A memorable seaplane flight on San Francisco Bay

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Suddenly I was aware that my pontoons were only hitting tops of waves now and then. I looked back and down and saw water and spray dripping out from the pontoons. I eased off my back pressure to accelerate in ground (water?) effect, our parallel “V” wakes, then spreading apart behind. We were flying!

So what’s the rush?

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The constantly-mentioned “pilot shortage” has created a cultural shift in flight training. More so than ever, companies, flight schools, and students alike want training to be completed in the shortest amount of time. I am in the minority who strongly believe that students who meet the minimum requirements in a short time are not necessarily quality pilots.

Friday Photo: Gold Coast, Australia

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Australia’s Gold Coast in Queensland is a beautiful place to fly, as this photo from Ross Clarke shows. He was on his way to maintenance in his Jabiru J170 when he took this shot of the towering buildings and golden beaches below. It’s a famous tourist destination, but we think it looks better from the air.

Aerial patrol – spotting sharks

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I picked up a great (non-paying, volunteer) gig as a pilot flying an old Cessna 182 looking for sharks along the beaches between Wollongong and Ulladulla, New South Wales, Australia. Wollongong is about an hour and a half south of Sydney and a beautiful part of the world, especially in summer. Unfortunately that beauty can be spoilt somewhat by sharks swimming around in their natural environment.

Nine things I know about flying in Ohio

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In the second installment of our new series, John Zimmerman shares nine things to know about flying in Ohio. Yes, it’s the birthplace of aviation, but there are other facts to know, including why there is an airport in almost every county, where to find some great island airports in Lake Erie, and where to find a free lunch every Saturday.

A biplane engine failure, and the start of a new business

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As we approached the Twin Cities area, I was in control of the aircraft and maintaining a heading towards my house as I enjoyed the view of that peaceful summer evening. Suddenly, I felt a slight vibration in the stick and told Scott that something didn’t feel quite right. He immediately took control of the N3N as the engine RPM dropped dramatically.

Friday Photo: Laurel Lake

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The sun reflecting off a lake is a wonderful sight, but it’s even better when you’re learning to fly, as John Wesley Collins was in this case. There’s a twist: “His dad got to be in the plane with him and take these beautiful photos. Both sons are working on their private pilot lessons and their dad gets to live his lifelong dream of flying with them.”

Five dollar Frank and the poor man’s flying school

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“Five Dollar Frank” was his moniker, as he owned Thomas Flying Service and gave sightseeing tours of the area for $5. Each flight was a half hour, with his sister sitting beside the Esso gas pump next to the stone “terminal” waiting to gas up the plane upon arrival. Thousands flew with Frank over the years, and his name still brings a smile to those with history in the area.

From the archives: the 1968 Reading Show

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Before Oshkosh was the big show, the annual gathering in Reading, Pennsylvania, was the center of the aviation universe. In this article from the June 1968 edition of Air Facts, you’ll see what general aviation looked like during the heyday of the late 1960s. From the new airplanes to the celebrity pilots, it was a thrilling time to be a pilot.

Friday Photo: snowy French Alps

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The Alps never cease to amaze, as this week’s Friday Photo proves. Nicolas George captured this stunning vista from the cockpit of his ICP Savannah. The Chartreuse range is covered in snow, which brought back a lot of fond memories for George. The entire experience was the result of a short climb in a light airplane.

White knuckle scud running

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I know, I know – scud running is a no-no. Still, if you fly the Alaska bush, it sometimes seems as though it has become a way of life. During my time at it, we had precious few navigational aids. Contact flying and ADF needles were our fare. So, please cut me just a little slack for admitting to the following experience.

Go or No Go: summertime storms in Mississippi

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After a weekend of training in Gulfport, Mississippi, it’s time to head home to Memphis, Tennessee, in your Cessna 182. The weather map is cluttered with storms, and it’s forecast to stay that way most of the week. Read the details, then tell us if you would make the flight (proposed at 1800Z), which should take just under two hours.

Full circle: learning to fly and retiring at SFO

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I presented myself in the owner’s office, hat figuratively in hand. Perhaps he saw something of himself in the plaintive teen-ager standing before him, but for whatever reason, he took me on. He explained that he was unable to pay me any wages, but in return for gassing and washing airplanes and doing general chores around the office, he would pay me in flying lessons.

“I’m just trying to keep my lunch down”

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My second passenger, and my first cross-country as a private pilot, was Garin, a lifelong friend with whom I grew up. He and his family came up to Clover to spend the weekend with us so I reserved my favorite 172 for Saturday morning. The weather was beautiful, if a little bit warm, with some showers moving in later in the day as normal. I decided we’d make the short, scenic hop from EQY up to HKY to get some grub at the airport café.