One man stood up, expressing a need to address Col Goodson. He was a smallish, well-dressed older gentleman, accompanied by a lady in a long mink coat. He was recognized by the moderator, and stood to attention and stated his name, rank and serial number. He followed in a very assertive tone, “Colonel Goodson, I have one thing I’ve wanted to say to you since 1944.” There was a pause – a very silent one.
Deeper into the pass I flew, watching Banning Pass airport pass beneath me. My groundspeed increased rapidly. Nearing the end of my journey through the Pass, I called Palm Springs approach to make contact. After completing the transmission, I felt a sharp, very assertive bump that lifted my little aircraft, pressing me deeply into the seat. My handheld GPS departed from the hook and loop fastener I had rigged onto the instrument panel and fell to the floor.
Saturday we packed up everything and headed back to Livingston for the flight home. When I looked at the weather, I found that everything east of the Dakotas would be all IFR, low clouds and rain. I talked to my wife, and said we should try to fly halfway, maybe stopping in Bismarck, or Fargo, North Dakota. She was up for the adventure.
As pilots we’ve all experienced it, that nagging feeling that something’s not quite right. The instruments are all in the green. The navigation is spot on and you know exactly where you are. The weather couldn’t be better but… Call it what you will. Gut feeling, experience, or lack of it. Even when passengers or crew don’t share that gut feeling, you should pay attention to it. It might save your life.
“You gotta let me pay you for your time and materials,” I said to Art and Goren (not their real names), the two ag pilots who showed us how to free up a stuck valve on the 0-200 Continental engine of our Cessna 150. They simply refused payment of any kind. Then Art said, “Well, I would like to jump from a 150.” Jump, like parachute jump? That is exactly what he meant.
On a hot, mosquito-laden summer night in July of 1969, we had taken the liberty of renting a black-and-white television, which we perched on a small table in the larger front room of the trailer. We dined on our usual Swanson TV dinners warmed up in the toaster oven, and spent some time fiddling with the rabbit ears to get a good signal before we settled down to listen to Walter Cronkite, Wally Schirra and the crowd down at the Cape. It was going to be quite a night.
My flight to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2016 was special in several ways. The Experimental Aircraft Association was honoring the 75th anniversary of my make of airplane, the Interstate Cadet, a tandem trainer manufactured in 1941-42 in Los Angeles. We were a flight of 15 Cadets by the time we made it to Oshkosh. The trip would also be an ambitious one – over 5,000 miles at 100 miles per hour.
If you check the FAA’s Temporary Flight Restriction website, are you covered? Maybe not, as this Florida pilot found out. His story clearly demonstrates that checking assumed “authoritative” sites, like NOTAMs and the FAA TFR pages, is not enough to guarantee pilots have current, comprehensive, accurate information regarding Temporary Flight Restrictions.
Soon I found myself on the ramp with Ron, walking around the DC-3. Having never before flown anything larger than an Aztec, I was overwhelmed with the airplane. It was daunting, yet familiar, like one’s first approach to an ancient Roman edifice theretofore known only from picture books. Even the fabric-covered control surfaces were massive and substantial. The DC-3 was regal in form and formidable in character, and I approached it with awe bordering on reverence.
My routine flight only became noteworthy as I approached the field for a landing. The club strip is grass, oriented roughly north/south and about 2500 ft. in length. As I entered the pattern at 1,000 ft. and began a downwind leg for a left hand pattern to the south, I began to note the windsocks sticking straight out to the East and realized the landing was going to be fun with the crosswind at or above the club’s operation limits.
Just after Hollister had passed under the left wing, the transponder flashed an error message, and went from their assigned squawk code to 1200. “Huh?” says the instructor, “What’s up with that?” The instructor tried to enter the assigned squawk code a couple more times, with the same result. That was exactly when the wheels fell off the cart, electrically speaking.
The flight was supposed to be pretty much a routine trip, though not really a happy one. I was relocating my turbocharged 1984 Cessna TU206G amphibian from West Palm Beach, Florida, to St. Cloud, Minnesota. Economics had demanded that I sell the marvelous ship, and I was delivering it to the buyer.
Night. Rain. Extremely high surface winds. Low visibility. Mountains. Less gas then I would have liked. Now I couldn’t get the lights to the runway at Martin Campbell Field (1A3) to come on. “This is how people kill themselves in small planes,” I thought to myself as I passed the final approach fix and decided to go missed. I thought back to the start of the trip, The Hunter and The Door.
Flying out of El Paso earlier this week I picked up a little airframe ice. It would have been a non-event for a more capable airplane, but the anti-ice equipment on 32A (pitot heat and windscreen defrost) just wasn’t up to the task.
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.
The wind was getting stronger, the ceiling was dropping, I still had a long way to go and I didn’t see anywhere below me that looked like a great place to spend the night. The thought of being stuck in rush hour traffic somewhere didn’t sound too bad right now.
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.
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!
Learning from others’ mistakes is more conducive to successful flying than creating your own. Here are three lessons I learned on three different flights, but only because I made some mistakes. Hopefully you can learn from them and avoid making them yourself!
It was getting late in the day and the tropical weather was closing in behind me. I felt trapped. Weather was all around and nothing but dense jungle below. I started to get frustrated and really worried. An hour and a half had passed and I was no closer to Panama City. My only alternate airfield was back across the mountains. The last thing I wanted to do was climb back up to 15,000 feet, but I had no choice.