All posts tagged 'Flying'

Effects of Summer Flying and How to Overcome It

First and foremost, let's state the most obvious effect of summer flying: it. is. hot.

Being a pilot from Texas, I can personally say you should check on your southern friends. There's a good chance we're dehydrated and .2 seconds away from passing out due to heat exhaustion. 

Okay, maybe a little overdramatic....but it is hot. 

When flying in the summer, whether as a student, flight instructor, or any type of general aviation pilot we need to understand the effects of the weather changes. 

Rule number 1: Always carry water. Even if you just hydrated before your flight and don't think you need it, grab water anyways (and by the way, try to go green and make it a reusable water bottle while you're at it). From first-hand experience, dehydration and heat exhaustion can have a bigger impact on flying than you'd think. Your decision-making skills and effectiveness on hand-flying the plane start to deteriorate. If ignored, dizziness and a headache can start to occur. This becomes even more important on long haul flights. Don't be the newest accident statistic due to poor flight preparation.  Even if you're in a rush, take 2 extra minutes and grab that water. 

Rule number 2: Take into account the changes it can have on aircraft performance. If you're taking off from an airport with a short runway, even if a ground roll is normally adequate, double check it. The hotter it is, the longer ground roll you need. That point you're used to rotating at or obstacle you're used to clearing might not be your friend today, especially as the heat rises continuing into August. A great tool to help gauge the temperatures at the surface and at altitude is the GlobalAir Aviation Weather Temperatures Tool. Just click the "national weather" tab, then click "temperature" and see it all illustrated on an analysis chart. A quick tip: if you're using it to plan a flight for later in the future (and not 30 minutes from now) make sure you click for the right time frame! 

Surface Temperature

Rule number 3: Still on the weather subject, check your winds before heading out. You're most likely to encounter gusts of wind on a hot summer day with calm winds at the surface. I've also experienced this firsthand, so it became a learning experience. As soon as I reached 1500 ft the wind picked up, and it didn't stop. The turbulence actually reached moderate for me that day, so I cut my flight short and went back. No sense in taking chances to keep going and fighting the plane the entire time! For any situation with undesirable weather or even maintenance issues remember this: it's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground. The GlobalAir Winds Aloft Tool is also a great resource in planning for this. Be sure to check this and local METAR/TAF for each upcoming flight to ensure you don't get in a situation making you wish you were on the ground. 

Have any other tips for summer flying? Or maybe just good stories to tell that others can learn from? Feel free to comment them below. In the meantime, have a safe flight and happy landings!

4 Tips for Mastering Power-Off Landings

                       

You’ve got to do it on your private license and you get to do it again on commercial, the wonderful power-off landings. Whether it’s practicing power-off 180’s to land on a point of the runway or encountering a real-life scenario of being in the traffic pattern without an engine, here’s some tips for making it safely and efficiently.

1) First step in any engine-out scenario: pitch for glide speed and HOLD IT. Trim for it so good (while multitasking the other items too) that you can forget about it and look back and it’d still be fine.

You want the most distance as possible to give yourself time to think and make the runway. On check rides and in a real emergency scenario, it’s better to land past your desired point than short.

2) Never lose sight of your landing point.

Depending on your altitude in the pattern, you may need to turn straight towards your landing point or extend one of your legs slightly. Either way, keep an eye on your target the entire time.

In these scenarios you’re nervous, the pressure can be high, and if you turn away from it without making note to keep a constant scan of its distance then you can easily forget about it. When you do remember to look back, you can be too low and now it’s too late to save the landing.

3) To help with number 2, in a lot of scenarios it helps to keep the landing point on the tip of your wing. This is because in most cases, you’re likely no more than 1,000 feet above the ground (this is how typical traffic patterns for both controlled and uncontrolled airports are designed for general aviation aircraft).

Don't get this confused with keeping it perfectly rounded like turns around a point.

Instead, you should still keep a fairly squared off pattern with just a shorter downwind and base than usual. Keeping it off your wing helps you maintain distance so you avoid getting too low, and as previously stated helps you maintain where you are in reference to it. The more you keep an eye on the point, the better you can judge if you’re too high or too low and your chances increase of landing “right on the money.”

4) Know how to efficiently conduct slips, use flaps, and apply crosswind techniques.

These are so important, it can make or break a safe power-off landing.

Slips of course are to help you get down in a short distance. Apply full rudder and opposite aileron and pitch for something slightly higher than glide speed.

Ex. if glide speed is 72 knots, a good slip is about 80 knots.

While it’s safer and best to land beyond your landing reference than short of it, you can only land beyond it to an extent. For a commercial check ride, it’s 200 feet. For a real engine out scenario, you need to be able to touchdown and smoothly apply breaking power before reaching the end of the runway.

Flaps help control airspeed and increase your descent rate if you’re high too, but don’t add them in early or you could fall too short.

And of course, crosswind techniques. Even without an engine, you should dip the aileron into the wind. Imagine landing right at your desired area, but strong wind pushed you off runway centerline and now you’re in the grass next to the runway. Not a fun day…

Power-off landings can be tricky and take time to get down, and are easily one of the toughest maneuvers, but they can be very fun. These help you understand your plane better and adjust where you are in reference to something without messing with the throttle.

Need some help working on these and don’t know where to go? Use the GlobalAir Aviation Training tool located under the Aviation Directory tab.

Whether you want to impress your instructor, pass a check ride, or make a safe landing be sure to try out these tips on your next power-off landings. Stay tuned and keep an eye out on the GlobalAir.com website for all things aviation!

What is a Missionary Pilot?

Missionary Pilots go through years of training to make a huge impact on the world. Image via Mission Aviation Training Academy.

A few days ago, a friend of mine announced that he was accepted to an internship with the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). He will be spending a summer in Lesotho, Africa working closely with their flight operations to transport medicine, supplies, and pastors into remote villages on the mountains. Of all the internships my friends have announced lately, this one really blew me away. To travel into a completely foreign land to utilize your skills in aviation with the sole purpose of spreading goodwill and the Gospel is truly brave!

When I heard this, I began to wonder just how people ended up becoming missionary pilots. It is certainly not a career field they advertise at flight university. It may get a mention here or there, but it is rare to find someone who has an end goal of becoming one. Why is that? Clearly there is a need to use the modern technologies and capabilities we have to help those who are unable to unable to access important things without them. However, as I have learned, it is not as simple as putting a pilot in a plane with some supplies and taking off.

At the heart of the need for missionary pilots is the fact that some people in the world live in extremely remote and impoverished areas. Most of these people have never seen an airplane, let alone had the thought to build a working airport. Because of this, missionary pilots often have to land on whatever semi-suitable ground they can find. This may very well be a particularly long strip of dirt nestled in a mountain range. These pilots expertly land at these dangerous locations and bring in anything that the villages may need, such as doctors, pastors, or even groceries.

Missionary pilots who fly missions into remote locations have to be ready for anything that could possibly go wrong. They are required to have advanced pilot certifications, as well as advanced mechanic certifications. There is no "typical day" in the life of a missionary pilot, so they must be well prepared for all possibilities. Many missionary pilot hopefuls choose to prepare for their futures by doing apprenticeships with established training institutions. For example, The Missionary Maintenance Services (MMS) Apprenticeship program is an intense, thirty month, full-time aviation maintenance ministry that prepares students for the life of mission work.

Another interesting fact about missionary pilots is that they have to raise their own financial support for missions. They do this through connections with churches and individuals. Sometimes it can take years to raise the money required to do the mission where they are needed. Thankfully most missionary organizations have a network of support that the pilots and mechanics can become a part of.

It may seem crazy to go through all of this training just to have to raise your own funds to even go on a mission. The reality is, that doesn’t matter to those who feel they have been called to serve the Lord in this way. They delight in the process to ultimately share their expertise with those in need. They are able to make a real, tangible change in the world for the better. In the end, I do not think you could find a missionary pilot that did not think it was worth it.

Are you interested in helping a missionary pilot make positive changes in the world? Check out the MAF website for more information on sponsoring them!

High-Wing Vs. Low-Wing Aircraft

One of the first things an aspiring pilot learns is that not all aircraft are created equal. At least, not in the eyes of other pilots. It doesn’t take very many conversations with a pilot to find out exactly what type of aircraft they love and hate. Some pilots have good reasons for preferring one type over another, while others just have a soft spot for a certain type they trained in or became infatuated with.

The disagreements cover a variety of aircraft types. Tailwheel verses nose gear, retractable versus fixed gear, G1000 versus the historic six-pack. Each of these has been debated between pilots for years and I’m sure they will continue to be debated. Another popular category is high-wing verses low-wing aircraft. I personally have a preference for high-wing, as the vast majority of my flight time has been in Cessna 172s and a Stinson 10A.

I was curious what the general consensus was on where the best location for the wings is, so I took to the Internet and… Found no clear answer. It seems that there are pros and cons to both configurations, and it almost always boiled down to preference over hard facts. I have compiled a few major things to consider if you are in the scenario where you must choose between a high-wing or low-wing aircraft.

Visibility

Visibility was one of the first things pilots commented on when debating between the two. High-wing aircraft simply give pilot and passengers a better view of the sky around them and ground below them. They are ideal for an introduction flight, cruising around for fun, or flying on missions that require a clear view of the ground. Low-wing aircraft offer outstanding views of the world above the cockpit, but the wings can block anything below.

Accessibility

When fueling on the ground, it is usually much easier to access the tanks on a low-wing aircraft. Most high-wing fuel tanks require standing on a ladder to reach. However, the flip side of this is that it is more difficult to reach the fuel drains and visually inspect the underside of the wing on a low-wing aircraft.

Ground Clearance

Pilots of low-wing aircraft have to be more conscientious of any obstacles on the ground. This includes taxiway lights, tie-downs, and airport signage. The high-wing pilot still has to watch out, but has the ease of knowing their wings are not in such close proximity.

Safety

In the event of an emergency landing, low-wing aircraft have the advantage of being able to absorb some of the crash impact in the wings instead of the fuselage. They also help in the event of a water landing, having the potential to float above the water for a short period of time.

Some pilots love having shade under their wings on a hot summer day. Other pilots prefer being able to set maps or logbooks on the wing during preflight. Some pilots hate having to walk on the wing to get into the aircraft.

At the end of the day, there is no clear winner. It seems that it mostly comes down to personal preference and familiarity with the type of aircraft. Do you prefer high-wing or low-wing? What do you think makes one better than the other? Let me know in the comments below!

The Best Free Online Aviation Resources

It’s no secret, being a pilot is expensive. Especially during the initial training phase where you have to worry about plane rental, fuel costs, paying your instructor, purchasing study materials, paying for written exams and checkride fees. That doesn’t even include the hundreds of dollars you spend on a headset, kneeboard, charts, foggles, and any other required materials for beginning your piloting career or hobby.

While it is worth spending a little extra money for quality flight training, there are also plenty of free resources available for student pilots to take advantage of. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite completely free aviation resources for you to check out and hopefully benefit from! Do you have a favorite free resource? Let me know in the comments below!

1. FAA FAR AIM

As any good student pilot knows, the Federal Aviation Regulations are everything. Love them or hate them, you’re going to have to know and understand a good chunk of them for your checkride. Luckily for you, these regulations are publically available for free on the FAA Website. This might not be the most exciting news, but it is handy for quick reference if you don’t have a physical copy on hand.

2. Podcasts

I was surprised by the amount of times I heard my fellow pilots talking about aviation podcasts that they listened to while I was at my flight university. As it turns out, there are quite a few great quality podcasts out there for new and seasoned pilots alike. A few of my favorites are The Finer Points, Coffee Break Flight Instruction, and Airplane Geeks. There are tons more out there with topics ranging from flight instruction to military aircraft to aviation current events. A quick Google search can bring up dozens!

3. AOPA Student Resources

An AOPA membership is known for being a great resource to the world of aviation, but they also have several free resources available without a membership. Student pilots have access to tons of articles, event calendars, and flight planning tools right at their fingertips. To sweeten the deal, AOPA is offering 6 months of free membership to student pilots, including 6 monthly issues of their Flight Training Magazine. That’s an offer you can’t refuse!

4. Pilots of YouTube

For someone like me who is an extremely visual learner, YouTube has been a lifesaver. A quick search on YouTube for "flight training" resulted in 5,180,000 videos. Of course, not all of these are going to be winners. However, there are several that have a great way of explaining private and instrument pilot techniques and information. I highly recommend poking around to see what has been created, or searching for the specific problem you are stuck on.

5. GlobalAir.com

Did you know that the very site you are on right now has several wonderful (and completely free!) aviation resources? Our Aviation Directory is a great source to find links to all things in the flying world. Check out the "Airport Resource" tab to look up detailed information about any airport, or to check the fuel prices at thousands of airports around the nation. There is so much you can learn from the information listed on GlobalAir.com. Go ahead and check it out!

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