Neil Armstrong was my co-pilot

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They closed the big hangar doors and Neil came over and jumped into the right seat of my idling Piper Tri-Pacer. “Let’s go,” he said. It was fun having Neil Armstrong as my co-pilot. He was already very well known in aviation, and soon he’d be the most famous man on the planet.

The most important bags aren’t suitcases

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I had a gurgling feeling in my stomach that meant only one thing and it would happen soon. I didn’t have a bag handy so I told Mike who was in the right seat “your controls,” took off my headset, opened the window and let it all hang out. The wind pulled my sunglasses off my face and gravity took them to the ground below never to be seen again.

What’s wrong with Robinson R44 pilots?

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Robinson R44 helicopters are death traps, right up there with Mitsubishi MU-2s and Cirrus SR22s – at least that’s according to a lot of articles you read online. But does it tell the whole story? In the spirit of Richard Collins’s very popular “What’s wrong with Cirrus/Mooney/Bonanza pilots” series of articles, I’d like to offer a more nuanced perspective.

What are the chances? Jumpseating to get married

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Jumpseating for free (a great pilot privilege) was the way to go! In addition, when we sat up front, we found it fun and interesting to see how pilots at the other airlines do things. So, we thought nothing of it when we decided on a Hawaiian beach wedding for $800 all-in. We planned on jumpseating there.

“No complaints” – how I stumbled into a thunderstorm

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I asked NorCal if there were any ride reports over the mountains. “No complaints,” replied the controller. We went into the clouds about over PXN VOR. No big deal. We were just bumping along V301, in and out of the clouds at first, then solid IMC. In the clouds it was just light chop, and my little Piper pretty much just flew herself, even without an autopilot. Then the world suddenly went mad.

Go or No Go: how do you define scud running?

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After a long Christmas break, it’s time to return to your home south of Seattle, Washington. The flight from Ocean Shores Airport (W04) to Pierce County Airport (PLU) is an easy 30-minute flight in your Cirrus SR22 – much better than a two and a half hour drive. But as always, the weather may spoil your plans.

Friday Photo: on top in a Cirrus

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It had been a long day already – 2 hour flight training in Naples and then dodging thunderstorms in southern GA on my way to Louisville. The peace in that view was a welcome sight which relaxed me before I arrived in Louisville with a 40 KT blow from 290, forcing me to abandon 2 approaches at KLOU and divert to KSDF.

A new aircraft – and a new dimension to air travel

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One day it dawned on me that if the aviation industry would develop a large airplane that gives passengers a panoramic view, it would lay the foundation for a new dimension to air travel. But engineering an airplane like that is nearly impossible given the purpose of commercial air travel which is to provide transportation, nothing else.

The day my life changed – my first flight

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On a crisp, clear winter morning in early January 1997, I took in my first whiff of 100LL fuel on the ramp at Watsonville Airport. My CFI let me fumble that morning with my own unfamiliar movements around the little flying machine. Tripping over the mains and bumping my head on the sharp trailing edge of that Reed Clipped Wing taught me quickly how to move about the preflight.

Flying into Y2K

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As I was thinking about the Y2K panic it dawned on me that the FAA and its computers all operate on a single time—Zulu. That meant Y2K would arrive at 7 pm eastern time on the Zulu clock. If the ATC system were going to blowup it would happen then. So I decided that was the perfect time to be in the air and flying in the system.

Reader question: what’s your 2019 flying resolution?

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2019 is just around the corner, and many pilots take the time to make a flying resolution for the new year. We’d like to hear from you – what’s your aviation goal for 2019? Do you want to fly more, add a rating, get current, check out in a new airplane, or maybe fly to Oshkosh? Add your comment below – and be sure to tell us how you plan to keep yourself honest.

From the archives: Len Morgan on the personal stories a pilot sees

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Most airline flights involve simply moving people and things from point A to point B, but sometimes an airline pilot gets a view of the human side. In this touching article by Len Morgan, the legendary pilot and authro shares a memorable flight that shows how powerful air travel can be and the lives it can connect. This article originally appeared in the November 1956 edition of Air Facts.

Remembering a Christmas tragedy 50 years later

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During the holiday season of 1968, in an isolated Pennsylvania community, Allegheny Airlines’ professionalism, safety culture and luck would abandon the airline to a sequence of events no fiction writer could invent. And the echo of those tragedies continues to resonate a half century later.