John Zimmerman

Episode 28: iPad apps and datalink weather, with ForeFlight's Tyson Weihs

ForeFlight is one of aviation's biggest success stories, growing from a hobby to an industry-leading business in less than a decade. Tyson Weihs was there at the beginning, and in this episode he shares some early memories and some lessons learned about aviation and business. He also explains how he uses ForeFlight both for pre-flight planning and for in-flight navigation, plus tips for using datalink weather to stay safe. In the Ready to Copy segment, he opines on everything from his favorite app feature to what emerging technology he's watching to the best tennis player.  

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Episode 27: Filming Top Gun's incredible flying scenes, with Kevin LaRosa II

As one of Hollywood's top aerial coordinators, Kevin LaRosa has been around plenty of big budget movies—but Top Gun: Maverick was a completely different experience. He takes us behind the scenes to explain how they got all those incredible shots, including fighter jets flying at 600 knots through narrow valleys. The equipment, including the unique CineJet platform, makes some of these scenes possible, but the key to staying safe is planning and practice. Kevin also describes how the actors all took flight training to prepare for the movie, what he's learned from flying a huge variety of aircraft, and how he landed a helicopter on a moving train.

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One year of Pilot’s Discretion podcast episodes

Last week we published the 26th edition of our Pilot’s Discretion podcast, marking one full year of episodes. This biweekly podcast brings you fast-paced and thought-provoking interviews with some of the world’s most interesting pilots, discussing everything from the latest technology to practical tips for safer flying. To celebrate, we thought we would look back over the last year and highlight some of our favorite episodes. 

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Episode 26: Astronaut stories and weird flight training, with Mike and Patrick Mullane

After a lifetime of flying on space shuttles and Air Force jets, Mike Mullane believes that “humility keeps you alive,” whether you’re an astronaut or a student pilot. He shares the hair-raising experiences that taught him that lesson, and explains what normalization of deviance means in the context of aviation safety. Mike's son Patrick, a new private pilot, also joins the podcast and explains what makes flight training weird for older students and what earning an MBA taught him about flying. This is a back-and-forth episode about aviation families, risk management, and flying dreams.

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What are the best flight simulator yokes and rudder pedals?

Since being reintroduced in 2020, Microsoft Flight Simulator has reinvented the flight simulator world. With stunning graphics, live weather, and incredibly life-like cockpits, the latest generation of this storied franchise is winning thousands of new fans every week. To make it more than a game, though, you'll need the right hardware. Here are our top picks for yokes and rudder pedals, any of which can transform MSFS into a valuable training tool. All of these work with X-Plane as well as Micorsoft, and they can be mixed and matched to create the perfect system.

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Episode 25: Unleaded avgas and flying taildraggers, with Paul Bertorelli

Finding a replacement for 100LL has been a "galactically slow train wreck," according to longtime aviation journalist Paul Bertorelli. In his famously blunt way, he explains what's going on with GAMI's unleaded fuel candidate, when you might be able to pump some of it, and why he thinks the FAA has dropped the ball. He also speculates on the future of electric airplanes following Textron's purchase of Pipistrel, plus what he thinks of the latest eVTOL concepts from Joby and Archer. In the rapid-fire "Ready to Copy" segment, Paul comments on everything from the Cirrus parachute to whether the Air Force has seen alien spacecraft. If you know Paul's work, you know he doesn't lack opinions, but he always backs it up with facts learned from a long career of covering aviation.

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Episode 24: Safety trends and life as a Thunderbird, with AOPA's Richard McSpadden

Why do good pilots make bad decisions? The AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Richard McSpadden says it’s because the human brain wasn't made to work well at 100 knots. He offers some practical tips for managing that limitation, explains why VFR-into-IMC accidents persist, and describes the right approach to aircraft transitions. Richard also talks about his time as leader of the US Air Force Thunderbirds, the joy of backcountry flying, and what it was like to teach his kids to fly. From practical safety tips to great flying stories, this podcast is loaded with insight for pilots.

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Episode 23: Inverted flat spins and airmanship, with Spencer Suderman

What's it like to complete 98 inverted flat spins from 24,000 feet in a Pitts? Spencer Suderman is the only person in the world who knows, and he describes that incredible experience in this fast-moving episode. He also shares his opinion on what airmanship is and why it is so important for safe flying: "Pilots communicate with the airplane through the flight controls… you have to know how speak the language." Spencer has plenty of tips, including which flight control really makes the airplane turn, what his favorite maneuver is for improving airmanship skills, and how he handled the loss of a propeller in flight.

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Episode 22: An astrophysicist learns to fly, with Dr. Katie Mack

As a theoretical cosmologist, Katie Mack (better known as AstroKatie online) isn't afraid of a little math—so when she learned to fly, she dove right into physics and aerodynamics. What she didn't expect was how much fun it would be, and how much her interest in airplanes would consume her life. She talks about the flight training process, whether Newton or Bernoulli is more correct about lift, and what she thinks of the emerging world of private spaceflight. In the Ready to Copy segment, Katie shares her pick for the best science fiction book for pilots, her theory of how the universe will end, and the story of her cameo in a Reese Witherspoon movie.

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Garmin D2 Mach 1 smartwatch - first impressions

Garmin recently introduced the D2 Air X10, an updated smartwatch for pilots with a beautiful screen and dozens of useful features. It has been a huge hit so far, but apparently Garmin wasn’t done: this week the company unveiled the D2 Mach 1. This all-new smartwatch has many of the same sophisticated features as the D2 Air X10, but with even more navigation tools and a number of luxury finishes. Quite simply, it’s Garmin’s best aviation watch ever.

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