Monday, February 23, 2009

RV4 Speed Increase

My RV4 was built in 1986. It had the original Van's cowling, wheelpants, rubber wingroot fairings, and had the rectangular air intakes. I used to fly along side my father's RV6, and was usually about the same speed.

Then I brought the plane in for a major refurb. I changed the cowling out for a Sam James cowling, which was significantly lighter, and had the round air intake openings. I then put a Sam James fiberglass plenum chamber on and installed the Sam James fiberglass wingroot fairings. I installed the Van's pressure recovery wheel pants, then made really slick upper and lower gear root fairings along with fiberglass gear fairings. I followed this by a new paintjob. The decrease in weight was really significant. The next time that I flew along side my father's RV6, I had to throttle back considerably, because I was leaving him in the dust! The plane flew a good 15 MPH faster.

I attribute the major speed difference to the Sam James cowl and plenum chamber. It took a bit of adjustment to get the temps under control, but once they were there, they stayed constant, and the speed increase was significant. Thanks Sammy!

If you want to outfit your RV with some really slick fiberglass Holy Cowl, plenum chamber, or wingroot fairings, contact Sam James Aircraft at
(863) 234-1096. Tell him Scott "Buzz" Brown sent you!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

One Wild Ride

I just got back from a trip from Concord, NC to Northwest Arkansas. The ride out there was uneventful, just the way I like them to be. We landed at KNXA and visited the Regional Jet Center FBO. WOW! What a nice place that is. It had free food and drinks, a weight room, personal bedroom in the event that you had to stay there overnight. They also had personal offices so that you could work on your laptop in a private room, if you wanted. They had lots of hangar space to put the plane up for the night and the ground and desk crews were extremely courteous and complete.

We had a nice stay in Arkansas, visiting Dickson Street which was located in the middle of the University of Arkansas. Lots of nice restaurants and shops and places to get a drink. Really nice!

Then came our trip home. The weather in Rock Hill, our first stop, was not going to be all that bad, but the winds were very high and gusty. Our trip home brought us to FL320, where we saw 150 kts straight on the tail, bringing our ground speed to just under 500 kts. WOOOOO-SOOIEEEE, as they say in Arkansas! That's moving on for a King Air 350.

Once we were about 50 miles outside of Rock Hill, SC, and having descended to about 10,000 ft, then the wild ride started. It wasn't so bad at first, but once we descended to 3000 feet, it was really bad. Winds were 18 kts gusting to 32 kts and the plane was being tossed around pretty good. The landing was nice however, and we said goodbye to our passengers, tidied up the plane, and prepared for our 9 minute hop from Rock Hill to Concord, NC.

The weather was deteriorating, but still not too bad that we couldn't get in to Concord. We departed Rock Hill to the south and circled Charlotte on the east side to set up for an ILS to 20 at Concord. The winds seemed to have picked up considerably, 24 kts gusting to 38 kts, and ranging from 210 to 240 degrees. Needless to say, it was a really wild ride down the ILS. I had my seatbelt tied tight, and still managed to smash my head on the cockpit ceiling several times. This landing was going to be: 'put it down on the runway and slam on reverse props as fast as you can.'

Well, add that to the experience bank. The ride was not impossible, but extremely challenging. And not something that I would really want my passengers to entertain. I am glad that we were empty on that leg. But I can see how well the King Air 350 handles inclement weather...quite nicely!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Van's Aircraft RV1000

Now this is an airplane...or a shopping mall. I wonder if Van's Aircraft is going to come out with this one it the RV1000.

32 wheels! -- Cost's more than my house to rotate the tires!

The World's Biggest Airplane, the Russian Antonov 225. Attached pics are of the
Russian behemoth when it came into Medford, OR, to pick up two Sikorsky fire
fighting helicopters to take overseas -- $1,000,000 to transport them

While they were loading the helicopters, the Russian pilots (two crews), went into town
to buy cigarettes by the case and Levis jeans
It is amazing something this huge can stay in the air. The Wright brothers would never
have dreamed it.

Audio from 1549 Released

Hey Folks,

The audio from US AIR Flight 1549 has been released. Click here to listen to the events as they happened.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hold For Snow Removal

I just got back from a flight in a King Air 350. The route took us from Concord to Asheville, NC to Decatur, IL, then to Aurora, IL and finally to Peoria, IL. The leg from Asheville, NC to Decatur was almost entirely IMC, and we prepared to shoot the approach into Decatur.

Now, I am originally from Florida. I have flown in and around some terrible weather in south Florida and in the Carribean, but not alot of snowy weather. We popped out of IMS conditions about 50 miles or so from our destination, and the weather was going to be fine for a visual approach, however, there was snow everywhere, and locating the runway was going to be a real challenge.

Then the approach controller announced over the radio for us to hold at the next fix. A bit perplexed by the request, we asked what the problem was, and the controller replied that they were removing snow from the runway for our arrival. A few times around the hold, and we were ready to go.

Now we could see the runway, as it was now carved out of the one to two feet of snow. On our final approach to land we were informed that the runway had alot of ice and that braking was not recommended. The runway was very long, so this did not present a problem for us, and we continued. I touched down on the first 500 feet of runway to give myself the maximum amount of runway to stop, and proceded to put in reverse prop. This was very effective in slowing the aircraft down, without using any brakes. I was able to get the plane to taxi speed without using brakes at all, which helped us from sliding off the runway on all the ice.

The taxi back to the FBO went uneventful, and thus, my first landing into very icey and snowy conditions was accomplished without incident.

I had a really great time seeing all the snow in Illinois while I was there, but am really glad that I do not live in conditions that are that way on a continual basis during the winter. I can see where that would get really old, really fast. I am back in North Carolina now, and am really happy that the weather here is really nice, most of the time.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Costly $100 Hamburger

A friend of mine built a beautiful RV6 and installed a 200 hp engine in it to get some serious speedies. This plane was really exciting to see as well as fly; it was really fast!

But sometimes, having a really fast plane has a way of making a pilot feel complacent. This is what I mean.

This particular pilot was on a hundred dollar hamburger trip with his wife. They had a really nice flight to the restaurant, enjoyed an afternoon with his wife along with some good food, and then prepared for his return flight home. The weather between him and his destination airport had started to turn sour, but he left anyway, thinking that he could scud run if needed. As matters have it, he did not have to scud run because the bases of the clouds were about 2500 feet.

An extremely large storm had developed in front of him, and instead of going around the storm, he decided to go under it. So he descended to just under 2500 feet, and proceded to fly under the storm towards his destination airport. But this was not any ordinary storm. This was a huge storm, with towering cumulous to FL500, and severe updrafts in the middle of the storm.

As he flew under the storm, the plane was suddenly pulled by the updrafts of the storm, and he flew into the storm, out of control of his aircraft. In a matter of seconds, his altitude increased from 2500 feet to 9000 feet, as he was spitted out the side of the storm. With a frantic wife on board, he tried to assess the situation, but was flustered too much, and flew directly to his destination and landed.

His heart beating a million miles an hour, he shut down the plane at his hanger while a neighbor pulled up beside him. He explained what had happened to the neighbor. Then the neighbor glanced at his airplane, and noticed all the wrinkles on the top wing skins of his plane. His G-meter read 9 G's. The Van's RV6 is only stressed to 6 G's positive.

This is a real lesson for all of us. The updrafts under large storms can be severe. Instead of bending, his wings could have snapped and departed the plane, a disastrous outcome. On top of that, he was very lucky that he even popped out at 9000 feet. It could have been worse. He could have popped out at 25,000 feet.

I was always trained to stay at least 20 miles away from storms, and never to go under them! At 20 miles, you minimize the chance of lightning strikes, updrafts, and hail.

He was very lucky that day. It could have been a very costly $100 hamburger.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Memories of Sun-n-Fun

Quite some time ago, my wife and I decided that we wanted to have our first child. It was a time that both of us had discussed for a long time, and we had gone through great lengths to learn about raising a child, how to take care of babies, how to hold babies, how to feed babies, how to change nausium. Now, you have to know my wife, she is very...."o r g a n i z e d". She had EVERYTHING planned for having our first born. We had the name picked out if it was to be a boy, we had one for a girl, the colors of the room, the furnature, the teddybears, the rocking chairs, the feeders, bouncers, sleepers, clothing (his and her). She had everything set up....except for one thing...actually getting pregnant.

Sun-N-Fun fly-in was coming up, and I haven't missed the annual fly-in for the past 5 years at the time. My father and I make this fly-in our annual father / son time together where we go know...smell the metal and feel the gas! We drool all over the homebuilt planes that are there, we eat all the over-priced crappy food, and then we walk our feet off through the entire airport at least 100 times daily. We usually flew there in our Beechcraft Slow-downer, I mean Sundowner, and set up camp at the west end of the fly-in at the camping area. It is a pile of fun.

Well, this year was no exception. The day came for us to fly out. We loaded up the plane with all our gear, kissed our wives goodbye, and departed for the Fly-in. We arrived there 45 minutes later, about 8am, and began to unload the plane, set up camp, and pay our outrageous fees for the week. We then began all the fun in the sun. We did the usual, took thousands of pictures, talked to everyone, watch all the planes come in and land, then critiqued the landing, bought all we could afford and then some, ate all the crappy food....hey, but at least it was over-priced, then we headed back to the camping area to settle in for the night. I had my tent all set up on one side of the plane, and my father's was set up on the other I didn't have to listen to him snore all night.

I finally got my shower, and was settled in my tent about 9pm. My feet were killing me from the day's 10 million mile trek when my cell phone rang...."Hello"...."Honey, it's time!!" a frantic woman said on the other end. "WHAT!!" I said, "I am 4 hours away from home, the airport is closed, and I am exhausted!". To which she said, "I am at the front gate of Sun-n-Fun, come and get me."

Now, suffice it to say, I am not going to tell you the rest, but understand that Sun-n-Fun fly-in, at 10pm in the camping area, out in the middle of the airport, with old men passing gas and snoring all over the place, was definately not the romantic evening interlude in which I was hoping to conceive my first child. I had visions of candle light, flowers, light music, romantic lingerie. Not in a dirty field, in a tent, as melodious sounds of farting and snoring filled the air. As matters have it, we did not conceive. And I was reminded many times over, how my wife drove 10 hours (I thought it only took 4 hrs) to get to Sun-n-Fun (which she hates mind you, she calls it Scum-n-Fun) just so that we could have our first child. Hmmmm, since you put it that way!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Unbelievable Water Landing - Must See!!!

After following the news for a bit on the US Air 1549 landing, the video from a security camera finally came forward showing the actual footage of the landing. Just beautiful! Captain Sully really did a phenominal job.

But it got me thinking and wondering if there had ever been other landings like that one caught on tape. And thus, my search began. I finally found a water landing that was equally as exciting, and I have posted it here for you all to see. Hope you like as much as I did!

Water Landing

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Glorified Taxi Drivers?

Quite a long time ago, pilots were thought of pretty highly. The amount of training and dedication required to become a pilot was tremendous as well as very expensive. When passengers boarded an aircraft, they not only dressed well for the flight, but were highly respectful of the crew members.

For some reason this has all changed. From the corporate pilots to the commercial air carriers, the respect for air crews have drastically changed for the worse. I have personally been on the receiving side of passengers that felt that I was a glorified taxi driver, and that they could treat me in any manner they well pleased. This is also the reports that I hear from countless other pilot friends that I have. I have heard passengers say, "All you do is sit up there with the autopilot on and the plane flies itself." Hearing this kind of remark absolutely infuriates me. The amount of training that we have to go through on a yearly basis by far surpasses the amount of training that any other profession requires. I am not paid for just flying the plane from point A to point B. I am paid for the emergency that could happen between point A and point B. I am paid for the skill that will be required to maintain control of the aircraft under extreme stressful circumstances and land it safely no matter what failures have occurred.

I have tried to explain this phenomenom to many people, and the response is generally the same: "Yeah, but how often does something really ever happen ?"

Flight 1549 was supposed to be a simple, routine 1 hour 20 minute flight from LaGuardia to Charlotte, NC. Captain Sully had probably flown this flight countless was routine, simple. But this time was not so routine or simple. This time required ALL of the emergency training the crew of flight 1549 had accumulated over the years, compacted into 3 to 4 minutes. He was now flying a 162,000 pound glider! No autopilot! Nothing routine at all. He had to guage a landing into an area that he, or anyone else for that matter, had never landed before. All of the emergency procedures had to be completed by the flight crew (pilot and copilot, as well as the flight attendants) in a matter of a few minutes. The plane had to be alligned properly over the water as to not hit a wing on the water, or to hit any obstruction along the way. The plane had to be delicately touched down into the water in such a way that it did not flip over upon impact. The flight attendants had to be cognizant of the fact that this landing required extreme prompt execution of procedures to keep everyone calm and moving quickly, as they would have less than 2 minutes to move some 150 people from the plane in the event that the plane were to sink.

All of these things accomplished by an extremely competantly trained crew in probably less than 5 to 6 minutes from the initial bird ingestion.

Glorified taxi drivers?? I don't think so! So the next time you see a pilot crew stepping onto the plane, I want you to think about the countless hours of training that have been endured just for that simple flight you are on. The next time you see a very tired flight attendant, who has been in the air all day, calmly enduring the rash of a very rude passenger, please come to his/her aid. If you are a corporate aircraft owner, I hope you bite your tongue the next time you want to dish out a rashion of crap towards your pilot because you are kicking the dog for a bad day that you had at the office. These pilots and crew deserve our utmost respect. They have all of our lives in their hands everytime we set foot on that plane. They have trained countless hours for the one day in their careers that they have to land in the river and save the lives of many!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Last Flight Home

The NASCAR season was ending for 2008, and I was on schedule to fly a 1900 for Petty Enterprises and Kevin Harvick Racing for the race in Atlanta. That flight went as planned and uneventful, just the way I like them to go. But then, I was out of work, with no jobs on the horizon. Flying had come to a halt.

One morning about 6am, I received a call from a good friend of mine, asking if I would be interested in flying a pop-up flight. Naturally I said sure, and shortly there after the Captain of the flight called me and explained the nature of the flight.

Apparently there had been an accident. A young man in college, 19 years old, had gone to Chattanooga to meet some friends and some of his brothers for a weekend of hiking and fellowship. They had decided to go for a midnight hike up in the small mountains that surround Chattanooga. At about 3am, the young man, with all his friends, walked up to a cliff area to peer over the edge. He lost his footing on the loose gravel rocks and fell 80 feet to the bottom. The call I received from the Captain at 6am was every parent's worst nightmare call. Come quickly, there has been an accident, your son has been hurt, come quickly!

I hurried to get myself together, and drove as quickly as possible to the airport, fully knowing that the parents of the young man would probably already be there. I tried to formulate some kind of intelligent words that I could say to the mother of that boy upon my arrival, but the words just wouldn't come.

I arrived at the airport just one hour after my initial wake-up call, and ran into the FBO. There, the visibly disturbed parents and friends nervously were standing and crying. I still didn't know what I was going to say, but I went straight to the gathering of people, introduced myself as one of the pilots for the flight, and stretched out my arms to the mother and gave her a hug telling her that I would be praying for her son and family during the flight over. As soon as the Captain and I were airborn and out of the traffic area, both of us bowed our heads and prayed.

The flight was eerie quiet for the hour to get to Chattanooga. We landed there and had transportation waiting for the family. They left the airport area within 2 minutes of us pulling up to the ramp.

We flew back to Concord, NC empty right afterwards. The next day, that dreaded phone call was received. The captain called me at about 10am the next day and explained that the young man had passed away, and we needed to fly back to Chattanooga that day to pick up the family to bring them home.

My heart just sunk down to my feet. Tears rushed to my eyes as I just fell to my knees and prayed. All I could think about was that young mother and the pain that she and her family must be feeling. Then I thought about my own children and the thought of loosing one of them. The pain of something like that would be unbearable, to say the least.

I was really dreading the flight back from Chattanooga. What do you say to a mother that has just lost her son? We arrived in Chattanooga around noon. Shortly there after, the family arrived. The family looked like they had been crying for most of the night, and the mother was almost numb in her appearance. I rushed over to her, not even knowing what I could say, and just wrapped her up in my arms. I could feel just an inkling of the pain that was filling her body. I couldn't say a word, just "I am terribly sorry", and I fought back the tears as they were streaming down my cheek.

After a few moments, we loaded up the airplane for the trip home, and departed Chattanooga for the last time, for that family.

That had to have been the worst flight that I have ever had to fly. I couldn't stop the sudden outbursts of tears that kept coming as I thought about that family for days after the flight. I thought to myself, "I hope I never have to fly another one of those again."

It has been several months since that flight, and I have had time to re-run and digest every minute of it. I think now that there was a reason that God chose me to be on that flight. You see, the co-pilot that was previously working for the company was an atheist. He left the company just a short while before I was asked to fly this flight. Even though I couldn't offer words of encouragement or just say or do something that could ease their pain, I could feel God there. The bible says, "where two or more gather in my (Jesus) name, I will be there". I know that I could do nothing to help that family, but I think that God wanted the family to fly home with pilots that had God as their Captain.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's Not Freezing Here

Well, today I flew the King Air 350 from Concord, NC to Palm Beach, FL. The temperature in Concord this morning was a very comfortable 30 degrees F, but tomorrow, a cold front is expected to cover the area with temperatures dipping down to 5 degrees F. As I am writing this entry, it is a freezing 60 degrees outside here in Palm Beach. Whew! Rats! I am missing out on all that sub-freezing weather. But at least there are sunny skies here!

My flight was very comfortable and the weather was absolutely perfect for the entire trip. This is the kind of weather we all dream of getting. The King Air 350 is a wonderful airplane to fly. The headwinds at FL300 were around 150 kts, so we dropped down to FL210 where we gained an additional 80 kts of speed, and just over 2 hours later we were touching down in Palm Beach.

Palm Beach is my home town, so I am able to meet up with a few of my old cronies and get together with family while I am here. It is really nice to see everyone again. Sunday, I will be loading it all up again...then kick the tires and light the fires! No matter how nice the weather is down here, it will be really good to be back in God's Country again, cold and all!

A Miracle on the Hudson

Pilots are constantly training for the time when engines fail, or catch fire. We go through recurrent training every six months or so and are put through the ringer. There are electrical failures, hydraulic failures, this system failure, that system failure. But very few of us have ever really experienced a total failure in the sky where a controlled landing off-runway would be necessary.

Today, however, was not one of those"same-as-usual" days for the crew of US Air 1549 out of LaGuardia. Apparently, the plane struck a flock of birds and both engines of the Airbus 320 became inop, necessitating a controlled water landing in the Hudson River. We usually read about this type of landing in the morning newspapers as being fatal because of icy water conditions, or maybe not enough time for the crew to position the aircraft properly to rest the plane on the water. The skill necessary to accomplish a successful water landing under emergency circumstances with an airplane that is crippled is tremendous. In addition to that, planes that make water landings are more times than not, broken apart on impact. Today, this was not the case.

Today, the pilot of the Airbus 320 was able to take his crippled jet and masterfully set it down in the Hudson River, keeping it completely intact, allowing all 155 passengers and crew members time to exit the plane in an orderly fashion. Today, all the training and procedures that this captain received over the course of his career, where put to the test. And a Hero emerged with flying colors!!

Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III was the captain of that flight. His remarkable flying skill as well as his ability to remain professionally calm saved the lives of every passenger and crew on that jet. His quick thinking and ability to execute emergency procedures under duress, by the grace of God, was the sole reason that 155 people are seeing their loved ones tonight.

So Captain Sullenberger, here's to you, a job well done sir!! (salute) Go home, have a beer (or 2), and remember to thank God for keeping you in the safety of His loving hands.
I want to be the first to join the "Captain Sully Fan Club". If you read this article and want to join the "Captain Sully Fan Club", just leave a short comment posting your appreciation for him and your name...thanks!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hidden Paradise Found

My wife and I decided to look for some airpark property where we could someday build a home and live within close proximity of our airplane. I owned a Turbo Arrow at the time, so we loaded it all up and decided to go airpark hunting.

Our travels took us all over north Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. We visited many airparks including Massey Air Ranch, Cannon Creek, Aero Acres, Treasure Coast Airpark, Love Landing Airpark, Mount Royal Airpark, Lyons Landing, Chandelle Airpark, Lake Norman Airpark, Gold Hill Airpark, Miller Airpark, Hensley Airpark, and Deerfield Resort. Whew!! That was alot of flying and looking around. Most of the airparks that we visited were very nice, but just not what we were looking for.

Well, what were we looking for? We wanted an airpark that was very pretty, laid out well, and with good size properties. We were not interested in airparks that allowed trailers or mobile homes. We wanted a runway that was at least 3000 feet long, grass or paved, it did not matter. Lisa wanted to see big beautiful trees, not just an airpark cut into a cow pasture. I wanted to see some airport activity, people there. We were looking for the cost to not be astronomical. The home owners association fees needed to be fair and the association itself was not comprised of the senior citizens on patrol, if you know what I mean.

After, flying for 2 full days, we came across Deerfield Resort (TN44) , located 35 miles north of Knoxville, TN. This place was gorgeous! Did I say gorgeous, I meant GORGEOUS!! Trees everywhere, winding roads laced throughout the 1400 acre properties. Once out of the plane, we then saw even more of the splendor. The list of amenities was tremendous. There is an 18 hole golf course with club house, tennis courts, community smimming pool, kids play area, marina with a floating tiki bar where a boater can enjoy a sandwich and a drink. There are 2 restaurants inside the community as well. There are water view properties, with beautiful views of Norris Lake (one of the cleanest lakes in the country), golf view properties, and waterfront properties. The runway is 3100 feet long and can handle even jet traffic. This place was magnificent!

Lisa and I purchased 5 properties while we were there (we couldn't make up our minds). We have now decided to keep one of the properties and sell the remaining 4. All of our properties are water view with gorgeous views of Norris Lake. The prices for these properties will even more baffle your mind. Any other airpark that we went to that had even an inkling of what Deerfield has, had very hefty price tags on the properties. Our lots are priced at $55k each. Sounds really is!! Here are some pics of the properties.

If you are interested in knowing more about these properties, please visit or feel free to email me, and I will be happy to talk to you more.

Safe flying!

Captain Buzz

RV4 Takes on a Pitts in a Dogfight

As you might know by now, I owned an RV4 for several years. I rebuilt the plane from almost the ground up. I have pictures on this site of the finished product. I very much enjoyed the occasional loop or roll, and often had alot of fun flying formation with my father's RV6, also pictured here on this site. In fact, my father and I flew formation from San Diego, CA to Palm Beach, FL. For those that are wondering how long that took, 15 hours of formation flight. And it was fun all the way!

Here is a nice treat that I found of an RV4 in formation and dogfighting with a Pitts. Hope you enjoy! (click here)

Hey Earl, Watch This!!

If you ever have been to St. Maarten in the caribbean, then you have invaribly seen the landings that take place just above the onlookers heads. It is always a treat to stand there as a 747 lands just 10 feet over your head. Makes you feel like a real daredevil, living life on the edge. Take a look at these daredevils as they watch a 747 take off from behind. (Click Here) Maybe they will think twice about standing behind a 747 with 4 engines putting out 72,000 pounds of thrust each. Or, maybe not.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Now This is Seat-of-the-Pants Flying

For those of you who think they are the real Barnstormers, the daredevil type, or a real cowboy in the air, you have to see this video. This is real seat-of-the-pants flying. Better bring some large kahunas with you tho, because this isn't for the weak of heart. Check it out!

Awesome Flying!

Leave a Comment, tell me who is going first! :o)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Invitation to a Party

If you don't like the weather in florida, wait 5 minutes and it will change. I have found it is like this in many parts of the country as well. I should have been told this advice early on in my flying career. So for all you newbie pilots out there, YOU HAVE BEEN TOLD!

This is what I mean. When I had about 80 hours or so flying, my father and I decided to purchase an airplane so that we could further our flying experiences and we could share the cost of doing so. It was a Beech Sundowner, aka Beech SLOOOOW-downer. This turned out to be a really good idea because the annuals were cheap, the airplane was really robust, and when it was time to sell the plane, it had gone up in value, and we got all our money back. Pretty sweet!

Well, one day I had decided to take it up for a spin and do some touch and go's. I lived at an airpark in south florida, so it was easy for me to just jump in the plane and go. I flew for about 2 and 1/2 hours at a nearby airport, then got a courtesy car to go to a local BBQ joint that I really liked, then decided to head back home.

The weather looked like it was going to turn sour (Noooo, not during the summer at 4pm in Florida!!) so I made my way back as quickly as I could...remember...I am flying a SLOW-downer...... it may be ugly, but it sure is slow!

When I got to Tailwinds Airpark (where I lived), the storm was very close, and was like a wall of black thunderstorm going from the ground to as high as I could see. It was very close, but Tailwinds was in the clear. The winds, as you all know, just before a very large storm, change directions rapidly, sometimes as much as 180 degrees. I zoomed in for a downwind on runway 27 and made a very short approach. But while I was on final to land, the wind sock turned 180 degrees the other way, now favoring 9. The sock was standing straight out and the storm was getting frightfully close. I gave it full power, went straight into a downwind for 9. Turned final, and watched the sock turn straight out back to favoring 27.

At 100 hours flying, the cheeks are beginning to pinch seat foam right about now. The easy thing to do...go to another airport further away from the storm, mistake #1. But noooooo, I gave it full power to enter another downwind for 27, this time determined to land, mistake #2. I came in on final and as I was approaching the numbers, the sock swung to the other direction again. I made the choice to land anyway, mistake #3.

The plane stayed in ground effect for almost 3/4 of the 2700 ft runway. Then finally it touched down. I slammed on the breaks as fast as I could. I hit the end of the runway at almost 50 kts and went skidding off into the grass runway overrun area. By the way, runway 9 did not have a runway overrun area like 27 did....very lucky!! I used up all 300 feet of the overrun area and came to a stop just before I was to dive into a drainage ditch. Houses were located on both sides of the runway overrun area.

With my heart pumping 100 miles an hour, I turned the plane around and started to taxi back to my hangar at my house. I looked at the house to my right, hoping not to see anyone, and noticed about 40 people standing at the windows, doorways, and some outside..... staring. Embarrassed beyond words, I quickly went home, parked it, and went into the house and to my room where I just laid there motionless, hoping nobody would come over or call. No sooner than those ideas crossed my mind, the phone rang! It was the neighbor with the 40 people at his house! I got ready for the riot act, and answered the phone. "That's a Hell of a way to get invited to a party!!" he laughed. "Come on over, everybody's here". Oh great! That's just what I wanted, everyone to laugh at my stupid mistakes.

I went to the party anyway, and Mark, the owner of the home, said as I came into the house, "Don't be embarrassed, it isn't anything we all haven't done before. Why do you think I built my house at the end of the overrun area?", then he laughed again. "John over there landed gear-up last year, Tony flipped his taildragger the year before that, and Ed landing his gear-up a few weeks ago, for the second time!" he said. All of a sudden, I felt better to be surrounded by a bunch of guys who at one point in there flying career where as stupid as I had been.

I never did that one again. I am really glad that I write about it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Captain Buzz

The name Captain Buzz or Buzz Barnstormer carries the connotation of a pilot that is a hotdog or someone that buzzes the airfield, maybe, at every given opportunity. While the buzzing the field at every opportunity might be accurate, a hotdog pilot I definately am not. However, much to my dismay, the name did not originate from fabulous ground straffing maneuvers, but a name given to me from some cherished co-workers after my first flight as a Captain in the 1900.

You see, I sat right seat in the 1900 for 6 months, then upgraded to captain. And on a day that was supposed to be a really exciting day for me, turned out to be a dissaster.

My return flight from Andros Island to Palm Beach International (PBI) was to be my first flight behind the controls as captain. The day was perfect for my first flight, calm air, cool day, alittle rainy (which would help to make a really smooth landing). The flight was to take only 55 minutes. We were to land on 27R, exit the runway, and head to Customs, something I had done a million times before, it seemed. But at about 1 mile from the runway, a flock of buzzards flew up from below us and directly into our flight path. I never saw them because they blended into the scenery below. I thought, "Should I try to veer to the right"....more birds over there too...."veer to the left" only a few hundred feet or so off the ground, this is not the time to be making any abrupt maneuvers. So I stayed the course.

I thought that I had escaped scottfree, then, much to our surprise, there was one last bird in front of us. I knew we were going to be in trouble when the bird acted erratically, then tucted its wings to dive. It looked as if it was going to go right through the cockpit window, and at the last second, veered off to my left....WHEW! We missed it, I quickly thought....SMACK!!! Looking out the left window, I saw the buzzard wrapped around the left wing, just outside the left engine nacelle. Maintaining control of the airplane, a few seconds later, we landed with no more incident.

We called the tower and reported the bird strike, then taxxied over to Customs and shut down. I quickly exitted the cockpit, openned the door to the airstairs, and ran down to see what the damage was......and "STIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINK!!" Oh my Gosh, I don't know if many of you have ever hit a buzzard before, but they have more stink in them than a garbage dump heap.

I was really not cherishing meeting up with the Direction of Operations and the Aviation Manager. After clearing Customs, I walked to their offices, and entered the building to see the D.O. with a large smile on her face, "Well, how was it?" "Besides the football size hole in the left wing...GREAT!"

The total damage report for the repair of my first flight as captain exceeded $150,000. I am what you call a High Maintenance Captain :o). A first time passenger was snapping pictures of the flight and the landing and just so happened to take a picture just after the bird smacked our wing. What are the chances of that? The ground crew and maintenance crews all dubbed me "Captain Buzz" to commemorate and immortalize my memorable flight, one that I would like to forget!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Godspeed Jett

As many of you may have already heard, one of our aviator friends lost his son to a tragic accident yesterday. John Travolta was vacationing at his Bahamas home at Old Bahama Bay (OBB), in West End Grand Bahama Island with his family. Apparently Jett must have fallen after suffering a seizure and the resulting fall was fatal. OBB is where I flew with Ginn Aviation, and the Travolta's were very warm friends of the Development there. I can't even begin to immagine the pain and suffering that must be with the Travolta family right now. I know where John stands with his religion, but my prayer today is that may God find His way into that family's hearts and comfort them. "Jett, I never knew you, but Godspeed young man!"

747 Gets Struck by Lightning

Hey folks, this is the wildest lightning strike I have seen so far, and someone actually got it on film! I have heard of lightning hitting aircraft and doing some funky things, but I personally have stayed away from the Zap and as far from it as I can. One of our planes at AUTEC was struck and the mess that it made was fairly substantial. Lessons learned from that one, stay at least 20 miles away from the storm. If anyone out there has any other vids that are pretty cool, please email them to me. Check this one out:

lightning strike

Friday, January 2, 2009

Trent's Boeing 727 Landing

Hey Guys,

I just got an email from a very good friend of mine. I used to fly with him at AUTEC in the Beech 1900's. He was the Chief Pilot there and taught me some really good flying lessons that stayed with me for years after. I later went on to fly for a NASCAR team called Ginn Racing. He was flying as a freight dog in a 727. When that job went south, he joined me with the NASCAR gig, and we enjoyed flying together once again.

Anyways, now that you have all the boring history lesson, now the good stuff. He sent me this video of one of his approach and landings in the 72- landing at Port of Spain, Trinidad. Pretty stinking Cool!! Trent was always known for his smooth landings, so I know that the runway there at POS was really bumpy. You can even see the camera moving around rather abruptly even after the aircraft had landed and was on roll out. Hope you all enjoy!! Thanks Trent :0)

Trent's Boeing 727 Landing

Honey, Can I Borrow a Lawn Chair, Rope....and Some Glue!

My father has always been an aviation enthusiast. I guess this nut didn't fall too far from the tree here at all huh? Mom, always tolerated his shinnanigans about how they would fly all over the country together and see this and that, and of course... fly into the sunset....together! How romantic. Every aviator dreams of this. Even in the movie Pearl Harbour, boy meets girl, boy then slips past the armed guards and takes girl for a ride in highly suffisticated and expensive military plane, and into the sunset! Hmmm, that could happen!

Many years ago I was building a Van's Aircraft RV6. It was coming together fine. It would have come together faster had I not had to continuously change shirts from all the drool that was landing on my shoulder as my father was looking on. So, we started to build it together. I enjoyed this because it gave me alot of father/son time.

One day, Dad came into the garage and announced that he had purchased a Homebuilt Glasair II kit and that he much rather preferred to work with fiberglass than with metal. Shortly there after, the kit arrived, and he commenced meticulously working putting it together. I know that I had read somewhere that if the temperature wasn't right or if the stars weren't lined up properly, or something to that effect, that the fiberglass might not cure correctly. Hmmm, not a very comfortable feeling.

Enter Mom into the picture. She walked into the garage, looked at the mess of plane spewed all over the garage, and said, "What are you going to do with that thing?" Doesn't that kinda sound like, "I can't wait to go flying into the sunset with you honey, just like in the romantic movie Pearl Harbour ?? ?? ?"

Let's jump back a few years. Dad was an extremely talented ocean diver. In fact rumor has it that he was offered a job off the coast of Africa to dive, and turned it down to get married and have a family. He had purchased kinda looked like a dragonfly that you tow behind the boat with paddles on it that you can dive down underwater. Well....he almost drowned using it.

Jump forward a few more years. We had always had a boat in the family. My father was still in the diving stage of his life and he and his friends would take trips to Jack Tar Village, which was located on West End of Grand Bahama Island. There they would enjoy the sun, the sand, go diving, eat lobsters.......into the moonlight!!

"Common honey, go with me in the boat, across the ocean to Jack Tar. There's going to be lots of boats crossing. It will be tons of fun." She agreed and halfway across, the waves started to get very large, one of which crashed over the bow and smashed the windshield of our boat. Mom flew home.

Fast forward a few more years. The problem with the boat that had the broken windshield was that it was obviously too small! So he got a bigger one, and he thought that he would surprise Mom with it. He drove the boat to the marina down the street from our house, tied it up and drove home with a friend, got Mom, held her eyes as they got to the pier, and said, "Ta-Daaaaa, What do ya think?" Mom looked at the boat that was now resting nicely at the bottom of the intercoastal, and said, "That's nice honey"...and went back to the car. The plug had somehow come loose from the back and the boat had sunk.

Which brings us back to the airplane. Boats are all gone...they are obviously really bad luck. Dad and I are in the garage looking at the tail section that he had built. I asked, "How do you know that the fiberglass has set properly, and won't come loose?" To which he responded, "Son, fiberglass is really really strong, take a look at this." He pulled the blocks that were holding the tail section down to the table, and the whole top of the tail section sprung loose. Well, you should have seen the surprise in his eyes. "Don't tell your mother".

I was happy that he sold that thing, and we started working again on metal planes. He later bought a very nice, flying, RV6 that a mutual friend of ours owned. He learned to fly it quite nicely, and now flies, with Mom, all over the southeast....and into the sunsets....together!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Got Gas, Will Fly

I was thinking about the gas crunch that we had this past summer, and in North Carolina I saw prices over $5.45 per gallon for JetA. I know in other parts of the country the prices were even worse. But as I was thinking about this gas crisis, it brought to my mind a very funny flying story that I think ya'll might enjoy.

I made several flights with my Director of Operations, Betsy, when I worked at AUTEC, flying a Beech 1900D. Before I knew her very well, she was very difficult to read. She has piercing blue eyes, that when she looks at you, she looks like she's seeing right through you. She's one heck of a stick too I might add, so having an ego in the cockpit is not only going to go nowhere, but will be delt with a piercing blue-eyed stare and one mean right hook!

It took me quite a while not to be intimidated by Betsy. She could fly circles around most people that I knew. She asked me one day during a check ride, "Do I intimidate you, Scott?" Ummmm, nooooo.

After about 7-8 months, we became good friends and the intimidation factor went away. I had learned to fly the airplane much better and she was very comfortable with my decision making and handling of the aircraft.

One day we were paired up together to fly, she was to fly the first leg. With about 15 minutes left in the flight I decided to put forth a challenge of precision and skill, which I knew she would be all over like flies on stink. I told her that I would challenge her to a precision landing dual. The challenge was this: The pilot who exercised the smoothest landing...wins...and you could not hold the plane off the runway for hours trying to squeak it on. The landing had to touch down on the first 1/3 of the runway. Of course, when I made the challenge, her response was, "You're on", accompanied by a very evil laugh.

By the time the rules of engagement had been discussed and agreed upon, we were turning final. Now everytime she would land the plane, she had a special routine that she would go through. It was like clockwork. She would bounce in her seat a few times, pushing herself up high in the seat, make a few passes with the trim wheel, and you could see the level of excitement starting to escalate. "Aaaaawe, I have this one nailed, you are going down, Irene!" She was obviously getting rather excited about the on-coming slaughter, as the name Irene might indicate, and with a sh*t eatin' grin, she reached up with her hand and brushed the 4 bars on her shoulder, as if to say, "Hey, Rookie, lemme show you how a pro does it".

She had the plane trimmed to perfection, speed dead on, and as we were coming across the numbers, I doubled over in my seat and moaned out, "AWWWWE, I'VE GOT GAS!!" "WHAT??", she said in a complete shock. She was so thrown for a loop on that one that she lost all concentration and we went "SLAM" into the runway. Well, at least the second hop wasn't quite as bad as the first, but as you all know, we log them all!

With my arm black and blue and sore from the followed right hook, I laughed until I couldn't stand it anymore.

So, the next time gas prices have you down, think about this story, and after a chuckle, maybe it won't hurt so bad.

Happy New Year Hangar Talk

Happy New Year Everybody!

I am having so much fun with this Blogging escapade, or should I call it Barn-Blogging. Well whatever you call it, it is very refreshing to know that there are actually people out there that are aviation buffs and enjoy hangar flying. I know, I is really difficult to get a pilot to talk about airplanes....I know what you mean. But finally, instead of the vacant stares we get from the "obviously uneducated", we can pontificate about our heroic gravitational defeat and defying death at any and all possible opportunities.

That being all said, how many pilots out there still have flying jobs? My thoughts are that there are probably more of us without jobs than there are with. So the stories of when you had the aviators scarf tied tightly around your neck, and were battling...whatever...are probably at an all time high right now, since you are not actually out there living the dream or making the stories. I see that there are all kinds of websites out there that say they can help you find that perfect flying job, and almost all of them charge you to join there members section. I have found that a good many of them just copy jobs from other jobsites, and aren't really offering anything new.

So are there any suggestions out there amongst the vast masses for all of the good pilots that have been stepped on again and are looking for jobs all over again? Is there anything else out there that these people can find work to help feed their families? If you have any ideas, thoughts, or pontifications of your own, please feel free to leave a message. Please make it positive opinions or ideas. I personally feel that if we as pilots could pool our thoughts together, we could possibly find ways to generate jobs on our own. Just my opinion. There are many pilots out there that would like to bring in the new year on a more positive note.

A Pirate Looks at Fifty

Everybody who knows me knows that I really like Jimmy Buffett music. I own many of his CD's and listen to him quite frequently. The sounds of the carribean music mentally stretch me across a hammock laced between two lazy palm trees with ice blue water in the near distance as I suck down countless pina coladas. It's just pure heaven for me.

I flew Beech 1900D's to a Navy Submarine Base located on Andros Island in the Bahamas. Could possibly have been the best flying gig known to man-kind. Fly out to the island, 1 hour, land, change into swimming trunks and go lobster hunting for the next 3 to 4 hours, change back into my uniform, pre-flight, and 1 hour flight back to Palm ladies and gentlemen, that is a flying gig!! And on top of all that, I GOT PAID TO DO THIS!!

Well, one afternoon, on the trip back to Palm Beach, the radios were unusually quiet. I had the speed pegged at the barber pole so as to get home a little early. "Palm Beach approach, AUTEC ONE, Ten thousand with Yankee!" Then I heard, "Palm Beach, N208JB, 7000 Yankee." I knew that voice!! It was like I heard the strumming of guitars in the background as he called in.

Now it just so happened that I had been reading one of Jimmy Buffett's books, "A Pirate Looks at Fifty" and had taken it to the island for some catch-up reading. I knew that he had to clear Customs just like I did, and I knew that I was going to get there first. So, I waited there a few minutes , just like any loyal Parrotthead would do.

When he finally came through Customs, I greeted him with a smile and a hand shake. He was extremely friendly and asked me all about my flying. I told him that I was reading his book, and would he mind signing it for me, which he did. I then told him that the stories he wrote were really interesting to me and that I was enjoying them alot. And with a smirk on his face as he was leaving the Customs Building, he threw one arm up in the air and proudly proclaimed, "They're all Lies!!"