Years ago...

I wrote a monthly column for FLYING Magazine called "Pro's Nest." The column was my opportunity to share the things I learned as an airline and GA pilot with my fellow aviators. It always amazed me to get mail from other airline pilots in far corners of the world, and notes from Stearman pilots, Cessna 172 owners, helicopter pilots, and even airshow stars, all sharing their individual Artful processes. 

One of the things that I took away from that time was how the venue really didn't matter; whether we fly huge airliners or tiny taildraggers, the process of flying your machine Artfully is the same. 

The FLYING Magazine column I wrote to reflect that uncommon journey was entitled, "Cockpit Mind Control," and waded (gently) into the mind and thoughts of the human being, a vital area of study that was missing in our aviation magazines at the time. Still is. 

I soon began to connect the dots between what great pilots do and the similar process a great basketball player like Michael Jordan might engage in, which is the very same process a beloved cellist like Yo Yo Ma or Pablo Cassals might employ to become the amazing musician that brings tears of joy to our eyes when they play. 

Thus, the idea of "Artful Flying" was born, and it has been an amazing life-long journey. Join me as we continually look for the magic -- and Artfulness -- in this journey of possibility and discovery. 

"To create this art in our flying, we have to be connected to our airplanes by more than our hands, feet and buttocks."

From Artful Flying, Chapter Seven, "Art-Work"

"Art if a pursuit of the possible, and requires that you be fully vested, fully engaged in what you do."

From Artful Flying, Chapter One, "The Art of Artful Flying"

"The aviation world is flush with technicians,

artists are few. 

Artist of technician: which do you want to be?"

From Artful Flying, Chapter One, "The Art of Artful Flying" 


Michael Maya Charles started flying at 11, soloed on his 16th birthday, got his private on his 17th birthday, and commercial, instrument and CFI when he was 18. Now a 23,000+ hour pilot with ATP in both fixed wing and rotorcraft. He's been an active flight instructor for over 45 years, and has flown well over 200 aircraft types, from tiny homebuilts to heavy jets. He took early retirement from the airlines as an MD-11 captain. 


Michael is also a trusted consultant, speaker, musician (upright bass, flute and percussion), and has contributed to many of the world's leading aviation publications, including AOPA PILOT, FLYING Magazine, AVweb, and Vertical Magazine. He is currently Senior U.S. Correspondent at Skies Magazine. 

The Author