My First Oshkosh

Before we knew it, the traffic alterts started: “Traffic one o’clock, same altitude”. All six eyes in the cockpit suddenly became laser focused.  “The guy behind is going to overpass us”, “That guy just cut us off!” were just some of the things yelled in the cockpit that day.
puget sound

SoCal to Alaska – Flying beyond the Comfort Zone

As we approached the halfway/decision point, we checked in with Flight Service and sure enough, Bella Bella was now reporting marginal VFR and the clouds below us weren’t as dense as we were able to start seeing the rugged Canadian coast below. We continued with more confidence. After two and a half hours of flight, we made it to a blue skies and puffy cloud Bella Bella.
pilots on flight deck

Cheetah running across Canada

On this leg the visibility started rapidly dropping in the smoke haze and we were getting worried.  The ceilings were lower than forecast too. We were basically out of flight following range and hoped we didn't meet a huge yellow CL-215 water bomber.

North to Alaska

Our goals included beach and gravel bar landings, flying over glaciers and icebergs, seeing gold mining history, flying Denali, camping beside the planes, and seeing the wildlife.  After adding things like Watson Lake's Signpost Forest, Kennecott Copper Mine, and historic Dawson City, the itinerary lengthened very quickly.

The friends I do not know

I glance off to my left at the area along the south end of runway 18. He’s there. The friend I don’t know, yet we have become friends because I fly to OC8 often. He and his dog are always there. The dog never runs onto the runway, yet races around happily. I envision him as a Border Collie, though in truth I have no idea.

Cross-country to T25 in my Sonex

I climbed to 5,500’ after leaving Rolla and, as I crossed the Mark Twain National Forest, I saw a groundspeed rise to more than 160 mph. KARG was one of my original planned stops and my planning paid off well. The FBO let me rent an old hangar to house the Sonex and invited me to use the  courtesy car. The camaraderie in aviation never ceases to amaze me.

Lost Over the Mediterranean: A Pilot’s Tale of Lessons Learned

A seemingly trivial error in tuning into the right frequency left us cut off from the Greek control tower and without any responses from the Cypriots. Modern electronics surrounded us, but their benefits remained elusive, mainly due to our unfamiliarity with Garmin’s intricacies. The vast blue of the Mediterranean below and the open skies above became our only constants.

Aviation is the universal language

The pilot indicated with hand gestures that I should taxi out. I held the brakes while we ran a pre-takeoff checklist. Checklist completed, the pilot indicated that I should proceed with the takeoff. After checking for traffic I rolled out on the runway centerline and applied full power and soon we were airborne.

Making peace with a very bad day

Right at dusk, what I believed to be a tornado hit the airport and collapsed six hangars. My airplane was in one of them. What would officially be called a straight-line wind event ended up becoming the worst day of my life. All the dreams and all the hours of hard work gone in an instant. I cried like a baby.

Flying the central coast of California

San Luis Obispo Airport (KSBP) is really a nice stop. There is usually parking by the Spirit restaurant. On final approach in small aircraft, there is sometimes a bit of a sink or ballooning on short final above the roadway just prior to the runway. Tower and Ground Control are sometimes the same person.

The straight tale of buying my first airplane

He had a Cessna 172 to sell for $25,000. I slammed my fist on the desk and exclaimed, “Sold!” without hesitation. I assumed it likely wasn’t airworthy but if it was anywhere near flying condition, it was probably worth it. She put me in direct contact with her husband.

From my love of aviation comes the Freedom Aviation Network

All I heard was, “It’s too dangerous, you don’t want to do that, it’s too expensive, you would need to go to the military to get enough hours, women aren’t pilots, and you would never get hired at an airline.”  So, I started to believe that maybe flying wasn’t for me. But I saw an ad for a free ground school class in aviation, so I signed up.

My checkout in the Waco

There was no activity in the front seat and the airport was in sight. It was becoming clear that I would have to land the airplane with no advice or coaching from the front cockpit. Of course I had made a number of landings under supervision but this was a bit tricky.

A pilot’s views on 360 photography

For me, the most important attribute of these 360 cameras and their capabilities (most of which I haven’t even touched on here) are the game changing effects on my pleasure flying that I mentioned early in this report.  I have literally re-opened my backyard (local) flying areas to a new excitement and now see familiar settings with a revived sense of interest and even joy.

Idaho backcountry adventure – expectation and the reality

We expected the “Frank” to be wild, majestic, and to have amazing vistas. We expected it to teach us lessons. We expected to see some neat airplanes. We expected it to be a place to meet wonderful people. We expected it to provide memorable hangar tales. It did all that, and much more.

Working down the bucket list: float plane rating—check!

Float plane water operations require more planning and forethought than land operation on wheels.  Before untying the lines, you have to consider where the wind and the current will move you – into obstacles like another aircraft at the dock or the shore. Once in the air, things are pretty much normal for an under powered airplane.

Freak School: learning to fly at OAK in the 1970s

Just shy of my 15th birthday, I decided to do something about this flying thing.  I set out on the bus from Berkeley, and eventually made it down to the Oakland Airport.  I started knocking on doors, and by that afternoon I found a flight school.

North to Alaska—a journey to remember

After several planning sessions, purchases of camping gear (which we never used) and hours of studying maps of British Columbia, Yukon Territory and Alaska, we packed our bags, stuffed them into our airplanes and off we went. We knew weather would be the deciding factor.

A North American flying adventure with my son

This was the year that I decided to finally attend EAA AirVenture for the first time, in our 1962 Cessna 182E. The planning began in May with me studying all I could to make a trip like this go smoothly. One of the best pieces of news I received during all of this planning was that my 17-year-old son Peter wanted to come along for the adventure. It was going to be a father-son trip to top any that came before it.

California to Oshkosh in a 1941 Stearman

I have been attending the annual Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for years. Many have been attending it since its start in 1954, and have never missed a year. In 1994 I was fortunate to fly to Oshkosh with my friend Royce Clifford, and in her 1941 Stearman. The trip took four days from Gillespie Field in San Diego, California.