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Tag: volunteers (page 1 of 3)

Improving Backcountry Airstrips: New Windsock at Gold King

If you fly into Gold King (PAAN), look for the new windsock on the north east corner of the field.  The old windsock remains at the other end of the airport, giving pilots an additional “tool” to evaluate the wind before landing on this backcountry strip, on the northern flank of the Alaska Range.  While it might not seem like a big deal, this represents a collaborative effort between a small group of stakeholders that rely on the airstrip and the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT), who owns the facility.  AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer Dave Pott helped coordinate between DOT and the locals, to accomplish this upgrade to the airfield.  While it took over a year and two work parties to complete, this is a success story about improving a backcountry airstrip.


New windsock flys on the north east corner of the Gold King Creek airstrip.

Background
Gold King is not a typical “community airport” operated by DOT&PF. It fits into the realm of backcountry airstrips, generally located off the road system that provide access to public lands across the state.  Each backcountry airstrip has its own story, and Gold King is no exception.  Established in 1959 as the Gold King Creek Radio Relay Station, it housed a microwave radio relay tower, equipment building and ~2,000 foot airstrip. The station connected the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) at Clear Air Force Base (35 n miles west) with a chain of stations that linked defense radar stations, known as the White Alice Communication System.  These radio relay stations stretched across Canada ultimately providing communication to the NORAD headquarters in Colorado.  The unattended facility was powered by diesel generators with fuel flown in to the airstrip.  Satellite communications eventually replaced the need for the ground-based system, and the facility was closed in 1988.  When the Air Force returned the land to the State of Alaska, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources made some of the surrounding property available to the public, which resulted in construction of a number of summer or year around homes in the area, with the airstrip serving as the principal source of access.

Beyond meeting the needs of local property owners, Gold King serves a much larger role in the north central Alaska Range.  Today listed as a 2,500’ airstrip, Gold King satisfies a number of needs. Due to the access provided by the airstrip, the University of Alaska utilized it as a location to locate a seismic sensor.  The Bureau of Land Management has established a Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS) there, to help monitor fire danger.  Because it is situated on gravel deposits underlain by bedrock, the airstrip is quite stable, making it a good staging area for aircraft hauling gear or supplies into mines, cabins or recreation sites with smaller airstrips or off-field landing areas.  It becomes a popular staging area during hunting season in the fall.  Finally, the airstrip serves as an alternate place to land and wait when weather keeps aircraft from getting to their planned destinations.

Almost lost as an Airport
After the Air Force suspended its use of the relay station, the federal government transferred the land to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  While they made the land around the airstrip available to the public for homesites or recreational cabins, keeping the documents current for the airport was not a priority. When the Fairbanks Sectional Chart was published in 1998, Gold King had completely disappeared from the map!  Fortunately, in response to aviation industry requests, the airport was transferred from DNR to DOT, and slowly re-appeared—initially in 2003 as a “closed” airport, with unknown runway length or condition.  Today the chart and entry in the Alaska Supplement, reflect more complete information, including a CTAF to use when operating in the area.

Under Air Force management, Gold King was charted as a private airstrip. After the Air Force shut down the facility and transferred it to the State of Alaska, it briefly disappeared from the charts. After the airport was transferred from DNR to DOT, it has been more completely described.

 


Local equipment was used to excavate a spot for the new windsock at Gold King.

New windsock
Dave Pott is the Airport Support Network Volunteer at Gold King. He is retired and spends the majority of the year living just off the airport.  Working with other land owners, a volunteer group keeps an eye on the airport, and has banded together to do limited maintenance on the field.  Last year, he reached out to DOT and requested their assistance to replace the windsock, which was in a state of disrepair.  DOT responded by supplying a new windsock assembly. They had it delivered to the airport in the fall of 2017, along with bags of cement to properly anchor it, deep in the ground.

Volunteer crew placing the form for the base.

In early June, the locals held a work party to start the installation.  The volunteers provided a back hoe to excavate a hole for the base and flew in a cement mixer to support the project.  On July 5th, a second work party took place to put the stand on the base and raise the windsock.

We owe both DOT and the Gold King volunteers a big THANK YOU for working together to keep this

Work party two: mounting the windsock stand on the base.

airstrip in good condition.  In these times of tight budgets, collaborative efforts between stakeholders will be essential to keep our backcountry airports across Alaska in good working order.  Look for projects in your part of the state, and if possible, lend a hand!

I have more than I need, so I give back

Many of us have friends on Facebook that we follow but may have never met in person. Such is the case for Joshua Knowlton and me. It all started with Oregon and airplanes, but my esteem for Joshua has grown over the years so I want to tell you about him. He is 40 years old and has been working in aviation for about 7 years. He has been an A&P for 5 years, and an IA for 2 years. He says, of his careers, “I dropped out of high school when I was 16 and didn’t go to college until I was 32. I have worked in a slaughterhouse, I’ve been a professional cook, a sewing machine technician, a painter, and I drove a tow-truck for 7 years before starting college. “

He attended Lane Aviation Academy at Lane Community College in Oregon and was awarded several scholarships and finished first in his class with a 4.02 cumulative GPA. He started working at PJ Helicopters soon after graduation from A&P School and worked there for a little over 3 years. After that he started working with his friend and fellow alum Kyle Bushman, restoring antique airplanes. “Since I have my own 1942 Piper L4A Grasshopper that I am restoring I thought this would be a good transition. We worked together for about a year before I decided to get back into rotor craft since I was so attracted to them. I started working for Hillsboro Aviation about a year ago. That is where I currently work and I love my job”, he says.

Joshua is a humble person when talking about his work as a philanthropist. He probably would bristle at me calling him that. He states simply, “I am in a position now where I feel like I have more than I need and I want to be able to give back. This is why I am trying to do good and help others and raise money for causes I support.” I remember he posted on Facebook saying he wanted to take his daughter and her school friend to Disneyland. That quickly turned in to her school friend and her two sisters who were all homeless. He was able to raise over $1800 to help pay their expenses and had a fabulous time at Disneyland. If that isn’t philanthropy I don’t know what is.

After that he decided to start his own scholarship at the A&P school that he attended. “I wanted to pay for one student’s written FAA mechanic exams (about $500) but after talking to a couple of people I raised $300 from them and decided to pull a couple hundred more dollars out of my pocket and pay for the written exams for two students” he says. He calls this scholarship the “Anna Marie Shurden Scholarship for Positive Change”, named after a fellow student who beat the odds and overcame many personal difficulties to finish school and get a job in the aviation industry and continues to be a success. His goal for 2019 is to raise enough money to pay for both the oral and practical exams as well as the written exam for one deserving student. The link for the fundraiser for 2019 is: https://www.gofundme.com/annamariescholarship

Joshua says, “I would like to point out that I am a member of Women in Aviation and my scholarship is geared toward (but not exclusive to) females that are pursuing a career in aviation maintenance. I am a firm believer that this industry needs more women. Not just pilots but mechanics also. “

Joshua was poor as a kid and didn’t have a lot of opportunities. He’s never been out of the country. “Aviation has given me the life I always wanted and has given me opportunities that I never thought I would have. Whenever I have the chance I want to help out other people who are in the place where I was. They just need a hand up to get to a better place and have a chance at the life they have always wanted. I do my best. I am grateful. I work hard.” Be like Joshua.

 

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, and instrument rated pilot. She is the Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups: Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport. Presently Jolie is the Vice President of the California Pilots Association. She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. She is 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© She is an aviation educator and writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

We are born to be happy Follow your smiles

I just finished a wonderful weekend in Portland and the Columbia River Gorge. While driving on a back road to PDX I saw a billboard that said, “We are born to be happy. Follow your smiles.” I didn’t think much of it at first, and then I thought about the concept more deeply. Admittedly I am a notorious photo and selfie taker. If I were to follow the smiles on my camera roll, it would lead me to my family, both biological and aviation.

I am blessed to have a professional career divided in two, half being a licensed psychotherapist and the other half working in aviation education, presenting and writing. I am keenly aware that many of us have to fund our passion for flying through hard work at non-aviation vocations. But if we follow the smiles, I bet that yours would be of Oshkosh, attending a fly-in at your local airport, or flying a four-legged to its forever home. Check out some of the smiles from some of my fellow aviation lovers below, and try not to smile yourself.


Jen Toplak,  instrument rated private pilot, business owner

Toplak [R] and GoldCoast 99s

Our event sought to increase aviation career awareness and the role female aviators can play.  As the past Chapter Chairman of the Florida Goldcoast 99s (International Organization of Women Pilots) and owner of Dare to Fly Apparel, I gathered 30 volunteers pilots, including 99s members and friends of the 99s, on the 18th of February to paint a 60 foot in diameter compass rose at X51, Homestead Executive Airport, Florida.

Compass Rose Finished

Homestead Executive Jet Center donated most of the painting materials and lunch for the volunteers. We are appreciative of the collaboration and help provided by the airport authorities. We are proud of how successful this event was and we are very happy we made a lasting impression on the field, we hope to inspire many more people to learn to fly, especially women. The day was full of smiles.

Mara’D Smith, Charter pilot, volunteer pilot at Collings Foundation

This might be one of my favorite moments so far with Collings Foundation as a volunteer pilot on the B24 Liberator. Normally it is me asking to take pictures with the crew members. But when this veteran found out I was a pilot, and I was the one that helped fly him to Oxford, he absolutely insisted on taking a photo with me. He had multiple members of his family taking the photos to make sure he got one! So wonderful, and it made me smile from ear to ear.

Mike Jesch, Airline Captain, Vice-President, Fullerton Airport Pilots Association , FAAST Team Presenter

FAPA Officers Mike Jesch, Jim Gandee, and presenter Ramona Cox

I get a smile out of participating in my local pilot association, Fullerton Airport Pilots Association. I was one of the original “steering committee” that began some seven years ago, and worked to restart our then-dormant group. In the end, I’ve served as the Vice President of the group ever since. My favorite part of the job is the connections to people in the industry. One of my “chores” is to schedule speakers for our monthly safety seminars. In this capacity, I’ve had the extreme pleasure of meeting and working with a Who’s Who of the industry in my area. That has developed into opportunities to speak myself at other local airports, and I’ve enjoyed putting together and delivering dozens of seminars in the area ever since. The biggest downside is that a ton of people know who I am, but I don’t know so many of them! I always get a giggle when somebody says “Hi Mike!” who attended a seminar a year ago!

Jim Koepnick, award-winning aviation photographer

I love hanging around the Vintage area at EAA/Oshkosh, it makes me smile. I had the pleasure to run into Don Voland and his lovely wife Jeanette. Don was my helicopter pilot for countless years. He laughed as he recalled the first year we accomplished the fish-eye aerial of convention grounds (in the old film days) with a combination of altitude and a silly young photographer hanging out of the helicopter hanging on to the seat belt.

Greg Bedinger, Former Pilot Outreach Manager, current LightHawk volunteer pilot

Greg Bedinger [L] and volunteers

On flights designed and coordinated by the conservation-aviation group LightHawk I have  spent many hours volunteering my time and skills to help conservationists, photographers, and policy-makers to see from the air the multitude of impacts on watershed health, from high up in the Cascade and Olympic mountains all the way down to the shorelines of the Salish Sea.

LightHawk Crew Chief,  Luke Irwin

I’ve been privileged in recent years to fly across many western landscapes on similar LightHawk flights, from the Colorado River delta in Mexico to the oilfields in West Texas. Many of my flights have been focused on gathering imagery to be used by the partner conservation groups in support of their work. The flights are always personally rewarding as they offer my passengers a chance to gain a more thorough and expansive understanding of an issue or landscape. The smiles both during the flights, and after, let me know that the time spent has been more than worthwhile.


For much of the country, spring flying is just around the corner. Perhaps spend a few minutes thinking where your aviation smiles are hiding. And, if by chance, you find yourself at Sun n Fun in Lakeland, FL., come to one of my AOPA presentations Exiting the Hold: Reaching your Aviation Goals or the Mooney booth and say hello. Smiles guaranteed.

Seminars offered at Sun n Fun 2018

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, and instrument rated pilot. She is the Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups: Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport. Presently Jolie is the Vice President of the California Pilots Association. She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. She is 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© She is an aviation educator and writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

If you Build it, They will Come.

Determination, passion and connection in the heart of the Rockies.

Amy Helm became the airport manager of Glenwood Springs Airport [KGWS] in April of 2017 after interviewing and presenting a petition with the signatures of 60 local pilots who supported her candidacy. The daughter of a private pilot, Amy didn’t set out to be an airport manager, but nonetheless she has devoted her time, determination and passion to this Colorado airport nestled in the heart of the Rockies.

Amy Helm

Amy loved aviation as long as she can remember. She worked at Glenwood Springs Airport in high school and earned her pilots license there. After college and fulfilling some wanderlust, she returned to Colorado wanting to get a job as a back-country pilot. As is often the case, Amy soon discovered that she needed to learn about maintenance and repair in order to pay for her flying. She received her A&P and after completing a stint as an apprentice, she moved to SE Alaska working as a mechanic for a bush pilot. The next stop on her grand circle tour was Juneau Alaska where she earned her IA and worked as a helicopter mechanic for Coastal Helicopters.

Amy and I talked about the qualities of character it takes to be a pilot, mechanic and airport manager. I asked her if her job is hard. She laughed and said, “There are days that are hard, and there are days that are a lot of fun.” Amy said that the number one factor in both her work as a mechanic and an airport manager is determination. Anyone who has volunteered at an airport knows a lot about determination. At Glenwood Springs it took two separate work parties and 30 volunteers to get the airport back in tiptop shape for visitors.

Development has encircled their airport with housing tracts on both sides. Over the years there have been threats to the airport from developers. Thus Amy’s first tasks as the new airport manager were to spruce the place up, replace worn signage, increase community awareness, and start planning on a community aviation expo. The first event was very successful giving 150 airplane rides, hosting 500 people in attendance, over 30 types of airplanes and helicopters on static display for the community to walk around, sit in, ask questions about and  a vendor display. The second annual event will be held August 18th, 2018.

Glenwood Springs is a tourist destination with skiing, skydiving, white water rafting, climbing and of course the world’s largest hot springs pool. Camping on the airport grounds is allowed. Although the fourth oldest airport in the country Glenwood Springs Airport does not receive FAA grant money, nor any funds from the City of Glenwood Springs. Funding for the airport is based solely on donations, fuel sales, tie-down and hangar income.  Amy and I spent some time talking about mobilizing pilots and promoting General Aviation to communities.

Call to Action

Pilots are “do something” people. Fly the airplane; don’t let the airplane fly you. We all are airport, and airplane, lovers. When it comes to your local airport,  think small and big; local level, community-based. How can your airport serve your community in non-aviation needs? Perhaps a space for community meetings, a host of a canned food drive, or a fund-raiser for the local humane society. With our home airports,  step up, raise your voices and let your opinions be known. This might mean speaking in front of the airport board, or county commissioners. Use your local airport as a resource. Bring the community inside the fence. Be able to tell the truth. If someone wants to do something unsafe at an airport, speak up. Be on guard for encroachments, misapplications of directives, and oppressive policies. The second level of involvement is in between micro and macro, it is the state level. Are you involved with your state aviation association? Do you know who your regional director for AOPA is? Do you have a Representative or Congressman from your state on the GA Caucus? Have you thought about becoming involved with aviation at the state or regional level?

If you Build it, They will Come

In order to promote General Aviation define it for the non-flying public effectively.  It is very important to be positive and focus on the ways that G.A. helps our communities and our citizens.  When I meet someone at an event I ask if they are a pilot, or know a pilot.  If not a pilot, I ask if they ever wanted to learn how to fly.  If yes, have they made steps toward learning, and if not, why not?   Even those folks who do not wish to become pilots would benefit from knowing how General Aviation affects them on a daily basis. Here are some ideas you might try at your home airport:

Oceano Airport Salute to Veterans May 11-12th, 2018

Toys for Tots

Airport Day Fun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fly-In Movie Night is always a big hit. All you need is a large screen, projector, sound system and popcorn. Toys for Tots is a great feel-good event that will benefit the children in your local area. Take a page out of Amy’s playbook and have an Airport Appreciation Day. Young Aviator Camp: Approach your local YMCA, Parks and Recreation, or Boys and Girls Club and ask about putting on a day camp for children.  Most airports have a green space, campground or empty hangar that can be used as a classroom area. Topics could include: What is General Aviation? Fundamentals of Flight, Basic Navigation, Mechanics, How to Become a Pilot, Careers in Aviation, and Charitable Flying. Young Eagles: EAA chapters have a tremendous amount of impact on the youth in our local communities when they hold a Young Eagles day. Public Radio and Television: Those of us in GA oftentimes overlook public radio and television, yet they are constantly on the look out for community-based stories.  Why not contact your local station about an upcoming event at your airport?  4-H Aero, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts: Both Boy and Girl Scouts have merit badges in Aviation.  Why not offer a daylong workshop to help the kids get their badges? Service Club Speaker: Why not talk with your local service club, or chamber of commerce about using YOU as a speaker?  This is a perfect opportunity to talk with a captive audience about the value of general aviation and general aviation airports. Emergency Responder Appreciation Event: Each of our communities have unsung heroes. Why not have a pancake breakfast, spaghetti feed, or burger fry and invite your local ambulance, search and rescue, law enforcement pilots, fire fighters and other emergency responders.  School Assemblies: Elementary schools have requirements about science education.  Aviation falls into that category.  Why not talk with your local principal about doing a fundamentals of flight assembly for your local school?  You could have RC models to illustrate lift, thrust, drag and gravity.  End your presentation with ways that the children can come to your airport. Remember children, bring their parents!

For many in the country the aviation season is beginning. We are making our reservations for Sun n Fun, or one of the four AOPA Regionals, or Oshkosh. But please remember to support our small GA airports which host events. Get your airport on the map like Amy has with Glenwood Springs. Host, volunteer, or attend a cool event. Invite your friends and more importantly your community. You will be rewarded with the joy of flight, connection with others, and keeping our airports vibrant.

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, and instrument rated pilot. She is the Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups: Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport. Presently Jolie is the Vice President of the California Pilots Association. She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. She is 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© She is an aviation educator and writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

Last Chance to Dance: camaraderie, education and inspiration during the close of the flying season.

With fall leaves changing and winter weather approaching; many of us are getting our last fly-ins of the season in the flight planner. Though I live at the beach in California, not everyone gets to enjoy about 11 months of VMC. Why not check out remaining fly-ins in your area, and get in on the end-of-the-year fun?  Need help finding an event or have an event to post? Check out the calendar on the AOPA Events page. I hope to see many of you in Florida at the end of this week.

Coppertstate Fly-In Aviation and Education Expo, Falcon-Field, Mesa AZ (KFFZ)  October 27-28. Come and meet fellow aviators and attend a variety of workshops and forums.  Weather toward the end of October is typically clear, sunny with highs in the mid to upper 80s.  Lows in the 60s.  Bring your family for a great aviation outing!  For more information visit event site.

Cooperstate Fly-In

AOPA Regional Fly-In, Tampa, FL [KTPF] October 27-28. The AOPA Fly-In season wraps up at Peter O. Knight Airport (KTPF), Friday Workshops led by world-renowned presenters were very popular with attendees. Topics include: Flying in the Extremes: Water Survival Tips and Techniques, IFR Refresher: Getting Back to Instrument Proficiency, Pilot Plus One: Combining Learning, Inspiration, and Adventure, and Owner-Guided Maintenance: Managing Your Aircraft Maintenance. The fun continues at the ever-popular Barnstormers Party, presented by Jeppeson. Saturday activities included free seminars all day, dozens of exhibits and aircraft on display, great meals, and a Pilot Town Hall with AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker. Event Info and Registration.

AOPA Friday Seminars. Photo Credit: David Tulis

Challenge Air for Kids and Friends, November 4, 9 am-4 pm at Ambassador Jet Center at Dallas Executive Airport [KRBD]. Pilots volunteer their planes to fly children with special needs on a 25-minute flight to build confidence and self-esteem.  Pilots must have 500 PIC hours, current Medical and FAA license, and insurance for $1,000,000.  Challenge Air for Kids and Friends has been around since 1993 and been doing this event in Dallas for many years. Please join us on Pilots, Volunteers, Families, and Agencies all need to register here on their website. We look forward to seeing you there!

Challenge Air for Kids

Spirit of Flight Living Aviation History Day, November 11, 10am-2pm Spirit of Flight Center Erie, CO [KEIK] Educational program about our aviation heroes and Salute to Veterans. Annual museum canned food drive for community food bank. Bring a food item and receive a FREE Starbuck’s coffee. For more information.

Living History Day. Photo Credit: BlueDharma

Friends of Oceano Airport Toys for Tots, December 2nd, 10 am-2 pm. Oceano Airport [L52] Join us for our annual Toys for Tots event in cooperation with the US Marine Corps. Bring a new, unwrapped toy and enjoy the fun. 10:00 Arrivals and holiday beverages 11:00 Live holiday music: the Jingle Bells 12:00 Burger Fry 1:00 Reindeer Games There is no admission charge. Aircraft on display, historical exemption sign-offs. Banner Airways: Take a ride back in history in the 1943 Super Stearman Yellow Bi-plane. SkyDive Pismo Beach is on hand for those wishing to skydive with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Oceano Fuel Discount $.25 per gallon, plus $.25 per gallon donation to Toys for Tots. Lodging Discount: Pacific Plaza Resort L52 Oceano Airport, Oceano California. Make a child smile at Christmas.

Oceano Airport, Toys for Tots

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, and instrument rated pilot. She is the Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups: Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport. Presently Jolie is the Vice President of the California Pilots Association. She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. She is 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© She is an aviation educator and writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

Think like an upside down wedding cake: three-tiered airport advocacy works

Unique airplanes on display at AOPA,Norman

Having just returned from Norman Oklahoma and the AOPA Regional Fly-In I was impressed to see the record attendance numbers at the two-day event. Over 7500 people and 500 airplanes came to enjoy the Friday educational seminars and the Saturday events. This year, AOPA broke the mold of the wildly successful regional fly-in by adding Friday seminars, which educate both the pilot, and non-pilot (as with Pilot Plus One/Right Seat Ready). In observing the event at Norman, I was reminded of the three-tiered model of airport advocacy. In action were local pilot groups, the eleventh annual Aviation Festival, the University of Oklahoma, state-level aviation associations, and of course nationally AOPA.

Jan Maxwell, co-founder Right Seat Ready! companion seminar.

As pilots, we are all used to looking at Class B airspace as an upside-down wedding cake. We understand that the first level extends from the ground upward; a larger ring sits on top of that, and a still larger ring above that. I have long believed that in terms of airport advocacy we need to subscribe to a three-tiered model. Much like Class B, we have the central core being the boots on the ground, local level. Above that are the state level and finally the national level. Let’s take a closer look:

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 insures 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.

As a resident of California, I get the pleasure of seeing the three-tiered model in full effect coming up October 13th and 14th at historic San Carlos Airport [KSQL]. The California Pilots Association  in conjunction with the San Carlos Airport Association is presenting AirFest 2017. The two-day event sponsored by ACI Jet,  features a Friday night wine and food reception with AOPA President, Mark Baker. Saturday’s workshops range from safety seminars and airport advocacy to disaster preparedness. All three levels of local state and national are working together to provide educational, social and advocacy.  I would encourage everyone to think like an upside down wedding cake when it comes to advocating for GA and airports. Think globally and act locally. The more we promote general aviation the more we protect our airports.

CalPilots Airfest 2017

 

 

 

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, and instrument rated pilot. She is the Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups: Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport. Presently Jolie is the Vice President of the California Pilots Association. She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. She is 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© She is an aviation educator and writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

Out of this World Request: an invitation for a different view

It’s not everyday you get an invitation to help create another world.  Tony, a software developer working on scenery add-ons for the X-Plane flight simulator, contacted me few days ago. He is creating a version of Oceano Airport [L52] for the X-Plane flight simulator and was trying to make the airfield look as realistic as possible. Specifically he was looking for photographs or for a contact that would be willing to take some photographs of the airfield so, he could recreate the airfield as accurately as possible. His hope was that the airfield will be available for anyone who wishes to use it, and it would be great to have a faithful replication inside the simulator that people will instantly recognize as the real thing.

Oceano, CA is my home airport and near and dear to my heart. Who wouldn’t want to help a developer [software only!] get an understanding of the value of our airport, it’s layout and surroundings. The initial email he sent said that he was in need of:

  • “Photographs of the buildings head on.
  • Pictures of any signage around the airfield, including notices, advertisements.
  • Pictures of the hangars on the far side of the field, these are hard to find imagery for.
  • Pictures of the buildings on the other-side of the runway, those near to the traffic pattern indicator.
  • A few more of the clubhouse building from the car park.
  • The building where I think you can use bicycle.
  • The signs facing out to the car park by the fuel tank. I think it’s a map of “You are here”, but there are also some other signs around.
  • Further down there are lots of T shaped hangars, any close-up shots you can get would be great.
  • If you can, more pictures of the Stearman. This will be a fun one to create a 3D model for.” The photos below show where we started as his renderings were mostly from Google Earth.”

I had a blast going down to the airport and taking the photos he needed. Each time I sent him a batch he asked for a few more details. I guess this request made me think about the airport in a new light. The computer-generated simulator could never capture the life and breath of this airport. Airport Improvement monies are funding the installation a new and necessary ASOS. While taking photos of the Pirate’s Lair on the far side of the field, I just smiled. The flags from the Oceano Air Pirates as well as the flags from neighboring airports [Santa Maria Rocketeers, Lompoc Cubbies] were flapping in the breeze. Four Cessnas flew in and unloaded. Many were headed to the beach for the sunny day. Our loaner bikes were checked out. Skydive Pismo Beach was loading up the jump plane, and Banner Airways was giving rides in the Stearman.

Actual Photo

Simulation Photo

I suppose real or simulated, my home airport is a slice of paradise worth protecting and promoting. I am so happy that Tony reached out from X-Plane. I got the benefit of seeing Oceano Airport from some new angles, which also gave me some ideas for sprucing up. I look forward to seeing the finished copy on the simulator, as well as enjoying the reality of our beach-side airport for many years to come.

Next time you are at your airport, try to see it from a visitor’s eyes. Perhaps you will see some small improvements would make big changes toward the positive. As ASN volunteers we all work hard for our GA airports, but we can’t become complacent now, we must always strive to put our best foot forward to our communities and our visitors.

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, and instrument rated pilot. She is the Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups: Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport. Presently Jolie is the Vice President of the California Pilots Association. She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. She is 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© She is an aviation educator and writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

Make Their Eyes Light Up

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in California is Columbia Airport [O22]. I am just back from attending the 51st annual Father’s Day Fly-In. This two-day event is really a model of community involvement, fun interactive aviation activities, aircraft displays, and opportunities to fly in historic airplanes.

Future Mooney Pilot

I have had a Mooney Ambassador display and volunteered at the fly-in for many many years. Columbia is one of the few “camping” trips I go on. They have a fly-in campground that has lovely hot showers and power! But more than that is the welcoming down-home feeling of this little gem of an airport. I am always amazed at the turnout of young and old at the event.

Here is a rundown on the half-century event; maybe it will spark an idea for your home base or local fly-in. The weekend started with the Friday night Volunteer Engine Company dinner supporting the local fire department. Both Saturday and Sunday mornings began with the Boy Scout Troop Pancake Breakfast in the campground. On the ramp were a variety of vendors and displays.

Airplane Rides in the white Stearman named Snowball or a 172 were available from Springfield Flying Service, who has a super cool domain name: http://letsgofly.com

Tiger Squadron

Tiger Squadron

 

 

 

 

The afternoon both days featured aerial demonstrations that thrilled the audience. The Tiger Squadron started the airshow with a formation fly-over at the end of the singing of the national anthem. Nine members flew military airplanes including the Chinese Nanchang CJ-6A, Russian Yak 52, Yak 50, and the Yak 18T.

The Baybombers mass formation military display team delighted us with precision, speed, and sound: A shiny Beech 18 was hopping rides and provided some fly-bys. There’s nothing like the sound of radial engine to get your attention.

Moo Pool

During the heat of the day, we were treated to several drag races featuring muscle cars. There were several Airplane vs. Car Races, but my favorite was the Stearman vs. Model A “Race.” Two pieces of history battling it out for top honors.  My Moo Pool was a hit again this year.  Probably the best $10 I have spent a few years ago was a kiddie swimming pool.  It became a gathering place to cool down and we had a birds-eye view of the airshow. Later in the day on Saturday, we were treated to watching pilots test their skills with the Flour Bombing & Spot Landing Contest.

Executive Sweet

Pilot Alex Nurse

A slice of history, Executive Sweet [B25J] attended, offering rides to those who wanted to go back in time. The American Aeronautical Foundation located in Camarillo, CA, owns the B25 Mitchell Bomber. They are a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to helping preserve the aviation legacy of World War II Veterans and the aircraft they flew.  I actually met a couple of the crew when they were admiring my airplane and the shiny paint job. I mentioned that I have a small oil leak that was making me crazy.  One of the pilots, Alex Nurse, said if I wanted to see oil to come over to the B25. I took him up on the offer and got a tour of the mighty airplane. Looking up at the airplane I was just mesmerized by the history it has seen. Standing under the bomb bay doors was sort of eerie; it was almost like I could feel the hopes and dreams of the men who flew her oh so many years ago. Climbing in to the cockpit was quite a feat and really gave me an appreciation for the airmen who scrambled around in challenging flying conditions. Alex described his passion for the AAF and his commitment, as a volunteer pilot, to sharing the history of Executive Sweet with the community. He talked about getting older veterans in the airplane [some who even flew in a B25] who walk slowly to the B25 and how once in the plane they are able to move around nimbly and their eyes light up.

I suppose young or old the goal of these community airport days is to have your eyes light up. I applaud the Airport Manager Ben Stuth and Kalah Beckman [whose real title is Administrative Assistant, but I think she should be Fly-In Organizational Queen] for their hard work and commitment to both safety and enjoyment. I worked side-by-side with a team of volunteers for the weekend. Many times the Fly-In is the only time we see each other. There were many volunteers from the communities of Columbia, Sonora, and Twain Harte that didn’t have a connection to aviation, but shared the love of flight. One young volunteer asked me if I loved having my pilots license and being able to go in the sky. As I packed up the airplane in the 100-degree weather, I smiled, looked up, and said, “Yes.”

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, and instrument rated pilot. She is the Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups: Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport. Presently Jolie is the Vice President of the California Pilots Association. She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. She is 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© She is an aviation educator and writer. 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, and instrument rated pilot. She is the Founder of two grass-roots general aviation service groups: Mooney Ambassadors and the Friends of Oceano Airport. Presently Jolie is the Vice President of the California Pilots Association. She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. She is 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© She is an aviation educator and writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: Mooney4Me

Touch up your short field landings: At Nenana!

Some days are sunny, others have been wet, but there is no denying that summer has arrived.  With 21 hours and 21 minutes of sunshine today in Interior Alaska, it is time to brush up your take-off and landing skills–to see if you can still hit the mark, and get stopped in under ???? feet.  (You fill in the blank).  To confirm you can REALLY do that, why not use one of the practice runways around the state to test your skills?  For the past several years I have written about painting marks on the gravel runway (ski strip) at Fairbanks International Airport and other airports around the state (Practice Runway at FAI Ready for Use), however this year a new location joins the mix.  For the first time, a volunteer crew led by Adam White, painted the ski strip at Nenana (ENN), with assistance from the Fairbanks General Aviation Association, Midnight Sun Chapter of the Nine-Nines, EAA Chapter 1129 and others.  The twist is, unlike the gravel strips at other airports, this runway is turf.

Volunteers painting marks on the ski-strip at Nenana.

Volunteers painting marks on the ski-strip at Nenana.

After a rainy period leading up to the evening event, the sun made an appearance, allowing the project to proceed.  Adam’s family served pulled pork sandwiches to power the group, and the mosquitoes came out in full force to hasten the work.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I arrived after the painting was done, just in time to admire the finished product, and sample the pulled pork and cole slaw—all of which were excellent.)

Try it yourself…

Aerial view of the practice runway, looking north, at Nenana.

Aerial view of the practice runway, looking north, at Nenana. Paint marks denote a “runway” 25 feet wide, with marking at 100′ intervals.

ENN airport layoutIf you want to try something new, motor over to Nenana and give the sky strip a try.  Sandwiched between the paved runway and float pond, I would recommend starting by landing to the north (wind permitting) on Runway 4 Right.  If all goes well, and you want to up your game, try the other end—but beware there are some swales which make this even more realistic training for true off-field conditions.  If you arrive with a light fuel load, and want to see how additional weight impacts your performance, remember that Nenana has self-service fuel. So you can increase your gross-weight, and have enough gas to get home.

Thanks again to the volunteers that devoted their time, talents and resources to create this new practice runway, adding to our ability to hone our skills before heading to the back-country!

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