John Zimmerman

Episode 65. Why learning to fly can be lonely, with Patrick Chovanec

After a lifetime of riding on airplanes, economist Patrick Chovanec decided to learn how to fly them. In this episode, he explains how a combination of Covid-19 and Microsoft Flight Simulator started him on a path to earning his Private Pilot certificate, and what he learned along the way. He explains how flight training can be lonely, why modern flight simulators are much more than a game now, and why airplanes are so expensive. In the Ready to Copy segment, Patrick shares the biggest myth in flight training, his preferred flight sim equipment, underrated countries to visit, and his favorite economics joke.

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Episode 64. Safety lessons learned at the NTSB, with Robert Sumwalt

The point of an accident investigation is “to find out what happened, so that we can prevent it from happening again,” says longtime airline pilot and former NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. He shares what he's learned after decades of working this process, including: how pilots should read an NTSB report, why flight path monitoring matters, what professionalism means for GA pilots, and how flight data monitoring can improve safety. In the Ready to Copy segment, Robert talks about landmark accidents, why NOTAMs are often useless, and his favorite food from South Carolina. 

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Carbon monoxide - what pilots need to know

Cold weather can mean better airplane performance and some beautiful winter sunrises, but it can also mean potential danger from the airplane's heating system. Here's what pilots need to know about carbon monoxide: where it comes from, how to prevent it from entering the cockpit, and what tools are available for detecting it.

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Episode 63. Epic Cub videos and entitled airline pilots, with Joe Costanza

Mist swirls as a yellow Cub touches down on a grass runway—Joe Costanza (better known as @Bananasssssssss on Instagram) is the man behind those viral videos, and in this episode he takes us behind the scenes. He explains why stick and rudder flying is a nice break from his day job flying an Airbus, how to have fun flying with kids (he has four), and the good parts of social media. He also shares his slightly controversial advice for new airline pilots and how training is changing to adapt to a new generation. In the Ready to Copy segment, he describes what it’s like to land on a grass strip, what the Cub teaches him about flying the Airbus, and how to take better aviation photos.

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Finding the perfect flight jacket—for any climate

Fall flying is in full swing and winter is right around the corner, which means it’s time to layer up and prepare for those colder flights. Not every jacket is suitable for the cockpit, but that’s where we come in—let Sporty’s help you pick the right one for you. We’ll break down each jacket we sell, focusing on weight, fit, durability, weather resistance, and warmth.

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Bose A30 vs. Lightspeed Delta Zulu—what’s the best ANR headset for pilots?

The most common question we get about headsets is one of those classic “Coke or Pepsi” questions: should I buy the Bose A30 or Lightspeed Delta Zulu? It’s a natural comparison—both are the latest top-of-the-line headsets from leading aviation headset companies—but the good news is that there’s no wrong answer. Having said that, there are some important differences. Whether these are important depends on your personal preferences and your typical flight. We’ll lay out all the details in this article and even offer some of our opinions, but the ultimate decision is yours.

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Episode 62. Why angle of attack is overrated, with Ed Wischmeyer

Loss of control accidents are a problem, but longtime pilot and engineer Ed Wischmeyer says there simply isn’t a miracle cure. He explains why angle of attack indicators, stabilized approaches, and energy management are all overrated—and the concept he teaches pilots instead. As he says, “You want pilots to have a large comfort zone, so that when they’re flying in normal operations they’re not anywhere near the boundaries of their comfort zone.” In the Ready to Copy segment, Ed talks about the most absurd FAA regulation, how to prevent runway incursions, why slow flight is underrated, and flying the AirCam.

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Episode 61. Safety theory and restoring a Cessna 172, with Sidney Dekker

As a professor, Sidney Dekker has spent his career studying safety processes in industries like healthcare and mining. As a pilot, both for an airline and in his Carbon Cub, he has put those theories into practice. In this thought-provoking episode, you'll hear what he's learned, including: how much risk pilots can actually quantify, why we should study what went right and not just what went wrong, and what it means to drift into failure. You'll also learn about the beat up Cessna 172 he restored, whether autopilots are a positive or negative for safety, whether pilots should read accident reports, and what an "automation surprise" is.  

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Rusty Pilot Week at Sporty's

Has it been a few years since you logged time as pilot in command? Don't worry—your pilot's license never expires, and you don't have to pass a checkride to regain currency. All it takes is some studying and a few hours with a flight instructor. Sporty's is here to help, with honest advice and hundreds of helpful products that make flying safer, easier, and more fun. If you've been thinking about knocking the rust off, enjoy limited time savings and articles from our team of pilots.

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Episode 60. Surviving a plane crash on a frozen lake, with Tom Comet

When the airplane engine quits over a remote part of Canada, your options are limited. For Tom Comet and his friend, this was just the start of an incredible adventure—one packed with lessons for all pilots. In this riveting episode, he shares how they reacted to their emergency, where they chose to land, and what survival gear made a difference during a long, cold night on a lake. As a UAS pilot and former circus performer, Tom also talks about flying $150,000 drones for TV and creating huge pyrotechnic displays, including the lessons learned about risk management. In the Ready to Copy segment, you'll hear why the Cessna Skymaster is an underrated airplane, tips for learning to ride a unicycle, and why Tom found himself juggling chainsaws.

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