Turn on short final

Reducing loss of control accidents in five minutes

Let’s cut right to the chase: there is a strong case to be made that many base-to-final accidents may have as a significant factor the pilot’s fear of a runway overshoot, fearing that any runway overshoot can only be disastrous. However, if pilots have flown even one deliberate runway overshoot and seen that the real issue is instead fear of the unknown, then just one five minute traffic pattern with a deliberate runway overshoot has the potential to significantly reduce loss of control accidents.

Friday Photo: rise and shine

When the weather is nice, and it's before the time change, I take advantage of the nice weather. Here is a picture inviting everyone to aviation, a new morning, new opportunity to learn and experience aviation.
Ramp at SPA

An intro flight takes an unexpected turn

There I was, bouncing around in the backseat of a Cessna 172 as my friend tried to stabilize the aircraft while our pilot was simultaneously shutting the door. Yet no amount of slamming seemed to lock the door in place. It would merely rebel by jerking open yet again. We were in quite the dilemma at several hundred feet. This experience was certainly not what I would have excepted from an introductory flight!
Bald spot

Who’s landing this airplane?

Collecting my things, I heard an alarmed expletive from the front of the plane. I looked out to see a combination of fear and disgust in Roger’s eyes and my heart sank. I quickly hopped out, walked around front and immediately saw the issue. The right main had a huge bald spot, void of any rubber, that was at least two layers into the threads.
Indian Harvard

Fire, fire, fire

I had qualified as a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force in 1966, completed the flight instructor’s course a few months earlier, and just upgraded to QFI Cat B a few days ago. In other words, I could do no wrong. I was indestructible! I was carrying out an A&E check on a Harvard IV-D which had undergone a routine servicing. I was flying solo and the plan was to do the engine and trim checks followed by a stall and spin.

Easier than they say: flying a Cub from Idaho to Baja Mexico

Recently a friend and I had cause to celebrate a newly earned PPL, so in the midst of winter, we left snow-covered Idaho for a 4000-mile trip to the tip of Baja and back. A Super Cub is not the ideal plane for this mission. With only 46 gallons of usable fuel and 31-inch backcountry tires, our speed was limited to 100 miles per hour. This journey was going to be on Mexican time: low, slow and off the beaten path.

Friday Photo: a sunlit thunderstorm

It was May and a line of late afternoon thunderstorms was building. I requested a deviation to the left to avoid what looked like a line of clouds and through the co-pilot window caught this developing thunderhead through an opening in the clouds.
Zahn's

The startle response

The crosswind, downwind, and base legs were uneventful. Then, while turning from base to final for Runway 11, a flock of redwing blackbirds suddenly appeared out of nowhere. A heartbeat later, the Cub’s windscreen was shrouded by a dark cloud of feathers and more. This was my first encounter with the startle response.

Hand flying across Canada

2020 was an epic flying year for my son Daniel, his friend Theo, and me as we had the opportunity to fly our new plane across the country, to its new home in Nova Scotia from its previous home in Kamloops, British Columbia.
G1000 NXi

The magenta line children and buttonology

The aircraft that I fly is tricked out with a high-tech minimalism of the G1000 NXi. And lo and behold, the other day it decided to bite my hand. The very hand that paid for it, no less! On a very short trip of about 70nm to Caldwell, NJ (CDW), my human frailty showed its colors.
Kid in Cessna

The long way back to the cockpit

I had missed it. I missed flying deeply, badly, in my bones. Hearing the radio chatter, the way pilots talk to each other and with controllers, being immersed again in a world now decades in my past, I was suddenly and keenly aware of how I had loved flying; how it was still such a part of me; how I still loved it and how I always will.

Friday Photo: Texas smoke

Dale Davis uses his Cessna 206 to commute to business meetings from his home near San Antonio, which means he often sees sights like this: a large brush fire burning in the middle of the King Ranch. It's a reminder that visibility can be reduced by factors other than clouds and fog.
Auster

Aerobatics in a 1946 Auster—and a lesson learned

Let me tell you what makes this plane so incredibly fun to fly: it is a 900 kg, four seater cabin with a big prop fed by a 130 hp Gipsy Major (of the sort seen on Tiger Moths), its huge flaps when lowered to 40 degrees let you bring the speed down safely to 30 mph (28mph stall) to take off or land—shortly indeed in less than 100 metres. These are numbers that a microlight would struggle to achieve, should they be able to carry four adults.
172

An unexpected cross country challenge

Finally clear of the Detroit area, I tried to settle into the routine of following roads and railroads back to Indiana and things were going pretty well. Then, sometime after passing Toledo, I started to feel a little queasy. It was a typical spring day with the usual level of convective bumps along the route so initially I figured I might be feeling the effect of those and gave it no serious thought—for a while. Maybe 15 minutes or so later, my stomach really started to revolt.

Go or No Go: summertime in Florida

Summer in Florida means thunderstorms, but often the cells are widely scattered and easy to avoid. Will that be the case today? The mission is to fly your Cessna 172 from Orlando Sanford Airport (SFB) up the east coast of Florida, landing at Saint Simons Island (SSI). It should take about 1:15, and while you'll be able to monitor the weather with your iPad and ADS-B receiver, the flight will be VFR since you are not instrument rated.
Challenger

There was no checklist for this one…

I have been extremely fortunate throughout my aviation career to have had the opportunity to perform acceptance flights and deliver multiple types of aircraft. As expected, acceptance flights had the most major and minor mechanical issues. Once the airplanes were delivered, the airplanes were for the most part mechanically clean and reliable. Except for one.

Friday Photo: feet wet

There's a moment when you transition from flying over land to flying over water ("feet wet") when your whole view changes. That's the view Agustin Rubiños captures in this Friday Photo, as his Cessna 172 cruised over the beaches in Claromeco, Argentina.
Indo-Pakistani war

Flying helicopters in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

We had enough fuel to do three trips each, but by the time I was going for my third trip it was already dark. In addition, the Pakistani army had seen the helicopters and started surrounding the field we were landing in. They were firing at us as we came in to land. On my third flight I could see hundreds of tracer bullets coming towards us from all directions.
Sustainable fuel

Sustainable aviation and the trouble with high performance airplanes

For many environmental activists, politicians, and even public company CEOs, the goal is not to limit the damage but to achieve net zero emissions. This campaign is starting to achieve real results: the European Union is expected to ban internal combustion engines in new cars by 2035. So whether you think climate change is an existential threat or a hoax doesn’t really matter—it is a serious issue for the aviation industry, at least from a public relations standpoint.
CFI

Coming Full Circle—Finding Your True Calling

I became obsessed with the notion of doing something useful with aviation. I got involved with Angel Flight and the Young Eagles program but something still was missing. It occurred to me that becoming a CFI might very well fit that bill. After procrastinating for several years, I finally got it done in July of 2009. By then I had nearly 1200 hours or so in my logbook and I really thought quite highly of myself.