It had been a dismal day to fly. Then it got worse.
It was mid-August, 1991, and California had been baking under a seasonal high-pressure system, pushing temperatures well above the century mark from Baja to the Oregon border. I’d departed early from my home base of Compton in the Los Angeles Basin to meet a SOCATA TBM-700 in Concord, a few miles inland from the coastal more »
The fast piston single was an aerodynamic work of art. It deserves a better fate than to be forgotten.
One of the great joys of this job used to be the opportunity to fly a little of everything. Though I don’t have that many hours or ratings, I do have nine logbooks crammed with hours and notes on flying over 310 types of aircraft in the last 50 years. I know that credential isn’t more »
It's the oldest form of radio navigation, but ADF just can't get no respect.
Are you an aviation enthusiast or pilot? Sign up for our newsletter, full of tips, reviews and more! Like many of you, I bought my first airplane a long time ago, and the panel looked like something out of a South American locomotive. There was a very tired, crystal-controlled Narco VHT3 navcom that worked on alternate more »
The wind can blow from any direction, and sometimes it just blows.
Are you an aviation enthusiast or pilot? Sign up for our newsletter, full of tips, reviews and more! Back in the early ‘90s, shortly after Mooney introduced the world-beater, 270 hp, M20M Bravo, I came up with a story idea I was positive couldn’t miss. The Bravo was an outstanding design, but it was basically a more »
Mid-air collisions are rare and becoming more so with electronic TCAS systems, but every pilot should know how to look for other traffic
Are you an aviation enthusiast or pilot? Sign up for our newsletter, full of tips, reviews and more! It happened 20 years ago on one of those chamber of commerce New Year’s mornings in Southern California, the kind that everyone watching the Rose Parade back East likes to hate us for. Visibility was probably 60 miles, more »
In a time of record-high prices for factory-fresh airplanes, the new vs. used discussion is more pertinent than ever
Subscribe today to Plane & Pilot magazine for industry news, reviews and much more! As a semi-long-term senior editor of this magazine, I’m often asked about the benefits of buying a new aircraft over purchasing a used machine and versa vici. I’m well aware that a majority of readers might automatically vote for the less-costly option. After more »
Some things you probably knew, and perhaps some you didn’t, about the development and implementation of GPS
I was just over 1,000 miles south of Honolulu on the second leg of a four-leg ferry flight from Santa Barbara to Subic Bay, Philippines, when all three GPSs failed. The Cessna 421’s panel mount system and both of my portables stopped working at the same time. My lat/long position froze in place, and nothing was more »
Here’s how one pilot set the world prop/piston speed record and came to dominate unlimited air racing
If you’re determined to make an airplane fly faster, traditional wisdom suggests there are three ways to realize that goal. In ascending order of difficulty, you can increase the power, improve the aerodynamics or reduce the weight. Perhaps no class of airplanes exemplifies the need for speed more than unlimited air racers, and few pilots more »
Every March, these dogs demonstrate what it’s like to be the world’s most enthusiastic canines
When I was a kid, a few years back, I always considered myself lucky to be growing up a government brat. My father was an inspector with the Department of Justice, and we moved around quite a bit. (Standard joke in the family: “My dad has been in and out of jail for 30 years.”) more »
If you fly piston singles most of the time, you need to understand and appreciate their amazing reliability
Regular readers may recall that I’ve logged my share of hours over various bodies of water, mostly the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and several others you may never have heard of. I often hadn’t heard of them, either, until someone hired me to fly across more »
Technology and training have changed in the last 50 years, thank goodness
Like many of you, I took my initial flight training in extremely basic airplanes—read, “cheap.” The first was a re-engined, 85 hp Piper J-3 Cub on skis, but the second was even more basic, if that’s possible. It was, in fact, several steps below a Cessna 150. That airplane was a Champion Tri-Traveler, one of more »
Sahara When I departed St. John’s, Newfoundland, for Santa Maria, Azores, yesterday, the always-angry North Atlantic raged beneath me, waves rolling 20 feet at the crests with winds of 30 knots blowing whitecaps off the tops, according to the Hibernia oil platform 200 miles out. After a while, I tried not to look at the more »
It can be fun, challenging and, at times, a little scary
It was June 1991, and I’d been hired to fly right seat in the one and only Swearingen SJ-30 flight test article from San Antonio to Le Bourget Airport, Paris, for the Paris Air Show. My captain was Carl Pascarell, a former Navy attack pilot who had flown A-7 Corsairs off aircraft carriers during the more »
Unlike most aviation hazards, pilot fatigue usually isn’t on any checklist
It was one of those nights the high plains of New Mexico are famous for. The moon was waxing toward full, and there were thousands of stars vying for my attention as I climbed my Mooney’s wingwalk for the flight home to California. If it hadn’t been such a long day, I might have better more »
As I was about to climb into the front pit of the solid-silver, letter-opener, stiletto of a glider for my first soaring lesson, instructor Gus Briegleb reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver dollar. He placed it on the runway at El Mirage Airport, then turned to me and said, “Bill, when you’re more »
Contrary to sometimes popular opinion, most folks at the FAA aren’t really the bad guys
Incident 1 The flight from Santa Maria to El Paso had gone well, or so I thought. I’d picked up a new Aerostar 601P from Roy Tucker at the company’s delivery center early in the morning and pointed the nose east toward Florida. It was one of those chamber of commerce days that the Southeast more »
Flying should be in all three dimensions, not just two
When I was a kid and could only dream about being unhinged from Earth, I assumed all airplanes could fly in three, full dimensions. Every pilot knows that’s the definition of flying, but only to a limited extent. As a government brat living in a suburb of Washington D.C., I used to ride my bike more »