Flying Magazine article on Formation Flight

3 Mooneys in echelon formation
3 Mooneys in echelon formation. Photographer: Jay Selman

Long before I was a pilot, I poured over the articles in Flying magazine. One of my favorite Flying editors, Pia Bergqvist, is also a Mooney pilot and joined us in Yuma, Arizona for the 5th annual formation clinic there. I first learned to fly formation at that clinic 5 years ago.

Pia wrote a fantastic article on formation flying in the May 2018 issue of Flying titled Learn to Fly Formation like the Pros

There’s a bunch of wonderful pictures in the article, including a nice one of our airplane leading a 4-ship echelon (the photographer is in the #4 airplane)

P-51 Mustang Flight

About to climb in the cockpit for my P-51 flight.

Short version I flew a P-51 Mustang. It was awesome! #bucketlist

Long version
My logbook now contains 1.1 of flight time in a P-51 Mustang, a World War II fighter aircraft that changed the course of the war. I flew in “Betty Jane”, a TP-51C which is a modification of the original P-51 design to add a second seat and a full set of flight controls and instruments in the rear seat. The P-51 was the first fighter that had the range to stay with the allied bombers for the entire time in hostile airspace. I had the rare chance to fly in a piece of history. Continue reading P-51 Mustang Flight

Sunrise Flight

Sunrise Takeoff
The sun is still rising as we begin our takeoff.

We’re still in the process of breaking in the new engine. It’s got about 15 hours on it and still running as smooth as silk. Today’s plan was to get up early and get in the air right around sunrise. The air would be nice and cool, plus the early start would help us avoid the flurry of activity that is typical for a beautiful Saturday morning like this one.
Continue reading Sunrise Flight

Engine Update

Good News and Bad News

The factory rebuilt IO-360-A3B6 engine is ready for installation

The good news is the factory rebuilt engine arrived on schedule, and in great condition. The other good news is the propeller and governor came back from overhaul with no problems. There’s always a chance that the propeller overhaul shop will find a crack or corrosion in the blades that requires replacing the entire propeller.

The bad news is when the mechanics pulled the old engine off, and they inspected the engine mount they found one of the lower U-shaped brackets on the mount was weak and one side of the U actually broke off in the mechanic’s hand as he inspected it. Continue reading Engine Update

Weather Radar: Check the Fine Print

On one particularly beautiful Saturday morning, in preparation for a local flight with a student, I obtained most of my weather information by just looking out the window. The sun had risen above the peaks to the east and the sky was bright blue canvas devoid of clouds. The large American flag that I use for my visual wind check was relaxing against the flag pole. Today would be a great morning to fly, and perfect conditions for my soon-to-solo student. When I checked the weather radar image on ADDS, I was surprised to find lots of activity on the display. That couldn’t be right — radar only shows precipitation, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. What was going on? Continue reading Weather Radar: Check the Fine Print

Why Don’t You Write?

You haven’t seen any flying stories here for a while because we’ve been dealing with some maintenance issues with the Mooney. Here’s a quick update for those who have been wondering what we’ve been up to.

New Cylinder

Mooney with the prop not on it.
What’s wrong with this picture?

Read on to find out why the propeller is not on the airplane.

We first noticed an issue with cylinder number 2 during our Angel Flight to Driggs in the summer of 2006. The spark plugs kept getting fouled with excess oil, so we had our mechanics pull the cylinder and check it out. They discovered a stuck oil control ring which explained the oil fouling, but they also discovered a small crack in the cylinder. Due to the crack, we had no choice but to replace that cylinder. Continue reading Why Don’t You Write?

Now That Takes Guts

Airshow pilot Sean Tucker recently had a serious in-flight emergency. At about 100 feet off the ground, he heard a snap as his control stick broke free. Without elevator or aileron control, Sean managed to use just his trim and rudder to get the airplane climbed up to a safe altitude where he could try to troubleshoot the problem. Continue reading Now That Takes Guts

Lighten Up!

Here’s a quick tip to make your flying a lot smoother: lighten your grip on the controls. I find a lot of pilots I fly with have a death grip on the yoke, and that has a couple of negative effects. The most noticeable thing is that their control of the airplane tends to be pretty abrupt and jerky. They even sometimes move the ailerons and elevator when they turn their head or shift in their seat. Another side effect of having a tight grip on the controls is that it tends to make the pilot a bit more tense. I’ve seen the tension from the hand on the controls transfer up to the shoulders, neck and sometimes it seems even to the brain. Continue reading Lighten Up!

Hitting the Spot

From watching airplanes land on a typical Saturday at the airport it’s clear that some pilots are able to land on a predetermined spot consistently, while others are not quite up to that standard. I think we all strive to make our landings better and one way to do that is working on being consistent as to where you touch down. Not only does this help you fly more precisely, but it’s something that could really save your bacon in the event you are forced to make a landing somewhere other than a hard-surface runway. You might not have an obstruction-free mile of asphalt to land on in an emergency, or when flying to some of the back country airports. Continue reading Hitting the Spot