John Zimmerman

Which handheld aviation radio should I buy?

A portable radio is an essential tool for pilots of all experience levels. When you're just starting out, listening to local traffic is a great way to improve your communication skills. When you're an instrument-rated pilot, a handheld radio is a convenient option for picking up IFR clearances before engine start. And for any pilot, a quality radio is cheap insurance should the panel go dark.

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In Depth Look at Sporty's updated Flight Instructor Refresher Course (eFIRC)

Sporty’s has developed a fresh new option for flight instructors looking to renew their CFI certificate, using a modern online learning system to deliver innovative content. Sporty’s fully FAA-approved eFIRC, newly updated for 2023, will get you up to speed with the latest technology and new developments from the FAA, vastly improving your teaching skills. The best news? Sporty's FIRC is completely free! Let’s take a look at some of the unique features.

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Episode 52. Flight training trends and wing walking, with NAFI's Karen Kalishek

Designated pilot examiner, kitplane owner, scuba diver, wing walker, world traveler, black belt in taekwondo - NAFI Chair Karen Kalishek has done it all, and she shares the lessons learned along the way in this wide-ranging episode. She explains the worrying trend she is seeing as a DPE, with a rising failure rate and a lack of systems knowledge among applicants. She also talks about the importance of the pilot in command mindset, how to find a good flight instructor, and learning to fly while raising kids. Karen has plenty of stories from her many adventures, including a wing walking class she did to honor a distant relative who first performed in 1918. In the Ready to Copy segment, she talks about circus training on the trapeze, the best places to dive, lessons from Japanese weaponry training, and eating deep fried ants in the Amazon.  

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Episode 51. Failed checkrides and flying the B-1 bomber, with Tom Curran

From flight instructor to airport planner to B-1 pilot, Tom Curran has seen a lot in his aviation career. In this special Learn to Fly Month episode, he explains what he learned along the way and shares some advice for new pilots. As he says, “It’s worth it, but expect it to have some challenges.” Tom talks about failing checkrides (he's done it), flying both the F-15 and the B-1 in the Air Force (he's done that too), and managing engine failures (yup, he's also done that). In the Ready to Copy segment, Tom gives his nominee for the worst maneuver in the ACS, talks about planning an airport on the side of a cliff in Telluride, and compares fly fishing to being a pilot.

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Episode 50. Overcoming tragedy and flying in Africa, with Pete Muntean

Pete Muntean grew up in an aviation family but suffered a terrible tragedy when his mother died in an airshow crash. In this inspiring episode he describes how he persevered in his aviation journey, including flying competition aerobatics and training pilots in Kenya with Patty Wagstaff. As a regular contributor for CNN, Pete spends a lot of time on TV reporting on aviation topics, so he also discusses recent airline runway incursions, his method for explaining complicated topics to the general public, and how to give better interviews. In the "Ready to Copy" segment, Pete talks about flying with the US Air Force Thunderbirds, the craziest aviation story he's ever reported on, and whether aerobatics is more like ballet or auto racing.

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Episode 49. Safety habits and aviation lobbying, with Jeb Burnside

“A well trained pilot flying a well maintained airplane with an instrument rating and with fuel in the tanks is the least possible risk in private aviation,” according to Aviation Safety magazine editor Jeb Burnside. That doesn't mean other types of flying are unsafe, though, and in this episode he explains what risks pilots should worry about, including weather, fuel exhaustion, and engine failures. Jeb also talks about his days on Capitol Hill, lobbying for general aviation interests, and the lessons he learned there. In the "Ready to Copy" segment, he tells us whether pilots read too many accident reports, what his most controversial aviation opinion is, and where he comes down on the Coke vs. Pepsi debate.

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Bose A30 Aviation Headset review: improved comfort and digital ANR

When Bose told us about the A30, the legendary audio company’s first new around-ear headset in over a decade, we knew we had a lot of testing to do. A headset is one of the few products that gets used on every single flight, so our standards for evaluating them are sky high. Could the A30 match its predecessor’s performance? The only way to answer that question is to fly it in a variety of airplanes, because test benches really don’t tell you much about how a headset feels. Here’s what we found after flying it in five different airplanes, ranging from a single engine piston to a twin engine jet.

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Episode 48. Learning from every flight, with Steve Thorne of Flight Chops

Steve Thorne (aka Flight Chops) is one of YouTube's original aviation stars, and he's learned a lot over the last decade—about flying and about himself. In this episode, he explains why a post-flight debrief matters, how to do a good one, and why he shares his videos with over 350,000 followers. He also talks about his weather decision-making process, especially on those "gray area" days like the one he encountered flying to Sporty's recently. In the "Ready to Copy" segment, Steve offers a tip for making better videos, shares his favorite strategy for handling nervous passengers, and explains why drumming and IFR flying are similar.

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Visit Sporty's at Sun 'n Fun 2023

The first big aviation event of the year is about to kick off, and Sporty's will be there in a big way. The annual Sun 'n Fun Aerospace Expo, which takes place in sunny Lakeland, Florida (LAL), runs from March 28 - April 2 this year. Stop by Sporty's big tent - just outside Hangar A on the main ramp - for new products, interactive demos, product experts, and much more.

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Protect yourself in the cockpit: five helpful accessories for pilots

Being a pilot means incredible views, fascinating destinations, and personal achievement. However, it can also mean potential health issues if you don’t take action to protect yourself. Here are five easy ways to stay safe in the cockpit, from headsets to CO detectors.

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