Jet Whine

I flew on several commercial (jet) aircraft in the recent weeks, in a Boeing 737-900 to Denver, an Airbus A320 to Dallas, and a Canadair Regional Jet RJ700. Of course I can wax eloquent about these various aircraft’s ability to transport hundreds of people and thousands of pounds several thousand feet into the atmosphere at hundreds of knots, but all I can think of is how the American system of air travel has been transformed from, if not quite elegance then certainly ease, to what it is today, an invitation for poorly-trained representatives of the federal government to invade your personal space and property in a stultifying show of security Kabuki theater.

Followed shortly, when it is their turn, by representatives of the various airlines to increase passenger blood pressure by periodically issuing nonsensical, usually disembodied commands to harried folks and expecting those to be blindly and instantly obeyed. Which is a shame, because flight, even in the cozy confines of the CRJ 700—a flying cattle car if there ever was one—is a truly splendid thing. I was able to use Avare on my phone (thankfully unmolested by roving flight attendants now that the FCC no longer cares) to monitor the progress of the flight complete with airspeed, altitude and lateral guidance.

It brings the following quote to mind:

Flying is both the science of harnessing […] varying air forces and the art of controlling them.

Blue skies …

VORget About It

I can almost guarantee you that everything you know about tracking VORs is wrong or if in the off chance you have become by blood, toil, tears, and sweat, accomplished with VORs, then I can almost guarantee that your system–if it can be called that–is too complicated. But perhaps I’m projecting because it was for me, until I read Never Get Lost by the Austrian author Wilhem Thaller when it all snapped into focus.

I use “read” in a loose sense because Mr. Thaller, bless his German-speaking heart, brutally stuck a knife in the language when he published his book in English. It’s an atrocious translation and almost made me wish I spoke German so I could read it in the original. Since I had neither the inclination or time, I plucked from the book what I could; it made me feel like I was mining for gold in a mound of manure.

With time and Internet wanderings, I found articles on VOR navigation by Andrew Sarangan and Joe Campbell that echoed Thaller and in better English, thank ye God!  Then came Gian Luca Noia on Youtube to translate all that text into full-motion video! If you ever have had problems with interpreting VOR navigation, I promise that this will have you wondering what the big deal was. It will also amaze your instructor(s) when you can tell (within seconds) where you are in relation to a VOR and what’s more, how to navigate with respect to any radial you’re given. Again, instantly:

Flight Tests–A Review


A review I posted to Amazon.

I knew I was about to read something most definitely not run-of-the-mill when I read the cover that showed the book was endorsed by an organization known as the Live Cowards Club. Since this is a club for which I will handily pass any and all entrance tests, it tickled the old laugh muscles.

Make no assumptions though, this is a very serious book, just written in a humorous manner: that of showing oneself capable of being a good and safe pilot to an examiner. It is mainly written from a South African point of view (so expect to stumble into words spelled weird like ‘manoeuvre’ 😉 ) although the laws of physics holds no matter where you fly. As Davis says, this little book “takes you through each flying exercise and tells you what [the examiner] expects of you.”

Each part of the check ride is examined, from pre-flight inspection to steep turns, to cross-country flying. Each section is filled with tips and the strong voice of a very experienced pilot. In essence, this book will help you get mentally prepared for the test. Here’s one from near the front of the book:

“Try to do everything smoothly. Imagine that you have your 90-year-old granny in the back, and its[sic] her first flight ever. Do everything smoothly, even small things like applying carb-heat, changing power settings or selecting flap. Passengers should not be able to notice changes of power and speed and attitude.”

With equal parts mindset framing, expounding on the philosophy of good airmanship and practical flying technique information, this is a book that punches above its weight class. Five highly recommended stars.