Dick’s blog

President Paul – 1921 to 2013

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Paul Poberezny, the legendary founder of EAA and the father of the Oshkosh airshow, died last week at 91. Here, Richard Collins–who knew Paul for over 45 years–reflects on his accomplishments in aviation and the legacy he leaves behind.

Nose or tail? Wheel that is

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One thing about tailwheels that is not true is that you aren’t a “real” pilot until you have mastered a tailwheel. It’s not what you fly but the care and precision with which you fly that makes you a “real” pilot. It can even be done in an Ercoupe or a Tri-Pacer.

Wrecks and recession: is there a connection?

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The question I have relates to serious accident activity in general aviation. We all know that the accident rate does not vary by much so the number of fatal accidents tells us a lot about flying activity. What has happened here during the economic collapse and rebound and the general aviation collapse without a rebound?

The Asiana crash: rampant speculation?

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The fact of the matter is that the airplane crashed on a beautiful day, there was apparently no mechanical failure, and the public feels entitled to all the speculation that anyone cares to offer. That is just the way things work. From what is known, the crew just turned in a truly lousy job of flying.

A flight well flown: you be the judge

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After every landing we’d all like to hear that it was a flight well flown, even if the pronouncement comes from self. In the past, I have written articles about self-grading of all flights and have always thought that a pilot can be a great judge of himself—if he is objective.

The weight – and the balance

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The video of the 747 crashing after takeoff from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan is hard to watch. As pilots will do, after watching the video I came up with an idea on what I thought might have happened.

The dream v. the reality: it’s a tough world

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It might also be true in other areas, but it has always seemed to me that general aviation is littered with more broken dreams than any other field. As an observer for about 60 years, the length of the list of failed projects amazed me when I wrote down the ones that I remember.

The perfect copilot–of many years

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I took Ann for her first ever airplane ride on May 30, 1956, in my Piper Pacer. I had been flying for five years then. A couple of years later we got married and she had really signed on. I took her for her final airplane ride on August 19, 2007.

What’s in a name?

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Names for various airplanes have always been interesting to me. After WWII, Beech came up with the hands-down best name ever for an airplane: Bonanza. It flies on 67 years later and is, and has always been, a survivor. That is probably because the airplane is as good as the name. My second choice in the name game is Gulfstream.

Move the wheel and wiggle the pedals

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When we let the electronic systems fly the airplane, we are still flying, if by proxy. That means that a big part of the pilot’s job is to fully understand the computers we use to tell the autopilot what to do. That puts the operation of the flight control system squarely in the “airmanship” category.

A dream of the 1970s: the Bede-5

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To say that Jim Bede was controversial is an understatement. Some called him a visionary, others had descriptions that were not so kind. The undisputed fact, though, is that Jim Bede excited and then disappointed a lot of pilots in the 1970s. He was a hard guy not to like and he exuded infectious enthusiasm even if he didn’t always deliver.

Check rides: I have known and loved

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Most of us remember notable things about our flying, check rides for example. When I was starting out and collecting certificates and ratings, it seemed like I was constantly either preparing for, or taking check rides. Some were more fun than others and I can honestly say that none made me nervous.

The silent killer

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Some years ago I got interested in the role of pilot incapacitation in serious general aviation accidents. There are some who think sugar-coating helps on things like this. I don’t. What I found was revealing and it is worth a review.

Lighten up, Sandy baby…

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Weather expert Richard Collins shares his perspective on Sandy, the super storm that hammered the northeast US this week. Learn why the storm turned back to the west, and how Collins rode out the storm.

A DC-3 dream: fleeting as it was

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Dick Collins shares a confession: “almost 60 years ago I wanted very badly to become an airline pilot.” He explains why in this trip through history, complete with DC-3 flights, local service airlines and $7 airfares.

The big bucks: a reason for the declining pilot population?

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From the comments on our series about the declining pilot population, there is no question that a lot of people think that the cost of flying is driving old people away and scaring away new people. I said that I though cost was an excuse, not a reason, and some of you took issue with that. Having been an active pilot and observer of the scene since 1951, I will try to put some of this in context.