The Ongoing Quest for the CFI-G – Sporty’s Phase

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Time for an update on pilot-y activities.  As many of you know, I’ve been working on my instructor certificate in the glider category. I knocked out the FOI knowledge test in April and I finally got the CFI-G knowledge test done – appropriately enough – on Halloween afternoon.  Then I contacted the FSDO about getting my checkride.

I’ll hand it to Larry McKillop at the Michigan East FSDO for doing the best that he can to try to get me a ride.  And I’ll hand it to Kerry Brown, the DPE who did my commercial checkride, for being ready, willing, and able to administer the ride.  But the whole process has been a sheep dip from the beginning.  Without numbing your mind with the Byzantine ways of the FAA, I can’t seem to get a checkride in the Michigan East FSDO.  Kerry is not an FEI and, even if the Michigan East FSDO wanted to designate him to do the ride, he’d have to be supervised.  No one qualified to supervise the ride exists or has answered the call to supervise a ride.  I reached out to a resource in the West Michigan FSDO who I understand could have done the ride, but that resource has declined to return phone calls.

Part of this is my fault.  I’m looking for (a) a CFI checkride (b) that’s an initial CFI checkride  (and there’s stan/eval magic about initial CFI rides) (c) in the glider category (d) in a self-launch glider (e) in the upper midwest (f) in the dead of winter.  Yeah, that’s a little specialized.  But it’s not like I invented a new category or like I’m asking someone to strap into an experimental spaceship.

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So I’m sitting here nearly two months later with no chance of anything happening in either FSDO in Michigan.  As I do so, all of the information that I’ve packed into my noggin is spilling out of my ears.  I have this huge plastic tub of study materials, teaching aids, manuals, and other stuff that I need to have memorized or at the ready against an oral exam that is justly reputed to be the most savage exercise in all of general aviation.  It’s nearly impossible to stay perpetually ready for the FAA CFI-G oral and the sooner I get the checkride done, the sooner I can have an evening during which I don’t have to sit in a Starbucks with a brick of 4×6 cards, murmuring to myself like a madman.

I heard that there’s a Diamond HK 36 TC (Diamond XTREME) at Sporty’s Academy at Clermont County Airport in Ohio and a DPE on staff there who’s eligible to do the ride.  So I headed down to Sporty’s on Friday to see whether it would be an option to qualify in the Diamond and fly the ride in that bird.

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And, besides, Sporty’s is legendary in the GA world and it seemed only proper to do a pilgrimage to that hallowed airport.  So I sprung FOD from school early and we headed down.  Sporty’s turned out to be everything they say it is and more.  Just about everything that you can do right in general aviation, Sporty’s has done.  The airport is located back in the boonies and would be difficult to find, except that signs pointing to the airport are everywhere.

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As you make your way up Sporty’s Drive, pilot figures look out at you from the woods.  FOD noticed them before I did.  I can’t decide whether they’s cool or creepy.  So I took a shot of FOD next to one.  I hope that they’re not memorials to pilots who have gone west or anything such that taking the picture was an act of disrespect.

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There’s a huge area with cafe seating and a vending area and that seems to be where most of the briefing and debriefing takes place.  Some of the tables are specially designated, such as the one reserved for liars, which I presume any pilot could occupy with little fear of ineligibility.

A quick note to those who have formed expectations about this mecca of pilot gear and other merchandise.  One might be forgiven for expecting that the pilot shop at the airport is 100,000 sq. ft. of gadgets and T-shirts.  It’s not.  Or at least it’s not all retail.  The shop itself is something like 200 sq. ft. of stuff in cases.  But you can go to the desk and point to anything you like from the Sporty’s catalog and someone will be dispatched to the warehouse (sometimes on a bicycle) to fetch what you want.  I sent FOD to get me an el cheapo device to strap my new iPad to my leg and he returned with tidings of the bicycle logistics.

Shortly after arriving, I met up with Charissa A. Dyer-Kendler, my instructor for the day.  She’s a CFI, CFII, CFI-G, and AGI with a Gold Seal designation and a Ph.D. to boot.  We preflighted the Diamond, started up, and taxied out.

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The Diamond is a two-place motorglider. The numbers (as reported by the Wikipedia entry, are as follows.

General characteristics

Crew: one
Capacity: one passenger
Wingspan: 16.0 m (52 ft 6 in)
Wing area: 15.24 m2 (164.0 sq ft)
Aspect ratio: 16.8:1
Airfoil: Wortmann FX 63-137
Empty weight: 497 kg (1,096 lb)
Gross weight: 770 kg (1,698 lb)
Fuel capacity: 80 liters (18 imp gal; 21 US gal)
Propellers: One 2-bladed Hoffmann HO-V 62-R/L 160 T, three position, fully feathering.

Cruise speed: 182 km/h; 98 kn (113 mph)
Never exceed speed: 275 km/h (171 mph; 148 kn) sea level to 6000 feet
Range: 1,094 km; 591 nmi (680 mi)
Maximum glide ratio: 27:1 at 105 km/h (65 mph)
Rate of sink: 0.91 m/s (179 ft/min) at 79 km/h (49 mph)
Wing loading: 48.56 kg/m2 (9.95 lb/sq ft)

The weather was somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 overcast with nearly calm winds and good visibility.  Good enough for pattern work, but not good enough to get up high and do the high airwork and explore the glide performance.  No problem.  The most important stuff is probably the pattern work anyway.

Remember how I’m honest with you about both my wins and losses?  Here’s some of that:  I sucked horribly. Awful, ugly, nasty, yuck.  I could probably write a few thousand words about the flying experience, but I’ll just summarize instead.

The bird is adverse yaw incarnate.  No input, however slight, on the stick fails to be reflected in yaw.  Even magnified in yaw.  Stick movements are on the order of fractions of an inch.  The inclinometer ball is located down low on the left side and it tough to see from the instructor’s seat over on the right.  I’ve always had a dead butt in terms of ability to coordinate flight by feel instead of my looking at the ball and that made it worse.  Go get a breadboard and a beach ball.  Put the breadboard on the beach ball.  Now climb up on the breadboard and stand on it.  And juggle while you’re up there.  You begin to understand my impression of the whole thing.

The dive brakes on the Diamond are freakishly effective. They’re Schempp-Hirth-style brakes that are essentially flat perforated surfaces that come straight up out of the tops of the wings.   If you pop them out much beyond the halfway detent, you come out of the sky like a hot set of car keys.  I’m talking Wile E. Coyote just after he runs off the cliff.  And you have to put the dive brakes mostly or entirely away before getting close to the runway or you’ll have a truly impressive sink rate going by the time you interface with the pavement.  The best technique seems to be putting the dive brakes away entirely before the flare and re-deploying them only when well and truly down on the runway.

The Diamond is a tricycle-gear aircraft.  The cowling is fairly low in front of you and you’re looking right down at the runway except where the rounded, raised snout for the prop sticks up to your left as you sit in the IP seat.  These factors combine to make for a much flatter-looking sight picture than I’m used to in the TG-7A or the Citabria.  It’s Cirrus-like.  So you’re pretty flat in the landing attitude and it’s not hard to be skewed toward the side upon which you’re sitting because you want to pull the snout over in front of you.

These are just a few of the impressions that I developed.  There were more.  Suffice it to say that, after 2.8 hours and 17 takeoffs and landings, the quality of my landings was only beginning to approach survivable performance.  I don’t think that I’ve ever performed so poorly at anything else in aviation.  I left a palpable haze of stink over the runway.

And all of this in nearly calm winds and no lift/turbulence.  I can’t even begin to imagine what this would have been like on a normal weather day.  Gah!

Part of the problem might have been the fact that I’ve been flying the TG-7A as my primary bird for more than two years.  Its dive brakes are mere suggestions to the relative wind and, unless I’m flying lead and need to drift further down the runway on landing, I usually have the brakes all the way out in the wind for touchdown.  The TG-7A’s control forces and stick movements are much more robust than the Diamond’s.  It wallows through the air in a way that makes control much more straightforward, or at least a lot less touchy.

Am I a competent Buick driver who just climbed into a Ferrari? This might well have been the time (and the time was probably coming one way or another) at which I finally tried to fly an aircraft that requires real finesse and touch to fly and I turned out to be utterly unprepared.  I’ve had suggestions of that from the Grob 103a and I’ve long had instructors tell me that I probably stir the coffee a little too much.  On Friday, all of that and more came home to roost.

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I left town with my confidence in my socks.  The legion Waffle House restaurants around the area was the only consolation and FOD and I made such use of them as we could.

I’m not saying that I can’t learn to fly the Diamond.  Maybe I can.  I’m sure I can.  But the Diamond is 200+ nm away, costs $114 per hour, and instruction if $60 per hour.  Hotel and food add to the financial proposition.  And it’s winter, which means low ceilings and, if there’s more than 20″ of plowed or drifted snow around the airport, the bird stays on the ground because if its wingspan.

As I write this, I can’t see getting down to I69 enough to get the additional training that I’d certainly need in order to be flying at a level good enough to do a CFI ride.  In truth, I’ve probably encountered a platform that has exposed a weakness in my flying that isn’t addressable without a boatload of training that I can’t afford – financially or in terms of the required time.

So the Diamond probably isn’t the answer.  I’m not completely foreclosing it as an option, but I can’t presently see it being the answer.  Maybe I can get a TG-7A down to Sporty’s and get the DPE to do the ride in that aircraft. Or maybe a miracle will occur and I can get the ride up here in Michigan closer to my usual AO.  There’s also the fact that options will likely improve as we get through winter and spring arrives. But I’ve got all of this stuff in my noggin and I’d really rather not wait that long.

It’s soul-crushing to train and study this hard and then run into walls like this. There’s no way that it should be so hard to get a ride.  First procedural barriers and now a bona fide confidence-destroying possibility that there’s a non-trivial gap in my stick-and-rudder skills.  I swear to you I can fly. Really! But my sense is that I’m further behind now than when I finished the knowledge test.

Recognizing that further stressing about it is going to be counterproductive, I’m putting the ride on the shelf for at least the next couple of weeks.  I’m at a plateau and even the cursed FOI might be right about switching attentions to something else for awhile.  I’ll find a way to turn this whole thing into an epic Airspeed episode at some point, but the story arc isn’t yet going in a direction that you or I have come to expect.  So stay tuned, but don’t expect a triumphant episode to listen to on your long holiday drive.  Maybe something to audition while you’re heading to Oshkosh.


ICAS Convention 2014 – Arrival

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It’s another December and that means another ICAS convention!  I’m at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino here in Las Vegas along with just about everyone who’s anyone in the airshow business in North America.

It’s a busy convention for me this year.  In a couple of hours, I go downstairs to see Gene Kranz, Apollo program flight director and the author of The Kranz Doctrine, which is the subject of a popular Airspeed episode from 2009.  Yes, I’m having my copy of Failure is Not an Option.  After that, it’s a day of floor sessions and breakout sessions.  I’m hitting the Blue Angels Forum and the sponsorship session.  Then, this evening, I’m taking a side track to see Penn & Teller here at the hotel.  I’ve been a fan of Penn Jillette for a long time and I have front row seats to see him llive.

Tomorrow (flight suit day!) I’m attending Air Boss 201 to add some color to the Air Boss episode of Airspeed.  It’s be nice to get some training so that I can find out what I did wrong bossing my first demos this past June.  After that, it’s more floor sessions and then I bust out to the airport for a red-eye Delta flight back to the D.

Throughout all of this, I’m taking calls and making sure that the desk I’m supposed to be flying back in the D stays aloft.  It exhibits reasonable spiral stability, but does require occasional corrections and the autopilot is notoriously unreliable.

There likely won’t be an episode from here at the hotel this year.  I have three episodes for which I’m collecting material.  Producing an on-site episodes can take as much as three or four hours and I think that that’s time better spent downstairs gathering the material and making the contacts that will inspire episodes that I’m not even thinking about right now.

Off to breakfast with the men and women who make airshows happen!

OpenAirplane with Rod Rakic – Audio Episode Show Notes

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These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen to the show audio by clicking here: Better yet, subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher. It’s all free!

Earlier this year, I sat down with Rod Rakic, one of two co-founders of OpenAirplane, a service that allows pilots to complete a single Universal Pilot Checkout and then fly aircraft in which they’ve qualified at FBOs all around the country without the need for a local checkout.  This episode contains that inverview.

I also did an OpenAirplane checkout at Crosswinds Aviation at Livingston County Airport (KOZW) in Howell, Michigan before having the conversation with Rod.  I recorded audio on the flight, but couldn’t locate that audio to incorporate it into the episode.  Thus, I wrote up a summary and included it in the episode.  That summary appears below.


Okay, I looked for the in-flight audio for months. It’s going to turn up at some point, but there’s no use holding up this episode any further in the hopes that I’ll find it. So I’m just going to give you an account of what happened. Besides, doing this will cause the file with the in-flight audio to magically appear in a directory somewhere and I’m curious about where it is.

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I showed up at Crosswinds Aviation at Livingston County Airport (KOZW) early on a Sunday morning this March. I had already read the local briefing from the OpenAirplane website. Despite the fact that I’ve been to this airport a couple dozen times and had even flown by commercial checkride there, the local briefing told me a few things that I didn’t know, including Crosswinds’ specific information about fueling and obtaining oil.

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Shortly after I arrived, I met Scott McDonald, who would be my check pilot for the ride. Scott is a CFI and CFII who’s been flying professionally for five years and instructing for about half of that. He started out flying in Alma, Michigan and did his CFI training at Lansing Community College.

We began the checkout as all OpenAirplane checkouts begin – By reviewing pilot documents. Airman certificate, medical, logbook, and the other usual stuff. Then we covered the kind of ground review that you’d expect when checking out to fly at an FBO or getting a flight review. Here’s some of the audio of that phase.


I had already begun the early part of my studying for my own CFI checkride, so I had no problem with any of the aircraft systems, regs, or other information that Scott covered. Lest you be intimidated, he didn’t ask me anything that a pilot of a single-engine airplane shouldn’t already know as a matter of course.

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After that, we headed out to the hangar to meet our steed for the flight. N2322Y is a 2005 Cessna 172S with a G1000 glass cockpit. The preflight inspection checked out fine after I added a quart of oil. Fuel was about half full – plenty for the time that we were going to spend aloft.

I have maybe 70 hours behind the G1000 in C-182s and one jet and maybe 200 hours in C-172s, but no time in a C-172 with a G1000 panel. At the end of the day, neither Newton nor Bernoulli care about the panel, other than maybe the fact that the aircraft is a little heavier in the nose with all of the avionics. I briefed with Scott that this was my first time in a glass C-172 and we tried to figure out what could be different. We couldn’t come up with anything, but Scott allowed as how he wouldn’t climb into the back for a nap and I allowed as how I’d tell him if I had any difficulty.

We started up, taxied out, and took off about 15 minutes later. I used all of the available checklists and called out everything I was doing verbally so that Scott always knew what was on my mind.

It had been severe clear a few hours earlier, but cumulus clouds had started to build. A cool atmosphere with uneven heating of the surface by the sun resulted in what would turn out to be a great day for early-season soaring by glider pilots. It quickly became apparent that we were going to have to get on top of the scattered layer to get the airwork done, so I picked a hole and back-to-back chandelles got us above the layer and into some smoother air. Once established, I did clearing turns and demonstrated steep turns, slow flight, and stalls.

Satisfied with my VFR airwork, Scott had me put on the hood and we began the IFR part of the checkout. You can check out VFR-only if you want to. But I wanted the IFR privileges and also needed to get up and knock some of the rust off of my IFR skills. Scott put me through a couple of unusual-attitude recoveries, then called up Flint Approach to go in for some approaches.

We picked up a clearance and Flint gave us a descent for vectoring. That put us in and out of the clouds for the majority of the rest of the ride.

We shot an ILS and a VOR approach at Flint all the way to landing, using normal technique on the first one and short-field technique on the second one, and then accepted vectors back to Livingston for the RNAV 31. I hand-flew all of the approaches and the en-route parts. It was pretty bumpy in places, but my IFR scan came back very quickly and I think that I gave a pretty good account of myself.

Five miles out of Livingston County, we were in VMC, so we cancelled our IFR clearance and continued VFR. Scott had me stay under the hood to pattern altitude, then had me enter a left downwind for Runway 13, which the wind was favoring. Downwind abeam, he pulled the power. I pulled for 65 KIAS out of reflex, then called out the engine-out and restart procedures as I rounded the corner to land dead-stick.

The landing was uneventful unless you count some floating in the gusts once we got into ground effect.

We put the airplane away and headed back inside to debrief.

[Debrief audio.]

I was pretty pleased with the flight. A fair amount of rust on my skills and several imprecise things happened but nothing dangerous happened or even came close to happening. And now I’m checked out to go fly this or any other similar C-172 in the OpenAirplane fleet. A fleet that now includes 255 aircraft located at 73 operators on 71 airports in 32 states.

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OpenAirplane allows both pilots and operators to leave feedback about their experiences. It’s a process that keeps everyone honest. My feedback covered my flight ands some of the things I learned about Crosswinds Aviation and it was as follows.

“Solid operation that understands the OpenAirplane program and wants to make it work well. I did my UPC with these guys and found both management and instructor to be quality-focused and safety-conscious. If you have a chance, pay attention while you’re there to their other operations. With a program that reaches out to high school kids and enthusiastic attitudes about making pedestrians into pilots, Crosswinds is the kind of operation that’s going to help start the pilot population growing again.”


Check out this episode’s selection, Lock In by John Scalzi!

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Click to get your free audiobook from!


How Adam Rogers and WIRED Utterly Fail to Understand Commercial Space Ops

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Late last week,  I saw a post on WIRED’s website by Adam Rogers called Space Tourism Isn’t Worth Dying For.  In 12 insipid paragraphs, Mr. Rogers delivered a tortured hash that boils down to: “Don’t hate me bro. I loved Apollo and the shuttle program, but now it’s all about dilettantes with money going up for thrills.”

Shortly thereafter, I suggested on Facebook that, if somebody would mock up a WIRED cover or logo, I’d write a parody to the effect of WIRED Responds to the Apollo 1 Fire. Two talented friends mocked up covers and posted them in comments. Bryan Rivera of Windtee Aviation Art was first to post and his cover leads this post.  Thomas Freundl also posted an excellent cover that’s featured below.

But, much as I tried to make good on my promise, I had reservations about the Apollo 1 parody.  It’s not that I couldn’t do it.  I know my NASA history as well as any aerospace geek and could come up with an almost exactly parallel parody article.  But I realized that to do so would be to talk past Rogers when what’s needed is a direct response. So here it is.

Rogers claims to be a fan of space exploration.  He says that he likes spaceships. He’s been to the Cape and to Mojave.  And this and other hedging qualifies him to “call bullshit” if anyone speaks of the SpaceShipOne accident in terms of giant leaps and boldly going where no one has gone before.

I write to call bullshit on Rogers.

Rogers says, “Do human beings have a drive to push past horizons, over mountains, into the unknown? Manifestly. But we always balance that drive and desire with its potential outcomes.  We go when there’s something there.”  In this insipid word salad, Rogers proves that he has no idea what drives those who dream about space travel.

There’s something there, alright: It’s the there, stupid.

Even if it’s a suborbital trajectory, it’s space.  It’s the chance to see the curvature of the planet that has been the origin of every human song, play, book, thought, hope, and dream. It’s the chance to be up there and experience the Overview Effect attested to by Ed Mitchell, Chris Hadfield, and Mike Massimino, among others.  In fact, I’d be willing to chip in to fund a sub-orbital (or better) flight for every incoming leader of a nuclear-capable county if we could make it mandatory before taking the oath of office.

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Not every Virgin Galactic slot-holder is an explorer. To be sure, some almost certainly have more money than brains and are just in line for the thrill.  But I’d venture to guess that the vast majority of slot-holders are those genuinely moved by the prospect of being in space, even for a few moments.

Additionally, a functioning regular sub-orbital service is a valuable step in preserving and building space capability.  NASA, for all practical purposes, finished up its manned suborbital program with only two such flights in 1961.  After that, it was all about orbit and beyond though the remaining four Mercury flights and all of Gemini, and Apollo. You have to be good at different things to regularly fly people in sub-orbital profiles. Virgin and others are filling in some of the blanks that have been there for 50 years.  And they’re building physical and intellectual infrastructure that will further commercial spaceflight beyond sub-orbital levels in the near future.

Rogers simply doesn’t understand that aviation and aerospace technology is rarely single-purpose or merely horizontally integrated.  We’ll learn things doing sub-orbital flights that apply to every aspect of space flight. In fact, some elements of commercial sub-orbital flights are more likely than other kinds spaceflight to help develop some elements of vital aerospace technology and practice.  Look at the higher operational tempo. Look at the requirements for efficiency and reusability in launch and recovery. Look at the crew training, preparation, and performance elements. These and other operational considerations will force innovation that we wouldn’t otherwise see.  For Pete’s sake, the very existence of White Knight/SpaceShipOne and White Knight Two/SpaceShipTwo in the first place is demonstration enough.

Is Rogers’ problem with the private-sector nature of Virgin Galactic’s operations? Look, it’s pretty obvious that there’s little present public support for government-backed manned space exploration, at least in the US.  Commercial spaceflight is our best bet for preserving our space exploration chops and moving them forward.  It’s also a place where the know-how of space veterans is preserved and where it’s passed on to the next generation. Like it or not, this an essential funding model for the next step in space exploration.

Is Rogers’ problem the lucre that it takes to get humans into space?  Surely it’s not the money itself.  The Apollo program cost $100 billion over 10 years and of the Space Transportation System (the “space shuttle”) cost $200 billion over 40 years and that’s apparently okay with Rogers. Must money be spent by a government in order to make it noble or worth risking life over?  How is it less noble when the money comes from those who have it and are moved to invest it? Might private money be even more noble?

Private space operations are the way of the world for the next Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.  It’s not what I expected growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, but it’s what we have and, in many ways, it’s even more exciting. I’d be just as happy to go into space with Delos D. Harriman or Richard Branson as with Neil Armstrong or Dave Scott. To be sure, it is no less noble and perhaps it is even more so.  The motivation remains as pure as it ever has been at any other time or place. We have not stopped dreaming. We’re going back to space. Sub-orbital now.  Low-Earth orbit next.  Then outward.  Ever outward.

But Rogers goes even further. He says right up front that test pilots take risks and die “in the service of millionaire boondoggle thrill rides.” He most likely says this because he has zero idea about what motivates these people.

There’s a very special breed of men and women who live for aviation and aerospace and sharing that love with others. While test pilots are such men and women, I don’t know any test pilots.  But I do know airshow performers, and they’re cut from the same cloth.  These people don’t do it for the fame.  The average American can’t name a single Thunderbird or Blue Angel, much less come up with the names of Greg Koontz, Mike Goulian, Patty Wagstaff, or Rob Holland.  Airshow performers generally don’t do it for the money. It is said that one can make a small fortune in the airshow business – if one starts with a large fortune. These are words that are more true than any airshow performer likes to admit.

They do it because they love to fly.  They love to operate in the less-occupied reaches of the envelope with engineering, skill, and determination.  They love to fly at airshows and they know that some of the kids who see them fly will walk off the field each weekend with new purpose to their lives.

I don’t speak idly here. I’ve done it myself. Not often or particularly thrillingly, but I’ve stuck my head into that rarefied box air in front of 20,000 people on several occasions.  I’ll breathe that air again any time they let me and I’ll spend the hundreds of hours in training and preparation to be worthy of that trust and honor.

Almost every year, one or more of those people die in the pursuit of that love. It’s never easy when that happens. We all know exactly what risks are involved. We prepare as best we can for the risks and then we execute with clear purpose and a safety culture that is second to none. Have you ever tried to live up to a standard like that?  Perfection is expected, but mere excellence is tolerated. We feel awful when one of our fellows dies or is injured. But we understand the drive and we all believe that what we do is worth the risks that we assume with open eyes.

Pilots – or at least the pilots that I know and model – don’t operate in the service of millionaire boondoggle anything. They serve the highest aspirations of our species.

Rogers is wrong on every count.  He doesn’t understand why we dream about space.  He thinks that government is the only proper mechanism to fund space travel. He doesn’t understand how technology is preserved and enhanced. And he sure as heck doesn’t understand pilots.

So, finally, I speak for thousands, if not millions, of my fellow dreamers when I say this: I’ll gladly train up, suit up, and strap into the very next available space vehicle. And, if it helps, I’m a commercial pilot with about 600 hours in my logbook; a little bit of it in jets and a lot of it in gliders. My resume and logbook are available to anyone at Scaled Composites, Virgin Galactic, Orbital Sciences, or any others who are interested. For that matter, SpaceX already has my resume.

In any case, so say all of us: Bullshit, Mr. Rogers.


Rules of Engagement 2014 – Audio Episode Show Notes

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 These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen to the show audio by clicking here:  Better yet, subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher. It’s all free!

We’re taking a break from the usual avgas and airshow smoke here on Airspeed to go a little meta.  A few years ago, I wrote a FAQ section for the website.  I called it the Airspeed Rules of Engagement.  Mostly the backstory of the show and information about who I am, what I do, the philosophical bent of the show, and other information about why Airspeed exists and where it’s going.  I turned it into an audio episode and, strangely enough, it has become one of the most popular episodes and resulted in a lot of feedback.

So I thought I’d take an episode and update the Rules of Engagement here in Airspeed’s ninth year.  Here we go.


The Airspeed Rules of Engagement are available here.


I’m very proud of what Airspeed has become.  I was standing in a photo pit at an airshow a few weeks ago when a guy turned around upon hearing my voice and said, “Hey!  You’re him!”  It’s a great feeling when that happens and it happens more than I ever expected it to.

And I get e-mails from some of you who tell me that you’ve started flight training.  Or re-started flight training.  Or re-re-started or as many “re’s” as life makes necessary.  Some of you have undertaken other projects or begun or continued other journeys that are just as compelling.  Some of you tell me that you’ve made astonishing, terrifying, and courageous decisions and that something I said had a part in getting you on that trajectory.  Wow.  Just wow.

Brian Eno is reputed to have said that the Velvet Underground’s first album sold only 30,000 copies, but “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”  If you happen to be in search of a proper measure of real success and a life well-lived, may I tender Brian Eno’s words as an excellent candidate.  And, though Airspeed is far from the “30,000” and “everyone” parts, some of you who have “started a band.”  In fact, many of you have.  You have flown, written, played, spoken, sung, counseled, taught, and – most of all – dared.

I am proud of Airspeed for many reasons.  But that’s the big one.  If something I said was a part of you daring to do a worthy thing, I’m flattered beyond any real ability to describe it.  Thanks for joining me on this journey.  And for what you’re going to do next.  And the thing after that.


This episode’s Audible selection is The Martian by Andy Weir.  Get is for free today when you sign up for a free trial at

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