Cross-Country Eloquence From Bax

Chances are, much of your winter flying involved relatively short flights. For many pilots, winter missions are kept on a short leash in deference to ice, earlier sunsets and just plain comfort during pre- and post-flight chores. That makes spring a good time to plan longer trips -- and reminds us of the greater joys of using airplanes to actually go places. Now is also a good time to reflect on your first experiences in cross-country flying. And here's a little help.

Gordon Baxter remains one of Flying's most beloved writers, long after his 'final flight' in 2005. His Bax Seat column set the standard with 20 years of some of the best aviation writing, ever.

From Bax's 1981 book, How to Fly:

"Your first experience with cross-country flying compares to when a kid gets his first bike. For the first time, he's out of the neighborhood and on his own in strange traffic … I remember these trips so vividly, as first times are always remembered. The youth of my flying. First times to be alone in the airplane for long periods, not pushing to make every minute count in the landing pattern. Time to lean back and delicately fly the airplane, to get fine tuned in all of its subtleties, the changing light of its curved contours. To gaze out the window some, too, and enjoy the patterns of the fields, farms and towns. Oh yes, there was always the nagging thought that I might be getting a little bit lost. Did too, once or twice, but not seriously so. Most of all, navigating my own ship over distances through the air was a satisfaction that has not yet dimmed at all. Not from the first times till now."

Thanks, Bax.

Call to action: If you have any tips of your own you'd like to share, or have any questions about flying technique you'd like answered, send me a note at We'd love to hear from you.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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