I was there

Thanks, Mom! Winter flying around Chicago

by

My mom had flown with me once before, and it was a very short flight, but this flight was special. It was the first flight we had flown without anyone else on board and it was my first winter flight. She was very excited and surprisingly calm. We approached Lake Michigan and turned north just underneath Chicago’s Bravo airspace.

(Air)field of dreams

by

The Oxford dictionary defines an airfield as “a place where aircraft operate.” I define an airfield as a place where people come to dream. Think about it. You’re a student pilot and you drive out to the airfield where you take lessons that will enable you to master that cantankerous old 150 and make it stay in the air just where you put it.

Really low on fuel in a thirsty Super Cub

by

The days are short, and quickly getting shorter, in Alaska’s September, and it was nearly dark as I readied my Super Cub for the return flight. I took from the guide’s avgas cache only what was necessary to make the safe flight back to Merrill Field that night. I carried no reserve fuel. I didn’t like to do that, but sometimes we found it necessary in bush operations.

An unconscious pilot – and it’s a good thing

by

I was flying as well as I ever had, and even though fatigue was at work I was happy. Then the unexpected happened. After fitting into a four-plane pattern at home base, on short final I realized the pilot was unconscious! Relax. I was perfectly alert and awake. My loss of consciousness might even have been a good thing. Allow me to explain.

An accident waiting to happen – when should you speak up?

by

I didn’t want to speak up right away (I didn’t want to undermine the instructor, or speak up before my buddy did), but finally the worsening weather became too much of a concern to keep quiet. I told them that the weather was clearly deteriorating. The next day at work, some of the employees seemed to think that I should have just kept my mouth shut.

The vanishing airplane – in the pattern with me

by

I tried looking forward on the downwind leg, high and low, right and left and back along the leg, high and low, right and left and saw no other airplane. I called and declared my intention to turn downwind, and the tower acknowledged my transmission, so I did. The other pilot called and said she was on downwind – my attitude changed to near panic.

Losing a wingman: the price we pay

by

Being a fighter pilot is not necessarily just a fun game; it is demanding, always serious, sometimes dangerous and particularly for when you deploy with hot guns and missiles – with no clothes in the ammo bins – just 30 mm canon ammunition as we did a very short time later… and went ready for war.

Continental drifter – why cross country flying is the best

by

Cross-country flying in the Cavalier is among the most enjoyable and satisfying time I’ve spent in my life. The Cav has allowed me to range farther across this continent than I could have done with any other plane I’ve owned. I’ve learned that it’s somehow important to me to explore far away places in my own plane.

The people you meet in aviation – some good, some bad

by

There will be few pilots, professional or amateur, who will not remember the good instructors with whom they have flown. Conversely, those instructors who have denigrated your best efforts and in doing so destroyed your self confidence, are invariably remembered with a cold contempt usually reserved for one’s worst enemy.

It wasn’t my fault – an unusual Alaska accident

by

A loud BANG, followed by a serious rocking of his rig, told the driver that something was now amiss. His truck had lurched to the right, just in time for the driver to witness the landing airplane slam into the left side of his truck. Aw, horse feathers!

The curtain call – seeing the Northern Lights from the cockpit

by

All was normal at the top of descent until we both spotted what looked like an undulating patch of orange mist ahead and slightly below us. There was a sort of velvety sheen appearance to it. My captain and I looked at each other with the most unflattering miens, I’m sure, and exclaimed simultaneously: “Northern lights…!!”

The helicopter does not know the wind is blowing!

by

I did not like the wind, and I let the chief pilot (not my instructor) know about it. He seemed confused. “The helicopter does not know the wind is blowing,” he would say. What?!? “The next time the wind is howling, I want to take you out.” Great, I thought. Suicide by helicopter.

Into the eye of the storm

by

My destination that day was New Orleans, and they were expecting a tropical storm, maybe a hurricane, to make landfall somewhere around there that day. New Orleans was where, in the early to mid-1950s, Cessna delivered planes destined for overseas customers – to places like Australia, Africa, Europe, South Asia, and even South America.

The in-flight emergency nobody prepared me for

by

The flight in question was a routine one, with three jumpers who wanted to jump from 10,000 feet. I did the usual full-power climb to 10,000 and was right at the jump zone so was ready to reduce power and level off for the jump. Except I couldn’t budge the throttle.

My best hour – and I wasn’t even flying!

by

I’ve often thought that the day of my first solo, April 6, 1996, would be the most memorable of my flying career. I had a whopping five hours of dual logged when I climbed into “Super Chicken,” Skyhawk N172SC, for my three trips around the pattern at Mount Sterling (KIOB). But, 19 years later, I learned how wrong I was.