“Charity Aloft,” Greg’s February, 2015 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2014 by Greg Brown

Surfing sunbeams

10-GregBrownFT215_2277eSmw1200-4Last summer my friend Chris Barton asked me to take aerial photos of his church to help raise money for its associated school. The charitable mission sounded both worthwhile and fun, so I readily accepted. The opportunity presented itself one sparkling morning, as I returned the Flying Carpet from nearby Prescott.

I’d yet to visit the church on the ground, but knew it overlooked a prominent intersection just outside Flagstaff Pulliam Airport’s traffic pattern. So on a whim I coordinated with the control tower and went for a look. The complex was easily spotted on open, elevated property, backed by magnificent views of the San Francisco Peaks. Armed with a telephoto lens and flawless visibility, it took only a few passes to capture the requisite views. That was easy and fun, I thought. So when referred a few months later for another charitable shoot, I eagerly volunteered.

Camp Colton is a revered institution located on the west flank of Humphreys Peak. Every local 6th grader is offered a week there to learn teamwork, natural sciences, and love for the outdoors; most Flagstaff natives under age 50 once attended.

DannyGiovaleTracyAnderson-FC_FLG_2007eSmw1200Friends of Camp Colton director Tracy Anderson sought aerial photos of the camp’s stunning mountainside location for fundraising purposes, including promoting the upcoming Kahtoola Agassiz Uphill trail race benefit sponsored by board member Danny Giovale’s company.

Gorgeous autumn weather prevailed when the three of us connected. With golden aspen trees blanketing the mountain, we agreed to shoot the very next day. Given the camp’s western-slope location, I chose late afternoon sun to illuminate Colton’s idyllic setting amid brilliant fall colors.

8-GregBrownFT215_2065eSmw1200Camp Colton resides in wooded wilderness, so I was concerned about finding it. I also worried from a safety standpoint about its proximity to the 12,633-foot mountain and surrounding foothills.

Danny eagerly consented to help with spotting and shooting. But Tracy hesitated, having once been traumatized by a poor-weather Alaska air-taxi flight. I explained that we’d fly only in perfect weather, remain within minutes of the airport, and land at her request anytime during the flight. After considering it overnight, she agreed to join us.

At the airport I engaged Tracy and Danny in the preflight and pre-takeoff checklists to ease any concerns. Then we launched into late-afternoon sun…

READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE FLYING CARPET COLUMN, CHARITY ALOFT.” (Allow a moment for the article to load.)

Top photo: Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks, with Camp Colton’s snowy driveway visible at lower right. Middle photo: Camp Colton’s Danny Giovale and Tracy Anderson await takeoff for the San Francisco Peaks visible behind them. Lower photo: “Flaming” autumn aspen trees ignite the flank of Humphreys Peak. SEE MORE PHOTOS!

(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)

©2014 Gregory N.Brown

“Tennis Time Again,” Greg’s January, 2015 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, flying destinations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2014 by Greg Brown

The power of wishful thinking

GregBrownFT115_1743-EditeSmw1200Every aviator knows the pain of stressing about weather before important aerial journeys. It’s become tradition for me to fly Jean to tennis regionals when her team wins their conference.

Fortunately, the playoffs occur in late spring and early fall when good flying weather generally dominates the Southwest.

Jean’s team was particularly strong this year, so with each successive win she’d more enthusiastically ask, “You will fly us to Albuquerque if we qualify, right?” Each time I assured her that nothing in my universe could possibly be more important. Accordingly she solicited fellow players to join us, collected their weights, briefed them on baggage limits, and arranged for driving teammates to accommodate overflow gear. When Jean’s team indeed made the cut, we began casually watching the weather.

GregBrownFT115_1525eDetSmw1200You may be surprised to learn that hurricanes, or at least their remnants, occasionally visit sunny Arizona.

In the past month two of them, Marie and Norbert, had arrived from Mexico’s Pacific coast, dropping extensive precipitation including the largest daily rainfall ever recorded in normally bone-dry Phoenix. Following two such rare occurrences in one season, I never imagined we’d see more.

But a week before Jean’s regionals, Hurricane Odile steered our way from Baja California. Jean and I watched in disbelief as local meteorologist Lee Born projected the storm’s track northeastward through Arizona and New Mexico.

“This could be another major precipitation event,” he said, “with a high likelihood we’ll benefit by more rain.” Jean and I, however, saw only a disrupted tennis trip in the colorful weather blob projected to engulf the two states…

READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE FLYING CARPET COLUMN, TENNIS TIME AGAIN.” (Allow a moment for the article to load.)

Top photo: Tennis teammates Jean, Jana, and Jenny at Albuquerque’s Double Eagle II Airport. Lower photo: “Old Acoma Pueblo ‘Sky City,’ near Grants, New Mexico. SEE MORE PHOTOS!

(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)

©2014 Gregory N.Brown

How to operate a constant-speed propeller

Posted in Greg's piloting tips, how airplanes work on November 24, 2014 by Greg Brown

fc-cover-photo-smI’m often asked by pilots moving up to complex airplanes, what the real-world operational procedures are for a constant-speed propeller.

I like to explain use of a constant-speed prop relative to riding a multi-speed bike. In each case you control performance via two variables:
1. rpm / how fast you’re pedaling, and
2. “oomph”/how hard you’re pedaling.

First, the rpm: Flat pitch/high rpm/prop-control-forward in plane corresponds to low gear on the bike: hence better acceleration and (hill)climb performance, but limited cruise speed.

Coarse pitch/low rpm/prop-control-pulled-back corresponds to high gear on a bike: reduced acceleration and climb but faster on the flat and downhill/descending. Pitch is correlated to rpm through a governor, and managed by prop control.

Now for the “oomph” part. (Ie, how hard you’re pedaling.) In piston airplanes that’s controlled by throttle and measured by manifold pressure (MP). As with a bike, there are various combinations of oomph (manifold pressure) and rpm that can all result in the same speed. In aircraft the ratio is designed so changing MP up 1″ corresponds to changing rpm down 100rpm, and vice versa. So 22″ MP/ 2200 rpm = 21″ MP / 2300 rpm = 23″/2100 rpm. Consult your cruise performance charts for options.

From an operations standpoint, think bike. You’ll use high rpm/flat pitch/control full forward (think “low gear”) for takeoff, climb, and pre-landing in case you need to go around.

So on a normal flight:
1. max MP and max rpm (prop full forward) for takeoff;
2. adjust prop and MP to climb power after takeoff (if different than takeoff power)
3. reduce rpm and adjust power when leveling in cruise, and leave it there throughout the flight and descent. (Unless you need to climb en route; then you’ll increase rpm for that purpose.)
4. Increase rpm to full, pre-landing.

One thing you’ll love about this arrangement compared to the fixed pitch prop in say a 172, is that the RPM won’t change by itself, so when flying in up- and downdrafts you needn’t constantly adjust power to keep RPM within range.

©2014 Gregory N. Brown

Greg’s “Well, I’ll Be!” 2015 photo wall calendar

Posted in Flying Carpet column, Greg's photographs, Well, I'll be! on November 23, 2014 by Greg Brown

“Well, I’ll Be!”

2015 Lulu FC Greatest Hits standard wall calendar-front

Okay everybody, here’s an additional 2015 wall calendar featuring a few of my wacky “Well, I’ll Be!” photos featuring visual humor and anomaly from wherever I find it, at least one of which (“Mr. Dwarf Car”) appeared with a past “Flying Carpet” column.

I created this calendar primarily to hang over my own desk, but can pretty much guarantee you a smile if you care to preview the monthly pages! (Click on “Preview” under the calendar image. Takes a moment to load.)

See all my 2015 photographic wall calendars here.


©2014 Gregory N. Brown

Introducing Greg’s 2015 photo wall calendars

Posted in Greg recommends, Greg's photographs on November 3, 2014 by Greg Brown

“Views from the Flying Carpet”

new 2013 Lulu FC oversize wall calendar-frontHere come my 2015 “Views from the Flying Carpet” aerial photo wall calendars, filled with my favorite aviator’s-eye views from around the country.

I’m trying something new this year – a “Greatest Hits” version in two sizes, featuring my most popular photographs from recent exhibits and among clients.

That way those who aren’t ready to invest in my Fine Art Aerial Photographic Prints can still own and even frame their favorite photos from the calendar.

2015 Lulu FC Greatest Hits standard wall calendar-frontNote that because these photographs represent my most popular images to date, all have appeared in various calendars from previous years (but not together in the same calendar.) So previous calendar buyers may recognize some images from before.

Oh, and this year’s “Views from the Flying Carpet” calendars are the first to share all photographs in their optimized print versions!

“Views from Japan”

2014 Japan oversize wall calendar-frontOnce again, I’m also offering my terrestrial, 2015 “Views from Japan” photographic wall calendars incorporating photos taken on my 2012 journey.

Although a departure from my aerial persona, Jean and I have been so taken with Japan’s beauty and character during our travels that I couldn’t resist sharing special images from there.

This is one country you must make plans to visit! And once seeing the included photographs, I suspect you’ll agree.

2014 Lulu Japan standard wall calendar-frontIncluded are amazing views of Kyoto’s and Nara’s exquisite temples, Matsumoto Castle, Osaka’s Dotombori Entertainment District, a Shinto wedding at Miyajima Island, Tokyo’s Ginza District, and Ogimachi Historic Town.

(Previous buyers note that the 2015 “Views from Japan” calendars contain the same great photos as in prior years.)

Calendar sizes and pricing

Each full-color 12-month wall calendar series comes in two sizes:

  • Standard 11″x17″ for $19.95** (8.5″x11″ images).
  • Premium oversize 13.5″x19″ for $29.95** (9.5″x13.5″ monthly images).

Photos are similar in both formats except for cover image and size.

Click on each calendar image for details and ordering, including free previews of the included monthly photographs, or go direct to Greg’s calendar store. All calendars can be shipped directly to you, or to others as gifts.

What a great way for you and your lucky gift recipients to celebrate each month of the new year!

©2014 Gregory N. Brown

* Shipping and sales tax (if applicable) are additional.


“Aviators’ Paradise,” Greg’s December, 2014 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, flying destinations with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2014 by Greg Brown

New and different circumstances

MogollonAirparkAZ82aloft_1300eSmw1200Among both the joys and challenges of piloting, is that however long we fly we’re continually encountering new and different circumstances. Recently Jean and I attended an FAA Safety Seminar at Mogollon Airpark (AZ82), a private fly-in residential community high on the Mogollon Rim 100 miles northeast of Phoenix.

FAAsafetySeminar_MogollonAirparkAZ82_4166eSmw1200Although Jean had lately observed that, “we don’t do enough together, anymore,” I was stunned when she cancelled Saturday-morning tennis to join me for the highly esoteric topic of “ADS-B surveillance, traffic, and weather delivery technology.” Later it came out that she was “also a little sore from too much tennis.”

Our destination likely impacted her decision, too. Picture your favorite childhood piney-woods summer camp, set at 6,700 feet elevation for nice, cool summers. Now add a paved runway and homes with attached hangars on spacious wooded lots, and you’ll appreciate why we enjoy visiting this aviators’ paradise.

Jean_FAAsafetySeminar_MogollonAirparkAZ82_1297eSmw1200Flying into private airports generally requires prior planning and permission, so you can’t wait until departure morning to figure things out. Such airports needn’t meet public-use airport standards and rarely appear in official publications such as the FAA Airport/Facility Directory. Fortunately, Mogollon’s web site specifies rules and recommends safety procedures. As with many private strips, visiting pilots are required to pre-submit aircraft insurance documentation and a hold-harmless form. The website also designates Runway 21 as calm-wind runway, specifies right traffic for Runway 3, and prohibits night landings.

The high-elevation strip is only 3,436 feet long, shorter than I remembered, and is surrounded by tall pines. That raised density-altitude concerns. Looking more closely however, I noted that narrow centerline taxiways at each end of the runway effectively add another 2600 feet for takeoff, well within Flying Carpet capabilities.

MogollonAirparkAZ82aloft_1280eSmw1200Particularly thought-provoking is that Mogollon’s runway slopes downhill from the midpoint in both directions. As a result, departing pilots cannot see aircraft at the opposite end of the runway — in fact they are so thoroughly blocked by the midpoint rise that they may not hear each other’s radio transmissions. Accordingly I studied and printed the airpark’s 7-point “Safety Warning” anti-collision departure procedures list.

Finally, I pre-calculated my course since you can’t just dial it in after takeoff. Private airports rarely appear in panel-mounted GPS navigator databases, so getting to Mogollon requires manually entering its coordinates as a user waypoint, or applying old-fashioned pilotage and dead reckoning…

READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE FLYING CARPET COLUMN, AVIATORS’ PARADISE.” (Please allow a moment for the article to load.)

Photos: Arizona’s remote Mogollon Airpark, 100 miles northeast of Phoenix.

(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)

©2014 Gregory N.Brown

“Precious Cargo,” Greg’s November, 2014 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, flying destinations, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2014 by Greg Brown

Lavender by Air

7-GregBrownFT1114_1144eSmw1200What makes something precious? The price tag? Or perhaps that someone you love desires it?

We recently suffered a traumatic horticultural loss — one of Jean’s treasured Provence Lavender plants. She bought them several years ago at the annual Red Rock Farms Lavender Festival outside tiny Concho, Arizona. (See “Scent of the Sky,” FT 6/10.)

Under Jean’s careful tending, the aromatic plants have since flourished in our front yard from 4-inch seedlings to glorious, 3-foot purple-blossomed bushes. Appealing as lavender may be to humans, it’s refreshingly unappetizing to elk, rabbits, and javelina. So we never anticipated losing one to a gopher dining from underneath. I asked Jean if she planned to replace it.

RedRockLavenderRanchAloft-ConchoAZ_1128eSmw1200“I’d like to,” she said, “but it’s challenging finding hardy lavender locally. The last bushes I planted didn’t last.”

“So the Concho plants are hardier?”

“Yeah, they seem better suited to our climate. But although Red Rock offers other lavender products online, they only sell plants during their annual festival that ended last month.” I offered to inquire about flying over to get some.

“No,” she said. “It seems impractical flying almost to New Mexico to buy a few plants.” That ended the discussion for a few days — until I next encountered Jean pondering the remains of her beloved lavender bush.

“I wonder if I can bring it back to life,” she said, but that didn’t look promising.

Admitting it might not make sense flying halfway across the state to buy three or four plants, I asked if other gardeners in her club might want some. That apparently passed the test, so I phoned Red Rock Farms owner Mike Teeple…

READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE FLYING CARPET COLUMN,PRECIOUS CARGO.” (Please allow a moment for the article to load.)

Top photo: Mike Teeple of Red Rock Farms loads lavender plants at St. Johns Industrial Air Park, Arizona.

Bottom photo: Aerial view of Red Rock Lavender Farm, near Concho, Arizona. SEE MORE PHOTOS!

(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)

©2014 Gregory N.Brown


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