A primal passion

Pure Adventure - Chicago Skyline

I could answer the question “Why should I learn to fly?” with very practical answers: The business benefits, the convenience, the ability to find better weather in which to bike and access it in a matter of hours, or visiting multiple clients in one day.

All of those things are indeed benefits of becoming a pilot and having an airplane, but ultimately the real answer is more primal than that. [Read more…]

General aviation: Get evangelical about it

First ride

General aviation — get evangelical about it.

This may seem unlikely, even inconceivable to some, but I have been fortunate enough to make a career out of being excited. It’s a pretty good career, too.

I spend the bulk of every day doing something I really love to do. I work with people I’m glad to be interacting with, and I get to write about, talk about, demonstrate, and actually do the things I am enthused to share with others.

To be honest, anyone could do it. Yet, few do. I wonder why. [Read more…]

Nostalgia for your coffee table


There was a time when aviation was an almost impossible dream. Millions, no, billions of people around the world were aware of the airplane, but most didn’t have the means to experience flight for themselves. That was the way of the world between 1945 and 1975.

Then something miraculous happened. The Boeing 747 became ubiquitous in the commercial market, lowering prices, expanding opportunity, and truly making air-travel something the average man or woman could afford at long last.

Everything was different from that point on. Yet, there was a time before. A time that is nearly forgotten now. A golden hour for commercial aviation. [Read more…]

1929’s record-setting endurance flights

The Curtiss-Robertson St. Louis Robin being refueled during its flight to a new
world’s endurance record of 420 hours greatly surpassing the
record of 150 hours set by the Army’s Question Mark at the beginning of the year.
Aircraft Yearbook for 1930

The 1920s saw many records set for altitude, speed, endurance and range, but they were destined to be only fleeting. The records fell quickly due to the development of better aircraft and engines.

January 1929 began the year with an achievement that many thought would never be exceeded anytime in the near future — the epic six day flight of the Question Mark.

The Question Mark was a modified Fokker transport aircraft that was flown to a refueled endurance record by US Army aviators. The flight established new world records for sustained flight, refueled flight, and distance. [Read more…]

How extensive an inspection does my engine need?


Q: I have 210 hours on my engine, which was overhauled in November 2009 at 3,288 hours. Five of the eight studs are now broken on cylinder #3.

The motor had only a slight vibration during the last 3/10ths of an hour before discovering the broken studs.

I would appreciate your input as to how extensive an inspection should be made. Have you had experience with such an occurrence? [Read more…]

General aviation goes clubbing

For some time now I’ve been singing the praises of the flying club. Not any particular flying club, mind you — although there are some excellent examples out there — just flying clubs in general. They work. ‘Nuff said.

Don’t believe me? Read on. [Read more…]

The devil is in the details with unleaded avgas

In the 1970s, the automotive world switched from leaded to unleaded fuels and the oil companies did a lot of research on knocking and how to prevent it. One of the big projects involved octane requirement increase (ORI).

In this program, cars were rated for octane requirement when new and then every 2,000 miles. The octane requirement increased until it leveled off at about 20,000 miles. [Read more…]

Aviation gets its cool back

For the past week I have been acting in a very non-Floridian fashion. While the typical Sunstate dweller seeks shade and close proximity to a pool, I have been standing beside large expanses of pavement soaking up the sun with gusto. My excuse is a good one, however.

I was at SUN ‘n FUN, the kick-off event of the aviation season that attracts people from near and far to sample the delights of aviation from Remotely Piloted Aircraft, also known as drones,  to homebuilts, Warbirds, Light-Sport Aircraft, helicopters, biplanes, the Thunderbirds, the Breitling Jet team, and pretty much anything else that flies or can be installed in an aircraft. [Read more…]

SUN ‘n FUN an absolute blast


The 41st annual SUN ‘n FUN fly-in is the books. It was hot, humid and an absolute blast. I’d say that even if I hadn’t gotten a ride on a B-25 — with four T-6s and four CJ-6s in tow —as part of a My MacDill Air Force Base support flight.

No longer just “Spring Break for Pilots,” SUN ‘n FUN is “Building a Better Future through Aviation.”

Everything the 20-person full-time team does at SUN ‘n FUN is with an eye on adding pilots to our rolls. SUN ‘n FUN is really just a big fundraiser that supports education opportunities — an effort made easier by recently retiring more than $2 million of debt over the past three years. Today, SUN ‘n FUN is debt free. [Read more…]