The following is in response to dozens of e-mails requesting additional installments on flying Africa. Keep in mind, this Caravan trip occurred in 1989 when South Africa still maintained its policy of apartheid.
The world's most famous warbird takes on the North Atlantic
1942: A flight of six P-38s and two B-17s departs Sondrestrom Fjord, Greenland, for Reykjavik, Iceland, on their way to the WWII European Theater of Operations as part of Operation Bolero. It’s an ambitious project, initiated by General Hap Arnold, tired of seeing his aircraft ride cargo ships to the bottom of the Atlantic, victims of Hitler’s dreaded U-boats.
General-aviation pilots played a huge role in helping hurricane victims
My timing couldn’t have been worse. On Monday, August 29, 2005, I boarded an American Airlines 767 out of Los Angeles and headed for Orlando, Fla., well aware that Hurricane Katrina was scheduled to come ashore at exactly the same time when we’d be passing overhead. The storm had grown taller than 50,000 feet, far above the maximum altitude of a 767, and was directly in our flight path.
Summertime flying in the North Atlantic can be vicious
This is being written on the road or, more accurately, in the sky. As I tap out these words on my Think Pad, I’m cruising comfortably at FL390 in a British Airways 747, only two hours out from Heathrow Airport in London. I’m flying to Jolly Old England to explore the puzzling British penchant for cold meat as well as warm beer.
Observing places, people and planes is part of the job
Almost by definition, half of every delivery flight I make is on an airliner. I’ve been able to dovetail ferry flights to and from the same destinations a total of once in nearly 30 years of delivering airplanes.
Smoothing out those unwanted dents may have gotten easier
It’s a problem most of us with metal airplanes face at one time or another—dings, those small dents that seem to go hand in hand with owning an aluminum flying machine. Unless you own a wood-and-fabric airplane, you’re almost bound to develop some minor dings in your airplane’s aluminum surfaces. Rag and spruce designs aren’t totally immune from hangar rash, but almost.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by birds. I remember sitting on the beach during family vacations to Venice, Fla., as a kid of seven through 13, entranced by pelicans in ones and twos patrolling the roiling Gulf of Mexico surf for fish. The big-beaked birds seemed to have total command of the sky, gliding soundlessly or climbing for an instant with hardly a movement of wing, then diving straight down into the water faster than I could think about it.
Alleviating a non-pilot’s fears of little airplanes
As one who is sometimes asked to speak before pilot groups, I was struck by a column written by fellow editor, retired airline captain and general-aviation bon vivant Dave Gwinn in the February 2005 issue of Plane & Pilot. Gwinn was lamenting that some of the experiences we relate to live pilot audiences and write about to 300,000 readers each month may only serve to turn off non-pilots.
Learning acrobatics can help you straighten up and fly right
Every job has its perks. Airline pilots, for example, fly practically free all over the world, doctors and nurses have the inside track on good health care, Formula One drivers are privileged to drive some of the most exciting cars available and are well paid for it, building contractors can live in lavish luxury at a fraction of the cost you and I might pay, and so on.
There are a few airplanes that deserve better than they got, and I’ve always felt the Shrike Commander is one of them. I flew the big twin for the first time on a ferry to Europe 20 years ago, and I was impressed with its handling and comfort.
In the world of flying, the range of experiences and the fun to be had are never-ending
One of the perks of this job is the chance to fly a wide variety of airplanes. My hours and ratings aren’t anything special, but I’m happy that I’ve been allowed to fly a little of everything at one time or another.
Roy LoPresti’s vision of a fast, fun airplane is close to completion
Every once in a while, I’m privileged to fly an airplane that stands out from the pack. While most general-aviation designs are safe, comfortable machines, few are exciting airplanes intended to do more than transport their pilots from Miami to New Orleans, or Chicago to Dallas.
Experience and new technology don’t protect a pilot from basic blunders
No question about it—the exponential expansion of aviation technology in the last dozen years has been nothing short of amazing. If anyone had suggested at the beginning of the 1990s that avionics manufacturers would be offering dual GPS and multi-function displays in practically every new airplane by 2004, most of us would have laughed and said, “Yeah, right.”
Early last summer, I had to leave a 421 with a mechanical problem in the middle of the Pacific and wrote about it on these pages. Maintenance dragged on for another six months before the airplane finally was ready to fly, delaying delivery from Subic Bay, Philippines, to the U.S. mainland beyond any reasonable expectation.
Does self-induced pressure to continue a flight supercede everything else?
The difference between a safe pilot and one with an enhanced chance of becoming an accident statistic often is found in the ability to detach oneself from the emotional and social aspects of flying. Have you properly planned for the flight or will you be playing catch-up once you get off the ground? Are your qualifications and experience sufficient for the expected flight conditions?
The NAA is leveling the playing field for pilots who would like to set national records
Speed! It’s the reason that many of us fly. For most pilots, faster is better. I raced stock cars as a kid, sports cars as an older kid, and the current, much older kid would be racing unlimited air racers but for a lack of money.