How winglets work


This Is How Winglets Work

What does a winglet do – besides make an airplane look cool? They’re known to increase performance, increasing range and decreasing fuel burn – but why?

Winglets oppose the drag wingtip vortices create by harnessing the vortices’ airflow. NASA engineer Richard Whitcomb pioneered the technology in the 1970s, and they’ve become a fixture on almost every modern jet.

So, how do they work? First, you need to understand how wingtip vortices form and why they create drag. Then, you’ll understand how winglets counter that drag with lift.


What are wingtip vortices? They’re swirling tunnels of air that form on your wingtips. High pressure air from the bottom of your wing escapes around the wingtip, moving up towards the lower pressure area on the top of the wing. This movement creates a vortex or tunnel of air, rotating inwards behind the wing.

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Don’t land with a tailwind

Tailwind Landings
Tailwind Landings

Why You Shouldn’t Land With A Tailwind

From the moment you start learning to fly, you’re taught to not land with a tailwind. But is it really that bad? Here are three landing accident reports from the NTSB that prove it is.

So when it comes to landing accidents, how much tailwind is too much? In each of these reports, the pilot faced less than 10 knots of tailwind.


A Cirrus SR22 was landing on runway 22 with a 5 knot tailwind at KAVX. The airplane, which was near max gross weight, reportedly touched down within the first few hundred feet of the 3,000′ runway. However, the pilot wasn’t able to bring the aircraft to a stop, and it overran the runway, coming to rest on a 45 degree downslope past the departure end of the runway.

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Rules-Of-Thumb Every Pilot Should Know

Flying gets a lot easier once you know some basic rules-of-thumb. Here are 7 of the best rules, and how to use them.


A general rule for GA aircraft is if you haven’t reached 70% of your takeoff speed by the time you’ve reached 50% of the length of the runway, you should abort your takeoff. Read the full article here.

Why do you need 70% of your takeoff speed by 50% of the runway? As you accelerate down the runway during takeoff, you start chewing up more feet of runway for every second you’re rolling down the pavement. If you haven’t achieved 70% of your takeoff speed by the time you’re halfway down the runway, you may not have enough pavement left to get to rotation speed and lift off.


The 1 in 60 rule states that if you’re off course by 1NM after 60 miles flown, you have a 1 degree tracking error. Time to correct that heading!

Another tip: If you’re 60 miles away from a VOR, and you’re off course by one degree, you’re off course by one mile. Last thing: if you fly a 60 mile arc around the VOR, you’d fly a total of 360 miles…talk about a long instrument approach!

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Simple Practices

Simple Practices

How Simple Practice On Your Next Flight Could Prevent An Accident

When you’re training for a new certificate or rating, you practice. A lot. And whether that practice is short-field landings for your private pilot checkride, or full-procedure ILS approaches for your instrument rating, you usually get to point where you feel like you can do them in your sleep.

But after you pass your checkride, how often do you practice maneuvers and procedures? The reality for most pilots is “rarely”. That’s not to say you aren’t learning when you fly. Flying cross-countries and taking passengers on flights from A to B is always a learning process. But those raw stick-and-rudder and procedural skills fade over time without practice.

When you look at accidents in general aviation (GA), it’s often the basics that get pilots into trouble. And when you look at the stats, a higher-than-normal crosswind on landing is often times all it takes to cause problems.

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Should pilots demonstrate spins?


Should All Pilots Be Required To Demonstrate Spins?

Have you ever spun a plane? For most pilots, the answer is “no”. But that wasn’t always the case.

Today, spin training is only required for flight instructor applicants. But before 1949, private pilot applicants had to demonstrate spins on their checkride. So why the change? And was it a good idea?

Pilots will argue on both sides until they’re blue in the face. But the real question is, would spin training prevent spin accidents?


The Air Safety Foundation conducted a study of 450 stall/spin accidents from 1993 to 2001 to see where they happened, and how they compared to other types of accidents. To keep the focus on GA, they only looked at accidents where aircraft weighed less than 12,500 pounds.

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