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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, 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.
Friday, May 1, 2009

Smoke On!


Pushing my Edge to the edge over the Danube



Smoke On!It’s hot in this race plane…even at 1,000 feet…or is it just me? My mouth is dry and my heart is racing as I watch the competitor before me twisting his way through the track.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

They’re Here, Now What?




now whatEclipse. Cessna. Embraer. Three different companies with three different certified very light jets (VLJs). The latter, with its newly certified Phenom 100, currently holds the crown as the biggest, fastest and most expensive of the certified VLJs to date. Cessna’s Mustang holds the distinguished position of the tried and tested “sure thing” built by a company that understands owner-pilots better than anyone.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Traveling By “Corporate” Airplane


A local breakfast flight emphasizes the value of corporate aviation



Traveling By “Corporate” AirplaneI’ve owned personal airplanes almost since I earned my pilot’s license 43 years ago. I didn’t buy my first airplane, a Globe Swift, specifically for business (in fact, I don’t recall ever flying it in conjunction with a story), but most of the half-dozen airplanes I’ve owned since have been employed primarily in pursuit of profit.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Glass Half Empty?


Life & our perception of it



grassrootsI’ve been pacing around this semi-dark room, struggling for the words I want to put on this electronic page. This is the first time this has happened in decades. Usually, I just sit down and the words flow. During the week, something happens where part of my mind says, “Yeah, they’d like hearing about that.” But tonight, I’m struggling, and I only just now figured out why: I’m entirely too fixated on the “what ifs” of the new economic era we’re stumbling into. I’m not sure which is worse, the situation or the fact that I’m fixated on it.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

CSI Insurance: Excogitations On LSA Crashes, Part Deux


A discussion about LSA insurance rates



csi insuranceLast month, Mike Adams, vice president of underwriting for Avemco Insurance (www.avemco.com), shared fascinating insights drawn from Avemco’s LSA claims data. Avemco’s conclusion: Incomplete dealer transition training for new S-LSA owners was the biggest contributor to accident claims. Avemco responded by requiring new owners to complete five hours dual and a flight review sign-off from a dealer rep to qualify for solo coverage.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We Fly the F-22 Raptor


Here’s what it’s like to fly the world’s most sophisticated fighter – sort of.



we flyI’m cruising at 40,000 feet above Nevada in America’s front-line fighter. Perched out on the pointy end, I can’t see what’s following behind, but I know it’s roughly 63 feet long and weighs as much as 64,000 pounds.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Than Monitoring


Glass cockpits ease workload, but pilots shouldn’t forget to maintain their flying proficiency



ntsbWhile I was at an FBO at the Westchester County Airport north of New York City a couple of days ago, a guy I hadn’t seen in a long time walked in. We immediately started catching up on a host of things, not the least of which were the predictable topics of what we’re flying and how much (or little) we’re getting in the air these days.
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.