“Checkride!” Greg’s April, 2016 Flying Carpet column

On weddings and flight tests…

GregBrownFT416_0401eSmw1200Flight tests are a bit like weddings. Everyone wants theirs to go perfectly, but sometimes problems or distractions, when successfully resolved, add richness to the experience.

Although each of these life events usually goes smoothly, you’ll occasionally hear horror stories. Jean and I once attended a wedding reception where the restaurant caught fire, forcing the bridal party and guests onto the lawn with firefighters.

As with weddings, you can never know whether pilot checkrides are “good,” or “bad,” until afterward. The obvious measure is whether you pass or fail. Common wisdom says that sooner or later every pilot fails a flight test – fortunately that’s not the blot on one’s record pilots often worry about. But it’s not always that simple. Sometimes a failed test teaches valuable lessons. My own worst flight test was not the one I failed, but one I passed.

On my instrument practical years ago, I confused my position on an instrument approach, turned, and started down at the wrong fix. The examiner’s questioning helped me figure it out, but afterward I pondered if and when I’d have caught the error on my own. Although I learned the relevant lesson, it seemed at the time I should have failed so there was little joy in taking the new rating home. The experience haunted me until I got more instrument flying under my belt.

Colorado pilot Tom Fuller is well qualified to contemplate good checkrides versus bad. A 10-year Air Force veteran, Tom earned his private three years ago and is working toward a pro-pilot career.

GregBrownFT416_0169eSmw1200“I passed the oral portion of my initial Flight Instructor Practical Test last month, but did horribly on the flight portion. This came down to being at an unfamiliar airport, having little recent time in the Cessna 182RG I tested in, general checkride jitters, and fatigue. Any one of those I’d have probably been able to deal with, but all three was too much. Live and learn. So I rescheduled the flight portion for two weeks out, and committed to flying the RG as much as possible until then, which ended up approaching 20 hours…”


Top photo: CFI Tom Fuller at Telluride Airport, Colorado. (KTEX)

Lower photo: Tom’s checkride airplane at Denver’s Centennial Airport. (KAPA)

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


©2016 Gregory N.Brown

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

kids climb George Washington…


Kids climb George Washington’s statue, on the steps of the South Carolina Capitol.

Another from my occasional series of “Well, I’ll Be!” terrestrial photos, posted for the twofold purpose of brightening your day, and further deferring my already-long-postponed tax-prep chores.

(From the journey described in my November, 2009 Flying Carpet column, “Far from Home.”)

©2013 Gregory N. Brown

Greg’s featured past column: “Cowboy Pilot”

“So, do I have to fly out of Flagstaff to hang with the ‘airport slugs?’ Or, are us’ns outta Williams Airport not fit for polite company?”

It was the first “official” pilot query from Bruce Bloomquist, who just earned his private pilot certificate and took delivery of a shiny new-to-him airplane in the same week. [Congratulations, Bruce!]

“You need not fly out of Flag to join the slugs, Bruce,” I replied. “My cowboy buddy Baldy, for example, flies out of Seligman. The only requirement is to be hungry on Sunday mornings.”

“Ha! I’ve already heard a story or two about the, um, infamous Baldy!” said Bruce. “I’m really looking forward to meeting him − and all the other flying locals.”

“Baldy is a total character, Bruce − and one of the coolest guys you’ll ever meet!” I offered to share my columns about Baldy. Then I realized that YOU might enjoy knowing Baldy too, so here is the true tale of a real cowboy pilot!

Read “Cowboy Pilot” here. One of my favorite columns, about one of my favorite people, it first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine back in May, 2005. If you like it, comment below and I’ll post an additional column about him.

Photo: Baldy Ivy and his ’41 “T-craft.” See additional photos here. Visit Baldy’s web site, PilotShareTheRide.com.

©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!

our best “airport car” ever!

Those recent auto-show posts got me reminiscing with friend Sally Lynch about a far different class of vehicles − the often-battered “airport cars,” pilots enjoy as free loaners.

Our own “best” airport car was in Baudette, Minnesota, on a “long journey North,” Jean and I made in the Flying Carpet one 4th of July weekend, from Arizona all the way to the Canadian border to attend a funeral. Read Greg’s past column, “Goodbye, Don,” here. I think you’ll get a kick out of it!

Photo: The Baudette, Minnesota, airport car. See (newly added) photos of our best-ever airport car here.

2/18/09 Here’s the info for your new ftp account:
If you upload a file named articlename.pdf to this folder, the link will be:

©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!

Greg’s featured past column: “Vulture’s Prey”

I was chatting with my acquaintance Bruce today about an airplane he’s considering buying in southern California, and somehow the conversation turned to his visit to the renowned skydiving center at Perris Valley, California.

“I landed there one time,” I said, describing the unusual indoor skydiving facility located on the field.

“Did you go there to skydive, Greg?” he asked.

“Oh no,” I said, “that’s a whole different story.” Here, for Bruce’s reading pleasure and yours, is “Vulture’s Prey,” first published in March, 2005.

Photo: Phil and Kelly prepare to leave Perris Valley Airport for the 450 mile drive to Flagstaff in the “new” Lobe band bus. See more photos here.

©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!

Flying Carpet book photos

I have just posted many additional color photos illustrating stories from my book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane.

See Flying Carpet book photos at my Facebook page. (You needn’t be a Facebook member to view the photos.) I will continue adding more in the future. Hope you enjoy them!

Photo: Prairie sunset near Eagle Butte, South Dakota, from “Coyote Hunting: Small Adventures Under a Big Sky.” Said my companion Larry’s Uncle Charles when he saw us photographing the incredible sight, “No need to burn up all that film, fellas. Same sunset we get here every night.”

©2010, 2020 Gregory N. Brown

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

“fishworms and cottage cheese”

Anyone who’s spent much time in the rural Midwest knows the ubiquitous old-time general-store signs offering “fishworms and cottage cheese.”

Having grown up in that area, I never thought much about those signs until meeting a guy named Tom David, who’d moved from California to marry a Wisconsinite.

“Are the fishworms in the cottage cheese?” he’d ask. “How do you feel about them even cohabiting the same refrigerator?”

Once alerted to the humor of it, I soon picked up Tom’s habit of calling any and all stuff incongruously grouped together, “fishworms and cottage cheese.”

Tom would have appreciated the pictured naturopathic health store sign we encountered several years ago in rural Pima, Arizona. As another friend, Russ, notes, “it brings new meaning to to the expression, ‘hanging out a shingle.'” Click on the image to see it full-size. ©2010 Gregory N. Brown