Archive for August 2008

Sarah Palin a Pilot? – UPDATED

August 30, 2008

Rumor has it that John McCain’s new running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is a GA Pilot.  I’ve heard it from good sources of my own in DC, but I haven’t been able to confirmed it through the FAA dbase or other online resources.   AOPA discusses her legislative background with respect to GA here.

This is a critical time for our industry, and I look forward to hearing about the responses to AOPA’s surveys.

I just caught a bit on Greta van Susteren’s Fox News interview of Sarah Palin that finally solves this question . . See this link, and look for the 7th video down (titled “Todd Palin Teaches Greta to Ride A Snowmachine”). 2:30 mins in they are walking by Todds plane, which looks like an old C-180 on skis, and Greta asks,

“Can you fly?”.

Palin answers, “No, not something I’m into,”

Then proceeds to say that his plane is “like a little tin can, a tuna fish can”.

So, after two and a half months, mystery solved, thanks to Fox New’s Greta.

Launch of

August 22, 2008

I don’t know much about it but just launched what they are calling a Magazine and Online Guide for Adventure Fliyng”.   So far I’ve so far only perused the Women in Aviation Today post which I found through fellow blogger ChopperChick.  I can’t get through the first page to really review the site (because it’s blocked for subscribers), but once I do I will give a better pirep. For now it’s a great looking site, and we all know there is a tremendous appetite for photos and stories of pilot adventures.  I hope it does well documenting our shared passion!

Good luck Pilotmag!

The Kids Love the Malibu Mirage

August 22, 2008

Kids Miarage

Originally uploaded by jcal7flickr

One of the best things I love about my Mirage is the cabin! My kids love it. I’ve owned 3 planes: an Skylane, Bonanza, and now a Mirage. The Mirage is so far the best for kids, though the Skylane was a close second. The high wing of the Cessna meant it was always cool and shady, and getting in and out was a breeze. The Bo was really a pilot’s airplane: great for the pilot (they fly like a Porsche) but not so much for the PAX. With the Mirage, as pictured, we fit it all, sit in air-conditioned pressurized comfort, and have a blast.

So you want to become a pilot?

August 22, 2008

A friend recently told me that he was intrigued with the idea of becoming a pilot.  He had just taken a charter flight with his wife and kids and they had all marveled at the ease and convenience of  the small airplane (C-421) ride. The kids were happy, there was no stress around departure, plenty of room for luggage, and the time savings to get to their vacation was immense. He also marveled at the freedom inherent in the trip . . .upon the return the pilot suggested they go into an airport slightly closer to their destination:  ”How could he could change that on the fly?”

Like most general aviation pilots, I get asked frequently about becoming a pilot. Flying has the incredible power to delight and amaze with it’s grace, efficiency and mystique.  Flying also intoxicates with it’s beauty and freedom. . .who among us hasn’t looked out at the under-cast from FL360 and been awed.   These are many of the reasons why we all love it so.   No doubt every pilot recalls when the bug first bit . . for me it was in 1976 when I first saw a picture of the Concorde (I was 7).

I told my friend that flying is really a life-long endeavor, and it is pretty serious business.  In order to assess whether it was right for him, I suggested he answer (to himself) three questions.

1)    What kind of person are you?
This sounds like a cheesy interview question, but it’s not. . Are you detail oriented and focused or do you get distracted easily? Do you like learning new things or do you need to be an expert? (Hint, there are very few expert pilots!). Do you have patience or no time for that? Are you humble or do you like being right?  These are phrased in a manner to suggest the “right answer” but these are serious questions that takes some self-awareness.  Flying involves countless judgment calls on behalf of the pilot:  is the weather beyond my ability? How rusty are my skills right now?  Should I take the time to weigh that bag before I throw it in? Who flew the plane last and how does that make me feel?  Flying requires you to check the ego in the parking lot and make some very unpopular decisions:  cancel the trip to grandma’s for Easter (with a plane full of kids), canceling last minute on a business trip.  All of these are things that we do in the name of safety.  We learn to always have an out, or an option so that these choices are less painful, but no-going is part of flying, maybe a bigger part.
2)    Do you have the time?
No, do you really have the time.  It takes about 70-100hrs to get your private, call it a year of work, but this is just the beginning. The ticket is “a license to learn” as we all know.  Real proficiency and skill come from regular dedication to this learning, in the form of a flight or two per week, every week, almost always, and regular continuing dual instruction.
3)    Is this your passion?
It really helps if the answer to this one is yes, because in the early years bouncing around in a 172 is a far cry from piloting a TBM, Eclipse, or even a Bonanza for a weekend of skiing.  Most of us pilots love it all, but many a friend has embarked on the path of aviation only to discover that it is often pretty un-sexy:  over-nighting due to weather (for days?) in the middle of nowhere may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but if you’re passionate about it, these aspects are just as enjoyable as a greased landing.

There are some fantastic student pilot resources on the web, and IMHO the best place to start is AOPA.   More to come on this topic, and please comment with some good student links.

Safe flights!

Teton Departure

August 21, 2008


Originally uploaded by jcal7flickr

Departed KJAC on RW01 at about 10am. Couldn’t resist snapping this view of the Tetons on a severely clear day. We had a string of great flying weather then some August fires started up past few days in ID and MT, causing some haze and smoke in the region.

Flathead Lake off the nose

August 21, 2008

Flathead Lake off the nose

Originally uploaded by jcal7flickr

Approaching the Bigfork and Glacier Park regain in the Mirage. Headed up to GPI from JAC to pick up my brother and sister in law. Beautiful day. IFR up there is straight shot, this day at FL180. Folks at Glacier Park Jet Center are terrific.

Glacier Park off the left wing

August 21, 2008

Glacier of the left

Originally uploaded by jcal7flickr

Glacier Park off the left wing on a southbound flight back to Jackson. Flew right up to the CN border at about FL150. Crystal clear day. Luckily I was with my Sister-in-Law and Brother who know the park and area well. Maybe we’ll have them do a guest post to navigate.