Friday Photo: an advancing storm

I was on the first leg of my long solo cross-country, where the route was FMY-OBE-PGD-FMY. The storm was forecast to stay west of OBE, and this picture was taken as the storm cut off my path to OBE. I had clear skies to my right, so I executed a 180-degree turn to the right and returned to FMY from the southwest while remaining clear of clouds. I repeated the flight the following day to completion.

Friday Photo: Father’s Day Flying Fun Times Two

This Father's Day will be hard to top. Two years ago I surprised my Dad and landed in his back yard on Father's Day morning for coffee. During coffee I asked him if he would ever fly with me. He said "No freaking way!" But I guess he had a change of heart... here's proof that he flew with me two years later to the day.

Friday Photo: dodging storms in an R44 helicopter

Avoiding thunderstorms in a helicopter is different than an airplane. Instead of weaving around building cumulus clouds up high, it often means weaving around dark rain shafts. This picture of an imposing storm over Colorado shows this procedure in action, as John Grasberger flew his Robinson R44 home from Oshkosh.

Friday Photo: tilt-rotor formation

During February of 2015 I was called in by Don Barbour of Leonardo Helicopters to photograph the company’s newly-acquired-from-Agusta-Bell Model 609 prototype in advance of the then-upcoming Heli-Expo event in Orlando, Florida. The aircraft was being repainted in Eastern and Bristow (both prospective buyers at the time) markings in order to provide a fresh perspective for the event.

Friday Photo: vuelos divertidos

With small action cameras like the GoPro finding their way into many flight bags, pilots have a new perspective to share with the world. In this beautiful picture, Agustin Rubiños shows the wingtip view of his Cessna 172 as he cruises over the Pampas plain in South America.

Friday Photo: New Mexico badlands

The American West is an amazing mosaic landscape of deserts, mountains, rock formations, and barren nothingness. Flying a cross-country trip over much of it was a personal dream of mine come true. At the time, I was still in training for my instrument rating, and this trip gave me an excellent dose of real-world flying experience.

Friday Photo: a close encounter

"Nature's art gallery." That's what Elliott Meisel calls the view most pilots enjoy. In this example, the view isn't necessarily beautiful or calming, but it is awe-inspiring. Meisel captured this photo as he deviated around some storms in his 2006 Cessna 172. A close encounter, but not too close.

Friday Photo: lunch at the Tin Goose Diner

The Erie-Ottawa International Airport in Port Clinton, Ohio, is a great stop for general aviation pilots. The views of nearby Lake Erie make for a great low-level flight, the Liberty Aviation Museum brings World War II history to life, and the Tin Goose Diner is an authentic 1950s restaurant. Tim Hornyak captures the view from the ramp, with his beautiful AA-1 Yankee in front of it.

Friday Photo: Chicago on a clear day

I was on a return flight, mid morning, deadheading back after an early Angel Flight. Downtown Chicago was basking in the morning sun and it was an excellent photo op. Soldier Field, the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and Grant Park in the foreground and Willis (Sears) Tower to the John Hancock in the background.

Friday Photo: P-38 Lightning

This Lockheed P-38L Lightning now is part of the “Flying Bulls” collection under the very wide Salzburg, Austria-based Red Bull corporate umbrella. It has had a long and highly public career that spans some three-quarters of a century. Built in 1944 and given serial number 44-53254, it was purchased surplus for $1,250 from the War Department.

Friday Photo: early evening in a Cub

This photo was taken on the return leg of a day trip to Osceola, Wisconsin, from the Twin Cities, where there is still a grass runway to play on with this fun little taildragger. After a few landings with the wire and cork gas gauge telling us it was time to take a break, we took the courtesy car into the beautiful old town area for a look at Cascade Falls and lunch. Back to the airport for some gas, a few more times around the patch for good measure and then back home to finish off a perfect day of aviating.

Friday Photo: Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain, lying north to south and bordered by the Adirondacks to the west and Green Mountains to the east, represents one of the beautiful natural environments to fly. Even when life feels overwhelming, flying is a reminder of a sense of calm and distraction and the good fortune of being a pilot.

Friday Photo: Cheyenne Bottoms

The ecological significance of Cheyenne Bottoms is impressive. It is estimated that 45% of the North American shorebird population stops at the Bottoms during spring migration. It was a beautifully calm morning in Kansas and it was a true joy to see the area from above. Flying brings us so many different perspectives!

Friday Photo: IFR between layers

It is 98 degrees and 80 percent humidity in Mississippi, and you are shooting practice approaches with an instrument instructor sitting in the right seat. It's hard to remember why you are putting yourself through this for an instrument ticket. Then the day comes when you are able to turn a six hour drive into a 90 minute flight. I remembered that it was all worth it. 

Friday Photo: waiting to land

SCTB is a busy general aviation airport on the eastern edge of Santiago, Chile, with a busy flying club and restaurant on the field. This photo from Gaspar Galaz shows the lineup for the runway as he approaches to land, with the airport looking like an oasis in a desert of buildings.

Friday Photo: Monterey Bay

The low sun angle illuminating the ocean swell and surface wind waves in fine detail—flying home at the end of a beautiful day. We take turns with one flying outbound and the other back. I was lucky to have the right seat for this shot. To me this photo is reminder of why I love flying, purely for the opportunity to see the world in a different way.

Friday Photo: USNS Comfort in New York

Flying is one of the few aspects of life that continues much as before during the COVID-19 quarantine. Today (4/12) was a beautiful spring day, and we took advantage of the near-empty airspace to escape our confinement in our cramped New York City apartments and fly in formation overhead Newark Airport (with one solitary Delta departure) and take the tour of the city we have flown single-ship many times.

Friday Photo: anticipating flight

After a week in self-imposed quarantine, I decided to socially distance myself in the clear blue western sky over Texas. A creature of habit as all pilots are, I interrupted my preflight ritual of fully opening the hangar so as to avoid making contact with a fellow pilot who happened upon my same idea. Looking out through the partially opened hangar door as I’ve never before thought to look, I was rewarded with stunning contrasts.

Friday Photo: a quiet Dulles Airport

Generally Friday afternoons are a hive of activity at Dulles Airport outside of Washington, DC, with a steady stream of incoming 777s and A380s from Europe and Asia all arriving within a few hours. Today, however, with all the coronavirus cancellations, Dulles was a perfect spot for a couple of touch and gos on runway 01C.

Friday Photo: a road in the clouds

Charlie Tillett was flying east from Columbus, Ohio, in his Piper Meridian when he took this shot. There was an overcast layer between 1,000 and 2,000 ft, and he passed over I-77 just south of where the highway passes through New Philadelphia. You can clearly see the road’s path in the cloud, with disruptions caused by road heat.