Archive for the flying adventures Category

“Dark, Scary Night,” Greg’s January, 2018 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2017 by Greg Brown

 

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“Beware—the airport you fly into every day is not the same airport at night,” my friend Donna Wood observed last year.

As a new private pilot, Wood had invested in a Cessna 182 and launched on ambitious regular flights between her Detroit home and Charleston, South Carolina, where she has family and business.

Wood is exceptionally careful and diligent, but 18 months after earning her wings, she’d experienced a scare. Battling u
nforecast headwinds from South Carolina with her nonpilot husband, Roger, the couple had arrived home after dark.

“I was legally night current,” Wood said the next morning, “but wasn’t planning on night flight.” Her first challenge was finding urban Oakland/Troy Airport (VLL) under Detroit Class Bravo airspace, landlocked by obstacles and buildings. “All I saw were lights, everywhere.” Then, on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern, the runway lights—activated by a previous aircraft—went out.

Rattled, she keyed the mic too quickly to reactivate them. Fortunately, her former CFI Wayne Hendrickson was waiting to help hangar the airplane, and triggered the lights with his handheld radio.

Now flustered, Wood turned final for Troy’s obstructed 3,549-foot runway, high and too fast. So, she went around. But this time she flew downwind too near the runway and overshot final, destabilizing her approach. This began a dangerous chain of events…

**Read Greg’s entire column, DARK, SCARY NIGHT“**

Photo: “Detroit’s Oakland Troy Airport is surrounded by obstructions, thought-provoking even in daytime.”

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

Greg

©2017 Gregory N. Brown

My 45th year as a Pilot!

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's piloting tips on November 22, 2017 by Greg Brown

Today I celebrate 45 years as a licensed pilot. (My checkride was also the day before Thanksgiving that year.)

Rather than reminisce anew, here’s my column from five years ago, “Forty years aloft,” about how different and yet similar piloting was back then. (Be sure to click “read entire column” near bottom of post.)

What an adventure this has been! Here’s wishing another 40 years of fun for all of us aviators!

Greg

PS: If anyone’s interested in some stories over all those years, check out my book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane, available in print and ebook.

Photo: Greg & Jean at Lebanon-Warren County Airport, Ohio, on a 1977 day trip to Kings Island Amusement Park. See more photos here.

©2012, 2017 Gregory N.Brown

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

“We’re So Vain,” Greg’s December, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2017 by Greg Brown

“You’re So Vain…you flew your Learjet…to see the total eclipse of the sun,” taunted my friend Tom Lippert from the old Carly Simon song.

We laughed because he and his wife Laurel had just flown their Cessna 182, Henry, from Truckee, California, to meet our Flying Carpet in Hailey, Idaho for this year’s celestial event. Jean and I had originally planned to fly to Oregon, but amid predictions of gridlocked airports and roads I’d phoned Laurel and Tom, asking if and where they planned to view the eclipse.

“Greg, that’s three months away!” Laurel had chuckled. But upon learning that hotels and airport ramps were already filling, she proposed we rendezvous in Sun Valley where friends would loan us their condo. For 38 years, Jean has endured stories about the time I flew to Canada for a mid-winter total solar eclipse, on a weekend she had to work. (Flying Carpet, March, 2002) Now, finally, I hoped to share the experience with her.

As media hype grew, however, so did our concerns. Would there be room to land and park? Would the weather cooperate? Could we count on ground transportation? Should we bring groceries, assuming restaurants would be full and stores empty?

Then there was the route—traversing high mountains across Arizona, Utah, and Idaho, and transitioning Salt Lake City’s mountain-ringed Class Bravo airspace

**Read Greg’s entire column, WE’RE SO VAIN“**

Top Photo: “Tom and Laurel Lippert eclipse-watching with Greg and Jean, at Galena Summit, Idaho.” Lower Photo: “Colander holes cast multiple images of the pre-totality eclipse.” SEE MORE PHOTOS!

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

Greg

©2017 Gregory N. Brown

“Sea of Gold,” Greg’s November, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's piloting tips with tags , , , , , , on October 4, 2017 by Greg Brown

We’d cleared a nasty line of thunderstorms departing Flagstaff, surmounted a vivid rainbow, and now cruised cumulus-flecked skies toward Montrose, Colorado.

Although datalink weather suggested clear sailing the rest of the way, I’d previously learned the hard way that an empty weather screen doesn’t necessarily equal “no thunderstorms.” After an unknown-to-anyone squall line turned us around halfway to Montrose last year, I’d discovered the large weather-radar gap spanning the Four Corners area due to lack of antennae.

We’d been so traumatized by last year’s “U-Turn” and Jean’s subsequent 16-hour round-trip drive, that she’d investigated flying airlines this year instead. But between such remote locations, general aviation can indeed save money. Yes, Flying Carpet fuel would cost $4-500 to drop and retrieve Jean and her mother, but far less convenient Phoenix-to-Grand Junction airline tickets priced out at $750 apiece.

FC-RainReflections_KFLG_5135eSmw1200Fortunately, I’d learned from last year’s misadventure. This time I previewed online weather-radar coverage maps, and ADS-B ground-station coverage from which we’d receive weather and traffic data. (Sure enough, there’s an ADS-B gap, too.) I loaded lots of fuel for the remote route, allowing hundreds of miles’ diversion in case of unforecast weather.

Given minimal radar coverage, I monitored satellite imagery for telltale cloud buildups. And along with gathering weather for the few airports within 100 miles of our route, I scanned non-aviation station reports for the tiny Native American communities passing under our wings. Even “sunny,” “cloudy,” and “thunderstorm,” reports are better than nothing.

Even then, every distant shadow raised the specter of last year’s lurking weather…

**Read Greg’s entire column, SEA OF GOLD“**

Top Photo: “‘Flaming’ autumn aspens carpet Colorado’s Uncampaghre Plateau.” (See my “Flaming Autumn Aspens” Fine Art Metal Print) Lower Photo: “Greeted by a downpour upon returning home.” SEE MORE PHOTOS!

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

Greg

©2017 Gregory N. Brown

“Rock Art Ranch,” Greg’s featured past column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column with tags , , , , , , on September 14, 2017 by Greg Brown

Journey Across Time

“Never did I imagine ever finding myself in a place like this!” said Purna, as we lurched along the rutted cattle track, like characters from a Tony Hillerman Navajo detective novel. “Always I have lived in the city, and this is unlike anything I’ve ever imagined.”

My wife Jean and I had plucked the young native of India and her fellow graduate student, LeeAnne, from plush Scottsdale, where the two were visiting from Chicago.

Together we’d flown from urban landscape to high-desert plateau, notable from the air not so much for its own featureless surface, but rather for the distant buttes and mountains to which it leads one’s eyes.

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Parched and treeless below us, high plains rolled like soft flesh to the horizon, slashed here and there by deep incisions cut by water zig-zagging through the land. What’s down there, I wondered, in those crevices rendered bottomless by harsh desert shadows?…

**Read the entire column, ROCK ART RANCH“**

Top Photo: “Lush Chevelon Creek cuts its deep canyon across barren high desert near Holbrook, Arizona.” Lower photo: “One of many petroglyph panels in Chevelon Canyon.” SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE!

An expanded version of this story appears in Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane.

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

Greg

©2001, 2017 Gregory N. Brown

“Good omen?” Greg’s October, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's piloting tips with tags , , , , , on September 1, 2017 by Greg Brown

“Oh no! Not again!” said Jean when we arrived at the hangar. “This trip seems jinxed!”

A gargantuan steel-grey cloud wall spat lightning across the eastern sky, having sprouted in the hour since I last checked weather.

“Not a good omen so early in the morning,” I muttered to Jean’s chagrin. This was my second attempt to deliver her and her mother to visit relatives in Montrose, Colorado. Last year an unforecast and unreported 100-mile squall line turned us back mid-route, forcing my passengers to drive eight hours instead. It turns out that blank cockpit-weather displays don’t necessarily mean storm-free skies—a huge weather radar gap spans the Four Corners region and not even Flight Service knows what’s there. At least this year I knew weather avoidance would be strictly out the windshield for part of the trip, valuable planning knowledge where usable airports are hundreds of miles apart.

That assumed we could depart in the first place. Despite forecast clear skies, the north-south line of thunderstorms entirely blocked our northeasterly route, and daytime heating threatened further development. Could we safely circumvent the fast-growing line before it engulfed our airport? And if we could, what hazards might lurk in the weather-radar gap beyond?…

**Read the entire column, GOOD OMEN?“**

Photo: “Earth-bound rainbow south of Flagstaff, Arizona.” (Available as my “Earthbound Rainbow” Fine Art Metal Print.)

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

Greg

©2017 Gregory N. Brown

“Dutch Treat” Greg’s September, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column with tags , , on July 28, 2017 by Greg Brown

“Hello Greg! I’m back in Flagstaff with a group of Dutch students doing our annual video production workshop at NAU (Northern Arizona University).

One show’s theme is ‘Arizona from Above,’ so I thought of you and your Flying Carpet. Would you consider working with them on a story?”

It was Charlie Hicks, former CBS-TV anchor and NAU faculty member, who now teaches International Media & Entertainment Management at the NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Anything to promote international relations, right?

Following approvals, student producer Floor van der Vlugt phoned to arrange the details. All three students were excited about flying, explained Floor, “but one is very nervous.”

I suggested we meet early for cooler and smoother flying and filming…

**Read the entire column, DUTCH TREAT“**

Photo: “Dutch students Floor van der Vlugt, Nicola Vogel, and Sietse van den Nieuwenhuijzen with faculty member Charlie Hicks. (l-r)”

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

Greg

©2017 Gregory N. Brown

Check out Floor, Nicola, and Sietse’s video:

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