I sometimes wonder about the value of a 30-year pilot demonstrating his skills to a 200-hour airline wannabe and, hopefully, with due humility, I sometimes feel that there has to be a better way to ensure the competence of our pilot population than a one-size-fits-all mandatory biennial flight review.
Like most of us, I always regarded ATC as my best friend, always there to help and guide me, a calm and trusted resource. As you will see, that all changed one spring day in Oregon. Now I am more likely to think of them as the Air Traffic Cops and, sadly, I don’t think of them anymore as my friends.
I’ve been a pilot for over 40 years now, and I’ve done some stupid things. I’ve managed to stay out of serious trouble though…up to now. I was surprised and shocked to read about a friend and colleague of mine who wasn’t so lucky.
Fly along with new contributor Adrian Ryan, as he shares the story of his first solo, at a busy airline airport in Cyprus. To top things off, the flight was just a few days before his 69th birthday. Do you remember the thrill of your first solo? Share your story.
The mission was to fly my aircraft 6000 miles from my home in Auckland, New Zealand to its new home in California. What an opportunity! Over 40 hours of flying over the ocean to places you could only dream about. After all, how many private pilots have Pago Pago (PPG) and Christmas Island (CXI) in their log books?
In my part of the country a pilot’s license is a ticket to visit coastal islands that are otherwise accessible with difficulty. The islands, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Block, and Fishers each have their own special charms. I’m going to describe some of the features of each. The emphasis here will be on day trips.
Our squadron is usually anywhere between two to five aircraft. Pilots, enthusiasts, first-timers…all are welcome. Early morning departures are a must, for we still have a full day of work to get in once we get back. As the sun peeks up over the horizon, the planes are in the air and beginning to rendezvous.
The ramp personnel at an FBO, better known as the Line guys, welcome us and see us off. They are often the front door to a thousand other services. They appear and disappear, oftentimes as if by magic, and they seem to know what we need before we’ve understood it ourselves.
People complain about my lack of …endurance. Turns out, I’m not the only pilot with a bladder of clay. For as long as airplanes have been able to sustain vast distances, they’ve been flown by people who can’t.
Lawrence Zingesser shares another memorable trip. The plan was to fly to the Napa Valley and in doing so to experience the scenery of the Rocky Mountains up close, to explore the Grand Canyon from a low altitude, and to overfly coastal California en-route. Read how the trip went, including pictures.
Did you ever hear about the horses that were used to pull the fire engines in the 19th and early 20th centuries? The author says he became one at Oshkosh in 2010 when he saw a beautiful DC-7 take flight. Read why this one takeoff led to a new adventure for this pilot.
For many years we had contemplated a trans-Atlantic flight in our Mooney, and finally in June of 1982 the plan became a reality. Our first plane, a 1967 Piper Arrow had taken us to the Caribbean and to South America safely and comfortably via an island-hopping route, so the overwater aspects of single-engine flying held no special terror for us.
During my nearly six decades of flying I’ve had more good instructors than bad. But beware: there are bad ones. The worst instructor I ever had was in a Pitts S2A. I learned nothing from him except how to keep from redecorating the interior of his airplane. Share your experiences with good and bad CFIs.
Talk about a memorable trip. Lawrence Zingesser shares the story of his 1974 trip from New York to Buenos Aires in his Piper Arrow. Although it took 8 days and covered 5700 nm, the flight went relatively smoothly. The bottles of Scotch for the customs agents, didn’t hurt.
Drive four hours just to ride 30 minutes in an airplane? Michael McDowell says yes, and did just that when the opportunity arose to ride jumpseat in a freshly-painted Hawker. Read why some flights can only be called a “mission trip.”
Occasionally, I get a break from the dreary doldrums of flying a FLIR-equipped MD500E police helicopter (I know, right?) with a ferry flight, moving ENG (electronic news gathering) R44s around the country. Last month, the opportunity arose to fly via airliner to Pittsburgh to move a ship to Atlanta. I thought it would be a good time to put my new iPad to the test.
Well I finally met that guy. That guy everyone has read about. That guy who seems to be at every airport. That guy whom no one admits to being. You know, the guy who willfully violates significant federal aviation regulations and openly brags to total strangers about his near death experiences.
Regardless of your views on the training aspects of simulators, if you have an opportunity to fly a sim, I encourage you to do so. After all, it’s flying, right? Well, sort of anyway. And don’t you like to fly?
Throughout my often-interrupted flying history, there have been many memorable events, some standing out for how I scared myself through dumb cluck mistakes, and some for their delectable simplicity and beauty. The one I offer here has no drama, no risks avoided or skills demonstrated; it was just, well, a great place to be that evening. It was a place that only airmen can experience.
At about the time that I intercepted the localizer course, I went into a personal “brain dump” that could have cost me my life and defines this moment of terror. I had engaged the autopilot coupler and was in that dangerous “fat, dumb and happy” mode as I flew toward the runway exactly on course. I was in clouds and fog when something made me glance out the window.