Departing Mid-Continent Airport

I occasionally peruse the online community of Reddit. I’m not an active member and I don’t even change the sub-reddits which are shown when I login. One of the sections I read regularly is called Today I Learned, or TIL for short. It is a good reminder for me that there is a depth to human knowledge that I will never plumb, that there are random facts, stories and  histories out there which we aren’t taught in general but are important and interesting when you read about them. So “Today I Learned” is now something I think about on occasion. Continue reading

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New Crossing

The first crossing in the new plane seemed important to document. I failed on a few fronts (as soon as I announced I was on the east coast my brother asked how many gallons of fuel I burned; I realized I had neglected to log that), but I’ll try to make up for it on the return flight.

I started on Monday morning in Friday Harbor and took off a little before 7:30am. As described in my previous post, I needed a repair at Boeing Field and had a weather diversion. But, if we pretend that wasn’t necessary, that I had everything working perfectly and was able to skip out of the Seattle area ahead of the weather, I believe I would have been in Great Falls at about 10:30am, perfect for a nap and an early lunch.
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Six minutes in Van Nuys

Yesterday in an Uber which was dropping me at the Santa Monica Airport, the driver said, “Did you see that pilot who crashed in Van Nuys?” He said it with the usual hook of discussing current events: this is something interesting to talk about. I said, “Yes, that was my friend Art.” He became immediately somber and said, “I’m sorry.” So am I.

After a dozen years of flying, Art is my first pilot friend that died while flying. I have gone through the details exhaustively, to understand (for myself, really) what happened. In aviation we try very hard to learn from other pilots’ mistakes, especially when they can no longer learn from them.  Continue reading

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First Gone West Post: Art Newman


On Tuesday, August 2, I was having lunch in Guymon, Oklahoma, a place in the middle of nowhere. Or, more accurately, in the middle of the panhandle of Oklahoma, a hard, hot, high bit of the country which feels like it owes no one any favors. I was incredibly surprised to find a place on Yelp! that was good enough that I will aim for little KGUY on my next crossing.

While I was having lunch, my friend Art Newman crashed his plane into a building in Van Nuys, sustaining fatal injuries. My way of hearing the news was that when I finally landed at Santa Monica at 7pm that evening there was a voicemail message waiting from his daughter asking how they might confirm that it was him. “You probably have seen the news about a pilot in an accident in Van Nuys, we think it was dad. Do you know how we could get in touch with someone about it?” Sadly, I didn’t know anyone to call. Continue reading

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Front Office

I am writing this blog entry almost three miles above the earth, tapping away on a little bluetooth keyboard, watching the words appear on the iPad that is held by the RAM mount suction-cupped to the canopy. At the end of every sentence I check my engine instruments, my navigation (time to next navigation fix), and glance at the fuel. That’s silly, since I have seven and a half hours of fuel for a two hour flight, but I have a ritual. I also pause to listen to the voices on the Air Traffic Control frequency, since I am “squawking and talking,” which means I have a discrete beacon code, ATC is watching me on the radar scope, and I have chatted with them about where I am going.  Continue reading

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Cover Up

For a little while after we got the new plane there were boxes arriving every week. A lot of minor things, like the collar for the circuit breaker, but some larger things, like the gust lock that the broker had to supply new from Diamond in Canada. That was a big box (for not that large an item) and had a lot of customs stickers on it.

cover-newThe first plane had a cover from Bruce’s Aircraft Covers. It seems like they have changed a little in the decade between orders. The covers are made over in China, but I think the design is actually a little evolved and better. Sadly, they no longer offer monogramming of the cover. It seems a little silly, but I think it’s a bit of a hedge against someone taking the cover. (That’s a really small probability to offset. There are about two hundred of these planes in North America, the vast majority in hangars. Do I really think some other DA42 owner is going to sneak onto an airfield (some of the most secure property in the United States) and take a cover off my plane to put it on theirs?) Mostly I like that the pieces of the plane, including the cover, have the tail number on them. Continue reading

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We’re off to the Vineyard, darling.

My favorite trips in the plane are those that I would never otherwise make. There was a time when my parents were up at the Lake in Canada and I was working in the City. I wanted to go up for just a few days and it was a major adventure to do so. Train out to Newark airport, an Air Canada jet to Toronto, another to North Bay airport after a couple hours in Pearson Airport, and a float plane to the Lake. When I got there I felt like I had run some sort of gauntlet.

In July had dropped Dexter off at his summer program in Cambridge, MA and had returned to New York City. After some consideration of the calendar I decided it was a good time to spend three or four nights up at the Lake. Pog and Alex were already there and settled in. There were some items at my sister’s house in Providence that Pog needed, so I’d stop there for a night on the way up. As long as I was there with the plane, it would be fun to go on a little flight with Brett and two of her three kids (only four seats…). As it turned out, Jasper was at camp and Willa was busy with friends. So after a night in their palatial guest suite on the top floor, Brett and I headed to the airport with her youngest, Hazel. It was Hazel’s first time in a small plane.

Brett is only two and a half hours by car from Marthas Vineyard. That’s not too bad, although forty-five minutes of it is on a ferry and I bet there’s a little bit of wait to get into line for the ferry and getting the ferry loaded. We took off from North Central State (where JFK Jr. learned to fly!) and steered nearly due east for 1B2, the Katama airport on the eastern beach of Marthas Vineyard. I had been here once before as sort of consolation prize for not getting to land at Fishers Island. This summer I was managing both. Continue reading

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