Posts about the missions we fly and their underlying motivations
I gazed down at the golden, rolling hills beneath me illuminated by the warm, raking light of early morning. Visibility was unlimited in the cool, clear, California Winter air, and the view from the glider's big bubble canopy was breathtaking. My eyes swept the horizon, taking it all in. Then out of the corner of my eye I noticed the back seat. It was empty! A jolt of adrenaline brought me to attention. I was all by myself, and in less than two minutes, I had to land this thing!
"This is why we live in California," I said to myself with a smile. As I stepped out of the car at the airport early on a recent Sunday afternoon, it was shirtsleeve weather. The sky was almost completely clear and winds were light. Not bad for December! A combination of work, home repair, and weather had kept me away from the airport for weeks. I had set a goal of completing my Commercial and CFI certificates this year, but at this point Spring of next year was looking more likely. (More about that next time.) The only thing for it was to keep plugging away. It was the perfect day to get back in the saddle and fly some patterns.
A few weeks ago, in the wake of the horrible crash at the Reno Air Races, I wrote an angry post in which I emphasized the responsibility that we pilots have for the safety of others. Ordinarily, I prefer not to speak or write publicly when I'm angry, but this time I felt it was important to express that anger. Sometimes it's appropriate.
On Monday morning, Memorial Day, I was sitting at my desk, reading my email. My buddy Hal had forwarded a link to an Avweb article about recent discoveries in the investigation of the Air France flight 447 crash. But as I was scrolling to the article, I came across another news item that stopped me cold. On Friday, May 27th, Amanda Franklin, 25-year-old air show performer, died from injuries sustained in a March 12th crash during a performance in Brownsville, Texas.
On March 12 in Brownsville, Texas, air show performers Kyle and Amanda Franklin were entertaining the crowd with their trademark Pirated Skies routine just as they have countless other air show audiences with their flair for over-the-top dramatics and silliness. Amanda the wing walker was atop the wing while Kyle flew the big Waco biplane. At a critical moment in a low-altitude maneuver, the engine failed. Amanda had just enough time to climb back into the cockpit before the airplane crashed. An emergency crew quickly reached the scene, but not before Kyle and especially Amanda were badly burned.