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Opinion & Commentary

  • July 2015 -I’ve always found the aviation community to be an exceptionally friendly and helpful one. Aviators go out of their way to help one another. This community also reaches out beyond its
  • July 2015 - I was born in New York City, just down the street from the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport (KLGA). That heralded spot had been the home of the Pan American flying boat
  •  September 2015 To my great disappointment I’ve turned out to be a crotchety old fart. As a young man, I regarded older people who ended up with a poor attitude later in life as something I never
  • September 2015 Last time we were together (Full Circle, July 2015) I spoke about the audio productions of two of Robert Gandt’s nonfiction books, “SkyGods : The Fall of Pan Am” and “China Clipper:
  • Preparing for a coast-to-coast trip in the summer of 2015. June 2015- Eleven years ago, in the debut of Left Coast Pilot, I wrote about my experiences flying from California to West Virginia. I’m
  • Alaska is a place where the small airplane still rules. May 2015- Last winter, a friend out of Fairbanks invited me to come work as a volunteer for the Yukon Quest sled dog race, where intrepid
  • Decades ago when I was flying as copilot in a Convair 240, I made notes for a future use that I never got around to. May 2015- Here is the final installment of the fragmented creations from
  • Widespread fog prompts a change of heart about personal minimums on departure. April 2015- I have never been a fan of personal minimums—the idea that you should set limits for yourself short of
  • We and our airplanes are just getting older. March 2015- For a lot of us there was surely that one moment when you caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror one day. OMG! you may have said. How
  • Fragments of what I was seeing and hearing and thinking in those early days when I flew as a copilot in a Convair 240. March 2015- We are back again at my archeological dig, wherein old boxes of
  • After a medical leave of their own, John Ruley and his wife Kate have resumed their volunteer work for medical missions in northern Mexico. February 2015- From my notebook:Nov. 7, 2014, Hotel La
  • February 2005 Here in California’s Central Valley, we’re blessed with good weather—most of the time. A lot of local pilots get along without an instrument rating. That works for about nine months
  • February 2005 Where did I begin? Where did I get my start as an aviation-oriented, crazy-about-everything-having-to-do-with-flying kind of guy? Like many a romantic movie starring Ryan O’Neal, it
  • February 2005 He’s not really my uncle and, matter of fact, we’re absolutely no blood relationship to each other at all. I started calling him Uncle Nelson when my kids were very small, because
  • March 2005 Everybody has dreams in which they think they are dead or at least in another world. If not, then I’m crazy because those dreams happen to me all the time. My “dream” afterlife isn’t
  • March 2005 Astute readers of this column will notice that, effective this month, we’ve got a change at the very top. The new title for this section of the magazine has become “Full Circle” because
  • March 2005 When I was but barefoot boy with cheek, most of my contemporaries dreamed of becoming pilots. We cluttered our Big Chief tablets and the margins of our school books with drawings of
  • April 2005-“Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans.” This little philosophical phrase is something that I’ve had in my personal lexicon for quite a number of years now, and some
  • March 2005 I flew from my home base (Modesto, Calif.) to Santa Monica this past weekend, and encountered a situation I’d never quite run into before: trouble coming up with a workable IFR
  • April 2005- Sooner or later, it happens to most of us: You may be able to spot traffic before your passengers, but you find it getting harder and harder to read the fine print on an approach plate,
  • April 2005- Spring is here for most of us. We are no longer thawing airplanes out in hangars before we can fly them. No frost on the windshields and soon mud daubers will be a factor with our pitot
  • March 2005- Recently, a friend and I were out in the Bounce Pattern (touch-and-goes) in an old beat-up rental hag attempting to make spot landings with six- to eight-knot crosswinds. This is good
  • March 2005- January 20, 2005 was a watershed day in aviation if you happened to be a turbojet operator. On that day, domestic RVSM (Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums) went into
  • February 2005 It seems that everyone gets some kind of a deal when buying a big-ticket item like a new car or a used airplane. Well, everyone but me. In his youth, my Dad was a horse trader. He
  • April 2005- Okay, okay, what I'm about to relate to you doesn't rise anywhere near the level of accomplishment of the lady who just set a new record for sailing around the world in 77 days, but
  • March 2005- California has been our home since 1960. After high school and college in Michigan, the U.S. Navy sent me to San Diego for duty in 1959—in February. When I arrived the temperature was
  • March 2005- If you're lucky enough to visit NASA's Dryden flight research center, located next to Edwards Air Force Base near Lancaster, CA; you can expect to see a lot of exotic airplanes. This,
  • April 2005- There were seventeen direct, certificated descendants and scores of variants in two, three and four-place configurations on conventional or tricycle gear, skis or floats, powered by
  • April 2005- I always look forward to trips to the Million Air FBO at St. Paul Downtown Airport, KSTP. Walking in from the ramp entrance thru the lobby near the front door is the most enchanting
  • April 2005- My partner, Bob May and I are among the luckiest people on earth, we get to fly what is arguably the most fun-to-fly airplane ever built, a 1944 Piper J3 Cub. We are joined in this
  • January 2015- My notes include observations on piloting in general, with lots about airline flying and the types of people involved in airline flying 50-plus years ago. Like an archeological dig,
  • January 2015- I am proud to say I am a child of the 1960's. Who could have had a more exciting time to grow up? We had the Beatles; The Rolling Stones; Crosby, Stills and Nash. We grew our hair
  • December 2014- Wherein the great mountain flying expedition is saved. We pilots fly for as many reasons as there are pilots and we use airplanes for manifold purposes—as many, I suppose, as our
  • December 2014- More often than not, these columns are built around a recent flight, and what I learned from it. That makes them pretty easy to write, as I usually learn (or re-learn) something on
  • November 2014- Nothing else quite compares to nudging a throttlethat's connected to a big radial
  • November 2014- Eddie taught me that it doesn't take a lot to be happy, even though you land a little left of centerline. I have a box in my garage filled with odds and ends collected over a
  • October 2014- A desktop simulator may help you correct chronic problems in your
  • October 2014- A contrarian rescued from crotchetiness is still a contrarian.      I sometimes think I have a love–hate relationship with General Aviation. Eventually that may turn true about just
  • The FAA is promoting the use of AOA-based systems to reduce GA accidents caused by loss-of-control (LOC). The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC), including its Safety Assessment Team
  • Dear Ms. MacPherson, This letter responds to your request for legal interpretation sent to my office on May 19, 2014, on behalf of your client, AirPooler, Inc. As set forth in the request for legal
  • September 2014- If you haven't lined up and waited yet, you will. As most of you likely know, our ATC brethren recently retired the phrase "taxi into position and hold" and switched to its more
  • September 2014- I'm writing this at the very beginning of this year's thunderstorm season while I'm conducting a pseudo-class on that very subject for a young pilot acquaintance. Today, we are
  • August 2014- I have lately been thinking about the future. The thoughts arise because my children are suddenly grown-up beings with independent lives of their own—and it is clear that I am not
  • August 2014- A couple of months ago, my longtime flight instructor (and friend) Larry called to ask if I'd be available as copilot for a trip to Santa Ana, in Southern
  • July 2014- While I'm sitting at my desk and writing this, we are currently three weeks into the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 brouhaha. In case you've been in another star system for the past several
  • July 2014- When I met Teddy, he'd just gotten out of jail. The barely five-foot-tall Montana rancher was deep into his eighties and had fought a lifelong cat-and-mouse game with law enforcers—people
  • June 2014- We all learned to do stalls (however reluctantly) in our primary flight training, and demonstrated them to the satisfaction of an examiner in order to get our licenses, and we're all
  • June 2014- As I write this, with a glance at the calendar, I realize I have combined my interest in flying and putting words on paper for almost exactly 13 years, and in that time I've made some
  • December 2013- If you are a fan of “Antiques Roadshow” or a saver of things with the barely recognized thought that they might someday be worth enough that a grandchild will remember you fondly,
  • May 2014- Thanks to Hollywood, I grew up in a world filled with cowboys. They had great names like Chance and Colorado and Paladin. And these cowboys always had a special horse, one that stuck with