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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, 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.
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.