Friday Photo: the Rio Grande

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The route south from Albuquerque, New Mexico, follows the Rio Grande as it winds from Colorado towards the US-Mexico border. Jason Harrison got a great picture of big river, a patch of green in the desert, as he cruised along in his Cessna 182. If nothing else, it’s a great way to check your navigation skills.

A long cross country and a lesson learned

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About an hour into the trip I received an alert from the multifunction display that the cylinder temperatures in my left engine were into the red zone. Checking the engine monitor, I saw that my fourth cylinder was indeed well above the red line. Oh boy! I immediately pulled the throttles, enriched the mixtures and opened the left cowl flap.

The little airplane that could… and still does!

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Many airports here in the Midwest have almost all of their aircraft locked securely inside, with the possible exception of a small ramp space for the less fortunate. As pilots whoosh past this area in their BMWs and Range Rovers, they may be vaguely aware of the diminutive and familiar shape of the Rodney Dangerfield of airplanes: the Cessna 150.

Go or No Go: VFR ahead of the front

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Traveling by VFR airplane means staying flexible, especially in the winter months. That’s why you’re at the airport today: with a huge line of rain headed for the southeastern United States, you’ve cut short your visit to Savannah, Georgia, to see if you can get home to Tallahassee, Florida. Is there a safe way to make this flight?

The promise of proficiency

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Proficiency is a story of safety through constant practice, of acquiring experiences and then putting these experiences to hatch their possibilities. These experiences however must be taught to the “habit monster” within us to have the element of precision baked into them. All other non-precise experiences are side shows.

Friday Photo: airplanes, large and small

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An airplane is an airplane: lift, thrust, weight, and drag apply to all of them. But as Ross Clarke shows in this Friday Photo, there is a tremendous variety of machines. Here, his 1300 lb. Jabiru is parked next to a retired Qantas 747, maximum weight of over 800,000 lbs. Which one would you have more fun flying?

A day in the traffic pattern brings unexpected joy

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When I walked into the office, I brought my study guides, notes, and lesson plans fully ready to call it a day and start discussing aircraft systems and emergency procedures. To my surprise, my instructor looked at me and said, “Let’s do some traffic pattern work here at PTK; we need to get you in the air.”

There’s room for improvement at GA airports

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I don’t like to pen anything negative, but I believe that there is room for improvement in the way that our General Aviation community conducts business. Let me start with the “simple” process of getting avgas. The larger airports have the hard-to-read, difficult-to-use credit card machines installed.

When to disengage the autopilot

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A real hardware/software failure of an autopilot could lead to a dangerous situation, but so can pilot mismanagement of a fully functioning autopilot. The results are essentially the same in either situation—the pilot in command is not fully in control of the airplane.

Friday Photo: chasing the shadow

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Even after 10,000 hours, Claudia Garces loves the thrill of landing. Of course, when your airport is 4,950 ft above sea level, in the middle of a city surrounded by mountains, it is a little more interesting. “Every landing is an exercise of concentration and precision, and that’s exactly what makes it special.”

A ride to remember

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I’ve been wanting to write about my ride in the Collings Foundation B-24 for some time now. Sadly, due to the events that occurred on October 2, 2019, with the loss of the B-17 “Nine-O-Nine” and seven fatalities, I have decided now is the time to write about my life-changing ride.

Nodding off at 10 feet above the waves

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We usually climbed up to 400 or 500 feet and followed the Parkway toward home but I had a different plan. I was so damn tired I crossed the beach at Wildwood and dropped down to ten feet. The sun was low off my left. With the doors and windows open, a cool breeze and the near water would keep me awake.

Does flying into big fly-ins make us better pilots?

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Flying into Oshkosh can be a nerve-wracking experience. I would not recommend doing it alone due to the large amount of air traffic and the need for lots of eyes. During your arrival to Oshkosh, one of the VFR initial approach fixes is Fisk. At Fisk you may arrive as we did, to find a long line of planes just to your right already aligned before the starting point.

Friday Photo: Moscow under a HUD

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Richard Pittet was in the middle of a 17-hour flight to India when he took this utterly unique photo. It shows a very high tech heads-up display in the right seat of the Boeing 787 he was flying, with the glowing lights of Moscow below. Not a bad view from 38,000 feet and Mach .85, in our opinion.

Drones: a clear and present danger?

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I recently had an encounter that highlights some of my concerns regarding the exponential proliferation of civilian UAS. It has nothing to do with the operator’s “flying skills;” it’s the potentially dangerous attitude(s) and culture that are growing along with the number of machines.

Low on fuel: how I almost become that guy (or gal)!

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The one accident that I smugly assumed could never happen to me was fuel exhaustion—after all, is there any pilot error that is more avoidable? I always plan in excess of FAA minimums. So how did I find myself surrounded by widespread IFR conditions as night was falling in the White Mountains, watching my fuel gauge fall below an hour when I was still 15 minutes from the nearest airport?

Canceling IFR for the last time

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I knew that trading in my IFR K35 Bonanza on a VFR-only Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) meant that my 38 years of flying IFR were probably over. No need to recite here the reasons for the move (if you’re wondering, no medical issues or bad IFR experiences), but the decision was not hastily made and there were no regrets. I always enjoyed IFR flying, though, and my last IFR trip was one of the very best and most meaningful of all.

Hot cat pilot

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My self-image was a fearless street kid. As a Naval Aviator I had found the perfect stage on which to play that role. On the Roosevelt, I volunteered to be the “hot cat” pilot. The hot cat pilot was entrusted to protect the carrier and all the ships in the task force.