Never Again

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Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2006

"If you hurry, I think you can make it." Those were the last words from the briefer at the Raleigh Flight Service Station (FSS). We were talking about a little cell that popped up just off the North Carolina coast, and I agreed it should present no problems.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2006

It had been a rush job, from the moment our chief flight instructor asked me to deliver documents to a company aircraft located at another airport, to the last-minute air traffic control (ATC) request that I land long on the huge Runway 1R at Washington Dulles International Airport. Frankly, I was in over my head, and was about to be brutally reminded of it.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2006

At about 7 a.m., on March 15, 2004, two passengers and I went to the airport to launch on an IFR flight from Texas to Kansas. When we arrived, my 1998 Beechcraft A36 Bonanza was sitting in front of the FBO, with the main and tip tanks topped off the previous night.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2006

I was halfway there, delivering a Cirrus SR20 to its new owner, cross-country from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, all the way to Boston. I had just completed a planned stop in rural southwest Chicago, where the aircraft was subject to a pre-buy inspection.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2006

Sometimes my wife wonders why I spend so much time hanging around the airport, even on days when I am not scheduled to fly. To me, hangar flying is an important part of staying current.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2006

In early April 2003, I flew a Cessna 182 from Omaha to Nashville, a trip I had made several dozen times before. Prior to departure, I had gleaned from The Weather Channel that rain or snow was expected to move across my route in a few days.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2006

I had obtained my private certificate when I was 17 but had taken a hiatus from aviation to complete college. I entered the Air Force through the ROTC scholarship program and was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi, for technical training.

Never Again

Article | Dec 01, 2005

The truth is, I had caught "go fever," maybe the most deadly disease a pilot can be infected with. I was in Hawaii with my wife, Karen, at the end of one of her long business trips.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2005

I was returning to Columbus, Georgia, from a Thanksgiving trip to Asheville, North Carolina, with my wife and 9-year-old daughter. The Cessna 172 that I rented from a flight school was a strictly VFR machine and rather beat up from heavy flight training.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2005

I had just bought my airplane, a Piper Cherokee 180. My private ticket was still two months in the future and my logbook shows that I had about 32 hours' total time.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2005

It was my airplane, my sweat oozing between my fingers on the yoke, and I was officially pilot in command. But the folly of allowing someone else — someone with a completely different view of mortality — to influence my decisions became glaringly obvious.

Never Again

Article | Aug 01, 2005

No pilot needs to be reminded that flying can be a dangerous and costly endeavor if common sense isn't part of his or her makeup. I fell victim to just such a flaw during my early piloting days.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2005

A textbook definition of spatial disorientation is "sensory confusion, sometimes accompanied by a dizzy, whirling sensation." On one memorable flight, I was given an object lesson in spatial disorientation. The Chicago-area flying club I belonged to had a number of aircraft that included a Grumman Tiger.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2005

Dave and I have known each other for almost 35 years. We had begun an annual college fraternity reunion and golf outing at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and the year this story took place we would celebrate in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2005

Barring extenuating circumstances, an airplane should never run out of fuel. Still, I've had employers and passengers get upset with me because I either topped off the tanks, delaying the departure, or stopped en route, delaying the arrival.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2005

As I pulled the propeller blade down, a cylinder fired and sent the propeller spinning. It happened in a split second and nothing seemed wrong until the engine fired.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2005

The sky was bluer in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that spring Sunday morning than I could remember. Forecasts for our destination of Tri-Cities, Tennessee, for broken-to-overcast ceilings did not seem possible.

Never Again

News release | Feb 01, 2005

My brother and I woke up excited in our slope-side suite at Mammoth Mountain, California, ready for another day of epic skiing. The trip had gone well so far.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2005

After being involved in several different businesses, my last 24 years of working before retirement were spent in aviation, operating an FBO at the Hillsboro, Oregon, airport (now Portland-Hillsboro). When not overseeing employees and attending to other aspects of the business, my most enjoyable experience was selling new and used airplanes.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2004

"Stay out of the ice." This blanket advice has been handed down from instructor to student for as long as pilots have been flying in the clouds. The key to avoiding ice is a proper weather briefing, especially one that includes pilot reports, freezing levels, and cloud layers.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2004

I departed South Texas in my Cessna 177 Cardinal with a passenger in the right seat to return to Houston after a hunting trip. This airplane is well equipped for IFR with a standby vacuum pump, an alternate static source, and a Garmin GNS 430 GPS/nav/com.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2004

That morning began as most Saturdays did, with the weekly routine of flying with my longtime partner. While preparing to leave the house for Montgomery Field in San Diego, my eyes were drawn to the television screen showing the contrails of space shuttle Columbia disintegrating as it passed over clear Texas skies.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2004

Mooney Four-One-Seven-Five-Sierra, cleared to Denver. Climb and maintain 13,000 feet." I repeated the clearance back to the flight service station with my most professional voice before I taxied onto the runway.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2004

We departed Paine Field in Everett, Washington, around noon on a warm Saturday, my fiancée Suzanne and I in a 1967 Cessna Skyhawk. Winds were light from the south with scattered cumulus along the west side of the Cascades as we climbed eastbound to 7,500 feet.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2004

Although I had been flying twins for the past 22 years, I found myself flying less, so I decided to throttle back a bit and spend some time getting to know a 1981 Cessna 182 Skylane. I was pretty safe, and determined to keep it that way.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2004

The last time I had a fighter on my wing was during the Cold War, and I was the leader of a two-ship formation. As a pilot with the 146th Fighter Squadron assigned to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) I was combat-qualified in the F-102, a single-seat delta-wing supersonic fighter-interceptor, and most of our missions involved practice intercepts designed to keep us sharp in the face of the constant threat of Soviet bombers.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2004

It was the kind of perfect spring day that pilots love, and I was no exception. I was on my way to the grocery store, with my baby in her infant seat and the dog along for a ride.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2004

It was early April, right around the time that the clock had "sprung" forward for spring. Excited about the extra hour of daylight, I decided to go up for a local after-work flight.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2004

Greg, an A&P specializing in sheet-metal work, laid the straight edge on the rivet line and said, "The spar's been pushed back about a quarter of an inch." He turned off the lights in the hangar and then set a floor lamp to cast low lighting across the top of the left wing of my Cessna 172. "You have definite wrinkles aft along the rib." The damage to the aircraft coincided with the return of smelt fishing to rivers in the Pacific Northwest.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2004

I awoke that cold and blustery February morning anticipating my upcoming flight in an airplane in which I had just been checked out. Only a few months earlier I had earned my private pilot certificate in a Piper Warrior.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2004

The logbook entry for January 29, 1989, is almost as brief as the flight itself: IFR Green Bay to Oshkosh; ILS 36; ice. On that day, after a family visit in Green Bay, Wisconsin, my wife, Cindy, and I climb into a rented Socata Trinidad for a late afternoon flight back to DuPage Airport near Chicago.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2003

In 1991 I was flying for an air taxi operator located in Fairbanks, Alaska. We provided scheduled service for mail, freight, and passengers from Fairbanks to outlying villages.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2003

"Brainard Tower, this is Grumman Tiger Two-Eight-Eight-Five-Seven, 11 miles southwest, inbound with Alpha." (Information Alpha at Hartford, Connecticut's Hartford-Brainard Airport was reporting winds at 240 degrees and 10 to 15 knots, traffic using Runway 20.) Not too bad, I thought to myself, a slight crab at the onset maybe, and then a little right aileron with left rudder. "Grumman Tiger Two-Eight-Eight-Five-Seven, report entering a downwind for Runway 20," the controller said.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2003

I almost killed myself twice in the same night. It all began back in the early winter months of 1985.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2003

Maybe you fly a docile puppy dog rather than a rip-snorting Yakovlev Yak-52, but don't think that what happened to me can't happen to you. I pulled up to the pump to refuel the Yak, a Russian-designed aircraft certified to plus-7 and minus-5 Gs, after a few local hops.

Topics Pilots

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2003

I have waited a few years before writing this, but I think there are some good lessons to be gained from the true account that follows. It began about eight years ago when I walked into the FBO from which I fly at Florida's North Perry Airport underneath the north side of the large Miami International Class B ring.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2003

It was a sparkling-clear late summer day, and from Flight Level 240 you could see almost forever. I felt literally on top of the world.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2003

It was a typical humid summer day in the Los Angeles Basin — a name you really can't appreciate until you've seen it from the air — a Cyclopean bowl filled with a broth of smoke and humidity, its top surface neatly defined by the temperature inversion layer so common in summer. The air above 1,200 feet msl was as clear as it was hazy below.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2003

The morning in early May dawned bright and clear. My wife, Jeri, and I would fly that day from Baker, Montana, to McMinnville, Oregon.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2003

When my buddy, Ernie, and I decided that we would upgrade our aeronautical experience from the variety of fixed-gear aircraft we had been flying to something more complex, we were in luck. A 1947 Navion A was for sale at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey at a very affordable price.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2003

Early on the morning of an IFR flight from Detroit City Airport in Michigan to Boyne Falls, Michigan, I called Lansing Flight Service for a weather update. There were no known adverse conditions on my proposed route.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2003

You know how you'll have an experience that is so bizarre that you're sure it must be a dream? That's exactly what ran through my mind on the riverbank a quarter mile below the Bering Glacier on Prince William Sound, Alaska, where I was stuck with my Cessna 185 on floats. The Bering River drains Bering Lake, the melted glacier pool at the foot of the Bering Glacier, a Rhode Island-size chunk of ice 200 miles east of Anchorage.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2003

The Bob Dylan concert the night before had been wonderful; now it was time to go home. The previous day I had flown the Piper Aztec from Chatham, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, up to Montpelier, Vermont, to pick up friends and bring them down to Mansfield, Massachusetts.

Never Again

Article | Dec 01, 2002

An early morning fog muffled our footsteps as my crew and I crossed the cobblestoned courtyard of the old German kaserne (barracks) toward our two helicopters. I could feel the occasional snowflake swirling through the gray morning mist stealing into my uniform, causing me to shudder and chilling me to the bone.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2002

Pilots who fly in the Rocky Mountain West are used to looking at sectional charts that are colored mostly brown. The rewards of mountain flying are many, but so are the dangers.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2002

My son, Kirk, and I were ready to begin a flight home from Trinity Center, an unattended airport in northern California, when we found that the alternator on our rented Piper Warrior wasn't working. There were no maintenance facilities in the area, so we decided to get airborne and turn off all the electrical equipment until we got to an airport with a mechanic.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2002

I don't see how the guy could have flown that Taylorcraft all the way from Flushing, New York, to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, with the prop setting up such an incredible vibration! For that matter, I can't figure out how, on that same day in 1955, I gave him $900 for such a rough-looking airplane without even a test hop! But the day he flew it down for me to look at brought about one of those sudden thaws that can turn a grass strip into a bog, scratching the test flight. And I had always yearned for a T-craft.

Topics Technique

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2002

I was commuting on a weekly basis in my Grumman AA-1 Yankee between Hanford, California, deep in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, and Oakland. The California winter had arrived, and the jet stream had dropped down from Seattle to bring us our share of Pacific fronts.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2002

An original "Never Again" story is published each month on AOPA Online (www.aopa.org/pilot/never_again/). I wanted my friends to experience the joy of small-airplane flight, so we decided to take an afternoon and picnic in the Wenatchee Mountains.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2002

An original "Never Again" story is published each month on AOPA Online (www.aopa.org/pilot/never_again/). Thunderstorms can be dangerous, especially when you fly a light aircraft into them.