Archive for October, 2011

Taking advantage of technology

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

The weather around FDK, the blue dot on the map, kept me on the ground Saturday.


I was looking forward to spending Saturday in Greenville, South Carolina, at the Southeast Aviation Conference. Unfortunately, the weather had something different in mind.

Snow, ice, and gusty winds in Frederick kept me and N4GA on the ground. But the innovative folks at the South Carolina Aviation Association, which sponsored the event, hooked up their Skype system and gave me the opportunity to make a “virtual” trip to the show.

Of course, I would much rather have been there in person, but I was impressed by how quickly and effectively the folks at SCAA pulled it all together on very short notice. I was able to give attendees an update on the big issues of the day as well as AOPA’s key initiatives. I even had the opportunity to answer audience questions. Not bad, under the circumstances!

This was one day when I was on the ground, and wishing I was in the air. But the old cliché is true—better to be on the ground and wishing I was in the air, than to be in the air and wishing I was on the ground.

Huskies in the Northeast

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Our AOPA team that spent the weekend shooting pictures of the 2012 Sweepstakes Tornado Husky and my Husky is back in Frederick.  However, the images of the weekend are great memories!

Look for the professional shots in the future…but, for now, I hope you enjoy my short slide show of the trip from Frederick, to Old Acton (02ME), Wiscasset (KIWI) and Bar Habor (KBHB).

CLICK HERE to see the slide show…..

Enjoying the freedom to fly

Friday, October 21st, 2011

I spend a lot of time talking about the importance of protecting our freedom to fly. Well, this weekend, I am doing more than talking—I am thoroughly enjoying the unique sense of limitless freedom that only pilots know.

With the Husky in Maine

A perfect day of flying in my Husky brought us to this peaceful backcountry strip in Maine.

When you work in Washington, D.C., as I do much of the time, you tend to spend your days buttoned up—literally confined to a suit and tie. So I was thrilled to be able to throw on a pair of jeans and climb into my Husky for a weekend of fun flying around the northeast.

I left Frederick in my plane, accompanied by our own Dave Hirschman flying the 2012 Tougher Than a Tornado Husky. We planned the trip with the help of John Nadeau, the Recreational Aviation Foundation’s representative in the northeast. He pointed us to enough great backcountry airstrips to keep us busy for a month. We only have the weekend for this trip, but all those other airports are calling, and I know I’ll be back.

Backcountry flying

Now this is a lifestyle I could get used to!

Our flight took us through New York. There’s nothing quite like flying over the Hudson River at 1,200 feet. Then we stopped in Hartford, Connecticut, to refuel with our friends at Atlantic Aviation—the FBO that did such a great job during AOPA’s Aviation Summit last month. Now we’ve arrived at 02ME in Maine.

With blue skies above, a tailwind behind, and all the colors of autumn below, it was just about a perfect day of flying. I hope you’ll take some time this weekend to really enjoy what it means to fly. Visit a new airport, go to a favorite airport restaurant, of just poke some holes in the sky. There really is nothing else quite like it.

Flying west

Flying west toward Sanford (KSFM).

Harrison Ford Interview with Senate GA Caucus Co-Chairs

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Just after Harrison Ford spoke to members of the General Aviation Caucus yesterday, I had the chance to sit down with Harrison along with co-chairs Senator Begich (D-AK) and Senator Johanns (R-NE).  This strong bi-partisian caucus that now numbers over one third of the Senate with 36 members contains some powerful supporters of general aviation.


Harrison Ford speaks to Senate GA Caucus

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

I spend a lot of time in Washington, D.C., but not every trip to the Hill is so enjoyable as the one I made today with actor, pilot, and GA advocate Harrison Ford. Harrison was in town to speak to the 36 members of the Senate GA Caucus. He talked about the importance of general aviation to himself and to thousands of others, and the senators listened closely. He also thanked the caucus members for their stalwart support of GA. Each of the 11 attending senators spoke highly of general aviation and the unique characteristics that make GA flying so important and valuable to the nation. 

Sen. Johanns (left) and Sen. Begich (right), co-chairs of the Senate GA Caucus, are joined by Harrison Ford for a conversation about the value of general aviation.

Wherever he goes, Harrison wins attention and support for general aviation, making him one of our most effective advocates. He has given freely of his time and talent to protect our freedom to fly through the GA Serves America campaign and in countless other ways. His generosity and dedication are without equal, and I, for one, am grateful for his support.

CAF helps rally GA

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

I am in Midland, Texas, today for a Rally GA event that’s part of the Commemorative Air Force’s annual AIRSHO. This morning brought cloudy skies after a full night of rain—something that hadn’t happened in more than a year and was a welcome relief from the drought in this part of Texas. But the clouds did nothing to dampen enthusiasm for a day filled with airplanes and excitement.

A night of rain was welcome in Midland.

CAF President Steve Brown offered a warm welcome to me and all of the show participants, including Congressman  Sam Graves of Missouri—an avid pilot and staunch friend to GA.

For me, it was a chance to meet more AOPA members and share my thoughts about the future, as well as listen to their concerns. Having people like you come out and get engaged with GA has never been more important.

User fees are back on the table and we have a hotly contested election year ahead. At times like these, elected officials—both those already in office and those hoping to win their various races—are listening carefully to voters, so this is a great time to let them know that general aviation matters to you.

We’ll be holding more Rally GA events to bring pilots together and I hope you’ll come when we’re in your area. It’s a great way to stay in touch with what’s happening and let your voice be heard.

Joining Heaven’s Landing (GE99) for a 10th Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

During the past three years, I’ve enjoyed getting to know Mike and Holly Ciochetti and learn about Heaven’s Landing. Mike’s vision along with Holly’s caring touch have created a unique and beautiful mountain estate airpark in Northeast Georgia. When I learned they were celebrating a 10th anniversary for the airpark, I decided to drop by for lunch in the AOPA Caravan.

N394GA, AOPA's Caravan touching down at Heaven's Landing

Taxing to the ramp with hangars and the club house.

Thanks to Heaven’s Landing own photographer, Jan Nash, the visit was captured in pictures unlike any I usually see. Jan sent a set of photographs and granted me the right to share her fine work. As I reviewed them I couldn’t help but think of how important it is to protect our freedom to fly! I hope you enjoy the collection.

Heaven’s Landing has unique two-story hangars available for residents. The Club House sits up on a hill with a great view of the whole airpark.

Mike and Holly show me the buffet line.

Visiting at lunch

Mike Ciochetti describes how he found this beautiful site when some of his cattle wandered onto the property….he discovered a location where he has developed homesites along with the airport. The Club House is about two years old.

View from the Club House

The hospitality was sensational…so was the Southern pulled pork and chicken!

We had a very relaxing afternoon. Following lunch I had a chance to address all of those in attendance.

The folks at this fine community not only appreciate the importance of protecting our freedom to fly, they live it every day!

After lunch and a tour, it was time to head back to Frederick. Temperature had turned cold and I wanted to return before the weather came through. As it turned out, Washington Center put me right into the icing altitude….thank goodness for TKS!

It was tough to leave….but, departing this beautiful place was also a wonderful experience as the hills surrounding Heaven’s Landing slipped beneath the Caravan.

The Caravan climbed to a comfortable 15,000 feet on the way home to stay above the weather. While climbing out over the Northeast Georgian hills, I promised myself I would return in the not too distant future.

If you want to learn more about Heaven’s Landing, you will find their site loaded with interesting information….just CLICK HERE.

Lifting off GE99

Heading home