F-100D

Herding cattle with a century-series fighter

Yanking the plane around for alignment, I dropped down to 200 feet (or somewhere in that vicinity) and pushed up the power for a passage over the field at 400+ knots while engaging the afterburner for added effect. As the ground streaked by in a blur, I abruptly pulled up into the vertical at the far end of the fence line and initiated a barrel roll. Tilting my head back over my left shoulder, I glanced back to where I had just been.
Smoke from OV-10

Every pilot a tiger

I quickly surmised that, as Shakespeare put it, "the game was afoot!" This fellow FAC was going to try and get on my tail and I had to do whatever was necessary to keep that from happening. I shoved my control levers into takeoff and land, putting my twin turboprop engines at max RPM while my throttles would control the pitch of the blades. I turned into him and we were quickly in what is called a "furball."
Hole in 150

A 12-minute flight and a serious in-flight fire

At approximately 1000 feet AGL, I entered a left crosswind to begin the pattern for an uphill landing on runway 36. During the crosswind leg, I noticed an odor in the aircraft cockpit that smelled like hot plastic. During entry into the left downwind leg for runway 36, the plastic odor became much stronger. I turned off all aircraft-powered electrical equipment, including the radio and transponder. I abbreviated my pattern slightly and turned left base early.
Super Cub

Special VFR—sometimes it’s the best option

When I went to Alaska, I had 500 hours in my logbook and a list in my head of things that I’d never do in an airplane, all things that the wise old owls had warned me about. By the time I left four years later, I’d made the transition from inexperienced greenhorn to cocky amateur and finally to competent operator. And I’d checked several of those “I’ll never” items off my list.
IAD

When things went wrong in a good way

Leesburg Airport was still under instrument conditions, so the final landing was also going to be a real VOR approach and a fine ending to the day. Everything went fine until about halfway through the approach when the VOR receiver lost track and the little red flag appeared. Carl had nothing to do with it. I called our approach controller with a missed approach and started the missed procedure.
B-17

You’ll get in trouble sonny

There were two older ladies eating at a nearby table. As Hugh walked down the stairs and through the gate to the airplane, one of the ladies stood up and called out to Hugh, “Don’t go out there, sonny. You’ll get in trouble.” She had mistaken him for a teenager without authority to be in that area, so was totally startled when he swung up into the belly hatch of the B-17 and briefly appeared in the cockpit.
XB-70 takeoff

A close call for the XB-70 at Edwards AFB

The North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie was a Mach 3, high-altitude strategic bomber designed in the late 1950s, with the maiden flight on September 21, 1964. Meanwhile, the Russians had developed their high-altitude surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), which made the XB-70 vulnerable. NASA and the Air Force used the two prototype XB-70s for high-speed flight tests and research into sonic booms.
AS365

A tail rotor failure at night in Saudi Arabia

We started a slight descent to 2500 ft. AGL, completed the pre-landing checklist, and turned to a 5-mile final to the LZ. As I added pedal to adjust for the change in our power setting, I realized very quickly that we had no tail rotor authority. I quickly checked to verify the condition, found that I had a full range of left and right pedal, but with no result.
Garmin traffic

What a difference ADS-B In makes—or does it?

I recently moved a friend’s airplane from the Nashville area to Minnesota. Not just a normal, been-around-the-block-a-few-years airplane, but a brand new airplane with all the latest Garmin glass cockpit electronics and technology. But I determined that the aircraft—ordered, bought and paid for with ADS-B Out and In—only had the Out configuration.
F-4E

One green light, and a near disaster

I don't remember much after hearing the Klaxon at zero dark 3 am or anything else, until I woke up to a 25-degree deck angle. My Phantom was climbing through 20,000 feet. Who was the idiot that did this to us? Then I began to settle down. I leveled off and was given a vector toward East Germany. My focus was on the instruments and the intercept, but my thoughts were on fuel, alternates, and getting home that night.
TWA DC-9 on ramp

Flying the “little” DC-9

The first DC-9s to come off the production line were the dash ten series, around 1965. TWA's were officially DC-9-15s. The "little 9" was a real performer, with a max weight of only a little over 90,000 pounds and two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7s pushing it with a combined thrust of 28,000 pounds. Talking with a Mexicana pilot one day who also flew them, he said that they called it el raton super loco; loosely translated as “crazy mighty mouse.” And it really was.
MacDill

SOF in the hot seat

I had my back to him, but spun around to see what caused this outburst and saw a large plume of dirt being spewed onto our only runway. The source of the plume was an F-16 off the side of the runway with a collapsed nose gear. Meanwhile, the engine was sucking up dirt and rocks and flinging debris all over the runway. Instead of repeating what the sergeant had said, I asked, “What happened?”
Cirrus

Home from the game

The last game ran late. We didn’t get out of the event center till 2130. The ride to the airport took about 20 minutes, so it was pitch dark when we walked out to the plane at LHM in Lincoln, California. My stepdaughter was very tired and was soon asleep as I taxied out to the runway. I love flying at night so I was comfortable. It was clear and calm—great night flying weather.
Boeing cockpit

From Private to ATP—the closing of a cycle

It was a humid spring, nine years ago, when I first arrived in Florida full of dreams: I was on a mission. Having taken an unpaid leave from the airline for which I was flying for as a flight attendant in Brazil, I had less than one year to go “from zero to hero.” In a bit less than the 300 days I spent in the United States between 2012 and 2013, I started my Private in the Cessna 152, finished it, went through the Instrument in the Cessna 172, the time building and, last but not least, the Commercial Multiengine in the Seneca.
Turning left

Crosswinds and emergencies—lessons from the simulator

For me, this was a very long final. I pulled out carb heat, and the engine quit! Already rattled by the radio problem, I undid what I had just done. The engine roared back to life. I left carb heat alone after that and landed normally. Then I realized that I had pulled the mixture, and not carb heat.
UH-1H

Flight test engineering at Edwards AFB in the 1960s

At Edwards, NASA and the Air Force were flying the fast movers such as the X-15, the XB-70, and the F-111. My new organization, the US Army Aviation Test Activity, had no fast movers but we did have a fully restored two-place P-51 Mustang to be used as a chase plane when our Navy T-28 wouldn’t hack it.

Birdwatching from above

In the space of less than 10 seconds I went from mentally fully focused on and committed to nailing a landing on a clear runway to climbing away after dodging what could have easily been a significant incident if not worse. Neither the plane nor the goose / geese would have come off well from the encounter, and I highly doubt any part of the Comanche was certified to handle multiple concurrent goose strikes.
Shelter Island airport

An island farm is a good place to land

Years later, when I had learned to fly a little on my own, I went to Shelter Island on occasion with a 1981 Cessna 182 Skylane, N9130H. More powerful and a little heavier than the Cardinal, it was the landing that sometimes crossed me up. Early morning summer arrivals were a challenge for two reasons: wind and wet.
Afterburner

Flying the night shift: a Memorial Day remembrance

Flying night combat is an acquired taste. The upside is you see virtually every time a gun or SAM engages, and know they are working on you or not. That is an upside, since during the day the tracers and flashes on the ground are not so obvious. The real downside is at night mountains and karst hide in the dark and behind the Asian clouds and thunderstorms.
Mountains

Turbulence education

A few years ago however, fate and family moved me to the hills of East Tennessee. The place is beautiful, but I’m still having to get used to having hills in my windshield when I take off, a hill blocking a view of the runway when I land, and not being able to see where I’m going from 50 miles away. But the most surprising aspect of it has been something I never expected, and that I had initially actually looked forward to.