September 27, 2012
I am an aviation content devourer, someone who consumes magazines, blogs and podcasts greedily or voraciously. I am not embarrassed to admit that, as I know most pilots are the same way. With less than a half a percent of the population being pilots we don't get our aviation fill talking at the water cooler. We need to get out to the airport or seek out aviation content to keep us satisfied. So when I receive a notification that my most recent AOPA Pilot magazine is available for download, a smile hits my face as I fire up the iPad and download the magazine. Within a few hours and usually in one sitting I have devoured the magazine and my smile erodes as I realize it could be days or weeks before another enjoyable aviation magazine is delivered.
I recently stumbled upon Loop Magazine which is a European aviation magazine that is now exclusively available by iPad, and it is FREE. I would venture to say this is the best aviation magazine you are not reading today, but you should be.
I was thrilled to learn they offer not only well written and interesting aviation articles but deliver their content in a format that takes advantage of the power of the iPad. Each article offers additional photos and interactivity that would not be available in a print magazine. This is a magazine that was reborn as a digital magazine and instead of having a version adapted for the iPad the entire magazine is designed and developed to maximize the power of the tablet. They have seamlessly integrated animation and video throughout the magazine.. The only complaint I have is that the magazine is not long enough, but that is me just being greedy again.
If you have an iPad download the Loop App then begin downloading the current and past issues. The same company also publishes P1 Aviation Magazine, a business aviation magazine and Blades a magazine dedicated to rotor-craft, both of which are free. They also offer an annual magazine called FlightTest for $0.99 per issue. Flighttest features a collection of stunning aircraft highlighted through beautiful photos and video. In the 2011 edition there are more than 250 photos and 40 minutes of video. The magazine reads completely different in horizontal or vertical mode so there is a ton of content to discover.
Discovering Loop makes me wonder what other great aviation content is out there that I am missing out on. What is your favorite hidden gem for aviation content?
January 12, 2011
On Friday night Discovery Channel will introduce their viewers to the Tweto family in the premiere of Flying Wild Alaska. Jim Tweto, his wife Ferno, and two daughters, Ariel and Ayla, are at the helm of Unalakleet-based Era Airlines, Alaska's largest regional airline. Calling Era an airline seems like an unfair characterization that simplifies the business he built. Instead think of bush pilots flying in the most challenging conditions day after day to deliver people and goods to some of the most remote locations in the country.
Discovery Channel has had great success with a formula that combines quirky families with unique and interesting businesses. Last night I had the privileged to view the series premiere of Flying Wild Alaska. As a pilot, this show was right up my alley. I think this show also has great potential to engage the standard Discovery Channel viewer and generate greater interest in aviation. The Twetos follow in the footsteps of the Teutuls of American Chopper and the Pelletiers of American Loggers in sharing their interesting day-to-day lives with viewers nationwide.
In business most people say they wear multiple hats. Jim Tweto takes this saying to a new level. In the premiere he serves as bush pilot, fuels aircraft, manages flight operations, schedules pilots, teaches his daughter to marshal aircraft and oversees a fuel crisis that has potential of grounding a significant portion of his fleet. He does all this with some of the most basic tools, including the master airline flight schedule that he keeps on a sheet of handwritten paper folded in his pocket. Eighteen-hour days are common for this dedicated businessman who has grown a one plane operation to a 70+ aircraft airline that operates across an area the size of one-third of the continental United States.
The first episode focuses on introducing viewers to the family and importance of the work they do. Era Airlines provides a lifeline to remote towns in Alaska that are not connected by roads, its home base in Unakleet is itself separated from the Alaskan highway system by hundreds of miles of uninhabited tundra. Era airlines transports supplies and passengers to some of the most inaccessible areas on the planet. One of the first flights the viewer rides along on is to the remote airstrip at Kavik, permanent population 1.
Most pilots have at one time or another dreamed of becoming a bush pilot. This show gives them a first hand look at what it is like to push the boundaries of an aircraft's operating limitation while landing and departing from off-airport locations. Combine that with learning about an interesting and challenging business and I believe Discovery has another hit on their hands.
Pilots may find that the show explains aviation jargon and knowledge in a way that would be rudimentary to them. For instance in the premiere episode significant time was dedicated to explaining the effects of water in fuel, how the rudder effects a plane and what thinner air does to a plane's performance. Hopefully by doing so they will bring in a broader viewership and help educate those viewers about aviation. Discovery Channel Executive Producer Christo Doyle explains, "We don't just take you into the wild world of flying in remote Western Alaska; instead, through the eyes of the Tweto family and their free-spirited bush pilots, we also reveal how the last frontier in the United States survives." The result is a show that pilots can enjoy for all the aviation related material and that non-pilots may enjoys though learning about aviation and through unique storylines.
The ten episode season premieres on Discovery Channel this Friday at 9pm Eastern/Pacific and 8pm Central. Check out the preview below and enjoy the full episode later this week.
May 24, 2010
A few months ago AOPA's Flight Training Magazine went through a redesign. In the June Issue Deputy Editor Ian J. Twombly shared some letters from readers sharing their mixed reviews of the redesign, which reminded me that I had not yet shared my viewpoints on the redesign. My overall thought is the redesign is an upgrade of the previous magazine experience. It continues to be the premier magazine for student pilots interested in learning to fly. That being said there are areas that I hope AOPA continues to tweak to further improve the reading experience. I'll start out with what I love about the new magazine design and experience.
The entire "Preflight" section at the beginning of the magazine has been positively improved. The addition of a Sport Illustrated-esque two page photo spread is a beautiful way to kick-off the section. What pilot doesn't enjoy looking at great aviation photography? I would love to see it expanded to include one professional photo each month and one member submitted photo with a brief story describing the photo. I also enjoy the "This Weekend" feature with the nice depiction of events taking place across the country. Though, I would love to see that part of the website updated weekly rather than monthly.
The feature articles have also been improved with better imagery and iconography. In the current issue there is an interesting article on Energy Footprints, I appreciate the nice infographics that accompany this article. Since the redesign their seems to be a concerted effort to use more infographics, which as a visual learner I appreciate.
I have heard some people complaints that the articles are getting to short, possibly adapting to the increase in attention deficit disorder. Historically, there were articles that felt like they had been lengthened to meet a word count but were not providing addition benefit or detail. I think this is where the infographics play a vital role, as a picture can be worth a thousand words, shaving space but still communicating the core message. As a result I believe Flight Training Magazine has found the right balance for their depth of information.
I was also impressed with this month's "Technique: Track your flight" article which shares with readers the ins and outs of creating a GPS track of your flight for post flight review and sharing via the web. This type of content is a perfect example of great content that previously was only found on blogs. I learned from fellow bloggers how to do this a few years ago and love tracking my flights. I am glad to see Flight Training bringing some of these great ideas to print. Even more impressive is that on the redesigned Flight Training website their is a video walk-through of the sames process.
Although, I like more aspects of the redesign than I dislike, I was disappointed with a few of the changes. I was disappointed with the way some of my favorite elements of the magazine were de-emphasized. I feel like the designer ran out of steam when it came time to design the pages that house the regular commentary from Greg Brown and Rod Machado. Readers feel like they know both of these authors as we follow their advice and adventures month to month. It is disappointing that their sections of the magazine did not receive as much attention. I would love to see work done to bring these parts of the magazine more to life.
All in all I am happy with the redesign of Flight Training magazine, what were your thoughts on the redesign?
July 12, 2009
In the most recent issue of AOPA Flight Training Rod Machado answers a reader's question about the proper way to describe your airplane when making radio calls in uncontrolled airspace. The Aeronautical Information Manual is unclear stating that pilots should state the "aircraft type, model or manufacturer's name followed by the digits, letters." As soon as I read the question I knew my preference and was interested to read Machado's response which turned out to be in agreement with my method.
Machado suggests identifying your aircraft by manufacturer name rather than model as "some folks may not know all the different models of airplanes." However he explains "most people can tell the difference between a Cessna and a Piper aircraft" based on their wing position.
While approaching an uncontrolled airport last week there were two other aircraft in the vicinity and one was departing the airport toward the direction I was arriving from and I was scanning the horizon for him. The plane in the pattern was a Piper and the departing aircraft announced himself as a Centurion, which sounded familiar but I could not picture the plane. Moments later I saw a high wing planned and assumed that was the southbound traffic. It turns out the Centurion is a Cessna 210. Had he announced that he was flying a Cessna I would have known immediately that this was the plane I was looking for based on its raised wings.
For this reason I have always used "Cessna" in my calls no matter whether I am piloting a Cessna 152, Cessna 172 Skyhawk, or a Cessna 182 Skylane. The only exception is when I am talking to controllers I will often provide both the manufacturer and model as the controllers are often interested in the model to estimate your speed, however at uncontrolled airports I believe the shorter and simpler manufacturer name will suffice.
What is your preference?
June 22, 2009
When I was learning to land my flight instructor spent significant time focusing on how to perform a go-around. She beat into my head that a go-around was not in anyway a failure but the smart and safe thing to do anytime you are unhappy with your approach or landing attempt. I know from conversations with my CFI one of the factors she looked for before signing me off to solo was solid decision making skills. She wanted to see that I was wise enough to recognize when a landing approach was not going well and that I was confident enough to make a snap decision to abort the landing an skilled enough to execute a go-around landing.
Bruce Landsberg wrote in an AOPA article that "...coming back for a second try at the runway is a skill that everyone needs but many lack." Bruce Landsberg. When was the last time you practiced or thought about a go-around?
Pat over at Aviation Chatter recently posted a dramatic video clip of a twin piston, making a landing at St. Barthelemy Airport, a small 2,100 foot airstrip in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, as you will see in the video the pilot failed to make the decision to perform a go-around. Instead the plane floats halfway down the runway before finally touching down then overshooting the runway. Take a look at this video. Then think about whether you have practiced or at least thought through the go-around procedures for your plane recently.
It is vital that as pilots we are accustomed to thinking about the go-around decision during each approach. Budd Davisson writes, "If at any time in the approach or landing, right into final flare, you feel as if it isn't right, go around." Pilots should know when to make the decision and the precise steps to execute the go-around. I had a valuable learning experience just a few months after earning my license that reminded me to keep "Power Up, Pitch Up, Clean Up, Talk Up" in the back of my mind on each approach.
On a turbulent and windy day I flew to Indiana to land at a narrow 40-foot single strip runway. I had a stabilized approach until I was about 100-200 feet above the ground. A gust of wind caused the plane to drift off the centerline and in fact almost over the left edge of the runway. I immediately realized this approach was not going well and I should not try to salvage a landing on this attempt. I made the go-around decision.
Unfortunately, I did not follow standard procedure and accidentally put in full power and retracted the flaps completely putting myself in a precarious position. It took a second or two, which felt more like a minute, to realize I was still descending despite the power increase and the pitch change and I quickly put in an appropriate amount of flaps for the go-around. Sure enough the plane started to accelerate and then climb safely over the obstacles at the end of the runway at which point I began to "clean up". That learning experience helped re-enforce for me the importance of getting muscle memory in place for performing the go-around procedure and also not delaying in making the go-around decision.
February 22, 2009
Last year your help was needed to try and put a halt on the implementation of users fees. Now you are needed to once again write your representatives and share your feedback with the government officials over the TSA's proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP).
Max Trescott wrote a great post explaining why this should be the number one aviation issue on your mind this weekend. According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association "The proposed Large Aircraft Security Program, or LASP, would impose a whole range of expensive and burdensome requirements on Part 91 operators of aircraft weighing more than 12,500 lbs. Those requirements include criminal history record checks for crew members, matching passengers to TSA watch and no-fly lists, checking passengers and baggage for dangerous weapons or prohibited items, and paying for biennial third-party audits".
Please don't assume that because this does not effect the type of aircraft you fly that this is not a serious issue for you to be concerned about. AOPA's VP of Government Affairs Andy Cebula makes a great point saying "We're also concerned that the regulations could easily be expanded to include all aircraft, regardless of size or type of operation, because the TSA hasn't said anything to justify the 12,500-lb limit."
Max Trescott referenced a very appropriate quote from Benjamin Franklin in his post on this matter "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither." What concerns me is that there is not validation of any of the alleged security benefits.
You have until February 27, 2009 to share your comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). There have been nearly 3,000 comments posted thus far, but that is a fraction of the aviation community.
So, I urge you to read Max Trescott's post on the matter and visit AOPAs online member action center. Than take a few minutes to craft a message to share with your representative and submit a formal response to the notice of proposed rulemaking. If you need help figuring out just what to say write AOPA's guide to writing your response to this issue.
April 14, 2008
In February I posted about an artcle in AOPA Flight Training Magazine in which several aviation blogs were showcased. That article came on the heels of an article that promoted MyFlightBlog.com and several other aviation blogs in the Wall Street Journal.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that when Mike Collins wrote a follow-up article on blogs for the April issue of Flight Training Magazine. In "Blogs for Reading: A Summary of Reader Recommendations" Mike featured seven aviation blogs including MyFlightBlog.com. For those that don't have a subscription to the magazine I scanned a copy of the article that you can read here. This website was in great company with several other blogs that I read on a frequent basis.
Mike Collins wrote "We've all seen 'information' on the Internet that wasn't worth reading, but I was impressed by both the quality and variety of aviation blogs." When I started this blog in the Spring of 2004 there were only a handful of other aviation blogs. One of which was David West's Flight Lessons Learned which was also mention in this article. It is great to see that several years later there are an abundance of blogs to help educate and inspire aspiring pilots.
Also featured in the article was fellow Illinois based student pilot Evan Krueger of The Flying Toga. I was glad he was featured as I had not stumbled upon his blog yet. I have really enjoyed following Evan's experiences learning to fly. He is learning to fly out of Lake in The Hills airport a small airport Northwest of Chicago.
April 9, 2008
Phil Boyer, President of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is coming to Chicago for an AOPA Pilot Town Meeting. The event is at the Sheraton Chicago Northwest in Arlington Heights a suburb of Chicago on Tuesday, April 22.
Three years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Phil Boyer at an AOPA Town Meeting in Cincinnati. I am an advocate of AOPA and appreciate all the hard work Mr. Boyer and his staff put in every day to protect the rights and interests of private pilots.
If you are a pilot and live anywhere near the Chicago area, I encourage you to come out to this event.
February 3, 2008
I have enjoyed reading about aviation blogs in traditional print media as of late. In mid-December MyFlightBlog along with three other aviation blogs( PlasticPilot, Sulako's Blog and Yankee Alpha Foxtrot Bravo.) were featured in the Wall Street Journal's Blog Watch Column. Additionally, the February issue of AOPA Flight Training Magazine includes an article dedicated to Aviation Blogs. The article in Flight Training made mention of several blogs that I read on a regular basis including: JetWhine, Flying in Shawnee and Student Pilot Blog.
Those two articles showcased just a handful of the great blogs dedicated to aviation. Where can you find more aviation blogs? Sure you can troll through the blogroll lists on your favorite aviation blogs like I do on a regular basis. But, now there is another great resource for you to find the best of aviation blogs. Check out Blogged, a site dedicated to helping users find better blogs. To their credit they have very focused categories and instead of tossing aviation blogs in a broad category like transportation or hobbies they have an Aviation category. It currently lists over 60 aviation blogs that have been critiqued by the Blogged staff and each is ranked on a 10 point scale.
MyFlightBlog is proud to be in the top five, currently ranked number 3 with a "Great" rating of 8.6. Also high on the list are several blogs written by pilots I keep in touch with regularly and that I recommend: JetWhine (#2 with a 8.7 score), Av8rdan's World of Flying (#4 with an 8.6 score) and CAPBlog (#16 with a 8.2 score). If you enjoy MyFlightBlog please visit Blogged and give us a review. While you are there check out all the other great aviation blogs.
December 12, 2007
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal's Blog Watch column written by Keith Huang focused on four blogs written by Pilots. MyFlightBlog.com was one of the featured blogs along with PlasticPilot, Sulako's Blog and Yankee Alpha Foxtrot Bravo.
I am sure the other three pilots have seen increased traffic to their blogs as I have see here. I have enjoyed the e-mails from both fellow pilots and student pilots as a result of the article. I created the blog for two reasons, one being that I wanted to keep family and friends up-to-date on my progress while I was learning to fly. The second was that before I started my training, I looked around for advice and information about becoming a private pilot and although there were some great online resources there were few first person accounts; that has changed greatly in the past few years as the blogroll to the right shows.
A week does not go by that I don't get a nice e-mail from someone who is thinking of learning to fly and who asks for advice. I love being able to give back and share my experiences with these prospective pilots. I also get a bunch of pilots who comment or e-mail about their experiences that help me continue to learn and improve as a pilot. One of my favorite e-mails was from an older gentleman who had not flown in over 30 years and said reading my blog brought back the great memories from when he learned to fly, surely a fond memory for him.
Here is the excerpt of my part of the article. You can view the entire article here on WSJ.com (WSJ subscription required).
Todd McClamroch always dreamed of flying. About three years ago, the Chicago resident earned his private pilot's license, and he has been blogging about his time in the air ever since -- in part, he writes, to encourage others to pursue their dreams.
Some of Mr. McClamroch's posts offer practical advice to beginners who are interested in aviation, on topics like choosing an aviation school. And he details the time and expense involved in getting a license. But he also takes time to express the joy of piloting: "It's the achievement of making a dream a reality and finally learning to fly after years of looking up at the skies wishing," he writes. "I am sure flying will take me to places I would not have gone, and it may even allow me to travel more efficiently, but in the end it will be for the pure satisfaction of flying."