interested in going flying with me the next weekend to do some sightseeing at Catalina Island (AVX).

Catalina was one of those island locations you hear about in the movies or read in travel magazines. It is part of the Channel Islands chain off the coast of southern California, crystal clear lagoons and flora, and Avalon (the only city) was a tourist’s paradise. Oh, and by the way, their claim to fame (among other things) were the buffalo burgers they served at the airport café. So the time and date were set to meet at SNA to begin our journey.

Some Unexpected Carburetor Icing

The day had come and it was spectacular. In a pilot’s vernacular it was CAVU (i.e. clear and visibility unlimited). I rented a Cessna 152 from the flight school where I learned to fly and off we went. Geographically, the statute distance is 26 miles and about 2 hours by ferry (Readers note: in 1958, the group the Four Preps released a hit song in California whose opening lyrics were- ’26 miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is waiting for me…”) , but even in a two-seat underpowered Cessna 152, it took only about 20 minutes.

About mid-channel, the ‘fun’ began (let me preface this ‘fun’ by saying air temperature at sea level was 95 degrees, but at 5,500’ MSL it was about 70-75 degrees or so – keep that in mind, as it plays a very important part in our story). I suddenly noticed the propeller beginning to feather and the RPMs were dropping. Up to that time in my brief flying career, I had not experienced anything abnormal, like carburetor icing, in any flights. All at once I had my flight instructor Lance in my ear, “Start a descent and push in the carb heat.” Well I started my descent (but did not instinctively push in the carb heat for some reason) – I guess some first time “Oh, Oh’s” took over.

KAVX Catalina Airport from the air

KAVX, Photo by Ravi Komatireddy

By that time we were close to the airport and I radioed the Unicom operator I wanted to declare an emergency. They immediately waved off any / all aircraft in the vicinity of the airport and I was cleared to land Runway 26. Since Catalina is an island airport, it is surrounded by cliffs on both sides of the runway. And as I was concentrating on putting this puppy on the ground, I realized I needed to listen to Lance’s second half of his imaginary message to push in the carb heat. I did, and the engine started back up and RPMs returned to normal. BUT, I was too high and was not wanting to make a bad situation worse.

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate – and Aftermath

I passed over the airport about 2,000 feet above pattern altitude and as I was about to start my ‘stairway to heaven’ climb I heard myself thinking: “How do you un-declare an emergency?” and Lance’s voice came back and said two things: ’aviate, navigate, and communicate’ and ‘there is no substitute for altitude.’ ‘Fly the plane, Shawn,’ I told myself and kept on climbing.

By the time I was assured of a landing by gliding if I had to, I was at a comfortable 8,000’ MSL and headed back to SNA. Poor Abby, all through this she did not say a word, but I noticed that her fingernails had made an indelible impression in the passenger armrests. We landed safely and (figuratively) kissed the ground. And though we remained friends, Abbey never flew with me again, nor did I mention that three-letter word again to her.

In the weeks that followed, I did my best private investigator impression and asked as many mechanics and flight instructors as I could about my experience and all said the same: “Son, it looks like a prime case of carburetor icing.” So it was, a BIG lesson learned for a still-green-behind-the-ears pilot but a valuable one at that, and one I’m glad it happened. So, in closing, be careful out there and remember to ‘aviate, navigate, and communicate’ (and hopefully the girl will want to go on another flight with you!)

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Related:

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Aircraft Icing?

Protecting Your Health Is Key To a Career In Aviation

Wilson Gilliam Jr.

I stood in front of a Marine Corps recruiting office in 1988. I wanted to take the aviator’s aptitude test and join the Marines as a helicopter pilot. But, after a few minutes with the Sergeant, I realized that wouldn’t happen.

Between thirteen years old and eighteen, my visual acuity had decreased to 20/400. Even though it was still correctable to 20/20, the heavy eyelid morning routine of prying a way in for the contacts and the saline solution was getting rough. I wanted a permanent solution to the problem of seeing only the single, large E on the eye chart. I wanted to read the “made in USA” line without any help!

I had recently read a news article about the Russian military providing a corrective surgery called radial keratotomy (RK) for their soldiers that were nearsighted. Some further investigation revealed that a laser version of RK, called PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) was already being performed by a doctor in Windsor, Canada. Although the procedure was not yet legal within the United States, I could travel to Canada and get my eyesight corrected. That’s exactly what I did.

Armed with my new, crystal clear vision, I dived headlong into a career in aviation. I began teaching students in an Aeronca Champ and then in a Schweizer 300CBi helicopter, after I earned my helicopter flight instructor certificate. Our company went on to accomplish various things like flying an R-44 in the Florida keys for tours, repairing live power lines from a work platform, sling loading, side pulling in rope for new transmission conductors and many other things.

The improvement to my eyesight was a catalyst for the release of business fuel into my career in aviation. This was a motivation that lasted fifteen years, ending in 2014 when I sold my company.

During my final year at work, I noticed a high-pitched ringing noise in both ears as I would head back into the office after a flight. The episodes would increase in frequency each week and finally after a couple of months, the ringing in my ears was permanent. I went to see an audiologist and after an afternoon of tests, I learned that I had lost most of my hearing within a certain frequency range. The loss of hearing was creating a condition called tinnitus, which I live with today.

Shortly after the diagnosis of tinnitus, I noticed that a corner of the vision in my right eye had turned dark. A trip to the eye doctor revealed my worst fear – I had aggressive glaucoma.

When most people think about flying, they concentrate on protecting their eyes. But don’t forget about maintaining health in other areas. Protect your hearing. Even though I always wore headsets (or a flight helmet) it’s not enough. Put earplugs in as well. This should eliminate any long term hearing damage.

The most important lesson I learned from this experience should be that a routine, thorough medical exam (not just through your friendly FAA medical doctor) is super important in catching additional vision and hearing problems before they develop into serious issues. If I was able to travel back in time to the beginning of my career in aviation, I would go see eye and ear specialists every five years as a pilot. Ask your doctors to compare the condition of your eyes and ears to your last visit(s). There are stresses on those parts of the body that need to be closely tracked. If you can catch a starting and / or worsening condition quickly, it may not become debilitating.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Halley’s Comet and the Go No-Go Decision

Shawn Arena

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of memorable flying experiences. And hopefully, by sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned, it will help other aviators in the future be able to make the decisions that will help them fly more safely. I hope you enjoy reading these stories!

Making The Go No-Go Decision

I don’t profess to be an astronomer or cosmic expert, but when the appearance of a celestial event like Halley’s Comet comes around, it does capture my interest. March 2, 1986 was right in the middle of the observation window to see Halley’s Comet, its last recorded appearance. Since I most likely won’t be around to see the next appearance in 2062, the 1986 event captured my attention.

Halleys Comet

Some quick backstory to set the scene: I earned my private pilot certificate in April 1984, so by the time March 1986 rolled around, I began to feel like a ‘real’ aviator. The flight school I earned my certificate at was based at John Wayne / Orange County Airport (SNA) in southern California.

During the last week of February, they hosted an aviation safety seminar (i.e. FAA Wings credit, type program). At the end of the session, a young (and eager I must add) flight instructor approached me and asked if I was interested in joining him and another student on an ‘observation’ flight of Halley’s Comet. They were to be flying a Piper Archer (N81918). Well, I was biased at that time to Cessna aircraft, because that is the aircraft type I was most comfortable flying. And besides, I make a terrible passenger in a small aircraft if I am not flying. Finally, add to that the fact that I didn’t know either of them really well. So, I kindly turned down his offer – a decision I would treasure for the rest of my life!

Grace, Fate, Not My Time – The Result of My Go No-Go Decision

Since March 2nd was a Sunday, the following day was a typical work day. About 10:00 AM I received a call at work from a friend of mine who also flew with the flight school and his first comment to me was “Good, it wasn’t you…one of our planes went down last night!” I didn’t quite put two and two together yet, and went about the rest of my day. For those of you who are reading this and were born after 1995, you probably find this next comment a little stone age, but there was no Internet, texting, or Twitter. We had to rely on the news broadcast at 5 PM, 6 PM, or 10 PM. So out of curiosity, when I got home to my apartment that evening, I turned on the local news. A shiver went down my spine (yeah you guessed it) as soon as the news anchor said, “There was a small plane accident over Newport Beach last night, and witnesses reported the plane doing a cartwheel into the ocean just past the Newport Beach Pier…”

At that moment, I just knew it was the plane I had been asked to be a passenger on. In the coming weeks and months, the mood around the flight school was somber and very sad. Even sadder was hearing that the student aboard that plane was the husband of the flight school administrative assistant. About 6 months later (being the aviation/flying geek that I was /am), I was able to locate a copy of the NTSB accident report (LAX86FA131). To my utter amazement, I read that the student’s wife reported that her husband and instructor had been seen drinking beer before they left for the airport, and that the toxicology tests conducted by the Orange County Medical Examiner revealed 0.32 micrograms of cocaine in the student’s body. So, call it what you want, I learned a valuable lesson from that sad event – never fly with anyone you do not know well and trust, because your life could be at stake. Flying an airplane is serious business, and needs to be properly respected. Trust me, when faced with this Go No-Go decision, I’m certainly glad I made the right one!

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Featured Image by D. Miller

Quiz: How Do You Handle Aircraft Radio Communication Problems?

John Peltier

You’re ten miles away from your home airport, inbound for landing, and you switch over to the AWOS for a weather check. Nothing. Must not be working. You get closer to the airport and dial up the control tower to inform them of your intentions. No response. After some troubleshooting, you determine that your radio is dead. What do you do? When was the last time you really walked yourself through different aircraft radio communication problems, or “chair-flew” it, as they say?

Aircraft Radio Communication Problem – Uncontrolled Airport

The Scenario:

You just took your parents for their first flight since you got your license. You’re ten miles north of the airport, day VFR, setting yourself up for a straight-in to runway 18 at an uncontrolled airport. You haven’t heard anyone on CTAF even though you can see planes in the pattern, and after checking other frequencies you’ve come to the conclusion that your radio is inoperative. What are you going to do?

Walk yourself through the procedures now.

The Answer:

  • It’s a good habit to set your transponder to 7600 whenever you realize you have a radio malfunction, even if you’re not in controlled airspace. Build those habit patterns!
  • Stay clear of all traffic until you determine which runway everyone is landing on, and which direction traffic is in. If you fly at this airport routinely, it probably hasn’t changed. If you were setting yourself up for the straight-in, stay clear by holding your altitude (at least 500’ higher than the traffic pattern) and offset the runway laterally so that you can make a big circle around and figure out which aircraft are where.
  • When you determine that it’s safe to enter the traffic pattern, do so and stay predictable. Fly the same direction and speed as you normally do so, and don’t forget your landing checks.
  • Continue to key the microphone and announce your position just in case it starts working again.
  • After landing, clear the runway immediately. Survey the taxiways between you and your destination and taxi when it’s clear.
Aircraft Radio Communication Problem – Class D Airspace

The Scenario:

You’re returning home from a weekend at a cabin in the mountains. The time is 2030 local time and the skies are clear. Your home airport is in Class D airspace; the control tower stays open until 2200. You’re ten miles east of the airport, just wrote down the ATIS information, and switched over to tower frequency. ATIS says winds are out of the north and landing traffic is using runway 34. The tower isn’t answering any of your radio calls but they’re talking with other traffic; when you transmit, you can’t hear sidetones (clicks) in your headset like you normally do. No one is answering your radio checks and you realize your transmitter is broken.

What are you going to do?

The Answer:

  • As in the previous example, set your transponder to 7600.
  • You must stay clear of the Class D airspace boundaries until you determine the flow of traffic. This can be done horizontally or vertically, and at night, it may be easier to get a picture of the traffic by looking down on it from above.
  • Enter the traffic pattern when safe to do so – entering on the upwind gives you maximum time to prepare yourself.
  • From here, just fly your normal night traffic pattern and continue to key the microphone with your position just in case your radio starts working again.
  • Tower won’t know you have an operable receiver so they’ll give you light gun signals (they may also transmit your clearances in the blind, but they don’t on this night).
    • Which color are you looking for?
    • What if tower gives you a steady red light, what do you do?
    • How do you acknowledge these signals at night?
  • A solid green light means you’re cleared to land, and you may only land after receiving this signal. Acknowledge this signal at night by flashing your landing light. A steady red light means you must give way to other aircraft in the pattern. Continue to circle and wait for a steady green light.
  • After landing, continue to look for light signals – you’re looking for either a flashing red (taxi clear of runway) and or flashing green (cleared to taxi). The tower will most likely freeze ground traffic until they determine where you’re headed.
Aircraft Radio Communication Problem – Class B Airspace

The Scenario:

It’s a beautiful day and you’re returning to land at a Class D airport underneath San Francisco’s Class B shelf. You notice smoke coming from your radio so you immediately turn it off; the smoke goes away and you elect to keep your master battery and alternator on for the meantime. You’re 15 miles away at 3,000’ AGL, and it’s your closest runway.

What are you going to do?

The Answer:

  • Change your transponder. Here, you could set either 7600 or 7700. This is an age-old debate amongst instructors. Some say that in this case you can just set 7600 to indicate you’re NORDO. Other instructors will say that if you did any emergency checklist actions (like turning off a smoking radio), then you set 7700. In this case, that might be a good idea, in case the fire is smoldering at least fire trucks will be waiting for you on the ground. And this could always develop into something worse. No one will fault you for setting 7700.
  • Remain clear of the Class B airspace if you can (by going underneath). This is how most VFR pilots will operate anyways. If you can’t, ATC will see your transponder and keep other traffic clear of you – that’s their job in Class B airspace.
  • From here, it’s the same basic procedures as the previous Class D example. Stay clear until you determine traffic flow, enter the pattern, and look for light gun signals from the control tower. The fact that you might be in Class B is irrelevant at this point. How do you acknowledge a light gun signal during the daytime?
    • Acknowledge by rocking your wings.
Troubleshooting Aircraft Radios

Any number of things can cause a transmitter failure, a receiver failure, or both.

Indicators that your radio may be malfunctioning:

  • Lack of sidetones (clicks/feedback) in your headset when you transmit (at least a transmitter failure).
  • Not hearing any transmissions on automated frequencies like AWOS & ATIS (at least a receiver failure).
  • No answers to “radio checks” you transmit (could be a transmitter or receiver failure).
  • And, of course, the thing won’t turn on.

Steps to troubleshoot a radio in the air:

  • Start with the most basic things first, and that’s usually cycling the power on the radio unit itself.
  • Check the volume knob – did it somehow get turned all the way down? Do you hear any static when you turn it up? If not, you probably have at least a receiver failure.
  • Toggle the squelch settings – again, are you hearing any static when you do this?
  • Check your headset cord – is it still plugged in? Does your headset have a volume knob as well?
  • If your circuit breakers are accessible (and most are) check that it’s still in. If it’s popped, reset it. If it pops again, there’s probably a really good reason it’s popping and you should leave it off.
  • Don’t become so engrossed in troubleshooting your radio that you forget to fly your aircraft!

Remember at all times that you must maintain basic VFR weather minimums and visual contact with the control tower, if there is one. Further references can be found in the FARs parts 91.125-131, and in the AIM Chapters 4-2-13 & 4-3-13.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Additional Quizzes:

Do You Know These Five Aviation Acronyms?

How Much Do You Know About Aircraft Icing?

Additional Resources:

Understanding How Airspace Works – AOPA

FAR Part 91 – FAA

Aeronautical Information Manual – FAA

Introducing Non-Aviators to the Flying Experience

Shawn Arena

Experiencing the world of flight by actually sitting in the cockpit of an aircraft manipulating the flight controls is one of the most exhilarating, inspiring and surreal events an individual can encounter. And being able to share that experience with friends, family and significant others is an amazing opportunity. But sometimes, it can be difficult to convince them to go up with you, and share the experience. Not everyone is ready to jump into the cockpit right away. However, without being in an actual airplane, there are many ‘ground based’ and alternative flying options that will let them take a peek into the flying experience, and help ease them towards giving the real thing a try.

It’s Almost Like the Real Thing

Aviation, similar to other industries, has benefited from the explosive growth of technological advances. Advances such as the ‘glass cockpit’ and ‘fly-by-by-wire ‘automated systems, have become industry mainstays in commercial aircraft. However, you may have also noticed technological advances have evolved that can make one feel ‘as good as the real thing’ without having to pay ‘real thing’ prices. Flight simulation alternatives have filtered down to the most cost-conscious general aviation pilot.

Ranging from full-motion simulators used at flight schools at nominal costs, to computer-based-flight simulation programs you can easily install and use on your personal computer at home, the options to peek into the exciting world of flight are growing. These high-definition, real-world graphic presentations, allow outstanding platforms that opens a door for one to start looking into the exciting world of flight.

Hangar Flying

Bring them along to spend some time hanging around fellow pilots and aviation entusiasts down at the hangar. They’ll very quickly find out the meaning and importance of ‘hangar flying’. Just as the name implies, one of the most talked about, yet informal activities in aviation is when two or more pilots sit around in a hangar and talk aircraft and aviation.

While these sessions can turn into the ‘fish stories’ of flying, they can also serve a very important purpose of fostering and promoting a passion for flying. This activity can also be incredibly helpful when veteran pilots talk to student or newly minted private pilots. I guarantee you that you will walk away with more firsthand, real-world information than you can find in any flying magazine or even a ground school class. If you are like I was, you become a sponge taking in all they can offer – at no charge! This also helps to set them more at ease with the idea of flying as they hear others talk about it openly and candidly.

While you’re there, you might also take the opportunity to introduce them to the idea of a discovery flight. As I mentioned in a previous article, taking a discovery flight will also allow them the opportunity to get a real taste of the flying experience by taking a quick hop around the pattern in an actual training aircraft.

Also, if there’s an airshow in town, don’t miss it! This is a great opportunity to spend time with a crowd of pilots and aviation enthusiasts, see a variety of vintage and new aircraft and see some great flying firsthand.

Flying Scenarios

Another really fun yet educational experience is to go to a concessionaire which has World War II and current aircraft simulators configured to accomplish a specific mission. My son and I went to one such concession at the Mall of America in Minneapolis…what a blast!

Even though I had been actually flying for several years at that point, this real-world simulation was very worthwhile. I chose the U.S. Navy / USMC FA-18 Hornet and my son chose the P-51 Mustang. There were two scenarios programmed into our session: a dogfight and a night carrier landing. Needless to say, my son ‘waxed my tail’ in the dogfight session, but I greased a perfect ‘trap on the number 3 wire’ on the carrier, one that Maverick and Goose would have been proud of!

Westward Ho

Regardless of the avenue you choose, there remain a variety of opportunities that you can use to help introduce your friends and loved ones to the flying experience. And these is just the tip of the iceberg – in order to keep things brief, I left out (not intentionally) options like hot air balloons, glider flights, ultralights and more. So without getting into the actual cockpit, one can experience the world of flight from as many angles as there are fair-weather cumulus clouds on a spring day!

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Aircraft Icing?

Dr. Mary Ann O’Grady

How much do you know about aircraft icing and the conditions that cause it?  Take this quiz, and see how well you do.

Aircraft Icing Quiz Questions
  1.  _____ ice is lighter than _____ ice, has an irregular shape and a surface roughness that reduces aerodynamic efficiency.
  2. The three negative outcomes of aircraft icing on the airplane are: _____, ______, and _____ .
  3. The three types of structural icing are _____, ______, and _____ .
  4. The two ingredients for structural icing are ______ and _____ .
  5. The most important effect of ice on the wings and tail is _____ .
  6. The three types of icing intensities are _____, _____, and _____ .
  7. When this type of icing intensity occurs so that deicing or anti-icing cannot reduce or control the accumulation, the pilot’s only option is to _____ .
  8. The type of cloud that produces the most severe icing is a _____ cloud.
  9. If a pilot encounters ice in cumuliform clouds during the winter, he or she should _____, or ______ immediately
  10. The first places that a pilot should look for the formation of ice on the aircraft are _____, or ______.
Aircraft Icing Quiz Answers
  1. Answer: rime, clear
  2. Answer: decrease in thrust, reduction in lift, and an increase in drag
  3. Answer: rime, clear, mixed
  4. Answer: presence of visible moisture, temperatures at or below freezing
  5. Answer: reduction of lift
  6. Answer: trace, moderate, severe
  7. Answer: get out of the icing [conditions]
  8. Answer: cumulous
  9. Answer: divert, descent into warmer air
  10. Answer: leading edges of the airfoils, any objects that protrude into the air flow, such as antennas, OAT probe, etc.
Discussion: Aircraft Icing Conditions

The motivations underlying why rational pilots who avail themselves of all available weather information and data during their flight planning process, yet ultimately decide to deliberately fly into icing conditions are varied. But one key element may be the fact that these PICs lacked sufficient knowledge about icing conditions, and they found themselves navigating into dangerous weather conditions. Aircraft icing has long been classified as one of the greatest weather hazards to aviation. This is because icing is likely to be both cumulative and invisible which can cause the aircraft to slow down, force it downward, and/or make it go out of control. In addition, engine performance can diminish, contribute to false indications on the instruments, and result in a loss of radio communication. It can also freeze the landing gear to a point where it cannot fully extend or retract, and it can prevent the brakes from functioning properly. During the winter months, structural icing is more of a concern for pilots during a flight than induction icing, which is why it’s the focus of this quiz and subsequent discussion.

Only two ingredients are required for structural icing: visible moisture and temperatures at or below freezing. Cooling occurs when lift is produced which can reduce the aircraft surface or skin temperatures to below freezing despite the ambient air temperature being above freezing. Supercooled water is defined as water that remains in a liquid state although its temperature has dipped below freezing. When a supercooled drop of water comes into contact with a cold aircraft, a portion of that drop freezes instantly and adheres to the aircraft’s surface while the remaining portion of that drop is warmed by friction. Aerodynamic cooling can cause that drop to refreeze, however, and it is the manner in which that remaining liquid freezes that determines whether the forming ice is clear, rime, or mixed. If the supercooled large drops flow out and freeze into a smooth sheet of ice, it creates clear or translucent ice that is hard, glossy, heavy, and tenacious. As its accumulation continues, it may build up into a single or double horn-like shape on leading edges of the aircraft which increase drag and a correspondingly inverse decrease in lift.

In contrast, rime ice is created from supercooled small drops where the liquid freezes more quickly before it has had time to spread out over the aircraft’s surface which traps air between the droplets giving rime ice a rough, milky, opaque appearance. Although rime ice is lighter than clear ice, its irregular shape and surface roughness reduces aerodynamic efficiency by reducing lift, increasing drag; and it is more easily removed with aircraft deicing equipment than is clear ice which is heavier and results in a solid sheet configuration. When the supercooled water droplets vary in size or mix with snow or ice particles, a combination of clear and rime ice can form very rapidly into highly irregular shapes that build up on airfoil leading edges. Regardless of which form icing assumes, the amount of the ice accumulation is directly proportional to the amount of liquid water in the clouds with the worst case scenario being a combination of large water droplets, temperatures close to freezing, and clouds having significant water content.

The effects of icing include a reduction in lift, an increase in drag, and a decrease in thrust where the effects of these three factors become cumulative which may require a full power setting and a high angle of attack to maintain altitude. However, this attitude may result in a new problem where ice can begin forming on the underside of the wing which adds more weight and drag so the need to get out of the icing conditions then becomes the prime directive. Depending on the PIC’s experience with flying in icing conditions, any ice may be too much ice but the FAA has categorized icing into three intensities: trace, moderate, and severe. Trace ice is barely visible and is typically not a hazard unless the aircraft is exposed for one hour or more. Trace ice can usually be handled by inflight deicing/anti-icing equipment for durations of one hour or less. Moderate ice accumulates at a rate where even short encounters with it are potentially hazardous, and the use of deicing/anti-icing equipment is definitely required. Severe icing is defined as an accumulation of so much ice that deicing/anti-icing equipment cannot reduce or control its accumulation so the only option for the PIC is to get out of the icing conditions as quickly as possible.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Reference:

Duncan, P.A. (2016). Rime and Clear and Mixed. Retrieved on March 10, 2016, from
http://avstop.com/stories/rimeandclearandmixed.htm

Additional Quiz:

Do You Know These 5 Aviation Acronyms?

Additional Resources:

Aircraft Icing Safety Advisory – AOPA

Aircraft De-Icing and Anti-Icing Equipment – AOPA

Aircraft Icing Advisory Circular – FAA

The Madness of Icing – Flying Magazine

Quiz: Do You Know These Five Aviation Acronyms?

Albert Antosca

To those outside of aviation, pilots seem to have their own language, filled with acronyms, jargon, and incomprehensible terms. The more time you spend in the aviation industry, the more accustomed you become to this terminology. Do you recognize these aviation acronyms, and can you pass this quiz from memory?

Questions – Aviation Acronyms

  • 1) UTC
    • a. Coordinated Universal Time
    • b. Upper Tail Cowling
    • c. Unmanned Traffic Control
    • d. Universal Temperature Conversion

 

  • 2) TRACON (pronounced “tray-con”)
    • a. Trans-continental
    • b. Terminal Radar Approach Control
    • c. Transfer of Control
    • d. Tracking of Navigation

 

  • 3) EGPWS (pronounced “e-jip-wiz)
    • a. Exhaust Gas Pressure Warning System
    • b. Environmental Gas Pollution and Water Sterilization
    • c. Endurance Glide Path Window Speed
    • d. Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System

 

  • 4) RAIM (pronounced “raim”)
    • a. Rain and Ice Mitigation
    • b. Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring
    • c. Relay Aircraft Interception Maneuver
    • d. Risk Avoidance Integration Management

 

  • 5) EDCT (pronounced “e-dict”)
    • a. Emergency Ditching Contact Transmission
    • b. Exhaust Distribution Combustibility Threshold
    • c. Expect Departure Clearance Time
    • d. Estimated Differential Coefficient of Thrust

 

All right.  Put your pencils down, and let’s take a look at how you did.

Answers – Aviation Acronyms

Question 1: “Coordinated Universal Time”

UTC is the standard time used in aviation. Everything from ATC clearances to weather reports are reported in Coordinated Universal Time. This standardization is vital to eliminating the need to convert between time zones or daylight savings time. But wait, why isn’t it abbreviated “CUT”, you may ask. Well, in keeping with the standard abbreviations of other versions of universal time, such as UT1 & UT2, etc., the international community decided to keep the “UT” format.

Question 2: “Terminal Radar Approach Control”

TRACONs are ATC facilities that control airspace in and out of airports. TRACONs control areas at lower altitudes and in smaller areas than “Center” controllers, officially known as Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs), which handle vast sections of en-route airspace. “Boston Center” is an example of an ARTCC, while “Boston Approach” is an example of a TRACON.

Question 3: “Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System”

Have you ever heard that automated voice inside a commercial aircraft cockpit that yells things like “terrain, terrain — pull up?” Well, that voice is part of the plane’s EGPWS. In the 1960s, a series of aircraft accidents prompted the development of automated systems that would help warn pilots of impending collisions with terrain. These systems have made a large impact on commercial aircraft safety.

Question 4: “Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring”

RAIM is a system used to check the integrity of signals received from satellites by your GPS navigation system. This becomes especially important when conducting GPS approaches where accuracy is critical.

Question 5: “Expect Departure Clearance Time”

An EDCT, also simply called a “wheels up time”, is a delay given by Air Traffic Control that is meant to regulate when a particular flight can depart. EDCTs are often part of an ATC Ground Delay Program (GDP) and can be issued due to hazardous weather, airspace congestion, or other factors impacting air traffic management.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About the Cessna 172 Skyhawk

Anders Clark

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a widely flown, well-known aircraft. It’s used pretty extensively by flight schools to train student and prospective pilots and companies have even created flight simulators modeled on it. If you’ve spent time flying, chances are pretty good you’ve flown in one, or even flown one. And you’ve probably heard or know that the Cessna 172 has a reputation for being a solid all around aircraft.

However, here are five things you probably didn’t know about the Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

The Most Popular Aircraft Ever

As of 2015, more than 43,000 Cessna 172’s have been built, making it the most produced and successful aircraft in history. Who’s in the number two slot? That would be the Ilyushin II-2, a two seat Russian combat aircraft produced during World War 2, with just over 36,000 made. The next closest aircraft that is still being produced, however, is the Piper PA-28, with a little under 33,000 at last count. With that kind of a lead, and 172s still rolling off the line, it seems like the Skyhawk might not be giving up the title anytime soon.

So, What Exactly is a Skyhawk?

I mean, is there a groundhawk? Deep thoughts aside, where did “Skyhawk” come from, and what makes a Cessna 172 a Skyhawk? Well, the first 172 rolled off the line on 1956, but it wasn’t until 1960 that the term “Skyhawk” first entered the scene. For the new 1961 model of the 172, Cessna wanted to develop a deluxe version that they could offer alongside the basic model. So, they called the deluxe version the “Skyhawk.” Technically, “Skyhawk” still refers to the deluxe model, while the basic model is just the Cessna 172. However, this distinction isn’t usually recognized, and for most people, all 172s are the Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

You Want to Build a What?

The Cessna 172 actually began life as a variant of the Cessna 170, a taildragger. As the story goes, a few Cessna engineers designed a nosewheel installation for the 170, and even went ahead and developed a mock-up. However, a manager happened to drop by the shop on the weekend, saw the mock-up and was not pleased. The following Monday, a memo went out from the vice president of engineering ordering that the nosewheel variant was to be destroyed. The brave engineers didn’t follow orders, however, and hid it.

In the mean time, the Piper Tri-Pacer with a tricycle configuration had been selling well, and Cessna started wondering if maybe there wasn’t something to that. They even rented a Tri-Pacer so they could do a first-hand evaluation of the airplane. Finally, they decided it was time to move forward with a tricycle-gear version of their 170. The engineers whipped out their mock-up, things moved forward, and what started as a variant became a new model. And guess what? They weren’t wrong. In the 172’s first year, Cessna built more than 1400 of the aircraft.

The Cessna 172 Took a 10 Year Break

Being popular isn’t easy work. So in 1986, the Cessna 172 decided it was time to take a sabbatical, and figure out a new direction in life. It spent the next ten years reflecting … OK, OK, that’s not what happened. What actually happened was that towards the end of the 1970s, aircraft manufacturers were getting hit with more and more lawsuits, and it was costing them huge amounts of money. During the period from 1978 – 1988, aircraft manufacturing overall declined a devastating 95% and over 100,000 people in the industry lost jobs.

Cessna, Piper, and Beech, who at the time produced over 50% of all general aviation aircraft, were the hardest hit. Cessna, who’d been making aircraft since 1927, posted their first annual loss in 1983, and by 1986 was forced to shut down production on all single engine aircraft, including the 172. Finally, in 1996, after the General Aviation Revitalization Act went into effect, Cessna was able to restart single engine production, and they brought back three models, the 172 and 182 in 1996, and the 206 in 1998.

The Cessna 172 Holds a World Record

Yeah, that’s right, the Cessna 172 holds the world record for flight endurance.

Short version:

A mere two years after the 172 hit the market, a Las Vegas businessman was approached by one of his slot machine mechanics (and WW2 bomber pilot) about funding a bid to break the flight endurance record as a promotional stunt to advertise his casino. The record had just been broken and re-set a few months previous, by a pair who flew for 50 days continuously, in a 172 dubbed The Old Scotchman. The businessman agreed, so the slot mechanic, Robert Timm, found a co-pilot, John Cook, and an aircraft, a modified Cessna 172. And on December 4th, 1958, at 3:52 PM, they lifted off.

64 days, 22 hours and 19 minutes later, Timm and Cook landed. And their record still stands today. Some time after the flight, Cook was asked whether he would ever consider trying to beat the record, to which he replied “Next time I feel in the mood to fly endurance, I’m going to lock myself in a garbage can with the vacuum cleaner running, and have Bob serve me T-bone steaks chopped up in a thermos bottle. That is, until my psychiatrist opens for business in the morning.

For the long version, check out this article.

And there you have it. Five things you may not have known about the seemingly unassuming, but actually quite amazing Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.