I was there

Fuel selector in Bonanza

It’s the little things that get you

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I advanced the power and the 300 hp Continental IO-550 began to barrel us down the runway while I continued looking at the trees at the far end. Racing toward them, I checked my airspeed and fuel flow and began to rotate… and just before I did… the engine died! Like in Dead.

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St. George airport

Farewell to an old friend – another airport fades away

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I said goodbye to an old friend today. My friend won’t actually be gone until January 13, but I had to make a special trip to pay my respects. Lots of pilots in the West know my friend, some with tender feelings, others not. My friend was one that challenged the skill, or nerve, of every pilot who came along. I was lucky enough to learn from my friend, and in fact love that dear airport.

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Indy 500 race

Flying dad to the Indy 500 – with a few stops

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It would be the longest VFR cross country for me by far, with precious cargo across Tornado Alley in springtime to the “Greatest Spectacle in Sports.” But I was 26; what the hell did I know? It was before the internet, weather channel, online anything. No TFRs or alphabet soup of airspace.

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Monroe airport

My dubious start to a flying career: anatomy of a checkride bust

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As I sat outside the examiner’s office, nursing my ego and doing some cursory flight planning for my return hop home, I heard him call my instructor over at KBFI, who undoubtedly was waiting to hear a glowing review of what an outstanding job I had done. As soon as the examiner started detailing the reason for my bust, however, I could hear my CFI’s shrill voice over the phone and through the closed door.

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New Hampshire mountains

I survived an airplane crash – here’s what I learned

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I attempted a turn away from the ridge, probably induced an accelerated stall at some point, and we hit the trees. We spent about 43 hours in the woods on the side of Johnson Mountain. My friend passed away sometime during that period. I had no survival gear whatsoever. I had no flight plan. No one knew where I was. I did have an ELT, and it saved my life.

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Unalakleet, Alaska

Catch a falling star

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Even though it was only three o’clock in the late autumn afternoon, the last gray light of day would fade fast before too long, as the sun was blocked by multiple cloud layers. I heard Martin Olson’s voice coming through my headphones calling Nome Radio on 122.2. However, there was something… I don’t know. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something didn’t sound quite right.

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Canyons of Arizona

Business or pleasure – why choose?

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The 10-day weather forecast looked amazingly good for January, so rather than go home on the weekend between two events, I concocted a scheme to do some sailplane flying at Estrella on the weekend, including the use of Estrella’s lodging facility – fabulously cheap bunk beds only soaring aficionados could love. I was saving the company money!

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Piper Warrior

Being neighborly – an aerial introduction

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The sky was clear and conditions appeared very good. We got into the Warrior and I had him strap in. After the runup, I tuned in to the latest ATIS, then contacted Ground, and started to the active. As we moved along the taxiway, Paul remarked to me, “This the first time in my life I’ve ever been in an airplane.”

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72B on turnpike

Almost toll-free on the turnpike

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As usual, I’d been running 30 minutes out of each tank when, about an hour and a half into the flight—you guessed it—the engine quit. Same drill with fuel selector, carb heat and mixture and, again, it started right up. What in the hell was going on this time? Both wing root fuel gauges were pegged at more than three quarters full… but they were even and they weren’t bouncing and I’d learned that was ominous.

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Mobile airport

The education of a young professional

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I kept the flashlight dancing around the panel… attitude, direction, attitude, altimeter, attitude, airspeed and repeat… with an occasional sweep of the left wing leading edge checking for ice. It was dark and the air was rough inside the cloud. I was in a tough spot this time for sure.

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O-2 Skymaster

Put down the Budweiser – a Vietnam flying story

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I pulled up one of the chairs, recalling the uneventful mission, filling out the paperwork after taking three quick chugs of beer. Soon, I would be over at the O Club, catching up on all the news from my fellow pilots there, whether they be F-4 drivers or Electric Goon (EC-47) ones. Then… CRACKLE – CRACKLE. The little speakers at the radio rack announced an incoming call.

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Glider in field

A glider flyer named Skysailor finds the earth

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The day inevitably arrives. The weather is nice, there are cumulus clouds, soaring birds, other sailplanes are climbing, and I am beyond a final glide to the airfield. Suddenly, I’m not finding lift anymore, the trusty 1-26 is sinking as my heart rate is climbing. I’ve been taught off field landings, I have helped bring gliders back from off landings, and I’m about to have an off field landing.

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Viscount

Emergency formation flying with a Viscount

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We called ATC and advised that we were not sure of our altitude or speed and declared PAN PAN. We then read up the drills in the QRH and the DC-9 manual but they had no effect on the instruments so we realized we had a serious problem. How to get safely down when the weather was poor and even our alternate in North Dakota had solid overcast?

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David Flynn by Cessna

Where is the “airport community?”

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I was trying to find ways to get involved at the local airport – but found it much more challenging than I had hoped. I was willing to wash planes, clean hangars, or just about anything else if it meant I got to hang around the airport and meet some people, but even finding pilots to do so with was difficult. I couldn’t find any form of connection or community between the pilots at this airport.

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