The $20 an hour Cessna 172 experiment

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Although I had a GA background and built time as a CFI, I’ve been flying for the airlines for three decades and have been absent from the GA scene, which I mistakenly assumed had long evolved and would now seem foreign to me. After just a few calls, nothing had seemed to change except that the same 1970 vintage 172s were now renting out at $115-$125 per hour.

From a rusty pilot: it’s not quite like riding a bicycle

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Air Facts Journal has published many stories about rusty pilots returning to the cockpit, some after years of not flying as a pilot in command. I last flew in March of this year. Like many readers, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on my flying. The economy is uncertain, there are few $100 hamburger destinations where you can eat on-site, and airplane rental FBOs have imposed previously unheard-of restrictions.

Friday Photo: the sun sets on a rewarding flight

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Sometimes you’re so busy flying that you forget to take a photo until after you’ve landed. That’s what Tom Kingston shares in this Friday Photo, but what a great way to remember a flight—a beautiful sunset in the western sky serves as a colorful reminder of a great flight in his Cessna 172.

My cold water splash: an airline pilot learns a painful lesson

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My first (and I hope last) aircraft incident in 45 years of piloting took place a few years ago on the first really nice spring day, with clear skies and glistening water beckoning for the first seaplane flight of the season. I was a very new seaplane pilot at the time, though my IACRA paperwork showed 29,000 hours total time when I applied for the rating.

Flying with good and bad pilots—what I’ve learned as a new CFI

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I became a flight instructor late in life (my mid-50s) and it has been fascinating after many years of “left seat” flying to take this next step in my flying career. Shameless plug and article spoiler: If you’ve ever thought about becoming an instructor after years of flying, you’ll be fascinated by what you experience and learn in the process of training toward the CFI and even more once you earn the certificate and begin your CFI flying.

Low Visibility Takeoffs: How Low Is Too Low?

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The big risk that jumps to mind is engine failure during a low visibility takeoff. And that would be a critical situation. But the accident record shows that is an extremely rare event. Given that engine failure itself is uncommon, and that low viz takeoffs are infrequent, the odds of an engine failure during the seconds or couple minutes of a low viz takeoff are very long.

Friday Photo: one last flight

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As partners sharing ownership of a Nanchang CJ-6A and four and a half years and many hours of fun and adventure in the Decathlon, it was our last flight as co-owners. My longtime friend, who took this shot, had lost his medical due to a stroke. 

Some passengers you never forget

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We all have a passenger or two that we simply do not forget. Could be a grandchild’s first flight smile. Perhaps a movie celebrity. A rock and roll group or a comedian. Maybe even a politician. Whether you fly professionally or as a hobby, we all have that one passenger experience that gets talked about over and over for years. Here’s my story.

One medevac mission turns into two

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The medevac mission was to retrieve a wounded GI, but there was no landing zone (LZ) close by, so we would have to extract him by holding the helicopter at a stationary hover about ten feet above the trees, and use an internal rescue hoist and a “Stokes litter” wire basket. The trees were about 75 ft. tall at the scene, and the basket was quickly lowered.

Top of the world landing

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In the winter of 1956-57, RB-47H aircraft supported by KC-97 tankers made Top Secret polar flights out of Thule AB Greenland to inspect Russian defenses. I was copilot on one of these flights. In January 1957 we took off in an RB-47H (tail #281—the same RB-47H that was later shot down by a Russian fighter on July 1, 1960). We departed Thule on an ice-covered runway that provided little, if any, nose wheel steering capability.

One last visit to a dying airport

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This airport had been my heart and soul from my late teens for more than several years. I could hear WNEW dribbling out of the crappy radio on the counter, the Coke machine whining, smell the vague noxiousness of the heat from the propane heater. I could see the men that would never be forgotten to me, the instructors that would guide me and help me to get my licenses. 

An airline pilot gets reacquainted with piston engines—and engine failures

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After learning to fly with the Royal Air Force I hardly touched a light aeroplane, or flew solo, for the next 40 years. Four engines and three or four crew were the norm. So when the CFI of one of the local clubs became too incapacitated to fly, and suggested that I buy his single seat, VW-powered Druine Turbulent Microlight, it was a whole new ball game.

From the archives: Checkout in a Spitfire

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The Supermarine Spitfire is one of the most beautiful airplanes to ever take to the skies, and an effective one too, with a sterling record during the Battle of Britain. In this trip into the Air Facts archives, Nancy Miller takes us inside the famous Spit for a look at what it was like to fly one. She should know—she logged nearly 1,000 hours ferrying airplanes for the RAF.

An island oasis—flying around Puget Sound

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Saturday was clear but going to be hot, with Sunday hotter. CJ needed a break from our isolation and Cousteau and Kepler were at their grandpa Rueckert’s for the weekend. Therefore, a flight to the Langley, Washington airport across some of Puget Sound was on the schedule.

Friday Photo: Resting

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Birds of a feather flock together, and you really notice it when the airplane has such a unique silhouette. Chris Priaulx saw these two airplanes on the ramp at Wendover, Utah (ENV) some years back, parked in their unique, nose-down position.

Hot air ballooning—a new experience

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I was recently given the opportunity to get to go up in a hot air balloon here in Northwest Montana. Comically, the pilot that offered the ride is the only one with a lighter-than-air license within 100 miles. The first two times, the weather didn’t allow a flight. However, the third time was the charm.