“New Chapter,” Greg’s October, 2011 Flying Carpet column

The case for an instrument rating

“Recently I lost a friend to ‘controlled flight into terrain,’” said James Mckinley, a 150-hour Southern California private pilot. “This was the first time I’ve known anyone killed in a plane crash.”

James explained that his buddy Andy flew out of Banning Airport, and how every Sunday the two would convene with the “Coyote Aviation Breakfast Club” at Redlands, and fly to a nearby airport cafe.

“Andy was headed to meet us when he struck a ridge in low clouds and fog. Sadly, on bad-weather days like that we normally all drive to a local restaurant but Andy decided to fly.” James described his friend’s reputation for making risky flights in poor weather by following freeways and dodging terrain with a handheld GPS.

“I feel guilty for not voicing my opinion on his poor judgment in this area,” said James, “but I wrongly assumed that after years of flying, Andy ‘knew what he was doing.’ Anyway, I doubt anyone’s advice would have mattered.” I expressed my condolences, but James had more personal concerns on his mind…

Continue reading “New Chapter,” Greg’s October, 2011 Flying Carpet column here. (This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training, 10/11 issue.)

Photo: James Mckinley poses with the FlyCorona club Bonanza at Sedona Airport, Arizona. (Photo by Stacy Hagen.)

©2011 Gregory N. Brown

If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!

4 thoughts on ““New Chapter,” Greg’s October, 2011 Flying Carpet column

  1. Great column, Greg. This really puts the reasons for going for the IFR ticket into perspective for me. Even though the ink is still wet on my Private ticket I’m already thinking “what’s next?”.

    I’m a bit late to the aviation party at this stage in my life, so I don’t plan on letting the plane sit in the hangar and I most certainly have no intention of being just another fair weather pilot (in both senses of the expression).

    Once I get a bit more comfortable in the saddle with my Skylane and have some decent x-country time logged, I will definitely jump right into the IFR training. Thanks for giving me another reason for doing it.

    I’m actually looking forward to the challenge of IFR, too!

    Blue Skies!

    1. You’ve made my day with your comment, Bruce – I’m hoping lots of pilots will be inspired by this column to consider pursuing their instrument ratings. Thanks!

  2. Greg,
    Thank you for your article on James McKinley, He is my baby brother and its funny that your story made me see him as a grown man. I actually learned a few things more about him as well. This story makes me very proud of him.

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