Category Archives: How To

How I Passed a Long Overdue Instrument Proficiency Check

Two pilots in 1940s cockpit

1940s pilots navigated by listening to A-N Beacon signals

When I first got my instrument rating I reveled, awash in a sea of modern technology. Waving needles, flashing lights, and pulsing sounds enabled me to fly anywhere, anytime. Once I spoke the language and mastered the steps, it became a precision junkie’s dream. Maintaining proficiency was a joy.

In contrast, my father’s stories of 1940s flying in the clouds held almost horrid fascination. Clunky, hard to read instruments scattered haphazardly around the panel dared the pilot to keep wings level and nose on the horizon. To navigate he clamped hard plastic headphones to his ears. Then straining to discern man-made signals amidst nature’s static crashes, he steered the airplane along an A-N Beam until he found a course that merged scratchy dot-dash “As” with dash-dot “Ns” with into a constant tone. Once attained, he held that course—for hours.

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Five Steps I Used to Prime My Creative Pump

Sailing ship in storm at sea

Writers are artists. Some paint word pictures. Others compose word music.

The writer-painters imagine scenes flowing one to another, producing video in readers’ minds like the voracious sea gnawing at the HMS Surprise in the movie, Master and Commander.


The
writer-musicians entice readers to hear sonorous voices articulating Shakespere’s Henry V Band-of-Brothers speech at Agincourt, or Tolkien’s Aragorn This-Day-We-Fight rally cry before the Black Gate, or Psalm 23 from the King James Bible.

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