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Crystal and father

The day my dad taught me the lesson of a lifetime

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The day I got my first charter job flying air tours in Hawaii, I remember being offered two different jobs: one flying a Cessna 402 and the other flying a Beech 18. I called Dad and told him of my choices. The voice of experience spoke. I’ll never forget his words: “Don’t miss the opportunity to fly round engines. It only comes around once in a lifetime.” I took his advice and was never sorry.

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Shane and son

Two memorable days of flying with my son

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I like to think there are a handful of driving forces in my life. Family and flying are two of those and, thanks to a supportive family, I sometimes get to combine those. My jack-of-all-trades FBO/mechanic/pilot/instructor career choice often means that flying takes me away from the family, but during a special couple of days I got to share an airplane delivery trip with my nine-year old.

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Friday Photo: early morning lava

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On this particular early morning trip I was a passenger on a Lear 45 business flight when I witnessed the most amazing sunrise. We were somewhere over Illinois, headed to Boston from Wichita. As the sun began to shine, it illuminated the cloud layer from below and reminded me of a lava field. Sometimes, a guy is just blessed to have such a great view from his office window.

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Ben Siepser

Into the fog: a kid’s view of IFR flying

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“Maybe we should wait until tomorrow to leave,” my mom inquired as she looked at the weather forecast on her phone. I noted that her voice was very nervous sounding.” No, it will be fine once we get to a high altitude,” my dad said reassuringly. The engine sputtered and then roared, then we started to roll onto the taxiway. I could feel the tension inside the cabin; everyone seemed a bit uneasy.

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John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
Cessna 210 in flight

Why I love it, why I hate it: Cessna 210

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Every airplane model has a personality; some even have a stereotype. So when a friend recently asked what I thought of the Cessna 210 Centurion, I hesitated. I felt qualified to offer an opinion since I flew one for about five years in the early 2000s, but I also felt obligated to go beyond cliches. I have very fond memories of the 210, but it is a love it/hate it type of airplane – its strengths are unique, and its weaknesses are maddening.

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Richard L. Collins

What I learned from Richard Collins

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One year ago, aviation lost a legend. Richard Collins left behind such a huge volume of writing over his 60+ year career that pilots will find rich rewards from re-reading his work. In general, the lessons he reminds me of seem to center around four main ideas: building margins, managing weather, respecting technology, and flying for transportation.

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I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
Fuel truck

I almost ran the tanks dry

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It was four-plus decades ago, on my solo cross-country as a student pilot flying from Salem to John Day and back, that I almost ran the tanks dry. So in the spirit of learning from others’ mistakes, I offer this true-life-student-pilot experience.

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Snowy field

Whiteout in a Cub

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My plane had no instruments for flying in the clouds, and no radio for communication. Visual Flight Rules were the only option, and that didn’t look too promising. The time of go or no-go was approaching rapidly. The low ceiling would not be a problem if it held. Young and foolish? Yes, but the decision was made.

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Windsock

I can’t believe I did that… and that… and that

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I was distracted by early arrival of a passenger while adding a quart of oil, and closed the cowl without replacing the oil filler cap. That meant that a short while later, at 5000 ft on a thank-God CAVU day, I saw a trickle of oil on the cowl, and the oil pressure needle at the bottom of the green and headed down.

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Flying Technique

Tips and tricks for safer flying
John Wise CFI

Lessons from a later bloomer CFI – and why you should be one too

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A CFI friend who worked with me on this rating told me that I would probably ruin the lives of my students for the first 100 hours that I instructed. It was true, but hopefully not that bad. As of this writing, I have over 700 instructing hours in most every single-engine trainer out there, and I have evolved in my thinking about this whole business of training homo sapiens to safely take to the skies.

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Static cone 737

What is that dragging behind the Boeing 737 MAX in TV news video?

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I’m sure you’ve seen video of a Boeing 737 lifting off as yet another news reader drones on about the MCAS troubles in the MAX version of the world’s most popular airliner. If you watched closely, you have seen what looks like a wire or tube with a cone on the end trailing from the top of the rudder.What the heck is that thing, and why is the 737 dragging it through the air?

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Weather Geek

Understanding Mother Nature
Radar map

The two rules of weather flying

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It’s when you start to plan longer trips, over several hours or several days, that you develop a deeper understanding of how to navigate the atmosphere. And for me there are two principles that guide my thinking on these journeys: the weather will always change; and, it’s always scarier on the computer screen!

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500mb chart

How dynamics and thermodynamics create weather

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As a pilot, you know that the atmosphere is constantly evolving. The changes in precipitation, cloud types, and hazards you see all link back to changes in temperature, pressure, and forces. Understanding weather means understanding the two main meteorological processes behind weather changes: dynamics and thermodynamics.

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How to use a Skew-T Log-P diagram

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Whether you’re a high or low altitude pilot, you can see how the temperature and amount of moisture in the air changes as you rise and descend through the atmosphere. How can we better understand these vertical changes to improve weather safety and awareness? Let’s get acquainted with a meteorological diagram called a Skew-T Log-P.

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Young Pilots

Stories from the next generation
Ben Siepser

Into the fog: a kid’s view of IFR flying

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“Maybe we should wait until tomorrow to leave,” my mom inquired as she looked at the weather forecast on her phone. I noted that her voice was very nervous sounding.” No, it will be fine once we get to a high altitude,” my dad said reassuringly. The engine sputtered and then roared, then we started to roll onto the taxiway. I could feel the tension inside the cabin; everyone seemed a bit uneasy.

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Grandpa's logbook

Chasing my shadow

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It may have been falling apart – the cardboard and paper ripping at the seams and the ink slowly fading from its pages – but within it dwelled the memories and accomplishments of a young man striving to become a pilot. All of this I failed to realize as my grandpa’s logbook passed from his outstretched hands to mine just a few months before his death. Looking back, I wish I had explored the stories hidden within.

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Lakes by Grove

Medical crisis on a solo cross-country

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I had just taken off from Aurora, Missouri (2H2) heading toward Grove, Oklahoma (KGMJ), flying at an altitude of 4,500 feet. I was a student pilot, and this was my first solo cross-country experience. Everything seemed to be a pretty standard day; the weather was nice. The one big mistake I made I had no way of knowing or preparing for, but it happened all the same.

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Friday Photo

Incredible views from the cockpit

Friday Photo: early morning lava

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On this particular early morning trip I was a passenger on a Lear 45 business flight when I witnessed the most amazing sunrise. We were somewhere over Illinois, headed to Boston from Wichita. As the sun began to shine, it illuminated the cloud layer from below and reminded me of a lava field. Sometimes, a guy is just blessed to have such a great view from his office window.

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Friday Photo: turns around Padres Butte

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Lake Powell offers some of the most incredible views of anywhere in the southwestern United States, and Richard Garnett capture one such view in this Friday Photo. He was on a training flight with Jeniffer Kiraly in a Piper Archer when he snapped this photo of Padres Butte rising up out of the water.

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