Top 10 Flying Tips of 2013

Find out which of our flying tips were the most popular this year among readers.

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Whether you're a newly licensed pilot with a plethora of challenges and adventures ahead of you or a seasoned aviator with decades of experience, we as pilots always have a vested interest in sharpening our skills and staying on top of our game. As we enter 2013 and make our resolutions for the new year, becoming a better, more competent pilot is likely high up on the list, and rightly so. To that end, we at Flying have compiled our most popular flying tips from 2012 to give you a jump start on that worthy effort. Click here to start our Top 10 Flying Tips of 2013 list. _
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10. Beware of the Weight Shift Before you take off in your airplane with a load that you haven't previously calculated, do a weight and balance calculation for the weight at the time of the departure and a second calculation for the landing weight based on the estimated fuel burned during the flight. If you are below max gross weight for takeoff and within the CG range for both the takeoff and landing scenarios, you are guaranteed to be within the limits for the rest of the flight too. Read the full Beware of the Weight Shift tip here. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
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9. Don't Rush the Preflight There are plenty of things that need to be considered beforehand to ensure your airplane is fit for flight. Checking the oil level and fuel quantity are at the top of the list, followed closely by the condition of the flight control surfaces and prop. If you’ll be flying in IMC, a pitot-static system check is a must. There’s really no reason to hurry through your normal preflight inspection. It will take you just a few extra minutes to follow the checklist and make sure you’ve performed a thorough walk-around. (Photo courtesy of KBA Aviation) Read the full Don't Rush the Preflight tip here. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
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8. Pay Attention to Sloped Parking Setting the parking brake may keep the airplane in place until you have put a couple of chocks on the wheels and secured the airplane with chains or ropes. But the best solution is to have one person in the cockpit holding the brakes while another person steps out to secure the airplane. A little extra precaution at a sloped parking area keeps your airplane intact, and the action is likely to be appreciated by the owners of the airplanes that are parked behind you too. Read the full Pay Attention to Sloped Parking tip here. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
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7. Use the Correct Transponder Mode If you’re flying an airplane with a modern transponder, whether of the stand-alone type or one built into an integrated system like the Garmin G1000, you have to pay attention to what mode is selected. Many transponders have automatic features that switch the transponder to STBY when the avionics are turned on, ALT when you take off and back to STBY after the airplane lands. The setting is generally based on the current speed. If your transponder sets itself to STBY, you need to override the setting to ON while taxiing. Read the full Use the Correct Transponder Mode tip here. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
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6. Focus in the Flare As you start the roundout on final approach and begin to flare, visual cues become extremely important. Where exactly should you be looking as you bring the control wheel back and prepare to place the wheels just where you want them on the pavement (or the grass, if you’re really lucky)? To give you a wider scope of vision and a better feel for your height above the ground and your movement over the surface, your head should be pointing straight ahead and your visual focus should alternate from a point just over the airplane’s nose to the desired touchdown zone and back again. Read the full Focus in the Flare tip here. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
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5. Tame the Bounced Landing It’s safe to assume that at some point during your training — maybe at several points — you bounced the landing on touchdown. With a big bounce the smart thing to do is execute an immediate go-around, even if it means the airplane might descend and cause another bounce. Full power should be added and care made to maintain directional control. The reason we don’t want to try to salvage a bad bounce is that airspeed will decay very rapidly with this nose-high attitude and you might stall at a considerable height above the runway. Read the full Taming the Bounced Landing tip here. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
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4. Avoid Deadly Distractions Sterile cockpit procedures used by the airlines include the taxi phase of flight. Non-essential communication during taxi is kept to an absolute minimum. In your everyday flying, you too should consider the taxi phase a safety-critical time, during which the only thing you should be doing is taxiing the airplane while looking out for other ground traffic. The trouble with distractions like texting while operating an airplane or helicopter is that they take the pilot's cognitive attention away from the job ahead — safely preparing for a flight and then executing it. The FAA has released guidance to airline crews prohibiting the use of personal electronics. Read the full Avoiding Deadly Distractions tip here. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
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3. Maximize Your Flying Time Emergencies are rare, but they happen quickly, and being prepared maximizes the likelihood of a good ending to the day. Of the many numbers associated with flying, the best glide speed is one of the most important. The best glide speed allows you to glide the farthest, giving you time to investigate and fix an issue and find the best place for an emergency landing. Having that number at the forefront of your mind when trouble arises can mean the difference between making it to a good landing site or not. Read the full Maximize Your Flying Time tip here. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
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2. Handling Head-On Approaches Sometimes at non-towered fields it’s hard to tell which way to land when the wind isn’t favoring a particular runway. You’ll want to think about going around, but if the other airplane also decides to abort the landing, two airplanes are now on a collision course right over the airport. Thankfully, FAR 91.113 supplies us with some guidance. When two aircraft are approaching head on, each pilot should alter course to the right. So rather than flying a straight-out go-around, in this case you would sidestep to the right and monitor what the other guy is doing, just in case he decides for some reason to go to his left. Read the full Handling Head-On Approaches tip here. (Photo by Tim Forbes/Forbes Photographer) Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
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1. Beware the 'Pilot's Halo' Have you ever been flying over a cloud deck and noticed a rainbow halo around the shadow of your airplane? Besides being pretty to look at, this ring-shaped rainbow – called a "pilot's halo" or "glory of the pilot" because we're usually the only ones who get to see it – should be a clue to you that the cloud holds liquid moisture.
Read more at http://www.flyingmag.com/technique/tip-week/beware-pilots-halo#SEJjbLRRUOozBJHw.99 Have you ever been flying over a cloud deck and noticed a rainbow halo around the shadow of your airplane? Besides being pretty to look at, this ring-shaped rainbow – called a "pilot's halo" or "glory of the pilot" because we're usually the only ones who get to see it – should be a clue to you that the cloud holds liquid moisture.
Read more at http://www.flyingmag.com/technique/tip-week/beware-pilots-halo#SEJjbLRRUOozBJHw.99 Have you ever been flying over a cloud deck and noticed a rainbow halo around the shadow of your airplane? Besides being pretty to look at, this ring-shaped rainbow – called a “pilot’s halo” or “glory of the pilot” because we’re usually the only ones who get to see it – should be a clue to you that the cloud holds liquid moisture. I don’t know about that, but if your airplane isn’t approved for flight into known icing and the temperature is ripe for icing conditions, you should consider steering clear of that cloud layer. You can ask ATC for pireps of icing conditions and check with Flight Watch for current and forecast conditions, but that’s still no guarantee you won’t pick up ice in the clouds if the temperature is in the range that’s conducive to icing. Read the full Beware the 'Pilot's Halo' tip here. For more lists like this, check out our Top 20 Aviation Stories of 2013. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.