All posts tagged 'general aviation'

Finding & Avoiding Parachute Jump Areas

Parachute jump areas: they're not the most common area you typically fly threw unless you do a lot of low flying or are a jump pilot. We learn about them a lot during private training then don't seem to talk about it much after that. They seem pretty simple to fly around, but there's a couple extra things to know to help you avoid it and stay safer.

Last week a friend called me and asked "hey, you're a CFI. Is it illegal to fly through a parachute jump area?"

Well the simple answer is no. He was pipeline flying along his usual route and noticed he went through a parachute jump area. Because he was monitoring frequency he heard another pilot call him up and become upset at him for flying through the area. After landing this other pilot threatened to record his tail number and turn him in for careless and wreckless operation. Does this other pilot have a case? Was the pipeline pilot in the wrong? I'm sure simple things like these happen more often than you think. So let's dig into it.

In the last article we discussed ForeFlight and how great of a tool it is. Pictured above is a parachute jump area charted in Galveston, Texas from the Foreflight VFR Sectional screen. Aside from published Parachute Jump Area NOTAM's programs like ForeFlight will also display active jump areas as a caution to pilots flying through. They also include a frequency to monitor as to help find when the jump pilots are going to be releasing skydivers- ATC must legally be notified 5 minutes prior to drop. In a non-towered area ATC has to be notified no more than 24 hours and no less than 1 hour from flying time. It's always a good idea to pick up Flight Following so you can listen to these interactions when they're getting close to drop. 

With all of this being said, was the pilot flying pipeline illegally operating? This is a tricky question because it depends on a lot of factors, but in this case it was not. The frequency was being monitored, the drop zone was 5 minutes out from drop and was clear at the time, and as a pipeline pilot it was part of his job to fly that route. The advice I gave was to file a NASA report from the Aviation Safety Reporting System. A lot of pilots call this the get out of jail free card. In the case of any incidents (cases where illegal crimes did not take place and no person was injured) they can help to avoid action being taken against a pilot. This is a perfect situation. Careful action was taken not to penetrate an active drop zone, but a disgruntled pilot still threatened to file a report. Now both sides of the story can be taken. 

When it comes to avoiding parachute jump areas, simply know where you're flying and what will be along that route. Avoid the area if you can, if you can't then check into the appropriate listed frequency so you never accidentally fly through falling skydivers. This would be the worst case scenario.

Remember a safe pilot is one who is prepared! Questions or comments? Write to us below this article.

 

 

How to Handle Emergencies in IMC

Happy Valentines Day from everyone at Globalair.com! We hope this week's post finds you in good standing and staying warm this time of year :)

I am writing this post for two reasons:

1) This time of year is when IFR, including low IFR, tends to move in more often

2) I had a friend lose all 3 gyro instruments in IFR with thunderstorms nearby and moderate turbulence too, so we discussed all the aspects of the incident and what could have been handled/prepared for better

Flying IMC is no joke, but especially when you're flying it in smaller older model planes that tend to have a lot of recurring maintenance issues. A small issue can quickly turn into a big problem if not handled correctly. 

So the best way to handle in-flight emergencies IMC? Prepare for them.

As previously mentioned, in GA flying it's the older model planes that things are more likely to break and put you in a bad situation. Especially if you have a 6 pack versus a glass cockpit. This doesn't mean that glass cockpits are foolproof, but usually, when you have a failure it's easier to recognize. A perfect example of this is having a loss of the attitude indicator and heading indicator. In the traditional 6 pack, this most commonly happens due to a vacuum system failure.

You have to be watching your instruments closely to see one of the visual cues:

-tumbling on the heading indicator

-lack of movement on the attitude indicator

-small red off flag indicating instrument failure

-loss of vacuum suction on the vacuum gauge

You can still have a gyroscopic failure aside from a vacuum system issue. In fact, there's no vacuum system in a glass cockpit and it is still possible to lose these. 

When an instrument is no longer reliable in a glass cockpit, the screen will display a large red X over it to indicate the failure. 

But then there's always the argument, what if I lose my entire PFD? Now you've completely lost everything. It's very rare, but it's possible. 

Here's the best solution I've come up with: buy 2 literal life-saving devices

Foreflight Pro Plus package (subscription a step up from the basic $99 package) and a Stratus or a Sentry. The stratus and the sentry are similar devices, the sentry is just about $300 cheaper. What both of these do is you program them when you turn them on in the plane and set them somewhere, and they'll connect to the Foreflight synthetic vision. While this isn't legally reliable, it is a LOT better than nothing when having a lost of instruments. 

In the incident with my friend, they actually got into a graveyard spiral and LIVED. All 3 gyros stopped working and they lost 2400 feet in less than 20 seconds. As they heard the air speeding up over the wing they started to take out power and bring the nose up and luckily broke out of a 400-foot ceiling just in time. At this point, they got a contact approach and just landed at the nearest airport under priority landing.

How they're still alive is a miracle, but this all could have been avoided if they had synthetic vision as a backup. 

Another good way to be prepared is to know your plane. Have those emergency procedures and a game plan memorized so you're ready to act when something goes wrong. IMC is the worst time for something to go wrong. Imagine a scenario such as an engine failure, where are you going if you can't see? Always have an idea where you're at so you can see if there's an airport to spiral over or any major highways as well. Synthetic vision can still help with this too. 

There are endless scenarios of what can go wrong, from small inconveniences to life-threatening issues. It's best to always be on your toes ready for anything. 

Do you have any personal stories of flying IFR and having an in-flight emergency? Any tips to share too? Feel free to share below.

Best Headsets for Your Money in 2021

Well well well, the article we've all been waiting for: how to buy a decent headset without breaking the bank!

Future tip, everything in aviation breaks the bank. Run away while you still can ;)

1) Bose QC35 & NFlight Mic

Looking for some Bose A20's without the price tag? Well, here you go. These headphones are very similar. By buying the Bose QC35 ii and the NFlight Nomad Aviation Microphone, you get the benefit of having normal headphones that double as a headset for about $500, half the price of the A20's! With this, you get noise-cancelling and professional microphone quality. And don't worry, if the headphones die, the microphone still works so you're not left with dead comms. But here's the downside:

  1. this headset is not TSO'd for those who are required to have it for work
  2. the microphone disables Bluetooth when plugged in

HOWEVER, both of these are fixable. You can make this TSO'd by purchasing the NFlight Nomad with David Clark Microphone instead for a higher price than the regular Nomad Pro. Any purchases through NFlight Mic are refundable within 30 days and have a lifetime warranty in which the company will replace the mic attachment, even if the damage is due to abuse. You can also get your Bluetooth back by buying a 3rd piece that costs less than $8. Because the mic disables Bluetooth when plugged in, the Apple Headphone Jack Adapter can plug into the mic box then into your phone and now you get music back in flight!

While the Bose headphones and NFlight Mic have the most popular reviews, you don't have to use these exact brands. A similar company called UFly Mike makes these microphone attachments and also has quality customer service. These microphones are approved to work on any headphones that have a 2.5mm auxiliary audio output. A technical specification says they "can also be easily converted to be compatible with headsets with 3.5mm auxiliary audio inputs with the use of a 2.5mm-to-3.5mm adapter. Popular headsets with a 2.5mm-to-3.5mm adapter:  Sony 1000XM2 and 1000XM3" so you have a range of options depending on what you may already own!

2) David Clark H10-13.4

Okay, first and foremost you can never go wrong with David Clark. The DC H10-13.4 model is your basic and best flight training headset, I won't be convinced otherwise. If you're on the hunt for a headset that will:

  • last forever
  • is comfortable to wear for hours
  • has a good cable length
  • has a foam cushion for the top of your head
  • come from a company with great customer service
  • offers excellent sound quality

then this is the headset for you. Given this does not offer Bluetooth or noise-cancelling, but now you don't have to worry about replacing batteries. Almost no maintenance is ever needed (although I'd recommend cleaning the earpads after a sweaty flight for hygiene purposes). Every time you're ready to fly, just grab this and go. The link attached for this one (in the above paragraph) includes a headset bag which is a must-have. It has different zippers to hold your medical, certificates, photo ID, and whatever else you need. 

For flight training students needing a headset that is cheap but won't break every 6 months, I recommend this every time. In fact, almost all of my students have purchased this exact model and love it. 

3) FARO Stealth Audio Link

Disclaimer: this one isn't a full-on headset. This is a product advertised by Sporty's that can convert any headset -- any brand, passive or active noise reduction -- to a Bluetooth headset. While I've used David Clark's and the NFlight mic conversion, I haven't had the ability to try this out. It's on the to-do list to order and review soon! 

So far the FARO Stealth Audio Link has 4 out of 5 stars with multiple reviews. The downside it seems is the cables can be kind of bulky and it needs improvement on the squelch transmission. But overall you get Bluetooth capability on older headsets that didn't have it installed and it pairs easily with your phone. 

4) FARO Stealth 2 Passive Headset

Last but not least! I had a student send this to me recently and decided to look into it because I was intrigued. This is a basic headset that offers good sound quality but also Bluetooth for less than $250. The FARO Stealth 2 Passive Headset offered through Sporty's is kind of new to the market.

Tested by multiple CFI's (even during covid having to wear a mask), feedback said the Bluetooth sound quality is great and the mic picks up sound easily. What this headset lacks is noise-canceling, which if you're flying GA then do you really need it? Not all small planes are super loud and it's good to be able to hear the engine the entire flight so you can detect if it's trying to tell you something is wrong. This headset may be best for pilots building time and doing longer flying days who aren't looking to spend a lot of money. 

Looking for any other Pilot Supplies? Click on that link and check out our directory of tons of pilot supplies ranging from "A Cut Above" uniforms to aviator sunglasses and, of course, headsets!

Best of luck in your search for a new headset! Questions about any of these or have a headset you'd like to see added to this post? Comment below. 

Commercial Add-On: Transitioning From Fixed-Wing to Rotary Ratings

One of the most common commercial rotary transitions is helicopter pilots wanting a fixed-wing add-on. This is seen pretty often with military helicopter pilots such as former Apache or Blackhawk crews. 

But, does anyone ever get an add-on from previous fixed-wing to rotary? It's not common but it's out there. Some do it for fun and some do it to add to their resume and expand their job opportunities. 

A good resource that can help with this type of transition is Veracity Aviation. I went here about a month ago at the Pearland, TX location to talk with some of the instructors, and here's a briefing of what I got:

The general requirements for a commercial add-on through a 141 program would be to 

  • Already hold a fixed wing commercial pilot certificate
  • Current FAA Medical Certificate
  • Helicopter Instrument Rating not required
  • No FAA Written Exam
  • Pass an FAA Oral and Practical Flight Test
  • 30 dual flight hours
  • 5 solo flight hours
  • 10 hours instrument hours

If you're looking to do a CFI add-on as a way to build rotary hours then you would be required to 

  • Hold a Commercial Pilot Helicopter Certificate
  • Must Read, Write, Understand, and Speak English
  • Hold a Current FAA Medical Certificate
  • Pass an FAA Oral and Practical Flight Test
  • Fixed wing CFI license
  • Complete 25 hours of flight time

as with any CFI rating as well, you must be 18 years old.

However, this posted above is for a part 141 program. Here's what the regs require for a part 61 program:

at least 150 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least: 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in helicopters.

  • 100 hours of PIC, which includes at least - 35 hours in helicopters, 10 hours in cross-country flight in helicopters.
  • 20 hours of training on the areas of operation listed in 61.127 (b)(3) that includes at least -
  • 5 hours of helicopter hood time/instrument maneuvers
  • One 2-hour cross country flight in a helicopter in daytime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure
  • One 2-hour cross country flight in a helicopter in nighttime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and
  • 3 hours in a helicopter with a CFI in preparation for the check ride within the preceding 2 calendar months from the month of the test.
  • Ten hours of solo flight time in a helicopter or 10 hours of flight time performing the duties of PIC in a helicopter with an authorized CFI on board
  • 1 cross-country flight with landings at a minimum of three points, with one segment consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and 5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern).

All of these requirements can be found in the FAR AIM under 61.129 helicopter rating. A 141 program can cut down testing requirements however to make the add-on even easier.

Who knows, the add-on may lead you to new career opportunities flying something like an Airbus H130. I'd say it's worth your time to get through those requirements and learn to fly a new aircraft. Join the "dark side" and comment below how it goes!

How to Pay for Flight Training

It's no doubt, flight training is expensive and a big challenge to get through. 

As a CFI, the biggest complaints I get from students are having to pay for lessons. How to save money on them, how to get through training faster etc. I'm here to say paying for flight training is not impossible, but is in fact very possible. I started flight training as soon as I turned 19 and got through it in 2.5 years while being a poor college student. Here's how:

1) Scholarships

Over $15,000 dollars of my flight training was paid for by scholarships. Rule number one: don't only apply for all the big scholarships that offer a lot of money. Those have the most competition! The ones that are around $1,000 have less applicants, and if you apply for multiple ones of those you're likely to get some of them.

When applying for scholarships, there's so many tips that I could give from being a successful applicant and now scholarship curator. Take your time on your application, but get it in as soon as possible. And make sure everything that was asked for is there! You may be a great applicant but if you forget even one thing you're disqualified. Do email the scholarship committee/organization with any questions you have and ask what they look for in picking recipients because they're likely glad to help, DON'T email or contact saying only how much you need the money. Financial need is not the only thing that creates a worthy recipient. 

2) Be Smart With Your Money

THIS. This is a good tip for flight training and LIFE. Don't be the student that goes out every weekend, buys a BRAND NEW car, walks in with a Bose headset....(the list goes on) and then complain about not being able to pay for lessons. Try to work it to where almost all of your money is put towards training. It's okay to be the person eating lunch from home, only getting water to drink at restaurants, using coupons at the grocery store and so on. If it helps you reach your dreams you do what you need to do. 

If you need to buy a headset, buy like a DC brand from Sporty's Pilot Shop or even something used on Amazon or Ebay. There is a ton of options where you can find something quality less than $300 that will last without breaking. As far as a logbook if you don't even want to spend money on a paper one then use an online one that meets FAA requirements. Even the logbook on Globalair.com will get the job done!

If you can help it, as in if a school does not require you to buy a certain kit, get your study materials online for free. Remember the Airplane Flying Handbook and Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge are free for PDF download from the FAA, just Google it. 

3) Study at Home

Don't rely on your instructor to teach you everything on ground lessons or in flight. Ask them to help guide you to what to study, but read it all at home and make it to where lessons with them are just building on what you don't understand. Especially steps for maneuvers as well. This can literally save you THOUSANDS of dollars. 

When I say to study maneuvers, do what's called chair flying. Let an instructor demonstrate a maneuver for you the first time, then write down the steps during your debrief with them, and go home and imagine sitting in the cockpit and practice flying those steps. Manuevers like power off stalls, slow flight, and approach checklists that have a lot of steps are much better mastered this way. This all pays off on your check ride too, you'll have it down better because you established a better foundation for your skills. 

4) Fly Often

Don't take a break from flying to pay for each lesson if you can help it. Save up as much as you can and THEN go into training. If you fly 2 times a month versus two times a week, it costs more in the long run because you have to redo each lesson. You're staying at the same spot rather than truly moving forward. 

There's so many tips I could give on how to save money and pay for flight training, but these are the biggest ones. Be smart and make wise decisions, you work hard for your money so do your best to put it to good use. It doesn't matter if you come from a poor family, if no one around you is a pilot to give you advice, or even if it takes you a little longer than other students around you to learn. If you're really dedicated and cut out to learn to fly, there will be a way. Pave it for yourself. 

Until next time, happy landings!

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