How I conduct a flight review

I begin each flight review by asking the pilot what kind of flying he normally does. This often happens ahead of time, on the phone, when we are scheduling the review. I also want to know what licenses he carries, and I let him know that I want him to plan a cross country. I usually tell him where to plan right away but sometimes I want to think about it and I will call him back later.

I generally choose a destination a few hundred miles away that will require more planning than the typical private pilot cross country. I like to find a destination that will require a lot of airspace knowledge and some challenging terrain or a water crossing. Continue reading “How I conduct a flight review”

What is a Flight Review?

In order to continue flying a pilot must stay current. This means keeping up with the medical requirements and doing some takeoffs and landings so that passengers may be carried. But the biggest part of staying current is the Biennial Flight Review.

This review must be conducted every two years. Specifically, it runs by calendar months, so if you had a flight review on July 15th, 2018, then it will expire on July 31st, 2020.

The review requires a minimumĀ of 1 hour of flight training and one hour of ground instruction. Continue reading “What is a Flight Review?”

Steep Turns

One of my favorite maneuvers when conducting a flight review is the steep turn. This innocuous looking maneuver provides a window into a pilot’s stick and rudder skill that allows me to quickly find areas of deficiency where the pilot being reviewed might need more work.

Please remember that the flight review is not a test and my goal is not to fail anybody. Rather, I want to find areas where the pilot is out of practice and try to give them a boost!

The steep turn requires a combination of just about all of the basic flying skills in one maneuver. It requires a pilot to: Continue reading “Steep Turns”

Non-Directional Beacons and Automatic Direction Finders

The Automatic Direction Finder is an instrument built shortly after the discovery of fire.

It is out of usage now and Non-Directional Beacon (NDB) stations are simply turned off if they break down.

However, despite its slow disappearance, you may very well find one in a plane you fly, and it doesn’t hurt to know how to use it.

The ADF at its core is very simple. It’s just an arrow that points to the NDB station.

Some ADF’s have a moveable compass card in them that can be set when using the ADF. However, many do not contain a gyro and the card will not turn when the plane turns. Rather, you set it while straight and level and use it to navigate. Once you turn you will need to set it again.

There are also ADFs with a slaved compass that rotates to show your current heading. These are more convenient, but either way, it is still a simple instrument.

How to use the ADF

To use it locate an NDB station on your chart with the symbol below.

See the Rainbow NDB station in the center of the image below. The magenta information box to the left contains the name of the station, its frequency (363), its ID (RNB) and the morse code to identify it.

To fly to an NDB station simply tune its frequency and turn so the arrow is pointed up. Don’t forget to listen to the station ID just like you would for a VOR.

It isn’t too much more complicated than that. If you want to approach the station on a specific heading then it helps to visualize your current situation before acting.

For example, say you want to approach Rainbow from directly South of the station. The needle is currently pointing to a heading of 330. This means that you are South East of the station. I like to look at the needle and then point out the window in the direction of the station. It helps me to get more situational awareness and determine which way to go. If you want to approach heading 360 then you will need to go to the left and watch the needle until it is pointing directly North.

Try this out next time you have access to an ADF, because it may be your last chance!

Bonus Feature

The ADF has one more important but little-known feature. It happens to fall on the same range of frequencies as AM radio so if there are any good stations in your area you can listen to them. Just tune to the station and press the ADF button on your audio panel. Instead of hearing morse code, you will hear AM radio. As you listen, the needle will point to the radio stations antenna as well!