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Unofficial Review: Pilot Magazine

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I wrote this as an AVSIM review, but quickly found out that the AVSIM review section doesn't include things like magazines ... :)


There are many approaches to flight simming and my favourite approach is general aviation (GA). Although I've only been involved in this hobby for a year I have taken the general aviation side of it very seriously and taken a real effort to get immersed in the general aviation field. Having a flying lesson in a Cessna 150 and a hands-on flight in a relative's Piper Archer really cemented this interest.


Looking around for literature and a way to find out what was going on in GA 'now', I came across Pilot magazine, published monthly in the UK. I thought it was great and my lovely wife was kind enough to get me a year's subscription as a Christmas present. That subscription is coming to and end soon, and after reading a year's worth of Pilot, I hope she is going to repeat the gift!


Pilot magazine is aimed squarely at GA pilots in the UK and is filled with articles, letters and editorials that these pilots will find interesting. Of course there are many GA pilots in FSx and I am sure some you reading these might find Pilot as useful as me.


I am going to review the 2014 December issue, which fell on go my doormat last week.




Like most magazines it includes plenty of news, including the government's current policy changes regarding GA, news from manufacturers, airfields and business. An interesting point in this section is the fact that Jersey airport is revising its runways from 09/27 to 08/26 due to movement of the magentic poles. There is a section of flight training news, with announcements of new academies, flight programmes and certifications. Rotorheads have a seperate section titled ... rotorheads, with all chopper news relevant to the UK including helipads, licences and manufacturer's news.


Pat Malone and Dave Unwin both have their own columns in which they celebrate or disparage the state of general aviation at the moment. European meddling in the UK's aviation licensing system seems to get a regular bashing!


This month's feature articles include a flight test of a 1930s De Havilland Dragon and the RANS S-19 Venterra. These flight tests are very detailed, covering cockpit layout, useability and flight dynamics ... the magazine often features the review of an older plane (past issues have featured the Lockheed Constellation and the Tiger Moth, for example) as well as a 'new release', with the writer test flying a prototype or first release. All of the nuances and language of these flight test really translate well and I can read the flight test of the new Piper Seneca and really relate of the comments to my Carenado version.


Of course there is a lively letters section and again, I can relate to issues such as 'the overhead join' even though I only fly in FSX. The Old Timers section covers restorations, museum exhibits, vintage meetings and races, which is interesting ... although I usually skip the monthly air race news. Never been interested in air racing - even remotely. By far the best bits of the magazine are the occasional articles on airmanship (a recent issue covered flying tail draggers, another followed a pair of pilots pushing the 150's range to its limits, yet another followed a microlight pilot volunteering his time and machine for scientific flights in South Africa).




For me though, the most absorbing parts of each issue are the Airfield Profiles and Safety Matters. The Airfield Profile in this issue covers Popham, a great UK airfield detailed by Orbx. The writer flies in to the airfield, talks to the staff, flight instructors, visitors, students and anyone else he can find! He really gets under the skin of each airstrip and brings them to life. After you read one these Airfield Zprofiles you really want to jump into your A2A Trainer and fly there!


Perhaps I am a little morbid, but Safety Matters is always the first part of Pilot I read. It is based on bulletins from the AAIB and provides lucid and detailed accounts of accidents and incidents. Sometimes these incidents involve minor collisions on a farmstrip, sometimes fatal accidents. The report includes witness statements and investigation findings, with the emphasis on finding out what caused the accident - mechanical or pilot error. Again, I can relate to some of these reports, where the pilot forgot to retract his flaps on a go-around, or forgot to switch tanks at a waypoint and the engine cut out on finals, or (in the December issue) how a Skywagon pilot underestimated a 15 knot crosswind at Bentwaters and the plane slewed to the left and ended inverted.


Pilot magazine won't appeal to everyone, but for those flight simmers who have a copy of a UK VFR flight map, a plotter and Pooleys Airfield Guide, a subscription to Pilot magazine is a really immersive add-on that provides all those little details that sitting in a spare room behind a computer screen lacks.


I think it's a pretty neat read, and I'm hoping there are some UK general aviation flight simmers out there who will find it as useful as me!

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I love popham ... I have a relative that flies in/out of popham real world ... that's her "training" field.


Thanks for sharing!


Cheers, rob.

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Perhaps I am a little morbid, but Safety Matters is always the first part of Pilot I read.


Nothing morbid about it.  You can learn an awful lot from accident reports and analyses.  In the US, "Flying" magazine also features  a monthly column of almost-accidents as well called "I learned about flying from that", and it was almost always the first feature I'd turn to each month.  We learn from mistakes - and it's great if they don't always have to be our own.


BTW, always nice to hear from fellow GA enthusiasts.



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Perhaps I am a little morbid, but Safety Matters is always the first part of Pilot I read.

I do the same, since I am US based I read FLYING and Peter Garrison's Aftermath is the first thing I read,

I learned a lot over years reading that. To me these articles alone are worth the subscription price (which is ridiculously low, btw), the writing is so good even a book came out compiling real gems from those articles.


Nice review of your favorite magazine, we all should support aviation periodicals that suit our tastes.

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