Renie – and the Block Island Wedding

I’m pretty sure the bride-to-be sent my mom the invitation just as a courtesy, never dreaming she’d actually be there. After all, it was a midweek wedding--on Block Island. Even the “local” East Coast guests had to carve at least a few days out of their calendars for travel. And my mom lived in Kentucky. It was just too far.

Oshkosh Odyssey – a 950 mile pilgrimage via seaplane

Throughout the yearlong building of my two-place, 100 hp SeaRey amphibian kitplane, I thought about flying it to the 2013 EAA Oshkosh event and landing at its Seaplane Base on nearby Lake Winnebago. This would be something of a pilgrimage.

From the ashes: a flight instructor returns to flying

When I first met Matt Cole I thought that he wasn’t a pilot, and there is some truth in that. He isn’t just a pilot. Matt is the epitome of the spirit that has kept man flying, the love of being aloft so strong that not even a close encounter with death can keep one away from it.
Two pilots in the cockit

Split decision

It can be very helpful to have your copilot handle communications on a tough IFR day. And it can keep him/her in the game when you’re cruising in the sunshine at FL240. But I learned the hard way that it may not be such a hot idea in a VFR traffic pattern.
FlightAware map with weather

A recent trip South

From the perspective of a private pilot who has been flying for over 45 years, things are much easier than they were formerly. This should be no surprise to many of you, but it was enlightening to me. The plan was to fly from my base at White Plains Airport (KHPN) to a grandson’s wedding in Delray Beach.

Not so bienvenido

In the 1960s, while in college, I had the opportunity to occasionally ferry new airplanes from the various airplane factories here in the U.S. to foreign destinations. These trips were sometimes new crop dusters to be delivered to the buyers--farmers in Central or South America.

The Caribou Mountain incident

Legendary Alaskan bush pilot Mort Mason has had plenty of nervous moments in his career. In this article, he shares the story of a mountain landing gone awry, and how even an experienced pilot can learn something new from every flight.

When to ditch training

Years of crew coordination training went out the window on an unremarkable New York-Washington shuttle flight. Just as our 727 lifted off La Guardia’s runway 04 and the number three engine silently died, it was obvious that a deviation from the integrated crew response to the emergency was the best course of action.
DC-3 in flight

From Africa to America in a DC-3

Forty plus years back, this pilot had the opportunity to fly as co-pilot on a ferry trip from Africa to the United States, and it was quite an interesting experience. The mission was to go and get a DC-3 that had been used on a contract for oil exploration in the Sahara Desert. Sounds simple enough but, not so fast.

My 2013 Sun ‘n Fun adventure

New author Dennis Long shares his Spring flying adventure, as he flew his light sport aircraft nearly 1900 miles in just over 21 hours--all for $400 in fuel. Ride with him as he visits numerous airports throughout the southeast US and Florida, including a stop at Sun 'n Fun.

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.