Some Wisdom From Bax

One of /Flying/'s most beloved columnists on how to land.

Gordon Baxter -- 'Bax' to just about everyone -- remains one of Flying's most loved and revered columnists. His Bax Seat essays graced the last page of the magazine for decades, with tales of monster-size 450 hp Stearman cropdusters, open-door Piper J-3 Cubs and everything in between. Bax, a Texan who made his 'final flight' in 2005, was best known for his keen understanding of the bond between these machines and the people who loved and flew them.

He wrote a few books in his time, too. My favorite is How to Fly, and in honor of Bax's sense of humor I still occasionally pretend to consult my copy shortly after takeoff with a new passenger. Some of his observations and wisdom are timeless, and worth revisiting. For example:

"When I proudly took my mother aloft on our first flight together and came back on the throttle to bring us back down to earth again, ole snoozing Mom sat bolt upright in her seat and commanded, 'Turn that thing on again!'

'But Mom, it's the only way we can come down and land.'

'I don't care. I don't like it. Turn it back on.' "

Somehow he must have convinced her.

Concerning the approach phase following a long flight, Bax teaches us this about setting our mind up for the necessary concentration:

"A good landing is built on the orderly and unhurried procedures of a good approach…. This is the time when I always settle back in the cockpit with a contented sigh and rummage around some, tidying up the place. Maps folded and put away, check list at hand, toes curled over the cool rudder pedals [Did I mention that Bax preferred flying barefoot -- in fact, sometimes bare-everything?], ready for the quick and exacting work ahead, but shoes and socks safely tucked away, cracker crumbs brushed off my lap."

You just don't get that kind of advice from an FAA-standardized curriculum.