Your passengers may not always enjoy flying

Turns out, it wasn't until turning base leg that we hit smoother air. With a 20+ knot headwind straight down the runway, my touchdown was slow and thankfully smooth. Had we made a fuel or bathroom stop, the guys may have ask directions to the nearest Greyhound station.

A Newbie CFI, Disco Fever, and My Inner Voice

I tried to explain that if you corner a car too hard, it may skid.  “Corner” an airplane too hard, it may stall, spin, and crash, in that order.  One day, I had him do a “high speed” (40 knots) practice abort on takeoff, and he stomped on the brakes—but mashed the left one harder than the right. We got pretty darn far left of centerline—I think I could read the words on the vending inside the FBO building—and came to a stop. 
dc 10

Uncle Joe’s Last Flight

We touched down and as we taxied by the two fire trucks, the firemen unleashed an arching cascade from their water cannons. The trade winds feathered the streams of water and the morning sun gifted us with a welcoming rainbow lei. After parking, Joe was lowered into a loving crowd and was, yet again, surrounded by smiles, tears, and song. He left the airport in an ambulance and left us with memories that will be with us always.

Let George do it!

About our third trip, this time from Pontiac to Waukegan past South Bend and Gary, flying the shoreline, George told me that if he survived this experience, he’d love to learn to fly and maybe even make a living doing so.  He had fallen in love with aviation and wanted to really be part of it. My response was, "Well, hey, no time like the present, are you ready?"

Living the dream

As college in the mid-1960s moved along, our involvement in Vietnam began to ramp up. The draft was scooping up people my age from sea to shining sea. I decided to stay in ROTC and get a commission to keep the draft at bay.

A pilot’s path begins with a father’s influence

They say that flying is 99% boredom and 1% sheer terror (or what the Southeast Asia pilots called “fascinating”). Ninety-nine percent of Dad’s flying was probably long hours involving little excitement, but with a sense of responsibility to get the job done. He wasn’t a war hero, but a working class blue collar hero who kept his family together.

One of the last in the air on 9/11

On our initial contact with Honolulu approach, we were told that we would be intercepted by Hawaiian Air National Guard F-15s and be inspected before being allowed to proceed to HNL. They relayed that only pilots in full uniform could be in the cockpit. We scanned the horizon trying to get a visual on the traffic. Soon two F-15s appeared in formation off our left wing. One inspected us up close and the other trailed behind us.
Glider tow

Glider Towing – How do I get out of This Mess

I continued climbing straight ahead to about 500 feet while closely monitoring the gauges before I waggled the wings in a sign to the glider that I was in trouble.  As we were now high enough, (and still within the precincts of the airfield) both of us could get back.   The instructor got off the tow promptly, turned right and headed back towards the glider landing check point.  I radioed a Pan Pan call.
152 landing

She’s Down – Helping a Cessna in Distress

Since we were coming in from the southeast, slightly off her right, I took over the communications again and told her to change to a heading that should have taken her to the airport. I was guessing at the wind correction angle to apply, but I was only a few degrees off her inbound course, so I had a fair idea of the course she should fly. Karen turned to the new heading and was settling down somewhat, getting over her earlier panic.

Learning to fly after 55

The COVID pandemic at least had one positive outcome for me: achieving my Private Pilot license. I have always wanted to share my journey and offer some lessons learned and tips for those that are either learning how to fly or are considering it—especially if you are 55 years of age or older.
mooney on ramp

My Near Death Experience

With my head turned left and brain focused on starting the descending turn to base, I reduced power a little more and all hell broke loose. The Mooney, with two of my loved ones onboard, flew into a wall of water. The sound was deafening and the surprise factor indescribable. My heartbeat probably jumped to over 200 in the matter of a millisecond. And worse, the bottom dropped out in a strong downdraft.

What was one of the scariest moments in your life?

The ride was now degrading beyond moderate and we realized it was time to be on the ground. And we needed to do it as quickly as practical. And we needed to do it without doing anything rash, like an off-field landing. Our destination airport, hours to the north and in better meteorological conditions, was out of the question. Also, now well into our trip, with the conditions forecasted to be degrading in the area we had passed.
death valley

Flying Out of Death Valley Alive

Tumbling from the heights of permanent snowfields, I pulled out over Lake Isabella, with a few hundred feet left to chance. The water surface reflected a seasawing yellow wing, my dash reflecting needles that no longer moved. I had no more fuel. The cockpit was covered in coffee, debris, and batteries. I had fought through wind and turbulence for 20 minutes.
super cub

Blister Flight – Six Pilots and an Angel

I touched the wheels down in the soft green grass, and all I could think about was Jim Richmond looking down on me. Smiling with his soft grin, as I, the youngest Carbon Cub builder, had just landed back at the same airstrip where I developed my love for aviation.
Dassault-Breguet Br.1150 ‘Atlantique’

A hard day’s flight

I was excited to make my first (and only) ‘Trans-Lant’ (trans-Atlantic) flight.  Primarily because of the jet stream, we planned to fly home via a southern route stopping in Spain, the Azores, and Bermuda.  Join me now on that flight.

From the archives: The real value of an instrument rating

The instrument rating is the most valuable training a pilot can have. I flew 30 years without it, but I strongly encourage everybody that intends to fly anyplace to get the rating. It is amazing how this training gives you the skills to fly in weather and marginal conditions and even avoid thunderstorms. Without it you risk your life when encountering weather.
Glider on tow

As far as the stick would go

I looked ahead to see the D-31 coming directly at me as if in a battle charge.  It took me a precious second to process my situation and another to shove the 1-26´s stick as far forward as it would go. As I felt my stomach drop away in tandem with the nose of my plane, a half-ton of aircraft passed directly over me and the D-31's roaring engine was the only thing I could hear.

It’s Not That Complex

Most of my checkout once airborne was more about me getting a feel of how the Arrow stalls, turns - all the usual primary stuff. However, we did cover various emergencies related to the gear. All went well. In fact, by the time we headed back from the practice area, I was feeling a lot more confident in my airmanship – until I had to land that is.

The Flagship Phantom

The backbone of ARN-101 was an integrated LORAN system. This was a big upgrade in navigation accuracy and also brought much better conventional weapons delivery capabilities. Not as good as what the F-16 had, but a big improvement over earlier Phantoms using Dive Toss.

Challenging runway flying the C-123 in Vietnam

As you get closer to the runway, you get a sinking feeling and, in order to keep your decent and approach speeds, you have to start adding power to overcome the downslope winds from the mountain.