Repost: Avalon Airport in the Sky

“A Mediterranean resort off the coast of Southern California”

Now that my Instrument training was finally over, I was ready for new adventures. The past few months had been hectic and nerve racking. Instrument training is very demanding and I am glad that, it is finally behind me. Browsing through “Fun places to fly in California” I thought I may as well start with the first airport listed there, which happened to be Avalon. I have wanted to fly to Avalon for sometime now. I had been under the misapprehension that I needed some kind of checkout prior to attempting to fly there. As it turned out, the flying club I rented from had no such restriction.

Continue to read here.

From Dirigibles to Drones: The rebirth of the dirigible

Historically, airships have endured awe-inspiring success due to their sheer size, but also spectacular failure such as with the infamous Hindenburg crash. Throughout history, there have been dramatic and disruptive airplane innovations, which have altered the course of events. We are in the midst of the next major revolution with the advent of the drones. In recent years, interest in airships has slowly seen a comeback with modern uses in tourism, surveillance, freight, and military operations.

German Zeppelin

Transformational Airplane Designs

            The desire to fly has enthralled humankind for centuries. As far back as 1700 BC, legend indicates that Daedalus prepared two pairs of wings and along with his son, Icarus, launched over the sea. While Icarus crashed to his death from having flown too close to the sun, Daedalus did survive. Although there were myriads of attempts at flight, it was not until the 18th century that saw considerable progress in flight. Advances in aerial navigation, basic aerodynamics, and aeronautical principles led to the development of the glider and the first manned flight.  The 18th century also saw development of the ballonet: an elliptical vehicle capable of flight against the wind.

Lighter than air (LTA) vehicles, also known as airships or dirigibles were derived from balloons and evolved by trial and error. There are gas filled, tethered, untethered, and novel vehicles that advanced in development as new materials and technologies became available. The first dirigible was flown by Henri Giffard in 1852 from Paris to Trappe. The dirigible was steam engine powered and achieved speeds of 6.7mph.  This was followed by a gas engine powered dirigible in 1872, metal dirigible powered by a Daimler engine in 1897 and the first zeppelin flew in 1900, achieving speeds of 18mph.

By 1909, pleasure flights were offered in the Zeppelin followed by commercial flights the following year. By 1914, almost 34,000 passengers were carried. With the advent of war, Zeppelins were used for air raids provoking a wave of international outrage at his act of German barbarism. The success of the Zeppelin led to the building of a fleet of airships. Hydrogen was used in these lighter than airships (LTA). The two lifting gases typically used were Hydrogen and Helium. Hydrogen was lighter, provide more lift and was cheaper, but was highly flammable. Helium was a commodity during the war, since US had monopoly on helium supply in the world and were the sole users of helium in airships.

In 1930, the fatal crash of LZ-128 due to a hydrogen fire resulted in the death of all passengers and pilot. The consequence of this event, led to the development of LZ-129 also known as the Hindenberg. Regular transatlantic service began in 1936. The Hindenberg crashed at Lakehurst, New Jersey killing all aboard on its first North American flight in 1937. Pan American Airways started scheduled flights across the Pacific. The Hindenberg was obsolete even before it flew, marking the end of the airship era.

After the first successful powered flight by the Wright Brothers in 1903, rapid progress occurred in aircraft design spurred especially by the two World Wars where dominance in air afforded the most success. Before the end of the 20th century, man had flown higher than the birds that he so eyed wistfully before flight had become a reality. The first men had landed on the moon, walked in space and unmanned exploration of the galaxy and beyond advanced quickly leading to improved technologies to support these efforts that also benefited other uses that were more firmly rooted on Earth.

The first pilotless, steam powered aerodromes designed by Samuel Langley flew in 1986 along the Potomac River and were used for aerial reconnaissance in the Spanish-American wars. During the World Wars, they were used extensively for reconnaissance. The first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flew a merely decade after the first successful Wright Brothers flight.

 In 1917, Elmer Sperry and Peter Hewitt, constructed a radio controlled automatic airplane called the “Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane” that could fly 50 miles and carry a 300lb bomb. The success of the “flying bomb”, led to the rail launched Kettering Aerial Torpedo “Bug”. Through the 1920s and 1930s, progress continued in the remotely controlled ships. The “Pilotless Aircraft Branch” of the US Air Force was established in 1946 and three types of drones were developed with air launched Q-2, the most important one that became the “father” target drones. Following the success of pilotless and remotely piloted technologies, the US Air Force began experiments in the 1950s for high altitude reconnaissance.

The remotely piloted or unmanned aircraft systems (RPAS/UAS) can have varying levels of automation and autonomy. The many applications that these vehicles can be used for include security, monitoring, emergency response, surveillance and recreation. The evolution and revolution of new technologies and advancement in automation have transformed the drone into a domesticated item that now is used recreationally by millions of people and the list of commercial uses continues to grow.

The Rebirth of the Dirigible

Interest in airships has rejuvenated as transportation needs to remote and distance areas arose in recent years. Previously these remote areas that are not easily accessible by roads such as in Canada and the Artic were serviced by airfreight, sea shipments, and ice roads. The impact of global warming has the continued use of these ice roads unreliable.  Lockheed Martin has been under a contract to build heavier than air airships that can carry up to 20 tons of cargo to serve these areas.  There is also a growing interest to using airships in congested overly populated areas to relieve rush hour traffic nightmares.

There is mixed opinion on the economic practicality of these especially concerning with passenger and freight operations; however, advances in technology and innovation supports viability in the modern use of the dirigibles. They have excellent range performance and low cost. In recent years, research continues on the modern application of LTA designs for tourism, surveillance, border patrol, freight and lifting operations, and special military operations.

Dirigibles can be classified by hull such as rigid, semi-rigid and non-rigid; by payload capability such as heavy-lift or medium lift; and by vertical force such as heavier than air or lighter than air and hybrid. In addition, there are several unconventional airships:

  • Spherical airships that achieve trade-off between maximum lift and minimum air resistance and prove excellent for mooring as shown in Figure 4. Prototypes of Spherical airships have been built by 21st Century Airships Inc., a Canadian company.
  • Lenticular airships that are shaped like wings and helpful for maneuver control and make it possible to compensate for accidental overloading. Prototypes of this type of airships were created by French LTA Corporation
  • Double-hull and multiple hull designs used for hybrid vehicles and achieve a reduction in in length for a given volume of gas providing increased lift and load capability. Advanced Technologies Group Ltd., a British company has built the double hull design
  • Winged airship designs derived from airplane design, and exploits the aerodynamic lift generation capability and provides natural stability. The whale shaped airship, Manned Cloud, is shown in Figure 7. Proposed by French designer, its purpose is to serve as a luxury fitness, spa and restaurant.

Through application of new materials, technologies and techniques, modern airships can be designed that are safe, stable and reliable and humankind’s fascination with airship design continues to grow and evolve. There are also innumerable drone designs based on their mission and purpose from small quadrotors to the large Global Hawk and Predator drones.

From Dirigibles to Drones: A marriage made in heaven

In 2013 Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, announced that they would start testing drones for utilization in package deliver. More recently, Amazon has filed a patent with the US Patent Office for a giant flying warehouses or Airborne Fulfillment Centers, which would house merchandise, warehouse workers and drone launching platforms that would be used to launch drones to make deliveries. The airship will hover over the intended delivery area at an altitude of 45,000 ft. Winged drones with little or no power would glide down to the delivery site to deliver the package. After delivery, they would be collected at the collection zone and shuttled back to the airborne fulfillment center.

Conceptual:). Drone Delivery from flying blimp fulfillment centers?

Two centuries later, humankind continues to remain fascinated with the dirigible. In recent years, drones have revolutionized and captured our attention to the same if not higher level. In addition, I suspect they will continue to excite and fascinate us in the future. In combining these two revolutionary and transformational technologies, it seems Bezos has proposed a marriage made in heaven at 45,000 ft.

Back to the Future: Modern Applications of the Airship

The history of the airship is one of both awe-inspiring success and spectacular failure.  The awe was generated from the sheer size of these floating ships, and for the time, the impressive performance in payload and speed they produced.  Likewise, the failures were equally, if not more captivating, since the spectacle produced by the crash of a giant behemoth filled with combustible gas would surely be hard to ignore.  The infamous Hindenburg disaster in 1937 and its images have been used metaphorically for depicting ill-fated and ill-advised aerospace ventures for decades.  Following that calamity, the development and use of lighter than air (LTA) ships was significantly curtailed, but not abandoned entirely.  Looking forward, it appears that perhaps some of the technology that advanced airplane development rapidly ahead of LTA aircraft may now be utilized to exploit the unique characteristics and capabilities of these ships.

Applications – Past and Present

            The fundamental utility of the airship has not significantly changed over the past century:  it can be used for observation of all manner of the electromagnetic spectrum and to convey a payload.  This would include advertising and public promotions and demonstrations.  Consider that the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio has been advertising from their blimps for over 90 years.  In the early 20th Century, the development of the airship was advancing due to its significantly superior performance compared to aircraft of the time.  It is clear from history, however, that due to a confluence of rapid technological innovations with the airplane and other related technologies, such as rockets and satellites, the airship became displaced by other machines that were better in getting the job done.  It has found niches that have allowed it to perform various tasks throughout the past century, nonetheless, and the airship still captures the interest of aerospace engineers and enthusiasts.  Accordingly, there has been an “unexpected and dramatic renaissance” in LTA ships based upon unique and unconventional shapes and hybrid propulsion systems.  The application of modern LTA designs fall into these following broad categories:

  • Tourism (both premium luxury and eco-tourism)
  • Surveillance (civil, military, agriculture, environmental, etc.)
  • Counter Insurgency/Terrorism, Piracy, and Border Control
  • Special Military Operations (ultra-high altitude and duration, electronic relay)
  • Freight and Lifting Operations (flying crane)

The experts are mixed on the economic practicality of some of these, particularly with respect to passenger and freight operations; however, there exists some viability with the right mix of technology and innovation.  Examples include using aerodynamic shapes that produce lift, autonomous operation, and hybrid electrical power systems that both consume hydrogen in fuel cells and produce hydrogen by way of solar cells.  These technologies can be expensive to develop, however, and except for government sponsored research and operational requirements, finding the capital to move forward means finding a market.  Nevertheless, some key civilian applications of airship undergoing study include freight transport, mobile phone antennas, tourism, and surveillance.  All have their roots in past applications of the airship.


In recent years, interest in airships have seen a comeback to transport cargo to remote and distant areas that are not easily accessible by roads such as Canada and the Artic.  Typically, these remote areas are serviced by airfreight, sea shipments, and ice road. Until recently, these remote areas could rely on the winter ice roads, but climate change impacts on the melting ice has led to uncertainty in their continued use.  To improve access to these remote areas, Lockheed Martin has a contract to build 12 heavier than air airships that can carry up to 20 tons of cargo.  There is also a growing interest to using airships in a cruiser and feeder system to connect major populated areas.

Mobile phone networking

The use of mobile phones has grown tremendously and there is ongoing research on the use of High Altitude Platform Systems (HAPS), which would replace earth bound antennas and reduce radiation effects drastically. According to a Swiss inventor, an unmanned aircraft outfitted with a mobile phone antenna would be mounted on a solar powered airship providing the platform with the technical equipment.  Note that Union balloons in the Civil War telegraphed Confederate positions to their artillery gunners for accurate fire.

Science Experiments

            LTAs have been used for science from the earliest days of ballooning; in 1794 an English scientist named Jeffries ascended to 9000 feet making measurements of temperature and pressure.  Today, owing to their slow speeds and stability, airships are also being considered to serve as platforms for airborne gravity measurements.  Krasnov, Sokolov and Rzhevskiy used an airship to carry gravimetric equipment. The slow speed and altitude provide a good platform for the surveys, however, such a system provided insufficient accuracy due to the recurrent inertial accelerations which could be improved by maintaining constant altitude.  Nevertheless, the concept proved workable.

On-demand Hypercommuting

Another potential modern use of an airship that is being researched is to provide an on-demand commuting vehicle across congested areas such as the San Francisco bay area.  They propose a “semi-rigid hulled lighter than air (LTA) airship” with a carriage slung below it with four tethers whereby the airship provides the lift and loitering capability, while the cycloidal rotors provide the lift for the payload and propulsion.  The customer vehicle drives into the carriage where it is secured and then transported by the airship to its destination.  It is anticipated that such a system would carry up to five passengers and cut travel times in congested traffic areas, however, the cost to operate such a system appear prohibitive at this time.

Military and Defense Applications

As evidenced throughout the development of the LTA aircraft over the decades, militaries have found innovative and viable uses for these devices both in defensive and offensive operations.  Configurations include both manned and un-manned, tethered and free floating, and all sorts of structures to include balloons, blimps, and rigid and semi-rigid airships.  Some were effective weapons of war, others did not obtain the desired results or were quite dangerous for the crews that manned them.  Even today, 117-foot-long unmanned balloons called aerostats are common sites in the skies over Afghanistan, providing 24-hour monitoring and video surveillance.  Defense research agencies are continuing advanced study and deployment of LTAs as this application provides a capability desired by both military units on the ground and senior policy makers at the national level. 

There are a multitude of new and exciting ideas for airships of the 21st century utilizing cutting edge technology in design, control, automation, and power production.  The problems airships face is that of economics and competition:  new technology is expensive and alternative air vehicles such as UAVs seem to be attracting much more interest.  While science, military, and security applications for LTAs are prevalent today and appear to have a secure future, many experts in commercial aviation do not see a robust market for airship freighters except niches such as remote jungle or arctic locations with limited or no infrastructure.  As with the airships of the past, opportunity, innovation, competition, and the market will ultimately determine the future of these majestic ships.

Clyde Cessna: Aviation Pioneer, Aircraft Designer and Entrepreneur

Clyde Cessna’s name is one that is instantly recognized by pilots around the world. He was one of the first to recognize the possibilities of general aviation. The Cessna Aircraft Company has produced a variety of aircraft, the most popular of which are the Cessna 152 trainer, Cessna 172 Skyhawk, Cessna 182 Skylane, and Cessna 206 Stationair, Cessna 180, Cessna 185 Skywagon, Cessna 210 Centurion, Cessna 340, and many more . The Cessna 172 is one of the most produced general aviation aircraft. Clyde Vernon Cessna was bitten by the flying bug after witnessing an aerial exhibition in 1910. Born in Hawthorne, Iowa in 1879 and raised in Kansas, Cessna had a natural mechanical ability and loved to pull apart and reassemble equipment. He was self-taught and had a natural aptitude to improve efficiency of farm equipment from an early age. He was working as an automobile salesperson, when he saw the Moisant traveling air circus and was impressed enough that he quit his job, and went to New York and started working for the Queen Aeroplane Company.

Cessna’s first aircraft in flight

Inspired by the Bleriot X1, Cessna created his first monoplane known as the “Silverwing” using a 40hp, 4-cyclinder motorboat motor. He conducted his first test flights in Great Salt Plains in Oklahoma. He was not discouraged after crashing on his first attempt. After thirteen failed attempts, he was finally airborne in the Silverwing but only, for a few minutes, before he crashed into the trees. In 1911, he earned the nickname of “The Birdman of Enid” after completing a successful five-mile flight with a landing at the point of departure. Over the next three years, he built several monoplane designs. In 1916, Cessna rented the Jones Motor Car factory and the manufactured the first aircraft in Wichita, Kansas. The entry of United States into the World War, exhibition flying came to a halt and led him to abandon aircraft manufacturing and return back to farming, but not for long.

In 1924, Cessna along with Lloyd Stearman and Walter Beech formed the Travel Air Manufacturing Company. The company built the Travel Air 5000, a four-place monoplane based on Cessna’s design, which later became the first aircraft to fly between American mainland and Hawaii. A conflict between Beech, who favored biplanes and Cessna, who preferred monoplanes, arose and Cessna left Travel Air in 1927 and formed Cessna Aircraft Company. The first aircraft designed was an internally braced cantilevered aircraft . Cessna hired 20 employees and produced his A series using different engines and later also upgraded his B, C and D series airplanes. He sold 78 aircraft and was in the process of expanding his factory when the Great Depression began. Demand for private planes disappeared and the company went bankrupt forcing Cessna to close the plant in 1931.

In 1934, the Cessna Aircraft Company saw a new beginning under his nephews – Dwane and Dwight Wallace. They persuaded Cessna to reopen the company, convinced the stockholders that all would work for free until company was seeing profits. The iconic Airmaster series aircraft C-34, a four place, high winged aircraft featuring Cessna’s first flaps was built during this time. Averaging 17 miles per gallon, it was considered a very efficient aircraft. It was also used for racing and considered unbeatable. It earned the title of “World’s Most Efficient Aircraft”. In 1936, Cessna, after selling his shares to his nephews and retired moving back to farm, where he lived until his death in 1954. With the success of the C-34, the company under the Wallace brothers introduced the Model T-50, a twin-engine design. The start of World War II, brought thousands of orders for the T-50 trainers from United States and Canada. By 1944, Cessna Aircraft Company occupied several thousand feet of factory space and employed more than 6,000 workers. The end of war also saw the revolution in flight, an increase in what was termed “family flight”. The planes designed were light affordable and rugged . By the 1950s, Cessna Aircraft Company built 8,000 trainers and continued to grow and expand. Today it remains the largest private aircraft company in the United States.

Clyde Cessna is remembered for his outstanding contribution in designing the early monoplanes, founding and managing aircraft manufacturing companies and producing high efficiency general aviation airplanes . He never held a pilot’s license, had only rudimentary education, self-taught, smart and resourceful. He was successful because he pushed forward despite repeated failures. Despite his limited involvement with the Cessna Aircraft Company, his contribution to aviation is apparent. Without his vision and dedication, the designs that continue to be flown today would not have materialized. Clyde Cessna was unarguably an incredible designer, engineer and entrepreneur who was instrumental in creating the most iconic general aviation aircraft brand that continues to thrive today. He was posthumously entered into the National Aviation Hall of fame in 1978 and Flying Magazine ranked him 27th in their 51 Heroes in Aviation. Clyde Cessna definitely deserves a spot amongst the Wright brothers, William Boeing, Louis Bleriot and other early aviation pioneers .

See Also:

Clyde Cessna and the Founding of the Cessna Aircraft Company

Otto Lilienthal: The Greatest of the Precursors

Otto Lilienthal aspired to build flying machines at an early age. Born near Ankhlam, Germany in 1848, he along with his brother studied bird flight. At age fourteen, they built a pair of flapping wings and attempted to fly by attaching them to their hands and running downhill by flapping them. By the time of his death in a glider accident in 1896, he was the world’s premier Aeronautical Engineer, having developed and published advanced conceptual understanding of flight data and of flight. The 18th century saw great strides in lighter than air flying and the first successful flight of the Montgolfier brothers. At the close of the eighteenth century, there was technical progress in heavier than air flight. While Sir George Cayley conceived the modern airplane in its basic form as machine with fixed wings, a fuselage and a tail, with separate systems to provide lift, propulsion and control, Otto Lilienthal provided the next quantum leap. Together their combined work provided the basis for the success if the next generation of pioneers.

As teenagers, Otto and his brother Gustav, built fixed wing gliders and tested them at a nearby military field. One of his serious investigations was a full sized Ornithopter, which was suspended by rope and pulleys, counterbalanced by a 40kg weight. The degree to which the pull on the counterweight reduced was measured, when the operator pumped the flapping wings with his legs. Lilienthal attended the Royal Trade Academy where he studied Mechanical Engineering. This prepared him for his future research in aeronautics and provided credibility for his work. He served one year in the Franco-Prussian war and upon return, began his experiments on air pressure with a Whirly arm device.

He measured aerodynamic forces of lift and drag and collected data and is known to have published normal and axial coefficients of aerodynamic force in his air pressure data that was used by future experimenters including the Wright Brothers. After a brief hiatus between 1881 and 1888, Lilienthal returned to the second phase of his career, this time focusing on glider design. He is known to have designed 16 different gliders based on his aerodynamic calculations and made as many as 2000 short flights. Lilienthal is credited with being the first pilot to recognize, attempt and achieve soaring flight. Lilienthal practiced gliding flight from a hill in his many designs. He published his experiments, encouraging and urging his readers to be unafraid to try gliding and to improve on his designs. Lilienthal flew with his arms inserted into the sleeve of the glider, elbows flexed and supporting his upper body, while his lower body hung below.

Otto Lilienthal flying from a hill

On the fatal day in August 1896, while trying to steer in a heat eddy, he encountered trouble and fell nose first to the ground unable to re-establish flight. Although he was pulled alive from the wreckage, he suffered concussions and is assumed to have perished from the growing intracranial hematoma. Otto Lilienthal knew that to build a successful aircraft, it was essential to learn to fly. He became the first to fly a glider and the first fatality of flight in 1896. He is also known for his extensive tests of airfoils. He is also known for his contribution to Kutta’s first paper on airfoil theory. He inspired other followers such as Percy Pilcer, Octave Chanute, Ferdinand Ferber and the Wrights. In Germany, where it almost began, Otto Lilienthal is considered one of the strongest pioneers of the German aerospace. He was the immediate predecessor of the Wrights and is undoubtedly one of the greatest precursors for his daring and tenacious pursuit of flying.

See Also:

To Fly Like a Bird

Lilienthal Glider

The Ancients: Jules Verne

Jules Verne was born in 1828 in Nantes, France. Although he went to law school, he was attracted to literature and embarked on a fictional career publishing many science fiction novels. He is known as the father of science fiction. Some of his famous novels include Five Weeks in a Balloon, Around the World in Eighty Days, From the Earth to the Moon, Around the Moon, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Discovery of the Earth.

Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Verne was not a scientist, but his novels explored scientific theories that were more plausible and grounded in reality. His publisher, Pierre Jules Hetzel, mandated that he teach science through fiction. His scientific explorations were derived from extensive reading of contemporary publications, discussions with experts among his friends and relatives and his own travels; Verne was an amateur sailor and traveled extensively with his wife. His fictional works include many dream machines, many of them futuristic that leave his readers in awe, transporting them to into extraordinary worlds.

In Around the World in Eighty Days, the protagonist Phileas Fogg and his companions use different modes of transportation available in the 1880s to travel around the world in 80 days. The novel explores the diversity of the Earth’s surface, both physical and cultural and continues to be used as an educational tool. In an analysis conducted it was found that students who “discuss tenets of National Geographical Standards in the context of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days” increased their knowledge as well as their interest in the discipline. In today’s terms 80 days to circumnavigate the Earth is a long time, and this feat can be accomplished in a matter of days using multimodal transportation or in hours such as the record set by Air France Concorde in 1992 or numerous other examples of circumnavigating the Earth using aircraft, balloons, sailplanes, Seacraft, spacecraft, and other transportation modes.

In his novel, From the Earth to the Moon, Verne’s theories of a moon trip including a potential launch site in Southern Florida, eerily match with uncanny precision NASA’s Apollo program almost a hundred years later. The size, shape, weight, material, crew size and the return method all consistent in their accuracy, very evident, in the comparison of an artist rendering of Verne’s lunar craft with the Apollo command and service module.

Spurred by President John F. Kennedy’s proclamation in 1961 that the US would send a man to the moon before the end of the decade, the Apollo program pursued several ambitious goals of developing the capability to transport humans to space, land on the moon, work in the lunar environment, and safely return to the earth. At the time of this announcement, the first American, Alan Sheppard had spent 15 minutes in space and returned safely. On July 21, 1969, NASA achieved this goal when Apollo 11 astronauts step foot on the moon becoming the first and only humans to ever step foot on the moon.

Not only this particular vehicle, National Geographic captures eight Jules Verne inventions that came true, including electrical submarines, newscasts, Solar Sails that resemble an artist rendition of NASA’s NanoSail-D, lunar modules, skywriting, videoconferencing, taser, and spaceship splash down in the ocean similar to the Mercury capsule. Verne did not anticipate that governments would drive moon race, but would be sponsored by private enterprises. However, this too can change with the commercialization of space and private sector companies becoming active participants in the space race.

Jules Verne died in 1905, almost at the advent of the golden age of powered flight and almost fifty years prior to the first spaceflight. He authored more than 60 books and his scientific fiction continues to spark the imagination of his readers be they students, writers, scientists or inventors for more than a century.

See Also:

Jules Verne Biography

Repost: Charlotesville to the rescue!


Don’t remember when last I did this (file and fly an IFR flight plan), maybe way back in 2005 (see Partial Panel). By the way this almost would have become a Partial Panel flight if we hadn’t switched aircraft!

Arriving early at the airport, we discovered that the aircraft had a steady “Low Vac” annunciator display on. Running the engine for a while did nothing for it.  The plan was to file and fly under instrument flight rules (IFR). Thunderstorms were in the forecast for the afternoon. When are they never? That in itself was challenging, so definitely didn’t want to work with fewer avionics.

Continue to read here.

Repost: Suffolk Executive Airport (SFQ)

Finding airports with Cafes on the field is extremely challenging in the Mid Atlantic. Even websites like AOPA airports, Airport Facility Directory, Airnav or even ForeFlight don’t contain accurate information sometimes. I unearthed SFQ a few months back through reading some user comments and scouring the web for information on Virginia airports with restaurants on the field.


Attitudes Cafe officially opened last April (2013), but they have unpredictable schedules, are open only Friday through Sunday, don’t answer the phone mostly, and possibly closed during holidays (Dec-Jan). They do have a Facebook page, where the most current information might be posted.

Continue to read here.

Repost: Cape May

Five years ago…

The airwaves were quieter on Easter Sunday and the air smooth as we made our way south. There was not a cloud in sight but sadly haze still clung around the area preventing crisp, crystal clear photographs and videos. We flew southbound reporting all the check points along the way: Alpine Tower, GWB, Intrepid, Clock and Statue of Liberty. We descended lower to 800 ft as we practiced our turns about the point over the Statue of Liberty.

Continue to read here.

Repost: Falling Water – A Flyout that wasn’t

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function.
This is the law.

— Louis H. Sullivan

If I were asked to name my second passion, I would have to say it is Architecture. With  a sister studying Architecture, I grew up surrounded with designs, drafting, discussions on famous architects such as Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright and The Fountainhead. In my spare time I pored over my sister’s books with flashy images of buildings from around the world; mesmerized by the intricate designs, lofty skyscrapers and flowing structures that could only be imagined and executed by the intellect of man.

Falling Water is a masterpiece by architect Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW). Nestled in a valley in rural Pennsylvania, away from civilization,  it is one of the most enduring buildings designed by FLW that propelled him to fame and success. It was built for the Kaufman family in the 1930s as a weekend home and is now preserved by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and open to the public as a museum.


Continue to read here.