Leading edge aeronautical research on the plains

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You don’t think of leading edge aeronautical research being conducted in the General Aviation industry, especially in Wichita, Kansas. But Cessna did just that, in the early 1950s, and on its own planes. And not only was it successful, but it was incorporated in some famous long run production airplanes–unfortunately, not Cessna airplanes.

Bahamas flying memories

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As suggested by John Zimmerman, I “flew my logbook” into the 80s and 90s to relive some of my trips to the Bahamas. My wife and daughter and I covered quite a few of the Bahamian Islands before finding the spots that suited us best. Andros, Stella Maris, Cat Cay, San Salvador, Treasure Cay, Bimini, Eleuthera,and Staniel Cay are names I see in my logbook.

Aerial encounters

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The sight picture of the approach end of the runway was perfect. The speed was perfect. It was a great day right up to the point where the innocence of the moment was lost. There was a flash of something, followed by quite a bit of noise, followed by the feeling that our Cub was injured and being jerked around.

Why do we still run out of gas?

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We stink at fuel management. The latest evidence? On January 23, a Cirrus SR20 crashed a few miles short of the runway in Danbury, Connecticut and made national headlines for its colorful parachute getting caught in power lines. Surely a plane as advanced as this one couldn’t just run out of fuel.

I Can’t Believe I Did That #2

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I lost a cylinder last time up. Here’s the story, with all details which I can recall, followed (figuratively, thank goodness) by a post-mortem. The first abnormal sign was a bad mag check. Three guys, first me, then one of Lincoln’s most experienced pilots, then an older pilot, all thought plug fouling.

A dream of the 1970s: the Bede-5

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To say that Jim Bede was controversial is an understatement. Some called him a visionary, others had descriptions that were not so kind. The undisputed fact, though, is that Jim Bede excited and then disappointed a lot of pilots in the 1970s. He was a hard guy not to like and he exuded infectious enthusiasm even if he didn’t always deliver.

Fire!

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Wispy smoke begins streaming around the cowling and quickly thickens. Fire! I’m alone in our Cessna 180. My adrenaline flow redlines. After a few seconds considering my options, I turn the master off, grab a piece of equipment, push the left door open, and jump. No parachute.

Abandoned airfields: history in our midst

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We all know that airports are disappearing at a depressing rate. But they are not forgotten, thanks to the heroic efforts of Paul Freeman and his fascinating website: Abandoned and Little-Known Airfields. This hidden gem offers history and pictures for over 1600 airports that are still among us, but no longer on the sectional.

Go or No Go: game time

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Your friend got you tickets to the Super Bowl to see your beloved Baltimore Ravens play. To make an adventure out of it, you’ve decided to fly your 1995 A36 Bonanza to New Orleans for the game. But will you be able to make it?

I Can’t Believe I Did That #1

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During the first few hours after a new private pilot’s checkride, he feels unstoppable. Eventually, every green pilot makes a mistake that gives them a wake-up-call and makes the unstoppable pilot a mortal once more. It usually happens in marginal weather, at night, or in gusty winds. This story is about my wake-up-call.

The Great Debate: are flying clubs the answer?

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In an industry that is battered by a variety of negative forces (fuel prices, regulation and demographics to name a few), almost everyone is looking for a solution. While some ideas look fairly hopeless, one concept that has caught on lately seems more realistic: flying clubs. Are they a great idea or a hopeless waste of time?

A memorable flight

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I had flown down to St Just Airport at Land’s End, the southernmost airport on the mainland UK. Thinking back on my many years of flying and all that I have experienced, I will never forget that day. The simple beauty, the breathtaking views, the exhilaration, the sense of privilege. What’s your most memorable flight?

Pioneer aviator Foster Lane

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Foster Lane was born in 1903, the year the Wright Brothers changed everything with their first powered flight. He started flying in 1925, getting his first ride in a barnstormer’s Curtiss JN4 Jenny. Lessons began and he bought his first airplane, a used Waco 9, in 1928. He literally lived the birth of aviation in the 1920s.