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Author: Jolie Lucas (page 1 of 5)

Fly Like a Girl: inspiring a new generation

Last week I attended my first Sun n Fun convention in Lakeland Florida. I have annually attended Oshkosh AirVenture for the past decade, but had not yet made it to Florida. Although I had work duties with AOPA and Mooney, I also was keenly aware that my deadline for this column would fall within my time at Sun n Fun. Attending the media briefing on Wednesday April 5th, I was intrigued to hear Katie McEntire Wiatt speak about her documentary project Fly Like a Girl. Later that day I was in the SNF announcer’s stand waiting for my interview. I saw a gentleman sporting a Fly Like a Girl shirt headed down the stairs. I quickly exclaimed, “Fly Like a Girl man, can I talk to you?” Come to find out the man I shouted to was the film’s producer Andy McEntire. We exchanged information and set up an interview with Katie later that day.

Katie McEntire Wiatt, Director

Katie and her crew met me at the Mooney Pavilion and we quickly started talking about this important and thoughtful documentary. According to Katie, “Fly Like a Girl explores the courageous history of women in aviation which reveals the contributions women have made to aviation and brings to light the many women who are doing extraordinary work in aviation and STEM today.” Fly Like a Girl also examines why many young girls don’t see themselves in STEM related fields and how society can begin to change this perception. Katie is a former elementary teacher. It was during her time as a primary school teacher that she first developed the idea for Fly Like a Girl. She saw first hand the gap in confidence young female students felt in the classroom, especially in relation to STEM subjects. “I remember one student in particular, she was struggling with a math problem. She said,“Ms. Wiatt, girls just aren’t good at math. The hope is that Fly Like a Girl will inspire girls and women who no longer want to be passengers.” Katie mentioned a recent study in Science Magazine found that young girls are less likely to think their own gender is smart. In order to change this narrative, it is crucial that girls and women see people like themselves, achieving great things in their fields. Three interviews have been completed and more are being scheduled for the remainder of 2017.

Patty Wagstaff-Three-time US National Aerobatic Champion, Enshrinee National Aviation Hall of Fame

Patty Wagstaff- Three-time US National Aerobatic Champion

“I think I have heard it all. In the early days people would treat you like a cute little girl instead of a competent pilot. Even today, if I don’t get recognized and I am taxiing in an airplane and there is a guy in the right seat and I am in the left seat. They always ask the man in the plane for the fuel order. I hear this from women all the time.”

Bernice “Bee” Haydu-World War II Women’s Air Service Patrol (WASP)

Bernice “Bee” Haydu-World War II Women’s Air Service Patrol (WASP)

“A documentary like this is important because it educates people and it enlightens people as to one of the careers they could be doing that maybe they had not yet considered.”

 

 

Fly Like a Girl has been self-funded and crowd-funded. To support their Indiegogo fund click here .  Check out their video trailer here.  For more information on this grass-roots project please head to their website: http://www.flylikeagirl.film

What I experienced at Sun n Fun is an example of how aviation folks are the best folks. I never met a stranger, always greeted with a smile and a helping hand. We had every season weather-wise from 94 degrees to rain and wind. Through it all, I saw dear old friends, made some new ones, and found inspiration in projects like Fly Like a Girl. Count me in for #SNF18.

 

 

 

 

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, private pilot, and Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups, Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. Jolie is the Contributing Editor for AOPA Airport Support Network Newsletter. She the director and executive producer of the documentary: Boots on the Ground: the Men & Women who made Mooney©. She co-created Mooney Girls Mooney Girls and Right Seat Ready!© She is the creator of Pilot Plus One© Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

I don’t care how you get there, just get there if you can.

AOPA Regional Fly-Ins offer Friday intensive education series.

In regard to the newly announced two-day AOPA Regional fly-ins I am going to paraphrase Oleta Adams song Get Here, I don’t care how you get there, just get there if you can. Ongoing education is vital to the pilot population. Statistics are clear that when we attend continuing education our ability to safely operate airplanes increases. According to national safety seminar presenter Mark Grady, “Several years back it was determined that pilots who participated in the FAA’s Wings Program regularly did not have as many accidents, incidents and even violations as other GA pilots. It simply makes common sense that pilots who take time to do more than the minimum of a flight review are going to be safer. After all, we react the way we are trained in an emergency, so the more up-to-date training we have, the better we handle things that may go wrong.” When AOPA adopted a regional fly-in format versus a multiple day format, I missed the comprehensive educational seminars offered. And though the regional fly-in format is wildly successful, the opportunity for intensive classes was not available. Well, all that changes with the new Friday,  hands-on workshops being offered at all four AOPA regional fly-ins across the country.

Each fly-in offers four subjects to choose from for a Friday seven-hour intensive clinic with excellent presenters. Pre-registration is required. Tuition fees apply: $105 for members, $155 for non-members, and $75 for spouses. I am thrilled to have developed Pilot Plus One which will be offered at all four regional fly-ins. Check out the offerings below:

Owner-Guided Maintenance: Managing Your Aircraft Maintenance
Interested in taking on a larger role in the maintenance of your aircraft?   Join aviation adventurer, JetBlue pilot, and around-the-world adventurer, Adrian Eichhorn and A&P/IAs Mike Busch and Paul New help you determine what you, as the aircraft owner, can do to keep your plane in top condition. Get hands-on with changing the oil in an actual aircraft engine, cleaning and gapping spark plugs, and examining the insides of an aircraft engine to determine its health with the help of these three FAA Aviation Technicians of the Year.

 

IFR Refresher: Getting Back to Instrument Proficiency
Hear from Jim Simon, chief flight instructor and director of Rainier Flight Service. Simon’s motto is “Safety first,” and he’ll be putting his more than 5,000 hours of flight instructing experience to work so you can get back into the cockpit as pilot in command under instrument flight rules.

 

Overcoming Mountains & Water: Flying in the Extremes
Join renowned mountain flying specialist Lori MacNichol and AOPA Pilot magazine editor-at-large Thomas A. Horne to learn the skills necessary to fly safely in mountainous terrain, or over water, and learn what items these experts suggest you should have on-hand to survive after a forced landing in mountainous terrain, or after a ditching at sea.  You’ll gather around a general aviation airplane, pull a life raft out of storage, deploy it, inflate it, and don your personal flotation device in a real time run-through of a ditching emergency.

 

Understanding Aviation Weather

For September 8th-9th Norman, OK you will have a unique chance to tour the National Weather Center for a seminar called Understanding Aviation Weather.

 

Pilot Plus One©

Pilot Plus One is a comprehensive daylong educational seminar designed to educate, inspire, and encourage adventure pilots and non-pilot companions. The idea is simple, when we recognize the unlimited possibilities for using the airplane for recreation, vacation, business and charitable flights, we will all start flying more now. Pilot Plus One is a lively seminar with ample opportunities for audience participation. At the close of the day, we will have fabulous door prizes from Lightspeed Aviation and Flying Eyes Optics. Our schedule includes leading experts in the aviation.

More Than Just the $100 Hamburger: Fun destinations to Fly by George Kounis, Publisher/Editor in Chief, Pilot Getaways Magazine.

Overcoming Fear Unleashing Potential: Addresses common fears of pilots and right-seat flyers by Robert DeLaurentis, Pilot, author, and philanthropist

Picture Perfect: Tips and techniques to get the best in-flight and at destination photos by professional aviation photographer, Jim Koepnick

Right Seat Ready! This companion safety seminar by Jolie Lucas and Jan Maxwell provides familiarization for non-pilots including airframe, instruments, radios and avionics, aircraft control, emergency communications, navigation, heads-up flight display, and landings. It is a fun, fast-paced, hands on class sure to inspire confidence to be ready on the right.

 

So make a plan to get to Camarillo, CA., Norman, OK., Groton, CT., or Tampa, FL in 2017. I will look forward to meeting many of you.  Your attendance and participation will make you a more informed pilot.  Bring your Plus One and let us inspire you to have more fun adventures in the airplane.  From educational opportunities to exhibits, displays and camaraderie, these events should not be missed.   For registration please go to:  AOPA 2017

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, private pilot, and Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups, Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. Jolie is the Contributing Editor for AOPA Airport Support Network Newsletter. She the director and executive producer of the documentary: Boots on the Ground: the Men & Women who made Mooney©. She co-created Mooney Girls Mooney Girls and Right Seat Ready!© She is the creator of Pilot Plus One© Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

Follow your Lead, and then perhaps later you will lead.

Planning, Precision, Performance: how formation training can help us all be more proficient pilots.

I used to think that formation flight was dangerous for the average pilot. When asked by Mooney Caravan formation pilots why I didn’t partake I would say something like, “I don’t want to fly so close to someone I don’t know.” In July of 2016, I attended my first formation clinic held in Chino California. Later that month I flew right seat in the Mooney Caravan arrival into Oshkosh/AirVenture. Before those experiences, I suppose I had a certain amount of naïveté that allowed me to hold the belief that non-military G.A pilots would not be safe to fly formation. Boy was I wrong, on so many levels.

I have just returned from the sixth annual Gunfighters Formation Clinic at Yuma International Airport/MCAS. The three-day multifaceted event had something for everyone and gave us an opportunity to improve formation skills, demonstrate proficiency for mass arrivals to AirVenture/Oshkosh and socialize with the other, now hopelessly addicted, formation pilots.

For the second year, the Gunfighters Formation Clinic included training opportunities with the Red Star Pilots Association.  The Red Star Pilots Association is a federal 501(c) (3) non-profit whose mission is to promote and preserve the safe operation, display and enjoyment of all aircraft — jet to prop, aerobatic, sport, war bird and utility — especially those originating in the current and former communist block nations. They are a signatory with national Formation and Safety Team [F.A.S.T.] This allows them to train, qualify, and manage civilian formation pilots in the United States and Canada for the safe conduct of formation flight displays in the US and Canadian air show industry. Several of our attendees were awarded their wingman or lead cards at the training.

Our FBO Host was Million Air FBO.  James “Curly” Combs the General Manager of Million Air gave us an incredible experience.  The facilities and staff were top notch. The food from their Jet-a-Way Café was down-home and delicious. Yuma International Airport is a large airport facility that shares runways with the Marine Corps Air Station. I assumed that perhaps the FBO might reflect a larger more corporate feeling. My assumption couldn’t have been further from the actuality. Once arriving I immediately felt like part of the family.

Any aviation volunteer knows that there is a lot that goes into the planning and execution of a formation clinic, or for that matter, any  flying event.  The behind the scenes work that starts several months prior to the event is extensive.  Safely and effectively mixing a full range of formation pilots, IP’s and safety pilots is a daunting task that requires a dedicated Air Boss with a substantial  background.  Airspace planning, ingress/egress routes, altitudes, sector frequencies, and publications take a great deal of thought and effort.  Not to mention training materials, and standardization of instruction/mentoring. Kudos to organizer Chuck Crinnian, Air Boss Larry Brennan and all the others.

Just over forty airplanes came in for the weekend. The Thursday night ground school covered numerous topics including:

  • Ground Operations
  • Element Takeoff
  • Interval Takeoff
  • 2 Ship Formation Procedures
  • Fingertip Position
  • Fingertip Maneuvering
  • Route Position
  • Turns in Route
  • Cross Under
  • Echelon
  • Close Trail
  • Formation Recoveries
  • Element Approach and Landing
  • VFR Traffic Pattern Recoveries
  • Overhead Pattern
  • Taxi and Shutdown
  • Formation Maneuver and Rejoins
  • Four Ship Formation Procedures

Then our challenge was to actually fly those procedures on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We began each exercise with an extensive brief. For me, this led to an increase sense of security knowing there was a procedure in place. I was paired with a seasoned CFI or Mentor pilot both days. The weather and landscape were beautiful in Yuma. Unfortunately, while flying formation I had my eyes glued to Lead and couldn’t see the majesty. The second day I got to fly Lead in a two-ship formation. I got a better look at the scenery that day.

All missions ended with detailed debrief covering negative and positive elements of the flight. Psychologically, the flying is challenging not only because of the proximity of other aircraft, but of the new nomenclature to be learned and maneuvers. I always find it interesting to be a “learner.” As a professional psychotherapist, aviation writer, and presenter, I am most comfortable leading and being an expert. Being a newbie was an exercise in patience with myself as I learned and grace when I made a mistake.

As is often typical with training of any sort, my abilities the second day were better than the first. The formation flying itself was very mentally and physically challenging. Taking off and landing in elements is a thrilling experience. I pushed myself to fly as precisely as possible and to increase my comfort level flying close to Lead. My level of focus was so intense that I found myself fatigued at the end of the day. Both nights we had a chance to share dinner as a group and to establish bonds of camaraderie.

Overall, the training experience was excellent. With focus, perseverance and encouragement the skills were all within my reach. I feel strongly that my formation training has made me a safer and more precise pilot. I would encourage all pilots to investigate formation training in their regions. I also left Yuma feeling like I had made some life-long friendships. I look forward to attending at least one more clinic before Oshkosh, then on to the mass arrival. We also learned the two most important rules in formation flight. #1 Don’t hit Lead, and #2 Refer to #1.

For more information on formation training and arrivals to OSH17:

Mooney Caravan: http://www.mooneycaravan.com/

Bonanzas to Oshkosh: https://www.b2osh.org/Web/B2OSH/Pages/Training/TrainingRegional.asp

Cessnas to Oshkosh: http://www.cessnas2oshkosh.com/920home.aspx

Cherokees to Oshkosh http://www.cherokees2osh.com/index.asp

Formation Flying Inc.: http://www.ffi.aero/

 

 

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, private pilot, and Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups, Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. Jolie is the Contributing Editor for AOPA Airport Support Network Newsletter. She the director and executive producer of the documentary: Boots on the Ground: the Men & Women who made Mooney©. She co-created Mooney Girls Mooney Girls and Right Seat Ready!© She is the creator of Pilot Plus One© Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

A Dreamer for G.A.

Ever since he was a kid, Kyle Fosso has dreamed of becoming a pilot. He began flying at age 14, and bought his own 1954 Cessna 170B at age 15. The 170 had been crashed into the water in Alaska in 1974, and sat for 40 years until Kyle bought it. After 6 years of working every day, he is finally ready to fly. Kyle became a private pilot this year and was trained by Jason Schappert at M0A in Ocala, Florida. Kyle plans to film a flight to all 50 states, to show how awesome flying is, and how beautiful America can be from the air. He also enjoys taking new passengers for their first flight, and giving them that feeling he had when he took his first flight years ago. For someone so young, Kyle gives us all an example on how to share passion, exhibit dedication, and persevere over some large obstacles.Kyle Fosso

According to Kyle, “Dreams are what’s most valuable in life. When you eat, sleep, live, and breathe your dream, work for it every day and night you give it no option to deny you of that which you desire.”

On his Facebook page, Kyle wrote an open letter to high-school students without direction, like he was before he began this dream: “While traveling and speaking at high schools I have met several students age 14-18 who want to do something with their life, and either don’t know what to do, or don’t think that they can “Because ____[insert obstacle here].” But several want to be like me. I have been able to speak to hundreds of kids, but know that I won’t get the chance to speak to all of you, so if I don’t have the chance, here is what I want you to know: And I want you, high-schoolers, to read this as if I am writing YOU, directly, because I am. I am expecting you to emulate, meaning ‘to match or surpass’ everything I say.”

Kyle is someone who really does put his words into actions. Not only is he touring around the country talking with high school Kyle speakerkids, but also he loves to give rides in his airplane. “I think it’d be great to take teenagers for their first flight and really show them what this is all about. Even a 14-year-old with no money who has a mind for being resourceful and says “I’m going to do this no matter what it takes, no matter what comes up. I’m going to do it.” That’s the mindset I had. I was going to do this. I want to share aviation with them, and hopefully get some more people interested in becoming pilots or ultimately just pursuing whatever goal is on their minds” he says. That’s what’s next for Kyle, to use his success as motivation to create more dreamers.

Verizon/AOL has signed its first major virtual reality ad deal when it announced it purchased virtual reality and 360-degree video company RYOT. The deal, which a spokesperson for AOL said was worth seven figures, will leverage RYOT to create a branded video series, written articles, social media posts, and 360-degree/VR videos in partnership with American Family Insurance and media agency Mindshare. The series will focus on heroes inside their communities overcoming their challenges. It will run from late October until the end of the year. Kyle’s story is part of a multi million dollar deal between RYOT (Verizon) and American family insurance. His episode is 3 of 3 and airs on 12/15/16. It will be uploaded to Huffpost and YouTube.

VFR Sim and Kyle have also joined forces and the now-famous 170B will also be featured. From their website,We’re excited to announce: Kyle’s N2771C will be fully, and faithfully represented in the VFR Sim Cessna 170B package. We’re taking it global, and we’re taking Kyle’s story global, as we incorporate every real-world feature of 2771C, into the 170+sim project! Several great parts manufacturers are also joining forces with VFR Sim, so that we can accurately represent each upgrade and modification, so that every item will both look and perform realistically within the simulated model. Kyle’s 170 is equipped with a Stoots Aviation 180hp IO-360 engine and an 83″ Hartzell trailblazer propeller is also equipped with C-180 gear, ’82 Cessna 172 doors, 175 Wings, a C-182 Skylight, Windshield V-Brace and will sport a custom designed interior, with classy upholstery, extended baggage compartment and external baggage door.”Kyle2

For a now 21 year old, Kyle has had a lot of media attention and opportunities. He remains humble and focused. “You need to be undeniable and make each day count, you need to be grateful for everything that has gotten you to where you are at, the help from the right people, like the people in my life that I am so grateful for. I’m grateful for the opportunities presented to me and my ability to make the best of them, I’m grateful for the country we live in that allows a 15 year old to dream bigger than many thought possible.”

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, private pilot, and Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups, Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. Jolie is the Contributing Editor for AOPA Airport Support Network Newsletter. She the director and executive producer of the documentary: Boots on the Ground: the Men & Women who made Mooney©. She co-created Mooney Girls Mooney Girls and Right Seat Ready!© She is the creator of Pilot Plus One© Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

Why does what happens at Santa Monica Airport matter?

Santa Monica airport has been in the news lately.  I decided to ask a few of my aviation friends from New York to Oregon, including Christian Fry the President of the Santa Monica Aviation Association, a pretty simple question. “Why does what happens at Santa Monica airport matter?” I hope the answers are thought-provoking and insightful. As well, that you feel called to help protect Santa Monica because in doing so, you are protecting hundreds of other airports, large and small.

Photo credit: Jim Koepnick

Photo credit: Jim Koepnick

First, the systematic strangulation of SMO businesses and tenants by the City of Santa Monica sets a really damaging precedent in regards to our aviation infrastructure. If closure were successful using these techniques, this precedent could effect over 200 other airports given back from the Federal government after WWII with the same type of transfer agreement. This applies to many smaller GA airports and some majors like Orange County/John Wayne. In many ways, Santa Monica Airport is a canary in the coal mine for the rest of our country’s airports. Second, the tangible economic and public value of airports is real and obvious. SMO generates over $250 million dollars of direct economic impact annually and we must always remember it’s value as a disaster relief and evacuation resource in times of emergency. A third consideration is the real protections SMO’s airspace provides. The 200 ft. AGL FAA limit on building heights for a 3.8 mile radius around SMO protects surrounding communities from development. Effectively, closure of SMO and the loss of its airspace would fundamentally alter the landscape of the entire Westside of Los Angeles. SMO’s airspace protects the Westside from skyscrapers and the absence of this protection would surely lead to high rise development and its associated increases in density and traffic. Additionally,  all arrivals that use the SMO VOR into LAX (500+ aircraft per day) are height restricted to 5-7K over the SMO Delta airspace. If SMO closed, you might see the crossing altitudes go down 2-3K feet and the perceived noise on the ground would be exponentially louder 24/7.  Finally,  let’s not forget the City of Santa Monica’s blatant dishonesty regarding the facts of this issue, their wasting of millions of taxpayer dollars fighting the FAA and their admitted misappropriation of millions of dollars of airport funds all in a decades long effort to close and redevelop one of our Nation’s oldest and most valuable airfields to benefit the few and negatively impact the majority, forever.

—-Christian Fry, President Santa Monica Airport Association, Santa Monica California

Photo credit: Jim Koepnick

Photo credit: Jim Koepnick

While even the thought of closing Santa Monica airport strikes to the heart of someone who is a pilot, it also strikes to the soul of many of us non-pilots. Why would that be, if we are only connected to aviation indirectly? The short answer is because it is really about more than just the freedom of flight…it is about plain, old freedom. It’s about the freedom to have a voice, to have a vote. To not be outmaneuvered by outside interest groups and lawyers looking for loopholes and technicalities. Even the consideration of closing down an airport, let alone one with such a fabled history, fills my mind with the classic battles of good and evil. So is this where I raise the flag, bring out the apple pie and march to support the underdog? In my simplistic, creative mind…maybe. Because keeping Santa Monica airport open is symbolic to keeping airports open all around the country. And symbolic for letting us all know that we all should have a voice in our freedoms.

—Jim Koepnick, Aviation Photographer, Oshkosh Wisconsin

Photo Credit: Jim Koepnick

Photo Credit: Jim Koepnick

The future of Santa Monica Airport is significant for a number of reasons. One is the very important issue of community security. Anyone who lives in Southern California or visits there frequently knows the entire, heavily populated area is just one car wreck away from gridlock. If, God forbid, some major catastrophe hits the area, the airport could instantly become worth its entire landmass in gold when you consider it could be the only way to quickly get emergency crews and supplies, and medical transports, into and out of the community. Ask anyone impacted by Hurricane Katrina about how valuable community airports became in getting even the basic supplies into the area.

In the aviation safety world, much is emphasized on human factors. One such factor that should be considered is the fact we have a tendency not to appreciate or understand the importance of something until it is already gone. Too often, we are easily sold ideas based on misguided information. This seems to be the case in Santa Monica and other areas threatened with airport closures. People build a home close to the airport and then complain about the noise. Then, developers see gold on the property and jump into the fray to convince community leaders that the property is a gold mine of tax revenue just waiting for them. The fact is airports are already a gold mine that contribute much more than is ever effectively recorded in economic impact. Most important is the airport’s contribution to the community’s peace of mind in the event air transportation of people or supplies is needed in an emergency. How can you put a price tag on that?

—Mark Grady, Aviation writer, speaker and filmmaker

Photo Credit: Jim Koepnick

Photo Credit: Jim Koepnick

If you keep up with any aviation news from any of the alphabet groups, you know that there has been controversy surrounding the Santa Monica airport for the past several years.

The issue is not unique to Santa Monica. At any given time, dozens of airports in the country are being pressured to shut down and the empty space turned into tax generating commercial, industrial or residential use. This shortsighted view is a dangerous one. Airports serving general aviation as well as airports serving air-carriers are part of this country’s transportation infrastructure. The argument that general aviation airports exist only to serve the “fat cats” and their private jets is a hollow one. I’ll counter it by asking why an airliner full of inebriated tourists traveling from Honolulu to LAX on their way home from a cruise is more important than an business jet with the CEO of a multi-billion dollar international corporation traveling from Honolulu to Santa Monica to close an important deal that will benefit the local economy? It isn’t!

The billions of dollars lost by US airlines in the past decade are testament to the failed business model that the majority of them operate under. At least corporate and business aviation pays their bills. Let the airlines continue to run themselves into the ground at the major airports. Corporate and business aviation needs the “Santa Monicas” of this country to continue building the economic health of this country after the beating it has taken in the past decade.

—Jonathan “JJ” Greenway flies corporate jets internationally for a Hong Kong based company, is a CFII and active aircraft owner who lives in Frederick Maryland.

Photo Credit: Jim Koepnick

Photo Credit: Jim Koepnick

What happens at Santa Monica matters because it’s such a high profile case. The message needs to be that GA is less of a risk than the boulevard running past your front door and the noise it introduces to your neighborhood is substantially less in every regard than that delivery truck or leaf blower that folks accommodate without even thinking. As with so many other airport “controversies,” the Santa Monica Airport battle is about pilots trying to fend off a land grab from cynical commercial and government concerns trying to exploit residents’ fears to accomplish their questionable development goals.

—Robert Goyer, Editor in Chief, Plane & Pilot Magazine, Austin Texas

Photo Credit: Jim Koepnick

Photo Credit: Jim Koepnick

My ad agency specializes in two sectors, aviation and tourism. I believe these two sectors fit nicely together as general aviation airports are an under utilized asset for the cities they serve, and are a gateway to bring valuable tourism business into their areas. I have worked for years to recommend to my tourism clients that they need to promote the benefits of their region to pilots seeking new destinations, because pilots generally have discretionary income and are always looking for new places to fly their airplanes.

The financial contributions that airports bring to a city can be found in many areas, from jobs to secondary spending and yes, tourism purchases. Transient pilots flying into an airport like Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO) need rental cars, meals, hotel rooms and fuel, and many continue their spending in the region by visiting local attractions or conducting business. Each airport – whether it’s a large field like KSMO or a small strip at the edge of a rural town – represents a money machine for the area, and they need to be identified as such. To close any airport means a guarantee of often substantial losses to the region, and because of this, each and every airport needs to be preserved.

—Dan Pimentel, founder of the Airplanista blog and President/Art Director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising, Eugene, Oregon.

Photo Credit: Jim Koepnick

Photo Credit: Jim Koepnick

The answer to the question depends largely on who you are, where you live, and what sort of life you hope to live in the future. If you’re an aircraft owner who bases his or her airplane at Santa Monica the answer is obvious. For the sake of convenience and comfort, that individual would prefer Santa Monica to remain open. That aircraft owner would prefer to keep their friends, their connections, their hangar, and their normal routine in place.

But what about the kid living nearby? What good does an airport do for a teenager living on South Bundy Drive? That kid grows up with airplanes zipping over his or her house day after day. Piston driven propellers drilling holes through space as turbines turn heat to thrust and propel business owners, movie stars, and trophy wives off to Las Vegas, Chicago, and New York. What good does that do?

It’s a fair question. The answer is simple. It provides opportunity that can’t be delivered by any other means.

Perhaps that kid can pull down a part-time job at the local Circle K, or the garage across the street. But what if he or she could wrangle an entry-level position at a flight school, or one of several maintenance shops on the field, or the FBO, instead. That entry level job might lead to a career in the aviation or aerospace industry, taking that teenager farther economically, socially, and geographically than they ever dreamed. It’s happened before. In fact it’s happened tens of thousands of times.

There are no guarantees in life, of course. Not for Santa Monica and not for any other airport, industry, or individual. But where there is opportunity, there is hope. Where there is hope, people persevere and thrive even under the most challenging circumstances. With Santa Monica Municipal up and running there is industry, entertainment, a pervasive incentive to pursue education as a lifelong goal – and there is hope. Without it, there might be a slightly larger park, or a cluster of high-rise condos, or an office park. None of which can inspire the dreams, the innovation, or the historically significant production Santa Monica Municipal Airport has given the world.

Santa Monica Municipal Airport matters for the same reason the United States of America mattered to my immigrant great-grandfather. It matters because it is the only destination of its kind in the world. And if it is allowed to perish, there will never be another to replace it. Never. And that would be a shameful thing.

—Jamie Beckett, Writer, Winter Haven Florida

Photo Credit: Jim Koepnick

Photo Credit: Jim Koepnick

Here is a summary of where the legal fight stands. The initial Instrument of Transfer with the City of Santa Monica obligated to operate the airport as an airport forever. A federal lawsuit by City challenged the federal obligations. The City said that they didn’t know there federal obligations to keep the airport an airport. The Judge dismissed the case, but soon the City appealed. The appeal went to 9th Circuit court and they ruled that this first judge needed to rule on the merits, and the case went back to District Court. The new court date is in August 2017. This case is everything. SMAA, NBAA, AOPA, are all engaged on this court case and seek to bolster evidence which proves that City knew they federally obligated and have to keep airport and airport forever.

I would like to give my readers a call to action. Support the SMAA financially as the legal fight is very expensive. Link: https://santamonicaairport.nationbuilder.com/join_online

Write the Santa Monica City Counsel and express your concern about what they are doing.

1685 Main St #200, Santa Monica, CA 90401 or email:  [email protected]

Write the FAA administrator and let them know that they need to spend time and resources to protect SMO.

Federal Aviation Administration
Office of the Associate Administrator for Airports (ARP)
800 Independence Avenue SW
Washington DC 20591]

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, private pilot, and Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups, Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. Jolie is the Contributing Editor for AOPA Airport Support Network Newsletter. She the director and executive producer of the documentary: Boots on the Ground: the Men & Women who made Mooney©. She co-created Mooney Girls Mooney Girls and Right Seat Ready!© She is the creator of Pilot Plus One© Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

Reigniting people’s wonder for one of the most extraordinary aspects of the modern world

Last weekend I flew from Santa Maria, CA to Prescott, AZ for the final AOPA Regional fly-in of 2016. Through my service club, the Mooney Ambassadors, I am able to display an airplane, and have a booth with children’s activities etc. There were over 6000 attendees at the event and I had the opportunity to meet pilots, wanna be pilots, and families of each. One of the folks standing by my airplane was Gillian Blumer. I asked if she would like to come inside my Mooney and we had a nice chat.

Gillian, from Corvalis Oregon, is a freshman at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She developed the passion for flight in a 7th grade science class when they had a mechanics of flight lecture. Gillian is working on her pilot’s license, and she has a passion for aeronautical engineering. If all goes according to plan, she will graduate with an aeronautical engineering degree with a minor in computer science.

Jolie Lucas and Gillian Blumer

Jolie Lucas and Gillian Blumer

When I asked her what she wants to do with her engineering degree, I was completely impressed with her answer. “I want to incorporate aviation into society. A lot of people see airplanes as transportation for long distances or goods and materials. But  I believe with future technology, we can create airplanes for every day life, that can get us from point A to point B in wonderful fun. These airplanes have to fit key aspects: be relatively small [size of car] and able to take off in short fields or through vertical lift. Currently vertical lift airplanes are not efficient because the propulsion it takes is inefficient. I would like to work on making vertical lift planes more efficient. I feel that we could do a lot to advance aviation if we re-designed aircraft engines. I have applied for the Human-Powered Project on campus, which seeks to design a human powered aircraft,” she says.

Her comments about bringing the fun and wonder back to aviation made me think about my friend Brian Terwilliger and his movie Living in the Age of Airplanes. Following its premiere at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC, the film continued its successful run on giant screen, digital, IMAX® and museum cinemas worldwide in 2015 and 2016.

IMG_7813I was lucky enough to see a press screening in Oshkosh and it is set for a Blu-Ray/DVD release October 25th. The movie is simply stunning.  As many of you know Brian was the filmmaker who brought us the aviation classic, One Six Right about historic Van Nuys airport.

To dramatize the remarkably fluid global traffic enabled by contemporary air travel, Terwilliger traveled with his crew to 95 locations in 18 countries searching for some of the most exotic spots on earth. Living in the Age of Airplanes is directed by Brian J. Terwilliger (One Six Right) and produced by Terwilliger and Bryan H. Carroll. Director of Photography is Andrew Waruszewski. Music is by James Horner (Avatar, Titanic) and the Editor is Brad Besser.

“Since we were all born into a world with airplanes, it’s hard to imagine that jet travel itself is only 60 years old, just a tick on the timeline of human history,” said Brian. “But our perception of crossing continents and oceans at 500 mph has turned from fascination to frustration. I want to reignite people’s wonder for one of the most extraordinary aspects of the modern world.”

Reignite the wonder of flight

Reignite the wonder of flight

Terwilliger recruited Harrison Ford, one of the world’s biggest movie stars and an expert pilot, to narrate Living in the Age of Airplanes. “It was important to me that the narrator truly owned the story and had a passion for the subject,” says Terwilliger. “I didn’t want to have a celebrity simply ‘lend’ their voice, because this project is very personal to me, and the narrator plays such an important role. With a documentary like this, there are the visuals, the music and the narrator—and that’s it. I wanted the delivery to come from someone with passion. Harrison was very committed to telling the story and getting it right.”

To create the music for Living in the Age of Airplanes Terwilliger collaborated with another private pilot and kindred spirit, composer James Horner, who scored such Hollywood blockbusters as Avatar, Titanic, and Braveheart. Take a listen to the beautiful SCORE .

Terwilliger hopes Living in the Age of the Airplanes restores a sense of wonder for aviation during an era when many people take air travel for granted. “Flying has become more accessible to more people than at any time in history,” he says. “It’s no longer just for the elite as it was 60 years ago.” But now that mankind has realized its dream of flying after 200,000 years of earthbound evolution, air travel has lost some of its luster. “It’s become such a commonplace experience that it doesn’t seem to kindle people’s interest anymore,” Terwilliger says. “You have a lot of disgruntled passengers where their focus is on the inconvenience and the delays. My hope with this film is that it inspires audiences to see aviation with a new sense of appreciation and awe. If somebody sees Living in the Age of Airplanes and comes away thinking ‘I’ll never think about flying the same way again,’ then it worked.”

For those who would like to check out the trailers for Living in the Age of Airplanes or perhaps pre-order a DVD/Blu-Ray for holiday gift giving, follow this link:AIRPLANES_DVD

We all need to continue to think outside the box. Young people like Gillian will push aviation forward through design and engineering. Creative visionaries like Brian Terwilliger will illustrate the awesome wonder of our world and the ability to live life in three dimensions. What will be your contribution?

 

 

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, private pilot, and Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups, Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. Jolie is the Contributing Editor for AOPA Airport Support Network Newsletter. She the director and executive producer of the documentary: Boots on the Ground: the Men & Women who made Mooney©. She co-created Mooney Girls Mooney Girls and Right Seat Ready!© She is the creator of Pilot Plus One© Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

Pilot Plus One© Educating right and backseat companions on safety and recreational flying

 

Liveimpossiblybig

I will never stop working to inspire the love of flight in children and youth. When I meet kids at aviation events I always ask if they want to be a pilot, and it is heartwarming to see a few of those kids’ faces light up.  We should all continue to inspire younger generations in various aviation careers, whether pilots, mechanics or pleasure flying.  However when inspiring the love of flight in children and youth there is a built-in time lag of 8-10 years until that person is a certificated pilot.

Inspire the Love of Flight

Inspire the Love of Flight

My current passion is to get our right- and back-seat non-pilot companions turned on about flying.  Toward that end, I have co-developed Right Seat Ready! © with my teaching partner Jan Maxwell.  RSR is a companion safety seminar in a one and two day format.  Jan and I teach around the country  5-6  times per year.  We have corporate clients as well as community aviation group sponsors like the 99s or local EAA chapters. I am aware there are many quality companion safety seminars offered around the country. I think as a pilot population we should take better advantage of educational offerings for our non-pilot passengers.

Jan Maxwell, RSR Instructor

Jan Maxwell, RSR Instructor

Right Seat Ready! © gives our attendees a wonderful education on aircraft systems, dynamics of flight, and emergency procedures.  Jan has decades of flying experience as well as being the co-owner of Maxwell Aviation a large Mooney Service Center.  As a licensed psychotherapist,  I am attuned to the psychological aspects of the companion seminar.  This usually means addressing common fears about flying as well as education in assessing the left seat pilot’s readiness for flight.

Pilot Plus One© education is dedicated to not only educating the pilot population, but enticing the right and back seat non-pilot companions.  The concept is to offer educational opportunities in which there are sessions for the pilot and the companions.  The more we provide opportunities to reach both audiences, the more we will be flying our airplanes.  This is a life-style idea and it is win-win.  When we address fears and talk about value added through general aviation, the more we are flying immediately.

Most of our companion safety seminars attract male and female attendees.  When talking with my students I have found that once the fear issues have been addressed they are more likely to want to use the aircraft as a recreational, business or charitable vehicle.  This  engagement has an additional benefit of increasing sales of aviation related items: hotels/resorts, fuel providers/FBOs, headsets, luggage, sunglasses, and O2 systems.

Companion education can save lives.

Companion education can save lives.

This weekend Jan and I will be teaching Right Seat Ready at Orange County Airport [KSNA]. The event is sponsored by the Orange County 99s. We have nearly 30 right-seaters registered to come.  I can already tell you what will happen:  the first few minutes we will see the “deer in the headlight” look when we talk about aircraft systems and instruments. Yet in a few hours, the attendees brains will be lit up and they will be able to tell us what a manifold pressure gauge measures, and how to read an altimeter.  The chances of our attendees ever having to land an airplane due to a disabled left-seat pilot is slim, but they will be ready, especially with practice.  What will definitely happen is that our right-seaters will be more engaged about flying, less fearful, and able to see the opportunities available when we fly.

I would like to ask my readers to use the comments section to let me know if your right or back-seat companions have taken a safety seminar or flight lessons, what the barriers are for education, and if you think that education aimed at both the pilot and the companion would be appealing to you. Or contact me using one of the methods below.

There are many wonderful teachers out there educating our right seat non-pilot companions.  Why not give that gift of knowledge to your spouse, older kids, or companions?

AOPA Bio

 

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, private pilot, and Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups, Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. Jolie is the Contributing Editor for AOPA Airport Support Network Newsletter. She the director and executive producer of the documentary: Boots on the Ground: the Men & Women who made Mooney©. She co-created Mooney Girls Mooney Girls and Right Seat Ready!© She is the creator of Pilot Plus One© Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

Flying the Diamond Lane:Mass formation arrivals at OSH bring connection and camaraderie

Flying the Diamond Lane

Flying the Diamond Lane

After meeting and talking with participants from the mass arivals to Oshkosh, one thing is certain, the impetus for flying formation is connection and camaraderie. Whether Cessna, Bonanza, Cherokee, or Mooney, the goal is the same, to be able to train, fly and camp together. To celebrate general aviation and our ability to attend this iconic event as an aviation family.

Mooney Caravan Training, Jolie Lucas Wing

Mooney Caravan Training, Jolie Lucas, Wing

For those unaware, the process to fly the mass arrival to Oshkosh isn’t as daunting as you might think.

Last year I flew the Fisk arrival into OSH and happily landed on the yellow dot.  But  I was intrigued by the formation arrivals and wanted to be a part of it.  I was grateful to have attended a training in Chino, California. I wasn’t sure if I would have the skill set to fly so close to another airplane, let alone landing fast with no flaps while looking only at my Lead. I was so pleased when everything jelled on the second day and I was actually enjoying the formation flying. I hope you enjoy this bit of history about the various aircraft types who fly the mass arrival, and also consider flying the diamond lane into OSH17.

Bonanzas to Oshkosh

B2OSH en route to OSHTheir website https://www.b2osh.org/Web/B2OSH/default.asp

Each year in late July about 100 Beechcraft Bonanzas and Barons assemble in Rockford, Illinois and fly in the world’s largest formation of civilian aircraft, to the world’s greatest celebration of aviation – EAA AirVenture, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Bonanzas to Oshkosh began in 1990 when Wayne Collins and a few friends decided the only way to ensure camping together was to arrive together in formation. Wayne Collins led Bonanzas to Oshkosh until 2001 when Elliott Schiffman took over the reins. During Elliott’s tenure B2OSH established a nation-wide network of regional training sessions. Organized practices led to ever improving B2OSH flights and added a wonderful layer to the social fabric. In 2007 Larry Gaines slid into the left seat.

Bonanza Mass Arrival OSH

Bonanza Mass Arrival OSH

Today their focus remains firmly fixed: pilots flying the best general aviation airplane camping together in friendship and camaraderie. The formation arrival is their means of accomplishment. The requirements are membership in EAA and a demonstration of basic formation competence in the preceding six months. They cannot stress too strongly that this event focuses on friendship, camaraderie and a grass-roots structure.

According to Larry Gaines there were 115 airplanes on the ramp at Rockford.  98 Bonanzas and 17 Barons.  They sent 1 Bonanza out ahead of the group as a weather scout to verify that thunderstorm movement from the west would not accelerate and affect the flight. 2  Bonanzas had maintenance issues after engine start (out of ordinary CHTs and alternator failure).  Both flew to Oshkosh later.
So, there were 113 airplanes in our flight this year,  counting the weather scout.

B2O Party

 

 

Mooney Caravan

Vita nimis brevis est tarde volo  [Life is too short to fly slowly.]

Their website  http://www.mooneycaravan.com/home

IMG_4705

Mooney Caravan line up Madison, WI

The Mooney Caravan’s roots originate in a message posted on February 21, 1998 to a Mooney email list started by Doug Fields. Following is the text of the message from Akmal Khan (who flew a 252 and enjoyed taking goodhearted jabs at his normally aspirated brethren):

“I am taking my family over to Oshkosh this year. I know a number of you Northwest Mooniacs were planning on flying over this year. I thought it might be fun to organize a caravan of Mooneys to fly in together. I will have my speed brakes on so you can keep up :-). We could arrange for a couple of stops along the way and maybe do a formation flight into Oshkosh. What do you think?”

Through the efforts of a core group of volunteers led by Jonathan Paul, the first Mooney Caravan of 42 aircraft took off from Madison Dane County Regional airport on July 27, 1998 with Jonathan as lead and Dave Piehler as tail. During the months prior to the flight, the organizers including a Letter of Agreement with the FAA and the flight procedures, which were developed following consultation with Bonanzas to Oshkosh, worked out the Caravan logistics. Bonanzas to Oshkosh had been conducting formation Bonanza arrivals into Oshkosh since 1990 when the organizers recognized that the only way to camp together in the North 40 was to arrive together!

“I had not been into AirVenture and so many people commented on the madness of the Fisk arrival and the relative ease of the Caravan that formation seemed like a better option. Additional considerations were the opportunity to get an introduction to formation flying techniques and skills. Third, I was aware that the Caravan planes would park together and there would be opportunities for meeting Mooniacs.” –Robert C. (Bob) Belville. Based at Morganton, NC.

MOONEY MASS ARRIVAL

Mooney Caravan 2016

41 Mooneys arrived OSH in 2 plane elements (instead of 3 due to surface wind) every 15 seconds. There was a little congestion on the taxiways – arrivals to the airport had been backed up by the weather and by the next morning the field would be closed temporarily – no more parking space!

 “Friends don’t let friends fly the Fisk arrival” … overheard in the North 40

Cessnas to Oshkosh

http://www.cessnas2oshkosh.com/920home.aspx

Cessnas to OSH Pilot Brief

Cessnas to OSH Pilot Brief

As has been the case with other events in aviation history, the origin of the Cessnas 2 Oshkosh mass arrival can be traced back to a group of pilots searching for a way to fly and spend time together. In the summer of 2005 a small group of Cessna owners led by Fred Johnson and Rodney Swanson met in the North 40 during the celebration of EAA AirVenture – Oshkosh to figure out a way to fly in, camp and hang out together as a group under the wings of their airplanes in the North 40. The ultimate goal was to share their mutual passion for aviation and have a good time together during the week of Oshkosh.

C20 Landing 36L

C20 Landing 36L

C2O reports that eighty-five aircraft, arranged in thirty  elements, participated in the 2016 Cessnas 2 Oshkosh Mass Arrival Flight. This number represents an unprecedented eighteen percent increase in participation compared to the seventy-two aircraft in 2015 and even higher compared to the previous three mass arrivals: 54 in 2014, 42 in 2013 and 41 in 2012.

 

C20 group_2016

C20 Group 2016

 

Cherokees to Oshkosh

http://www.cherokees2osh.com/index.asp

image

Cherokees to Oshkosh on Final 36L

Cherokees to Oshkosh began a tradition in 2010 which we are confident will continue to grow and promulgate. The enthusiasm that effervesced from the founding group will be the base, which stands the test of time, and encourage future Cherokees to Oshkosh members to make the choice to join us. If you decide to join us in 2017, be prepared to attend a mini-clinic of your choice, as well as coming in early to Waupaca to enjoy the family of aviators that are the essence of Cherokees to Oshkosh. Both venues will require effort on your part. However, if you take the time to speak with any of the pilots that flew with us in previous years, we are confident they will tell you the hard work paid off. That belief was evidenced upon landing at Oshkosh, as we did not observe one pilot exit their aircraft in the North 40 without a smile!

“2016 was the third time flying my airplane into Oshkosh for EAA AirVenture and it’s been an adventure each time. The first time I flew in was as a single arrival. To me the single arrival was more challenging and I believe more dangerous because you have no idea who is lining up with you over Ripon and It can be hectic The past two years I have flown in to AirVenture with the Cherokees to Oshkosh group. This group is very organized and there are minimum qualifications for the pilots. Cherokees to OshkoshOne of the requirements is all pilots must attend a mini clinic on formation flying that are offered around the country during the year. We all arrive in Waupaca, Wi about three or four days prior to the day we plan to fly the mass arrival. During those few days we fly training sorties in formation and practice different scenarios of arrival in case we are assigned a different runway or some other change. When we fly in you know who is on your wing and what to expect. It is much easier and safer way to arrive not to mention it is a lot of fun and looks really cool.”John Bova Based at KSBP, San Luis Obispo, CA

No matter the make or model everyone I talked to in the mass arrivals was happy to have completed the task.  Do consider a formation clinic in your region in 2017.  Most clinics welcome all brands of aircraft.  The skills you will learn will serve you well and formation flying has a strangely addictive quality.  It is not too early to start making plans for OSH17.  The fun, fellowship, and flying are hard to beat.  Plus you might get a super cool call sign to memorialize your participation.

Buttercup, out.

 

Jolie Lucas Bio

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, private pilot, and Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups, Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. Jolie is the Contributing Editor for AOPA Airport Support Network Newsletter. She the director and executive producer of the documentary: Boots on the Ground: the Men & Women who made Mooney©. She co-created Mooney Girls Mooney Girls and Right Seat Ready!© She is the creator of Pilot Plus One© Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

The sky is not the limit for the Skytypers

 Three generations of General Aviation and American business ingenuity from the Stinis family

I had the pleasure of interviewing and flying with Greg and Stephen Stinis and the rest of the West Coast Skytypers crew at Chino airport in California. Within minutes of landing, I had a call from Greg Stinis asking about my plans for dinner. After meeting them, and realizing that they are a Greek family, I knew I was in for a ripping good time. We headed out for Mexican food and felt like I had known them for ten years instead of ten minutes. Skytypers is a great General Aviation based business that not only supports their local airport and highlights aviation, but it inspires the love of flight to those on the ground looking skyward.  The team feels like a family, and they all have a lot of fun.  Skytypers have both and East and West Coast presence flying with their patented system using multiple on-board computers.

AndyStinisAccording to Greg, his father Andy Stinis’ history is rich in innovation and aviation. From 1931 to 1953, Andy Stinis performed skywriting for Pepsi-Cola, “Across the US during those years, skywriting with smoke was a premier form of advertising.  The original 1929 TravelAir Pepsi Skywriter my Dad flew hangs in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum,” says Greg.

Always an entrepreneur in 1946, Andy developed a method of “skytyping” using multiple aircraft to create complex sky displays and messages. His patented skytyping method provided a high-quality message that was more clearly readable at large distances and stayed intact longer. The patent for computer-controlled skytyping between multiple aircraft was awarded to Andy in 1964. Andy flew west at age 83 after having amassed over 30,000 flying hours.

Greg says that aviation was always a central part of his life. When his father would “babysit” him, they would go to the airport and hit the skies. He learned to fly in an AT-6 and has been a sky writer since he was 18 years old. In 1979, Greg formed Skytypers, Inc. holding the patents and continuing his father’s business legacy.

The Stinis family: a study of commitment to a General Aviation business, innovation, perseverance and fun.

Having both the East and West coast bases, the Skytypers have worked for a variety of clients. Among them Anheuser–Busch, Miller Brewing Company, Coors, Pepsi-Cola, Universal Pictures, Toyota Motors, Disneyland, Coppertone, Solarcaine, Miller Brewing Company, Ford, General Foods, and Geico.Geico skytypers

As well they have brought their own type of magic to a variety of prestigious and historic events: The 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California, Superbowl games, Macy’s parades and 4th of July celebrations in New York and over the White House. While a successful business, with world-famous clients, I can’t help but wonder about the countless people that they have touched and lit a spark for aviation.   All the pilots I talked to said that they get a lot of questions and comments from airshow attendees and the like. The way that the typed letters magically appear in the sky is a head-turner for sure.

In 1989, Greg took the California business to Japan becoming the first US WWII civilian aircraft team to fly and tour Japan. Since then, Skytypers has created several joint ventures throughout the world: South Africa, France, Spain, UAE and the United Kingdom.

Stephen Stinis began formal participation in company operations in 1996, thus making Skytypers an enterprise spanning three generations. In 2004, Stephen and his cousin Curtiss Stinis developed and patented a new digital Skytyping system using multiple computers on a wireless network. The system has the capability to type messages in color, in different languages and some graphics/logos. Stephen received his pilot’s license when he was seventeen years old while working for Skytypers. According to Stephen, “The goals of Skytypers are to help private and public organizations inform and educate people about product and service offerings as well as charity projects and public service measures.”

SkytypersGeneral Aviation businesses such as Skytypers are a true economic engine for our airports. They have a squadron of AT6 in New York and previous to Chino the West Coast unit was based in Long Beach for thirty-seven years. Not do only aviation businesses pay rent, but they increase tourism, purchase fuel, and are ambassadors for the airport.

The flight of five Grumman Tigers departed Chino on a clear Saturday afternoon. Greg and Stephen Stinis were in Skytyper #1. I flew right seat in #2 with longtime professional pilot Torrey Ward. The other members of the squad were #3 Jim Wilkins, #4 Zackary Bryson, and #5 Tom Sather. I was impressed; start to finish with the pre-flight briefing, pre-flight, run up, communications and in-flight formation from these gentlemen. I had never flown in an airplane with a clear canopy the visibility was awesome. I decided to use my Lightspeed Tango wireless headset and was impressed by its capabilities once again.

We climbed to 11,000 feet and the Skytypers began their work. Our mission took us over downtown San Diego, Sea World, and Coronado. Returning to Orange County we flew up the coast to Huntington Beach over Long Beach, Orange County Airport and back to Chino. The mission lasted a little over two and a half hours. I was thrilled to be able to fly some of the formation from the right seat. Each letter created by the five airplanes is 1250 feet tall, meaning that people in a twenty-mile radius viewed the skywriting.IMG_3661 It is amazing to consider upwards of two million people saw the skytyping.

After a fun formation landing we climbed out of the Tigers and de-briefed. A quick scan of Instagram and Twitter yielded not only photos but also video of the Skytypers at work. It is easy to see now that the ideas that Andy Stinis had in the early 40s were brilliant. Add to that the technology available now makes the flights safer and adds greater choices.

From master on to master off the Skytypers acted like professional pilots, yet the amount of fun they had was infectious. It is clear that they have found the golden ticket; their passion is in line with their vocation. The result is art, sky art.

On a personal note I would like to thank the Stinis family and all the Skytypers for the hospitality. I really very much enjoyed being able to fly some of the formation from the right seat. That taste has inspired me to begin my formation training with the Mooney Caravan and will flying the mass arrival to Oshkosh in a few weeks.IMG_3564

Each of the Skytypers asked me what I thought about flying the mission. My answer was the same. “My face hurts from smiling for two and a half hours straight!” Business innovation, ingenuity, perseverance through challenging economic times, inspiring the love of flight, and generating awe with puffs of smoke, the sky is only the beginning for the Skytypers.

 

 

 

 

 

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, private pilot, and Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups, Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. Jolie is the Contributing Editor for AOPA Airport Support Network Newsletter. She the director and executive producer of the documentary: Boots on the Ground: the Men & Women who made Mooney©. She co-created Mooney Girls Mooney Girls and Right Seat Ready!© She is the creator of Pilot Plus One© Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

Savior of General Aviation

Work to keep your airport an airport

Work to keep your airport an airport

A few years back a critic of mine said that I “fly around the country acting like I am the savior of general aviation.” As I thought about this criticism, I had to admit there is some truth to the statement. I so strongly believe in promoting general aviation, I developed a presentation called PGA2: Promote General Aviation, Protect G.A. Airports. I have presented PGA2 at AirVenture, Women in Aviation, Mooney Aircraft Pilots Association and to many pilot groups throughout California. I firmly believe that unless we all do something, the face of general aviation in the United States could change for the worse. So, it looks like my critic is right. This begs the question, why aren’t there more folks out there doing the same?

A few years ago, I accepted a position on the board of the California Pilots Association [CalPilots]. Founded in 1949, CalPilots is a statewide non-profit volunteer organization committed to the support of our state General Aviation airports and flight privileges. Protecting airports and promoting G.A. is right in line with the work I have been doing with the two grass-roots groups I founded: the Mooney Ambassadors [www.MooneyAmbassadors.com], and the Friends of Oceano Airport [www.FriendsofOceanoAirport.com]. So accepting the two-year vice presidency of Region 3 was a no-brainer.

Kids_at_Fence

Bring them inside the fence with fun activities

What can the average lover of aviation do to help inspire the love of flight and protect their home drome? By engaging! Get involved at your airport. Think about aviation events in your area. Attend as many as you can, or better yet, volunteer to help. No events at your home airport? Start one.

Stay involved. Know your airport board and the political figures who oversees your airport. Keep abreast of issues that could affect your airport and attend meetings about such. Educate yourself as to what general aviation truly is. Write an editorial on how general aviation positively affects your community. Get to know your media folks and invite them to the airport for a tour. Take them for an airplane ride. They like to have fun too. Tell them general aviation fights forest fires, provides emergency ambulance and rescue services. Let them know about all volunteer Angel Flight, which provides medical transportation to those in need. Inform them the package they recently received might have been delivered by a General Aviation FedEx or UPS feeder airplane.

Aviation lovers ask me why should they become a member of state or local groups when they already belong to AOPA, EAA, NBAA, or other national aviation groups. The short answer is that state aviation issues are increasing and national aviation organizations can no longer address them all, or protect all of our airports.

Complaint to Mandate

From Complaint to Mandate

We have to do more to protect general aviation airports. I believe in a “Three Tiered Aviation Defense Strategy” that aviation enthusiasts should belong to local, statewide, and national aviation organizations. Further, all three tiers must work together, which is beginning to happen. It is vital that all, aviators and enthusiasts, get involved. Each of us can do something to help, no matter how small.

Am I the savior of G.A.? No, we all must band together against apathy. We need to go from complaint to mandate. Promoting general aviation protects G.A. airports. You can do something today.

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, private pilot, and Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups, Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. Jolie is the Contributing Editor for AOPA Airport Support Network Newsletter. She the director and executive producer of the documentary: Boots on the Ground: the Men & Women who made Mooney©. She co-created Mooney Girls Mooney Girls and Right Seat Ready!© She is the creator of Pilot Plus One© Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me
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