Love at First Flight

Grumman AA1A maneuvers

Above: Maneuverability and handling characteristics vary from aircraft to aircraft. Pictured here is Captain Judy Rice in her AA1A. Captain Judy’s Corner: Love at First Flight – Handling Characteristics Make Every Aircraft Unique Aircraft handling characteristics are important. I initially trained in a docile Cessna 150 (C150) and a spunky Piper Tomahawk. I appreciated the C150’s stability and enjoyed the Tomahawk’s maneuverable handling characteristics. Shortly after completing my private pilot check ride, I noticed a cute little airplane practicing take-offs and landings. Looking to increase my experience, this looked to be a fun airplane to fly. I inquired at the airport office regarding this mysterious airplane. Three pilots owned the Grumman AA1A. One of the owners offered a flight and mentioned it was … Read more

The Need for Speed

Citation Mustang flown by Captain Judy Rice

Above: Captain Judy Rice stands next to the Citation Mustang in which she broke a world speed record. Captain Judy’s Corner: The Need for Speed Going for a world record! An aircraft speed record is no small thing. As the Citation approached Kangerlussuaq, Greenland (BGSF), I queried the Air Traffic Controller about their readiness as officiators for my Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), National Aeronautic Association (NAA) World Record Attempt. The controller responded, “Affirmative.” After landing, two airport officials assured the jet was fueled before giving a friendly wave as I taxied to the runway hold lines. After that, ATC cleared us direct to Reykjavik. In a heavy Danish accent, the air traffic controller remarked, “The clock is ready for your record-breaker, N178SF!” Kangerlussuaq, … Read more

Turbulence

Flight Turbulence

Pilots experience different types of turbulence during flight. Understanding turbulence can help you better respond when you face this situation. Captain Judy’s Corner: What is turbulence? What is the definition of turbulence? Flight turbulence is something most passengers hate. What is turbulence? The definition of turbulence is a sudden, violent shift in airflow. It creates up and down currents caused by irregular atmospheric motion. We were in the clouds, Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), and flying in an area without radar coverage. My first officer (FO) was busy programming the Citation jet’s system with the latitude and longitude coordinates instructed by Bangladesh controllers. I focused on leveling the Citation at FL390 (39,000’). Suddenly the FO pointed upward exclaiming, “Oh my!” I … Read more

This Is Your Captain Speaking

This is your Captain Speaking

This is your Captain speaking… Captain Judy’s Corner: The Importance of Understanding the Ignition System You have envisioned sitting in the left seat announcing to the passengers, “This is your Captain speaking, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.” Awaking from your dream, you look over at the mounds of study material open on the desk. What do I need to know to become a pilot? Nothing as an Earthling prepares a student for the amount of what seems like alien knowledge and skills required to become a pilot. A few examples of this knowledge required to earn a certificate are the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) comparable to studying a legal document; then understanding weather as an amateur meteorologist; and, … Read more

Hurricane Preparedness

Nat Geo Hurricane Tracks over 10 years

10-Year Hurricane Track (2005-2015) Source: National Geographic Captain Judy’s Corner: Hurricanes – What’s in a name? Did you know that “Huracan” was the god of big winds and evil spirits worshiped by the Maya people of Central America? Hurricane preparedness is serious business. While people have been naming major storms for hundreds of years, meteorologist first named hurricanes by the latitude and longitude coordinates where the storm was located. This system of tracking was confusing to people seeking hurricane information. In the early 1950s, the U.S. National Hurricane Center started the process by naming storms according to a phonetic alphabet, such as: Able, Baker, Charlie. The first hurricane of each season was always named “Able,” the second “Baker,” and so … Read more

Once Upon a Time: Filing a Flight Plan

Captain Judy Rice

Captain Judy Rice found the ICAO International Flight Plan form beneficial during her world flight. Captain Judy’s Corner: Once Upon a Time… Filing a Flight Plan This fairy tale began long before the FAA announcement for change to the form used by United States pilots when filing a flight plan. The purpose of a flight plan might be compared to going on a long drive to visit a relative. You let your relative know the overall anticipated travel arrangements, and you include approximate time of arrival. An overdue arrival would likely cause concern, and your relative will likely call you to make sure you’re alright. A flight plan is much like having your relative on the other end of your … Read more

Thunderstorm Flexibility

Flying in thunderstorms

Captain Judy’s Corner: Flexibility is the Key to Safety in a Thunderstorm Thunderstorm flexibility is essential for all pilots. The Citation was at FL370 (37000’) when I saw a thunderstorm building in the distance. I was amazed to watch and feel this energy from a far distance. The cumulonimbus clouds were building higher than the jet’s altitude. The lightning brightened the darkening sky. Are thunderstorms really all that dangerous? Thunderstorms are part of summer weather in Florida, and most pilots here know to respect them. Thunderstorms are one of nature’s most powerful forces and a weather hazard that are dangerous for all pilots. Flying too close to these powerful beasts can end in disaster. Pilots must understand thunderstorms and all … Read more

Go-Arounds

Go-Around Maneuver

Captain Judy’s Corner: Go-Arounds? That is the question! To Go-Around or not to Go-Around, that is the question. However, there are some questions pilots should ask themselves before making this decision much sooner than the final approach. Safe pilots should ask themselves, “Is the landing checklist complete?” and “Is the approach stabilized?” A good, safe landing begins before entering the airport environment with continued evaluation throughout the entire phase of landing. What are some examples of go-around situations? One go-around I recall, after having completed the appropriate landing checklists and while on a stabilized approach, was when a sudden gust of wind lifted my airplane into the air over the runway threshold. This destabilized my approach so the decision was … Read more

Density Altitude

Density Altitude Article

Captain Judy’s Corner: Density Altitude After all, airplanes don’t feel. Or, do they? How does hot, humid air affect flying? The cockpit felt like a sauna in the Arizona heat. Not only was I enduring the summer heat, but so was the airplane. How might an airplane suffer from heat? After all, airplanes do not feel? Or do they? Flying on a cool Florida morning or evening, you will notice ample runway remaining before lift-off and how eager the airplane climbs. Fly on a hot, muggy afternoon, and the runway remaining before lift-off will be far less. The airplane would climb much slower, as well. Temperature, pressure, and moisture (dewpoint) in the air affects our airplanes’ performance: an increase required … Read more

Ready for Attitude Flying?

Avoid Hazardous Attitudes

Captain Judy’s Corner: Avoid Hazardous Flying Attitudes Is it important to verify checkpoints? Hazardous flying attitudes can occur at any time. I knew myself fairly well when I started flying lessons at age 40. Or so I thought. The long solo cross-country was when I discovered what I did not know. During that flight, I had not properly timed or verified checkpoints resulting in becoming completely off-course. My drive home from this particular flight provided reflection on how to be a better pilot. I’d replayed each skill set. I flew the airplane well and used the checklist regularly but was consistently lost. What surprised me was how many times I said to myself, “That check point is only slightly off … Read more