As I think back on my career in aviation, some of my fondest memories are from my first job as a line boy at the local airport in South Florida. It was an exciting place to work that was often different day-to-day as new planes and pilots and opportunities presented themselves to me and literally expanded my horizons.Working the line offered lots of challenges and experiences—driving fuel trucks loaded with thousands of gallons of AVGAS and carefully maneuvering them around millions of dollars of airplanes, towing G-II’s and Falcons out of the executive hangar with inches to spare, changing lightbulbs along the runways, and even being the Fire Rescue crew with a “Squad 51” lookalike firetruck. But by far, the best part of the job was meeting pilots and getting unusual opportunities to fly in a variety of airplanes as they would learn that I was building hours and earning licenses.
As pilots, we all have memories of certain flights or events in our aviation journeys. Perhaps it was an ILS approach on a low visibility day, or maybe it was a beautiful sunset over the water, or maybe it was an emergency that happened and was handled with ease. For those with many hours in the cockpit, some of these events eventually blend into the memories of a career well flown and, frankly, get kind of jumbled up and mixed together.
And then—there’s those things you will NEVER forget! Things that will forever be there for your recall because they were so monumental in your experience: your first solo, your Private Pilot check ride, carrying your first passenger, or experiencing your first cross country flight to name a few.
And I suspect, if you’re like me, perhaps it was when you failed your first check ride.
In February 1970, after completing Officer Training School, I was commissioned as an Air Force officer and transferred to Reese Air Force Base (AFB) Lubbock, Texas for a year of what was described as intense Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT), i.e., flight training.
UPT comprised three phases—primary flight, initial jet training, and advanced jet training. The primary flight instruction was in a military Cessna 172, designated the T-41. I had enough prior flight experience that I completed this phase easily.
During initial jet training, we attended classes on basic aerodynamics and the safety systems of the T-37—the next aircraft in the training syllabus. The safety courses included ejection seat operation and parachute landing fall training.
So, you have outgrown your 4-seat aircraft.
More kids, more friends, more stuff—the time has come to look at something larger with six seats. And you are still cost conscious or just have not upgraded to a multi-engine rating.
There are four practical candidates in the six-seat single engine market that may provide the solution you are looking for—each with enough individual features to give you real choices. The six-seat class includes the Cessna 206, Piper Six, Beechcraft A36, and the Piper Malibu.
I flunked Christmas bidding this year. As Len Morgan says from Flying Magazine, “Anyone can fly a trip—but it takes a genius to bid them!” I think he’s right. I have no idea what happened. All I know is that with almost 30 years of seniority at my airline, I was unable to “hold” Christmas off and as I write this, I’m on day 3 of a 4 day trip that began Christmas day. Sigh. Nonetheless, there’s still been times this month where I’ve been able to be with friends and loved ones and celebrate what Christmas is about. In those settings, maybe because of the novelty of being an airline pilot and certain perceptions about my livelihood, non-fliers will often ask: “Have you had any close calls?”