Entries by

9/11/01 — One pilot’s experience

It is now 5:25 p.m. on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, a day that will live—as certain as does Pearl Harbor Day—in infamy. I am sitting in room 212 at the Baymont Inn near the Indianapolis, Indiana, Airport. I will be staying here for at least tonight and probably even longer. According to local reports, I am very fortunate to even have a room because of the five to six thousand passengers stranded, like fellow pilot John Baker and myself, in this city that we had never intended to visit.

Omaha to Tel Aviv in a Cessna 210

Jim and I talked further about ferry procedures, the probable route and the likely departure date. I was grateful then, when at the end of our lunch, he agreed to accompany me on the trip. I had about two thousand hours of over-water time by then, but all of it was with four engines at high altitude.

The least bad option: dead-stick landing in a Hellcat

I prepared the Hellcat for flight, and was soon airborne in pursuit of the others. But just as I joined the formation, one of my squadron mates broke radio silence to tell me that I was trailing smoke. Simultaneously with his call, oil began to wash over my front windscreen and I began to lose engine power. I knew that I had to get the airplane on the ground as soon as possible.

Friday Photo: Ercoupe sunset

After 35 years as a professional pilot (Boeing 747s on down), I now fly a Light Sport-qualified Ercoupe 415-C. It is a fantastic airplane, and “low and slow” is great after so many years of high and fast. The view from, the speed of, and the pleasure of flying this “no-purpose-but-to-enjoy-it” airplane are all just what I was looking for at this end of my career.