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Things that go bump

A few of years back we upgraded our transponder to an FIS/ADS-B capable unit in anticipation of the FAA mandate. Like many, I think, the ADS-B traffic picture was a revelation to me. “Empty” airspace I’d bored through for decades was filled with targets—quite a few of them pointing at me! Paranoia aside, it should not have been a surprise. I’d had my share of warnings, subtle and direct, over the years.

That other ice

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.

Friday Photo: frontal passage

This photograph was taken just after a cold front associated with a low pressure system passed over the field. The system’s passage was preceded by a pulse of moisture with intense precipitation and a dramatic shift in wind. Twenty minutes later the leading edge of the front spawned a tornado – unusual in central California.

Dear NASA: learning from my mistakes

The Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) is where maintenance technicians, pilots, controllers, etc. can anonymously report inadvertent violations of regulations or unsafe conditions which resulted from their action (or inaction). I have never been deterred from submitting an ASRS report for a transgression, mistake or bad decision. And I’ve had plenty of material to work with.

Remembering a Christmas tragedy 50 years later

During the holiday season of 1968, in an isolated Pennsylvania community, Allegheny Airlines’ professionalism, safety culture and luck would abandon the airline to a sequence of events no fiction writer could invent. And the echo of those tragedies continues to resonate a half century later.

Silent night over the Appalachian Mountains

We all have occasion to read accident reports, now and then, and hope to learn something for our effort. When we step into the cockpit, these thoughts are set aside in order to focus on the tasks of flying. It is only in the rarest circumstances when mortality infiltrates the cockpit and stubbornly takes hold.