I’ve been privileged to call Rod Machado a friend for the last 20 years. We first worked together during the launch of ABC TV’s Wide World of Flying TV series back in the mid ’80s. Together with host and ABC senior VP Phil Boyer (now president of AOPA), director Dave Jackson (now president of King Schools), TWA captain Barry Schiff (now retired) and later, warbird enthusiast Jeff Ethell (sadly, no longer with us), Rod and I enjoyed seven happy years of playing to the TV cameras.
My stories were primarily dedicated to left-seat checkouts in airplanes ranging from the Aerostar 700 and TBM-700 to the Super Decathlon and Lake Amphibian, but Rod, as the representative of AOPA, handled meatier stuff, safety tips, emergency procedures and a variety of other stories with a style and panache I could only hope to emulate.
We’ve both moved on to other things, but we still manage to stay in touch, often crossing paths at Sun ’n Fun, the EAA AirVenture, the AOPA Expo and a half dozen other annual aviation events. Rod is one of the smartest people I know on all things aviation, and I rely on him as a source of knowledge many times each year.
As virtually everyone in aviation must know by now, Machado is among the most popular and articulate speakers in the industry, drawing big crowds everywhere he speaks. His experience, intelligence and, above all, sense of humor, have made him one of the most visible personalities in aviation. He has made humor his trademark, not only in his lectures but in his writing as well.
Rod is one of those legitimate airport kids who began flying at age 16, and 8,000 hours later, he has never looked back. He has been a CFI for 30 years (and he’s only 41—just kidding), but he somehow has managed to retain an intense fascination with anything aeronautical as well as the vagaries of human nature.
As an instructor, Rod has taught several hundred flight-instructor re-validation clinics around Southern California and holds degrees in both aviation science and psychology from California State University at Long Beach, Calif. In his spare time, he practices and teaches martial arts and holds black belts in the Korean disciplines of tae kwon do and hapkido.
There is only so much of Rod to go around, however, and to that end, he offers a variety of tapes, CDs, DVDs and books. His instructional manuals on earning the private license and instrument rating have become instant classics. I have every one of those books in my library, and I use them often to brush up on my own knowledge.
His latest book, Rod Machado’s Plane Talk: A Collection of Rod’s Most Popular Aviation Stories and Articles, is published in the same large format as his previous efforts, although it’s not strictly a training manual. It very well may be his best effort yet, however. That’s because it covers a wide variety of aviation subjects and is dedicated to entertain as well as inform.
Plane Talk is a collection of 96 articles Rod has written during the last 15 years, and the stories run the gamut from hilarious to philosophical to inspiring to brilliant, sometimes all four at the same time. Machado writes very much as he talks, from the heart with intelligence and insight, but always with a touch of irreverence, and Plane Talk reads almost like a conversation with the man.
The book’s 440-some pages are divided into 18 chapters on everything from aviation statistics, handling new fliers, avoiding mid-airs and conquering crosswinds to helicopters, using GPS, VFR simulators and landings to forget. As a trained psychologist, Machado deals with aviation subjects with a different tack, examining why we do some of the dumb things we do and explaining how we can shortstop bad decisions. Like any good psychologist, he prefers to examine motivations and analyze people rather than dwell on accident reports as subject matter.
As mentioned above, Plane Talk isn’t a formalized manual on flying, but it imparts more pure aviation smarts than any other book I’ve read. The book is available through the Aviation Speaker’s Bureau at (800) 437-7080 or on Rod’s Website at www.rodmachado.com.
Air Chart Systems
Air racer Howie Keefe (P-51 “Miss America”) started Air Charts some 43 years ago, and the now highly evolved books are still probably the best single-source chart system available for domestic VFR and low-altitude IFR. I’ve used them consistently for probably 30 of those years, and it certainly makes the task of flying easier, knowing that you always have every chart you could possibly need in a single, simple source.
The full package of Air Charts includes all the low-altitude en-routes, all the WAC charts and, most recently, all the sectionals in the contiguous 48 states. The latter were added this year, and they make dealing with long flights across multiple charts an easy task, without spreading paper all over the cockpit. The books measure about 11 x 11 inches, are easy to manipulate in the cockpit and are heavily spiral bound, and finding your way around the country is relatively simple using the system.
Air Charts also includes a compact Captain’s Guide with lots of stuff you won’t find anywhere else, at least not conveniently: an AM radio guide, including a list of 50,000-watt, clear channel stations; a localizer/locator frequency guide; hotel and car rental and airline toll-free numbers; freqs for all towers in the country; an airport directory; NDBs/fixes listings; an ASOS/AWOS directory; and much more.
Air Charts is now owned and operated by Mike Barker at (800) 338-7221 or on the Web at www.airchart.com.
Bill Cox is entering his third decade as a senior contributor to Plane & Pilot® and provides consulting for media, entertainment and aviation concerns worldwide.
E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.