Photos in Flight


Photos in Flight Image Credit: Christian Plesu

Image Credit: Christian Plesu
Pilot Alberto D. Alvarez, CFI, CFII

Want to be the newest member of the “Pilots of Instagram” club?

In recent weeks, the aviation community has come under scrutiny for images pilots around the  world have been sharing from our office view.  If you are a new to the aviation community, the view  from the cockpit is known as “the office”; it is the aviator’s place of business, so to speak.  Our office provides us with sights like no other: un-obscured, pure and from a vantage point into the far away edges of  our shared planet, which are rarely viewed in entirety.

So you want to take pictures while flying?

Step 1‐ Equipment!

Criteria: a visual recording device to meet the following minimum requirements: Waterproof/water resistant, accessory capable and RAM suction-cup  mountable, workable in extreme temperature changes 0‐120 degrees, quality of image above 10MP.

DSLR Point & Shoot Go Pro Cell Phone
Model  Pentax K-50  Lumix DMC FT5A  Hero 4  Samsung S5 Sport
Pros Highest quality and most setting options, long battery life, manual settings available with ease, large screen to review and set up, playback Simple and small, capable of fitting in many locations, easy generic settings options, playback, GPS & WiFi capable Simple, small, waterproof case, capable of being mounted in unique locations, accessory availability Purchase location availability, small, multi-functioning unit, highest utility versus other options listed
Cons Long setup time, very large for cockpit environment, limited point- of-view angle capabilities Picture quality limited, settings limited, battery life not intended for long flights Limited battery life, accessibility when changing memory card or battery, playback High battery usage during flight, camera function can be hard to access, setting options limited, limited mounts
Size Large Compact/Bulky Compact Compact/Slim
Cost $499.95 $299 $499.99 $199.99-$649.99

When deciding which camera option suits your flight parameters, the following should always be considered:

  • Will the location hinder your ability to fly the aircraft safety?
  • Does the location and mounting device put any safety concern to the airframe or create an in-flight hazard?
  • Can the unit be easily removed or accessed should it become necessary to do so?
  • What are the intended uses of the camera? — Training review — Entertainment –Maintenance diagnosis –Special flight circumstances –Day or Night flight usage
  • What are your anticipated recording durations? — Full flight — Segments of flights only –In Range to Landing –Taxi through Take Off to cruise –Scenery or Special segments of flight ie: Hudson River
  • What is the intended audience for recordings? –Personal files –Presentations –Training review –YouTube Personal or for Commercial purposes
  • Under which Flight category will you be recording? –Part 91 –Part 141 –Part 121 –Part 135

This five-part series will be dedicated to explaining the usage of electronic devices for recording during any phase of flight. We will summarize the FAA regulations, practicality of when to use such electronic devices, emphasizing good judgment, single pilot resource management, and most importantly safety tips for each of the questions presented.

Now to help you make a decision, the following is my opinion regarding each category of recording device.

DSLR (Digital Single Lense Reflex)

Being the most capable in terms of professional quality photos, it is also the largest and most complicated to set up. Due to the larger size of these cameras with the high quality lenses, you are limited to placement within the cockpit that does not interfere with line of sight out the windows or provide any view outside of the aircraft.

The weight of the camera also comes into play, requiring specialized mounting systems to carry the additional weight in the desired position. In addition, if you have a passenger, their comfort during the flight becomes secondary with the setup utilizing valuable interior space in their seats, which becomes a concern should there be an emergency.

My suggestion is for this type of camera to be utilized only when you have a dedicated camera person who can set up the camera for each subject being photographed. I have found when operating an aircraft solo with this type of camera, your focal settings at higher altitudes do not work at lower altitudes; nor do they work when you change from and interior view to exterior.

The manual settings provide you with the greatest opportunity to get great photos. But when acting as PIC, the time needed to switch settings compromises flight safety and your end product rarely results in better quality over point and shoots due to not being able to adjust settings as needed. This camera is well suited for professional presentations or special flights that you want recorded for commercial and/or memories ideally being operated by a seasoned photographer.

Point and Shoot

Basically it is the simplest since you just point in the direction and let the device handle the settings automatically with each frame taken. Video quality has been satisfactory and during certain phases and direction of flight impressive due to the capability of the lenses’ automatic focus and direct sun to low-light transitions processor capabilities. Realize that these is a lag in the transitions at times, which results in blurry segments of video recordings and even during individual pictures since the automatic focus has picked a focal point besides your intended subject matter.

The processor also gets confused at times with the glare from the sun and during phases of flight where you turn from direct to indirect sunlight while turning. Point and shoots are great for pilots flying solo since it is a dedicated device that is simple to use by just pressing the button to take the picture. The mounting options are infinite as well as placement due to the compact size and minimal weight. Also great for cross country flights where you have ample opportunities while in cruise flight to take in the scenery during your scans and take instant photos when the opportunity presents itself.

Go Pro

An adventure camera industry leader for a reason! While the units are simple to use and very compact, which allows for unique point of views, they do not have long battery life. This unit is great with single pilot operations but even better when in the company of a dedicated operator. The changing of settings from video to photos, while easy, does require you to look at the device instead of having strong indicators for the settings as see on point and shoots with rotating wheels and audible scrolling features, etc…

This unit I find ideal for short training sessions in a practice area or pattern versus long cross country flights due to the lack of battery life. Recording a particular phase of flight such as landings when in range is an ideal scenario for this adventure camera.

Cell Phone

Of the options, this would be your most versatile electronic device. The utility functions are used daily and outside of your aviation experiences very frequently, which makes the purchase price very reasonable for the daily usage you can achieve in all your daily functions. The concerns I have had when utilizing the cell phone have always been the lack of mounting accessories and the resulting photo quality not being on par with the three other categories, which are each a dedicated device for audio visual recordings.

In addition the cell phone does provide you with the capability of communicating with others should you have an in-flight issue or need to communicate with person on the ground in the case of an emergency when you off course have reception.

This brings me to the issue of the cell phone having unreliable reception, which in turn drains your battery. You may find that just leaving your phone on during a long cross country could deplete the batteries by the time you get to your destination because the phone is continuing to search for signals while in flight. It is advisable to shut your phone off during flight because the electronic field being generated can and will interfere with your navigation capabilities. While it may not hinder navigation, it could cause deviations from the expected course should you be utilizing the compass or VOR for navigation.

Lastly, the multiple capabilities of the cell phone do become a distraction since you need to navigate for the desired application. I would recommend cell phone camera usage only for extremely limited use since the required application navigation and inability to mount the unit in usable locations distracts you from flight operations in a higher capacity.

The ability of your phone to get text messages and calls during your flight adds to the distraction for which I have found myself and other pilots getting caught in that trap. Aviate, Navigate, Communicate, and always keep safety a No. 1 priority in all phases of flight.

The FAA regulations for use of electronic devices for part 121 operations are linked here.

Part two of our series will review “Placement and Operator Regulations” when utilizing electronic devices.

Please send any questions to

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A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

Training tips for students and pilots

Get there-itis…

Prior to taking to the air with passengers, you should always provide them with a briefing of key safety items and what to expect during the entire flight, from engine start to shut-down. While this can be done very concisely once in the plane, the equally important part is to brief them well ahead of time about that insidious risk of flying and contributing factor to the alarming majority of flying accidents: external pressures.

A basic definition of an external pressure is anything putting pressure on you to begin or continue a flight when you have a gut feeling you should cancel or discontinue it. Common external pressures range from a simple promise to take someone flying to a planned flight to a business meeting or family gettogether.

One of the most prevalent of all external pressures is known as “get there-itis”. This is the desire to always end a flight at your planned destination or home. This strong desire to “get home” can cause us to consciously or subconsciously ignore valuable cues.

These cues should alert us to cancel a flight or seek alternate ground or airline transportation if we haven’t departed yet, or divert to another airport if we have. Pilots have to look out for “get home-itis” in ourselves but also in our passengers.

As soon as a friend or loved one decides to take to the skies with you and become your passenger, you owe it to them, yourself and people on the ground to brief them about external pressures, including get home-itis. This briefing should not be provided for the first time while you’re sitting in the airplane, ready to perform your “Before Starting Engine Checklist”. It should occur as soon as someone decides they wish to fly with you.

This way, it becomes part of the culture and fabric of safe flying. There are no expectations, no illusions that you can operate in similar fashion to an airline pilot in an almost-all-weather machine.

This is general aviation flying. We can’t always keep going to our destination and sometimes it’s simply better to make an early no-go decision…and just drive to where we’re going!

Happy Holidays and Safe Flying!

Be safe, have fun and keep learning!

Matt D’Angelo

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Welcome Alberto!

Please welcome Alberto Alvarez to Aero Safety Training

One day a student of mine told me, “You’re Changing Lives.”AlvarezCFII_sm

I started flying because it was on my “To Do” list, just like it was for many of you. As your instructor and fellow Pilot, I want to help change your life through aviation. Whether it’s your first flight or we are crossing paths for your flight review, my goal is to challenge your skills with scenarios that will prepare you for the unexpected while enhancing your piloting skills. I enjoy teaching and want to thank you for following your dreams and becoming a Pilot In Command.
Alberto D. Alvarez
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A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

Training tips for students and pilots

Gauges Green, Airspeed Alive…

You’ve dutifully calculated your weight & balance for your flight. Weight and CG are within limits. You’ve completed a conservative performance estimate for all runways at all airports to be utilized. All are within limits for your aircraft and within your personal minimums.

On paper, the planned flight will work. As you’re rolling down the runway, though, how do you know you’re actually getting the performance needed for takeoff in the distance available?

“Gauges green”

Once the throttle is full, take a quick glance at the engine instruments. Just a quick glance is all you need to know if everything is in the green and where in the green everything is. Primarily, check RPM, oil pressure, oil temperature and fuel flow.

If you see anything out of the ordinary for the given conditions, immediately reject the takeoff by maintaining directional control, reducing throttle to idle and braking while smoothly adding back pressure and retracting the flaps. The key is knowing what ‘ordinary’ looks and feels like and being able to determine out of the ordinary with a simple, quick, non-distracting glance.

“Airspeed alive”

It’s not just about the gauge; it’s about the acceleration. Here, there can’t be too much of this good thing, but how do you determine if there isn’t enough? The rule of thumb I use was developed by Sparky Imeson and shared in his book, “Mountain Flying.” It’s known as the 70/50 rule and works as follows:

If you have not attained 70% of your lift-off speed by the time you have reached the 50% mark of the runway, reject the takeoff.

This works because most airplanes stop much better than they accelerate. In our Cessna 172S, we lift off somewhere around 55 knots. Seventy percent of this is 38.5 knots. Keep it simple and conservative and call it 40 knots. If you haven’t reached 40 knots by halfway down the runway, reject the takeoff.

This rule of thumb will not guarantee a climb rate sufficient to clear the trees or other obstacles on the far end. Plan ahead and be conservative.

Know your machine, the environment and your limitations. Of course, never feel forced to make or continue any flight because of pressure stemming from passengers or for any other reason.

Have fun out there!


Be safe, have fun and keep learning!


Matt D’Angelo


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A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

Training tips for students and pilots


Inevitably, each time there is a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) in our area, at least one (and usually more) pilot deviations occur. How can this be prevented? Simple. Call for a weather briefing prior to every flight, whether a 1,000 nautical mile adventure or a few laps around the “patch.”

“But it’s bluebird / CAVU / calm / beautiful out…” This is a common reason pilots don’t call for a weather briefing. Remember, you can’t see TFRs simply by looking outside!

“But I just got a briefing on ForeFlight / DUAT / DUATS…” ForeFlight, DUAT and DUATS all serve as ‘official’ weather briefings, putting the pilot in the system and essentially giving them ‘credit’ for obtaining a briefing. However, it is very easy to overlook TFRs and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) due to the sheer amount of data presented. While it has gotten easier as data is organized and presented more logically, it is still very easy to overlook important information pertaining to your flight.

The simple solution is to call 1-800-WX-BRIEF prior to every flight. The call itself is fairly straightforward. However, you should be prepared prior to dialing. When you call, the weather briefer will want to know some key information. You should provide it in the prescribed order, which is what the briefer will expect. For more on how to obtain your preflight weather briefing, please enjoy ‘Preflight Weather Briefings Made Simple’ for free.

A tip is to get your weather briefing online, using ForeFlight, DUAT, or DUATS. Then, call 1-800-WX-BRIEF and request an ‘abbreviated’ briefing. With an abbreviated briefing, you still provide the same key information, but instead of getting a ‘soup to nuts’ briefing, you tell the briefer specifically what information you wish to receive. This should always include adverse conditions (including TFRs) and NOTAMs.

Lockheed Martin, the authorized FAA Flight Service provider, offers helpful tools and customization. You can set up a profile for your weather briefings, have texts sent if conditions change outside of the parameters of your briefing, or even have a text sent if you file and forget to close your flight plan!

Calling for a weather briefing only adds a few minutes to your flight planning. However, it can clarify the weather picture if you’ve already gotten your briefing online, provide NOTAMs in an organized flow and prevent you from violating a TFR.

Have a safe flight!

Be safe, have fun & keep learning!


Matt D’Angelo

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A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

Training tips for students and pilots

Safe and airworthy…

You’re planning a fun flight to New Hampshire and are getting ready to preflight. For it to be airworthy, what documents need to be on board the aircraft? What inspections are needed for the aircraft to be airworthy?

As for the required documents, the familiar ‘ARROW’ acronym can be very helpful:


Airworthiness Certificate

Registration Certificate

Radio Operator Permit (Pilot needs for international operations)

Operating Limitations (POH + Placards)

Weight & Balance (Current data for specific aircraft)

In terms of the inspections, you can always dig into the FARs to see what is required. You should review these periodically in case the regulations change, but here is a simple acronym (yes, pilots love acronyms!) to help remember what’s required:


Airworthiness Directives (ADs)


Inspections (Annual + 100 Hour)

Altimeter and Automatic Pressure Altitude Reporting



Static System

Is each of these inspections required for your type of flight operation? How often do they need to be completed?  Let’s take a look:

Airworthiness Directives (ADs): Required for all flight operations, as specified in the specific AD.

VOR: Required for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations only, every 30 days.

Inspections: Annual: Required for all flight operations, every 12 calendar months. 100 Hour: Required for aircraft operated for hire or flight instruction, every 100 engine hours.

Altimeter and Automatic Pressure Altitude Reporting: Required for IFR operations, every 24 calendar months.

Transponder: Required for all flight operations, every 24 calendar months.

ELT: Required for all flight operations (except flight training within a 50-nautical mile radius of originating airport), every 12 calendar months with additional inspections due for the ELT battery.

Static System: Required for IFR operations only, every 24 calendar months.

Once you’re certain your current documents are on board and your inspections were complied with, conduct your preflight. If all required equipment is operational, the aircraft is airworthy. Is it safe?

This is where doing a thorough preflight and using your Pilot-In-Command (PIC) decision making come into play. Be thorough and don’t assume anything – especially in terms of fuel and oil quantity and quality! Never allow yourself to feel rushed by your passengers, your schedule, or any external pressures. If you do feel rushed, it’s time to take a step back and reconsider if it’s smart to make this flight.

Only by knowing both what is required for the aircraft and what to look for during a thorough preflight can you, as PIC, determine the aircraft is both safe and airworthy.

Have a safe flight!

Be safe, have fun & keep learning!


Matt D’Angelo


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A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

Summer and Fall Goals…

Regardless of whether you’re a student, private, instrument-rated, or simulator pilot, or if you’re an aviation enthusiast, always look to increase your knowledge, experience and skills. What are your goals this summer? They may be to finish your private certificate, visit a new airport, fly the Hudson River, gain proficiency in Redbird, earn your tailwheel endorsement or instrument rating, improve your skills with crosswind, or to introduce someone to flying. Whatever those goals, make sure to write them down and come up with a plan!

Once you have your goals in writing, share them with family, friends and flight instructors. They can help support, encourage and, in the case of instructors, guide you. Whether or not it’s specifically required, it’s always a good idea to go up with an instructor. An instructor can help you achieve your goals more safely and more quickly. All goals that will result in your personal minimums increasing should only be accomplished with an instructor.

The goals themselves should be ‘SMART’: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. This common acronym from the world of project management applies very well to your aviation goals and will help set you up for success to achieve them.

How do you make your goal…


Ask yourself what you want to accomplish, why you want to accomplish it, what is preventing you from accomplishing it, where you will accomplish your goal and who is involved.


Ask how you will measure the attainment of your goal. How will you know when you’ve succeeded?


Is the goal reasonable in the time frame you’ve specified? What are the steps you will take to accomplish your goal?


Is your goal something you are willing and able to work toward?


By when are you going to accomplish your goal? Is this reasonable based on your plan?

Write down your goals and come up with a plan of action.

That being said, risk management always has to be at the forefront of goal-setting and goal achievement. Pilots are often very goal-oriented. Generally, this is a very good thing, especially when combined with a healthy work ethic. However, it is possible to be overly focused on achieving our goals. To determine if this is the case, ask yourself and answer specific, relevant questions, such as:

“Am I putting too much pressure on myself to fly to that new airport?”

“What are my personal weather minimums to fly the Hudson River?”

“Are my passengers putting pressure on me despite weather being outside of my minimums?”

“There is moderate turbulence forecast – is this the day to introduce someone new to flying?”

The answers to these will guide your risk mitigation and aeronautical decision making.

What are your aviation goals for this summer?! What steps are you taking to achieve those goals? Share your goals on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Be safe, have fun & keep learning!


Matt D’Angelo

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photo 2Congratulations on earning your Private Pilot certificate today! Very nicely done!

Enjoy flying up in Maine this summer! Of course, fly down to N07 for a visit!

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Sunday Morning Social at Aero Safety

Enjoy Hangar Flying at Monthly Sunday Morning Social

You and your families and friends are invited to join us for our free SuHangar flying at Aero Safety Trainingnday Morning Social on Sunday, 27 July, 10:30am – 12:00pm. You do NOT have to be a pilot or student pilot to attend.

You will have the opportunity to meet and share stories with other student pilots, pilots, flight instructors and the Aero Safety Team! We would be happy to answer any questions you have about flight training or flying. Enjoy continental breakfast and aviation camaraderie. Hangar flying at its finest!



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CarolAnn Garratt at Caldwell – tonight!

Reminder – CarolAnn Garratt will be speaking at Caldwell tonight! 5:30pm “Gourmet” dinner (hot dogs & burgers), 7:00pm presentation. CarolAnn has flown her single-engine Mooney around the world three times, raising both awareness of and over $400,000 for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) research as a tribute to her mother.

CarolAnn is very inspiring and her presentations are fun and informative. Free, but please purchase each of her books at the event. All proceeds go towards ALS research. Not required, but please register here: .

Thank you to the 99s, C&W and Paramus Flying Club for hosting!

Hope to see you there tonight!

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