A year of stewardship – managing a flying club airplane

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The flight club accepted my application and I joined with high hopes. After joining, I thought about how I can contribute to make this a great experience. Well, it just so happened that a few months after I joined the club, the club purchased a Cessna 172N aircraft, and guess what? They needed an assistant plane captain. I thought, perfect, this shouldn’t be too much work…

Blue camouflage rocket ride – my flight in an L-39

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I flew the L-39 jet, a former Russian military jet trainer, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The engine is a turbofan, giving it delightful, “push you back against the seat” power when you go to full throttle. Larry Salganek, master aviator and chief instructor, flew with me of course. I flew it from start to finish, Larry bravely never touching the controls, just offering advice through the hot mic.

Friday Photo: Chipmunk at rest

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The Irish Historic Flight Foundation operate a number of historically significant Irish Aircraft. Here an ex-Irish Air Corps DHC1 Chipmunk and its pilot (out of shot) get a well-earned break from training the latest volunteers in the joys and foibles of the beautiful DeHavilland Chipmunk. In the air a locally-based (EIMH) Citabria makes the most of an Irish summer’s afternoon.

Escape from the jaws of IMC

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I’m not proud of this event, and I hesitate to tell the story. But, it may trigger some preflight thoughts in another VFR pilot. I received some IFR training, both classroom and simulator, but decided to not pursue the rating because the airplane I acquired was not equipped. That worked very well until December 29, 2010.

First and last solo

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I unbuckled my seatbelt and opened the door and was standing outside when I said: “Glen, fly it around the pattern once by yourself and after you land come back here and talk to me. I’ll be standing here waiting for you. Enjoy your flight.” I had seen the painful expression on students’ faces at just this time before, but Glen’s expression was particularly bad.

Bringing home the Baby Ace

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I do not remember life before the blue and yellow Baby Ace; the first memory of my childhood is seeing rib jigs in the upstairs room of our small farmhouse. The next thing I knew those wings were in our living room and all the furniture was moved!

Friday Photo: Melbourne from a helicopter

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There’s nothing quite like that first flight as pilot in command. For David Booth, it was extra special because he was flying his adult children. The view of Melbourne from his Robinson R44 helicopter is great, but even better was “the surprise and amazement when they found out that their father had learned to fly.”

Summers long ago: a 1500-mile trip in a Cessna 120

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In the grass of Harvey Young, an airport tucked just south of Tulsa International, there appeared a beautiful 1946 Cessna 120. I couldn’t buy it, but I convinced my buddy that this was the airplane for him. Tulsa, Oklahoma to Boston, Massachusetts: a 1500-mile trip in a 30-year old airplane with no nav radio, a com radio that just barely worked, no gyro instruments except for that needle and ball, and a wet compass. This was adventure!

Go or No Go: rain over Florida

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The question is: can you spend the night in your own bed and fly tomorrow, taking off at 9am EST (1400 UTC) for the PDK to FXE flight? Or do you get in the car and start driving? Your 2015 Cirrus is well equipped with a Garmin glass cockpit, datalink weather, autopilot, and more. You’re also experienced and proficient, with over 2,500 hours total time and plenty of recent IFR flying under your belt.

Are single pilot risks real?

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In the past year or so it has become very, very expensive to insure a light jet flown by a single pilot, particularly an owner pilot. In some cases the single pilot may not be able to buy coverage at any price. This is significant because the light jets provide our only glimpse into the risks of flying solo.

Friday Photo: Sunset over the Columbia Mountains

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That first long cross country flight is always a memorable experience, and for Kevin Cook it was even better – just look at that sunset. But what he remembers most are the helpful controllers throughout his flight. As he says, “We truly have an amazing ATC system in place in the US.”

That other ice

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Structural ice is a known flight hazard and there are plenty of forecasting products to help a pilot avoid it. Curiously, there is another type of icing that has sent its share of airplanes to the salvage yard, and pilots to the graveyard. Because it is mainly an affliction of low-performance aircraft, it doesn’t receive as much attention.

Nine things I know about flying in Iowa

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The “field of dreams” from the Kevin Costner movie is located near Dyersville, Iowa, and it’s worth a circle or two if you are flying over. However, if you are antique airplane enthusiast you know that Iowa’s real field of dreams is Antique Airfield in Blakesburg. Antique Airfield is home of the Antique Airplane Association, founded by Robert Taylor in 1953 and the AirPower Museum.

My visit to an aircraft boneyard

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It was supposed to be a routine training flight. You know, the standard stuff. Pre-flight the plane, contact Santa Monica ground and tower controllers without sounding like a rank amateur, get clearance and transition through the Burbank airspace. I was even prepared for some light turbulence over the San Gabriel mountain range. I wasn’t at all prepared for the emotional turbulence.

Friday Photo: Monument Valley

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It looks like a setting for a Western – because it is. The sandstone buttes of Monument Valley, on the border between Arizona and Utah, appear in many famous movies but they are even better in person. Richard Garnett shares a photo of the otherworldly scene in this Friday Photo, taken from a Piper Archer during a cross-country training flight.

Towing a Beaver under sail

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A round-engine float plane dropped through a hole in a thick, low overcast to land, banging and clattering on choppy San Francisco Bay. It coasted to a stop a quarter mile dead-ahead of our Lapworth 40 sloop. We kept driving her, rail-down, hard on the wind, and quickly closed with the aircraft, a bit concerned.

The discipline to say no

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The most famous decision pilots make happens before we even get airborne: to go or not to go? But after a busy summer of flying, I have learned that this is actually one of the easiest decisions in aviation. Saying “no” may be stressful when you’re on the ground, desperate to fly, but it’s much harder once you’re in the air. Call it plan continuation bias or get-there-itis; whatever the name, it is a worthy opponent.