Am I the only person in the aviation world who has ever gone through, and still goes through, periods of apprehension when it comes to flying? I can even go so far as to say that I’m maybe even a little afraid. In my case, I don’t mean ready-to-soil-myself scared. I mean, I’ll be chugging along at about 4,000 feet, and for the briefest of moments and for absolutely no reason, a little twinge of fear sneaks a quick jab to my confidence. Then, it’s gone.
In the world of flying, the range of experiences and the fun to be had are never-ending
One of the perks of this job is the chance to fly a wide variety of airplanes. My hours and ratings aren’t anything special, but I’m happy that I’ve been allowed to fly a little of everything at one time or another.
Practicing how to handle runaway controls can prevent a major catastrophe
Many private pilots who were trained in airplanes using manual trim wheels, cranks or knobs have transitioned to aircraft equipped with electric trim without being trained to recognize a runaway trim condition. A malfunctioning trim control switch, relay or other electrical component can cause the trim motor to run out of control, ultimately moving the trim surfaces to dangerous positions.
It’s a fulfillment of a lifelong and childhood dream
The movie is starting. The cabin is dark with the window shades lowered. I open the ones by me and look down from FL350 at the landscape. I’m on United Air Lines flight 193 and over the Midwest, about two hours after takeoff from Dulles, Va., en route home to Los Angeles after a flight earlier this morning from Syracuse, N.Y., to Dulles.
Keeping quiet may be the safest tactic, but it’s not always the best
Exactly what part of the brain controls our egos, anyway? Since I’m not a shrink and simply apply what I’ve seen over a lifetime, I’d have to say that the part that controls our aviation ego is also tasked with the management of our sexual ego. This has to be the case and the reason for our egos because you get exactly the same reaction when you insult, degrade or, in any way, question a guy’s ability in either of those areas.
Underlining the importance of medical certification
When the new sport-pilot rules, which came into effect on September 1, 2004, were under development, one aspect that received loud applause was the proposed relaxation of medical-certification requirements. The promise was that a motor vehicle driver’s license could be used in lieu of the FAA medical certificate under the assumption that if you’re medically safe enough to drive, you’re also healthy enough to fly a light, low-powered, relatively slow aircraft in day-VFR conditions.
The countdown to next year’s show begins the minute you return home
We had just returned from Oshkosh, Wis., late last night, which is another way of saying that today, I’m going to be nearly useless. There are lots of things to be done, but I don’t have enough energy in order to cope, so screw ’em. That stuff will get done tomorrow.
Lessons gleaned from the big birds can teach us how to become safer pilots
A Boeing 727 is different from the airplanes that most of us fly. Nevertheless, there are some things that we can learn from the NTSB’s recently completed report on an accident involving a FedEx cargo 727, which was flown into trees and terrain during the pre-dawn hours of July 26, 2002.
Roy LoPresti’s vision of a fast, fun airplane is close to completion
Every once in a while, I’m privileged to fly an airplane that stands out from the pack. While most general-aviation designs are safe, comfortable machines, few are exciting airplanes intended to do more than transport their pilots from Miami to New Orleans, or Chicago to Dallas.
Sometimes, being in the right place at the right time is a spiritual experience
We were in the pattern and just in the process of turning downwind from crosswind when the tower said, “Eight-papa-bravo, you’re number two to a Liberator that will be crossing over the airport to join downwind in front of you. He’ll be doing a low pass.”
The NTSB’s latest safety recommendation targets the dangers of carbon monoxide leaks caused by defective exhaust systems
Against the background of an aging fleet of general-aviation, piston-powered airplanes, the NTSB suggested that it’s time for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to take a closer look at engine mufflers and do more to eliminate potential hazards posed by mufflers that have deteriorated.
Experience and new technology don’t protect a pilot from basic blunders
No question about it—the exponential expansion of aviation technology in the last dozen years has been nothing short of amazing. If anyone had suggested at the beginning of the 1990s that avionics manufacturers would be offering dual GPS and multi-function displays in practically every new airplane by 2004, most of us would have laughed and said, “Yeah, right.”
Just because you don’t do it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done
Useless aviation. Now, there’s a term you seldom hear. It popped up in an e-mail that was addressed to me last week. The writer, a longtime pilot himself, was explaining that because I’ve chronicled various battles with off-airport individuals, he thought it was important that I understand that as you get older and can no longer fly, you lose patience with those involved in “useless” aviation—those who make noise and aren’t accomplishing anything.
Understanding the signs of hypoxia may just get you out of trouble
One of the subjects that is frequently emphasized in the materials that are published by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Aeromedical Education Division is hypoxia, which is more commonly referred to as “oxygen starvation.” The FAA points out that hypoxia is insidious in its onset. It sneaks up on you, and you lose the ability to sense that something is going wrong.
Early last summer, I had to leave a 421 with a mechanical problem in the middle of the Pacific and wrote about it on these pages. Maintenance dragged on for another six months before the airplane finally was ready to fly, delaying delivery from Subic Bay, Philippines, to the U.S. mainland beyond any reasonable expectation.
I’m about to lose a long-time friend and, in its own inane way, it’s kind of sad: My old denim flying jacket has gone past TBO, and I don’t think it can be saved. It’s been with me for over 2,000 hours, and it’s not going to feel right flying in anything else.
A leading aviation expert’s collection of informal, but educational, articles
I’ve been privileged to call Rod Machado a friend for the last 20 years. We first worked together during the launch of ABC TV’s Wide World of Flying TV series back in the mid ’80s. Together with host and ABC senior VP Phil Boyer (now president of AOPA), director Dave Jackson (now president of King Schools), TWA captain Barry Schiff (now retired) and later, warbird enthusiast Jeff Ethell (sadly, no longer with us), Rod and I enjoyed seven happy years of playing to the TV cameras.