Carlo and I have this special place for our favorite stories. About the sheer joy of flying, sex, airplanes, Angelina Jolie, death and taxes (that one was originally written on the back of a paper napkin!). That just about covers a pilot’s life.
Have fun with Our Favorite Posts!
February 1, 2012, Wednesday by Carlo
Carlo is on a mission to teach adults to smile like kids.
More than anyone else, kids get airplanes.
I love how they never stop being amazed by these contraptions of fabric and aluminum, which are, when you think about it, so much more than that. Kids get it instinctively. These ones would wave at us and bask in our prop wash every time we took off.
Eventually, we started holding the brakes before takeoff so they could enjoy it full blast.
I count it a victory every time I get an adult to smile the way these kids do. When did we learn to be so guarded with our smiles?
Answering that question – and giving people excuses to let themselves enjoy life the way these kids do – is my mission in both the cockpit and the classroom.
A friend and classmate of mine who is now a pop star and stage actress of some renown recently started a blog, in which she stated that at eleven years old, her wildest imagining was that she could fly. I’m going to get in touch with her, congratulate her on her writing, and offer to to make her imagination a reality.
January 22, 2012, Sunday by Tonet
For two days we exercised the airplane vigorously, getting 720 kilograms of aluminum, fuel and father-son airborne from just half the runway. Then, as an encore, we touched down softly on the threshold, wake vortices applauding.
All too soon, the flying days were over. It was time to go back to the crush of email, conference calls, lesson plans and research papers.
Our aerial art, nearly a month ago now, was a tapestry of emerald green rice fields, friendly radio calls from pilot friends and readers who recognized our voices on 118.70 MHz, and our own giddy laughter as we banked into 2G turns 1,500 feet above Earth and a million miles above its travails.
“I’ll do the next one, Dad.”
”I have it, Carl.”
”Dad, I’m already on it.”
”I have control, Dad.”
”Let go, Carl … .“
So I honor the memories of those flying days as healing days. Father and son days. The medicine will wear away, in the years to come.
“I’ll take the left seat, Carl.”
”Dad, we’ll put you in the right seat.”
”Left seat. And call me ‘Captain.”
”Here you go, Dad, right seat, don’t kick the wheelchair.”
”This is the copilot’s seat, this is for wimps!”
December 30, 2011, Friday by Tonet
We wrote this article seven months before the final report on the accident was released. Guess what.
AF447 stalled and fell, truly out of control, for nearly 4 minutes. During nearly all of those 4 minutes, the stall warning alarms never stopped. A synthetic voice called out “Stall, Stall, Stall!” and an irritating ‘cricket’ rattled loudly. The pilots inexplicably ignored those warnings the entire time, and experimented with various control inputs with increasing befuddlement.
If the pilots sat on their hands and reflected for a few moments, they would be alive today.
But the youngest of the pilots pulled the airplane into a steep climb. He held the stick back nearly the entire time. He never mentioned what he was doing.
“If the person in the right seat is pulling back on the joystick, the person in the left seat doesn’t feel it,” says Dr. David Esser, a professor of aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Robert [the PNF] has no idea that Bonin [the PF] has continued to pull back on the side stick.
From his [jump]seat, Dubois [the Captain] is unable to infer from the instrument displays in front of him why the plane is behaving as it is. The critical missing piece of information: someone has been holding the controls all the way back for virtually the entire time. No one has told Dubois, and he hasn’t thought to ask.
August 28, 2011, Sunday by Tonet
The story of how I hijacked Carlo on an airliner.
In our room, he gleefully called his brothers on my Motorola flip phone and told them, “Dad and I went to have dinner, it’s only an hour away, but I don’t think I will be home after dinner. In fact, I don’t think I’ll be home after breakfast!”
Fifteen years later, Carlo remembers every detail. And it’s a weekend again. And yes, we will fly together. But not as passengers.
Happy Birthday, Carlo. My blog partner, fellow pilot, good friend, teacher and inspiration, my son.
August 20, 2011, Saturday by Tonet
It took me weeks to write this article. It is now being used by two flight schools for extra-curricular discussion and supplementary reading on lift and stalls.
How does an airplane fly?
Ask three pilots and you might get four answers. Embarrassing. So let’s avoid three-syllable words like ‘Bernoulli’ and ‘laminar’ and keep it intuitive. Newly-hatched birds learn this stuff right out of the nest. Every time someone is called a “bird brain”, it’s very insulting. To the birds.
The drawing below shows a concept that is over 60 years old.
If you are still with me, you now know more than many pilots do. Seriously.
There are three authors every pilot should read – Langewiesche, Saint-Exupery and Schiff. This article tries to paraphrase all three. The most delightful piece is the revelation of why Langewiesche called it, an air-plane.
July 23, 2011, Saturday by Tonet
For most people, flying is confinement, crammed into a tight aluminum tube flown by uniformed strangers sealed behind locked cockpit doors.
I wondered how many airliner pilots flying over the route that day were totally clueless that down below a solitary man with a surplus of courage was hand-flying a tiny aircraft on an enormous endeavor.
Every aircraft has a navigational beacon. G-YROX’s beacon sits in the cockpit. That man’s smile and heart shines a light seen clear around the world.
Norman Surplus survived cancer. He is going to become the first pilot to fly an autogyro around the world. A celebration of life.
When I first met him, I was strangely inspired by a man who flies alone to embrace the world, and who is loved by the world in return.
June 3, 2011, Friday by Carlo
I was caught by surprise when Dad told me about TOP GUN’s 25th anniversary last month. I also am turning 25 soon. I am now older than Tom Cruise was when he filmed the movie.
I’ve survived two relationships, only one of which made me cynical, seen my school trophies disappear along with my house in the floodwaters of Typhoon Ondoy, and landed my dream job of teaching college English at my alma mater.
One thing I’ve taken to heart is the importance of having a good wingman. But I knew that long before I became a pilot; I learned it from TOPGUN.
Another of Carlo’s jewels. He was born the same year as TOPGUN. Both he and the movie turned 25 when he wrote this.
May 2, 2011, Monday by Tonet
We don’t strut around calling ourselves “Captain”. Instead we use irreverent nicknames like “Herr Hauptmann” or “Sheepdog” or “Tony-you-miserable-lout-when-are-you-going-to-fill-in-the-craters-on-the-runway”.
It’s depraved, this Woodland fairy tale. They fly on pixie dust and happy thoughts. I need to get out. Yesterday I waxed my airplane again, for the fifth or sixth time this year. I’m turning into one of them!
It’s the grass.
Originally published in the Club newsletter. Learn the filthy secrets of the addicts at the Angeles City Flying Club here.
Feb 1, 2011, by Tonet
The second landing was a man-made earthquake. The entire airframe reverberated from the impact. This is what started global warming.
BOOM!! The earth shook. The gods quailed. Birds fled south.
And a third impact.
They say you never forget your first solo. It was embarrassing, it was wild, it was one of the best days of my life. Full story here.
July 11, 2010, by Tonet
Indiana Jones’ Grail diary provided the one true way to The Path of God: “Only in the leap from the lion head will he prove his worth.”
I couldn’t do it.
The boat captain was stunned. How could this be? A pilot scared of heights!
Readers have said this is one of the funniest posts in Flying in Crosswinds. Read about Indiana Jones and Marcus Brody on the Chao Praya river, here.
March 31, 2010, by Tonet
Runway right on the beach. Mountains north, east and south of the pavement. On base leg you head right for a sheer mountainside. On final approach you are hemmed in by high terrain and obstructions on all sides.
Low and slow towards touchdown, you are committed. A mountain straight ahead looms larger and larger.
A fleeting glimpse of the checkered hut on the mountain, individual tree branches on the mountainside, then we were turning final, trees skimming by just below, threshold flashing past.
Just 10 seconds from base-to-final turn until threshold, and touchdown soon after that.
September 10, 2010, by Tonet
It’s a jerky video, but you can hear me panting and groaning, on my back, rolling around. At times I’m even upside down. Passion. At the end, you can clearly see and hear me giggling perversely.
The person I was with wasn’t even a woman.
Watch the nauseating cockpit video here.
January 19, 2010, by Tonet
It all began at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta last year, where I was Air Boss.
In the midst of all that, Helmuth, who I’d never met before, goose-stepped up to me and curtly demanded in a clipped Teutonic accent that I ride his little red f*cker
Right now. Schnell!
A kraut pimp, I thought (turns out he is Austrian). Then I realized he was referring to his Fokker.
A Fokker is an airplane. In case you were wondering.
Der Kleine Rote Fokker!
I loved it at once — the flaming red fabric (yes, Virginia, this is a fabric-over-metal-frame airplane), the Balkenkreuz and all the other markings.
"Fok" stands for Fokker. In case you were confused.
The livery is a tribute to Helmuth’s great grandfather, who flew Hansa-Brandenburg D-Is, Albatross D-IIIs and Fokker D-VIs and D-VIIs for the Austro-Hungarian Air Service, in the Great War.
Read the rest of the erzählung here!
September 10, 2009, by Tonet
Stories do count. After our years run out, the stories are all that are left. Without an oral history, everything that was us is but a flash in the universe.
As I watch three sons grow up as tightly-knit brothers, my cup runneth over with stories.
Imagine the stories the grandsons would have! I can’t wait.
Or maybe I can.
Read the full tale here!
Aug 3, 2007, by Carlo
It’s been weeks since I’ve written an article. Tonet’s been urging me to write about our flight to Plaridel.
I’ve been trying, but to tell you the truth, I’ve been having real trouble writing this article.
I keep thinking of those two Indian girls, the students who died the day after our flight.
They were fledgling pilots, just like me. They were about my age. The next day, they were names on the morning news as I went to school. What differentiated us?
About 200 feet.
This, by far, is one of the best articles on the blog. Carlo writes from the heart here, about an incident that really shook him up.
April 22, 2009, by Tonet
The real poetic beauty is yet to come. You turn left after Santa, heading northwest along the coast. And you get to photography paradise.
That’s the Abra river delta, not Photoshop. The colors really look like that.
The Abra river slithers down from the Cordilleras, through the Banaoang Pass, under the Quirino bridge, through the municipalities of Santa and Caoayan, and out into the South China Sea.
Gabriela used to slip back and forth between Abra and Ilocos Sur through the Banaoang Pass.
You ogle the otherworldly scenery, then fly northwest a couple of minutes more, and your voyage is almost over. Vigan — sleepy, rural, laid back Vigan – is just ahead.
As a final treat, when landing to the south, you skim past the Bantay Bell Tower.
This is where Carlo discovered that I was scared of heights… .
See all the photos and entire article here.
February 7, 2009, by Carlo
I was named after one of Dad’s favorite storytellers, his Uncle Carlos. A large and friendly man who was in the habit of raiding relatives’ refrigerators, he filled Dad’s head with stories of flight and adventure.
Love for stories is in both my blood and my name. I suppose the English literature course and the teaching job were inevitable. Not that I’m complaining.
As for me, the past year has brought its share of stories. Adventures. Flight. And yes, romance. Dad’s categories were well chosen, it seems…
I’ve reached that point in my flying where I can comfortably take close friends up for a sightseeing tour unlike any they’ve ever seen. Old promises dating from my student pilot days are being kept.
Take this guy. Professor Ambeth Ocampo is the head of the National Historical Institute, has worked with presidents, and hopes to write the great Philippine History book. For all that, he seems to have the most fun shocking, entertaining, and teaching his students all about the myriad craziness that most historians leave out of the books. Check out his book, Rizal Without the Overcoat, for fun facts and insights into the life of our quirky and passionate national hero!
I wrote a paper for his class once, and mentioned my pilot’s license offhand. He wrote a short note asking about it, and I half-seriously invited him to go flying!
I got an A on that one, I think. Coincidence.
Nearly a year after I graduated, I took him flying over Mexico, a town whose history he had written about in his column in the Inquirer.
This year has been a tumultuous one for me: the best of times, the worst of times. I suffered a massive delay in achieving a dream I’ve been cultivating for over six years, dealing irrecoverable damage in the process. But I also achieved a dream I hadn’t thought I would find until I was much older. An entry on my list of things to do before I die.
The entry was "love and be loved by the most beautiful woman on earth."
If you want an apt and detailed description of her, send a poet over here, because I don’t have words that will do her justice. But I’m gushing again.
Carlo’s full recounting of a tumultuous year, here!
April 25, 2009, by Tonet
Oh, Ilocano cuisine! Hearty pipian, chicken stew with a hidden ground rice surprise. Igado, pork and liver stew, with bato and lapay [English translation deleted by WordPress censorship services].
Pinakbet. Bagnet, like lechon kawali but on steroids. Lato, green seaweed pearls on a vine, like tiny grapes.
Poki-poki — eggplant balls. Enough said.
Sapsapuriket, my personal favorite — like tinolang manok, but with chicken blood, sili, dahon ng sili, siling labuyo. In other words, perfect for when you and your airplane are trapped in Ilocos by heavy, endless rains from a cold front.
Finally, our meandering arc in northern Luzon crossed into Ilocos Norte.
The fabled beaches of Currimao are even more spectacular from the air. Mouse over the pictures to check the location.
Feet dry at Currimao. Climb to 1,750 feet to stay above the Laoag control zone, but outside the traffic zone of the aerodrome, clearly visible ahead.
See more of Ilocos Norte here.
April 9, 2009, by Carlo
Yet another one of Carlo’s jewels, probably one of the top 3 articles in Flying in Crosswinds. Do read all the way to the end, where Carlo reveals how flying with Meynard gives life-changing insight that has nothing to do with mere flight.
I had begun to see flight as a continuing equation, where you traded pitch for airspeed, RPMs for altitude, and luck for experience.
The truly masterful pilot doesn’t just fly by the numbers, reliant on procedures and gauges.
He is not a slave to his flight plan or the needles on his control panel.
It’s the other way around.
The airplane becomes more than just a noisy equation. It becomes an extension of his mind and body. The change affects every part of a pilot’s flying; it is a reinvention.
Read the entire jewel here.
March 31, 2009, by Carlo
They finally found out who shot him down, a young German Messerschmitt pilot who was shocked to discover that he had killed his idol.
It’s important to go for the Invisible Important Thing. You never know when that Messerschmitt will pounce on you, guns and cannon blazing.
I’m thinking of Ernest Gann now, and how the Messerschmitt, or the heart attack, or the missing elevator balance hinge bolt, or the last stroke, always gets you in the end. How will you fly before it does? On autopilot?
Read the entire article here. One of Carlo’s best pieces.
January 30, 2009, by Tonet
Homebound, we photographed ourselves.The entire dose here. Aerobatics are more expensive than drugs and highly addictive.
In the picture, my sunglasses are lifting up. Headset cable floating up. In the window above our heads, you can see Earth.
The airplane is upside down.
See the insane grin? I was whole again.
September 27, 2008, by Tonet
It’s fitting to end the Baguio series with this departure story. It could have been our last flight at Baguio — "the departed".
It turns out Carlo shot a video. The "scary video" I’ve promised here. After I saw it , I became a believer — there is no lift at Loakan.
On this day, just after Carlo’s birthday, it’s different. The airplane rolls for a long time before we get to 55 knots. I pull on the yoke and the airplane lifts off reluctantly, loafing above the runway. The stall horn blares.
"Stall warning." Carlo is calm.
August 13, 2007, by Tonet
Last June we wrote about touring Nueva Ecija in a flying soda can – a mysterious lake and a World War II airstrip. Earlier, we shared pictures and stories flying over northern Pangasinan — Lingayen Gulf, the Hundred Islands, and the power plant attacked by the killer jellyfish.
We now tour Central Luzon, best seen low and slow. Our ‘backyard’ is big enough to play in, small enough so that we can see it all on a full tank of avgas.
If you know how to find your way around, that is. We did promise to share the secret of how pilots REALLY find their way home… .
The Philippines is heart-achingly beautiful from the air.
Nov 11, 2007, by Tonet
Meynard’s Basic Aerobatic course was almost over. On graduation day, I practiced vertical maneuvers — loops and hammerheads.
I loved doing that hammerhead!
Fly straight up, then kick left full rudder to yaw the airplane 180 degrees from straight up to straight down.
But there was also right aileron to spoil lift on the faster wing outside the turn, and forward stick to defeat gyroscopic precession from the yaw. All three axes were in play.
I dove vertically to 150mph, looking over the prop at rapidly growing houses.
May 13, 2007, by Tonet
Rod Machado’s Private Pilot Handbook lists famous people who hold pilot certificates. Included are Hollywood personalities like John Travolta, Kurt Russell, Tom Cruise, Sidney Pollack, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Michael J. Fox, Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Tonet and Carlo….
Vogue ran a cover story on an aviatrix whose drop-dead sultry looks have been scorched into millions of feverish juvenile imaginations … .
This article is one of the most popular in the blog, years after I first wrote it.
June 21, 2009, Sunday by Carlo
But I have learned that the marker of adulthood is not when you begin to earn money, not when you finish school, not when you first fall in love, not when you first feel pain. It is when you begin to have regrets.
The act of flying itself feels almost like a childish memory, the quixotic escape from reality of a young man who can’t even afford the avgas, let alone the plane.
But I remember the smiles on the faces of the very special people I have taken flying, the wonder of my friends as they see the photos I take and look at their homeland with new eyes, and the indescribable look on Dad’s face when he realized that yes, I was going to be a pilot. These things feel even more valuable now. They are no longer just the highlights of life, they are reasons to live. It is relationships that matter in this new world of funhouse mirrors and nostalgia and small salaries. And flying is more important to me than ever because of this.
Peek deeper into Carlo’s heart here.
May 31, 2007, by Carlo
One day this story will make Carlo immensely famous.
He is visiting me in Bangkok. He brought this curious story, in his handwriting on the back of a McDonald’s paper placemat.
He wrote it as a stream of consciousness. Direct. Only a few crossed out words.
Picasso paid for his cafe bills by casually sketching masterpieces on the back of table napkins. One day this story will make Carlo immensely famous.
And I (who kept the original paper placemat) will be immensely rich.
September 10, 2007, by Tonet
I was a World War II pilot. I flew P-40s with the Flying Tigers in China. I survived bombing missions over Europe, in Avro Lancasters. I tangled with Zeros in the Pacific.
These were my secret lives. Entirely in my mind. I lived these lives in great detail, day dreaming during classes at the Ateneo Grade School.
I flew in an airliner today, my 50th birthday, Manila to Bangkok. I was seated beside Senator Dick Gordon, of the Philippine Senate.
“Success,” he told me, “is having a series of failures … until you get it right.”
Someone sent me a greeting today.
This is my life.
It is my one time to be me.
So I think it’s time to stop writing lists, of what I want to be. When I grow up, I want to be just like me.
April 5, 2007, by Tonet
One of my Dad’s best airplane stories was about P-38 Lightnings. He was walking on the rice fields at Pagbilao. Then heard a deep rumbling sound, “like empty 55-gallon drums rolling on the ground”. Then he saw them, P-38 twin-tailed Lightnings, twin-engined fighter planes. They were no more than 20 feet above the ground. They were looking for Japanese soldiers. The pilots looked at him and waved. Jut 20 feet above his head.
I asked him how low 20 feet was, and he would point to the Royal Tru-Orange billboard, the only one on Highway 54 (now EDSA). That low, he would say. (Today you couldn’t see EDSA from the air, for all the billboards.)
November 2, 2007, by Tonet
I was doing oscillating stalls. Nose up at idle power until the wings stopped flying.
As a wing dropped, I picked it up with rudder, not aileron.
I was late on the rudder, and the airplane oscillated, each wing dropping alternately as I stabbed belatedly on each pedal.
The airplane, still in a stall and dropping nose high, finally gave up.
The nose yawed left, tucked itself into an inverted dive, and the ground began to spin clockwise.
I asked blithely, “Are we in a spin?
“RECOVER!” Meynard didn’t quite shout it, but he sounded urgent enough.
On the ground, he told me that when the airplane starts spinning, I need to recover it immediately.
Later, he talked to me about unusual attitudes, such as those caused by low speed maneuvering or wake turbulence.
“You can recover from a spin, right?
“When you’re in an upset situation, not sure which way is up, stall the airplane and put it into a spin, and then recover.”
September 7, 2008, by Tonet
It’s time to share our explorations beyond our Central Luzon backyard. Easily the best place to fly to in Luzon is Baguio, high up in the Cordilleras, the summer capital of the Philippines.
Baguio’s Loakan Airport is intimidating. High density altitudes, forbidding terrain and a lack of lift due to the black hole in the sky that spews anti-matter, ghosts, gremlins and hobgoblins — Baguio has it all.
A self-aware pilot fully attuned to the capabilities and limitations of his airplane and himself has NOTHING to fear, but for one minor thing.
There is no lift there.
March 22, 2009, by Tonet