Friday Photo: something looks wrong

We were flying home to Springfield, MO, from Flying Cloud in Minneapolis. I was bringing my son (an airline pilot) and his family home for Thanksgiving on a bitterly cold Thanksgiving Day. Our Cessna 414 brought us home without incident, but it was a costly trip (the turbocharger went to lunch without us, and my son couldn't resist a snapshot).

DC-3 vs. blizzard—and that’s just the beginning

Early February 1981. The basketball coach had called expressing concern about our Saturday morning departure from Carbondale, Illinois, to Kirksville, Missouri, for a Saturday night men’s basketball game. He had heard that they were expecting a blizzard Saturday morning in northern Missouri. He wasn’t entirely wrong.

Across the Canadian Arctic – Dawson to Churchill

For this three-day trip, I proposed to start in Dawson, Yukon Territory, fly up to the Arctic Ocean, stopping in Inuvik, Northwest Territory, then southeast past the Great Bear Lake to Yellowknife. From there, I would fly across the Canadian Shield to Churchill, Manitoba located on the shore of Hudson Bay, and home to far more polar bears and belugas than people.
AF cover, 8-70

Wolfgang Langewiesche on pilot proficiency

We're diving into the Air Facts archives for another thought-provoking article from legendary pilot and author Wolfgang Langewiesche. In "A Ladder to Climb," which first appeared in the August 1970 edition of Air Facts, he argues that pilots need to step up their game and offers a suggestion for how they might do that—with a nod to the world of gliders. Might this be easier with modern technology?
DC-6 Pan Am

Into the muck

Flying in Berlin in the early days was an exercise in weather management that never seemed to come out exactly right, particularly when the summer days flowed into the crispness of autumn and then the dank grey of early winter. Fog, low ceilings, and ticklish approaches became the norm during the winter months.

Friday Photo: Bronco at daybreak

While flying with the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron on one summer day, I had the first takeoff from our Forward Operating Location at Ubon Airbase in Thailand. My roommate had taken off a few minutes behind me and we were both headed south. I slowed down and suggested that he speed up to catch me so I could take his picture using my trusty 35mm. In a few minutes, Pat was flying off my left wing.

The joy in flying

When you push the throttle in and initiate that gentle shudder of anticipation, and motion blurs in a receding landscape, there is potential, there is anticipation, there is the raw feel of something magical in that moment. You look at the landscape speed past and then with a gentle tug on the yoke, the moment of pure joy is realized.
Thermometer at 100 degrees

Density altitude: the calculation you cannot ignore

Density altitude. We cannot see, smell, or taste it. However, it is something that must not be ignored. There was an incident in which four people died because they failed to account for density altitude. Three Marine Corps helicopter pilots went up to a high altitude airport to pick up a passenger with their baggage, and, on a hot day, took off and tragically never got out of ground effect. 

Negative transfer: a military pilot learns a hard lesson

The lieutenant that would almost kill us both walked into my office on the second deck of Hangar 23 at Naval Air Station Alameda early on a sunny afternoon, wanting to get checked out in one of the aero club’s Cessnas. “I want to take my family flying,” he said. I looked him over—his gold flight wings, pressed khakis, brown shoes—and thought, “Here is a skilled Naval Aviator.”
Twin Otter

Overweight in a Twin Otter—but how?

I pivoted the airplane at the end of the airstrip and lined up for takeoff. We completed the takeoff checklist, and one last thought went through my mind: hot day, very humid, full load, and a short field! I was going to need a good takeoff run and slow climb-out to clear the seawall. I decided to use 20 degrees of flap to improve the short-field capabilities and shorten the takeoff roll.
Wing view

Friday photo: a freight pilot’s view

You sit in one position in one chair for over three hours. You stare at electro-mechanical needles and dials for those same three+ hours, eyes darting from one to another quickly because you have no autopilot. Occasionally, you turn your head away from your only links to survival, your instruments, and consider with much respect your wings and engines.

My first combat mission in an F-4 Phantom

We both listened carefully to the excited and concerned voices of the Marines and their forward air controllers pinned down on the ground in the city as they tried to talk me to the right building. The target was a small building in the middle of a city of small buildings. We both knew that the target was impossible to identify from the air.

The best regulations

Of all the many fascinating aspects about aviation, a very underrated one is regulation. Yes, you read it right, I have a profound respect for the rules that govern our activity. Of course there is always room for improvement, but the whole shape they have nowadays and how they have been perfected through time, is a testament of how good the concept was in the first place.

A gear problem?

And now, I had them both—a plane and all the ratings that go with it. And, of course 400 hours or so, which made me that "great" pilot. And so it was time to take it all to the test. I took two friends and off we flew to Geneva, Switzerland, a breeze of 1.5 hrs with the DA42. The mission: to attend the yearly car show, of course!

Peer pressure among pilots

I watched a crew wrestle their jet down the runway and taxi into the FBO where I was parked. After the passengers disappeared I asked the captain about the approach. He laughed and said he probably should have diverted. As he walked away I decided I would delay our departure.

Friday Photo: Miami Beach

I just received my private pilot certificate in Michigan in November. I checked out a plane on a much needed break at a Miami airport in December and planned a day trip to Key West for lunch, following the road all the way. Cruise ships were parked at sea but the view and thrill of piloting your own airplane was beautifully amazing!

Three minutes before the fan turns off

This is a story on how, at 10 minutes after midnight and after 5 hours of flight time, in an unfamiliar airplane, over a highway, I gambled my life and an airplane against a very tempted fate and scythe-wielding death and won the whole pot.
Medical X

An FAA medical story with a happy ending

One sunny afternoon in mid-June I grabbed a letter out of my mailbox. The return address sent a shiver down my spine: FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine in Oklahoma City, OK. I had no particular reason for concern, as I had a valid 3rd class medical which had just been renewed the previous September. Also, I have a practical joker friend who might pull off this exact stunt…

Go or no go: how bad is the turbulence?

Over the last 10 years, you've gotten to know your Mooney 201 quite well, using it to travel around the central United States at 160 knots. You're hoping to do that again today, on a flight from your home in Wichita, Kansas (ICT), to Amarillo, Texas (AMA). Read the weather reports below and tell us if it's a go or a no go for you.
Crosswind landing airliner

Landings at the crosswind limit

We’ve all seen this movie before on countless videos of airline pilots attempting to land in extreme crosswinds. More often than not, the amateur videographer captures the jet touching down in a significant crab angle to the runway, tires smoking, and the airplane nose pivoting back toward the runway centerline. How is it possible to land in such extreme conditions?