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The 8 Most Iconic American Aircraft

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The 8 Most Iconic American Aircraft

Few of us are old enough to remember when the phrase “Piper Cub” was synonymous with “small plane.” No matter what brand or model of plane just “crash landed” on old County Road 117, whether it was an Aeronca, Stinson or Stearman, people would voice their astonishment at the antics of that “Piper Cub,” the name in their minds being synonymous with “airplane.” In more recent decades, the honor of such familiarity has gone to Cessna. “Did you hear about that Cessna that buzzed city hall!” And, of course, when the conversation turned to jets, for many years, every one of them was a “Learjet.” 

The reason for this brand-blind shorthand is easy. The planes that take on the weight of identity for an entire segment are icons—famous and widely produced models that for one reason or another have captured a place in the popular imagination reserved for the most special people, places and things. So, the images of speedy and luxurious Learjets in James Bond movies or olive-drab J-3 Cubs defending freedom in WW II Europe didn’t hurt their cases, nor did the 172’s mantle of most-produced plane ever. 

When it comes to household names, it’s the largely aviation-unaware households that name the tune. Interestingly enough, though, aviation enthusiasts would almost always put the same planes on their most iconic playlists, and for good reason. The planes that have reached such status are ones that have achieved remarkable feats, extraordinary fame or some other kind of cultural significance, most of which were hard-earned and well deserved. As you’ll see. 

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Harrison Ford: A Pilot Who Gives Back To Aviation

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Harrison Ford: A Pilot Who Gives Back To Aviation

As Han Solo, he finished the Kessel Run in much less than 12 parsecs. As Indiana Jones, he discovered exactly how to”fly, yes. Land, no.” And Also as President James Marshall, he flew a paralyzed Air Force One as well as conserved his family members. Harrison Ford isn’t simply a star playing at being a pilot; he’s gained his wings in genuine life.

Born upon July 13, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, Ford is just one of the highest-earning ticket office A-listers in movie background. Also in air travel, his experiences have actually made headings. While it is simple to consider Ford currently as the guy that has a garage any kind of pilot would certainly covet, air travel had not been constantly a very easy course for Ford. When training ended up being as well pricey, he originally started finding out to fly in the 1960s however was compelled to stop. His love for aeronautics never ever subsided as well as, after his luck in Hollywood, Ford once again transformed his eyes to the skies.

Ford began flying once again in the 1990s, picking up from among his company pilots in a Cessna 182. Ford quickly traded out the 182 for a Cessna 206, the plane that would certainly take him air-borne for his very first solo trip. Ford obtained his exclusive pilot’s certification at the age of 53.

Not one to quit there, Ford took place to make his helicopter scores, although this, also, had a rough beginning. While he exercised autorotations with a trainer in 1999, the helicopter was not able to recuperate power after the fast decrease in elevation. Ford as well as his teacher were able to prevent significant injury. Ford took place to attain his helicopter ranking as well as bought a Bell 407GX helicopter in 2013. Ford in addition gained his Private Pilot Single Engine Sea, Multi Engine Land as well as Instrument Airplane rankings while adding 2 kind scores.

It’s what he has actually done with those rankings that’s most outstanding. Ford has actually taken part in numerous hill saves with his Bell 407, operating in combination with Teton County Search and also Rescue. One rescue entailed recuperating a shed walker. The walker, upon boarding Ford’s helicopter, quickly threw up, later on stating, “I can not think I thrown up in Harrison Ford’s helicopter!” In addition, Ford has actually offered with his helicopter in the middle of the California wildfires.


Ford has actually constantly utilized his Hollywood popularity to aid additionally aeronautics. In 2004, Ford approved the setting as the Young Eagles volunteer chairman. He offered in the setting up until 2009, directly flying greater than 300 Young Eagles trips himself. Ford additionally flew the 2 millionth Young Eagle trip in 2016 at EAA Oshkosh, taking a 16-year-old girl for a flight in his de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver.

While Ford’s popularity loads his garage perfectly, it comes at an expense. No blunder (or also task of pilot ability) goes undetected when you’re one of the most popular individuals in the globe. In 2015, Ford masterfully landed his Ryan PT-22 on a golf links in Venice, California, instantly making headings. The general public assumption that Ford, as a star, should not have actually collapsed in all is absolutely unjust. In truth, Ford landed an airplane that has infamously hostile stall-spin propensities complying with an engine failing soon after launch. He was hurt yet recouped to fly once again.

Once more, in 2 different events in 2017 and also 2020, Ford made headings, when for mistakenly arriving on a taxiway and also when for going across a path without authorization. For a lot of various other pilots, neither would certainly have generated the resulting media craze, however, for Ford, both cases led to an information cycle. Ford very well possessed up to his errors in both circumstances and also has actually proceeded flying.


Ford remains to utilize his popularity for the improvement of the air travel neighborhood, having actually made a number of journeys to Washington, D.C., to promote for the basic aeronautics area along with acting as a board participant of the altruistic aeronautics company Wings of Hope. Ford has actually additionally contributed funds to The Bob Hoover Academy, a philanthropic company that instructs at-risk teenagers in California to fly. Ford himself remains to fly to this particular day.

Do you intend to check out an additional Incredible Pilot? Take a look at “Tex Johnston: The Pilot that Rolled a Boeing 707” below.

Most Current Red Bull Aviation Stunt Features Two … Cessnas?!

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Most Current Red Bull Aviation Stunt Features Two ..

Austria-based energy-drink manufacturer Red Bull has a point it calls the Red Bull Air Force. There is a freedom taken by calling a staff of BASE pilots, skydivers, as well as jumpers– any person that drifts, flies, or is up to as component of Red Bull’s immensely efficiently self-promotion– an “flying force,” however the label functions. The previous Red Bull Air Races, as an example, would certainly drop under the marketing umbrella of the Red Bull Air Force.

An upright feat entailing 2 diving Cessna Skylanes and also a mid-air swap of pilots? Possibly Red Bull really did not see exactly how useful the dependable 182 has actually ended up being to owner-pilots and also flying clubs.

They’re going for it, and also they desire you to tune in. The pilots will certainly be Luke Aikins as well as Andy Farrington, and also they’ve outfitted each Skylane stomach with a substantial dive brake. Red Bull mentions the feat will certainly start from 14,000 feet which the airplanes will certainly keep concerning 140mph in “integrated” dives while the pilots departure, cross airborne as well as occupy piloting each various other’s airplane.

While Red Bull proclaims the feat a”globe initially … 10 years planned, “it is not without criterion. Also the earliest barnstormers done air-to-air transfers. Concerning twenty years back, X-Games champ and also MTV individuality Troy Hartman as well as pilot Robert Scott declared the “very first plane-to-plane skydive,” in which a Piper Pacer was kept in an upright dive using drag chute. Do not fail to remember the opening series of the 1995 James Bond movie Goldeneye, when stuntman B.J. Worth cruised from a motorbike, off a high cliff, right into a diving Pilatus Porter.

Categories: How to Become a Pilot


Speed Is Life (And Momentum Is Its Sidekick)

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There is more to the relationship between airspeed, energy management and aircraft control than meets the eye. The fighter pilot’s motto, “Speed is Life,” is the gospel in combat, where those who are most skillful at energy management generally win the fight. Multi-engine pilots know that precise air speed control is critical when engines begin to fail. And our colleague, Sir Isaac Newton, reminds us that in addition to the four forces of flight, there is a fifth force, momentum, that significantly impacts aircraft performance. So, let’s start this journey by taking a quick trip back to high school physics class! 

TRIGGER ALERT: MATHEMATICAL FORMULA FOLLOWS… In the most memorable line from Top Gun, Maverick loudly proclaims, “I feel the need, the need for speed.” Test pilots, engineers and geniuses aside, most pilots are not into theoretical equations, or, worse, the dreaded need to do math in public. But in this instance, we think Tom Cruise is referring to what is commonly known as the coefficient of lift equation, or Cl = ½ Rho V2 S. 

However, when you are flying, this formula is much simpler than it seems. Once airborne, we pilots can’t do too much about Rho (which relates to air density) and nothing at all about S (wing or control surface area) unless we count extending the flaps. However, we are the masters of V (velocity)! And to our delight, V is squared, which means that every time we increase our airspeed by a couple knots, the effectiveness of our lifting and control surfaces is increased fourfold. Now this is some math we can all get behind. 

During jet fighter combat maneuvers, this formula, and an ample application of afterburner, allows fighter pilots to turn airspeed into energy and live to fight another day. In the airline pilot’s world, the rare engine failure at altitude turns first into a “drift down” maneuver from cruise altitude to maintain ample V (velocity) until safely at or below the single-engine service ceiling. This is followed by an energy management descent, approach and landing profile designed to keep the aircraft comfortably above engine-out minimum control speed, all the while retaining excess energy and control authority until just before actual touchdown. 

In light twins, blueline speed defines the “best single-engine climb speed.” This speed will yield the best single-engine climb rate while maintaining aircraft control. However, if the pilot is losing roll control authority due to unforeseen problems or configurations, every single additional knot of airspeed will result in significantly increased control authority and allow the pilot to keep the shiny side up.

Now, down here in single-engine land where most of us live, the normal traffic-pattern speed schedule is designed to retain additional energy until just prior to touchdown. Getting slow on base or the turn to final can be deadly. Remember, slowing a couple knots also squares the loss of energy and control effectiveness. 

Additionally, the lift formula can play an important role in many inflight emergencies. When encountering a severe bird strike, split flaps, control surface damage or other control issues, the speeds listed in the POH may no longer apply. In this case, a controllability check to determine how slowly the pilot can maintain control will let the pilot know if the landing speeds in the POH are still valid. 

While still at altitude and on the way to the nearest airport, configure the aircraft for landing and slow ever so carefully to the POH final approach speed. If the aircraft begins to roll or turn uncontrollably before reaching the final approach speed, lower the nose, recover and decide that the landing will be made at least 5 to 10 knots above that speed. Then, maintain a gentle continuous descent to the touchdown point, just like the big iron pilots are taught, carrying some extra airspeed and energy until landing is assured. If the newly identified touchdown speed is too high, then maybe a longer runway is required. The goal here is never to lose control of the aircraft inadvertently before you reach the ground. Speed is life. 


Now, as we begin to fly larger singles and twins, that fifth “force of flight” momentum begins to be a factor. Sir Isaac’s first two laws state that “an object in motion will tend to remain in motion” and “force equals mass times acceleration.” These two laws describe what we commonly call momentum, or “mo” for short. If you need an extreme example, imagine a 100-car freight train making an emergency stop. The overwhelming mass of the train, combined with even modest velocity, makes for a lot of sparks, squealing brakes and not much deceleration. Think about that the next time you watch someone try to sneak around the local rail crossing gate!

Modern airliners, while certainly lighter than trains, often have a range of weights for landing that vary by nearly 100,000 pounds. During the landing flare, a 300,000-pound jet carries a lot more momentum than a 200,000-pound one. Thus, the pilot is required to reduce thrust sooner at the higher weight than at the lower weight. At first, this seems counterintuitive, as the lighter-weight airplane requires less velocity and thrust to fly. We are not talking about flying but rather slowing down—or, as Isaac might have also said, “mass times deceleration.” Yes, but we don’t all fly the big jets.

Back here in single-engine land, a Cherokee Six’s inflight weight can range from approximately 2,000 to 3,400 pounds, a range of over 42% of its maximum takeoff weight. If the Cherokee Six must land near maximum gross weight, say, on an immediate return to the airport, the pilot will need to fly faster with more power on final. However, when it comes time to slow down in the flare, the big Cherokee’s higher weight and increased momentum may require a more rapid power reduction than at the more familiar lighter weight. 

The same aircraft with a single pilot and 15 gallons of fuel will require significantly less power to maintain the final approach. However, its lower mass will tend to decelerate much more quickly once the round out and flare have begun. So, landing at the light weight requires the pilot to reduce power at a slower rate. And, of course, “mo” affects stopping distances as well. So, if the runway is short and snow or ice covered, the higher landing speed, long landing and increased momentum result in more than a few departures from the far end of the runway. 


The late, great Bob Hoover, a famed flight test and airshow pilot, famously said, “Fly the aircraft as far into the crash as possible.” A survivor of multiple aircraft crash landings in wartime, flight test and even on takeoff in his misfueled Shrike Commander, Mr. Hoover knew what he was talking about. Simply put, loss of roll control, or stalling the aircraft after takeoff or before touchdown, is nearly always unsurvivable. Maintaining airspeed and energy as long as possible provides the pilot with multiple options. The constant focus on maintaining flying airspeed that our CFI drummed into us works for normal operations, abnormal operations and even critical off-airport landings. 

So, speed is truly life! Thanks to some amazing aircraft designers and engineers, we get to fly some of the safest and most efficient aircraft available. And we can learn something from our friends in the professional ranks. Precise airspeed control, maintaining a reserve of energy, and always maintaining aircraft control are Job One, especially when out-of-the-ordinary situations arise. 

How Fast A Plane Do You Need?


Big Approvals For Garmin GFC 500 Autopilot: Cessna 210s, Mooney M20s and Beech Bonanza Vee Tails!

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Garmin has gotten approval to install its GFC 500 autopilot in some of the most popular light singles on the planet. The GFC 500 is a sophisticated digital retrofit autopilot available starting at around $7,000.

The autopilot is designed to integrate with the Garmin GI 275 or its G5 electronic flight instruments, and it can work and play with a combination of those instruments or the G500 TXi™ flight display or its popular G3X Touch flight display, so owners can tailor their solution to their panel and needs.  Part of the installation is the autopilot controller, which features dedicated keys and knobs along with a control wheel for setting the plane’s pitch, airspeed and vertical speed. There’s also Garmin’s Level button, which with a single push returns the flight to straight-and-level flight.

Its capabilities go well beyond traditional autopilots, with envelope protection features including that dedicated LVL button, underspeed and overspeed protection, and more, all part of Garmin’s Electronic Stability and Protection (ESP) suite, which works in the background even when the autopilot isn’t engaged to protect from loss of control under a variety of flight conditions.

For more about the GFC 500, check out Garmin’s video on the product.

Flying Garmin’s Low-Cost GFC 500 Autopilot

Categories: How to Become a Pilot