Archive for flying adventures

“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

“Big Kids Aloft” Greg’s April, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, flying destinations with tags , , , , , , , on March 2, 2017 by Greg Brown

alexrosenbaum-allenrosenblatt_pittsfieldairport-kpsf_pitsfieldma_5239esmw1200We relaxed with our son Hannis and his fiancée Marissa on Richmond Pond in western Massachusetts, our fourth flying destination crossing the continent from Arizona.

Marissa’s folks Alex and Sabina had been consummate hosts, treating us to sightseeing, concerts, and savory meals. Alex even let me drive his vintage Miata sports car. In return, all he asked was to go flying. Alex had once taken lessons, but circumstances prevented him from finishing. Now he was eager to retake the controls. Once a pilot, always a pilot.

On the appointed morning, however, broken clouds shrouded the lush green mountaintops surrounding Pittsfield Municipal Airport, with no improvement expected. To our mutual disappointment, it wasn’t safe to fly.

Midday came, and as I toted luggage to Hannis and Marissa’s car for their drive home, sunlight momentarily silvered Richmond Pond. Quietly, I checked weather. Area ceilings were indeed thinning, and had risen off all but the highest peaks. What’s more, an amended forecast indicated continuing improvement. I asked Alex what was planned for the afternoon.

“Nothing until dinner,” he replied.

“Then let’s go flying!” …

**READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE COLUMN, BIG KIDS ALOFT**

Photo: “Alex (L) and Allen celebrate our flight at Pittsfield Municipal Airport, Massachusetts. (KPSF)” See more photos here!

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

Greg

©2017 Gregory N. Brown

“Parlez-vous Anglais?” Greg’s March, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, flying destinations with tags , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2017 by Greg Brown

gregbrownft317_5569esmw1200“Be aware of a Citation jet practicing instrument approaches, and numerous aircraft flying the Trois-Rivières traffic pattern,” cautioned Montreal Center after issuing our instrument clearance from Quebec back to the States.

Not until reaching the runway did Jean and I fully appreciate the implications. How could we determine when to take the runway with so much traffic chattering in a foreign tongue? We might as well be on another planet!

Every aspect of this flight to French Canada had been impacted by language…

**READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE COLUMN, PARLEZ-VOUS ANGLAIS?**

Photo: “Space-age terminal building at Trois-Rivières Airport, Quebec.” See more photos here!

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

Greg

PS: The dichroic-glass bola tie in my new new author photo this month comes from my friends Dana and Karen at Robbins Ranch Art Glass. Check out their wonderful work!

©2017 Gregory N. Brown

“Full Circle,” Greg’s February, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, flying destinations, Greg's piloting tips with tags , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2016 by Greg Brown

Bienvenue au Québec!

lisejeanmarcel-duvalpatio_stlawrencerivership_champlainquebec_4677-editesmw1200You’d expect a flying carpet to deliver you to enchanted destinations. Well, 2,000 miles and fifteen flight hours from home over French Canada, Jean and I truly felt our steed’s magic. After clearing customs at Windsor, Ontario, we gazed down upon Toronto, Ottawa, and then, Montreal. Each resurrected memories of a long-ago youthful journey.

In 1971, I drove this route on a post-graduation road trip with two Chicago high-school buddies in my 1939 Chevy. After setting up camp in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, we picked up a hitchhiker named Marcel while cruising town. Lacking a common language, we couldn’t determine his destination, so he gestured us to a nearby tavern.

“If you’ll break camp and drive me 15 miles to Champlain,” Marcel offered via the bilingual bartender, “you can stay in the guest cottage behind my parents’ house.” We accepted, and while the others slept, Marcel and I “talked” late into the night via sketch pad and French-English dictionary. The next morning, I was startled awake by the horn blast of an oceangoing freighter. Having arrived in darkness, I never guessed the St. Lawrence Seaway was steps away.

I was recounting this story to Jean for the umpteenth time when Toronto Center issued a frequency change. Bienvenue au Québec! Air traffic control is bilingual in Quebec, so Montreal Center controllers swap seamlessly between French with Québécois pilots, and English with Anglophones like me. The mighty St. Lawrence River materialized off our right wing, and thirty minutes later converged with our course at our destination. Inbound to land at the uncontrolled airport, we heard the following transmission.

“Trafic Trois-Rivières, Cessna Un-Sept-Deux Golf Alpha Bravo Charlie, présentement sur Alpha, je m’aligne Piste Deux Trois pour un décollage immédiat.” Jean and I looked to each another, eyebrows raised. The pilot was obviously in the local traffic pattern, but where? I requested his position in English, but he answered in French. Eventually he managed the word, “takeoff,” but we never spotted the airplane. Clearly, great care would be required to safely operate here.

I was securing the Flying Carpet when two figures rushed from the terminal, arms outstretched. It was Marcel Duval, the very hitchhiker I picked up in 1971, and his captivating wife, Lise Marquis. Who’d have imagined that our chance friendship would endure for decades…

**READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE COLUMN, FULL CIRCLE**

Photo: “Toasting friendship with Marcel Duval and Lise Marquis at their home overlooking the St. Lawrence River in Champlain, Quebec.” See more photos here!

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

Greg

©2016 Gregory N.Brown

“O, Canada,” Greg’s January, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, flying destinations, Greg's piloting tips, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , on November 27, 2016 by Greg Brown

gregbrownft117_5433-1smw1200Crossing Borders

When a family wedding beckoned from Chicago, our first thought was to book airline tickets because it’s too far to fly for a weekend. But then Jean and I got to talking.

Think of all the sights to see and friends to visit within flying range of Chicago. And soon, Where shall we go this time? In short order, a weekend wedding trip blossomed into a full-fledged flying vacation to three states and Canada.

Canada! Consider your feelings when flying into a new-to-you state. Now make that destination Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean and you’ve got one memorable trip.

This would be our first foreign border crossing by private aircraft since 9/11, and security procedures would accordingly be more complicated and stringent than before. I might have waited too long to start planning, if not for chatting a month before the trip with pilot Mark Harris who routinely flies into Mexico.

“Don’t linger ordering your customs decal, and enrolling in the eAPIS program you’ll need when crossing the border,” he counseled. “Those can take time.” Immediately, I tapped into AOPA’s excellent “Flying to Canada” web and video resources, and began submitting the requisite applications.

Every aircraft crossing US borders must have a current Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CPB) decal. These annual stickers cost only $27.50, but can take several weeks to receive. In addition, pilots must pre-file crew, passenger, aircraft, and itinerary information for each crossing via CPB’s “Electronic Advance Passenger Information System” (eAPIS) web site. While individual trip manifests can be filed as little as an hour before takeoff, the required pre-registration can take up to a week for email confirmation.

I’d also need a restricted radiotelephone operators permit for international travel, and a radio station license for the Flying Carpet. Canadian charts and GPS navigator database are of course required, and aircraft insurance certificate. Non-aviation planning included current passports, international cellphone and data service, informing our credit card issuers, and medical insurance coverage…

**READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE COLUMN, O, Canada**

Photo: “Downtown Toronto, Canada, and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (CYTZ, commonly known as the Toronto Island Airport)”

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

Greg

©2016 Gregory N.Brown

“Tight Quarters,” Greg’s December, 2016 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's piloting tips, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2016 by Greg Brown

gregbrownft1216_5091-1smw1200Pirate pool party

Attending a kid’s 4th birthday party might sound unimportant, but Jean and I felt high emotional stakes in flying to Alamogordo, New Mexico for the occasion.

Our son and daughter-in-law Austin and Desi and their children had recently moved there from overseas. That would make our grandson’s “pirate pool party” our first family celebration together in six years.

Alamogordo is nine hours’ drive from Flagstaff, but less than three hours by Flying Carpet. Perusing the charts, I was pleased to find manageable terrain en route. However, a 140-mile thicket of restricted airspace encompasses nearby White Sands Missile Range and Holloman Air Force Base, blocking general aviation access from the west. High mountains and additional military airspace also limit access from the east.

That leaves two flying routes from Arizona, neither direct. Shortest is to fly east beyond Socorro to JUPTR intersection, then steer 90 miles south between military airspace and the Sacramento Mountains. The longer alternative is to fly southeast to El Paso over high and remote terrain, then thread an exceedingly narrow 60-mile corridor northward between restricted areas. Both routes are comfortably flyable in good weather, but given such tight quarters each can be blocked over many miles by a single thunderstorm…

**READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE COLUMN, TIGHT QUARTERS**

Photo: “Massive thunderheads crown the Sacramento Mountains northeast of Alamogordo, NM. (Note malpais volcanic lava fields in foreground.)” SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE!

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

Greg

©2016 Gregory N.Brown

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