Old Navigators Never Die, But They Do Fade Away

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One of my favorite flying memories happened while I was a part-time single-engine Part 135 charter pilot for the FBO at Laramie, Wyoming. My occasional charter flights were a welcome respite from my law office, allowing me to meet people who weren’t in legal trouble and to take them places I might not have gone otherwise.

Friday Photo: sunset over Grand Lake, Oklahoma

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David and Judy Smart were up for a sunset flight in their Cessna 172 when everything came together. The sun dipped in between clouds on the horizon, throwing a soft shadow over Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, in Northeast Oklahoma. David says it’s “perhaps the most beautiful sunset we have ever witnessed together.” Hard to argue with that.

Learning to fly: a serendipitous journey

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I started out as a boy who was scared to death of flying and ended up falling in love with it while going to see a sick grandfather who, coincidentally, had once been a private pilot and aircraft mechanic in the Navy. There are many names for such instances of luck and happenstance: fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it. The word that happens to come to my mind is serendipity.

Caption contest #7

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Welcome to our latest Caption Contest at Air Facts, where 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.

Friday Photo: Alaska solo cross-country

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Cross-countries are a little different in Alaska, as Herbert Mann proves in this photo. He flew across the Turnagain Arm, then used the Anchorage East Side Corridor to fly between Anchorage and the Chugiak Mountains on the east all the way to Palmer. He then departed Palmer behind a DC-3 and landed on the dirt strip at Willow before coming home to Soldotna. He says, “Dreams do come true if we work hard enough.”

A prop strike, a little adventure and some lessons learned

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I made a perfect wheel landing and rolled to the crossing runway 24, where I was told to take a left turn on the crossing runway to taxi to parking. The winds were now 70 degrees off my nose, and I was moving at a slow walking pace. The crosswind was causing the tail wheel to skid, but I was nearly to the parking area. Suddenly I heard a wind gust and the tail lifted into the air until “WHAP!” the prop struck the ground.

Stumbling into IMC without a plan

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I believe this is where things go bad for well-trained pilots. It’s not that we can’t improvise and come up with new plans, but when we’re a little lost and our original plan isn’t working out, we need a few moments to compose a new one. I was in the pattern in IMC, trying to descend well below pattern altitude to get below the scattered clouds while trying to do what I told the tower I would be doing – and also not get in trouble with ATC.

Friday Photo: grass strip fun

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Darin Moody and Paul Leadabrand were doing some backcountry flight training in a Kitfox when this photo was taken. As they traded seats on the grass runway at Big Creek airstrip, Paul writes, “Blue jeans, blue sky, and training with your wing man – what could make a better weekend outing?” Not much, we would say.

What I learned about instructors during private pilot training

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The greatest weakness a student pilot has is that they lack the pilot skills to judge the quality of the super pilot assigned to be their instructor. Before first solo, the new student has all instructors on a throne. The CFI is god-like, certified by the government and endowed with such superior skills that they can “teach ME to fly.”

3 questions to ask about weather reports

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When you consider the big picture, you’re really creating a weather hypothesis – an overarching narrative that ties together the various weather reports. Not all weather reports are developed the same way, and not all deserve equal attention. Here are three questions to consider when comparing different weather products.

A sticky situation: flying blind in a vintage airplane

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Seconds after the smoke started, I was looking out the windshield and could see smoke coming from around the propeller and all of a sudden: Whoosh! The windshield was completely covered with brown oil, and I could see nothing out of it. I shut off the engine with the mag switch and pointed the nose down steeply. I wanted to get the airplane on the ground now!

Friday Photo: Florida Keys sunset

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David Compo had a dinner scheduled near his hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, but wisely changed plans. Since he had flown down from Michigan in his Comanche, he decided to take another builder and fly to Key West for dinner on Duvall Street. Once he got past the southern tip of the mainland he climbed to 1,000, the sun started setting and David’s brother shot this beautiful photo.

Video tip: your deceptive flying mind

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We celebrate the great stick and rudder pilots of aviation history, but in reality, flying is mostly a mental game. Sometimes it can even feel like your mind is working against you in the cockpit. In this month’s video tip, learn about four mental traps that can cause anxiety and even an accident if you’re not careful.

Go or No Go: a gap in the weather?

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You bought your Cirrus SR22 for business, but today’s mission is strictly personal. You flew from your home near Chicago (DPA) to Rochester, Minnesota (RST), to visit your father, who is recovering after major surgery. He’s doing great, and through the magic of general aviation you can get home the same day. That is, if the weather cooperates. Check the weather brief below and tell us what you would do.

Friday Photo: Manhattan from a Cessna

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It’s one of the great joys of being a general aviation pilot – the ability to fly almost anywhere you want, anytime you want. Chris Powell shows off that freedom in this week’s Friday Photo, with a beautiful shot of Manhattan from the cockpit of his Cessna 182RG. When the weather cooperates, the view from up high is absolutely stunning.