Episode 66. Flying like a pro in a Boeing and a Bonanza, with Don Wykoff

Don WykoffFrom F-16 to 737 to Citation to Bonanza, Don Wykoff has flown a lot of different airplanes in his 50-year flying career. In this episode he explains how he stayed safe by approaching every flight with professionalism, using checklists the right way, and building training into simple trips. He also talks about losing the engine in his F-16, why pilot rest rules matter, and how to transition back to GA after a career flying jets. In the Ready to Copy segment, Don explains why he doesn’t like the GUMPS checklist, why he liked to hand-fly Cat III approaches in the 737, and what flight instructors can learn from airline pilots.


  • What professionalism means: “You take what you’re doing seriously… be prepared, make sure you’re well trained, make sure your equipment is ready to go, and make sure you’re ready to go.”
  • Using checklists the right way: “A checklist makes you think that this is a to do list. It’s a checklist and there’s a difference. You’re gonna run the flow of the airplane and then you’re gonna make sure you check it.”
  • Why Air Force training works: “How do we take someone from zero to hero? What we do is, we have a very specific syllabus, and we grade every element of the flight.”
  • Engine failure in F-16: “Marconi had nothing to do with this flight right now. So there wasn’t anybody to talk to to get any help from, I just needed to put an airplane on the ground.”
  • Transitioning to a new flying job: “Regardless of where you come from, you’ll have your moments of humility. Everybody does.”
  • Fatigue and rest: “When your sleep has been constricted, there’s only one thing on the planet that will fix that: sleep.”
  • Learning from others: “If you’re in fifth grade and you look over at a piece of paper and you cheat off it, it’s called cheating and you get in trouble. When you’re 66 years old and you look over it’s called benchmarking.”

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