Landings aren’t the most important thing, they’re the only thing—not
I had been hired to fly a Cessna 340 from Torrance, Calif., to Glasgow, U.K., on an Atlantic tour with the owner in the right seat. The first four days of the trip had gone well. We had departed Torrance, stopped in Denver and made it to Ohio the first day, then managed to have lunch in Bangor and fly on to Goose Bay the second day.
Flying a Bonanza to Singapore offers an education in “managing” thunderstorms
He was a regular reader of this space and he called a while back wondering if I’d be interested in ferrying his pristine A36TC Bonanza from El Monte, Calif., to Singapore. Gee, lemme think about that for 30 seconds.
To retract or not to retract? That is the question.
My first airplane was a retractable, but it was sometimes hard to tell. It was a purely stock 1946 Globe Swift GC1B, and while the main wheels would retract—eventually—there often seemed to be little effect on performance. Though the airplane was a cute little devil and a fairly primo example of its kind, its performance was a country mile behind the “book.”
There’s nothing so constant as change. Trouble is, change is hard to come by in the far north.
When I returned to Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada, in early December to complete the delivery of the world’s brightest Marchetti (yellow and red with blue stars, formerly owned by an air show pilot), I was hoping it was cold enough that ice season was pretty much over. It was, but not without a few dying gasps.
Fall, not winter, is the tough time in some parts of the world
If there’s one absolute truth about flying the North Atlantic in normally aspirated piston aircraft, it’s ice. Those pilots who’ve been flying the ocean at low level for a few years recognize airframe icing as perhaps the most dangerous threat.
A simple, four-hour round-trip helps remind me of the reliability of GA airplanes
In most recognizable respects, the trip was hardly unusual. It was just an easy 280 nm hop from Long Beach to Groveland, Calif., for a speaking engagement before the Pine Mountain Lake Aviation Association, a typical out-and-back, 1+50 hop in the LoPresti Mooney, precursor to at least a four-pack of 400 to 600 nm trips around the Southwest.
General aviation answers a question that wasn’t important until recently
I wouldn’t want to be riding out on the wing tonight. The wind is roaring down out of the north like a polar bear’s breath—a vicious torrent of air frozen by winter and twisted by the Rocky Mountains. Somewhere below, far down in a blanket of black sky four miles deep, the night snow of November blitzes New Mexico and Colorado into immobility.
His name is Blair Howe, and if he were any more Australian, he’d hop or eat eucalyptus leaves. Though he’s only about five feet and 11 inches, he’s a giant of a man—probably 270 pounds—all muscle and attitude and fiercely proud of his country and accomplishments.
After a takeoff run of about one foot, the attitude pitches up to 10, then 20, then 30 degrees. I know we can’t maintain this pitch angle very long, but the pilot holds the nose up with no apparent concern for impending disaster.
Dogs make wonderful copilots, even if they do sometimes complain about the landings
Yes, I’m guilty. The rumors are true. I am one of those silly, sentimental pet lovers who regard dogs as a couple of steps above most humans. I’ve owned and raised a succession of Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes, German shepherds and dobermans for the last 40 years, and as a group, they’re some of the most wondrous creatures on the planet. I’m ecstatic when they’re born, and I cry when they die.
The payback can outstrip the cost by a factor of several thousand
Pete runs a dental practice and learned to fly so he could transport his family to and from their vacation retreat in Ogden, Utah, without all the hassles of airline travel. Andy is a relatively young entrepreneur who made it big in video games and learned to fly as one of his rewards. And Patty pursued an aviation career, flight instructed, flew charter and eventually climbed atop the aviation pyramid: She now flies Airbus 330s across the pond for US Airways.