But, wait, you might be saying (or maybe not, there’s also the chance you’re not), 2016 still has at least a couple of good months left! How do you know you won’t get some amazing articles then?
I invented a time machine and Well, I don’t.
So, let’s call this our top 10 aviation articles of 2016, fiscal year style (Oct 2015 – end of Sep 2016). Honestly, I’m mostly just really excited to highlight some of our articles from the past year (which cover a pretty wide variety of topics) and it’s really hard to wait. (I was the kid who slept under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Also, am I using too many parentheses?)
So, without spending too much more of your time, I’d like to share my picks for our best articles of 2016 (fiscally speaking…), and talk a little about why.
Now, these aren’t necessarily ranked in a best-of order but are instead presented as a pool. So read nothing into the fact that I’m starting with an article I wrote…
This is, without a doubt, one of the most amazing stories of survival I’ve ever heard of. Not only did Koepcke survive the plane she was in being torn apart by a storm, she survived a 2-mile fall into the middle of the Amazon Jungle, and then spent 11 days trekking through the jungle to find her way back to civilization and rescue. Three additional details stand out to me personally.
First, this happened at age 17. At a time when most people are worried about how popular they are at school, she was literally fighting the elements and nature for her life, and she won. Second, she lost her glasses in the crash. As a life-long lens wearer, I have no idea how that’s even possible. Probably because she’s not basically blind without glasses, but still, just one more element to an already incredible story. Finally, her rescue didn’t happen because of luck. It happened because of determination, skill, and grit. If you’ve never read about Koepcke story, take some time and do so. It’s worth it.
What would this list be without an entry from Jim Hoddenbach? Not a list at all. In this article, Jim not only discusses his background and path to becoming an aviation mechanic, he also talks about what skills the job requires, some different paths one can take to this career, and the joys and frustrations associated with this line of work. And he does it all with the style only Jim can. If you’re interested in working on airplanes, this article is a must-read.
Without a doubt, one of the great pioneers of early aviation. James Darvell writes with an engaging, almost storybook style, and his recounting of Cochran’s time in aviation is fascinating. Most people know Cochran was the first woman to break the sound barrier, but she was also the first woman to win the Bendix air race trophy and the first to fly a bomber across the Atlantic. According to her own accounting, she may have been “born in a hovel but I am determined to travel with the wind and the stars.” Cochran’s is a story of hard work, passion, and dedication that saw her achieve and live her dream.
Sidenote: the Hidden Splendor airstrip in Utah’s San Rafael Swell backcountry is said to have been built by Cochran’s husband, Floyd Odlum, in order to facilitate her landing there so they could oversee his mining interesting in the area.
Erika Armstrong once again draws on her experience as a pilot and airline captain to look at the growing, shifting, evolving pilot shortage problem. As always, her writing is clear, opinionated, and on-point. For people who are interesting in pursuing a career in aviation, particularly as an airline pilot, this is an important topic and Erika’s take on the matter shouldn’t be missed.
We’re not sure any other airplane quite matches the Cessna 185 Skywagon’s ability to lift its own weight, haul loads in and out of short, unimproved runways, cruise at around 130 knots, and provide a stable platform in IMC and gusty winds aloft.
Cessna 185s are like the rural contractor’s beloved Ford F-150 V-8: rugged, powerful, and trusted. With power to spare and two cabin doors, you can fill it full of [Click here to read more…]
There are few airplanes as iconic, rugged, reliable and just plain cool as the Cessna 185 Skywagon. And Crista Worthy, along with fellow pilot Steve Durtschi, bring a wealth of knowledge to this profile of the amazing aircraft, discussing everything from its history, to how the 185 flies, mods for the 185, tips on tailwheel flying, and more. Add to that the fact that Worthy and Durtschi are both more than capable writers, and this is a great read on a great aircraft.
Bryan has an insatiable need to learn. So when he got into aviation, it didn’t just stop learning enough to obtain a private pilot certificate. He spends hours pouring over manuals, books, articles, training videos and more, soaking in all the knowledge he can, and then goes out and flies, trains, and practices everything he’s learning. And part of this includes spending time pursuing other aspects of flying, like gliding. As always, Bryan’s piece on glider flying is absorbing, has surprising moments of humor, and provides a solid argument for the need for all pilots to explore and refine their piloting skills.
This article comes from Vern Weiss, an ATP-rated airline captain with over 14,000 hours of flight time. And it’s a fascinating question. Pilot’s do seem to have a distinct personality, or at the very least, certain traits that cause them to step into the cockpit, and rumble down the runway. Interestingly, there were a lot of people who didn’t agree with these findings, or even though the traits were too male specific. If you are a pilot or know a pilot, it’s a fascinating read, especially comparing what here to what you know of yourself or your pilot friend.
In this article, Chrissi Culver tackles a tough topic. But she does an admirable job, exploring the history of women in aviation, though the lens of the Ninety-Nines, before speaking about the current state of affairs. Culver is also willing to bring her own personal experience as a female pilot and female in aviation into the mix, providing a compelling look at this question.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II is really the only true aircraft built solely for Close Air Support (CAS) in the U.S. military. Many other newer aircraft and even older aircraft are being charged with executing multi-role missions. These aircraft and pilots are expected to master air-to-air combat, strike interdiction, and CAS.
But the A-10s and their pilots are CAS specialists. The A-10 itself is commonly called an “airplane built around a Gatling gun.” That gun is almost 20 feet long and fires explosive 30mm shells [Click here to read more…]
John Peltier provides a fascinating look at the Warthog here, covering not only the role of the plane itself but its storied uncertain future with the military. As a veteran and fighter pilot himself, Peltier provides some interesting context and comparison between this aircraft and others intended for the same role.
At Disciples of Flight, we love sharing a broad, worldwide view of aviation. So when I started talking to Clifford Obara about flying in Kenya, it struck me that though there are many differences, there are similarities as well, though they tend to be more in the pilot and love for flying. Obara’s story of learning to fly and exploring the state of flying in Kenya is a great read, especially for anyone interested in the experience of flying in different countries.
And there you have it. Our top 10 aviation articles of 2016 that are worth reading if you missed them, or re-reading if you caught them the first time around. And now, I’m going to pull something of a dirty trick, and include a few more as runners-up. However, I’ll be a little more brief here.
Scott Crossfield: An Incredible Fusion of Pilot and Engineer – James Darvell
The Boeing 727 – Erika Armstrong
Is Flying Small Aircraft Safe – Bryan Stewart
From the J3 Cub to the USS Enterprise: A True Story – Christopher Stewart
Building the Turbine Powered Super Seawind Aircraft – Crista Worthy
See? Just the titles. Thank you to all our readers, and we look forward to many, many more years.
Also, let us know if you agree with the selections, or if there are other articles you’d put on the list. What did you enjoy?