“Once-in-a-lifetime. Bucket list. Wish list.” Terms we often use to describe an out of the ordinary, incredible experience. While we toss these terms around quite frequently, how often do we actually experience something that deserves the moniker “once-in-a-lifetime?” I’m sure you’ll agree it’s pretty rare. Recently I participated in a genuine bucket list experience.
I was trying to fly home to Cincinnati, Ohio, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the end of 2019, and the weather wasn’t great. The screenshots here are the actual ones I was looking at as I sat in the lobby in Pittsburgh, making my go/no-go decision. I’ll share the weather briefing, then ask you to add your comment about what you would do. Then, at the end, I’ll reveal what my decision was and what my thought process was.
During my 45 years of observing and writing about aviation, pilot upset training is a topic that has waxed and waned. For the past few years the idea of learning how to recover from an extreme attitude is in ascendance. But the reason upset training emphasis falls in and out of favor is because it just doesn’t work.
Composite wings are good for a lot of things. While low drag is first on the list, they also do a great job of reflecting the colors of the sky, as this photo from Tim Crawford shows. The pinks and oranges from the sun are visible above, while the glowing lights of Detroit are visible below. Even better? This photo was taken on Tim’s wife’s first general aviation flight.
I was taught to look ahead towards the end of the runway in the flare. Joe didn’t flare at all. He cut the power and the plane fell, the main gear with its large rubber tires hitting hard and bouncing 15 or 20 feet in the air. Joe pushed the yoke forward and we hit again, ballooning higher this time. “Go around power, Joe!” I yelled. But, no. Joe ignored me.
Not long after I had checked the weather on the club computer, I heard something through the open door. I rushed outside and saw a magnificent Spitfire passing by the tower, at high speed and low altitude. I was told that warbirds would be returning from an airshow that had taken place south of Paris, and that some of them would land in Le Touquet before getting back to their home base in the UK.
Around major airports, vectors to final on an instrument approach are the norm. But outside radar coverage it’s common to fly a procedure turn to start an approach. This video tip reviews the basics of this maneuver, including when it’s required, what shape these turns take, and why the winds aloft matter. It’s a great 3-minute review for any instrument pilot.
If you’re asked about the minimum ground turning radius of the airplane you fly, you probably know the number or at least you know where to find it in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH). What if the question is about the minimum turning radius when the airplane is flying? The answer might not be that simple, given the number of factors it depends on.
There’s something about a Bonanza wing, especially when it has a tip tank at the end, that frames a picture so well. In this stunning shot, Karl Kleiderer shares the view from his A36 as he flew over Charlotte, North Carolina in search of fall colors. The sunset looks almost as if it were painted with a paint brush.
My plan was to do a normal overhead, pitch out and roll out on final to set up a landing attitude for the north runway, going through the fog, which was 50-60 feet thick. Roll out was routine until about 2000 feet remaining, then suddenly two gray shapes appeared ahead, just offset on either side of the centerline.
After landing, I noticed a truck on the side of the ramp and an individual waving at me. I taxied over to where the truck was, swung the airplane around 180 degrees, and with reverse thrust started backing towards the truck. I started through the aircraft shutdown procedures and when I pulled the mixtures to shut off, and as the number one engine came to a stop, I could hear a hissing noise similar to escaping air.
I immediately felt at home in the JetStar. The entire instrument panel was identical to the C-130E. After my first landing, with the throttles at the idle stop, I very smartly pulled up all four throttles and moved them to the reverse range. One minor problem: that is the procedure to shut down the engines!
Early morning flights are the best, and this Friday Photo is just another example. Mike Buettgenbach snapped this photo of south central Kansas from the cockpit of his RV-12 (which offers an incredible view), showing the last remnants of morning fog clinging to the river valleys. Definitely worth waking up for.
In the year 2000, I settled in, along with my airplane, at an end-of-an-era FBO: Co-Op Aircraft Service at Cincinnati’s Blue Ash Airport. These buildings, and the surrounding crumbling concrete and asphalt, became more to me than a place to tie-down and buy avgas. The business, the airport, and the people who were drawn to it, became like a second home and family.
We published over 200 articles at Air Facts this year, including personal stories, tips for safer flying, and memorable pictures. Some of these were written by well-known authors like Mac McClellan, but most were written by everyday pilots. After reviewing all of them, we’ve selected ten must-read articles from 2019.
It was a week before Christmas 1964, and we had some time left to fly after returning to base from a typical nine-hour training mission. I talked the crew into flying at about 1,000 feet not far from the air base, to scout the snow-covered countryside for a Christmas tree. I was the copilot on the B-47E, and we started to look for the right size tree in a remote field.
Jason Harrison was flying his Cessna Turbo 182T from Albuquerque to Colorado for his 50th birthday when he took this dramatic shot of Telluride. A unique airport, TEX sits on a mesa over 9,000 feet above sea level. When the weather is good, the views are spectacular.
I didn’t really need to be able to copy Morse code at full speed to recognize the two or three letters used to identify aviation navigational aids. Nonetheless, I thought I would give the Koch method a try and learn at low full speed. At the time I thought, “What could it take—a few weeks of working on it in the evening?
“Ever land on grass?” Chet asked quietly, as always, with great understatement that veiled the imminent challenge. “No,” I replied, knowing that I would do it soon. The turf runway at Harford County airport (0W3) in Churchville, Maryland, was only 17 nautical miles northeast of our home base
I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but if I had to commit to one for 2020 it would be to spend more time traveling and less time as a tourist. That might sound like a distinction without a difference, but I believe the change in mindset is profound—especially for a pilot.