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Don’t Pilots Have to Talk with Air Traffic Control?

Pilot Talking to ATC

Most people take it for granted that pilots must communicate over the radio with ATC (air traffic control).  After all, how else can airplanes know what to do and when to do it? The fact is, for private pilots, there are lots of situations where no communication with ATC is required or even possible.  (For …

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Being an Unofficial Co-Pilot in a Small Plane

Unofficial Co Pilot

A passenger in a small airplane cockpit’s front seat is in an entirely different environment than that of a passenger seated elsewhere in an airplane.  Not only does the passenger have the privilege of seeing out the front of the airplane and experiencing all the wonderful interactions with weather, radio communication with air traffic control …

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The Basics of the Cockpit

Airplane Cockpit

The cockpit of even the smallest and simplest airplane can be an overwhelming place. Fortunately, the most “hands-on” elements of the cockpit—those which enable the pilot to direct the airplane’s actual movement from taxiing to landing—are usually similar from one cockpit design to another. Even if a new single-engine student pilot had never seen the …

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V1 and Other Airspeeds

Velocity Airspeeds

In aviation, the concept of “speed” isn’t just “how fast an aircraft is going.” It can refer to a number of operating conditions in relation to the aircraft. To fully understand the capacities, safe performance operation, and limitations of any aircraft, it’s important to have a good grasp of “velocity speeds”, known as V-speeds. For …

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Do Small Airplanes Fly Better on Cold Days Than on Hot Days?

Small Plane Interacting With The Air

To a non-pilot’s eye, on cold days and hot days, an airplane taking off, flying overhead, or landing looks pretty much the same.  Sure, if it’s icy or raining very hard, there is a chance that the airplane could slip or hydroplane, but other than that, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference. …

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