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Smoke on the water: a long, summer cross country

Flying is fun, right? Yes, under the right circumstances. It can also be a challenge, as this story illustrates. Long cross-country trips in a small airplane can be a breeze, but only if that breeze is a healthy tailwind and the sky is clear. We had about twenty knots of headwind both going out and coming back.

Friday Photo: San Juan Mountains

Sometimes waiting is the smart thing to do. Dan Littmann spent an extra day at the FBO before taking off for Oklahoma in his Cessna 182, and was rewarded with this beautiful view of the San Juan Mountains topped with snow. Most importantly, he had a safe flight. As Dan says, “it’s better to arrive alive.”

Flying is great, but family is better – a Christmas story

The first big cross-country flight I made in a light airplane was in 1976. A college buddy and I thought it would be fun to fly from Ohio to California and back over Christmas. Being young, single, and invincible at the time, we did not think too much about what the weather might have to say about it. We departed Springfield, Ohio (KSGH) on December 20 in a borrowed 150-hp AA-5 Traveler.

Stayin alive – 16 favorite aviation quotes

Sometimes a simple phrase can sum up the essence of flying better than a chapter in a textbook. Here, experienced pilot Dan Littmann shares 16 of his favorite aviation quotes. From Wolfgang Langewiesche to Bob Hoover, well-known pilots share words that are funny but lessons that are serious. Read his list, then add your own.

Icing: the cold, hard (air) facts

There is a saying that goes, “In aviation there are three kinds of ice: good, bad, and hazardous. The good ice is found in the galley.” Most of us are not flying airplanes with galleys, but you get the point. So any ice on the outside of an aircraft is either bad or downright hazardous. Here’s how to avoid it – no matter what time of year it is.

Aircraft ownership – taking the plunge

I tell people that I have learned more about flying in the time I have owned an aircraft than all the years before. Do your homework, and the day you become an aircraft owner will likely be one of the happiest of your life without another being the day you sell it!

A harrowing tale(wheel)

Back in 1979 I was working as a flight test engineer for Cessna Aircraft at the peak of general aviation’s heyday. One of the perks of my employment at Cessna was delivering aircraft to the dealers on weekends. Most times I would ferry the aircraft out in the morning and take the airlines home in the afternoon.

Learning to fly – is it worth it?

Why would anyone spend $100,000 getting all of the licenses and ratings, work bottom-rung flying jobs to get the 1500 hours, and then seek a $22,000/year position at one of the regionals? It makes no economic sense. For better or worse, commercial aviation is not the glamor industry it used to be. Is there more to it?

Close encounters

I have been flying small airplanes on and off for several decades. I have had close calls before. They tend to happen quickly. I had never had two close calls inside of 20 minutes before that particular Sunday.

The flight of a lifetime

Flying in a light aircraft has its risks and rewards just like any other endeavor. We all know that the risks can be considerable, but what about the rewards? Are they worth the risks? This flight, complete with pictures and video suggests they are.

I Can’t Believe I Did That #8

The big day had arrived and I was going to fly my wife, her sister, and my 13-year-old niece to the West Coast by way of the Grand Canyon. A check of the weather revealed a rather dynamic situation developing with instrument conditions along the first part of the route from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Dalhart, Texas.