Holiday Volunteer Pilots Needed in Michigan

Have you ever wanted to play Santa Claus in your personal Cessna, Piper, or Beech sled? Well here’s your opportunity to spread Christmas cheer across the State of Michigan!

For more than 40 years, Operation Good Cheer has made a difference in the lives of foster care children living in all corners of Michigan.  “OGC” as it is referred to locally has brightened the holiday season for more than 5,200 children using 70 social service agencies, 290 sponsoring individuals, families, and companies, 20 trucking companies and 25 community airports. And — nearly 300 aircraft and hundred of general aviation pilots!

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If you happen to be one of the goodhearted pilots with an interest in serving the community on Saturday, December 5th — read on! Your help is needed for the “Spirit of Good Cheer” flight which brings the gifts from Oakland County International Airport to airports and deserving children across the State. Does your plane have a turbine? Maybe a propeller? Are you instrument rated? Or not?  Those are all minor details as all licensed pilots of any aircraft are welcome to join the team!  If you are interested, take a look here for information on the airport, the procedure, and to RSVP to give the team a heads up that you are coming:


I have participated in OGC several times and I can say its one of the best times I’ve had while flying.  The team, the pilots, and the children are all upbeat, happy, and helpful.  So, if you have some time considering donating some of your time — you won’t be disappointed!


Wings Around the World — From Right Here!


During AOPA’s Fly In at the Anoka County – Blaine Field Airport, I had the pleasure of stopping to visit with a number of exhibitors and vendors that were kind enough to join us for the event.  While walking the grounds, an unsuspecting Piper Seneca with several signs nearby and some writing on the wing caught my eye.


Little did I know, the Seneca, her pilot, Tim Fino, and several others would be traversing the globe in a few short months.  The goal: promote not only the Wings of Mercy organization but also general aviation’s role in providing humanitarian relief across the globe.  For those of you who aren’t aware of Wings of Mercy (WOM), the organization is a non-profit volunteer group that connects low income families in need of medical transportation to distant specialized medical facilities.

While Tim and his team were hoping to launch from Airventure this year, some logistical issues have pushed back that date to May 15, 2016 and gives the group some time to secure additional support for the trip which has a projected cost of more than $50,000 for fuel alone. Tim and the team’s arrival back in the area will take place during the 2016 Airventure in Oshkosh, WI.  I look forward to welcoming him back personally!
WOM Plane SigningOne of the ways Tim is raising money for the trip is to offer supporters the ability to make a trip around the world…sort of!  For a small contribution, anyone is welcome to sign the wing of the Seneca and offer well wishes to the pilots!  I must admit, I’m looking forward to my trip!

WOM Plane Signature


For more information on the Wings Around the World Trip, visit or\

Think you’re the best? Visit the AOPA at the Great Lakes Aviation Conference and Test your Skill!

I’m really looking forward to the next iteration of the Great Lakes International Aviation Conference being held in Lansing, Michigan on January 23 and 24 because of a new addition to the AOPA booth this year!

AOPA will be hosting a spot landing content on a brand new AOPA Jay Simulator. It may end up being a bit too cold in Michigan to do too much flying, but in the warmth of the Lansing Convention Center you can test your chops against your fellow pilot! Stop by the booth, register for a time, and test your skill!

And, remember, AOPA members are offered a $10 admission discount this year! Visit the to find the discount form.

Wisconsinites: Telling the Story of A Tax Change

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of speaking at the Wisconsin Aviation Conference in Rothschild. I was joined by Abe Weber from Outagamie County Regional Airport and Jeff Baum from Wisconsin Aviation to discuss the aircraft maintenance tax exemption passed earlier this year and the importance of national and state aviation groups working together to achieve their legislative priorities

But, as I mentioned to the group, advocating for the passage of a bill is only part of our responsibility when it comes to a tax policy change such as the reform in Wisconsin.  Telling the ‘on the ground’ story of the reform is absolutely critical — which is why AOPA has put together a brief survey to collect the impacts the tax exemption is having on the industry.  With the information collected from the survey, AOPA and the several Wisconsin aviation organizations can publicize how the tax reform is benefiting the state through job creation, stronger economic performance, and many other factors.

So, if you are a pilot, aviation business owner, or in any other way impacted by Senate Bill 348 which provides a complete sales tax exemption for the parts used for aircraft maintenance please take a moment to complete the survey and return it to me — I’d really appreciate it! Click on the link below to find the survey.

Wisconsin Aviation Maintenance Aircraft Tax Exemption Survey

University of Michigan Flyers Fly It Forward


As you may have seen on various aviation websites, March 3 through March 9 was Women in Aviation Worldwide Week and I was honored to help celebrate it with the University of Michigan Flying Club at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport. Almost 100 children, invited by Michigan Flyer’s members Anne Greenberg, Kathryn Robine, and Amelia Jayne, appeared through the snowy streets outside the Airport on March 7.  The students were given the opportunity to hear about aerodynamics, airplane systems, careers in aviation, and were able to sit at the controls at Michigan Flyer’s new Cessna Skycatcher and 172 in addition to a Piper Archer provided by yours truly thanks to my flying club Mang Aero Club based at the nearby Willow Run Airport.

Since the weather has been unusually harsh here in the Great Lakes, it was great to see some activity, both of current pilots and of the visiting students at the airport — many of which were so surprised at how easily they could get into an airport and fly off in an aviation career.

I can’t say enough good things about Michigan Flyers and the team that put together such a great event!

Students visit Ann Arbor Municipal Airport


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Michigan Flyers member and CFI Joe Morabito describes his previous airline career and what it takes to become a pilot.








National Wind Turbine Map: A new Pilot Resource

As one of the fastest growing forms of renewable energy, wind turbines are sprouting up all over the country.  On a recent airline flight across the country, I was blown away to see areas in northern Texas with rows of wind-turbines that went on for miles—some of which included well over of a hundred turbines. Now I know why they call them wind farms!  This technology is increasingly popular in rural Alaska, where the cost of fuel to generate electricity is through the roof expensive.  As with all good things, they come with potential impacts.  As pilots, wind turbines provide several challenges: initially as obstructions we have to avoid during flight.  If located too close to airports, they interfere with instrument approaches resulting in higher minimums and reduced access.  Finally, when the wind  blows they represent a source of turbulence, which we still have much to learn about (more on that later).

Interface to the Interactive Wind Farm Map, starts with an overview of where towers are found around the country.

Interface to the Interactive Wind Farm Map, starts with an overview of where towers are found around the country.

Locating individual wind turbines
Recently the US Geological Survey has given us a new tool to locate wind turbines, on a nation-wide basis.  A new interactive mapping application, provides access to a database that not only shows us where wind turbines are found, but records their height, blade length, and other information on a tower-by-tower basis. Prior to this, while some states captured the locations of individual wind turbines, there was no uniform database that provided this information across the country.  Starting with the FAA’s Digital Obstruction File (through July 22, 2013), a USGS team led by Dr. Jay Diffendorfer located over 47,000 turbine sites, verifying individual tower locations with high-resolution satellite imagery. This data base gives us a much better way to find individual tower locations, with a location accuracy estimated to be within 10 meters.

While fewer in number, wind turbines are sprouting up across Alaska.

While still few in number, wind turbines are sprouting up across Alaska.

A row of wind turbines just outside Unalalkeet, on the west coast of Alaska. According to the USGS interactive map, they have a total height of 156 ft. tall

A row of wind turbines just outside Unalalkeet, on the west coast of Alaska. According to the USGS interactive map, they have a total height of 156 ft. tall

Understanding impacts
This database is designed to support research into environmental effects on both critters that fly, and wildlife habitat.  But these data may also be useful in the future to project the impact of down-wind effects on general aviation airports, which is still an evolving research topic.  A recent study at the University of Kansas has shown that the turbulence from a wind turbine extends further as wind speed increases, up to 3 miles in some cases.  This and the potential increase in cross winds could be a significant impact for small aircraft at GA airports.  Hopefully, more work will be done to quantify these conditions, leading to improvements in the FAA’s obstruction review process, which today only takes into account the height of an obstruction above ground when air space reviews are conducted.

Provide feedback
All maps are only as current as the date used to make them.  This data set incorporated information from FAA’s obstruction file as of last July.  And if you come across wind turbines that aren’t in the database, please capture what information you can and send an email with the location to [email protected].

Thanks to this effort, we have a better way to learn where wind turbines are located in the areas where we fly!

Milwaukee News Program Targets General Aviation…And Misses the Real Story.

A Milwaukee television station TMJ-4 is promoting an “investigative” report entitled “Small Airports, Big Upgrade” that will air tonight. The preview states: “Millions of your tax dollars dumped into tiny airports that you’ll never use. Why are Wisconsin’s smallest airports getting big upgrades with your money? You asked, we investigate.” (Link below).
AOPA contacted the reporter and was promised a call back, but never received one.
Here’s what you probably won’t see or hear on tonight’s report:
  • Total impact of general aviation on Wisconsin’s economy: $694.5 million in economic output/9,390 job/$259 million in personal income earned in 2010.
  • Total impact of all aviation in Wisconsin: $6.9 billion in output/90,900 jobs/$3.5 billion personal income earned in 2010.

A sampling of the impact of a few small and medium-sized airports:

  • WAUKESHA COUNTY AIRPORT —  $42 million in sales/$10 million in wage income/281 jobs in 2008-2009;
  • EAST TROY MUNICIPAL AIRPORT — $12.9 million in sales/$4.8 million in wage income/113 jobs in 2010;
  • EAGLE RIVER UNION AIRPORT — $8.4 million in economic output/$2.1 million in personal income and 122 jobs in 2004;
  • CENTRAL WISCONSIN AIRPORT, Mosinee — $71.5 million in economic output/564 jobs/$16.4 million in wage income in 2012;
  • OUTAGAMIE COUNTY REGIONAL AIRPORT, Appleton — $293 million in economic output/1,417 jobs/$79.5 million in payroll. (All figures according to Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics economic impact studies).

Contact the TMJ-4 vice president/general manager, Steve Wexler, at:  [email protected]

Link to “story”:

AOPA’s Mark Baker Comes to Michigan!

The Great Lakes Aviation Conference and Expo (GLIAC) will be held February 14th and 15th at the Lansing Convention Center in Downtown Lansing, Michigan.  It has been a major attraction for those in the aviation field in the Great Lakes Region for 14 years. The Conference and Expo is designed to provide an interactive and education event offering 60 breakout sessions for pilots, maintenance professionals, sport pilots, instructors, and students.

The GLIAC has a unique partnership with the FAA, Aviation Business Leaders, Industry Experts, and other individuals that strive to make it a complete and comprehensive event.

Among the talented keynote presenters including Barry Cooper, FAA Regional Administrator, General John Borling, and Art Mortvedt will be AOPA’s President and CEO Mark Baker.  Mark will discuss the Association’s ongoing work to protect our freedom to fly and his own mission to energize pilots and put the fun back into flying during the Friday 12:00pm Keynote Address.

Yours truly will also be in attendance will some great giveaways at the AOPA booth.  Please stop by and say hello!

Great Lakes Class B Changes Effective January 9, 2014

From the AOPA Air Traffice Services Team:

The modification reduces the Class B shelf floors (as noted in red in the attached depiction) along with an expansion of the cutout around Stanton Airfield (SYN).  We want to encourage the flying public to become familiar with the changes and plan accordingly.  As I am sure you are well aware, MSP Class B airspace area falls on three Sectional Charts, Twin Cities, Omaha and Green Bay, which do not all align with the effective date of this modification.  In an attempt to mitigate this issue, the FAA has published two safety alerts and modified the Green Bay VFR chart.  The current edition of the Green Bay Sectional Chart will remain effective until January 9, 2014, with the next edition effective from January 9, 2014 to May 29, 2014.  However, the Omaha Sectional Chart, effective 6 February 2014 will not depict the modification for 29 days.  AOPA urges pilots to refer to the Aeronautical Chart Bulletins section of the Airport/Facility Directory for updated information regarding major changes in aeronautical information that have occurred since the last chart publication date.

Additional details are part of a previous AOPA article linked below:

Omaha VFR Chart, Safety Alert:

Green Bay VFR Chart, Safety Alert: