Make a case for your airplane

We asked the Air Facts community to share with us why they bought the airplane they did and why this was the right choice for them. We heard from William “Pete” Hodges of Spotsylvania, Virginia, who made the case for his 1968 Cherokee PA28-140. Here’s Pete’s case.

The $2,400 pair of sunglasses

“Hey! You wanna see a $2,400 pair of sunglasses?” The C-17 crewman yelled and waived a pair at me on a trip to Afghanistan. “No!” My official United States Air Force escort screamed. The crewman plugged his pie hole and sulked away, and that’s the last I saw of either the glasses or the crewman.

Forest fires vs. VFR flying

I read the story where the pilot described an early flight into clouds where he did fine, but his passenger in the rear seat developed vertigo and was a major distraction. It was an interesting twist to the complex world of IFR in personal aircraft and it took me back to an experience I had in the early 80s.

Bahamas flying memories

As suggested by John Zimmerman, I “flew my logbook” into the 80s and 90s to relive some of my trips to the Bahamas. My wife and daughter and I covered quite a few of the Bahamian Islands before finding the spots that suited us best. Andros, Stella Maris, Cat Cay, San Salvador, Treasure Cay, Bimini, Eleuthera,and Staniel Cay are names I see in my logbook.


Wispy smoke begins streaming around the cowling and quickly thickens. Fire! I’m alone in our Cessna 180. My adrenaline flow redlines. After a few seconds considering my options, I turn the master off, grab a piece of equipment, push the left door open, and jump. No parachute.

A memorable flight

I had flown down to St Just Airport at Land's End, the southernmost airport on the mainland UK. Thinking back on my many years of flying and all that I have experienced, I will never forget that day. The simple beauty, the breathtaking views, the exhilaration, the sense of privilege. What's your most memorable flight?
Cessna 310 prototype

I held three jobs on one flight

It was a day like any other day. I was the flight test engineer/observer on the Cessna M310 prototype and we were taking off on a routine test flight, the purpose of which I’ve forgotten, but it was to be a long one. Right after lift off, a loud metal popping noise was heard at the nose of the airplane.

Flight Reviews: is there a better way?

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.
ATC radar scope

ATC: friend or foe?

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.
Crash site

Autopsy of an accident and a confession

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.
Nicos and the author after solo

My first solo — Cyprus style

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.
Christmas Island

6000 Miles Across the Pacific in a Duchess

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?
sectional chart for northeast coast

Island flying, Northeast-style

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.
valley fog

Breakfast flying 101

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 at Fargo Jet Center, busy as always.

A day in the life of the line

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.
Little John

Spelling relief

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.
Grand Canyon

Westward Ho

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.

Fire horse

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.
Greenland from air

Trans-Atlantic in a Mooney 231

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.
Flight instructor

Bad instructors

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.