Category Archives: Aviation

My good buddy Eric Crump and I were tapped to fill in for Uncle Billy on his podcast this week. We had a heck of a good time, even though we were last minute replacements and had absolutely no time to prepare for the program. Thankfully we had Uncle Billy’s notes to work from. Beyond that, we just winged it, if you’ll pardon the pun.

The program is called Uncle Billy’s Enunciator Panel. Click the link and listen, if you dare.

Eric is the director of the aerospace program at Polk State College here in central Florida. He got us into a great chat about aerospace education K-12. From there we launched off into a discussion of Sun ‘n Fun which shifts into high gear next week for their International Fly-In and Expo. And we wrapped it all up with a timely give and take about the pending tower closures that are going to turn the lights out on 149 air traffic control towers across the United States.

All in all we had a great time. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

If working in radio is this much fun, I’ll be happy to fill in for Uncle Billy, or anyone else, any time they ask.

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On Saturday, March 30, 2013 a group of volunteers gathered at Gilbert Field in Winter Haven, Florida to paint a compass rose on the ramp. Just beyond the porch where breakfast patrons of Pappy’s Grill were munching on breakfast, the project took shape. By the end of the day it was complete. Many thanks are due to the 99s, EAA chapter members, local volunteers, and visitors from far off places who pitched in. A wonderful time was had by all – as you can plainly see from this video, compiled over the course of the

I tend to write upbeat stories that are intended to inspire and motivate. That’s not always practical, however. For instance, when your house bursts into flames because the turkey frier got out of hand, that’s probably not the best time to ask your guests if they’d like a bowl of ice-cream. Better than you get up from the table and go outside for awhile, no matter how quick a response time your local fire department can promise.

Sometimes something stupid happens. When that occurs, I often find myself fighting the urge to jot down a few words on the topic. Today is one of those days. Something stupid happened. Actually, something happened that is so stupid  it is hard to measure even on an industrial scale.

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Some say it’s time to turn out the lights. It’s over. I say we’re very near the dawn of a new day. What do you think? The good folks at General Aviation News gave me some space to share these thoughtswith their readers. So whadaya think? Is general aviation is the dumper, or does it have a bright future and many golden years to come?

I wrote a piece for General Aviation News this past week that seems to have raised some interest. It’s touched a nerve, kicked up some dust, gotten at least a few people off the couch and onto the Internet – and it’s resulted in a phone call or two as well.

The question is a simple one – how do we tell the good pilots from the not-so-good pilots? Is it even possible to establish a simple measuring stick that will work with all pilots from all walks of life, all the time. Personally, I doubt it. On an individual basis we all have a reason to care about the topic, though. After all – aviation establishes safety as its primary focus with everything else taking a back seat.

So here’s the piece I wrote. It’s called, Building a Better Yardstick.

Comment at will, as always.

Lyle Schofield (left) gives a celebratory thumbs-up with his student Yeongmin You, immediately after Yeongmin completed his first solo flight in a Cessna 172, at SunState Aviation Flight School in Winter Haven, Florida. January 2013.

Lyle Schofield (left) gives a celebratory thumbs-up with his student Yeongmin You, immediately after Yeongmin completed his first solo flight in a Cessna 172, at SunState Aviation Flight School in Winter Haven, Florida. January 2013.

It’s been a long time since I did my first solo in an airplane. Long enough ago that although I remember tiny details of how it felt, and what sort of conditions I encountered, I forget the overwhelming sense of joy and accomplishment that comes from soloing. From doing something that’s challenging, and rare all on your own.

It’s a great feeling. It really is.

This past weekend I got to re-experience that unique, once-in-a-lifetime excitement when one of the instructors at the flight school I run, soloed a student. The smile on the students face when he emerged from the airplane was stellar. He was so proud, so elated at the accomplishment. And I found myself feeling just as proud and elated for him.

Soloing isn’t for wimps. You’ve got to have a pretty darned good idea what you’re doing.

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I’ve never been very good at tooting my own horn. But I enjoy it as much as anyone else when my work gets noticed in a positive way. So with sincere thanks to the fine people at AOPA, I share the notification here that I was fortunate enough to be chosen as the 2012 Let’s Go Flying Award recipient. 

Aviation has been a magnet for me since I was young. Frankly, I didn’t get into it as a pilot until I was in my late 20s. But once I took the plunge, I went whole hog. And I couldn’t be happier with the decision. Aviation in all its various forms has been a real driver in my life. It’s adventurous, it’s rewarding, it’s educational, motivational, inspirational, and a whole lot of fun. What more could I ask for in life? What more could anyone want?

The best news is, aviation is never filled to capacity. If you’re interested in getting involved, we’ve got room for you. Whether your interest is in designing, building, maintaining, restoring, managing, flying, or just standing on the sidelines enjoying the view – we’ve got an opportunity for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, young or old, tall or short, thin or chunky. Aviation doesn’t care about any of that. It just wants to give you the greatest thrill of your life by allowing you to enjoy your time on earth and above the earth as fully as you possibly can.

Thanks AOPA. I really am humbled by the attention. And rather than tuck the award away at home, I’ve loaned it to the City of Winter Haven, which will put it on display at Gilbert Field. My hope is the users, tenants, and visitors to my favorite airport on the planet will be inspired by the attention AOPA showers on those who work to promote and advance aviation, and find a way to put their efforts into earning this or another award themselves.

Now, on to the next thing…

I write a weekly column for General Aviation News, which I love. GANews is a leader in the field, from my perspective. They’ve embraced electronic publication and the possibilities blogs present, while integrating that new world approach seamlessly with their old word paper product. I see them as the best of both worlds, and that is only one of the many reasons I love to write for them.

Another point that makes me a huge fan is their willingness to give me free reign on topics. Today’s blog post is a good example. I’m writing about the rush to euthanize general aviation. What’s most troubling about this movement is that it is taking root inside the ranks of formerly, and sometimes current, general aviation participants.

Well…rather than let the cat entirely out of the bag, go ahead and click the link and read the piece. I’m sure you’ll be entertained or enlightened, even if you’re not a big fan of aviation. Feel free to leave a comment if you’re moved in that way, too. That’s the whole point of the blog model, to get a conversation started where it can air out in public.

Read on, good friends. Read on.


I truly enjoy writing for AOPA Flight Training magazine. It’s a well intentioned publication that focuses on quality material that’s beneficial to flight students, pilots who are hoping to add a new rating, and flight instructors who wish to benefit from a bit of insight and experience from others.

This month AOPA Flight Training is running a piece I wrote about the Tuskegee Airmen and their experience as flight students and pilots flying the line. They may be the most inspirational group in history, for my money. Whenever someone tells me how hard flight training is (and it can be) or how difficult a time they’re having learning the lessons set out for them (and they very well may be struggling), I like to keep in mind that the Tuskegee Airmen had the deck stacked against them too, yet they came out on top with an excellent record of achievement.

These are truly remarkable men. It has been my good fortune to meet and speak with a handful of them. I share a few of their thoughts in this piece. I hope you enjoy it, and find something to light at least a spark of inspiration in yourself.


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 →