Formation over Alps

Mornings in Mont Blanc

Today, in formation, we climb out of Annecy and make for the Alps through the Col des Aravis. This kind of flying is like a jam session, a music of angles and relative positions. You know your buddy knows... It’s a kind of magic made possible by experience and trust. The rocks below glide by as though in deep slow motion.
Father and son in airplane

Two procrastinators in a plane – a father/son story

I think part of the reason we hadn’t shared a flight before is is simply a lack of communication and misunderstandings. I won’t nag him, or anyone, to come flying and he won’t pester me to take him flying. So, outwardly it looks like I’m not too keen and that he’s not too interested; neither of which are true.
Cessna IFR

Seven things you should probably know before flying IFR in Canada

The US and Canada have harmonized a lot of the airspace rules and procedures to ensure seamless, safe travel between our two countries. However, I recently discovered some subtle differences between the US and Canadian rules while converting my US IFR rating to the Canadian equivalent that anyone who plans to fly IFR in Canada should probably know.
Piper takeoff

Reuniting with a special airplane, 46 years later

In the summer of 2008 I was looking at the pictures on an aviation site on the internet when my attention was captured by the photo of a red and white PA-20 and by the registration marks: I-CERR. I knew that back in the 1960s, Bruino airfield was owned by the Cerrina family. Was it possible that it was the plane of my first flight?

Friday Photo: Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile's capital and largest city, has a memorable skyline - not for the buildings, but for the snow-capped Andes that tower over the city. Gaspar Galaz was flying his Piper Archer over the city on a beautiful day when he snapped this photo of the scene. It's this week's Friday Photo.
Cessna 206 on dirt

Don’t EVER do that again

I was loaded with my precious passengers, sitting at the end of the grass, holding the brakes as I brought the power up, airplane shaking and rattling in the classic way of the short field takeoff procedure. The Cessna 206 lurched ahead on brake release and we bounced our way forward. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the fence post marker pass.
Super Petrel on beach

A $100 hamburger, the Brazilian way

This sunny morning, I could convince my wife to fly with me to the UNESCO heritage site of Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, a 50-minute flight that would take us along gorgeous tropical coastal scenery. With the help of my friend Siri, a true Caiçara - as the natives of the coast are called - I rolled the Super Petrel in front of the waterline for the pre-flight inspection, which I did by heart.

An awful sensation – lost above Brazil with no alternator

I was totally by myself. I aligned the plane with the 04 runway, with no one in sight, since it was the middle of the week. I took off and decided to test the new plane with some basic maneuvers and a lazy flight. It's important to say that I was totally unfamiliar with the area, as I was used on flying my Cubs from another airfield some miles away. But the fates decided it was a good time to put me to the test.
Luscombe parked on grass

Out of control – flying a vintage airplane in Ireland

“Don’t you have to get permission from ATC or someone?” That’s the most common question I get when people discover I launch myself into the sky from a field. Confusion then turns to disbelief when I tell them “nope.” I usually let that little pot of incredulity simmer for a while; sometimes I’ll stir things with a “why would I need permission?”
Panama river

My introduction to bush flying in Panama

What am I doing here? I’m flying at 3,500 feet over water, heading into the unknown in a single-engine Cessna, and it’s dark! This is what I asked myself as I flew 10 miles out over the Bay of Panama before dawn.

Friday Photo: the floating city of Venice

Venice, Italy, is a legendary tourist destination. Millions flock to the island city and its picturesque canals for a scenic trip by gondola. But as Benoit Vollmer shows in this Friday Photo, the view from the air is pretty spectacular too. He took this photo from his Robin RD-400 during a trip from Paris to Albania.
CYTZ ramp

My first flight to Canada – surprisingly easy and fun

I had done a few longer cross country flights in the past, but nothing that required being in a specific place at a specific time for a specific event. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it does mean that any mishaps along the way must be dealt with on the move and a solution found immediately so that the trip can still be completed.

Friday Photo: Cessna over the Alps

Here's a great example of how a general aviation airplane can unlock new perspectives. Elke Quodt was flying her Cessna 182 of Mt. Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, when she took this photo of the snowy peak. The skiers on the mountain think they have a great view, but the pilot's view is even better.
AT-401 airplane

Ferrying a crop duster to South America

It was getting late in the day and the tropical weather was closing in behind me. I felt trapped. Weather was all around and nothing but dense jungle below. I started to get frustrated and really worried. An hour and a half had passed and I was no closer to Panama City. My only alternate airfield was back across the mountains. The last thing I wanted to do was climb back up to 15,000 feet, but I had no choice.

Friday Photo: Amsterdam canals

Flying over Amsterdam isn't easy, but Gerhard van Roon says he wouldn't trade it for anything: "once over the target and the safety pilot has taken the yoke with me hanging with my cameras out of the window, I am sure that there isn't a job in the world as beautiful and satisfying as mine!" As this week's Friday photo shows, he does have quite the view.

Friday Photo: Helgeland coast in Norway

One of the best parts of our Friday Photo series is the wide variety of locations we get to share. This week's photo is a great example: Thor Fredrik Eie took this beautiful picture of Torghatten in northern Norway on a recent sightseeing flight. The rocky coast and the blue skies make for a unique view over the nose of his Cessna.

South Africa to England in a Bonanza

After a frantic week of long-range faxes and Bonanza research, the deal was done and the planning started for the ferry flight back to Peterborough Sibson (EGSP) in the UK. I was keen to fly it myself if at all possible as I’d never done a long flight in a light single and it seemed wasteful to pay someone else to do it. What was a Bonanza capable of?

Friday Photo: Glass House Mountains, Australia

The Sunshine Coast in Australia is a beautiful place to fly, and Gerard Merchant captures the scenery beautifully in this Friday Photo, taken from the cockpit of his Cessna 172. The Glass House Mountains, a group of hills that pop up from the coastal plains of Queensland, are draped in shadow as the early morning sun breaks through the clouds.
DC-3 red and white

Flying beyond a doubt: an epic DC-3 journey

We know that mechanical things fail, people make mistakes and aviation, like the sea, is inherently unforgiving of failure or mistake. That thought was on my mind recently when we took off from Burlington, Vermont, aboard a classic old airplane, a twin engine DC-3 built in 1945. We were headed for Europe, but less than three hours later, in a flash event, both the failure and the mistake happened at the same time.
Beach on Guadeloupe

Flying 400 miles to find a hotel room in the Caribbean

There was no hotel space for Christmas Eve at the Punta Cana, Dominican Republic hotel where we were staying. Rather than change hotels, we decided to fly to the French island of Guadeloupe instead. Weather was not a factor, the distance was only about 400 nautical miles, and we had fuel for 850 so it just seemed like the thing to do.