Aircraft automation is designed to protect humans from themselves-and it does a pretty good job. But its not foolproof-and fools have long proved themselves to be ingeniously able to screw up foolproof designs.
Every year there are a few accidents in which carbon monoxide poisoning is a factor. The toxic gas is odorless and colorless-and the manner in which it attacks a human makes it nothing short of a bully on steroids. My daughters involvement in an ultimately tragic search for a missing airplane triggered my thoughts of the need for carrying an effective CO monitor in the airplanes we fly.
As he does from time to time, Dave, the proprietor of the flight school here at the virtual airport, sent out a mass email to his aircraft rental customers-students and certificated pilots-asking them to come to an evening gathering to socialize and discuss an issue of interest to all of us. The evenings theme was getting ready for winter flying.
The other evening I headed into the pilots lounge at the virtual airport as the sun was approaching the horizon. I wanted to sit in one of the, um, experienced, OK, beat up, recliners, look out the windows at the runway and experience the quiet magic as dusk settled in.
My wife and I drew up a list of things that were important to us for a place to live. High on the list was a short drive to a general aviation airport that was alive and well. The increasing lack of aircraft rental and maintenance services on little airports proved to make the search for the right place to live more difficult than we had expected.
Our resident curmudgeon is in his 90s now and doesnt make it out to the pilots lounge at the virtual airport as often as he used to. About five years ago, Old Hack abruptly sold the immaculate Piper Super Cruiser he had bought almost new and announced that was done flying as pilot in command.
We just had our annual summer cookout here at the virtual airport. It was a success-we didnt run out of brats, burgers or beer and nobody got food poisoning. Ok, we set the success bar low, but there was an excellent turnout and folks seemed to have a good time. Better yet, because the flight school has been busily turning out new pilots, a bunch of them brought their families to the airport for the evening. It was a ball to see new faces and talk flying with new pilots as well as watch kids race around on the big grassy area the hot air balloons use for launching when theyre flying.
For his final years with the Air Force, Dick Taylor flew a Fairchild C-123, an aircraft whose parentage included both glider and jet versions. After retiring from the Air Force and then later from Ohio State, Dick began yet another career, consulting for aviation-accident cases. Click here to read the 17th and final chapter.
After time in Korea, Richard Taylor re-entered civilian life with many duties: teaching at OSU, writing books, shuttling students and staff in the university's Air Transportation Service in T-Bones and Diesel-3s, learning to fly helicopters and sailplanes. And for good measure, he added time in the Army National Guard and the Air Force Reserve. Click here to read the 16th chapter.
The USS Pueblo incident near North Korea inspired a show of force requiring many reservists, including Richard Taylor, to drop what they were doing (teaching, in Richard's case) and head off to Korea. Along the way, he got to do a little bit of flying and practicing water landings with a parachute. Back in the States after a year, Richard went back to the classroom, but also flew the Ohio Army National Guard's Bird Dog and Beaver. Click here to read the 15th chapter.