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A checkride turns smoky

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After a lot of time and effort, I came to the date of my checkride. I was certainly well prepared. As usual the first step was the oral exam. The examiner was a gracious man from an old line flying business based at Cleveland Hopkins. He accommodated me by driving clear over to the field where I trained, CGF in Richmond Heights.

He checked my paperwork and we began. We were in a large conference room. I answered a number of questions about FARs and then we broke out the Cleveland sectional. This involved cross country flight planning to the limit of the 152’s range while the examiner excused himself, leaving me to do this on my own. I finished within the allotted time and he pronounced himself satisfied.

Decision time. It was kind of a lousy morning, blustery with erratic gusts of wind.

The examiner said it was my call, since I was pilot in command for the flight, but he said if it was up to him he would reschedule the flight test due to the wind conditions. He was offering me a graceful way out, and I took it. That was the direction I was leaning and the suggestion came as an affirmation. I hated to drag him back for a second day but the decision seemed best. He assured me that it wasn’t a problem and praised my good judgment.

We reconvened the following morning. It was worth the wait: the weather was nearly perfect, and nowhere near as distracting as it had been the previous day.

We began, starting with a short field take off. The examiner was competent and fair, and he really put me through my paces. I remember particularly unusual attitudes and an unplanned diversion to an unfamiliar airport. The flight was going well, and I was confident.

Fire in cockpit with smoke 300x171 - A checkride turns smoky
Smoke in the cockpit is almost always an emergency.

He asked me to set a course for Lost Nation Airport (LNN) in order to do some pattern work. The flight suddenly become far more interesting. I thought I noticed an odd smell in the cockpit, something  unfamiliar in the context of the trusty 152.

Suddenly there was smoke on the cockpit. The examiner directed me to proceed direct to LNN and expedite the landing. He began pulling circuit breakers in an effort to trouble shoot the the source of the smoke.

I put the airplane on the ground and cleared the active runway. A process of elimination had located the correct circuit breaker and the smoke was gone. The examiner laughed and said that there was no need to create an artificial cockpit distraction on the grounds that I handled the real one capably.

We took off and returned to CGF, where the adventure had begun two and half  hours earlier.

I parked the airplane and the examiner asked me how I thought I did. I started off on a tangent. He stopped me, and said, “You did fine! Let’s go in the office so I can type up your temporary certificate.”

It was a very expensive autograph, and the realization of a goal extending back to childhood. Back at the flight school office I found myself in a receiving line, accepting the warm congratulations of my peers. It was a proud moment and I drove home with the usual cautions ringing in my ears: don’t be complacent; recognize this as a license to learn, a proposition that will never end.

The next morning I was on the phone signing up for a ground school leading to a tailwheel endorsement, the point where I really learned to fly.

The whole thing was a lesson in perseverance, and it’s important to recognize how your success might benefit others. Shortly after this I took a child up for his first ride. Many years later that wide-eyed little boy went to a lot of trouble to look me up. He isn’t a little boy anymore. When he found me he was US Air Force captain, flying hurricane relief in a C – 17. Earlier this year he was promoted to the rank of major and he’s instructing in Texas.

We never know how far our influence might extend.

Check Out These Photos Of The Blue Angels Flying The Diamond Formation With The Super Hornets For The First Time

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Check Out These Photos Of The Blue Angels Flying The Diamond Formation With The Super Hornets For The First Time
Blue Angel Super Hornet head on. (All images: U.S. Navy)

The Blue Angels have started preparing the 2021 flight demonstration season with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

As we already reported, the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Team, flew their final formation flight with the “Legacy” F/A-18C/D Hornet on  Nov. 4, 2020. After flying the F/A-18C single-seat and F/A-18D two-seat Hornet from 2010 (previously, from 1986 to 2010 the Blues flew the F/A-18-A/B jets) the team is in fact transitioning to the new Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for the 2021 flight demonstration season.

The team’s first scheduled demonstration in the new, larger Super Hornets is on April 10-11, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida at the Naval Air Station JAX Air Show, and training for the first airshow with the new jet is underway at NAS Pensacola, home of the Blues.

For the first time this week, four Super Hornet pilots flying in the #1 to #4 positions have flown practice maneuvers performed by the team’s signature “Diamond” formation. The solos, #5 and #6, have also trained with the new aircraft, conducting opposing maneuvers.

Blue Angels SH 1 - Check Out These Photos Of The Blue Angels Flying The Diamond Formation With The Super Hornets For The First Time
Blue #4 generates halo effect on clouds during practice flight. 

The team published on social media some stunning images of the team’s Super Hornets during these training sorties.

Blue Angels SH 3 - Check Out These Photos Of The Blue Angels Flying The Diamond Formation With The Super Hornets For The First Time
Breaking hard.

Here’s what we wrote about the new F/A-18E/F in a previous article we published here at The Aviationist:

The new Boeing F/A-18E single-seat and two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornets are larger, more capable aircraft than the “legacy” Hornet. As we previously reported on, the Blue Angels say, “The Super Hornet is 25% larger, can fly 40% further, remain on station 80% longer and carry more weapons than its predecessors. The Super Hornet F/A-18 E/F models have deployed with battle groups since 2001.”

The bigger F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets have a wingspan that is 4′ 3.6″ wider than the previous Hornet. That is over four-feet more wingspan. This greater wingspan will be visually apparent in Blue Angel demos.

The Super Hornet is also 4′ 3″ longer than the legacy Hornet and sits nearly one-foot higher at the top of its twin tails. These larger dimensions may make the new Blue Angel Super Hornets even easier to see and photograph at flight demos.

When we spoke to former Blue Angel’s commander, then-Capt. Eric Doyle, Blue Angel #1, about the transition to the new Super Hornet. Capt. Doyle told that, “Our goal is to make it seamless. You’ll see blue jets appear in another year that are Super Hornets, that are going to look a lot like this one. They’re F-18s, so they’re built by Boeing, and the demo will look very similar.”

One difference that may also be apparent to airshow fans with the new, larger, Super Hornets is more thrust. Pilots who have flown both the Hornet and Super Hornet tell that sustaining turn-rates and generating acceleration at low altitudes is going to be much easier in the larger, more powerful Super Hornet. This could make the Blue’s demos even more thrilling and dynamic than their previous routines.

Blue Angels SH - Check Out These Photos Of The Blue Angels Flying The Diamond Formation With The Super Hornets For The First Time
The bigger F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets have a wingspan that is 4′ 3.6″ wider than the previous Hornet. That is over four-feet more wingspan. This greater wingspan will be visually apparent in Blue Angel demos.

While the team prepares for the airshow season with the Super Hornet, the retired F/A-18C/D aircraft have already started joining museum collections: on Nov. 18, 2020, an F/A-18C piloted by Cmdr. Frank Weisser, landed at Washington Dulles Airport and taxied to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA, where it is going to be put on display after preparation work. It’s the first “Blue Angels” aircraft and the first F-18 the museum has acquired.

Plane Facts: Sole Survivors

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Flight 5191 Memorial WIKI LEAVEROOMFORCAP - Plane Facts: Sole Survivors

Fatalities In Crash Of Yemenia Flight 626 (2009): 152 (2009)
Survivors: 1
Name: Bahia Bakari
Age: 14
Hours Spent At Sea Clinging To Wreckage: Nine-plus
Injuries: Hypothermia, fractured collarbone
Last Memory Before Crash: Announcement to fasten seatbelt

Fatalities On Northwest Airlines Flight 255 (1987): 154
Fatalities On The Ground: 2
Lone Survivor: Cecelia Cichan, age 4
How She Was Found: Shielded under her mother
Gifts Received In Hospital: 2,000+
Cards: 30,000+
Special Attendee At Her Wedding: Firefighter who saved her life

Crash Where Sole Survivor Was At The Controls: Comair Flight 5191 (2006)
Cause: Incorrect runway/runway overrun
Runway Used: 26, 3,501 ft 
Length The CL-600 Required For Takeoff: 3,744 ft

Sole Survivor Left Stranded In Remote Mountain Range: Annette Herfkens
Crash: Vietnamese Airlines Flight VN474 (1992)
Fatalities: 30
Days Before Rescue: 8
Herfkens’ Injuries: Fractured hips, collapsed lung, broken jaw

Longest Time Before A Sole Survivor Was Rescued: 11 days
Location: Amazon rainforest
Crash: LANSA Flight 508 (1971)
Fatalities: 91
Cause: Lightning strike
Miles Survivor Fell From Sky: 2

Furthest Distance Fallen From Plane And Survived: 6.31 miles
Survivor: Vesna Vulovic
Occupation: Flight attendant
Crash Involved: JAT Flight 367 (1972)
Cause: Briefcase bomb
Fatalities: 27

I’m Not Ready to Fly

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im not ready to fly - I’m Not Ready to Fly

I want to fly, but I just wouldn’t do it right now

There are many people right now questioning if it is safe to fly. It is a valid question, but I do not have the answer. For me personally, I have decided not to fly and I probably won’t be in the air for quite some time. Let me share some of my thoughts about the current situation, explain why I am not ready, and provide some advice for those who end up flying.

im not ready to fly 1 - I’m Not Ready to Fly

I miss seeing Mount Rainier from the air!

I love the airline business and it has pained me to watch the industry suffer. Hearing about the financial losses and seeing aircraft lined up in the desert is one thing, but employees losing their jobs is devastating.

For the most part, I think airlines and their employees have done an amazing job tackling this unprecedented situation. They have kept passengers informed on new safety procedures and have promoted the quality of the cabin air. No question this builds trust.

I am less worried about the airlines, but more concerned about the uptick in COVID, the other aspects of traveling, and most importantly: other passengers.

im not ready to fly 2 - I’m Not Ready to Fly

There are many steps to get from your front door to the gate – Photo: John Nguyen

There are some aspects of travel that I don’t think people think about, like getting to the airport. Some passengers will drive and park on-site, but most will need to use some form of transportation: a ride share, taxi, bus, shuttle, subway, etc. Trying to juggle luggage, travel companions, and other travel-related gear can add to the complexity and increase your risk.

Upon arrival, you are likely to find that most airports are making great strides in trying to keep things sanitary, but it can become overwhelming. A large airport might have thousands of passengers, from around the world, roaming the halls at any given time. Personally, I know that after flying for 10-15 hours, my hygiene is not at 100%. I am also pretty exhausted, which makes me more careless to my surroundings.

im not ready to fly 3 - I’m Not Ready to Fly

Wearing masks is not only a good thing — it is required – Photo: Delta Air Lines

Probably the biggest concern that I have are masks. I don’t care how you personally feel about them — you need to wear one. It is a requirement to travel; however, there are too many people who feel that they are above the rules and either choose not to wear them properly or not at all. I need to be able to build a stronger trust with the general flying public. I need to know that they will have my back, as I will have theirs.

im not ready to fly 4 - I’m Not Ready to Fly

Wanting to fly!

Other passengers are not my only worry. COVID cases are currently breaking new records daily. The increases are concerning enough that many officials are asking people to re-think their holiday plans and limit or even eliminate travel over the holidays. It is hard because even if someone is super careful over the holidays, you can’t trust that others will do the same.

im not ready to fly 5 - I’m Not Ready to Fly

My last flights were on a few Beech 1900Ds in Canada in February 2020

Don’t get me wrong. I want to fly so badly right now. And not just so I can personally get back into the air, but so that I can start supporting the airline industry again. I genuinely feel bad for the many hardworking airline employees, who aren’t sure what tomorrow is going to bring.

im not ready to fly 6 - I’m Not Ready to Fly

Flying is a good thing – Photo: Manu Venkat

In the end, each person will need to look at their particular situation and decide if they are willing to fly. I know some might not have much of a choice (due to work or family tragedy, etc). If you do decide to fly, be defensive, have a plan (I know a lot of us just wing it), and respect your fellow passengers. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Some airlines are blocking middle seats, some are reducing capacity, others are doing nothing. Pick one that fits your comfort zone.
  • Assume nothing has been sanitized and do it yourself.
  • TSA will let you take up to 12oz of hand sanitizer through security right now.
  • Bring your own food or drinks.
  • Respect that anxieties and tensions will be higher for passengers and try to be more patient.
  • Have a back-up mask in case you need it.
  • Avoid people as much as possible. Don’t hang around the gate and board last. Don’t use lounges if they are busy. Use self-service options at home to avoid any lines.
im not ready to fly 7 - I’m Not Ready to Fly

I want to get out and see the world again!

I am hoping that we can all come together as AvGeeks and do our part to get things back to something resembling “normal.” I don’t think it will be quick and it will likely take additional sacrifices, but I am optimistic!

I would love to know your thoughts and have a conversation in the comments. Are you okay with flying right now? Are there potential concerns that I missed? Are there more tips for people flying right now? If you are not flying, what concerns you the most? Passionate comments are welcome, I only ask that they be respectful.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER – SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

Mysteries Of Flight: Alien Abduction Or Pilot Error?

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ufo or pilot error - Mysteries Of Flight: Alien Abduction Or Pilot Error?

The Mystery

In 1978, low-time Aussie pilot Frederick Valentich, flying a rental Cessna 182, vanished after reporting an unidentified flying object circling above him. Could Valentich have fallen victim to a genuine alien abduction?


It was Oct. 21, 1978, and the sun was setting into the Australian horizon. At 6:19 p.m., a young pilot named Frederick Valentich took off in a rented Cessna 182L from Moorabbin Airport in Victoria. He was en route to King Island, a 130-nautical-mile journey over a body of water known as the Bass Strait. The Strait is famous for its difficult flying conditions, but on this night, the skies were clear and the winds calm. Valentich was eager to make his destination, where friends awaited, ready to dine on fresh seafood along the water’s edge.

Sadly, Valentich never made that dinner date, nor any thereafter. At 7:06 p.m., he called into Air Flight Service, citing an unidentified flying object maneuvering around him. “Seems to be a large aircraft, below five thousand…just passed over me at least a thousand feet above.” Valentich was at 4,500 feet. “It’s approaching right now from due east towards me…It seems to me that he’s playing some sort of game.”

His transmission became odder from there. First, he claimed the other aircraft was completely stationary. Next, he claimed it was orbiting above him. He then reported a rough-sounding engine, and the transmission was lost, ending at 7:12 p.m. with a loud metallic noise. Neither Valentich nor his aircraft were ever found.

UFO Theory

To say Valentich was obsessed with UFOs would be putting it mildly. He wasn’t just convinced of their existence; he also was convinced they would soon attack Earth. Some believe he got too close to the truth and was abducted. While it may seem a bit, well, out of this world, eyewitnesses alleged that something else was out there the night of his disappearance. One individual claimed to see a strange green light in the sky, similar to one noted in Valentich’s transmission.

It’s got a green light and is sort of metallic. Like it’s all shiny on the outside. It’s just vanished…”

The following morning, a farmer in Cape Otway, an area along the edge of Valentich’s flight path, observed a flying object hovering over his property. The object was approximately 30 meters across, and it appeared to have a small airplane attached to its side. According to the farmer, the attached aircraft was leaking oil. He so disturbed by what he saw that he etched the aircraft’s tail number into one of his tractors so he wouldn’t forget it. The number matched Valentich’s Cessna.

Crash Theory

Valentich was an eager young pilot with grand goals for his aviation career. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem such a career would ever happen for him. He was rejected by the Australian Air Force not once but twice. He had also recently failed his second attempt at passing the commercial flight exam. In his mere 150 flight hours, Valentich had been involved in three in-flight incidents, once when he entered restricted airspace and twice when he deliberately flew into clouds. He was under threat of prosecution for the latter.


Flying over water into the setting sun can be disorienting for even the best of pilots, never mind someone with Valentich’s history. Instead of focusing on critical flight tasks, he instead seemed distracted by fanciful delusions of a UFO. While the four lights he observed above him could have belonged to another aircraft, it’s more likely they were the lights of Mercury, Venus, Mars and a bright star called Antares.

According to his transmission, Valentich began circling his aircraft at some point. In a bank, it’s possible he fell victim to the titled horizon illusion. Becoming disoriented, he could have either entered a graveyard spiral or even become inverted. The green light he observed was likely his own being reflected off the water. Given the gravity-fed fuel system of a Cessna 182, his engine would have quickly been deprived of fuel, explaining why his transmission at the end sounded rough.

Staged Disappearance Theory

The night Valentich disappeared, police received several reports of an unidentified aircraft landing on Cape Otway. Assuming Valentich followed the flight plan he filed, he would have been in the Cape’s general vicinity at the time he began transmitting with Air Flight Service. Is it possible that Valentich, frustrated by his failing aviation career, fabricated the UFO sighting in order to stage his own disappearance? Not only would an “abduction” serve to validate his UFO conspiracies, but it would also give him a fresh start on an otherwise troubled life.

The Truth?

Valentich was not a victim of an alien abduction but rather a victim of himself. The farmer’s story, while riveting, didn’t surface until 36 years after Valentich’s disappearance. In fact, despite UFOlogists’ best efforts, such a farmer has never been found. As for the eyewitness who claimed to have seen a green light in the sky that night, they didn’t make their claim until after the newspapers had already reported on Valentich, noting a green light in his transmission.


Sadly, it would seem the aircraft observed over Cape Otway wasn’t landing but instead crashing into its surrounding waters. Valentich’s obsession with UFOs had simply got the better of him. While his aircraft was never recovered, in 1983, an engine cowl flap washed ashore on Flinders Island. The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation concluded the part came from a Cessna 182 between a certain range of serial numbers, including that of the one Valentich had been flying that fateful night.

Categories: How to Become a Pilot

Three out of four ain’t bad—unless you’re in a Lockheed Electra

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September 11, 1996, will always remain in my memory.

We had recently departed Terre Haute, Indiana, and were now cruising eastbound toward the Atlantic Coast at Flight Level 210. A young captain (me, at 40 years old) was still on his proving runs with a check airman when there was a problem. We had an engine fire warning on engine number four.

I could recall another engine fire warning on engine number three at precisely V1 (takeoff decision speed) when departing Kodiak, Alaska, the previous February. I was still a co-pilot then and it was my leg, so I would continue flying until after we had completed the engine fire checklist above 1,500 feet (Kodiak is barely above sea level).

After completing all the checklist items to extinguish the apparent fire on this day, we could not get the fire warning to stop—even after shooting the only two fire extinguisher bottles available to the engine. Paul had taken over as pilot in command during this very real emergency because he was the senior captain and I was just a new captain on my proving runs. So I asked my flight crew the Billy Graham question: “Are you ready to die?”

That would not be the first time that a Lockheed L-188 lost a wing in flight and spun into the ground. The Electra had problems with something called whirl mode until it was fixed by engineers from Douglas, Lockheed, and Boeing with something called the LEAP Modification.

So I prayed and gave the situation to God. My mind cleared immediately and I could now recall how my father often spoke at dinner regarding the wonderful challenges of dealing with ailing airplanes in flight as a flight engineer. He was very happy and quite satisfied with the challenges he faced dealing with problems in flight.

WQHXEXBJY4ZZVGGBRYJ726RO6A 300x169 - Three out of four ain’t bad—unless you’re in a Lockheed Electra
Wright-Pat is a pretty noticeable landmark for a pilot in distress.

I asked my check airman, Paul, if he wanted me to get the charts out so we could find our exact position and of course he said yes. But then I recalled that I have two eyeballs connected to my brain, and both were working. I looked down at the surrounding terrain and noticed that the Miami River was right underneath us, along with Interstate 75 gradually descending straight but sloping downward toward the Miami River area of Dayton, Ohio.

I started laughing. Somewhat irritated, Paul asked me, “Campbell, why are you laughing?”

I replied, “Who put the Miami River in Dayton, Ohio?”

Then Paul pointed straight ahead and asked what I saw. The massive expanse of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base lay straight ahead. Paul wanted to know if I could see the US Air Force Museum. There it was, slightly right of straight ahead and slightly down.

Having located our position as being very close to Dayton, Ohio, and having already completed the checklist for an engine fire, I began to contemplate what I had learned in Zantop International Airlines ground school under the fantastic tutelage of Billy Weber. Billy Weber had been the best flight engineer student during my father’s initial flight engineer class at Eastern Airlines in the fall of 1957, according to my father.

I simply recalled that Billy Weber had taught us that a flame cannot be propagated at an airspeed of 140 knots or more. So I translated that knowledge into a recommendation that we fly at maximum forward airspeed at any given altitude and temperature, better known as the variable airspeed of barber pole. We had no clue how fast air was actually moving underneath the engine nacelles because there is no airspeed indication from those locations. So the only thing we could do is fly at maximum airspeed for the airframe.

“Paul, let’s tell air traffic control that we will exceed 250 knots below 10,000 feet,” I said. The response by air traffic control to our declared emergency was eventually a frightened and shaking voice on their radio transmissions to us. (There was no airspeed limit above 10,000 feet of altitude.)

I also recommended that we fly at barber pole until we had to slow down for the ILS at the outer marker.

We had declared an emergency and explained the engine fire indication situation to Air Traffic Control. That would give us the latitude to disregard any applicable regulations where we had excellent reason to disobey regulations. Of course, there are good reasons why airplanes cannot usually exceed 250 knots below 10,000 feet, including a plethora of slow-moving traffic. But an engine fire indication is a great reason to go faster.

Electra on runway 300x179 - Three out of four ain’t bad—unless you’re in a Lockheed Electra
An engine fire in a Lockheed Electra is a serious problem.

Then I recalled from ground school another situation. Someone had thrown a cigarette into a trash bin in the lavatory of an Air Canada DC-9, causing the cabin to catch on fire. The airplane landed safely and stopped on the runway, where they should have evacuated. Instead, everyone—including Curtis Mathes, inventor of the large screen TV—died in the flashover and all-consuming fire. So did many others.

“Paul, let’s ask Dayton Tower to get the fire trucks to chase us as we land and then report if they see the slightest amount of smoke or fire.” I thought we should go down the ropes with the airplane stopped on the runway if the fire trucks reported we had smoke or fire as they chased us during our landing. Then I explained to Paul the Air Canada loss of life due to a fire. He agreed.

By now we were pretty much convinced we had a false engine fire indication, so that caused a little back and forth as to whether or not we really needed the fire trucks to chase us once we landed, but we settled on asking for help.

We landed without further incident. Fire trucks chased us down the runway on a parallel taxiway and reported no sign of smoke or fire. We taxied off of the runway to our normal ramp and performed a normal shut down instead of stopping on the runway and exiting the cockpit down escape ropes. We climbed down the ladder as usual.

I was told that I would be commended in writing for handling the situation well. Paul felt that I had been very helpful.

Friday Photo: the sun sets on a rewarding flight

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sunset at airport - Friday Photo: the sun sets on a rewarding flight

Click on image for full size.

The view: Taxiway A at Indianapolis Executive (TYQ) at sunset.

The pilot: Tom Kingston

The airplane: 1969 Cessna 172

The mission: Using my phone.

The memory: Another beautiful sunset after visiting three nearby airports.

Want to share your “Friday Photo?” Send your photo and description (using the format above) to:

Interesting Photos Of Spanish EF-18 Hornet With Inert Upgraded Taurus 350 Stand-off Air-Launched Cruise Missile

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Interesting Photos Of Spanish EF-18 Hornet With Inert Upgraded Taurus 350 Stand-off Air-Launched Cruise Missile
One of the three Spanish EF-18s carrying an inert Taurus missile. (Image credit: SpAF)

Spanish Air Force EF-18 Hornets are involved in the recertification after the MLU (Mid-Life Upgrade) of the Taurus 350 missile.

Three EF-18M Hornet (C.15 in accordance with the local designation) jets and a team of 19 military from the Centro Logístico de Armamento y Experimentación (Weapons and Experimentation Logistics Center) of the Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) deployed to Manching, Germany, last week, to carry out a testing campaign to re-certify the Taurus long-range missile after its modernization.

Taurus KEPD 350 is a German/Swedish ALCM (Air Launched Cruise Missile) that is manufactured by Taurus Systems GmbH, a partnership between MBDA Germany and Saab Dynamics. The missile has a range of +500 kilometres (300 mi), a speed of Mach 0.8-0.9 and stealth features. It is optimized for attacking deep buried bunkers and infrastructure even in anti-access and area denied environments. For this reason, the weapon, that has been in the inventory of the Spanish Air Force for 12 years, is considered to be of  strategic and tactical relevance for the Spanish armed forces.

The Taurus has recently been modernized as part of an MLU program (signed in 2018) that has introduced an updated missile software, newer Image Processing Computer (IPC) software and navigation algorithms, and has also integrated a new GPS antenna as well as an enhanced capacity GPS receiver vs. disturbance.

Spanish EF 18 with Taurus 2 - Interesting Photos Of Spanish EF-18 Hornet With Inert Upgraded Taurus 350 Stand-off Air-Launched Cruise Missile
One of the Spanish EF-18s with the inert Taurus missile on the right pylon. (Image credit: SpAF)

Two EF-18M of the Ala 12 will be involved in the testing: one, carrying the missile, the second (a two-seater) acting as chase, while the third jet will be used as a reserve, in case of failures grounding one of the Hornets.

According to the Spanish Air Force, the campaign is primarily aimed at ensuring the correct compatibility between the aircraft and the modified missile. The testing includes ground testing of communications between the launching platform and the Taurus; crew familiarization flights with the area of local testing and procedures; and also a “captive” flight during which a simulated missile launch is carried out. Following this simulated launch, the test plane follows the trajectory and flight conditions that the missile would perform on its free flight, checking that both the image acquisition system and the new navigation algorithms are working properly and as expected.

Spanish EF 18 with Taurus 1 - Interesting Photos Of Spanish EF-18 Hornet With Inert Upgraded Taurus 350 Stand-off Air-Launched Cruise Missile
The inert Taurus KEPD 350 during the tests at the Manching Military Air Systems Center.

Plane & Pilot Survey: Would You Fly On The Boeing 737 Max?

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Categories: How to Become a Pilot

Instrument flying basics.

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instrument flying basics - Instrument flying basics.

Knowing the basics of instrument flying will give you an idea of what you need to learn to become an instrument-rated pilot.

This article is for private pilots to know the activities in instrument flight training. I discussed the only crucial materials and fundamentals of IFR flying to ease your instrument flight training.

I explained why instrument training is not as challenging as many pilots fear and how it can grow you as a better pilot.

Instrument training is merely improving your already existing flying skills from your private pilot training.

There are three primary things that you must focus on improving to acquire instrument rating:

  1. Solely relying on necessary flight instruments to conduct flights without visual references.
  2. Use of navigational aids to maintain track, courses, and bearings;
  3. Using approach plates to land at the destination airport without visibility and in adverse weather.

These three elements are crucial to becoming a safer and better instrument pilot. Soon you will recognize the three aspects of instrument flying are a vast subject.

IFR trainees’ common struggle is reading approach plates, but you can quickly master them with patience and practice.

First Basis of Instrument flying: Solely use aircraft instruments to conduct flights without visual references.

As a private pilot, you learned to fly VFR.

VFR flights are composite flights as you simultaneously use ground references and the instruments to aviate and navigate.

On the contrary, to conduct IFR flights, you will solely depend on the instruments.

Know your aircraft instruments for better scanning. <3>

There are three classifications of instruments. It is necessary to discuss the types because these classifications will aid you in operating IFR flights.

Three classes of aircraft instruments are:

  • Control instruments – Attitude Indicator, Tachometer, etc.
  • Performance instruments – Airspeed indicator, Altimeter, Vertical Speed Indicator, Turn Coordinator.
  • Navigation instruments – HSI, ADF, GPS.

Depending on your maneuver, the control instruments and performance instruments will become primary and secondary instruments to scan. Navigation instruments will direct you to your destination.

Proper scanning during instrument flight is critical, and a continuous glance of instruments can become confusing for a pilot without appropriate scanning methods.

To use the instruments properly, you have to practice the instrument scan technique.

The straightforward scanning technique keeps the attitude indicator at the center of your attention and then frequently look to the corresponding instrument that supports your current maneuver.

Attitude indicator requires the center of your attention as it reflects the aircraft’s pitch and bank angle.

The three standard instrument scan errors of trainee pilots, even for expert instrument pilots, are as follows:

  1. Omission – Not scanning an instrument;
  2. Fixation – Staring at an instrument for too long;
  3. Emphasis – Relying too much on a single instrument.

How to use the combined instruments for IFR flying?

You will learn the same basic maneuvers as you learned during your private pilot training, but now solely using the airplane instruments.

The four basic maneuvers of instrument flights are:

  • Steady airspeed climbs and descents;
  • Straight and level flight;
  • Level turns;
  • Constant rate climb and descents.

You will combine control instruments and power instruments to fly the airplane without looking outside the aircraft.

It sounds dangerous, but the reality is instrument flights are often safer than VFR flights, and all airlines operate flights using instruments.


To maneuver an airplane during IMC conditions, you must remember an acronym that will help you operate the aircraft. While training for IFR, remembering these steps will help you think ahead of the aircraft.

It is essential to think and act ahead of the aircraft in instrument flights, so remember these acronym ETSA:

  • E – Establish pitch and power for each maneuver;
  • T – Trim airplane to release pressure from the controls;
  • S – Scan performance instruments;
  • A – Adjust control instruments as required.

There are rules for maneuvering the aircraft in IMC conditions with the scanning technique.

Steady climbs and descents.

While climbing or descending, you must follow the ETSA acronym to establish your maneuver.

To keep your aircraft steady, you have to observe the instruments. At this stage, your primary pitch indicator is the Airspeed indicator, and the secondary tool for pitch indications is the Attitude indicator.

To track bank angle during steady climbs or descends, observe the Heading indicator, and your supporting instrument is the Turn coordinator.

Straight and level instrument flight basics.

During a straight and level flight, your primary pitch indication instrument is Altimeter, and the supporting pitch instrument is the vertical speed indicator (VSI).

At this stage, your primary bank indicator is the Heading indicator, and the supporting bank indicator is the turn coordinator.

Level Turns in an instrument flight.

For level turns in an instrument flight follow the acronym ETSA.

E – Establish a maximum 30 degrees bank angle. More than that is unnecessary for instrument flights;

T – Trim as required to release pressure from the controls;

S – Scan performance instruments;

A – Adjust control instruments.

For level turns, observe Altimeter for primary indications of pitch angle and VSI as the secondary pitch angle.

Check the Turn coordinator as the primary instrument and the attitude indicator for the supporting instrument to keep an eye on the bank angle.

To roll out from a level turn, you must again follow the acronym ETSA.

There is a simple technique for a smooth transition from a bank to your desired heading.

  • Suppose you are turning at a bank angle of 20 degrees. Your desired magnitude is 260 degrees.
  • So begin rolling out at a heading of either 250 degrees or 270 degrees.

That way, you will have a smooth instrument flight without too many corrections to make.

The math for this is simple:

  1. Divide your bank angel by 2, such as in this case 20/2 = 10;
  2. Now add or subtract 10 degrees from your desired heading to determine which magnitude you must begin transition.

Climbing and descending turns for IFR flights.

Follow the ETSA acronym for climbing and descending turns, and then focus on instruments to track your maneuver in this order.

For pitch, the primary instrument is the Airspeed indicator or the Vertical speed indicator. The secondary tool for observing pitch is the Attitude indicator.

The primary instrument is the Turn coordinator, and the supporting mechanism is the Attitude indicator to observe bank angle.

Constant rate climbs and descends.

For constant rate climbs and descents, observe the VSI for primary pitch indications and the attitude indicator for supporting pitch indications.

For bank angle indications, use the Heading indicator or the directional gyro as your primary tool and the attitude indicator as your supporting tool.

Learn to use navigational aids for instrument flying.

Did you learn to use navigational aids during your private pilot training? If you did, it’s going to be useful now.

For instrument training, you will navigate using navigation instruments.

Not knowing how to use the navigational aids is not an option for IFR flights.

VOR is the typical instrument private pilots learn to use. But as an instrument pilot, you have to master the use of HSI and GPS. Similarly, you will learn the use of an instrument landing system (ILS). ILS consists of the localizer and glideslope that helps safe landing of an aircraft.

You will use the navigation instruments to track courses and bearings en-route to your destination.

Unlike VFR flights, you have no landmark to follow in an instrument flight. Your only aid is the navigational aids and instruments present in your airplane.

Don’t want to land at the wrong airport? Then master using navigational aids.

Master approach plate uses for excellent landing.

Understanding the approach plates and charts is the most critical aspect of instrument flying.

An approach plate gives heads up to the pilots on arrival and approach procedure to the destination airport.

Misreading the approach plates can have fatal consequences.

An approach place has everything a pilot needs to learn about the destination airport for a safe touchdown.

Plan view and profile view of an airport’s:

  • Arrival procedure;
  • Fixes;
  • Minimum and maximum altitude between fixes;
  • Localizer distance;
  • Glideslope angle and distance;
  • Runway course, Runway elevation, Runway length;
  • Essential Airport frequencies;
  • When to break the glide is given in the approach plate;
  • Likewise, details about missed approach procedures.

If you know to read an approach plate, you can automatically land the airplane in IMC. Follow the instructions and land the aircraft smoothly in adverse weather conditions.

Nevertheless, for instrument rating trainees, the arrival and departure procedures are most challenging.

IFR approach to an airport is genuinely critical in adverse weather.

Understanding approach plates is crucial, and knowing how to use approach plates will make your IFR flight a breeze.

There is a course by Rod Machado that only focuses on the arrival and departure procedures of IFR.

Take that course, as it only emphasizes the necessary materials for instrument approach and departure.

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