Opinion & Commentary

  • December 2015 Life as we know it is a series of lessons, and from the day we are born until we take our final breath, we never stop learning. We are constantly challenged by distractions, temptations and pressures, and the earlier a person can develop the mental fortitude required to meet these
  • December 2015 We pilots in the United States are woefully ignorant when it comes to Canada and Canadian aviation history. For example, can any of you tell me the historic Canadian aviation event that took place in a town called Chief back in the 1950s? You’re really pulling a blank on that one,
  • Preparing for a coast-to-coast trip in the summer of 2015. June 2015- Eleven years ago, in the debut of Left Coast Pilot, I wrote about my experiences flying from California to West Virginia. I’m planning to do that trip again later this year, at my wife’s request—which makes it an appropriate
  • Flying with your loved ones is one of the most satisfying ways to combine two of your passions: family time and flight time. May 2015- For some, flying and family have been synonymous since the beginning, but that's not everyone's reality. Many pilots have family members that only tacitly
  • Improper radio procedure can contribute to an unsafe traffic pattern. May 2015- "Spartanburg traffic, Cessna 81318 is five miles out inbound for landing; any traffic in the area, please advise." As a flight instructor, that type of radio transmission makes me cringe! Even though there is no
  • Alaska is a place where the small airplane still rules. May 2015- Last winter, a friend out of Fairbanks invited me to come work as a volunteer for the Yukon Quest sled dog race, where intrepid mushers guide their teams over a thousand-mile course through the Yukon in the dead of winter. (Think
  • Decades ago when I was flying as copilot in a Convair 240, I made notes for a future use that I never got around to. May 2015- Here is the final installment of the fragmented creations from decades ago when I was flying the original piston airliners—notes I'd made for a future use which I never
  • Widespread fog prompts a change of heart about personal minimums on departure. April 2015- I have never been a fan of personal minimums—the idea that you should set limits for yourself short of what's required by the FAA. Particularly for instrument flying, if you aren't prepared to shoot an
  • We and our airplanes are just getting older. March 2015- For a lot of us, there was surely that one moment when you caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror one day. OMG! you may have said. How did this happen?Day by day, we all get a little older, though we may be no better at accepting the
  • Fragments of what I was seeing and hearing and thinking in those early days when I flew as a copilot in a Convair 240. March 2015- We are back again at my archeological dig, wherein old boxes of aviation notes had been ferreted out of deep storage and dusted off. These are fragmented creations
  • After a medical leave of their own, John Ruley and his wife Kate have resumed their volunteer work for medical missions in northern Mexico. February 2015- From my notebook:Nov. 7, 2014, Hotel La Herradura, El Fuerte, Mexico –I can't recall ever being so tired at 7:45 p.m. A couple of margaritas
  • February 2005 He's not really my uncle and, matter of fact, we're absolutely no blood relationship to each other at all. I started calling him Uncle Nelson when my kids were very small, because that's what they called him. He's been in and around my life for 55 years so far, so I guess it's fair
  • February 2005 Where did I begin? Where did I get my start as an aviation-oriented, crazy-about-everything-having-to-do-with-flying kind of guy? Like many a romantic movie starring Ryan O'Neal, it all began at a quiet little airport in Lakeland, Fla. called Drane Field in the early part of the
  • February 2005 Here in California's Central Valley, we're blessed with good weather—most of the time. A lot of local pilots get along without an instrument rating. That works for about nine months of the year. In the winter and spring, though, they can't fly all that much. From the end of
  • March 2005 When I was but barefoot boy with cheek, most of my contemporaries dreamed of becoming pilots. We cluttered our Big Chief tablets and the margins of our school books with drawings of Hellcats and Mustangs streaking across the pages downing inferior and hapless enemy aircraft.Obviously
  • March 2005 Astute readers of this column will notice that, effective this month, we've got a change at the very top. The new title for this section of the magazine has become "Full Circle" because it will more accurately describe where my aviation head is at and where I expect it to be for the
  • March 2005 Everybody has dreams in which they think they are dead or at least in another world. If not, then I'm crazy because those dreams happen to me all the time. My "dream" afterlife isn't the stark, frightening one that most religions threaten me with if I don't toe the line. As a matter
  • March 2005 I flew from my home base (Modesto, Calif.) to Santa Monica this past weekend, and encountered a situation I'd never quite run into before: trouble coming up with a workable IFR alternate.An alternate is a place to land in case you can't get into your intended destination. It's required
  • April 2005-"Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans." This little philosophical phrase is something that I've had in my personal lexicon for quite a number of years now, and some recent events have reinforced this concept to me yet again.Last month in this column I began the
  • April 2005- Spring is here for most of us. We are no longer thawing airplanes out in hangars before we can fly them. No frost on the windshields and soon mud daubers will be a factor with our pitot tubes. Pre-heating of engines is over as well as wondering if that ancient Janitrol heater in your
  • April 2005- Sooner or later, it happens to most of us: You may be able to spot traffic before your passengers, but you find it getting harder and harder to read the fine print on an approach plate, or the tower frequencies on sectional charts. Squinting helps for awhile, but eventually most of us
  • February 2005 It seems that everyone gets some kind of a deal when buying a big-ticket item like a new car or a used airplane. Well, everyone but me. In his youth, my Dad was a horse trader. He could start out the day with a spavined, sore-backed nag at sunrise and come home that night with a
  • January 2015- I am proud to say, I am a child of the 1960's. Who could have had a more exciting time to grow up? We had the Beatles; The Rolling Stones; Crosby, Stills and Nash. We grew our hair long, we ran naked in the woods, we explored philosophy and religions from other worlds.We were also
  • January 2015- My notes include observations on piloting in general, with lots about airline flying and the types of people involved in airline flying 50-plus years ago. Like an archeological dig, I've recently come across some very old boxes of mine that were hidden away in a deep—but
  • December 2014- Wherein the great mountain flying expedition is saved We pilots fly for as many reasons as there are pilots and we use airplanes for manifold purposes—as many, I suppose, as our imaginations can create.We sit in single-seat highly modified behemoths behind horsepower ratings
  • December 2014- More often than not, these columns are built around a recent flight, and what I learned from it. That makes them pretty easy to write, as I usually learn (or re-learn) something on every flight. But my latest one taught more than most.It was mid-October, and as happens around that
  • November 2014- Nothing else quite compares to nudging a throttlethat's connected to a big radial engine.      In reality I had far more flight time in turbine-powered aircraft over the 50-plus years of my flying career than I did with piston powerplants, but it was those days that I fiddled with
  • November 2014- Eddie taught me that it doesn't take a lot to be happy, even though you land a little left of centerline.      I have a box in my garage filled with odds and ends collected over a lifetime of flying, a collection so bold as to humble any hoarder. There are yellowed handout sheets
  • October 2014- A desktop simulator may help you correct chronic problems in your
  • October 2014- A contrarian rescued from crotchetiness is still a contrarian.      I sometimes think I have a love–hate relationship with General Aviation. Eventually that may turn true about just about anything we feel passionate about—whether it's sailing, baseball, or aviation—and the people
  • John –Pursuant to our conversation this morning regarding the authorized (approved) use of a Basic Aviation Training Devices (BATD) and an Advanced Aviation Training Device
  • Dear Ms. MacPherson, This letter responds to your request for legal interpretation sent to my office on May 19, 2014, on behalf of your client, AirPooler, Inc. As set forth in the request for legal interpretation, you have described AirPooler as "a peer-to-peer general aviation flight sharing
  • September 2014- Five-and-a-half years ago, Search and Rescue Satellite (SARSAT) monitoring of the 121.5 MHz and 243 MHz emergency frequencies ceased. Citing statistics that indicated many more false alarms than actual emergencies, the international consortium that administers the global network of
  • September 2014- I'm writing this at the very beginning of this year's thunderstorm season while I'm conducting a pseudo-class on that very subject for a young pilot acquaintance. Today, we are having our classroom experience at the best possible place for dealing with thunderstorms: on the front
  • September 2014- If you haven't lined up and waited yet, you will. As most of you likely know, our ATC brethren recently retired the phrase "taxi into position and hold" and switched to its more ubiquitous and internationally accepted "line up and
  • August 2014- A couple of months ago, my longtime flight instructor (and friend) Larry called to ask if I'd be available as copilot for a trip to Santa Ana, in Southern
  • August 2014- I have lately been thinking about the future. The thoughts arise because my children are suddenly grown-up beings with independent lives of their own—and it is clear that I am not getting any younger, either.My attempts to see into the future involve midnight calculations regarding my
  • July 2014- While I'm sitting at my desk and writing this, we are currently three weeks into the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 brouhaha. In case you've been in another star system for the past several months, most of us are well aware that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished from the planet on
  • July 2014- When I met Teddy, he'd just gotten out of jail. The barely five-foot-tall Montana rancher was deep into his eighties and had fought a lifelong cat-and-mouse game with law enforcers—people he considered generally
  • June 2014- As I write this, with a glance at the calendar, I realize I have combined my interest in flying and putting words on paper for almost exactly 13 years, and in that time I've made some friends and formed many relationships with many good people whose work relates to the
  • June 2014- We all learned to do stalls (however reluctantly) in our primary flight training, and demonstrated them to the satisfaction of an examiner in order to get our licenses, and we're all aware of the consequences of an inadvertent stall near the ground. What else is there to say? Just one
  • June 2014- General Aviation is a homegrown American industry that is responsible for 1.2 million jobs and pumps more than $150 billion into our nation's economy. But it's also an industry that could do much more to create jobs, boost our economy and contribute to our national transportation
  • It was July 21, 1969. A warm summer evening in Norwalk, Calif. My dad had our telescope set up in the backyard and we were all taking turns looking up at the moon. It wasn’t a very powerful telescope but the moon looked big and bright as I peered through the eyepiece. Up there…way up there on the
  • May 2014- I was having dinner with Bob Welter, a friend of mine who has been a General Aviation pilot for many years and has owned and operated a number of personal airplanes that he used for business and pleasure. We had drifted into the topic of handling emergencies when Bob asked me what I
  • May 2014- Thanks to Hollywood, I grew up in a world filled with cowboys. They had great names like Chance and Colorado and Paladin. And these cowboys always had a special horse, one that stuck with them through thick and thin, often saving the cowboy’s life while he was chasing
  • April 2014- It is good to be reminded—although the reminder is a tragic one—that mystery and the unknown exists in what is arguably humankind’s most technological endeavor: aviation. As I write today, weeks before you’ll read these words, my heart is with the families of the 239 passengers and
  • April 2014- How high can you fly? That’s a question that’s bothered me for quite a while now. The San Francisco sectional I use regularly has some green in the middle, where the California Central Valley is—but there’s brown on the chart, both for the coast range mountains to the west (elevation
  • Recently King Mswatii III of Swaziland announced he might like to take a wife, and immediately more than 50,000 women showed up to parade in front of him—most of them topless, and all of them professing to be virgins. The king got this kind of turnout even though he admits to already having 12
  • It was July 21, 1969. A warm summer evening in Norwalk, Calif. My dad had our telescope set up in the backyard and we were all taking turns looking up at the moon. It wasn’t a very powerful telescope but the moon looked big and bright as I peered through the eyepiece. Up there…way up there on the
  • December 2005- One of the more overlooked and certainly misunderstood areas of aircraft maintenance may be prop balancing. While most aircraft owners would never drive their car with the tires out of balance (and the steering wheel shaking in their hands) they don’t think twice about operating
  • December 2005- Some years ago I was listening to a conversation among a few pilots and happened to overhear the statement, “How do they find out?” This was in reference to a situation that happened to a pilot/aircraft owner as a result of an “error” in judgment that concerned operation of an
  • September 2005- The big trend in General Aviation today is clearly the glass cockpit. Every new production aircraft being produced offers some sort of visual nirvana where bright colored pictures replace whirring gyros, needles and blinking lights. I myself have spent just about equal time in
  • September 2005- You can find it at almost every General Aviation airport. A little sign on the bulletin board, or a business card taped to the self-serve gas pump, advertising annual inspections for some ridiculous price like $200. We all know that it is not possible to perform an annual
  • You might think that this season of the year is an unusual time to have a discussion about aircraft icing. Not really. All you have to do is climb a few thousand feet, enter some visible moisture and you can easily have an ice issue on your hands. Late summer and autumn are the best times to
  • When you take flying lessons, you learn the basics of moving an airplane on the ground. At first, you’ll help your instructor, then you’ll do the moving under his or her supervision. If your trainer is kept on a tiedown, most of what’s involved is just taxiing, but from time to time you’ll have
  • August 2013 Regular readers of this column will know that my wife and copilot, Kate Bolton, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last fall. I am happy to report that after surgery and aggressive chemotherapy she is in complete remission and back to work part-time! But we still have to go into San
  • July 2013- In 1893, the Dalton Gang attempted to rob two banks at the same time in Coffeyville, Kan. All the members were gunned down by armed citizens and died in their boots, all except the youngest of the Daltons, 27-year-old Emmett. Surviving nearly two-dozen bullet holes in him, Emmett
  • July 2013- I had wrangled myself an invitation to see and fly a particularly historic C-47A… (Note: The parenthetical passages are from Ernest K. Gann’s novel, “Island in the Sky.”) Last time we were together (May 2013) I wrote about aviation books that have meant a great deal to me. One novel
  • August 2005- We had talked about having a plane with more capacity and speed for a number of years. N7429X, our 1960 Cessna 172, was an old friend and had taken us many places over the last thousand hours we had flown her. She was the plane I got my instrument rating in and practiced for my
  • August 2005- In the wake of 9/11 and the massive government reorganization that followed, it was inevitable that some government agencies would have different rules and guidelines for defining specific operations than others. As pilots, we are all very familiar with the FAA and the rules it
  • June 2005- Brothers and Sisters, can we all come together for this article on peace and harmony between and betwixt our little airplane and big airplane families? Must we always have the Capulets of General Aviation at war with the Montagues of the airline world? To take the Shakespeare analogy
  • June 2005- I was recently on a flight with a friend of mine in his light twin, and something occurred that made me realize I should have been more prepared. While it’s certainly not possible to train yourself ahead of time for every type of failure, there are a number of things that can go
  • June 2005- I’d really like to have more aviation art hanging about. As a group, aviation artists have matured immensely over the past three decades to the point where it’s not just pilots, but the art crowd as well that is praising their work. Maybe those folks have more wall space than I do.
  • June 2005- If you had to pick the single most misunderstood aspect of aircraft ownership, logbooks would certainly be at or near the top of the list. All owners know they have to have them, but few understand their responsibilities as it pertains to maintaining those records and how those records
  • May 2005- If you have been wondering where I have been the last few months, the answer is, “out flying.” In the last 60 days I have logged just under 150 flight hours in a variety of aircraft, flying in a variety of weather and flight situations. Sixty-eight hours of that time was dual
  • May 2005- Aviation has a very short history when you compare it to something like sailing or horseback riding. Only a little over a hundred years of experience and look how far we have come. I have been thinking about that fact a lot lately along with some other stranger thoughts that I will, of
  • May 2005- Unless you’ve previously owned or flown something very much like the new airplane you’ve just acquired, getting a new airplane means you now need to get yourself up to speed from a piloting point of view. Theoretically, it can be easier to move up along a single brand-name line of
  • May 2005- “Making an airport outta a golf course was about the fairest thing I ever heard of.” Our friend L.G. Poteet, South Texas rancher, pilot and part-time oil millionaire, finally found a way to get me to visit him. He invited me for a round on the nine-hole golf course he owns in the Glass
  • August 2013 - A pilot's lap desk is more than just a tool of the trade. My folding lap desk started as fine brushed aluminum, but these days is showing some scars and scuffs. Soldiering on, it continues to serve the mission for which it was so well
  • May 2013- Several months ago (“Heading Bug,” June 2012) columnist David Hipschman weighed in with his ideas about what to carry in your Cessna for emergencies, and he shared what he
  • November 2012 Ladies, Start your engines! Every June over 100 female pilots come together to participate in the four-day, 2,500-mile, cross-country, VFR, all-women’s Air Race Classic, the modern-day continuation of the Powder Puff Derby.   These pilots do not arrive in highly modified
  • November 2012  I know I’m a bad person, an erudite of nothing, untutored in all but onomatopoeia and iambic pentameter, exuberant with righteous selfdom, disarranged from all scholarly consonance, heretical of history, ignorant of any recondite explanation, void of even the slightest intellective
  • November 2012 As I mentioned the last time we met on these pages, several months ago my latest aviation-themed novel—“Captain”—was released in a print edition and also in all e-book formats. That novel was reviewed in the June 2012 issue of Cessna Flyer, and now I’m sharing some of the “insider
  • October 2012 Four years ago, I flew right seat with my friend Leroy Nygaard on an Angel Flight charitable patient transport mission, picking up a cancer patient in Lincoln, Calif. (KLHM) and dropping her off in Santa Monica (KSMO). I enjoyed the experience and have been looking forward ever since
  • October 2012  A thesis by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate student on why we are flying less, and a move by the largest aviation “alphabet” group appointing a new senior vice president to “solve the problem,” have me thinking—not for the first time—that we aviators are not
  • October 2012  Improper fuel management, contamination and poor preflight planning cause far too many GA accidents; statistics reveal nearly two accidents per week on average. Whether the result of fuel exhaustion, improper planning or mechanical issues, the majority of these fuel mishaps are
  • September 2012 Will Fly to Eat. Give me a sectional and dreams of a great burger. I was walking through all the airplanes at this great little fly-in I attended. There were several classic birds there including a cabin-class Waco, a tricked-out Luscombe 8 and two beautiful Cessna 140s. Admiring
  • September 2012   While I’ve been an aviation magazine writer for the past 40-plus years, some members are probably also familiar with my aviation-themed novels: there have been seven of them since 1979. The first one—“Mayday,” an airline disaster story—was revised and updated in 1997 with my
  • August 2012   Six years ago, I opened my column with these words: When I started flying actively about 10 years ago, I was warned that if I stuck with it, eventually I’d have to face the loss of a friend in an airplane crash. Sad to say, it has happened again. What gives me pause is that this
  • August 2012   Your magazine was created in the world of monthly print publications and says August on the cover. Meanwhile, I write over Memorial Day weekend as a tropical storm named Beryl is coming ashore 50 miles or so east of where I sit, as winds of 11 on the Beaufort Wind Scale are
  • July 2012  The early days of flying were the toughest. In the early 20th century, people began taking to the skies at a time when humanity was still in the learning process about the pure physics of lift, weight, drag and thrust.  By trial and error, you might have learned things like adding a
  • July 2012 My column in the May issue of Cessna Flyer had been prompted by a copy of a letter I’d received from a fellow who had flown with me as copilot on a great many of my international airline flights in the 1990s. Capt. Scott Reynolds (now retired) was a prince of an aviator to have sitting
  • June 2012  Some years back, I was with a group of other pilots on a houseboat trip. After a few days on (and sometimes in) the water, I called flight service for a weather briefing before flying home, and discovered a line of thunderstorms was moving in. So I started diversion planning, and got
  • June 2012 “Ditch kits” are part of good flight planning, risk management Anyone who has spent any time at all flying around in small airplanes has looked down and realized the immense distances below where there doesn’t seem to be much of anything. No people, no roads, no structures and no sign
  • May 2012 It’s right about this time that I begin to have traces of nausea over the volume of political speeches I’ve been subjected to since we started all this presidential election folderol that doesn’t end until this November. I’ve heard about how one candidate or another will impact the
  • May 2012   Nothing jogs my memory about stories from the old days like getting a thoughtful letter from a copilot that I had once shared the cockpit with. While I’ve had a good number of really great copilots during my 36-plus-year airline flying career (and a scattering of not so good copilots
  • April 2012 Last year, I was appointed to the Modesto City-County Airport Advisory Committee, a group chartered jointly by the city and county to give advice to the airport manager. We have monthly meetings, the topic of which, I suspect, is probably the same as that for most other General
  • April 2012 The United States Congress, back in February, passed and sent the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to President Obama, who signed it into law a few days later. It authorizes $63.4 billion for the FAA over four years, including about $11 billion
  • March 2012 It is a little-known fact that in 1913, bedouin shepherd boys playing outside EAA headquarters in Oshkosh discovered an ancient manuscript wrapped in a white linen scarf dating from the earliest days of aviation. The venerable parchment was stuffed into the sound hole of an
  • March 2012 Over the past 50-plus years of being involved with airplanes, I’ve had a number of memorable bouts with turbulence. When I count the episodes that come to mind, you might be surprised to discover that those that occurred in large airplanes outnumber the light aircraft incidents by a
  • March 2012   Walking into the hangar with my bags for a December departure, Bill, our ever-eager-to-go 182, greeted me with, “Hey, Charles, where are we going?” “Well, Bill, our destination is Long Beach, Calif., and the trip is going to offer some weather challenges. I promise
  • February 2012  Late last year, I found myself planning a flight to Fullerton (KFUL), in Southern California. Typical West Coast winter conditions were in full force: morning fog here in the Central Valley, and a marine layer at our destination. While I met (barely) the legal experience
  • February 2012 Every human endeavor, whether blacksmithing, computer science, boating or aviation, has its unique nomenclature. The anthropologists will tell you—with a nervous glance at the higher apes and aquatic mammals—that it is the invention and use of words that defines us as
  • January 2012 After The Other Woman’s last annual inspection, Victor, my mechanic, installed a new dual EGT gauge before we put everything back together. I had also planned to install a Power Flow exhaust system at the same time. However, I ran into a few minor problems because the system I had
  • January 2012 My father died a little more than a year ago and it is just now that I’ve found it in me to parse through his belongings. There were accolades of accomplishment, photos of him at a microphone doing play-by-play radio announcing for the Oklahoma Sooners football team, awards and gold
  • January 2012 I’m writing this on a cloudy, windy, rainy day at home, and I’m doing what’s most suitable for a day like this: I’m sitting at my desktop computer and allowing the kindness of others who have forwarded to me several emails that will enable me to take a virtual trip through aviation’s
  • 01-13 “Hey pilots, we have something really swell for you! It’s a new technology called ADS-B that we can all have installed in our airplanes and update the aging air traffic control system.” “That sounds like you expect me to pay for the upgrade to your ATC?” “It’s an opportunity!” “An
  • 01-13 Piloting Aspects inside the novel “Captain,” Part Three   Here is the promised ending chapter to our ongoing discussion of the piloting aspects lurking inside my latest aviation-themed novel “Captain,” which is available from the usual book sources in all e-book formats and also a print
  • December 2012  Last month my wife and I made our last trip to Mexico for the year. The trip down was long but routine. The trip back was something else… Longtime readers of my column will recall that my wife Kate is a pediatrician with an interest in medical mission work. Before we were married,
  • December 2012 If you’re a pilot who says you’ve never even dreamed of flying a jet fighter… maybe your nose is growing? The end of the Cold War in the 1990s brought a sigh of relief to much of the world. The end of the arms race between the Soviet Union and United States delivered a welcome
  • December 2012  The fact is that the future is unknowable. Despite ancient tradition of spiritual endeavor, or the most modern advances in particle physics, none of us has yet perfected a process that will let us see into tomorrow. As pilots, no matter whether we are practitioners of a religious
  • January 2005 I have been fortunate to have had the privilege to fly all my life. From a youngster, through my teen years, and then in the military, I have enjoyed the thrill of flying both General Aviation aircraft, fighters and training aircraft. Throughout my life different folks, agencies,
  • January 2005 If you have a midair collision it isn’t going to happen like it does in the movies. It won’t be a head-on, high-speed thing like those dogfight passes in “Top Gun.” It won’t be a Beechcraft Baron hovering in your windshield just before you smack into it, again head-on like in that
  • January 2005 “What’s that on the windshield?” asked Kate, my copilot and wife. I looked up from the instruments I had been concentrating on—trying to understand why the engine sounds had suddenly changed—and at first couldn’t understand her question. There didn’t seem to be anything on the
  • January 2005  People involved in aviation are a friendly lot. At least we think we are. All you have to do is go to a pancake breakfast at a fly-in or sit around at Oshkosh to “feel the love.” Over the decades that I’ve been in the flying business, both General Aviation and the airline world,
  • January 2005 For as long as I can recall, I’ve been quite fond of using the adage that “it is much better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.” The first time I used that phrase under combat conditions was from an airline cockpit many years ago. I
  • January 2005   While 31,258 of my closest friends and I were in Las Vegas during mid-October at the National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA) Convention, we got a glimpse of the future. Each year, a sort of theme emerges from the convention. Last year it was entertainment centers; the year
  • October 2004   The Continental O-200 and its big brother O-300 are candidates for the best-selling General Aviation engine ever built. Originated in the late 1940s and built as the C-75, 85, 90, 125 and 145, they powered countless Cessna 120s, 140s, 150s, 170s, 172s, 175s and a host of other
  • October 2004 I have been hooked on airplanes from the beginning of my memories as a little kid. Going places over the horizon is a great adventure even today, 50 years after my first flying lesson. “Adventures with Bill” and other stories are my way to share some of the insights, experiences and
  • September 2004 There is nothing as exhilarating as landing a seaplane on some desolate, pristine lake in the middle of nowhere or inside a coral reef next to an island in the Bahamas. If buying a seaplane is in your future, I’d like to give you a few dos and don’ts. Actually I’m really more of
  • September 2004 Looking at the insurance premium for amphibious aircraft is an eye-opening reality check. Why? The answer should be obvious. Insurance companies know that sooner or later the plane they have insured might end up on the wrong side of the water. A seaplane broker specializing in
  • October 2004 Seventy percent of runway incursions happen to General Aviation pilots. Getting lost at an airport when you are trying to taxi is not limited to GA aircraft, it is just that there are so many of us and we usually operate without the help of a co-pilot. With over 650,000 pilots and
  • November 2004 When I make my semi-annual pilgrimage to my dentist’s office, I always notice the small sign on the wall that says “If you ignore your teeth, your problems will eventually go away.” Lots of piloting and aircraft ownership details are just the same—it’s sort of a pay-me-now or
  • November 2004 There are natural limits on how well flight schools can operate. On the civilian side of the equation, flight schools are limited in what they can teach their students by cost and time. On the military side, the only real restriction on the quality of what they can teach their
  • October 2004 Flying is based on seeing. You use your eyesight to gather and use your knowledge. Even though Luke Skywalker could close his eyes, use The Force and fly a successful combat mission, you’re going to need your ability to see if you want to land your airplane. Humans are visual
  • November 2004 Have you ever wondered why we refer to some airplanes by name while sticking to the numbers for others? For one thing, it’s sometimes simpler. I mean, it’s a lot easier to say “G-III” than “Grumman Gulfstream G-1159A,” and “T-206” is a lot easier and drier to say than “Turbo-System
  • November 2004 I finally got myself IFR current again, almost six months after my last hood work. That has a tendency to happen around here in the summer, as there’s little (or no) actual IFR to fly in, and there’s rarely any reason to fly in Class B airspace or on the coast, where there might be
  • October 2004- How high can you fly? That’s a question that’s bothered me for quite a while now. The San Francisco sectional I use regularly has some green in the middle, where the California central valley is—but there’s brown on the chart, both for the coast range mountains to the west
  • September 2004 - The bugs near Anderson, Ind. are what I remember the most, along with more actual IFR (two solid hours) in one week than I’ve had in the entire year since... but I’ll get to that. Last month, I wrote about my experience last year flying from my home base in Modesto, Calif., to
  • November 2004 In August, Hurricane Charley blew through Florida and into the Carolinas. That fast-moving Category Four storm cut a compact swatch of destruction across the state, effectively bringing aviation operations to a halt for a few days, and much longer at affected airports. Just when we
  • October 2004 With my new partner Jim Corley walking beside me, we finally headed across the ramp and toward the airplane to do some actual flying (“Partnership, Part One & Two;” August and September issues). We had already spent several hours together in preparation for this partnership to,
  • October 2004  A couple of weeks ago, I got tapped for jury duty.  Most people try to get excused, but I actually relish the opportunity to aid in the judicial process and pay my societal dues (plus possibly pick up a subject for a column). However, my enthusiasm waned when I got to the
  • November 2004 Have you ever wondered why we refer to some airplanes by name while sticking to the numbers for others? For one thing, it’s sometimes simpler. I mean, it’s a lot easier to say “G-III” than “Grumman Gulfstream G-1159A,” and “T-206” is a lot easier and drier to say than “Turbo-System
  • September 2004 I was 17 years old and having the time of my life. I had been a line boy in Lakeland since I was 15 and was cashing in on the experience by being allowed to go to Wichita and pick up a new airplane. The instructors working at our FBO were too busy instructing, so it fell to us line
  • September 2004 Flying is expensive enough as it is. But you don't have to cut corners or cramp your flying style, just to save a few bucks. Own an airplane and fly it long enough and you will develop your own little trick to save a few pennies here and there. I'd love to hear about them. Here
  • August 2004 No doubt you have read a multitude of editorial on the subject of the Go/No Go decision. In reality, it should probably be called the Go On/Not Go On decision, since Go/No Go implies that the decision is made on the ground prior to departure. But in the real world, that is not always