Archive for the ‘Flying Tips’ Category

Four Funny Pilot Blunders

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

By Alan Carr

Just like with any job, there are always those moments where someone does something stupid and no one gets too hurt, but spleens are splitting open with laughter over it. Pilots are no different; whether it’s from communications with the tower, passengers, or just mechanical and technical blunders, we’ve seen our fair share of terrifying and hilarious mistakes made. So in honor of spreading the humor to those that handle similar aviation situations here are some of the top funny moments thanks to pilot blunders that have occurred around me or to some of my pilot friends.

4. The Pre-Flight Check List
We all are aware of the annoyances and mind-numbing moments from our pre-flight checklist, and also the importance of it, and so does a pilot friend of mine when they were flying an Apache in Afghanistan. Part of his pre-flight planning was opening the hydraulics panel and forgot to close it back down when he was done. Unfortunately the panel on an Apache is right behind and to the side of the engine, so when he eventually got down his checklist to testing the engines and turning them on, it caused a slight problem. He didnt see it until he finished his checks and got out of the aircraft and saw the opened panel charred entirely black. He had burned the panel so badly it had to be replaced before the next flight.

But that’s not the best part. The real shine was the repair crew pulled off the panel and gave it to an artist who painted an Afghanistan scene on the blackened panel with a picture of an apache in the corner, with a panel on fire. Then when their force met for formation and an awards ceremony, the pilot was called up and awarded the painted and burnt panel along with a ceremony certificate. Everyone had a great laugh over that and the pilot has still never been able to live that down. But at least he still keeps the painted panel as a reminder that paying attention to his checklist can be important, especially if you don’t want to become the joke of the entire platoon.

3. Solo Hand-Propping
This little issue of doing something solo that by the handbook is supposed to be done with at least two people comes up quite often, but the biggest known case would have to be attempting to hand prop your aircraft, either because its an older model or the electric starter just wasn’t working (dead battery). And this one isn’t just one case of hilariousness; there are quite a few, which luckily only resulted in property damage. One pilot had tied the tail with a rope to keep it in place while he started the engine. The rope broke after the engine started and the pilot was running after the plane, caught up but took a misstep and fell, but caught his foot at the top of the steps and was promptly dragged along the ramp until he finally hit another parked plane. He wasn’t hurt and luckily the owner of the other plane just laughed when he saw the guy dangling down the aircraft’s steps.

Another individual tried this, but without tying the aircraft down with a rope, so when the plane took off after he hand-propped he was actually chasing down the plane and was barely able to hang onto the plane’s strut as the craft actually took off into the air. He finally fell from the plane a few feet later before the craft smashed into not one, but three other planes and a chain link fence. The only major damage was to the pilots ego when he had to explain what happened to those other aircraft owners. But it goes to show, if there’s a regulation for something like hand-propping, you should probably keep to it.

2. Infrared Just Never Works
These two stories come courtesy of an Apache army mechanic who was stationed in Bosnia and were two separate incidents with different pilots.

Sometime in the winter, with a freezing chill, a pilot had called him up with the problem that he couldn’t see through the infrared. So the mechanic got there and asked the pilot to start the system up so they could see what was wrong. The mechanic stood in front and the pilot affirmed that he couldn’t see through the infrared. So the mechanic asked him if he could see the mechanic, without the infrared. The pilot looked around and said no. Thats when the mechanic informed the pilot that his window was frozen and frosted over, and the pilot wouldn’t be seeing anything until that was cleared up, told the pilot to have a nice day and walked off.

Later on another pilot contacted about the same infrared system not working, but this time it just wasn’t swinging out when you activated it, so that it could be used. The mechanic got there, asked the pilot to turn it on, they went through the whole process then when it came to actually activating it the pilot has to press a button. As the pilot got to pressing the button, he hit it once, then twice immediately, then a third and fourth time over the course of a second. The mechanic was waving his hands and telling the guy to stop. Then he promptly informed the pilot that after pressing the button there is a delay of around ten seconds before the infrared system swings out and is ready for use. The mechanic went through the process, pressed the button once, and counted to ten. At ten, the system swung out and was useable. To this day the mechanic wasn’t sure how that pilot had ever been using that system before then.

1. Blackhawk Down Low
This one was a U.S. military milk run, where the pilot was making the flight solely for being able to have their pilot’s ratings for their license. They knew it would be an easy run and because of that, this pilot got it in his head that he could do a little showing off. It didnt help that a platoon from the Irish army was joining the flight since they needed to go where the pilot was flying. Because this was in a combat zone at the time, the aircraft had to fly lower, near the ground. But this pilot chose to fly far lower than they needed to and also started hotdogging, with fast turns and heavy weaving to essentially put on a show for the Irish army on board.

During all of this, the pilot realized that he missed a turn, so instead of slow turning to get back to the spot, he takes the plane right on its tail and goes into a near Immelmann maneuver to turn around. At this same time, all the Irishmen are cheering, while the co-pilot and pilot start freaking out because the caution panel on the Blackhawk started going off, halfway through the maneuver. The flight for the rest of the way is perfectly straight and normal, with no bizarre stunts. When they finally landed, one of the men had noticed the caution panel go off and asked what caused it. That was when the pilot revealed he had completely broken the electronic stabilizer mid-flight. This meant the pilot had to fly the plane almost entirely manually in terms of keeping the aircraft balanced. The platoon had a good laugh and even better was the story being used to keep others from deciding it would be a good idea to show off, because when you show off you better be ready to stabilize the consequences.

About the author - Alan Carr is an avid aviation aficionado learning about the aspects of the flying world from the business to the technical, while also frequently writing on what he finds. He currently works with to provide resources on aircraft related information.


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Taking to the Skies with the A20

Friday, July 19th, 2013

About the Author – Chris Oquist is a private pilot and web developer at Banyan Pilot Shop in South Florida. He is an avid blogger and article writer whose expertise includes aviation headsets and other aviation gear. As an aviation enthusiast, Chris is passionate about sharing his knowledge on all-things-aviation. Learn more about the Bose A20 at bose_a20_aviation_headset

Designed in 1938, the Douglas A-20 Havoc was the most widely produced attack plane during the Second World War. Not only was it used against the Japanese over the Pacific and against Nazi Germany over Europe, but the British, Australians, and Soviets heavily utilized the heavy fighter plane as well. The Havoc surely lived up to its namesake and was a key instrument for winning WWII, much like the Bose A20 Aviation headset. With a name like A20, this headset should live up to its lofty name. Like the A-20 Havoc the A20 headset is the top of the line, and the best aviation headset for serious pilots.

The Bose A20 improved over its predecessor, the Bose X, in a number of ways. The most notable of these changes is improved noise cancellation. The A20 cancels noise passively by creating a physical barrier to block high frequency sound waves. On the other hand active noise canceling refers to emitting sound waves that resemble the incoming sound waves, thus neutralizing the incoming sound. The A20s are created with a deeper layer of high density foam and overall more comfortable design. While the ear cups on the Bose X were not necessarily a problem, throw on the A20s and you can feel the difference. The ear cups are a tad larger and seem to fit just a bit better.

Even when flying the loudest of commercial jets or helicopters, the A20 neutralizes engine noise. The A20s boast about 30% greater noise reduction than the Bose X offered. Users who have not experienced the A20 will probably hold that statement in disbelief until they actually throw some A20s on to see for themselves.

Perhaps the biggest addition to the A20 over the Bose X is the addition of Bluetooth compatibility. It is a little more expensive ($100 or so) than the headphones without Bluetooth, but it is certainly worth it. You can easily stream music from your cell phone (assuming it has Bluetooth as well) to your headset or take hands-free calls without having to remove the headset. iPods or other Bluetooth enabled music devices are compatible with the A20 as well.

Now I have to say I was quite skeptical of the A20 when I first heard about it. I was in love with my X (which I guess can be said more often than not), but after breaking out of my shell and trying out the A20s I can say I’m a changed pilot. Do a simple test for yourself. The main thing for me is the comfort level and the ability to listen to music wirelessly over Bluetooth. Three years down the road, I can say the A20 is still my headset of choice and I never take off without it. While my opinion may sound like an advertisement, I can’t help but offer only my best statements of the A20. Like the A-20 Havoc, this headset is versatile, reliable, and performs very well under pressure.

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10 Questions you must ask before choosing a flight school and instructor

Friday, July 5th, 2013

If your’e thinking about taking flight lessons, the most important decisions you will make is where to train and who to train with.  As is often the case, price is a huge factor, but as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”

Besides price, here is a list of 10 questions you should ask your flight school and flight instructor that will help you make a decision that you’re going to happy with.

Questions to ask a Flight School

Q1. How many airplanes do you have available for flight training?

The more airplanes they have available, the better your chances are at flying when you choose to.

Q2. How are your airplanes maintained?

If they have their own maintenance department or there is a maintenance department nearby, you’ll be less likely to get cancelled due to maintenance issues.

Q3. How many flight instructors do you have and how many are full time instructors?

Full time instructors have more availability, so the more the better.

Q4. How is ground school handled?

If they leave it up to you, see this as a red flag.  The school and flight instructor should have an interest in your ground school.

Q5. Do you require the use of a syllabus?

Another red flag is not using a syllabus.  Without a syllabus, it will be more difficult to track your progress and finish in a timely manner.


Questions to ask a Flight Instructor

Q6. Why did you become a flight instructor?

See if the CFI has a genuine interest in teaching.  A good pilot doesn’t always make a good teacher.

Q7. How long have you been instructing?

It takes some time to develop an effective teaching style.  The more experience, the better.

Q8. What is your teaching style?

Some instructors are more rigid than others.  If you like figuring things out on your own, try to find an instructor that will allow you to do this safely.

Q9. Do you give more compliments than critiques or the other way around?

Most people learn faster with the use of positive reinforcement, but also require solid, constructive feedback – try to find a good balance.

Q10. I’ve heard people talk about “stalling” an airplane.  Can you tell me what that means?

See the instructor in action.  Make sure they don’t talk down to you or talk above your head.

With these questions in hand, you’ll be ready to go find the perfect school and instructor for your individual needs.

Article Author:  Ruth Morlas is currently a corporate pilot who runs a website helping people reach their dreams of becoming a pilot.  You can find her website  and more tips on learning to fly here:

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IFR Training – New ViBAN Visor Gets Good Grades

Monday, May 6th, 2013

ViBAN_in_useIf you’re planning on earning your instrument rating, you know you’re going to be spending a lot of time “under the hood” using a view limiting device to prevent you from seeing the world outside the cockpit. Unsatisfied with the current line-up of available view limiting devices for IFR training, the guys at ViBAN decided to come up with a better way to block the view through the cockpit windows.

The ViBAN visor, according to the company website, weighs just once ounce, is made of tough scratch-resistant material, and won’t cause that temporary white out effect when turning into the sun. The visor is all black and ViBAN claims the color is neutral and won’t irritate your eyes.

ViBANPlane&Pilot Magazine contributing editor Marc C. Lee recently earned his instrument rating and used the ViBAN… “First off, the ViBAN was the most comfortable visor of all of them. You know, I was flying 6, 7 hours a day, every day, and there is no WAY you could do that with most of the other visors. They either dug into your head, your temples, or the bridge of your nose. The ViBAN was feather light. To me that was it’s biggest strength. I also like the little velcro strips so you could customize the field of vision. Different seating positions and different aircraft have different fields of vision, so that little extra blocking material makes it so you can move it to other aircraft.And, of course, the color was great because it doesn’t distract your eyes. On a side note, I really liked the cloth strap to hold the visor on your head. It makes it super easy to flip it up above your eyes without doing a bunch of extra movements. All in all the best part of the ViBAN is that you just don’t notice it, and that’s the best compliment for an IFR visor. Plus it was super compact.”

The ViBan costs $39.95 and includes a 30-day money back guarantee, free USPS shipping, and a hard shell carrying case. For more info check out the ViBAN website here:


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Learning To Fly – What Type Of Flying Is Right For You?

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Twin-engine-silhouette photoBy 

Once you’ve decided to learn to fly, you’ll quickly learn that flying can be divided into many categories. We find that most aspiring pilots fall into one or more of the categories described in detail in our latest article, Learning To Fly – What Are My Options?

The first step in earning any type of pilot license is starting Private Pilot training, but it’s not necessarily as simple as that. Your ultimate flying goal plays an important role in the type of school you choose, as well as the type and capability of the aircraft you will be flying.

Here’s a quick look at our article with links to read more and learn more:

No matter your intentions, learning to fly is exciting and imparts a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. Learning to fly is just the start of the adventure, too. Once you complete your training, you can slip off for a weekend in the islands or have lunch halfway across the country. The possibilities are virtually limitless.

You’re considering learning to fly, but you also don’t know much about it. You might be wondering what options are available or why you should learn to fly. To answer directly, there are three basic reasons to learn to fly… read more >>

Find A Flight Training School Near You

Related articles:

What’s The Best Flight School? - How to choose the school for you

Earning Your Wings - Can you do this?

Flight Training Cost - How much does flight training cost?

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Will My Family Fly With Me? – Three Ways You Can Help

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Let’s face it… a lot of people are scared of “little airplanes”. And who could blame them? The only time they hear about a little airplane is after it has crashed somewhere. Sadly, people have been trained by the media to think that small airplanes fall out of the sky on a regular basis. If we applied the same logic to automobile accidents, the news would cover nothing but car crashes all day long. Yet most people you ask on the street will say they fear riding in a small airplane more than driving to the store for a gallon of milk.

As someone who is considering learning to fly, is in pilot training now, or has already earned a license, you’ve probably encountered this fear of flying from family and friends. Don’t worry, it’s not you… it happens to most pilots no matter what they fly or how long they’ve been flying.

Our new article, Will My Family Fly With Me? – Three Ways You Can Help explores some of the ways you can help alleviate your passengers’ concerns and hopefully get them in the air for a safe, fun, and memorable flight experience. Here’s an excerpt:

Almost every person that has considered learning to fly has worried whether their significant other or family will want to fly with them. The ideas start flowing almost immediately: “We could take the weekend and go to the beach or see our cousins out west. Ooh, the Grand Canyon would be neat.” To be brutally honest, it isn’t always that simple. The freedom is there, but sometimes other people, even those we are close to, don’t feel the same way about flying that pilots do. So, how do you keep your significant others willing to go? Avoid pressuring them, start small, and fly safe are the easiest ways to get your family and friends to want to go along… read more >>

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Pilot Training – What’s The Best Aircraft?

Monday, September 24th, 2012
Citation Jet-touching-downBy 

When you decide to go into pilot training, you’ve got a lot of decisions to make: which school, which instructor, what type of airport, what type of program, and on and on. Let’s throw one more decision in there… what type of aircraft? Believe it or not, you may have a choice in the type of aircraft you fly, and it’s important to weigh several factors when making that choice.

We just added a new article, Learning To Fly: Choosing An Aircraft For Training and we think you could learn a lot from what we have to say. Here’s a quick sample from the article:

Thanks to the sheer amount of aircraft available a little bit of consideration is important when deciding on an aircraft for training. You’re going to spend a lot of time in it, so it should be something you will enjoy flying and that will enhance your training. Better still, you’re going to do better and learn more if you enjoy your flight training aircraft.

When it comes to flight training, you will spend a great deal of time in a particular aircraft. A large portion of the costs associated with training will go to providing that aircraft. Considering this, choosing a training aircraft should be an important factor when deciding on a flight school. Here’s three tips to help you choose… read more >>

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Tweeting and Terminations: It Can Happen To Pilots!

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Cage Consulting logo

By Angie Marshall

I recently discovered Facebook. I know what youre thinking, Where have you been? I will have to admit, it is a lot of fun to see what all of my friends are doing. By the same token, Im still not a huge follower of any of the social networking sites due to privacy concerns. Needless to say, I have been very guarded with my photos and personal/family information with regards to the social networking scene. Just as I started to loosen up and thought about posting some family trivia to my Facebook page, I received a call from a seasoned airline Captain that stopped me immediately in my tracks.

For simplicity sake we will call this person John. John stated that he had recently been fired from a long term flying job because of a situation in his background that he had been so careful not to disclose to any of his co-workers and especially his employer.

Four years ago John was arrested and convicted of a crime. He did exactly what the court required, completed his probation, paid his fines and then retained a lawyer to have his records expunged. Because of the expungement proceedings, John felt that he could keep the embarrassing matter to himself and not have to discuss it with anyone, ever again.

Last month, as John was preparing for one of his trips, he received a call from his Chief Pilot. John was asked to stop by the office before checking in for his shift. John was greeted by the Chief Pilot, the Director of Operations, and the Director of Human Resources. After sitting down, John was handed a piece of paper that had been printed from the internet.

John was devastated to realize that his arrest and conviction had been discovered by a coworker and had been passed along to the Chief Pilot. What is even more amazing was how this co-worker had been able to find out this information.

Apparently John’s arrest took place in a small town where EVERYTHING gets written about in the local paper. An acquaintance of Johns, saw the small town article and asked another friend about it on Facebook/Twitter. Before long, several people on Facebook/Twitter were talking about the incident and one of the Friends of a Friend happened to be a co-worker of Johns. As a result, the co-worker did some Googling on John and found the article regarding the original arrest. The co-worker then passed the information on to the Chief Pilot. Unfortunately, John was terminated on the spot.

Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet are all wonderful tools that allow us to learn, work, research and communicate with the rest of the world. The problem is that most everything is recorded on the internet. Whether it is pictures of our new baby, a snowstorm in the Northeast, a School Teacher winning an award in the South, or a local resident getting arrested in a small town. Once the information is captured by the Internet, it is permanent; there is no getting rid of it. Never assume that just because your paper records have been expunged or sealed or because you have not spoken to anyone about the matter, that a situation will go unrecognized.

The good news is that John was able to find another flying position. With a lot of hard work, he was able to present himself and his past situation in a manner that allowed his current employer the opportunity to see that while John had made a big mistake he was well worth the effort for training and employing.

While this story is not meant to have you feeling like youre under a microscope, it is meant to make you think. With the anticipated hiring expected in the aviation community for this fall, there are some areas where pilots need to be cautious. Remember that potential employers are Internet savvy. Use discretion in what pictures you post and what you say on your social networking pages. Do a Google/Facebook/Twitter search on yourself and see what others might find. If you have difficult areas in your background, be prepared to discuss them openly, take responsibility, and have your documents in order. And remember, being a pilot doesnt mean you have to be perfect, it just means that you have to prepare accordingly, present your background appropriately and accept responsibility for your actions.

Angie Marshall
Cage Consulting, Inc.

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Learning To Fly For Business? Three Helpful Tips.

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

King AirCheck out our latest article “Learn To Fly For Business – Three Things To Consider When Using Your PPL For Work“. In general, flying for business adds a level of convenience unmatched by other forms of transportation, but it comes with three important caveats.

Check out the full article here.

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Five Creative Ways To Help Pay For Pilot Training

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
Piper ApacheBy 

Check out our latest article “Five Creative Ways To Help Pay For Pilot Training”. Some of our ideas might surprise you.

Creative ways to help pay for pilot training.

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