Archive for May, 2010

36 hours of engagement

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010
Since I started flying more than 40 years ago, I’ve always enjoyed the chance to spend time with fellow pilots. Now, I am fortunate that spending time with members who have a passion for flying is not only a pleasure, it’s part of my job.

A 36-hour tour at the end of the past week provided a welcomed opportunity to fly as well as converse with my fellow AOPA members. The theme–engagement! And I met some very engaged members along the way!

AOPA Live producer Warren Morningstar traveled with me to capture the trip for AOPA Live. Here is a glimpse into our whirlwind tour.

Friday, May 21
Depart FDK at 12:49 PM…Arrive SAT at 3:39 PM


I paused for a picture in front of Glacier Girl with my hosts Rod Lewis, founder of Lewis Energy Group, and Bob Cardin, who manages the company's flight department.

I paused for a picture in front of Glacier Girl with Rod Lewis and flight department manager Bob Cardin.

We enjoyed a smooth flight from Frederick to San Antonio. Upon arrival, we stepped into Lewis Energy Group’s Hangar One where Rod Lewis has assembled a collection of beautiful aircraft. Glacier Girl, recovered from beneath a glacier is one of the most interesting. Rod and Bob who manages his fleet paused for a photograph.

After a tour of Hangar One, I enjoyed the chance to participate in one of our AOPA Town Hall meetings. These sessions are always lively and they give me a chance to hear directly from our members about what is on their minds.

Dinner followed with some of AOPA’s strongest supporters, and our traveling party got a good night’s rest.

Saturday, May 22
Depart SAT at 6:40 AM…Arrive ALO at 8:52 AM


I presented Senator Grassley with AOPA's "Friends of Aviation" award.

I presented Senator Grassley with AOPA's "Friends of Aviation" award.

Our wheels stopped next to Livingston Aviation at Iowa’s Waterloo Airport exactly at our scheduled arrival time of 9 a.m. The fog had burned off nicely (ALO was at 1/4 mile in fog when we left SAT). Tim Newton from Livingston Aviation played host to a few hundred people that were already gathering for a pancake breakfast. As we looked around, a Cessna Caravan was being loaded with jumpers who provided an exciting opening ceremony.

Soon, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley arrived. We would share the podium for a discussion with our AOPA members and then conduct a Town Hall session as part of our effort to engage with members of the general aviation caucuses formed last year in the House and Senate. Senator Grassley shared his views and expressed his strong support for general aviation.

Depart ALO at 12:00 PM…Arrive ANE at 1:00 PM

We lifted off from Waterloo and slowly made our way to Anoka, Minnesota, and the Blaine Aviation Weekend. We needed a thunderstorm to pass through before we were able to shoot an approach through some lingering rain showers that would soon give way to blue skies.

The audience in Minnesota was engaged and well-informed!

The audience in Minnesota was engaged and well-informed!

Anoka also had a wonderful turnout of aviators interested in viewing a collection of historic aircraft. Their two-day gathering included a number of safety seminars. I was delighted to enjoy a hamburger with our host John Biancini and the local Civil Air Patrol commander and her squadron before heading to the tent for an AOPA Town Hall meeting.

After another great exchange, John gathered his team for a farewell shot next to N4GA.

We departed about 4:45 p.m. for our home base in Frederick where we told our spouses and colleagues we’d arrive by 8 p.m.. After dodging buildups that topped our 41,000-foot altitude, we descended for landing and a 7:54 p.m. touchdown.

We had visited three states and three airports, met with several hundred of our members, and returned in just over 36 hours. It was a fulfilling trip and one possible only by general aviation!

Today, it’s Sunday…and we are resting!




International Learn to Fly Day

Saturday, May 15th, 2010
The Cessna Caravan drew a crowd at the International Learn to Fly Day gathering at Sporty's.

The Cessna Caravan drew a crowd at the International Learn to Fly Day gathering at Sporty

I can’t imagine a better way to spend a beautiful Saturday than taking to the air to enjoy a general aviation flight. Today, for International Learn to Fly Day, I got to do just that and bring along some friends to enjoy the GA experience.

This morning five of us climbed into the Cessna Caravan and headed west to Sporty’s headquarters in Batavia, Ohio. It was a thrill to be present as a lucky Sporty’s customer from Yuma, Arizona, was selected as the winner of the Sporty’s SkyCatcher sweepstakes.

While there I had a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues, including past AOPA president Phil Boyer, and enjoy Sporty’s founder Hal Shevers’ legendary hospitality as we ate grilled bratwurst and indulged in a little hangar flying—a Saturday tradition at Sporty’s.

This afternoon, I’m headed back to AOPA’s Frederick, Maryland, headquarters where we are hosting our own International Learn to Fly Day event. (You can read the news story about our event on AOPA Online.)

I hope you, too, are out sharing the joys of flying on this special day. Of course, you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to share the fun and excitement of general aviation with friends. I encourage you to get engaged with general aviation every day!