Proficient Pilot

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Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2012

When I was preparing for my private pilot "rating" in 1955, the night experience required by the Civil Air Regulations (CARs) consisted only of 10 takeoffs and landings. A cross-country flight at night was not required then as it is now.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2011

No one likes to admit failure, and I'm certainly not an exception to the rule. One misstep I dislike mentioning is when I failed the flight test for my flight instructor certificate in 1956 when I was 18 years old. I was in the rear seat of the Aeronca 7AC Champion and looking forward at the back of the examiner's head as I completed the 720-degree steep turn.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2011

The old Piper Apache was anything but a muscle machine. Its pair of 150-horsepower four-bangers could barely lift it into the sky. Yet there I was pointing down Oakland, California's longest runway with a full load of fuel. And I mean full. In addition to burgeoning wing and auxiliary tanks, the cabin was stuffed with a humongous ferry tank also filled to capacity.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2011

Although I do not think that many young nonpilots read this column, that is exactly the audience I would like to reach this month.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2011

Mentioning certain types of military aircraft often conjures thoughts of single missions for which they were most famous. The North American B–25 Mitchell reminds us of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo (April 18, 1942), and you cannot think of the Boeing B–29 Superfortress without being reminded of the role it played in America's use of the atomic bomb to end World War II. The "Superfort" was the only airplane capable of performing that historic mission. So it was that upon completion of my feature article about the B–29 ("The Lady has a History"), I thought it remiss not to include my thoughts about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, the two most violent acts of war ever committed. Or were they?

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2011

My friend, Hal Fishman, and I used to have an ongoing and vigorous disagreement about which was best, high- or low-wing airplanes, a subject that has been hotly debated since before the 1903 Wright Flyer. Tongue-in-cheek historians claim that Orville and Wilbur’s biplane was a compromise; its main disadvantage was having twice as many leading edges from which to remove bugs.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2011

If I were king of the FAA I would require students to become glider pilots before allowing them into the cockpit of an airplane. Soaring offers a certain purity of flight that teaches fundamentals by eliminating the masking and distracting effects of power and propeller.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2011

Sometimes when I write about the so-called “good old days,” I can usually anticipate some readers accusing me of being an aeronautical dinosaur. I can understand that kind of sentiment directed toward someone who refuses trying to embrace new technology.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2011

As an 18-year-old flight instructor in 1956, I tried to be clever and original in the way I taught. There were times, though, when I was too clever.

Proficient Pilot

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2011

One question I am frequently asked is, “What is your favorite airplane?” I answer candidly that I don’t have a favorite. It depends on my mood and the purpose of the flight.