Luck and Skill but no Miracle

General aviation (small airplanes) made a splash in the news recently, especially in LA, with the emergency landing of a Cessna 172 on a street in Huntington Beach, CA. The news was accompanied with dashcam and security video, as well as cellphone pictures of an airplane stopped in the middle of a street surrounded by surprised drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. The web and news outlets filled with titles like “Student Pilot Makes Miraculous Emergency Landing”.

As an instructor, I find nothing “miraculous” about this. The pilot showed good skill, along with some luck. Continue reading

Santa Barbara (SBA)

Santa Barbara is one of my favorite nearby flight destinations. In an airplane like a 172, it’s about a 1 hour flight each way from EMT and you have the option of a 15 minute walk to a seaside restaurant once you arrive. Santa Barbara is a Class C airport – they have some airline service and a lot of private jet traffic, but don’t let that keep you from giving it a try. Continue reading

Rose Bowl TFRs are coming – 2013

Rose Bowl

Rose Bowl

A reminder to all local pilots that the UCLA football season is starting soon. That means games at the Rose Bowl and the TFRs that go along with the games. The first Rose Bowl game will be on Saturday, August 31. You can find the schedule online, but here’s a quick summary of home games – some times have not been set and are subject to change. Continue reading

In the runup area/feedback requested…

I always have a mixture of flying projects underway – videos, articles, analysis, software, and pictures. I’m interested in topics that other pilots would find useful. Here are a few blog entries/articles that I have in draft form right now. Which would be of most interest to you? What else should I cover? Chime in with your comments here or on Facebook.

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PAR approach


Missed approach after a PAR

Recently, I did something I’ve never done before. One of my instrument students and I did a PAR (Precision Approach Radar) approach. If you’re a pilot and never heard of that, don’t despair. It appears PAR approaches are very rare these days, and (to the best of my knowledge) now only available at military bases with the right personnel and equipment. There’s no approach plate, so you wouldn’t have seen it when browsing approaches. 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


I’ve flown about 2500 hours in small single-engine airplanes (1500 of that as an instructor). In all that time, I’ve never had a serious equipment failure, or declared an emergency [knock on wood?]. I have cut flights short and landed early (what some would call a precautionary landing). In each of those cases, I did it because I felt something wasn’t right and it was better to get on the ground and diagnose, before things potentially deteriorated to where I had fewer options. Today was one of those days… Continue reading