Syd Jones is not your average guy. From his early adulthood, he’s been…let’s say, unique. Not content to follow the traditional path of a young man fresh out of an educational institution, Syd didn’t find the idea of a regular, stable office job to be all that appealing. Hunting for pirate treasure? Well that’s something else entirely. That sounded exciting. So that’s what Syd did. He joined forces with Mel Fisher’s fledgling band of divers and salvage experts in training and they went after the Nuestra Senora de Atoche.
Many thousands of frugal pilots continue to fly because of flying clubs. These clubs typically include a wide variety of pilots and at least two aircraft, bringing down the price of going up by sharing the costs of plane ownership and operation.
Just as there are many types of pilots, there are many ways flying club agreements can be structured to meet the needs of a nest of persnickety pilots and aircraft owners. [Read more…]
Landing on the Harbor Visual Runway 29 Approach into KPWM can be a 95-second joy ride if the time of day and the time of year are just right. For us, that flight, it was.
I flew the crowded 50-seat regional jet in a descending arc, starting at Elizabeth City, Maine. We traveled north along the Maine coast past the airport, giving the passengers views of the cobalt blue Casco Bay and the mossy green Ram and Peaks Islands, before we banked left and headed south along the coast, over the narrow, inky blue Portland Harbor.
“Glorious,” crowed the captain.
“Birds,” was my reply. I pointed to a small flock of large, brown waterfowl taking wing from the run-up area of Runway 29 off my starboard side.
“They’ll be gone before you cross the fence,” he assured me.
Cleared to land, I banked right into a smooth intercept of the localizer needle. Gliding over the airport perimeter, I let the jet drift left of the runway center line.
“What are you doing? Center line!”
“Birds,” I replied, just as three big birds arrowed straight for us. I evaded two before crossing the numbers. I swung back toward center line. I heard a resounding “THUNK.”
Amazing things can happen if you just take the time to open your door, invite the neighbors over for a burger, and let them experience for themselves what lights a fire in your belly.
Case in point…Bartow Municipal Airport (BOW) is located smack dab in the middle of the Florida panhandle. It’s not far from the tourist draws of Disney World, Universal Studios, Legoland, or the miles and miles of pristine beaches that stretch out on the east and west coast of the state. But it’s far enough from those population dense destinations that it’s surrounded by green landscapes, open spaces, and a relaxed atmosphere that has an undeniable appeal.
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…]
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.