Now that was real flying – stick and rudder in a 737

Now that was real flying – stick and rudder in a 737

Many of today’s pilots are usually so addicted to the automatics, that the thought of switching off the autopilot and flying manually is practically a Mayday situation. Yet, when coaxed into switching off the automatic features the almost universal reply is “Jeez – I enjoyed that.”

One (interesting) day in the life of a corporate pilot

One (interesting) day in the life of a corporate pilot

Sure enough, after a fruitful day, as I get ready to settle in for the evening, the phone rings. It’s my office marine dispatcher wanting to know if I can fly a tugboat captain home right away as he has a family emergency in progress. He is aboard a tugboat somewhere in the upper Chesapeake Bay.

The low wing Cessna 170 – a great idea that didn’t fly

The low wing Cessna 170 – a great idea that didn’t fly

The three views, of the airplane described by the article title, that accompany this piece were taken from an “unofficial” board size drawing I knew I had stowed away somewhere around the house, but only recently found and reclaimed. The drawing is entitled “Preliminary Design, Model 170 Replacement” and dated February 2, 1955.

Learning to fly – is it worth it?

Learning to fly – is it worth it?

Why would anyone spend $100,000 getting all of the licenses and ratings, work bottom-rung flying jobs to get the 1500 hours, and then seek a $22,000/year position at one of the regionals? It makes no economic sense. For better or worse, commercial aviation is not the glamor industry it used to be. Is there more to it?

America’s best airport: DCA

America’s best airport: DCA

Of all the constraints that have been put on general aviation over the years, the most hurtful (to me, at least) is the virtual ban on the light airplane use of Washington National Airport. In my active years, I used it a lot and being able to touch down so close to the center of power was something special. The airport is something special, too.


John's blog

Fatal Cirrus crashes are way down – thank the parachute

Fatal Cirrus crashes are way down – thank the parachute

Fatal Cirrus crashes are down sharply over the last two years, while more pilots are using the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System than ever before. This is not a fluke – and it has major implications for general aviation.

continue reading

Dick's blog

America’s best airport: DCA

America’s best airport: DCA

Of all the constraints that have been put on general aviation over the years, the most hurtful (to me, at least) is the virtual ban on the light airplane use of Washington National Airport. In my active years, I used it a lot and being able to touch down so close to the center of power was something special. The airport is something special, too.

continue reading

Go or No Go

Go or No Go: VFR under the ice?

Go or No Go: VFR under the ice?

Today you’re not the one flying the trip – a friend who is a relatively low time pilot has called and asked for your advice. You pull out your iPad and review the weather below. What’s your advice for your friend – go or no go?

continue reading

Accident Report

Accident report: aviate, navigate, communicate

Accident report: aviate, navigate, communicate

The phrase is so overused that it’s become a cliche: aviate, navigate, communicate. The clear suggestion is that flying the airplane is much more important than messing with the GPS or telling Air Traffic Control about your problems. But while all pilots hear this advice from day one of flight training, the accident record shows that it’s hard to do when something goes wrong.

continue reading

Recent Articles

Now that was real flying – stick and rudder in a 737

Now that was real flying – stick and rudder in a 737

Many of today’s pilots are usually so addicted to the automatics, that the thought of switching off the autopilot and flying manually is practically a Mayday situation. Yet, when coaxed into switching off the automatic features the almost universal reply is “Jeez – I enjoyed that.”

read more

One (interesting) day in the life of a corporate pilot

One (interesting) day in the life of a corporate pilot

Sure enough, after a fruitful day, as I get ready to settle in for the evening, the phone rings. It’s my office marine dispatcher wanting to know if I can fly a tugboat captain home right away as he has a family emergency in progress. He is aboard a tugboat somewhere in the upper Chesapeake Bay.

read more

The low wing Cessna 170 – a great idea that didn’t fly

The low wing Cessna 170 – a great idea that didn’t fly

The three views, of the airplane described by the article title, that accompany this piece were taken from an “unofficial” board size drawing I knew I had stowed away somewhere around the house, but only recently found and reclaimed. The drawing is entitled “Preliminary Design, Model 170 Replacement” and dated February 2, 1955.

read more

Learning to fly – is it worth it?

Learning to fly – is it worth it?

Why would anyone spend $100,000 getting all of the licenses and ratings, work bottom-rung flying jobs to get the 1500 hours, and then seek a $22,000/year position at one of the regionals? It makes no economic sense. For better or worse, commercial aviation is not the glamor industry it used to be. Is there more to it?

read more

America’s best airport: DCA

America’s best airport: DCA

Of all the constraints that have been put on general aviation over the years, the most hurtful (to me, at least) is the virtual ban on the light airplane use of Washington National Airport. In my active years, I used it a lot and being able to touch down so close to the center of power was something special. The airport is something special, too.

read more

Finishing what you start – even after an accident

Finishing what you start – even after an accident

Climbing back in and getting back to the meat of prepping for the flight test is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Knowing how quickly, not to mention painfully, things could go wrong didn’t help my tension. Nevertheless, we flew. I flew.

read more

Go or No Go: VFR under the ice?

Go or No Go: VFR under the ice?

Today you’re not the one flying the trip – a friend who is a relatively low time pilot has called and asked for your advice. You pull out your iPad and review the weather below. What’s your advice for your friend – go or no go?

read more

Playing politics at 27,000 feet – a story from the South Pacific

Playing politics at 27,000 feet – a story from the South Pacific

In the corridors of power many aviation decisions are made that do not normally affect those of us on the flight deck responsible for a successful flight. But sometimes they do. Such was the case of the Rarotongan Voters Project, where two separate governments intervened mid-flight.

read more

Fatal Cirrus crashes are way down – thank the parachute

Fatal Cirrus crashes are way down – thank the parachute

Fatal Cirrus crashes are down sharply over the last two years, while more pilots are using the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System than ever before. This is not a fluke – and it has major implications for general aviation.

read more

Treat the airplane like it’s yours, even when it isn’t

Treat the airplane like it’s yours, even when it isn’t

When you’re paying by the hour, it’s easy to cut corners, be a little careless, or belittle something that we would never forget on our own airplane. However, if we treat a rental plane as our own, every renter or club member benefits. Here are a few things I try to do when I rent.

read more

A second officer’s tale

A second officer’s tale

Back in the day when props were changing to jets, the Canadian Ministry of Transport contemplated creating a newly required third crew position on the huge DC-8s coming on line. The third pilot crew member would be neither a fully endorsed DC-8 pilot nor a fully endorsed DC-8 flight engineer.

read more

11 questions for John Laming

11 questions for John Laming

It would be difficult to describe an aviation career more colorful and varied than that of Captain John Laming. In our latest interview, we ask the experienced military and airline pilot about everything from the Battle of Britain to modern simulator training.

read more

Accident report: aviate, navigate, communicate

Accident report: aviate, navigate, communicate

The phrase is so overused that it’s become a cliche: aviate, navigate, communicate. The clear suggestion is that flying the airplane is much more important than messing with the GPS or telling Air Traffic Control about your problems. But while all pilots hear this advice from day one of flight training, the accident record shows that it’s hard to do when something goes wrong.

read more

What it takes to be one sharp pilot, part two: intelligence

What it takes to be one sharp pilot, part two: intelligence

When contemplating a smoking hole made by an airplane, “That was a dumb mistake” is a frequent pronouncement. I think that is misleading because I am not aware of any smart mistakes, especially in airplanes. It just takes a relatively high level of native (as opposed to educated on things other than flying) intelligence to perform well as a pilot.

read more

Stop the prop – not a smart idea?

Stop the prop – not a smart idea?

I remember a flight, well, actually I remember many, but this one ranks up there, where if anything came up short, I probably wouldn’t be alive, let alone a pilot writing about this. Let me just put this out there now: I was young, stupid, and believed in the invincibility of me and my flight instructor, so let’s not go bashing the messenger here.

read more