“In Search of Lost Time,” Greg’s legacy Flying Carpet column

Where the heck is my watch? I wondered, upon checking my wrist for the time.

I was dining with renowned aviation author and humorist Rod Machado, his wife Diane, and two of their friends at an outdoor cafe in Palm Springs, California. We had joined pilots from all over the country to attend AOPA Expo, the pilot association’s annual convention.

“So Greg,” said Rod, continuing a conversation in progress, “how was your flight from Phoenix yesterday?”

“Very pleasant,” I replied, massaging my empty wrist. “I arrived early to avoid the heaviest fly-in traffic. It can be a real hornet’s nest the afternoon before the program starts.”

“I’ve often dodged those hornets myself,” said Rod. “Any delays?”

“None at all,” I replied. “I just joined the published arrival procedure and followed the freeway in—no circling was required. I suspect it was tougher late in the day.” We proceeded to swap aviator stories with Rod and
Diane’s friends. Ian, an American Airlines pilot, told of his days flying in Alaska. Jason, an author and internationally renowned professional magician, recounted adventures flying his twin-engine Piper Aerostar. Earlier, over appetizers, he’d dazzled the group with mystifying card tricks.

Even as flying yarns circled the table, my thoughts kept returning to the missing watch. It wasn’t valuable, but I liked it and the data bank held important phone numbers. Particularly disturbing was that I’d lost a set of keys earlier that morning. Ultimately I’d found them in the side pocket of my suitcase, but I had no recollection of placing them there. Now I’d lost my watch.

Hopefully I’m not developing memory problems, I found myself
worrying. I must ask my wife if she’s noticed any other symptoms. Attempting to banish such concerns from my mind, I returned to my friends’ ongoing conversation, saying nothing of my loss.

“Did I tell you about flying into Long Beach for the last West Coast Expo two years ago?” I asked.

“No,” said Rod. “Did you have some ‘close encounters’ there?”

“On the contrary,” I replied, laughing…

**Continue reading Greg’s entire column, IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME” **. Mobile-device link here.


Photo: Greg with author, speaker, and humorist Rod Machado. 


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


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“The Day GPS Went Out,” Greg’s January/February, 2020 Flying Carpet column

“Warning! GPS Navigation Lost!” proclaimed my GPS receiver.

Jean and I were bouncing through clouds on instruments at 12,000 feet, over trackless mountains along the remote Arizona-New Mexico border.

Seconds after that initial warning, my primary flight display announced, “GPS reversion mode: for Emergency Use Only!” (but displayed no position.) My multifunction display restarted itself with a “Maintenance Required!” alert. Next came an “ADS-B (out) inoperative!” warning, meaning our transponder had stopped transmitting our GPS coordinates to air traffic control (ATC).

I was flying Jean from Flagstaff to El Paso for tennis sectionals. Normally we make the 2½-hour journey straight-line VFR. Today, however, layered clouds shrouded the mountainous central portion of the route, so I’d filed under instrument flight rules (IFR). This route spans a huge swath of military airspace that when active cannot be crossed IFR, so I’d filed a circuitous route over Socorro, New Mexico.

My first hint of trouble was when our controller asked, “Are you ADS-B equipped?”

That seemed odd, as he had long been tracking us. He then cleared me to an intersection to bypass nearby White Sands Missile Range restricted airspace, but the GPS died as I entered the fix into my navigator. After I reported the failure, the controller assigned radar vectors around the restricted areas.

Now other pilots began reporting lost GPS, and I noted that the position symbol on my tablet computer had stopped moving…

**Continue reading Greg’s entire column, THE DAY GPS WENT OUT” **.


Photo: Primary Flight Display in GPS-failure Emergency Reversion Mode. 


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


Enjoy this story? Read my book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane, available in print and your favorite ebook format.