Your connection with the sky

Find a Good Flight School by Ian James

, May 21st, 2013

How to Find a Good Flight School

You want to go to flight school, but there are so many choices out there. Like any other type of school, flight schools vary in terms of quality and price. If becoming a professional pilot is your goal, you need a method to figure out which school is right for you. You want a schedule you can live with and competent instructors. Here's how to get everything you want:

Figure Out What Type of School You Want To Attend Read More >>

Keep Calm and Fly On

, May 1st, 2013

One of the moments I was most looking forward to when I was a student pilot was taking others on introductory flights and sharing the joy of aviation with them. Since receiving my private pilot certificate, I’ve flown four people who had never been in a general aviation aircraft before, or at least not one that was as small as the Cessna 172 that I fly. Not only was it a learning experience for those I flew, but it also taught me a lot and exposed me to situations I never experienced as a student.

The first time I took a passenger, I was flying one of my best friends whom I had blown off plans with a few times due to my rigorous training schedule in the weeks leading up to my check ride. Garrick had been in a general aviation plane before on a skydiving trip, but he hadn’t been in a four-seater like this or been at the controls of the plane. The day we were slated to fly, I had been monitoring the arrival of a cold front moving through the area, and called Garrick at the last minute to tell him the flight was still on. With the short flight I had planned, I felt confident that we could fit it in before the front pushed through the area. We took off and went southwest to Winchester, Virginia (KOKV). As soon as we touched down, I made a split second decision to do a touch and go (which I was used to doing with my instructor because she would raise the flaps for me). That went off without a hitch, and we were on our way back to Frederick in no time. Read More >>

Flying for a Cause, Flying for the Paws

, January 30th, 2013

When I tell someone I’m a pilot now, I get so many different reactions. The most common is “Awesome! Who do you fly for?” I always have this feeling that they’re slightly disappointed to learn the small scale on which I fly. Now, I don’t have anything against commercial pilots, but I have no plans now or in the future to pursue a job with the airlines. Being a commercial pilot is a career move, and that is just not in line with my goals. However, please don’t actually ask me what I want to be when I grow up, because I’m still not sure. I love flying and I love the flexibility of doing it on my own schedule. But I also love my job, and being able to fly as little or as much as I want to outside of that is perfect for me.  Read More >>

My Flight Training Story

, December 10th, 2012

My Flight Training Story by Guest Blogger, David Gianna

Greetings - I am high-time student working towards a private pilot license. Like many people, I have had to endure many obstacles and have had to postpone or delay my training numerous times. Mostly I have trained in Cessna 172 aircraft, spent some time in Piper Cherokee and Archer aircraft, and even flew Schweizer sailplanes as part of my primary training. 

My obstacles were many: Lots of travel time for work, building a new home, adoption of children, financial issues, working abroad, weather, even a plane incident that destroyed my primary trainer. Presently, I fly with a flying club based in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Here is my story.

Mrs. Alaska United America

, November 30th, 2012

As my new title of Mrs. Alaska United America continues to take shape, I’m proud to announce some very exciting things happening with my platform – a project to encourage and educate women of all ages to be involved in aviation.  Educating the next generation of women to keep the aviation community strong, not only for general aviation but in our country’s military as well.  The aviation career field is so diverse with pilots, air traffic controllers, maintainers, to safety inspectors – the opportunities are endless for women.  I am proud to announce as of September that we are a non-profit organization in the state of Alaska and a scholarship fund geared to help sponsor future female Alaskan aviators!  Our non-profit organization continues to reach Alaskans throughout the state and beyond.  Read More >>

Sophie T. Dog’s first flight!

, November 1st, 2012



 To me, the best part of being a private pilot is flying myself to fun destinations. Just recently, my boyfriend (also a pilot), my Australian Shepherd, Sophie, and I flew to Penn Yan, NY to spend the weekend on Keuka Lake. It was wonderful; what has taken us 5.5 hours to drive from Frederick, MD took us only 2.5 hours to fly! Read More >>

Cool, calm, and collected

, September 27th, 2012

For those of you who have been following me on this blog, you might recall one of my first posts, chockfull of different quotes describing how it felt to experience the freedom and beauty of flying. I ended it with Orson Welles’ words of wisdom, “There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.” I went on to say that I anticipate it being a long time before I ever get bored flying an airplane. Well, on my first solo cross country yesterday, I can honestly say that even with all the gorgeous scenery and thoughts of “this is so awesome”/”I am so cool” running through my head, I found myself bored in an airplane for the first time.

My solo cross country has been a long time coming. Before I went to AirVenture, I was getting super close, but weather delays kept me from ever reaching my intended destinations on my practice cross countries. After AirVenture, as some of you know, I was feverishly studying for my FAA knowledge test. Getting back to flying after being out of the loop for almost two months was rough. The plane felt so foreign to me. I was scared that I had lost my touch. However, a few cross countries later, I was feeling secure being back in the saddle. Read More >>

Alien Landscape: Flying in Southeastern Oregon

, August 27th, 2012

In late June I had a fabulous flight to the very edge of southeastern Oregon, nearly to the Nevada border. A good friend was throwing a fly-in at his remote high-desert ranch. He has a dirt landing strip and enough space for a dozen or more planes. This would be the first long-distance flight in my re-built Talon. Bob Coombs agreed to make the flight with me in his Titan.

Flying east up the Columbia River Gorge was more of a stomach clencher than usual; I was listening very, very hard to the rhythm of the engine. The 65 horses seemed to be cantering easily together, never breaking stride. Still, it was a relief to come out of the Gorge into eastern Oregon and it’s multitude of landing spots. The easy two hour flight had us landing in Bend (Oregon) to refuel.

From Bend to Burns was payback for the ease of the first leg. It was almost three in the afternoon, and the sun was hot. Thermals bubbled up and flung the Talon every which way. I never felt in danger, but I had to pay serious attention to staying as straight and level as possible. When we landed in Burns (Oregon) both of us were worn out. Even though we had only another 90 minutes of flying to go, we decided to flake out in the air conditioned FBO for a few hours. By the time we were back in the air it was early evening and the air had calmed down. 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 >>


, June 25th, 2012

Coming off the high of soloing for the first time takes a while. There was about a week and a half of “local fame” before it all started to die down. The timing of the solo was perfect because I had a cross country trip planned to my parents’ house for Memorial Day weekend with my boyfriend (and back-up instructor). This was my first chance to experience real flight planning. I enthusiastically unfolded my sectional and asked, “Ok, where do we start?” I quickly learned that I was in way over my head. The whole process was a flurry of measurements, printing off airport diagrams, getting the winds, making all of these crazy calculations, and oh, yeah—learning that in order to meet our weight and balance requirements I couldn’t bring as many pairs of shoes as I wanted on our trip!

Somewhat disappointedly, we got off to a slow start. The weather at both the departure and arrival airports (KFDK and KGED) was less than ideal, with low ceilings and fog. We had to wait over an hour past our planned departure time for it to clear up. I knew what the VFR requirements were and when we got close to them, I started getting really anxious for the ceiling to rise just 100 more feet or the visibility to improve by a half mile. My boyfriend told me I was displaying symptoms of “Get-there-itis,” a potentially dangerous illness of those who would sacrifice safety just to get up in the air. Had I not been preparing to fly to the beach that day, I probably would’ve been a little more patient. Nonetheless, the weather cleared up to an acceptable level and we were able to depart. Read More >>