Free Avgas!!

Did I catch your attention?!

During March 2013, Clare Municipal Airport in Clare, Michigan will be offering free avgas to one lucky visitor up to $100.  All you need to do is stop in, purchase avgas, and fill out a ticket.  The lucky winner will received a full refund for his fuel up to $100!

So fly in, say hello to the friendly manager Dick (who is well known across the State for his ice cream and handmade shakes) and most importantly go fly!

How Sequestration Could Affect Central Southwest Region’s Airports

As most of you know, President Obama and Congress are in the throes of debate over federal sequestration, an unusual legislative requirement that dictates across-the-board cuts of $85 billion in federal spending on March 1, unless Congress finds a solution before. FMI, read the following two articles: and

I’ll start by pointing out that all of this is worst-case scenario. No one is able to draw any conclusions or reach decisions on where we might end up until, at least, this Friday, March 1.

Those articles above and the letter the FAA wrote to AOPA and other organizations( cited several measures that the agency might have to enact if a deal on sequestration isn’t reached, including:

1) the closure of 72 airport control towers during midnight shifts,

2) the complete shutdown of 238 towers (189 towers in the Contract Tower Porgram and 49 federally funded control towers) at airports with fewer than 150,000 flight operations per year,

3) the reduction of preventive maintenance, provisioning and support for all NAS equipment, and

4) a staff furlough.

Combined, the impact of the closures would amount to a 30-percent reduction in control tower service system-wide. Cuts would start in April and continue incrementally over 10 years if Congress and the Obama administration cannot agree by Friday, March 1 on a compromise to avoid  the arbitrary $85 billion cuts in federal spending for the rest of this fiscal  year.

You might be wondering how this could affect airports in the Central Southwest Region. Here is the list of airports, by state, that could potentially be permanently closed or their tower midnight shifts cut or reduced:

ATC Facilities – Potential Permanent Closures

Arkansas: Springdale Municipal (ASG), Fort Smith (FSM), Drake Field (FYV) in Fayeteville, Rogers Municipal – Carter Field (ROG), and Texarkana Regional – Webb Field (TXK).

Iowa: Waterloo (ALO), Dubuque Regional (DBQ), and Sioux Gateway (SUX).

Kansas: Forbes Field (FOE) and Philip Billard Municipal (TOP) in Topeka, Garden City Regional (GCK), Hutchinson Municipal (HUT), New Century AirCenter (IXD) and Johnson County Executive (OJC) in Olathe, and Manhattan Regional (MHK).

Louisiana: Chennault International (CWF) and Lake Charles Regional (LCH) in Lake Charles, Shreveport Downtown (DTN), Monroe Regional (MLU), and Lakefront (NEW) in New Orleans.

Missouri: Branson (BBG), Columbia Regional (COU), Jefferson City Memorial (JEF), Joplin Regional (JLN), and Rosecrans Memorial (STJ) in St. Joseph.

Nebraska: Central Nebraska Regional (GRI) in Grand Island.

New Mexico: Double Eagle II (AEG) in Albuquerque, Lea County Regional (HOB) in Hobbs, Roswell International Air Center (ROW), and Santa Fe Municipal (SAF).

Oklahoma: Ardmore Municipal (ADM), Lawtown-Fort Sill Regional (LAW), University of Oklahoma Westheimer (OUN) in Norman, Wiley Post (PWA) in Oklahoma City, Stillwater Regional (SWO), Enid Wooding Regional (WDG), and Klamath Falls (LMT).

Texas: Waco Regional (ACT) and TSTC Waco (CNW) in Waco, New Braunfels Municipal (BAZ), Jack Brooks Regional (BPT) in Beaumont, Brownsville/South Padre Island International (BRO), Easterwood Field (CLL) in College Station, Lone Star Executive (CXO) in Conroe, Fort Worth Spinks (FWS), East Texas Regional (GGG) in Longview, Arlington Municipal (GKY), Grand Prairie Municipal (GPM), Georgetown Municipal (GTU), San Marcos Municipal (HYI), Dallas Executive (RBD) and Collin County Regional at McKinney (TKI) in Dallas, Sugar Land Regional (SGR), Stinson Municipal (SSF) in San Antonio, Tyler Pounds Regional (TYR), and Victoria Regional (VCT).

ATC Facilities – Potential Overnight Closures

Arkansas: Little Rock (LIT) Tower

Iowa: Des Moines (DSM) Tower

Kansas: Wichita (ICT) Tower

Louisiana: Shreveport (SHV) Tower

Missouri: Kansas City Downtown (MKC) Tower and Springfield (SGF) Tower

Nebraska: Eppley Field (OMA) Tower

New Mexico: Albuquerque Sunport (ABQ) Tower

Oklahoma: Oklahoma City (OKC) Tower and Tulsa (TUL) Tower

Texas: Abilene (ABI) Tower, Austin Bergstrom (AUS) Tower, Corpus Christi (CRP) Tower, El Paso (ELP) Tower, Meacham (FTW) Tower, Lubbock (LBB) Tower.

The exact timing of these overnight closures would vary by facility.

Stay tuned for updates on the AOPA website/newsletters/etc, the Region’s Twitter account (@AOPACentralSW), or on this blog.


Last week, AOPA joined with the Tennessee Aviation Association and Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame and together we put on TENNESSEE AVIATION DAY ON THE HILL at Legislative Plaza in Nashville.

Getting exhibits set up and providing a Continental Breakfast for Legislators and Staffers by 7:00 AM started for me at about 4:30 in the morning. As the State Capitol began to come alive for the day’s business, we got into full-swing serving biscuits & sausage, coffee, fruit and juice and talking about General Aviation! Jo Ann Speer, the President of the Tennessee Aviation Association brought hundreds of little balsa airplanes with the TAA logo on them and they were a real big hit. TAA’s entire Board of Directors were there as was TAHF Chairman, John  Black. We had the best location possible, right outside the entrance to the Lt. Governor’s office.

Wednesday morning at the Capitol, a first ever event for TAA and the TAHF, was a great day. I spend a lot of time in the halls of the Legislature for AOPA so I knew most of our visitors personally. Tennessee has a long history of legislative support for aviation and that was strongly re-enforced by the reception we all got from both Legislators and Staff. It is such a pleasure working with governmental leaders that “get it”, as we say! Of course, we managed to work in some lobbying on a few issues of interest as well.

These types of aviation events, focused on State Capitols are productive and important. In the every-changing halls of democratic government we should never stop doing these things. The Tennessee event was my second one this month. I also participated in one in Atlanta on February 6th. It too was very successful.

A 50-year-old aviation survival story, with lessons for today…

From the “Looking Back” section of the Feb. 11, 2013 Fairbanks Daily News Miner.

The “Looking Back” section of yesterday’s Fairbanks Daily News Miner reported that on that day fifty years ago (February 11, 1963) an aircraft from Fairbanks was the object of an search along a Canadian stretch of the Alaska Highway.  The missing aircraft, a single engine Howard, was on its way to San Francisco. As a kid growing up in Fairbanks when this story first hit the papers, I followed with the rest of the country as the search, in severe winter conditions unfolded.  Initially searchers had no luck finding the downed aircraft.  Missing was 42 year old pilot Ralph Flores and his passenger, 21 year Helen Klaben, who had been sharing expenses for what was planned to be a three-day trip from Fairbanks down the Alaska Highway.

As the days passed, searchers found no trace of the missing pair. Winter temperatures in the areas plunged to 40 below and colder, and hopes begin to fade.  After two weeks, search efforts were called off, with the assumption that no one was able to survive in those conditions.

It definitely made headlines when 49 days after their disappearance the couple was found— ALIVE!  Not equipped with conventional survival gear, the little food they were carrying had been consumed in the first few days, leaving them to survive on melted snow and a tube of toothpaste for the better part of 40 days in the sub-Arctic wilderness.  Both had sustained injuries in the crash, so how did they survive?

Years later as a relatively new pilot, I attended a seminar organized by the Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation on survival skills, taught by the late Ray Tremblay. He used the Flores/Klaben accident to illustrate several aspects of a survival situation. Having no conventional survival equipment (sleeping bags, axe, firearm, food, etc.), they managed to survive 49 days in the wilderness in sub-zero temperatures.  How did they accomplish this feat, which would today challenge seasoned professionals?  Tremblay studied the case in detail and came up with his own answers, in part from the account of the ordeal written by Helen Kalben in her book, “Hey, I’m Alive.” 

There were two aspects of this accident that Tremblay suggested held important lessons  to consider:

  1. Conventional wisdom is to stay with your airplane, in a survival situation in the wilderness.  Not only is the aircraft easier to see from the air than a human, but it may supply a wealth of materials to use if you are stuck for an extended period.  In this case, the victims could hear search aircraft, but couldn’t attract their attention due the wooded nature of the crash site.  About five weeks after the accident, they moved to a more open area, and made a signal which was spotted by a pilot making a routine flight a few days later.  His point was this: conventional wisdom is valuable, but you have to consider all the factors and come up with the best course of action for the situation you find yourself in. Had they moved sooner, rescue undoubtedly would have been earlier. Had they not moved, their survival would have been in doubt.
  2. As the ordeal progressed, Flores attempted to convert Klaben to his religion.  Both were reasonably strong willed.  The discussions and mental conflict between the two kept them occupied, and provided a continued reason not to give up.  Tremblay impressed upon us not to overlook the role mental attitude plays (not necessarily always conflict) in a survival situation.

In addition to carrying standard items like food, first aid kit, signaling devices, and a sleeping bag in my survival gear, I include reading material to occupy the mind, in the event of a forced landing.  Even in non-emergency situations, I have found it valuable to read a chapter of a book while waiting for conditions to improve, to help reduce the temptation to “push the weather.”  And if push comes to shove, I can always use the pages to light a fire…

Helen Kaben did us a favor in writing her book, published within a year of the accident, that provides a detailed first-person account of the ordeal.  There are many factors that went into the success of this situation, leading to their survival. I recommend it for those interested in survival stories.

I will be watching the “Looking Back” section of the Fairbanks paper during the weeks ahead to see if other accounts of this story surface, and how it was reported, a half century ago.