I was there

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.

Hindsight is wonderful

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A self-described “comedy of errors” causes a captain to misdiagnose an in-flight problem and put his 737 into a steep dive at night over the South Pacific. In hindsight, this rapid descent turned out to be unnecessary. See why.

Landing on I-80

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In 1986, shortly after our marriage, Diane and I began making cross-country flights in our C-182 to attend the annual summer reunion of University of Wisconsin classmates. These flights had always been pleasant and uneventful. In 2006, on the second leg of our trip from our home field in Palo Alto, California to Waukesha County Airport in Wisconsin, the engine began to sputter.

Land of the midnight sun

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The most significant and defining feature of Alaska is, quite simply, its size. It’s a landscape on steroids; a wild land defying the sky to contain it in a voice that resonates with a visceral, primal power. Nowhere else in America are humans so dwarfed by the land they make noises about inhabiting.

Destination AOPA Summit

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This past September, the Northeast U.S. was plagued by “the low that wouldn’t go away.” This cutoff low-pressure system sat and spun for two weeks bringing daily gloom from the Mid Atlantic to Maine. Unfortunately, in the midst of this crummy weather, I was scheduled to give a talk at AOPA’s Summit in Hartford, Connecticut on September 24th.

A date with Juliet

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Flight 420, a Boeing 737 to Hong Kong, departed from a small island on the Equator at about the same time as an unnamed typhoon was born 2,000 miles further west. The depression that spawned the typhoon had been tracked by U.S. Navy weather satellites for several days. As it slowly spun in a westerly direction from 500 miles north of Ponape in the Carolines, the weather forecasters decided it met all the attributes of a maturing typhoon and from a list of names, selected Juliet.

Cross country at 26,000 ft. and 500 ft.

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Two recent trips reinforced for me both the potential and the limitations of using general aviation airplanes for transportation. In many ways, they could not have been more different: the first flight was in a Pilatus PC-12 at 26,000 ft., the second in a Citabria at 500 ft. But while the equipment was quite different, the result was the same: a successful trip of 400+ nautical miles between cities poorly served by the airlines, and more or less on my schedule.