“‘Echo’ of the Past” Greg’s January, 2016 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg recommends, Greg's piloting tips, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2015 by Greg Brown

Ten hours home

3-GregBrownFT116_3341eSmw1200Good times not withstanding, Jean and I were more than ready to head home following eight days on the road.

The daylong journey from Aurora, Illinois to Flagstaff, Arizona appeared daunting, however, especially against headwinds. If necessary we’d stay over with our friend Bruce in Santa Fe, just two hours from home.

A country church filled our windshield after takeoff this morning, but how much closer could we get to heaven than these sparkling Sunday skies? Yes, there was weather through Illinois and Missouri, but we dodged it easily enough. Initially we faced a ten-knot headwind. I’ll accept that westbound, anytime! But gradually it grew to twenty knots, and then thirty. Changing altitudes didn’t help. That gave us plenty of time to discuss the week’s travels.

This journey originated two years ago, when Howard Spanogle, long-ago faculty advisor for the Echo high school newspaper where I once served as photography editor, proposed a reunion. At first this seemed overkill—after all there were only a handful of Echo staffers at a given time. However “Mr. S” had been adviser for 26 years, so there’d be many attendees beyond my immediate circle. Jean hesitated to go until my closest Echo friends talked their spouses into attending. After all, who are we these decades later without them?

VirgaAloft_Oklahoma_3394eSmw1200Flying “East” is a trek, so en route we’d capitalized on the Flying Carpet’s flexibility to visit friends and family.

The circuitous journey had delivered us to four Midwestern states, culminating in yesterday’s reunion…


Top Photo: Sunday morning country church near Sugar Grove, Illinois.

Lower photo: Virga south of Boise City, Oklahoma.


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


©2015 Gregory N.Brown

“Sightseeing Michigan,” Greg’s December, 2015 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg recommends, Greg's piloting tips, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , on October 29, 2015 by Greg Brown

Visiting friends far from home

TedHeckman-1941MeyersOTW_AlleganMI-35D_1202-EditeSmw1200“For some great sightseeing, cruise low along the Lake Michigan shoreline on your way from Chicago,” my friend Jason Blair had advised before takeoff. However lake-effect showers streamed southward over northern Indiana, dulling the view. For the moment we navigated haze under grey 2,200-foot ceilings.

“We’re a mile below Flagstaff’s airport elevation!” Jean exclaimed, noting the altimeter. That seemed queasily unnatural compared to our normal 8-11,000-foot flight altitudes back home in Northern Arizona’s mountains.

Gradually, however, we found ourselves descending under lowering clouds and virga. I checked weather. While 60 miles away our destination of Allegan, Michigan remained clear, nearby lakeshore stations had suddenly fallen below 1,500 overcast, with Michigan City reporting 900 broken. We deviated eastward toward better weather away from the lake.

Why are we doing this? I thought, eyeing cobalt skies through broken clouds overhead. There were other airplanes down here, and tall radio towers. Rather than steer farther off course to escape the muck, I requested a “pop-up” instrument clearance, which South Bend Approach promptly granted.

In no time we surfed blue skies over snowy clouds, at 5,000 feet. Between them could be glimpsed vivid farm fields and sparkling Lake Michigan beaches. Funny how visibility can sometimes be restricted near the ground, and yet appear crystal-clear from above.

GregBrownFT1215_3768eSmw1200Jean and I now shared excitement about visiting our friend Tyler Allen, a sophomore at Kalamazoo College.

You may remember Tyler from previous columns–he began flight training as a high school student on the Navajo Nation, and we shared many Arizona flying adventures together. Here, finally, was our opportunity to visit him at college…


Top Photo: Ted Heckman’s 1941 Meyers OTW biplane, at Padgham Field, Allegan, Michigan.

Lower photo: Tyler and Jean at Kalamazoo College, Michigan.


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


©2015 Gregory N.Brown

Introducing Greg’s 2016 photo wall calendars!

Posted in Greg recommends, Greg's photographs on October 24, 2015 by Greg Brown

2016 “Views from the Flying Carpet” Photo Wall Calendars

new 2013 Lulu FC oversize wall calendar-frontHere come my 2016 “Views from the Flying Carpet” aerial photo wall calendars, filled with my favorite aviator’s-eye views from around the country.

This “Greatest Hits” version comes in two sizes, featuring my most popular aerial photographs from recent exhibits and among clients.

2015 Lulu FC Greatest Hits standard wall calendar-frontBoth calendar sizes feature exceptional image quality suitable for framing!

Note that because these photographs represent my most popular images to date, all have appeared in various calendars from previous years.

2016 “Views from Japan” Photo Wall Calendars

2014 Japan oversize wall calendar-frontOnce again, I’m also offering my terrestrial, 2016 “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 can’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 2016 “Views from Japan” calendars contain the same great photos as in prior years.)

2016 “Well, I’ll Be!” Photo Wall Calendars

2015 Lulu FC Greatest Hits standard wall calendar-frontCheck out my 2016 “Well, I’ll Be!” Photo Wall Calendar, featuring some of my wackier photographs.

I created this calendar primarily to hang over my own desk, but can pretty much guarantee you a monthly smile when you change pages!

(Available only in Standard size. Previous buyers note that the 2016 “Well, I’ll Be!” calendar contains the same great photos as last year’s.)

Calendar Sizes and Pricing (Check Discount link below)

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 to preview monthly images and order, or see them all at 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!



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

** Save 30% on Greg’s photo calendars through November 26 with code TURKEY30. After that, CHECK HERE FOR ANY APPLICABLE DISCOUNT CODES!

©2015 Gregory N. Brown

“Family Fliers” Greg’s November, 2015 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg recommends, Greg's piloting tips, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , on September 24, 2015 by Greg Brown

Revisiting heartland skies

GregBrownFT1115_1084e1Smw1200Departing the four lakes of Madison, Wisconsin, Jean and I steered the Flying Carpet southeastward toward others embedded in our past: Lakes Koshkonong, Delavan, and Geneva.

Beneath our wings flowed a verdant carpet of crops and trees teeming with lakes and rivers. This seemed a watery paradise compared to the stark stone beauty of our adopted Southwest, where the few natural lakes contain only seasonal water and even then might qualify as ponds anywhere else.

Equally refreshing, today’s cobalt heartland skies brimmed with music to our aviators’ ears. In contrast to largely silent radio frequencies near our remote Northern Arizona home, our headsets crackled with radio chatter from airports around the Midwest.

Jean grew up just across the Illinois line from Lake Geneva, and for years we landed at rural Galt Airport (10C) to visit her family. Back then Galt was a narrow, tree-obstructed, rough-around-the-edges strip. But after teetering on the edge of bankruptcy several years ago, the airport turned itself around and blossomed into a thriving aviation community. Seems like every month Galt boasts a hayride, a barbecue, or a flour-sack bombing contest. I knew of this vitality only through the airport newsletter, having last landed there in 2003. Now I was eager to visit the revitalized airport in person. (See “Flying Carpet: Renaissance Field,” November 2013 Flight Training).

Soon Wonder Lake appeared on the horizon, and next to it, Galt Airport. Jean and I recognized the field’s location, but not it’s appearance. The pencil-thin runway we once frequented has long been replaced by a grander one. The hangar that impinged on the west end of the runway is gone; the formerly weedy tiedowns are now paved, and there’s a spit-and-polish about the place visible even from the air.

GregBrownFT1115_1093e1Smw1200“There’s Jo!” said Jean as we taxied in. Her twin sister lives just beyond Galt’s traffic pattern on Wonder Lake; we’d phoned ahead just before departing Madison.

One thing that hadn’t changed beyond fresh paint, was Galt’s nostalgic “country control tower” airport office. Now this felt like old times! While Jean and Jo chatted on the ramp-side bench, I ventured inside.

There to welcome me were Facebook friends I’d never before met in person: pilot Greg Kaiser, and his instrument instructor, Mike Nowakowski. Galt’s cheerful ground instructor, Ed Brown, piled us into a golf cart to tour the field…


Top Photo: “Jean and Jo at Galt Airport’s “country control tower” office, Wonder Lake, Illinois.”

Lower photo: “Ed Brown, Mike Nowakowski, Greg Kaiser, and Brian Spiro at Galt Airport’s maintenance hangar.” 


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


©2015 Gregory N.Brown

“Aviator’s Birthplace” Greg’s October, 2015 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's piloting tips, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2015 by Greg Brown

Visiting memories in “Mad City”

DowntownMadisonWI-aloft_3151-EditeSmw1200Even after takeoff from Centerville, Iowa, I waffled about whether to land at Madison, Wisconsin’s Dane County Regional Airport-Truax Field where I learned to fly, or nearby Middleton-Morey Airport outside the Class C.

“Middleton will be quieter and simpler,” said Jean, settling the matter. We crossed Iowa’s Cedar River and the broad Mississippi, then the northwest corner of Illinois. Ninety minutes after takeoff, Madison’s signature four lakes appeared on the horizon. This would be stop two on our zigzag birthday-and-reunion journey from Flagstaff, Arizona, to Chicago.

“Madison Approach, can you approve aerial photography over downtown?” I radioed, with a lump in my throat. For 35 years I’d waited to revisit “Mad City,” my aviation birthplace.

“Approved,” came the reply. “Watch for a Cherokee also on the ‘city tour,’ and remain west of the Capitol building.”

Downtown Madison, including the state capitol and University of Wisconsin campus, floats magically on a 1/2-mile-wide isthmus between Lakes Monona and Mendota. Handing Jean the camera with far more instructions than she needed, I circled offshore over Lake Mendota–Is there a prettier city, anywhere?

Upon landing, I learned from the Middleton Airport attendant that Frickelton Aviation’s building at Truax Field where I trained had long been torn down, erasing any regret at not touching tires there. Moments later, our host Brett Kelly arrived. Brett and his wife Kathy are longtime friends.

6-GregBrownFT1015_3241eSmw1200“I know you’re eager to revisit UW, Greg,” offered Brett. “Let’s stop there before going home.” Ghosts of classmates past soon joined us wandering campus, and sipping beer on the Wisconsin Union terrace overlooking Lake Mendota, where I once rented sailboats. Between classes, I drove my old ’39 Chevy across town to Truax Field – there to soar over these very lakes on flying lessons with the UW Flying Club (See “Flying Carpet: Forty Years Aloft,” November 2012 Flight Training).

My Badger stint occurred at the height of the turbulent Viet Nam antiwar movement. My friends and I were no activists, but demonstrations sometimes intercepted us on our way to class. Once, protesters deflated city-bus tires to block State Street; another time police shot tear gas into our dorm, forcing everyone into the street. (My buddy Fred, an army veteran, showed us how to soak handkerchiefs for tear-gas protection.) Every day I walked by the empty shell of Sterling Hall, blown up by antiwar activists a year earlier (See “Flying Carpet: Flying the Mists of Time,” March 2013 Flight Training).

There were more benign protests, too, as when feminists stormed the men-only swimming pool in the UW Armory. Guys swam nude there, so the intruders stripped their clothes and jumped in too. (No, I wasn’t there.)…

**READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE COLUMN, Aviator’s Birthplace.”**

Top Photo: “Downtown Madison, with Wisconsin State Capitol at left, and the University of Wisconsin campus at lower right.”

Lower photo: “UW Wisconsin Union and Terrace from the air.” 


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


©2015 Gregory N.Brown

“Flagstaff Rain,” Greg’s latest Fine Art Metal Print

Posted in Greg's photographs, life & love with tags , , , , on August 27, 2015 by Greg Brown


Until recently, the photography I’ve offered for sale has largely been from my Views from the Flying Carpet aerial series. To my delight, however, there’s also been a good deal of action on my recently introduced Terrestrial Photographs.

Here’s Flagstaff Rain, my latest terrestrial Fine Art Metal Print, featuring historic downtown Flagstaff on a rainy July Art Walk night. It’s amazing the effect of water in “punching” nighttime colors and lights.

MattTantau-FlagstaffRain-20x30metalprint_2066eSmw1200Matt invested in this 20″x30″ Fine Art Metal Print as a gift for a couple who first met in Flagstaff and are shortly moving away.

Turns out Matt’s friends originally met in Charly’s Pub at the far end of the pictured Weatherford Hotel, and he thought this would be a great goodbye present for remembering their friends and the origin of their relationship here. What a cool gift!

See all my currently available Fine Art Terrestrial Photographs.


©2015 Greg Brown

Why do VFR aviation weather minima vary by airspace?

Posted in Greg's piloting tips, Greg’s flight instructor tips with tags , , on August 25, 2015 by Greg Brown

This is one of the better US aviation airspace depictions I’ve seen… I like the way it relates airspace definitions to what we see on the Sectional chart.AirspaceCardYou may wonder why all those magenta airspace areas exist on aviation Sectional charts, and why we must learn different VFR weather minima for them. Well here’s the practical answer:

Where Class E drops to 700 feet AGL (magenta shading) or to the surface (magenta dashed line), instrument approach procedures are authorized, which is why the VFR weather mins are higher there, and why we must be extra vigilant when flying VFR into airports falling within magenta areas.

Now look at your Sectional chart again, and for the first time all that magenta makes sense: those are airports with instrument approaches. Better keep your eyes open when flying there!

©2015 Greg Brown

(graphic from ravepad.com / gliderbooks.com )


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