Category Archives: Pro-Tips

Free King Schools Courses

These are nice short courses offered for free by King Schools. They are good review for current pilots and a nice way to try out King Schools as a student before buying any of their other courses.

Non-Towered Airport Communications

This free course will take you through the paces of arrival and departure from airports without an operating control tower and show you how to use skillful communication together with situational awareness to manage collision risk.

Radio call-up procedures, correct radio terminology, and how to use your radio for increased safety and utility are all there—even the best way to resolve on-air disputes. A wealth of pointers on issuing clear and professional communications.
13 minutes.

Crosswind Landings Made Easy

If you have ever struggled to stay aligned with the centerline with zero sideways drift while landing in a stiff crosswind, this mini-course will give you all the secrets to make it a “breeze”. In-flight footage and clear teaching will give you the perspective you need to nail it—every time! 12 minutes.

Tie Down the Airplane

It’s spring and big winds are back. Tie down your aircraft if you aren’t at the controls because enough wind can fly anything from this…

An airplane flies away in a gust of wind because it wasn't secured.

Click to see what happens…

To this! All the wing needs is sufficient airspeed and it *will* fly. That’s what happened to the 747 in the link above. It’s been stripped down at the boneyard so it’s very light, and stall speed decreases with weight, so the wing needs less airspeed to fly. The only reason this 747 didn’t do like the light airplane above is the 747 was tied down at the main landing gear.

This isn’t just a windy day piece of advice. Helicopter downwash on a ramp can fly most light airplanes just as easily (if not more so) than high winds can.

So secure your aircraft. Tie it down fast if you aren’t at the controls.

New 2013 Glider Flying Handbook

The FAA recently published a new edition of the Glider Flying Handbook.  It looks like some nice changes were made to clarify a few points the old version didn’t do quite so well.  They also did some work reorganizing it a bit and I think that made for some improvement too.

If you have something comfortable for reading PDFs you can save a few bucks by going to and downloading it.  If you’re a glider pilot, or just curious, it’s a worthwhile read.

What Makes Airplanes Fly & The Wake Vortex

Wake Vortex GIF

My wife found this neat graphic and I wanted to share it.  I don’t know the source or how this was done.  Looks like a 4 engine airliner flying through fog, but illuminated in one plane by a laser.  If that’s what this is it’s a really great view of how air is forced down by the wing to resist the aircraft’s weight, and the resulting wake vortices shed by the wing.

It’s Getting Hot & High!

With temperatures forecast as high as 115 Fahrenheit in the coming days think about the unusually high density altitude before you fly.  High density altitude is just a way of saying the air is as thin as it would be at some higher altitude in a “standard” atmosphere (a reference temperature and pressure of 15C and 29.92″ Hg at sea level).  That thin air means the engine can gulp down less oxygen to burn fuel (less thrust), and the wing has to sweep through a greater volume in a given time to deflect the same number of molecules (by flying faster).

Here’s a handy little plot I made of the density altitude at IYK for a range of temperatures and altimeter settings:


Here’s a good video by Rod Machado for AOPA on flying in higher density altitudes.

Pro Tip: The AWOS isn’t over the asphalt of the runway so it doesn’t measure the air temperature your airplane will experience.  The air temperature where your airplane sits is what really matters and it can be ten or twenty degrees Fahrenheit hotter just above the runway at IYK on a really sunny day!