Thursday, October 14, 2010

European Aviation Safety Agency Bill, or "Why I'm grateful I fly in the US"

The European Parlament is expected today to sign a bill today that will cancel priveleges of pilots holding FAA certificates in European Union countries.

Once the bill is signed into law, FAA ticket holders must undergo the conversion process to a JAA/EASA equivalent. A process that could involve several medical exams and additional knowledge exams.

The situation is even grimmer for those who wish to fly IFR. Unlike the US, IFR requirements are stricter under JAA/EASA, which is closer to obtaining an ATP license in the US. The estimated amount of time to obtain an IFR rating in Europe for an average pilot with a family would be a year of groundschool and nearly cost nearly $30,000.

Don't think this won't impact the United States either. While there aren't hard numbers out there, it's been estimated that the FAA issues certificates to several hundred international students every year. After the bill is signed into effect, it would be pointless for international students to come to the US to train. This could have a severe financial impact on an already struggling flight training market.

For more information, check out the IAOPA October newsletter, and listen to this special podcast from AvWeb and Emmanuel Davidson, vice president of AOPA in France.

In my opinion, this bill has nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with political protectionism. The EU is trying to address why so few pilots have a JAA/EASA license and spend money training in Europe by brute force. What they'll find is that this measure (like user fees) will only shrink aviation in Europe more until it is only available to the very rich or to airlines.

I just hope some "brilliant" politician or lobby group doesn't get the same idea here.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Leave it to Weaver

In between marathons of Airplane!, Top Gun, One-Six Right, and Hot Shots, you might want to check out another high-octane feature (shot and directed by a pilot).

This was a week long video project my girlfriend (Haley Weaver) put together for a video contest. The prize is a free trip to New Orleans for the National REALTORS Conference and Expo.

If you like it, please vote for Haley Weaver - Columbus, OH here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

5 Tips on getting fantastic aviation answers

So you ask a great aviation question on a flying forum (AOPA, EAA, etc) but you haven't gotten any responses? Your question might not be as great as you think. Here are five tips that I put together for the users of on how to ask great aviation questions and get excellent answers from pilots.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

FIFI the B29, flies again

The Commemorative Air Force (CAF)'s B-29, with help from a number of sponsers and volunteers, took to the sky today for the first time since 2004. Its regained its status as the world's only flyable B-29 Superfortress.

The work that the CAF does is so important to aviation, its a link to aviation's past and the aircraft the organization restores and flies inspires future aviators of all ages around the country. Please go to their site and find a way to help volunteer, donate, or just spread the word about the great things this organization does.

Monday, July 12, 2010

CircleToLand : 0 SFREM, my website for pilot questions and answers, has just completed its major face-lift and software overhaul. For the software geeks, I'm now using a Q&A package called OSQA. Its still in a beta stage and there are some rough spots, but there are some advantages to using the new software package:

1. Its open source, meaning I can change and modify the code to meet the specific needs of

2. I can host it on my own servers, meaning that as grows I have control over expanding the server capacity without having to pay an exorbitant monthly fee.

3. Since StackExchange changed their model from an entrepreneur-based service to a community owned forum, switching to OSQA means that maintain a greater control over how I want the site to grow and expand.

4. User will see the benefits of aviation-specific tools and controls in, I'm planning on making it easier to include chart images in questions.

There are a few downsides to OSQA over StackExchange:

1. Its written in Python and Django, so while its open source, I'm not too familiar with the language and framework, so there's a learning curve as I poke around and try to fix issues.

2. Hosting the software myself means I have to make sure the software gets updated and maintained regularly, before StackExchange was covering the software upgrades and installs.

3. Bugs bugs bugs, there's a weird issue with Yahoo Open ID (I'm recommending all of my users to create a password backup if they use OpenID, so they can still login), also the Markdown control has some issues with images, and I'm sure more bugs will keep rolling in.

Overall I'm pretty happy with the new site and how simple it was to migrate the site over. The guys at OSQA have made a great product and their main contributor, HernĂ¢ni Cerqueira, is an excellent source for help and support. I think my users will be happy with the new changes and I can finally put my efforts to growing!

Monday, May 17, 2010, changing homebases

There will be some big changes in June for, my little site that allows pilots to ask and answer questions. I'll be switching the site to a new software package as my old provider is making some changes that just won't work for me or for my users.

The switch should come by mid-June and it should be a seemless transition, the goal is to make a 100% move to the new software package and preserve all of data from the old site.

Also, I'm looking at making a big change in my life in terms of getting my little software startup, Anecka off the ground. While I plan in the long run for Anecka to develop subscription based web and moible applications for pilots, I plan on earning money initially doing software consulting and contracting. If you or someone you know has a website or software project that you need fixed, shoot me an email at:

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Make some goals

This is a little off-topic for aviation, but on-topic if you're a person who regularly takes a step back and looks at your life. I follow a blog by local marketer / business person / teacher Artie Issac and he had this following post on what he asks his OSU creativity students every year. (I recommend reading the whole thing, and subscribing to his blog.)

What Am I Asking For?
I'm asking for goals in four areas: business, community, family and personal.

How big a goal? Big enough that it's not easy to reach. Big enough that you might not reach it.

Big enough that it answers Ohio State's call to action: Do Something Great.

So What Goals Am I Receiving?
Without betraying any confidences, here is a complete rephrasing of some of the goals I'm receiving:

* Business: generates enough profit that I can afford the life I want.
* Community: respects and seeks me as a leader.
* Family: loves me and each other.
* Personal: ...I want to be happy and play golf.

Happy, shmappy.
Being rich, fertile, loved, and happy is important. I don't want my students to give up on these ideals.

But these aren't the goals I want them to list.

I'm looking for goals that are worthy of a headline. In The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times? Fine. The Columbus Dispatch? Fine. Field & Stream? Fine. Local suburban newspaper? Fine.

Just imagine the headline. That's a good test for your goal. In fact, write your goals as if they are news headlines. (Think: obituary.)

It sounds like a good exercise, so here are my goals as newspaper headlines:

Business: Software firm, Anecka, gets its 1000th insanely passionate client, becomes model for software development in the Mid-West

Community: Mid-West non-profit that teaches over 500 kids a year how to fly airplanes celebrates its fifth year anniversary.

Family: Pohler elected to US Congress as Independent in 2038.

Personal: Adventurer retraces Beryl Markham's 1936 solo flight from Abington, England to Nova Scotia.

Friday, April 23, 2010 coming on like gangbusters!

What a difference a few days makes! gets mentioned on a popular forum of programming geeks and suddenly I have three to four hardcore tech-savy pilots ripping through answering piloting questions left and right.

And these are great piloting questions and answers too! With freaking aerodynamic equations! Fine detailed understand of esoteric FAR rules and regulation interpretations, kick-ass piloting techniques, and whiz-bang technology!

Seriously, this is the most fun I've had in a while. Thanks guys!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Poland Crash Update - Pilots probably not pressured

AvWeb's just reported that after listen to the cockpit voice recorder from the Polish government aircraft that crashed in Russian and killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 94 others, the investigating committee has determined:

“The flight recorder, whose tapes are being deciphered, did not register any pressure on crew members”

Sadly, it's starting to appear that the primary cause of the tragic accident was human error (lack of good judgment) on behalf of the pilot(s) of the aircraft.

Anatoly Muravyov, an air traffic controller on duty at the time, told the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that the aircraft had not been cleared to land and all he and his colleagues could do was watch and wait. He said the "pilot's desire to land at any costs" was, in his opinion, a factor in the crash.

Ever since the story broke I've read a lot of news stories and heard a lot of theories floating around by the press and online comments on blogs around regarding the crash, that the fault was the age of the Russian Tupolev-154, or pressure from the VIP passengers.

As a pilot, I know whenever I hear of a crash of an aircraft, my defenses suddenly come up and I have an urge to "defend" the pilot in charge from wild, misinformed facts. However that urge to defend has to be kept in check as well, least it comes out that the pilot in question was responsible and I defended the actions of an irresponsible, reckless person.

The crash is still under-investigation, my opinion is that as a community of flyers, the best way to represent our art and profession is to hold off on supporting unproven theories or "what if" scenarios until all the facts of the case come out.

My hope is that there were other factors in the case that lead to the accident, however my experience in aviation and from what I've read in a vast amount of other accident reports is that pilot/human error is still a huge factor in a crash. To ignore that and rush to come up with other excuses does all pilots in the long-run a disservice.

UPDATE: The Moscow Times has more information regarding the investigation.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Flying and the power of Desire

You have a superpower, an ability to conquer any challenge, an ability to shape the world around you to fit your wants and needs.

Don't believe me?

Think back on your life, back to the last time your really desired something. I'm talking about real DESIRE here, a single minded obsession about obtaining something that you wanted more than anything else in the world.

Your friends, your family, everyone in your life told you it was impossible, you'll never get it, it wasn't practical, you should just give up . . .

But you didn't, you kept at it and couldn't let it go

Did you get it?

If there's a little plastic (or paper) card in your wallet from the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration then you know exactly what I'm talking about. There is no way you could have become a private pilot without that overriding DESIRE to fly.

That's the superpower we all have (no not the ability to fly), the ability to DESIRE something so much that we WILL IT into reality.

Still think I'm full of it? Talk to Jessica Cox (, she's a diver, Tae Kwon-Do black belt, and flies a stock, unmodified Ercoupe.

Oh and she doesn't have any arms.

That's right . . . no arms. Big deal, flying an airplane with your feet? Just another sunny day in the pattern for her (she also drives, types, and puts in her contacts).

Anyway this post isn't about her, its about YOU. If you've conquered the challenge of flight, what else can the raw power of DESIRE do for you? What else lies deep in your heart that you've always wanted to accomplish?

If you haven't starting flying (and want to), then why haven't you started? If you've started and given up, why haven't you gotten back in the saddle?

You've got a superpower, time to start using it.

Supplemental Reading Material:
Think and Grow Rich, Napolean Hill

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Flying, perfection, and beating "the little hater"

Recently I stumbled across a video by a guy named Jay Smooth who runs a successful hip-hop blog and the longest running hip-hop radio show in NYC. In the video he talked about his struggle with what he calls "the little hater." The little hater is that voice inside your head that tells you you're not good enough at something, especially when it's something creative. Watch the video before reading on, it's humorous and spot on, don't worry, I can wait:

What really clicked for me in this video is when Jay said that the little hater sets his first trap of "perfectionism." I tend to demand a lot from myself when I fly, if I screw up one radio call or land a little rougher than I want (which is all the time) that bastard start talking in my ear how much of a "wannabe pilot" I am.

It gets worse when I haven't flown in a few months, the little hater starts asking me questions. "If you flew today, how safe would you be?" "Could you handle a sudden gust of wind 20 ft off the ground?" "Do you even remember how to start the airplane?" Pretty soon my head is filled with ridiculous questions regarding my own skills and worth and ever time I look up at the sky to watch a small plane I almost get sick with guilt. I double down and start building a lot of expectations on myself that the NEXT TIME I fly I'm going to be strive to be PERFECT. Of course, I know that's a lie, so I stall and stall and stall and never make a reservation. Which makes me feel even more racked with guilt.

Now of course the logical thing to do is to just schedule a damn flight, and if you're really worried, book an instructor. Here's the thing, I get even more anxious with an instructor because then I'll have someone WATCHING ME. Even if the instructor is silent that little hater is going to start talking for him/her in my head "Dude, this guy long has he been flying anyway?"

To beat the little hater, the only thing I think you can do is recognize when he's there, then actively and ruthlessly ignore him. Recall your experience, read a checklist, go over radio calls in your head, go over common tasks in an aircraft in your head and mime them out (when no one is looking of course) and just FLY DAMNIT!

I've asked a question on about beating the nerves after going a long time without flying.

If you have any suggestions to help me or anyone else beat the hater, post an answer at the link above! We can fight him together!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What I've learned from other pilots

Its funny, the one thing I didn't expect when I started a website for pilots to ask and answer questions was that I'd be learning so much as well!

The steadily growing number of pilots providing excellent, well thought out answers to such various questions as: Resources for young pilots, Proper landing techniques in snow, Calculating the best glide speed in a new aircraft, Equipment on shooting in-flight video, Nailing the perfect steep turn, has really impressed and inspired me to keep going.

The reason why I started CTL was because I knew there was an untapped goldmine of sharp, friendly, helpful pilots online who would be more than happy to share their insights and experience with each other and with those just learning how to fly.

It feels good to be right ;)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pilots are lovers

If you haven't been reading Paul Bertorelli's blog on AvWeb, you have no idea what kind of steamy hot prose you're missing:

I have fallen in love with airplanes. Again. Specifically, a J-3C Cub, a quarter of which I bought a couple of weeks ago. I flew my first Cub in 1972 and over the weekend, when partner Greg Woods was checking me out, it all came flooding back—that skip of excitement when the engine catches on the first blade, the whiff of exhaust you get in a right taxi turn, the kinda-sorta throttle response, the spoon-in-oatmeal trim system, if you can call rope and a crank a system. After we got down and nudged the thing back into the hangar, I sat on a step stool looking at this stupid thing trying to figure out why such antiques are so intoxicating.

. . .

Slow, underpowered, cold, uncomfortable and all the utility of a broken claw hammer, yet still I love it. Maybe it's just…the romance.

Please, someone just shoot me.

I swear to god when I read that I could have sworn I heard Marvin Gaye's "Let's get it on" in the background.

Let's face it, every single one of us who flies these stupid machines didn't get into it because they thought it was going to be a great career, or it would save them some time on business trips, or some other perfectly rational reason. Those are the reasons we say to our family and friends, but let's not bullshit ourselves or each other here. We do it because we're in deeply in love, and anyone who is that far in love is an irrational moron.

I fell in love at the age of four, when I traded my most prized possession in the world, my blanket, for a big awesome Tycho airplane. I fell back in love again in 2003 gazing at stunning photo of a Waco YMF's cockpit. That one photo cost me six grand in two years, for a plastic card that gives me the privilege to one day climb into that cockpit and take the controls in my hands (as soon as I can find a Waco I can get checked out in).

As pilots, we're so deep in love that we don't realize that other people who aren't in love with aviation just don't see things the way we do. Our love is so deep we think other people regard aviation just like we do and we don't communicate with them effectively. We give the rational reasons for flying instead of speaking from the heart.

As pilots we need to follow Paul's lead and broadcast our love more openly to other people. Yeah, we'll sound like idiots, dreamers, and boobs. But there will be some young kid out there who will listen, probably between the ages of 4-94, who just might fall in love as well.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Help Fatboy Run (to fight cancer)

Matt Friesner, my friend and instrument instructor (now an airline captain) is running in the Capital City Half Marathon (Columbus, OH) on May 1st to raise money and awareness about leukemia & lymphoma. He's in his second month of training (word on the street is he's training by running up and down the stairs of Columbus's courthouse and punching meat).

Help Matt set his goal of raising $1,500 by going to his fundraising page here.

Good luck Freeze!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Bonanza is dead! Long live The Bonanza!

I've noticed a trend in used aircraft pricing (to be sure, an anecdotal trend based on browsing Barnstormers and ASO when I should be working). In the past few months I've noticed that the prices of used large, high performance complex singles are becoming significantly less than lighter, slower singles.

This seems to suggest that owners of older high performance singles are having trouble selling their aircraft. It's not like these are bad airplanes either, I'm talking about seeing Mooney's, Turbo Lances, and Bonanza's with medium engine times (500-1000 hrs SMOH), NDH, complete logs selling for 60-80K.

Now it would be ridiculous of me to predict the future on one data point (not even a data point really, just me making an amateur observation). But it does feel like the GA landscape at large could be shifting towards lighter, slower singles. There are a few factors I believe that are affecting the GA market:
  • Rising fuel costs and rising pressure to do away with leaded avgas
  • Increased technology, easier to put into new airframes than retro-fit old aircraft
  • Increasing age of used aircraft, higher maintenance and upgrade costs
  • Despite problems with airlines, still cheaper / safer, and businesses would rather buy a plane ticket than reimburse a GA pilot to fly himself
  • Vast difference in price between NEW high performance singles vs. NEW or like new light sport
I don't think high performance singles (or even twins) will go away anytime soon (nor would I want it too...the day there isn't a Bonanza flying in the sky will be a very sad day), what I do think is that there will be a great divide in the GA fleet in the future. On one end you'll have a plethora of light-sport or light singles and on the other you'll see luxury turbine powered aircraft.

That's if I felt like making a ridiculous prediction of the future anyway. But if Kirk Hawkins is betting a company and billions of dollars on it . . . well maybe its not so ridiculous after all.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Mental spring cleaning (non-aviation)

Its been a rough February. It's an odd feeling losing the last of your parents, it still doesn't seem real.

My mom and I were close, she was my friend. Its strange how that happens, at some point in your twenties your relationship with your parents changes. I think primarily because you change, from a child, an insecure adolescent, to an adult.

This feels like a watershed moment in my life, I'll be turning thirty in a month and a half and I've been giving serious thought to how I want to spend my next thirty years.

My mom was a chemical dependency counselor and psychiatric nurse, I had the pleasure during the visitation at the funeral home to meet her coworkers and more importantly the people who she helped treat and would call her "Miss Becky." I pray that I can have the same impact on others as my mom had.

My life has changed, a door has closed and it feels like a new one has opened. I've had an idea for a while to help a large number of people and aviation as a whole. Now it feels like a calling.

I apologize to anyone whose read this for the free-form rambling of this post. I haven't blogged in a while and I feel like I need to write something, anything to get rid of the cobwebs in my mind.

Thanks, and clear skies.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

See you out west, mom

Becky Pieper April 16, 1954 - Feb 14, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pimp your Piper Cub

If you think still think LSA aircraft are nothing more than slick-looking toys that a REAL pilot would never fly for serious missions, then you need to check out CubCrafters Carbon Cub SS.

To call this airplane a Cub is a vast understatement. Unlike the Legend Cub, the goal of the Carbon Cub is not to replicate a classic, but to push the envelope and take the airframe to the next level. CubCrafters has created an aircraft that has 50% less parts than a Super Cub and is 250 lbs lighter.

If that wasn't enough, CubCrafters created their own custom engine that weights less than 250 lbs and is rated at 180 hp for takeoffs and climbs, and 88 hp for cruise.

This creates an Cub with amazing performance, climbs of 2100 fpm at sea level, and 1100 fpm at 10,000 ft and a 420lb useful load. Cruise can be done at the max LSA limit of 120 knots.

Don't take my word for it though:

Monday, February 08, 2010

Sweepstakes to professional captains don't promote GA

Just found out via AvWeb that a FedEx captain was the winner of this year's AOPA sweepstakes plane, the "Let's Go Flying" Cirrus SR-22. Congrates to Mr. Graves (the winner) and his family!

That said, I think year's sweepstakes highlights a huge blind-spot in GA's thinking when it comes to getting the public more interested in flying. If you're not familiar with the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) sweepstakes, if you enroll in the AOPA or renew your membership, you're automatically entered in a sweepstakes for an aircraft that AOPA selects each year. Usually AOPA takes a used aircraft and spends a year upgrading and renovating it to better-than-new condition. Last year AOPA took a different approach and accepted a donation of a relatively new Cirrus SR-22 from owner Lloyd Huck, who donated the Cirrus to the AOPA to promote awareness in aviation and increase the pilot population.

AOPA spent a year flying the Cirrus to aviation trade shows, and even to a couple of non-aviation shows as well as part of a tour titled "Let's Go Flying" in order to promote GA. I don't know how many new pilots or members the signed up, but I can be sure of one thing. I bet more than a few are disappointed that the brand new Cirrus they envisioned they would one day fly ended up in the hands of a FedEx captain who already owned a Cessna 180.

Now I know, the sweepstakes is open to any member and I trust the AOPA does a random, blind drawing to determine a fair winner. But if you have the sweepstakes in order to bring in new pilots into GA, you need to think about the message you're going to send when the winner turns out to be someone who is ALREADY a professional pilot and airplane owner.

I'm a loyal, long-time member of the AOPA. If you're a pilot and you don't belong to either the AOPA or the EAA, then you're missing out on some great benefits and opportunities for increased training. Plus, while user fees have been defeated this year, its a constant battle GA will have to continue to fight in the years to come as we have to justify the importance of public dollars to the non-flying public year after year. Organizations like AOPA, NBAA, and EAA are our most important defenders of our privilege to fly.

But if the AOPA is really serious about getting new pilots, they need to think really hard about these kinds of contests. The next sweepstakes plane is a REMOS, a really fun, capable light sport aircraft. Its a great aircraft to introduce someone to flying, or a great first-time aircraft for someone making the transition from renting to owning. It would be a shame next year to see it go to a Bonanza owner whose been flying for thirty years.

Oh, btw the full article on AOPA's website is here, it's a pretty funny story about how they surprised the winner.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Get your boots on

My community Q&A site, is now in "bootstrap mode." This means all the usual safeguards and switches are turned off for new users, they can pretty much run wild and do crazy things like:

1) Ask more than one question every twenty minutes
2) Vote on answers & questions
3) Create new tags

Normally new users are restricted in a sandbox until they earn reputation points (given out usually by other site members voting up the user's answers and questions). This is a good thing because it keeps the trolls and crazies to a minimum. However, when EVERYBODY is a new user the sandbox rule gets in the way.

In short, the jailhouse is now run by the inmates. Got a question about flying that's always been nagging you? Run wild and ask it on

You may ask why I'm pushing this site so hard, its because I believe in the site's tools in regards to fostering a healthy, knowledgeable online community centered around pilots helping other pilots.

If you have any questions or feedback about the site, please don't hesitate to email me (my email address is on on every page) or just comment on my blog.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

You want to check my what?

Just taken my medical exam yesterday. I passed! Of course my AME said I was blind as a naked mole rat and that I really should carry a backup pair of glasses (which I mostly do, however there are times when they don't make it in the flight bag..heh)

Since my last exam was three years ago, one thing I had forgotten about was an interesting requirement the FAA wants the AME to ask.

AME : "Okay, would you like me to proceed with the rectal exam?"
Me : "(blank stare) Uh...are you serious?"
AME : "Yeah, the FAA wants me to ask, most people turn it down. Basically I just look at it to see if its healthy."
Me : "Uh..yeah that's okay, I'm going to turn it down as well."

Whew, dodged that bullet. But it's really begs the question, why the FAA would even have a provision like that anyway?

The only thing I can figure out is that since most pilots spend a lot of time on their butts, government-thinking follows that it should be medically fit.

Pilots got back!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

65 days aloft

If two men have their way, this year an aviation record that has stood since 1958 will fall. The goal? Spend sixty-five days aloft in a four-place single engine airplane without touching the ground.

For non aviation folks, imagine driving around in small sedan without stopping...for anything...for one thousand five hundred and sixty hours.

Holy crap!

Chet and Matt Pipkin, father and son will hopefully take off in October 2010 in Boise Idaho and fly for 65 days in a modified Cessna 172. They plan to refuel and resupply via truck; their Cessna will be modified to carry an extra fuel tank with a quick release that can be refueled in mid-air. The Skyhawk will also be modified for them to change the oil in mid-flight, and of course there will a lav.

I think its a crazy idea, crazy good! This is more than a simple aviation stunt, they're hoping to raise money for charity, increase awareness in aviation, and inspire others to do something daring in their lives. Their mission statement:

To ignite a flame in the hearts of individuals in our world, by means of a simple flight. To encourage others to recognize their intrinsic value and to empower and challenge them to pursue their passions, contribute to the world in their own unique ways, great or small, and pass the flame to those in their world.

Blog: 65 days
AvWeb article and podcast with Matt Pipkin

I can't wait to see what happens, both in the flight and who gets inspired to take up their greatest passion!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Apple iPad : Electronic Flight Bag?

In case you missed it yesterday, Apple just announced their long awaited tablet, the iPad.

At first, I was a bit underwhelmed, its just a big iPod touch right? Why pay $499 (at least) for features that are in the smaller, lighter cousins.

Then I stopped looking at it as a iPod, and more like an electronic flight bag.

What features does it have that make it excellent for an EFB?

  • Long battery life (10 hours...although realistically probably five)
  • Huge high resolution, back-lit screen (perfect for maps, IFR approach plates, etc)
  • Loads of quality aviation software (you have to pay per app, but you get to customize the device with only the software you want / need to use)
  • Doubles as an in-flight, or after flight entertainment device for yourself or your pax.
  • Its price range already qualifies it for aviation ;)
All joking aside, if you're trying to decide between a light "netbook" and the iPad, why not take a look at a device that you can take in the cockpit as well? Now since the iPad is brand new, I wouldn't expect to see many of these in cockpits yet, but after a couple of generations of improvement from Apple, I have a feeling that will change.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Aviation Forums, the good the bad the ugly

When I started learning how to fly I realized something early on that really surprised me, finding decent relevant information online about flying is a virtual crapshoot (pun intended).

The problem isn't that there is a shortage of knowledgeable aviation professionals, and enthusiasts. On the contrary, there are hundreds of pilots, mechanics, licensed medical examiners, and aviation lawyers online right now asking and giving advice.

The problem is, unless you're cued into the right forums, the right groups (AOPA, EAA), and blogs, the people with the right answers to your questions can be quite difficult to find.

Furthermore, once you've found a forum, the proper netiquette is to search the forum or newsgroup to find out if the question has been asked before. With some of the forum software out there, that could be a slow, torturous prospect! Imagine searching for a needle in a haystack with only a refrigerator magnet!

So how can you fix this?

Step 1: Well, you can start by creating a site that's built with the sole purpose of having people ask questions and get relevant answers. You implement a voting system for best answers, you base the system off of wikis, allowing users to edit questions and answers to make them better, you give users the ability to self-moderate the posts to prevent trolls.

Step 2: Attract a community of helpful, resourceful pilots and other aviation folks to post their questions and answers.

I've got Step 1 down, all I need is to figure out Step 2.

Give Circle To Land ( a try, if you ask a question I'll be on there to give you an answer. If you give an answer I'll vote it up. In time, I hope to have Circle to Land be that place on the web you can go to get relevant answers about your aviation questions.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Circle to Land Groundhog's Day Contest!

Circle to Land needs pilots to post their flying questions and give answers pronto! What better way to bribe encourage people into using a website than to launch a cheesy themed contest?

Announcing Circle to Land's Groundhog's Day Contest!

Here's the deal, for everyone who creates and account on Circle to Land, and posts at least 10 questions AND 10 answers (yes you can answer your own question) by Feb 3rd, 2010 12:00AM EST...I will give them a $10 gift card (user will choose out of a selection of gift cards).

For the person who asks AND answers the MOST questions by the deadline (Feb 3rd, 2010 12:00AM EST), they will get a $50 gift card of their choice.

This is only for accepted questions and answers, I reserve the right to moderate the site, and I will take off questions and answers that are offensive or don't have anything to do with flying.

  • Again, you'll get a $10 gift card if you post 10 questions AND 10 answers (yes you can answer your own question) by Feb 3rd 2010, 12:00AM EST

  • One winner will get a $50 gift card, for posting AND answering the most questions by Feb 3rd 2010, 12:00AM EST

  • Questions and answers have to be accepted by the moderators and visible on the site and they have to be related to flying or learning how to fly.

  • Obviously, you'll have to create an account with a valid email address so I can contact you and send you the gift card. Due to shipping costs, I will not accept non-US mailing addresses.

So head on over to and get posting!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dumb Pilot Questions

You know the saying that there's no such thing as a dumb question? I find that's especially true in aviation, although sadly there are some of those that disagree. Since pilots are held to a very high standard, I think there's a problem in the industry that after you reach a certain level, say a private pilot certificate, then you are expected to know anything and everything about flying an airplane (or helicopter, or balloon, or glider).

The truth is, despite what the media, general public, or the FAA would expect, pilots can't and don't know everything. We know a lot, but all of us still have questions that have been plaguing the dark corners of our minds that we have yet to share with the outside world for fear of ridicule (or a license suspension!).

Here are some of mine:
What's the technique for a short field AND soft field landing?

How will lasik eye surgery affect my medical?

Engine out in IMC?

So I invite any fellow pilot reading this. Go to, and post answers for my dumb questions. Better still, if you have any dumb questions of your own to post, please post them!

I promise I won't laugh.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Circle to Land - Questions for Pilots by Pilots

Questions, every pilot has them. Whether it’s about proper stick and rudder technique on a short field, VFR airspace restriction requirements, how to properly “burp” a Rotax 912, or even the emergency engine restart procedures on the Airbus A320, chances are you might have some questions that your buddies hanging outside the FBO can’t answer.

Sure you can try the various aviation related forums online, but even after you find a forum that’s close to the topic you’re asking about (after an hour of searching), how can you tell you’re getting the best answer? And how many times have you asked a question on an aviation forum only to be shouted by annoyed regulars “this was already asked before, read before you post!”?

What if there was an aviation site designed for pilots to ask questions and get answers from other pilots? What if as soon as you started to type a question a list of possible matching questions came up for you? How about a site where other pilots could up vote / down vote answers, helping you figure out the best answer to your question? How about a site that rewards you for answering questions by giving you less advertising, editing privileges, even advance community moderation tools to help make the site better for all pilots?

Circle to Land is that site.

Circle to Land is meant to be the site for you, questions and answers from pilots, for pilots. As long as your question is reasonably objective and has something to do with piloting something that flies (whether it’s a hot air balloon, powered chute, Cessna 172, or Citation X), Circle to Land™ is your site.

If you like to answer questions rather than asking them, Circle to Land has something for you! You gain reputation with each answer, the more questions you answer the more benefits you get (even editing and moderating other people’s posts)!

No matter what kind of pilot you are, a student, freight dog, CFI, bush pilot, or captain flying the Big Iron, if you have something to offer your fellow pilots at Circle To Land (and something to receive in turn). If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask me.