Flying Lessons Blog

Wowch! Tow Truck Lacerates Kenya Airways 737

July 24, 2017

This pathetic looking Kenya Airways Boeing 737 is just eight years old, but my, oh my, what havoc a tow truck can do! The unfortunate run-in between the ground handling equipment and the 737 registration 5Y-KYF happened before midnight on Saturday July 23rd at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as the plane was parked at the gate. No one was aboard and the plane was being serviced for its daily 4-hour flight to Johannesburg. There’s no way to consider this good news, but the airline can be thankful for one thing. This happened the only day of the week the flight is conducted on a… Read More…


On Ohio’s Aviation Trail Bikers Pedal Through a Century of Flight

July 19, 2017

Ask anyone about the Wright Brothers and for sure, they’ll mention flight and maybe even that before inventing their famous airplane, Orville & Wilber Wright built bikes. Even though they are arguably history’s most famous bike builders it still seems like an aside. But look closely at a Wright Brothers airplane and you’ll see the brothers borrowed chains and sprockets and incorporated the geometric shapes from bike frames to construct and test their flying machine. “We marvel at the airplane while overlooking the bicycle,” Ryan Qualls a National Park Service Ranger told me. At the time, the bike was, “one of the simplest machines with… Read More…


Unhappy With My Dreamliner Coverage, Boeing Claims Conspiracy Theory

July 12, 2017

Its Boeing’s factory, it can do what it wants within its gates, but I have to wonder if its decision to ban me from the property during a Norwegian press event last month isn’t a sign of these Trump times. Many people are the subject of news stories they don’t like. What Trump’s journalist-bashing behavior seems to have taught Boeing is that when they don’t like the coverage all they have to do is slander the journalist. Here’s the backstory. On June 29, Norwegian took delivery of two 737 Max 8’s it has on order. The new 189 seat narrow body will be used to… Read More…


The Lady Vanishes Igniting 80 Year Old Mystery

June 30, 2017

Eighty years ago as Amelia Earhart waited in Lae, New Guinea for weather to clear so she could begin her homeward flight across the vast Pacific, she gave thought to the fact that on this, one of the last legs of her month-long, round-the-world flight, she’d be crossing the International Dateline. “Clocks turn back,” she noted. As with all errors of judgment, the sweetest idea is the impossible one; turning back the clock and starting afresh – armed with the lesson learned. As I wrote in my book, The Crash Detectives,  Earhart the adventurer and global role model, made several errors in planning her record-setting… Read More…


ICON Aircraft Founder Kirk Hawkins Disputes Post on Pilot Error in A5 Crash

June 8, 2017

Having experienced its first fatal crash last month, the founder of ICON Aircraft Kirk Hawkins is understandably on edge. I’m to blame for some of that, apparently. In a previous post, I suggested he was pointing the finger at the pilot of the A5 that crashed on Lake Berryessa on May 8. Here’s why. On the day the National Transportation Safety Board issued its preliminary report into the accident, ICON published on its website, a statement that offered even more information than the NTSB. “We’re unsure why the plane flew into such a narrow canyon that had no outlet,” the company statement read. Knowing Hawkins’ off-stated… Read More…


Were Travelers on JetBlue Flight Exposed to Toxic And Carcinogenic Smoke From Laptop Fire?

May 31, 2017

JetBlue Flight 915 from New York to San Francisco made an emergency landing this morning in Grand Rapids, Michigan after a laptop battery caught fire in the overhead bin of the passenger cabin. News reports suggest none of the 158 passengers was injured. That may not be entirely correct. The fact is we don’t know what what might be the consequences on their future health. What is known is that what comes out of a burning lithium ion battery is not good. According to a study by nine European scientists and published on MDPI, an online peer-reviewed platform, one substance known to be present in the… Read More…


Icon Suggests Pilot Erred In A5 Plane Crash

May 18, 2017

Investigators don’t know what caused the fatal plane crash last week of the new and highly-anticipated light-sport Icon A5, but in a statement on the company website, Icon’s director of flight, Shane Sullivan suggests pilot error was an issue. “We’re unsure why the plane flew into such a narrow canyon that had no outlet,” Sullivan wrote.  Such speculation by an interested party during the investigation is highly unusual and frowned upon by the National Transportation Safety Board. On May 8, aeronautical engineer and chief test pilot Jon Karkow was piloting the two seat amphibious A5 with Icon’s new director of engineering, Cagri Sever on board as a passenger…. Read More…


After Dragging Passenger Off Plane United Characteristically Slow To React

April 10, 2017

Aviation is all about lessons learned. That’s not just nice talk, its the reason millions of people get on airplanes and travel around the world in near perfect safety. Airlines make a big effort to learn from mistakes. So just what is up with United Airlines, which just can’t get a handle on customer service despite the master class it gets each time it mishandles its image by manhandling its passengers? On Sunday, an unidentified traveler was hauled off a United flight from Chicago to Louisville when he refused to give up his seat so airline employees could get to work. Does anyone else see… Read More…


From United, Leggings-Clad Travelers Learn There’s No Such Thing as a Free Ride

March 27, 2017

In light of today’s furor over leggings, who can forget the US Airways frequent flyer whose chosen travel attire was a jog bra, bikini panties, thigh-high black tights and a shrug? Nope, not making that up. When I wrote a story about this for The New York Times, it followed several cases in which air travelers were denied boarding based on droopy drawers in one instance, and a too-short skirt in another. The apparent disconnect between economy passengers getting the rough treatment and Mr. Lingerie being allowed to strut his stuff in business class had a number of people miffed and not without some justification…. Read More…


Airline Pilots & Depression on Anniversary of GermanWings Crash

March 24, 2017

The father of the co-pilot of GermanWings Flight 9525 which flew into the French Alps two years ago used the anniversary of the disaster to plead that his son may not have intended to crash the airplane. Günther Lubitz hired Tim Van Beveren, a German aviation writer and investigator to review the final report of French investigators. Both men say it is lacking in hard evidence that Andres Lubitz purposefully flew the plane into the mountains killing all 150 on board. News reports say that the father of the GermanWings first officer, insisted his 27-year old son was not depressed or suicidal and Van Beveren criticized the Bureau… Read More…


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