After flying for a major airline more than 28 years, I reached the mandatory retirement age. I loved every minute of it, and I had no desire to retire. So, I began to research options so that I could continue commercial flying. As I scanned the internet, I came across a flying opportunity in New Zealand. A small airline was looking for a chief pilot.
I tied down the plane and went up to the office to pay the fee. On departure (remember, the beer!), the friendly gentleman mentioned—just by the way—that the airspace over Warsaw was about to be closed from 10pm that day (Friday) until 10pm the following Monday. The reason? The US President was about to fly in to commemorate the outbreak of WWII.
Straight line distance from Cairns (YBCS) to Longreach (YLRE) is around 830km (450nm or 515sm) but much further by road, so the only option for getting there and back in the one day was by air. Hew had borrowed hangar mate Michelle’s RV-6A to fly to Longreach and retrieve his aircraft. All that he needed now was another pilot to accompany him in the RV-6, then fly that aircraft back home to Cairns. Was I available? You betcha!
We’ve been in the seats for 3.5 hours and feeling the effects of flying on the back side of the clock. Both of us are yawning and ready for a break. Not to worry though. The guys in the back will be getting their scheduled wakeup call from us in about 10 minutes. I’m suddenly startled by a loud voice: “TRAFFIC – TRAFFIC.” What the heck?
The glider club, like almost every activity in Iran, was supported and controlled by government bureaucracy, often with many nonsensical rules. The rules often seemed to be created to prevent enjoyment or accomplishment. Everything was supplied and controlled by the government.
The aircraft ferry game is both interesting and where one always expects the unexpected. My card reads “Can Ferry, Will Travel.” Flying an older aircraft cross country is more than just throwing your bag in the back and departing. To do the job properly means planning ahead.
To fly around Australia was not an idea that happened upon me overnight. It was an idea hatched in childhood, and ultimately flown solo decades later. Eight months in planning and eighteen days in execution, I suspect the planning would have been somewhat quicker if it had not grown into such a public exercise with such a genuine, interested following.
Flying internationally has its challenges. In the West, there exist synergies between weather services and Air Traffic Control. This is something we take for granted. In other parts of the world, not so much. Below is a story of one such time where a latent threat could have caused an undesirable state.
All went well, I reported final on 07, and was getting ready to perform a smooth touch down right past the threshold. Then, about one minute before touch down, I heard somebody saying something like, “LZPT taking off runway 25.” I was not sure I heard right. I mean, I just reported my final about a minute ago. Surely anybody on the frequency, let alone a pilot sitting in his aircraft about to take off, must have heard me?
Pilot and aviation enthusiast Agustin Rubiños describes it as, “vuelos divertidos en Skyhawk.” As this week’s Friday Photo shows, he does indeed have a lot of fun flying around Argentina. In this photo, taken from his wing-mounted GoPro, he’s soaring over the vast plains in his Cessna 172M.
In early 2016, my family was ready to see something new and beautiful. The past year had been tough — we nearly lost Dad to a stroke – then, during his recovery from the stroke, we determined that he needed a heart valve replacement, his second such surgery. By February, with a fresh reminder of life’s fragility and brevity, we began laying the groundwork for an August adventure to Iceland and Norway.
Every pilot has what I call “memory” flights; flights which were remarkable, special. The thing about these “memory” flights is that often we don’t know we’re experiencing them, that they’re shaping us, until we reminisce some time later. You don’t always have to look back, though. Sometimes you just know that you are flying one of those “memory” flights.
Photos don’t get much better than this. Diego Errazuriz took this breathtaking picture of a total solar eclipse from the cockpit of his Cessna R182, as he cruised over Chile on July 2, 2019. The lights below and the Pacific Ocean frame the beautiful colors in the sky and the utterly unique view of the sun.
Australia’s Gold Coast in Queensland is a beautiful place to fly, as this photo from Ross Clarke shows. He was on his way to maintenance in his Jabiru J170 when he took this shot of the towering buildings and golden beaches below. It’s a famous tourist destination, but we think it looks better from the air.
I picked up a great (non-paying, volunteer) gig as a pilot flying an old Cessna 182 looking for sharks along the beaches between Wollongong and Ulladulla, New South Wales, Australia. Wollongong is about an hour and a half south of Sydney and a beautiful part of the world, especially in summer. Unfortunately that beauty can be spoilt somewhat by sharks swimming around in their natural environment.
Fly 20 miles west of Copenhagen, Denmark, and you’ll find a beautiful coastline of islands and peninsulas. That’s where Natalie Kjaergaard was flying in her Aeroprakt A22 one afternoon when she took this beautiful photo of the sun going down over the water. Another classic sunset view from the left seat.
This week’s Friday Photo comes from Aaron Ochsner, who says, “When I was a kid, I used to hike up this mountain every weekend with my dad (you can see the trail snaking up the side). Today I got a bird’s eye view of that same peak. Soon I’ll be able to take my dad up to see it with me.”
This very near-miss incident took place several years ago on a VFR approach to Archerfield (YBAF), in Queensland, Australia, a usually busy Class D general aviation training airfield adjacent to the state capital city of Brisbane, and it haunts me to this day. As a way of talking it out, I tender it here for my fellow pilots to read and consider and perhaps comment on.
Australia is famous for its varied terrain, from beaches to mountains to deserts. In this Friday Photo from Down Under, Neil Sidwell shares a photo of Lake Eildon. This sprawling, man-made lake northeast of Melbourne is nestled in between the 3,000 foot peaks of the surrounding mountains, all part of Lake Eildon National Park.
Today, in formation, we climb out of Annecy and make for the Alps through the Col des Aravis. This kind of flying is like a jam session, a music of angles and relative positions. You know your buddy knows… It’s a kind of magic made possible by experience and trust. The rocks below glide by as though in deep slow motion.