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.

Never Again: Bad Call

Article | Aug 03, 2009

I referee girls’ volleyball tournaments, some of which are out of town, and that gives me a great excuse to fly my Van’s RV–6A. I live in Portland, Oregon, and one of the tournaments I enjoy flying to is the Pacific Northwest Qualifier (PNQ) in Spokane, Washington.

Never Again: Landing on the strip

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2009

“Hey Jim,” the phone call from a good friend and coworker began. “How about we check out the dry lake bed today?” My friend was an accomplished Coast Guard navigator and avionics technician.

Never Again Online: Land, or die trying

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2009

I had always considered myself a safe and conscientious pilot. I read the safety articles, accident reports, analyses of accidents, and have even had articles on aviation safety published in a magazine devoted to the topic.

Never Again: Negative transfer

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2009

It sometimes baffles me how the FAA comes up with a vocabulary all its own. Negative transfer is a term that has been coined by the FAA to describe how pilots who fly various aircraft may apply skills and natural reactions that are appropriate for one category of aircraft but can be disastrous when applied to a different type aircraft.

Never Again: Windsock warning

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2009

I’ve been flying more than 20 years, increasing my flying as my business has grown. I bought my first airplane, a Piper Turbo Saratoga, in 2006, got my instrument rating in it, and flew it 300 hours in one year for business and training.

Never Again: Glider updraft

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2009

Many pilots have had an experience in their past that they are amazed they survived. And the added perspective that years of hard-won experience and knowledge bring can make our survival from those earlier mistakes and misadventures seem all the more incredible.

Never Again: Finding FOD

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2009

I was scheduled to fly an aerobatic demonstration at a local airport the next day. I fly a rainbow-colored Extra 300L.

Never Again: A snap and smoke

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2009

I was in California for business in the early 1990s and decided to fly from Palo Alto to Lake Tahoe with a coworker for the night. I had checked out in a well-equipped Piper Archer on a previous trip and had some mountain flying instruction.

Never Again: Dog Gone

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2009

“When you get home,” my wife told me over the phone, “you’re going to have to get rid of this dog.” I had been attending an airshow in Ohio, and was about to fly home to Maryland as a passenger in a friend’s Beechcraft Baron. I mulled over my wife’s words all the way.

Never Again: Glider Passenger

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2008

We all enjoy sharing our flying obsession, and usually those flights in which we introduce aviation to friends or family members go smoothly because we make extra efforts to ensure that our guests have comfortable, pleasurable flying experiences. But even the best-laid plans can go awry.

Never Again: Night over the Everglades

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2008

I’m the leader of a band called the “Caribbean Chillers,” and we had a performance scheduled in Key West, Florida. Instead of driving 14 hours round-trip, I decided to rent a Cessna 172SP in Leesburg, Florida, and fly with a couple other band members to Marathon, Florida.

Never Again: Hardheaded pilot

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2008

Even though the single-seat Pitts biplane has a tiny cockpit and not much headroom, I make it a point to wear a helmet and parachute whenever I fly one. I take some ribbing from my friends who question my hardheadedness.

Never Again: Dark night in Michigan

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2008

The weekend had been wonderful: I was able to visit family and friends and still make it back to work on Monday morning. At least that was the plan.

Never Again: Bonanza icing encounter

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2008

It was a beautiful October day with nice weather forecast throughout California. I planned on flying my Beechcraft A36 Bonanza from Bakersfield to Reno, Nevada, to attend a veterinary conference.

Never Again: Nowhere to land

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2008

Preflight planning the night before showed it would be like so many other central Texas morning flights; everything looks good as long as you get up before the morning fog rolls in. The trip was from Taylor, just north of Austin to Kendall-Tamiami Regional Airport, which is west of Miami, Florida.

Never Again: Always check for TFRs

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2008

It was a beautiful summer day with a few cumulus clouds and clear weather forecast for the next fortnight—conditions highly unusual for New England. A warm breeze blew across the tarmac as I rolled my Extra 300L out of the hangar for a cross-country flight out of Bedford, Massachusetts.

Never Again: Fuel shower

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2008

We’ve all read accounts of World War I pilots trapped in burning aircraft. Their only options were to ride it down and burn up in the process, jump without a parachute, or shoot themselves.

Never Again: Under pressure

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2008

My mission was to pick up a job candidate and his wife and bring them back to Des Moines, Iowa, in our company’s Cessna 340 twin. The trip was to be a first-class experience to entice him to join our company.

Never Again: I lived through a graveyard spiral

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2008

Before you read this account, you should understand that the author is definitely not a daredevil, tomorrow-be-dammed, reckless flyer. Trained by an ex-Navy instructor, and skilled in many phases of VFR weather, I have always conscientiously maintained what I believed was a wide margin of safety in all aspects of flying.

Never Again: Engine seizure

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2008

This would be a quick out and back business trip in the 1989 Piper Malibu Mirage to Piggott, a small farming community in northeast Arkansas. The overcast was layered between 2,000 to 3,000 feet over most of Northeast Texas and Arkansas.

Never Again: Wild ride

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2008

The day dawned bright and clear, with beautiful Arizona desert winter sunshine and a brisk breeze. I had stopped for the night in Yuma, Arizona, on my way back to Van Nuys, California.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2007

Last Christmas, my family held a party in Salt Lake City. I decided to fly up from my home in southern California and return two days later.

Never Again

Article | Nov 01, 2007

I headed off to Hawkins Field, in Jackson, Mississippi, where I worked flying Beech 18s and Beech Barons hauling everything from crickets to people to UPS cargo to U.S. Mail and sometimes checks.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2007

I have been involved with SCORE International Off-Road Racing for as long as I have been a private pilot. As a race official for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1,000 off-road race I was at the starting line in Ensenada, Mexico, and since my duties included the timing and scoring of the event it was imperative that my staff and I reached the finish line in La Paz, Mexico, before the first racers did.

Never Again

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2007

I had flown my Avid Flyer experimental aircraft, and my friend had flown his Hurricane experimental ultralight aircraft, to Perris Valley Airport located in Perris, California. After landing on the ultralight flying club's dirt strip, which parallels the airport's hard-surface runway, we enjoyed breakfast at the airport restaurant.