Archive for Category: "I was there"

“What’s this button do?” Why you need to watch your passengers

“What’s this button do?” Why you need to watch your passengers

Flying with passengers is a lot of fun, but you need to be on guard whenever someone is in the right seat – even if they’re a pilot. A wary eye and a good pre-flight briefing is a start. But as this story proves, sometimes it’s the little things you have to watch.

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The in-flight emergency nobody prepared me for

The in-flight emergency nobody prepared me for

The flight in question was a routine one, with three jumpers who wanted to jump from 10,000 feet. I did the usual full-power climb to 10,000 and was right at the jump zone so was ready to reduce power and level off for the jump. Except I couldn’t budge the throttle.

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My best hour – and I wasn’t even flying!

My best hour – and I wasn’t even flying!

I’ve often thought that the day of my first solo, April 6, 1996, would be the most memorable of my flying career. I had a whopping five hours of dual logged when I climbed into “Super Chicken,” Skyhawk N172SC, for my three trips around the pattern at Mount Sterling (KIOB). But, 19 years later, I learned how wrong I was.

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Out of control on short final – a freight dog learns a lesson

Out of control on short final – a freight dog learns a lesson

Suddenly, I was jolted out of my delectable dreamland by a violent roll to the right. Instant paralyzing fear, equivalent to several thousand volts of crippling electrical current, seemed to anesthetize my entire body. There was no time for panic, but that’s all I could manage to do.

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Flying for fun, and flying with a mission

Flying for fun, and flying with a mission

All in all, I flew 6.3 hours in the air, the most I’d flown in a day. I was tired, but I sure felt good, as many of you who will read this know. There’s nothing better than flying your airplane on a pretty day unless you get to do it and help someone at the same time. It doesn’t get much better than that!

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Mission accomplished – getting the job done in a Cessna 150

Mission accomplished – getting the job done in a Cessna 150

Being a VFR pilot with (currently) little interest in pursuing an instrument rating, chances to perform a mission were a little difficult to come by, as completing said mission can oftentimes be waylaid for the obvious reasons. However, this day was an exception… aircraft ready, CAVU everywhere, no TFRs, and a reasonably simple mission.

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On your own – airline flying in the South Pacific before GPS

On your own – airline flying in the South Pacific before GPS

Former airline captain John Laming spent a career flying between tiny islands in the South Pacific. In this enchanting story, Laming takes us along for one of those flights, complete with the weather deviations, failing airport infrastructure and sleeping tower controllers. Were these the good old days?

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My first (intentional) spin

My first (intentional) spin

“I thought today we would begin unusual attitude recoveries, and transition into spins and spin recovery.” I was torn between saying, “No thanks, I only came here for the tailwheel endorsement,” and saying, “That’s exactly what I need to work on!” So I said nothing, climbed in, and fastened my seatbelt, perhaps just a little tighter than usual.

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Control checks – not normally an airborne requirement

Control checks – not normally an airborne requirement

Sometimes the most thorough of checks and vital actions done before takeoff don’t always prevent an unwanted surprise later when the checks themselves are not developed to the full extent needed. Such was the case when shortly after takeoff in an RAAF Australian Sabre I encountered a significant control problem.

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Is that legal? Clearing a path through the fog

Is that legal? Clearing a path through the fog

They say that in every life a little sunshine will beam on occasion. Freight dogs learn quickly to take advantage of every streak of light they can find and they usually don’t tell anyone about it until well after the fact, because they’re never quite sure if what they’ve just done is legal or not.

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The Last Flight of Viscount CF-THS Air Canada 637

The Last Flight of Viscount CF-THS Air Canada 637

Seeing the aircraft, my heart sank. The forlorn scene looked hopeless. Sundry bits of airplane scattered over the hangar floor, two of the four engines missing and the silly looking Viscount with half its tail feathers missing. I had second thoughts.

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A Luscombe without wings – taming the Stearman

A Luscombe without wings – taming the Stearman

“Wow,” I said. “A Stearman,” said Jerry. “You can’t see much, but it’s pretty easy as long as you stay on the grass.” I could not imagine what he was talking about – I had 78 hours in a Cessna 172.

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Could you land a 737? I had to find out

Could you land a 737? I had to find out

A call goes out to ask if there are any pilots on board, and a guy in the back responds “I’m a pilot… well, single engine!” Admit it….how many of you thought, if only for a moment, “I bet I could have landed it!”

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Electrical failure: time to improvise, adapt and overcome

Electrical failure: time to improvise, adapt and overcome

I had all four seats filled as we were winging our way westward to Santa Fe, New Mexico, at 8000 feet on top of a cloud deck. It was then that I noticed the ammeter needle flicking back and forth between “discharge” and neutral in a steady rhythm. This did not look right. We needed to get on the ground fast.

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How to land an airliner with only 7 runway lights

How to land an airliner with only 7 runway lights

Pilots are taught to use their initiative and to expect surprises. There was certainly a surprise in store for me one dark and stormy night a little over 35 years ago, but the use of initiative came in a most unorthodox way ― and not from the crew on the aircraft, but from a quick-acting van driver.

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