Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Now Available on

to buy the book on

All profits go to research for a cure to paralysis
caused by Spinal Cord Injury.
(Click here for more info on this worthy cause.)

Here's the first review of this book, by George Walther, a Hall of Fame speaker and author of several books:

5 stars "An artfully-told adventure tale..."
This marvelous tale might aptly be titled, "The ART of Adventure" because of the author's beautifully crafted saga, told in colorful, vivid language. I've visited many of the spots he flew to, and he's managed to capture the spirit of each. I live in Europe near one of the spots he describes on the French Riviera and it's taken me six months of daily life to "tune in" to cultural oddities he somehow managed to astutely capture and describe in just a few days.It's the kind of book you needn't set out to read cover-to-cover. You could randomly flip to any day of this adventure log and be fascinated with that day's happenings. It's so compelling, though, that I'm sure you'll flip to another day immediately and won't want to miss one of them, once you've gotten just a taste of the author's artful style of writing. I didn't set out to read the whole book. But, once I'd skipped around to a few random days of his trip account, I just started at the first day and "flew" through the story along with him. 

It made me want to jump in the cockpit with him and fly off to the next destination. This man seems to "be here now" and expresses an over-arching, zen-like appreciation for for each amazing moment of his journey. It kept making me think of that "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" book, except that this one's no fantasy. McCafferty really made this journey, though his spirit is every bit as moving as was the Seagull's fantasy. I once had a pilot's license, and reading this book makes me want to get it updated and fly again. 

You could read it for any number of reasons: airplanes, adventure, Europe, artful writing. Whatever your motivation, you'll be glad you did.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Another 5-star review on (by "Mosquito")

Imagine that. I search "Waco" in Amazon and an actual product shows up? Upon reading the review, I just had to buy this book. I am a huge fan of the Waco biplane. The YMF-5 in particular. 

When the book arrived, I started the read and could not put it down! The author lived out my dreams of flying a biplane around Europe! 

I really enjoyed how the book was written by using daily emails sent to his friends and followers during his flights. I guess I didn't know that there was someone out there that truly loved the Waco biplane as much as I do! 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Subscribe to The Spirit of Adventure!

The blog has been upgraded with Feedburner, so now you can subscribe to the blog that keeps you tuned in to your favorite book.  Just click the RSS button at the top of the right column, and you'll get new posts delivered automatically to your favorite Reader.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Inside Personal Growth does phone interview

Good friend Greg Voisen hosts the website Inside Personal Growth and when he asked me if I would like to do an interview about the book, I was really apprehensive.  I have a healthy fear of being put on the spot, having to answer tough questions, and doing it all "live" with no do-overs!  But I figured that since it was a good friend who was asking, I should give it a shot.  Actually, as with most fears, it turned out to be not as horrible an experience as I imagined.

Here it is, warts and all:

The content is a little bit about the biplane and the tour of Europe, but there's a lot of new content about the story of my son Mike (my hero) and his amazing life.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Final, final, final edit...

Late last night I finished the last of the "final" edits (I hope).
Now just waiting for the cover to be adjusted for the reduced number of pages (less is more, right?) and then order the final, final, final proof to be sure everything is perfect (ha!) and it should be good to go.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cover update

Ann von Gal updated the cover with new back cover story and new website URL.
There will probably be only 1, or 2 max, more cover updates before the book goes into the first printing.
I'm in the process of final proofreading now.
ETA is within a week after Thanksgiving.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Additional Stories Published Elsewhere

 Listed below are links to background material that has been published by various aviation and Ferrari magazines.  They add color and cover a broad scope of my flying, business and lifestyle during those years. 

1.  “What You Say Is What You Get: How to Master Power Talking, the Language of Success” - a book by George Walther (1991) contains a chapter about the several ups and downs and the final up-and-out success in business.

2.   “The Greatest Sales Stories Ever Told, by the World’s Best Salespeople” by Robert L. Shook (1995) contains a chapter focusing on the building of my software company, starting with my personal bankruptcy and ending with the sale of the company and financial independence.  The chapter is called “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way.”

3. "Classic Waco: Yes Dreams Can Come True" - Private Pilot Magazine, 1995

4. "To Dream, Perchance to Fly" - Aviation and Business Journal, 2001:

5. "Adventures at Mikie's Fun House" - the story of the big party before the European tour, published in Pilota, the official magazine of the Ferrari Owners Club, 1997

6. “Borrego Springs” -  a story written by French aviation journalist, author, and aviation personality Bernard Chabbert (1999). He came over from France to attend the big party just before I left for the European tour. His writing is a lot different from the others, and his perspective is quite different in some respects.  He has some facts and the sequence of some events wrong, but he's got the general idea right. This story was published two years after the party, and the Euro tour. It appeared in the British Pilot magazine.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Short URL:

Instead of typing
you can simply use
and you will wind up here.

We live to make things easier!

Splendor On The Grass

With Cathy Foley, just a few moments after her first open cockpit biplane ride.

Landing a vintage open cockpit biplane on grass is one of life's most pleasurable experiences.

Certainly flying, itself, is near the pinnacle of human achievements, and the flying of an open cockpit biplane, especially the beautiful Waco YMF (my plane!)… this is flying at its best. And, of all the various phases of flying, it is commonly held among aviators that the very few moments leading up to and following the instant of landing are the quintessential droplets of perfection in an ocean of extraordinary emotions.
But wait! It gets even better!
The icing on this delicious cake is landing on grass, as God's infinite wisdom intended. Grass is the perfect medium to welcome an aircraft back to earth: organic, soft and forgiving.
Today we landed on no ordinary patch of grass, our destination was the manicured turf of the Del Mar Polo Club, a surface so perfectly flat, smooth, green and lush, it's the stuff of an aviator's dreams.
Such a magnificent runway could make landings easy, almost boring. But this field sits in a valley, the approach end blocked by a hill dotted with homes. The arriving pilot must skim these rooftops, fly between two sets of 25 foot tall light poles, then clear a fence, all at the slowest possible airspeed, and therefore at the speed of least controllability. Any error could be very unpleasant.
It is essential to touch down as soon and as slow as possible because this field terminates mercilessly with a row of tents, a roadway lined with utility poles, wires, trees, buildings, and a barrier of very tall power lines in the near distance, the final indignity for the indecisive pilot who delays a go-around after landing too long.
This great scene is further enhanced because of its rarity. There are zero public grass fields in Southern California, and this field is open only 24 hours per year, during the season finale polo match. Selected vintage aircraft are invited to land late on Saturday afternoon, stay overnight to be on display during the event on Sunday, then fly out immediately after the contest.
I attempted this 3 years before, when I was still a novice pilot. Although I could make reasonably good landings, I didn't have the confidence for this tricky approach, so my instructor, Lowell Williams, a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot during WWII and a living legend in aviation, rode with me for "insurance". While I cleared the obstacles on final, I was too fast and floated far down the runway, the tents and the power lines getting bigger and bigger until I could no longer endure it and begged "Help!" to Lowell over the intercom. Immediately, I could feel the stick respond to the master's hand, and my big old biplane touched down perfectly, braking to a stop with little room to spare. It was a huge learning experience for me, although he never uttered a word.
A new friend, Cathy, has been asking to go flying, and it seems as if this would be a most exquisite opportunity to share with her, especially since she has never flown in an open cockpit biplane.
Lifting off out of Palomar airport, we climb to 1000 feet for a brief cruise to the coastline, then let down to just 100 feet above the surf. We rumble south along the beach, Cathy taking pictures and enjoying the view. The haze was too thick to continue to La Jolla, so we execute a steep climbing turn over Torrey Pines and head inland, flying over the polo field to see if other planes had arrived. At 1500 feet, we can make out a line of six tiny winged insects on a miniature green postage stamp. I radio the field, they say the way is clear, and come on down!
Approaching from the north, I fly an overhead break at 1000 feet at mid field, turn smartly downwind, cutting the throttle and losing altitude at a rate which will hopefully get me to touchdown without any further throttle inputs. I can be high and burn off altitude, but for a perfect dead stick landing, I absolutely can not be too low, or the houses, the light posts, or the fence will surely bite me. This is the tricky part, how far out to go before turning downwind, then how long before turning base, and when to turn final so that all the while I'm losing just the perfect amount of altitude? There's no real thinking at a time like this, only reacting. My mind does not say "nose down, pull up, strong head wind…" or the like. It just "happens".
The turn to final is perfect. A bit too high, but that is my acquired trademark. I like to burn off extra altitude with a slip, turning slightly sideways in the air, using the fuselage as an air brake. The rooftops whisper past the wheel pants. I'm in just the right position to pass between the light posts, still sideways. The light posts slide by as if in a dream, the fence is cleared by several feet, I straighten out the biplane at the last possible second and ease back the stick for a 3-point landing, the tires tickle the short blades of grass, touch down lightly and roll out with room to spare.
"Cheated death again!" I shout over the intercom. "Really nice landing!" yells Cathy.
The most beautiful music any pilot can hear is a passenger's honest thanks for a joyful experience.
The hugs are nice too. Landing an open cockpit biplane on grass is great, but sharing it is best!

© 1999 Michael McCafferty

Original publication in Pacific Flyer, December 1998

AKA: "Sundance"

The true story of "The Mikie Mooneuver"

There is a tradition in military aviation that when a man enters the fraternity of pilots, he is bestowed a call sign (name) by his instructor. In this case, my instructor was Vince Moore and his call sign is "Bluestreak". For better or worse, the student is known by this name forever more to his fellow pilots. The name is usually a reference to some aspect of the student's early flying experience.

My call sign was given in recognition of my discovery/creation of what I have called "The Mikie Mooneuver", which was simple in concept, but could only be achieved under rare circumstances which included the position of the sun and moon at the moment of sunset, in cold and clear weather. Once these conditions are met, the pilot can create the incredible experience of 3 sunsets, 2 sunrises, 3 moon rises and 2 moon sets all within 30 minutes.

I discovered this delightful bit of flying by accident, and on a whim, when I was flying low over the surf, at sunset along the oceanfront between Carlsbad and La Jolla. It was a spectacularly clear day after a winter storm has passed through and there was a chill in the autumn air. I was expecting a "Green Flash" to occur as the conditions were excellent for this rare event, but it was not to be. Sometimes, even though the conditions seem so perfect, it just doesn't happen. I guess we just don't know everything there is to know about the Green Flash.

Regardless, it was a fantastic sunset. When the sun finally disappeared from view, it was so awesome a sight that I wanted more, and instinctively pulled back on the control stick of the biplane, knowing intuitively that more altitude would allow me to see the sun again!

I had the idea that the sun would actually seem to rise back up out of the ocean as I got higher and higher in my climb. A Mikie-made sunrise on the western horizon!

And, obviously, just simply holding my new altitude would allow the sun to sink again, persistently, into the sea. A Mikie-made sunset, effortlessly!!!

This was too much fun! I had to do more!! Climbing again, I watched the now expected miracle of the sun rising out of the western sky. Although this time, things happened a bit more slowly. Airplanes climb faster closer to sea level because the air is more dense. Each thousand feet of climb will be slower than the one before.

But at last the sun does finally rise again above the ocean, and once there I fly level circles to simply await and celebrate the third sunset.

I was feeling pretty smug about my new discovery, but I was totally stunned, on coming around to the east on one of those circles to be confronted with the very top edge of a full moon rising up over the faraway mountains. No one in San Diego could see that moon at that time, only me because of my great altitude, and only I would have known instinctively what to do with it! I continued my circling, now having much more fun, knowing that I was about to watch 3 moonrises and 2 moon sets simply by descending and waiting, just the reverse of the game I played with the sun.

I was completely elated with this amazing experience. I talked with many other pilots about this, expecting a reply like: "Oh, sure, I've done twenty in a row. Happens all the time." Only I didn't hear that at all. Most pilots were unaware of such a possibility, and only some, while pleased with the principle at work, had never actually done it.

And so, in the fullness of time, and in recognition of this event, I was given the name "Sundance".

Cover edits

1. back cover:
change website address from to (this will become the main website for the flying book(s), and from there it will offer a link to the blog, and to links at and other sources to buy the book, download the Kindle/iPhone file, wall paper, screen saver, etc).

2. back cover:
replace the text as follows:

This is a book for pilots, adventurers, and dreamers, and especially for people want to live the life they've imagined.

After 10 years of building my startup software company, I needed a rest, so I accepted an offer to buy my company, and started living my dream. I bought an extraordinarily beautiful open-cockpit biplane,
then learned how to fly, and for the next 7 years I lived the life of a winged nomad.

For three months during the summer of 1997, I "went flying", low and slow, exploring Europe's coastline, islands, Alps, big-cities and tiny villages. The non-stop discovery of foreign lands, culture, people, flying and adventure made it the greatest experience of my lifetime.

Here is the true story, the complete collection of 94 emails, one per day, with photos, sent to friends back home.

Next Flying Story to Be Written?

The P-51 Mustang was the most successful fighter of World War II.
It is generally acknowledged by children and experts alike as their "favorite airplane".

Only about 100 of these great aircraft remain in flying condition,
and they are extremely expensive to maintain,
so they appear only on special occasions such as the Reno Air Races,
air shows, and in very, very rare cases they are available
for joy rides -- a true once in a lifetime adventure.

"Crazy Horse" is located in central Florida and
I flew on a commercial airline (yuk) coast to coast
and lived in budget motels (double yuk)
just for the opportunity to fly this awesome aircraft.

However, my mission was even more specific.
I wanted to learn to fly it good enough
to be allowed to fly it from the front seat,
something almost nobody gets to do.
But, for me, it actually happened!

I'd like to write that story.
Stay tuned...

Bonus Content: Biplane Video #2: "There Goes My Biplane" clips from AirMikie video

Bonus Content: Biplane video #1: AirMikie Biplane rides

About the Biplane: Waco YMF-5, #N50YM and #N250YM,

The Biplane

The Spirit of Adventure I

I bought this incredibly beautiful biplane in 1993, 
fresh from the factory in Lansing, Michigan.
It was the 50th one they built, so they were very proud of it.
I told them I couldn't fly, but that didn't seem to matter.
Until I tried to fly it for the first time in a crankin' crosswind.
After two hours of torturing the biplane, chief pilot Carl Dye said:
"Tell me again how long you've been a pilot?"
I told him: "I'm not a pilot."
He says: "We don't really teach people how to fly here."
So I told him: "Let's get this biplane back to San Diego, and I'll figure it out from there."
And so the adventures began...

This is the airplane I used to learn how to fly.
It was an extraordinary feeling to finally fly solo,
and then to earn my Private Pilot license (November 18, 1993) in this work of art.

(click for BIG image)

One of my instructors (some wannabe pilots need more than one teacher) decided to do a check flight after some routine maintenance, but he came in for a landing with the parking break on. Boy, was he surprised when it flipped over the instant of touchdown!
He was unhurt (except for his pride), but the biplane was a total loss.
On that day, February 24, 1994, he earned the call-sign "Flipper".
I traded the broken bits, and the insurance settlement, for a new biplane.

"The Spirit of Adventure II"
This is biplane number two, purchased May 1994.

Equipment List:
Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI)
Traffic Collision Avoidance Detection (TCAD)
Global Positioning System (GPS), 
Arnav Star 5000 (navigation, groundspeed, direction)
Moving Map Display, Eventide Argus 7000
Nav/Comm: two KLX155's
Stormscope BFG
Vertical Speed Indicator (VSI)
Vacuum operated Artificial Horizon
Magnetic Compass
Turn coordinator
Engine speed, rpm
Manifold pressure
Exhaust gas temp
Cylinder head temp
Oil temp
Oil pressure
Alternator output, Volts, amps
Battery indicator, volts
.... probably more stuff I'm forgetting right now...

Waco biplane cockpit and instrument panel N250YM

The aircraft is fully certified for flying instruments-only, and for night flying. Total time on the engine and airframe is about 630 hours since it was built. Time between overhauls on the engine is 1200 hours. It has never been in an accident or incident.
The biplane is also outfitted with a video camera in the right lower wing, wired to a VCR and monitor in the cockpit. With this setup I can make videos (or watch them!) as I fly.
Other special features: Auxiliary fuel tanks. Total fuel 72 gal. Total endurance 4+ hours. Range approximately 400 miles depending on winds, using cruising airspeed of 100 mph.
Baggage: 75 lbs. in rear baggage compartment, 25 lbs in the front baggage compartment.

To fly this biplane,
to buy one of your own, new or used,
or just to look at some neat photos,
and learn more about this unique aircraft,
click on the link below

Waco Aircraft Company

in Battle Creek, Michigan

About the aviator/author

Michael McCafferty

This page lists only aviation related information.
To learn more, please visit

Flying Experience


Private Pilot
Single engine land
Multi-engine land
Single engine Seaplane
Instrument rating
Tailwheel endorsement
High performance endorsement
Glider solo


More than 1000 hours, and 1700 landings,
accumulated between mid 1993 through early 1999.

Aircraft flown:

Waco YMF-5
Boeing Stearman (450hp)
Pitts Special S2A

TF-51D "Mustang" ("Crazy Horse")
Supermarine Spitfire (Carolyn Grace)
B-17 "Flying Fortress" (Collier Foundation)

Waco YMF-5
P-51 Mustang
Super Decathlon
Pitts S2A

Piper Cub on floats
Lake amphibian

Other General Aviation aircraft
Cessna 150
Cessna 172
Beechcraft Bonanza

Various gliders, including Stemme motor-glider.

Some Long Distance Flights

Summer 1997. Three months of touring Europe. The Waco was flown from San Diego to the factory in Lansing Michigan (now located in Battle Creek), then disassembled, put in a 40-foot container and shipped to LeHavre, France, then trucked to LeBourget airport in Paris, where it was reassembled and displayed at the Paris Air Show June 15-22. From there on it was fun flying throughout France, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, England and Ireland.

Summer 1996. A 57-day tour of the USA, from San Diego to Maine and down the east coast to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, then returning to San Diego.

Summer 1995. A one week tour of the west coast of the US, flying from San Diego to Canada, all along the surfline.

Summer 1995. A 20-day tour of the western US, Rocky mountains.

Summer 1994. A 6-week tour of the US, starting with taking delivery of the second new plane (N250YM) in late May, in Lansing Michigan, and flying to the east coast and back to San Diego.

Summer 1993. Take delivery of first new biplane (N50YM) at the factory in Lansing Michigan, fly to Oshkosh Wisconsin for the annual fly-in, and then home to San Diego. This first biplane was in a February 1994 crash when my instructor, flying alone, landed with the parking brake on and it flipped over on the runway. He was unhurt, but the biplane was completely destroyed. I traded the insurance payoff and some extra cash for a brand new biplane (see above). The first one was rebuilt by the factory and sold to Germany where it is now living a good life giving rides at the Hamburg airport.


Just received 5 proof copies from
It's a strangely good feeling to see multiple copies instead of the single proofs of the past.
This proof is the first with the photos inside, and the new cover by Ann von Gal.
I really like the cover, at last.
Maybe two more proofs and it will ready for sale.