May 2015

Editor’s Briefing: Greening Up – general aviation

As I write this, the relentless grip of winter has receded and there is, finally, a solid week of spring weather showing its welcome face. Now we can get back to enjoying general aviation flying. Oh, sure, we did some aviating in the cold and slick times, but it was considerable work to accomplish. It’s Read More

The Twin Commander Turboprops

The Twin Commander Turboprops

A Commanding Presence During the winding down of massive wartime aircraft production at the end of World War II, military airplane builders and workers were suddenly faced with finding something else to do. Quite a few went to work on new civilian designs, employing techniques and materials that had been developed for the War effort. Read More

The Eye of the Pilot – Pilot Eye Qualifications

The Eye of the Pilot – Pilot Eye Qualifications

Preserving Vision For Flying

In the old days of close-quarters dogfighting between fighter pilots, the man with the best visual acuity came home the victor. By spotting the bogies before they could see him, he could get into position for the shot early in the game. Of course, diving down out of the sun negated such an advantage, and the enhancement of superior equipment was hard to beat. But, all things being equal, the eyes made the difference; vision is vital to pilots of all types of aircraft.

Today’s aerial combat tends more toward radar lockons and missile launches to do the finish work. But the pilot’s vision remains a paramount consideration, even in civilian flying. In our electronic-dashboard world, we may think that mid-range acuity, optimized for the instrument panel’s displays, is more valuable than distant vision out the windscreen – until we have a near-miss with unreported traffic.

Taking care of one’s eyes is definitely important, and flying doesn’t make it easy. Cockpits are dry environments, and lighting is often less than optimum. Fatigue affects vision; the eyes tire along with everything else. Aging pilots are particularly susceptible to eyestrain from attempting to offset the natural progression of presbyopia, the loss of one’s ability to focus at different distances.

Squall Line Ahead – Now the Real Fun Begins – Flight Weather

Squall Line Ahead – Now the Real Fun Begins – Flight Weather

Coping with supercell thunderstorms Read any book about flight weather and flying near thunderstorms and the standard advice will be to avoid the storm by 20 miles and don’t fly under the anvil. You’re also told to never try to out-climb building cumulonimbus cloud formations. Good advice, but is there anything specific that might help Read More

Twin Proficiency: Watch and Learn

Twin Proficiency: Watch and Learn

The greatest single advantage of personal air transportation is saving time. Whether you use that time to make money – by beating a competitor to market, serving clients faster, or making more service and sales calls in a period of time – or to improve your lifestyle – by getting back from work in time Read More