international

Helicopter flying in the jungle – lessons learned

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Piloting an aircraft requires certain skills. It also requires certain amounts of discipline, situational and self-awareness. Piloting a helicopter requires even more of each of them, mostly because a rotary wing aircraft is flying in an unstable manner, as opposed to the stable flight characteristics of most civil airplanes.

Friday Photo: blue Bahamas water

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The first time I flew to the Bahamas was in the spring of 1974 in a 1952 Piper TriPacer. On this flight, we’re in our Aerostar following the magenta line – precisely knowing our position, ground speed, ETA, etc. The technology may have changed, but the beauty of the islands has not.

Dead reckon: Georgia to Ecuador in a crop duster

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When a pilot thinks about some of the flights he flew during the early years of a piloting career, one can’t help thinking, “What was I thinking back then?” The event I am referring to took place in February 1970, when I flew a new crop duster from the factory in Georgia to the buyer, a farmer in Ecuador.

General aviation in Europe is both inspiring and frightening

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For a crass American, AERO is a very civilized show, held in a beautiful convention center with great coffee and lively beer gardens. Oshkosh this isn’t. Beyond these mundane differences, though, the show offers a fascinating lesson for US pilots. If all you’ve heard is how awful things are for private pilots in Europe, let me offer a more complete – although not entirely rosy – portrait.

My first real emergency

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Despite all the times I’ve practised these things, both in the aircraft and the simulator, you know at the back of your mind that it’s not real, and that if things do not work out as planned, you can always open the throttle and go around. Only when it’s the real thing do you know whether you can actually handle it or not.

Friday Photo: Toronto skyline aglow

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Toronto, Canada has a unique skyline, with the sprawling city spread along the coast of Lake Ontario, and the massive CN Tower looming over the island airport. Pilot Mark Nye captured the beauty of this city in a stunning nighttime flight in his Cessna 185. Here’s a photo you’ll want to view full size.

Friday Photo: glacier in France

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A ski vacation turned into much more for Hrag Sarkissian. In this week’s Friday Photo, he shares a the postcard view he saw when he touched down on La Grande Motte Glacier in France. The unique runway was a result of a short ski-flying checkout from an “altiport.”

Friday Photo: runway in Sweden

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This week’s Friday Photo has an international flavor. Dmitrij Karpenko snapped this photo of Vaesteras airport, outside Stockholm, from his Glasair Sportsman just before turning final. The sun is lighting up the water in the distance, while another airplane prepares to land.

Cutting corners as a freight pilot – and regretting it

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Forcing myself to stay calm, I faced the embarrassing possibility that a wheels-up landing might be the only way out. I was angry with myself for being such an idiot because failure to secure the freight was not only a clear breach of the regulations, but worse still, an example of poor airmanship. I vowed that never again would I be pressured into potentially dangerous situations by fears of job security.

Flying an old Boeing to China for Christmas

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Ask airline pilots where they want to be during the Christmas to New Year holidays and most say… home with family and friends! In December 1982, we split the difference; being with wives and kids, but on a 707 odyssey to Tianjin, China, celebrating Christmas Eve in a frigid airport dining room with the leaders of China’s airline, CAAC.

Friday Photo: Toronto at night

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In our latest weekly photo entry, Dean Smith shares this picture of Canada’s largest city, just after the sun had set. The tall buildings are lit up, and go right to the shores of Lake Ontario. It’s all visible, even the island airport, from Dean’s 206 at 10,000 ft.

Friday Photo: Swiss Alps rise above the fog

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Swiss pilot Tobias Goller says “Moments like this always make it clear to me that I’m very fortunate in so many ways… Everyone has his one big love story. I do have three: My wife, my daughter – and being able to fly. All the sorrows you may have on the ground are forgotten once airborne.”

Losing a wingman: the price we pay

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Being a fighter pilot is not necessarily just a fun game; it is demanding, always serious, sometimes dangerous and particularly for when you deploy with hot guns and missiles – with no clothes in the ammo bins – just 30 mm canon ammunition as we did a very short time later… and went ready for war.

Friday Photo: Sydney Harbour view

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Seeing Sydney Harbour from Harbour scenic 2 with some friends on a command hour building flight, which doubled as a scenic flight. Sydney looks amazing from the air, Harbour scenics are a pilots dream, a short flight, but one with great memories that will last a lifetime.

The people you meet in aviation – some good, some bad

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There will be few pilots, professional or amateur, who will not remember the good instructors with whom they have flown. Conversely, those instructors who have denigrated your best efforts and in doing so destroyed your self confidence, are invariably remembered with a cold contempt usually reserved for one’s worst enemy.

Gear down… or is it?

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Recently my memories of earlier days were rekindled during a chat with a friend regarding wheels-up landings. It emphasised to me again, no matter how often you fly and how long you have been doing it, there is always something to learn, particularly in a demanding aircraft, as was the Gnat in an engine-out forced landing.