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My Garmin Android Pilot

Took a VFR flight recently with my 32GB Nexus 7 (2nd Gen) tablet loaded with Garmin Pilot along with a couple other pilots using their iPads, Foreflight and the Stratus 2. I am always pleased with my android tablet and the built in GPS along with cellular modem for 4G reception. Only one piece of modest priced equipment at $349, as opposed to two with a 32GB iPad mini WiFi at $459 + the Stratus 2 at $899. The iPad mini with cellular modem and GPS is about $599. If you wish the addition of active weather and traffic for your android, the Garmin GDL 39 sells for $899 like the Stratus. I know it’s not always about money when you are a GA flyer, but then I’m a bit of an Android fan. Okay, yes, I know the iPad/Stratus 2/Foreflight combo has ADS-B traffic plus WAAS GPS and my single android setup doesn’t, but for VFR, the Garmin Pilot+Android tablet has become quite capable for what I needed on the flight.

To Compare Specs:
Garmin Pilot – https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/on-the-go/apps/garmin-pilot-/prod115856.html
Garmin GDL 39 – https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/on-the-go/apps/garmin-pilot-/prod115856.html

Foreflight – https://www.foreflight.com/ipad/
Stratus 2 – https://www.foreflight.com/ipad/

So, back to the flight. Besides the charts and course info, I would hear “I can get fuel price information and I have airport information”, but then so could I. Now we get to the ADS-B addition that I didn’t have on my android. Certainly was helpful with the active information until we got to a high traffic airport.

Quick tutorial:
ADS-B receiver only – Displays only ADS-B Out equipped aircraft (Not a lot of GA aircraft in that category “yet”).

**HOWEVER, if a nearby ADS-B Out aircraft is connected to a ground station, it will be receiving a traffic picture in a cylindrical shape with a 30 mile diameter and ±3500ft high around that aircraft. This traffic picture is “specific” to their location. If you are located somewhere within that 30 mile cylinder, your receiver will show the same picture of both ADS-B traffic “and” any Mode C traffic within that cylinder. Fine if you are in the center, but not so if located on the outer portion.

ADS-B

So here’s a problem. If you are approaching a busy airport area for landing, like the Oshkosh AirVenture, and there is and ADS-B Out aircraft nearby connected to a ground station, you get all the active ADS-B & Mode C traffic within a ±3500ft altitude. So far sounds good, but then one of my pilot passengers began to get “Information Overload” from his tablet displaying many traffic targets all around us. Problem is, that in spite of all the displayed targets, the tablet will still not display traffic that could be passing right in front of you if that traffic not ADS-B Out or Mode C equipped.

I feel that the tablets with all the aviation information are great, but sometimes no substitute for simply looking out the windscreen and flying the airplane. My comment in the airport traffic area was to please look outside and help me spot “all” the close traffic.

Okay, so bottom line. Do I like the iPad combo? Definitely yes, but then my Android Tablet is perfectly acceptable with loads of information for VFR flying and at a modest price.

Some ADS-B detailed tutorial links:
https://ipadpilotnews.com/2012/08/understanding-ads-b-traffic/
https://ipadpilotnews.com/2013/06/ads-b-traffic-101/
https://www.aopa.org/News-and-Video/All-News/2014/April/02/Portable-ADS-B-seminar

*Under current FCC regulations, the use cellular devices is prohibited while airborne. BUT, there are some changes in the wind… stay tuned.

Skycatcher
End of LSA? Been thinking about the Cessna Skycatcher LSA (162) aircraft ending production and some saying the LSA movement is over. Well, probably not. Especially not simply because Cessna decided to be out of that market. There are scores of active LSA manufacturers that have aircraft flying in many parts of the world including the US and many of those are at FBO’s for training. It did seem as though everyone was expecting the 162 to be the next 152. However, the lower purchase costs and rental rates of the 152 vs 162, has kept the 152 a very popular trainer. The greater useful load for the 152 is also a positive factor. People don’t seem to be getting smaller these days.

Piper CubPersonally I think that light sport aircraft have more limited use than I had previously thought. Not to mention higher prices that were originally hoped for. One does have to admire the early days of civil aviation where the Piper Cubs and Champs along with others were the mainstay of flying. The fact is, like the earlier aircraft, there is not much weight vs wing surface in a typical LSA to ride comfortably in light/mod turbulence or climb power to get above. We are talking gross weights of only 1100lbs to the LSA of 1320lbs and wing loading in the 9-11 lbs/ ft² range.  Common wing loadings for a GA single engine aircraft are at 14-17 lbs/ft² and twins-26 lbs/ft². (birds-5 lbs/ ft² – airliners-@120 lbs/ ft²)

CTS
So how does wing loading affect aircraft performance? A larger wing area relative to mass (wing loading) creates more lift. It also will have lower stall speeds, shorter takeoff & landing distances, better climb performance (for the power available) and better maneuvering/turning performance. Sounds great except for the bumpy ride as the wing is more sensitive to gusts and turbulence.

Tomahawk
When I think back to my early days in flight training, I started in a Piper Tomahawk or “tummy-ache” as some of us called it. The main issue was the light wing loading and the squirrely nature in the more turbulent summer air. And we are talking a gross weight that was several hundred pounds heavier than the cubs/champs or today’s LSA’s. Of course there are other factors that contribute to an aircraft’s’ ride in unsettled air, but weight is part of the equation.I recall coming in for my lesson one day to find that it had to be cancelled because the Tomahawk was down for some repair. Rather than cancel, there was a Piper Cruiser 4 seater sitting on the tarmac and I said, how about we take that instead? We did and I never went back to the Tomahawk. Why? Because this Cruiser had another 300 lbs of GW and another 25hp. All seemed more stable handling in rough air and the extra power was great.

Archer

Next, I tried a Cherokee Warrior with even more hp, gross weight and higher wing loading. Now I’m hooked on this even as my training costs continue to rise with each new airplane. Wasn’t done yet. Finally went to the Archer with even more weight and power and this was the one! Loved it and oh yeah, there were all the great avionics because it was the instrument trainer too. Finally got my Private in the Archer and went on to fly many airplanes in the years to follow.

Rans S7-S
How does all this relate to LSA? Well, with the advent of the new category and license, I began getting involved with light sport and it thrust me back to the Tomahawk days of training and the somewhat under powered planes with the bumpy ride. Now don’t get me wrong, I like these light sport aircraft and even own one. They are great fun to fly down low and slow on those nice summer days. The view is terrific compared to climbing up to 7-8-9k and just heading to the destination as fast as you can. But, if I want to travel somewhere over a couple hours or so, the bumps and lack of horsepower to get above the turbulence, all make the travel less comfortable. I think a lot of the older pilots like me that are moving to the LSA are finding some of the same truths. If you’re not, great!

AOPA and EAA submitted a request in March 2012 to the FAA for those flying recreationally and has completed the recurrent aeromedical course, to use the driver’s license as the baseline of health as an option to obtaining a 3rd class FAA medical. This would be limited to day vfr, two on board in aircraft with max of 4 seats and up to 180hp. This would be a good alternative for those that may want to transition to light-sport / recreational category-class-type aircraft or someone who is only interested in these aircraft. Personally I’m not interested in the super light ac for travel.

Now, we also have the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act (GAPPA) designated S. 2103 in the Senate and H.R. 3708 in the House of Representatives. This legislation would apply medical certification standards similar to the decade-old and successful Sport Pilot rule to most general aviation aircraft when flown for personal flights under visual flight rules at or below 14,000 feet MSL and under 250 knots.

Please support this initiative and sign the petition though this url at EAA: https://govt.eaa.org/14781/support-general-aviation-pilot-protection-act/

 

 Aviation Weather Center Media Release…New Aviation Weather Site

Technical Implementation Notice 14-07
National Weather Service Headquarters Washington DC

750 AM EST Mon Feb 3 2014

TO: Subscribers: Family of Services
-NOAA Weather Wire Service
-Emergency Managers Weather Information Network
-NOAAPort
Other NWS Partners and Employees

FROM:      Cyndie Abelman
Chief, Aviation Services Branch

SUBJECT:   www.AviationWeather.gov Design Refresh

Effective Tuesday, March 25, 2014, at 1800 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the NWS Aviation Weather Center will implement newly designed webpages to the www.aviationweather.gov and
www.aviationweather.gov/adds These design improvements will affect the look and feel of the website, but will not change the content. Users can examine the changes before March 25, 2014 at new.aviationweather.gov/ and new.aviationweather.gov/adds

These changes are being implemented to bring the layout of the website up to the standard set by www.weather.gov,  released fall of 2012.  The new website will streamline the user access to the site and provide a common look and feel for the web pages. The new web pages still use the ADDS database and products. The GIS maps introduced in the fall of 2013 are now the primary displays of data replacing the Java applets. The design provides the same functionality on a tablet as it does on the desktop.

The legacy web pages will remain on the web site until March 25, 2015 to allow users to transition on their own and not break bookmarks.

You can find a tutorial on the changes to these awc pages at: new.aviationweather.gov/help/tutorial

If you have any questions about this change, please contact:
Dan Vietor
Aviation Weather Center
Kansas City, MO 64153
Phone: 816-584-7211

National NWS Technical Implementation Notices are online at: https://www.weather.gov/os/notif.htm

LANDING AT WRONG AIRPORT

Most of the aviation world has seen/heard the story of the Boeing 747 Dreamlifter that landed at the wrong Wichita-area airport a bit ago. Is it really that unusual? Probably unusual yes for 747’s, but one has to wonder if it doesn’t happen occasionally to smaller GA aircraft. I recall several years ago and incident here in Minneapolis that created a similar stir. Not so much with the general public, but with the local aviation community.

The incident occurred when a GA aircraft was inbound from the southwestern U.S.  to MIC (Minneapolis Crystal) a city reliever airport. As I recall, the pilot was on a vfr flight plan and he had told Flight Service that he had the airport in sight, cancelled the flight plan and proceeded to contact the Crystal tower. MIC has parallel runways 14-32 with a cross runway of 06-24. MSPMSP (Minneapolis International) a few miles to the southeast has parallel runways 12-30 and a cross runway of 04-22. And of course, MSP was all lit up with evening rush hour air traffic. So here’s where the fun began. The pilot was talking to the reliever airport tower, but was on a visual course to the International.  The reliever tower kept saying that they did not have visual contact with his aircraft, so please turn on landing lights. We can easily assume that the MSP Int’l folks were seeing a small plane approaching its airport on radar and no radio contact with the plane. Apparently many airliners had to be vectored from approaches into holding patterns and takeoffs were held. The GA plane did land at International and was likely met very quickly by authorities. This was before 9-11 so you could imagine the problems to be faced today.

These errant landings probably don’t often happen at major international airports, but I’ll bet they occur at smaller non-towered ones. Just nobody but the pilot knows it. You can expect most airports in a local area to have similar wind patterns and thus similar runway directions. My best guess is that when a pilot has that nearby look-alike “airport in sight” and begins a visual approach, the mental focus becomes the airport in sight and not the instruments that are saying wrong airport. Sometimes it can be confusing and especially at night. The word “verify” comes to mind.

DreamlifterWhat surprises me is that the Wichita reliever airport runway was able to handle the weight of that Dreamlifter that can be in the 800k lbs range. Years ago I had an opportunity to fly a 747-400 full motion simulator at one of the airline sim centers and talked the instructor pilot into letting me attempt a landing at a local reliever airport. Very fun and made it in although my instructor pilot commented that in real life the runway may not be able to handle the load. That particular airport is one of our larger reliever airports has a runway single wheel load limit of 30k lbs, while MSP Int’l handles 100k lbs per single wheel. The Dreamlifter looks to have 18 wheels or over  40k lbs per wheel. The Wichita look-alike Colonel James Jabara airport has a single wheel load limit of 40k lbs. I guess with some fuel burned off during flight and likely a margin for error on the runway limit, they managed to be spared another major problem.

My learning thoughts on these episodes still turn back to always check your instruments and “verify”, especially in an unfamiliar location…

Cessna 162 Skycatcher – No Future

For all of you who follow light sport aircraft…Skycatcher

At the recent National Business Aviation Association 2013 in Las Vegas, media has reported that Cessna Aircraft CEO Scott Ernest says “No Future” for the Skycatcher. Another Cessna executive reported that about 20 of the 162 Skycatchers had been sold (I assume in 2013) and had several in stock and available. Looking of the FAA Aircraft Registry database, it appears that several available is in the neighborhood of 80 plus. In Aug 2007, Cessna Aircraft announced that they had orders for 720 Skycatchers. Again, according to the FAA database, there are only a total of 276 Skycatchers registered to date and that includes the unsold inventory. Wow, I remember when the aircraft was announced in 2006, that there seemed to be a huge interest, and many FBO’s and individuals plunking down cash to reserve an airplane for the special introductory price of $109,500.00. So, I am really very surprised to see the numbers that I found in the FAA database! Now the Skycatcher is selling at almost $150,000.00 with several previous optional features as standard. That certainly put the aircraft on the higher end of light sport. Ernest’s later commented  “That program didn’t have a business model that worked”. I certainly hope that this sad news, is a function of the economy regarding light sport aviation, and not of light sport in general….

 

NTSB The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its accident statistics for 2012 and it shows little progress in the General Aviation sector. Sad to note that in most fatal GA accidents, all aboard perish.

GAAccidents ______ Fatalaties ________ Flt HrsAccidents/100,000 FltHrs
YearAllFatalTotalAboardTotalAllFatal
20121,47127143243221,697,0006.781.24
20111,47026644843721,488,0006.841.24
20101,44027045745421,688,0006.631.24

In response to these statistics and to help pilots address the most common accident causes, the NTSB has produced five general aviation safety alert videos that were released just a few weeks ago. These videos concentrate on risk management, loss of control at low altitude, inflight emergencies and maintenance, and flight into low visibility. We all know that these are mostly problems that we DO have control over, but often neglect re-currant training to keep fresh on the procedures. When is the last time you practiced engine out emergency landing procedures or approach to landing stalls? How about the in-flight engine fire procedure? Do you ever skip over checklists because you know them so well? Are you up to snuff on your flight by reference to instruments? What about maintenance? Do you make sure that the lower than usual oil pressure or a cylinder running hotter than normal gets looked into promptly? These videos are a good reminder of what we GA pilots should be up-to-snuff on and not just at bi-annual time….

Pilots: Manage Risks to Ensure Safety

Prevent Aerodynamic Stalls at Low Altitude

Is Your Aircraft Talking To You? Listen!

Reduced Visual References Require Vigilance

Mechanics: Manage Risks to Ensure Safety

Class Ground & Class Everywhere else Airspace

For some reason, Class E and the underlying Class G seem to be challenging for a lot of students to wrap their head around. Basically Class E is everything that is not A, B, C, D or G. I know, a pretty obvious statement. I believe one of the problems in understanding is diagrams that squeeze all the different airspaces into one small place like the one here.

Airspace

Unless you live in a large metro area, the airspace will not be jammed together like this. It would be more common to have many smaller airports spread out with an occasional Class D towered airport. To begin with, Class G (Ground) is the uncontrolled (by ATC) layer of airspace that covers the surface and whose ceiling generally goes up to 1200ft in open areas.  Around airports can drop to 700ft and even the surface. Way out in the rural unpopulated areas, the ceiling goes up to 14,500ft. Daytime requirements for Class G are 1 statute mile visibility and clear of clouds to 1200ft. Above 1200ft, stays at 1sm visibility but then for cloud clearance you must be 1000ft above, 500ft below and 2000ft horizontal.

Above the Class G (ground) is Class E (everywhere else) and is controlled airspace. Here VFR aircraft must maintain higher visibility and cloud clearance requirements to allow for visual separation from aircraft on IFR flight plans. VFR in Class E must have at least 3 statute miles visibility along with the 1000↑-500↓-2000ft↔ cloud clearance. So why would someone even bother to file IFR in VFR conditions? Well, VFR you must stay away from any clouds and areas of low visibility and with an IFR clearance you do not have to deviate to avoid the clouds or lower visibilities, you just keep on flying. Class E becomes more pertinent when in the vicinity of airports.

Classes E & G

Airports on your charts:

– A Class G airport simply has the airport/runway symbol.

– A busier IFR Class G airport often has the Class G ceiling drop to below 700ft and is depicted by a wide magenta circle around the airspace.  The circle can also be elongated to allow for IFR traffic to flow more smoothly to the primary runways.

– The even busier Class E airports have an outer dashed magenta circle (sometimes with elongations) to indicate that class E airspace drops down to the surface.

– A Class D towered airport with a blue airport/runway symbol and an outer dashed blue circle (sometimes with elongations) that indicates Class D airspace down to the surface. You will note that the Class D is usually surrounded by Class E transition airspace. The Class D can also become Class E and rarely Class G should the tower be closed. In other words, if the tower is closed and you remove the Class D, the airport becomes the class of the surrounding airspace.

– Class C airports have the two tiered solid magenta rings surrounding blue runway symbols.

– Class B airports have the three tiered solid blue rings surrounding blue runway symbols.

Now, to make it even more interesting –> several airports in a large metro area can be mixed with Class B on top of Class C on top of Class D and E etc. etc.  For more chart reading help, download the FAA Chart Users Guide PDF here… 23MB

MIAMI INTL (MIA) with a bit of everything….

Mixed Classes

 

Night, Decoding FARS

Categories: Training
Comments: No

Night Flying and Decoding the FAR’s

Let’s take a look at the varied regulations on what is considered night, civil twilight, sunset, sunrise and the different certificate limitations. Probably should start with the FAA’s definition of night.

Far Part 1.1   General definitions.
Night means the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the Air Almanac, converted to local time.

We now see that night is a time constantly changing and you will need to have an Air Almanac or some method to determine legal civil twilight. The Almanac for 2013 is available on CD from the government bookstore for $28.00 or for free online at the U.S. Naval Observatory website: https://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.php – For a quick planning approximate, you can use 30 minutes after sunset or before sunrise. It will always be a bit less, so you are safe with that approximation.

When we determine civil twilight times we also have the sunrise and sunset times. Why is this important? Navigation lights are required to be on from sunset to sunrise. So, according to the FAA, your nav lights on at sunset but night doesn’t begin until evening civil twilight.

Now let’s look at the different pilot certificates and night regulations.

Private Pilot
For night solo as a private pilot student in training, you will need to have your FAA Medical Certificate, specific flight training at night and an authorized instructor’s endorsement in your logbook.

 Far Part §61.85   Application
 (o) Limitations on student pilots operating an aircraft in solo flight at night. A student pilot may not operate an aircraft in solo flight at night unless that student pilot has received:
(1) Flight training at night on night flying procedures that includes takeoffs, approaches, landings, and go-arounds at night at the airport where the solo flight will be conducted;
(2) Navigation training at night in the vicinity of the airport where the solo flight will be conducted; and
(3) An endorsement in the student’s logbook for the specific make and model aircraft to be flown for night solo flight by an authorized instructor who gave the training within the 90-day period preceding the date of the flight.

If you are a Certificated Private Pilot, we have the “recency of experience” period regulation for carrying passengers which is defined by the FAA as being from 1hr after sunset to 1hr before sunrise.

Far Part §61.57   Recent flight experience: Pilot in command.
…no person may act as pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise, unless within the preceding 90 days that person has made at least three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise…

Wait a minute. Isn’t that different from sunset/sunrise and civil twilight? Yup… So, if you are not night current, you can fly with passengers until 1hr after sunset. You could then plan a rest stop for your passengers, have them relax at a nice FBO for about a half hour while you do your 3 take-offs and landings, then gather them up for the rest of the flight…

Recreational Pilot
There is no night training requirement for the student Recreational pilot and would not be eligible for night solo. As a certificated Recreational pilot, you are not allowed flight between sunset and sunrise.

Far Part § 61.101  Recreational pilot privileges and limitations.
(e) Except as provided in paragraphs (d) and (i) of this section, a recreational pilot may not act as pilot in command of an aircraft—
(6) Between sunset and sunrise;

Sport Pilot
There is no night training requirement for the student Sport pilot and would not be eligible for night solo. As a certificated Sport pilot, you are not allowed flight at night.

 Far Part § 61.89(c  General limitations.
(c) A student pilot seeking a sport pilot certificate must comply with the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section and may not act as pilot in command—
 (2) At night;
Far Part § 61.315   What are the privileges and limits of my sport pilot certificate?
(c) You may not act as pilot in command of a light-sport aircraft:
(5) At night.

It is also interesting to note that while the Sport Pilot cannot fly at “night” (civil twilight), the Recreational Pilot cannot fly from sunset to sunrise. Not sure why the difference…

To sum all this up:

Sunset to Sunrise

  • Navigation lights ON
  • Recreational Pilot cannot fly

Night (evening /morning civil twilight)

  • Sport Pilot cannot fly
  • Time between evening /morning civil twilight (@ 1/2hr after sunset and before sunrise)

1hr after sunset / 1hr before sunrise

  • Private pilot with passengers must be night current
  • Designated period for the Private Pilot to get ”recency” experience for night currency

Confusing? Not really…

Faa Night

A Dangerous Turn to Downwind?

Recently there has been a bit of conversation in the aviation community about a NTSB Report wherein the NTSB states, the airplane a progressively increasing downwind condition during the turn as a probable cause of the accident.

Here is the report:
 NTSB Identification: CEN12LA324
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, May 28, 2012 in Perry, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/19/2012
Aircraft: NORTH AMERICAN T-6G, registration: N3753G
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot stated that the run-up and takeoff were normal. After takeoff to the south, he was planning to overfly the runway for a “photo pass.” He reported that he executed a slight right turn, followed by a left turn. He noted that the engine was running normally. However, he did not recall any subsequent events regarding the accident sequence. A witness reported that once airborne, the airplane turned right and then started a left turn above the trees. He noted that during the left turn, the airplane bank angle steepened and the descent rate increased. The engine sounded normal until impact with a barn. A postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact malfunction or failure. The pilot reported the wind was from the southwest, gusting to 20 knots with light turbulence, at the time of the accident. Based on the reported prevailing wind, a left turn after takeoff resulted in the airplane encountering a progressively increasing downwind condition during the turn.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot’s failure to maintain control while maneuvering at low altitude after takeoff, resulting in a collision with a barn.

So is it true that if you turn downwind quickly your airplane will stall and fall from the sky? Possibly, if your airspeed is slow enough that a stall will occur because of a steep turn. But certainly not as a result of a prevailing wind and an “increasing downwind condition during the turn”.

What’s really going on? If you are standing on the ground, there definitely is a direction for an upwind condition blowing in your face or a downwind blowing at your back, but remember the wind is really a result of an air mass moving in a particular direction over the earth. Sort of like a large container or box of air moving at say 20 Kts. Once you are flying, you are part of that big container and moving within it.

Let’s think about flying a rectangular course:Rectangular Course
As we fly in the air mass box at a constant airspeed, the obvious external reference is the ground. If we are flying in the same direction in the air mass box that it is moving, our ground speed would be the sum of air mass speed and our true airspeed within and so on.
Rectangular Course
Wind (or movement of air mass)  20 Kts

Aircraft
True Airspeed (in air mass) 100 Kts
Ground Speed Downwind 100+20= 120 Kts
Ground Speed Upwind 100-20= 80Kts
Ground Speed Crosswind 100-10= 90 Kts
(assuming a ±30° correction angle)

 

A good way I have heard it described:
You’re in a bus that is going 55 MPH. If you stand up, you don’t shoot out the back of the bus at 55 MPH. If walk forward at 1 MPH, your speed relative to the ground outside is 56 MPH, but still 1 MPH relative to the bus floor. So, the bus is like the air mass in which your airplane travels, the ground is the earth that you fly your airplane over. No matter how fast you turn when you reach the front of the bus and begin walking back, you will still be moving at 1 MPH. The same is true with you and your airplane in that downwind turn.

So, how might an accident occur on a downwind turn?Extended Crosswind
If you were to become distracted and see that your
normal downwind position relative to the runway is
passing by, one might overbank their turn to compensate.
A steeper bank causes a stall speed increase and if it
exceeds the true airspeed, a stall can occur close to the
ground and be difficult to recover.

Certainly there are other factors in an air mass such
as small and random wind accelerations inside the
the air mass. Turbulence from thermals, trees
buildings etc. Maintaining a proper airspeed for
the conditions and good situational awareness are
always a necessity for positive outcomes in the
airport pattern. Bottom line, any steep turn flying
low at slow air speeds is risky unless you are an
aerobatic pilot with a powerful aircraft.

Air Density & Humidity

I can remember the early days of my flight instruction and the written test materials all talking about the 3 H’s, Hot, High & Humid, relating to air density. We all know that as air heats up it expands and becomes less dense. Sort of the can’t catch my breath feeling on the really hot days. We also have been told and learned that as we climb in our airplanes gaining altitude, the air also becomes less dense and the carbureted engine needs to be leaned to accommodate. Makes sense. If you stand atop Pikes Peak at 14,110ft, the air is pretty thin and people will even develop altitude sickness.

Now we come to humidity. I think that I may have just accepted the fact that air density decreased with humidity and never really spent much time thinking about why. Sure, I would calculate Density Altitude to determine takeoff and landing performance on those hot humid days and it was obvious that the data showed decreased performance. I could parrot the necessary answers to pass a written regarding humidity, but once in a while I would ponder on how humid air could be less dense when water weighs a lot more than air? Maybe if I had taken chemistry in school it would been more clear.

One day a student put the question point blank to me and I found it difficult to say that I didn’t really know the exact reason, but for now, just know that it was true and I would find the complete answer. So here goes:

In the early 1800s Italian physicist Amadeo Avogadro discovered that a fixed volume of gas, at the same temperature and pressure, would always have the same number of molecules no matter what gas is in the container. If we take fixed amount of perfectly dry air, it has around 78% of nitrogen molecules,  21% oxygen molecules and 1% of inert gases.  Nitrogen has a molecular weight (u) of 28 u comprised of 2 atoms 14 u each. Oxygen has a molecular weight of 32 u or 2 atoms 16 u each.

Now remember that Avogadro said that a fixed volume of gas has the same number of molecules no matter what the gas. So, lets take some water vapor molecules (H2O). Two hydrogen atoms with an atomic weight of 1 u each and one oxygen atom at 16 u for a total molecular weight of 18 u. Now replace some of the nitrogen and oxygen molecules weighing 28 u and 32 u respectively. Since each water vapor molecule is lighter, the density decreases.

Still say water is heavier than air? Yes, liquid water is, but we are talking water vapor when it comes to humidity!

Okay, maybe more than you wanted to know…

Was thinking about my early training days and reflected on the airplane I was trained in. Actually several, but all were low wing Pipers. In my many years of flying, I had been in clubs with both high/low wing and have owned both. Some of my favorite airplanes are high wing like the Cessna Cardinal, the 210 Centurion or the fun little Citabria, but then I also liked the Piper Archer, Lance and the A36 Bonanza. Even still, there is still a special place that has a preference for the low wing, the type that I was originally trained in. I would suppose that most pilots have that innate preference for their first flying experiences including the high/low wing preference. So are there any significant differences other than simply preference. Well, let’s make a list:

Low WingHigh Wing
Upward visibility – Excellent visibility in landing patternDownward visibility – Better ground view
Greater ground effect – takeoff on a soft fieldLesser ground effect
Fuel boost pump(s)Gravity fed fuel
Easy to refuelLadder to refuel
Wider spaced main gear & struts vertical for grater shock absorptionGreater wing clearance for objects – better on unimproved fields, runway lights etc.
Entry/exit by climbing on wing usually single doorEasy entry/exit usually doors on either side

You know, bottom line is that I simply enjoy flying most any airplane regardless of high or low wing, BUT if you are in a low wing watch out for what’s below and the high wing needs to be looking above…!

Landing1Landing2

Please add a comment if you have other benefits for the low or high wing configurations!

GE Flight Simulator

Categories: Apps, Training
Comments: 2

** It appears that the “un-official version” of this simulator is no longer available for download. If someone knows where it’s to be found, let me know. In the mean time, the official version is still available and included with the Google Earth Download… **

While browsing some online flight sims, I came across GEFS-Online (Google Earth Flight Simulator) which is sort of an unofficial version done by Xavier Tassin in Amsterdam. There is an official Google version in Google Earth, but appears to be only a couple aircraft and much less in the way of features. I spent a little time trying the GEFS-Sim and soon found that using a keyboard for control was very scary. Kept forgetting which key did what when things got a bit out of control and soon totally upended. You can also use joystick control, so borrowed one and proceeded to try with that. Much more friendly and a lot closer to the real thing. The sim has plugins for Windows and Mac as well as joystick control. Excellent Sim and very fun! Check out the video…

GEFS is a free, online flight simulator based on Google Earth. Whether you are a licensed pilot practicing VFR, an aviation enthusiast or just looking for some fun flying a plane in beautiful sceneries, you can enjoy GEFS quickly, directly from your web browser.   https://www.gefs-online.com/

  • -built on Google Earth: worldwide photo-realistic sceneries
    -simulate fixed wing aircraft, helicopter, paraglider and hot air balloon
    -supports joystick control
    -realistic flight model (lifting-line theory)
    -real-time weather, dynamic wind lift
    -multiplayer: fly and chat with other pilots across the globe
    -over 30,000 runways and global airspace map

Aircraft Choices…
Sopwith Camel F.1  /  Piper J-3 Cub  /  Evektor Sportstar  /  Dassault-Dornier  Alpha Jet  /  Douglas DC-3
Hughes 269a/TH-55 Osage  /  Major Tom (hot air balloon)  /  McDonnell Douglas MD-11  /  SU-35
Airbus A380 / Concorde  /  Zlin Z-50  /  Cessna 152  /  Goat Airchair  / Paraglider  /  szd-48-3 Jantar

Here are a couple screen shots after taking off from KMSP in a 152 headed towards downtown Minneapolis. One is in following view and the other in cockpit view. There is also a map that can be inserted on the screen with position information and can set a flight path.

KMSP1KMSP2Map

 

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