Archive for March, 2012

Getting There is At Least Half the Fun

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

As readers know, I joined up with AOPA colleague Dave Hirschman in a flight of the Huskies to SUN ‘n FUN.  The Sweepstakes Tornado Husky and my Husky are a great pair of aircraft and a joy to fly.  Dave and I were joined by AOPA LIVE’s Paul Harrop who recently posted a exceptionally good record of our flight to Lakeland via the Gulf Coast and Key West.

Enjoy the video: 

And, if a track of the flight is of interest, click here: 

The RAF Fire Hub Let’s You Participate in SUN ‘n FUN!

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

When our friends at the Recreational Aviation Foundation first spoke to me about their idea to create an RAF Fire Hub at SUN ‘n FUN, I thought the idea was sensational!  What better image is there of a group of people relaxing around a fire at the end of a day.  So, I agreed AOPA would help with the first Fire Hub….then, I saw the design and heard more about the RAF’s vision of Fire Hubs around the country.

I really think they are on to something exciting!  And, here’s the best part….everyone can participate.  Around the Fire Hub are bricks that can be purchased by those passionate about aviation.  The first Fire Hub will be unveiled at SUN ‘n FUN in just another few hours and you can be a part of this wonderful opportunity…..the RAF will tell you how to participate…just click here: ….or, to get your brick right now, click here: .

If you are at SUN ‘n FUN on Tuesday afternoon, come to the unveiling…..look for the SUN ‘n FUN schedule of events for details on time and location.

Huskies In Place at SUN ‘n FUN

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

People and vehicles (and a few aircraft) were bustling around Lakeland Airport early this morning as I arrived at our AOPA tent.  Our very able events person in charge of the scene on our little piece of real estate is Jenni Rosenthal.  Not surprisingly, she had a whole crew at work for her.  First little glitch, no fork lift truck.  A call and the issue is gone….fork lift will arrive as promised. 

You see, Jenni’s vision is for the Sweepstakes Tornado Husky to be under partial shade….actually, it will be the pilots that want shade as the weather forecasts are very encouraging if you like sun!

Up goes the shelter.  Then, the crew comes to meet up with the Huskies and provides the power to push them a couple hundred yards down a path to the tent. 

With some careful work (we’re not revealing our secrets) both aircraft are positioned in front of the tent.  We tie them down and put the covers on as the show opens Tuesday.

My only regret….we can’t really fly for a whole week!

If you are in the area, I do hope you will come by for a visit at SUN ‘n FUN.  The folks here have arranged a great schedule for the week ahead…and, we will be here all week!

Huskies South–Day 4

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Flying past Marathon as we followed the road toward Key West.

We had originally planned to stay in Key West tonight, but the weather forecast has prompted us to change our plans. That said, it is an absolutely beautiful day, so we decided to head south to make the most of the good weather and better scenery but cut our visit short so we could be safely in Lakeland before the forecast rain arrives.


If there’s one thing that general aviation flying teaches us, it’s how to be flexible. Conditions and circumstances change. Weather moves in and out. There are so many variables in flying that you can’t be too attached to any particular plan. But, with the right attitude, it doesn’t matter all that much–there’s always something to enjoy, even if its some extra hangar flying while you wait out weather. Flying safely and enjoying it are what count, and that’s just what we intend to do.

In the meantime, let me share a little more of the view…


Heading south on this beautiful morning.

We made it! On the ramp in Key West.



Huskies South…Day 3

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

It may not be for everyone, but honestly, it is pure pleasure to be flying low and slow over the Gulf coast of Florida right now.  The winds are steady.  The air is smooth out over the water.  And, the scenery is just spectacular.

The Tornado Husky piloted by my colleague Dave Hirschman is also proving to be a fine photo platform for our colleague Paul Harrop.  Dave and I have discovered that all we have to do is fly the planes and Paul does a superb job showing our AOPA Online and AOPA LIVE audiences what this is like.   We are really excited about Paul’s work and I think all will agree he is a great new addition to the team.

Along the way, I enjoy taking a few pictures out of windows that open to the fresh salt air.

We’ve just wrapped up day 3 of our trip and are overnighting in Naples, Florida near the airport.  We’ve felt welcomed from the start!  The Huskies were surrounded by jets on the ramp at the Naples Municipal Airport, but the fellow on the line walked right up to the Tornado Husky and as a member expressed what virtually every member tells us…they are ready to win the aircraft.  Soon, Ted Soliday, the executive director of the City of Naples Airport Authority stopped over to say hello since he heard we were headed his way.

Today, we left Ceder Cay after breakfast and made a hop to Venice where we fueled up and enjoyed a light lunch at the airport cafe.  It was quite good.  Then, it was a scenic flight to Naples.

Here are some samples of what I’m seeing from N24HU.

This shot was taken as we were both climbing above the broken to scattered clouds.  Once we reached the West coast of Florida, the clouds became widely scattered.

I circled around Cedar Cay (KCDK) airport as the Tornado Husky touched down.  Dave and I noticed there are a fair number of skid marks well past the numbers…the 2,300 foot runway is plenty long for the Huskies and many other planes….but, some people may have stood on the brakes rather than just go around when finding they were landing long.

Without the tundra tires, N24HU is just a bit faster….I pulled up just to get this shot.  We are just a little South of Tampa and enjoying the blue water.

Now there is a beach!  At this point, we’re not far from Naples.

With the camera gear and a few bags for the night in Naples, we were grateful for the fine service at the Naples Airport!

We look forward to a weekend of flying and an arrival at Lakeland for our SUN ‘n FUN preparations on Sunday.  The excitement starts on Tuesday and we hope if you are in the area you will visit Lakeland and take in the show!

Huskies heading south

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Yesterday marked the second day of our Husky adventure to Sun ‘n Fun, and it was at least as enjoyable as the first. By late in the afternoon we had arrived in Cedar Cay, where we took some time for a photo and video shoot. To get the light just right, we circled the area as the sun set.

Flying over Cedar Cay.

If you haven’t tried your hand at aerial photography, you might be surprised to learn that the biggest challenge is often finding the right light to make the pictures look great. The photographers from the AOPA Pilot team are perfectionists—as I’m sure you’ve noticed when reading the magazine—so getting the right shot often means making many passes to be sure the light, the landscape, and the aircraft align perfectly. I haven’t seen the pictures from today’s shoot yet, but they can’t help but be beautiful.

Paul Harrop is our talented photographer and videographer on this journney, and he has been gathering great images of our journey as well as terrific interviews with people we’ve met along the way.

Huskies at Cedar Cay

We lined up the Huskies, ready to launch for our sunset photo shoot.

It was a special treat to meet some AOPA members who had spotted us flying around the area, then rode their bikes out to KCDK to say hello.

If you live in Florida and spot a couple of bright yellow Huskies overhead, it just might be us. If you do, come out and say “hi.” Meeting AOPA members is always the best part of any GA trip I take.


Huskies to SUN ‘n FUN

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Yesterday, we departed Frederick, Maryland for SUN ‘n FUN.  Of course, we intend to do a little extra flying in the Southeast!

As we’ve done before, AOPA’s Dave Hirschman is piloting the AOPA Tornado Husky, our current sweepstakes aircraft.  I’m flying my Husky, N24HU. 

I will file reports along the way and then spend the week in Lakeland, Florida and visit with members who join us on the grounds at SUN ‘ n FUN.  They have an exciting week planned and Dave and I will be the two fellows standing around our bright yellow Huskies…come see us!

Here we are yesterday waiting out low ceilings before departing Frederick.  Woody Cahall, who helps us with all things flying related, suggested we head out towards Harper’s Ferry and guess what….there was sunshine right on this beautiful West Virginia community.  But, it wasn’t until later that we found a nice hole in the overcast and up went the Huskies!

Our first day took us to Danville (KDAN) for refueling.  We ran into great AOPA members whom we’d last seen at the AOPA Summit in Hartford.  Given weather over the mountains to our West, we changed plans and headed for Beaufort, SC (KARW).  We were rewarded with a beautiful evening sunset and fine dinner at one of Beaufort’s many great restaurants.

Today, we’re planning to head South along the Western side of Florida.  We will look for new and interesting locations along the way as we work our way further South over the weekend and then back  to Lakeland (KLAL).

Follow the journey here….and, if you have the chance, come see us at SUN ‘n FUN!

Abu Dhabi – A New Country Joins IAOPA

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Gulf News provided extensive coverage of the Expo, including this picture of me talking to a local businessman who is importing light sport aircraft from Italy.

When the invitation came months ago to attend the Abu Dhabi Air Expo as a guest of the Abu Dhabi Airports Company, which organized the event, and recognize the newly formed AOPA group for the Emirates, I accepted. This first-time exhibition has not disappointed a few thousand attendees over the three-day event held at the Al Bateen Executive Airport.

It has been great to experience the enthusiasm of aviators here in Abu Dhabi. The show provides attendees with a look at a full range of aircraft from light sport to a Boeing 737 and everything in between. The reported use of GA aircraft is growing in the region and firms are looking to establish themselves here. Local officials are saying that private aviation in the Middle East is expected to experience a 20 percent growth rate. 

Interesting conversations have been held with several individuals who talk about the need for pilots, and flight instruction seems to be a growing part of the aviation industry in the region. When we asked one very active flight instructor from the region about the use of flight simulators, he said that today they only have one Redbird flight simulator but others with motion have been ordered. 

This was just one of many conversations that remind me of how much the U.S. aviation community is respected around the world.

Presenting provisional IAOPA membership to UAE AOPA representative M. Yousif Al Hammadi.

While in Abu Dhabi, in my capacity as IAOPA president, I officially recognized M. Yousif Al Hammadi as the newest representative to the International Council of AOPAs, bringing the number of member countries to 70. The Council is growing fast, with Namibia joining just last year. I must say, finding people with a passion for general aviation around the world is a very rewarding experience.

Later today, Bruce Landsberg, president of the AOPA Foundation, will make a presentation to the attendees. Bruce and I, along with our colleagues, are grateful to have been invited to be guests at this important gathering. And, we all came away enthusiastic about finding yet another place where the belief in general aviation is very much alive and well.