Energize the base – Part 2

This is part 2 of a two-part series from Bob Hepp, the owner of Aviation Adventures, winner of a 2012 Flight Training Excellence Award, and the 2012 Student’s Choice Award.

The flight training industry is starting to catch on to a concept the recreational Scuba diving industry has known for years–organizing and executing group fly-outs can be big for business, both in terms of immediate and long-term business. These are all trips we have done in the past, and continue to do now:

Hudson River Excursion – We depart our Washington, D.C., Metro airports to meet at Monmouth Executive Airport (KBLM) for a pilot prebrief. We depart Monmouth in single file, 1100’, and 110 KIAS for Apple intersection. No matter how many times you make this trip, it never fails to amaze all on board. Sights include Flushing Bay, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governor’s Island, the East River, the USS Intrepid with the Concorde and the Space Shuttle, the incomparable Manhattan skyline now complete with the Freedom Tower, Central Park, LaGuardia Airport, Newark Airport, and the George Washington Bridge…all from 1,100 feet! Some recommendations: Be sure all pilots complete the NYC Exclusion Zone course at www.faasafety.gov, check NOTAMs for sporting events and other events that establish TFRs in the Exclusion Zone, ensure there is a New York Terminal Area chart in each aircraft, as instructions and reporting points for the Hudson River trip are on the back side.

Oshkosh – The mecca of general aviation. This is the eighth year we have made the pilgrimage. The past four years we have joined with a group of Israeli pilots who rent our airplanes and hire our instructors for the trip. The trip departs the Washington, D.C., area on Sunday morning and proceeds to Dayton, Ohio, where the group tours the Air Force Museum. Monday morning we depart early, stop for fuel, then fly up the Chicago shoreline beneath the Bravo airspace to rendezvous at Dodge County Airport (KUNU). There we check the OSH ATIS and do a final brief before departing in line for the Oshkosh arrival procedure. The remainder of Mon, Tues and Wed are spent experiencing the greatest aviation event on earth. Thursday morning brings an early launch, back down the Chicago shoreline, then across the southern shore of Lake Erie to a few turns around Niagara Falls and an overnight in Niagara, New York. Friday morning we head south and do the Hudson River Tour on the way back home.

Tangier Island – One of the local gems in the Washington, D.C., area is Tangier Island (KTGI). Tangier is the southernmost Virginia island in the Chesapeake Bay. From spring through fall it has a population of about 900 and is an active crabbing island. Early inhabitants of the island were British sailors wounded in the attack on Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. Tangier Island is the only place on earth that Elizabethan English is still spoken, and most of the island residents still bear one of the four last names from the wounded sailors. Hilda Crocket’s Chesapeake House will serve you a memorable family-style meal of local fare. Tangier is small enough that you can walk the entire island in about 45 minutes. A trip to Tangier Island is like leaving the country without needing your passport.

Ski Trips – Once a year, usually in January, we do a fly-out trip to a local ski area with a nearby airport. The Wisp Ski Resort and the Garrett County Airport (4G4) in western Maryland have been our choices for the past several years. An early morning departure and a mid-afternoon return give us about four to five hours on the slopes. The Garrett County Transit system will shuttle your group to and from the slopes in a 15-passenger van for a few dollars a rider. Every inauguration day most government employees are off, so we depart Washington before the airspace closure, ski all day, and return after the airspace re-opens.

Fly and Float – The summer-time flying adventure is flying to an airport close to a canoe livery. We use the Front Royal Airport (KFRR) and the Shenandoah Canoe Company gladly picks us up, outfits us with canoes, kayaks, or rafts and drops us upriver into the beautifully placid Shenandoah River. After a lunch stop at the Shenandoah Canoe company snack trailer, we are back on the river for a few more hours of relaxation before being met at a takeout point and returned to the airport.

Amusement Park Trip – It is no small secret that most pilots are adrenalin junkies. No better way to feed that craving than a visit to Cedar Point, Ohio, the roller-coaster capital of the world. The Sandusky Airport is unfortunately scheduled to close this winter, but the Port Clinton Airport (KPCW) is about the same distance from the park. Be sure to experience the Top Fuel Dragster–zero to your hair straight back in milliseconds, then straight up, straight down with a 270 degree twist and done in less than 18 seconds.

Motorcycle Ride – We discovered that a great number of pilots are also bikers. We have heard that is because there are two types of people, those that enjoy operating in three dimensions and those that don’t. An organized ride to a good restaurant along a good route is always fun. We have done these rides together with a fly-out to a restaurant near an airfield.

Does your school do similar trips? Share them in the comments section.

  • http://www.flyslipstream.com Mischa Porter

    We just recently had our school’s first Fly-Out. We flew from our home base at Dallas Executive Airport, Dallas, TX (KRBD), to Tyler, TX (KTYR). Tyler has an excellent restaurant and aviation museum on the airport property. We took 3 planes and 6 students, and 3 instructors. A couple of the pilots where students who had fallen off the training schedule, and at least one of them has already started training again. We’re planning on quarterly Fly-Outs based on the success and positive feedback of our first event.

    • http://Www.fcaflightcenter.com Charley Valera

      Don’t wait! Schedule them often and create the excitement and enthusiasm. Make it so, “those who didn’t go will wish they did”. You will have ten planes and twenty pilots flying in no time. Good luck!

  • http://Www.fcaflightcenter.com Charley Valera

    Our flight school works jointly with the Fitchburg Pilots Association. Now up to about 130 members, 95% pilots. We schedule about a fly out per week during winter and twice a week when wx breaks. One evening dinner flight and a breakfast run. We have one called, “Take a Student Flying” next week. Keeps everyone busy and flying. We use http://www.meetup.com as our host site. Has worked great!