Archive for Category: "I Can’t Believe I Did That"

The rockets’ red glare: a July 4th landing to remember

The rockets’ red glare: a July 4th landing to remember

Sliding quietly past the last of the Quonset buildings, and with 40-degrees of Cessna’s barn door Fowler flaps hanging out, I was pretty well committed at that point. I was ready for the touchdown, probably three or four feet above the grass runway, when the whole world exploded directly in front of the heavy Cessna.

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My encounter with a thunder cloud

My encounter with a thunder cloud

My plane entered a pitch dark cloud. Instinctively I took three rapid steps: reduced velocity below VA; turned on the instrument and panel lights; and put the oxygen valve on full demand. Soon hell’s doors were open.

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A good idea at the time: scud running in the mountains of Papua New Guinea

A good idea at the time: scud running in the mountains of Papua New Guinea

This story starts at the picturesque port of Madang on the northern coast of New Guinea. I was flying an RAAF Hawker Siddeley HS748 on a two week tour around New Britain and New Ireland, culminating with the training of a new squadron pilot in the finer points of Highland operations in central Papua.

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“Never bank over 30 degrees in the pattern,” and other lessons

“Never bank over 30 degrees in the pattern,” and other lessons

The crosswind blew me a little past the runway line as I came around on final and I banked it left and added a bit of power to get lined up. Things suddenly got quiet and I had an epiphany! For the first time I really understood why my instructors had said never bank over 30 degrees in the pattern.

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A harrowing tale(wheel)

A harrowing tale(wheel)

Back in 1979 I was working as a flight test engineer for Cessna Aircraft at the peak of general aviation’s heyday. One of the perks of my employment at Cessna was delivering aircraft to the dealers on weekends. Most times I would ferry the aircraft out in the morning and take the airlines home in the afternoon.

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The taste of humble pie – admitting the “old-timers” were right

The taste of humble pie – admitting the “old-timers” were right

Sometimes in aviation we learn valuable lessons that reach far beyond the technical aspects of flying – like this story. I was young and full of youthful hubris at the time, and I thought I knew everything. I especially thought I knew more than all the “old-timers.”

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Stop the prop – not a smart idea?

Stop the prop – not a smart idea?

I remember a flight, well, actually I remember many, but this one ranks up there, where if anything came up short, I probably wouldn’t be alive, let alone a pilot writing about this. Let me just put this out there now: I was young, stupid, and believed in the invincibility of me and my flight instructor, so let’s not go bashing the messenger here.

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New year’s adventure: clearing a runway with one snowshoe

New year’s adventure: clearing a runway with one snowshoe

I had decided early on during the morning of January 1, New Year’s Day, to take a short flight and look over the Russian River Rendezvous lodge property at Lower Russian Lake down on the Kenai Peninsula. Just another still and tranquil New Year’s Day in the Alaska outback…

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Cow pasture pilot

Cow pasture pilot

Beaumont, Kansas, is known as home of the Beaumont Hotel and not much else. Those of us who have it listed in our logbooks remember the unique experience of landing in a grass field at the east edge of town, taxiing onto the road, stopping at the stop sign, and parking under the trees south of the old hotel.

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Fog makes a flight to remember

Fog makes a flight to remember

It was winter time in Brazil, São Paulo State. I was fresh from my private pilot course. I was young (21) and bold. The new engine installation was complete and I arrived at the city airport (SJWQ), with a field elevation 1339 feet, at 6:00 am.

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I Can’t Believe I Did That – Angel knows best

I Can’t Believe I Did That – Angel knows best

The Angel on my right shoulder whispers, “This is not the time for you to be doing this, look at those clouds!” but the Devil on my left shoulder says, “Aw c’mon! You’re only going for a short flight, you’ve got to be able to fly in this, what’s stopping you?”

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Lesson learned at Oshkosh: eyes opened

Lesson learned at Oshkosh: eyes opened

Shortly after earning my license, a pilot friend of the family heard I was a new pilot and invited me along to Oshkosh. His plan was to fly there and back in the same day. I had a whole 11 hours PIC and not much cross country experience. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

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Fool’s errand: a Mooney flight to remember

Fool’s errand: a Mooney flight to remember

I appeared early the next morning to pick up my ticket and was greeted with a ticket and a box. In the box was a very large screwdriver and a new starter. It didn’t dawn on me that this job might be a little more complicated than previously explained.

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We did something to the altitude

We did something to the altitude

When my friend Paul had mentioned a club at Republic Airport where I fly that was renting 2007 C172s with the G1000 panel, I jumped at the idea. I was previously flying a 2003 Piper Archer with 2 Garmin 430s and while I love the Archer, the club where I rented was very expensive, and I was excited to “step up” to the newer system.

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Flaps anyone? Strange things can happen

Flaps anyone? Strange things can happen

I am a student pilot with 42 hours of flying time and am just getting ready for my flight exam. On Sunday I was practicing touch-and-goes and after my first landing, I retracted the flaps, added power and started to climb out. I immediately noticed that my climb rate was lower than normal.

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