Cross Country Planning/Prep (KMRY: T-5 days)

Pebble Beach

I’m planning a flight to Monterey (KMRY) next weekend. I’ll be taking two student pilots, with one flying each direction. Over this coming week, I’m going to use this real trip to illustrate  how I approach analyzing, planning, and flying a longer flight. Now, this is a flight I have done before, but I’ll do my best to approach it from the standpoint of flying to a new destination. This first article will be long, since there really is a lot to talk about… Continue reading

What’s In My Flight Bag

My Packed Flight Bag

My Packed Flight Bag

What to put in your flight bag and how to organize it is a topic I’ve never really covered in depth during training. I just tell students ‘you need this’, ‘you might want this’, ‘you need a way to organize it’ and move on. However, I have changed what I carry and how in the last few years, based upon my flight instructing experience.

As a flight instructor, I carry more than most pilots need to carry, but some of the items may be of interest and trigger you to evaluate what you carry. I am amazed to see that students and other pilots are often carrying more stuff (at least by volume and weight). Continue reading

I Love (touring) LA (from the air)

Hollywood SignCue Randy Newman… I love to take people up in the air so they can see the perspective I enjoy so much. Los Angeles has a lot of great sights from the air. Because flying around LA’s complicated airspace without a plan is a bad idea, I’ve settled on a standard tour that I use when taking friends and visitors up for a flight. It can be adapted based up desired length, conditions, and what the passengers want to see. Although this is written starting and ending at El Monte, it could be easily adapted for most airports in the LA basin. Continue reading

Flying into Class B (Bravo) airports

Alaska Airlines lands just after us at KSANA common question is whether little airplanes flown by private pilots can land at large airports like LAX. The short answer is a qualified “yes”. The largest airports in the US are known as Class B or Bravo airports; examples include Los Angeles International (LAX), McCarren International (LAS), San Diego International (SAN), and San Francisco International (SFO). I’ve personally flown into two, LAS and SAN, and there’s a number of things you should do before attempting to fly into one of these airports. Continue reading

Power off landings

There’s a maneuver that I practice regularly and force even my private pilot students to practice, even thought it is not a required maneuver for them. It goes by a number of names. In the commercial PTS, it is called a “power off 180 degree accuracy approach and landing”, some people also call it a simulated engine out landing. Whatever you call it, the goal is simple – to ensure that pilots have the ability to safely and accurately land a plane without power. It’s a maneuver that you will rarely or ever need, but when you do, it could be a lifesaver to be proficient. Continue reading

Landing distances for the PTS

The Practical Test Standard for private pilots specifies for normal and crosswind approach and landings:

Touches down within the available runway or water landing 
area, within 400 feet beyond a specified point with no drift, 
and with the airplaneā€™s longitudinal axis aligned with and 
over the runway center/landing path.

The distance requirement for a forward slip to landing is the same, but for short field landings, the distance is only 200 feet. To get an idea of that distance, you could find the length of a runway and estimate, or load up the area in Google Earth (or similar tools) and draw a 400 foot line. Try to then find a reference point.

KEMT-400ft-LandingAt El Monte Airport, that means that when using Runway 19, the midpoint of taxiway charlie (C) is about 400 from the landing threshold. I’ve generally found that examiners give a little leeway on these distances, but no leeway in landing prior to the landing threshold.

If you don’t feel confident of making the necessary touchdown point, a go around is recommended (and heck, that’s a required maneuver on the checkride too).