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It sure is quiet at my airport

It sure is quiet at my airport

There may come a time when our joystick and keyboard kids can load up, type in a destination, and sit back to let advanced technology avionics do most of the work. Until then we are likely to remain a pretty select group, airplane pilots–not airplane drivers–and our airports are likely to remain…quiet.

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Part of the team – what it means to be a pilot

Part of the team – what it means to be a pilot

It’s one of the great pleasures of being a pilot–we get to play on the same field as the greats. Very few sandlot baseball players get to pitch at Fenway Park, but as brand new private pilots we can fly from Washington Dulles to New York LaGuardia in a 172. That’s an honor we shouldn’t take lightly.

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Cow pasture pilot

Cow pasture pilot

Beaumont, Kansas, is known as home of the Beaumont Hotel and not much else. Those of us who have it listed in our logbooks remember the unique experience of landing in a grass field at the east edge of town, taxiing onto the road, stopping at the stop sign, and parking under the trees south of the old hotel.

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Retractable singles: the good, the fad and the ugly

Retractable singles: the good, the fad and the ugly

Over the years a number of airplanes impressed me as being “good” airplanes. I thought of many airplanes as “fads” because they burst on the scene and fizzled. A few were “ugly,” maybe because of their looks or maybe because of other things such as flight characteristics or poor performance. Rest assured that these are all opinions.

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Profiling works in solving airplane problems–usually

Profiling works in solving airplane problems–usually

Profiling is, in this discussion, a procedure to narrow down the possible causes of a problem based on its location in the airplane and timing in the order of events in a flight, and then with evaluation of the potential causes, select appropriate solutions to try. The case I’m going to describe occurred with the Cessna T-37 twin jet trainer.

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Time to fly

Time to fly

The smell of fresh-cut grass on a warm spring evening. You walk around the little aeroplane, checking a bolt, kicking the tires, moving the surfaces, touching it. You climb into it, and inhale that special aeroplane smell.

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Debate: zero-zero takeoffs?

Debate: zero-zero takeoffs?

One of the double-edged swords for pilots is the issue of Part 91 weather minimums. Unlike commercial operators, private pilots can start an instrument approach even when the weather is below minimums. For takeoff, there really aren’t any minimums, so a zero-zero takeoff would be perfectly legal. But is that a good idea?

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It was a dark and stormy night when I took my old Aeronca Chief to West Virginia

It was a dark and stormy night when I took my old Aeronca Chief to West Virginia

The relationship with my 1946 Aeronca Chief often segues into a world of strangeness. Owning and maintaining and flying an old fabric-covered taildragger is analogous to using a 1951 MG-TD as your personal car. But one learns to take things as they come, and most of all, to keep a sense of humor.

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This is why you became a pilot

This is why you became a pilot

OK, so after a year or so of lessons, studying, agonizing over the written, sweating during the oral and dreading the practical, you’ve done it! You are a pilot! Now what? What do you do with this very rare right and privilege?

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Navigating in the old days

Navigating in the old days

Flying in my little single-engine Cessna, my yoke mounted GPS unit gives me my exact position anywhere on the face of the earth, as well as a host of other valuable information and is a marvel of modern technology. It wasn’t always so. I was a crewman on a Navy land-based long-range patrol plane (P2V Neptune) back in the early 1960s and I’ll tell you all what it was like.

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Why I love the NOBBI arrival

Why I love the NOBBI arrival

For those of you who do not fly out of the Northeast, the NOBBI5 Standard Terminal Arrival Route leads you into Westchester County Airport. KHPN is where my 1980 Mooney 231 is based. It’s the last stretch home. When the weather cooperates, there’s plenty of opportunity to look down from 7000 feet.

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The most fun I have ever had in an airplane

The most fun I have ever had in an airplane

A Piper Cub is the essence of seat of the pants flying, with a stick, a throttle, and practically nothing else (OK, there is a tach, altimeter, magnetic compass, and airspeed indicator if you can see them through your instructor). It’s as close to being a 1920s barnstormer as I’ll ever get!

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Redemption – convincing my wife to fly again

Redemption – convincing my wife to fly again

Last September I broke something important to me. The cause was more an abundance of caution than of carelessness, and I took comfort in that. Still, I wished I could fix it. Sitting at the kitchen counter one morning in June I thought I saw a way to make it right.

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Security theater – 5 things pilots shouldn’t have to live with

Security theater – 5 things pilots shouldn’t have to live with

It’s worth reviewing some of the wasteful and ineffective security programs we put up with. That’s not because we should forget what happened that day, but because bad security measures hurt everyone: they cost taxpayers lots of money, they discourage pilots from using their hard-earned certificates and they distract security organizations from doing real work.

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Fog makes a flight to remember

Fog makes a flight to remember

It was winter time in Brazil, São Paulo State. I was fresh from my private pilot course. I was young (21) and bold. The new engine installation was complete and I arrived at the city airport (SJWQ), with a field elevation 1339 feet, at 6:00 am.

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