Tag: I was there

Flying the “little” DC-9

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Flying the “little” DC-9

The first DC-9s to come off the production line were the dash ten series, around 1965. TWA’s were officially DC-9-15s. The “little 9” was a real performer, with a max weight of only a little over 90,000 pounds and two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7s pushing it with a combined thrust of 28,000 pounds. Talking with a Mexicana pilot one day who also flew them, he said that they called it el raton super loco; loosely translated as “crazy mighty mouse.”

TWA DC-9 on rampTWA DC-9 on ramp

Early DC-9s weighed under 100,000 pounds but had plenty of thrust.

And it really was. But this became another case of growing what was a little rocket into a big hog. Douglas started stretching the plane but not the “horsepower.” Douglas merged with McDonnell in 1967 and it became the McDonnell-Douglas (MD) series, and finally the Boeing 717 after Boeing ate McDonnell-Douglas in 1997. Many of the later models are still in service.

TWA only flew 9s for a few years, then we sold the fleet to Ozark because we felt the Boeing 727 was better suited to the needs of our domestic market. (Ozark’s fleet, by then all later models, came back when TWA purchased Ozark in 1986.)

We operated the 9s mostly on short routes east of Kansas City and they were conventional in most respects. One big difference was a several degree nose-down attitude in the approach configuration. Every other jet I flew approached in a noticeably nose-up attitude. Another thing I remember is that the alternate pressurization system was nothing more than a lever connected directly to the outflow valve. This required the co-pilot’s full attention, which rendered him useless for most other duties. I think this arrangement was found only on the dash tens.

Another anomaly was the magnetic compass, which was mounted on the bulkhead behind and above the co-pilot’s head. The compass card was printed inside out, or as a mirror image, and was read by way of a small rear-view mirror on top of the glare shield. A line that became a classic was when a captain asked a new hire co-pilot what that mirror was for. After the co-pilot answered correctly, the captain would say, “No, that’s so the new co-pilots can check their pimples.”

The DC-9 was the only TWA airplane I ever flew with a two-man crew, which was an interesting experience. It seems there was more camaraderie with the two-man crew. With three, often it would develop into a bit of a two-against-one situation, especially with two new hires and one old WWII vet. A standing joke among new hires was that the purpose of having a flight engineer (F/E) on board was to help the first officer (F/O): if the captain had a heart attack, they could get the old SOB’s body out of “my” seat. The DC-9 operation was fun; two twenty-something guys with two twenty-something girls hopping up and down the Ohio Valley for a month together. Sort of like getting the keys to Dad’s car every night.

But my most vivid memories of flying the 9 have nothing to do with the airplane; they have to do with what I was doing in it. I had only been with TWA for about three years when the first new hires (1963 and 1964 hires) began to be awarded captain bids. Most student captain training was done in the DC-9, as it was the junior equipment at the time. Very few of us had flown the 9 and I had only flown as F/O on the Connie and the CV-880. I did not bid a captain vacancy—I was assigned one! I had recently turned 26 and had just a few more hours than the 1200 required for an ATP at the time.

The whole program took me nine months. What a coincidence as my wife was pregnant with our first born at the same time. Management was scared to death turning us “kid kap’ns” loose with a jet airliner full of people and looked at us through jaundiced eyes. It was an up or out program—no second chances and no reverting to previous status. The failure rate in the DC-9 upgrading program was almost 15%.

DC-9 cockpitDC-9 cockpit

Not a lot of electronics here.

The program called for training and flying the rating ride in Kansas City. Then a minimum of 50 hours in the left seat with a line check airman, a semi-final with another check airman and a final check with the domicile DC-9 flight manager. After my first 50 hours with a great instructor, Captain Jim Morgan, I was amazed at all the good sense he taught me in addition to all the “thou shalt” and the “thou shalt nots” in the company flight and policy manuals. I received a second 50 hours with another check pilot. I had had the carrot and now came the stick. I won’t name him, but he was antithetical to Jim and the next 50 hours was sort of a prolonged hell week.

All a checker need do to make life tough for a checkee on a two-man crew is to just to sit there and do and say nothing at all–let him fly solo until he messes up, then see how good his recovery is. That is how this checker operated. If he didn’t do something that was the F/O’s responsibility and I called him on it he would say that it was the captain’s responsibility to see that the F/O (or F/E) completed theirs.

When the 50 hours were finally over, he recommended me for a semifinal check with a management pilot. The first day of our two day, ten leg trip went well. Beginning our descent on the third leg on the way home, I failed to note that my co-pilot had not started the cabin down–until our altitude got down to the cabin altitude. Well, all I could do was request a slow descent, about 500 ft. per minute, costing the company how much time and money… busted.

I went home to tell my bride of one year and about due to deliver our first born at any minute that my career with TWA was over. After hardly a moment’s pause, she said, “That’s all right, our happiness does not depend on TWA.” No wonder I love her. I was set up for an evaluation ride with one of the DC-9 flight managers and that went OK. A few days later, Jeff Jr. was born, and a couple of days after that I went out for my final check with the head guy.

I thought things went okay, but he never said a word, and well, who knows? We caught the crew bus to our hangar and as we got off the bus he started chatting with another DC-9 check airman who was about to board the bus. In parting, almost as an afterthought, said, “Oh, I want you to shake hands with our newest DC-9 captain.”

Jeff was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He was “nuts about airplanes” before he finished grade school – and never got over it! He was more interested in flying than schooling and went on to get his ratings and build time flight instructing. He was extremely fortunate to have “walked through the right door on the right day” and get hired as a pilot by TWA in 1964 at age 22 and 700 hrs. total time. Jeff flew the Connie, DC-9, CV-880, B-707, L-1011 and B-747 retiring in 1997.
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SOF in the hot seat

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SOF in the hot seat

At some point in an aviator’s Air Force flying career, they can expect to pull SOF duty. That is Supervisor of Flying, not Special Operations Forces duty.

An Air Force Wing Commander, aka the “wing king,” usually a senior colonel or brigadier (one-star) general, has three group commanders (colonels) responsible for keeping the wing running smoothly. The Maintenance Group Commander (MA) keeps the wing’s aircraft maintained, fueled, and armed. The Combat Support Group Commander (CSG) has the “cats and dogs” supporting the wing with the base hospital, security forces (sky cops), supply (beans, bombs, bullets, and gas), civil engineers (housekeepers), pay and finance (bookkeepers), personnel (HR), etc. Finally, the Operations Group Commander (OG) runs the flying operation.


MacDill Air Force Base is a busy facility, with over 100 jets on the ramp at any one time.

When I was an IP with the 56th Fighter Wing at MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida, the OG oversaw four F-16 squadrons training a variety of students. With nearly 100 F-16s on the ramp, every day was busy as we taught newly minted pilots in their first fighter aircraft, transitioned current fighter pilots from another fighter into the F-16, upgraded qualified F-16 pilots to IP status, and gave future wing kings or OGs refresher training. Training sorties ranged from primary skills (landings, aerial refueling, instruments, basic fighter maneuvers, etc.) to advanced fighter ops (bomb dropping, strafing, aerial gunnery, intercepts, and air combat maneuvering).

With the responsibility for the safe and smooth conduct of the daily flying operations, the OG had to stay on top of it all. But one person can’t be expected to be on duty continuously, when flight ops can start before daybreak and extend well into the night and oftentimes into the early hours of the next day. Obviously, the OG needed help keeping a handle on the flying operations; thus, the rationale for SOFs.

Selected by the OG based on their experience in the aircraft as well as their time at the base, SOFs were the OG’s eyes and ears whenever flight operations were underway. As the Chief of Training, my immediate boss was the OG and I was responsible to him for training SOF candidates. Once they were qualified, I ensured that they maintained their currency.

SOF duty was performed in the control tower at a station equipped with radios and phones used to communicate with various agencies. Although SOFs interacted with tower personnel, they did not control any traffic. Our job was to watch over flight operations, keep track of all aircraft aloft, monitor the weather, and assist aircraft experiencing in-flight problems—which is especially critical in a single-seat, single-engine fighter.

One day, the Tactical Air Command Inspector General (IG) team arrived from Langley AFB in Hampton, Virginia, for a 10-day visit to evaluate the wing’s conduct of its mission. Their inspection included flying with our IPs while maintenance experts would evaluate our maintainers fixing, refueling, and rearming our jets. Subject matter experts would also inspect each area of the support provided to the wing’s mission. They also dug into everyone’s paperwork to make certain we were doing it all by the book. They were in our business from top to bottom.

They would also inspect the SOF program, to include our selection process and paperwork, and SOF currencies. They would also conduct an evaluation of a SOF during an in-flight emergency. They didn’t go out and create or have to wait for an in-flight emergency; they would simulate one. However, the SOF in the hot seat for the exercise was not the only one being evaluated. There would be IG personnel in the Command Post (CP), the nerve center for the wing, as well as the tower, and also in the maintenance facilities. They would even watch how the hospital responded to any casualties resulting from the “emergency.”

During the inspection, I took my turn at SOF duty. About an hour into my tour, I received a phone call from the commander of the 72nd Fighter Squadron. He told me an F-16-qualified IG pilot had bumped a student from one of their scheduled sorties, a routine two-ship mission scheduled to fly basic fighter maneuvers in one of the military operating areas (MOAs) over the Gulf of Mexico. It was also the perfect opportunity for a simulated emergency. He told me to watch for Falcon 71 flight; the IG pilot would be Falcon 72. I thanked him for the heads up and continued my duty.

Falcon 71 flight soon taxied out and took off. Shortly thereafter, the tower phone rang and one of the controllers answered it. I overheard him say, “Yes sir, I’ll buzz you in.” He then turned to me and said, “Sir, someone from the IG team is on their way upstairs.”

I knew the game was afoot!

A few minutes later, an IG inspector stepped into the control tower. It was an F-16 pilot who, a year earlier, was stationed with me at Kunsan Air Base in Korea. We caught up with one another as I continued my SOF duties.

Of course, I knew why he was there, and I suspected he knew that I knew why he was there. But, neither of us broached the subject.


There are plenty of failures to simulate in an F-16.

After he had been in the tower for 15-20 minutes, the SOF radio crackled to life and I heard the following: “Exercise, exercise, exercise, MacDill SOF, this is Falcon 71. Falcon 72 has a simulated flight control system malfunction and is declaring an emergency.”

The F-16 digital flight control system (FLCS–pronounced FLICK-us) has a computer that reads the pilot’s control inputs and uses hydraulic-electric motors to move the flight control surfaces; there is no backup mechanical linkage. The FLCS is redundant with four separate channels, and you can attempt one reset on a single failed channel. However, if it fails a second time, it’s time to head home. If two channels fail, it’s time to get on the ground now! I never heard of more than two channels failing, but anything’s possible.

I immediately asked Falcon 71 if I could provide any assistance. He stated they were headed home with all checklist items completed and that everything appeared normal with just one channel inoperative (Falcon 72 reported the reset had failed). However, I expected things to get worse as this was an evaluation of the entire base and they would stress the system.

The first thing I did was pick up the phone and call the OG and, as it rang, I told the tower chief to give priority to getting Falcon 72 down ASAP. When the OG answered, I briefed him on what was going on; he told me he was headed to the CP where he could monitor the appropriate radios. I then called the maintenance center and asked them to contact the MA and get him headed to the CP.

Next, I called the CP and told them to establish a teleconference with the General Dynamics Corporation in Fort Worth. GD built our F-16s and could provide experts to help us analyze and possibly fix the problem. The experts included Air Force test pilots at the factory who conducted acceptance flights on newly built jets before they were delivered to the Air Force.

At that point, one of the tower operators shouted, “OH SHOOT!” (NOT a direct quote–the second word out of his mouth had only one vowel, and it wasn’t an O). This controller was monitoring the departure end of the runway to make certain no traffic conflicts arose at his end.

I had my back to him, but spun around to see what caused this outburst and saw a large plume of dirt being spewed onto our only runway. The source of the plume was an F-16 off the side of the runway with a collapsed nose gear. Meanwhile, the engine was sucking up dirt and rocks and flinging debris all over the runway. Instead of repeating what the sergeant had said, I asked, “What happened?” He said the airplane was on landing rollout when it suddenly swerved to the left, ran off the runway, and the nose gear collapsed.

TPA and MCF locationTPA and MCF location

Tampa International (TPA) is a nearby diversion option for MacDill (MCF).

I immediately picked up my microphone and made the following transmission on Guard channel (243.0): “This is the MacDill SOF on Guard. The MacDill runway is closed until further notice. MacDill aircraft plan your fuel accordingly and plan to divert until notified otherwise. Expect the runway to be closed for several hours. Contact the Command Post with your intentions and call them upon landing at your destination. MacDill SOF, out!”

I then informed Falcon flight their “exercise” was over and they were now doing a real-world divert.

Our primary divert base was Homestead AFB (HST), south of Miami. However, we already had aircraft on recovery and in the traffic pattern who couldn’t get there. I directed the tower chief to divert them to Tampa International (TPA) and to call the TPA tower to advise them why we were headed their way; he already had the phone in his hand.

I also called the CP and directed them to call Homestead’s CP telling them we had an unknown number of airplanes headed their way.

I then called the range officer (one of our IPs) who was controlling aircraft at Avon Park, MacDill’s air-to-ground gunnery range some 75 miles east of MacDill. I did this because line-of-sight probably prevented low flying aircraft on the range from receiving my transmission. The range officer had not heard it, but assured me he would make certain our aircraft knew of the situation. There was also an emergency auxiliary field at Avon Park.

Next, I called the maintenance center and ensured that they were sending mobile teams to TPA to help park, refuel, and secure our diverting aircraft.

For the next half hour, I spoke to several of our aircraft as they diverted while listening to and logging the landing times of diverting aircraft. Finally, I had every airplane down, except for a flight of two. Between myself, the tower personnel, and the CP, we had missed one. It was time to get worried!

However, my IG friend saved the day. He handed me a slip of paper with our missing flight’s landing time, which was at TPA. Their call came during a flurry of activity as the firefighters were securing the plane and extracting the unharmed pilot from the cockpit; he had tried to raise the canopy, but it jammed because the fuselage had warped from the force of the nose slamming to the ground.

Now for Paul Harvey’s “Rest of the Story.” How did a student pilot turn his F-16 into an ATV? After landing, he did an aero-braking maneuver, which increases drag to help slow the airplane. It involves holding a nose-high nose attitude with the speed brakes extended and, when the horizontal tail loses authority, the pilot lowers the nosewheel to the runway and uses the wheel brakes to slow to a comfortable taxi speed.

Even at idle power, an F-16 engine produces a lot of thrust; pilots must constantly tap their brakes while taxiing. However, the MacDill runway is 12,000 feet long and 500 feet wide, so there was plenty of room to get an F-16 slowed down without excessive braking. If needed, the tailhook can be lowered to snag a departure- or approach-end barrier, bringing the airplane to a safe stop.

Pictured at right is an F-16 tailhook extended and about to engage the barrier. The black “donuts” keep the barrier elevated. The ripple in the cable at the right of the picture was caused by the main gear running over it, causing it to bounce up.

Below is an F-16 slowing after engaging the barrier.

F-16 landing

F-16 landing

F-16s have three braking systems, A, B, and Emergency. The A and B systems are electrically controlled and include an anti-lock braking system (ABS). The Emergency system is simple hydraulics with no ABS, plus the nose-wheel steering is disabled. If system A fails, you were to release the brakes, switch to system B and then reapply the brakes. Should system B fail, you again released the brakes, pulled the Emergency brake handle and gently applied the brakes.

When this student pressed on the rudder pedals to apply the wheel brakes, his feet went full forward with no braking action. He panicked and immediately pulled the Emergency brake handle and stomped on the brakes. The left main gear locked, causing the left main tire to fail, which resulted in the airplane swerving hard left and departing the runway. You know the rest of the story.

However, there’s one more item. Before the IG team left, they presented a “Hotwash Briefing” to the Wing. During that briefing, held in the base theater, they covered highlights of their visit and recognized “Professional Performers,” i.e., personnel who excelled in their duties. With a picture of each Professional Performer projected on the theater’s screen in turn, the team described why that person was being recognized. Imagine my surprise when my name was called out and my picture appeared on-screen. In it, I was cradling a phone between my left shoulder and left ear, holding another phone to my right ear using my left hand, and, with my right hand, I was holding my radio’s microphone to my mouth. I never noticed the picture being taken as I was too busy as the SOF in the hot seat!

Colonel (ret) Dale “Boots” Hill served 22 years in the Air Force, beginning his tour of duty flying 165 missions in the OV-10 as a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam. He was then a T-38 IP, A-10 IP and flight examiner, and an F-16 IP and commander of the 61st Top Dawgs. He worked assignments at TAC HQ (he told other fighter pilots where to go—they would tell him where to go). At the Pentagon he served on the Air Staff as a planner for Operation Desert Storm and on the staff of the Secretary of the Air Force. He lives in Canton, GA, with his wife, Susan, near three (soon to be four) of their seven (soon to be eight) grandchildren.
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Home from the game

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Home from the game

The last game ran late. We didn’t get out of the event center till 2130. The ride to the airport took about 20 minutes, so it was pitch dark when we walked out to the plane at LHM in Lincoln, California. My stepdaughter was very tired and was soon asleep as I taxied out to the runway. I love flying at night so I was comfortable. It was clear and calm—great night flying weather. I checked on the weather at Santa Rosa (STS) and it was calling for low clouds in the Bay Area. We tend to get the marine layer settling in this time of year, so I was prepared to ask for a pop-up IFR clearance if needed.

I lined up on runway 33 and self-announced our departure. Checking on Alex, all I could see was her head buried in her blanket. She was sawing logs.


The Cirrus is a great way to travel, but you have to be proficient.

The climb out was beautiful. Seeing the Sacramento city lights at night is such a special treat. It was very calm at our cruise altitude of 6500 ft., and I checked in with ATC to request VFR flight following to Santa Rosa. As we passed Sacramento airspace I dialed in the ATIS for STS on my COM 2 and listened for current conditions. I could tell there were some clouds as we approached the Coast Range, and not wanting to drop any lower than my current altitude, I was pretty sure we would be IMC way before we got to our destination.

I asked ATC for a pop-up IFR clearance to our destination. There was very little air traffic this time of night, so we were immediately given clearance direct to STS at 6000. As we got closer to the airport, the ATIS started giving reports on current conditions in Santa Rosa. The ceiling was at 650 ft. and there was no indication of it clearing anytime soon. At this point we were in solid IMC and I needed to make a decision: shoot the approach or divert to another airport with better conditions.

In our area of the North Bay, the marine layer is typically a few hundred feet off the ground and extends up a couple thousand feet. It fills up the valleys and leaves the hilltops exposed. All the airports within driving distance of our house were also socked in, so I pulled up the RNAV 14 approach for STS. The MDA for the approach is 600—I would be shooting the approach to minimums. I decided to proceed and if I had to go missed I would head back to the Sacramento Valley, where conditions were VFR.

I had plenty of fuel so there was never an issue with options if I had to go missed. I did a mental checklist of my state of mind: not tired, comfortable doing an approach at night to minimums, and no reason not to proceed. The fact that I had my stepdaughter with me heightened my sense of responsibility and need to get us on the ground safely. I can say I was little apprehensive, as flying at night from VFR to IMC and then to minimums is a real challenge for single pilot IFR.

I made the decision to proceed with the approach and asked ATC for vectors to intercept final. I set up the plane for the approach, did my five As, and waited for the next direction from Center.

I glanced over at Alex, still asleep, and smiled at her trust in my ability to bring her home. Center transmitted the first instructions for my vector. I was still at 6000 ft. and as the IAF for the approach was 5000, I was expecting to get a descend-to instruction. I was told to fly direct to FIPUM but I had assumed I would get direct to LOZWU. I asked if I could get LOZWU instead and was told proceed direct LOZWU.

Still at 6000 as I approached the IAF, I was about to ask Center for an OK to descend to 5000 when they came over with my clearance for the RNAV approach. However, I was told to maintain 6000 until established—now I would have to make a rapid descent after I was established.

It is amazing what the autopilot in the Cirrus is capable of and I immediately dialed in the next fix, which was the final approach  fix (FAF) for this approach, at an altitude of 3300. Crossing LOZWU, I started my descent as soon as the needle came alive. The sensation of descending in IMC can be unnerving; it is so important to stay focused on your instruments. My CFI’s voice kept repeating the mantra in my head, “ just trust the instruments and ignore the outside world.”

STS RNAV 14 approach chartSTS RNAV 14 approach chart

Not your everyday approach.

I hit the FAF a couple of hundred feet above the numbers, so I dialed in the next step down of 1700 and continued to descend. I started looking for any markers at this point. I knew I was still pretty high but sometimes there is a break in the layer and you can get a frame of reference for your position. Nothing but sold gray, with my strobes flashing in rhythm. I started to do a mental checklist for going missed. I was chanting the five Cs my instructor taught me for go around. I never forget how important those simple rhythms become in real-world situations.

I hit the next step, UCEVE, right at the correct altitude and prepared for landing or go around. Looking intently out the window as I dropped below 1000 ft., I clicked the transmit button five times. I did not see any lights but assumed they would be on as I popped through the clouds. Down to 900 and I was starting to see some lights in the mist. bit still no runway. I tightened my grip on the stick and my other hand on the throttle, ready to hit the go around if needed. At around 800 ft. I caught glimpses of ground and houses, and broke out of the clouds at 700.

I immediately started looking for the field: nothing but black where the airport should have been. I hit the transmit button again and the field lit up like a welcome mat rolled out just for me. I was right on target for my landing.

After I touched down I called Oakland Center and cancelled my clearance. Rolling along the taxiway to the hangar, I marveled at the fact that I was able to fly in such challenging conditions and be taxiing to the hangar like any other routine flight. I thought back to my training with my CFI, and was so thankful for all the hard work and discipline he instilled in me as a student pilot. What a gift from this person who gave me the tools to be comfortable and competent at the controls of my wings in the air.

Alex finally woke up as we got to the hangar and asked, “are we home?” I looked at her and smiled. I said, “Yep just a quick hop and here we are.”

Aviation has always been Mark’s passion but as a business owner he just didn’t have time to jump in until 2010. He completed his primary and instrument training in Oakland, California, with a great CFI who set him up to be a a safe, proficient pilot. He has single engine land, single engine sea, and instrument ratings. Mark is checked out and in love with the Decathlon and Citabria. He hopes to make his first flight over the pond soon.
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From Private to ATP– the closing of a cycle

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From Private to ATP-- the closing of a cycle

It was a damp springtime, 9 years earlier, when I initially showed up in Florida filled with desires: I got on a goal. Having actually taken an overdue leave from the airline company for which I was flying for as a steward in Brazil, I had much less than one year to go “from absolutely no to hero.” In a little bit much less than the 300 days I invested in the United States in between 2012 as well as 2013, I began my Private in the Cessna 152, completed it, experienced the Instrument in the Cessna 172, the moment structure as well as, lastly, the Commercial Multiengine in the Seneca. By mid-April, I had a new FAA certification, as well as with completion of my trainee visa legitimacy, I was back in South America.


Like numerous occupations, this set began in a Cessna 152. Prior to leaving DeLand, I took into consideration opting for the ATP composed, as well as did some prep job. I would certainly have to obtain it inspected in 2 years, as well as it was impractical to believe I would certainly be able to satisfy the needs by after that– I was simply reluctant of 260 hrs. It was a sensible step: the remainder of the cash I had from marketing my apartment or condo(basically my only gets after a years working)in a strong profession wager would certainly be made use of to transform my Commercial to a nation where I can successfully utilize it to obtain a

work. By August 2013, after a created test, a pair trips, and also a checkride, I had a Brazilian Commercial certification based upon my FAA. A lengthy year complied with, with some thin flying in GA– both in Brazil as well as in the United States, renting out throughout my getaways– as well as numerous incorrect task alarm systems. A number of us have actually undergone this:”Your curriculum vitae remains in the principal pilot’s workdesk, he will certainly call you tomorrow!”or “Is your clinical legitimate? There is this November Citation and also they are trying to find a co-pilot.”

In the meanwhile, I resumed my tasks in the cabin, flying the 737NG throughout the continent. It was a profession I appreciated, with its downs as well as ups, yet after 9 years, an upgrade, as well as one million guests, I awaited the following action– as well as I was not obtaining any kind of more youthful. By mid-2014, weeks prior to the World Cup in Brazil, I determined to contact my airline company’s principal pilot. In the e-mail, I discussed to him my scenario: with an university level as well as an ICAO English 5, I satisfied the needs to make an application for the very first policeman placement, as well as prefer to stay in the firm than flying for our rivals. Would certainly they be employing any kind of quickly?

After a week of silence, the inner website was revealing settings offered for workers! It was a lengthy practice in the airline company to work with initially from within prior to open up to exterior prospects.

After a pair extreme months of researching, flying as steward, and also undergoing a four-step employment procedure in between trips, the over 60 applications wound up as 6 brand-new FOs. Including 4 re-hires– from the wonderful decrease that occurred after I took my unsettled a pair years in the past– our set was developed. Months of training complied with, over 70 hrs in the sim, as well as by March 2015 I had actually begun my line training, leaving path 10 at Rio de Janeiro International.

Because we were really raw during that time, the training took for life, and also not till July were every one of those that had actually made it throughout of training launched. The discovering contour was big: the Boeing 737NG (as well as currently as a result of limit concerns this prevails expertise) is a special style: effective, effective, however with a cabin that blends one of the most contemporary avionics with rather classic systems and also team informing sources.

A year later on, I was sent out to the shuttle bus solution team of pilots, running in the 2nd hardest flight terminal I have actually ever before been to: Santos Dumont, in midtown Rio. It was a logistical problem for a travelling pilot like me, and also regardless of the fantastic experience it was a little bit also amazing for the quantity of cash we were making. We flew via the Olympics in Rio, as well as the pledge that we would certainly be based in São Paulo once again– something our standing approved– was being frequently postponed. 2 years later on I satisfied the demands to request a work abroad, as well as the choice was made. After a fascinating, heart-racing evaluation and also stand-by procedure, I left the Boeing 737 after 1747 hrs in the best seat.

As one may be believing now, I had actually fulfilled the ATP needs. Other than that in Brazil, despite whether you are the pilot flying, the 2nd in command at an airline company can not log pilot in command time unless you are under command upgrade training. And also given that the command upgrade was an excellent years away, I was stuck except the 40 PIC hrs to be able to obtain my ATP. I had actually currently done the Brazilian composed, so from an ICAO point of view, I had what is typically referred as a “icy ATP.”

Boeing cockpitBoeing cockpit

Not all Boeings are developed equivalent. Therefore it was that, with those credentials as well as a little over 2000 hrs, I signed up with the”hefty plastic ” on theopposite side of the world. Traveling the Dreamliner is, like the name recommends, a desire. Finding out the information of the brand-new task, well … that was a correct headache! The quantity of understanding I entered those very first months, from the kind ranking to the direct exposure of flying from the black blizzard between East to the snowstorms of Scandinavia, from the desolation of Africa to the hectic airspace of Europe and also Asia– that was something!

One year later on, throughout my 3rd simulator checkride in the Dreamliner, a lot more comfy with all the uniqueness of flying in the Gulf, I went with my ATP. Considering that our every 6 month examinations are currently really requiring, the Airline Transport Pilot itself called for simply a pair additional maneuvers. The documents included was the actual obstacle, yet a minimum of on my Middle Eastern permit (among the 3 I held), I was currently greater than a CPL. That would certainly provide me the possibility of a command upgrade still years away, yet much more right away, to end up being an in-flight alleviation pilot– significance, flying in the left seat throughout cruise ship so the captain can take his remainder in three-crew, much longer procedures.

Like every person else, I had my prepare for 2020. Like everybody else, they needed to be held off. Lastly, having actually endured those hefty days, as well as after a lengthy 3 years, I was back in America. When I finished my Commercial in 2013, the time had actually come to end up that lengthy had assurance from. Currently, however, the regulations were various: prior to the created, I needed to go via an ATP-CTP training course. It took me a week of class (particularly hard, since the institution remained in Lakeland as well as we can listen to the Sun ‘n Fun fly-in taking place outdoors) plus FTD as well as FFS sessions, however after assessing numerous principles that prevailed ground to us in the airline companies, I took the examination on a bright Saturday early morning in Tampa. I commemorated the remainder of it at Sun ‘n Fun– my just live off throughout those 2 weeks.

Sunday I was back in the class: time to relearn from my old instructor, the 737. Seriously, after 4 years in the very pleasant 787, the infant Boeing was an actual hustle. The intricacy of its systems, the weight of its controls, all that in an extremely brief time period as well as morning simulator sessions were just attainable as a result of my previous 3 years’ experience. It is not such as riding a bike, and also it was not a stroll in the park, yet specifically 9 years as well as eventually after my FAA Commercial, I passed the dental as well as simulator check.

It took nearly a years, however this goal– as well as cycle– was full. “Being of great ethical personality,” the only need I assume I fulfilled when I initially showed up in Central Florida, was currently signed up with by the others of the 61.153. As I typically state when speaking to the pupils beginning in this fantastic sector of ours, passing a checkride does not indicate you understand it all; it implies just that you understand sufficient to maintain knowing. Allow’s obtain this brand-new interesting cycle began!

Enderson Rafael has actually been flying given that 2005, initially as cabin team, after that as a pilot. And also although his profession brought him from the 737 galley in Brazil to the trip deck of the hefty plastic between East, he left his heart with the solitary piston engines in Florida that made it feasible.
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Crosswinds and also emergency situations– lessons from the simulator

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Crosswinds and also emergency situations-- lessons from the simulator

“There are old pilots and also there are strong pilots, however there are no old strong pilots.”

Every pilot recognizes that ditty. It was made up as a care for pilots ready to devote aeronautics. Should you or should you not remove in these problems? For me, a 15-knot crosswind offers me stop briefly. While I have actually landed in one, the wind had actually transformed because departure as well as the option was to land somewhere else. It is a various choice prior to removing, as I fly simply for enjoyable, except a living.


That quarry is a crucial information. When, when EAA 838 was flying Young Eagles, I acknowledged the mommy of one child as a colleague. I welcomed her to being in the rear of my Cherokee, while her kid beinged in front. The trip was longer than the normal Young Eagle trip, and also

wind had actually moved to 270 levels. It was blowing a gusty 22 knots, close sufficient to the 15-knot optimum showed crosswind for a PA28-140 to obtain my interest. The various other pilots were making use of path 22, which was likewise being utilized by jets. Experience showed me that base-to-final over the quarry can be rough with a west wind, along with disturbance from trees near the strategy end of path 22. 22 is long sufficient that one can transform base prior to the quarry as well as land long to stay clear of the disturbance of the quarry or trees. That was my strategy, and also I revealed it both on the radio and also to mama in the rear seats. I likewise claimed I would certainly be dipping the extreme right on brief last. She might not have actually recognized me, as I might see white knuckles when she ordered the top of her boy’s seat. While my intending factor was prior to the crossway, she believed we would certainly lack path, as well as right-wing-low horrified her.

We had a lot of path. I revealed that I was done flying Young Eagles, and also taxied cab to my garage. I drove them back to EAA 838 to finish the sign-in treatment. I have actually usually duplicated that trip on my trip simulator.

Wind from 270 levels at 15G25 is a 50-degree crosswind for either path 32 or 22, and also right up there with my Cherokee’s optimum showed crosswind. Which is much easier, a crosswind from the left, or from the? Path 22 is 6,574 ft. long, with a quarry on brief last and also trees simply west of the path, while path 32 is 4,422 ft. That is plenty for a Cherokee, as well as my side of the airplane would certainly be leaning right into the wind.

I am not an examination pilot, as well as closer to 80 years of ages than 70, so my option on such a day would certainly be to fly vicariously. To put it simply, on the trip simulator, where I can set wind, gusts, and also disturbance, as well as it would certainly set you back absolutely nothing to maintain doing it up until I can do it completely. After lots of substitute efforts on both paths, I can inform you that I choose the much shorter path. It was excellent technique, as well as consisted of go-arounds when ideal.

One more preferred method is the “difficult turn.” Exactly how high do I need to be to efficiently reverse after shedding my engine on departure? While there is definitely a minimal elevation, the solution depends upon capacity to speed up both keep as well as angle of financial institution, as well as additionally on the size of the separation path. One’s ability can be improved by technique, something that is both risk-free and also low-cost to do on a simulator.

Turning leftTurning left

Holding 80 miles per hour in a 60-degree financial institution is not that simple. I discovered that I can continually make it back to path 04/22 from an elevation of 500 ft. MSL. Naturally, it aids that the path is as long

. My method is to keep 80 miles per hour IAS as well as a financial institution angle of 45 levels. 80 miles per hour is midway in between Vx as well as Vy, as well as a secure rate under the situations. It is not that very easy to maintain both the rate as well as the high financial institution angle consistent, as well as that is why one methods. A speaker at AirVenture 2021 suggested a financial institution angle of 60 levels for the difficult turn. This is most definitely more difficult to attain, yet one navigates quicker. Would certainly you be drawing 2 Gs in a 60-degree turn? When I had to do degree 60-degree turns in my trainee pilot days.), (I utilized to toss up The response is no, due to the fact that you would certainly be coming down. It is tons variable that raises delay rate, not financial institution angle.

While I never ever triggered X-Plane’s arbitrary failing function, I have actually activated failings unintentionally in the simulator. When beginning a typical downwind-base-final pattern someday, the engine stopped on the downwind leg. OK, this is excellent technique. After identifying and also changing containers that blend was complete abundant, I did a dead-stick touchdown. When quit on the path, I attempted to reactivate. The engine would certainly pass on, however not begin. If you have a very early design Cherokee, you might understand my trouble, and also possibly you’ve done it on your own. I understand I did it concerning 35 years back on a lengthy last over cool Lake Michigan.

Keep in mind the red blend toggle in the 3rd image. It was not constantly red. It utilized to look the same to carbohydrate warmth, which is in between the throttle and also the trick. On the day concerned, I was flying from Racine to Milwaukee to obtain some radio job done. RAC is hardly 10 miles from MKE, as well as I called strategy from pattern elevation.

“MKE Approach, Cherokee N4500R mores than Wind Point at 1,700 feet, touchdown MKE.”

“00R, this is MKE Approach, squawk (something), fly 010, as well as anticipate 25R.”


Note the red mix toggle. Not a problem thus far, although heading out over Lake Michigan(altitude 579 MSL) at a reduced elevation was a mite worrying. It is both vacant and also cool in winter months, and also those people that live near it value it. We fly about, not throughout. Anyhow, the stubborn radio was functioning … or was it?

After listening to absolutely nothing for numerous miles, I called strategy and also obtained no reply. That darn radio once more! After another unanswered telephone call, I transformed west. They had actually informed me to anticipate 25R, and also might provide me a light signal. I considered the tower, which I might see. Undoubtedly, they can see my blinking touchdown light. No light signal from the tower. Should I screech 7500 or 7600 for loss of interactions? Which one implied I was being pirated? Possibly an additional regularity …

“Milwaukee Tower, Cherokee 4500R schedules east, regarding 3 miles off-shore. I shed call with strategy.”

“We were asking yourself when you were mosting likely to call … Cherokee 00R is gotten rid of to land 25R.”

For me, this was a long last. I took out carbohydrate warmth, and also the engine gave up! Currently rattled by the radio issue, I reversed what I had actually simply done. The engine barked back to life. I left carbohydrate warm alone afterwards and also landed typically. I understood that I had actually drawn the blend, as well as not carbohydrate warmth. That is when I repainted it red.

Back to my simulator: vFlyteAir’s Cherokee 140 Original very closely reproduces my 1965 PA28-140. I had actually triggered the toggle on the 3D display due to the fact that the simulator’s exterior equipment does not consist of a carbohydrate warmth toggle. Simply as taken place 30+ years back, it was the mix toggle that I drew, not carbohydrate warmth. Surprisingly, if I had actually cycled the blend on the quadrant, it would certainly have cycled the toggle on the display, yet not the other way around.

OK, it is very important to bear in mind that simulation varies from fact– however it is close, as well as the technique assists.

Seán G. Dwyer is a Private Pilot and also long-lasting proprietor of a PA28-140. Birthed in New York, he expanded up in Ireland prior to returning to the USA to go to college. After making a PhD in chemistry from UND, he had a job in sector, retiring in 2001. Significant recurring passions consist of advertising STEM amongst teens and also describing the scientific researches that make it possible for air travel. He is the writer of STEM for All Ages, and also worked as Curriculum Chairman for Young Aviators Inc., a weeklong summertime program in Racine, Wisconsin, for teen young boys and also ladies.
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Trip examination design at Edwards AFB in the 1960s

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Trip examination design at Edwards AFB in the 1960s

In August 1966 I was a designer with Landing as well as Recovery Division, NASA Manned Spacecraft Center, Clear Lake, Texas (i.e., NASA Houston). I obtained a telephone call from a friend as well as other Texas Aggie that was a young Army lieutenant meeting his ROTC armed forces commitment, appointed to the Army UH-1 Project Office. He stated the Army required a trip examination designer for helicopters at Edwards AFB, as well as he had actually placed in my name as a prospect for that trip examination setting. I informed him that was an insane suggestion, as I recognized absolutely nothing concerning trip examination design. He claimed not to stress over it– they would certainly show me.The much more I considered it, the much better I suched as the suggestion of trip examination design. It was interesting functioning for NASA Houston, I made a decision to use for the private trip examination designer setting with the United States Army Aviation Test Activity at Edwards AFB, California. My other half Jean, that was a primary education and learning instructor, concurred with me on this choice. I made an application for the setting as well as was approved.

I provided notification to NASA Houston, and also Jean provided notification to the LaPorte School District where she was a first-grade educator. We left Texas in very early September 1966 as well as made the lengthy, warm drive in our un-air conditioned MGB from Texas to Lancaster, California, the closest noncombatant community to Edwards AFB.

Ryan XV-5Ryan XV-5

Not a Valkyrie, yet the XV-5

was a distinct airplane. At Edwards, NASA and also the Air Force were flying the rapid moving companies such as the X-15, the XB-70, as well as the F-111. My brand-new company, the United States Army Aviation Test Activity, had no rapid moving companies however we did have actually a completely brought back two-place P-51 Mustang to be made use of as a chase airplane when our Navy T-28 would not hack it. As a greenie weenie, I was offered the task of minimizing information on a brand-new job, which was great with me as I required the experience. The task included the Ryan XV-5, which was a V/STOL airplane powered by twin GE J85 turbojets, with ducted followers in the wings, nose, and also tail. This permitted it to float like a helicopter and after that change to typical onward trip at a high subsonic rate. The concept was to make use of the XV-5 in search and also rescue in Vietnam, rushing to a downed air staff, floating

as well as going down an equine collar to the crewman, as well as going back to base at a much greater rate than a helicopter. Our examination pilot for the XV-5 was Air Force Major David Title, a great person. On the first proof-of idea examinations, Major Title was floating the XV-5 on the Edwards ramp at concerning 50 feet and also decreased the improvisated equine collar to replicate saving a downed air team. He incorrectly enabled a minor ahead rate to the XV-5, as well as the steed collar was consumed in one of the wing ducted followers, harming it. The XV-5 gradually came down, and also simply at influence with the ramp, Major Title started an ejection. The influence harmed the low-level ejection seat, and also it came off the rails at an angle. When he landed on the concrete ramp, the parachute covered around Major Title and also he was eliminated. The movie of the crash was awful to enjoy.

We after that got our model Bell UH-1H, which was a UH-1 Delta design with a longer tail boom to take care of the boosted torque of the up-rated Lycoming T53-L-13, with a result of 1400 shp. This rise in UH-1 Huey power was terribly required in Vietnam, with the warm environment as well as high moisture. I was appointed this task, functioning under a knowledgeable trip examination designer. My examination pilot was Chief Warrant Officer Emery Nelson, that had actually been a much-decorated Marine Corsair pilot in WWII. Emery as PIC beinged in the right-hand seat as well as I inhabited the left-hand seat on all the battle examinations, either tape-recording information by hand or running the picture panel in the cabin, recording the efficiency evaluates as well as the instrumented control setting specifications. (Can any person discuss why the PIC in rotating wing airplane inhabits the appropriate seat, while the PIC in set wing inhabits the left seat? I can not, however I assume that it has something to do with the place of the cumulative control bar on very early helicopters.)

Emery Nelson was a superb examination pilot as well as a grad of the Navy’s Pax River examination pilot college. I found out a whole lot from him as well as he allow me fly the bird every possibility we obtained (I had an exclusive set wing certificate at the time)!


The model UH-1H was checked at high elevations over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Edwards DOD Aero Club had an Air Force Beech T-34A for service. On February 12, 1967, I finished check-out of N10560, which was hangared at Edwards South Base (with U-2s as next-door neighbors). South Base was a brief area with garages a couple of miles southern of the Edwards primary path as well as tilted in the direction of it.

In order not to hinder Edwards’s primary web traffic, we would fly the website traffic pattern at 500 feet AGL. The T-34 was a gorgeous traveling as well as touchdown maker, and also a lot easier to fly than the taildraggers that I was utilized to. My logbook reveals that I had concerning 230 overall hrs during that time, as well as I, that had actually restricted airplane radio experience, was connecting with the specialist tower drivers at the primary Edwards path.

Jean and also I flew the T-34 a fair bit, however the trip I bear in mind most was to the Merced, California, Antique Airplane Fly-In. The flight terminal was unrestrained, with a mobile FAA tower on the area. A lot of the vintages during that time really did not have radios as well as my method rate in the T-34 with complete flaps was much faster than the antique airplane. I needed to make numerous go-arounds, cycling the touchdown equipment each time. I lastly obtained us on the ground, tired!

Emery Nelson and also I did a fair bit of screening on the model UH-1H, yet the one I bear in mind most was us taking the bird to its outright ceiling– around 25,000 feet! The Vne at that elevation was 60 knots, and also the pulling back blade delay was trembling the bird so hard that we can hardly check out the control panel. It was quickly time to damage it off as well as go back to base. I shed the examination record that outlined this climb to 25,000 ft.

Flight trip screening the prototype UH-1H was coming to an end and also Army military opening up competition competitors the second 2nd manufacturing of the Light Observation Helicopter (“Loach!”), with the Hughes OH-6 winning the initial manufacturing buy. Challengers were Bell, Hughes, and also Fairchild-Hiller. I was designated the Fairchild-Hiller access with their FH-1100 (YOH-5), yet F-H took out from the competitors prior to it began.

Along this time around a Bell Helicopter trip examination team from Texas saw our center for some job. We had our fellow Texans over for supper and also I delicately discussed that we would not mind returning to Texas. A number of weeks later on I got a telephone call from the elderly trip examination designer that had supper with us, and also he recommended that I send out a resume to Bell Flight Test. I did, a deal was made that I approved, which had Jean as well as me leaving California on Thanksgiving 1967 for Texas. The following early morning at our motel in Phoenix, we gained from the paper that my university, Texas A&M, defeated competing Texas 10-7 in the after that- standard Turkey Day video game to win the Southwestern Conference. Means to go, Aggies! Job ’em!

Dean was birthed in Bryan, Texas, near the A&M College of Texas. After finishing from secondary school in 1956 he employed in the Army and also was appointed to the 82nd Airborne Division, Ft. Bragg, NC as an 11 Bravo Infantryman. Upon splitting up from the Army in May, 1959, he returned house and also enlisted at Texas A&M in Aeronautical Engineering after not having actually fractured a book in 3 years! He approved a setting with the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center (NASA Houston) in the Landing as well as Recovery Division. He after that approved a placement as a noncombatant trip examination designer for the U.S. Army Aviation Test Activity at Edwards AFB, trip screening helicopters. From Edwards, he approved a placement as a speculative trip examination designer at Bell Helicopter, as well as from there a setting at Swearingen Aircraft, San Antonio, as trip examination designer on the Merlin III and also the Metro turboprops. He has a Commercial License with Instrument, Glider, as well as Multi-Engine Ratings as well as is a Glider Instructor. He and also his other half Jean have actually both flown competitors aerobatics, however things that he is most happy with is flying 55 children in the EAA Young Eagles program!
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Birdwatching from above

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Birdwatching from above

Reasonably good flying days in the Pacific Northwest winter can seem to be few and far between, so when one happens to occur on a day when you can also make time to go flying it’s almost a command performance for all of the reasons why as both a pilot and airplane owner you hate to see the plane sitting on the ground for possibly weeks at a time.


Airplanes like the Comanche don’t like to sit.

On this particular day it was even more so than usual. Between snow closing the runway, heavy rain, dense fog, and stormy winds, it had been over three weeks since the engine had fired up. In my head I could see the fog condensing inside the engine and generating all kinds of nasty byproducts; I was certain the battery must be right on the limit of being able to turn through the cold-sticky oil to be able to get the engine started and recharge; and all manner of other cold and damp weather-related demons had me watching the forecast for any conceivable opportunity to get some air under the wheels. The forecast the night before hadn’t been promising, but morning fog eventually burned off to reveal a calm and cloudless expanse of blue.

Assuming I wouldn’t be the only one feeling the need to go flying, I opted to make use of the cross-country capabilities of the Comanche and planned to head a bit further afield than the local practice area both to avoid traffic as well as to make sure I got a good run to get any moisture out of the oil and fully charge the battery. My assumption was correct—by the time I got to the airport the pattern was busy, with most planes headed out toward the practice area. After an uneventful start I headed off to my chosen destination out on the coast and enjoyed a smooth flight with little traffic, and once I got to the area I was heading to found it completely empty of airplanes.

With nearly perfect air and no traffic in the area, I decided to do some proficiency exercises and after some slow flight, stalls, and steep turns, headed on to the small airport nearby where I planned to take a short break and reconfigure my avionics for the return. The Comanche is not known as the first choice of airplane when it comes to precision landings, which makes it all the more satisfying when you nail one in it, so I decided having just re-acquainted myself with the slow speed characteristics of the plane that I would take the opportunity of an empty pattern to target a combined spot and short field landing. Since the airport is located next to the shore and is overall a fairly quiet airport, as usual when going into it I gave it a good look as I was on downwind for any animals and, seeing none, set myself up for a low excess energy approach.

I had already pulled the throttle and begun my flare on what felt like a great approach when I noticed what seemed to be a brownish black blob oozing onto the left side of the runway about a thousand feet ahead of me almost like an optical illusion. For a split second I wondered what it was before reflexively adding power for a go-around and raising the gear—and then deciding I wanted to see whatever it was before I came back for another attempt in case it was just some water or leaves.

I leveled off about 30 feet above the runway and very shortly later watched in amazement as the brown and black blob suddenly burst into the air—as a gaggle of around 40-50 geese! My mind raced with observations, options and potential responses: land under them… of course not, had already waived the landing and retracted the gear; low energy state, keep it flying, don’t dive below birds, houses and trees on left, no trees or terrain forward or right, crosswind from the right, don’t know if they will turn toward me into it or climb forward a bit more, get the gear up, oh my gosh they are beautiful from this perspective, but getting too close…

And then I was past them, flaps coming up, fine tuning climb power. I was 700 ft AGL and turning crosswind when it actually registered that I had just escaped a potentially life-changing encounter with nothing harmed, and also realized that in processing the events I hadn’t consciously thought about what I was doing with the airplane.

The video out the windshield from my dashcam shows a similar but different tale. There is a clear runway on final.

Just prior to the nose coming up in the flare the first splotches of brown appear on the runway.

The nose comes up, more brown is appearing from the edge of the runway, and just before the point where you expect to see the shake of touchdown the prop speed changes and the nose pushes down from the flare into a slight climb attitude. The geese take flight just about the point the blob becomes individual animals in the camera resolution. For roughly a second as the startle factor effect occurred nothing happens beyond the geese climbing into the path of the oncoming airplane and spreading laterally, then there is a gentle turn to the right, the closest goose slides back behind the wing about 15 feet outside the tip and at the same altitude, the nose comes back around to parallel the runway, and eventually a climb starts.

Based on essentially having operated the airplane by memory item recall and muscle memory instead of conscious activity, I had anticipated that the video would show a different picture; one of further advance notice of the birds, a less controlled response, a bit more chaos. Instead, it appears that the adage of “In times of need you sink to the level of your training and the ability of your practice” held true.

As a student pilot struggling with operating low and slow, my instructor tossed an exercise at me from his crop dusting background and had me “spray” the runway, starting about 100 feet up and at approach speed and gradually working down in altitude and speed until I could go down the length of the longest runway in our area (a 13,000 ft former airbase) staying within a few feet of the runway and just above touchdown speed doing multiple touch and gos with minor throttle adjustments only, followed by a pass in the same basic condition doing shallow S-turns down the length of the (wide) runway. This exercise and the confidence it gave me in being able to positively fly the airplane in flare-like conditions served me very well when I transitioned to the Comanche (and its reputation to float excessively if you bring excess energy from the approach combined with not responding favorably if you try and force it on before the wing is ready to stop flying) and again in this case.

In the space of less than 10 seconds I went from mentally fully focused on and committed to nailing a landing on a clear runway to climbing away after dodging what could have easily been a significant incident if not worse. Neither the plane nor the goose / geese would have come off well from the encounter, and I highly doubt any part of the Comanche was certified to handle multiple concurrent goose strikes. Without looking at the panel I knew I was low, slow, draggy, and behind the energy curve; this was not the time to yank the nose up and try to out-climb the birds. Nor was it the time to aggressively maneuver in avoiding them laterally—I was obstruction free forward and to the right so had plenty of time and space to work with. I also had the knowledge that the airplane will fly fine if you let it, even in the state that normally ends with the wheels finding the runway.

Fly the airplane, clear the issue, reconfigure, and move along… but always fly the airplane.

After over a decade as a flight test engineer and test director, Edwina started building a Vans RV-14A in 2017 in a successful bid to finally have a reason to learn the art of flying as a complement to her knowledge of the science of flying, earning her Private Pilot certificate in 2018. A job transfer to Seattle greatly slowed down progress on the RV build and directly led to the purchase of “Fiona,” a 1960 Piper Comanche 180, in order to have the speed and range to get back and forth to the RV build location in southern California in a comfortable day of flying as well as to dial things back a bit and enjoy the sights that flying the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
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An island farm is a good place to land

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An island farm is a good place to land

Sometimes on a cold, very blustery day, when flying is an option only for the “big boys,” I like to look back through my logbook and daydream about some of the places I’ve flown. One such entry that triggered memories is a place that is within easy reach of many in the Northeast. It is Klenawicus International (49NY) on Shelter Island, a small speck of land nestled between the two eastern forks of Long Island. 49NY is a 2,100 ft. grass strip with an unfortunate dog-leg at the southern end and downward sloping terrain if you land from the north heading south.

Shelter Island airportShelter Island airport

A simple runway, but with much to offer.

I knew this place only as “Klenawicus International Airport” back in the 1970s and 80s. Initially I thought it was a family joke! However, I came to learn that Frank K owned the farm and had an interest in planes. I didn’t know him well at all (my loss, I’m sure). My mom, Zee, and her husband, Dave, lived in Dering Harbor on Shelter Island and they had a passing acquaintance with him, enough so that I knew to leave a jug of wine on the doorstep in lieu of any landing fee. Things were simpler then.

Before I flew on my own, I had a friend with a 1976 Cessna 177 Cardinal, N13162. We’d fly into Klenawicus International to visit my family, who lived nearby. Living on an island is just different than living, well, elsewhere. If you’ve lived on an island (Manhattan doesn’t count) you know what I mean. There’s always “island time.” Islands often seem like an end game for some, and the end-of-the-line for others. On an island ambition is, by popular agreement, attenuated.

For example: since 1980, there’s been a running race called the Shelter Island 10K/5K Run Walk. At first, there was scant participation. Nowadays, if you don’t register early, the roughly 2000 running spots will be quickly sold out. Runners now often include famously fast international runners from African countries, supporter Bill Rogers (of Boston Marathon fame) and a host of other elite runners.

My friend and I (the one with the Cardinal) used to fly in for the event each summer. On the island there were very few places to eat or shop—after all, it is a tiny island. The one place to get a pizza was called Nettie’s. In the best of times, it took quite a while to conjure up a pizza at Nettie’s. You might think the Nettie would step it up and try to “crush it” by selling a ba-zillion pizzas on race weekend. Maybe borrow another oven to really crank up sales?

Nope. Island time says otherwise. Nettie’s closed the doors on Friday for Race Weekend and took the days off to enjoy the race with everyone else. It simply wasn’t worth the aggravation of dealing with the demands and expectations of the hordes of off-islanders. That’s the best example of “island time” I can offer.

During our summer visits to Shelter Island by plane, we’d often wait until late in the day to leave, when things had cooled down enough to give us a (much) better than 50/50 shot at clearing the trees at the south end of the field. Watching us depart, my mom knew enough to cross her fingers. She also held her breath until we cleared the trees, banked gently to the left (eastward) and then again to the north for the one-hour flight home. My buddy, his Cardinal, and I never had a problem going in or out of that pleasant little grass strip.

Ram IslandRam Island

A beautiful place to fly in the Northeast.

Years later, when I had learned to fly a little on my own, I went to Shelter Island on occasion with a 1981 Cessna 182 Skylane, N9130H. More powerful and a little heavier than the Cardinal, it was the landing that sometimes crossed me up. Early morning summer arrivals were a challenge for two reasons: wind and wet. I recall coming in one day with a passenger and friend visiting from Scotland and an ever-so-slight tailwind from the south. I picked the tailwind over the headwind because it gave us an uphill landing. That darn plane just wouldn’t settle down and we floated and then slid a very long way down the runway on the early morning dew on the grass, somehow keeping the nose pointed straight ahead.

We came to a stop just a couple of feet before the stone wall that marked the side of the road and the very definite end of the airport runway environment—otherwise known as Burns Road, the public roadway at the northern perimeter of the field. My passenger was a very experienced flyer, albeit in “heavy iron” as a flight attendant for Sir Richard Branson’s upstart Virgin Atlantic. After we came to that oh-so-exciting sliding stop, she looked at me sideways and said with that taunting, Scottish accent, “Would you like to apply for a job?” That’s as close as I came to an airline career.

Back to that cold blustery day on which flying wasn’t much of an option for me, I wondered how Klenawicus International had fared over lo’ these many years. I am happy to report it is a story with a happy ending. It appears to have grown a real pilots’ organization, SIPA (Shelter Island Pilots Association). They co-exist with a radio-controlled flying club next to the field. There is still a flying machine registered to a person with the surname Klenawicus on the field. There are many more planes registered on that field now (10 to be exact) than when I flew in and out of there. They have a Facebook page (OMG!). You can even see a Mooney departing Klenawicus International on YouTube:

Read about the stewardship of the airport on Shelter Island and you will see what a valued resource and asset this airport is perceived to be by those closest to it. On the other hand, it is still the kind of field where you can have a (minor) mishap and it stays among friends rather than becoming fodder for the 6 o’clock news or the local rag. Indeed, things were simpler then.

Scott has been scaring the hell out of himself and his family since the early 1980s, when he began to learn to fly airplanes. Airplanes, as it turns out, have been a thread throughout his life, but it took real form and function when he lived very close to Minuteman Airport in Stow, MA, and decided if there ever was a time to learn to fly, this was the time. Once he began, it was a steady progression. Back then, one had to have a commercial rating to fly for what was known as “AirLifeLine”, and so he persisted up to that point. Currently with about 2,000 hours, Scott watches over a marvelous machine – a 1967 M20E Mooney named “Casper,” acquired in Kerrville, TX, where all Mooneys are born. Casper lives with him in the “Kingdom,” which is the northeast corner of Vermont.
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Traveling the graveyard shift: a Memorial Day remembrance

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Traveling the graveyard shift: a Memorial Day remembrance

I invested my 25th year with a diverse number of individuals at Ubon RTAB, a number of hundred miles northeast of Bangkok. It remained in a boxer armada called Satan’s Angel, and also there were around sixty aircrew in the Angels. It was the year that LBJ determined his expedition right into the dominos of Southeast Asia was not mosting likely to provide him a bookend tradition with the Great Society. We went from the full steam incoming of battle versus North Vietnam to the gauged acceleration of he as well as Robert Strange McNamara, as they utilized the fifty percent million American soldiers in the location as a video game concept exercise.We (I)really did not

understand that at the time, yet we were kind of like the rheostat on an a/c system: spin it one means as well as see what takes place, turn it the various other method as well as see what modifications. We were simply there to fly the objectives, return, as well as do it once again. Various than the soldiers in nation, yet as I reflect, they got on the very same strategy– check out Karl Marlantes’s Matterhorn. Head out and also take a hillside, inhabit it for some time, after that return to a fire base to see what response was developed. Both rheostats.

F-4 PhantomF-4 Phantom

The pilots that flew F-4s in Vietnam originated from varied histories. My armada was most likely common of those in the battle. A couple of had fight experience, consisting of Korea as well as in a couple of situations WWII. Some had experience in functional competitor systems, being posted in the United States, Asia, and also Europe. A lot of got on their very first trip in a tactical boxer system. Some had experience in Air Defense Command– they were competitor pilots, yet similar to schnauzers as well as greyhounds are pets, they were various. A substantial number originated from the training command, ATC, where they

accumulated significant flying time yet in the tough work of educating brand-new individuals to end up being jet pilots– vital, tough, as well as various. A couple of pertained to the Angels from time in the “heavies”– transportations as well as bombing planes. Several of them came to be competitor pilots and also remained in the neighborhood, the majority of dipped their foot in the swimming pool, obtained the moment on their documents, and after that returned to their SAC as well as MAC areas, able to claim existed, done that. Numerous were young pilots and also navigators in the rears of the Phantom– GIBs we were called. Some, a number of, had actually done their instruction on a previous excursion or in an armada back in the United States and also can be found in as really young front seaters. The majority of succeeded; a couple of did not discover it to their preference as well as either went house to ATC or the airline companies. Either was alright. Later on in the battle some pilots pertained to the pole position straight out of pilot training, yet they were couple of in my day.

Individualities were as varied as you might think of: careless as well as vibrant sometimes, thoughtful and also calculated in others. The management of the armada designed habits. Our employer was a Korean battle ace, Thunderbird lead, as well as an out-front person we complied with easily as well as with self-confidence. He used his shooter’s glasses, typically had a stogie (lit or otherwise), and also his mood bordered the armada personality while he existed. Also after he left, his followers– not with the very same charisma– maintained the armada keeping that perspective. We were pleased, certain of ourselves, and also damn excellent.

Which brings us to a man called Hal. As I remember, Hal was either an elderly significant or brand-new Lt Colonel. All the same, not the appropriate ranking to be in elderly management in the Angels, yet sufficient to have standing and also duties. Hal’s history remained in Air Defense Command, yet most lately he would certainly had an exchange scenic tour with the Marines, in the F-4 RAG (Replacement Air Group) in charge of training Marines on their preliminary job to the Phantom. I remember him mentioning difficulties as well as keeping in mind that being the IP in the rear seats when a brand-new man was making his very first service provider strategy as well as touchdown, and also having no stick, tail, or strangles to remedy a poor pass, offered brand-new definition concerning having the ability to chat on your own out of a poor circumstance. I obtained it.

You saw a person comfy with himself and also making others comfy with his self-confidence when you saw Hal. More than likely Hal would certainly have his Kelly-green Satan’s Angel hat on, one that invested great deals of time packed in a trip fit pocket, sweat-stained and also old and wrinkly, as well as a cigarette, unfiltered, lit or otherwise, hanging around of his mouth. A Marlboro male look prior to it remained in the publications. Hal was among the Angel’s evening competitors. Our ops policeman called us his “drain doers” due to the fact that we invested our time in the unpleasant climate down around the karst– e.g., the sewage system. When it was in LBJ’s state of mind or Laos the various other times, our armada primarily did day strikes in North Vietnam. The sewage system doers were numerous staffs that flew the very early evenings, in between 2000 as well as 0100 while our sibling armada, the Night Owls, did all their operate in the dark.

Traveling evening battle is a gotten preference. The benefit is you see essentially each time a weapon or SAM involves, and also understand they are dealing with you or otherwise. That is an upside, because throughout the day the tracers and also flashes on the ground are not so evident. The drawback exists is no lift during the night. Simply joking, it is generally cooler, so there is even more lift, a bit. The genuine drawback goes to evening hills and also karst conceal at night and also behind the Asian clouds as well as electrical storms. The perspective is not dependable as a result of male’s detects– often your internal ears will certainly exist like canines, informing you you’re degree when as a matter of fact you are not. Stars resemble fires on ground– often– occasionally the clouds as well as lightning conceal the celebrities. Maintaining as well as down directly is task one.


The afterburner offers you speed up, however in the evening it additionally hands out your placement. During the night you fly passed out going across the fencing, and also need to keep in mind the afterburner provides you propelled when you require it most yet additionally directs an intense finger at where you are. Dark planes are difficult to monitor. You speak in between jets to allow the various other battle participant understand where you are as well as where going– succinctly. You pay attention really for the exact same factor. A missed out on telephone call can have alarming conditions.” Ah, lead transform your sign off” is essential; on the various other hand the AAA headed your method due to the DS mistake practically has the very same message.

Having claimed all this, the Angel’s graveyard shift constantly had actually cabins filled up. One, it was peaceful in the armada with all the day queep completed. 2, it was cooler– also in Thailand. As well as 3, the group functioned well, flew the objectives, returned (most evenings), debriefed, struck the club as it was unwinding as the following day change entered into team remainder. You might have a Ubon Officers Club chili-cheese omelet, bacon, as well as hash browns in family member peaceful, retire to bench for a couple of beverages and also a video game or more of possibility, remain in bed by 0300, and also oversleep till around midday. Ok, you missed out on a periodic film or USO reveal, however Bob Hope and also Raquel Welch never ever made Ubon. Not whining– the men in-country deserved their interest far more than we did.

There were personalities aplenty on the graveyard shift. Standard was a birthed prankster and also a great pilot. The evening offered him time to outline some wonderful capers– the abducted Owl being one. Joe looked as well as smoked a pipeline like he will show an ideology course, yet not so. Boxer pilot first-rate. JJ and also Fast Eddy were constantly approximately something– as well as outstanding at their tasks in the cabin. Cary was a mustached Northman from Minnesota, ya, you wager ya. Hoss was a bow-legged cowboy from Wyoming. Wickedness profaned. As well as there was Hal.

Hal was constantly prepared however not fancy for an objective as well as did added target research study to make us a lot more able as well as effective to seek some “possibilities” that the frag from Saigon commonly missed out on. I can never ever verify this, however I constantly really felt Hal had some links with his Marine time and also he made use of those to obtain us details and also chances type of off guides.

I bear in mind once where he had actually done some research of Navy ops as well as with some casual assistance obtained details on a location in a component of the Navy plan in North Vietnam not obtaining serviced because of the variety of the A-4s as well as positioning of the service providers on Yankee terminal. One evening we did our research of the frag and also where our trip was intended to strike. In the team short Hal offered us some brand-new details, brand-new collaborates and also had additional pictures as well as 1:50,000 maps to take as well as research to the cabin.

We removed, signed in with Alleycat, the evening Airborne Control, interaction, as well as command (ABCCC) on terminal in Laos, and also went to Hal’s alternative. Information afterward, however when we stood out the initial flares, it resembled drawing the carpet on a number of roaches. Great deals of really shocked NVA, great deals of things piled when traveling, as well as great deals of vehicles, lights off, all set to begin down the Ho Chi Minh Trail for a couple of very easy miles prior to being involved by boxer bombing planes. We flopped, fires and also surges almost everywhere, extreme ground fire– disorder.

Leaving the location, we notified Alleycat of where we would certainly been as well as what we would certainly done. We obtained an intriguing action to a strike not near where the strategy had us going, however there was no reproach we remained in difficulty. Alleycat put even more strikes there as the evening took place and also proceeded battering this aligning location the lion’s share of the following day. I type of anticipated some effects for our little tour onto Navy land, however as I believed I started to think this was just one of those points the elderly management in Saigon, as well as perhaps even more eastern, understood and also discovered a possibility to send out a message. In any case, Hal led us to a great evening’s job as well as the chili cheese was great that morning.


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> An austere responsibility, and also one Hal never ever ignored. I suched as flying in Hal’s trips as well as had an excellent regard for him. Unfortunately, our courses never ever went across once again. It was the very least 30 years later on when I obtained information Hal had actually died, back in his home town in Indiana. A shared buddy living in the location sent me Hal’s obit. It was headed with an image of Hal in his blues, shooter glasses on, somewhat grizzled however grinning– in personality. My mind returned to 1969 and also I ran a psychological video clip of a few of those days. I review the obit. My throat tightened up.

Back residence after retired life, Hal handled a goal. He was associated with professionals’ teams as well as in city government companies caring for the veterinarian. Past that, he was the shade guard for every single expert’s solution in the city, as well as guaranteed he or somebody else existed to say thanks to and also provide a flag relative for their enjoyed ones’ solution. Hal was retired, yet like the person I bear in mind, he was silent and also there to make certain the appropriate points were being done. I are sorry for not maintaining the very least some call with Hal, however I was not shocked by what I would certainly listened to.

Below’s Memorial Day nickel to a loyal warrior, among Satan’s Angels and also our country’s ideal.

Colonel(ret)Steve Mosier offered virtually twenty-seven years airborne Force flying F-4 and also F-15s in PACAF, tac and also usafe. He was the TAC HQ F-15 needs policeman, and also later on the Chief of the Checkmate Group in the Pentagon.Memorable experiences consist of a battle scenic tour with Satan’s Angels; taking the 336TFS to Germany on REFORGER; and also leading the TAC F-15 Demonstration group, a KC-10 and also B-52, to Santiago, Chile.He as well as his partner, Pat, lately commemorated their 50th wedding event anniversary in Marietta, GA where they live near their household, Megan, Bill and also their four-year-old grand son, Liam.
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Turbulence education

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Turbulence education

I know some of you will snicker at my naïveté, but sometimes confession is good for the soul, so here goes.

I spent most of my flying days on the plains of West Texas. It’s an interesting place to fly. Weather wise, you have all four seasons, and sometimes you get to experience all of them on one day. Wind is always a factor. When you see thousands of wind turbines spinning below you, and when you occasionally see Boeing and Embraer coming to town to do crosswind testing on their new designs, you know there is wind. If you don’t learn to fly in the wind, you just don’t fly much. A normal forecast would be winds from 220 at 15-25, and it wasn’t uncommon to add 10 knots to those speeds. There was a runway 17/35, or 8/26. Do you prefer a left or right crosswind? Pick your poison, but you’re going to make a crosswind landing.

West Texas wellsWest Texas wells

The only thing to break up the flat terrain of West Texas is oil wells.

Summer temps were hot. Mid to upper 90s were common, and overnight temps rarely got below the mid-70s. I know. You people in Arizona don’t think that’s hot, but it’s still toasty. Thermals spiral up from the dirt below that cause bumps bad enough to knock the fillings out of your teeth, or so it seems. Sometimes I wondered how the wings stayed attached. Every year, the Air Force Academy brings their gliders and students down to have fun in the thermals, and I guess if you’re flying a glider, it is fun. Otherwise, not so much. On top of the thermals, throw in the wind, and you can have one of those days when you wondered why you ever thought flying was fun.

Of course, there are positives. Since most of the terrain is as flat as a pancake, an emergency landing should be a non-event. Early morning flights can be glorious. Navigation is no problem. You can see forever, unless the dirt is blowing.

I didn’t always stay around my home base. I flew all over Texas, up to Denver, to New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, and even to Kentucky once. I thought I was an experienced aviator. I spent a lot of pleasant hours, and a few unpleasant ones, viewing the earth from that vantage point, and I wouldn’t trade those times for anything.

A few years ago however, fate and family moved me to the hills of East Tennessee. Circumstances delayed my getting back into the air for a few years, but recently I joined a flying club and have started seeing the hills, lakes, and trees of East Tennessee from the air. After viewing it from the ground for a while, I was more than ready to see it from above.

While I could hardly wait to see it, I did it with some trepidation as well. I knew the emergency landing spots wouldn’t be as abundant as I was accustomed to, but now that I’m in the air, I see that they are available. The place is beautiful, but I’m still having to get used to having hills in my windshield when I take off, a hill blocking a view of the runway when I land, and not being able to see where I’m going from 50 miles away. GPS is more than a luxury out here. But the most surprising aspect of it has been something I never expected, and that I had initially actually looked forward to.

I mentioned the wind in Texas. There is virtually no wind in East Tennessee. In fact, if the wind ever gets up to 30, a high wind warning is issued. A 30 mph wind in Texas was Tuesday or Thursday. Here, it’s a serious threat to humanity. “This will be a snap,” I thought.

And then I got in the air. I will admit that getting in the air and getting on the ground is a breeze, no pun intended. You don’t have a lot of wind to deal with the majority of the time in takeoff and landing. I’ve only had one landing where the wind was blowing, and it wasn’t bad. What surprised me, however, was that even with an almost calm wind on the ground, in the air it can be rougher than a cob, even on cool days. A 50 degree day with calm winds in Texas would have been as smooth as glass. Here it can border on moderate turbulence.


Those hills can cause some nasty bumps.

The first few flights, I thought maybe I had just been unlucky. But then, this scenario became the norm. On the last flight I took, a Saratoga had taken off about the time I got to the airport. My son was going with me and I was early so I had to wait on him. It wasn’t too long before the Saratoga was back. “That wind is horrible,” the pilot said as he exited the plane. Wind? I thought. It’s hardly blowing. Maybe 10 knots. What wind is he talking about?

When I got In the air, I found out. I saw several 30- and 45-degree banks that I hadn’t asked for. It was not a pleasant day to be flying. Climbing higher didn’t seem to help. I got up to 6000 feet, which here is a mile AGL. Still rough.

Confused, I decided to ask a local. The instructor I had flown with to get checked out was my first choice. He obviously flies a lot and is also an air traffic controller. When I asked him about it, he introduced me to a term I wasn’t familiar with: mechanical turbulence. It made sense when I thought about it. When you see water flowing over rocks in the bottom of a stream, it generates a turbulence on the surface that can often be seen if the rock is large enough.

In the case of the bumps I had been feeling, the fact that the air may be calm at the surface is no guarantee that it isn’t moving 50 feet up, and if it is, and it hits some of those hills I see in my windshield, that could easily create turbulence as the air flows over and around those hills. The wind isn’t going to move the hill. It’s the other way around. These aren’t tall mountains. More like 300 foot hills in most instances. But it’s obviously enough to change the airflow with a less than pleasant outcome. I never dreamed terrain would make that kind of difference, but it obviously does.

So I learned something. Understanding it doesn’t make it less bouncy, but at least I know the dynamic, and armed with that knowledge, perhaps I can start to pick paths where the flow might be more gentle—or maybe not. Time will tell. But the view from above makes it worth it. I’m sure there are other places in this nation where this old flatland flyer would be like a duck out of water and find he has a lot to learn from the locals. For now though, I’m concentrating on learning this one, a task I never dreamed would be so challenging.

Jay Wischkaemper is a semi-retired life insurance agent who now resides in Knoxville, TN. A passion for aviation from his early years culminated in the realization of his dream to fly. He was a regular columnist for two aviation magazines, Southwest Aviator and America’s Flyways, for several years. He has been a partner in four different aircraft over the years, but the recent move to Knoxville ended those relationships and have caused a significant change in his flying status: from an owner to a renter. He is married to his wife of 48 years, Dianna, who tolerates his avocation. He has two children, Jeff and his wife Katie, who reside in Knoxville, and Lisa and her husband Karl, who along with grandson Harrison reside in Arlington, VA.
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