Skydivers in air

Never a dull moment as a skydive pilot

We lined up, got clearance to go and I opened the tap on the 182. She accelerated a bit slower than normal but we managed to get off the deck OK, when suddenly at approximately 200 ft. the jump master lurched towards the back of the aircraft. Unfortunately for me, his parachute had somehow snared my propeller control and put the 182 into full coarse pitch.
Super Cub

A simple oversight almost ruins a bucket list trip

From Andover I flew the first leg to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, the Cub’s birthplace. We topped off and I climbed up to check the tanks, which was probably my first mistake. Lyle took the front seat and I squeezed all 6‘ 1” of me into the back. Lyle cranked the starter and we heard a bang like something hitting the plane. We ignored it. Second mistake.
Cirrus over mountains

Friday Photo: Appalachian Spring

The ballet Appalachian Spring was written by Aaron Copland in 1944. Created as the war in Europe was drawing to an end, the titular orchestral suite captured the imagination of Americans who were beginning to believe in a more prosperous future, a future in which men and women would be united again. A powerful song and an equally powerful vision. This photograph, taken on an Angel Flight, visually captures the hope offered every spring.
Flight engineer

The not-so-glamourous life of a flight engineer

Not too long after she left the cockpit, there was a ding on the interphone. It was the A-stew and she had a request. Usually the request was to turn up or turn down the cabin temperature, but in this case she was asking me to come to the cabin and bring one of “my” coat hangers.
Convair in flight

Memories of flying the Convair 880

About everyone who flew the 880 fell in love with it because it was such a dream to hand fly. It did have a good autopilot and dual flight directors, and I think it was our first aircraft to receive approval for CAT II approaches. In my opinion it was the prettiest of the four engine jets.
B-17 crew in front of airplane

Flying a B-17 over Germany, April 1944

During World War II I flew B-17 bombers out of England, performing 30 missions bombing Germany. The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was a very good four-engine plane and 12,000 of them were built. I was in the 547th squadron of the 384th Bomb Group…
Panel with devices

When does technology become a dangerous distraction?

I was surprised when I posted this picture of my Cessna 182S panel and about 100 pilots vehemently criticized my panel as amounting to an “unsafe distraction.” On the other hand, another 100 or so vigorously defended my panel as safe. So is there a point where random backup technology becomes unsafe?
Airplane off runway

What does “loss of control” mean? Probably not what you think

Before solving a problem, it helps to be clear about definitions. What does loss of control actually mean? The FAA says it’s “an unintended departure of an aircraft from controlled flight.” That definition is so broad as to be useless, like saying the leading cause of car crashes is “unintended rapid deceleration.” Unfortunately, if we’re trying to dramatically reduce fatal accidents, solving loss of control isn’t nearly enough.
Sunset DTW

Friday Photo: Detroit sunset

This was our second father/son trip to Oshkosh in our jointly-owned 210 but our first one while flying at sunset, which made for a very memorable view of DTW, downtown Detroit, and the various airports in the area where Dad learned how to fly many years ago.
Bell 206

Good old boys and helicopters

Northeast Georgia is beautiful country, a vast forest dotted with small farms and country roads. Truly this was God’s country, and several of John Denver songs came to mind, but trying to locate the landing zone was proving difficult. Our LZ was a motel, with a pool, on a county road on a crossroad with a vacant lot on the east side of it. Go stick that in your GPS.
Takeoff from runway

Are “impossible turns” worth all the attention?

A major purpose of gathering accident statistics is to assess where safety resources should be allocated. In other words, are pilots being trained on the right things? Are safety messages targeting the right things? Are researchers’ efforts addressing problems with the most likely payback? And, as the title states, are “impossible turns” worth the effort that is being expended upon their study?
Wiegman and son in airplane

A mother overcomes her rusty pilot fears to share the joy of flying

I loved my time in the air. But after having my son, I found I feared flying. I was afraid to leave him without a mother. I would think about flying once in a while as I focused on working and raising him. I was busy, for sure, but I was also afraid. I accepted that bad things might happen when I flew before he was born. In the years after he was born, though, things changed.
Casey with father

Passing the torch from father to son

Leaving Naples behind us, we flew over the dark expanse of the Everglades, with just a thin sliver of light, I-75, below us. As we reached the halfway point, right before switching over from Fort Myers to Miami Approach, the radio chatter had slowed down and for a moment, time just seemed to stand still. It was like it was just the two of us, the airplane, and nothing else. I had flashbacks to all those flights we had made when I was younger.
John Bone with medic packs

Flying for Ukraine Air Rescue—small planes, big mission

Ukraine Air Rescue came to life in just a few days. Within six months, UAR had grown to 313 volunteer pilots worldwide. The pilots range from retired or current airline and military pilots, flight instructors, professional pilots, an EASA safety inspector, and many VFR private pilots. The mix of participating airplanes ranges from the French-built Robin to Pilatus PC-12s and just about everything in between.

Friday Photo: landing on the centerline

No matter what the rest of the flight looked like, a great landing means touching down right on centerline. David Smith shows that perspective in this Friday Photo. He was landing a Cessna 172 at Harford County Airport in Maryland when he adjusted his airspeed, managed his descent rate, worked the rudder, and kept it right in the middle. No easy task with the wind blowing (note the windsock).
Closed runway

The hex of the X

I was soon downwind with a Cheshire cat grin on my face my only thought being what a great pilot I was to become. After a greased landing “Mr. Pro Pilot” taxied up to the FBO. Strangely, no one was there to greet me? It was mid-morning but all the doors were locked. Now what do I do?
Preflight planning

Long range learning: what do we bring from the flight school?

In my time as a student pilot, much slower and lower than I usually fly nowadays, I always wondered how much of that knowledge I was being trained and evaluated on would be applicable to the rest of my career. It turns out that, at least when it comes to the operational part of it, we can directly relate many of the student pilot concepts to the airline environment: a good surprise, for sure.

From the archives: The Airphibian

This article first appeared in the January 1947 edition of Air Facts. As amazing as it might seem today, Leighton Collins believed back then that flying cars had arrived. He wrote in the headline to this article, "Put it down for keeps that a successful car-airplane is now an accomplished fact." Seventy five years later, flying cars are still in the headlines but not in any garages or hangars. Still, the description of the Airphibian offers a fascinating look at the post-war general aviation boom.
TWA 707

Around the world in the “seven oh seven”

One of the first large, long range, intercontinental jet airliners to come on the scene in the late 1950s and early 60s was the Boeing 707. For TWA’s most senior pilots, moving from pistons to jets was the biggest transition since the change from visual to instrument flying in the 1930s. Several of our older captains opted to bypass the jets and finish their careers flying the Connie. The younger fellows, on the other hand, could hardly wait to jump into a jet!

Is Top Gun: Maverick based on the Bob Hoover story?

Like many of us, the summer of 2022 was spent seeing Top Gun: Maverick. The movie has become immensely popular both inside and outside of aviation circles. The reviews have been glowing, but one critique I have seen is that the ending was a little too cheesy, unbelievable, or “Hollywood.” But what if the most unbelievable part of the movie was actually based on a true story?