AOPA Fly-In 2008 Archive

AOPA Fly-In is for kids!

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Seeing an airplane 35,000 feet above you is one thing. Getting a chance to climb inside a cockpit and see everything up close is a whole lot better. And the smallest visitors to AOPA’s eighteenth annual Fly-In and Open House are getting plenty of opportunities to climb into airplanes big and small, crawl under the wings, or fly a foam bird of their own.

This year’s Fly-In is introducing kids to a sky full of aviation. Not only can they see GA airplanes of every shape and size at our static display, but they can also check out gleaming model radio-controlled airplanes, see exactly how wide the wingspan of a glider is, and climb into the front seat of a weight-shift-control trike. Many of the kids who stopped by to check out the trikes on display stayed to meet Kiwi. She’s the 3-year-old parrot that belongs to Terri Sipantzi of Precision Windsports. She rode on Sipantzi’s shoulder as he explained the nuances of weight-shift-control aircraft to a fixed-wing pilot. “She enjoys the activity,” he said.

But speed is still an eye-catcher for many. Nine-year-old Cole Gibson, visiting Fly-in with his dad, Duane, and his younger brother, Owen, said he liked the Eclipse 400 best. “We saw that fly at Oshkosh last year,” Duane Gibson, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, said of Eclipse Aviation’s single-engine jet.

The Tower’s-eye View

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

“Aircraft leaving Runway 30, turn left on taxiway Delta, and follow the marshallers to parking.”

That’s perhaps the most common type of radio call I made during the the AOPA Fly-In. My duty was to serve in the ground control tower cab from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. This cab has some history to it. During World War II, when the Frederick airport was a military training field, the cab really was a control tower. Now it sits atop a squat building that houses the airport restaurant–the Airway Cafe.

I showed up a 7 sharp, and it was low IFR–200 feet vertical visibility, and the AWOS was broadcasting visibilities of 1/4 mile in fog. So my equipment–a VHF air band transceiver (for talking to arrivals), a Nextel phone (for calling the temporary FAA control tower across the field), and a portable transceiver (for talking to other AOPA staffers)–was pretty silent. There were two missed approaches, however. By 8:30 a.m. the fog burned off, and it was show time!

You get a real insight into the world of air traffic control doing this job. Incoming pilots call me up after leaving the runway, then I give them directions. Twins park at the ends of the hangars, Mooneys park in front of the Frederick Flight Center ramp, all turbine aircraft park on the Landmark ramp, and the rest park on the grass. Even though it’s fairly tame up in the cab, there’s no denying a touch of nervousness when each airplane calls you up. Working with me was Toni Mensching and John Collins from AOPA’s member services division.

I only screwed up once, and I think I got away with it without there being a federal case. I sent a display airplane–a Diamond TwinStar–to a visitor parking area. Realizing my mistake, I had him do a 180, and he followed a golf cart to his site.

Some times it got confusing. Marshallers also have transceivers, so sometimes they jump on ground control duty too. Other times incoming airplanes simply wouldn’t call up at all! Which is OK, as long as they spot the marshallers and follow directions to parking. You see a lot of pilots not wanting to taxi on the grass, but they shouldn’t worry. AOPA has checked out the grass areas and the surfaces are pretty bump-free. Low-slung airplanes–like Mooneys–get their own, well-rolled and maintained grass parking so they don’t have to fret about prop strikes.

In all, I worked about 20 airplanes. By the end of my tour temperatures were heading for the 90s, and more and more airplanes were on approaches to runways 30 and 23. Time to leave the relative cool and breezy tower cab and cruise the displays!

What’s Hot at AOPA Fly-In (Everything, Everyone)

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

With temperatures forecast to touch 100 degrees in Frederick today, AOPA Fly-In visitors seemed prepared.

The smell of SPF-50 wafted by as crowds dressed in sun hats, shades, and shorts started to arrive about 7:30 a.m.

A few early aircraft arrivals were stymied by low clouds and fog. The visibility at 7:30 a.m. was about a quarter-mile, and ceilings were down to 200 feet. I heard at least two single-engine piston planes attempt the ILS approach to Runway 23 and execute the missed approach. (OK, maybe it was the same plane twice.)

But the clouds parted by 8:30 a.m. and the forecast was VFR, but hot and hazy throughout the rest of the day.

My first assignment was dolling up the Sweepstakes Archer–and N208GG was getting plenty of attention.

AOPA members were full of questions about “their” airplane. The most common inquiries are:

1) Why black seats? (Because they look great.)

2) What are those sharp things on the leading edge? (Vortex generators.)

3) Do they work? (Yes. Stall speed is reduced about 4 kts.)

4) How do you like the Aspen Avionics PFD? (We love it.)

5) Do you have to get special training or a sign-off to fly with the PFD? (No.)

6) When can I pick it up? (January–and we’ll deliver it to you!)

Early arrival

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

AOPA staff member Brent Hart parks a Cessna 182 that was among the early arrivals to the AOPA Fly-In. Fog limited arrivals to IFR traffic.

Cirrus’ new panel

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Among the airplanes on display at the AOPA Fly-In is this Cirrus SR22 GTS with Cirrus’ optional Perspective avionics suite by Garmin. Editor in Chief Tom Haines explores the Cirrus Perspective in the July issue of AOPA Pilot, currently at the printer–look for it in your mailbox soon.

AOPA Fly-In 2008

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Coming up! Our editors might catch some fly-in blogging today. Stay tuned… Meanwhile, make sure to look at our fly-in procedures here. Note that restrictions are in place for P-40 (Camp David) and the Adiz south of Frederick (FDK). Read the notams before you fly. Stay safe and have a great landing!