An island oasis—flying around Puget Sound

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Saturday was clear but going to be hot, with Sunday hotter. CJ needed a break from our isolation and Cousteau and Kepler were at their grandpa Rueckert’s for the weekend. Therefore, a flight to the Langley, Washington airport across some of Puget Sound was on the schedule.

Friday Photo: Resting

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Birds of a feather flock together, and you really notice it when the airplane has such a unique silhouette. Chris Priaulx saw these two airplanes on the ramp at Wendover, Utah (ENV) some years back, parked in their unique, nose-down position.

Hot air ballooning—a new experience

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I was recently given the opportunity to get to go up in a hot air balloon here in Northwest Montana. Comically, the pilot that offered the ride is the only one with a lighter-than-air license within 100 miles. The first two times, the weather didn’t allow a flight. However, the third time was the charm.

Hours of boredom, followed by…

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We’ve been in the seats for 3.5 hours and feeling the effects of flying on the back side of the clock. Both of us are yawning and ready for a break. Not to worry though. The guys in the back will be getting their scheduled wakeup call from us in about 10 minutes. I’m suddenly startled by a loud voice: “TRAFFIC – TRAFFIC.” What the heck?

Startle: what it is and how it affects your performance

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When is the last time you heard “Whoop, Whoop, Pull UP!” or “Wind Shear, Wind Shear!” or a loud bang accompanied by a breathtaking yaw or loss of thrust? Have you been in 90 degrees of bank on final following that Gulfstream? The Greeks survived as the underdogs for centuries. In aviation you never know when YOU will be the underdog. How far will you fall before your training catches you?

GA safety trends: what should we worry about?

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FAA regulations are written in blood, according to the cliche, but it doesn’t seem like flight training reacts to accidents quite so consistently. That’s a mistake. While being a good pilot means more than just avoiding an accident, that goal is certainly a good place to start. That mindset is what makes accident statistics so valuable for general aviation, and the recently released Nall Report from the AOPA Air Safety Institute is a gold mine.

Friday Photo: under the bridge

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The mission on this day was to get out of the house (pandemic blues) and shoot some practice instrument approaches in typical August hot, humid southeastern Virginia weather. The pilots were rewarded with an interesting sight, as a US Navy ship was passing through the York River Coleman Bridge.

Charles Lindbergh flies virus serum to Quebec

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Whatever his personal flaws and shortcomings, there are some traits of Lindbergh’s that have never been questioned: he was a brave, distinguished, and incredibly capable aviator. These characteristics were on full display on April 24, 1928, when Lindbergh flew anti-virus pneumonia serum to Quebec City, Canada, in an attempt to save the life of his aviator friend, Floyd Bennett, who was desperately ill.

Racing to Columbus

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Approach handed me off to OSU tower, and the clouds over the airfield were now a roiling olive green. I was number one for the airfield and cleared to land; number two was a cabin class twin. I was committed to landing. The twin broke off the approach after the first lightning strike on the airfield, but not me.

Leaving Las Vegas with Cirrus Jet time in the logbook

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It was late July in the year of Covid that I had the opportunity to do some flying in Las Vegas. I was there for a two day Corvette Owners Driving School in Pahrump that was being heavily subsidized by the folks at GM. I took the opportunity to fly in (commercial) early so that I could do some other things while in town. And by other things I mean flying.

Friday Photo: morning over the Cascades

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I took an early morning summer flight across the Cascades in Oregon on a perfect morning. Unlimited visibility, no wind, an almost eerie lack of any sign of civilization. As I neared the middle of the mountain range, I saw this stunning lineup of (from the left) Mt. Jefferson, Three-Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, and two of the Three Sisters. A timeless moment that signals the best of the flying experience.

Now do it backwards

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Those familiar with the song and dance teams of the 1940s and 50s are familiar with the comment. Fred Astaire was a master dancer and his partner, Ginger Rogers, did the same routines backwards and in high heels. Well, no high heels here, but an aviation story where doing it backwards was part of the event.

Go or No Go: above the bumps, below the ice?

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Fall in Maine is simply wonderful, as you’ve seen for yourself this week. The air was crisp and the colors on the trees were beautiful, but now it’s time to fly home. Your Cessna 310 is fueled up and ready to make the 3.5 hour flight from Bar Harbor (BHB) to your home near Gaithersburg, Maryland (GAI). Will the weather cooperate?

Icing diversions—an overlooked threat

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In a study of icing accidents that I presented as a paper for the American Institute of Astronautics and Aeronautics in 2006, I identified 142 events in which the pilot made the decision to land due to ice accumulation; in 84 of these, the decision was made before any aerodynamic consequences had been encountered. In only 23 of these 142 cases was a successful precautionary landing made.

Friday Photo: sunrise over Virginia

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Early morning always reminds me of a fresh start, a new day, and a chance to learn and gain experience(s) as a pilot. While crawling out of bed seems less than desirable at 0500, views like this are rare, priceless, and worth every effort to capture aviation moments in time like this.

Assumptions can be dangerous in the air

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In flight, assumptions are the Achilles heel in safety. One cannot press on with the assumption that all is well, when a crushing burden of mounting evidence is screaming against further pursuit. The fallacy of not knowing the unknowns ahead leads one to despair.

Does ATC care if you see traffic on your iPad?

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Prior to the Stratux, amidst that constant barrage of traffic alerts, it was often difficult to locate the converging “bogie” reported by ATC, necessitating a response of “looking for traffic.” Since introducing Stratux to the cockpit however, locating reported traffic in the immediate vicinity of our position seems to be much easier now.