airplane engine

Aviation shop rat

After about two years of ownership, and working with Shop A, I had the wild idea of asking them if I could work one day a week in the shop as an unpaid intern. My goal wasn't to become an A&P mechanic, but for the learning experience. To my surprise they said yes!
cessna cardinal

Rubber bands – the reason I quit

My landings were getting worse and worse. Probably depth perception changes, but extremely frustrating. I was mentoring two young people who were vitally interested in flying by letting them fly from the right seat. How embarrassing that I couldn’t score a 9 or 10 on each landing. As we know, landing is a combination of hand/eye coordination and muscle memory. One of those was slipping away.
Cub nose in sand

Quick land to Quicksand

The landing went smoothly. As I taxied the Cub toward where I wanted to park, we hit a patch of quicksand that I hadn’t spotted from the air. Within the blink of an eye, the bushwheels sank, bringing the plane to an abrupt stop and sending its propeller into the sand and tail into the air.

Friday photo: herding checks in southeast Asia

As Forward Air Controllers (FACs), we often supported supply convoys coming up the Mekong River to deliver food, fuel, and ammo to the people/defenders of Phnom Pehn (Papa-Papa), the capitol of Cambodia.  The bad guys would lie in wait for the convoy and then attack it with heavy weapons.

My First Oshkosh

Before we knew it, the traffic alterts started: “Traffic one o’clock, same altitude”. All six eyes in the cockpit suddenly became laser focused.  “The guy behind is going to overpass us”, “That guy just cut us off!” were just some of the things yelled in the cockpit that day.
super cub

Blister Flight – Six Pilots and an Angel

I touched the wheels down in the soft green grass, and all I could think about was Jim Richmond looking down on me. Smiling with his soft grin, as I, the youngest Carbon Cub builder, had just landed back at the same airstrip where I developed my love for aviation.
Pilot in Cessna 182

The Zen of IFR

How can an average GA pilot like me who flies around a hundred hours a year stay proficient? The answer is quite simple (well, maybe): I incorporate some aspect of IFR flying into every single flight. Every single one. That means hand flying to within or better ACS standards.
Low approach

Diversity: The Double-Edged Sword of General Aviation

It turns out that there is no legal requirement for the instructor to be familiar with the avionics being presented for the IPC.  Beyond flight time in the make and model of aircraft flown, it's entirely up to you, the pilot, to be able to manipulate the panel to accomplish the tasks required to complete the flight(s).
C-123 landing

Drop missions: aerial delivery

I rolled into a turn to the right to line up with the drop point. We were hit by ground fire and the sound did not resemble a rock hitting a tin can that we normally heard. The round had come through the window of the right front door of the aircraft and hit a litter stanchion. After continuing the mission and landing back at Saigon, one of the Vietnamese kickers came up and handed me some shrapnel.
ocean city beach

Friday photo: Ocean City, Maryland in the winter

Having grown up in Maryland, flying over a resort that I have been to many times by driving, was great to see it from the air and longing for summer to come.  

Air Facts video classic: mountain flying

Richard explains the importance of understanding density altitude as it relates to performace as well as the nuances of moutain waves and turbulence. Richard even provides some good rules of thumb for flying near or across mountains - whether in the East or West.
puget sound

SoCal to Alaska – Flying beyond the Comfort Zone

As we approached the halfway/decision point, we checked in with Flight Service and sure enough, Bella Bella was now reporting marginal VFR and the clouds below us weren’t as dense as we were able to start seeing the rugged Canadian coast below. We continued with more confidence. After two and a half hours of flight, we made it to a blue skies and puffy cloud Bella Bella.

Aviate. Navigate. Simulate.

I loaded up the last leg of my trip into the sim and then proceeded to not only fly that leg but decided to survey the entire area, virtually, to familiarize myself with both the terrain and any notable landmarks as well.
Dassault-Breguet Br.1150 ‘Atlantique’

A hard day’s flight

I was excited to make my first (and only) ‘Trans-Lant’ (trans-Atlantic) flight.  Primarily because of the jet stream, we planned to fly home via a southern route stopping in Spain, the Azores, and Bermuda.  Join me now on that flight.
pilots on flight deck

Cheetah running across Canada

On this leg the visibility started rapidly dropping in the smoke haze and we were getting worried.  The ceilings were lower than forecast too. We were basically out of flight following range and hoped we didn't meet a huge yellow CL-215 water bomber.

Friday photo: Islands in the Sky

An eight year old boy was stranded in Cincinnati after a hospital visit and requested my assistance. There was a CAVU forecast Saturday from Asheville to Cincinnati and back to Atlanta then Asheville. I departed at 1410z to the northwest from Asheville. Mt Mitchell at an elevation of 6,684 feet pierced the cloud deck.

North to Alaska

Our goals included beach and gravel bar landings, flying over glaciers and icebergs, seeing gold mining history, flying Denali, camping beside the planes, and seeing the wildlife.  After adding things like Watson Lake's Signpost Forest, Kennecott Copper Mine, and historic Dawson City, the itinerary lengthened very quickly.
Pilot logbook

Remembering what flying was like fifty years ago

While I was training for my instrument rating, my instructor taught me what real partial panel was. No skid ball, that was easy to lose. No attitude or directional gyro, simulating a vacuum failure. Vertical speed didn’t mean much, so it got covered up, and who needs airspeed when you can set power and hear feel what’s going on. Besides, the altimeter is still there, along with the turn needle and the LOC/ILS.

Take a step back

Flying an aircraft is a disciplined endeavor that requires care and caution. It requires us to focus and then to let our eyes gaze over the whole aircraft. It is like admiring the intricacies of a Rembrandt painting from near and the magic from afar. The majesty and beauty and craft and perfection seen from two different perspectives.

Becoming an Aviation “YouTuber” Has Made Me a Better Pilot

We now live in a world where nearly anyone can produce their own online content, and this is amazing. However, it’s important that such content be created with a purpose. Otherwise it just becomes more self-obsessed, ego-stroking pablum that no one wants to eat.