Saturday, April 5, 2014

Colt Flying     

Watch this really really cool video of Aaron (17 yrs) flying a Piper Colt.

Boyington and Sakai:

Aerial Warriors


            In many ways, fighting men and women are portrayed as very similar in that they are painted with a broad brush. Many perceptions of military personnel are of cookie-cutter soldiers of similar attributes. Although both Gregory “Pappy” Boyington and Saburo Sakai were both accomplished fighter aces in the World War II Pacific Theater, these men were very different. Both of these men flew for their respective naval fleets, fought in China, were seriously wounded  and after the war were distinguished as heroes. However, both men’s personal stories and character were very different.

            Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, was raised by his mother and stepfather in Tacoma, Washington and was a graduate of  The University of Washington. He secured a job with Boeing as a technical draftsman before entering military service. Shortly after joining the Marines, he volunteered to fight the Japanese in China under the “Flying Tiger” squadron.  The Americans who fought and flew as a “Flying Tiger” were not driven by lofty virtuous goals to help the Chinese. Rather, Americans were paid a sum of $250 for every Japanese aircraft destroyed. Boyington engaged in mercenary work and gained valuable experience that would contribute to his total of 28 victories in China and the Pacific. Also, the 28 victories was a record for Marine aviation during the Second World War. 

Pappy Boyington is credited with starting the famous VMF216 marine squadron, nicknamed the “Black Sheep Squadron”. Although haphazardly started and recognized as a less than a stellar squadron, the “Black Sheep” racked up an amazing amount of victories in the Pacific. One aspect of Boyington’s squadron, was the excessive alcohol consumption. Greg Boyington was known to drink far too much and that continued until his death on January 11, 1988. On January 3, 1944, Boyington scored his 28th victory and was quickly shot down with his wingman Captain George Ashmun. Captain Ashmun did not survive the encounter, but Boyington bailed out and was taken captive by a Japanese submarine.  After induction to a Japanese prisoner of war camp, he experienced beatings and starvation for 20 months. His POW camp was liberated August 28, 1945. Boyington was honored for his military service and received the Medal of Honor presented to him by President Harry Truman.

After the war, Boyington was regarded as a national hero. Although he also possessed a degree in aeronautical engineering, Boyington could only manage to secure menial jobs and struggled financially for the remainder of his life.  Boyington admitted later in life that alcohol was the most damning thing in his character. Frank Walton, alumni of VMF214, stated in his book Once they were Eagles, "Boyington went through a series of lurid, broken marriages and bounced from one job to another: beer salesman, stock salesman, jewelry salesman, wrestling referee. Liquor was always present." All of these unsuccessful points of his life could be contributed to his alcoholism (Walton 115).

SaburĊ Sakai was born on August 25, 1916, in Saga, Japan. Sakai’s lineage was of the Samaria ancestry. He was raised in a household of seven children by his mother. His father died when he was eleven years of age. Later in his youth, he went to live with his uncle and was provided the opportunity to attend Tokyo high school. Sakai failed his academic studies and was sent back to his rural existence in Saga.

            As with many youths with no academic achievement, Sakai enlisted in the Japanese Navy at the age of 16.  Unlike American military training, Japanese use a significant amount of physical abuse during training of recruits. Many Japanese enlisted men were severely beaten on a regular basis on par with Japanese held POW’s.  Sakai completed training initially as a naval gunner but later was accepted into the flying corps. His aerial combat indoctrination occurred in the skies over China prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Very similar to Gregory Boyington, Sakai was gaining valuable aerial combat experience in China. Just one day after the Pearl Harbor attack, December 8, 1941, Sakai attacked Clark Air Base in the Philippines. In his first aerial engagement with Americans, he shot down one fighter aircraft and two bombers. Sakai would continue to rack up victories until an event occurred in 1942 while on patrol in Java. After shooting down an enemy aircraft, Sakai intercepted a large transport aircraft. As he approached the aircraft, he could see a blonde woman and child through the aircraft’s windows. Sakai disobeyed orders to shoot down the aircraft. Later in life when asked why he spared the aircraft, he replied that the blonde woman reminded him of an American school teacher he had as a child. 

Sakai was seriously injured after attacking an American fighter aircraft. He sustained a bullet wound to the head that caused blindness in his right eye. Upon returning to base after almost 5 hours of flight, he insisted on reporting to the base commander before accepting any medical treatment. Later, he would undergo surgery without anesthesia. He was sent to Tokyo for a lengthy recuperation and was discharged from the hospital in January 1943. Sakai remained blind in his right eye and petitioned for a return to active military status.   After much persistence, he was deployed to Iwo Jima.  During the war and his recuperation, he courted one woman to be his wife. Her name was Hatsuyo. Sabaru Saki would later marry and stay with her until her death in 1954. In Sakai’s autobiography Samurai, he ends the book with a happy recollection of his reunion with Hatsuyo after the war has ended. Hatsuyo throws away a dagger that she claimed she would use if Sakai had fallen in battle. “She drew back suddenly and withdrew the dagger from beneath her sash. ‘I will never need it again, she cried, flinging the shining steel to the floor’” (Sakai 375).  This quote says more about Saburo’s character than can be testified by any man.

            After the war, Sakai became a Buddhist, started a printing business and helped fellow comrades with employment. He spoke out about Japan’s mistake in starting the war and the Japanese emperor’s denial of any responsibility. He also initiated contact with many American flight crews that he personally fought against. Saburo continued to pray for all of the soldiers he killed until his death on September 22, 2000.

Although both men were doing their jobs collectively for their countries and many similarities exist during their war years, clearly many facets stand out. Although Gregory Boyington was a high educated and decorated military veteran, he fell on hard times and never fully recovered. Saburo Sakai, although an enlisted non-decorated and uneducated soldier, managed to start a successful business after the war. Both men were married but Boyington’s failed marriages were almost beyond count. Lastly, when you consider these men and observe what life handed them and what they produced, it can be seen that success is not guaranteed without a fair amount of character.

Boyington died on Jan. 11, 1988, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In summing up his own life, he wrote at the end of his memoir Baa Baa Black Sheep, "If this story were to have a moral, then I would say, 'Just name a hero and I'll prove he's a bum’” (Boyington 350).  One may agree with Boyington, but after seeing a brief view of these men’s life, one may disagree.


Friday, January 31, 2014

Gliding Inspiration
            I have learned as I get older that inspiration can come from the most unexpected places or people. It is only with time does the object of inspiration present itself unmistakably.  Parents, having the biggest opportunity to inspire and support, sometimes don’t grasp or take hold of the offering. In the following recollection, I will convey a source of inspiration that I have carried for most of my professional life.
 As a young child, going to the local airport on weekends was a frequent event. With my Dad, you never knew what we would be doing at the airport. One day could be a long flight to wherever, or maybe just a short hop or sometimes we just changed the oil in the airplane and didn’t fly at all. I hated that. As you can imagine a seven year olds attention span is not captured by changing oil on a dusty and deserted airport. We kept our airplane at the local airport South of Las Vegas.  At the time it was called “Sky Harbor”. It was owned and operated by a cranky old pilot that made his entire living in aviation dating back to the 1920’s.   Through a child’s eyes he was mean; he walked with a slight limp and was rumored to be a result of multiple airplane crashes.  The airport buildings were a mix of modern metal hangars and salvaged World War II airfield buildings. They were dank with peeling white paint and smelled of old airplanes.  In the hangars, we snooped around and found wondrous treasures of mysterious aircraft and parts stored in corners and the rafters. I was fascinated by it all but never spoke to the old pilot. It’s a shame though, I am sure he had many interesting stories if you could get past his tough exterior shell. 
One of the other intriguing activities at the airport was the gliders.  If you have not witnessed a glider in powerless flight, it is a graceful and delicate display with hardly a whisper.  Typically these aircraft are designed to carry one or two persons. To become airborne, these craft are towed with a rope behind a powered aircraft called a tow plane. Once the desired altitude is achieved, the tow plane releases the glider. The pilot of the glider has one of two choices: he or she can glide back down to the airport for landing or search for updrafts in the form of rising currents of air. In the desert, rising currents of air are quite common and soaring, as it is called, makes for an enjoyable sport.  Sky harbor was the base of a flight school that offered glider training. On the days that we had mundane work to perform, I prayed for glider operations. It was very entertaining to watch the tow plane slowly grind its way to altitude with a glider in tow.  Upon disconnect of the rope, the tow plane would bank sharply to the left and the glider banks to the right ensuring sufficient clearance between the aircraft.  It is fascinating to watch the gliders perform slow circles searching for elusive lift to stay aloft long after the noisy tow plane had landed. 
On one special weekend at the airport, my Dad motioned for me to follow him. He was walking over to a glider that was being connected to the tow plane. I had watched the glider descend and land just minutes ago and could see the ground personnel preparing the ship for another flight. An older man with a pleasant smile was leaning against the glider adjusting the seat belts and shoulder harnesses. He was a few years more senior than my Dad and was wearing a plaid shirt, jeans and cowboy boots.  He noticed us walking up and addressed us with a hearty, “Hey there, fellas”. “Hello, what’s the cost of a ride?” said my Dad. The man smiled and said “seven dollars for a ride to pattern altitude and twelve dollars for a ride to three thousand feet”. “That’s a good ride because we normally can pick up a few thermals” he said. My Dad paused for a moment, thought about it and said “he’ll take the seven dollar trip”.  Needless to say, I was excited. After all this time watching gliders, I was going for a ride!  “Climb in front son, I’ll get you strapped in” said the man.  I quickly jumped into the front seat. Just forward of the seat was a control stick and a spartan instrument panel.  On the panel was a large red knob. It was odd because it reminded me of a door knob.  The canopy was a clear bubble that covered the forward and aft cockpit. The man climbed in behind me and pulled the canopy down. In the back, I could hear him buckling and adjusting his straps.  On the radio I could hear him communicating with the tow plane, most of which I didn’t understand.  I did catch one part though, “…take us to 3,000 feet”.  Even at my young age, I realized he was going to give me the premium ride to catch some thermals.  The take-off and climb were somewhat similar to a powered airplane except that we were following the tow plane by what now seemed to be quite a thin thread. During the climb, the man patiently explained all of the nuisances of flying in formation behind the tow plane.  At one point as he was explaining another aspect of soaring, I turned around and to look at him and he was happily smiling as he spoke. At the tender age of seven, I felt as though I was being welcomed and indoctrinated into a very special aspect of flying and my guide was somebody who loved what he was doing.  “Hey there son, see that big knob in front of you?”  “Sure do”, I replied.  “Pull on it like you’re trying to pull it out of the panel”.  I reached up and could hardly get my fingers around the knob, so I grabbed it with both hands.  As I put my hands on it, I could slightly feel the vibration from the tow plane resonating through the tow line and into the knob. I pulled hard. With a solid “thunk”, we were free of the tow plane and banking to the right at an extreme angle. I could hear the glider airframe creak and groan under the increased loading on the wings.  It’s funny, you would think without an engine, flying a glider would be especially quiet, but it isn’t. In fact the high pitched whistle of the wind is always present as you fly. The wind noise only changes as you speed your craft or slow down.  We soared and caught a few thermals and the enthusiastic man did his best to treat me to a deluxe glider ride. We finally had to return to the airport and just like anything good in life, it’s always better to quit before the fun ends.  As we approached the runway, in the distance, I could see my Dad waiting for us leaning on one of the other gliders.  Touching down lightly, the glider coasted to the staging area. The canopy was opened and my Dad was walking over quickly. “Wow, you guys were up there for some time”.  To me, the time aloft in the glider wasn’t long enough. Of course, it was long enough to inspire me.  Still tightly strapped in the man said “hey there young man, you can solo a glider at 14. How old are you? 10?” Without shifting his gaze from me and speaking to my Dad, “You know… he’s pretty comfortable up there, seems to have a handle on the machine”. My Dad offered “He’s only 7.” He has a few more years to go and that’s if he doesn’t grow out of it”.  The man started to unbuckle. Over the heavy metal clinking of his harness, “I have a feeling he’s not going to grow out of this.. He has the bug”.  I thanked the man and slowly walked the length of the wing lightly touching it as I went. Thinking back, I never knew the man’s name but I’ll never forget his infectious enthusiasm or encouragement.
Several weeks later, arriving from school and slunking my book bag down my Dad met me at the door.  Without hesitation and in a monotone voice he said “Remember your glider pilot?” I nodded yes. “He and his wife were killed today.”  They were maneuvering low and the gusty winds caused them to stall and crash. The engine came into the cockpit and crushed them both.”  Not skipping a beat, he looked at my older brother and said “Rob! You going to going to get the lawn mowed before the sun goes down?!”  He walked away to perform another task.  As the news sunk into my 7 year old brain, a cold and piercing emotion ripped through my body. Running from the house and across the neighbors house I sat by a cinder block fence looking down at the red dirt. Hot tears flowed and formed puddles of red mud.  I did not cry, but the tears flowed. The neighbor man hurried out of his home, I am guessing, to find out why the kid from across the street was camped out near his fence.  Hey there lad, can’t you find someplace else to sit.  Looking up at him with red swollen wet eyes, he looked up and down the street.  I can only imagine he was looking for the culprit that just beat me up. “What’s the matter kid?” I was embarrassed that he saw me crying and I mustered “Nothing is wrong… you wouldn’t understand”.   Brushing myself off, I walked to the top of our street.  It met with the wide open expanse of desert.  Walking to the top of a small hill, I looked in the direction of the glider field several miles distant. The sun was glinting off the hangar roofs.  The field that day looked lonely and existed with a coldness that comes with loss of life.  My Dad and I never spoke again of the man, the crash or the glider ride. 37 years later, I still think of the man and his encouraging influence on me. Sometimes, as I’m buckling my harness in the front end of an airliner, I can still see the man’s smile. 


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A review

Inspections – 91.409, 91.411, 91.413, 91.207
            A         AD’s (airworthiness directives)
            V         VOR Check (IFR- 30 days)
             I          Inspections (100 hr & annual)
            A         Altimeter (IFR- 24 mo)
            T          Transponder (24 mo)
            E          ELT (12 mo, 1 hr use or ½ bat. life)
            S          Static & Pitot System (24 mo)
VFR Night
            F          Fuses (3 each type, 1 full set)
            L          Landing Light (for hire)
            A         Anti-Collision Light(s)
            P          Position Lights
            S          Source of Electrical Power
Special Flight Permit
            Fly to a repair station, delivery or export of
an aircraft, flight tests, customer demo, remove aircraft from area of impending
Preflight Action – 91.103

N         Notams

W        Weather

K         Known ATC Delays

R         Runway Lengths (any flight)

A         Alternatives

F          Fuel Requirements

T          Take-off Distance (any flight)


Required Equipment – 91.205 - VFR Day                                    

            A         Altimeter

            T          Tachometer

            O         Oil Pressure Gauge

            M         Manifold Pressure Gauge (alt. eng.)

            A         Airspeed Indicator

            T          Temperature Gauge (Liquid Cooled)

            O         Oil Temperature Gauge

            E          ELT (emergency locator transmitter)

            F          Fuel Gauge (each tank)

            L          Landing Gear Position Indicator

            A         Anti-Collision Lights (after 3/11/96)

            M         Magnetic Compass

            E          Emergency Equipment (for hire, over water 91.509)

            S          Safety Belts


Types of Airpspeed                                                               Types of Altitude

            I           Indicated (Read off instrument)                                 I           Indicated (Read off instrument)

            C         Calibrated (IAS corrected Position)                           P          Pressure (Alt. above 29.92 plane)

            E          Equivalent (CAS corrected Compressibility)             D         Density (PA corrected non-std temp)

            T          True (EAS corrected non-std pressure & temp)         A         Absolute (AGL)

                                                                                                            T          True (MSL)

Airspace – AIM Chapter 3

A         18,000 MSL – FL600, Requires IFR, Clearance, Mode C Transponder, Two Way Radios

            No VFR, Speed – up to Mach 1

B         SFC – 10,000 MSL, Requires Clearance, Mode C Transponder, Two Way Radios (VOR if IFR)

            VFR – 3 sm Clear of Clouds, Speed – 250 KIAS in B, 200 KIAS Below B

C         SFC – 4,000 AGL, Requires Positive Communication, Mode C Transponder, Two Way Radios

            VFR – 3 sm 1000’ above, 500’ below, 2000’ hz, Speed – 250 KIAS, 200 KIAS sfc area to 2500’

D         SFC – 2,500 AGL, Requires Positive Communication, Two Way Radios

            VFR – 3 sm 1000’ above, 500’ below, 2000’ hz, Speed – 200 KIAS

E          S          Surface

            E          Extension (surface extension to B, C, D)

            T          Transition (700’ or 1200’AGL)

            A         Airways (1200’AGL to 17,999 MSL)

            D         Domestic En Route (as needed)

O         Offshore (12 mi. from Coast to 17,999 MSL)

G         General (above G & above FL600)

            E          VFR <10,000 MSL - 3 sm 1000’ above, 500’ below

                        VFR >10,000 MSL – 5 sm 1000’ above, 1000’ below, 1 sm hz.

            G         Uncontrolled Airspace (not A, B, C, D, E)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Flying to Alaska from the lower 48

Below is a reprint of an article in the "General Aviation News" about flying North. Enjoy...

Pilot offers advice on Alaska flying

Air charter company owner Will Johnson built a successful business over the past three decades flying tourists, hunters and fishermen around Alaska. And, in the process, the 20,000-hour pilot, who operates Yute Air Taxi in Fairbanks, has had plenty of time to formulate advice for aviators contemplating their first trip to his home state.
“Start with research on the Internet about what’s available there or in print,” Johnson said. “In earlier times you would get a copy of the Milepost magazine and that is still a good idea. Sporty’s carries all of your charts for Canada. Get the Alaska Highway Chart ($11.45). It’s a long strip chart that Canada has made that covers just the highway. You don’t have to buy six different sectionals. Also get the Canada Supplement ($29) and the Alaska Supplement ($6.30).
He also suggested online research to determine how to meet the border crossing requirements for U.S. Homeland Security and Canada.
Will Johnson 2Johnson is an engineer by training and that was reflected in the step-by-step planning for his first trip to Alaska 35 years ago.
“The first thing we did after we decided to go, we started making lists,” he said. “We made pages and pages of lists in the finest of details, knowing there were no stores on the way. And the lists included what we needed to meet the survival list requirements for Canada and Alaska. At the time, there were seven of us in two airplanes. After the lists were made we started weighing everything together and made weight and balances. When we got finished both airplanes were at full gross weights. We kept playing with the lists to figure out what we should leave behind. We always wanted to be able to top off with full fuel.”
That first trip was in a Cessna 172 with long range tanks. He still considers the Skyhawk ideal for an Alaska trip. The second aircraft was a Piper Tri-Pacer with long-range tanks.
Be flexible in trip planning and expect the unexpected, he advises, offering an example of how he and his family almost didn’t get past the second day of that 1977 trip.
“We went from Branson, Mo., to Denver to Red Lodge, Mont.,” he said. “At Red Lodge we were virtually wiped out before we left the United States. The airport is on a bluff overlooking the town. The old timers at the airport said they thought there would be a storm that night. We just laughed, because this was mid to late June. Sometime in the night the most awful storm came up and blew our tents down. The tails of our planes were sitting on the ground under the heavy snow. It almost blew the airplanes off the cliff. We had some screw-in tie-downs that we used and I think the planes would have gone off if we hadn’t used that. Some gear went off the cliff into town. Everything was covered in mud and we had to spend a day in a hotel cleaning up.”
Johnson didn’t know it then, but the worst of the trip had passed with the storm. They crossed the border at Cut Bank, Mont., entered Canada at Lethbridge, Alberta, and flew north and west to intercept the Alaska Highway at Fort St. John.
“On the interior route, the Alaska Highway, I think the weather is better, although they get some pretty significant thunderstorms in the afternoon sometimes with hail,” he said. “And you have a highway below in case you had to land on it. And all along the route there are many great places to land and camp.”
“That first time the scenery was almost overwhelming,” he said. “You literally get ‘sceneryed’ to death. It was remote and wild and I just didn’t care for the big cities and traffic so everything I disliked about the heavily populated areas I liked about Alaska. Our first visit was the adventure of a lifetime. Every pilot should make this trip once.”
Nine years later he returned with his wife Debbie to live permanently in Alaska and has made the trip to the Lower 48 about a dozen times since using all the standard routes.
Johnson was already a flight instructor when he arrived in Alaska in 1977 and he said he marveled at the aircraft he saw when he landed the first time on old Phillips Field in Fairbanks.
“I was blown away by the number of small planes, steel tube, fabric airplanes of all kinds, sizes, makes; none of them were show quality airplanes. I realized that these airplanes were incredibly valuable. That’s how people got around. And I was so fascinated by the fact that these planes were a serious tool for people and not just a toy or plaything.”
Johnson recommends several sections en route as special.
“The Liard River Valley between Fort Nelson and Watson Lake is remarkable,” he said. “Coming out of Fort Nelson you can fly the river valley. The canyon is spectacular with tight turns and rapids. We did not go all the way to Watson Lake that day but stopped at the airstrip about 10 miles past the Liard Hot Springs and camped at the site of the old Jolly Rogers Mine. You can still see the strip on Google Earth but I don’t know the condition now.”
“Another place I have stopped is Burwash Landing beside Kluane Lake between Whitehorse and the Alaska border. It’s a beautiful lake. From there you can fly on to Northway, Alaska, about 150 miles away, and clear customs. But there is no fuel at Northway.”
In Canada you’re going to encounter mostly good airports, according to Johnson. “But the moment you hit Alaska, the runways are sometimes short and often covered with gravel. So brush up on your short field techniques and soft field techniques too.”
Operating on gravel poses a big threat to propellers, particularly for pilots who don’t know how to taxi on a gravel strip.
“If you go to Alaska and look at the air taxi planes that are being flown by new pilots from the Lower 48, they’ve all but destroyed the propellers,” he said. “Everybody says that when you’re on gravel be gentle with the throttle. Often, that is only partly right. When you taxi off a gravel runway, stay into the wind as much as possible and always park into the wind. What happens is that your prop is making a little vortex, a little tornado below the prop, and the wind bends that little tornado back and the rocks go behind the propeller. No wind is bad and wind is your friend if you use it correctly to protect your propeller. Try to stop with the nose wheel heading straight ahead. And when you start up again, you are going to come out and make a turn. Roll straight ahead before you make a fairly quick turn, using your momentum to minimize the amount of time you have your tail to the wind. But don’t lock the brake or you’ll dig a hole in the gravel and then get stuck. If you hear the rocks hitting your prop, those are just dollars coming out of your pocket.”
Expect to find friendly people all over Alaska but not as much help as you’re accustomed to in the Lower 48 when you land, Johnson said. “What happens is when you get to the bush airports, the operator, the charter operator, he may have fuel. But he is so busy trying to run this charter operation that his services are sometimes going to be less than you experience at a regular FBO. That’s not his business.”
Johnson’s final words of wisdom for Alaska trip planners: “Bring plenty of bug dope,” he laughed. “We do have a few mosquitoes.”

Saturday, December 28, 2013

When conducting a flight...

When conducting a flight...
A checklist that I use for all flights from local "around the patch" to long country flights is listed below. Yes, I realize that this may not include every item that you prefer, but the list covers the basics of requirements for Pilot-Aircraft and the environment you plan on operating in.  If you were familiar with each item on this list and ensured all was legal, your most difficult FAA ramp check would be a non-event. Please comment if I have left out any glaring omissions.
AIRCRAFT  Current TT______
Last Annual_________
Last 100 hr_________ if appl
ELT Date__________
Transponder Check_______
Last IFR Check___________
Fuel Onboard___________
GPS Data Card__________
VOR Check_____________
Maint issues____________

Current Medical_________
Pilot license type________
BFR Currency___________
IFR Currency____________
90 Day/Night Currency____
I       Illness
M     Medication
S       Stress
A       Alcohol
F       Fatigue
E       Eating

IFR/VFR Navigation Log
*Consider special airspace*
Weather – Departure, Enroute, Arrival
Winds Aloft
Complete Nav Log
Calculate Fuel Required   B.A.R.   Burn-Alternate-Reserve
Calculate Weight and Balance
Calculate Take-off/Landing Perf
Freq for Flt Plan open/close

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Here is a few tips while operating enroute.


Night Vision. Your eyes need more oxygen at night. Due to the decreased pressure as altitude increases, if possible use oxygen at night when cruising above 5,000’ MSL

Turbulence strategies. Tighten your seat belts and secure everything in the cockpit/cabin. Turn up illumination on instruments and radios so that you may see and interperet them better. Slow to maneuvering speed or turbulence penetration speed, lower landing gear for increased stability. Do not lower flaps. Lowering flaps reduces G loads that can be sustained. Turn off autopilot, keep wings level and approximate pitch for level flight. Tell ATC or request a block altitude


Leveling off at an altitude from a climb.  A general rule of thumb is to lead your altitude by 10% of your rate of climb or 100 feet.  Take note that as you level off, your climb speed will increase, this in turn will cause your aircrafts nose to want to rise, the exact opposite of what you want in trying to level off. So consequently as you are level and your aircraft accelerates you will continual forward elevator control/nose down trim until you reach cruise speed or you pull back the power.



1. Do not lean the mixture at all below 3,000 feet. Just leave it full rich all the time. (There is no measurable advantage to leaning below this altitude.)

2. Above 3,000 feet, wait at least 2 minutes after you level off in cruise before you even touch the mixture control knob. Give the engine’s internal temperatures a chance to even out and stabilize at its new speed and operating temperature.*

3. After you do begin leaning, lean very slowly. Observe a gradual rise in EGT and a gradual drop in fuel flow. Turn the knob at a very, very slow rate. How slow? Here is a guideline: if at any time you stop turning the knob, the EGT gauge needle should instantly freeze. It should not continue to move. If it continues to move after you have stopped turning the knob, then you were turning the knob too fast – I.E., leaning the mixture too fast and therefore causing the engine to heat up too fast.

4. Continuing to work very slowly, identify peak EGT, or the leanest mixture on which the engine will run smoothly. Do not continue to lean until the engine gets rough. That’s too much.

5. Once you have identified peak EGT, enrich the mixture slowly until you are operating at 100 degrees cooler than peak EGT. (The large calibration lines on the EGT gauge represent 100-degree increments and the small calibration lines represent 25-degree increments.)

VOR Tracking. When the desired VOR course has been intercepted, the CDI should be centered with a “TO” or “FROM” indication. If no wind is present, the CDI needle will stay centered with the corresponding magnetic course. Wind is generally present so when you notice that you are drifting off course, make a 20 degree correction in the direction the CDI needle is moving. Hold this correction until you see the CDI needle moving back to the centered postion. Once centered, take 10 degrees correction out. If it remains centered, hold that heading. If the needle continues to move in the opposite directions, turn to a heading that parallels your course and drift back. When the CDI needle is once more centered, make a 5 degree correction. Trim up your desired heading from there and don’t forget to continuously match your directional gyro to your whiskey compass (if it isn’t slaved).


The width of one finger = ~5NM on a sectional chart (average person)

Tip of the thumb to the knuckle = ~10NM on a sectional chart (average person)

Distance measurement can also be computed from the meridian lines on a sectional chart. Measure vertically on these lines because from equator to the poles, degrees of latitude are equal to 60 nautical miles consistently.  Whereas, the horizontal lines between the meridians show degrees but only measure 60 nautical miles at the poles.

A quick primer on diversion planning:

            -Sketch a track line

            -Transfer your line to a VOR compass rose to determine magnetic heading

            -Consider the wind angle and velocity

            -Figure max wind drift and amount affecting you based upon angle.

            -Use the wind angle (90-WA) to assess your ground speed

            -Measure the distance with a pencil and chart meridian

            -Calculate time enroute


Estimated diversion track is 030 degrees. Forecast wind is 070 degrees at 25 knots. True airspeed in 90 knots.  Distance to fly is 35 nautical miles.

Pre-flight calculation gives a max drift of approximately 17 degrees. We came to this by taking 25 kt wind speed and dividing by 1.5 miles per minute. Or, we can figure by multiplying our 25 kt wind speed by 60 and then dividing by our true airspeed of 90 knots. Both calculations render a max drift of 17… which would be 17 degrees.

In the air the wind angle off our nose is 40 degrees. 40 degrees (compared to 60) is about 2/3. So we take 2/3 of our max drift of 17 and come up with 12 degrees overall correction to our heading. So our diversion track was 030 degrees and now we add the 12 degrees and come up with a new heading of 042 degrees. This is for a wind from the right. Of course if the wind was from the left, we would subtract the 12 degrees form 030 and come up with a heading of 018 degrees.

Groundspeed  (90- wind angle) is (90 – 40) = 50, which equates to 5/6. 5/6 of 25 knots of wind is approximately 20 knots. Since this is a headwind, we will take the 20 knots (derived) from our true airspeed of 90 knots and come up with 70 knots ground speed.

So to divert 35 miles, we will cruise for 30 minutes at 70 knots ground speed and fly a heading of 0420 degrees.






Mentally computing a crosswind. Use this process to compute the crosswind component during landing.

            Wind 240 degrees at 18 knots

            Runway 20 (200 degrees)

            The wind angle 40 degrees, which represents 2/3

2/3 multiplied by 18 knots equals 12 knots

The crosswind is therefore 12 knots




Cruise fuel consumption of a non-turbocharged A/C engine = ~1/2 the rated HP/10

Another fuel burn calculation = ½ pound of fuel per horsepower per hour

            160hp engine at 75% power is developing 120hp.  ½ pound of fuel times 120hp =

            60 pounds of fuel per hour.  60 pounds of avgas is 10 gallons.  This equation is quite

            conservative, but it’s quite useful when planning a flight and associated fuel requirements.  


Cruise climb airspeed should be reduced by 1% for each 1000' of climb

To determine a relatively proficient cruise climb speed, take the difference between Vx and Vy and add that sum to Vy. For example, if Vx = 65 and Vy = 75, the difference is 10KTS. Add 10KTS to Vy (75KTS) and you have a cruise climb of 85KTS


Final Approach Speed = 1.3 x Vso. Also known as Vref

A tailwind of 10% of your final approach speed increases your landing distance by 20%; A headwind of 10% decreases landing distance by 20%

A 10% change in airspeed will cause a 20% change in stopping distance

A slippery or wet runway may increase your landing distance by 50%

For each knot above Vref over the numbers, the touchdown point will be 100' further down the runway

For each 1000' increase in field elevation, stopping distance increases 4%

A 1 degree reduction in approach angle will increase landing distance 13%

10° – 25° of flaps add more lift than drag; 25° – 40° flaps add more drag than lift


10. A True Rule Of Thumb.

What good is a rule of thumb if you can’t really use your thumb? Well, believe it or not, your stubby finger is good for something other than hitchhiking. For the average individual, the length between the tip of one’s thumb to its midpoint (the knuckle where it bends) equates to about 10 nm on a sectional chart. This can be helpful when eyeballing distances, such as for a quick deviation, although it’s not recommended to use this method to measure an entire route or to stay clear of unfriendly airspace.

1:60 Rule

An angle of 1° represents a deviation of approximately 1/60. For example, if two planes fly a course 1° different, after 60 nm they should be roughly 1 nm apart.

This is an astoundingly useful rule in aviation because it works in so many different places. For example, a nautical mile is (conveniently) about 6,000 ft. That means that every 100 ft AGL altitude 1 nm from a runway threshold represents 1° of glidepath. To approach at a 3° glidepath, you need to be 300 ft above the runway elevation 1 nm back, 600 ft above 2 nm back, and so on.

To calculate distance to an NDB or VOR transmitter, turn perpendicular to your course and time how long it takes your bearing to the station to change by a fixed number of degrees. Divide the time by the number of degrees and multiply by 60 to get the time to the transmitter. For example, if it takes 5 minutes for the bearing to change by 10 degrees, then you are 5 / 10 * 60 or 30 minutes from the transmitter.

If you are 15 nm from your destination airport flying directly towards it and you want to arrive 2 nm to one side of it instead of directly overhead (say, to enter a circuit/pattern), turn left / right 8 degrees from your on course heading.

True airspeed is calibrated airspeed + 1.6% for every 1,000 ft of density altitude, or 8% for every 5,000 ft. For example, if your calibrated airspeed is 145 kt and your density altitude is 5,000 ft, your true airspeed will be 145 * 1.08, or 157 kt.

Wind Components

To estimate winds aloft. First you must consider your course, magnetic heading, true airspeed in miles per minute, true airspeed (miles per hour or knots per hour), ground speed in (miles per hour or knots per hour)

Heading +/- Course = difference x True airspeed in miles per minute = airborne full wind velocity

True airspeed (mph or kts) +/- Groundspeed (mph or kts) = headwind or tailwind component

****maybe this*** take hdwnd or tlwind component and divide by full wind aloft.. take decimal and multiply times 60.. take product and add to (???)=90. Take (???) and adjust from nose or tail hdg/direction.

Take this hdwnd or tlwnd component and divide by the full airborne wind velocity=

Fraction. Take this fraction and multiply by 90. Take the product  and add or subtract from your left or right wing cardinal direction. For instance, if you are experiencing a headwind and are holding a left hdg correction to hold your course, you would add the product to your left wing cardinal direction.


The following table contains of approximate values for wind components. Note that it is symmetrical around 45°, so it is necessary to remember only the first three rows, and even then, you can count 9/10 and 19/20 as basically all of it: just remembering that 15° is 1/4, 30° is 1/2, and 45° is 2/3 should be enough.

Wind Angle     Crosswind        Headwind

15°       1/4       19/20

30°       1/2       9/10

45°       2/3       2/3

60°       9/10     1/2

75°       19/20   1/4

A wind angle of 45° has approximately a 2/3 crosswind component and a 2/3 headwind component (or a tailwind component, if it's behind you). If you are landing on runway 12 and the wind is from 165 deg at 18 kt, you will have a headwind of 12 kt and a crosswind of 12 kt.

For example, if you are landing on runway 12 with a wind speed of 12 kt, the crosswind component will be 3 kt if the wind is from 135° (15° angle), 6 kt if the wind is from 150° (30° angle), 9 kt if the wind is from 165°, and basically all of it if the wind is from 180° or more. The headwind component will be basically all of it up to 150°, 9 kt at 165°, 6 kt at 180°, and 3 kt at 195°.

alter your course left or right by 8°: 15 is 1/4 of 60, so multiple 2 * 4.

Another method to mentally calculate your wind drift and heading correction to stay on course.

Gather your winds aloft report or forecast and determine the wind direction and velocity at your proposed cruising altitude. Correct you wind direction to magnetic for this exercise. For variation we will use East is least and West is best. So a 290 degree wind with 5 degrees of West variation will become, 295 degrees magnetic wind direction. Next we will use our true air speed in nautical miles per minute. For example, 120 knots per hour is 2 nautical miles per minute. Our forecast shows a wind speed of 30 knots. Take 30 knots and divide by your TAS in nautical miles per minute: 30 / 2 = 15 kts of drift. So we have a maximum sideways drift of 15 nautical miles. This is of course if the wind was directly coming from the left or right side perpendicular to the aircrafts forward flight. So how do we figure the overall net effect iff the wind is maybe quartering from the right front; say, 30 degrees off our nose? We will use base 60 type formula.  30 divided by 60 would equal half. Our max drift was 15 nautical miles and applying our base 60 formula, we use half of 15 and come up with 7.5 degrees of heading correction to stay on course. Using the analogy coined by Martyn Smith, we can use the analog watch face for our determination of how much of the correction to apply. In our example, the wind was 30 degrees off our nose, therefore comparing 30 degrees to 30 minute on the watch face we derive half. What if the wind was 45 degrees off our nose? Compare to the watch face and we get ¾ of the wind velocity in degree correction. How about a 60 degree wind off our nose? That compares to the entire watch face, so we would use the whole wind for our degree correction. Remember these are approximate rules of thumb and are not precise. Using a E6B will provide an exact number, but remember, once aloft, the forecast is probably different or in a state of change. For this reason, I like to check my ground speed and heading correction and determine my winds aloft as it happens.

Let’s consider another example. Winds aloft 120 true at 40 knots, variation 3 degrees west and our course 170 degrees magnetic, true airspeed 180 knots. 120 degrees true converted becomes 123 degrees magnetic. Our course is 170 – 123 = 47 degrees off our nose.  Using either calculation, we determine approximately





High Speed Aircraft - Ground Speed

For relatively high speed aircraft- say 250 kts or better the quickest way of calculating Ground Speed using the DME (without G/S readout) is to note the distance travelled in 36 seconds. 36 seconds = 1% of one hour

Thus if you travel 3.25 nm your Ground Speed is 325 Kts- voila!!

Wind Correction Angle

1. To determine the wind correction angle you must know the crosswind component at that altitude.

2. Divide the crosswind component by your True Airspeed in miles per minute, which will yield the wind correction angle.

Ex. If the crosswind component is 14kts and the True Airspeed is 2 miles per minute (120kts),the wind correction angle is 7 degrees (14/2=7 degrees)

Leading a Heading

1/2 Standard Rate = 1/3 your bank angle

Standard Rate = 1/2 your bank angle

Bank Angle for standard rate turns

1. If indicated airspeed is in MPH, divide airspeed by 10 and add 5 for standard rate turn.

Ex.IAS is 110mph, divide by 10 equals 11, plus 5 equals 16 degrees (110/10=11+5=16 degrees) bank angle for a standard rate turn.

2. If indicated airspeed is in knots, divide airspeed by 10 and add 50% of that value.

Ex.IAS is 100kts divided by 10 equals 10 plus 5 (50% of 10) equals 15 degrees (100/10=10+5 (50% of 10) =15 degrees)bank angle for a standard rate turn.


True Airspeeds

True Airspeed Calculation

Divide your indicated altitude by 1000, multiply this figure by 5, and add this number to your indicated airspeed.

Ex: 30000/1000= 30*5= 150+280= 430 is your TAS.


True Airspeed (TAS)

To find True Airspeed increase your indicated airspeed by 2% per thousand feet of altitude.

Ex.If your indicated airspeed at 8000ft is 120kts, add 16% (2*8=16%) to your indicated airspeed. Your True Airspeed is 139kts

Course Heading

(True course +/- variation = magnetic direction, +/- deviation= Mag heading.)

EX. 240 + 7 degrees equals 247 magnetic + 3 degrees deviation = 250 for a course heading

Time    Take your groundspeed and divide by 10. That's how far you'll go in 6 minutes. Example: groundspeed = 100kts --> 10nm in 6 minutes

Time it takes to travel a distance          GS= 120kt distance 420 NM, Divide groundspeed by 60, If you want you can divide that number again with 60 to get the time in hours. 120kt/60 = 2. 420NM/2= 210 min. 210 min / 60 = 3

To determine ETE SWAG        3 - 2 Rule: 1. Take 10% of GS 2. Divide Distance by factor determined in Step 1. 3. Multiply Step 2 factor times 2 = ETE. example: 160 nm. 140/10=14 . 14/3~=4. 160/4~=40. 40X2=80 minutes. example: 25 nm. 200/10=20. 20/3~=6. 25/6~=4. 4X2=8 minutes

High Speed Aircraft - Ground Speed   For relatively high speed aircraft- say 250 kts or better the quickest way of calculating Ground Speed using the DME (without G/S readout) is to note the distance traveled in 36 seconds. 36 seconds = 1% of one hour Thus if you travel 3.25 nm your Ground Speed is 325 Kts

Groundspeed   1. To find ground speed note the time required to fly a published distance. 2. Pick a number that when multiplied by the flight time yields approximately 60. 3. To get that ground speed

The mach number times 10 on jets is the number of miles traveled by the jet each minute. In other words mach .80 = 8.0 miles per minute.


For fuel efficiency when flying, if your pitch angle in level flight exceeds 3 1/2 degrees nose up, add power. If the pitch angle is less than 1 degree nose up, reduce power.

For fuel efficiency in a tailwind, reduce your speed by a quarter of the tailwind component. In a headwind, increase your speed by a sixth of it.

You will get your maximum range by flying at a speed that equals the airplane's "best-rate-of-climb" speed plus 25 percent. This speed will be close to the 45 percent power setting that is usually the lowest shown on range charts or graphs. In some aircraft, you may only gain a few miles, but they could make a difference.


When flying toward a low sun, the visibility will be half what is reported. When flying away from a low sun, the visibility will be twice what is reported.

If you are flying over a rural area and need to know the wind direction at ground level, simply see which direction a majority of cows are facing. Cows normally stand so their back end is up-wind, and their heads face downwind.