Avoiding thunderstorms in a helicopter is different than an airplane. Instead of weaving around building cumulus clouds up high, it often means weaving around dark rain shafts. This picture of an imposing storm over Colorado shows this procedure in action, as John Grasberger flew his Robinson R44 home from Oshkosh.
The day I remember as yesterday was a warm spring day in Fresno and I decided to fly to enjoy the beautiful day and weather. I started my checkout and everything seemed OK, except when I checked the fuel I removed the cap and heard a hissing noise. The tank usually had a wire gauge that stuck up from the cap to show how much gas was in the tank, but I didn’t think anything was amiss.
To fly around Australia was not an idea that happened upon me overnight. It was an idea hatched in childhood, and ultimately flown solo decades later. Eight months in planning and eighteen days in execution, I suspect the planning would have been somewhat quicker if it had not grown into such a public exercise with such a genuine, interested following.
One day, I’m enjoying retirement, flying when and where I want, and life is good. The next day, my cardiologist calls. That routine stress echocardiogram two days ago showed “a problem” with a coronary artery. Now what?
This 1,200-word piece is not intended to be a manifesto of advocacy for autonomous aircraft. Its purpose is to explain what autonomous control systems in general do, and—at a very perfunctory level—how they do it. It is not a blueprint for how to build one. But if nothing else, it shows that that real people like me actually have considered these things, and have figured out ways to do them successfully.
During February of 2015 I was called in by Don Barbour of Leonardo Helicopters to photograph the company’s newly-acquired-from-Agusta-Bell Model 609 prototype in advance of the then-upcoming Heli-Expo event in Orlando, Florida. The aircraft was being repainted in Eastern and Bristow (both prospective buyers at the time) markings in order to provide a fresh perspective for the event.
I never stopped loving airplanes, never stopped loving the ever-changing nature of the sky or the process of planning and executing a flight, be it on the little Rotax-powered Pelican or on the 737. But I did get a little tired of layovers and lost birthdays and anniversaries away. I wanted more family time. Then came COVID-19.
I hope that this story can serve to encourage other aviators to stretch their wings and horizons by expanding their comfort zones, to see and experience things that are unavailable to our earthbound neighbours, and to share these with others, whether they are other pilots, your friends and family, and anyone else that needs to see what general aviation has to offer.
The mission today is to fly from your home in Louisville, Kentucky, to visit your business in Atlanta, Georgia. With the coronavirus pandemic, you’re trying to do it in a day and save the hotel stay. You made it to Atlanta easily with an 8am takeoff, but now the question is whether you can make it home. As you review the weather in the pilot’s lounge at PDK, ForeFlight shows some pop-up storms.
From logging nearly 20,000 flight hours to setting a round-the-world speed record, Arnie loved flying. This interview is from a recorded discussion I was lucky enough to have with the King himself in 2002, where he shared some recollections as a pilot.
With small action cameras like the GoPro finding their way into many flight bags, pilots have a new perspective to share with the world. In this beautiful picture, Agustin Rubiños shows the wingtip view of his Cessna 172 as he cruises over the Pampas plain in South America.
As we have progressed through our aviation career we have events that occur that add to our experience and skill base. But even if we have played the “what-if game” some events can surprise us from unexpected quarters. Such was the case when we flew an inaugural flight across the Pacific through Guam and Manila with the destination Hong Kong’s Kai Tak airport.
Sometimes when we look back to our earliest periods in aviation, we are rightly hounded by some of the infamously stupid things we did—or tried to do. But if you’re like me, you can honestly say you just didn’t know any better at the time, and that there was no one around to warn you of the dangers. We all have to learn. And every once in a while, the learning unveils itself ex post facto.
Alternate airports are a required part of an IFR flight plan when your destination’s weather is forecast to be below 2000 and 3. But the filed alternate is almost never used in the real world. This video tip, from Sporty’s Instrument Rating Course, explains why and offers some tips for making safe, stress-free diversions if the weather doesn’t support your original plan.
While all airplanes have stories to tell, some are more important and more interesting than others. Here are five I believe should be in every pilot’s logbook or on their to-do list. These aren’t necessarily the best or most exciting airplanes ever to take to the skies, but they define specific ages in general aviation and make up the rich history of our industry. Call it the general aviation canon.
The American West is an amazing mosaic landscape of deserts, mountains, rock formations, and barren nothingness. Flying a cross-country trip over much of it was a personal dream of mine come true. At the time, I was still in training for my instrument rating, and this trip gave me an excellent dose of real-world flying experience.
We were on about a half-mile final when the controller decided to add some information for us: “Be aware of Coast Guard aircraft doing routine engine maintenance adjacent your touchdown zone.” I didn’t have to look far to spot the gigantic C-130 in its Coast Guard markings.
You have probably seen this before: a GoPro video showing a pilot struggling with large inputs on the yoke, giving the throttle a hard time with either high thrust or idle power, and after a fair amount of time focused on that demanding approach, a smooth touchdown followed by a reassuring smile. On the title of the video, something mentioning a high crosswind component, and below, the comments saying that the pilot nailed it like a boss. Did he or she?
This is not a story about fast jets, elaborate cockpits or major life and death mid-air drama… it is the true story of a humble student pilot trying so hard to overcome a mid-air incident that he took leave of his common sense.
A number of years ago safety and training experts realized few, if any, crashes were being caused by the events pilots spend training time for. Those action-packed simulator sessions were difficult, and we sweated through them, but in reality accidents were happening because of much more mundane aircraft failures and pilot mistakes.