I do not remember life before the blue and yellow Baby Ace; the first memory of my childhood is seeing rib jigs in the upstairs room of our small farmhouse. The next thing I knew those wings were in our living room and all the furniture was moved!
There’s nothing quite like that first flight as pilot in command. For David Booth, it was extra special because he was flying his adult children. The view of Melbourne from his Robinson R44 helicopter is great, but even better was “the surprise and amazement when they found out that their father had learned to fly.”
In the grass of Harvey Young, an airport tucked just south of Tulsa International, there appeared a beautiful 1946 Cessna 120. I couldn’t buy it, but I convinced my buddy that this was the airplane for him. Tulsa, Oklahoma to Boston, Massachusetts: a 1500-mile trip in a 30-year old airplane with no nav radio, a com radio that just barely worked, no gyro instruments except for that needle and ball, and a wet compass. This was adventure!
At 6500 feet without any engine power, I calculated my glide slope back to the airfield and knew straight away I could not make it, not even with this freshening tailwind. I had to prepare to land in a farmer’s field or find a nearby airstrip. I didn’t panic. I acted as I had done in training so many times.
The question is: can you spend the night in your own bed and fly tomorrow, taking off at 9am EST (1400 UTC) for the PDK to FXE flight? Or do you get in the car and start driving? Your 2015 Cirrus is well equipped with a Garmin glass cockpit, datalink weather, autopilot, and more. You’re also experienced and proficient, with over 2,500 hours total time and plenty of recent IFR flying under your belt.
In the past year or so it has become very, very expensive to insure a light jet flown by a single pilot, particularly an owner pilot. In some cases the single pilot may not be able to buy coverage at any price. This is significant because the light jets provide our only glimpse into the risks of flying solo.
That first long cross country flight is always a memorable experience, and for Kevin Cook it was even better – just look at that sunset. But what he remembers most are the helpful controllers throughout his flight. As he says, “We truly have an amazing ATC system in place in the US.”
Structural ice is a known flight hazard and there are plenty of forecasting products to help a pilot avoid it. Curiously, there is another type of icing that has sent its share of airplanes to the salvage yard, and pilots to the graveyard. Because it is mainly an affliction of low-performance aircraft, it doesn’t receive as much attention.
The “field of dreams” from the Kevin Costner movie is located near Dyersville, Iowa, and it’s worth a circle or two if you are flying over. However, if you are antique airplane enthusiast you know that Iowa’s real field of dreams is Antique Airfield in Blakesburg. Antique Airfield is home of the Antique Airplane Association, founded by Robert Taylor in 1953 and the AirPower Museum.
Datalink weather has made flying both easier and safer. If you don’t believe that, read this fascinating article from 70 years ago. Legendary author Wolfgang Langewiesche explains why the weather information pilots had in 1949 was so limited, and what could be done to improve the situation. Many of his wish list items have become a reality.
It was supposed to be a routine training flight. You know, the standard stuff. Pre-flight the plane, contact Santa Monica ground and tower controllers without sounding like a rank amateur, get clearance and transition through the Burbank airspace. I was even prepared for some light turbulence over the San Gabriel mountain range. I wasn’t at all prepared for the emotional turbulence.
It looks like a setting for a Western – because it is. The sandstone buttes of Monument Valley, on the border between Arizona and Utah, appear in many famous movies but they are even better in person. Richard Garnett shares a photo of the otherworldly scene in this Friday Photo, taken from a Piper Archer during a cross-country training flight.
A round-engine float plane dropped through a hole in a thick, low overcast to land, banging and clattering on choppy San Francisco Bay. It coasted to a stop a quarter mile dead-ahead of our Lapworth 40 sloop. We kept driving her, rail-down, hard on the wind, and quickly closed with the aircraft, a bit concerned.
The most famous decision pilots make happens before we even get airborne: to go or not to go? But after a busy summer of flying, I have learned that this is actually one of the easiest decisions in aviation. Saying “no” may be stressful when you’re on the ground, desperate to fly, but it’s much harder once you’re in the air. Call it plan continuation bias or get-there-itis; whatever the name, it is a worthy opponent.
Most of us are not commercial pilots nor do we fly as our profession, so it would be very easy to immediately move to the next article in Air Facts thinking this article doesn’t apply to us. I would argue that flying like a professional does matter. I want to encourage you to approach your flying with the attitude of a professional.
For Vini Khurana, checking out in his first airplane was a dream come true. He took this photo on a training flight and it shows a stunning view. The Pipistrel Virus is packed with Dynon avionics that light up the panel, but the view out the front window isn’t bad either.
Wisconsin is my adopted summer home state and the place where I do most of my fun flying. No, I’m not crazy; I head to Florida when snow, cold temps and ice fishing become the norm. Returning just before Memorial Day allows me the advantage of enjoying the best of both worlds. I like to say that I live in paradise… but in two widely disparate states.
Fast forward 35+ years and I was once again inspired by my father to get back into aviation, this time as a result of an agonizing four hour road trip to visit my parents (now in their 80s). I wondered if it would be easier to fly instead, so I purchased my first airplane in the fall of 2017, a “new to me” 1966 Piper Cherokee 180! Always a Cessna guy, I’m not sure how I ended up with a Cherokee.
The first solo – a red letter day in the life of a pilot. For most of us, that event is permanently etched in our memory. We can remember the airplane, hear the radio calls, and feel the relief and excitement when it was over. So this month we want to know what year you completed your first solo, and what the airplane was.
We thought our most exciting memories were behind us. Everything was going great; the sun was about to set and, in an instant, we lost everything but the motor. No radios. No lights. No electrical instruments. And no ideas – yet. We got through the checklist and decided we had lost our alternator.