As you may know, I do not spend the bulk of my time in an office, head down, fingers poised over the keys, waiting for inspiration to strike. Rather, I prefer to get out and do things. Actual experiences make for better imagining when writing time rolls around.
This week I’m off seeking those experiences. You might even call this an adventure, but that would be an incorrect term. I’m seeking a little AirVenture in my life this week. That’s why I’m headed for Cheese-ville, just north of the Harley-Davidson factory in Madison, where cows roam free and wind turbines line the bean fields. If you’re looking for me this week, you’ll have to book a trip to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. That’s where I’ll be hanging out.
AirVenture is the largest aviation-oriented gathering in North America. If you’re into aviation at all, this is a must-see event. You’ve got to go at least once in your life. Maybe twice. Or more. It’s that good. Read More →
The plan was simple. I would get up early, grab a cup of coffee, then motor out to the local airport to meet my buddy, Earle. The two of us would then fly in Earle’s Cessna to the exotic sub-tropical city of Venice, Florida.
My mission was one of mercy. I’d committed to take an older gentleman flying. To give him an aerial tour of the Gulf Coast of Florida and the surrounding area. Although I’ve never met this fellow, I understand he has a real fondness for this big ‘ol sandbar where I, and he, make our home. And he is leaving soon, never to return. That’s weighty stuff.
Making this flight mattered to me. It meant something to Earle, too. Following through with the commitment to get both of them airborne was very nearly a sacred trust. I made a promise. A promise I was highly motivated to fulfill. Read More →
For years I wanted an airplane of my own. Not as a status symbol. I’m far to cheap to buy anything that would be impressive to others in that sense. No, I simply wanted an airplane that I could go out and fly without having to make prior arrangements. When the sky is clear and the sun is low and the evening is inviting – I want to go fly. And so I wanted an airplane.
This goal went unfulfilled for more than twenty years, until I found this little beauty. It’s a 1963 Cessna 150C, a two seat trainer and recreational aircraft that is inexpensive to buy, inexpensive to own, and a lot of fun to fly. It’s slow by aviation standards, cruising along at only 90 knots or so (103 mph). But the view is fantastic, the simplicity is appealing, and the longevity of the airplane has been well proven. So I bought it. I was happy. A bit nervous perhaps, since this is the first airplane I’ve actually owned. But happy. Read More →
It’s been a busy Wednesday. But then every day is busy when Sun ‘n Fun is in town. This massive aviation oriented circus of activity rolls into Lakeland, Florida every Spring – filling restaurants and hotel rooms even as it empties the rental car lots. Something on the order of 200,000 people will wander through the gates of the International Fly-In an Expo hoping to see something spectacular, to meet a new friend, to run into an old acquaintance, or to learn something they never knew before. Few if any go away disappointed.
Airplanes pitch, roll, and yaw. Boats do, too. But nobody ever gets all weirded out by somebody asking them about how to turn a boat. Maybe because it seems obvious, so obvious that nobody feels the need to label the movements. When it comes to airplanes it makes sense to label everything though, because unlike a boat, airplanes aren’t naturally buoyant. If you let go of the tiller on a boat, it just kind of floats along, meandering with the wind. If you let go of the controls on an airplane for very long, something unpleasant might happen. That’s especially true if you’re not all trimmed up to fly hands off.
We’ll get to the trimmed up part later. For now, let’s just consider the three axis of flight. They are pitch, roll, and yaw. Pitch, roll, and yaw movements are controlled along the longitudinal, lateral, and vertical axis. Read More →
Aviation is awash in weird terms and expressions that non-aviation people just don’t use much. For instance, consider the term, “relative wind.” Use the term around a pilot and they’ll nod and give every impression they understand entirely. Use it with a non-aviation enthusiast on the other hand, and they’ll scratch their head and start to wonder about your sanity.
Relative wind is critical to flight, so if you want to be a pilot, it’s important that you know what it is, and what it isn’t. So here’s the long and the short of it. Relative wind is the apparent speed and direction of the wind, based on your perspective. It is not the actual speed and direction of the wind. Read More →