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what it takes to be one sharp pilot

Columbia Glacier in Alaska

Land of the midnight sun

The most significant and defining feature of Alaska is, quite simply, its size. It’s a landscape on steroids; a wild land defying the sky to contain it in a voice that resonates with a visceral, primal power. Nowhere else in America are humans so dwarfed by the land they make noises about inhabiting.


Hurricane, inside

“This remarkable account of a remarkable flight first appeared in the January, 1945, issue of Air Facts. Hurricanes haven’t changed a bit but hurricane research flying sure has.” –Ed. The airplane we use is a B-17, but it’s a lot different from most 17s. The turrets are off and so are the guns and the armament, and instead there is a lot of test equipment that we don’t talk about out loud.

Gust front

Storm flying

Thunderstorms in summer. Thunderstorms with battlefield lightning, crop shredding hail and tornados. Sometimes the thunderstorms are dry and the lightning sets the prairie grass on fire. Sometimes the rain is so hard whole buildings go missing. Hans Ahlness makes his living flying into thunderstorms. He convinces other pilots to do the very same thing.

The Six Pack instruments

50 years ago in Air Facts

The following article first appeared in the October, 1961 issue of Air Facts. The wisdom found in Bob’s advice is still sound 50 years later. And, yes, we really did do “canyon approaches” back in the good old days.- Ed.