Tailwheelin’ With Mark

Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Aviation News | Comments Off on Tailwheelin’ With Mark

Mark_PierceMark Pierce is now a tailwheel pilot! Mark has been here for three days, flying the Super Cub and learning all about tailwheelin’. Despite gusty winds, rainshowers and a window blowout, we were able to complete his training yesterday. We even got to practice a half turn about a point, unintentionally  using the mid-field windsock for our reference point.

He did a great job and since he is now “planeless”, having recently sold his Cessna Cardinal, he is thinking about replacing it with something with the little wheel on the back.

Congratulations Mark and well done!

Two Weeks and Counting Down

Posted by on May 25, 2013 in Alaska 2013 | Comments Off on Two Weeks and Counting Down

With less than two weeks until “D” (Departure Day), I am sensing the pace of preparation picking up. The guys at Faulkner’s Air Shop have been completing the Annual Inspection, some needed repairs and improvements to make sure everything possible is ready on the airplane. I still have a couple of tailwheel courses to teach during the next two weeks, so I will have an oil change done, the cargo pod mounted and two new main tires installed just before I leave on June 7th. The plan now, is to fly from Burnet to southern Colorado on day 1. My son, Trey and his family live near Ft. Garland. I hope to spend the weekend with them before heading north toward Idaho.

Most of the supplies and equipment is assembled. I still need to figure out the packing order and where to store everything. This is fairly complex, given that I need easy access to some items, while other stuff can go deep in the pod or extended baggage. However, weight and balance also enters into the equation. I need to keep the heavy stuff forward. The rear control stick and seat will be removed and stored in the very back of the airplane so I can utilize the max storage area just behind the front seat.

I have updated the database in Foreflight and Wing-X, and reviewed the airport information in the Canadian Supplement. I still don’t know where we plan to cross into Canada, but the process seems straightforward outbound. I expect it will be a bit more complicated re-entering the U.S., given the eAPIS requirements.

I will begin updating the Blog more often as D Day approaches. I will also send out another e-mail to the distribution group that will give everyone the link to my Delorme InReach device so anyone who wishes to track our progress, will be able to do so via the web-site.


Andrew is a Tailwheel Pilot!

Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Promark News, Student News | Comments Off on Andrew is a Tailwheel Pilot!


Andrew McCarthy just completed two days of training in the Super Cub with me. He only needed six hours to complete the basic tailwheel course including some significant crosswind practice on the first day, as we were dealing with the remnants of the strong cold front that blew in on Wednesday night. Despite the bumpy air, Andrew practiced 3 Point and Wheel landings, short and rough field takeoff and landings, stalls and steep turns as he learned to fly instinctively, listening to the airflow, feeling the control response and gauging the flight path visually.

We always have two objectives….to have fun and to learn how to fly tailwheels. Andrew tells me he had a great time and I know he can fly the Super Cub, so I believe we met our goals.


Heath Wright Solos!

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Aviation News | Comments Off on Heath Wright Solos!

Heath WrightToday was a big day for Heath Wright as he completed three beautiful solo takeoffs and landings in Skyhawk N12750 at the Burnet airport. Heath lives in Marble Falls and has been flying for a few weeks. The weather was perfect with a light southerly wind. Heath knew he was getting close to solo, but did not think today would be the day. Afterwards, he commented about how well the airplane climbed without me in it. Now I have to think up something really devious to do so he will learn to be a little less honest with his instructor. Seriously, Great Job Heath!

Rebuild Big Creek!

Posted by on Apr 21, 2013 in Alaska 2013 | Comments Off on Rebuild Big Creek!

Bigcreek1Big Creek Lodge was originally built in the 1930’s in Idaho’s back country. Pilots and outdoor enthusiasts have enjoyed it for years until it burned to the ground in 2008. Now, a group of pilots and supporters is working to rebuild Big Creek. I support this effort, in fact I just made a donation to the cause. So far, over 1/2 of the estimated cost has been raised. I hope you will read about this effort and consider making a donation as well.

I plan to visit the Big Creek Lodge this summer on my way to Alaska. Perhaps by next summer, we can make a reservation to stay for a few days. Here are some links that will help you understand the history and significance of supporting this effort.


No More Medical?

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Aviation News | Comments Off on No More Medical?

As many of you know, EAA and AOPA have petitioned the FAA to allow pilots to fly aircraft up to 180 HP and with only one passenger without an FAA Medical. Many of us in the industry have been waiting anxiously to see what the FAA would do. While there is still no answer, here is a link to a recent video where Craig Fuller explains the latest news. While he is somewhat pessimistic that the FAA will rule on the proposal anytime soon, he seems to have some further approaches to try if nothing is forthcoming soon. I certainly support the proposal and hope that the FAA will rule favorably.


Flying Mag Article

Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 in Aviation News | Comments Off on Flying Mag Article

Martt-With-May-1962-Flying-MagazineSome of you have commented on the article I wrote for Flying magazine. Occasionally, Pia Berqvist  requests that I send her my thoughts on various training topics that are discussed in the “Flight School” section. This month, the topic was Decision Making and how to teach new pilots to be flexible in their en route decision making. This is an interesting topic because, as an examiner for the FAA, I often see applicants who have a very hard time with this. Usually, they either don’t really have a grasp of the weather and the options available or they are following a plan without any real consideration for all the things that can cause a quick change of plans. Anyone who has been flying for any length of time learns to be very flexible during a trip and to be willing to divert to a nearby airport when things go wrong. There is a balance between making a plan and being willing to change it quickly. You can “over plan” a trip to the point where you are reluctant to abandon it. However, some pilots fail to plan much at all, preferring to figure it out as they go along. While this can work if the weather is good and nothing serious goes wrong, it can be the first step onto that slippery slope that leads to an unpleasant outcome.

If you are interested in reading the article, it is on page 42 of the April issue.

FSS to the Rescue!

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in Aviation News | Comments Off on FSS to the Rescue!

FSSThis is a follow up to yesterday’s post about the Enhanced Search and Rescue Program being introduced in Alaska. I had e-mailed Flight Service to ask if the Delorme InReach device would be included as this is what I’ll be taking to Alaska this summer.

This morning I received a call from a lady named Angela who works in the Kenai FSS. She was calling to let me know they are working on adding the InReach to the list of approved devices. She also suggested that I file a “Master Flight Plan” with the FSS, showing my emergency contacts and a link to my InReach location. This will assist Search & Rescue and help them locate me quickly if needed. What a great idea! She also promised to get back with me once the device is added to the ESRS program. She also suggested we visit the FSS when we are in the area. I still remember when dropping by the Flight Service Station for a personal weather briefing was common. Due to advancing technology, reduced budgets and security concerns, the “in-person” visits became a thing of the past, particularly after 09/11.

As I am coming to understand, Alaska is a different place in many ways. Because of the vast wilderness and the large amount of General Aviation activity, FSS is an integral part of safe operations there. The fact that Angela took the time to call one pilot in Texas speaks well of her and her team in the Kenai FSS.

If you are ever tempted to “bash” the FAA, remember there are folks who are doing the best they can to help us out. Thanks again, Angela.

New Search & Rescue Tool

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in Aviation News | Comments Off on New Search & Rescue Tool

image022The FAA announced a new Search & Rescue program that works with satellite communicators such as the SPOT device.

A test program in Alaska to integrate the consumer tracking devices Spot and Spidertracks with FAA search-and-rescue has been successful, officials said last week. The Enhanced Special Reporting Service was tested for two years and now has been made an official option for all pilots flying VFR in Alaska. The technology could be a lifesaver in Alaska’s remote terrain. “For example,” FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer told the Alaska Dispatch, “if a pilot leaves Anchorage for Nome in a Cessna 172, it’s about a four-and-a-half-hour flight. Typically, the search would begin for the overdue pilot 30 minutes after they were to have arrived. With this technology, the search would begin when the plane stops moving and will more closely pinpoint the aircraft’s location.” The program is available only for VFR flights within Alaska, but it may be expanded in the future, the FAA said.

Pilots must register their device with Flight Service and file a flight plan, and they must program the devices to alert the FAA in case of an emergency. The use of ESRS does not eliminate the need to have an emergency locator transmitter on board an aircraft, the FAA said. If maintenance failures or other system problems prevent alert messages from being transmitted to FSS, search-and-rescue for overdue aircraft will be based on the VFR Flight Plan. More information can be found at the FAA FAQ (PDF) and the project website. AOPA and the Alaska Airmen’s Association worked closely with the FAA on the test program.

I have written an e-mail to find out if the Delorme InReach device will be included, since I plan to carry one on the Alaska adventure.

Alaska Bugs!

Posted by on Mar 31, 2013 in Alaska 2013 | Comments Off on Alaska Bugs!

I’ve heard about how bad the mosquitos and biting flies are in Alaska, so I ordered a couple of “bugshirts” from a company who guarantees that no bug will be able to get through their shirts. Well…we will see about that. As you can see from the photo of the lovely model I found that it is well made and certainly stylish.