Smiles

First flights, for young and old

The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association offers a fun opportunity for young children who may never get the chance to participate in general aviation, to “pilot” an aircraft. It is called COPA for Kids. I have participated in two events so far in my flying hobby and will continue to in the future; but sometimes the joy of flight is not just for kids, it is for anyone.
C-130

Why did I do that? Fate follows a C-130 pilot in Vietnam

Dusk was falling as we unloaded the last of our troops. Finally we were ready to go. Checklist complete, loadmaster on the intercom, fire extinguisher near by, clear two (number two engine), starter button pushed in. I relaxed as I saw RPM and oil pressure, but then the starter button popped out. That was not right or good.
Smith

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.
Carb heat

My first cross country—uneventful until…

So, there I was, a young 21-year-old man with little flying experience, now concerned that one could not simply pull over, get out, raise the hood, and try to figure out what was wrong. The good news was that the problem did not appear to be getting worse, therefore it seemed like I had time. I did not have an autopilot and letting go of the controls in an old Cessna 150 is like letting go of a kite string, but I had to try to do something.
F-105

An F-105 pilot creates his own fireworks show

The high G roll was performed if you were above 400 knots airspeed or higher. You basically pulled full aft stick and full rudder deflection. The airplane did a rapid roll and dissipated about 200 knots almost instantly. If you had an enemy on your tail you hoped it would surprise him and force him past you so you might get a shot at him.
Bob Barth

Words to live by, learned from a master

Although Bob was not a CFI, he spent many hours of his own time sitting in the right seat giving me the best instruction I ever received. He never charged me a dime. Well, that is not completely accurate. When I was preparing for my Instrument Rating, Bob told me to bring a roll of dimes. “Why do I need a roll of dimes?” I asked. “Because every time you deviate more than ten degrees from your assigned heading, you have to give me a dime."
172 panel

An IFR currency adventure

I relocated from San Francisco to Seattle and have not yet found a flight school or club to use in the Seattle area, so my logbook has been quite neglected this summer. When I came back to the Bay Area for my college reunion, I found I had an afternoon to kill on the day I arrived, and decided to take advantage of it with my CFI and old club.
OV-10

Close encounters of the worst kind

I watched as he released his first two bombs and began his pullout. However, I noticed he was coming uphill directly at me and was closing fast (probably 450+ knots). I also quickly figured out he was going to run into me! I loudly asked, “Lead, you got the FAC in sight?”
Gray clouds

Rollicking in the clouds

We were barely in the clouds for a minute and the aircraft was in a 20-degree bank. I pointed it out and he corrected it, only to lose the altitude and then moments later executed the opposite. That “heavy left hand” was going to exact its commission. The aircraft was back in a left 30-degree bank before you could say, “Hey, watch it!” and the tortured climb rate became a free-wheeling descent rate. The altimeter was having quite the day.

Go with the flow—a day trip to Mackinac Island with a minor hiccup

In August of 2015, I had the opportunity to purchase a beautiful 1965 Cessna 182H Skylane and fulfill my dream of ownership, which I'd had since I earned my PPL in 1972. I informed my wife that our Skylane might not be as reliable as the airlines, and she should be prepared for the unexpected and just go with the flow.
Turn from cockpit

Dad, can I fly the plane?

The day was clear and the winds were calm—a perfect day for Mike and me to go flying in my Cessna 152. There was one problem: I forgot the booster seat for then 8-year-old Mike. So there he was in the right seat, not able to see over the control panel and barely able to see out his window. It didn’t seem to matter much to him; he was just enjoying a Saturday morning with his dad at 2,500 feet.
Cirrus

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.
N14745

Owning and flying Bellanca Vikings over the years

My logbook is probably somewhat unique among private pilots in that 90% of my time is in an airplane that isn’t seen at many airports: the Bellanca Viking. I had no real intention of that happening, but it did. Yes, we were naïve. The guy was a good salesman, and we didn’t fully know all the things that should be done before buying an airplane, but it did turn out to be a reasonably good buy in the long run.
Map of route

Airplane vs. automobile: commuting to work by air

Commuting to work by automobile is a time-honored ritual for many Americans. Most airplane owners dream of commuting by air if the opportunity would only present itself. A decade ago, that possibility became a reality for me.
Handshake

Finding our fathers

Knowing ourselves is a task for a lifetime. Knowing our forebears is a great help. I am under no illusion that “the old is good, the oldest is best.” That conceit seems unavoidable, revealed in the stories of Noah and his ancestors. We hear it in the sobriquet given to our parents, “the Greatest Generation.” Our wiser self knows it’s not always the case. We still need to know where we came from.
HUD labels

When the magic dies: flying with and without HUDs

Sometimes the FM dies. The GPS goes on vacation, the HUD goes to sleep, the INS wanders off to a continent other than the one on which you are currently operating, or your radar takes a smoke-break. In those instances, we Viper drivers were left with what we called an iron sight, which is akin to the fixed, lighted reticle WWII pilots used to aim their weapons.
F-105 Thud

Dumb games with very fast airplanes

In February of 1966, I was lucky enough to be selected to fly the Republic F-105 Thunderchief after graduating from USAF pilot training at Williams AFB, Phoenix, Arizona. I had hoped to get selected for a fighter assignment and this was on…
Seadog

Seaplane hijinks on the Connecticut River

Always keeping an eye out for opportunities to enhance my aeronautical flight experience, on June 26, 1966, I wandered into Walt O’Connor’s Agawam-Springfield seaplane base. Talk about opening up new horizons! This river rat bush pilot got to enjoy his two favorite things: from "docks out" in the fall to "back in" springtime, his 65 and 85hp BC12D Taylorcrafts and his coveted Warner Radial-powered Fairchild 24, lay idle.
Boeing 787

The Boeing 787’s ten years of service—a pilot perspective

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a marvel that serves as a reference for anything that came after: quieter, smoother, more fuel efficient than any other jetliner designed before or after. From my perspective, having spent almost four years flying it (nearly half of its service time) and logging over 2300 flight hours in one of the pilot seats, I really feel proud of the level the 787 has brought me as a professional.
Towbar

There’s a reason we use checklists

I had pulled my airplane from the hangar as Bill advanced the throttle and began moving from the hangar area to the taxiway. I glanced over and I had this impression that something wasn’t quite right. I didn’t see or hear anything to reinforce that impression and I turned back to my own task at hand to continue the preflight of my plane.