Birthday Flowers

When celebrating birthdays with zeros in them, flowers alone won’t do it. So when Jean marked a new decade last March I sought a worthy weekend getaway. With most places still wintry, it made little sense leaving balmy Phoenix for somewhere frigid. But then I remembered our wish-list destination of Death Valley, California, tolerable only in winter when everywhere else is too cold. I phoned for a room.

Clearing the Funeral Mountains, we descended into Death Valley.

Clearing the Funeral Mountains, we descended into Death Valley.

“Sorry,” said the agent, “We’re booked up for Saturday night. Thanks to record rains, everyone’s coming for the biggest wildflower season in years.” He offered a room for Sunday. “Seems weird celebrating a birthday in Death Valley,” said Jean, but tantalized by those flowers she arranged Monday off of work. Sunday morning we sailed 2-1/2 hours westward from Phoenix, escaping rain and icy clouds for increasingly barren terrain.

Bypassing Las Vegas, we descended over the desolate Funeral Mountains into a moonscape of salt flats and mineral-tinted rock. There we spotted Furnace Creek Airport next to a tiny palm-studded rectangle, the only visible green in all of Death Valley. Our altimeter on downwind indicated 600 feet – field elevation here is minus 210 feet. Read More »

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Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane

A great read for anyone—not just pilots! This exceptional collection of flying stories is one ride that should not be missed.

Purchase Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane by Greg Brown

This is the captivating inside story of the making of a pilot. Well-known and respected author Greg Brown shares the journey of life’s skies as he matures from fledgling to seasoned aviator, encountering aerial adventure and colorful characters all along the way. This book goes beyond traditional flying stories and teaches what it takes to conquer the nagging fears faced by every pilot when attempting to master the challenges of flight.

Flying Carpet conveys the joy and boundless freedom of being a pilot, pursuing the irresistible lure of the map. Whether you fly from an armchair or a pilot seat, this book provides a well written, entertaining and humorous look into our own human nature.

What people are saying:

“Buckle in with Greg Brown and head off to chase a solar eclipse or wrestle with ice on your wings or try to outwit troublesome mountain waves. Each chapter of “Flying Carpet” is a new ticket to extraordinary adventures that transform pilot from novice to journeyman and eventually, skilled aviator. More than just flying stories, this is the tale of a person who evolves to think with the mind of a pilot, question with the curiosity of a philosopher, and see with the eyes of a poet. Pilots will be entertained and wiser for having read it. Non-pilots will thrill to sharing the wings of a skilled aviator. I’m hooked!”—Rod Machado, aviation author, flight instructor, speaker and official flight instructor for Microsoft’s Flight Simulator

“If Greg Brown can’t inspire you to join us in the sky, no one can.”—Stephen Coonts, best-selling author and pilot [from the Foreword]

“You don’t have to be a pilot, or even a frequent-flyer, to soar with Greg Brown in “Flying Carpet.”—Nina Bell Allen, Former Assistant Managing Editor, Readers Digest

“Thankfully, we have great storytellers like Greg Brown who conveys his love of flying while sharing valuable insights that come only with experience. Great books about flying are timeless. Talented writers, like Greg Brown, are priceless.”—Laurel Lippert, Editor-at-Large, Pilot Getaways magazine

Hardcover, illustrated, 6” x 9”, 344 pages.

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A Pilot’s Story

A documentary film celebrating the passion for flight

Rico Sharqawi/Producer

A Pilot’s Story is a feature length documentary film that explores the mystical attraction and endless adventure that draw pilots into the sky. Exhilarating and inspiring, the story is told in the voices of the interview subjects, a gallery of noted aviators ranging from aerobatic champions and astronauts to industry innovators and Hollywood stars. Incorporating stunning air-to-air footage, the film will transport viewers into the flyer’s world to experience the milestones and the magic that are a part of every pilot’s story.


The public has long been fascinated by pilots, mystified about the world they inhabit and curious about what it really means to fly. In this feature length documentary, pilots explain in their own words their love affair with the sky, and why and how they fly. Read More »

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You Can Fly!

For prospective pilots, an exciting and informative introduction to the world of flying and flight training, profusely illustrated with full-color photography by Tom Lippert.

Purchase You Can Fly! by Laurel Lippert and Greg Brown

For those who have always dreamed about flying but didn’t know where or how to start — now they can take that long-awaited first step with some guidance. You Can Fly! authors Greg Brown and Laurel Lippert write to those who are considering flight training, specifically to answer frequently asked questions about it, and at the same time entice more people into exploring general aviation.

The authors in a welcoming way, along with gorgeous photographs by Tom Lippert, reveal to the non-flying public the romance and adventures found in flying by centering their focus on the many joys and benefits of flight, and leaving out the dull “FAA verbiage” found in other learn-to-fly books. You Can Fly! has detailed sidebars throughout the book that will intrigue aspiring pilots with questions like, “What should I expect on my first flight?” and “How do you read an altimeter?” All of these questions are explained with brevity, complemented by easy-to-grasp and colorful illustrations. With illustrations from front to back, and beautiful photographs worthy of an expensive coffee-table book throughout, You Can Fly! is the perfect addition to a flight school library, FBO, or aviation enthusiast’s collection. This is truly a one-of-a-kind, fun, exciting and informative book on flying for prospective pilots.

Dispelling the myths of flight instruction, and expounding on the truths, You Can Fly! covers:

  • Prerequisites for learning to fly
  • How to choose an instructor and flight school
  • How to get started with your flight training
  • Making the most of each flight/ground lesson
  • Learning about flight and airplanes
  • What you can do once you’re a pilot
  • Answers to the most frequently asked aviation training questions
  • Intriguing and informative detail sidebars throughout the book
  • What’s holding you back? Strap in to our friendly cockpit, grab the controls and take off. You can fly!

Softcover, with full-color illustrations throughout, 7-1/4” x 9”, 114 pages.

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Aerial Road Trip to Oshkosh

Crowds. Craziness. Music. It’s enough to justify a road trip. I’m not talking Woodstock here, but AirVenture, that surprisingly similar event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. AirVenture’s tunes come not from wailing guitars but from airplane engines — vying like Stratocasters for the crowd’s approval are roaring radials and screaming Merlins. Like Woodstock, there’s a crowd of individualists here, their tents pitched under wings as far as the eye can see. Most people keep their clothes on, but where else can you watch a rocket-powered biplane fly 4,000 feet straight up? No wonder we, the faithful, are drawn each year to this mammoth Oshkosh tent revival, worshipping side-by-side the flying machines that draw us skyward.

The wonder of Oshkosh extends beyond AirVenture itself to the innumerable aerial road trips spawned by the event.

Morning mist fills valleys in Arizona’s White Mountains.

Morning mist fills valleys in Arizona’s White Mountains.

“Where did you come from? What do you fly?” For one week a year these questions fuel conversation at Oshkosh and airports all across the country. Devotees from far corners of the continent pile into everything from ultralights to bizjets and migrate toward Mecca.

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Failures on the Flight Path to Success

“Did you know that women ruined aviation?” asked the examiner.

I stared at the man across the desk with a blank look, not sure if I should laugh or cry. It was my instrument rating oral exam, and I was as nervous as I always am before a test, trying to keep my sense of humor while panic closes in.

“Back in the ‘60s, when they allowed women to fly in the military,” he continued, “airplane designers had to reconfigure the cockpit just to accommodate them. They even lowered the standards so they could fly.”

“I should have been flying back then,” I joked, trying to lighten the moment. While the examiner did not laugh once during our three hours together, I did survive the exam and earned my rating that day.

The moral of the story? Hang in there, keep punching, and don’t let ‘em see you sweat. In ten years of flight training, from age 40 to 50, I took five oral exams, two which I failed the first time and had to retake.

twin-engine-seminole-panelThe oral exam for my multi-engine rating began with a weight and balance problem, based on our upcoming flight. My examiner was a big man with tortoise-shell glasses who wasn’t interested in small talk. Since he left the room before I could ask his weight, I had to guess. I was certain he wouldn’t want me to underestimate it, since that could be dangerous.

His upper arms looked large, and a “bay window” hung over his belt. Read More »

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On Vacation this Summer: Great places to get into the pilot’s seat!

LSA “trike” over Kauaii

LSA “trike” over Kauaii

Kauai, Hawaii… what a great way to get to see a new place from a gorgeous perspective! And if you’re already a flight student, a wonderful way to build hours and try a new aircraft, as well. Read More »

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Be a Sport Pilot: Learn to Fly a Fixed Wing Light-Sport Aircraft

Experience the adventure of becoming a Sport Pilot and flying a fixed wing, 3-axis aircraft.

Purchase Be a Sport Pilot from ASA by Paul Hamilton

Learn what it takes to get a sport pilot certificate and experience the excitement and adventure of becoming a pilot flying a fixed wing, 3-axis (airplane) light-sport aircraft. Join instructor Jeff Reynolds as he takes Paul Hamilton through pilot training – from first flight to flying solo, to preparing for the checkride. Then join Paul as he takes you through the concepts you need to know to earn your pilot certificate. Basic learn-to-fly principles presented can be used for ultralights or fixed-wing LSA. The beautiful cinematography features plenty of in-flight footage that captures the thrill and adventure of flying a light-sport aircraft. Includes booklet with worksheets and checklists for an interactive learning experience.

Watch the Movie Trailer, which includes scenes from the DVD:

The video quality has been reduced for viewing over the internet.

Program Outline:

  • First Flights, Fundamental Maneuvers: Ground Operations, Straight-and-Level, Turns, Slow Flight, Climb/Descent
  • Student to Solo, Practical Maneuvers: Steep Turns, Stalls, Spins, Ground Reference Maneuvers, Takeoffs and Landings, Communications, Collision Avoidance, Emergencies
  • Solo to Pilot, Further Study: Responsibilities, Checklists, Aircraft Performance, Weather, Navigation, Maps, Airspace

Special DVD features:

  • Scene selection
  • Movie trailers
  • Digitally mastered
  • Interactive menus
  • English digital audio
  • Main feature total running time 01:15:00
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Choosing Your Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)

Unlike your parents, you get to choose your flight instructor. So take advantage of this precious opportunity now. (And avoid therapy later.)

Have you started your flight training yet? If not, why? Still looking for that perfect CFI?

It’s not uncommon for prospective student pilots to delay flight training months or even years, waiting for the perfect CFI to come knocking on the door. The trouble is, CFIs never come knocking on the door. (Hell, you’re lucky if some of them even show up for lessons on time.)

And “perfect” is really a loaded term when it comes to CFIs anyway. What’s perfect? Smart? Sexy? Funny? Knowledgeable? On most of these accounts you’re in luck:

  • Smart? Many CFIs are smart, often to the point of irritation. It can be particularly endearing when all that brainpower comes tucked behind a forehead that still dreads acne.
  • Sexy? Most CFIs are reasonably attractive, some being downright gorgeous. If you learn best whilst you giggle and blush, this is the attribute to consider. And though “distractions” are an important part of primary pilot training, distractions on this scale are really better suited toward more advance pilot training, like instrument or commercial ratings.
  • Funny? None are as funny as me, so let’s skip this one.
  • Knowledgeable? I’ll bet this is the one that’s holding you up. How do you know how knowledgeable a person is about a subject you don’t know yourself?

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Flight Training: Taking the Short Approach

A comprehensive orientation to aviation — find out what’s involved with learning to fly and earning a pilot’s license in this streamlined approach to flight training.

Purchase Flight Training: Taking the Short Approach by David Diamond

“Taking the Short Approach” was written as an aviation primer and provides an introduction to the whole flight training process. As freshman rely on seniors to learn the ropes, readers will find themselves turning time and time again to David Diamond’s guidance and recommendations.

Starting with a look at what’s involved in the initial decision to take flight lessons, Flight Training: Taking the Short Approach is a comprehensive orientation to flight training that tackles the subject of aviation training from the perspective of discovery rather than syllabus. Aviation is a circular subject that has no perfect point of entry when taught. There is no aspect of aviation that doesn’t require at least some understanding of another aviation topic. Short Approach does away with the traditional topic-by-topic approach to aviation instruction, instead allowing the reader to fall into the subject right from the start, helped along by the author’s conversational style and friendly humor in sharing his experiences. This book makes the ideal first read for anyone who intends to start flight training; it should be considered “Flight Training 101.”

Diamond does not assume any aviation knowledge on the part of the reader. His book is the ideal handbook for student pilots, covering such topics as why people fly, the process of learning to fly — including money matters, health requirements, time commitments, school and instructor options, and the tests involved — and the privileges and limitations associated with a pilot certificate. From there, the author dispels frequent concerns of learning to fly, such as the realities of engine failures, midair collisions, and weather. The airplane is covered with an orientation to the controls and instrumentation, and showing which maneuvers students will be flying throughout the pilot curriculum. The book concludes by discussing which gizmos can help with training, which can hurt the learning process, and which are necessary if not only for the “cool” factor.

Since the author is also an accomplished illustrator, the text is accompanied by some of the best full-color and 3D graphics found in any aviation textbook — readers will have a solid “mind’s eye view” of the flight training process. As a result, they will enter their flight training program completely prepared, knowing exactly what needs to happen to get their license, understanding what to expect and able to make the right decisions, so no time is wasted at the airport or in the airplane… “Taking the short approach to flight training.” Softcover, fully illustrated in color, 292 pages.

What readers are saying about this book:

Like all pilots that I know, I have read parts or all of numerous books on the subject of flight instruction, and this is clearly the best that is on the market in every respect. This is the first publication to provide the prospective or current student pilot a true, “real world” perspective of what learning to fly is really all about. I like the intuitive approach to the overall framework of the book, and this combined with the crystal clear explanations of at times difficult concepts and literally the best illustrations and diagrams that I have ever seen, serves to set this work apart from all others. Indeed, I think that history will confirm my belief that this book will set a new standard in the field. —Dr. Kenny Reed, Flight Instructor and L-39 pilot

I’m a good pilot and I thought I had good instruction. But this book contains a lot of stuff I simply hadn’t learned! This is the way it ought to have been taught all along. Makes me wish I didn’t have this day job, so I could fly more often! —Roger O’Donnell, keyboardist for The Cure, and private pilot

David Diamond has not just the Write stuff, but he’s a foremost expert at 3D illustration–a powerful and rare combination when it comes to aviation instruction. —Thomas Haines, Executive Editor, AOPA

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