Impossible Turn

Please do me (and yourself) a favor. If you’re not familiar with the “impossible turn”, read on, and get with a good instructor before your next flight (while I hope this article is useful, it’s no substitute for instruction). It’s imperative that you understand the dangers of the impossible turn. An experienced pilot died yesterday in a crash at my home airport (EMT). From initial reports, it appears he had an engine failure soon after takeoff and attempted the impossible turn from a low altitude. Continue reading

Terrain and IFR

Sundays are normally my non-flying days. I’ll often be found on my bicycle on the roads around Altadena, Pasadena, and La Canada. This Sunday found me and cycling buddies climbing the Angeles Crest Highway (ACH) from La Canada to Clear Creek Junction. It was a cool, cloudy, and foggy morning. As we climbed through the clouds, visibility was very poor (sometime as low as 200 ft).

Poor visibility at Clear Creek (~3600 MSL)

Visibility at Clear Creek

Part way into our climb, a stream of fire and sheriff vehicles began passing us going uphill; we also heard a helicopter overhead above the clouds. Experience led us to expect another motorcycle crash on the road. Only when got to Clear Creek (3600′ MSL) did we hear they were looking for a downed airplane.  Details were non existent, but my first guess was VFR into IMC (pilots who aren’t trained to fly in the clouds ending up in the clouds with deadly results). Continue reading

The Cost of Flying and the Diminishing Pilot Population

I’ve read a number of articles recently on the dwindling and aging pilot population. A few statistics help to illustrate the problem facing us as we try to grow the pilot population…

Median income: $12,050
Average car: $3,650
Cessna 172 (new): $18,440

Median income: $51,300
Average car: $31,250
Cessna 172 (new): $360,000

Continue reading

Engine Out

On Monday, September 9, 2013, I experienced a total loss of power when flying my Cessna 172. I had just executed a touch and go on Long Beach (KLGB) runway 25L and was climbing out, when the engine sputtered and went quiet. At the time, I was near the departure end of the runway around 100′ – 200′ AGL. To give you the most important part of the story, I came out unscathed, but my airplane did not.

N42EP post-incident at LGB Continue reading

Tower closures

Chino Tower

Many friends have asked me my thoughts on the tower closures caused by the sequestration and whether it will impact me. As in most things aviation related, much of what you read online, see in papers, or watch on TV is, at best, poorly informed and in many cases, flat wrong. Continue reading

Endeavour’s Last Flight

The last flight of any aircraft must be a sentimental event. When that craft is the last shuttle to fly to its final resting place, even more so. When I heard that Shuttle Endeavour was coming to Los Angeles to become part of the California Science Center, I knew that I’d have to see it. As a pilot, I was hoping I could see it from the air. Today, I did that. Continue reading

Is flying safe?

I most often hear this question from prospective pilots and their families. It’s also the question that comes up most often at a party if someone finds out I’m a flight instructor. The question starts from a perception (driven mostly by media reports) that these “little planes” fall out of the sky with regularity. What is true is that every small plane crash is news. That should be an indicator that the event is unusual. Most car fatalities hardly merit a line in the newspaper noting who died, because we kill 30-40,000 people annually in the US in motor vehicle accidents. Continue reading