Repost: Yikes I almost stalled over Lakeland

“Aircraft arriving over Lake Parker, expect holding until 7:15 pm over Lake Parker,” was what we heard on the radio a few minutes after our planned group departure from Leesburg International Airport (KLEE) in Leesburg, Florida.

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Four aircraft from the Mid-Atlantic had made it easily, albeit, at different times to our chosen airport of rendezvous. Considering the aircraft in play: a Columbia 400, a twin Baron, a Cessna 182 and a Cessna 172, we definitely needed a rally point to meet, prepare, and plan a departure to Sun ‘n Fun (SNF).

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According to our original plan, we had all congregated at KLEE, briefed the arrival procedures and departed on cue around 6:00pm. The plan was to arrive at Lakeland Airport around 6:30pm for a group arrival.

Continue to read here.

Woman in Aviation: Tiny Broadwich

THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF GEORGIA “TINY” BROADWICK

Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick was the first woman to parachute from an airplane and the first person to manually deploy a parachute after a malfunction!

Born on April 8, 1893 in North Carolina, Georgia Ann Thompson, was nicknamed Tiny due to her small size and weight. At the young age of 15 years, she jumped from a hot air balloon at the North Carolina State Fair. An encounter with famed stunt flyer and airplane manufacturer Glenn Martin led her to the world of airplane jumping and on June 21st, 1913, she became the first woman to parachute from an airplane.

Source – Wikipedia: Ready to jump from Martin T airplane piloted by Glenn Martin.

Continue to read the amazing story of her life here.

March is Women in History month and Woman of Aviation month.

See Also:

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Tiny Broadwich

Repost: First Solo

Lights. Camera. Action!

That’s how I always remembered it.

Strobes. Transponder. Throttle.

No pounding heart, sweaty palms or shaky legs as I raced down the runway, applying a little right rudder to maintain center line, eyes glued to the airspeed indicator.

At least not yet.

Airspeed indicator needle gradually turned, as the airplane gained speed. 40, 50, and finally 60 Knots. Gently ease back the yoke and lift-off.

I was airborne.

Oh my God!

It finally sank in. I was all alone in the cockpit having just performed a take-off, for my very first solo flight. I still had to land this aircraft all by myself.

Continue to read here.

Repost: Flying Among Clouds

Like any new student of Instrument training I eagerly awaited my first foray into clouds. Would I be nervous, disoriented, distracted or maybe even a total disaster, I wondered often how I would react when it all happened. It has been several months now since I had started my instrument training. Now almost at the end of my training, I was sure I would not get a chance to find out, at least not yet, how it would all be.

Lo and behold, Saturday loomed gloomy and cloudy. For once I was excited and eager to be off the ground! This is quite contrary to my normal expectation for nice, clear weather on a Saturday morning. You see, I had scheduled a flight with my instructor for that morning. I was literally waiting for 9 am so I could be up, up and away.

Continue to read here.

Repost: To Shear or not to Shear

Has it really been that long…

It was the first day of my advanced flight training class. The weather outside was superficially deceptive. Clear blue skies and  sunny, but with moderate turbulence and wind shear. Not the best of days to select for a flying lesson. I went to the airport guessing, I wasn’t going to be having my first lesson after all. My instructor walked in and said “Ready to go?”. Surprised I said “Still want to go ahead with the lesson, considering the weather?”

We got some feedback from other instructors. The general opinion was it was quite rough flying.  Earlier in the day there were reports of 3000 foot drops!

Continue to read here.

Repost: From the Right Seat

10 Years ago…

It was one of those days when nothing was working in my favor. Have you experienced one of those days when you feel more like a spectator and things appear beyond your control? When you want to protest or butt in and say that is not what I want to do or how I want to do it? Or realize just a tad bit late that was the wrong thing to do? I was determined to not let the day’s somberness pull me down. After all every cloud has a silver lining.

So when Mike offered the greatest show in the world, I jumped at the chance to ride right seat in the Baron down the Hudson river corridor southbound past the Alpine Tower, GW Bridge, Intrepid, The Clock, Circle the Statue of Liberty, VZ bridge, and back home to DC at night. New York city was resplendent as always with lights turned on all over the city. The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building stood majestic as always lit up to brighten anyone’s day. If seeing New York from 1100ft during the day was awe inspiring, seeing it in all its glory at night left us breathless. It was one of the coldest days of the season, but the air was clear and crisp in the night sky. With very light traffic flying the corridor that time of the night, we flew in complete contentment enjoying the splendor of the New York skyline at night.

Continue to read here.

Repost: Thanksgiving

“What are you doing tomorrow,” I asked, preoccupied with other thoughts.

“What? ” said Nathan.

“What did you say,” asked Nathan asked again.

“Oh… why don’t you come to celebrate Thanksgiving at my place? Amelia and I would be happy to have you over.” I said enthusiastically.

“Are you sure?” asked Nathan, hesitantly.

“Of course ,” I said. “You know Amelia, the more the merrier. Sri, Chung, Bob, several of Amelia’s coworkers will be there. I have invited several of my old coworkers too.” I said warmly.

“But, Frisco,’ said Nathan. “Are you sure…” as his voice drifted off. Hesitant to voice all that worried him. He eyed me, with a sad look.

One that I missed.

How could I have known what Nathan knew that day, what haunted him, and  what bothered him that day. I was too carefree, my mind on Amelia, who had just accepted my proposal. I was oblivious to everything else. It was the fall of 2003, when several of us gathered together to give thanks. It was one of those last days of happiness we would experience in a long time. Maybe it was already late. I was lax in noting. I was preoccupied with Amelia.

I missed the most important cue in my life about Nathan. That was the day I should have paid attention.

I could have saved him.

Repost: September

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

I was in the deep throes of slumber, when I was rudely awakened by my very persistent alarm clock. It can’t be 4:00 a.m. already, I thought sleepily, as I pulled the comforter tightly around me, reaching over to hit the snooze button, without opening my eyes. I must have set it wrong. It definitely had to be wrong. Hadn’t I just barely gone to bed?

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

The alarm screeched again, more persistent than ever.

Okay you bugger, stop barking, I swore getting out of bed and leaning over the damn clock to put an end to its misery and just for added credence checked my phone to verify it indeed was past 4:00 a.m.

Yawning, I sleepily pulled on a sweatshirt and made it to the bathroom. I had 30 minutes to be ready before my ride arrived to whisk me to my job. This was going to be a long day. The first leg of my trip was a short hop to LAX, we would pick up our next batch of passengers for the longer haul to JFK.

I turned on the coffee machine, while brushing my teeth and wondered if I should spend an extra day in New York. I was at the end of my current rotation and not scheduled to fly the next couple of days. Flights on reserve were few and far in between, considering the long list of pilots on reserve. On the other hand, I could work on my motorcycle, change the oil and rev it up for my upcoming trip with Alan. It wasn’t long after I joined Galt Airlines as First Officer that I had run into Alan Sheppard. He too was a First Officer at Galt and a motorcycle aficionado. Every opportunity we got, we stole away in our bikes hitting the Pacific Coast Freeway or one of the Highways east: 41 or 46 or 58.

RING. RING. RING. RING.

The phone rang, waking me from my reverie.

“Just checking you’re up dude,” Tim, my ride, spoke lazily. “I will be there in 15 minutes. Don’t keep me waiting, I still have to swing by Eliza’s.” he spoke.

“How come? I thought we agreed that I would be the last one you would pick up,” I said annoyed to lose my extra 10 minutes.

“Well, things changed.” he laughed.

“Yeah, I bet Eliza likely sweet talked you into it. What did she offer?” I asked.

“Dude, nothing. It just worked out best for the route. I’ll see you soon.” he said as he hung up.

I ran through my morning ablutions almost in automation still wondering about New York. Should I pack an additional pair of clothes or not, I pondered when I got the buzzer from the front desk “Your ride is here.”

Quickly grabbing my backpack, cap and blazer I headed for the elevators. New York can wait. Maybe another time.

We pulled into the terminal building by 5:00 am. I checked in the pilot lounge and signed in. Perusing my schedule, I saw I was flying with Captain Bill Atwater. Bill was always fun. He could tell a story well and he knew many a story. After a brief stint in the army, doing a rotation in Nam, Bill had returned home and pursued a career in the Airline industry. He had a solid 30 years of service, well respected and admired by many budding pilots, including myself. The day although long, was at least not going to be boring!

I headed over to the airplane to begin the pre-flight checks. As first officer, it was my duty to do the outside walk around and inspect the flight. Entering the cockpit, I saw Bill already there going over the details of the flight.

“Morning, John. Looks like it is going to be an easy, breezy flight. I see you are also on the schedule for the next flight leg to the east coast.” Bill greeted me.

“Captain,” I responded. “Good to see.”

“Everything look good on the outside?” he queried.

“Everything looks fine. Charlie mentioned that we have an old friend jump seating.” I said.

“Did he? Did he say who?” Captain appeared pre-occupied pouring over the flight schedule.

“No, he’s keeping it a surprise. Anything bothering you,” I asked.

“We might have a problem with extra baggage.” Bill responded absentmindedly.

“Okay, shall I talk to Charlie?”  I asked.

“Not just yet. We’ll…”

“William Turner Atwater!” bellowed a voice.

“Teddy! Is it really you?” laughed Bill, getting up and hauling Teddy into a warm embrace. Theodore Edward Graham was another legend at the airline. “So you are the surprise. Well. Well. John, do you know Teddy?”

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him in person, but of course I have heard about him. Who hasn’t?” I responded.

“He and I were together at Nam and fought side by side. We quit the army around the same time and chose a career in aviation. Thirty years. And it comes to an end soon. I heard you are retiring soon, Teddy.” Bill said looking at Teddy.

“Yep. In fact today is my last day. I jump seat with you to LAX, pick up the flight to DCA. My last flight.” He answered.

“Are you planning to retire in the Capital?” questioned Bill.

“No, just have to take care of some business out east, and then I will move permanently to Lancaster, CA. I still own a home there. Millie and I will settle down there. How much longer do you have?” Teddy asked.

“I retire at the end of the year. Good to hear that you are still going to be in California. Jill and I plan to retire in San Luis Obispo, so we will be practically neighbors.” Bill responded enthusiastically.

“Captain, ready to load the passengers?” asked Nina, our chief stewardess, peeking into the cockpit.

“Yes, better get them in, before they start a strike,” joked the Captain.

Thirty minutes later with the herds loaded, weight and balance resolved, we finally closed the airplane doors and taxied in line to depart from Runway 28L.

I like these early morning departures. Daylight was barely breaking through. There was some early morning fog hugging the coastline. The lights of San Francisco were like beacons suspended in space. Off to the right was the Bay Bridge glistening in silver. Even this early in the morning, I could see traffic beginning to increase. And to the right, glinting golden with the streaks of dawn was the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, connecting Marin County to Downtown San Francisco. Wisps of white fog floated. We climbed steadily and headed towards Point Reyes, before turning to intercept the 281 radial to Woodside.

I always enjoyed flying the Golden Gate Arrival during evening twilight or dusk as well. It is breathtaking, or sometimes, as is often possible, when the fog rolls in and the Golden Gate remains suspended in space, resplendent in the evening glow. Seeing the Golden Gate any time of the day or night means coming home. The setting sun over the Pacific, the crisp sunny skies with fog looming over the valley, are a comforting sight. I love flying from my home town of San Francisco, CA.

The trip to LAX was a mere one hour and 2 minutes. Within minutes we were headed direct to Avenal VORTAC and cruising in level flight. Arriving at Avenal we will execute the arrival procedure into LAX.

After a brief stint as a charter pilot, I had jumped at a chance to fly First Officer at Galt Airlines. The housing boom had propelled the Silicon Valley to great heights. I was what was known as a reserve pilot: always on call. The past two years, I had grabbed any and all flights that I could get. Over the last two years, I had flown this route many times.  I could literally fly that route blind folded.

I could hear the bantering between Bill and Teddy as they joked about bygone days. I wished the flight were longer. One did not get the opportunity to fly with not one but two legends in the same cockpit. Bill flew the plane with expert precision and finesse.

We had arrived at Avenal and were already working through our before landing checklist, when a call from our dispatch office buzzed in. Seconds later, we had communication with the Air Traffic Control.

Neither of us knew that moment, how irrevocably, all our lives were going to be changed.

Repost: Down the Deschutes River

Crater Lake was formed as result of the collapse of the volcano, Mount Mazama many, many years ago. Mount Mazama belongs to the Cascade range and was built over a long period  of almost 400, 000 years. The caldera that Crater Lake is composed of, is supposed to have been created almost 6,000 or 8,000 years ago.

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I had the distinct pleasure of both flying this route as well as driving it from Northern California. Believe me, each experience has it’s own advantage. For example, seeing Crater Lake from the air provides the most stunning views of the bluest of blue waters. On the other hand, driving up to Crater National Park and trekking down the slope of the Mount Mazama to the water’s edge provides views of deep, blue , clear water, and sheer cliffs surrounding the lake of such immeasurable beauty, it is hard to make a  choice.

Continue to read here.

Repost: From Palms to Pines

Fly 'n Things

“A first time racer’s personal account”

“You have to go down to 350 feet for the flyby,” I reminded gently. “I am not going any lower“, pat came the response while Grace stayed steady at 400 feet. “We’ll be disqualified if we are not at or below 200 feet for the flyby,” I said a trifle forcefully.

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