Air Force to Transition A-10 to Civil Air Patrol

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!


B-2 Spirit with USAF Lt Col (Ret) Chris “Cliff” DeVaughn – Audio Episode Show Notes


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!

In 2010, Rod Rakic and I flew to Whiteman AFB near Knob Noster, Missouri (or very close thereto) to meet Lt Col Christopher “Cliff” DeVaughn, get a tower tour, and fly the B-2A Weapons System Trainer.  It made an impression and I wrote it up in a blog post.

Shortly thereafter, Cliff retired from the Air Force and he and I hatched the idea of having him on the show to talk about the B-2.  Almost everything about the B-2 is steeped in OPSEC (and we were both very interested in maintaining that OPSEC), so a long period of seeking clearances and working through PA and operations approvals ensued.  The approvals came through and we recorded in January.  Then, for only the second time in Airspeed’s history, the subject agency had security and PA personnel vet and approve the content before posting.  (The other time was in 2007 and it involved NASA.)

If that sounds like a process that might lead to a pretty dry and superficial episode, you’d ordinarily be right.  But, thanks to Cliff and the Air Force, this is a pretty rich and detailed look at the aircraft and the warriors who fly them.  We talked about the aircraft, its flight characteristics, and its mission.  And, more importantly, we talked about what it’s like to fly long-duration missions in one of the most important strategic weapons systems in the US inventory.  All the way from the selection process through training and into combat.  This is every bit as much about the men as the machines.

And so, here it is!  Another podsphere and new-media first right here on Airspeed!

For more information about the US Air Force and officer recruiting programs, check out

You can follow Cliff on Twitter or check out his Facebook page.


Be sure to take advantage of Airspeed’s special offer from!  Click here and get a free audiobook as part of an Audible trial subscription.  You get to choose from more than 100,000 audiobooks, Airspeed gets a few bucks, and everybody wins!

Death by Black Hole

You can, of course, choose any audiobook you like, but Airspeed‘s suggested selection this time around is Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Death by Black Hole, an anthology of some of Dr. Tyson’s most popular articles and other writings dealing with everything from spaghettification to the scourge of outdoor lighting.  Neil doesn’t read it (as is obvious from the narrator’s screwups like pronouncing Saturn V as “Saturn Vee”), but it’s otherwise not hard to suspend disbelief and hear Dr. Tyson come through clearly.


Touching the True Source: CAP NESA MAS 2010 – The Combined Audio Episode with Print Version

Here it is! The full version of my experiences at Civil Air Patrol’s National Emergency Services Academy Mission Aircrew School in June of 2010. All of the audio and all 30,000 words, among with images!

As you know, Airspeed is primarily intended to be consumed (and is overwhelmingly consumed) through thousands of handheld audio and video devices all over the world. But this is a pretty epic presentation (nearly two hours) and some of the more ambitious of you are going to want a linkable place at which to access the whole thing by means of the web. So here you go!

An MP3 file containing the entire 1:49:19 (100MB) essay is available at

The PDF document with the whole essay and images from the school and the events leading up to it lives at

More information about Civil Air Patrol is available at More information about NESA is available at

CAP NESA MAS 2010 – Part 1 – Audio Episode Show Notes

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!

This is the first of a three-episode series covering my experience at Civil Air Patrol’s National Emergency Services Academy Mission Aircrew School (NESA-MAS) in Indiana in the summer of 2010.

I intend to make available the entire 30,000-word piece in a single file and PDF document with photos at about the time at which I release the third episode. I might also put the long-form file into the podcast feed on its own.

In the meantime, enjoy this in-depth look at the nation’s premier civilian fixed-wing search-and-rescue flight training school from the perspective of a zero-to-hero CAP Mission Pilot candidate.