Your connection with the sky

Exploring Aviation

A private pilot and US Civil Air Patrol major explores the envelope of aviation, one corner at a time. About Steve Tupper

Eleanor’s First Flight – Video

December 19th, 2012

As a follow-up to my last post, I though that you might enjoy seeing the video that covers Deadly's first flight.  Click on the image above and enjoy!


Eleanor Flies: First Flight with Dad

November 14th, 2012

There’s no shortage of reasons to learn to fly.  One of the best is sharing flight with others.

I’ve taken each of my kids to the airport since before they could walk.  My son, Nicholas (callsign: “FOD”), has known how to operate a flap lever in a Cessna 172 since he was three.  My daughter, Ella (callsign: “Deadly”) reached for the throttle with her right hand the first time I loaded her into the left seat of a C-172.

I took FOD up in a Cessna Citation Mustang (a light business jet that seats six) on a demo flight at AirVenture Oshkosh three years ago when he was seven.  And I took him up again in a TG-7A motorglider with my airshow team in August for some formation practice.  But, up until now, I’ve never taken up Deadly, who's seven now.  So I set out to do something about that. Read More >>

A Commercial Certificate is Still Just a License to Learn

July 29th, 2012

A pilot certificate is just a license to learn.

When you’re doing your initial training, that must seem like a foreign concept.  Those guys and gals who have completed initial training and have certificates must know something, right?  Well, of course they do.  But you’ll be surprised at how much each additional rating shows you what you don’t know about flying.  And how much you’ll want to go learn that stuff!

I try to practice what I preach.  After the instrument rating, I began a quest to visit as many corners of the aviation envelope as I could find.  And there are plenty!  Multi-engine aircraft.  Seaplanes.  Flying upside down. For several years, I didn’t need to get a flight review because a new certificate or rating resets the clock on flight reviews.  In fact, I went months at a time carrying a paper temporary certificate for this or that because the plastic certificates couldn’t keep up.

It’s not that I gave that up.  I shot a movie about aerobatics, got more involved in CAP, and flew competition aerobatics myself.  But I hadn’t gotten a new rating in some time.

If you’d asked me in March if I thought that I’d be a commercial pilot now (and in gliders no less), I’d have chuckled at you.  But here I am, one of the nation’s newest commercial pilots. Read More >>

New Experiences: A Power Pilot Chases a Glider Rating

May 14th, 2012

"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off buy viagra online cheap us - pfizer mexico viagra then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can."  - Herman Melville; Moby Dick

I'm not especially "grim about the mouth" (although I love that expression).  And I'm not yet to the point of knocking off people's hats.  But any time I begin to figure that I know a lot about aviation, I account it high time to get into a strange and different aircraft as soon as I can.  So what started as an evil plot by glider instructor John Harte to lure me into training for a new rating has turned into a regular source of joy in my life. Read More >>

Stalls, Spins, and Misunderstandings

April 30th, 2012

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But “stall” means something completely different in the context of aviation.  A stall in an airplane usually has nothing to do with the engine. Sure, an airplane’s engine can stall, but aviators usually use some other word, such as “quit” or “stop.”

Let’s talk about how an airplane stalls. Airfoils develop lift by moving through the air. Airfoils include the wings on airplanes, the rotor blades on helicopters, and lots of other things. The control surfaces on airplanes and even the propeller blades themselves are also airfoils. Heck, a barn door can be an airfoil under the right circumstances. Read More >>

Debriefing at ICAS 2011

December 5th, 2011

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I'm at the 2011 annual convention of the International Council of Air Shows at Paris Las Vegas.  It's an annual gathering of almost everyone who matters in the airshow industry.  The image above is from the welcome reception last night.  ICAS is always festive.  It's a reuinion of really good friends who might not see much of each other over the course of the year.  Or, if they do see each other at airshows, everybody's working and there isn't time to catch up. Read More >>

Airshow Pilot Training: Why It Matters to You

November 16th, 2011

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On Sunday 6 November, I rode along with The Hoppers, a four-ship team that flies the Czech-built Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatross.  It was a one-day practice session that took place at various airports across northern Illinois. I shot the team’s promotional video over the course of two days at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Airshow and Balloon Festival in July.  It was overcast with low visibility both days for the initial shoot.  Read More >>

The Challenge

June 27th, 2011

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I’ve written before about the fact that aviation provides challenges worthy of any level of skill.  And I thought that now might be a good time to check back in from my wanderings on the frontiers and tell you that – yeah – it’s still true.

Not that I expected to find anything different.  But my current explorations are of degree, not of kind. Read More >>

Plan Now for Summer Adventure

April 11th, 2011

As North America gradually becomes warmer and greener, it’s time to start thinking in earnest about the upcoming flying season.  Not that flying stops when the landscape gets white.  In fact, some of the very best flying weather happens in the middle of winter.  Want to know what it feels like to be at pattern altitude before you turn downwind?  Go fly on a cold, clear day!

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But flying is a much more reliable proposition in the summer.  I live in Michigan, so I never completely discount the possibility of a blizzard in April, but you have a much better chance of getting to fly when you plan to fly. Read More >>

Keep the Fire Burning

February 15th, 2011

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The Let’s Go Flying website is, among other things, designed to appeal to those thinking about flying but who need that last bit of information or inspiration to get them down to the local airport and behind the controls of an aircraft.

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But it probably comes as no surprise that many of the visitors to the site are already head-over-heels in love with aviation and would be student pilots in a heartbeat, but the magic circumstances simply haven’t come together yet to allow them to initiate or complete flight training.  This post is for them. Read More >>