Sunsets never get old, especially when there’s a high cloud layer to frame it just right. As King Air pilot Ron Pogatchnik says, “After 24,000 hours of flying time, I am still absolutely dumbstruck at some of the things I get to see.”
I presented myself in the owner’s office, hat figuratively in hand. Perhaps he saw something of himself in the plaintive teen-ager standing before him, but for whatever reason, he took me on. He explained that he was unable to pay me any wages, but in return for gassing and washing airplanes and doing general chores around the office, he would pay me in flying lessons.
My second passenger, and my first cross-country as a private pilot, was Garin, a lifelong friend with whom I grew up. He and his family came up to Clover to spend the weekend with us so I reserved my favorite 172 for Saturday morning. The weather was beautiful, if a little bit warm, with some showers moving in later in the day as normal. I decided we’d make the short, scenic hop from EQY up to HKY to get some grub at the airport café.
Many pilots will freely admit to being aviation nerds, avgeeks, or flying nuts. Whatever phrase you use to describe the affliction, we want to know the defining characteristic. Is it the number of airplane models you own? The bookshelf full of POHs? The flight training debt you work to pay off?
It was the inaugural flight of a new service and the commercial pressure to make a success of that first flight must have been on Doug’s mind. In the event, it was later found he had been scud running though the hills of the Barrington Tops range near Dungog, NSW, en route Sydney to Taree. The terrain was dangerous and covered in mist and rain.
Fathers and sons have been bonding over airplanes for over 100 years. In this special Father’s Day edition of the Friday Photo, Robert Bready shares a wonderful picture of a very young but enthusiastic pilot trying out the left seat of an S35 Bonanza.
Flying, something we both love to do, is much more than just a weekend hobby. It’s our version of playing catch in the back yard, a shared experience laden with meaning. Of course we do talk when we fly, but I’ve realized the most important words between father and son are unspoken.
The day I got my first charter job flying air tours in Hawaii, I remember being offered two different jobs: one flying a Cessna 402 and the other flying a Beech 18. I called Dad and told him of my choices. The voice of experience spoke. I’ll never forget his words: “Don’t miss the opportunity to fly round engines. It only comes around once in a lifetime.” I took his advice and was never sorry.
Growing up, I have many vivid memories of spending time with Dad at the airport. Whether it was changing the oil in the Pacer, helping with a compression check on the Bonanza, or just washing the bugs off the Pietenpol after a picturesque sunset flight around the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, I learned a lot about flying and life in those moments.
I like to think there are a handful of driving forces in my life. Family and flying are two of those and, thanks to a supportive family, I sometimes get to combine those. My jack-of-all-trades FBO/mechanic/pilot/instructor career choice often means that flying takes me away from the family, but during a special couple of days I got to share an airplane delivery trip with my nine-year old.
On this particular early morning trip I was a passenger on a Lear 45 business flight when I witnessed the most amazing sunrise. We were somewhere over Illinois, headed to Boston from Wichita. As the sun began to shine, it illuminated the cloud layer from below and reminded me of a lava field. Sometimes, a guy is just blessed to have such a great view from his office window.
It was four-plus decades ago, on my solo cross-country as a student pilot flying from Salem to John Day and back, that I almost ran the tanks dry. So in the spirit of learning from others’ mistakes, I offer this true-life-student-pilot experience.
“Maybe we should wait until tomorrow to leave,” my mom inquired as she looked at the weather forecast on her phone. I noted that her voice was very nervous sounding.” No, it will be fine once we get to a high altitude,” my dad said reassuringly. The engine sputtered and then roared, then we started to roll onto the taxiway. I could feel the tension inside the cabin; everyone seemed a bit uneasy.
Aviation technology has changed rapidly over the years, and yet Air Traffic Control works much the same as it did during the booming 1960s. In this article from 51 years ago, Richard Collins goes behind the scenes at Washington Center to explore the technology at work, from flight plan routes to weather deviations. It’s a fascinating time capsule.
We drove down the dirt access road between cornfields, and over a slight rise, a magical world appeared. There were grass runways and airplanes. An airplane took off. The scene was complete all at once and etched into my memory. The airport was a magnificent place.
Lake Powell offers some of the most incredible views of anywhere in the southwestern United States, and Richard Garnett capture one such view in this Friday Photo. He was on a training flight with Jeniffer Kiraly in a Piper Archer when he snapped this photo of Padres Butte rising up out of the water.
FAA inspectors are some of the few that are exposed to aviation’s “dark side.” None of my former corporate aviation coworkers had ever been out on a fatal accident investigation. Trust me, there is nothing that can prepare you for being out in the middle of nowhere looking at twisted metal (that looks nothing like an airplane) and the gruesome remains where a pilot and his passengers experienced their last moment on earth.
It may have been falling apart – the cardboard and paper ripping at the seams and the ink slowly fading from its pages – but within it dwelled the memories and accomplishments of a young man striving to become a pilot. All of this I failed to realize as my grandpa’s logbook passed from his outstretched hands to mine just a few months before his death. Looking back, I wish I had explored the stories hidden within.
A CFI friend who worked with me on this rating told me that I would probably ruin the lives of my students for the first 100 hours that I instructed. It was true, but hopefully not that bad. As of this writing, I have over 700 instructing hours in most every single-engine trainer out there, and I have evolved in my thinking about this whole business of training homo sapiens to safely take to the skies.
My sister and her husband were visiting for a short trip and we started talking about airplanes. It was evening but the weather was perfect and the next two days looked terrible so we spontaneously decided to go right then and there. They had a phenomenal time and were enchanted by the beauty of NYC at night. It was my first time through the VFR corridor at night as well, and the views didn’t disappoint.