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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, 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.
 
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Parachute Jump Operations


The risks go beyond just jumping out of an airplane



ntsb debrieferThis past September, the NTSB completed a special investigation on accidents involving aircraft used in parachute jumping.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

From The Editor: Milestones & New Beginnings




from the editorYou may have noticed something physically and visually different about this issue! Starting this year, Plane & Pilot will feature higher-quality paper, with a larger overall size than ever before.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2008 Reno Air Races


Evolution of the Jet Class



2008 Reno Air RacesIn 2001, “the year that never was,” I was part of the initial attempt to race jet airplanes in the Reno Air Races.
Thursday, December 11, 2008

Entering A New Era


My first use of advanced avionics in the backcountry



Entering A New ErafinfIt was one of those cool fall mornings with low, scudding clouds. The kind where you keep blowing on cold, damp hands while loading the airplane and glancing occasionally at the leaden skies, the north country’s harbinger of imminent seasonal change.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Renewal


A simple, four-hour round-trip helps remind me of the reliability of GA airplanes



x-country logIn most recognizable respects, the trip was hardly unusual. It was just an easy 280 nm hop from Long Beach to Groveland, Calif., for a speaking engagement before the Pine Mountain Lake Aviation Association, a typical out-and-back, 1+50 hop in the LoPresti Mooney, precursor to at least a four-pack of 400 to 600 nm trips around the Southwest.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Adventure Is In The Eye Of…


To some of us, just getting off the ground is an adventure



Elsewhere in this issue, we’re bantering around the phrase “adventure aircraft” as if it’s a universally understood term. Personally, I’m not sure it is. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think the term “adventure” itself is open to definition and is very much colored by your aviation life and how you live it—one man’s adventure is another’s ho-hum afternoon.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Decision Shock? Poppycock!


Just relax, and breathe...breathe...



light sport chroniclesIn keeping with the buyer’s guide theme, I got to thinking about the epidemic of choices modern consumers face every day. There was a time when you’d walk into a fast-food place and order a burger, fries and Coke, and if you really felt like living large, you’d get a chocolate, strawberry or vanilla milkshake.
Saturday, November 1, 2008

From The Editor: Zivko Edge Phone Home




“Spot Check OK. Latitude: 37.7445. Longitude: -97.224,” read a text message on my cell phone, and I knew that contributor Bill Stein had made it safely in his Edge 540 to Wichita, Kans., the final stop on his cross-country flight from Chicago, Ill.
Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ode To The Fast Lane


General aviation answers a question that wasn’t important until recently



I wouldn’t want to be riding out on the wing tonight. The wind is roaring down out of the north like a polar bear’s breath—a vicious torrent of air frozen by winter and twisted by the Rocky Mountains. Somewhere below, far down in a blanket of black sky four miles deep, the night snow of November blitzes New Mexico and Colorado into immobility.
Saturday, November 1, 2008

Weather Encounters


Take weather briefings seriously



There’s never been so much pre- and in-flight weather information available for pilots. If you can’t gather the raw data, forecasts and current airport observations by yourself, a briefer at a Flight Service Station (FSS) can do it for you. Unfortunately, some pilots continue to experience trouble applying the wealth of data and meteorological analyses to the realities of flight.
Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Post-Oshkosh Blues


Good things never last forever, including AirVenture



As this is being written, it’s 7:45 p.m. on the night that the happenings in Oshkosh have ended. I’m sitting in an Arby’s across the street from the airport. I’ve just driven the empty field and, to be honest, I’m feeling pretty melancholy. In fact, I’m a little lonely and depressed. I think that after the high-profile week, my adrenaline meter has just dropped past the big “E.”
Saturday, November 1, 2008

Oshwatch!


A snapshot compendium of LSA overview, new aircraft and dish-the-dirt scuttlebutt



In a recent attempt to scare myself about how old I’m getting, I calculated the total time I’ve spent at EAA’s annual air show in Oshkosh. It’s more than half a year of my life—27 visits of around a week each! Pass the orthotic, please.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Citizen Near Miss


An encounter with the past and the future



Citizen Near MissPilots have a lot in common. They’re detail-oriented. They like direct routing and a good deal. But, most of all, they love adventure and the chance to go somewhere that few have gone before, especially in an airplane. I’ve often stared at the circled “R” on my charts and wondered what it takes to land at those special places. Such was the excitement I felt when I was invited to land at the Hearst Piedra Blanca Rancho airstrip in San Simeon, Calif.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From The Editor: The Sky's Not The LImit




I first met Lina Borozdina at Oshkosh in 2005, when Richard Branson and Burt Rutan announced a joint venture between Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites to manufacture a fleet of suborbital spacecrafts intended for space tourism. Lina, a biochemist who had mortgaged her home to purchase a $200,000 ticket on the suborbital flight, was next to me in line for a helicopter flight over the air show grounds. But as our flight time approached, she looked increasingly worried. She was having second thoughts about going in the air, and it became apparent that this astronaut-to-be was afflicted by a fear of flying. Nonetheless, Lina was determined to travel to space, having dreamed of it since her childhood days in Ukraine.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Memories Of Africa, Part VI


Seven days to Cameroon



In response to what seems like a gigabyte of e-mails, here’s yet another chapter of ferry-flying experiences in Africa during the ’80s and ’90s.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Glass-Cockpit Blackout


Dealing with electrical failure while trying to maintain aircraft control



The NTSB doesn’t just investigate accidents; it also routinely examines incidents to determine whether they expose an underlying safety problem, which, if not addressed, could set the stage for future accidents. Recently, it examined an incident involving an Airbus A320 operated by United Airlines. This led to the discovery that there had been at least 49 similar incidents in the United States and the United Kingdom. In response to its own investigation, the NTSB issued a safety recommendation, hoping to encourage FAA action.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Of Bachs & Ganns & Fabulous Words


Aviation has a deeper cultural background than most people give it credit for



If it had happened only once, I would have passed it off as just one conversation with an aviation newbie. He had to be new to aviation not to know Richard Bach’s name. But then it happened again. And this time, the student not only didn’t know Bach, but he didn’t know Ernie Gann either. Then it happened with another student. And another. I was floored. So much so that for the next month, each time a new student sat down in “The Ground School Chair” in my office, I’d bounce those legendary names, plus Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and a few others, off of them.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Master As Student


The more you learn about flying, the more you know there is to learn about flying



With his big rawboned hand almost lovingly cradling a gigantic bag of Skittles candies, Bob Elliott might almost—almost—pass for Professor Dumbledore munching on Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. But the baseball cap and screaming-loud, airplane-festooned print shirt puts the kibosh to that comparison in a hurry. His eyes are mere slits from the bright overcast, or insufficient sleep the night before, or more likely, too many Skittles. Tempting me with the open bag, he explains how he got the nickname “A.D.D. Bob” from his flying buddies because he’s constantly diving out of formation (“A.D.D.”=Aviation Deficit Disorder).