Archive for the Greg's piloting tips Category

“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

“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

“Star Power” Greg’s August, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's piloting tips, Greg's student pilot pep talks with tags , , , , , , on July 3, 2017 by Greg Brown

For pilots to be interested in space and science fiction is only “logical,” but few of us personally experience the interface.

I met Chris Barton when he was executive director of the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra.

He was intrigued by piloting, so we launched on local flying adventures. Even while savoring the controls, my friend was captivated by Meteor Crater and the unearthly volcanic landscape where Apollo astronauts trained for moon missions.

Our friendship and Chris’s flying were interrupted when he joined Florida’s Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra as executive director. So when he phoned recently about returning to Flagstaff for a concert, I offered to retrieve him from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport by Flying Carpet.

Navigating a Class B airport requires planning, but it’s always a kick. Phoenix controllers welcome light aircraft, and Cutter Aviation offers complimentary airline shuttles.

My first minutes with Chris were consumed by departure and taxi clearances. He oohed and ahhed as we swooped over futuristic clusters of docked jetliners on early turnout. Only after escaping congested airspace could I ask, “What’s new?”

“Actually, you won’t believe it!” exclaimed Chris…

**READ THE ENTIRE COLUMN, STAR POWER“**

Top photo: Chris Barton (L) with Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander William Riker in Star Trek, The Next Generation.

Lower Photo: Star Trek: The Next Generation stars Michael Dorn (“Worf”) and Jonathan Frakes with Chris and Angela Barton and family.

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

Greg

©2017 Gregory N. Brown

“Low and Slow” Greg’s July, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's piloting tips, Greg's student pilot pep talks with tags , , , on June 5, 2017 by Greg Brown

Ever wonder if you’re the only one apprehensive about launching on your first long light-plane journey?

A pilot buddy recently launched on a 1,000-mile cross-country.

Like most of us, he greeted his first extended light-plane journey with both excitement and trepidation.

He studied route and airspace, calculated fuel and weight-and-balance, took two written tests, and checked out in a Diamond DA-40. Although initially apprehensive, he phoned me exhilarated following solo landing practice.

“That was so much fun I can’t believe it!” he said, detailing each successive landing like a newly soloed pilot. “Now I’m stoked to fly that cross-country!”

My friend and his family live in southern New Mexico, 10 hours’ drive from relatives. When he mentioned that private flying would be perfect for such trips, his wife encouraged him to join the local aero club. This first mission would be to collect her and the kids from visiting her folks in Dallas…

**READ THE ENTIRE COLUMN, LOW AND SLOW**

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

Greg

©2017 Gregory N. Brown

“Planning Someday” Greg’s June, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's piloting tips, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , on May 5, 2017 by Greg Brown

Crossing the continent by Flying Carpet

Jean and I recently flew North America from Arizona to Illinois, Michigan, Quebec, Massachusetts, and back.

Following such journeys, aviator friends always ask, “How do you pull off these long trips? Someday I want to do that!”

Along with budget and time constraints, that nebulous “someday” often arises from fear of the unknown. Any competent private pilot has the technical skills to execute such flights.

Here’s how we tackle cross-the-continent flights from the human side.

**READ MY JUNE COLUMN, PLANNING SOMEDAY**

Photo: “Tying down at dusk at Aurora, Illinois (KARR) following the long fight from Arizona.”

Don’t miss these PHOTOS FROM ACROSS THE CONTINENT!

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

Greg

©2017 Gregory N. Brown

“Land on a Cloud” Greg’s May, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, flying destinations, Greg's piloting tips with tags , , , , , , on March 31, 2017 by Greg Brown

There’s nothing like flying to escape the beaten path. Returning from Massachusetts to Arizona, Jean and I steered for Warren and Melissa Smith’s private Atlanta, Illinois farm strip. Landing on grass is like alighting on a cloud, but you must always scout it first. Warren, an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector, shared details.

“It rained the other night, so I drove the strip in my car,” he said. “It’s in great shape, plus I confirmed the 2300-foot usable length with a wheel. Ideally, land from the south because there’s a 300-foot overrun at the north end–touch down upon clearing the corn. From the north, land past the metal “Hoblit Farms” building. In case of concerns, of course, divert to nearby Logan County Airport.”

We’d hoped to make Illinois nonstop, but headwinds dictated refueling at Logansport, Indiana. Despite bargain prices, I resisted topping tanks; it’s best to operate light on turf.

During our final one-hour leg, I reviewed soft-field procedures and runway requirements. Although 2300 feet is plenty for a Skylane, grass demands proper technique and lengthens takeoff roll…

**READ THE ENTIRE COLUMN, LAND ON A CLOUD**

Top photo: “The Flying Carpet at Hoblit Farms’s private grass strip, Atlanta, Illinois.” [Larry Collins photo.]

Lower photo: “Larry Collins, Warren and Melissa Smith, and ‘Ace,’ greet us at the Hoblit Farms strip.”

SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE!

And check out the following video of the Flying Carpet in Illinois Farmland, by Larry Collins.

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

Greg

©2017 Gregory N. Brown

Choosing a good flight instructor

Posted in Greg's piloting tips, learn to fly! on January 13, 2017 by Greg Brown

Greg Brown's Flying Carpet Blog

fc-cover-photo-smThe single most important factor in good flight training is lining up an excellent flight instructor (“CFI”). Since flying is largely taught one-on-one, the right instructor will greatly enhance your quality of learning, your safety and competence, and your ultimate enjoyment of flying.

Good training can be found at flight schools of any size — quality should be your key factor in making the decision. Start by asking acquaintances who fly locally if they can recommend a good instructor or flight program. Good referrals always mean a lot. The next step is to visit several different flight schools at nearby general aviation airports, and interview flight instructors at each one. (While you’re at the airport, approach some pilots you see operating light aircraft, and ask if they have any instructor or flight school recommendations.)

To evaluate each instructor you interview, ask him or her to:

  1. Detail the process for completing your…

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