The Run Up

The Run Up

Somewhere just short of the runway you will perform a final check (called the run-up) of all systems by following your craft’s before-takeoff checklist. It’s your last chance to make sure everything is working smoothly before heading off into the wild blue yonder; where there are no service station clouds. Here’s a typical before-takeoff checklist:…

Navigating By Sight

Navigating By Sight

You probably want to fly for one or both of two reasons: You want to see things from above. You want to go somewhere. Pilotage offers you both. It means simply navigating by looking out the window and figuring out where you are by reading your aeronautical chart. It’s much like driving in a new town;…

The Pattern

The Pattern

An airport pattern is the invisible rectangular over an airport. Most smaller airport patterns are approximately the same, so flying the pattern typically looks like this: Fly off the runway and continue climbing the upwind leg. At about 500 ft. above ground level (AGL), turn the aircraft 90 degrees to the crosswind leg (usually a…

Slow Flight

Slow Flight

Slow flight is an essential part of your flight training. There are numerous reasons why you might want to fly slowly, such as giving yourself room in the pattern, allowing an aircraft to clear the runway, and of course, when you are coming into land. Today, I will address what slow flight is, how to…

Flight Software

Flight Software

The most widely used flight simulation program by far is Microsoft Flight Simulator. You can buy it for less than $100 just about anyplace that sells game software. Just make sure your computer at least meets the minimum system requirements listed on the package. The leading manufacturer of flight simulation hardware is CH Products. Another…

How Will You Get There?

How Will You Get There?

As you mark your course on the sectional chart you might see reasons to avoid specific areas. For example, your course might cross a restricted area or other temporary flight activity that could be dangerous. Or you might decide to avoid a mountainous area until you’re more comfortable with flying. Along the course you select…

Taking Off

Taking Off

So your aircraft is ready to taxi on to the runway and take off. First, take a look around the airport pattern to see if any other aircraft are trying to land. If they are, wait. If your plane has a communications radio, you can use your it to tell other pilots what you’re doing…

Where are You Going?

Where are You Going?

Good question! Until you are signed off for unlimited cross-country trips by your instructor, your excursions are limited. Your instructor will help you select a trip on which you can learn new elements of flying without getting frustrated. Fortunately, you have a “road map,” a sectional aeronautical chart for the area in which you live…

Prep for the Tests

Prep for the Tests

For student pilots, the goal is to “pass the checkride”. That means studying for the oral and practice flying for the practical test. You’ll probably be nervous. Remember that more than one million men and women have passed their checkride before you. You will succeed! Here’s a fact that will help you sleep better: You’ve…

Navigating By Calculator

Navigating By Calculator

Wouldn’t it be great if you could drive between two points by simply making your own direct highway? You can (with some limitations) in the sky. You can fly between points using a navigation system called dead reckoning. It’s an unfortunate term, dead reckoning. The “dead” part probably came from the word “deduced,” because dead…

Why Are You Flying

Why Are You Flying

Some of your learning options include flight schools, independent flight instruction, and colleges. I’ll cover them in greater detail in a moment. First, consider where you want flying to take you. If you’ve already made up your mind that you want to be a commercial pilot, and a private pilot certificate is just your first…

Navigating By Radio

Navigating By Radio

Another popular method of aviation navigation is by ground-based radio signals. For many years aircraft have been fitted with radio receivers to pick up signals that indicate the position of the aircraft relative to the radio transmitter. The most popular for small aircraft is the VHF omnidirectional range (VOR). There are two types of radios…