Sporty's Product PIREPs

Episode 21: Lessons learned as a pilot and mechanic, with Chelsea Smith

Pilot, mechanic, social media influencer - Chelsea Smith stays busy, but her passion for aviation is the common thread in all that she does. In this episode, she talks about how to do a better preflight inspection, why post-maintenance flights can be risky, and when owners should get involved with their mechanic. She also shares her unique aviation story, including why she never thought she'd become a mechanic and why she bought a Cessna 150 and flew it solo across the US. In the Ready to Copy segment, Chelsea talks about maintaining radial engines, what competitive shooting taught her, and where to find the best Kentucky hot brown.

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Episode 20: Living in the age of electric airplanes, with Joby's Greg Bowles

"We are living in the age of electric airplanes," says Greg Bowles. He would know, since he works at eVTOL pioneer Joby Aviation. Greg, an airplane and helicopter pilot, explains why this time might really be different for electric aviation, why noise is as important as safety for communities, and what the trickle-down benefits of the electric investment boom might be for general aviation. He also shares his perspective as an aircraft certification expert, including the new MOSAIC program from the FAA. In the "ready to copy" segment, Greg tells us whether airplanes or helicopters are more fun, when we might see an electric kitplane, and what the future holds for pilotless airplanes.

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Three myths about active noise reduction headsets

ANR headsets make long flights in noisy general aviation airplanes more bearable. The standard passive headset reduces noise levels by 18-24 decibels; ANR headsets put an additional 10-25 decibels of reduction on top of that. But there is still pushback from those who want to continue to get a flashlight and shoes to go use the outhouse. Here are the top three myths we have heard when it comes to ANR headsets—and why they are wrong.

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Episode 19: Writing America's story from a Cirrus, with James Fallows

Flying a small airplane is “like being in a skyscraper that moves,” according to award-winning author James Fallows. He used that view to research his latest book, Our Towns, flying his Cirrus SR22 to more than 50 American cities that lie beyond the airline routes and highways. He explains how small airports can be a point of connection for these communities and why safety is so important for general aviation's image. Jim also talks about why Cirrus has survived while other airplane companies have failed, and how being a pilot has changed his behavior, from everyday conversations to his assessment of risk. In the "Ready to copy" segment, Jim shares his pick for best aviation book, his favorite airport craft brewery, and why leaf blowers are so bad. 

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Best flight sim: Microsoft Flight Simulator vs. X-Plane (part 2)

The purpose of this three part blog is to grade Microsoft Flight Simulator versus X-Plane on a wide range of features. Each program has its strengths as well as its weaknesses and it’s worth researching those before financially committing to a software trainer. Edition two covers your first five minutes in both programs, weight and balance, failures, and designing a flight plan.

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Garmin D2 Air X10 smartwatch for pilots - first impressions

Smartwatches are one of the hottest categories in the consumer electronics business, with over 100 million sold in 2021 alone. The latest model from Garmin is the D2 Air X10, which replaces the best-selling D2 Air. It retains the vivid touchscreen and pulse oximeter from its predecessor, but adds new smart assistant features so your watch can now integrate seamlessly with Siri or Google Assistant. After testing it for the last week, we think it’s the best pilot watch yet.

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Episode 18: How technology has changed flying, with Max Trescott

As one of the premier Cirrus flight instructors in the country, Max Trescott has strong opinions about pilots and technology, including: "the debate about the parachute is over" and "the autopilot is the glass cockpit." In this fast-paced episode, Max makes the case that technology has changed and pilots need to change too. He also shares tips for flying stabilized approaches, how to use an iPad to avoid terrain, and why the track vector on glass cockpits is often overlooked. In the "Ready to copy" segment, Max tells us why you're probably pouring oil into your airplane's engine the wrong way, the best part of being an independent flight instructor, and why sumping fuel doesn't guarantee you'll notice misfueling. 

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Using a portable radio as your primary radio

While the general consensus is that portable radios don’t belong as a primary source, there are still plenty of aircraft out there that don’t have radios at all. Some were manufactured without electrical systems. Others might be homebuilt ultralights or Light Sport Aircraft. The question we like to ask: “Is a portable radio setup better than no radio at all?” The resounding answer is “yes.” 

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Episode 17: Flying across the Atlantic in a Cessna, with Ian Seager

Tens of thousands of pilots fly to Oshkosh every year. Ian Seager flew his Cessna all the way from England to get there—with no autopilot! In this episode, the British writer and pilot shares what that experience was like, from the stunning views in Greenland to the frustrating paperwork. He also gives a European perspective on general aviation, including why privatized air traffic control is a disaster, how the basic instrument rating works, and what he thinks about electric airplanes replacing 100LL. In the Ready to Copy segment, Ian tells us his favorite country for flying, what the best British movie about World War II is, and why pilots should look in the mirror when thinking about safety.

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