Happy New Year! I’ve compiled a list of the most popular posts of 2010 (some of which are from 2009!) for your reading pleasure. It’s a fun collection of photography, essays, news and even a link round-up on engine failure.

I hope you enjoy the articles and I look forward to sharing lots of new interesting posts with you in 2011.

Number Ten: Engine Failure After Take-Off

Engine Failure After Take-Off, commonly referred to as EFATO, is one of the most frightening events that can happen to a pilot. A recent incident hit International headlines when US Airways flight 1549 landed in the Hudson after a sudden loss of engine power. Every pilot has been trained to deal with EFATO but the reality of the situation has little in common with the practice runs when you have a competent instructor at your side with his hand on the throttle.

Engine Failure After Take-Off is a collection of links and news including first-person accounts, discussions of strategies and crash survivablilty and a YouTube video of a collision with a cow.

Number Nine: Military Jet Buzzing Santa Monica Pier

The plan was for the jets to do four passes off of the coast of the Santa Monica pier, west of a banner tow aircraft towing a banner for the film. The first passes went as planned and then one of the pilots broke away and flew low over the beach area for multiple passes in excess of 250 knots (two of the passes were below 500 feet) and then pulled into a steep climb just before the pier.

Military Jet Buzzing Santa Monica Pier was posted at the end of last year, the story of two military jets buzzing Santa Monica pier including a list of the specific violations. The same plane appeared in the viral “Close Call with Terrain” video which I also included in the post.

Number Eight: Cross Country Solo

I went for the heartfelt-plea approach. “It’s for my licence. I am a student, learning to fly. The paper is to say that I landed here without breaking any planes or causing any problems.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Did you break any planes?”

“No! I think – I think you’ll find that ATC are happy to sign it. I was told they wouldn’t mind. It has my name and the plane’s registration on it.”

Cross Country Solo is a three part series of my first navigation flight all alone. Actually, Part Two: Almería of this collection of three posts was the most popular for some reason, although the return to Axarquia was the most stressful leg! I’ve included all three in order to keep context.
Part One: Granada
Part Two: Almería
Part Three: Return to Axarquia

Number Seven: Grounded

I want to be up there, conquering the sky, a young man says, gazing out the window with undisguised yearning. I have to hide my confusion. There is no such colonialist desire in my heart, I have no visions of conquest. But then I think about his words again and realise that I’m wrong. It’s not the sky that I want to subdue, it is myself.

The popularity of Grounded surprised me. A deeply introspective piece, I was trapped in by the weather and explored my own feelings towards flying and what I hoped to achieve. The comments on this post are fascinating.

Number Six: Mike Newman Glider Accident

Amazingly pilot Mike Newman, 35, crawled out of the wreckage of the high performance Swift S-1 aircraft after the cockpit broke up on impact.

The former racing driver suffered three broken vertebrae in the accident, but doctors expect him to make a full recovery.

I was sitting in a pub in London when a friend mentioned a crash at Shoreham Air Show the day before. I went home to research the Mike Newman Glider Accident and found unbelievable photographs and video of the Swift S-1 wing-first into the runway. I collected the information into a single post with links to more detail. I may look at a follow-up to this piece.

Number Five: Pitch vs. Power: Landing Better

Like most PPLs, I was taught to use attitude to control airspeed and power to control height. However, the inertia of the Saratoga and its tendency to sink like a stone at low speed, combined with my inability to nudge the power gently enough to keep my pitch steady, can make this difficult. A bad approach can feel like a ship in heavy weather as I adjust the power back and forth to try to keep my perspective of the runway correct.

Pitch vs. Power: Landing Better was my attempt to explain a breakthrough I’d made flying the Saratoga. I understood the relationship between pitch and power in a text-book sort of way but it took longer to feel it in my gut.

Number Four: Snow on the Runway, Ice on the Wings

Funny, it seems that it’s somewhat quiet on the runways at most of the UK airfields. But as I am resigned to not flying anyway, I have to admit that some of the views today are just beautiful. Just linking the webcams doesn’t show you what I saw (and you have a high chance of seeing nothing but black sky at the Scottish airfields at this time of year!) so I’ve taken a set of screenshots to share with you.

The second popular piece I wrote whilst grounded due to weather, Snow on the Runway, Ice on the Wings was a series of screenshots from webcams around the UK. I did the same again a few weeks ago after the first serious snowfall of the season: UK Snow Day on Webcams.

Number Three: Drunk steals plane at airshow

I had to cover my eyes to watch this video the first time I was shown it. But then I kept peeking through my fingers.

I am continuously astounded by Franklin’s Flying Circus and I was thrilled when Kyle Franklin said he was happy for me to offer a streaming video of Drunk steals plane at airshow, previously only available as a downloaded wmv file. I’m thrilled to tell you that since then, he’s made a number of his videos available on YouTube via the Franklin’s Flying Circus Video Page.

Number Two: The Last Flight

He went to the airport and started the engine in his plane. It purred smoothly, with a low rumble and a promise of speedy high adventure. He taxied it across the ramp and down the taxiway to the end and near the runway. He ran the engine up to medium power while holding the brakes, but he resisted the temptation to go at high power down the runway and lift off into the sky. He returned to the ramp, tied the plane down and went home. Sadly unfulfilled, he returned again the next day, and the next. The routine of taxiing was repeated at higher and higher speeds but he would, each time, return and park the plane on the ramp.

I originally found The Last Flight posted by Max Grogan on BeechTalk.com and I knew I wanted to share it. He kindly gave me permission to include it as a guest post on Fear of Landing and gave me access to his photo albums as well. It’s no surprise to me that this is one of the most popular posts of 2010 and I hope Max continues to write about his aviation adventures.

Number One: FAA Approved?

So, the story goes that the Alaskan pilot had 2 new tires, three cases of speed tape and several rolls of cellophane delivered to the site and promptly repaired his plane so that he could fly it home.

In October 2009, I posted FAA Approved?, photographs of a Piper Supercub mauled by a bear. It was only a few weeks after the incident and at the time, I couldn’t find the photographs on the Web and details of the plane and the pilot were sparse. I posted everything I could find in hopes of getting more information and visits to Fear of Landing skyrocketed. In December, Alaska Dispatch posted the full story as told by the pilot’s father in An Appetite for Revenge.


So that’s a summary of 2010 with a bit of an overhang from 2009! I’m pleased to see that a variety of different posts – news round-ups, essays and accident reports – are all popular. I’ve been running this blog for four years now and it’s still a lot of fun, especially reading the comments!

So here’s to you: Happy New Year to every one and I hope we see more of each other in 2011!