Sporty's Product PIREPs

Episode 33. Aviation trends, both hype and reality, with Richard Aboulafia

Are you excited about supersonic business jets or electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft? Richard Aboulafia is going to disappoint you: "I'm here with my bucket of cold water.” The always-entertaining aviation analyst explains why these buzzy projects probably won't happen, what technology will become a reality, and why business jets are hot right now. He also analyzes the airlines' summer of misery and shares the right lessons to learn from the 737 MAX disaster. In the "Ready to Copy" segment, Richard tells us about the Concorde, the Collier Trophy, and China's airliner ambitions.

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Different Grades of Oxygen and How They Pertain to Pilots

Aviators find themselves using oxygen as they explore higher altitudes in non-pressurized cockpits. This brings up an important question: what are the differences between the different grades of oxygen? Fortunately, it’s not that complicated. There are three main types of oxygen.

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Episode 32: Air traffic control tips and tricks, with RJ Ratliff

Do controllers like to get PIREPs? Do you need to read back a Class B clearance? What is a Brasher warning? Experienced air traffic controller (and active GA pilot) RJ Ratliff answers these questions and many more in this wide-ranging episode that's packed with practical advice. In addition to answering common pilot questions, he also explains how technology like ADS-B and datalink communications is changing the job of ATC, and whether remote towers are here to stay. In the Ready to Copy segment, RJ shares what "on the landline" means, what pilot mistake is guaranteed to upset a controller, and what the best college basketball rivalry is.  

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Sporty's kicks off EAA Young Eagles "30 flights for 30 years" campaign

This year is a milestone for the EAA Young Eagles program, and Sporty's is joining the celebration. The program was launched 30 years ago at Oshkosh 1992, and since then more than 2.2 million kids have received a free airplane ride to discover the wonder of flight. It's the most successful youth aviation program in history—but we're just getting started.

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Oxygen connectors in general aviation aircraft

Some aircraft were manufactured with built-in oxygen systems. These are commonly found in high performance aircraft with turbocharged engines. When these aircraft were made, each manufacturer could pick which connector to use in their system. Portable manufacturers entered the fray and used different connectors. What we are left with is a whole lot of connectors without much consistency. You might think it will take a special decoder ring to figure out what connector you need for your 1972 Cessna T210 (PB-2 for the record), but it doesn’t have to be that hard. There are six main connectors to consider.  

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Ultimate pilot gear guide—Aztec to Florida

Earlier this summer my wife and I flew to the Santa Rosa Beach area along the scenic 30A highway, which is east of Destin, Florida, in a 1963 Piper Aztec. As with any flight, no matter how long or complex, one of the keys to success (and comfort) is preparation. This preparation paid off immensely, as it was one of the more challenging single-pilot IFR flights I’ve flown in recent years, thanks to the need to cross three different weather systems churning between Ohio and Florida. I wanted the best for this flight so I went out on a search for what I considered the ultimate pilot gear, looking for the best combination of quality, convenience and safety features.

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Episode 31: New product successes and failures, with Sporty's Doug Ranly

What are the most revolutionary aviation products of the last 25 years? If you immediately thought of a glass panel or a new airplane, Doug Ranly wants you to think again. As the director of new products at Sporty's Pilot Shop, he's seen a lot of technology come and go, and he believes portable products have the biggest impact because they affect the most pilots. In this gear-focused episode, he names his top four products, shares some less successful inventions, and describes his process for evaluating a new gadget. Doug also talks about his first experience with active noise reduction headsets (in Iraq, not in an airplane), what products he'd like to see invented, and what product he wishes companies would stop inventing. In the Ready to Copy segment, you'll hear why Doug loves the RV-12, his pet peeve about flashlights, and what he learned as a carny.

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Episode 30: Flight sim's early days and modern cross-country flying, with Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams had a front row seat to some exciting developments in flight simulators, working at Microsoft as their program grew from a simple DOS program to a visually stunning virtual world. He offers some practical tips for using a sim for home training (have a plan, don't stress about the controls) and weighs in on the "game vs. simulator" debate. Bruce is also a longtime flight instructor, so he shares his tips for flying long cross-country flights, how to master glass cockpits, and learning aerobatics. In the ready to copy segment, Bruce tells us his favorite preflight weather tools, why pilots should use the autopilot more, and his favorite author.

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Honeycomb Bravo configuration for X-Plane 11

The Honeycomb Bravo throttle is an amazingly capable hardware piece that, once configured correctly, leads the pack in flight sim throttle options. The downside of all these options is that it can be intimidating to program all the commands and levers to operate as we would like. For that reason, the flight simulation department at Sporty’s put together a configuration map for running the Honeycomb Bravo with X-Plane 11. We cover how to configure the throttle for single engine GA, single engine GA complex, multi-engine GA, two-engine jet, and four-engine jet aircraft.

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