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.

South Africa to England in a Bonanza

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After a frantic week of long-range faxes and Bonanza research, the deal was done and the planning started for the ferry flight back to Peterborough Sibson (EGSP) in the UK. I was keen to fly it myself if at all possible as I’d never done a long flight in a light single and it seemed wasteful to pay someone else to do it. What was a Bonanza capable of?

Tomorrow’s good enough for me

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This story happened many years ago to my father-in-law and me, and the statute of limitations has hopefully run out on any broken or bruised FARs we might have encountered during the course of events. Nevertheless, there is a debt to be paid: that is the debt to one’s own conscience when, years later, you look back on things and realize your own stupidity.

Friday Photo: Isabella Lake

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A hundred miles north of Los Angeles lies the beautiful Isabella Lake, nestled against the Sierra Nevada mountains. In addition to the scenery, the area also boasts a nice airport restaurant at the Kern Valley Airport. That’s where Craig Narr was headed in his Cessna 310 when he took this week’s Friday Photo. The snow-capped peaks tower over the scenic lake, and you can just barely see the airport on the northern shore of the lake.

Top 10 articles of all time on Air Facts

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Air Facts was founded in 1938, but we relaunched as an online magazine six years ago today. Since that time, over 300 pilots have shared their stories with us, and we have published over 900 posts in total. We sometimes get asked which articles have been the most popular, so we’ve compiled a list here of the 10 most-read article since our relaunch in 2011. Enjoy!

My flight level epiphany

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In late Spring 1973, almost 44 years ago, I was 22 years old and on the cusp of achieving my life-long goal of becoming a professional pilot. It was an overseas flight with a notoriously-crusty old senior check captain so I was vibrating with anxiety. There would be no remedial training if this guy gave me a thumbs down at this tenuous point in my career.

Friday Photo: Cessna 180 in Alaska

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This week’s Friday Photo was taken from the cockpit, as usual. But in addition to Mother Nature’s natural beauty, it also shows another airplane: pilot Cory Kittle’s friend flying a Cessna 180 over Prince William Sound. The combination of crystal clear blue skies, a classic bush plane and the snowy mountain peaks makes this picture the epitome of Alaska flying.