Never Again

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Never Again:

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2011

I fondly remember many memorable flights with my dad when I was a little boy. No matter what the circumstance, he always seemed to be as cool as a cucumber.

Never Again:

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2011

Although it seems ridiculous to an outsider, operating in less than marginal VFR weather is common in the Louisiana oil field. I was in a Cessna 185 amphibian, engine idling, pointed into the 30-plus-knot wind, holding position in the ship channel southeast of New Orleans.

Never Again:

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2011

Illustration by Sarah Hanson Each of the three passengers had weighed themselves and their camping gear and dutifully telephoned to me the results so that I could calculate the weight and balance for our flight from East Kansas City to Sun ’n Fun in Lakeland, Florida. It had been an unusually cold April in the Midwest and each of us looked forward to the warmth of Florida.

Never Again:

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2011

On a cool and clear April evening, instead of doing homework for my English and biology classes, I drove the 50 minutes from my home in Sandy, Utah, to the Heber City Municipal Airport for the night cross-country portion of my flight training. I had recently completed my introduction to night flying with a local flight after dark, and takeoff and landing practice.

Never Again

Article | Dec 01, 2010

We had many memorable flights during a trip to Alaska in the summer of 1976. The adventure, from Boston to Alaska and back in a Mooney, began on a whim.

Never Again

Article | Nov 01, 2010

A chance encounter at a coffee shop introduced me to the world of general aviation. Chatting with a total stranger while we waited in line for overpriced lattes, he mentioned he was a pilot and owned an airplane.

Never Again

Article | Oct 01, 2010

Glass cockpits provide wondrous, seemingly miraculous information to today’s pilots, but it wasn’t always so. In the dim, dark ages when I learned to fly, we had no such tools—but we did have telephones—and my failure to use one before my first solo cross-country flight could have cost me dearly.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2010

I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the mid-1960s living in the Peruvian Andes, where a small group was working hard to establish a wildlife refuge for the endangered vicuña—a wild cousin of the llama and alpaca—which live in the high plains of the towering mountain chain. Poachers were taking a toll on the vicuña, and it was critical to find a remote and expansive habitat to sustain the animals, prized for their soft wool, long recognized as the world’s best.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2010

My birthday party was held at Ted’s Montana Grill. I’m told it was a great outing.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2010

As we climbed up through 5,000 feet, the airplane began to whisper. Ever so faintly, its breath in my ear, it was trying to tell me something.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2010

The first day you fly your new airplane is a day you will never forget. At 43 years old, I decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and learn to fly.

Never Again: No lights, no alternate

Article | May 01, 2010

The final leg of the wintertime trip to the West Coast was supposed to be easy. The AOPA Let’s Go Flying SR22 was on its way to California, where it would be awarded to the winner of the 2009 AOPA Sweepstakes.

Never Again: Playing through

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2010

Gripping the instrument panel, my friend looked over at me and said, “I guess we’re playing through!” My Piper Cherokee 180 roared over a golf green about 10 feet above the grass as four very surprised golfers and a caddy instinctively ducked. At the moment, I was thankful that we were off the ground at all.

Never Again Online: Sand landing

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2010

Many blunders have a root cause in a previous experience in which the outcome was good, and questionable practices come to seem normal and totally acceptable. A perfectly fine beach landing in the past, led this pilot to try it again. Touching down, the aircraft decelerated in a hurry, the nosewheel dug into the soft sand, and the airplane came to a stop sudden stop under full power...

Never Again: Just land

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2010

A warm summer night and a vacant but familiar airport seemed perfect for practicing takeoffs and landings. I was a new private pilot on that long-ago night, and I was night current, too.

Never Again Online: VFR Limbo

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2010

With the sun shining on all sides and no other apparent obstacles, I called the field in sight and asked to be worked into the sequence. The controller's response was the first clue to an up-coming mistake, and my first break in the "error chain." ...

Never Again: Control failure

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2010

I planned to fly my Cessna 185 to a remote airstrip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho for a day of deer hunting. The trip from my home base in Caldwell, Idaho, in October 2008 wasn’t very far—but it required traversing some of the most rugged and spectacular wilderness in the United States.

Never Again Online: Ashes in the airplane

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2010

The worst flight I ever made was an attempt to do a favor for a friend. My friend’s grandfather had recently passed away, and his family thought spreading his ashes over his ranch in Oklahoma would be a memorable and fitting tribute. I had been flying for almost 20 years and was honored to be able to fulfill this simple request. I turned the jar sideways and pushed the open end into the open window, hoping the slipstream would carry the ashes away. The slipstream took hold all right, but not in the way I intended...

Never Again: Camping trip

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2010

I flew to Saranac Lake, New York, for an August canoe camping trip with my kids. I fly a 2007 Cessna 182T equipped with a Garmin G1000 cockpit.

Never Again: Heart attack aloft

Article | Dec 08, 2009

It was a great day to fly in the Midwest with low humidity, gentle winds, and an infinite sky. My older brother and I lived in Ohio, and I was planning to pick him up in Greenwood, Indiana, an hour away by Cessna 172 Skyhawk, and fly him home.

Never Again Online: Dark instrument panel

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2009

On a clear winter day, I departed Burlington, N.C., for Jackson County Airport at the western edge of the state for a visit with my fiancée. I had just reached cruising altitude at 6,500 feet, established flight following with Greensboro Approach and engaged the autopilot for what I thought would be a smooth, comfortable, VFR flight.

Never Again: Red carpet treatment

Article | Nov 02, 2009

A few years ago, I was a pilot working for the aircraft sales division of a large FBO and maintenance chain. I was scheduled to complete an aircraft delivery and provide some flight instruction to a new aircraft owner when my employer asked if I would perform a test flight in a Beechcraft Baron, which had recently had new avionics installed, before I headed out the next day on the aircraft delivery.

My personal "Never Agains"

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2009

As a regular reader of AOPA Pilot, the first thing I usually turn to is the “Never Again” column. I read it, and usually think something along the lines of “that poor sap” or “what the heck was that guy thinking?” The fact that I am sitting in a glass house with no clothes on constantly escapes me.

Never Again: Reluctant passenger

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2009

I had said no before, not only to the offer for a ride in this aircraft, but many others as well. My standing rule is not to fly in any airplane, or with any pilot, that I don’t know well.

Never Again: Dry tanks

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2009

It was a sunny and exceptionally pleasant Saturday morning in late July, and I planned to fly from Memphis to Savannah, Tennessee, to participate in an auction. A 4,000-square-foot Victorian home was for sale along with 150 acres of rolling hills and wooded land overlooking the Tennessee River.