Dick’s blog

Super long flights

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After reading Dr. Stephen Gray’s article about his trans-Pacific flight in a Beech Duchess, I had one of those old deja vu all over again feelings. In the first years that I worked for Air Facts, starting in 1958, we reported on a number of long distance flights. Some were flown by Air Facts contributors who then wrote about their flights in our magazine.

Neil Armstrong: the ultimate aviator

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We watched the moon landing on July 21, 1969 with some British friends. After the landing, one Brit, who worked on elements of the space program, said, “You must be proud to be an American.” I was and still am thanks to the fact that I have shared and still share this great country with some wonderful and exceptional people. This brings me to Neil Armstrong, Gone West on August 25 at 82.

The IFR conundrum: is it as it appears?

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Back in the good old days, there was a lot of scud running and not much real IFR. A lot of us thought that the best way to improve the general aviation safety picture would be to get more people into IFR flying. But one of life’s simplest pleasures comes in realizing that you were wrong about something and that is true here.

Is the NTSB stupid or do they just not pay attention?

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The NTSB recently made a startling (to it) discovery that there is latency involved with the Nexrad pictures that pilots are looking at as they try to avoid weather. To read the NTSB Safety Alert on the subject, you get the feeling that they just crawled out of a hole and discovered weather in the cockpit.

The ultimate responsibility: thoughts on family flying

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After the tragic crash of a Pilatus PC-12 in Florida, Richard Collins reflects on flying with family. He says, “One of the reasons I became such a weather geek over the years was if I was going to fly my family in clouds, I was going to understand everything there was to know about those clouds.” Does flying with family change the way you fly?

What was wrong with V-tail Bonanza pilots?

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I sort of stirred up a hornet’s nest with a recent post about Cirrus airplanes and Cirrus pilots. A few commenters compared the discussion with ones about the Beech V-tail (Model 35) Bonanzas a long time ago. That airplane was actually referred to by many as the “V-tail doctor killer” back in its heyday. As with the Cirrus, the problem was more with pilots than with the airplane.

Happy 75th birthday, Piper

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Piper Aircraft Corporation was formed in 1937 by W. T. Piper, Sr. Over its 75 years there have been many ups and downs and changes. A brief history is available on Wikipedia. Here I would like to offer some anecdotes about how I related to the company over the years.

What’s wrong with Cirrus pilots?

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Despite all the safety features it has, from a glass cockpit to a whole airframe parachute, the Cirrus SR-22 has a higher fatal accident rate than most similar airplanes from other manufacturers. Why has this come to be true? It can only be because of one thing: the Cirrus pilot.

Dick’s blog: there are only good questions

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Is it possible to know at all times what you’re doing when you’re flying? It is not only possible to know exactly what you are doing at all times, it is required. Put another way, right before every accident a pilot is flying without knowing everything that is going on in, with, around and about his airplane.

Dick’s blog: right seat upgrade?

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The FAA is famous for writing proposals using illumination from burning airplane wreckage. The latest is a notice of proposed rulemaking that would increase the requirements for a pilot to serve as a first officer on U. S. passenger and cargo airlines. To say that this is probably the most sweeping change ever proposed is almost an understatement.

The Great Debate: too old to fly

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We have had the debate on pilot age and it goes on. For this one we are talking about airplanes. Will our fleet of older airplanes fly on for five more years? Ten? Forever? Do you feel as comfortable about mechanical reliability in an older airplane as in a newer one?

Going out on top

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In this frank and personal article, Collins says he decided to “stop [flying PIC] with satisfaction” at age 74. His last flight was a good one, but “limiting flights to good weather took all the challenge and fun out of my flying. To me, dealing with inclement weather in light airplanes is one of the most interesting things that a pilot can do.”

Dick’s blog: a solo or a new beginning

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I am writing this on October 25, 2011. On October 25, 1951 I, a rebellious 17-year old juvenile delinquent, walked into the flight school office at Harrell Field in Camden, Arkansas, to take a flying lesson. My instructor, Rudy Peace, a wonderful person and pilot and later a fine friend, awaited. Also waiting was Aeronca Champ (7AC) N1154E.

Dick’s blog: is any airplane “safe?”

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When the Ercoupe came out in the 1940s, everybody thought it would set a new standard for both simple flying and safety. It was stall-resistant and spin-proof and the controls were interconnected. There were no rudder pedals, just a wheel and throttle to use in controlling the airplane. When the dust settled, the Ercoupe had a worse safety record than contemporary two-place airplanes.

Dick’s blog: teachin’ or learnin’

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I have been a flight instructor since August 24, 1953. A lot of water has passed under the bridge in that time and the current emphasis on better instruction and training safer pilots has made me ponder many things. Let’s talk about some of them for a bit and then see what you think.

Dick’s blog: spotlight on air racing

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Air tragedies are a lot like thunderstorms. There’s lightning and it is always followed by thunder. After the accident in Reno the general news media started having a field day soon after the crash, devoting both ink and air time to the subject. Some of the comments were knowledgeable, most were not.

Dick’s blog: F-15 v. Cherokee

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The Labor Day weekend was a busy one over our house. Back in the good old days, when the traffic pattern at the Frederick (Maryland) airport was perpetually full, general aviation airplanes filled the sky overhead. With air traffic down, that is no longer true. This Labor Day there was a lot going on but it involved F-15s, probably from some state’s Air Guard. Because of the proximity to 9/11, and because the President was at Camp David, they had air cover like I haven’t seen in a long while.