Book: The Day I Learned To Fly

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Do you remember being a kid? Do you remember running all over the neighborhood until you heard the faint voice of your mother calling you home? I sure do…

When I opened Jeffrey Kennon’s book, “The Day I Learned To Fly” and started to read, those long summer days of yesteryear came flooding back. [Read more…]

Managing anger in the cockpit

“Louisa County traffic, November four four two eight Quebec departing Runway Niner for left crosswind departure, Louisa County traffic.” I visually cleared final approach and the traffic pattern. Seeing all four quadrants empty, I took the runway and took off.

Upwind off KLKU looked fantastic. A riot of yellows, oranges and reds overwhelmed any remaining resistance from the faltering ranks of green leaves. It created a spectacular autumnal canopy beneath my fixed gear.

Somewhere on a distant radio call a guy might have announced a 10-mile, straight-in to downwind entry to the same runway I’d just departed, but I couldn’t swear to it. The fall colors had distracted me. I extended my upwind without any qualms. The town and airport of Louisa were new to me and I wanted to remember the experience.

I announced my crosswind turn and made it. That’s when I saw a Bonanza streaking toward me right to left, descending to my altitude. This time I did hear the pilot, yelling on CTAF at “that idiot coming my way.”

[Read more…]

Sebring’s sweet success story

Tecnam_P2008

Let’s be direct and simply pronounce it a success. It only took a decade of hard work. I refer to the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, which this time of year signals the start of a new season of airshows. Every January — for 2015 the dates are Jan. 14-17 — Sebring Regional Airport (KSEF) in Florida hosts the event many simply know as the Sebring Expo.

But the original goal was not about running an event.

The airport authority and its local support group aimed to build up the enterprise of the airport that sits adjacent to — in fact, is owned by — the world-famous Sebring Raceway. When Mike Willingham took over management of the airport well over a decade ago, I recall a slightly shabby, eerily quiet airport that only seemed to bloom once a year during the 62-year-old “12 Hours of Sebring” race.

[Read more…]

Time for an overhaul or just keep flying?

Q: I have a ’69 Skyhawk with 2,500 hours on the engine. Good compression, no metal, one quart oil burn every eight hours. Should I get a top overhaul or a complete engine overhaul or just keep flying until an indication of a problem?

TED HALL, Upperco, Md.

A: Well, I must tell you that with 2,500 hours of operation since 1969, this engine certainly doesn’t owe you anything! If this is the original engine in this aircraft and after providing you reliable service for 45 years, I’d say you got your money’s worth.

[Read more…]

Why learn to fly?

I have no idea why, but the best topics of conversation seem to come up most frequently over a meal. Case in point: I was at lunch with a good friend recently. A musician, my friend is a supremely talented man who knows a thing or two about pushing himself to improve at a skill most of us do little more than dabble at. The waitress interrupted us briefly to ask a question about learning to fly, and so we had a short but very enjoyable chat about flight training right there in the middle of a lunch that would have never touched on the subject had it not been for the happy accident of her injecting the topic into our conversation.

After she’d left the table my friend, the musician, asked a question that really resonated with me. “Why would anyone want to learn to fly?” he queried. His inquiry was sincere. It wasn’t a challenge and he implied nothing negative or combative in his question.

My friend simply couldn’t understand why anyone would put themselves through all that work, through the hours of study and practice and expense required to become a pilot.

[Read more…]

A warped sense of time

Clouds

Being a pilot gives one a warped sense of time and distance. Seattle to Portland? About 40 minutes. Seattle to the San Juan Islands? About 30 minutes.

I think nothing of jumping in the plane and popping up to Friday Harbor for dinner or Orcas Island for a bike ride while many Seattleites have never been to the San Juans, daunted by the more than four-hour travel time each way and unpredictable ferry waiting lines.

While a small plane it is not exactly the phone booth from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, it can feel like a time machine.

[Read more…]

BoldMethod: The life of a 20-year-old banner tow pilot

Haley Howard is a CFI and banner pilot from Gulf Shores, Alabama. At only 20 years old, she’s already well on her way with 1,350 hours of flight time… not to mention her CSEL (Commercial – Single Engine Land), CSES (Commercial – Single Engine Seaplane), Tailwheel Endorsement, CFI-A (Certified Flight Instructor), and Instrument Rating,” reports BoldMethod‘s Swayne Martin. “Today, Haley spends much of her time flying banners in an American Champion Scout, owned and operated by the Shrimp Basket, a Gulf-State chain of seafood restaurants.” Read more about Haley’s life as a banner tow pilot at the BoldMethod website and an expanded first-person view via Martin’s “Share Your Story” feature on his website.

Letter or spirit of ADS-B?

ADS-B is a source of much consternation at the recreational end of general aviation. More accurately, ADS-B Out is the source. Actually, it’s the Jan. 1, 2020 ADS-B Out mandate. The very same mandate FAA Administrator Huerta has repeatedly stated will not be delayed.

Simply put, ADS-B Out — Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast — is a periodic broadcast of aircraft information (altitude, speed, position, etc.) to satellite and ground-based targets that allow other aircraft – if properly equipped – and ATC to see you. [Read more…]

Ho, ho, ho, let’s go

Here’s a pertinent and timely question for you to ponder. What does general aviation have in common with the Christmas shopping season? The answer is unfortunately both depressing and obvious — Nothing.

Let’s set about changing that. You and me. Right now. Today.

[Read more…]

25° nose down in Fat Albert

Here's what a 24-degrees nose down approach to landing looks like from the cockpit.
Here's what a 24-degrees nose down approach to landing looks like from the cockpit.

Here’s what a 25-degrees nose down approach to landing looks like from the cockpit.

In April of this year, I was lucky enough to be chosen to ride with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels support ship, a C-130 named Fat Albert. Not only did I get to ride in Fat Albert, I got one of the coveted cockpit jumpseats. Watching the crew perform… er, I mean fly, Fat Albert was a treat I’ll not soon forget. The above image is the view out the cockpit window on a 25° nose down approach to landing. If the photo isn’t enough, you can watch (or re-watch) the video below. [Read more…]