My first solo flights

I must have landed safely, because off I went, solo!  Holy moley, the airplane took off and climbed a lot quicker with only one person on board, all that weight gone.  Also, there was somewhat less yelling in the cockpit.  I went around the pattern and did touch and goes and then went out north of town to the “practice area.” 

The mishaps that never happened and valuable words of wisdom

This is where overall pilot knowledge and experience comes in and I believe that a lot of that is distilled into words of wisdom that we sometimes take for granted. Not surprisingly,  I have some personal stories that make the case that our short words of wisdom are valuable assets if we use them.
Wiegman and son in airplane

A mother overcomes her rusty pilot fears to share the joy of flying

I loved my time in the air. But after having my son, I found I feared flying. I was afraid to leave him without a mother. I would think about flying once in a while as I focused on working and raising him. I was busy, for sure, but I was also afraid. I accepted that bad things might happen when I flew before he was born. In the years after he was born, though, things changed.
Grass runway

Engine Failure Over Kentucky

As I dialed in the tower fre­quency, the cockpit fell silent. Prop-loafing, heart­ stopping engine failure. My training kicked in (thank you, Tom Davis). I added carb heat (late, I know), checked the fuel selector (should have an hour's fuel still in the tanks), flipped through the left and right mags, and pushed the mix­ ture knob into full-rich. No change.
Mooney M20E

Making a difference – speaking up when it mattered

I lost sight of them before liftoff as they passed behind the fuel island tanks. They had passed over the dam and were following the river drainage to the south. At this point, they still had not climbed above pattern altitude. After what felt like an agonizingly long time, they finally reached their cruise altitude of 9,500'.

Beginner’s Luck: Winning my first aerobatics competition

Pitching 20 degrees nose down to build the energy before the first manoeuvre I was ready for the loop. Gently twitching the stick back, 3.5g pushes me into the seat. I subtly relieve back pressure at the top of the loop to ensure a perfect “sky circle” is drawn, the nose gradually dropping back through the horizon and I re-tense my muscles for the bottom of the loop.

Hand-Flying a Category IIIA approach and landing with almost no visibility

At about 175’ AGL, we entered the clouds. As we reached the 50’ AGL point, I announced “Landing”. I retarded the throttles when the flying cues in the HGS called for me to “flare” (ease the power off and pull the nose up for touchdown) and the mains settled-on the runway right where they were supposed to.

Cold weather clarity – staying calm in an emergency

We had eaten up a lot of the 6,600’ runway by the time the airplane was ready to fly, so I rotated and up we went. Barely. The tach bounced between 2100 and 2200rpm, barely into the green arc. I watched the last bit of runway disappear under us at 200 feet per minute.

Returning to the air after a suspended medical

In September 2020, a letter landed on my doorstep inviting me to the Cardiac Surgery Unit to discuss my aortic valve replacement. Time stood still for a few minutes. My most recent scan had determined that, in much the same way it is advisable to change a timing belt before it breaks, it was time to swap put my valve. All routine, I was assured.
Bell 47 helicopter

Tail rotor failure in the Grand Canyon

I was performing sling loading operations in the Bell and was picking up my external loads from within a corral that was situated right next to an 800', sheer cliff. On that particular hook-up, right as the loader signaled that I was good to go, and as I added power and anti-torque pedal to rise to my hover, I felt a slight jerk in my tail rotor control pedals. That’s when things began to unravel.
Jumpseat

Press on and get the job done: the aroma of deference

One crewmember prefers to terminate the flight in the interest of safety, adherence to existing rules, and compliance with standard operating procedures. The other crewmember - through body language, grunts, hand signals, and time-consuming silent deferrals - intends to “press on and get the mission done”. It becomes obvious that a covert difference of opinion permeates the cockpit infusing in its wake the unmistakable aroma of deference.
Cessna 150

“I’m going to crash!” -helping a pilot in distress

I approached the aircraft from behind and to its right, decelerating to match its pace.  I could make out the familiar shape of a Cessna 150.  Even at my minimum safe speed, my Cessna 310 was still faster.  I came even with the aircraft on its right wing, keyed the mike and said, “Aircraft in distress do you see another airplane off your right wing?”
Cirrus in flight

Older and Rusty-er

There I was turning from base to final, oh my. Is that me getting scared?  Last time I did this I thought I was “Joe Pilot”, what’s happened? The runway looks really small. I don't know how we are going to fit this Cessna 172 on…

Mismanaging hands can lead to disaster

From taxi to takeoff, to the aerobatics, stall and upset situation recoveries, the flight was outstanding.  This young man was acing his checkride including the return to Vance AFB for the patterns and landings, but that’s where the "wheels came off."
Mooney

Descending onto a twin – surviving a near miss

The tower cleared me to land when I was on short final and just then my observant friend yelled, “we’re descending onto a twin!” The twin was below me and slightly to the right so I never saw it. I made an immediate left turn, hit full power, and retracted the flaps.

When an Uneventful Flight Turns Eventful

We were 15 miles southeast of KCAD when the airplane suddenly started shaking violently and losing power.  I was startled by the split-second intensity of the shaking, thinking that perhaps I encountered a large bird strike or there was a problem with the propeller.

Memories of flights to the הארץ המובטחת (Promised Land)

When we first started flying Connies into TLV shortly after Israeli independence in 1948 it was nothing but a tent city. What we found there in 1971 was a thoroughly modern city of tall buildings of impressive architecture with wide boulevards, modern trains and busses that could take you anywhere in the country.

An airplane that no longer wanted to fly

I watched as the propeller became stationary and the engine seized to a halt. One glance to the oil pressure indicator showed the needle pegged at zero pressure. It was as if God was my CFI and had given me an impromptu power off landing scenario.
Maui coast

Flying in paradise: a vacation flight lesson in Maui

One of my flight instructors once told me he would often bring along his flight gear while on vacation, in case he had the opportunity to fly. He recommended contacting a flight school and asking about taking a short lesson, since having an instructor in the plane with local knowledge would be invaluable. This was the first time I had decided to bring my logbook with me on vacation. I was a little apprehensive, but thought what an adventure it would be.
Deice pad

Behind the scenes of an airline meltdown

Every damn person in the nation wants to be somewhere else over the holidays—just when the weather is the worst and the most junior employees are working across the system. The FAA air traffic controllers all want to be home for the holidays, the airline employees want to be home for the holidays, and both systems work strictly on seniority. So, the most junior folks with the least experience at their respective jobs are all working when the going gets the toughest.