En route

Proficiency test—a father-daughter cross-country to remember

The plan fell into place. The El Paso trek would be my first real test as a pilot. My dad would be my right-seat passenger. We’d make the trip a proper West Texas send-off: visit Carlsbad Caverns, hike Guadalupe Peak, play a few rounds of golf, knock out the visa appointment, get one last swig of Americana before jetting abroad.
Ramp at SPA

An intro flight takes an unexpected turn

There I was, bouncing around in the backseat of a Cessna 172 as my friend tried to stabilize the aircraft while our pilot was simultaneously shutting the door. Yet no amount of slamming seemed to lock the door in place. It would merely rebel by jerking open yet again. We were in quite the dilemma at several hundred feet. This experience was certainly not what I would have expected from an introductory flight!
Sitting in Cub

The wrong stuff

Three miles later we were at the Chickamauga Lake and my initial assessment of the day was correct: it was perfect. The water was packed with boaters. We flew by her house and did a “wing wave” to her friends on their boat enjoying a holiday outing. Then came the enviable question when flying a seaplane near water: “Can we land?”
Richard L. Collins

Announcing the third annual Richard L. Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots

The Richard Collins family has once again partnered with Sporty’s to offer The Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots. To qualify, the writer must be a pilot (including student pilot) who is 24 years of age or younger. The article must be original, not previously published, and no longer than 1,500 words.
Chandler and dad

Pilot in command

The fuel gauges were now bouncing between below a quarter tank and below half a tank. I knew we had enough fuel, but what was up ahead was not looking good. There was a thin layer of wispy, white clouds below us that allowed us to see the ground, so we continued. This lured us into a false sense of security that it was going to stay that way.
Richard L. Collins

The second annual Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots

The Richard Collins family has once again partnered with Sporty’s to offer The Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots. To qualify, the writer must be a pilot (including student pilot) who is 24 years of age or younger. The article must be original, not previously published, and no longer than 1,500 words. The topic should be an event that changed or shaped the author’s flying.
Ben Siepser

Into the fog: a kid’s view of IFR flying

"Maybe we should wait until tomorrow to leave," my mom inquired as she looked at the weather forecast on her phone. I noted that her voice was very nervous sounding." No, it will be fine once we get to a high altitude," my dad said reassuringly. The engine sputtered and then roared, then we started to roll onto the taxiway. I could feel the tension inside the cabin; everyone seemed a bit uneasy.
Grandpa's logbook

Chasing my shadow

It may have been falling apart - the cardboard and paper ripping at the seams and the ink slowly fading from its pages - but within it dwelled the memories and accomplishments of a young man striving to become a pilot. All of this I failed to realize as my grandpa’s logbook passed from his outstretched hands to mine just a few months before his death. Looking back, I wish I had explored the stories hidden within.
Lakes by Grove

Medical crisis on a solo cross-country

I had just taken off from Aurora, Missouri (2H2) heading toward Grove, Oklahoma (KGMJ), flying at an altitude of 4,500 feet. I was a student pilot, and this was my first solo cross-country experience. Everything seemed to be a pretty standard day; the weather was nice. The one big mistake I made I had no way of knowing or preparing for, but it happened all the same.
Hutchinson grandfather by Cirrus

The old man in the plane

This article was the winning entry in the inaugural Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots. Over 60 young pilots sent in articles for consideration, and after reading them all our distinguished panel of judges (including Richard's son) selected Emma Hutchinson as the winner of the $2,500 award. We hope you'll agree that this moving article is a fine tribute to a great writer and pilot.
Trueblood in airplane

What draws us skyward?

Obviously there are exceptions, but I would say that most of us either had the aviation bug since we were kids or we took a ride in an airplane that forever had us looking up. For me I just always had the bug. As long as I can remember I've always wanted to fly.
Liftoff of Cessna

I had the sky to myself: my first solo at 16

My takeoff was great and my landing was spectacular; “a greaser” as Dan would say. “Two more like that,” said Dan, “and I’ll let you fly solo!” My heart pounded. I knew I was close to my first solo, but now, with both parents right there with me? To say I was excited would have been a terrible understatement.
Kids at airport

Aviation’s future: a young pilot’s perspective

“We need more young pilots, like you,” is a statement that I find myself hearing quite often. I typically hear this coming from older pilots and I completely agree with them. But a lot of the older pilots that I know got into aviation because they were either in the military, or they grew up around an airport. Today, these are not usually the top reasons why people get involved in aviation.
Cessna in hangar

More comfortable in the air: an Adirondack odyssey

My first long-distance flight in a single-engine aircraft began exactly like every other mission we’ve ever flown: with my worrying about the weather and Dad squinting at the radar image on his iPad, assuring me that we would be fine as long as we got in the air within an hour. I call our trips missions because we rarely fly without a purpose.
Community at the airport

General aviation isn’t a hobby, it’s a family

People often ask me about my interest in commercial aviation, and in return, I explain my lack of interest in commercial aviation. I explain my love for general aviation, which is more than a hobby, it’s a family. My aviation journey started when I was just 10 years old, a week after meeting a flight instructor at the Lynchburg Regional Air Show.
Solo picture

Learning to fly: a serendipitous journey

I started out as a boy who was scared to death of flying and ended up falling in love with it while going to see a sick grandfather who, coincidentally, had once been a private pilot and aircraft mechanic in the Navy. There are many names for such instances of luck and happenstance: fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it. The word that happens to come to my mind is serendipity.
Author with grandfather

Flying my grandfather for his 90th birthday

Every flight is exhilarating, but not every flight will be logged as a lifelong memory. This was one of those flights I will remember forever. Grandma nervously hugged us goodbye as Grandpa, Dad, and I squeezed into the compact Skyhawk.

Announcing the Young Pilots Writers’ Challenge

Attention all pilots under 23 years of age. Your voice needs to be heard as part of the general aviation community. It’s not just multi-thousand hour pilots who have wisdom to share and stories to tell. You are the next generation of pilots. For you, the good old days are right now! Air Facts is sponsoring a Young Pilots Writers' Challenge. Here are the details.

The lessons of the lake – a young pilot’s experience

It had been just four months since I climbed out of the plane with the beaming smile on my face that proved I was certified private pilot. At age 17, it truly seemed unreal to me. Nevertheless, today was the day, and a beautiful day at that, for the longest cross country flight of my young career.

Building a career by believing in your dream

In the first article from our "Young Guns" series, meet Andrea Tomaselli, a young pilot from Venezuela who followed his dreams and made captain on the MD-11 at just 27. He shares his story and what he learned about succeeding in a turbulent aviation industry.