You probably remember that scene from Top Gun where Tom Cruise scans a briefing room full of hot-shot pilots during his first day at the famous Naval Fighter Weapons School and wonders “who the best is”. Top Gun was a fictional tale, of course… but I know the real-life answer to Maverick’s question. I’ve met the best aviation has to offer, and their names most certainly do not occupy a plaque in the ladies room. Read more →
While supersonic airliners were all the rage in the 1960s, they never panned out economically because commercial airliners have to turn a profit. But business aircraft do not. They’re simply tools for allowing business to be conducted. In addition, recent technological developments are bringing us closer to mitigating the sonic boom’s impact. It’s clear we’re headed back to that supersonic future to pick up where we left off half a century ago. Read more →
Once bound together by the glue of our airborne passion, we must look out for the other members of our family. David Ogden Stiers once said, â€œFamily means no one gets left behind, no one is forgotten.â€ That is the exact approach we must take with our flying family. The more experienced pilots need to take an interest in the â€œcare and feedingâ€ of newer, less experienced flyers. Those of us holding positions of authority within the aviation industry â€“ be you a regulator or an economic engine â€“ must work to ensure the sustainment of the entire family. Read more →
No matter how dog-eared and scuffed it may get, an aviator’s logbook is invariably one of his or her most prized possessions, the decimal-based journal of a life lived in the clouds. Yet in this venerated document, there’s one quirky column which lacks appreciation and respect even among pilots; every logbook on the market has a space for this data, yet virtually no one uses it beyond primary training. It’s a shame, because it records one of the purest forms of flying. Read more →
When it comes to cataloging the intriguing travelers one has encountered over the years, few people can rival the improbably tall tales spun by pilots. Obviously it’s important to maintain confidentiality in this business, but by removing all identifying information and changing some details, a few entertaining stories can be related. Here are a few of my favorite passenger interactions. Read more →
Over the past two decades I’ve traveled all over the country. All over the world, in fact, and my list of favored locations is long indeed. It’s hard to beat sitting on the beach next to the Sunset Bar & Grill in St. Maarten. I could spend a month in London taking in shows at the Globe, ENO or the West End. And who could say a cross word about any of the Hawaiian islands?
But if I had to choose just one place to call my all-time favorite, it wouldn’t even be a contest: it starts and ends with Santa Catalina, one of eight isles in the Channel Islands archipelago which sit just off the Southern California coast. Read more →
My wife and I just returned from a fun and relaxing flight along the Southern California coastline in a vintage 1947 Stinson Voyager. It was a perfect start to what will hopefully be a safe and prosperous new year. It also got me thinking about what would make this trip around the sun a positive one for the world of aviation.
In the Chinese zodiac, this is the year of the horse. Conservation groups have designated it the year of the salamander. CNN claims it will be the year of the blame game. For aviators, I firmly believe 2014 should be the Year of the Tailwheel. Read more →
The Christmas season is upon us, and while it’s doubtful I deserve much more than a lump of coal, that hasn’t stopped me from salivating over a piece of aviation art from a Torrance-based company called Motoart. Read more →
In a world full of world records, endurance — or “time aloft” — has always fascinated me. Within that realm, there’s one particularly compelling story that even many pilots don’t know about. The technology used for this record-setting flight was off-the-shelf, unremarkable. The pilots were just ordinary guys. And the aircraft? A plain-vanilla trainer. Yet they set the bar so high that their feat may never be equaled. More than a half century later, nobody’s even come close. Read more →
With a student dropout rate of 80%, something’s clearly not right in the flight training sector. Cost and CFIs are the usual suspects, but in my opinion there’s a third-rail here: the student and their attitude toward training. Those who are more proactive in managing their aviation education seem to be more successful, and here’s why. Read more →