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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, April 7, 2009

From The Editor: Low & Slow




from the editorYou’d normally find her looping and rolling at 250 mph in front of thousands of spectators at the industry’s biggest air shows, but this month, aerobatic champ Patty Wagstaff takes us on a different kind of adventure, low and slow above elephants, rhinos and cheetahs in the remote wilderness of Kenya.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Protecting Kenya’s National Parks


Training the Kenya Wildlife Service Airwing



Protecting Kenya’s National ParksI often wear a little leather choker with two bronze elephant tusks. I picked it up a few years ago in a Nairobi gallery called Matt Bronze, and it reminds me of the wild things that still live in Kenya.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why Retract?


To retract or not to retract? That is the question.



Why Retract?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.”
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Early-Morning Cockpits


Right at this moment, aviation lives are being lived that we can’t imagine



grassrootsAs I was out walking this morning, my brain, as is usually the case, decided to go somewhere else so it didn’t have to deal with the tedium of exercising. This time, it began visiting cockpits around the world. In a matter of seconds, film clips of pilots, who at that exact moment were readying their birds for flight, started playing in the theater of my mind.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Light-Sport Chronicles: CSI Insurance: Excogitations On LSA Crashes, Part 1


What do three years of a top LSA insurer’s data tell us about sport flight accidents?



lscTooling around the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo (check out my blog, Light-Sport Hangar Flyin’), I ran into Mike Adams, vice president of underwriting for Avemco Insurance Company (www.avemco.com). Adams was on scene to present what Avemco has learned, based on three years of data, from S-LSA accidents.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Logging Time In The World’s Largest Airliner


Left seat in an Airbus 380



Logging Time In The World’s Largest AirlinerI’m sitting in the pilot’s seat of an Airbus A380 surrounded by 10 flat-panel displays and more switches than I can describe. It’s the world’s largest airliner, and its size is staggering.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Survivable Ditchings


US Airways Flight 1549 is reminiscent of other successful ditchings



ntsbWithout diminishing in any way the heroic actions of the pilots, flight attendants and passengers on US Airways Flight 1549, which was successfully ditched in the Hudson River after a bird strike on January 15, it’s important to note that most ditchings actually have a high survival rate.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

From the Editor: A Diamond For A Pilot’s Pilot




editorThere were more than a few cheers at this year’s U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., which drew a record crowd of up to 11,500 attendees and held its own in spite of the current economic woes. With more than 165 exhibitors and sales of at least 20 airplanes, it’s evident that the LSA industry has come a long way since the sport pilot rule was created four years ago.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

53 Years Later


Pitfalls over the Rockies



53 Years Later I’m 77 and hold a commercial pilot license and an instrument rating. I’ve filled four logbooks. As a child, I made balsa-wood and tissue-paper airplanes. As a teen, I made gas U-Control model airplanes, and I used to ride my bike to the airport regularly. During the Korean War, I served in the Air Force. All in all, I guess that I’m an aviation enthusiast.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Personal Aviation At A Crossroads


Looking back and moving forward



Personal Aviation At A CrossroadsFive years ago, the first special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) received its airworthiness certificate, opening up a new chapter in the regulation of simple personal flight. More than 1,000 of these factory-built aircraft and more than 8,000 former ultralights (experimental light-sport aircraft, E-LSA) are now flying under the sport pilot and LSA category.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Return To Goose Bay


There’s nothing so constant as change. Trouble is, change is hard to come by in the far north.



xcWhen 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.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Solitary Goose


Not everyone wants to fly solo



grassrootsThe morning sun had yet to break over the horizon, and as I speed-walked my usual early morning, let’s-get-the-blood-flowing-and-the-joints-loose route, I could actually see my breath. Light frost crusted the yards—a rare but not unknown happening here in the desert. Then I heard a single honk overhead and glanced up: Instantly, I felt just a little melancholy.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Profiles In Vision: Tom Peghiny


The #1 LSA distributor in America climbs for the blue on how to survive “The Econogeddon”



I like employing people and making things,” Tom Peghiny, president and founder of Flight Design USA, told me on a snowy winter day last January.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Icing Awareness


The quantity and quality of information have improved, but icing is ever a deadly foe



ntsbTen years ago, the National Aviation Weather Program Council met in Washington, D.C., to develop ideas that could be turned into practical steps toward reducing the number of weather-related aircraft accidents. Regarding in-flight icing, the group—which included FAA, Department of Defense, NASA, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture and NTSB representatives—concluded that better observation systems were needed for detecting icing, and weather forecasts should present icing hazards in clear, easily understood formats.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

From The Editor: From Dream To Reality


We all started at the same place: the beginning.



from the editorThere was a time when aviation seemed to be a distant world, out of my reach. I didn’t know any pilots, and as far as I knew, you had to be in the military or have millions of dollars to become one. While my classmates forged ahead on paths to become doctors and lawyers, I stumbled around, sneaking peeks at airplanes passing overhead and memorizing the aviation alphabet. But, one day, everything changed.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pleasure, Pain & Southern Hospitality


An unforgettable weekend



Pleasure, Pain & Southern Hospitality Skylane 250CW, cleared to land, runway two seven.” Those words marked the start of my anniversary weekend in historic Savannah, Ga. The VFR flight to Savannah from Lawrenceville, Ga., on the morning of August 1, 2008, was smooth and uneventful, as was my first-time arrival into Savannah International Airport. Plane parked and rental car obtained, my wife and I headed off to the resort.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gaining Your Pilot’s License


An opportunity to see the world from a different perspective



Gaining Your Pilot’s LicenseLeonardo da Vinci once said, “For once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” There are more than 600,000 registered pilots in the United States, and each of them can relate to this quote.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Always The Weather


Fall, not winter, is the tough time in some parts of the world



x-countryIf 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.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Retreads & Me


We’re wearing out more than just our airplanes



retreads & meI’m not sure what it means, but this morning I glanced down at the Tail-Dragger Dragger dolly that I use to push/pull my bird from its nest, and I realized that the tires are wearing out. Bald, as it were. I was a little surprised and asked myself, “Exactly how much mileage should we expect from the accessories we surround ourselves with while flying?”
Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Light-Sport Chronicles: Questions! So Many Questions!


The sport pilot rule is clear and easy to understand...except when it isn’t. Let’s dig a little deeper.



light sport chroniclesThe sport pilot rule under which LSA pilots fly was intended to cover a broad array of recreational vehicles and conditions, gently wrapped within a beneficent, safety-minded envelope of permissions and restrictions.