Fly-in for a World War II immersion in Fredericksburg, Texas

Aerial view of Gillespie Airport. (Photo courtesy Gillespie County)

By KARIN LEPERI

Whether you fly-in or drive-in to Fredericksburg, this quaint Texas hill-country town is a memorable experience on many fronts.

First and foremost, the town reverently remembers the U.S. role in World War II. From the World War II-themed Hangar Hotel, Airport Diner and the static display of a DC-3 at the county airport where you can fly-in and tie-down for the night, to the Smithsonian-quality National Museum of the Pacific War, there is more than enough facts, remembrances, and history to engage any military, history, or aviation buff for a weekend and more. [Read more…]

Wings over Kenya

(Left to right) Duncan, Justin, and Tucker

By TUCKER AXUM III

I entered this world with an adventurous spirit, but my true passion for flying didn’t fully emerge until 17 years later, when I was a high school student and my friend Jared Guillory gifted me with Microsoft’s Flight Simulator.

I invested hours exploring the physics of flight, deciphering the multitude of cockpit instruments, and practicing thousands of simulated takeoffs and landings at airports all around the world, including dirt landing strips in remote African villages.

Shortly after that, I started real flying lessons in a five-decades-old Cessna 152. Early in the morning on July 4, 2001, the day America observes its independence, I earned my pilot’s license. The memory of that flight test and subsequent accomplishment remains forever etched in my mind. [Read more…]

An aerial adventure to Puerto Rico

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“Who wants to go along as copilot on an aerial Caribbean adventure to see the REAL Puerto Rico?”

That question, posed on an online pilot forum by Bostonian and friend Dan Figueroa, caught me in a weak moment. My hand shot up well before better sense took over. It was an easy trip to justify: I love the tropics, pretty water, exotic travel, and here was a chance to have a semi-native guide to America’s closest territory.

So, with the thought uppermost of, “When will I ever have a chance like this again?” I said, “Count me in!” [Read more…]

Become an international pilot

It’s the stuff of dreams, I tell you, flitting off in your own little airplane to look down at the world’s prettiest water, to loll on idyllic palm-fringed beaches, to go and come as you please. Just pack your bathing suit, your credit card, and your passport, and you’re good to go.

Almost.

There IS a little more to it than that, of course.

With a little preparation, though, you’ll join the hundreds of U.S. aviators fleeing winter’s misery for a spell of tropical R&R. [Read more…]

Destination: Santa Catalina

On final approach to runway 22. The airport sits on top of a bluff, with steep drop-offs at both ends.

By RON RAPP

Though many of my favorite flying activities — aerobatics, pattern work, sightseeing — are local in nature, there’s no denying that airplanes are made for going places. Even the pokiest of ‘em makes travel faster and more interesting than driving a car. One of my most memorable trips was flying a clipped-wing Cub up the California coast at 60 mph. Between fuel stops and detours, it took the better part of a day to cover the 145 nautical mile straight-line distance from Orange County to Lompoc. But boy was it fun!

Over the past two decades I’ve traveled all over the country. All over the world, in fact, and my list of favored locations is long indeed. It’s hard to beat sitting on the beach next to the Sunset Bar & Grill in St. Maarten. I could spend a month in London taking in shows at the Globe, ENO or the West End. And who could say a cross word about any of the Hawaiian islands?

But if I had to choose just one place to call my all-time favorite, it wouldn’t even be a contest: It starts and ends with Santa Catalina, one of eight isles in the Channel Islands archipelago which sits just off the Southern California coast.

[Read more…]

Flying in Ireland

There are three lighthouses, from three different centuries most likely, on this point jutting out into the Irish Sea.

By AMELIA T. REIHELD

There’s one odd thing any American pilot realizes after a day or two in Ireland: There’s a real shortage of airplane noise.

Wander the Emerald Isle’s spectacular byways, vibrant towns, and magnificent coasts, even for a fortnight, as I did recently, and it’s unlikely you’ll see a single airplane smaller than an airliner. General aviation, as we know it, seems as rare as hen’s teeth. Paved and towered airports are just about the exclusive domain of scheduled airliners.

On day 10 of my GA-free visit to Ireland, I happened past the Cork Airport (EICK), and noticed a couple of cars parked off the departure runway watching AerLingus come and go.

[Read more…]