Expectation bias and distractions lead to near disaster

what was causing our 400,000 lbs. abode to creep forward at an alarmingly increasing rate? What was earlier yards or even feet of separation now seemed like mere inches. Those vehicles, those people, they had no way to move, no way to extricate themselves from the approaching doom.

Never again – too much trust in the weather forecast

All of a sudden, a giant water tower appeared in front of me. I was now at 200 ft. AGL and quickly turned around the water tower to find my position. Woodville, Mississippi was written on the side of the water tower. Yes, at least now I knew where I was. I got out my VFR paper map and hunted for Woodville on that map, but I could not find it.
Runway lights

A night flight I’ll never forget

My unfamiliarity with the airplane, its engine, and perhaps the fact that Goff was red-lining his airplane which had 30 more horsepower made the gap between us increase more and more until the dot I was following on my wind screen which I believed was Goff turned out to be an insect splatter. Suddenly, I was flying alone and in the dark.
Cub in the grass

My secret forced landing

Then the Cub quit flying. It just fell out of the sky and plopped into a farmer’s field. The soft soil not only absorbed my abrupt landing, but also stopped the airplane in just a matter of feet. The tail plopped down. It was over.

My near miss and partial panel recovery

I applied full left stick and pulled back.  I swear I could hear the engine of the other airplane as it passed the belly of mine.  After I realized that we had missed each other, I looked around and could see only black and no horizon.
Gray clouds

Surviving my solo cross-country flight in South Korea

When I arrived at the Sea of Japan coastline, was I supposed to turn south, or was it north? Which way had the winds been blowing me? I did not recognize any landmarks on the chart. So, I turned south, flew for 10 or 15 minutes, and still did not find the expected landmarks.
crashed airplane in grass

Multiple mistakes were too much to overcome

The airplane suddenly was blown to the right of centerline by a strong gust.  I immediately put in left aileron and worked the rudder to get back to centerline.  Just as abruptly the gust was gone, and I felt a sensation that I had not felt before in an aircraft.  The left wing simply stopped flying – as if there was no lift at all.  This did not develop like any stall I had ever experienced.

Sleeping on the job – a lesson in staying alert

WAIT!  I’m supposed to be flying, not sleeping!  Where am I?  Where am I going?  I checked the instruments and saw I was now heading west at 10,500 feet.  I glanced around and knew exactly where I was, so I turned back to a northerly heading.

Young and reckless

A wall of clouds quickly advanced from the west. Lightning flashed, illuminating several shocked faces in the dark. Before I ducked into the small backpacking tent Niki and I were sharing, I glanced at the Cessna 177 parked next to us. It was snugly tied down, chocked, and ready to weather the storm. The tie-downs. My stomach sank. I forgot to pack the tie-downs!

Fate was on my side – a lesson in scud running

It was a dreadful sickening feeling, flying ever so close to the tower with the supporting guy wires clearly visible. The tower pulsed strobe lights, meaning it poked menacingly into the sky to at least 500 feet unseen in the daunting gloom.
Airplane out side window

First solo out of the pattern: an unexpected adventure in risk management

All of a sudden, I hear “MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY!” along with a report that a small biplane had a propeller failure during the takeoff roll.  After a minute or so of radio silence, the UNICOM monitor announces that the the runway - the ONLY runway - at my home airport is closed until further notice.  Gulp.

My near fuel emergency

The extra RPMs to compensate for the half-opened carb heat, a probably too conservative mixture, and of course stronger than forecasted winds aloft resulted in a much higher fuel burn than expected. Surprisingly, the FBO pumped 34.5 gallons into our Skyhawk! That calculates to only 3.5 gallons remaining.
Super Cub

A simple oversight almost ruins a bucket list trip

From Andover I flew the first leg to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, the Cub’s birthplace. We topped off and I climbed up to check the tanks, which was probably my first mistake. Lyle took the front seat and I squeezed all 6‘ 1” of me into the back. Lyle cranked the starter and we heard a bang like something hitting the plane. We ignored it. Second mistake.
Closed runway

The hex of the X

I was soon downwind with a Cheshire cat grin on my face my only thought being what a great pilot I was to become. After a greased landing “Mr. Pro Pilot” taxied up to the FBO. Strangely, no one was there to greet me? It was mid-morning but all the doors were locked. Now what do I do?
Cessna 182

Weight and balance “get-there-itis” traps

It was a beautiful spring day for an airplane ride, which I was asked to give to a very important and even famous client (and his two friends). As an instrument pilot having flown for years, I knew the importance of getting the exact weight of my client and his two adult friends, so I got the numbers over the phone. I never realized that a hidden trap was awaiting me until I first saw all three of them at the airport.
Thermometer at 100 degrees

Low, hot, and humid

The subsequent takeoff began normally enough—I didn’t necessarily notice if we became airborne a little farther down the runway than normal or not. But once airborne, I slowly became aware that things weren’t going as expected. After liftoff, the climb rate of the 172 was downright anemic to say the least. It was clawing the air trying to climb, but without much success.

Who’s pilot in command? A faulty assumption leads to an accident

There was much joking and laughing about operating the Savannah, a small aircraft, from an 8,000-ft runway that had been built for nuclear bombers. The weather was perfect, we were in high spirits, but there was no discussion about our respective licences and experience or check procedures. We were just a couple of pilot mates going for a fly—what could go wrong?
Scud from Cessna

A severe, multi-day case of “get-there-itis”

I took off before noon, as planned, and headed south. Soon the sky grew dimmer, and clouds started turning from cumulus to a thick carpet around 3000 ft AGL. Rain patches started to appear and two hours into my 3.5 hour planned trip I had to dodge them. Then about one hour from my destination a solid wall of rain appeared in front of me.
Stewart Mountain Dam, AZ

Breaking news—and breaking the rules

The visibility forward decreased gradually, but you could still see the ground. We were able to see Granite Reef, a small diversion dam and the point where the Verde and Salt rivers merge, but continuing further east was becoming a problem. Yet my urge to get the on-air reporter to the news site was strong. After all, that’s what I was getting paid to do.
Runway 29 approach

A spur of the moment decision, and a missed NOTAM

We entered the traffic pattern, and on left downwind to runway 29 we saw an area in the grass at the edge of the woods surrounded by yellow caution tape. Huh... wonder what that’s about. We landed and back-taxied, and could now see it was a wrecked plane that was cordoned off. No one around, just the plane. Curious.