Archive for the ‘Aviation’ Category

Sixty Years Ago Today

Thursday, December 16th, 2021

The (clickable) image above is the beginning page of my first Pilot Log Book. The page entries include my first flight lesson on December 16, 1961 and my first SOLO flight on January 9, 1962. I was just 18 years old then and managed to get my Private Pilot Certificate the following April, well before my 19th birthday in July.

When I first started flying lessons back then at the Santa Monica (CA) Municipal Airport (SMO), the cost of renting a Cessna 150 (high-wing, two-seat, tricycle gear, 100 HP) was $12/hour (including AvGas!). The Instructors fee was $5/hour for a total of $17/hour. In contrast, today the average cost per hour seems to be about ten times that, with Instructors fees upwards of $50 and airplane rental nearly $120 per hour, depending on local rates and circumstances.

In my early flying days, I checked out in a Cessna 172 (high wing, four-seat, tricycle gear, 150 HP) and puttered around locally with friends and family until it was time for me to go on active duty in the US Navy (I joined the Naval Reserve when still in high school). While at Avionics school in Millington, TN, I checked out in a Piper Tri-Pacer (high-wing) and a Piper Cherokee (low-wing) and did some local puttering around the Memphis area along the Mississippi River. After School, I reported to the US Naval Air Station, Point Mugu, CA, which was only 45 miles from the airport where I learned to fly, so I resumed flying out of SMO for the rest of the time I was on active duty.

After I mustered out of the Navy, I continued flying now and then for leisure and travel. Shortly after I began working at my aerospace job, I found out that I was eligible for advanced flight training through the Veterans Affairs G.I. Bill. Their program financed most of my advanced training for Commercial Pilot Certificate, Instrument Rating, Multi-Engine Rating, Instructor Pilot Certificate and Instrument Instructor Pilot Certificate. Yet, there was More! Rotorcraft Helicopter Rating and Rotorcraft Instructor Pilot Certificate. I was busy with these upgrades for a few years afterwards and finally was able to earn my Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, hence the Cap’n designation at the top of the page.

I stayed in Aerospace as my primary occupation, but flew quite a bit as an instructor and charter pilot as a sideline. I have over five thousand hours of instruction given in all types of aircraft and ratings for which I am certified.

Ultimately, in the year 2000 or so, I became ineligible for an Airman Medical Certificate because of a prescription medication I take, which supposedly causes dizziness, a symptom which I have never experienced. Rather than fighting through the bureaucracy of the FAA’s AirMed Branch in Oklahoma City to get a waiver, I decided to hang up the flying for good because my life priorities had changed now that Damsel and I were married.

A few of my more memorable experiences:

  • I ferried a brand-new Cherokee Arrow from the Piper Factory in Vero Beach, FL to Santa Monica, CA.
  • I ferried two brand-new Beechcraft Sierras from Liberal, KS to SMO
  • I earned a “Gold Seal” Instructors Certificate while instructing at SMO, based on the number of recommendations and passing ratio of my student pilots.
  • I taught a famous movie star’s son to fly at SMO. (You know who – he played the penultimate movie “Moses.”)
  • I ferried a Piper Super Cub from SMO to Opryland in Nashville, TN to a crew member working there. I met up with a lot of Country Stars plus got to watch the show live before catching an airliner back home.
  • I ferried that same Super Cub to Crescent City where my friend was filming the Star Wars “Forest Moon of Endor” sequences. I met a lot of Storm Troopers and Ewoks, but not Luke, Leah or Han.
  • I co-piloted a Cessna 410 twin engine from SMO to Jacksonville, FL and drove a rented car from there to Charleston, SC to visit with my Naval Officer Brother who was stationed there at the time. I flew back home on Delta.
  • I ferried a Hughes 300C helicopter from Long Beach, CA to New Orleans, LA. It took me three days to get across Texas from EL Paso to Beaumont-Port Arthur.
  • I qualified for Class A, B and C Helicopter External Load Certification while instructing in Sacramento, CA
  • Et Cetera – there are just too many wonderful experiences to list them all here.

I am proud of my aviation career but I am at a point in my lifetime that I don’t miss the flying. Besides, I have a lot of “Hangar Flying” memories and experiences that I can pass along to anyone who wants to listen.

Armed Forces Day, 2020

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

Pair of AT6 Aircraft

In the past, we have posted about Armed Forces Day on this blog. Our old home in K’Stan was located in a community that actually had an Armed Forces Day parade annually and we blogged about those back then. Well, today, there probably aren’t any parades out there because of the dreaded COVID-19. That’s a loss for them for sure.

The lack of parades, however, did not deter the intrepid airmen piloting the two North American AT6 Airplanes shown flying in formation above our Wickenburg home today. The resonant sound of the radial engines overhead brought us out of the house this morning and what a sweet sound it was to hear.

I managed to capture the above image of the high-flying planes as they passed over our place with the new 400mm lens. They were quite high, perhaps eight or ten thousand feet AGL. The planes made several passes over the area which was a delight to see these two nostalgic beauties as they transited the area.

We see that there have been several organized fly-overs in various places around the country, including the Phoenix area, but unfortunately not visible here. It is not known by us if this was an organized fly-over or just a couple of vintage AAF Trainers out for fun. Regardless, they were awesome.

We wish our Military Men and Women Godspeed on this Armed Forces Day and pray for their safety in harm’s way. May God bless them and their families on this day.

Orville and Wilbur Day 2018

Monday, December 17th, 2018

Wright Flyer

The 115th Anniversary of Powered Flight is today, December 17, 2018. This marks one of, if not the most, important technological achievements of the 20th Century. Aviation spawned an age of unprecedented achievements not only in aircraft-related, but in myriad support technologies. I am thankful to God that I was born in an age where emerging technology, my aptitude and education were responsible for a long and happy career in aerospace.

Co-incidentally, today is the 80th anniversary of my parents’ wedding. They were married on this day in 1938 in Long Beach, CA, where I was raised. They were present for the booming aviation industry in Southern California, another reason I was born into the right place at the right time. It’s too bad that I can no longer say that about what Kalifornistan has become.

From the National Air and Space Museum:

The Wright brothers inaugurated the aerial age with the world’s first successful flights of a powered heavier-than-air flying machine. The Wright Flyer was the product of a sophisticated four-year program of research and development conducted by Wilbur and Orville Wright beginning in 1899. After building and testing three full-sized gliders, the Wrights’ first powered airplane flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, making a 12-second flight, traveling 36 m (120 ft), with Orville piloting. The best flight of the day, with Wilbur at the controls, covered 255.6 m (852 ft) in 59 seconds.

The Wrights pioneered many of the basic tenets and techniques of modern aeronautical engineering, such as the use of a wind tunnel and flight testing as design tools. Their seminal accomplishment encompassed not only the breakthrough first flight of an airplane, but also the equally important achievement of establishing the foundation of aeronautical engineering.

Image and text borrowed from this Smithsonian Link.

Classic Cars, Aircraft and the Weather

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

Classic Cars on Display

Damsel and I attended the 24th Wickenburg Annual Classic Car Show and Fly-In today. The remnants of Tropical Cyclone Sergio, however, were to cut the festivities short after about two hours into the four hour event. We got there ahead of the rain, though, and scored a souvenir T-shirt and got some pictures. The impending rain caused many of the previous fly-ins to stay at home, so the exhibits were limited today.

Air Medical Helicopter Maule M6 STOL Airplane

The helicopter (above left) is normally parked at the Wickenburg Hospital Helipad when it isn’t airborne in an air ambulance capacity. On the right with the oversized tundra tires is a Maule M6 short takeoff and landing (STOL) airplane. With a 235 HP Lycoming engine, this plane is capable of lifting off before you pass the first set of runway lights, and will land in rather confined areas with an approach speed of 45 MPH with 50° flaps deployed.

Classic 56 Chevy Wagon Arizona Rangers Pontiac Convertible

Here we see a clean classic 1956 Chevy Station Wagon which was one of the better nostalgia inducing displays. The Arizona Rangers were on hand to provide security and traffic control. They brought this lovely Pontiac Bonneville Convertible along with them.

Flooded Roadway View from the Courtyard

We were home and parked in the garage before the heavy rainfall began. I took the photo on the left during an interlude in the rain when we were out walking the dogs and Damsel took the one on the right from the courtyard. This is our usual flash flooding we get when there is a cloudburst.

Click on any image avove to enlarge.

Classic 50-ish Dodge Pickup Truck

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

50-ish Dodge Pickup

In what might be a prelude to the 24th Wickenburg Annual Classic Car Show and Fly-In, this clean 50-ish Dodge Pickup passed us this morning while we were on our way to the clinic for lab work. Damsel took several shots of the truck through the windshield as it approached us. This was the best one – Click on the image to enlarge.

We’re planning on attending the Car Show/Fly-in event on Saturday. Will try and get some pix posted then of both cars and aircraft.

The lab work was routine blood tests for both of us. We try and keep a regular check up which is prudent at my age and beginning to be for Damsel who qualifies for Medicare this winter.

Lenticular Clouds

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Lenticular Clouds

As we were taking our evening stroll Damsel and I were watching the sky since there were still a few isolated thunder cells around us. There were a few raindrops falling from a small cloud overhead and a rainbow was partially visible almost straight up.

In the distance east of us (seen in the image), we observed a few lenticular (altocumulus lenticularis) clouds in the lee of the Bradshaw and Weaver mountain ranges to the north of us. The flow (as observed from our position on the ground and on radar on the computer) was from north to generally south.

We also observed what appeared to be some commercial air traffic being diverted from (my guess based on the direction of travel) Phoenix Sky Harbor to McCarran Las Vegas due to a large cell in the Phoenix Metro area. I feel for the crew and passengers on such flights for (a) the inconvenience of the diversion and (b) the turbulent ride they certainly would encounter under the observed conditions.

Orville and Wilbur Day 2016

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

First Flight

Today marks the 113th anniversary of the famous Wright Brothers flights at Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903. Their first flights, however primitive, opened the door to aviation technology that has flourished since then.

From Wikipedia:

The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who are generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world’s first successful airplane. They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft on December 17, 1903, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1904–05 the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.