I remember a flight, well, actually I remember many, but this one ranks up there, where if anything came up short, I probably wouldn’t be alive, let alone a pilot writing about this. Let me just put this out there now: I was young, stupid, and believed in the invincibility of me and my flight instructor, so let’s not go bashing the messenger here.
I had decided early on during the morning of January 1, New Year’s Day, to take a short flight and look over the Russian River Rendezvous lodge property at Lower Russian Lake down on the Kenai Peninsula. Just another still and tranquil New Year’s Day in the Alaska outback…
Beaumont, Kansas, is known as home of the Beaumont Hotel and not much else. Those of us who have it listed in our logbooks remember the unique experience of landing in a grass field at the east edge of town, taxiing onto the road, stopping at the stop sign, and parking under the trees south of the old hotel.
It was winter time in Brazil, São Paulo State. I was fresh from my private pilot course. I was young (21) and bold. The new engine installation was complete and I arrived at the city airport (SJWQ), with a field elevation 1339 feet, at 6:00 am.
The Angel on my right shoulder whispers, “This is not the time for you to be doing this, look at those clouds!” but the Devil on my left shoulder says, “Aw c’mon! You’re only going for a short flight, you’ve got to be able to fly in this, what’s stopping you?”
Shortly after earning my license, a pilot friend of the family heard I was a new pilot and invited me along to Oshkosh. His plan was to fly there and back in the same day. I had a whole 11 hours PIC and not much cross country experience. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
I appeared early the next morning to pick up my ticket and was greeted with a ticket and a box. In the box was a very large screwdriver and a new starter. It didn’t dawn on me that this job might be a little more complicated than previously explained.
When my friend Paul had mentioned a club at Republic Airport where I fly that was renting 2007 C172s with the G1000 panel, I jumped at the idea. I was previously flying a 2003 Piper Archer with 2 Garmin 430s and while I love the Archer, the club where I rented was very expensive, and I was excited to “step up” to the newer system.
I am a student pilot with 42 hours of flying time and am just getting ready for my flight exam. On Sunday I was practicing touch-and-goes and after my first landing, I retracted the flaps, added power and started to climb out. I immediately noticed that my climb rate was lower than normal.
I had read plenty of articles just like this one before my unusual flight happened. It always seems so obvious until you’re actually there, in the situation. Luckily, in my case, we got home safe, and after the disappointment passed, I learned just a little more to make me a better pilot.
It was getting dark. I had never flown at night. On top of that, I had no night cockpit familiarization training. Incredibly, I did not know where any of the light switches were. Does it surprise anyone that I was not carrying a flashlight as well?
If you have read many aviation stories, you will suffer no harm by ignoring this one. It is an Old Story that happened yesterday. I’m sure you have heard it all before. I would find it only mildly interesting were I not the protagonist, the antagonist and the jester.
It was the end of January, and my well-equipped 1985 Piper Warrior would be out of annual on February 1. I called and made an appointment with my A&P for the annual. The 50 nm trip was to Kenosha, Wisconsin, from West Chicago, Illinois.
Last February, on a weekend, I decided to take a flight from Tehran to Shiraz, in the south of Iran. I asked my instructor pilot and friend to accompany me. We encountered a heavy headwind up to 30 knots and fuel quickly became an issue.
The big day had arrived and I was going to fly my wife, her sister, and my 13-year-old niece to the West Coast by way of the Grand Canyon. A check of the weather revealed a rather dynamic situation developing with instrument conditions along the first part of the route from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Dalhart, Texas.
Just before I took my Private Pilot flight check, the 150 I’d been flying was grounded for an overhaul. I told my instructor that I wanted to fly the one I’d be flying for the test before hand so I could get a feeling for its idiosyncrasies. His reaction was “Heck, they all fly the same.”
Growing up in Ohio, the phrase, “if you don’t like the weather, wait a while and it’ll change,” is quite common. As pilots venturing to new places, we may want to pay extra attention whenever we hear locals chatting about weird or sudden weather changes they have witnessed.
December 4, 1995, a little over a year since earning our instrument ratings, my dad and I found ourselves flying in dark clouds in our club’s Grumman Tiger. We had departed Cleveland Cuyahoga County airport in Ohio and were now en route to Dunkirk in upstate New York where we would make a brief stop then fly on to Jamestown, New York for lunch.
More than a year before I set foot in a cockpit, I moved to Oklahoma. I remember a friend of mine telling me, “If you don’t like the weather here, give it fifteen minutes and it will change.” It was a good joke at the time, but once I started flying, this statement would serve as a constant reminder every time I sat behind the controls.
Ten Seconds from Hell may be rather a shocking statement: nevertheless, it is a true one. I am a pilot and have been one for 44 years. However, during my first few months of flying I had an experience that few live to tell about.