Airplane Flying Handbook (2021)

FAA has released a new edition of the Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3C). You can download the free PDF from the FAA website here.

The front matter of the new edition lists the following “major revisions”:

Removed mandatory language or cited applicable regulations throughout handbook.

  • Chapter 1 (Introduction to Flight Training) – Added information on the FAA Wings Program.
  • Chapter 2 (Ground Operations) – Added a new graphic and information regarding detonation. Now uses the same marshalling graphic as the AMT General Handbook. Updated material on hand propping to match the material in the AMT General Handbook (it doesn’t matter whether a pilot or mechanic is hand propping).
  • Chapter 3 (Basic Flight Maneuvers) – Corrected G1000 and indications of slip and skid graphics.
  • Chapter 4 (Energy Management) – All new chapter/material. Incremented the existing chapters 4-17 by 1 (now there are 18 chapters in total).
  • Chapter 5 (Maintaining Aircraft Control) – Revised the order in which the material was presented.
  • Chapter 7 (Ground Reference Maneuvers) – Corrected errors in text and graphics for eights on pylons.
  • Chapter 9 (Approaches and Landings) – Added information concerning a forward slip to a landing and corrected Figure 9-6. Changed description associated with Crosswind Final Approach. Removed material on 360 degree power-off landing as this maneuver is not part of testing standard.
  • Chapter 10 (Performance Maneuvers) – Added information on lazy eights.
  • Chapter 11 (Night Operations) – Revised to align with material from CAMI.
  • Chapter 13 (Transition to Multiengine Airplanes) – Incorporated the addendum. Corrected G1000 displays and force vectors on figures. Accelerated approach to stall minimum altitude revised to match the ACS. The 14 CFR part 23 certification standard used for many multiengine airplanes is now referred to a historical standard, since many of the previous requirements will not apply to newly certificated aircraft.
  • Chapter 14 (Transition to Tailwheel Airplanes) – Made minor revision regarding handling characteristics.
  • Chapter 15 (Transition to Turbopropeller-Powered Airplanes) – Addressed an NTSB recommendation regarding slow spool up time of split-shaft engines and corrected figure of fixed-shaft engine gauges.
  • Chapter 16 (Transition to Jet-Powered Airplanes) – Removed extra information that appears unrelated to flying a turbojet and added information regarding energy management and distance versus altitude in a descent.
  • Chapter 18 (Emergency Procedures) – Revised information regarding the safety of turning back after an engine failure after takeoff. Added a section on emergency response systems to include ballistic parachutes and autoland systems. Corrected figures of G1000 displays.

A Pilots N Paws Flight

Ride along as I fly the first leg of a Pilots N Paws mission. As its name implies, the Pilots N Paws organization connects volunteer pilots with pets under threat of euthanasia that need transport—typically from a shelter to a foster or new permanent home.

The video below shows the leg from Boeing Field (KBFI) in Seattle to Medford, OR (KMFR), near the California border, to meet another pilot who was flying Pepper, a female bull terrier, from Fresno, CA to meet me at Medford.

PnP flights often require multiple legs to cover long-distance missions.

This video includes the departure from Boeing Field, views of the smoky skies en route, and the landing at Medford.

Here’s video from the trip from Medford to Bellingham, WA near the border with Canada, where I left Pepper—one of the sweetest dogs you could meet–with a foster who would care for her until her new Canadian family could take her home.

Short Approach Demonstration

Here’s an exercise that I do with all students, regardless of the type of airplane they fly. It’s a variation on the power-off 180 approach and landing that commercial students learn.

Most of the goals are similar to those for that task, but the focus here isn’t on the standard in the commercial pilot ACS—landing within 200 ft of the designated touchdown spot.

Instead, I like to do this exercise—after practicing lift-vector exercises, slow-flight, and accelerated stalls—to help pilots observe and experience the high descent rate, the required flight path, the effect of drag, and the importance of maintaining energy while flying a close-in base turn and final.

The experience, without the stress and distractions of running (simulated) emergency checklists, etc., also helps pilots learn to shift their focus from the runway threshold to new touchdown point, which changes as you add drag or as the wind affects the airplane. After observing and practicing this maneuver, you can add the simulated emergency elements and practice other details, such as moving the prop control to low RPM.

While demonstrating and practicing this skill, I aim initially for the middle of the runway—or in a real emergency, a field, road, or other emergency landing surface—and work back from there if altitude, wind, and other factors allow. Initially aiming for the middle of the target creates a safety margin. If you misjudge your descent, the wind, use of drag, etc., odds are you can still make it to the chosen landing surface. Should you land long, at least when you roll off the end, you’re at taxi speed and decelerating on the ground. The airplane might not look pretty when you stop, but you’ll survive. That’s better than stalling or dropping a wing and cartwheeling or lawn-darting into obstacles short of the runway.

As you can see in this example, I was landing on a 6000 ft runway. On that day, the wind was light and variable, with no significant headwind component. I did not brake aggressively (hardly at all, in fact) after touchdown. Still, I made a turnoff with some 3000 ft of runway remaining.

Using VNAV During an Instrument Approach

One of the terrific features available in the latest digital autopilots is VNAV, or vertical navigation. If you have a Garmin GTN-series navigator and a GFC 500 or GFC 600 autopilot, you can use VNAV to descend to the charted altitudes along the intermediate legs of an instrument approach, until you reach the final approach fix.

VNAV is also available on most G1000 systems equipped with the GFC 700 autopilot, including the new G1000 NXi, and some other manufacturers, such as Avidyne, plan to add the feature to their systems.

The 10-minute video below demonstrates how VNAV can help you fly a smooth, precise descent prior to the FAF. The video explains the basic concepts, uses the Garmin PC Trainer Suite to highlight key details, and then shows VNAV at work as I fly the RNAV (GPS) RWY 12 approach at Kelso, WA (KKLS).

For more information about VNAV, see Garmin GTN VNAV here at BruceAir.

Excellent Aviation Reporting from James Fallows

James Fallows, a writer for The Atlantic, is also IFR-rated Cirrus pilot. He’s written extensively about aviation during his decades as a journalist. He and his wife recently completed a book, Our Towns, about their journeys around the U.S. in the Cirrus. It’s now also a film on HBO.

Fallows just started a Substack blogBreaking the News. Today’s installment includes an account of an incident at Boston Logan that involved an Allegiant airliner with a landing gear problem. His account is here:

How an Aviation Emergency Sounds in Real Time

Using Bearing Pointers–Part 2

Bearing pointers are an often overlooked feature available in modern electronic primary flight displays, such as the Garmin G1000, G500, and G5, and similar avionics made by Aspen and other manufacturers.

If you fly with an electronic PFD and navigate primarily with GPS, you can use bearing pointers to help you maintain situational awareness, as I described in a previous video.

Free Garmin PC Trainer Suite is available at the Garmin website.

That information is also helpful when you want to contact ATC or flight service, or if you want to divert.

But you can also use bearing pointers to navigate directly to or from a VOR or to intercept and track any radial inbound or outbound. Understanding how to use bearing pointers to quickly intercept and track courses is a useful skill and a good exercise to hone your understanding of navigation by navaids. And the techniques I describe in this video can be especially handy if you’re flying IFR and ATC issues a clearance that takes you off the procedure or route programmed into your GPS navigator.

Using Bearing Pointers: Part 1

If you fly with a G1000 system or have an electronic PFD, such as an Aspen or Garmin G5, you can use bearing pointers to help you keep track of your position, even if you rely on GPS for navigation along your route.

This short presentation explains the basics of using bearing pointers–a modern take on the RMI (radio magnetic indicator) to verify your position, make useful position reports, and to help you divert from your current course.

A Real Missed Approach

Join me on an IFR flight from Boeing Field (KBFI) in Seattle to Hoquiam (KHQM) on the Washington coast.

I wanted to exercise the Bonanza after an oil change and other maintenance (I had already completed a couple of VFR test flights). The weather was marginal VFR around Seattle, but a typical layer of coastal low clouds and fog shrouded Hoquiam in low IFR conditions, making a good setup for practicing an RNAV approach–the RNAV (GPS) RWY 24–at the normally sleepy KHQM before diverting to Bremerton to top off the fuel tanks.

As you’ll see, however, this flight included a couple of twists, including an ad-hoc hold en route to allow a preceding aircraft to complete its approach. And when I arrived at the DA, about 200 ft above the ground, the reported variable ceiling wasn’t so variable. I had to fly a real missed approach.

If you just want to see the final approach segment, watch the 5 minute clip below. A longer version, showing the departure, en route ad-hoc hold, and the approach appears at the end of this post.

The full flight:

After-Landing Cockpit Flow Check

This short video shows my standard after-landing-clear-of-runway cockpit flow in the Beechcraft A36.

I see many pilots in a rush to retract flaps, operate switches, or tune radios as they decelerate on the runway or taxi.

As this video shows, it takes only a few seconds to accomplish the after-landing tasks in a logical sequence after you have stopped clear of the runway and can focus on those details before you resume taxiing.

It’s easy to develop a similar cockpit flow that works for the layout of the controls and avionics in any airplane. And you often can use the same flow for any phase of flight and then back it up with the appropriate checklist when have time.

Air-to-Air Video Shoot

I recently flew a Cessna T182 Skylane for an air-to-air video and photo shoot around Seattle for Galvin Flying (, a flight school where I instruct.

This video, edited for time and to remove camera jiggles, focus changes, and other hiccups, shows some of the raw footage collected during the flight.

The photo ship was a Cessna T206, which is also in the Galvin fleet. Enjoy the views of the Seattle area as we flew on a late summer afternoon.

A photo flight is not the same as a traditional formation flight. The photographer directs the subject airplane to move forward and back, up and down, and in and out to capture images of the airplane and background that best suit the goals of the session. (To see a master of the genre at work, visit Jessica I have flown the camera plane for several photo flights with Jessica.)

Of course, like a traditional formation flight, a thorough briefing and plan is required, and formation flying skills and experience are required to be safe and to achieve the goals of the project.