Overlooked pioneers in women’s aviation

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While observing Women’s History Month this month, the names of Amelia Earhart, Pancho Barnes, and Bessie Colman come easily to mind, but the achievements of many less well-known women aviators are also worth celebrating. What follows is simply a place to start…

Go or No Go: home before the rain?

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The goal today is to fly your club’s Cessna 172 from Marathon (MTH) to Orlando (ORL), Florida. It should take about two hours, and with a proposed departure time of 4:15pm, you would be landing a little before sunset. But the weather you see on ForeFlight isn’t exactly quiet. Since you do not have an instrument rating, this flight will have to be made VFR. Can you get to Orlando safely?

Hangar flying: you are qualified to fly like this

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The pastime of many pilots is not necessarily piloting real, honest-to-goodness, airplanes. Rather, it is something known far and wide as “hangar flying.” We know that there have been times when we have had just as much fun and fellowship talking to other pilots about being a pilot than when we were actually piloting a plane toward that overpriced $100 hamburger.

“We was on fire; I could see the flames!”

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A DC-3 is never quiet, but for late night departures, we sometimes would reduce the power a little earlier for noise abatement. Just as I trimmed the RPMs to 2300, the right engine cut loose with a cacophony of explosions that resembled a 10-gauge shotgun being fired right next to my ear. The engine was backfiring. Badly.

The story of a winged boot, and the men who wore it

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We have a lot of memorabilia from both of our fathers, however, one unique item really grabbed our attention. It is a small patch featuring an embroidered boot with a single wing on it. Susan and I wondered what the significance of a winged boot was and why it was part of her father’s memorabilia. I searched the Internet and was stunned by what I learned.

A day in the life of a fledgling instructor

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It was an anxious moment. With palms sweating and sweat rings around my armpits I was hoping that my first student was truly ready to slip the surly bonds of earth. Hopefully I didn’t forget to instill any critical kernels of knowledge. Mark was probably thinking along the same lines and was sweating every bit as badly as I was.

Almost a ground loop

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I started with the stick well back. The engine was producing full power. I pushed the stick forward. Right at the point of lift off there was an abrupt swerve to the right. I closed the throttle and held the stick firmly back, planted in my ribs.

Friday Photo: logging some actual

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Flying in actual IMC is an invaluable experience for any pilot and even more so for one training for the next level certification. We knew there would be good IMC opportunity (without icing or convection) on this day for some valuable flying time. We took off early morning, climbed above the first layer and found a nice area for this picture.

Boring is the new black

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The more I fly, the less space for ego I see in flying. Yet, if there is one killer in this business, it is precisely that. We see it in the statistics, we see it on some colleagues, and we see it within ourselves.

A flying gig in New Zealand

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After flying for a major airline more than 28 years, I reached the mandatory retirement age. I loved every minute of it, and I had no desire to retire. So, I began to research options so that I could continue commercial flying. As I scanned the internet, I came across a flying opportunity in New Zealand. A small airline was looking for a chief pilot.

The day I really graduated to airline pilot

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Many senior pilots at Eastern regarded new hires as a “kid who didn’t have enough common sense to come in out of the rain.” This condescending attitude was particularly true of some of the older WWII captains flying the DC-8 at the time. Their view of your engineer status and job was simply, “get the fuel on board, sit down, shut up, and keep your feet off the seat.”

Mayday, mayday, mayday!

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I am surprised at how reluctant some pilots are to declare an emergency with ATC, as if some stigma is attached to saying the “E” word, that follows you around for the rest of your flying life. What I find more intriguing is some folks who are the most hesitant to declare one have never had an actual “real world” emergency. Yet.

Friday Photo: Sunset takeoff

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Airports around sunset are beautiful places to just sit and watch the world go by. Alan Connor snapped this photo of just that moment, as a tailwheel airplane lifts off, rising above a setting sun. It almost looks as if the airplane has a spotlight on it.

Thirty years of floatplane flying in Canada

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In the spring of 1970 my friend Bob purchased a 1953 Cessna 180 on floats. It also had skis for winter. He and his friend had been moose hunting in Canada by living out of a lean-to basic tent. They wanted to build a moose hunting and fishing shack on a remote lake up there. I knew how to build so he included me in the adventure. I jumped at the chance.

A Queen Air sheds a propeller

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On the evening of November 8, 1968, a Pilgrim Airlines twin-engine Beechcraft took off from Bradley International Airport with only a pilot and co-pilot aboard. Shortly after take off, when the flight was about five miles southeast of the airport, the aircraft suddenly lost a three-blade propeller from one of the engines and was forced to return to the airport and make an emergency landing.

If it can fail, it will (and anything can fail)

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About midway through the clouds, my JPI engine monitor began alerting us to a rapidly dropping bus voltage. Shortly after, we watched our GTN 650 GPS turn into a screen of flashes and hieroglyphics. I immediately leveled the wings, stopped my climb and leveled off (Rule 1 – Fly the plane!).

Fuel Reserve Requirements—the FARs Aren’t Much Help

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You’re pointed away from the destination airport on some controller’s vector and you are sweating the near-empty fuel gauges. As a last resort you tell the controller you are minimum fuel and need priority to the runway. Did you violate FAR 91.167, the rule that sets the requirements for minimum fuel when flying under IFR?