Threats: can they keep us safe?

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Humans make mistakes. We always have and always will. We have to use our training and skills to recognize the fact that we will make errors, recognize those errors, use techniques to minimize errors and mitigate any negative outcomes caused by those errors. There are many methods and tools to accomplish this, but let’s focus on the management of the “threats.”

Friday Photo: Western Australia from a 172

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Geoff van Schie flies his Cessna 172M on volunteer missions to teach Christian Value Educational classes to mainly indigenous children in four remote schools in Australia. This photo was taken at the end of a five-day trip, for a total of 8 hours for the week, much of around IFR weather.

My greatest misadventure

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My dad inspired me to start my flight lessons, and he always told me a pilot must be alert for the signs. And as I asked him, “How do I know if something is a sign?” He answered, “Sometimes we just realize we were warned after we get into and out of trouble.”

Friday Photo: Santa Barbara smoke

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Ronald Hays has been flying for a while – over 3,000 hours in 18 years, from Alaska to Guatemala – but he says “the scariest departure ever was from our home airport.” This week’s Friday Photo shows why, as thick smoke from the Thomas fire in Southern California fills the air. It was a scary sight, but at least Hays was on his way to cleaner air.

5 events that shaped my flying life

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I learned to fly in a Piper Colt at tiny Concord Airpark east of Cleveland. It was nearly 50 years ago and in the more than 10,000 hours of flying all types of general aviation airplanes since these are the events that did much to shape my life in the air.

Friday Photo: Oshkosh!

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The world’s largest fly-in starts next week in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. To celebrate, this week’s Friday Photo shows a great scene from AirVenture 2017, as a 1944 Howard is parked beneath a deep blue sky that is punctuated by a skywriter’s “EAA script.” Happy Oshkosh week!

Plan to fly, fly the plan

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How could it have been seven years since my last time behind the controls of an airplane? I knew I had to get back in the cockpit but I was unsure of how to kick start my training. Just as planning for an intricate cross country flight can be broken down into small legs, I developed an easy and realistic plan to help take the pressure off of myself.

Tom Neil, One of Two Living WWII RAF Aces, Flies West

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On July 11, 2018, Tom Neil, one of only two living RAF aces from the Battle of Britain, died a few days short of his 98th birthday. He flew an astonishing 141 combat missions in the Battle. His very long career in the RAF (he did not retire until 1964) also included such things as the Battle of Malta, and intercepting jet-powered V-1 “buzz bombs” over Britain in 1944.  

Friday Photo: bridge across Sarasota Bay

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Florida is a pilot’s paradise, as Todd Sullivan’s photo shows here. He was flying a Cessna 182 on a beautiful day in February when he took this photo of the John Ringling Causeway Bridge, which connects Sarasota and the beaches. The best part is soaring above that traffic stuck on the bridge.

Reader question: when did you know you had the aviation bug?

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When asked about how they originally got interested in aviation, many pilots talk about a specific moment when “the aviation bug” bit. It might have been a first airplane ride, a trip on an airliner, or a visit to an airshow, but the result was the same – a lifelong passion for airplanes took hold. We want to know what that lightbulb moment was for you.

Congratulations, you’re a captain now

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I’ve always wanted this: to command a jet, to be the captain. My copilot, who was twice my age, had flown F-4s in Vietnam and did 30 years at the airlines, looked at me and said, “So, what do you want to do?” I felt small. I had passengers in the back and a jet I barely understood, and I was trying to figure out what to tell ATC.

Don’t ruin a flying vacation with weather worries

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Sure, the convenience of traveling by general aviation is hard to beat, and as pilots we usually have a lot of fun just getting there. But there’s another factor that can quickly overshadow the fun – weather worries. I’ve battled this off and on for years, but a recent family trip to Disney World was almost ruined by my constant stressing about the weather.

Friday Photo: The Hague from a Cessna 172

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Long before 9/11 it was already prohibited to fly over the city centre of Dutch adminstrative residency The Hague. The royal palaces, the medieval court housing the parliament and senate are strictly forbidden to overfly below 3,000 ft AGL. To take pictures of the city I flew exactly along the border of the prohibited airspace.

My first solo IFR cross-country

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My wife and I were planning a long cross-country to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to attend my niece’s wedding on the 18th. Without the IFR ticket, we would have been driving, so there was some pressure to pass the checkride on the 14th. For this trip, I reserved my club’s Cessna 172RG for the long weekend and we departed on the morning of the 17th.

Delivering F-4s to Iran

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Delivery crews for Phantoms going to overseas locations were drawn from USAF Phantom units, and I was one of those on several deliveries, including one to the German Air Force, one to our unit in Soesterburg, Netherlands, and one to the Imperial Iranian Air Force. It was the delivery to Iran that, as Ollie North says, is “a story that deserves to be told.”