Your connection with the sky

Flying Across America – KDAB > KDTS > KBTR > KHOU

, June 28th, 2010

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I'm writing this from the pilot lounge at KBTR Baton Rouge International. I just wanted to share some photos of our adventure as we fly across America.

We've had thunderstorms that have caused us to divert 40 miles off course as we fight winds and hot temperatures.

Below are a few photos I thought you all would enjoy.

Myself and German pilot Vincent Lambercy will be spreading the message about the value of general aviation nationwide.

Check out the website and see if we're coming your way! We'd love to meet you guys!

Getting Back into the Cockpit Again

, June 23rd, 2010

by Chris Findley, CFI

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What do you do when you look up and realize that its been 2 years or 10 years since you last flew?  Getting back into the plane can seem a little intimidating.  As I often work with people who are getting back into flying after a break, I've found that the longer the break, the more apprehensive the pilot is about their ability to recoup their knowledge and skills.  I know, I was in that position myself.

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I had a 15 year break from flying.  After earning my degree in Aviation Management and my Commercial, Multi, Instrument and CFI ratings from Auburn University, I was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and entered active duty.   Between getting my feet on the ground with the military and shortly thereafter getting engaged and married, I just slipped away from flying.  It was never a conscious decision, but just something that happened.  After a couple of career shifts over 15 years, an almost comical turn of events got me back in the pilot's seat.  It was mis-handled mail.

I went to my office mailbox one morning to find a single piece of mail-- Plane & Pilot's Annual Guide to Aviation Careers.  I thought it ironic as no one at my office knew my background in aviation.  Why was this in my box?  I kept it and over my lunch break began leafing through it.  Something within me awakened, a long-lost passion for flying and a hunger to feel the response of the flight controls in my hands once again.  But I was nervous.  Would I remember everything (or anything) a decade-and-a-half later?  Would my skills in the air be miserable or would they return? Read More >>

A Twist on the Sunday Drive: Fly!

, June 17th, 2010

by Chris Findley, CFI

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One of the greatest gifts of flying is flying for the sheer joy of it.

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The “Sunday Drive” holds an iconic place in American life.  Like front porch swings, sidewalks, and town squares, a family drive in the country on Sunday was a mini-getaway for the family.  There was no rush, no elaborate plans, no particular agenda.  It was using the car for more than the normal weekday commute.   It was about using the car for leisure, for recreation.

The notion of the Sunday Drive has all but disappeared from the American consciousness.  As the pace and pressure of modern society has increased, our intentional use of leisure has diminished.  It is pretty rare to see people simply taking a walk in a park, or chatting with neighbors across their back fences, or just getting away together for a little while.  But today’s Private Pilot can renew this age-old and forgotten tradition of the Sunday drive, but with a twist–the Sunday flight. Read More >>

FAA to LSA Industry: Time for Adult Supervision

, June 14th, 2010

As a supporter of the light sport effort, and as someone who flies an LSA (the Sportcruiser), the recent audit report from the FAA on the LSA manufacturing industry should set off alarm bells.   You can find the report on avweb’s website here.

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Dan Johnson, chairman of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, says the report is “tough love’– but we think it’s a bit more ominous than that.

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The FAA audited 30 LSA facilities to determine if they are complying with ASTM. standards.  For those not familiar with how light sport aircraft are marketed and sold, here’s a brief overview.  The FAA created the LSA sector to foster technological developments and bring aircraft to market without the costs associated with government certification.  As such, aircraft that meet LSA standards for weight, size, and speed can be ’self-certified’ by the manufacturer, providing they meet the standards set forth by the ASTM.  (ASTM is an independent group that industries use to set standards for products.)  If the aircraft meets the standard, it can then be sold to the American public without government certifications.  This has no doubt lead to lower cost products, but now there’s a question as to whether it’s also lead to lower-quality products. Read More >>

4 Keys to Better Takeoffs

, June 11th, 2010

By Chris Findley

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There’s a certain thrill most pilots feel when they taxi onto the runway and line up on the centerline for takeoff.  It’s the beginning of a great transition—from a ground-based reality to an air-based reality.  It’s the gateway to flight and one of the first maneuvers a new pilot learns.

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However, in many ways, it is often neglected as a maneuver.  It is often treated as simply a mechanical action and, other than dealing with a crosswind, not much thought is put into the takeoff.  Many pilots simply, line up, go to full power, reach takeoff speed, and haul back on the yoke.  For some reason takeoffs become can very Cro-Magnon, “Come plane. Now we fly, ugh ugh.”

We are pleased with ourselves when we make a nice landing with gentle finesse.  We should aim to have a similar finesse with our takeoffs.  Hint:  If you rotate (begin your climb) with such force your passengers grunt, you may want to make some adjustments to your technique.

There is as much technique in a good takeoff as there is in any maneuver.  Here are a few keys to better takeoffs:. Read More >>

Get Your Hands Dirty and Learn About Your Plane!

, June 10th, 2010

Annual Inspection
I don't know about you but i'm a hands on learner, a kinesthetic learner would be the proper term to use. For most there is no better way to learn than by doing!

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When you stick you head in the engine cowl could you point out the carburetor? Vacuum pump? Magnetos? What about the Carb heat arm? I'm a very strong believer that students and aircraft owners should be able to work on the airplanes they fly. This might be basic preventive maintenance or owner assisted maintenance like i've been doing all this past week. Read More >>

What is Density Altitude?

, June 4th, 2010
Density Altitude Chart

Density Altitude Chart

Density altitude by definition is pressure altitude corrected for non-standard temperature. Well what does that mean? Density altitude is better described as where you airplane feels like it's at. No not where location wise but where altitude wise does it feel like it's at?

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If the surface density altitude at your airport is 3000 feet your airplane feels like it's at 3000 simply sitting on the ground. This is huge if you're flying a tiny piston airplane like my Cessna 150!

This really puts a cap on our performance for that day.

Think about out west where it really gets hot and the density altitude gets really high! I'm talking altitudes that may even ground you that day because your airplane may not even leave the ground.

Density altitude is just one of five different types of altitude curious about the other 4? Check out this video.

Flying In Crosswinds

, June 1st, 2010


It's important that as a student you catch on to crosswind taxi, takeoff, and landing procedures early off in your flying career. Failure to do so is simply detrimental to your flight training.

Here's a tip I encourage all my students to work at.

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Don't Shy Away From Crosswinds

Yes, the wind may be favoring runway 36 but why not go to another airport that has a runway 27 and really get out there and practice these crosswind procedures.

You can't choose where the wind is coming from on the days you fly. Before you solo you should have a through understanding of crosswind procedures. Think of something simply like, how do you taxi in a crosswind? Many students fail to answer this question let alone execute it properly.

Learn Your Takeoff procedure and most importantly you crosswind landing procedure.

There are two crosswind landing methods, the sideslip and the crab. Figure out which one works best for you and understand/be able to perform both of them.

Then before you know it you'll have perfect crosswind landings in your bag of tricks.