https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/fog-on-runway.jpg 427 640 Brett Swailes https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Brett Swailes2020-08-04 09:25:442020-07-29 16:27:17Approach to oblivion
Another low-pressure system was making its way through the Carolinas and into the Northeast corridor with enough attendant weather to bring low IMC to most of the Northeast itself. I had a flight in the morning to Salisbury, MD, then to Richmond, VA, and then back home to Chester County, PA—all forecast to be at or near minimums, or possibly even below. This posed a real problem.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/valley-sunrise-morning-mist-misty-trees-hills-sky-grass.jpg 586 880 Dave Sandidge https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Dave Sandidge2020-07-08 08:55:012020-07-08 08:59:45Night, mist, haze, and all that jazz
Sometimes when we look back to our earliest periods in aviation, we are rightly hounded by some of the infamously stupid things we did—or tried to do. But if you’re like me, you can honestly say you just didn’t know any better at the time, and that there was no one around to warn you of the dangers. We all have to learn. And every once in a while, the learning unveils itself ex post facto.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Piper_PA-38-112_Tomahawk_F-GOFC_in_flight.jpg 683 1024 Rob McCallum https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Rob McCallum2020-06-30 09:41:252020-06-23 15:08:13Goal fixation: when ingenuity overrides common sense
This is not a story about fast jets, elaborate cockpits or major life and death mid-air drama… it is the true story of a humble student pilot trying so hard to overcome a mid-air incident that he took leave of his common sense.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Seaplane-on-river.jpg 415 608 Phil Roth https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Phil Roth2020-06-16 09:45:372020-06-12 12:07:42Implausible, providential, or dumb luck?
I’ve waited almost a lifetime to fess up to behaving badly. The statute of limitations has hopefully expired in sixty-six years. Specifically, in 1954 at age twenty, 165 hours total time, no IFR training and growing up on a rural Pennsylvania farm, I was living a teenage fantasy for adventure in a far-off land.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/chicago-sunset.jpg 450 600 Jay Wischkaemper https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Jay Wischkaemper2020-06-03 09:25:422020-05-28 14:45:56Why is it so dark? An important lesson learned
About an hour into that leg, I noticed something disconcerting. It was getting dark, and it was only 7:30. All my questions about why this was happening didn’t stop it from happening, and by 8:00 PM, it was totally dark. It had never dawned on me that I lived on the western side of the central time zone, and that on the eastern side of that time zone, things were quite a bit different.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/thunderstorm-567678_960_720.jpg 540 960 Barry Benator https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Barry Benator2020-04-23 09:01:492020-04-23 10:11:27Your eyes have the deciding vote—my thunderstorm encounter
I observed a huge gray mass of clouds directly in front of me. As a relatively new instrument rated pilot with minimal actual IMC time, it looked pretty intimidating to me. So I called ATC and asked if they were painting any weather along my route back to PDK. ATC advised that there was no significant weather between me and PDK. That gave me considerable comfort.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/airpark.jpg 900 1500 Bob Teter https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Bob Teter2020-04-08 09:02:452020-04-08 09:49:49Don’t take things for granted
In the late 1970s and early 1980s I was a traffic watch pilot in Phoenix, Arizona. Radio station KTAR provided the on-air reporter and the FBO at Deer Valley provided the Grumman AA-1C aircraft and pilots. The AA-1C certainly wasn’t the ideal aircraft for the task. It didn’t perform well in high density altitude operations. On a hot day with full fuel it would barely make it to 5500 feet.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/73A-on-dirt.jpg 484 649 Gary Kerr https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Gary Kerr2020-03-04 08:52:412020-03-04 10:15:10I seem to have misplaced planet Earth
My wife, undoubtedly, would choose our honeymoon encounter with ice; my mother the complete electrical failure we experienced while on an IFR flight in very IFR conditions; but for me, my scariest time in an airplane was the time I was late to the party in figuring out what the airplane was doing.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Between-layers.jpg 351 468 Elliott Cox https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Elliott Cox2020-02-26 08:45:462020-02-26 11:25:47Hot chicken, icy wings
We were happily, and smoothly, cruising along in the clouds at 7,000 ft. when ATC issued me a climb to 9,000. I remember reading the instruction back and initiating the climb while thinking to myself this is a bad idea. I had it in my head that I’d filed for 7, so we were going to stay at 7, but I climbed anyway.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/cub-over-water.jpg 516 849 Dan Blore https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Dan Blore2020-02-05 08:49:312020-02-05 09:11:56Nodding off at 10 feet above the waves
We usually climbed up to 400 or 500 feet and followed the Parkway toward home but I had a different plan. I was so damn tired I crossed the beach at Wildwood and dropped down to ten feet. The sun was low off my left. With the doors and windows open, a cool breeze and the near water would keep me awake.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/PHL-route-on-FA.jpg 1230 1000 Charlie Tillett https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Charlie Tillett2020-01-29 08:32:412020-01-29 10:39:56Low on fuel: how I almost become that guy (or gal)!
The one accident that I smugly assumed could never happen to me was fuel exhaustion—after all, is there any pilot error that is more avoidable? I always plan in excess of FAA minimums. So how did I find myself surrounded by widespread IFR conditions as night was falling in the White Mountains, watching my fuel gauge fall below an hour when I was still 15 minutes from the nearest airport?
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/winter-mood-434730_1280-1.jpg 1280 960 Maurice Caudill https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Maurice Caudill2019-11-21 08:41:522019-11-21 17:27:20Escape from the jaws of IMC
I’m not proud of this event, and I hesitate to tell the story. But, it may trigger some preflight thoughts in another VFR pilot. I received some IFR training, both classroom and simulator, but decided to not pursue the rating because the airplane I acquired was not equipped. That worked very well until December 29, 2010.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Airfields_CT_C_html_m4bc0647e.jpg 847 973 Fred Simonds https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Fred Simonds2019-10-16 10:38:072019-10-16 10:44:04Read those NOTAMs!
We cruised on down to the Long Island Sound shoreline to shoot the VOR-A approach into Griswold Airport (now closed). Griswold was private, but nothing said we couldn’t shoot a low approach. Local scuttlebutt alleged that a Griswold family owned the airport and that they were “crazy.”
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2.jpg 956 1280 Larry Noe https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Larry Noe2019-09-26 09:14:372019-09-26 09:47:22I damaged my airplane. Now what?
About three years ago, I had an unfortunate incident with my airplane. I flew to a nearby airport to pick up my instructor for a couple of days of training. We typically did intensive IFR training but this year, I wanted to refresh some basic flying skills so we planned a combination of some VFR basics and some IFR.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Isuzu_NQR_airfield_tank_truck.jpg 1556 1765 Richard Benson https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Richard Benson2019-06-06 08:02:202019-06-06 08:02:46I almost ran the tanks dry
It was four-plus decades ago, on my solo cross-country as a student pilot flying from Salem to John Day and back, that I almost ran the tanks dry. So in the spirit of learning from others’ mistakes, I offer this true-life-student-pilot experience.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Aerial-photo_Jesse.jpg 540 960 Lawrence Drake https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Lawrence Drake2019-05-13 10:25:412019-05-29 10:05:12Whiteout in a Cub
My plane had no instruments for flying in the clouds, and no radio for communication. Visual Flight Rules were the only option, and that didn’t look too promising. The time of go or no-go was approaching rapidly. The low ceiling would not be a problem if it held. Young and foolish? Yes, but the decision was made.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/windsock.jpg 300 450 Hunter Heath https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Hunter Heath2019-03-25 10:52:452019-03-25 10:53:23I can’t believe I did that… and that… and that
I was distracted by early arrival of a passenger while adding a quart of oil, and closed the cowl without replacing the oil filler cap. That meant that a short while later, at 5000 ft on a thank-God CAVU day, I saw a trickle of oil on the cowl, and the oil pressure needle at the bottom of the green and headed down.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/The-damage.jpeg 960 1280 Andy Kopetzky https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Andy Kopetzky2019-03-20 10:50:062019-03-20 10:50:29One of those days I should have stayed home
In a ten-day span pockmarked by GA incidents and accidents, a WWII era T-6 wound up engulfed in flames on the Southern California 101 Freeway; other aircraft landed on city streets and highways without incident and wound up on the local evening news. Yours truly joined the ranks of those involved in a GA mishap.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/plane-on-ramp.jpg 1478 2076 Mike DeWald https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png Mike DeWald2019-03-06 10:35:292019-03-06 10:35:42A stupid decision: ignoring the oil pressure gauge
I was pretty sure that we had an oil problem, but the oil temp and CHTs all seemed OK. About this time, the little voice in the back of everyone’s head had begun to chide me for not landing somewhere while things were just bothersome, not really a problem yet. Of course, I overruled it. Memo for file: pay more attention to little voices in the future.
https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Karasek-by-Kodiak.jpg 597 798 John Karasek https://airfactsjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Air-Facts-Logo340.png John Karasek2019-02-28 09:59:512019-02-28 10:00:08Surprise at 11,000 feet
Just as we were flying over Memphis at 11,000 feet, I was enjoying looking out at the city on my side when all of the sudden there was a huge forward surge as the engine quit and alarms, tones, and buzzers all started sounding! I immediately pulled back on the yoke and shouted, “What happened?!”