Whether you’re flying to one of your favorite vacation spots, or to a remote airstrip high in the mountains, aviation travel is an experience unto itself. Browse our aviation travel section and capture the atmosphere of adventure flying.
Among the earliest things we learned during our initial flying lessons, just after we sorted out the challenge of flying both straight and level at the same time, was that the view of our planet from an aircraft was utterly captivating and that the world was laid open in a fashion we had never imagined.
Race pilots fly an awe-inspiring competition, but they can’t do it alone
At the closing ceremonies of each Red Bull Air Race, there’s always a jubilant atmosphere. Pilots douse each other in champagne, confetti fills the air, everyone cheers and countless autographs are signed. The racers have worked hard and deserve such a moment. But away from the fanfare, crew members have just as much reason to celebrate. Mechanics, ferry pilots and managers have given their all to help the pilots succeed and have also earned the right to be proud. “Our pilots represent us,” says Lance Winter, mechanic for the 2006 series winner, Kirby Chambliss. “If they do well, we have done well.”
It’s perhaps the most iconic military airplane in the history of aviation. Regardless of its real talents (and they’re considerable), the North American P-51 Mustang has achieved a status among fighters unmatched by any other aircraft. It may not have been the fastest, best armored, most maneuverable or longest ranged when it was in service in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, but it’s still generally regarded as the world’s best, all-around piston fighter.
With user fees looming on the horizon, student-pilot numbers dwindling and airlines experiencing pilot shortages, what can be done to reinvigorate general aviation?
You remember, don’t you, when you first fell in love with aviation? Perhaps it was a warm, sunny day with a jeweled, blue morning sky beckoning you to the airport on your trusty Schwinn Sting-Ray bicycle. Maybe you crouched in the tall, brown grass by the run-up area, the stiff propeller wash blowing your hair. You blocked the sun with your hand and gazed up in wonder.
My foot pushes on the rudder pedal but nothing happens. I push harder. Still nothing. And so I stomp, hoping that the barn-door-sized rudder will finally budge. Like a large boat churning in open waters, the blimp enters a barely perceptible turn. It’s slow, but persistent, and so I step on the opposite rudder. Rather, I lift my body up and push with my entire weight on the opposite rudder. A long time passes before the blimp responds again.
You don’t have to have lived very long to realize that some moments stay with you forever. A few airplanes are like that: As with a first kiss, you replay those flights over and over in the theater of your mind. For instance, it seems as if only 15 minutes—not several decades—have elapsed since my first takeoff in a Grumman F8F Bearcat. I was researching a school article on warbird pilots—the Bearcat wasn’t on the list to be flown. The Vought Corsair that was on the list, however, blew a hydraulic line, so the owner, Jr. Burchinal, proprietor of the wildest flying school in history said, “Come on, fly the Bearcat.”
Take advantage of favorable weather and crowd-free destinations
It’s no secret to pilots that fall is a great time of year to fly. The temperature is crisp, the air is clear, and there’s an overall decrease in convective activity. Summer travelers have returned home, and kids are back to school, which means that your favorite vacation spots can be enjoyed without the crowds.
Out the window, there’s not a hint of light on the horizon. Inside, the room is dark except for the glow of the computer screen on John McAfee’s face. “Winds aloft out of El Paso are from the northeast at 22,” he says with a crinkle of his nose that pushes his glasses a little higher on his head.
Just a few years after the Wright Brothers took their groundbreaking first flight, war broke out in Europe. The scant supply of airplanes that were on hand when World War I began quickly evolved into military machines, and for the first time in history, battles took place in the sky.
For Greg Herrick, collecting airplanes seems to be more of an addiction, less of a hobby. His eclectic assortment of more than 40 aircraft spans eight decades, with a focus on the period between World War I and World War II known as the Golden Age
Escorted adventures make big intercontinental fights available to everyone
Ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to inform you that in this river, there are no cocodrilos,” our guide smiled as he related the information to us. Just hearing the word made our adventure more exciting. Cocodrilos (a.k.a. crocodiles)—I said it over and over again, letting the syllables twist back and forth between the tip of my tongue and the roof of my mouth. “KO KO DREE YOSE,” I repeated, trying to perfect that Spanish rolling “r” that eludes most gringos. “There are, however, many jaguars,” the guide added.
“I will go fast until the day I die.”—Bobby Unser, three-time Indianapolis 500 champion
There were surprises. It only took one question to kick off a discussion that took nearly three utterly fascinating hours to unravel. And some of the statements he made were truly outside the image and expectations I had brought to the interview.
You wouldn’t believe how easy it is with just a little extra preflight planning
When the chance came to fly a Cirrus across Europe, it would be an understatement to call it a chance of a lifetime. For years, it had always seemed to me that Europe was the perfect place to have a small, personal airplane. You can fly from almost anywhere to anywhere else in western Europe on a single tank of gas.
General Paul Tibbets and Enola Gay navigator Dutch Van Kirk look back on one of the most famous moments in history
Paul Tibbets joined the Army Air Corps at Fort Thomas, Ky., in 1937. In 1942, Tibbets joined the 97th Bomb Group in the Bolero Mission, ferrying B-17s, P-38s and C-47s from Bangor, Maine, across Greenland and Iceland to the European Theatre. He flew the B-17 Flying Fortress with the 340th Bomb Squadron Bombardment Group in Europe and later flew missions to support the Allied invasion of North Africa.
After drawing and building airplanes all his life, this genius’ designs are getting out of this world
Before pilot Brian Binnie soared and flew right into world history aboard SpaceShipOne on October 4, 2004, team leader Burt Rutan had a little advice for his old golfing buddy. Just after 6 a.m. inside a hanger at Mojave Airport in California, Burt leaned into the bug-like spacecraft’s cockpit and said, “Use the driver. Keep your head down and swing smooth.”