Friday Photo: morning over the Cascades

I took an early morning summer flight across the Cascades in Oregon on a perfect morning. Unlimited visibility, no wind, an almost eerie lack of any sign of civilization. As I neared the middle of the mountain range, I saw this stunning lineup of (from the left) Mt. Jefferson, Three-Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, and two of the Three Sisters. A timeless moment that signals the best of the flying experience.

Friday Photo: sunrise over Virginia

Early morning always reminds me of a fresh start, a new day, and a chance to learn and gain experience(s) as a pilot. While crawling out of bed seems less than desirable at 0500, views like this are rare, priceless, and worth every effort to capture aviation moments in time like this.

Friday Photo: Florida Keys

We cancelled IFR west of Boca Raton and descended VFR with flight following to fly the east coast line down to the Keys and out to Marathon. ATC was unbelievable! I was handed off to FLL tower to facilitate flying through their airspace. Traffic was not bad and ADS-B In made others easy to find. Great views the whole way! Just beautiful...

Friday Photo: Florida sunset

Sunsets are spectacular anytime airplanes are involved, and this Friday Photo proves that you don't even have to be flying for that to be true. Kent Meyer took this gorgeous photo as the sun set over his Challenger 350, on the ramp at Inverness, Florida. It's enough to make you want to drive to the airport and go chase the sun.

Friday Photo: Puget Sound fun

Puget Sound in Washington is an ideal place for a general aviation airplane. The distances are short, but roads are few, so a quick flight can take you a world away from the busy streets of Seattle. In this picture from Kevin Knight, Mother Nature gets an assist, as the sun breaks through a broken layer of clouds, highlighting the water below.

Friday Photo: thunderstorm at sunset

Harvey Swift sums it up well: "As a captain on the 737, I get to see many great sights. I managed to get a good one here." His breathtaking photo is a reminder of how beautiful—and dangerous—Mother Nature can be.

Friday Photo: safe from the storm

In tropical countries storms build up very fast; you must be aware of that and take care of you and your plane. That's what Santiago Arbelaez is doing in this week's Friday Photo. It shows his 1954 Piper Pacer tied down at Tolu, Colombia, in preparation for a nasty storm.

Friday Photo: sunrise over Georgia

In the summer months here I love sunrise flights. It's cooler and you beat the heat, humidity, afternoon thunderstorms, and convective turbulence. It's also pretty quiet up there with little air traffic. But it requires waking up around 0500 to get to the airport early enough to catch the sunrise airborne.

Friday Photo: a busy rain cloud

I was flying up to our family cottage in Gravenhurst, Ontario. The visibility was excellent and there were lots of fluffy white cumuliform clouds starting to tower up all around. This one caught my eye because it was pretty much on its own and it was producing a strong column of rain.

Friday Photo: Indonesian island off the wing

Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, with over 17,000 total islands. Emiliano Beltramone captured a picturesque one from the right seat of a Cessna Caravan in this week's Friday Photo. The remote island with tree-covered hills and a lagoon looks right out of a postcard.

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.