Blog: Ahead of the Power Curve

Read accident case studies and aviation stories to help you stay sharp.


Learning to fly a plane: The checkride flight (part 3 of 3)
    July 2021

After two mock checkrides with my instructor John and another with Matt, the chief flight instructor, I was ready for the flying portion of my private pilot checkride.

Learning to fly a plane: The cross country flight (part 2 of 3)
    June 2021

"This is where the fun begins," said my flight instructor John as we finished our debriefing after my first solo flight. The next phase of my training would work on navigation skills, flight planning and cross country flights.

Learning to fly a plane: The first solo flight (part 1 of 3)
    May 2021

I have always had an interest in aviation and enjoyed going to the airport whenever family vacations arose. For fifteen years, my dream of flying an airplane remained a dream. Then I read two books that inspired me to take the next step and learn to fly.

NTSB report released in crash of Boeing B-17
    April 2021

In April 2021, the NTSB released its final report of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress crash that occurred in October 2019, in which the World War II bomber crashed at Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

Flight Training Tip: What does a Cessna 172 and Phantom of the Opera have in common?
    March 2021

Did you know that even music can be used as a teaching tool in flight training? It may not seem obvious, but there are musical moments that can help you fly the airplane.

The story of the pilot checklist: its history, examples, and importance in aviation
    February 2021

Ever wondered when pilots started using checklists? What did Orville and Wilbur Wright's 1903 pre-flight checklist look like? Did they use a GUMPS checklist? Actually, the checklist didn't really come into existence until 32 years later in 1935 with a crash.

Accident case study: The DECIDE model, aeronautical decision making, and an ILS approach below minimums
    January 2021

In 2003, a pilot attempted an ILS approach where weather was reported and observed as 100-foot ceilings with 1/4-mile visibility, far below the minimums for the ILS approach. The aircraft collided with trees while on approach. Why did this happen? We take a look at the accident chain.


'Bingo fuel' meaning: Setting your personal minimums checklist for fuel
    December 2020

We read too often of accidents caused by fuel exhaustion, fuel starvation, or fuel planning errors. While some fuel-related accidents are caused by mechanical-related issues, there are too many that involve the pilot and his or her pre-flight fuel planning.

Pilot proficiency check: Staying mentally proficient when grounded
    November 2020

As a student pilot or a newly certificated pilot, you may find yourself grounded for any number of reasons. When you're not able to fly consistently, what can you do to keep your flying skills up to par and stay sharp mentally?

Accident case study: VFR into IMC - Lessons from the '178 Seconds to Live' story
    October 2020

You may have first seen it on an old piece of paper posted on a bulletin board at your flying club, or at a local flight school. The '178 Seconds to Live' story and VFR into IMC flights provide some interesting lessons about why VFR flight into IMC happens.

An 'almost' accident case study: Air Canada Flight 759 near miss
    September 2020

In 2017, a passenger jet came within feet of causing what could have been the worst aviation accident in history, when it attempted to land on the taxiway at San Francisco International Airport.

Accident case study: Cory Robin's crash into a river in Ohio
    August 2020

After a crash into a river, pilot Cory Robin posted his own YouTube video about the mistakes he admits he made that led to an accident with his airplane landing in a river.

Accident case study: Air Florida Flight 90 - Crash into the Potomac River
    July 2020

On January 13, 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. The flight's accident chain on that cold, snowy day started before the aircraft left the gate.

Accident case study: Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 - The story of the light bulb
    June 2020

A small light bulb became a catalyst for a deadly commercial airliner accident in the Florida Everglades in 1972. The lesson learned from this aviation accident has implications for every pilot, regardless of experience.

Accident case study: Air France Flight 447 crash into the Atlantic Ocean
    May 2020

You don't have to be a commercial airline pilot to learn valuable lessons from a passenger flight accident. The Air France 447 crash into the Atlantic Ocean yields valuable lessons about how an "emotionally charged situation" can potentially make things worse in an accident chain.

NTSB report released detailing Roy Halladay accident; was there faulty ADM involved?
    April 2020

In April, the NTSB released its docket detailing the accident that killed Roy Halladay. As AVweb's Paul Bertorelli explained, there may have been other more important factors which may have lead to the accident.

Keeping your real-world flying skills sharp with a home-based flight simulator
    March 2020

Real-world scenarios can help pilots of all experience levels improve their ability to stay ahead of the power curve. That's exactly what the military and NASA continue to do to ensure their pilots are prepared and have practiced what to do in any given situation.

NTSB preliminary report: Thoughts on the helicopter accident involving Kobe Bryant
    February 2020

Jason Schappert over at released a short video expressing the same thoughts that have been going through our minds shortly after the Kobe Bryant helicopter accident.

Aviate, navigate, communicate -- in that order -- even if your Cessna 172 is missing a wing
    January 2020

The laws of aviation dictate that an airplane should not be able to fly while missing a wing, and very rarely will it continue to fly after having a wing ripped off during flight. Yet that's just what happened to a Cessna 172 in December 2018, and an Israeli F-15 Eagle during a training mission in 1983.


Quick reactions lead this pilot to a successful engine out landing
    December 2019

Hope and luck are two things a pilot should never rely on. This pilot prepared as though he expected an emergency to occur during every flight. When he lost his engine on approach to land, his quick reactions made sure he wasn't caught off guard, saving his ship and himself from becoming an accident report.

Flying the 'Impossible Turn' during an engine failure after takeoff
    November 2019

Brian Schiff, a captain for a major airline and an accomplished general aviation flight instructor, led a seminar titled 'The Possible Turn - Engine Failure After Takeoff in a Single-Engine Airplane', showing that 'The Impossible Turn' can in fact be 'The Possible Turn', given the right scenario and training.

Flight Chops: Using a 'Defined Minimum Maneuvering Speed' in emergencies
    October 2019

Consider the aiplane you fly most often. Do you know the limit of the slowest speed allowed in each configuration for your airplane? Don't look at your checklists. Don't look at your POH. Don't google it. Do you know it? Chances are, if you're a general aviation pilot, you don't know it.

Three strikes and you're out: Avoid your own 'never again' story
    September 2019

What does an F-4 Phantom jet and a Piper Archer piston airplane have in common? The lessons learned by these two pilots, as they describe in their blog post and podcast -- two seemingly unrelated piloting stories -- can help you avoid being the star of your own 'never again' story.

A real pilot story and flight planning tips every pilot should know
    August 2019

Watch this interview with four pilots who spent a day flying to remote airstrips in Central Idaho that ended in a stall/spin accident, and learn 14 flight planning tips every pilot should know for situations where aircraft performance, locale, and density altitude are critical factors to understand.

Podcast interview: How Flight Chain App is helping aviation safety
    July 2019

Recently Adam Torres, host of the Money Matters Top Tips Podcast, talked with us on an episode about how Flight Chain App is helping to improve aviation safety, keep general aviation growing, and how we're working to make it easier for pilots to learn from NTSB accident reports.

Getting the most out of scenario-based flight training and simulators
    June 2019

Flight simulation was vital to the Apollo program that landed men on the Moon. In fact, if it wasn't for simulation practice, the Apollo 11 landing likely may have been aborted, and history would probably recall the first human to set foot on the Moon as being Commander Pete Conrad of Apollo 12.

Quiz yourself with questions based on actual NTSB accident reports
    May 2019

Flight Chain App 1.12 is available now for download on the App Store. This release includes a new 'Safety Quiz' feature that lets pilots quiz themselves with questions based on actual NTSB accident reports. It's another step in our continued effort to make it easier for pilots to learn from NTSB reports.

Study: ADS-B In is helping reduce the general aviation accident rate
    April 2019

Just as "currency" doesn't mean "proficiency", a similar thought could be said of the required ADS-B Out and optional ADS-B In. Meeting the FAA's legal requirement of ADS-B Out is just one-half of the solution in helping make general aviation safer. If you don't have ADS-B In, you're missing out.

Bird strike prevention: It's possible, provided pilots have the right tool
    March 2019

Because a bird strike can happen suddenly and without warning, it must be impossible for pilots to plan for, and mitigate the risk of, bird strikes. Or is it? I recently came across an interesting website that uses data to help pilots mitigate the risk of experiencing a deadly bird strike.

Lessons learned from a P-51 Mustang engine-out landing emergency
    February 2019

In 2017 during an annual airshow at Duxford, England, British warbird pilot Mark Levy was flying a P-51 Mustang when he experienced an intermittent partial engine failure. In a conversation with the Air Safety Institute, Levy discussed the entire sequence and important lessons learned every pilot should know.

Learning by repetition: a good pilot is always learning (and re-learning)
    January 2019

John Young worked for NASA for 42 years as an astronaut and served in other vital roles with a focus on engineering, operations and safety. In his book, Young discusses NASA's successes and failures, particularly the losses of the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, lessons that can apply to all pilots.


Your aviation goals and New Year's resolutions for flying in 2019
    December 2018

The holidays are nearing an end, and a new flying year is upon us. What are your flying goals in 2019? A new rating? Perhaps an instrument or commercial rating? How about mountain flying training to experience and learn about aircraft performance in density altitude situations?

Celebrate Flight Chain App's first anniversary with... easter eggs?
    November 2018

November marks our one-year anniversary! In the past 12 months, we've released 12 updates to Flight Chain App in our continued effort to improve the app and give you convenient, easy access to NTSB aviation accident reports for your iPhone and iPad. In our latest release, we've added some hidden easter eggs.

Flight Chain App releases new NTSB accident trends feature to improve decision-making
    October 2018

Reading accident reports can tell you how accidents happen and teach you what not to do. That's one reason we created Flight Chain App. But we kept wondering -- how can we reach more pilots with safety information, have more impact when we reach them, and help improve decision-making skills?

Aviation books to read that will help you fly safe and make smart decisions
    September 2018

As the saying goes, a good pilot is always learning. Steven Daun, the National Chief Pilot for American Flyers, recently wrote an article suggesting ways every pilot can learn something new. Here are three aviation books that can help you keep learning and fly safe on every flight.

Accident case study: Learning from the Apollo 13 accident timeline
    August 2018

"Houston, we've had a problem." The Apollo 13 mission to the Moon in 1970 was a successful failure -- in that the crew returned safely to Earth but never made it to the Moon. But the explosion that jeopardized the crew's survival could have been avoided had it not been for two decisions early on.

Accident case study: Create your personal minimums checklist
    July 2018

One of the most recognized aviation podcasts in the world is Jason Miller's The Finer Points. Earlier this year, Miller recorded an interesting podcast in which he discusses an accident where three top engineers from Tesla Motors died when they attempted to take off in 0/0 conditions.

Logging safety pilot time to help you stay ahead of the power curve
    June 2018

As a flight instructor once told me, your private pilot certificate isn't just your license to fly. It is your license to learn. One way you can continue your education as a private pilot, and log some extra flight time while you're at it, is by flying as a safety pilot for an instrument rated pilot.

Fighter pilot skills every aviator needs to have to fly safe and make smart decisions
    May 2018

Fighter pilots are some of the most skilled aviators in the world. But just because you're not a fighter pilot doesn't mean you can't borrow from their tool set. Whether you're a 100-hour general aviation pilot or a 10,000-hour commercial pilot, it behooves you to think like a fighter pilot in some key areas.

What is the meaning of the aviation phrase 'Ahead of the Power Curve'?
    April 2018

In the early days of manned spaceflight, America and the Soviet Union were racing to be the first to launch a man into space. NASA had just been established in July 1958 as America's response to Sputnik, the first man-made satellite in space, courtesy of the Soviet Union.

Experience mountain flying (but get the proper training first)
    March 2018

I once sat inside the cockpit of a Cessna L-19, a two-seater with a big engine and a climb rate more than double that of a Cessna 172. The Cessna's flight ended prematurely, however, going down vertically into gradually rising terrain, fatally injuring the pilot and passenger onboard. But I survived the two-seater's crash.

Flight Chain App: Helping pilots learn from accident chains and NTSB reports
    February 2018

Neil Armstrong once said: "You've got to expect things are going to go wrong. And we always need to prepare ourselves for handling the unexpected." That mindset applies to everything in life, from the extreme of exploring the Moon to the mundane of driving to and from work each day.

Discover the hidden benefits of learning to fly (and its impact beyond flying)
    January 2018

"It's clear that we're on the front end of something much larger than any of us can imagine." While astronaut Ed Gibson of Skylab 4 was speaking of space flight when he made that statement, his quote could be applicable to any new endeavor in life. Learning to fly is no exception.

Download Flight Chain App

The only aviation accident app that helps you see and understand the accident chain from NTSB reports.

Flight Chain App and its blog Ahead of the Power Curve are committed to reducing general aviation accidents, helping improve aviation safety, and growing the pilot population.