Fuel Exhaustion: Pay Attention to The Indicators and to Your Attitude

Many moons ago, a new-hire pilot told me about a flight he had on his most recent shift. This flight was outside of our normal local operating area, and would certainly involve a fuel stop for the return with our normal fuel loadout. After giving me the general details of the flight, he told me that the low fuel warning light illuminated on short approach into the primary destination: a rooftop helipad in a major city. After shutting down and dropping off the passengers, he elected to start up and depart the pad to the nearest fuel source: a towered airport approximately seven minutes away by air. That’s right: he departed with the low fuel warning light still illuminated.

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Say Goodbye To The Textual Area Forecast (FA)

I haven’t used the textual Area Forecast for flight planning since the early 2000s, aside from showing it to students for training. The same goes for actually phoning a weather briefer. I use the wide array of digital weather resources available to us from both official and unofficial sources for determining conditions for each flight, and I believe that all pilots should be comfortable and capable of determining this from these textual and graphical resources without assistance. Guess what? The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is finally getting rid of the limited-utility Area Forecasts (FA).

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Aviation Altitudes and Altimeters

Understanding the fundamentals of altitudes and altitude reporting systems (altimeters) is important for flight planning, performance calculations, regulatory compliance, and in-flight problem solving. This subject is covered early in training for the Private Pilot Certificate, but I found it often needs review even up to the Certified Flight Instructor Certificate training level, thanks primarily to disuse.

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Electronic vs Mechanical Flight Computers (E6B and CX2)

For many decades, students, pilots, and flight instructors have been debating a very important flight training industry question: Should I use an electronic or mechanical flight computer? Well, it isn’t THAT important, but this question was debated even back in the 1990s when I first started flying, and still is with today’s generation of pilots. What’s all the debate about? I’ll give you my opinion in less than 600 words (a two-minute read).

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Temporary—Yet Basically Permanent—Notices To Airmen

The Notices To Airmen (NOTAM) Publication—updated every 28 days—contains NOTAMs that are not given during pilot briefings unless specifically requested by the pilot.1 As such, it is our responsibility to review these already published NOTAMs for applicable information for every flight, in addition to new NOTAMs. Some of these are easily forgotten or poorly reviewed in helicopter flight training, yet we are held responsible to comply with these notices: they are regulatory.

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What Are Known Icing Conditions?

You are about to go on a helicopter training flight at a local airport. There’s an Airmen’s Meteorological Information (AIRMET) Zulu posted for icing inclusive of your area of flight. Your helicopter has the following limitation written in the Rotorcraft Flight Manual (RFM): “Flight into known icing conditions prohibited.” Can you fly?

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