Lazy Eights: Commercial flight maneuver spotlight

The lazy eight is one of several maneuvers you’ll learn to fly during your training towards the Commercial Pilot certificate. It is designed to develop the proper coordination of the flight controls across a wide range of airspeeds and attitudes and will give you a new appreciation for energy management and precise airplane control.

This clip appears in Sporty’s Commercial Pilot Course, which includes comprehensive knowledge test prep, flight maneuvers guide, oral exam tools and a comprehensive aviation library.

FAA hosting runway safety workshop for GA pilots Wednesday

Wednesday, March 22 – 12:30pm eastern

taxiwayThe FAA is inviting general aviation (GA) pilots to join a virtual spring surface safety workshop on March 22, at 12:30pm eastern. During this event, FAA Acting Administrator, Billy Nolen, GA industry reps, pilots, air traffic controllers, meteorologists, and others will discuss several different GA-related safety and operational concerns. The workshop panels will remind pilots of runway procedures, provide information to preempt surface movement errors, and focus on lowering the potential for accidents. Topics presented and discussed will include:

  • Wrong Surface Risk and Mitigation
  • Human Factors
  • Markings, Signage and Lighting
  • Nighttime Operations
  • Preparing for Weather Challenges, and more.

Pilots interested in receiving WINGS credit should use Zoom link: (password 236113).

All other participants should use the YouTube livestream link to attend

How to recover from an airplane spin, with Patty Wagstaff

While spin training is only required for new flight instructor candidates, pilots of all skill levels should know the steps to recover from a spin. Join Patty Wagstaff in her Super Decathlon aerobatic airplane, as she explains how it’s possible to enter a spin, and then the proper recovery steps to return to straight and level flight, in this video segment from Sporty’s Basic Aerobatics Course.

Flying for youth

As a flight instructor, I am often asked the question, “How old do you have to be to start learning to fly?” Teens ask this question thinking that they will hear the 15 1/2 years old that is required by the State of Ohio to get a temporary permit in a car. Parents of younger children ask this question in some cases hoping that they can get an enthusiastic youth off of their back, in other cases because they would like to get their child up and flying.

The short answer to the question is that there is no minimum age for a child to begin learning to fly. The longer answer is a bit more complicated and I will attempt to discuss that here.

Kids and Flying

The love of aviation is a tremendous gift to give to your children. There are a number of toys, books, and videos that can help to encourage this love. When they are old enough to understand and not be frightened by the noise, airshows and trips to the airport can also deepen their appreciation of flight. To truly appreciate the joy and excitement of flight, they need a pleasant but memorable experience flying in an aircraft.

When my own kids were small, I did not want to take them up in an airplane with me until they were old enough to understand what was going on and be excited about the anticipated flight. For me, this was a present that I gave them for their 3rd birthdays. They were old enough to talk about what they were seeing and experiencing and could make associations between what was out the window and what they knew to be on the ground.

Young Eagle in right seat

My oldest chattered the whole of her first flight and she recognized many objects on the ground including our house with “Papaw’s Big Truck” sitting in the driveway. Her Granny rode along in the back seat taking pictures and video to help with the long term memory of the flight. My youngest had a similar memorable experience when her time came. Big sister sat in the back with Granny on that flight and pointed out things to her little sister up front with me.

While there have been kids who have learned to control the airplane at a very young age, I see these types of flights being more useful for developing that early aviation bond. Can a child learn to fly at an early age? Yes, but they will always need to have a flight instructor on board to keep the flight legal and safe.

Oh, and before you get any grand ideas, the FAA does frown upon teaching kids to fly at a very young age in an attempt to “set a record” or create a “publicity stunt.” This type of thing can and has ended in tragedy. Please don’t attempt this and bring more regulation on the rest of us when another tragedy occurs.

As the kids start to get older, I think that actual flight lessons on the control of the aircraft in flight can be great. These types of lessons should only be done on days with excellent weather conditions. The goal is not to teach them everything that there is to know about flying but to give them confidence in their ability to handle the airplane in flight. Depending on their size, the instructor may have to handle all of the ground operations as they may not be able to reach the pedals.

Lessons like these should tend to be shorter and less frequent in nature than your standard lesson. This will help prevent burnout and encourage anticipation of the next flight.

If completed with an appropriately rated flight instructor, as they should be, these lessons can be logged and can count toward the child’s total flight time.

Getting Serious About Flight Training

I generally don’t recommend a student getting serious about flight training until they are within a year of being able to fly solo. In a glider or balloon, a student pilot can solo at age 14. In an airplane or any other type of aircraft, the student pilot must be 16 to solo.

Now it is time to learn what he or she needs to know on the ground and how it applies to actual flight.

Lessons should start to get closer together and be flown under more varied conditions. The student should get serious about their studies. It won’t be long until the day for that first solo arrives.

When your student, young or old, completes that first solo, take the time to celebrate! He or she has accomplished something that only a small percentage of people will ever do; taken an aircraft from the ground and returned it safely to the earth.

After the celebration and a chance to breathe, it is time to head on to the next steps toward a Sport, Recreational, or Private certificate. A primary rating can be earned in a glider or balloon at 16 years of age; airplanes and others can be earned at 17. Keep the momentum from the solo rolling through to the next goal.

Youth Flight Programs

For more information about organized programs and lessons for youth flight, check out the following websites.


Yes, learning to fly can begin at most any age but serious flight training should only begin when a reachable goal, like solo or a pilot certificate, is in sight. Share the dream and have some fun!

Aircraft Engine - carb heat

Reminder of the dangers associated with carb ice

From NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System – a pilot report

In this report from the NASA Aviation Reporting System, an instructor and student received a powerful reminder of the dangers of carburetor ice. Carburetor ice occurs due to the effect of fuel vaporization and the decrease in air pressure which causes a sharp temperature drop in the carburetor. If water vapor in the air condenses when the carburetor temperature is at or below freezing, ice may form on internal surfaces of the carburetor, including the throttle valve. Carburetor ice is most likely to occur in high humidity conditions at temperatures below 70 degrees (F). Ed.

Aircraft Engine - carb heatMy student and I decided to go out and practice VFR landings…before low ceilings arrived later that evening. The temperature was around 40 degrees F and the dew point spread about 4 degrees C [7.2 degrees F]. We taxied out to [Runway] XXL and flew two right VFR patterns, each landing on [Runway] XXR. I flew the first pattern to demonstrate, and the student flew the second pattern. As we came in on final for the second pattern, the engine RPM dropped, and the propeller came to a stop at the end of the ground roll of the second landing. We quickly used the momentum to exit XXR onto Runway XY and hold short of XXL. I stated to Tower that my engine just quit, and the Tower Controller confirmed observing this over the Tower frequency. My student and I were immediately able to get the engine started on Runway XY to taxi back to the ramp.

In hindsight, I realize what likely occurred, but it is speculation. As my student performed the run-up before I took off of XXL, I recall noticing a 200 RPM drop when the student tested the carburetor heat. Having flown a fuel injected C172 a couple times before this flight, I was not in the habit of turning the carb heat on.… I did forget to turn the carb heat on during my first pattern and mentioned this out loud to the student while on final for XXR during my demonstration. The student took the controls for the second pattern while on upwind for XXR. During the student’s pattern, our downwind was extended for landing traffic, and he also forgot to turn the carb heat on as he configured for landing. I noticed this, but with this flight being a pre-solo evaluation, I decided to make a note of this for later and did not correct it immediately. While on final for his landing, he pulled the throttle to idle for the entirety of final approach. As we continued the ground roll after his landing, the prop stopped turning about halfway down the runway. I do not recall hearing the engine quit, just that the RPM began to get pretty low. With the weather conditions, I strongly suspect carb icing. The engine didn’t have time to warm up, either, after two patterns in these conditions. To prevent further occurrence, I will be more diligent when switching between aircraft with different systems and identify differences before beginning a flight. I also need to emphasize the landing checklist while on downwind for myself and my students. I…am fully aware of the consequences of not turning on the carb heat in conditions where carb icing is prevalent.

Video Tip: Steep turns in flight

Whether you’re a new student pilot or an experienced pro, being able to complete steep turns safely and smoothly requires coordination and good “seat of the pants” flying. Learn some helpful tips for making better steep turns in our latest video tip.

The video clip is from Sporty’s 2023 Learn to Fly Course