I was there

Island flying, Northeast-style

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In my part of the country a pilot’s license is a ticket to visit coastal islands that are otherwise accessible with difficulty. The islands, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Block, and Fishers each have their own special charms. I’m going to describe some of the features of each. The emphasis here will be on day trips.

Breakfast flying 101

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Our squadron is usually anywhere between two to five aircraft. Pilots, enthusiasts, first-timers…all are welcome. Early morning departures are a must, for we still have a full day of work to get in once we get back. As the sun peeks up over the horizon, the planes are in the air and beginning to rendezvous.

A day in the life of the line

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The ramp personnel at an FBO, better known as the Line guys, welcome us and see us off. They are often the front door to a thousand other services. They appear and disappear, oftentimes as if by magic, and they seem to know what we need before we’ve understood it ourselves.

Spelling relief

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People complain about my lack of …endurance. Turns out, I’m not the only pilot with a bladder of clay. For as long as airplanes have been able to sustain vast distances, they’ve been flown by people who can’t.

Westward Ho

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Lawrence Zingesser shares another memorable trip. The plan was to fly to the Napa Valley and in doing so to experience the scenery of the Rocky Mountains up close, to explore the Grand Canyon from a low altitude, and to overfly coastal California en-route. Read how the trip went, including pictures.

Fire horse

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Did you ever hear about the horses that were used to pull the fire engines in the 19th and early 20th centuries? The author says he became one at Oshkosh in 2010 when he saw a beautiful DC-7 take flight. Read why this one takeoff led to a new adventure for this pilot.

Trans-Atlantic in a Mooney 231

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For many years we had contemplated a trans-Atlantic flight in our Mooney, and finally in June of 1982 the plan became a reality. Our first plane, a 1967 Piper Arrow had taken us to the Caribbean and to South America safely and comfortably via an island-hopping route, so the overwater aspects of single-engine flying held no special terror for us.

Bad instructors

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During my nearly six decades of flying I’ve had more good instructors than bad. But beware: there are bad ones. The worst instructor I ever had was in a Pitts S2A. I learned nothing from him except how to keep from redecorating the interior of his airplane. Share your experiences with good and bad CFIs.

To South America in a Piper Arrow

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Talk about a memorable trip. Lawrence Zingesser shares the story of his 1974 trip from New York to Buenos Aires in his Piper Arrow. Although it took 8 days and covered 5700 nm, the flight went relatively smoothly. The bottles of Scotch for the customs agents, didn’t hurt.

Mission trip

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Drive four hours just to ride 30 minutes in an airplane? Michael McDowell says yes, and did just that when the opportunity arose to ride jumpseat in a freshly-painted Hawker. Read why some flights can only be called a “mission trip.”

Breaking in my iPad on a helo ferry

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Occasionally, I get a break from the dreary doldrums of flying a FLIR-equipped MD500E police helicopter (I know, right?) with a ferry flight, moving ENG (electronic news gathering) R44s around the country. Last month, the opportunity arose to fly via airliner to Pittsburgh to move a ship to Atlanta. I thought it would be a good time to put my new iPad to the test.

Mr. Invincible

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Well I finally met that guy. That guy everyone has read about. That guy who seems to be at every airport. That guy whom no one admits to being. You know, the guy who willfully violates significant federal aviation regulations and openly brags to total strangers about his near death experiences.

Taking chances – the safe way

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Regardless of your views on the training aspects of simulators, if you have an opportunity to fly a sim, I encourage you to do so. After all, it’s flying, right? Well, sort of anyway. And don’t you like to fly?

Magic moments

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Throughout my often-interrupted flying history, there have been many memorable events, some standing out for how I scared myself through dumb cluck mistakes, and some for their delectable simplicity and beauty. The one I offer here has no drama, no risks avoided or skills demonstrated; it was just, well, a great place to be that evening. It was a place that only airmen can experience.

Moments of sheer terror

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At about the time that I intercepted the localizer course, I went into a personal “brain dump” that could have cost me my life and defines this moment of terror. I had engaged the autopilot coupler and was in that dangerous “fat, dumb and happy” mode as I flew toward the runway exactly on course. I was in clouds and fog when something made me glance out the window.

Ohio to Alaska by Swift

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In this must-read article, an Air Facts reader shares his once-in-a-lifetime trip from Ohio to Alaska in his award-winning Swift. Read his day by day account, complete with stunning pictures. As the article proves, flying to Alaska is not as difficult as you might think.

Why do we do it?

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It doesn’t take much of a thermal to have me prepping the little white bag, so my flights are not always a pleasant experience. At least that’s what my stomach is telling me. My spirit, and flying soul, well they tell me something completely different.

My night from hell

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It was a dark and stormy night. Sounds like the opening line of a bad novel, but the night of May 24, 1996, was dark and stormy as we rocked our way in a 172 from St. Louis to Cincinnati Lunken. We pushed the envelope beyond reason and might not have seen the dawn except for a piece of luck that arrived at precisely the right instant.