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.

Should you take your grandchildren flying?

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Both of our kids were in the backseat of our Mooney 201 headed off to visit one grandmother or the other before they were two weeks old. Stancie and I never really gave it a second thought. But that was 40 years ago. And much has changed—actually, almost everything has changed—when it comes to risk assessment for young children.

Friday Photo: Florida Keys

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We cancelled IFR west of Boca Raton and descended VFR with flight following to fly the east coast line down to the Keys and out to Marathon. ATC was unbelievable! I was handed off to FLL tower to facilitate flying through their airspace. Traffic was not bad and ADS-B In made others easy to find. Great views the whole way! Just beautiful…

They’re worried, will you search?

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This is a chronicle of events of a search operation requested by a worried family when their loved one did not arrive from a short instrument flight. I got up on October 6, 2015, to a gloomy, overcast morning. After lunch my cell phone started to vibrate and when I answered it was Jim from the FBO office at the Chadron Airport. He explained that a V-tail Beechcraft had left Chadron for Alliance midmorning and had not arrived.

Not exactly an F-14, but that’s OK

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I had a 1943 Taylorcraft L2-M that I bought from a rancher from Lusk, Wyoming, north of Torrington (where I live), back in 1977. My dad heard about it and we flew up there and went out to the ranch to take a look. The guy actually had it in an open front shed, with nothing but a rope with some rags hanging off it, to keep the animals out. What kind of animals, you ask? Why, buffalo, of course!

High wing or low wing? Ask Mother Nature

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I agonized over this for a very long time before I bought my first airplane. It seems to be one of those endless hangar discussions that divides pilots into one of three camps that almost serves as a form of introduction. And so, “Hi, my name is Dan, I’m a high-wing guy. How about you? Oh, you like low wing aircraft because you can see the numbers as you turn base to final?”

Learning to fly high after loss

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In July 2019, I finally obtained my private pilot license. It took me seven years. Being a pilot had not been in the cards for me. It wasn’t even on my bucket list, because I didn’t like flying and had no interest in airplanes. People seem to have solid reasons why they undergo the vigorous flight training, which takes considerable time and effort. So why did I become a pilot? Here is my story.

Friday Photo: Florida sunset

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Sunsets are spectacular anytime airplanes are involved, and this Friday Photo proves that you don’t even have to be flying for that to be true. Kent Meyer took this gorgeous photo as the sun set over his Challenger 350, on the ramp at Inverness, Florida. It’s enough to make you want to drive to the airport and go chase the sun.

Aviation Education to the Masses: How do we do it?

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While we were hanging onto the balloon to keep it on the ground, a group of high school age kids approached us. They were obviously super excited about being up and close with it, which is great—I love seeing it. But after conversing I realized that they didn’t understand general aviation at all. What I gathered from them was that everything with flying seemed out of reach.

Ferrying a 1946 Auster J2 through Australia

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The aircraft ferry game is both interesting and where one always expects the unexpected. My card reads “Can Ferry, Will Travel.” Flying an older aircraft cross country is more than just throwing your bag in the back and departing. To do the job properly means planning ahead.

Friday Photo: Puget Sound fun

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Puget Sound in Washington is an ideal place for a general aviation airplane. The distances are short, but roads are few, so a quick flight can take you a world away from the busy streets of Seattle. In this picture from Kevin Knight, Mother Nature gets an assist, as the sun breaks through a broken layer of clouds, highlighting the water below.