Here’s a copy of a press release regarding our recent acquisition of ZD Publishing: Acquires ZD Publishing and their Pilot-Friendly GPS Manuals

Nashua, NH – Feb 5, 2013 – LLC has purchased the assets of ZD Publishing including copyrights and inventory of ZD’s 21 different Pilot-Friendly GPS Manuals. Written by ZD Publishing founder John Dittmer, an ATP-rated CFI, these manuals have been trusted by thousands of pilots to help them master their panel-mount and handheld GPS units produced by Garmin and Bendix/King. The entire inventory of manuals is now available from PilotWorkshops in download or print format at

“We’ve been working closely with ZD Publishing since 2011 and have received tremendous feedback from our customers who have purchased their manuals. In particular, pilots appreciate the task-oriented nature that quickly gets to the root of what a pilot needs from their GPS. They focus on getting something done as opposed to the ‘buttonology’ focus in many manufacturer manuals,” said Mark Robidoux, President of PilotWorkshops. “In particular, we’ve talked with many IFR pilots who are frustrated that they are only using a small fraction of their GPS unit’s capability because of difficulties in learning some of the more complex operations. Gaining mastery of those operations is the core value these manuals provide.”

“We’re proud of our contribution in helping pilots become proficient with their GPS units,” stated John Dittmer, President of ZD Publishing. “We know PilotWorkshops can do a good job of carrying the “Pilot-Friendly” message forward as they had quickly become our largest distributor.” Dittmer will continue to write manuals and updates for PilotWorkshops in the future. LLC was founded in 2005 and is best-known for their free “Pilot’s Tip of the Week” emails received by over 100,000 pilots each week. Created by their roster of nationally known flight instructors and experts, these tips cover single pilot IFR operations, weather, airmanship, ATC communications, emergencies and more using a unique, multi-media format. PilotWorkshops also creates and sells a range of pilot proficiency programs including their IFR Mastery scenario-based training.

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Flying to Sun-n-Fun with Wally

by Mark Robidoux on June 8

Wally's Mooney

Each week, I review our Pilot Tips before we publish them on the internet. I always appreciate the advice that our instructors have to offer, as I know our subscribers do as well.

Whenever I have a chance to fly with one of these expert aviators, I jump at it. So when Wally Moran asked me to join him on a flight from his home in South Carolina to Sun-N-Fun in March, I happily accepted. We would be flying the trip in his pristine 1966 Mooney M20C which was great news for me, since I have little time in this type. What a great opportunity, fly with Wally Moran and log some Mooney time!

We departed KDYB Airport in Summerville, SC at 7:00 am sharp for the 321 NM trip to Florida. The weather was perfect along the entire route. We didn’t see a single cloud or hit a bump during the two hour and forty minute flight. We had better than 20 miles visibility the whole way down to Florida. This was the just the kind of smooth, uneventful and relaxing flight that pilots live for.

While the trip was uneventful, it wasn’t without lessons to be learned. The teaching points didn’t come from the weather, ATC, traffic or anything we encountered along the way. In fact, the lessons came more from what we didn’t experience. I picked up some great pearls of wisdom observing how Wally Moran prepares for a cross-country flight.

In no particular order, here are some lessons I took away from my trip with Wally.

File IFR. Even though we were assured excellent VFR weather for the entire trip, Wally insisted on filing an IFR flight plan. I probably would have gone VFR, choosing the ease and convenience of going “direct” on my own terms. In hindsight, filing IFR was the better choice for a number of reasons. First, it assured that we would remain clear of TFRs and restricted airspace that are common along our intended route. It also guaranteed traffic separation and preferred routing as we neared Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on the busiest arrival day of Sun-N-Fun. The cost was less than 10 minutes of additional flying along our “protected” route.

Fly high. I know Wally has always been an advocate of flying as high as possible, but I really understand why after taking this trip with him. Before we departed, Wally calculated that at our filed altitude we would be within gliding distance of an airport for the entire trip, with the exception of one 5-minute stretch over Georgia. WOW…now that is some serious airmanship! It was a real eye opener. I like to fly high as well, but I don’t exercise that kind precision in my planning. What a comforting thing, knowing that we could safely make it to an airport if we had engine trouble for most of the trip. We used the “nearest” function on the Garmin 430W to validate this along our route. Wally pointed out the 5-minute period where we were “out of” gliding distance to an airport. The other 2 hours and 35 minutes when we were “in” gliding distance was more relaxing. What a great safety margin to build into your flight plan.

Plan early, plan often.  Another thing that struck me was how prepared we were for the flight. It seems I’m always rushing out to the airplane and pulling everything together at the last minute before I make a trip. This causes extra stress and possible preflight oversights. Wally’s preflight process was completely different. Everything was done the day before our flight. Weight and balance calculated, weather briefings completed (starting 2 days before the flight), preflight completed, route planned and analyzed, flight plan filed, cockpit organized.

Everything was ready to go! The only thing we did on the morning of the flight was make a final check of the weather and a final preflight inspection before departing. As a result, we were not rushed and “behind” the airplane before starting the engine (as I have felt on many occasions). It’s a great way to start your flight.

Who does what? Wally knew I had little time in a Mooney and wanted me to get the most of this experience, so he offered to work the radios and free me up to focus on flying the airplane. He divided up the pilot duties in such a way that it was very clear who was responsible for what. We discussed this prior to departure and there was never any doubt what my role and focus was for the entire trip. It’s good for multiple pilots to fly as a “crew”, but is critical that the tasks are divided logically and briefed completely before the flight to eliminate any confusion. This is a professional approach to flying with multiple pilots.

These are a few lessons I took from this flight. Overall, I was most impressed with Wally’s overall approach to the trip. He treated the mission in such a way that a majority of the risks were eliminated before we departed through planning and preparation. When you fly with an aviator of Wally stature, you can’t help but learn from them – even when the mission appears simple. I’m grateful for having had this opportunity.

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Listen Up ATC

by Wally Moran on May 9

While returning from Sun and fun in Lakeland Florida last month on an IFR flight plan, I was disappointed to hear several lectures from the ATC controllers to the enroute pilots. Yes, it was extra busy as it was Sunday the last day of the show and there were lots of planes out there trying to get some attention. But the lectures I heard from ATC did nothing to help the situation.

Almost every frequency I used on that flight had an ATC comment something like “Everyone listen up out there,” “Don’t all try to talk at once,” One fellow was so frustrated that he said “ Don’t anyone talk, just listen, I will do all the talking and you do the listening.” Not a very professional solution to the problem and in fact these lectures simply wasted air time and made the situation worse.

While I can clearly understand the frustration that the controllers were experiencing, I would like to remind them that we as pilots have already been trained to listen up. The greatest percentage of problems are not caused by pilots not listening up, it is the fact that with multiple users on one frequency, no one can tell exactly when the next guy is going to push that transmit button. So we often wind up pushing it at the same time. That is what was happening this day in Florida. This is nobody’s fault; it is just a product of our party line type communication system.

In my years of flying into and out of many very busy airports populated with skilled controllers and professional pilots, blocked transmissions still occurred on a regular basis. This is not because the pilots did not know to listen up; they just can’t tell when the other guy is going to push that button. Some of the best ATC controllers I have worked with take control the conversation when things get very busy. For example; they will ask pilots to hold their read back while they issue multiple clearances and then get the pilots one at a time to confirm the read back.

Now I know that there are some pilots who are so poor at communication that they may need a lecture and perhaps even remedial work. When that is the case, please give them a phone number and do that work off the air.

So pilots, let’s pause a moment to organize our thoughts before we push that button and of course listen. Mr. ATC controller, please don’t give us lectures on the frequency as they won’t improve the situation. We all need to work together to make this system work.

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VSI – Use a fortune teller to improve your flying

December 5, 2011

Most of our instruments tell us where we are – not where we are going to be.  For example, the altimeter tells us we are at 7000 feet or the airspeed indicator tells us we are at 120 knots.  However, one of our instruments can see into the future. No, this is not a fancy […]

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Split Flap Emergency

September 6, 2011

This is a guest post from Jim Reed (Lt. Col. USAF Ret.) author of, “Turning Final, A Life Complete” Here is an example of an unwritten rule that I have used for years: If you’ve just done something and everything falls apart, put everything back where it was. As simple as it sounds, most folks […]

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