Authors Posts by John Zimmerman

John Zimmerman

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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.”

Video: two first flight lessons

Do you remember your first flight lesson? For most pilots, it's a blur - a mix of wonder, nervousness and excitement. In this video, you can see it all, from the expectations to the moment of liftoff, as you ride along with two student pilots on their first flight lessons. If you're already a pilot, you'll enjoy reliving the big day. If you're not yet a pilot, this is a great preview, one that shows just how much flying you'll do on that first lesson.
ATC controller

Quiz: Brush Up On Communications

How much do you know about communications, ATC clearances and non-towered airports? Take our quiz to find out.

Video: landing a helicopter next to a BBQ restaurant

Airplane pilots are familiar with the concept of the $100 hamburger, a flight to a nearby airport for lunch or dinner that combines food, friends and flying. These missions are a lot of fun, but in a helicopter they are even better. In this video, watch as a student pilot flies a Robinson R22 helicopter to one of the world's best barbecue restaurants and lands in the grass right next door. You'll learn some of the finer points of off-airport landings, plus see how much fun you can have with a pilot certificate.

Video: flying to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Oshkosh - one word means so much to pilots. But one of the best parts of EAA's AirVenture show is getting there. Flying into KOSH requires pilots to fly a very specific procedure and often land on a runway with two other airplanes. It's challenging and different, but also a lot of fun. In this video, fly along in a Citabria as it lands on runway 27 at Oshkosh, and listen to the rapid-fire controllers.

Video: flying around the Bahamas in a Bonanza

There's a reason the islands of the Bahamas are on so many pilots' wish lists: it's an easy flight from the southeast US, the scenery is amazing, airports are everywhere, and the people are friendly. Fly with Matt Guthmiller in this video, as he takes his Beech Bonanza to a number of islands, including Bimini, Eleuthera, Norman's Cay and more. This is fun flying at its very best.

Video: bush pilot picnic in Alaska

When the weather is good, it's hard to beat flying in Alaska. In this week's fun flying video, ride along with Chris Palmer from Angle of Attack to see just how much fun you can have with a Cessna 170, a gravel runway and a group of pilots. They enjoy a "bush pilot picnic" before fly over some gorgeous glaciers on the way back. And all of this with just a Private Pilot license and a Cessna.

Video: flying mom and dad to Key West

This week's fun flying video combines two memorable flights in one. The first is taking your parents for their first flight in a small airplane, which is a fun way to show off your hard-earned pilot skills. Even better is making that first flight in a Cessna 172 to Key West, Florida. The scenic flight over the turquoise waters to an island paradise is a great example of the fun you can have in an airplane.

Video: sunset flight over Martha’s Vineyard

Island flying is a lot of fun, but that doesn't have to mean just the Bahamas. In this video, three airplanes take off at sunset for a beautiful flight around Martha's Vineyard, which is just 15 miles off the coast of Massachusetts. Watch the sun set over the water and hear the communications between the airplanes as they fly down the shoreline.

Video: Hudson River Corridor flight

It's a flight that almost seems impossible to pilots from outside the US: you can fly a general aviation airplane right down the New York skyline, VFR, with no flight plan. Definitely a bucket list flight for any pilot. In this video, you can see the spectacular views and hear the busy communications as a Cirrus flies down the Hudson River Corridor. It's not as hard as you might think, but some preparation certainly does help.

Webinar video: how to pass your check ride

The check ride is the culmination of months of work, when you get to show an FAA designated examiner all that you've learned - and hopefully end up as a certificated pilot. But the check ride can also be stressful, so preparing for it only makes sense. In this fascinating webinar recording, you'll hear from Jason Blair, an examiner with years of experience conducting check rides. He offers tips about how to prepare for the big day, what the examiner is looking for, and why a few small mistakes doesn't have to ruin your whole day.
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