Friday Photo: God’s light in East Tennessee

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After a long day of waiting for some storms to pass, James Heidbrink was just hoping to get up in the air for a quick flight. Little did he know that he would be rewarded with such a beautiful view out the window of his Cessna 172. This week’s Friday Photo is a reminder that even the most simple flights can offer a memorable experience.

Get me out of here

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We had made four takeoffs and landings and were taxiing back for a final circuit of the field. One more landing and we would be finished with the Tiger familiarization work. We were to depart the next day to fly southwest to the Mississippi River and spend the night in St. Louis, Missouri. But we were not satisfied the canopy had closed properly, and we were attempting to open and close it. But we could not.

Famous last words… or thoughts

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It wouldn’t take three guesses to come up with the one word most often heard on cockpit voice recorders before a crash. In private piston airplanes we don’t have recorders but that word likely wins hands down when a pilot realizes he has lost the battle. More important than that last word is the thought process that led to it. Some famous last thoughts have stood out over the years.

Caption Contest #2

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We recently launched a new monthly feature in Air Facts – our Caption Contest. Once a month, we’ll post a photo and call on our very talented readers to provide a caption for that photo. Check out our most recent one and add a witty caption. The best one wins an autographed Dick Collins book!

Making babies puke in a 727

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I flew the approach to 30R carefully, planning a good landing. After what seemed like an eternity, the 727 smacked the ground with a resounding thud. Immediately my mind pictured an ant struggling to remain afoot on a freshly stuck tuning fork: boooiiiinnnnggg! Miss Piggy had logged another pilot humiliation.

Friday Photo: Grand Teton from a Comanche

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There are plenty of stunning mountain ranges in the western US. But for sheer drama and beauty, it’s hard to beat Grand Teton National Park. Dale Morris took this week’s Friday Photo of Grand Teton from the cockpit of his Piper Comanche 250, on a gorgeous VFR day.

Surviving one of the “world’s most dangerous airports”

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A playground for the world’s rich and famous, the small Caribbean island of St. Barthélemy is known for its beaches, gourmet dining, and high-end designers. But it is also home to Gustaf III/St. Jean Airport, widely regarded as one of the most dangerous and challenging airports on the planet. So naturally when I had the opportunity to explore the Caribbean with a few friends for spring break, I jumped at the chance to land at St. Barts.

A real flying machine – logging some Stearman time

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The sound of the engine at takeoff power was like music to my ears after the years of flying jets and, after lift off, Waldo said “you have control and climb to 700 feet.” In flight, the controls were light and responsive and the roar of the engine described what flying was all about – simple, basic airmanship in a real flying machine.

Friday Photo: threading the needle

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Weather transitions from warm to cold fronts often produce fair weather scattered to broken cumulus clouds. These had a ceiling of about 5000 feet and ragged tops up to 9500 ft. Flying VFR through cloud alleys on a sunny day can be very enjoyable, but should only be done if you are also IFR rated just in case.

Top 10 activities for a cross country flight

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“Flying is boring,” said no pilot. Ever. Although most will agree that on a long VFR cross country flight, there are stretches of time when your mind can wander. Other than doing the usual drill during those lulls, here are some suggestions to put slack time to good use. In classic David Letterman style, here are the top 10 activities for a cross country flight.

Mid-air at 1,500 feet

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I never knew Bruce David Pollock. I wish I had. More than likely, we crossed paths numerous times in 1973 or 1974, but for some reason we never met. We were close to the same age. He passed his last third class medical on June 26, 1973, just two days after I passed my private pilot checkride in the same Cessna that would claim his life less than two years later.

Air Facts video tip: understanding airframe ice

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Fall flying weather is here, with shorter days and cooler temperatures. That means airframe icing will start to become a threat again for many pilots. This month’s tip is a great way to knock the rust off and refresh your memory of in-flight icing basics. Where do you find the most ice? What’s the difference between clear and rime ice? What are some avoidance strategies?

Lucky or good? Flying through Turkey and Iran in 1977

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My brother Hugh and I were in the process of flying a Beech Baron from Calgary in Canada to New Zealand the long way. It had been a bad start to the day and the journey into town the previous evening had been hair-raising. Enroute to Ankara, we had encountered a military roadblock and had been forced out of our taxi at bayonet point by some very uptight soldiers.

Friday photo: Cincinnati river view

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On a return trip from Georgia, while being vectored by ATC, Ed Loxterkamp took this beautiful picture of downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Seven bridges and an airport are all visible on a gorgeous day. As he says, “The freedom and perspective that flying provides is extremely unique and memorable!”

What all pilots can learn from glider flying

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I don’t mean to suggest the absence of a few self-inflicted off-airport sailplane landings precludes a person from being a fundamentally skilled, aware, and eminently safe power pilot, of course. Far from it. It’s just that even the relatively simple act of “collecting a glider rating” can easily have beneficial blow-back; learning how to soar without ever leaving the vicinity of your training airport even more; planting a foot in both the power and soaring worlds still more.

The end of FAA charts as we know them?

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The summer of 2016 may be viewed as the beginning of the end of standard FAA charts. It sounds foolish to make such a bold prediction, but there are some very good reasons to believe a decade-long trend away from traditional sectionals and approach plates has accelerated recently. Technology plays a significant role, but so do changes by the FAA.

Let it be

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In this beautiful and heartbreaking article, Mark Fay shares the story of an emotional day. It involved plenty of flying, from a night IFR takeoff to a gusty landing. But the real lessons have a lot more to do with family, grief and decision-making under stressful circumstances. It’s a reminder of the unique perspective flying can give you on life and loss.

Friday Photo: Grand Canyon from a Cherokee

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We flew direct to the Grand Canyon to fly northbound on the “Zuni Point Corridor” (depicted on the Grand Canyon National Park Special Flight Rules Area chart). We then turned back southbound to land at Valle (40G) just south of the Grand Canyon airport (GCN) to stop for fuel and some friendly conversation. The views of the Grand Canyon were spectacular. It’s truly one of those awe-inspiring moments that you will never forget.