“We are not alone,” Greg’s October, 2014 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2014 by Greg Brown

The bond between pilots, airplanes, and mechanics

RussMonroe_GuardianMedicalHelicopter_KingmanAirport-IGM_1013eSmw1200“Only fourteen starts left before she gets a hot section,” explained mechanic Russ Monroe, patting the scarlet engine housing of a Bell 407 helicopter. He spoke with gravity, as might a heart surgeon contemplating surgery.

Russ used to work on the Flying Carpet. I remember him excitedly regaling me at the maintenance hangar about a new and better method he’d found to set magneto timing for the engine. Another time, he delighted in discovering that the airplane had 500 hours on her vacuum pump, “and since this has been a light annual inspection, it might be a good time to preventatively replace it.”

Russ enjoyed other careers before earning his “A&P” (aircraft and powerplant) mechanic’s certificate, first in the US Navy and later as a radio broadcaster. He’s a wealth of knowledge on many topics, so we’ve always enjoyed talking airplanes or anything else. Then Russ left Flagstaff for a position as a roving helicopter mechanic. When I learned he was temporarily stationed in Kingman, I volunteered to visit him.

4-GregBrownFT1014_1027eSmw1200It’s “monsoon season” in Arizona, meaning a daily threat of afternoon thunderstorms. So I picked a day when Jean had an early commercial flight, and after dropping her at the airline terminal, took flight for Kingman. Departing at 6:30am, I figured I had until at least midday before thunderstorms threatened. That optimism faded when I noted rain showers over Las Vegas; then pilot reports directed my attention to an isolated but massive storm cell near Parker, southwest of Kingman. Neither was an immediate threat, but at this early hour they were harbingers of more to come…

READ THE WHOLE STORY in this month’s Flying Carpet column, We Are Not Alone.” (Please allow a moment for the article to load.)

Top photo: Mechanic Russ Monroe preflights the rotor assembly on a Guardian Air Bell 407 helicopter, operated by Air Methods.

Bottom photo: Mothballed airliners clog the ramp at Kingman Airport, Arizona. SEE MORE PHOTOS!

(This column first appeared in the October, 2014 issue of AOPA Flight Training magazine.)

©2014 Gregory N.Brown

Visit Greg’s first Phoenix-area “Views from the Flying Carpet” photography exhibit!

Posted in Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2014 by Greg Brown

Greg-SharlotHallFCopening_JanCollinsphoto_5024eCrSmw1200Announcing my first Phoenix-area Views from the Flying Carpet Fine Art Aerial Photography Exhibit!

IMG_3355-1024x682See two dozen of my finest photographs, at the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Papago Park, through September 28th, 2014.

Visit the museum at 1300 N. College Ave. Tempe, Arizona. (The exhibit is located in the upstairs gallery, directly above the reception desk.)

Gallery Hours
Tues. – Sat. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Sun. noon – 4 p.m.
Closed on Mondays and state holidays

Museum admission is $5 for adults, with discounts for young people and seniors. Children under 11 are free.

©2014 Gregory N. Brown

“Tip of the Spear,” Greg’s September, 2014 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's photographs, turbine pilots, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2014 by Greg Brown

Flying aerobatics in an F-16 “Viper”

Austin_2014 PACAF_F-16_DemoTeam_StaffSgtTongDuongPhoto_TD38426eSmw1200Exhausted, Jean and I stumbled off a Japan Airlines 737 in Misawa, at the remote northern tip of Honshu island. We were here to visit our son and his family. Despite three days of airline travel, piloting was far from my mind.

With little general aviation in Japan, I’d steeled myself to forget flying for three weeks. But that was about to change.

Our daughter-in-law Desi greeted us at the terminal and drove us to the other side of Misawa Airport, a joint use field shared with the US Air Force 35th Fighter Wing and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force 3rd Air Wing. Following a stop for visitor passes, we walked directly onto the base flight line. Moments later the airport temporarily closed.

AustinF16AerobaticsMisawaAFB_2118-Edit-2eSmw1200“Captain Austin Brown will now demonstrate the awesome power and maneuverability of the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon,” said an airshow announcer practicing with the ground crew around a pickup truck.

With that, the “Viper” (as pilots prefer to call it) began a 14-minute solo aerobatic routine. To say our hearts leapt into our throats would be an understatement, for the pilot was our son.

Austin began flying with us as a child, standing to steer in cruise before he could reach the yoke from the seat. From then through his teen years we flew together whenever the opportunity arose. When Jean and I bought the Flying Carpet for family flying adventure, who could imagine it would lead our then-15-year-old to a coveted fighter-pilot career.

F-16DemonstrationTeam-PacificAirForces_patch-AsherRepro_2881eSm1200Now, following deployments around the world, Austin was completing training for his new role as Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Pilot. In this position he’ll represent our country and armed forces performing at air shows in friendly nations throughout Asia, from Japan to Korea, Singapore, Australia, and India. Team missions are to promote bilateral relations, reassure allied nations, and showcase US combat capabilities. What unbelievable luck for Mom and Dad, that his final practice performances should coincide with our arrival!

Along with traditional maneuvers such as the Cuban 8, Split S, and Double Immelmann turn, Austin showcased F-16 capabilities I found particularly astonishing as a lightplane pilot. For while the above accumulated-energy maneuvers can be accomplished by pre-accelerating in aerobatic piston aircraft, others are hardly possible without the phenomenal thrust-to-weight ratio of a modern fighter jet…

READ THE WHOLE STORY in this month’s Flying Carpet column, “Tip of the Spear.” (Please allow a moment for the article to load.)

Top photo: U.S. Air Force Capt. Austin “Code” Brown (front right) with the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team, Misawa Air Force Base, Japan.

Center photo: U.S. Capt. Brown performs aerobatics in an F-16 “Viper” over Misawa Air Force Base, Japan, monitored by pilot safety observer Capt. Ryan “Voodoo” Worrell” (in pickup truck).

Bottom photo: Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team uniform patch. SEE MORE PHOTOS!

Watch a video from the Chitose Air Show and follow the PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team on Facebook.

(This column first appeared in the September, 2014 issue of AOPA Flight Training magazine.)

©2014 Gregory N.Brown

“Summer Sightseeing,” Greg’s August, 2014 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2014 by Greg Brown

GrandFallsLittleColoradoRiverAloft_0231eSmw1200Not all who wander are lost

Once or twice a year I hear of friends visiting “Grand Falls,” a seasonal waterfall on Arizona’s Little Colorado River. Although the little-known 185-foot desert cataract is taller than Niagara Falls, it runs in volume only occasionally following mountain snow-melt, monsoon thunderstorms, or rare widespread rain.

Jean and I have always wanted to visit the landmark, but have been hampered both by its ephemeral water flow, and by the tortuous drive over primitive roads to reach its remote location northeast of Flagstaff. The rugged journey favors high-clearance vehicles, and traveling in pairs in case of breakdown. Invariably we either hear too late that the falls have been running, or are otherwise committed when invited to go.

Given the magnitude of the waterfall when flowing, I’d always assumed it would also be exciting to view from the air. But it’s not marked on sectional charts, nor many other maps for that matter, so finding it seemed a task in itself.

3-GregBrownFT814_0192eSmw1200Then one late-summer morning I found myself desperate to fly. Not having been aloft in weeks, and armed with a new camera that demanded “testing,” I decided on a lark to seek out Grand Falls and mark it for future reference in my GPS navigator. There’d been little rain lately, so I didn’t expect the falls to be running. But knowing their location would be useful for a future aerial visit when the right opportunity arose.

I first gleaned general coordinates and nearby landmarks via Internet search. I also knew the Little Colorado River runs northwestward from Winslow to ultimately join the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. By intercepting the Little Colorado near Winslow and tracing it downstream, I should easily find Grand Falls.

2-GregBrownFT814_0185eSmw1200The instant I departed the ground, I knew I’d picked the right day to fly. The sky sparkled cobalt, punctuated by snowy puffs of fair-weather cumulus. No sooner had I turned downwind for departure than I was mesmerized by a huge field of vivid yellow wildflowers bordering Lake Mary southeast of town. I diverted in that direction and sailed over the sea of golden blossoms. Floating in their midst like a spidery space station was the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer, an observatory that collects starlight from distant galaxies via widely dispersed light tubes, and calculates their distance from Earth via parallax.

Following a joyous few minutes savoring chrome-yellow flowers, I departed Flagstaff’s pine forest over high desert to intercept the Little Colorado River. I found it chiseled as if by a coping saw through crimson rock north of Winslow. Tracing the channel toward its distant Colorado River junction, I almost missed Grand Falls, as it proved virtually invisible from the upstream side. But for whatever reason, I happened to glance back. To my surprise and delight given the dry summer weather, the falls flowed vigorously.

READ THE WHOLE STORY in this month’s Flying Carpet column, “Summer Sightseeing.” (Please allow a moment for the article to load.)

Top photo: At 185 feet, Arizona’s “Grand Falls,” is taller than Niagara (note cars in foreground), but flows in volume only a few times a year. Upper right: Late-summer wildflowers tint the Coconino Plateau near Flagstaff, Arizona. Lower left: Wildflowers envelop the Navy Precision Optical Observatory. SEE MORE PHOTOS!

(This column first appeared in the July, 2014 issue of AOPA Flight Training magazine.)

©2014 Gregory N.Brown

“Secret Mountain Sunset,” Greg’s Aerial Fine Art Photographic Print

Posted in Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2014 by Greg Brown

Secret Mountain Sunset_1197PSe-H_ASmw1200

Although I’ve often photographed the area of “Secret Mountain Sunset” in daylight, never before have I experienced such an opportunity to capture the hulking rock towers of Arizona’s Red Rock / Secret Mountain Wilderness as they slip into night.

Secret Mountain Sunset debuts in Limited Edition 27″x40″ and 24″x36″ prints, and Open Editions of 16″x24″ and 10″x14″. Print prices start at $175. See detailed pricing and ordering information.

Like all my Views from the Flying Carpet, this photograph was collaboratively tuned for print with Master Photographic Printer Richard Jackson, who prints for the world’s finest photographers. Each individual print is meticulously crafted, mounted as appropriate, and packaged for shipping under Mr. Jackson’s supervision.

Learn more about my Views from the Flying Carpet Fine Art Photographic Prints, including available images, and our process for creating these marvelous prints.

View a video about my aerial photography, and subscribe for email updates.

Hope you enjoy this view from my cockpit!


PS: Visit my first Phoenix-area Views from the Flying Carpet Arts Fine Art Aerial Photography exhibit at the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Papago Park, Tempe, AZ, mid-July through September, 2014.

©2014 Gregory N. Brown

“The War in the Air,” yesterday’s view of the future, by H.G. Wells

Posted in aviation history, Greg recommends on June 13, 2014 by Greg Brown

0574890L-1I’ve just finished reading The War in the Air, by H.G. Wells.

For those who aren’t familiar, that 1908 sci-fi work is renowned for having presaged modern aerial warfare.

Although the book’s protagonist and his personal story are forgettable (if not downright annoying), Wells is remarkably prescient in predicting the advent of world war, coming 20th-century German and Japanese aggression, and the terror rained down by aerial armadas in World Wars I and II.

And if you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to do battle from dirigibles, or fly a flapping-wing aircraft, here’s your opportunity to find out!

You’ll need to hold your nose through parts of it, but the author’s broader observations and predictions are quite fascinating.

Those who have read it, or choose to, let me know what you think!

The book is available in various print editions, or you can download The War in the Air for Kindle, FREE from amazon.

©2014 Gregory N. Brown

“Space Travelers,” Greg’s July, 2014 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2014 by Greg Brown

MeteorCraterSnowSunsetAloft-J_0791eSmw1200Viewing Earth through fresh eyes

“My favorite moment was circling that huge crater on the way back to Flagstaff from Window Rock,” said my sister Leslie when asked what she’d most enjoyed about her Arizona holiday. “Having always been fascinated with sci-fi and outer space, it was branded in my brain that ‘this is the closest I’ll ever get to the cosmos!'”

Leslie and her husband Lindsay recently visited from Philadelphia. Along with driving trips to the Grand Canyon and the historic mining town of Jerome, I’d offered flying primarily to access additional destinations during their stay.

Our first aerial excursion was to Arizona’s old territorial capital of Prescott, where we viewed a photo show, wandered art galleries, and toured the 150-year-old log Governor’s Mansion. Instead of driving the 3-hour round trip, we flew 35 minutes each way. En route, we surveyed the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness, and previewed mountainside Jerome from above.

Everyone seemed to enjoy that flying trip, so I proposed another that seemed purely selfish at the time: to visit my Navajo pilot buddy Tyler and his family while he was home from college. There wasn’t time to drive 7 hours round-trip to Window Rock, but it’s only an hour away by Flying Carpet. The vermillion Painted Desert and golden spires of the Navajo Nation over which we flew are so different from the rolling green beauty of Pennsylvania, that I was surprised when our guests said little about it […]

GregBrownFT614_ReentryRocketSmw1200I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised about the couple’s space interests, however. Outside their day jobs, Leslie is a beadwork artist, and Lindsay a wood sculptor. Among other subjects, each crafts sci-fi and space pieces.

orbit-3-3-qtr-view-6-2010Leslie fashions beadwork spacecaft, planets, and ray guns — one of her rockets is in NASA’s space-art collection — while Lindsay artistically interprets planetary orbits…

READ THE WHOLE STORY in this month’s Flying Carpet column, “Space Travelers.” (Please allow a moment for the article to load.)

Top photo: Rare snow frosts Arizona’s Meteor Crater, at sunset.” At right: “Re-Entry Rocket (or Monday),” NASA Space Art Collection. Design and glass beadwork by Leslie B. Grigsby. Lower left: Orbit #3 by Lindsay Grigsby. SEE MORE PHOTOS!

(This column first appeared in the July, 2014 issue of AOPA Flight Training magazine.)

©2014 Gregory N.Brown


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