Archive for Category: "I was there"

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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What you can’t see can’t touch you

What you can’t see can’t touch you

I was flying the daily mail run in a saddle-worn Cessna 402 out of Abingdon, Virginia, on a very cloudy, turbulent, rainy, miserable night in mid-March. We had just leveled out at 5000 feet when the radar approach controller in Roanoke called to inform me that I appeared to be turning toward the north.

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Why off-field landing #61 was different from the other 60

Why off-field landing #61 was different from the other 60

We decided to explore, so Christian aimed the bird north, easing in the power to climb above the wave’s rotor. And then the world came unglued! The engine burst into roaring chaos, with hideous vibration, which had the shock mounted instrument panel in a blur.

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The day the dream flew away

The day the dream flew away

On a rainy August morning, the people who bought my airplane came to Washington to fly it home to Northern California. I was numb during the exchange of money and completion of documents because it marked the end of 38 years of flying/caring for that airplane.

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The kid glove treatment – why airline passengers need to behave

The kid glove treatment – why airline passengers need to behave

In the airline industry it is usually the cabin crew who come face to face with the loud mouths, the drunks, the ungrateful, and sometimes the dangerous. One written complaint and invariably the flight attendant will find his or her job on the line. Occasionally a nasty passenger will get just deserts.

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In the middle of a Cold War, Russians fish in the North Sea

In the middle of a Cold War, Russians fish in the North Sea

I had previous experience in RAAF Fighter Squadrons and was familiar in the use of air-to-air missiles from tours in the Australian Sabre’s sidewinder-equipped aircraft. However, this mission was different where my aircraft was, itself, to become a “missile and see if they can shoot you down,” was the brief by the squadron Intelligence Officer.

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Aviation mentors: getting by (and thriving) with a little help from your friends

Aviation mentors: getting by (and thriving) with a little help from your friends

Step back in time; think back to when you were the one looking over the airport fence. What did you ask? How did you ask? Who did you ask? Luckily, I always stumbled into someone who was gracious enough to give me a few minutes of their time and answer my questions.

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Solo today – ha!

Solo today – ha!

On this day, just before my first solo flight, my flight instructor wanted to demonstrate high speed taxiing and have me do some. After his demonstration, I began the high speed taxi exercise. However, I got on the brakes instead of only the rudder…

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Destination flying – Outer Banks of North Carolina

Destination flying – Outer Banks of North Carolina

The Outer Banks have a prominent place in aviation history, but they’re also a beautiful place to visit by airplane. Local Ryan Thibodeau offers some airport tips and suggested stops in this pilot’s guide to OBX.

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Now that was real flying – stick and rudder in a 737

Now that was real flying – stick and rudder in a 737

Many of today’s pilots are usually so addicted to the automatics, that the thought of switching off the autopilot and flying manually is practically a Mayday situation. Yet, when coaxed into switching off the automatic features the almost universal reply is “Jeez – I enjoyed that.”

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One (interesting) day in the life of a corporate pilot

One (interesting) day in the life of a corporate pilot

Sure enough, after a fruitful day, as I get ready to settle in for the evening, the phone rings. It’s my office marine dispatcher wanting to know if I can fly a tugboat captain home right away as he has a family emergency in progress. He is aboard a tugboat somewhere in the upper Chesapeake Bay.

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Finishing what you start – even after an accident

Finishing what you start – even after an accident

Climbing back in and getting back to the meat of prepping for the flight test is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Knowing how quickly, not to mention painfully, things could go wrong didn’t help my tension. Nevertheless, we flew. I flew.

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A second officer’s tale

A second officer’s tale

Back in the day when props were changing to jets, the Canadian Ministry of Transport contemplated creating a newly required third crew position on the huge DC-8s coming on line. The third pilot crew member would be neither a fully endorsed DC-8 pilot nor a fully endorsed DC-8 flight engineer.

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