“I’m just trying to keep my lunch down”

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My second passenger, and my first cross-country as a private pilot, was Garin, a lifelong friend with whom I grew up. He and his family came up to Clover to spend the weekend with us so I reserved my favorite 172 for Saturday morning. The weather was beautiful, if a little bit warm, with some showers moving in later in the day as normal. I decided we’d make the short, scenic hop from EQY up to HKY to get some grub at the airport café.

The day my dad taught me the lesson of a lifetime

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The day I got my first charter job flying air tours in Hawaii, I remember being offered two different jobs: one flying a Cessna 402 and the other flying a Beech 18. I called Dad and told him of my choices. The voice of experience spoke. I’ll never forget his words: “Don’t miss the opportunity to fly round engines. It only comes around once in a lifetime.” I took his advice and was never sorry.

Two memorable days of flying with my son

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I like to think there are a handful of driving forces in my life. Family and flying are two of those and, thanks to a supportive family, I sometimes get to combine those. My jack-of-all-trades FBO/mechanic/pilot/instructor career choice often means that flying takes me away from the family, but during a special couple of days I got to share an airplane delivery trip with my nine-year old.

Friday Photo: early morning lava

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On this particular early morning trip I was a passenger on a Lear 45 business flight when I witnessed the most amazing sunrise. We were somewhere over Illinois, headed to Boston from Wichita. As the sun began to shine, it illuminated the cloud layer from below and reminded me of a lava field. Sometimes, a guy is just blessed to have such a great view from his office window.

Into the fog: a kid’s view of IFR flying

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“Maybe we should wait until tomorrow to leave,” my mom inquired as she looked at the weather forecast on her phone. I noted that her voice was very nervous sounding.” No, it will be fine once we get to a high altitude,” my dad said reassuringly. The engine sputtered and then roared, then we started to roll onto the taxiway. I could feel the tension inside the cabin; everyone seemed a bit uneasy.

Friday Photo: turns around Padres Butte

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Lake Powell offers some of the most incredible views of anywhere in the southwestern United States, and Richard Garnett capture one such view in this Friday Photo. He was on a training flight with Jeniffer Kiraly in a Piper Archer when he snapped this photo of Padres Butte rising up out of the water.

Bunch of arrogant bastards

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FAA inspectors are some of the few that are exposed to aviation’s “dark side.” None of my former corporate aviation coworkers had ever been out on a fatal accident investigation. Trust me, there is nothing that can prepare you for being out in the middle of nowhere looking at twisted metal (that looks nothing like an airplane) and the gruesome remains where a pilot and his passengers experienced their last moment on earth.

Chasing my shadow

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It may have been falling apart – the cardboard and paper ripping at the seams and the ink slowly fading from its pages – but within it dwelled the memories and accomplishments of a young man striving to become a pilot. All of this I failed to realize as my grandpa’s logbook passed from his outstretched hands to mine just a few months before his death. Looking back, I wish I had explored the stories hidden within.

Lessons from a later bloomer CFI – and why you should be one too

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A CFI friend who worked with me on this rating told me that I would probably ruin the lives of my students for the first 100 hours that I instructed. It was true, but hopefully not that bad. As of this writing, I have over 700 instructing hours in most every single-engine trainer out there, and I have evolved in my thinking about this whole business of training homo sapiens to safely take to the skies.

Friday Photo: New York City at night

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My sister and her husband were visiting for a short trip and we started talking about airplanes. It was evening but the weather was perfect and the next two days looked terrible so we spontaneously decided to go right then and there. They had a phenomenal time and were enchanted by the beauty of NYC at night. It was my first time through the VFR corridor at night as well, and the views didn’t disappoint.

A glider with no tail? I flew one

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My search for a flying wing sailplane ended with the purchase of N86TX and its relocation to Hangar 115 in New Braunfels, Texas (my brother’s three-car garage). For the next several months he, with help from my cousin Rayford and my father Tom, did the remaining 30% of the work to get the sailplane to a finished state and ready for inspection.

Visiting the Mooney family

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Life sometimes takes you to places you never expect to be, and I recently found myself in Bandera, riding a horse at the Mayan Dude Ranch as part of a family visit to San Antonio. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was only 25 miles from Kerrville, Texas, the home of Mooney, and so many stories.