Cold Temperature Correction Procedures Meeting in Alaska

The FAA’s update to the list of cold temperature restricted airports has generated questions from Alaska pilots about the process. Initially raised at a meeting of the Interior Alaska Flight Instructors Association in Fairbanks, the FAA is sending an official to Alaska from Washington DC to explain and discuss the procedures. Kel Christianson, from Flight Standards Performance Based Flight Systems Branch (AFS-470), will meet with pilots on Wednesday, January 20 at 7 p.m. Mr. Christianson will cover the background on why and how cold temperature correction procedures have been instituted in the National Airspace System, and provide detailed examples on making altitude corrections to instrument approach procedures.

Cold Temperature Correction Procedures apply to nearly 100 airports in Alaska.

Cold Temperature Correction Procedures apply to nearly 100 airports in Alaska.

The Fairbanks based CFI association compiled specific questions from Alaska operators in advance and supplied them to the FAA. A question and answer session will follow the briefing. FAA Air Traffic Control staff will also be on hand to answer questions. The meeting is being sponsored by the FAA Safety Team, and will take place at the Fairbanks International Airport Operations Center, 5195 Brumbaugh Blvd, on the west side of the airport.

Since almost a hundred Alaska airports are on the list, and winter tends to be our dominant season, these procedures may have a major impact on those pilots who fly IFR. Consider taking advantage of this meeting to learn more about this topic.

Possible increase in Alaska aviation motor fuel tax

Alaska is facing a budget crisis due to the low price of crude oil, which will impact all Alaskans, most likely in multiple ways. Focusing on the impact to the 247 state operated airports, the Alaska Aviation Advisory Board (AAB) worked with the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT) to look at ways to provide additional revenue to support the airports, while having minimal impact on aviation system users. This discussion started back in February this year, when DOT initially announced a proposal to establish landing fees at Deadhorse, a move that many feared would spread to other airports across the state system. In a meeting with Governor Walker, the AAB expressed concerns about landing fees, and asked to work with DOT to look at other options before any changes were made. The Governor indicated he would welcome the board’s input, which kicked off a series of meetings with DOT.

At the spring and summer AAB meetings, DOT presented both the costs to operate the Rural Alaska Airport System, and three alternative methods to increase revenues. DOT also discussed several possible measures to reduce operating costs. These ranged from handing some airports over to local communities to operate, to streamlining the aviation functions of the department into a single division.   Establishing a true division of aviation within DOT is something that a number of aviation organizations, including AOPA and the Alaska Airmen’s Association, have advocated for a number of years. While we believe that streamlining the management of DOT airports will help manage costs in the long run, this doesn’t address the immediate need to keep the airports operating.

What does it cost to operate state airports? Funding for airports comes in two distinct flavors: capital funding, which is used to build and improve airports, primarily comes from the federal government; and operating funding, which covers staffing, supplies and other costs associated with operations and maintenance, which is typically supplied by the airport owner.

Capital Funding:  The State of Alaska, like other states, receives grant money directly from the FAA through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), to build and expand airports. Alaska has received over $200 million/year for the past several years from this program. The FAA’s contribution is typically about 90% of the grant, with a requirement for the state to match the federal funding. The state’s contribution comes from the airport owner, called the sponsor, in FAA terms. This AIP funding mechanism allows for the construction and improvements of airports nationwide, but comes with strings attached. One of the strings is that the sponsor (airport owner) agrees to pay for operation of the facilities, and to keep them in good working order.

Operational Funding: Funding the operation and maintenance of airports is the challenge. The FAA expects airport sponsors (owners) to pay for operations, and airports typically charge fees to help cover some of those costs. Airport lease fees, tie down fees, and other revenue streams help offset operational costs. In Alaska, even though we rely on aviation for basic transportation, our low population base often doesn’t provide the volume of fees that would be needed for our airports to truly be self-sustaining. Here are the figures for the state-operated airports (not including Anchorage and Fairbanks International, which are operated as a separate enterprise fund). The cost to operate the Rural Alaska Aviation System in FY 2014 was $33.8 million dollars. Revenues received by the state included $5.3 million from airport leasing, tie down permits, etc. and $4.6 million in aviation motor fuels taxes, for a total revenue of $9.9 million. These revenues go into the General Fund. Each year the Legislature appropriates money from the General Fund to DOT, which includes the resources to operate the rural airports.

Revenue Options  DOT presented three options to increase revenues: Implement landing fees, initially at the regional hub (Part 139) airports; implement a state-wide airport user fee, and; increase motor fuel taxes. The AAB looked at these from the standpoint of how much they would cost to implement, the projected amount of revenue generated, what they would cost the users, and how equitable they seemed both to different segments of the aviation community and to the public, which in many cases relies on aviation for the delivery of goods and services, in addition to their own transportation. After considerable deliberation, the AAB recommended that the state increase the aviation motor fuel tax from the current levels (4.7 cents/gal for avgas and 3.2 cents/gal for jet fuel), to 10 cents/gal for both fuel types. Based on projections provided by the state, this would raise about $9 million additional revenue per year. Combined with the current revenue streams, it would provide approximately $19 million of the $34 million needed to operate the rural airports.

A significant motivation for this recommendation is that a change in motor fuel tax doesn’t create any additional cost to state government to collect. Both landing fees and airport user fees require additional administrative efforts to collect, as well as burden the user with tracking and payment. It was also felt that the motor fuel tax was more equitable because cost is proportional to use. Adam White, Government Affairs Manager for the Alaska Airmen’s Association, provided the following information to show the impact to some typical GA users:

Adam White fuel tax table

At a recent meeting in Fairbanks, Governor Walker acknowledged the AAB recommendation. It will take legislative action, however, to make a change to the motor fuel tax. While no one wants to see an increase in operating cost, the motor fuel tax increase option appears to be the best choice to address this issue. We will certainly be discussing it more in the months ahead, and we are interested in hearing your thoughts on funding to keep our airports open, maintained and safe for all aviation operations.


This article is reprinted from the January-March, 2016 issue of the Alaska Airmen’s Association Transponder.

2015’s Year-End Review –> Central Southwest Region

Note: The AOPA Central Southwest Region covers NM, TX, LA, OK, AR, KS, MO, NE, and IA.

Addressing the big issues that will affect the way we fly for decades to come requires a big commitment, and 2015 has been a year marked by steady progress on some of the biggest issues of all.

National Issues and Initiatives

Some of the federal issues AOPA worked on in 2015 include addressing barriers to Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipage, introducing the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 to include third class medical reform as well as protections for pilots facing enforcement actions, integrating Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) or “drones” into the National Airspace System (NAS), and identifying a replacement for unleaded avgas (100LL). AOPA was also a key player in growing the General Aviation Caucuses on both houses, with the House one reaching an all-time membership record of 274 representatives.

State and Local Issues and Initiatives

When it comes to making an impact on the way we fly, it’s not just national issues that make a difference. AOPA is equally hard at work on the state level and at local airports to keep GA flying.

In 2015, we monitored over 750 bills across the regions, taking an active advocacy role on many of them. Among the state legislative victories racked up in the Central Southwest Region were:

  • Airport improvement funding/appropriations in all the states,
  • Texas: 1) A requirement to mark, register and enforce the marking and registration of Meteorological Evaluation Towers (MET towers) to mitigate safety-of-flight hazard for pilots, 2) clarification of how GA aircraft leasing and business practices operate so that sales and use tax changes do not affect the industry’s positive contribution to the state’s economy, 3) the ability for repossession agents to file a petition in a justice court for a writ of assistance to receive help from law enforcement officials when repossessing an aircraft, and 4) allow anybody to obtain a copy of the TxDOT Airport Directory for free,
  • Louisiana: A fly-away sales/use tax exemption on Louisiana-manufactured or Louisiana-assembled passenger aircraft with a maximum capacity of 8 people.
  • Oklahoma: Setting a minimum mile-and-a-half distance between the construction of new wind-energy turbines and any public-use and private-use airport. Although the state’s 2010 law known as the Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act only applies to public-use airports, this new law also applies this safety protection to Oklahoma’s 245 private-use airports.
  • Arkansas: 1) A partial fly-away sales/use tax exemption on aircraft, 2) a sales/use tax exemption on maintenance (labor and parts) for aircraft 12,500 lbs or more, and 3) a law that authorizes the State Highway Commission to maintain and repair roads leading up to qualifying airports.
  • Missouri: A fly-away sales/use tax exemption on aircraft,
  • Nebraska: 1) Property tax cuts on business aircraft and 2) an improved law regarding the marking and registration of MET towers as well as an enforcement provision of those two requirements, and
  • Iowa: Legislation to 1) protect GA education and flight instruction providers, 2) promote good land-use and protect navigable airspace in the form of the Airport Zoning Act, and 3) preserve the process for closing airports and repaying open state grants.

In addition, if you are watching the news, you may also know that the states and several local municipalities are considering and drafting rules and legislation addressing UAS use. We have been tracking these to ensure they understand the FAA’s safety reasons and responsibility for federal oversight of aviation and airspace (such as restrictions on flight altitude or flight paths, regulation of the navigable airspace, or mandating UAS-specific equipment or training). UAS laws likely to fall under state/local authority involve requirements for police to obtain a warrant prior to using UAS for surveillance, prohibitions on the use of UAS for voyeurism, exclusions on using UAS for hunting or fishing, and prohibitions on attaching firearms or other weapons to a UAS.

And, sometimes in politics, the good news is that bad news won’t happen. This year, we had to fight the reversion, diversion, and/or elimination of aviation-generated funds from state aviation funds in several states, most notably in New Mexico, Missouri and Louisiana. We also fought against aviation (mostly aviation fuel) tax increases, especially if those additional taxes were not scheduled to go back to the state’s aviation division for aviation uses.

Louisiana Speaker Kleckley

Louisiana Speaker Kleckley

Aviation Days at the Capitol

New Mexico, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa all had Aviation/Transportation Days at the Capitols, providing a great opportunity for pilots, aviation organizations (like AOPA), and legislators to meet and chat about our agenda and the importance and benefit of general aviation to each respective state.

Glider designer George Applebay being honored on the House floor during New Mexico's Aviation Day at the Capitol.

Glider designer George Applebay being honored on the House floor during New Mexico’s Aviation Day at the Capitol.

With Kansas State Representatives Seiwert (L) and Carmichael (R)

Kansas State Representatives Seiwert (L) and Carmichael (R)

With Kansas Governor Sam Brownback

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback

State Aviation Caucuses

Arkansas and Texas are the two states within our region with State Aviation Caucuses and both had meetings in 2015. Several members of the Texas General Aviation Caucus met for a couple of presentations on March 5th and the Arkansas Aerospace and Aviation Caucus learned about airspace and air traffic in their respective communities as well toured the Little Rock ATCT/TRACON on January 21st.

Texas Rep Kuempel welcoming members of the Texas General Aviation Caucus as well as aviation stakeholders to the annual meeting

Texas Rep Kuempel welcoming members of the Texas General Aviation Caucus and aviation stakeholders to the annual meeting

With members of the Arkansas Aerospace and Aviation Caucus and two FAA controllers

With members of the Arkansas Aerospace and Aviation Caucus and two FAA controllers

Aviation Proclamations

The majority of the states – and several communities within some of those states, such as mayors in Baton Rouge, Hammond, New Iberia, and Ruston – issued Governor proclamations recognizing the value of aviation and the jobs and opportunities it creates, among other benefits.

Member Engagement and Outreach

As part of a Regional Manager’s job, we also get to engage with our members and future pilots. In 2015, I represented AOPA at over 50 events across the region, ranging from flying club meetings to flying events (like a poker run or an air tour) and everything in between (meetings with our Airport Support Network Volunteers, visits to Universities and other entities, seminars, Pinch Hitter courses, fly-ins, fly-outs, airshows, conferences…).

You can also engage with me via Twitter or any of the media outlets I contribute to (like the regional website, Midwest Flyer Magazine, or TxDOT’s Wingtips newsletter, for example).

I looking forward to another productive year in 2016! Stay tuned for ways you can contribute and engage with us but keep in mind several of the states will only have tax-related sessions and the Texas Legislature will not meet.


(in collaboration with Elizabeth Tennyson)

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!

Website 1

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!


Lake Hood Master Plan Alternatives Survey

The Lake Hood Seaplane Base is in the process of updating it’s Master Plan, the document which will guide development of the airport for the next ten to twenty years.  The process involves planning staff and stakeholders reviewing issues, current use and future projections for the airport, and developing alternatives for projects to maintain and/or expand the facility. At this stage, alternatives have been developed, and a user survey is underway to rate the alternatives developed by the planning team.  Options range from maintenance of existing facilities, to candidate projects that could significantly expand the capacity of the airport. For more information about the plan, which is about halfway through a two-year schedule, see the LHD Master Plan website.

Whether you are a local or transient user of Lake Hood, consider taking the online survey, designed to help set priorities for the proposed alternatives identified. The survey has links to color maps, showing the locations of different elements of the plan.  It contains about 50 questions, so you might grab a cup of coffee and prepare to devote a little time to working through the the options.  Click here to take the survey, which runs through December 7, 2015.

lake hood mp graphic

Lake Hood is is purported to be the world’s largest seaplane base, and is the home for some 800 aircraft.  With the water lanes and gravel runway, it serves both seaplane and wheel traffic, often topping 400 operations a day in the summer.  This general aviation airport (exclusive of neighboring Anchorage International Airport) is estimated to have an economic impact of $24 million to the Anchorage community. In addition to being home for private pilots, air taxi operators, maintenance and parts businesses, it has an aviation museum, several government aircraft bases and a Civil Air Patrol maintenance facility. It is also home to the Alaska Airmen’s Association.

If you care about this facility, take a few minutes and provide some feedback to help guide the future of this Alaskan crown jewel.

Heads Up: VIP NOTAM issued for Anchorage

Heads up for pilots flying in the Anchorage area this Sunday afternoon, November 22, 2015. A VIP NOTAM has been posted for the time interval from 2 to 5 pm, limiting flights within 30 nautical miles of JBER. Like the Presidential TFR from last August, there is an inner and outer ring, each with different restrictions.

Remember, the details and times may change, so be sure to check NOTAMs before you take off (and while enroute) for the latest information.

Graphic depiction of the VIP TFR NOTAM. Make sure and check for updates, in case it changes.

Graphic depiction of the VIP TFR NOTAM. Make sure and check for updates, in case it changes.

Book Review: The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

If you have any interest in aviation history, pick up a copy of David McCullough’s latest book: The Wright Brothers, published earlier this year. Having read other books about this famous duo, it was with some apprehension that I opened this latest work.   It didn’t take more than a few pages to become captivated by the story, masterfully woven by McCullough. More so than the other books I am familiar with, this account made it feel like I knew Wilbur and Orville, as well as their sister, Katharine, another key member of the team. How these individuals from a seemingly “normal” middle class family in Dayton, Ohio managed to succeed over others better equipped and financed, is a fascinating tale that goes beyond the mechanics of aviation. This is why McCullough found it a worth story to research and share with the world.

coverThe first part of the book introduces the Wright family in some detail. Much of the foundation that set the course for the Wright Brothers is found there in the form of a rich home environment that provided a well-rounded education. Even though neither brother finished high school, there was “much encouragement to intellectual curiosity” that extended beyond the classroom. Their father, a bishop in his church who spent months at a time away from home, provided a role model that demonstrated both a strong work ethic, and that it was OK to be focused on a mission—even one that might not be popular. Conquering the problem of manned flight was not something that the brothers grew up with, as their interests and talents were quite broad including athletics, music, reading, even cooking.

An event that most likely did lead them to the “aviation question” was of a different nature. During his senior year in high school, Wilbur was struck in the face with a hockey stick, resulting in the loss of most of his upper teeth. This incident and the three-year convalescence that followed changed the direction of his life, causing him to drop plans of attending college. As largely a home-bound recluse, he began to read widely which brought Otto Lilienthal, the German glider enthusiast, to his attention. There are many twists and turns along the way, which McCullough does a masterful job of weaving into the story, making it hard to put down.

Wilbur Wright at the controls over Le Mans, France. This was the location of the first public demonstration of the Wright Flyer aircraft, which made the Wright Brothers famous overnight.

Wilbur Wright at the controls over Le Mans, France. This was the location of the first public demonstration of the Wright Flyer aircraft, which made the Wright brothers famous overnight.

The book fully describes the events leading to the famous 12 second flight in 1903 we celebrate as the “take off” of powered flight at Kitty Hawk. While a significant milestone, it was almost another five years of pain-staking trial and error development that followed before the real public roll-out of aviation. That occurred in Le Mans, France on August 8, 1908. On the track that was used for horse races, Wilbur made the first public demonstration of the Flyer. The French, at the time, were more active in aviation development than the United States, and considered themselves the leaders in this arena. Many believed that the Wright brothers were bluffing with regard to their accomplishments of “controlled flight.” Toward the end of that day, after long and careful preparations, Wilbur took off, flew a simple race-track pattern and landed almost exactly on the spot he had departed. It lasted only about two minutes, but the crowd went wild. Pilots in the audience, including Louis Bleriot, were stunned by the control that had been demonstrated. Overnight, Wilbur’s flight made worldwide headlines. Why this took place in France and not in the US is a fascinating part of the story, which I won’t risk spoiling.

Last week, I heard David McCullough speak about the Wright brothers, and some of the elements that most intrigued him about this story. He credited the home environment, created by their parents as providing the brothers an exposure to the world beyond their hometown. He pointed out that Dayton was the source of many patents at the time, including the invention of the cash register, which became a huge business there. McCullough noted that pre-1903 most of the population believed that manned flight was impossible. Consequently, people that pursued that goal were by definition suspect, if not outright wackos. He also observed that the brothers were able to learn from their failures, yet were not deterred from their quest.

The magnitude of their accomplishments went well beyond figuring out the design of an airplane. Wilbur and Orville taught themselves how to fly—a task that even today is no small undertaking. They realized that aviation was a potentially dangerous activity, which had killed earlier experimenters including German glider enthusiast Otto Lilienthal. Consequently, they implemented risk management practices. The brothers didn’t fly together, so that if a fatal crash occurred one would remain to continue the mission. It wasn’t until a celebration in 1910 that the two brothers flew together, for the first and only time, which McCullough cites as a recognition that they had accomplished their goal.

The Wright Brothers runs to over 250 pages, richly illustrated with photographs, diagrams and documents. It topped the New York Times Best Seller list for multiple months, which suggests that more than pilots are finding this piece of American history worth reading.  If you pick up a copy, be prepared to strap in and enjoy the ride!

 For a brief glimpse of Wilbur Wright flying in Le Mans, France in 1908, check out this short video.

Mat Su Floatplane Facility Survey Underway

Update: Survey deadline extended through November 15.

A user survey is being conducted to evaluate the magnitude of the demand for a new airport/floatplane facility in the Mat Su Borough. As part of a larger Regional Aviation System Plan, the survey is designed to obtain feedback from pilots and aviation business owners regarding the need for a new facility that would support both float and wheel aircraft operations. As follow on to an earlier study, the survey seeks input on three candidate locations under consideration in the southern part of the Mat Su Valley. Questions also ask aircraft owners to rank the importance of different factors to their selection of a place to base their aircraft or business.

The larger aviation system plan looks at other issues such as the economic impact of aviation at state operated airports, the relationship between public and private airports, compatible land use and airports needing master plans. An information sheet lists an overview of the project.

Pilots, aircraft owners and aviation business owners are asked to take the online survey by November 8th.

Fact Sheet 61440 Mat Su RASP – 10_22_2015 matsu rasp phase 2 graphic

KNIK CTAF Area Redesign

Pilots flying in the Knik Glacier/Lake George area have used a Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) for many years, described in a Flight Advisory in the Alaska Supplement. As of October 15, the design of that CTAF area changed in ways that are expected to improve communications in this area. At the same time there are some small changes made to the existing CTAF boundaries around Palmer. This is a result of a continuing effort of a government/industry working group to improve communications and reduce the potential for mid-air collisions in the Mat Su Valley.

The Knik Glacier, northeast of Anchorage, is a popular area for the aviation community to take advantage of the mountains and glacier scenery for flight seeing–and the gravel bars to land on–providing access to this spectacular landscape. Surrounded by mountains, it lacks radar coverage from ATC, or other infrastructure making it like much of Alaska; pilots must look out the window to see other traffic. A number of years ago, FAA assigned 122.7 MHz as the CTAF frequency for pilots flying in the area. Now that the FAA has formally defined the use of CTAF frequencies to discrete areas (in Alaska only), as opposed to just individual airports and landing areas, it made sense to re-look at this popular area and define a specific boundary, especially given the other CTAF areas in use in the Mat Su Valley. A revised CTAF map for the Knik has replaced the old Flight Advisory area in the October 15, 2015 edition of the Alaska Supplement (see Notices section page 412).

Knik High Traffic Areas Defined
The working group also received input from Flight Service and seasoned pilots that fly in this area both for business and for pleasure to define a set of commonly used reporting points, to improve situational awareness for pilots using the CTAF frequency. A rich set of commonly used points was identified, and are incorporated in a joint industry/FAA color map, in addition to the notice in the Alaska Supplement.

The newly defined Knik CTAF Area is shown, along with a set of high traffic locations to help pilots communicate their location relative to this set of landmarks and popular locations.  This map is on the opposite side of the revised Mat Su CTAF map.

The newly defined Knik CTAF Area is shown, along with a set of high traffic locations to help pilots communicate their location relative to local landmarks and popular locations. This map is on the opposite side of the revised Mat Su CTAF map, circulated by FAA and aviation associations.

Other Refinements to the Mat-Su CTAF Areas
Based on feedback from pilots and airport owners, additional changes were made to CTAFs along the Matanuska River. The boundary of the Palmer CTAF Area, which uses 123.6 MHz, was expanded slightly to the north east, to incorporate the Crag Mountain airstrip (52AK). As they were not inside a defined CTAF area, the airports upstream from Crag Mountain were re-assigned to 122.9. A revised version of the Mat Su CTAF Area maps will also become effective on October 15, reflecting the Palmer boundary change.

This image map depicts the revised Mat Su CTAF Areas that went into effect on October 15. The boundaries of the newly defined Knik CTAF Area are also included.

This image map depicts the revised Mat Su CTAF Areas that went into effect on October 15. The boundaries of the newly defined Knik CTAF Area are also included, along with minor revisions northeast of Palmer.

Updated Maps
A revised version of the FAA/industry google earth map has been printed, in both 11 x 17 inch and 8 ½ x 11 inch sizes. One side shows the overall Mat Su CTAF boundaries, and the other side has a larger scale map of just the Knik Glacier area, and high traffic reporting points. Copies should be available from Flight Service, the FAA FAAST Team, Medallion Foundation and the Alaska Airmen’s Association. You may also download your own copy from . The Alaska Supplement has revised charts and descriptions in the Notices Section, and eventually we expect the Anchorage/Fairbanks Terminal Area Chart to be updated with these revisions.

Please pick up a copy of the new map, and help spread the word to your fellow aviators. In addition to these aids, fly with your lights on, and remember that “eyes out the window” is our primary tool to see-and-avoid other aircraft!

Alaska Supplement Notices:

knik supplement notice














Mat Su CTAF revised 2015 10 15


The 2015 #FlyKansas Air Tour

What does 530, 145, 172, 9.8, 10, 10, 4, 35, 30, 800 mean?

How does…

  • flying about 530 nautical miles

  • which, in a 145 hp Cessna 172, equated to about 9.8 Hobbs hours to

  • 10 airports

  • in 10 different cities

  • around Kansas

  • in 4 consecutive days

  • in formation (at times) with 35 other pilots and 30 aircraft

  • all in a goldfish pattern while

  • learning more about general aviation in the state,

  • explaining to locals the value of their airport and

  • reaching out to over 800 potential future aviators

…sound? Yup, that’s what the 2015 #FlyKansas Air Tour consisted of. 😉

What a busy but fun time for Jim Pinegar, AOPA’s Vice President of AOPA’s Insurance Services, and myself!

2015 Air Tour logo

Very appropriate!

Very appropriate!

This year’s Fly Kansas Air Tour started on Tuesday, September 29 and ended on Thursday October 1, 2015. As a bonus, a brunch at the historic 07S – Beaumont Hotel was added for Friday, October 2nd and EAA Chapter 88 scheduled their annual fly-in in KEWK – Newton on Saturday, October 3rd and a lot of Air Tour pilots attended it as well. Jim and I did not make it to Beaumont but Jim did attend the Newton fly-in with his wife and two kids.

2015 Fly Kansas Air Tour's goldfish route

2015 Fly Kansas Air Tour’s goldfish route

This year’s Air Tour started in Wellington (KEGT), as it did last year.

Sunset flight between Wichita and Wellington on Monday night

Sunset flight between Wichita and Wellington on Monday night

The City of Wellington puts a great deal of effort into the start-up with several of the elected officials (including the Mayor, an airport supporter herself), the High School band, lots of local kids, several sponsors, etc. An Air Bike, flying overhead with smoke on prior to landing, was the hit of the stop.



Air Bike

Air Bike

Start of the 2015 #FlyKansas Air Tour at KEGT

Start of the 2015 #FlyKansas Air Tour at KEGT

The City, after the request of and help from Patrick Hamlin (local instructor and KEGT’s airport manager), has started offering aviation/flying as an elective to their high school students this semester. We got a chance to meet all nine of the students and both Jim and I were really impressed with their knowledge, especially since they have only been in the program since mid-August. When we were showing Jim’s Cessna 172 to three of the girls, we were surprised with the great questions they asked: What class airspace is this airport? When you do the weight and balance, how do you measure the formula… weight x arm = moment? Is this the VSI (pointing at it!)? The plan is for them to take the private pilot written exam in December before the semester is over! :) We gave them all applications to AOPA’s free AV8RS program and followed up with them via e-mail regarding scholarships. Are you based in or near Wellington and want to take these kids flying? Better yet… are you going to a nearby fly-in and have room for one more? Send me an e-mail and I’ll put you in contact with Patrick!

Students from Wellington HS learning about Jim's C172

Students from Wellington HS learning about Jim’s C172

Formation flying with a Cessna 175

Formation flying with a Cessna 175

From Wellington, we were off to KPTT – Pratt (kind of cool for a Platt, ha!). Most of us were surprised and pleased to visit the All Veterans Memorial Complex and learn the history of the airfield as an Army B-29 base during World War II.

ALL Veterans Museum Complex

ALL Veterans Museum Complex

We connected and shared our passion for general aviation with hundreds of students of all ages in Dodge City (KDDC). While most of the older ones seemed only interested in the cost of aircraft at first (even though they had no concept of cost or money), we were able to instill in them more useful information than that as well.

Introduction of Air Tour to Dodge City students

Introduction of Air Tour to Dodge City students

Dodge City students learning about a Cessna 150

Dodge City students learning about a Cessna 150

We were passed by faster aircraft (Apache, Eagle, Navion…) time and time again but we did not care… that’s the more air time and fun we had, right? “Life is a journey, not a destination!” according to Ralph Waldo Emerson.

We were passed by faster aircraft (Apache, Navion, Eagle…) time and time again but we did not care… that’s the more air time and fun we had, right? “Life is a journey, not a destination!” according to Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The final destination for Tuesday was Liberal (KLBL) where we visited the Mid-America Air Museum. We could have spent hours going through their rich aviation collection and we also visited the cool FedEx B727 they have turned into a classroom/conference room where they are going to be starting STEM-based aviation classes for kids.

Lots of cool aviation memorabilia and aircraft

Lots of cool aviation memorabilia and aircraft

Very neat vintage setup

Very neat vintage setup

What's wrong with this picture? Too big of a windshield wiper for such a small windshield? Counterproductive?

What’s wrong with this picture? Too big of a windshield wiper for such a small windshield? Counterproductive?

With John Smith, our AOPA ASN Volunteer for KLBL

With John Smith, our AOPA ASN Volunteer for KLBL, in the B727 classroom

How cool is this? 1965 AOPA wings

How cool is this? 1965 AOPA wings

While we were able to “get the heck out of Dodge,” we got stuck in Liberal on Wednesday. Low IMC that lasted until about 1:30 pm prevented us from visiting Garden City (KGCK) and Shalz Field in Colby (KCBK). Hopefully we can make it up to them by visiting them during the next air tour.

Weather report at KLBL

Weather report at KLBL

After circumnavigating Dodge City on the way from Liberal to Hays due to continued low (to minimums or even lower) ceilings, we made it to Hays (KHYS). We took advantage of the weather to give Jim a good actual IMC training flight. I always enjoy being on top and he seems to be a fan now too.

VFR on top

VFR on top

Once in Hays, we visited the RANS aircraft factory. We all enjoyed Randy’s (founder, entrepreneur, owner, President, and designer) tour. It’s impressive to go through a factory where you can see innovation and engineering in process. Randy has sold a combination of about 5,000 airplanes and airplane kits to all corners of the world and he is still working on a few more designs. Keep an eye out for a 4-seater in the near future! Jim and I were lucky to get to know Randy and his wife Shelly more during dinner. Did you know RANS started as a bike company? Does that sound familiar? Bikes and airplanes? Yup, the Wright Brothers started with a bike shop also. Randy says both have a lot to do with each other: aerodynamics, light weight  and durable materials, maximum performance, cutting edge technology…


A lucky builder will soon be getting this RANS 7 Courier in the mail :)


Kansas made!

Alan Core and Seth, a grandpa and grandson team from Iowa, flew the Air Tour and Seth wanted to leave with an airplane kit as a “good science project.” I say the young man will not only be a pilot but also an aircraft builder when he grows up and we need more of that!


With Nathan Marcucci, KHYS’ ASNV and airport manager

Dinner at Gellas Diner & Lb. Brewing Co.

Dinner at Gellas Diner & Lb. Brewing Co.

Thursday started pretty chilly but the 4th graders at Blosser Municipal Airport (KCNK) in Concordia warmed all of our hearts quickly. They were beyond excited the entire time we were there, from arrivals to departures and everything in between. Selfishly, I felt like we had just as much fun with the kids as the kids did with us.

Kids cheering the aircraft arrivals

Kids cheering the aircraft arrivals

Steve Richard, AOPA’s Airport Support Network (ASN) Volunteer for CNK, and I taught “principles of flight” to the kids before taking them out to the airplanes where they put their new knowledge to work. I went over the four forces of flight, parts of an airplane, etc. and then Steve pulled a couple of interactive ideas from AOPA’s Parents and Teachers Handbook (PATH) to demonstrate aerodynamics. The kids loved it! I was not quick enough to capture some of the kid’s reactions with my camera but I will not forget one of the girl’s face when Steve and two volunteer kids did the “toilet paper” experiment. Her mouth was wide open and her eyes denoted excitement and surprise. Funny enough, I think some of the pilots went home after the tour and practiced those experiments themselves, haha.

Teaching principles of flight

Teaching principles of flight


Demonstrating aerodynamics and building a human airplane

With Steve and Jim

With Steve and Jim

The kids were able to see, learn about, touch, and get in many different types of aircraft. Some even got to “fly” as Jaden Stapleton pushed down on his Eagle’s elevator simulating a takeoff for those at the controls.

Hard to tell who's having more fun: the kids or us!

Hard to tell who had more fun: the kids or the pilots!

Fun selfie with our group of 4th graders after they all learned the aviation alphabet

Fun selfie with our group of 4th graders after they all learned the aviation alphabet

Jim and I were personally proud of Steve for organizing such a great stop for everybody. He really did a terrific job! One we may try to emulate in future years.

Concordia was very much K-State Country! The kids went crazy when they saw the K-State C172 taxi by for departure. “K-State, K-State, K-State” screamed the kids.

This link has a good time lapse video of our departures from Concordia.

It felt like “Helicopter Day!” at Freeman Field (3JC) in Junction City. The Fort Riley 1st Infantry Division Brigade brought several helicopters, from an Apache to a twin engine Chinook, and the local EMS operator had their air ambulance helicopter out on display as well. I personally enjoyed that stop since I intend to work on my helicopter add-on in the near future. I learned a bit more about helicopter flying and operations from the pilots and crew.


Trying out all the helicopters

Parking area at 3JC

Parking area at 3JC

I never want anybody to need these type of services when, they are needed, they are the best!

I never want anybody to need these type of services when, they are needed, they are the best!

And, the bitter sweet moment came… we made it to our last stop: Emporia (KEMP).

Left downwind for KEMP

Left downwind for KEMP

The “Cook Boys” (Greg Thomas and Jason Wojteczko from K50 – Cook Airfield) won the aviator golf (flour bombing) contest. I guess all those thousands of skydives came in handy for Jason. He understands exactly when and how to drop the bomb.

Then we were off to some real golf as a networking activity. No luck getting the ball from the tee box to the hole but laughs were flowing! Most of us were swinging for the first time so we were happy to make it outside the tee box.

On Friday, a few went to Beaumont and the rest went home.

Lady aviators of this year's Air Tour

Lady aviators of this year’s Air Tour – higher than normal statistic! (left to right) Yasmina Platt, Tiffany Brown, Vicki Hunt, Star Novak (below), Pat Hockett, Phyllis Blanton, and Kari Lee.

We hope you can join next time as the Air Tour provides us with a great opportunity for comradery among the pilots and passengers, increasing aviation activity around the state, showing the local community the importance and economic impact of their airport, introducing our youth and others to aviation as both a hobby and a career, all while showcasing and learning about different aviation entities at different airports and reaching out to our members and ASN Volunteers among other things.

The comments from the parents and teachers involved were great.

Sample comments found on Facebook

Sample comments found on Facebook

No official word on whether or not there will be an Air Tour in 2016 since it takes a lot of work and commitment from many people, but keep your eyes open and your ears tuned in case there is one. The rumor is there will be one in 2017 and every other year after that.

Until then, fly safe and fly often!