Category Archives: Aviation

For regular readers of this blog, and seriously, what are the odds there are regular readers of a blog that hasn’t been updated in almost a year, I must apologize for having been away for a while. A long while, in fact. Doing things. Important things. Things that are important to me, in any case.

Perhaps I should explain myself.

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Survival_FacebookWhew, that was a long intermission. I’m up early this morning thanks to a daughter with a penchant for hitting the snooze button, but with no particular interest in actually getting out of bed. That being the case, I thought this would be a good opportunity to catch up readers of this blog on what’s been happening and what’s coming up.

I know you can hardly wait to get the lowdown on my own personal hoedown of activity.

First and foremost I should come clean on the issue that seems to bug people most. I don’t write every day. There, I said it. To be more accurate I think it might be better to say, I don’t write for publication every day. Weekly, yes. Daily, not a chance. Just like you, I’ve got other fish to fry, other chores to attend to, and maybe even a nap to take in the afternoon.

That nap sounds particularly good right now. Yikes, it’s not even 7AM yet. What’s that say about my lifestyle? Nothing good, I think.

Since I last posted in this space, I’ve been hard at work converting The Lifeboat Augusta series to audiobooks. That work is almost complete. The fifth and final installment, Survival of the Fittest, will be on the market in just a matter of days. That will feel good. A completed project leaves me with a sense of accomplishment. Getting things done is my purpose in life. At least I think it is. So far, anyway.

Of course when I say, “I’ve been hard at work,” what I actually mean is, Elizabeth Phillips has been hard at work. It’s Elizabeth who reads, records, edits, fusses, and fixes every syllable of the five novellas that make up the full series. I simply click a button and listen to her elegant, alluring, oh so feminine voice put life to my words. Read More →

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 →

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1963 Cessna 150C

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 →

Thankfully the complaints have been few, but regular readers of this blog have no doubt noticed that a certain someone hasn’t been here for quite some time. And that certain someone is me.

Sorry about that.

For several months now I’ve been wrapped up, engaged, excited, distracted, and almost totally focused on one of the three main passions in my life. No, not writing. Flying. As it happens I’ve stumbled into an amazing opportunity to do one of the things I truly, honestly, absolutely love to do – fly around the glorious Sunshine State in a cute little two-seat airplane, talking to people about aviation as a career or a hobby, and generally having a fantastic time of it all day every day.

Seriously, when your real life approximates your fondest dreams, you can’t complain. It’s not like I’m buried under three feet of snow. That’s not me. That’s Boston. One of the many, many places I would prefer to visit only during warm weather months.

Of course the downside of all this is that I haven’t had much time for writing fiction lately. Non-fiction, sure. I put out one or two non-fiction pieces every week. But fiction is where my heart is, even when my fingertips aren’t actively engaged in writing it.

Have no fear. Don’t lose hope. There’s another installment of the Abiaka County storyline coming along. It’s untitled at this point, but I’m liking it quite a bit. I hope you will too. It’s a bit dark, as the Abiaka County stories are. This one, like Deep in the Grove, is loosely based on real events that have actually happened. As with the previous release, the storyline alludes to an event that occurred in a rural corner of American’s vacation capital. That incident is not the central focus of the story, but it is the scenario that led my imagination to a story that incorporates my own reality into the fictional realm of Abiaka County, Florida – a place that doesn’t really exist, even if the events that occur there have indeed occurred here in the real world.

You can count on me continuing to whittle away at that story, perfecting it bit by bit until I have something I feel good about putting out into the public marketplace. Until then you might look skyward when you hear an engine overhead. It just might be me headed off on another adventure. If everything works out, I may even write about it. Maybe in General Aviation News, or perhaps in an AOPA Membership Publication, or possibly for a more regional non-aviation oriented publication like 863 Magazine. One way or another, you can be sure I’m doing something. It just may not be immediately identifiable as something the average person would consider to be, work.

Now if you’ll be so good as to excuse me, I’ve got to plan my next flight. I’m off to Titusville next, in the shadow of the space center on Florida’s east coast.

This ought to be fun. It might even become a story. You can just never tell.

Most people aren’t aware of it. Frankly most people probably don’t care. But if you’re into finding adventurous destinations that are off the beaten path, they’re out there waiting to be found. One of my favorites is at the the point where 23rd Street intersects with FDR Drive in New York City. You have to look closely, but there is a sign to be found if you pay attention. It will lead you to a path that leads from Manhattan to the Hamptons – in just 40 minutes.

While in town for a brief visit I stopped in to get the skinny and take in the sights. Pilot Magazine (a publication of the good folks at AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) was good enough to run the story. Whether you fly or not, it’s worth a read. In part because you never know who you’ll meet when you bop around NYC with an open mind, a curious eye, and a willingness to get into a conversation with those you meet. In this case, I bumped into Chris Mitchell who was preparing to Fly the Whale. Yes, that Chris Mitchell. Go figure.

You can read the whole story here.  If you’ve ever been to NYC, or better yet, if you’ve ever wanted to go, this just might open up a whole new way of looking at the Big Apple.

Screen shot 2012-10-10 at 3.58.36 PMI told you there would be a follow-up and here it is. If you ever thought your local airport was a rich man’s playground, or a waste of space, or a waste of money – prepare to be surprised. The truth is you truly depend on that fantastic piece of land. In fact, it just might be the most important resource in the area when the chips are down and you’re really in need of help.

Check the story out online, or look for the print version at an FBO near you.

Last week I wrote a piece for General Aviation NewsScreen shot 2012-10-10 at 3.58.36 PM that has gotten some interesting comments. It focuses on Santa Monica, California – a wealthy coastal community with a fine little airport that gets little if any respect from the administration that oversees it. In fact, as seen from a distance it would appear the fine folks at Santa Monica City Hall would like to shut their airport down if they could.

Odd, isn’t it?

In all of American history has any community ever celebrated the highway passing them by? Or the railroad going around the other side of the mountain? Or filling in the port so all those pesky ships stop sailing in and blowing their horns at all hours of the night? No, that seems to be a rarity. But killing off a functional airport appears to strike some as a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

Check out last week’s story, then take a look at GeneralAviationNews.com later this week if I have anything to say as a follow-up. I can’t promise, but I get the distinct impression there will be an argument for the average person with no interest in aviation getting up and doing what they can to preserve the viability of their local airport. After all, it’s in their best interest to have one as close as they can get it.

Comment at will, y’all.

EricWith the final day of Sun ‘n Fun looming, Uncle Billy once again called on me to take over his podcast, Uncle Billy’s Enunciator Panel. With little time and less budget, I was fortunate to run into my old buddy Eric Crump in the Redbird simulator tent. I asked him to participate with me and he took the bait. I think I’ve found a stand-by host to work with when I’m in a pinch. It’s a good thing, too, because Eric is not only a pretty sharp guy, he’s got a sense of humor and I really enjoy spending time with him. It’s hardly work when Crump is on hand – even if the talk gets technical we seem to find a way to make it entertaining. At least it’s entertaining for us.

Click the link and listen if you wish. We may not be Uncle Billy, but we’re certainly a reasonable facsimile of the Uncle Billy experience – so for the moment at least, I guess Eric and I are the Enunciator Panel. Enjoy the show!

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Sarahs Speedwing lo res Sarahs Speedwing w:Madison lo resIt’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.

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