O-2 Skymaster

What Christmas was like far away from family

We saw some fires and secondary explosions, pretty much ensuring we had found and destroyed some supplies.  Those supplies were probably ammo that wouldn't get further down the trail for use against our troops on Christmas Day.  Arriving at Ubon on Christmas morning, we had some plans for as much celebration as you can have while away from family and home.
Cessna 150

My first flight 50 years ago

Flying is something that non-aviators just don't get. It's a calling....almost. I cannot be outside and hear and airplane without looking up to find it. It just seeps into the soul. It's a task that requires concentration, yet allows me to totally relax. The world goes away for me when I fly.

Flying during the pandemic and my approach to LAX

Gabe contacted the Flight Service Station regarding time and procedure for entering Class B airspace and landing at LAX. The answer was simple: no problem, be airborne at 7am and contact approach control on a given frequency; they will be expecting you. The next day found the Grumman on the taxiway at Long Beach Airport at 6:30am. At the appointed time, they departed and contacted approach control.
Meigs airport

I was at Meigs Field

Hours after Dr. Shehl closed the canopy door on his 1980 Bonanza, and went to his nearby hotel, bulldozers would roll onto Meigs. Under the cover of darkness, and without any notice or approval, Chicago’s mayor, Richard Daley, drove old Meigs Field down.

An action packed day on the Boeing 727

the flight continued normally until approaching PHL when we noticed various indications of low hydraulic pressure in our “A” hydraulic system.  Something about flap extension had caused a loss of pressure and quantity. 

Never a dull moment at a flight school

This guy would aggressively slam the aircraft into a 45-degree bank in the traffic pattern, turning from downwind to base, for example, with a maniacal grin on his face. I suspect he was a successful businessman, used to kind of getting his own way. I tried to convince him that flying like that often led to sudden death, but he smirked.

A Bad Plan is Better Than No Plan At All

The photo of the bridge disappearing into an unknown would tell the story that I was also flying into an unknown. But rather than the whiteness of a marine layer, it was the blackness of oil. Blowing out my cowling. While I flew on unawares, my wife shifted in her seat, looking out into the horizon, as if she knew already that life traded on the thinnest of margins.

Bird strikes

Hearing a loud ‘BOOM!’, my IP said, “Sounds like someone had an afterburner blowout!”  We turned and watched as the two aircraft flew by and noted things were amiss.  The lead aircraft was trailing a longer than normal, bright red/yellow afterburner flame which was not the normal afterburner pattern or color.

My lake rescue in northern Ontario

Moments later we started experiencing massive vibrations throughout the aircraft and an extremely rough-running engine. It was apparent that we had a full blown emergency on our hands. Paul made the first of two mayday calls as we continued fighting with the rough engine while weighing our diminishing options. 

From a rusty pilot: it’s not quite like riding a bicycle

Air Facts Journal has published many stories about rusty pilots returning to the cockpit, some after years of not flying as a pilot in command. I last flew in March of this year. Like many readers, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on my flying. The economy is uncertain, there are few $100 hamburger destinations where you can eat on-site, and airplane rental FBOs have imposed previously unheard-of restrictions.

A rusty pilot takes to the skies again

Fast forward 35+ years and I was once again inspired by my father to get back into aviation, this time as a result of an agonizing four hour road trip to visit my parents (now in their 80s). I wondered if it would be easier to fly instead, so I purchased my first airplane in the fall of 2017, a “new to me” 1966 Piper Cherokee 180! Always a Cessna guy, I’m not sure how I ended up with a Cherokee.

To abort the takeoff or fly

The M20 accelerated down the runway and I had been told to look for 60-70 kts. for a smooth takeoff and climb out.  The Mooney lifted off (virtually by itself) and I could feel the acceleration.  Glancing at the airspeed indicator (ASI), I was surprised to see only about 35 - 40 kts.  The M20 was good, but surely not that good.  We continued to accelerate and had become definitely airborne but the ASI still showed around 40 kts.

The Skipper, the eagle, and the really bad decision

At 65 knots I rotate the nose up and the eagle spreads his wings (at least a 7ft. wingspan) and takes off less than 100ft in front of me.  We are both airborne, centered on the runway, on a heading of 130 degrees, but I’m going about 55 knots faster than he is!  I must avoid hitting him with the propeller.

Close calls in training prepared me for Gulf War combat

One moment I was climbing at a 45-degree angle, and the second moment, I was pointed straight down (very close to 90 degrees) with a fully stalled aircraft. As I looked out the front window, I had no idea if I had enough altitude to pull out of the dive or survive ejecting from the aircraft.
Landing gear lights

Landing gear malfunction over the desert offers lesson in resource management

Suddenly the caution light got my attention indicating that the landing gear was not in a safe position. Soon thereafter, the landing gear circuit breaker popped. I looked immediately in the exterior inspection mirror located on the engine cowling and could see the landing gear dangling precariously in between an up and down position.
Cessna on final

Hard lessons learned

Suddenly, the engine started running very roughly. They always say flying is long hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. I put the carb heat on and things seemed to settle down. A few minutes later, the engine roughness and coughing started again with the engine almost dying and then surging back to life in cycles.

One hour closer to your first accident

Within minutes, I'm flying 30 degrees to the left to hold the same heading in clear air while pointing this out to my copilot. Looking past the airport, there was a long string of clouds up next to the Front Range. Down from the clouds comes a long skinny “S” shaped tornado. Our friend in the back seat says, “You know we are flying towards a Tornado.”

Witnessing a horrific accident forges a pilot’s journey

First, we could see the top of the plane and the top tip of the tail through the gaps in the tops of the trees. Then the windshield, then the wings, and then over the whine of the engine there was a ‘CRACK’ and the plane shuttered. The nose rose sharply then sank. ‘CRACK’ ‘CRACK’ ‘CRACK’ it began to shear out the tops of the trees as the nose pitched further and further down.
Landing gear lights

A Precautionary Landing and The Human Body’s Reaction to Fear

I tell the Tower my gear lights don’t indicate three green down in locked. The young man's voice asked me “Would you like a flyby?”  He wanted to know if I wanted to “fly by” the tower for him to look. Then he asked me “How many souls on board?”
Airline takeoff

A runway incident that continues to haunt

After what seemed like centuries of silence, I looked to my right and noticed it was quickly getting brighter - much brighter - when all of a sudden, over the hump in the runway appeared a very large aircraft whose bright landing lights were mimicking noon. It was growing in size, accelerating by the second.