Why We Fly

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A gear problem?

After fifteen years flying one rented Cessna 172 or another, I finally bought my first plane with...

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Landings at the crosswind limit

It was one of those early spring days when the lows were very low, the high pressures very high, and in between the wind was howling. As is often the case on these days, the sky was clear and the flying conditions good—until it...

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The mystery of a very heavy 747

It was my leg as a cargo 747-100 first officer, a creampuff Sunday flight from southeast US to Anchorage, Alaska. Dauntingly clear skies and smooth air bridged the gap separating us three from cold drafts and beer battered...

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What if flying cars are just a bad idea?

For a newspaper journalist on a tight deadline, there’s nothing like a “flying car” story. It’s guaranteed to get lots of clicks, the companies being profiled will eagerly supply information, and most readers don’t know enough...

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Orders from heaven

First, a disclaimer: I think this story is true. Once upon a very, very long time ago, the Salt Lake City Police Department decided to experiment with using an ultralight aircraft for patrol work. I don’t know for sure, but I...

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Are pilots still navigating?

I was giving a flight review the other day and in the words of Claude Rains (Casablanca), I was shocked, positively shocked that the pilot I was flying with had virtually no knowledge of basic navigation. With the technology...

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Helicopter rescue on Mount Rainier

It all started with a pounding on the front door at 5:00 AM. We were living in a house inside Mount Rainier National Park. I was directing youth programs in the park and at the time coordinating helicopter support from the US...

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The wrong stuff

Editor’s note: This article was the winning entry in the third annual Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots. After reading dozens of entries, our distinguished panel of judges (including Richard’s son) selected Michael...

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The first time I ever saw the Grand Canyon

The first time I ever saw the Grand Canyon was in 1969, on a trip to Nellis Air Force Base on my first cross-country flight to Las Vegas, Nevada. I was a young fighter pilot in the US Air Force, assigned to duty as an aircraft...

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The logbook: a generational connection

“I’ll tell you an interesting story about him. When he passed his checkride, he gave me a $10 gift card to The Flame Room. And I used that to take my wife on our first date. I got the steak and she got the lobster,...

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An intro flight and shattered dreams

Several years ago, when I was walking the winding road of time-building to become a professional pilot, some of us who were already licensed would find reward for our dedication by flying as a safety pilot for others. Sometimes...

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Preparing for the trip of a lifetime to Alaska

Four decades ago, I learned to fly in a Piper Tomahawk at Fairbanks, Alaska. Since then, through job changes, multiple moves, raising kids, lots of distractions, and eventually retirement, I wanted to go back and really explore...

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