Mountains have always represented the ultimate nemesis to some pilots. Though I understand the apprehension, I grew up in Alaska and California, so I accepted vertical terrain as normal, perhaps the ultimate and most spectacular manifestation of Earth’s variety. Learning to fly in Anchorage and Long Beach, I dealt with mountains during practically every flight, more »
The early instructions are clear. Abeam the numbers, reduce power. First flaps. Pitch for speed. When the far numbers are 45 degrees behind your shoulder, turn downwind to base. Pitch for speed. Second flaps. Watch your speed. There are stories about what comes next. Base to final. This is the most beautiful turn in the more »
The actor acted with professionalism when the engine quit
Suppose you or I had taken off on a solo flight, and within minutes, had to execute an emergency landing that resulted in serious injuries and a banged-up airplane. There was no harm to anyone on the ground, and no buildings or vehicles were hit. When the NTSB finished its investigation, the narrative probably would more »
As night falls and the visibility drops, can a home-brewed approach save the day?
When I was younger, and for the longest time, it seems, when I ate pizza, I would invariably burn the top of my mouth. It generally happened when I was really hungry-desperate to eat. Eventually, after running the pizza-mouth-burn scenario through my head a million times, my imaginings led to strategies that helped avoid the more »
Coming to flying later than most opens different doors and different perspectives
Before each departure from Heathrow Airport, I meet my fellow pilots at our Crew Report Centre. We shake hands and introduce ourselves, and if we’re early we may talk about the traffic or the football, or our plans for our time off wherever it is on the planet that we’re about to go together. There’s more »
Going to the next level can take you to new and sometimes scary places. Why it’s that next step that matters most.
I spent the winter of ’84 giving tailwheel instruction, getting more aerobatic training and working on my helicopter rating. After I soloed the Bell 47G, I had a lot of fun flying it to the base of the Chugach Mountains that rise over Anchorage. I carved my initials in the snow with the skids and more »
Aviation is more than simply a means to an end. It’s an end in itself.
I wouldn’t want to be riding out on the wing tonight. The wind is roaring down out of the northwest like 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 clouds and black sky one to three miles deep, more »
The challenges and rewards of flying with sports superstars
I’d walk in the front door of my grandparents’ house with butterflies in my stomach and laughter held tight in the back of my throat, because I knew my Uncle Tom was waiting. My uncle was a professional wrestling fan, and his favorite wrestler at the moment was “The Claw” (aka Baron von Raschke). He’d more »
The airfoils and flight control surfaces of the future might be very different than what we’re used to. Think engines, lots of them, and bird wings.
If you’ve been around aviation for any length of time, you know a few stories about so-called revolutionary aircraft that sounded too good to be true. Turns out, most of the time, they are. So, stop me if you’ve heard the one about the airliner that cruises at 600 mph, but lands on a 3,000-foot runway. more »
Severe weather, poor maintenance and faulty flight instruments lead to earthly disaster
The NTSB recently finished its investigation of the October 28, 2013, accident involving a Cessna Citation 500 in which a nationally-known minister and the pilot were killed. Pastor Edward Dufresne, who was 72 years old, led the World Harvest Church in Murrieta, California, and used the twin-engine jet in his travels around the country for more »
Everything has an end, but too often we don’t know it’s coming
Our Christmas morning wasn’t what it should have been: we got a call early on that my ex-brother-in-law had just unexpectedly died. He was only two years older than I am and a health freak. The net effect on me was stronger than I would have expected. It was as if the concept of mortality more »
It was and remains the fastest jet that has ever flown
I’m not much on book reviews, but recently, I came across a new, coffee-table book I couldn’t put down. In fact, it was more likely a book I couldn’t pick up. “The Complete Book of the SR-71” is a massive, 10” x 13”, 260-page work by Colonel Richard H. Graham, USAF (retired). Following 210 combat more »
The chariot, a VFR-only Pitts. The plan, made up along the way. The result, pure magic.
In mid-October, I left Texas in the single-seat Pitts S-1S, N8078, and flew west to compete in my second and third contests, respectively. I knew where I was going, but didn’t really know what I was getting into yet. Other than that I loved to be around aviation and loved to fly aerobatics, all I more »
Almost regardless of our age, 20-something to gray dog, it’s impossible not to engage in those “Hey, do you remember when…?” moments, where we look back at experiences, people and times in our lives when something memorable happened. Then as we progress through life, we find ourselves hitting milestones that make it impossible not to more »