How airplanes can bridge the gap between fathers and sons

Beneath the surface talk of sports or business are often sons who still desperately need to know their fathers are proud of them but don't know how to ask, and fathers who love their sons very much but don't know how to answer. Many times over I've seen an airplane bridge that gap.

Why I’m giving up flying – life as an “ex-pilot”

We all know the day will come when we will fly as PIC no more, whether because we keel over dead, get too sick to pass the medical, feel that our skills have deteriorated irreversibly, burn out on aviation, or simply run out of money. For me, a combination of factors added up to an important question.

Home is where the hangar is

Every pilot has more than one home. There's the place where we sleep, eat, and get our mail (at least most of the time). Then there is another place where we have our being and that's the airport. In my case, for 17 years, it was Hangar 2 at Fitchburg Municipal Airport.

The most important person at your airport

No, it's not the control tower operator, it's not the person who mows the grass, and it's not the person who plows the snow - it's an AOG (aircraft on the ground) transient. Sporty's Founder Hal Shevers explains why.

How do we encourage new aviators?

We proclaim the future of aviation lies in the hands of the youth, and we must give them opportunities to become pilots. We argue that flight training needs to be cheaper and we need to create more aviation programs so it is easier for them to succeed. We need scholarships and free flight training. But what kind of solution is moving the finish line closer to the start?

Learning to fly – is it worth it?

Why would anyone spend $100,000 getting all of the licenses and ratings, work bottom-rung flying jobs to get the 1500 hours, and then seek a $22,000/year position at one of the regionals? It makes no economic sense. For better or worse, commercial aviation is not the glamor industry it used to be. Is there more to it?
Fueling a Cessna 172

Treat the airplane like it’s yours, even when it isn’t

When you’re paying by the hour, it’s easy to cut corners, be a little careless, or belittle something that we would never forget on our own airplane. However, if we treat a rental plane as our own, every renter or club member benefits. Here are a few things I try to do when I rent.

Why I wear a ball cap when I fly

It started blue, a dark blue, when my wife gave it to me as a Christmas present. Its latest achievement of many was earned in March when I completed my CFI training. It was instrumental in keeping my head from exploding while learning in flight, and during the check ride. Now my two-tone AOPA ball cap has faded to a light purple from long periods of exposure to the sun.

It sure is quiet at my airport

There may come a time when our joystick and keyboard kids can load up, type in a destination, and sit back to let advanced technology avionics do most of the work. Until then we are likely to remain a pretty select group, airplane pilots--not airplane drivers--and our airports are likely to remain...quiet.

This is why you became a pilot

OK, so after a year or so of lessons, studying, agonizing over the written, sweating during the oral and dreading the practical, you’ve done it! You are a pilot! Now what? What do you do with this very rare right and privilege?

Tragedy on the beach at Venice – what would you do?

General aviation made headlines recently, and in the wrong way. A father and daughter were killed in Venice, Florida, when a pilot making an emergency landing hit them on the beach. What would you have done in this situation--land on the beach or ditch?

AvGeek is the worst buzzword ever and is damaging aviation

If you’ve ever tweeted the hashtag #avgeek, I want to you to exit your World of Warcraft game, put on some pants, slowly climb those steep, dark stairs out of your mom’s basement and quickly make your way to the nearest video store and pick up a VHS copy of The Right Stuff.

I have my license – now what?

Now I'm a private pilot, and I’m just not sure what to do or where to go now. Do I keep adding ratings? A tailwheel endorsement would be cool for sure, but for what purpose? Maybe now that I’ve accomplished my “lifelong dream” there is a bit of a hangover associated?
CFI pointing to panel

Thoughts on training vs. education

“You train for things you know are going to happen. You educate for the things you can’t anticipate.” Most of us use the term “train” to mean everything we pay for in order to get a license or rating. But the reality is that the respective approaches to training and educating are very different.

Two very different types of flying

For most of us amateurs and professionals, flying involves risk management. While boating has its own satisfactions (and accidents), the reward-risk level in aviation is substantially higher, and this to me indicates that aviation attracts people who are more likely to be “risk-takers.”

Avionics: advancing or retreating?

For some ancient, bureaucratic reason my Piper is not allowed to use the same newer, more capable and less expensive avionics and autopilots that experimental airplanes do, although we all fly the same airways, airspace and systems. Is TSO’d equipment really twice as good and twice as reliable as today’s non-TSO’d?

Accident? No, it’s a screw-up!

Most “accident” reports should be labeled "lack of judgment" investigations. Ian Seager says that too often we fail to learn from our own and other pilots’ errors.

In the air, trust is all we have

False bravado in the left seat can get you killed. The trust that you carry has to be inviolate: a certainty that you know what to do, how to do it and when. For me, that trust has been an off-and-on thing.

Mission possible: flying starfish

Why do I fly? What is it about being in the air that compels me to spend spare time, and even more scarce resources, to pursue aviation? Actually, it’s pretty simple: it’s about sharing my insatiable passion with others.

Proposal for a new IFR certification

From time to time, the FAA changes the qualifications for a license or rating and even adds a new designation of pilot. Steve Phoenix has made a study of the pilot population and gives here his recommendation for a new category of instrument pilots.