Say again

A long time ago it was decided by people much smarter than I am that only one language should be the language of aviation. That language was to be English, regardless of a pilot’s nation of origin.

Those same people decided that a specific lexicon should be created within English to reduce any confusion spawned by regional accents. So along came the aviation alphabet and quirky customs, like pronouncing 5 and 9 as “fife” and “niner.” The hope was that by adopting one official language and creating a lexicon of aviation-specific terminology, miscommunication would be greatly reduced.

The thing about language and lexicons is that they’re like tools of the trade. And all tools of the trade are only as good as the operator handling them. [Read more…]

Calling all frugal pilots: What are your secrets?

Dan's plane, "Goofy," taking off from the Willits Municipal Airport ( which I manage. It's the most fun you can have without a prescription! ;-)

Frugal pilots aren’t cheap or unsafe. Their buying and flying decisions are based on getting the greatest value for each aviation dollar spent, not on squeezing every dollar until Washington yelps.

Frugal pilots aren’t poor. They may or may not be financially rich, but they do know the significance of money and that a dollar saved wisely can be a dollar spent on more avgas or iPhones or retirement.

Frugal pilots aren’t alone. There are many thousands of us who fly comfortably within a budget for a variety of good reasons: To go somewhere, to go nowhere, to see the world from above, to discover ourselves, to share recreation, to overcome fears, and/or to build an aviation career.

At my airport, I hear many stories from grinning pilots who started out mowing lawns, washing airplanes, or taking on a second job to afford flying lessons. Over the years, these veteran pilots have logged thousands of hours in their owned or co-owned aircraft by being frugal — and safe.

What are their secrets?

[Read more…]

FAA finds research partner, seeks perps

The FAA is behind the power curve – big time – when it comes to the nascent (and rapidly growing) remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) industry.

On Jan. 12 CNN announced a research agreement with the FAA to “to advance efforts to integrate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) into newsgathering and reporting.”

As a distant cousin to mainstream media, I can imagine great uses for RPA in media. But media isn’t the only segment of society anxious to launch skyward.

[Read more…]

Prepare — winter doesn’t last forever

Recently a series of cold fronts have marched down from the region of the north pole, bringing biting winds, frigid temperatures, and enough ice to supply a wet bar that’s serving Jackie Gleason, Foster Brooks, and Dean Martin simultaneously. If you’re into ice fishing, snow machine races, or the latest cutting-edge snowshoe designs, the weather is ideal. If you’re a general aviation nut, however, it’s somewhat less conducive to getting out and putting some distance between your tires and terra firma. And if you’re a seaplane enthusiast, you’re pretty much out of luck for the moment. [Read more…]

Care to comment?

For those who love commenting on this website’s content, we have switched the comment section to the Facebook platform. The section will work the same, but now you’ll need a Facebook account to comment.

Why make this change? Since early 2009, nearly 18,000 comments have been approved to appear on this website. Many thousands more have been submitted but not approved for a variety of reasons. Until now comments have been moderated by Janice Wood or myself. That takes a great deal of time and energy. From what I’ve observed, the overall tone on websites using Facebook comments tends to remain more civil and on topic. And that is what this should be about… respectful discussion.

Tip this…or something like that

Malcom Gladwell, the well known author who possesses both an almost cartoonishly frizzy hair-style and a razor sharp mind, first came to my attention with his blockbuster hit “The Tipping Point.” Released in 2002, Amazon still ranks it high on its best sellers ranking. It held down the position of 533 on that literary hit parade as this week opened, nearly 13 years after its initial publication.

I wish my books sold as well.

In The Tipping Point, Gladwell observes that a magic moment exists in the life of a product or service that suddenly catapults it to the top of the sales charts. There are a variety of reasons for this phenomenon taking place, but in each of the cases he studies, there is a moment, an incident, an occurrence that causes an otherwise pedestrian object to become the instant darling of the consumer.

In short, masses of people suddenly become convinced they must have that product. They must subscribe to that service. Not one more day will pass without that thing, whatever it is, being in their home, their car, or on their feet. The possession of it becomes a social imperative. In other words, the nation cries as one, “I must have it,” and so they buy.

Not for nuthin’, as my New York area friends might say, but have you seen the price of avgas lately?

[Read more…]

The Spin Doctor


I have a confession to make: I have been flying for 17 years and until this year I had never been in a spin.

I began my pilot training well after the requirement for spin training had been eliminated from the FAA private pilot curriculum, and none of the planes I flew were certified for intentional spins — I learned in a Piper Archer, did most of my commercial training in a Piper Arrow, and have almost exclusively flown a Cirrus since 2006.

[Read more…]

Measuring growth in LSA

The Rotax BRP Factory in Austria

As a new year begins, it seems a good time to attempt to measure how the light end of aviation is doing. As 2014 was the 10th anniversary for Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA), it is doubly useful.

We have various ways to assess growth in aviation … pilot starts, new certificates, new airplanes delivered, used aircraft sales, and magazine distributions (also reported at the end of the year), among other methods.

[Read more…]

Ferry flight to Florida

Sea Rey Ferry Flight to Florida

Bay Bridge Airport, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore across the Chesapeake Bay from Annapolis, is a special place to fly. It’s even more attractive now with two flight schools specializing in light-sport aircraft (LSA). One recently posted an opportunity that can arise from time to time. When you see one like this, grab it if you can. [Read more…]