Authors Posts by John Zimmerman

John Zimmerman

116 POSTS 51 COMMENTS
John knows how lucky he is to go to work every day at an airport. As Vice President of Sporty’s Pilot Shop’s Catalog Division, he says, “I get to hang around airplanes all the time, flying regularly and testing new products for the catalog.” Coming from an aviation family, John grew up in the back of small airplanes and learned to fly as a teenager. Ever since, he has been hooked on anything with wings and regularly flies a Citabria, a Pilatus PC-12 and a Robinson R44 helicopter. Despite his love of low and slow flight, John says, “I love the challenge of IFR flying in the system. Seeing the runway lights as you break out on approach is a thrill.”

Stop and smell the avgas

We all set goals as pilots, whether it’s completing the first solo, earning a private pilot certificate or simply getting current again. There’s nothing wrong with that (in fact, I think it’s part of what makes flying so rewarding), but we need to be careful that the destination doesn’t overshadow the journey.
Young Eagle in right seat

After the checkride – making a plan to stay engaged

During flight training, it's natural to focus on the big hurdles: the medical, first solo, knowledge test and checkride. Those are certainly important, and they deserve your attention. But many student pilots get so focused on the training process that they never think about flying after the checkride. That's a mistake.

Learn to love the wind

Pilots spend a lot of time worrying about the weather, and for good reason--it's a factor in many general aviation accidents. But while nasty things like thunderstorms and in-flight icing get a lot of attention, more flights are affected by wind than any other weather phenomena. It deserves serious attention.
Aviation cliche sign

6 aviation cliches that are true – and 3 that are not

Aviation is filled with "experts." These self-appointed sages never miss a chance to share their tips for safer flying, usually from the lofty perch of a rocking chair at the FBO. But not every cliche can be discarded. Most of them exist because there's a kernel of truth.
Checklist

One checklist that works in every airplane

Do you fly the airplane, or is your checklist really the PIC? It may sound funny, but an awful lot of pilots are slaves to their checklists, blindly following them as if it’s a set of assembly instructions for a piece of furniture. You can and should do better.

The art of cross country travel by light airplane

As student pilots and newly-minted private pilots, we spend most of our time in the traffic pattern or the practice area. It's all about the process, not enjoying the ride or the destination. But once you earn your license, it's critical to throw off those shackles, get out and travel!
172 landing

Mind thy airspeed

At the end of the day, is there a single skill that is most important? One that would, if mastered, have the greatest impact on your ability to fly safely? I think there are actually two, one mental and one physical.
Air Traffic Control room

Question authority – and ATC

Many new pilots regard Air Traffic Controllers with a mix of respect and fear. So it's only natural that we trust them and want to follow their instructions no matter what. But as Ben Franklin famously said, "It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority."
scared passenger

Safe isn’t enough–focus on smooth flying

We all want to be safe pilots--that's emphasized from day one of flight training, and for good reason. But after we've completed our first solo and gained some confidence, it's time to raise the standard beyond just safe flying. What your passengers will judge you on is how smooth you are.
two pilots in cockpit

The value of right seat time

Most of us will jump at any chance for some left seat time and another entry in the logbook. For better or for worse (mostly for worse I think), we judge pilot ability on total time. But not all your aviation experience shows up in the logbook, and not all your learning takes place in the left seat.