Greg Brown

An award winning flight instructor, pilot, author and columnist, Greg Brown is one of the nation’s leading aviation experts. His trademark book Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane has received praise from authors and aviators alike.

“If Greg Brown can’t inspire you to join us in the sky, no one can.”
Stephen Coonts, bestselling author of adventure novel, like the Deep Black series.

“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

Greg is also the featured author of the Flying Carpet column in AOPA’s Flight Training magazine, where he has shared his teaching and knowledge of aviation since 1998. His other books include You Can Fly! coauthored with Laurel Lippert, The Savvy Flight Instructor, The Turbine Pilot’s Flight Manual, and Job Hunting for Pilots.

In 2000, Greg was recognized as the FAA/Industry National Flight Instructor of the Year. He also earned the first ever “Master CFI” designation from the National Association of Flight Instructors, and in 1999 received the Excellence in Pilot Training Award from NATA (National Air Transportation Association).

As a teacher, Greg has served as a faculty member at Purdue University and presenter at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He speaks regularly at professional seminars such as AOPA Expo, EAA Airventure, Sun and Fun, and Women in Aviation.

Greg has flown professionally in both scheduled and corporate aviation. He holds an ATP (airline transport pilot) certificate with Boeing 737 type rating, a Flight Instructor certificate with all fixed-wing aircraft ratings, and the Advanced and Instrument Ground Instructor ratings. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where his graduate work included human-factors cockpit design at the Aviation Research Laboratory. He also studied for two years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed several advanced flight ratings at Purdue University.

Flying since 1971 and based in Northern Arizona, Greg is married to Jean and has two adult sons. His current plane of choice is a Cessna 182 that he affectionately calls Flying Carpet. Visit Greg Brown’s own blog at

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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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.

Read More »

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Festival Flying

Ernie Adams shows off his ’39 Chevy at the Route 66 Fun Run stop in Seligman, Arizona.

Ernie Adams shows off his ’39 Chevy at the Route 66 Fun Run stop in Seligman, Arizona.

“Hey, Dan, check out that ’39 Chevy. It’s just like the one I owned in high school – even the same color!” Dan drives a tricked out Camaro, so I doubt he appreciated the old car’s beauty as I did. Then again, my view was burnished by memories. As we crossed the road to see it, I remembered my dad encouraging me to buy the low-mileage antique he’d spotted on a street corner. Among life’s rich lessons was when girls at the Dog ‘n Suds drive-in bypassed the muscle cars to ride in my emerald Chevy. It only did 55mph, but like puppies and babies it exuded character so the girls loved it. Best of all, the narrow front seat ensured that such passengers rode deliciously nearby. After graduation I rebuilt the engine and journeyed in the old auto from Chicago through Canada to Maine and back.

As Dan and I approached the car, however, something didn’t seem right. In hazy memories my old Chevy loomed much larger. Certainly I didn’t recall bending down to look inside, as we did with this one. Read More »

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Skimming Blue Waters

Flying is fun. Here’s the entertaining story of my training and checkride for my seaplane rating. On every flight, even training experiences like these, you have the potential for experiencing exhilaration, awe and laughter.

“Need help?” yelled the guy in the tour boat.

“No thanks,” I replied, not daring to turn my head too far, for fear of falling into the water. We were adrift in the middle of the Colorado River, with me balanced precariously face down on the seaplane’s float, pumping water out of the forward float compartments.

Twice we had tried to take off, unsuccessfully, given today’s calm wind and glassy waters. “You must not have emptied all the water from the floats,” said examiner Joe La Placa, finally, “get out there and do it again.” Great way to start a checkride, I thought. Read More »

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Encouraged to fly, even after 49 years old (Part 4)

With persistence and patience, you too can overcome challenges learning to fly.

As I’ve shared over the last few days in my posts about Jeanne Peterson, Chevy Chevallard, and Phil Ferdolage, there is no ceiling age when you’re too old to learn to fly. Regardless of age, staying focused and committed (persistent) toward your goal is the key.

Today, I’d like to share an email from Mark Harris written to Jeanne Peterson that shows how anyone can face challenges becoming a pilot, but that keeping at it will bear fruit. Read More »

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Encouraged to fly, even after 49 years old (Part 3)

Any healthy person can learn to fly. Even at age 57 and beyond. You just need persistence and patience.

There’s no age limit to learning to fly, as you’ll continue to hear me say. A few days ago, I introduced you to Jeanne Peterson and her concern about perhaps being too old to earn her pilot’s license. Today, I would like to introduce you to my friend Phil Ferdolage and the message he sent to Jeanne about her concern.

Phil’s message is about persistence and patience toward his goal of flying. Read More »

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Encouraged to fly, even after 49 years old (Part 2)

Is it worth learning to fly at an older age? Yes, even at 54, says this retired Air Force Lt Col.

Feeling too old to learn to fly? Let’s change that feeling.

Age is not a factor when determining if you can obtain your pilot’s license. Health and physical ability, yes…but not age. To help prove it, my friend and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Chevy Chevallard added his own encouragement in response to an email I received from Jeanne Peterson, who was struggling through her private pilot lessons at an older age. (See yesterday’s blog post.) Read More »

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Encouragement to fly, even after 49 or 50 years old

Learn to fly at any age with minimal prerequisites… Jeanne Peterson did so after 49 years old.

Jeanne is a reader of my Flying Carpet column in Flight Training magazine. She boldly wondered what age was the ceiling that one could go about learning to fly. I explained anyone can, but that you need to keep motivated toward your goal in order to achieve it.

To help Jeanne out, I forwarded an encouraging email from my friend Linda Anderson, who recently earned her private pilot license at age 60. What happened next is a testament to why the pilot community is so strong. I’ll let Jeanne explain it in her own words… Read More »

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Like Riding on a Flying Carpet

Reward for learning to fly is endless experiences of exhilaration

Ninety minutes even in a single engine aircraft, you can find yourself in another world. On one particular day for me, it was magical!

The whining of gyros gave way to mystical drums and rhythmic chanting, crazily mixing images of flight with those of ancient and sacred ceremonies. Chills traveled our spines — we could scarcely have been more astonished if we’d arrived by flying carpet. Read More »

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