into the blue

Need a turbo broom!!

Location: Amsterdam, Noord Holland, Netherlands

Just a student who loves to teach

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


I have to say, these days I think that the time is going fast. My Son is grown, I am getting older, but my love of flight only grows stronger. I live in Europe now, and I have begun to fly aerobatics again. Things here are so different, but if you look between the cracks it is all the same.I am so grateful for the priveledges that I once took for granted. I am dually certificated in Europe as well as the States, but the funny thing is that I am limited here to VFR flight, whereas in the States my strength as an instructor and my flight skills are IFR. I do have to say that flying loops, rolls, and spins in a blue sky is much more fun than flying the 'van in icing conditions with some little foreign guy screaming at me to fly broken airplanes in bad weather to make him money. If not for my wonderful P.O.I. (from the FEDS ) I would have been in deep sh!t. As it is, now flying is fun again, the pure joy that I knew when I first began.
I have now begun to reflect on the fine pilots I have met and been associated with:
Hal Goddard, my beloved instructor, (RIP ) Curtis Pitts ( RIP ) ( yes, the guy who MADE Pitts aircraft )Chuck Yeager, ( who needs NO introduction ) Bob Hoover (the same!)Patty Wagstaff, Robert Armstrong, Sean B. Tucker, Matt MillerKurt Langenhorst, .. the list is long and impressive.. These people have helped me to become the pilot I am today.
I flew aerobatics yesterday for the first time in 4 years. The last time was with Kurt in a Great Lakes in 2004, where we laughed during spins.
I was in a flight exam yesterday with the most famous airshow pilot in the Netherlands.I wanted him to say "Damn, this Yankee is GOOD", afterwards, he told me I was EXCELLENT! I am still walking in the clouds... I was even jumping on my bed today, I was so happy!
God was with me, as he always is...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Flying in Europe

When I first moved to Europe (the first time) I had this roses and sunshine idea that I was going over their and light the sky on fire.
I had noooo idea what I was getting into.
I was at the time teaching for KLM, but they wanted me to stay in the States, not live in Holland ( these are just a few of the complications that arise when you run off with a colleague, something I will never do again.)
So I went to work for a place at Eelde ( EHGG ) called General Enterprises,the European importers of the Cirrus SR20. I was the Demo/Instructor pilot and had a blast with that little hot rod. My partner was flying Barons and Bonanzas, and was 3 months away from 747-400 school, so we were busy having the last hurrah before he moved into the heavys.We would dog fight, fly formation, and have generally way too much fun.
So then the winter arrived.
I learned to fly in Arizona,where, if the weather is bad, you simply dont fly (unless you are a freight dog of course)
Not so in the Netherlands.It is generally a bit easier as the IMC is generally stratiform layers and makes for a pretty smooth ride, and you can usually get on top.
So, on a saturday morning the weather was wet and crappy. ( The weather there is always wet and crappy or cold and crappy or a combination thereof.)
Consider this METAR: 2605 200OVC BR 2 miles vis 11/12 QNH 1011. So it was an IFR kinda day. Lets go practice some approaches! I was ALL exited ( actual IMC! WOO HOO)
VORDME RWY 5 at Eelde, flying right over our little house in Norg so I could rev the propellor at my boy who was 10 at the time.
Approach is going well, down to the MDA, then proceed to the MAP ( for those who dont know,everything in the pilot world is an acronym, MDA means minimum descent altitude which means if you go lower that that and you are in the clouds and cant see, you might clobber into something. MAP is the missed approach point, the place where, if you cant see the runway, you cant land and must execute the missed approach procedure)
I cant see any runway lights! Hey, I said to my partner, I dont see the rabbit ( approach lights) They are expensive he exclaims, Fly the Heading!! ( ?? !! )
So I did, and there was the runway ( kind of ) so I shoot the miss and once
established outbound I started to question him about the light situation. He explained to me that there was a tax on approach lights, the approach, the airway, the landing,etc,etc,
Can you believe that? What a detriment to flight safety!
WQe dont realize how well we have it here in the states. We can thank AOPA for preventing the same situation from occuring here.It would not only strike a serious blow to GA ,but accidents would have a serious increase due to pilots not utilizing vital services.
I was in for some other surprises as well.....

Sunday, May 21, 2006


For all you aspiring freight dogs, there is one little item that I havent heard much commenting about; The Loaders......
Loaders are not pilots, they dont understand such things as "center of gravity" and "maximum gross weight". They are of the "stuff it and go" mentality and they figure that if it fits, its good to go.
I had the Safford/FtHuachuca/Skyharbor run previously, and had a terrible time with the loaders in Ft Huachuca. I will say this because they are notorious and this is no new news to anyone.They would overload the plane and lie about the total weight.I got wise to this really quick and began to have issues with them. I called them the seven dwarves because 5 would stand around telling stupid jokes while 2 would actually work.Took them on average 40 minutes to load my plane which drove me nuts. I would stand there tapping my watch saying "come on boys,its GO time " They would moan and groan and try to distract me as I at this point was making them weigh each package as I could not trust them.
About 6 weeks ago I was doing my usual strict surveillance when my phone rang. It was BLB a good friend and my former chief pilot who was in Airbus school.
I was so happy to hear from him that I turned away from the loaders and had a brief conversation. Afterwards, I noticed the loaders trying to stuff a large trunk in the aft portion of the tail section ( no cargo is allowed there ) and I made them take it out ( it weighed 250 ilbs ) I asked them of the total weight "1850 ilbs" they sweetly replied. Hmmmmmm, could barely close the cargo door....
Wind blowing 35 gust 42 out of the southwest, runway 26, 11,000 foot runway.
On the go, 3/4 of the way down I almost aborted the takeoff, (should have) .....
staggered off the ground with 200 ft per minute climb. Tossed around by the wind flowing over the mountains in front of me, I held runway heading to try and get some altitude. I was mentally killing off the 7 dwarves all the while, getting griped at by approach control for not climbing steep enough to avoid terrain, not to mention my fuel flow was very high due to the fact that I couldnt get to altitude soon enough.....
Continued on Finally got to altitude,but I was concious of my fuel being lower than normal.....
Back to Sky Harbor and the evening dance begins, who gets in first behind the heavys.Fuel is looking low and Im getting nervous, Approach is vectoring me hither and yon, and the fuel annuciatiors start going off...$%*!. 2 yellow ones I can live with temporarily...Still no base leg vector from ATC. Then the RED one goes off. OK now its time to pull the fuel card on ATC and I announce "(call sign) minimum fuel".. amazing how that gets their attention. They brought me in with no delay, my favorite runway to boot.And I was able to shut down well within legal limitations.

Anyhow, I had the ground crew at Sky Harbor weigh freight, and it was WAY off what the seven dwarves had said....
That was the last time I did that run, but from what I hear, the seven dwarves are still up to their old tricks...................

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Another Checkride

It seems that all I have been doing lately is taking checkrides. Just had the 299 with the the Feds and now I have do the prof check for my JAR FCL ATP.
I hadnt been in a small plane for about 4 months, ( I guess the Heavy drivers would call the Van small, but bear with me here )
So I go to my apointment with a Dutch examinor (has anyone ever flown with a Dutch examinor?? They make the Feds look easy)I am all stressed out, because my last JAR OPS check was in Belgium a few years ago with a good friend, and I havent thought about JAR OPS in, WEELLL lets just say quite a while. And for those of you out there who dont know, The JAR OPS theoretical portion ( particularily the Dutch standard) is just about what it would take to get a PHD.Great, I am sure that my blonde moments are stacking up to betray me at just the right times. So I get all stressed and try to study but Im so tired from doing the freight run that " my mind turns to gel"
So I figure, heck with it, I am just going to do it and if I fall on my face well then fine.
It was an evening flight, I met De Here Plooij at the Falcons Roost at ( you guessed it ) Falcon Field. Trying to remember the runways and the frequencies and the noise abatement procedures and so on.
What I really want is a beer from yon bar!
He shows up and we talk a bit, but I am not being grilled on
L =1/2(Roe)V(squared)CL(max)S (sorry, my computer doesnt have the sigils for that formula, but again, bear with me)He is just being very easy going and, well, NICE!!
He briefed the flight,then he says "ok,lets go fly" I am pinching myself!
So we go out to the ramp, little piper 140, kind and easy but...( yikes!) Underpowered as could POSSIBLY be!! ( once you go turbine, you NEVER go back)
preflight, trying to remember where all the fuel drains are and so on... and I am trying to remember the flow items from my days of instructing for KLM.
Get in start,taxi checks and flows, its all ok, its just my view... I am used to sitting so much higher and this cockpit is SO small.
Flight went well,
and then came the touch n gos!
First landing... ( we all know whats coming here!)I,of course, flare TOO HIGH but hey its ok right, because I am also TOO FAST. Goodbye thousand foot markers.., not good on a 4000 foot runway ( Crap! im thinking )oh well,after the first one I had the picture and did well. After my third landing he said "ok, we can go in" ( !!!!!! )
We debriefed, had a beer and that was that!
Next week I am starting the training for my new job, and guess what I am getting in a few weeks...........$#@%
Another checkride!!!!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The amazement of it all........

The images here I took from my camera phone which doesnt do justice to the reality of the view. Me and my Van and the big blue, all alone together with the Center chatter in the back ground.
What an amazing world we live in up here.
I have had a lot of experience in aviation, although not a drop in the bucket compared to many. 12 years of life, love, loss, and gain. Everyday an adventure. I sometimes moan about weather or maintenance, ( not to mention the long hours involved with freight flying!)
I often think about the partner and 2 students who were lost 6 years ago to a terrible midair accident. It was hard to come back around the corner and pick myself up to once again join the sky.
It isnt always easy, as my confidence was shaken to the very core, not to mention the sheer personal loss and the great excuse that I had to let it all go. But I believe in the human spirit to overcome, and I work hard every day to prove it. It makes me realize that my loss is but a small thing compared to the many who have suffered so much more ,and I want to at least show that whatever I have been through, If I can do it, so can anyone else....
God Bless All..............

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Flying freight can be pretty hairy.
Had a prop overspeed last week in my Van scud running through the mountains trying to avoid nasty weather. ( and be on time dontcha know! ) Prop started fluctuating from 1500 RPM to well over red line.... I could hear the noise of it..Not Good.... Oil pressure/temps are good, so its not that.
Turned back called Center and OPS and told them I was headed back and what was happening. Pulled the power and the prop back, hoping to at least keep it from the red line. No good, fluctuations continued.
Stay high girlfriend, I thought to myself, you have few options over this terrain. ( MEA is 12000 in that region) 40 knot winds on the surface, you KNOW I was getting my @$$ kicked and I had a huge headwind. Was able to get it back to Cutter at Sky Harbor, and they said the engine had to come off. Well I thought to myself, this is going to go over like a fart in church with the owner of the company. And I was right, it did.
He yelled at me and said all sorts of things, tried to make me recant my statements to Cutter. Stood my ground, I know what I saw....later on the FAA arrived, asking me for a statement and putting a red tag on the plane...
Yet another religious experience......
I am officially sick of ice and crappy weather

Sunday, March 19, 2006


The forecast over Arizona today was horrendous. Low ceilings and visibility, and ICE ICE ICE!.
This morning, at Sky Harbor, called flight service and got the dreaded news, both destinations are WAY below minimums, ( 1/4 mile visibility, 100 foot overcast, blowing snow, winds gusting to 40 knots, YUCK.
HMMMM where could we go in the area that was good enough to get in but close enough for the little brown trucks to drive to... St Johns was vfr, so we filed IFR and launched. Into the clouds on the upwind, not bad, but, the whole way was IMC, picked up light rime ice, not a problem. Landed, Brown trucks came, everything was cool, but then wait......... got a call from J, down in Libby ( Libby is near the border of Mexico, St Johns is in the northern part of the state. J had a dead battery, couldnt start , so down we go. I am flying with
THE BOSS, who is here to see how the operation is running. So he wants to go down to Libby, pick up the freight, and deliver it to the east of the state where that particular run is finished. We head down, couple of hundred miles and change... have a monster head wind of 50 knots, so the going is slow. Into the clouds, stayed there another hour and a half, and began to have an ice issue. Rime ice, 3/4 of an inch. Blew the boots.... nothing but some cracks in the buildup and further ice began to buildup over that. Then, the Van starts shuddering with huge vibrations, the whole plane is shaking hard and making a weird noise from the propellor.THE BOSS,who is a very fine and experienced pilot, starts cycling the prop and the noise ceased ( for a few moments ) and the issue continues, ice is building, the prop is going ballistic, airspeed is going away and we cant maintain altitude. All this with an MEA of 14000 feet due to terrain. I am starting to get scared....
THE BOSS informs ATC that we are picking up ice at a rapid rate ( well over an inch now, and the windscreen is totally covered over ) and need lower. He says we have to wait 3 miles. In the meantime, things are not going well with the prop, every 20 seconds or so we have to cycle the prop several times to stop the terrible shuddering.
Finally, we are let down a few thousand feet, and can see the ground, hoo rah! Cancel%