Tiny Things


Back to Red

One of the suggestions of the ferry pilot was to collar the autopilot’s circuit breaker on the panel with a red ring. When something goes wrong, you want to be able to disable the autopilot as quickly as possible and yanking the circuit breaker would do that. Finding the correct circuit breaker might take a few moments, so mark that one, critical one. So I ordered the silly fifty cent plastic ring and installed itContinue reading

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More of What They Carried


The first time I crossed the country I wrote up a detailed list of what we carried in the plane. And four years later when I was trying to gather all of my advice for How To Fly Across the country, I took another stab at it.

This page is more specific to the new plane. When we took delivery the ferry pilot was really helpful and went through a bunch of things I would probably want to have in the plane. And the chief pilot down at Angel City Flyers also walked through some with me. It is a very complex machine and carrying the right things to address issues you might have is important to keeping frustration at a minimum.

So, figuring there are other new DA42 pilot owners out there, here is my exhaustive list, as of January 2017, of what’s in there. Continue reading

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Literary Inspiration

Way back in 2009 I took a friend up to the Bay Area and he shot a little film of it.

And one of the latest passengers has written a book of poems about a flight up the west coast to Seattle in N972RD. Check it out on Amazon.


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Photographic Trip

Another failure to properly document a long flight. But I took a few photographs. My goal for my next long flight is to properly gather the images for a real photographic logbook (my first effort was in September).

At 4am I woke up and stumbled out to my Uber. American Airlines lifted off on time for the 6am flight to Phoenix. After strolling the huge terminal for an hour I was on a CRJ that landed in Midland, Texas at 12:46pm. Continue reading

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The Real Excitement

If you fly two thousand hours over eleven years you will see some equipment failures (and some pilot failures). This was the first time I had a failure and didn’t know it.

Friends who follow me on Facebook are familiar with these two pictures:

As I was flying Dexter from Santa Monica, California to New Orleans, Louisiana for SICB’s annual conference we stopped for fuel (of human and engine both) in Austin, Texas. We took off into a night sky. I could spot traffic coming off Houston’s main airport more easily and watched the passenger jets coming in from the north heading for a long downwind leg to land.

A good pilot is always scanning everything. I take photos and on long, daylight legs will read a book, but I don’t read more than a sentence or two before I glance at all the important information. My ears are tuned to the hum of the engines and when they cough or mumble I am instantly alert and double-scanning everything. More often with the twins the propellers will get out sync, with the left engine at 2090 RPMs and the right at 2100 RPMs. A little nudge on the throttle and they are back humming evenly again. But I am always checking the groundspeed, comparing to the true airspeed, the tailwinds, the estimated time en route (ETE) to our next navigation point, and then a glance to check on the passenger (snoozing). Continue reading

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Today’s Mistake


Austin Executive

I would love to document a perfect flight. I know that I did a little round-robin of airport hopping a few years back and I was really happy that I had not made a single mistake on the radio. Since the radio is the source of my least-favorite mistake, I still work hard to match that.

On small airplanes things pop open. That sounds sort of scary, but the engineers designing the planes are away of the fallibility of latches, so almost everything that CAN open on an airplane is attached in a way that makes it popping open immaterial to the continuing flight. (One of the rare modern exceptions is the two seater version of our plane, the DA20. The canopy opens up and back, which is different than the four-seat models. There were two accidents early on where the canopy popped open on instruction flights and the canopy acted as a huge speed brake, bring the airplane down. They changed the latching system.) Continue reading

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The Cake



Always safer with two pilots

This was my first real icing flight. Oh, all sorts of things spring to mind, like “Shaken, not stirred” and other bartending jokes. Since I’m not a drinker I’m not even aware of all the great possibilities. I’m going to stick strictly to the facts instead.

In a decade of flying I have encountered icing twice, both time inadvertently and both times in our original plane, a DA40 which has no icing protection. The first time was during an IFR instruction flight with my CFII. She had a bad experience in ice when she was a student, so we took it really, really seriously and had all sorts of different plans for what to do and when. It was a non-event. The second time I was the only pilot on board and, once again, I had a succession of plans to address my situation if certain things happened. They didn’t, I descended into warmer air and everything was fine. Continue reading

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