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Pilot Stories

Enjoy pilot stories? Our Pilot Talk section is full of informative and entertaining flying tales from accomplished pilot authors.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

From Hero To Bum—Almost


You can learn from your mistakes…if you can just survive them



From Hero To Bum—AlmostIt was January 1989, and I had just delivered a new Grand Caravan to Comair in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Tale Of Three Air Shows—Not


Or how to have your column derailed by big news from Over There



A Tale Of Three Air Shows—NotIt was the best of times; it was the most confusing of times. Half an hour or so into our virtual gum flap, courtesy of matching Gucci headsets and Skype’s Internet-based telephony, my head began to hurt.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dodging The Tornados


“Oh, by the way, could you drive a new T182 back from Lakeland, Fla., to Long Beach, Calif.?”



Dodging The TornadosThere are worse jobs in aviation. It was during the last two days of Sun ’n Fun 2009 that I got the call from Tom Jacobson of Tom’s Aircraft in Long Beach.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fixing Flutter Is Nothing New


Investigating violent oscillations that led to structural failure



Fixing Flutter Is Nothing NewIn April, the NTSB advised the FAA to ground all Zodiac CH 601XL S-LSA and E-LSA until the FAA determines they have adequate protection from aerodynamic flutter, which occurs when airplane structures vibrate back and forth in increasingly violent oscillations, eventually reaching a point where the structure breaks apart.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Golden Hour


Honoring a fallen friend



The Golden HourIn 2007, my team, Aerophile Air Racing, returned from a very difficult trip to the Reno Air Races.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

From The Editor: Solo But Not Alone: “2’s In!”




From The Editor: Solo But Not Alone: “2’s In!”As is the case for many pilots, my student solo had been my most memorable flight, ever. What could be more exciting than the first opportunity as pilot-in-command to return an aircraft safely to earth?
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Flying The Goodyear Blimp


Join Plane & Pilot on a night sign tour over the Los Angeles Basin.



Flying The Goodyear BlimpThe airship—named, “Spirit of America,” and based in Carson, Calif.—continues a Goodyear tradition that began in 1925 with the company’s first helium blimp.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Remembering Aviation


We often have to see through the eyes of an outsider to appreciate what we have



Remembering Aviation It’s interesting how we can become so close to aviation that, even though it’s fueled by passion, it takes a “civilian” to point out what a great privilege and joy it is to fly. A lot of us instructor types spend four or more hours a day in a cockpit, but we really don’t do much flying—mostly we’re riding and talking.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bringing The “Sport” Back To Flying (Kirk Hawkins)


Appealing to the emotional rather than the practical may be the key to revitalizing GA



Bringing The “Sport” Back To Flying (Kirk Hawkins)In 2004, the FAA passed what has been called the “biggest change in aviation in 50 years”—it created the LSA category and sport pilot license. “So what?” you ask. You’ve already got your private, commercial, instrument, CFI and MEI ratings, and your Eagle Scout Badge.
Thursday, June 11, 2009

Light-Sport Chronicles: Ghost Wings


Remembrance of flights past and lessons learned



lscEvery flight has ghosts, if you’ll see them. Mine come in those times when I need a little help to get me through a tough spot, or raise my perspective above ground level to reconsider the depth and breadth of the singular, incomparable joy we call flight.
Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Pilot Decides


Controllers offer assistance, but it’s the pilot’s responsibility to manage the flight



The Pilot DecidesEach year, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the union representing FAA controllers, honors members who’ve helped save pilots from dangerous situations that might have resulted in accidents.
Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stick Time In An F-4 Sim


Taming the Phantom



Stick Time In An F-4 SimAs a twenty something, I figured that the only chance I would ever have of getting into an F-4 Phantom cockpit would involve a successful run for Congress, followed by finagling a seat on the Armed Services Committee.
Thursday, June 11, 2009

From The Editor: When You Least Expect It




editorYou never know when your skills might be put to the test. For Doug White, who recently had to land a King Air when his pilot suffered a sudden and fatal medical problem, it was a matter of life and death.
Thursday, June 11, 2009

2009 National CFI of the Year


Improving the learning process



2009 National CFI of the YearRecently, a VFR pilot flying a Cessna 172 departed after dark in VMC and flew into IMC. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot reported an electrical failure to ATC, but continued into a thickening blanket of fog.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Singapore By Bonanza


Flying a Bonanza to Singapore offers an education in “managing” thunderstorms



x-countryHe 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.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Harry


Some characters we simply remember; others leave an indelible mark



grassrootsAt the risk of making this page an obituary for passing friends, let me say this: There’s absolutely no way we can let the passing of Harry Shepard go without saying something, if not profound, at least irreverent. Because that was Harry—a little profound, a lot irreverent and massively talented.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Should You Reset A Circuit Breaker?


Revisiting and revising old ways of doing things



ntsbThe NTSB says it’s time to rethink something most GA pilots learned early in their training: If a circuit breaker trips while you’re flying, it’s okay to reset it after allowing a minute or two for it to cool, even if you have no idea what caused it to trip and cut off electrical power to a particular circuit.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Proposal


An extra-special vacation



The ProposalAs a dating couple, Brian and I often had to be very creative about finding time to spend together since I’m an airline first officer and Brian is the operations coordinator for Team Oracle. In July 2007, we were happily anticipating a week off that we were going to spend with our dear friends (and fellow Cub enthusiasts) J.R. and Paige Bisset.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

From The Editor: “Student Pilot, First Solo”




editorEveryone remembers their first solo flight. And so when I heard, “Student pilot, first solo,” transmitted on the radio a few days ago at Van Nuys Airport, it brought me back to that chilly March morning when my instructor Liz DeStaffany hopped out of N2447B and I taxied the Cessna 172 to Santa Monica Airport’s runway 21.
Friday, May 1, 2009

Plane & Pilot In A Pilot's Story




Filmed in hangars and homes, at restaurants and on ramps, A Pilot's Story is an upcoming documentary from Wilco Films that tells the story of flight in the words of pilots themselves.