Turbulence education

A few years ago however, fate and family moved me to the hills of East Tennessee. The place is beautiful, but I’m still having to get used to having hills in my windshield when I take off, a hill blocking a view of the runway when I land, and not being able to see where I’m going from 50 miles away. But the most surprising aspect of it has been something I never expected, and that I had initially actually looked forward to.
Flap lever

Insidious failures: don’t trust, verify

As we lifted off during the touch-and-go, the aircraft swerved oddly. There wasn’t much crosswind. Mike was flying and commented, “maybe the tire blew.” He’s cool as a cucumber. During the run-up an hour earlier, another pilot in the run-up area announced that our nose wheel looked low. I hopped out and it looked OK to me, but I did not have a pressure gauge (mistake #1).

A father and son non-Oshkosh adventure

I’ve told my son many stories about Oshkosh and he was now old enough to experience it firsthand with me. So it was decided that the next flying trip with me would be to Oshkosh. Unfortunately, Covid-19 hit and the virus had other plans. But then we said, “Just because AirVenture has been canceled, doesn’t mean our father-and-son flying adventure has to be canceled also."

Friday Photo: Sunset over Syracuse

This was taken by my CFII as I was flying. The lake in the picture is Onondaga Lake in Liverpool, NY. We took off from Syracuse Hancock International Airport to log some night flying hours. I love flying over Syracuse during the night because it has spectacular city lights.
T-38 in flight

A rushed preflight leads to a terrifying discovery

I directed my student to strap in, told him that we needed to hurry, and I did a very quick walk around once we were refueled. My student taxied onto the runway, held the brakes, and ran up the engines to military power (without burner). The right engine generator failed, crossover relay failed, and the master caution light illuminated. We were whipped.
Home simulator

Simulators: focus on saving time, not logging time

In the context of flight training, the discussion around simulator time that can be logged versus not logged is an important one. There is a general argument that if the FARs do not allow the time to be logged, then why spend more time in a simulator? Let's examine why that reasoning is flawed.

The problem with emergencies is they are difficult to schedule

Raphael and I departed Long Beach Airport (LGB) in a rented Grumman Traveler after requesting a tower in route to Catalina Airport (AVX). A quick climb to 4000 ft put us "feet wet" as we crossed over the shoreline. The crossing would keep us…

Runways anchor our life—an airline pilot reflects

If you fly long enough, you find yourself aging with runways; they become like an old, comfortable shoe, worn and a bit cracked but always just where you left them, easy to slip on and off. And they remember with you.
Trevor Jacob jump

YouTube, Top Gun, and aviation culture

Is YouTube good or bad for general aviation? That seems to be a popular hangar flying debate these days, especially since a number of high profile pilots have found themselves in hot water with the FAA over the last month. The answer may be more important for the future of GA than you think.
Sun under wing

Friday Photo: fire and ice

Tom Dorl was on a training flight in a Cessna 172 over the York River in Virginia when he spotted this beautiful scene. As he reminds us, "Sometimes you gotta look outside and appreciate the beauty of flight and the freedom it provides."

Time management, buffaloes, and airplanes

We all seem to have challenges in managing all we want or need to get done in life, and as pilots we have many things to manage in order to be safe and have a good flight. Time management guru Peter Drucker said there are three rules for effective time management. They work well for pilots. These are also concepts I teach to my high school aviation students.
Flight simulator

Building a frugal flight simulator

Covid shut down Young Eagles and $100 hamburgers, and my flying skills were going to pot. "Use it or lose it" is true where adherence to procedures and reactions to emergencies are concerned. Would a flight simulator help? What would one cost?

Smile: you’re on (aviation) candid camera

After intercepting the bomber, Charlie tucked in close to the observation bubble on the fuselage of the bomber through which the Russian crews were known to take their pictures. As the Russian cameraman readied his equipment, Charlie turned his head away momentarily to raise his helmet visor and unhook his oxygen mask. When he turned back, he could see the shutter flicking open and closed as the Russian operator took numerous pictures.

Podcast: aviation safety and airmanship

Recent episodes of the Pilot's Discretion podcast from Sporty's cover some important topics in aviation. Richard McSpadden, the Executive Director of AOPA's Air Safety Institute, shares his perspective on the GA safety record, including VFR-into-IMC accidents, the role autopilots can play, and why good pilots make bad decisions. In episode 23, flight instructor and airshow performer Spencer Suderman explains what airmanship means to him and offers some suggestions for improving your stick and rudder skills.
Flight bag loaded

Requiem for a flight bag

I recently moved, again, and with so many moves under our belts as a career military family, many things remain remembered but unseen in boxes for years. I imagine myself an archaeologist of a kind when I make these discoveries while digging through a dusty box, and some of those finds conjure emotions and memories that are quite powerful.
Route map

Old and bold—not

Everybody liked George. Everybody that flew with George respected his abilities and performance. He was funny, he was serious, he was an old warrior, having flown bomber missions in the Mediterranean theater during WWII. He was the “old man,” our “graybeard” pilot, even though he had no beard, his hair was gray among a crowd of dark haired youths. And here he was still flying with a bunch of 20-somethings, dropping tidbits of knowledge.

Friday Photo: Bahama blue

The islands of the Bahamas never cease to amaze. The combination of white sandy beaches and beautiful blue water makes for the perfect flying destination and a great view. Paul Harding captures this color palette with a shot of the Schooner Cays, as seen under the wing of his Cessna 172.
767 sim

A pilot fresh from the sim gets a real world test

Heaven knows how many passengers would run off the airplane if they knew that their pilot today had never flown the actual airplane they were on. You might be flying with a crew member who either had a thousand landings in the airplane or NONE, ZERO, ZILCH! You have no way of knowing. But fear not, the FAA and the airlines require that the new pilot be accompanied by a designated Line Check pilot, an experienced “old head,” for their early flights on the line.
Cape Breton view

How does an engine “know” when to scare a pilot?

I was doing my routine engine checks (EGT, oil pressure, oil temperature, RPM, manifold pressure), as we made that transition. I was also explaining to Linda about the weird phenomenon of "auto-rough," commenting on what a strange psychological thing it was. Sure enough, just as we crossed the shoreline at 10,000 ft., I felt 30H shudder ever so slightly. It had to be my imagination.
Pilot by airplane

My not quite rusty return to flight

I’m not a student pilot, and technically this wasn’t a lesson. However, flying as pilot in command for the first time in well over a year, it sure felt like it. It was never my intention to let that much time lapse between flights. But thanks to the Covid-19 induced quarantine, paired with the financial burden of my recent move halfway across the country, it was my reality.