Oh how I concentrated as the flight progressed, identifying those check points, talking to flight following, receiving timely handoffs from one sector to the next and being the best student pilot I could be. Then at the appropriate time, I dialed in, as instructed by approach control, the correct four digits in the correct sequence, hit ident in the transponder and eventually found myself in the traffic pattern with regional jets!
Flying with kids is always more fun than flying solo, and this photo is a great remind why. As Fernando Gonzales-Fisher says, “My grandson touches the window of a Mooney as if he is trying to touch the clouds. What is going through his young mind? We will never know; he will never remember. A moment I will never forget.”
Have you ever noticed that you become less and less flexible as a flight goes on? Decisions that once would have been easy and stress-free become fraught when you’re close to home. It’s a natural human instinct, but it’s one pilots need to aggressively fight.
The very design of flight director systems concentrates all information into two needles (or V-bar) and in order to get those needles centered over the little square box, it needs intense concentration by the pilot. Normal instrument flight scan technique is degraded or disappears with the pilot sometimes oblivious to the other instruments because of the need to focus exclusively on the FD needles.
I was seriously investigating the pursuit of my lifelong dream of becoming a pilot when I engaged a corporate pilot in conversation about learning to fly. One of the things that he spoke about in becoming a pilot was to consider first purchasing a taildragger aircraft of my own to take my flight lessons in.
It’s one of the best views any pilot can find, and Antonio Rodriguez shares a great picture of it in this Friday Photo: skimming along the top of the clouds at sunset. He was flying a Piper Archer II to Nebraska with family when he snapped this photo, which beautifully shows the soft colors of the sun on the clouds below.
Fifteen hundred feet isn’t much altitude, but it momentarily seemed Olympian as our formation turned onto the downwind leg of our traffic pattern, with the airfield looking like a precisely detailed model on our right. Another banked turn onto base leg, then onto final approach for a low-altitude flyby. We came level at about 30 feet, roaring past the showline – I was momentarily sorry I couldn’t be down there and up here simultaneously!
I was two months into my first pilot job flying skydivers at a small Canadian drop zone in a C182, when my boss approached me with this question. Our company had the opportunity to have a winter contract in Belize running the same operation for the winter months of our off-season, and we were quite excited about the prospect. This would require ferrying our little Cessna all the way down there.
My relationship to aircraft and flying is somewhat of a paradox. On the one hand, I’ve been fascinated by planes, airports and flying since childhood. I’ve been using flight simulators for nearly 25 years, and today I’m even earning part of my money with that. On the other hand, my first real flight happened only ten years ago, and, honestly, it was a bit terrifying back then.
When someone would come to me to learn to fly, the first question I would ask is why they wanted to take to take up flying. You want to guess what response I liked best? Because I always thought I wanted to fly was my hands-down favorite. Folks who came to flying with that thought in mind were always the best (easiest) students.
I became a flight instructor in 1953. I last renewed my CFI in 2016 and will let it lapse today (2/28/2018). There is no log entry for that because there was no flight. I’ll tell you why I let it lapse in a bit. For now, I’ll just say that it has to do with the FAA at its petty and officious best.
On the 80th anniversary of AIR FACTS’ founding, I see two good questions: (1) What have been the major factors in the safety record improvement over the years and in particular the last couple of years? And, (2) Is there any way to reduce the risk even more? It is tempting to give technology a lot of potential credit for improvements but a look back throws a bucket of water on this.