G1000 display

Weight and performance—there is a tradeoff

Interestingly, upon reaching the cruising altitude of 10,000 feet, the cruise speed was 12 knots less than that calculated prior to flight. I tried various settings of manifold pressure, RPM, and fuel flow. Flying lean of peak, which the big bore Continentals are adept at, the speeds were consistently lower than advertised.
Father and son

Kids in the cockpit: be sterile and not heard?

As a talkative toddler who grew up in an aviation family, I became very familiar with the term sterile cockpit. Sterile cockpit was a kind way for my father to tell me to “shut up.” As I got older, I understood its importance because my dad was a single pilot operator and had a lot to focus on. We even started using the term outside the cockpit when somebody was busy with another important task.

How I became friends with ATC

ATC give us two turns the whole way before the arrival procedure, and cleared us up to one altitude, 8,000 feet. It was the smoothest, most peaceful ride for the baby and his mother you can imagine. They knew. They all had seen the flight plan. They all had a hand in bringing in a baby for care. The care and safety of our airplane and our baby were foremost, for us and for ATC.
flight surgeon

Tales from the doc side

Susan Northrup is an Air Force vet and now works for the FAA at the national level. In a sidebar conversation I asked what her favorite experience was. She quickly replied, "my first fighter squadron, at Moody AFB, and going with the unit to Desert Storm." For some reason that triggered my memories of flight surgeons I’d been stationed with, and the variety of personalities and circumstances.
clouds at night with moon

What are the odds? An electrical failure at night

As I depressed the microphone button, the lighted LED frequency numbers on my comm radio immediately dimmed and started to scramble to different numbers off frequency. I reset the frequency and tried again. Same result. I was unable to communicate because I did not have enough electrical power.

What STOL everybody’s attention?

If you keep tabs on current aviation news and social media, you’ve noticed this thing called “STOL” has become popular. Not a day goes by that you don’t see a reference to STOL, a reminder of an upcoming STOL event, or even an image or video of a STOL airplane approaching a gravel bar or a makeshift dirt strip. What is STOL, why is it growing like a wildfire, and how can you learn more about it?
Cedar Rapids

A minor emergency, but only in hindsight

I don’t remember if we had switched to the departure frequency, but shortly after we were in the air the windscreen started to glaze over with something and then then drops of something started running up the windscreen. The only fluid in front of us had to be OIL!

Maiden Mooney trip: lessons learned but fun too

I was a bit rusty in the air, not having flown much in the past two years because of grandchildren duty. So perhaps these near mishaps can be contributed to less-than-adequate planning. I’ll share them with you as a fellow pilot to reinforce the ever-present need to prepare and be aware. We all aim for perfect flights and when they are perfect we can be proud. When they are not perfect, we chalk them up as lessons learned.

You wanna land where?!

Atlanta Approach Control feigned ignorance and proceeded to vector us all around the area. I told them we were three Boeings but I don’t think they were impressed. I think they were hoping we would just quit and go away, like some pesky insects at a picnic, but they finally gave up and passed us over to the ATL Tower controllers who were more cooperative.

Being sick never felt so good—a whimsical tale of a Viking owner

It was an epiphany for me. As though smacked upside the head, I realized I am more than a pilot; more than someone who makes a living operating aircraft. All things aeronautical are part of my DNA. As a kid, I used to fly my fork at the dinner table and plan cross-countries by laying charts out on my bed. I am an aviator!

An altimeter tried to kill me

The only unusual aspect of the departure was that when the Dulles controller gave me the altimeter setting it was way off what I had dialed in before takeoff. I blamed the big change in altimeter setting I received from Dulles on myself for mistakenly setting the wrong field elevation before takeoff. It was my last and only chance to have prevented the near disaster that was ahead.
A-6 Intruder

One in a million: a chance aerial encounter in Laos

Cupcake checked in with his play time and ordnance. Lots of play time, but he had a time to be in the cue for landing on his carrier, and plenty of ordinance. Strangely, even in the static of UHF radios, I recognized Cupcake’s voice. I asked Jim if I could give him the brief, he OKed it, so I got on the mic and provided target type and coordinate, safe area for bail out, preferred run-in heading and threats observed. Then I paused, and said, "You ever live on Debolt Street?"
AirCam with kids

An astronaut, an AirCam, and some kids

It was a Saturday morning and former NASA astronaut Story Musgrave was leaning over drilling holes in his AirCam kit being built with my high school aviation class students. We connected with Story when he was a speaker at one of our EAA Chapter 1240 fundraising dinners supporting our youth aviation efforts.
Scott and Dave

Full circle: two brothers and the joy of flying

I feel sorry for pilots who know and appreciate only the practical side of aviation. Yes, they can be useful machines when getting from A to B, and some of us use our association with them to put food on the family table. That’s all well and good, but I’m here to testify that practicality pales when compared to the chirp-chirp of tires on asphalt and the smiles on the faces of a couple of graying old guys inside that little straight tail.

Open ocean, no instruments

Somewhere near the Rubicon, cabin lights flickered, then were gone. I looked at the instrument panel: a few needles held steady, the rest at nadir. The pilot turned to the navigator, “I guess it’s old school.” The navigator nodded, opened a compartment, took out a wooden box and lifted its lid.

Flying a DC-6 to the edge of Alaska

Alaskan pilots know continually changing weather in the state is a challenge. Phil gave me the report of low clouds in Wales and I was already planning my strategy. There are lots of things to consider when operating a large, complex aircraft like the DC-6. Over 90,000 pounds on landing, the airplane's sheer weight made flying it an exercise in mass management, navigation, and crew coordination.

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.

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.

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.