Video tip: get a “big picture” weather briefing

Checking the weather is one of the few constants in aviation. All pilots do it, whether it’s a trip around the pattern in a Cub or a trip across the Atlantic in a Gulfstream. But merely getting a weather briefing isn’t enough; it has to be a good weather briefing to make the flight safer. So what exactly does a “good briefing” involve?

Video tip: Flying airplanes with retractable landing gear

Many high-performance airplanes feature retractable landing gear that allows them to fly at higher speeds thanks to the reduced drag (and they look cool too). There are new operational considerations to learn when transitioning to this type of airplane, including the best time to raise the gear after takeoff and lower the gear before landing. 

Video tip: Flying internationally (FARs, flight planning, eAPIS and US Customs)

One of the most rewarding trips you can take after earning your pilot certificate is leaving the U.S. and heading to new destinations in Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. This week's video tip takes a look at what it takes to fly internationally, including flight planning, extra equipment requirements and how to file the required paperwork with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Video tip: How to use a sectional plotter to plan a cross-country flight

As you enter the cross-country planning phase of your private pilot training, you'll learn the skills required to plan long-distance trips using a VFR sectional, plotter, E6B flight computer and Navlog. This week's tip takes a look at the first phase of this planning process and shows how to use a plotter and sectional to measure the trip distance and determine the exact direction you'll need to fly.

Video Tip: How to land a Piper J-3 Cub tailwheel airplane on grass

The rugged design of a tailwheel airplane and its extra prop clearance opens up the opportunity to land at a wide variety of off-airport locations with soft surfaces, like sand, gravel bars, grass and even mud. A modified soft-field approach and landing technique should be used when operating in these conditions, which allows the wheels to touchdown at the slowest possible airspeed with the wings supporting the weight of the airplane as long as possible.

Video tip: what kind of cloud is that?

Clouds are often referred to as "sign posts in the sky", and for good reason since they are one of the best visual indicators of what mother nature has planned for the weather. This week's tip takes a look at the various types of clouds, when and where they form and what kind of flying conditions pilots can expect when flying in and around them.

Video tip: Airport runway signs and markings

All airports with ATC control towers in the U.S. (and many non-towered airports) use a standard set of pavement markings and elevated signs to call out important parts of an airport runway. In this video, we'll explore the location and meaning of each in a simulated 3D airport environment so that you'll be well prepared when operating at a large airport.

Video tip: how to calculate takeoff and landing distances

Just about every airplane includes performance data in the Pilot's Operating Handbook to calculate the runway length required for takeoff and landing under various conditions. The FARs require you to determine these distances as part of your preflight responsibilities, but fortunately the charts published for today's modern airplanes make this task a breeze. This week's tip takes a look at how perform this calculation using the common "chase-around" style charts.

Video Tip of the Week: Class B airspace

Class B airspace surrounds the busiest airports, which means there are some important restrictions to remember any time you're operating within it - or underneath it. In this week's video tip, we review how Class B airspace works, what you need to do to fly legally in it and how to stay safe. Take a few minutes and get current today.

Video tip: engine detonation and pre-ignition

What happens when the spark plugs in your engine aren't working properly? Some pretty bad stuff. In our latest video tip, we explain what detonation and pre-ignition are all about, how they happen, and what you can do to prevent them from happening.