When meeting someone for the first time, talk often turn to hobbies or professions – the dreaded, “what do you do?” question. For most of us that means flying and a long conversation about airplanes, weather, safety, and so much more. So this month’s question asks: when you tell someone you’re a pilot, what question do you know is coming next?
The first solo is an event remembered clearly by most of us. This summer marks the 40th anniversary of that seminal event for me. As the years have blurred many of the details, two aspects remain crystal clear.
Pilot and aviation enthusiast Agustin Rubiños describes it as, “vuelos divertidos en Skyhawk.” As this week’s Friday Photo shows, he does indeed have a lot of fun flying around Argentina. In this photo, taken from his wing-mounted GoPro, he’s soaring over the vast plains in his Cessna 172M.
“And this time, go to at least one airport you’ve never been to before. Make it a towered field.” What’s the word for being excited and scared at the same time? Anxious? Yeah. That’s what I was. Six days later, I was off again.
California is a huge state and to sum it up in a few bullet points doesn’t truly do it justice. You must fly there to fully experience it yourself so “Go West, young man!” With airline service and a checkout from one of the many FBOs, it’s possible to experience California flying on a vacation if only for an afternoon.
Circling approaches are pretty rare these days, but at some airports they are the only option. While flying the approach to minimums is the same as a straight-in approach, what happens next leaves no room for error. This video breaks down the circling approach, including when it’s required, how close to stay to the runway, and what to do if you lose sight of the airport.
In early 2016, my family was ready to see something new and beautiful. The past year had been tough — we nearly lost Dad to a stroke – then, during his recovery from the stroke, we determined that he needed a heart valve replacement, his second such surgery. By February, with a fresh reminder of life’s fragility and brevity, we began laying the groundwork for an August adventure to Iceland and Norway.
What a spectacular sight. The plains of West Texas and Southeast New Mexico seem to go on forever and with the vibrant blue of the sky contrasted by the white of the puffy cloud, well it was a picture worth putting in the family photo book.
Cecil was checking with the pilots to see if they needed anything. As he did several times a summer, he stuck his head in my Cub and asked, “Do you have a bottle to pee in?” Everyone but me carried a bottle. I guess it was a young guy thing. He liked to kid me about it. “Nah, I can hold it.”
As an industry, we know how to essentially eliminate fatal accidents. As pilots flying for our own reasons we can learn how the big boys did that, and adapt as many of the lessons as we can afford, or decide are worth the required tradeoffs. We still must make our own deal with the dark side to fly our own airplanes for our own reasons by ourselves, but I hope we are making the best and most informed deal we can.
Summer is coming to an end, which means your annual family vacation to northern Michigan is coming to an end as well. Today is go-home day – if the weather cooperates – so it’s time to look at ForeFlight. The goal is to get from Traverse City, Michigan (TVC), to your home in Columbus, Ohio (OSU). Read the weather report below and decide what you would do.
It was pretty obvious that some folks hadn’t cracked open their respective book(s) in a long time. Those who had studied their documents, tended to be familiar with the BIG PRINT stuff, like their Normal Procedures sections and Emergency checklists, but were not so well-versed when it came to the various Notes, Warnings, and Cautions found throughout. There’s a lot of free, but hard-earned, wisdom in that fine print, all intended to protect life and limb.
Words cannot express the feeling that comes over you as you leave the earth and look around at God’s creation. As the sun begins to disappear on the horizon, and the shadows begin to stretch across the ground, for the moment, the earth seems to be calm and peaceful.
The good news is technology like datalink weather has made it a lot easier to manage convective weather. With ADS-B on my iPad or SiriusXM on my panel, it’s fairly simple to avoid the worst weather; it just takes patience and discipline to go all the way around it. Since most of my cross country flights are IFR, those long deviations require a lot of coordination with Air Traffic Control.
This is the latest article in our series about flying in different states and countries. Sal Marinello says New York may be famous for the Big Apple, but there’s a lot more to it than just cities. He explores the active GA community on Long Island and the gliders of the Adirondacks. Plus, see why he thinks New York controllers are the best.
Within a few seconds of my announcement, a scenario that my former instructor and I had talked through several times became real right before my eyes – a pilot on the ground announced that he was departing runway 20. I saw him move from the hold short line onto the runway, and I announced that I was about to execute a go-around. He immediately responded, “Don’t go around! You’ve got plenty of room to land!”
Goetz A. Giessler captured a unique perspective from the cockpit of his Zlin Savage Cub as he did some ground reference maneuvers above the Rappbodetalsperre in the Harz Mountain Range, Germany. He remembers “the fine lines of pancake ice crust formation in a freshwater lake, painted in contrasting colors and shadows beneath cool calm air.”
To begin with, this is not an actual bite inflicted by a slithering, legless reptile. The other kind of snakebite is a sailing term among owners and crew of small yachts that probably originated in Southern California. It means that thing you’re looking for is right in front of you.
My plan for the day was to spend two hours practicing three point and wheel landings at several area grass strips. Well, that was the plan until I heard the distinctive whine of jet engines and noticed a large shadow envelop my car as I made my way to the Cub’s home. There she was… VC-25A… almost low enough that it seemed I could reach out and touch her. It was that moment that my flight plan changed.
In this trip through the Air Facts archives, we pause in 1967 for a thought-provoking article by Richard Collins. He explores the value of a check ride, and considers whether any evaluation can really improve safety over the long term. His comments on what an instrument rating can do are particularly insightful: “without really working at keeping it current, the instrument rating is worth about the value of the ink on the piece of paper.”