The California Pilots Association (CalPilots) held its annual conference and annual meeting virtually this year. The event, California Zooming, featured 8-hours of Zoom content for hundreds airport and airplane lovers and featured John and Martha King as keynote speakers. CalPilots established in 1949, is a statewide non-profit corporation committed to the support of CA state general aviation airports and flight privileges.
Local, state, regional and national aviation groups have been challenged to meet the needs of its members during the COVID crisis. I have been impressed by the virtual events I have attended both in terms of scope and quality. California Zooming was an example of both and I was honored to be a part of it. Here’s a list of offerings from the event, many of these seminars will be available on CalPilots’ YouTube channel in the coming weeks. My hope is that other state aviation associations or local groups can offer this type of education on airport advocacy as well as proficient pilot safety courses.
Through generous support from these great companies, we were able to offer wonderful member door prizes. A big thank you goes to: King Schools, Lightspeed Aviation, Flying Eyes Optics, LIFT Aviation, Precise Flight, ACI Jet, and MyGo Flight.
General Session Presenters
Airport-Centered General Sessions
CalPilots in Action: Protecting Airports and Pilots’ Rights to Fly
Promoting Your Airport
Airports Run on Politics
CalDART Team (disaster airlift response team)
Bringing Fun Back to Your Airport
Creating A CalPilots Chapter
Tips for Aging Pilots; Glass for Grayhairs
Airport Preservation Legal Issues
FAA WINGS Credit Courses
California Zooming provided attendees with four WINGS credit courses focused on pilot proficiency. Thank you to John and Martha King, Captain Brian Schiff, Captain Mike Jesch, Captain Gary Schank, Paul Marshall, Ron Lovick, and Ed Story for their informative and entertaining presentations.
California Flying Oddities – What Makes Flying in California Odd and Fun.
Captains Brian Schiff and Mike Jesch shared with us the interesting challenges ranging from the terrestrial (mountains, deserts, and oceans) to the man-made (big cities and complicated air space). They took us on a tour of several interesting and challenging airports and areas all around the state, to highlight some of what makes California flying fun. This WINGS credit course is viewable on our YouTube channel.
Keynote: Straight Talk about Aviation Safety with John and Martha King
Pilots throughout the world regard John and Martha as their personal aviation mentors from multimedia training programs. Having had a hand in the aviation education of nearly half of the pilots in the United States in the last four decades, the Kings feel a deep responsibility toward their students and a strong sense of mission about passing on practical and insightful tools for risk management. While we will never completely eliminate the risks of general aviation, but the Kings’ presentation covered procedures and techniques that can help pilots manage aviation risks effectively. This WINGS credit class is viewable on our YouTube channel.
Responding to the Pandemic: CalDART COVID-19 Operations
The California DART Network (CalDART) organizes California’s pilots to safely help their communities respond to disaster through its Disaster Airlift Response Teams (DARTs) located throughout the state. For COVID-19, CalDART launched Operation Medical Shield (OMS), helping front line workers get their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) even when their main sources of supply ran out, or when their thinly funded organizations could not afford them. Flights have delivered PPE all around California and as far away as Walla Walla, Washington. In OMS, CalDART developed new Flight Medical Safety practices to keep people safe from viral infection. This WINGS credit class is viewable on our YouTube channel.
Avoiding Wing Dings: Operating Your Plane Safely on the Ground
Captain Gary Schank provided a fun and informative look at an airline pilot’s tips for safely operating your aircraft before and after you take to the air. Every flight begins and ends with ground operations, and therefore, it is a skill that should not be taken for granted. Topics included airport signage, markings and lighting, clearances, standardization, taxi etiquette, emergencies, low visibility taxi, and runway incursion avoidance. This WINGS credit class is viewable on our YouTube channel.
Three-Tiered Airport Advocacy
Given that we are not holding large aviation gatherings, these virtual events give us opportunities to socialize, get education and explore airport advocacy. I support the three-tiered approach to airport advocacy. Here’s a brief introduction to the concept.
Tier 1 – Local Advocacy: Local wisdom is the best source of information at an airport. Who better understands current issues, history, and future needs better the pilots who are based there? What can you do locally?
- Join your local airport organization.
- Find out who your AOPA ASN volunteer is.
- Attend Airport Land Use Meetings.
- Host community events at your airport.
- Form a business relationship with your City or County Planners.
- Attend all City or County sponsored airport meetings.
- Attend Airport meetings.
- Look for chapters of state aviation organizations in your town/area/region.
- Use media to the airport’s best interest [newspaper, radio, social media, TV].
- Create a good working relationship with your airport manager.
Tier 2 – Statewide Organizations: Not every state has its own general aviation organization. But a quick Google search will tell you if your state does. Statewide airport advocacy organizations are important because they maintain statewide contacts, information, and strategies. Further, our statewide groups can also advise and assist the local airport groups when issues arise.
Tier 3 – National Organizations: Our national aviation organizations are a critical piece of the three-tiered airport defense strategy. Membership ensures that each maintains its ability to support statewide or local airport/pilot organizations. If you do not belong to AOPA, EAA, NBAA, you should. Critical to interfacing with our congressional representatives, lobbying that national pilot organizations provide a large presence in Washington, DC. This voice serves to remind DC of the importance of general aviation to the nation’s transportation infrastructure. We were happy to have Melissa McCaffrey our AOPA Regional representative for the Western Pacific Region join us throughout the day.
Life has changed for us all in 2020. However, one thing that remains constant is our need for connection, camaraderie, and fun. Join your local aviation groups, become a member of your state aviation association, and utilize our national organizations fully. We will come out of this on the other side, but we need to make sure that our airports are protected and our piloting skills are proficient.