My first flight – as told by my grandpa

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Saturday October 16, 2010. Mom and I were at a craft show when Grandpa called to see if I could go fly with him today. He tried to take me before but something always came up, like I hadn’t had my nap. When you’re four years old everybody knows no nap and flying aren’t a good mix. Today was my lucky day.

Ghosts in the hangar: a true aviation short story

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The place as it stands today bears no resemblance to the airport tucked away in my thoughts. Every pilot has melancholy memories of favourite places because flying sears powerful images and feelings they long for. The airfield that comes to mind is where I learned to fly. Introductory flights were $10 back then.

Quiz: IFR holding procedures

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Most pilots don’t fly holds too often these days, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them. Whether it’s a hold on an instrument approach or knowing when not to hold, there is a lot to know. Take our 10-question quiz to test your knowledge of IFR holding procedures and see if you’re still current.

Turbulent flying lessons: windy tales

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The potential for turbulence should be an integral part of pre- and in-flight weather study. And I found over the years that experience is the best teacher because with turbulence what you feel is what you get. If flying IFR in clouds, the fact that turbulence there makes many riders uneasy and uncomfortable has to be acknowledged, and even some pilots riding as passengers get antsy in bumpy clouds.

Friday Photo: Helgeland coast in Norway

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One of the best parts of our Friday Photo series is the wide variety of locations we get to share. This week’s photo is a great example: Thor Fredrik Eie took this beautiful picture of Torghatten in northern Norway on a recent sightseeing flight. The rocky coast and the blue skies make for a unique view over the nose of his Cessna.

A date with aviation

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In the remarks section of my logbook entry for January 3, 1999, it simply says, “Ride for Barb – Clear and cold.” We flew for 1.9 hours, but I honestly can’t remember the flight. For Barb, this was her first flight in a plane other than a commercial airliner. For me it was part of my vetting process for potential dating partners. If they didn’t like flying in small airplanes, there wouldn’t be much of a future in the relationship.

The death knell for the vacuum pump?

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This year’s Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in didn’t have any flashy new product introductions – no $50,000 LSAs or supersonic jets from unknown startups – but there may have been a more important trend unfolding. The vacuum-driven gyro may finally be on the way out. Thank goodness.

Double sunsets: falling in love with aviation and Alaska

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I loved being at Elmendorf and being in Alaska. It was supposed to be a 90-day tour; I volunteered to stay much longer. My memory causes me to believe there were about a dozen B-47s cocked on alert. Four days a week, three B-47s arrived from Tucson, two of which were turn arounds rotating flight crews, the third cocked to replace an alert bird being rotated home.

Final flight

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Mom and Dad, now elderly, were visiting our family in Waterloo, Ontario, on one of their annual visits. I decided to take them flying. I rented a Cessna 172 out of Kitchener Waterloo airport and took them for individual flights. He took the controls for some of the flight. I marveled at how natural he seemed with the controls.

A humbling solo flight

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So I poured the power on and hauled back on the yoke. With the lighter load, that yoke came right back and the nose of the plane pointed right up. For a split second I thought “that’s strange” and before I knew it, I was pointing straight down at the ground in a left spin.

Where is the upwind leg?

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I had taken off from a small airport in southern Arizona, when the tower asked me to extend my upwind leg. “I’ll extend departure leg,” I acknowledged. I just happened to be flying with my CFI, who is also a controller at the same airport. My CFI gave me a quizzical look. I asked, “why do controllers use incorrect terminology to describe the departure leg?”

Friday Photo: sunshine over a Baron wing

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Combine a beautiful airplane and Mother Nature and sometimes you get a stunning view. Kevin Olsen snapped this photo while descending into Palm Beach in a Baron. As he says, “Even though I’ve been flying for over 50 years, I continue to be humbled and amazed at images like this. Such power and beauty.”

A bad day in the cockpit

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I released the brakes, and we began our takeoff roll. The runway lights went by faster and faster as we accelerated, with the familiar callouts coming from Mark in the right seat as he monitored all of the gauges and instruments while I kept my attention outside the cockpit. I used both hands to pull back on the control wheel, and the nosewheel came smoothly off the runway, followed by the main wheels. Suddenly, a red warning light flashed, indicating “ENGINE FIRE.”

Skydiving: like jumping off a foot locker

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The pilot of the jump plane is required to wear a parachute just in case an “in case” happens. I mentioned to another young pilot that I wasn’t quite sure of my ability to affect a positive outcome if I had to hit the silk. Word got back to the jumpmaster somehow, and I found myself in the front row of the next jump class. Wonderful!

Caption contest #6

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Welcome to our latest Caption Contest at Air Facts. Once a month, we post a photo and call on our very talented readers to provide a caption for that photo. Check out our most recent one below and if an amusing or clever caption comes to mind, just post it as a comment. In two weeks, we’ll cut off this contest and the staff of Air Facts will choose their favorite caption.

The least bad option: dead-stick landing in a Hellcat

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I prepared the Hellcat for flight, and was soon airborne in pursuit of the others. But just as I joined the formation, one of my squadron mates broke radio silence to tell me that I was trailing smoke. Simultaneously with his call, oil began to wash over my front windscreen and I began to lose engine power. I knew that I had to get the airplane on the ground as soon as possible.

Friday Photo: snow showers in California

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This year at a pre-Christmas party, Lauren asked if I wanted to go flying the next day! Did I ever! I am an east coast 172 pilot, so this was a thrill. The plan was to fly to Big Bear Lake for fun, but it was IFR and below minimums. The snow showers over the San Gabriel mountains were astounding to see, and quite beautiful.

What’s wrong with piston twin pilots?

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Back in the heyday of piston airplanes being used for personal and business travel, one question was most often asked of owners of high-performance singles: When are you going to step up to a twin? It was automatically assumed that everyone wanted to and all would when they could afford it. In the history of private aviation, though, new piston twins were not a big factor.