Citabria on grass runway

The time when I almost landed short

The plane was perhaps 50 feet above the ground, but at least there was a smooth gravel under-run and the wheel pants were off. I had just enough energy to flare with a soft touchdown. I prepared myself for landing short. What an embarrassing end to the second leg of my Private pilot solo long cross-country.
airplane in grass

Centerline, centerline, centerline

The gusting wind from the east returns, pushing the aircraft toward the right side of the runway. In a matter of a few seconds, the grass infield fills my windshield. I didn’t get the thumb into the wind and I didn’t immediately get on the left rudder pedal to steer us back to the centerline. Years of training ignored in an instant which means we are now headed into the infield.

A dead stick landing and a chance encouter with Hal Shevers

At about 1,500 feet hawking the wind sock to determine my landing runway. The UNICOM frequency was quiet and I saw no other planes in the pattern. I turned away to re-enter on a 45 degree downwind. As I banked back to the field came a startling assault of silence. The engine quit—politely and with no shudder—it simply stopped running. I was a glider.
Cub nose in sand

Quick land to Quicksand

The landing went smoothly. As I taxied the Cub toward where I wanted to park, we hit a patch of quicksand that I hadn’t spotted from the air. Within the blink of an eye, the bushwheels sank, bringing the plane to an abrupt stop and sending its propeller into the sand and tail into the air.
mooney m20

Lessons learned from a sloppy IFR/VFR approach

Lowering the Mooney’s nose for descent enabled me to finally see the runway. However, when my bird’s nose is lowered, she is so slippery I accelerate quickly at the very time I need to be slowing. I intercepted the approach course and then flew through it.

Watch out for TFRs

Suddenly, my peripheral vision picked up something to my left and the serenity of the morning was shattered.  A Black Hawk helicopter was a few feet off my wing!  As I stared at it in disbelief, the door slid open and a soldier in fatigues held up a large 121.5 sign.  My shaking fingers stabbed at the radio 'emerg' button and I managed a feeble “hello?

Two in a row – a chain of mistakes and lessons

With less than 30 minutes to go before arriving, the battery couldn't hold a charge anymore. A warning message popped up on the PFD, and it only took five minutes for the electrical system to shut down. Thankfully, the PFD has a backup battery, so I knew I had around 30 minutes before it would go dark. I also had a Sporty's backup radio in my flight bag.
airplanes converging

My self-taught Immelmann for collision avoidance

The speck eventually sprouted a fuselage, twin-engine nacelles and a T-tail.  By the time the wing panels outboard of the engines became big enough to see, along with the turbine exhaust pipe exiting the near side nacelle, I was measuring four G’s on my panel accelerometer and depressing my control stick microphone switch.
Mooney M20E

Unfamiliarity and distractions nearly result in a gear up

About that time, another beeping noise could be heard over the buzzing in my headset.  “What’s that?” I asked.  “I’m not sure,” was the reply.  Now we were about a mile and a half from the runway.  Thankfully Philip did his GUMP check.  Gas, undercarriage.  Then we both noticed where that other beeping noise was coming from.

Caught above an overcast layer results in first encounter with IMC

By the time I did a 180 degree turn, there wasn’t a spot of open ground to be seen from horizon to horizon. At this point in my training, I didn’t even know what an approach plate was, but I knew I needed some kind of a plan for what to do next. What happened in the next few minutes was a combination of beginner’s luck with the benefit of a recent lesson on instrument familiarization from my instructor.

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.