Opinion & Commentary (155)

Hog Log: The Pilots You’ll Meet in Heaven

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 of fact, in the literally hundreds of times I've visited my—for lack of a better term, "death dream"—the subject of guilt or innocence, faith or lack of faith never arises. It simply isn't an issue.
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Left Coast Pilot: Instrument Alternates

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 on IFR flights, unless the destination weather follows the 1-2-3 rule: For one hour before and one hour after your planned time of arrival, you must have a cloud ceiling no lower than 2000 MSL, and at least 3 miles visibility.
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Full Circle: New/Old Direction

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 explanation of why we changed the title of this department to "Full Circle"—and I did it by hardly explaining the reasons. Instead, I told you about all the reasons why the things I used to do with my personal airplane—a totally tricked-out light twin—didn't apply for me and my partner anymore. Now I'm going to tell you what does apply, aviation-wise, from this point on.
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Hog Log: If I’d Only Known Then What I Know Now

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 Apache is finally going to give you a big case of the carbon monoxides.
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Bumps and Circuits: Make Me a Deal, Please

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 string of cow ponies. The result of my horse trading was usually the reverse.
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Affirmative Attitude: Doing some real good

Affirmative Attitude: Doing some real good

January 2015- Patient transportation is an important mission for one family that's very passionate about General Aviation. Life can sometimes be a wild ride, with more deviations and surprises than an IFR flight in IMC through the Northeast in the dead of winter. You are born, and at some point, you go west to fly forever with Lindy and Amelia. But it's what you do with your life in between your arrival and departure that is important.Many of us do good deeds with our airplanes, and regardless of the type of work you and your airplane do to make the world a better place, it is all to be admired and celebrated. But there is one thing you can do with your airplane that might earn you extra credit when you're closing your life's flight plan.Most likely every person reading this has lost a friend or family member to cancer. Many of us now need the fingers of both hands to count those who have succumbed to some form of the disease. Those who have left us fought hard to be survivors, and when that fight required several trips to a faraway city for treatment, the transportation may have been…
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Push To Talk: Traveling Backward

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 troubled about so much of the world going on around us. There was the Vietnam War, civil rights, the environment—that's just the beginning of the list—and we took all of it on.We marched, we protested, we sang, we voted—and most of all, we stepped up. Many of the changes in and improvements to the world today had their genesis in the 1960s. And that's a fact.The 1960s were also a good time for little airplanes. I got to interview Grace Slick, lead singer for the Jefferson Airplane. We didn't talk so much about rock 'n' roll, but instead about a special time she remembered flying in a small airplane in the 1960s.
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Full Circle: Old Notes, Part One

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 thankfully, climate controlled—corner of a storage area in our home.These notes hadn't been looked at for so long that at first I didn't know where they'd come from or why I had them. They were written with either a manual typewriter (remember those?) or handwritten in my own nearly illegible scrawl.
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Left Coast Pilot: Lessons Learned

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 time every year, I was contemplating the fact that I hadn't flown any actual IFR for several months. That's because our typical summer weather pattern here in the Central Valley is so dry that any moisture—be it rain, mist or fog—is so rare as to be cause for celebration.
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Heading Bug: Fishing Above the Clouds

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 better suited to tugboats and fly in tight ovals around pylons venting thousand-dollar bills out our exhaust stacks at air races.On weekends we are up at dawn to fly short distances in order to partake of pancakes, eggs and sausages washed down with coffee—with the food, and the flying to reach it, only an excuse for the camaraderie of friends old and new.
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Affirmative Attitude: Showing Up for the Party

December 2014- Mass arrivals add another dimension to the AirVenture experience. Of all the great things about the late summer aviation family reunion in Oshkosh, one of the most popular elements are the mass arrivals of owners flying Cessnas, Cherokees and other brands of airplanes. These arrivals are the perfect way to show the world that as pilots, we stick together, and we love showing up for a party.But these mass arrivals don't just happen, as if a bunch of rogue pilots somehow happen to meet over Ottumwa, Iowa and sort of just show up at Oshkosh around the same time. These mass arrivals are carefully planned and briefed, and the organizers work all year to make sure we get to see the sky filled with either high wings or low wings—take your pick.Two of those organizers are Terry Hocking of Cherokees to Oshkosh and Gil Velez of Cessnas 2 Oshkosh. Both Hocking and Velez work with teams of other pilots, and both are dedicated to making sure their mass arrivals are safe as well as loads of fun for the participants. Cherokees to OshkoshHocking, a CFII/MEI and owner of a PA-28-160 based at Range Regional Airport (KHIB) in Hibbing,…
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