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Cross-Country Flying Stories

Cross-country flying stories from Bill Cox offer fantastic insight into what pilots face on long distance flights. Dig into our X-Country Log today.

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, 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, 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, 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.
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.
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.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Great Sandy Australia


See Down Under—on the coast



x-country His name is Blair Howe, and if he were any more Australian, he’d hop or eat eucalyptus leaves. Though he’s only about five feet and 11 inches, he’s a giant of a man—probably 270 pounds—all muscle and attitude and fiercely proud of his country and accomplishments.
Monday, September 1, 2008

Secrets Of Johnston Island


An emergency landing on a top-secret base



Secrets Of Johnston IslandMajuro in the Marshall Islands has to be one of the world's more remote locations.
Thursday, June 19, 2008

How To Blimp


Goodyear proves that low and slow can be fun



How To BlimpAfter a takeoff run of about one foot, the attitude pitches up to 10, then 20, then 30 degrees. I know we can’t maintain this pitch angle very long, but the pilot holds the nose up with no apparent concern for impending disaster.
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Nauru—For The Birds


This island nation once operated the world’s hardest-working 737



Nauru—For The BirdsI'd overflown Nauru perhaps a dozen times. It's almost directly between Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands, and the famous Henderson Field at Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Llamas & Condors


XC Log: Try South America



x-c logI was at a speaking engagement in Alaska awhile back, talking about the joy and pain of flying the oceans, when a member of the audience asked about my experiences in Central and South America.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

Paws In The Sky


Dogs make wonderful copilots, even if they do sometimes complain about the landings



x country logYes, I’m guilty. The rumors are true. I am one of those silly, sentimental pet lovers who regard dogs as a couple of steps above most humans. I’ve owned and raised a succession of Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes, German shepherds and dobermans for the last 40 years, and as a group, they’re some of the most wondrous creatures on the planet. I’m ecstatic when they’re born, and I cry when they die.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Safety—A Tough Sell


Blame it on pilot error



piper coltWoody was one of those pilots we all thought would live forever. He was something of a legend in the ferry-flying community: an aviator who had been everywhere in pretty much everything, had never wrecked an airplane and seemed to live a charmed life. A former African missionary, he was a friend for 20 years who knew more about flying the world than anyone else I had ever met, and we all assumed he was invulnerable to the dangers of ferry flying.
Saturday, March 1, 2008

Why Learn To Fly?


The payback can outstrip the cost by a factor of several thousand



x-country logPete runs a dental practice and learned to fly so he could transport his family to and from their vacation retreat in Ogden, Utah, without all the hassles of airline travel. Andy is a relatively young entrepreneur who made it big in video games and learned to fly as one of his rewards. And Patty pursued an aviation career, flight instructed, flew charter and eventually climbed atop the aviation pyramid: She now flies Airbus 330s across the pond for US Airways.
Friday, February 1, 2008

Memories Of Africa, Part V


Taking detours into South Africa



xcThe following is in response to dozens of e-mails requesting additional installments on flying Africa. Keep in mind, this Caravan trip occurred in 1989 when South Africa still maintained its policy of apartheid.
Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Odyssey Of Glacier Girl


The world's most famous warbird takes on the North Atlantic



1942: A flight of six P-38s and two B-17s departs Sondrestrom Fjord, Greenland, for Reykjavik, Iceland, on their way to the WWII European Theater of Operations as part of Operation Bolero. It’s an ambitious project, initiated by General Hap Arnold, tired of seeing his aircraft ride cargo ships to the bottom of the Atlantic, victims of Hitler’s dreaded U-boats.
Sunday, January 1, 2006

The Katrina Aftermath


General-aviation pilots played a huge role in helping hurricane victims



My timing couldn’t have been worse. On Monday, August 29, 2005, I boarded an American Airlines 767 out of Los Angeles and headed for Orlando, Fla., well aware that Hurricane Katrina was scheduled to come ashore at exactly the same time when we’d be passing overhead. The storm had grown taller than 50,000 feet, far above the maximum altitude of a 767, and was directly in our flight path.

 

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Iceland, The Prequel


Summertime flying in the North Atlantic can be vicious



This is being written on the road or, more accurately, in the sky. As I tap out these words on my Think Pad, I’m cruising comfortably at FL390 in a British Airways 747, only two hours out from Heathrow Airport in London. I’m flying to Jolly Old England to explore the puzzling British penchant for cold meat as well as warm beer.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Through The Eyes Of A Ferry Pilot


Observing places, people and planes is part of the job



Almost by definition, half of every delivery flight I make is on an airliner. I’ve been able to dovetail ferry flights to and from the same destinations a total of once in nearly 30 years of delivering airplanes.

Thursday, September 1, 2005

The Go/No-Go Decision


It’s better to be safe than sorry



Every pilot has his own tolerance for risk, but most of us who fly ferry across the oceans on a semi-regular basis have developed our own set of guidelines for when we will or won’t fly. We like to hope that those guidelines make perfect sense, but they often don’t. They’re just our way of doing things, they work, and that’s all that matters as long as they keep us alive.