Flight School




Welcome to the Buffalo Airways Virtual Flight School. Here you will find hints, tips and video's to help improve your virtual flying. This page will be continuously added to so keep checking back.

How To Correct A Late Or Rapid Flare During Landing



How To Recover From A Bounced Landing



Two Easy Rules-of-Thumb For Calculating a 3-Degree Glide Slope


Easy Mental Maths For Pilots


Landing On A Snowy Runway? Here's How To Know The Braking Conditions.


Should You Follow The VASI On Final Approach?


Top 5 Taxiing Mistakes

Learning to move the aircraft around on the ground can be just as difficult as learning steep turns. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of because it’s common and taxiing is not natural. It’s nothing like driving a car, and can be frustrating zigzagging down the taxiway or making turns too sharp or shallow until you’ve mastered the skill. Here are the top 5 mistakes I see routinely at our home airport. An awareness of the most common mistakes will have you mindful and vigilant on your next flight.
Too fast
The number one violation we see at our airport is aircraft taxiing too fast. Student pilots normally don’t violate this one as they tend to be slow and methodical. It’s normally the pilot who requested a quick turn from the FBO after jamming on the brakes to make the mid-field turn off. Flying (and taxiing) should never be hurried. Most instructors teach that the proper speed for a taxi is nothing more than a brisk walk. Think about what distance it may take to roll to a stop if you were forced to pull the power and adjust your speed so this could be accomplished in a reasonable distance.
Excessive use of brakes
A great flight instructor of mine once told me, “You can either have power in or use the brakes, but you can’t do both because that just doesn’t make any sense.” He was right. Riding the brakes while taxiing can lead to excessive wear on the pads and rotors and can generate excessive heat. While it’s good to perform a brake check as part of your initial taxi, try your best to keep ahead of the airplane and use your brakes sparingly on the taxiway. Same rule goes for taxiing in as taxiing out.
Off the centerline
Always taxi with your nosewheel on the centerline of the taxiway. Moreover, try to maintain the centerline by only using rudder/steering control and not with the use of differential brakes. While this might seem hard when you first try it, you will soon get used to the feeling and be able to anticipate the momentum of the airplane. Having precise control while taxiing will help as you manage directional control during the takeoff. Being in the exact center of the taxiway might not matter for the wingtips of your Cessna 150 that you’re training in, but remember you’re preparing for something bigger and faster, right? Having correct crosswind input on your control surfaces will also help you maintain the centerline.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Training at a pilot-controlled airport and then flying to a towered field (or vice versa) can lead to communication confusion. Do I call ground before starting the engine? Can I taxi to the end of the ramp without permission, or do I call before releasing the brakes? If I’m not required to make any calls at a pilot-controlled field, should I announce that I’m taxiing? My own rule of thumb: if in doubt, over-communicate. You might sound weird, but it beats getting a verbal lashing from the tower.
Always have a plan when you begin to move and avoid distracted taxiing by getting your flight deck set before leaving the parking space. This will allow you to focus on your route and communication.
Flaps down
Most pilots don’t know this but taxiing with full flaps down is equivalent to squawking 7500 on your transponder – a sign of distress. The idea is that the tower or ATC would see this abnormality and be able to intervene without the hi-jacker knowing that anyone had been tipped off. I was alerted to this unwritten rule when a “Senior” CFI wanted to give a student departing for a long cross country a hard time. The student had left the flaps down after pre-flight and taxied to the runup area without retracting them. Given that the student was going solo, it made for a fun radio conversation.
A good flight starts with an uneventful taxi and proper set up for departure.

Common Mistakes Pilots Make


Understanding Trim


Fuel Planning


Stol landing tips


Runway Markings


Coordinates - basics



Seven Radio tips from a tower controller



Flying at night

Watch Out for These 5 Night Flight Illusions

Night flight is an entirely new way to experience the joy of flying. But like anything, night flying comes with its share of challenges and risks.
Of all the senses, vision is the most important for safe flying. When flying in conditions with limited visibility as in nighttime operations, pilots can fall victim to optical illusions that compromise their safety. Understanding how to identify the different types of nighttime illusions can help pilots avoid potential accidents when flying at night. Let’s take a closer look at five types of illusions that you might encounter in night flight:

This illusion happens when a pilot stares at a bright, stationary light set against a pitch-black background, such as a star or the light from another aircraft. After a few seconds, the light could appear to be moving toward the aircraft. In an attempt to avoid the impending “collision,” the pilot may become disoriented and lose control of the aircraft. To prevent this illusion, avoid staring at one point of light for more than a few seconds and maintain a normal scan pattern.

The Black Hole Effect
On dark nights, approaching an airport that has few lights or identifiable ground features can create an illusion that the aircraft is at a higher attitude than it actually is. The black hole illusion, also called the featureless terrain illusion, can result in the pilot flying a too-low approach and crashing short of the runway.
The black hole illusion can also occur when taking off from a brightly lit airport into a pitch-black, featureless sky. With no visual cues to reference, pilots can experience vertigo and disorientation. To combat these illusions, always trust the flight instruments to maintain orientation and a stable approach.

Flicker Vertigo

While rare, exposure to flickering lights can trigger an imbalance in brain-cell activity in some people, leading to disorientation, dizziness, nausea, confusion, headaches, and sometimes seizures and loss of consciousness. Flicker vertigo can be caused by a faulty light in the cockpit, beacon or navigation lights flickering through a rotating propeller, or other low-frequency flashing lights. It can be prevented by looking away from the light source when possible. Adjusting the RPM on approach or when taxiing can help to eliminate vertigo sensations caused by light flickering through a rotating propeller.

False Horizons
During the day, pilots can simply align with the natural horizon of the earth to maintain straight-and-level flight. But on dark nights when there’s no visible horizon, the brain can still trick itself into searching for a horizon to reference. For example, a sloping cloud formation, bright stars, or ground lights from a highway can create the illusion that the aircraft is not aligned with the horizon. Using these references, the pilot may align with an incorrect horizon and enter a dangerous attitude. To prevent this illusion, pilots flying at night should rely on the aircraft’s attitude indicator instead of depending on visual references.

Sloping Terrain Illusions

At night, an upward sloping runway or upward sloping terrain can create the illusion that the aircraft is higher than it actually is. To compensate, the pilot will fly a lower than normal approach, which could lead to a controlled flight into terrain accident. A down-sloping runway or down-sloping terrain can have the opposite effect, resulting in the pilot flying a higher than normal approach. When planning your route, consult airport diagrams for information on the runway’s slope, terrain, and lighting. As you approach the runway, refer to your altimeter to judge the aircraft’s height above the ground.
When it comes to night flying, seeing is not always believing. If you do encounter a visual illusion while flying at night, the solution is almost always to trust your instruments, not your eyes. Because pilots of all skill levels can be fooled by these illusions, it’s crucial to be knowledgeable and have confidence in your instruments to avoid the dangers of spatial disorientation at night.

Seven things that can be easily missed in IFR flying

Sharpening your IFR skills

Seven Rules of Thumb for Pilots

More tips for better flying.

Airspace explained



10 ways to perfect your landing

1) Fly your pattern speeds.
2) Avoid major power changes.
3) Know where the wind is coming from.
4) Your aiming point shouldn't move in the windscreen.
5) If you're having a hard time with a crosswind, try less flaps.
6) Use your visual aids.
7) Watch for the runway to zoom in size. This is when you should begin your flare.
8) Transition your eyes down the runway during flare.
9) Fly your plane all the way to the ground.
10) In strong crosswinds, increase your aileron deflection as you decelerate on the runway.


Quick reference - Clouds

It is important to know what type of cloud you are flying into. Some clouds may have more turbulence than others. Some clouds may have more chance of icing than others. You get the idea. But many people don't have any idea what type of cloud it is, and that can be dangerous. Really, knowing the type of cloud is just the beginning of the knowledge important to fly. But it is the base upon which everything else is based, and is very important. This page will tell you types of clouds, qualities of each, and more. So read on, and if you're a member and you think something's missing, feel free to add it.

Basic Clouds:

Cirrus Clouds: Cirrus clouds are those wispy clouds high up in the sky. Some people think they look like feathers, other people think they look like a cotton ball all stretched out. They are easy to mistake with cirrocumulus. The difference is that cirrocumulus develop upward, and cirrus don't. You probably will never encounter cirrus clouds, they are so high up they are made of ice crystals. They usually mean fair weather, and I've never heard of them making any precipitation.

Cumulus Clouds: These are the clouds we all drew in school. They are the very puffy clouds. They usually form a couple thousand feet up, but they can form up in the teens.A lot of broken or scattered small cumulus a hundred or so feet thinck usually means bumpy skies below, but it's usually less turbulent above. They grow from the unstability below. If a cumulus is building higher, you want to avoid them. They can cause some turbulence, even if they're not that thick. Cumulus are also suspects for icing in freezing conditions, especially if they're very thick. If a cumulus cloud causes rain (which would be a nimbocumulus or cumunimbus) it usually is hard and doesn't last long.

Stratus Clouds: Stratus clouds are those clouds that form in blanket-like layers. Just like cumulus, stratus clouds are suspects for icing in freezing conditions. Unlike cumulus, stratus clouds that cause rain (more properly called nimbostratus or stratonimbus) usually move slow and cause a slow steady rain for days. Stratus clouds usually form very low to the ground.

Note: If a cloud causes rain, nimbo or nimbus is added to the word.

More Complex Clouds:

Cirrocumulus Clouds: These clouds are like Cirrus clouds. That's why they are easily mistaken for cirrus. They look like cirrus, and they're way up there, like cirrus. They don't make precipitation, like cirrus. But there is one difference. Unlike cirrus, cirrocumulus develop upward.

Cirrostratus Clouds: Cirrostratus clouds are sort of a 50/50 between cirrus and stratus. They are similar to cirrus in the fact that they are way up in the sky, made of ice crystals, and don't make precipitation. But they are similar to stratus in the fact that they blanket the whole sky. Unlike stratus, though, cirrostratus clouds are very thin, and you can see right through them. They almost give a hazy look to the whole sky.

Altocumulus Clouds: Altocumulus clouds don't look like cirrus, and are commonly mistaken for cumulus. Like cirrus, they are high up and don't create precipitation. But they aren't wispy, featherlike clouds. They are the thin, white, clouds that look like they're a thin, bigger cloud broken all up. For a better idea look at the picture above. ( By the way, in the picture, the cloud labeled altocumulus is in the left-hand side. But the cloud in the top right-hand corner of the picture is altocumulus cloud, too.)

Cumulnimbus Clouds: These are basically cumulus clouds that create precipitation. But if you hear of a thunderstorm cloud, that's really a cumulnimbus cloud. Cumulnimbus clouds can cause quick hard rainshowers. If they're very big, they can cause hail. They are also the only clouds with thunderheads. These are definantly clouds to stay clear of. They can cause major turbulence, lightening, and more. If they're producing hail, it can hit you over 20 miles away. (See the hail page) Cumulnimbus clouds, like all cumulus, develop upward and can cause thunderstorms with tops reaching over 50,000 feet.

Altostratus Clouds: Altostratus clouds are basically stratus clouds that form higher up. They don't form near as high as any type of cirrus, but they can form around the middle altitudes.

Nimbostratus Clouds: These are stratus clouds that create precipitation. They're precipitation is usually steady and can go on for days.


Runway Illusions

Have you ever flown into an exceptionally wide/narrow runway or one that has a noticeable slope? Here's what you should know! Happy flying.



Descending - The 3 TO 1 Rule

A good descent profile includes knowing where to start down from cruise altitude and planning ahead for the approach. A good rule for determining when to start your descent is the 3-to-1 rule (three miles distance per thousand feet of altitude). Take your altitude in feet, drop the last three zeros, and multiply by 3.
For example, to descend from a cruise altitude of 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) to sea level:
5,000 minus the last three zeros is 5:  5 x 3=15
This means you should begin your descent 15 nautical miles from your destination, maintaining a speed of 130 mph (113 knots; it may not indicate this high until you descend into denser air) and a descent rate of 500 feet per minute. Add two extra miles for every 10 knots of tailwind.


Ground Effect: Why You Float During Landing


Should You Trim During Landing?