Friday Photo: a French chateau from the air

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The historic Chateau de Chantilly is just 30 miles north of Paris, but looks like a time capsule from the 19th century. Philippe Platek was flying over it on a beautiful day when he took this photo from his Tecnam P-2008JC. It shows the Grand Chateau and the stunning formal gardens. The perfect flight for a general aviation airplane.

When a practice emergency becomes the real thing

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Everything looked perfect – too perfect as it turned out. I kept expecting Bob to advance the throttle (or tell me to) so we could fly out of there, but instead we kept getting lower, flying a final approach to the off-airport landing spot. I couldn’t quite believe it when Bob, instead of applying power and initiating the go-around, started a landing flare!

The two rules of weather flying

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It’s when you start to plan longer trips, over several hours or several days, that you develop a deeper understanding of how to navigate the atmosphere. And for me there are two principles that guide my thinking on these journeys: the weather will always change; and, it’s always scarier on the computer screen!

Friday Photo: the Swiss Alps

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The weak sun of October had not completely removed the fog in the south of the Black Forest and over Switzerland. The Alps were sticking out of the cloud layer in the South. The air was smooth at FL090. I was crossing the arrival sectors of Zurich and the controllers had given me the most direct route that I could dream of.

We flew a Mooney to Cuba for the weekend!

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It was a cold February day when I decided that we would fly our 1994 Mooney M20R to Havana, Cuba. Restrictions for U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba had recently been lifted. The island was only 90 miles from Key West. We had flown our Mooney to the Out Islands of the Bahamas in the past. The only problem was that my wife did not want to go.

A Christmas book list for pilots: 18 top picks

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As social media and cable TV deteriorate into ill-informed shouting matches, I find myself reading more and more books. And as a book lover, Christmas means making my list and distributing it to family and friends. So in the spirit of the holidays I’ll offer my list of great aviation books.

Stuck on a riverbed in a Champ

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As I flew alone over the river near Fillmore, California, I noticed a really big area of sand that had been scoured flat and level by that high water. It was white, obvious and very clean looking, and the water was long gone. This is when it occurred to me that a guy might just be able to land on it in a Champ with big tires.

Friday Photo: rainbow off the left wing

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The old saying reminds us that behind every cloud there’s a silver lining. Most pilots know that behind every line of summer showers, there’s a rainbow. Ed Loxterkamp was in the perfect position to capture this beautiful sight when he was flying home from EAA AirVenture in his Piper Arrow.

The tricky triangle – my ill-fated solo cross country

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“If you don’t like the weather in the Midwest, wait 30 minutes,” they say. I guess there is some truth in that, a truth that I now consider to be a substantial part of my flight preparations. In early summer 2017, I was still a student pilot, preparing for the 150 NM cross country flight, which was one of the last things I had to cross off my list for meeting the requirements for taking the private pilot checkride.

A brief history of single-engine solo circumnavigation flights

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Earth Rounders currently document 231 single-engine circumnavigations by more than one pilot and 124 solo circumnavigations. The range of single-engine airplanes that have made circumnavigations is amazing: Long EZs, RVs, a Stearman, a Searey. Unbelievable! Of course Mooneys, Bonanzas, Pipers, several Cessna 182s and all kinds of homebuilts have made the trip.

Dreaming of jets while flying a DC-3

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It was clear, it was fresh with only a faint odor of exhaust from the nearby Braniff jet’s APU to remind us there were easier ways to fly for a living. Over there was hot coffee, hostesses, snacks from the galley. Over here, we could see our breath in the cabin. When will I be warm while flying airplanes? Not soon, I knew.

Friday Photo: Music City at sunset

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Getting the perfect nighttime photo is part skill and part timing. Glenn Ford had both for this fantastic shot of Nashville, Tennessee. The high wing of his Cessna 172 left a sprawling view of the lights that make “Music City USA” so vibrant.

My first in-flight emergency

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When it came time to leave, I fueled up the airplane and headed for home. The runup went smoothly and within a few minutes I was accelerating down the runway. Only I wasn’t. The mighty 150 usually didn’t have an impressive acceleration on takeoff but it felt especially sluggish today. I remember thinking, “This is weird,” and that thought turned to, “I’m not sure I’m going to make it off the runway” so I aborted the takeoff.

From the archives: Bob Buck on radar

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While datalink weather is all the rage these days, some 60 years ago, Captain Robert N. Buck thought another hot weather technology, onboard radar, was ready to change the world. This article originally appeared in the November, 1956 edition of Air Facts, and it’s still a fascinating look at how pilots interact with new technology.