The following story is from my Confessions of a Thankful Pilot series.

My first attempt taking the IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flight test was on June 14, 1994. But with only about 15 minutes of flying left, the flight examiner discontinued the test because of bad weather conditions. My second attempt on August 23rd succeeded and I became an FAA certified instrument rated pilot, approved to fly through clouds.

Fourteen days later, on Tuesday September 6, I filed my first IFR flight plan as an instrument rated pilot.

Byron (Fuji) Hasegawa, a fellow Willoughby firefighter, wanted to go to Kalamazoo, Michigan to spend a few days with his wife Faith who was on a work assignment there. Instead of a 4 1/2 hour drive, he opted for a 1hour and 45 minute flight with me.

The plan was to fly him from Cuyahoga County Airport (CGF). to Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport (AZO) on the 6th, then come back on Saturday, September 10th to pick him up and fly him home. Continue reading

Two Souls Above Jamestown

The following story is from my Confessions of a Thankful Pilot series.

December 4, 199Me and Dad in Tiger5, a little over a year since earning our instrument rating, my dad and I found ourselves flying in dark clouds in our club’s Grumman Tiger. We had departed Cleveland Cuyahoga County airport in Ohio and were now en route to Dunkirk in upstate New York where we would make a brief stop then fly on to Jamestown, New York for lunch. I was the pilot-in-command for the flight but with only 11 hours of actual instrument time, it was comforting to have another instrument rated pilot with me, even if he was also low-time.

The forecast was for widespread cloud layers and predominately IFR conditions along our route. Icing hadn’t been mentioned in the preflight briefing I received within 20 minutes of our departure but for some reason, my dad commented that he’d like to experience aircraft icing sometime. Well, okay, I thought, as long as it’s not this time on this flight.

We were cleared for 7,000 and climbing in the clouds when suddenly something started banging on the airplane from outside and aft of where we were sitting. About the same time, I noticed that the needle on the number two VOR display wasn’t even close to being centered like the needle was on the number one display, even though both were set to the same radio frequency and on the same inbound radial. Continue reading

Flying Stories

The following story is from my Confessions of a Thankful Pilot series.

April 15, 1989

The air is clear and a huge orange moon sits on the eastern horizon as I take off from Cuyahoga County airport. Aside from the ethereal voices on the comm radio, my only companion tonight is my flying partner, a two seat, single engine Piper Tomahawk with the call sign N2314K (pronounced November-Two-Three-One-Four-Kilo). Continue reading