Flying beyond a doubt: an epic DC-3 journey

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We know that mechanical things fail, people make mistakes and aviation, like the sea, is inherently unforgiving of failure or mistake. That thought was on my mind recently when we took off from Burlington, Vermont, aboard a classic old airplane, a twin engine DC-3 built in 1945. We were headed for Europe, but less than three hours later, in a flash event, both the failure and the mistake happened at the same time.

Friday Photo: Colors of Denmark

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Danish pilot Andreas Christensen and his wife were flying their Diamond DA-40 to a birthday party when he snapped this colorful picture. It shows the island of Funen, with yellow fields and green trees nestled against the sea. The warm colors contrast nicely with the sleek wing of the Diamond.

An intro ride becomes a thrill ride

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With nearly calm winds and clear skies, I taxied out and transmitted my departure intentions in the blind. From midfield I lined up on what was left of a 5000-foot runway. With the passengers’ weight, the tail wasn’t as quick to volunteer to fly first. It ended up being a three-point takeoff. This didn’t surprise me. Later in the flight was a time for surprises.

An incredibly short-haul airline flight

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The lady from crew sked (as always, courteous to a fault; unlike a few of the brethren who react, when called, like bears rousted from hibernation!) proceeds to acquaint me with the latest offerings from the New York catalog of 757/767 flying. Interestingly enough, the main offering for tomorrow is a 757 ferry flight from EWR to JFK. This brings back some long forgotten memories.

Caption Contest #4

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Welcome to our latest monthly feature at Air Facts – our Caption Contest. 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.

Friday Photo: Lessons from Dad

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My Grandpa and Dad learned to fly in short wing Pipers. Then my Dad taught my two brothers and me to fly in short wing Pipers as well. Now my son Caleb wants to learn to fly so what better airplane than another short wing Piper to learn in – a Piper Vagabond.

My accidental warbird flight

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I asked the young man that would be flying us up into the mountains how something as light and relatively slow as a glider, even an aerobatic one, could possibly need such a robust structure. He informed me that this particular airplane had flown in Vietnam.

Why even the best pilots need to know their limitations

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The two years that I spent as the Piper district sales manager for the West Coast were some of most interesting and fun filled of my aviation career. Not only was I learning the aircraft sales business from some of the most experienced and well-respected people in the Piper distributor organization, I was also learning about grass roots flying from high-time, skilled pilots.

From the archives: Bob Buck gets a Boeing 707 check out

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This in-depth report, originally published in the September 1960 edition of Air Facts, is Bob Buck at his best. The legendary airline pilot and author takes us along as he checks out in the Boeing 707, the defining airplane of the jet age. From practicing maneuvers to taking a check ride and flying to Europe, Buck explains how the big jet flies, why it’s different and how it is changing the airline business.

Friday Photo: nature’s beauty and danger

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Weather is a constant challenge for pilots, but every once in a while, it’s also responsible for great beauty. This week’s Friday photo was taken from Larry Emmons’s Cirrus SR22, while flying home to Denver from Mexico. His view was of a dark cloud and a rain shower over New Mexico, but also of a beautiful rainbow.

Martha Lunken on flying home for Christmas

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Whatever else he was, Gill Robb Wilson was most definitely the inspiration for one awkward, gawky, Midwestern teenager who wanted to be a pilot more than anything in the world. Recently I was rereading his poems and the one about Christmas in “The Airman’s World” reminded me of my best ever Christmas flight… a flight where I wasn’t even the pilot.

Flying is great, but family is better – a Christmas story

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The first big cross-country flight I made in a light airplane was in 1976. A college buddy and I thought it would be fun to fly from Ohio to California and back over Christmas. Being young, single, and invincible at the time, we did not think too much about what the weather might have to say about it. We departed Springfield, Ohio (KSGH) on December 20 in a borrowed 150-hp AA-5 Traveler.

Christmas in Central America

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On Cay Caulker, Belize, the conch shell Christmas ornaments hanging on palm fronds marked the season as Christmas and my wife and I felt merry. It got even more Christmassy a few days later in Antigua where the ancient buildings that lined the large plaza were lit with small white lights. A band played Christmas music of all types. It was Christmas season 2015-2016.

The best Christmas lights I’ve ever seen

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I hadn’t wanted to work on Christmas Eve; my family had its own plans, and I had wanted to be a part of those plans. Nonetheless, I was fortunate that the three-day trip I had been assigned was scheduled to end at nine o’clock p.m. on the eve of Christmas that year instead of late on Christmas Day. I had to steel my resolve and think stoically. After all, it was my job; it was my responsibility.