Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Tag: AOPA Page 1 of 4

Still Here and Flying Around


Looking Southward toward Reno from just NE of Stead (KRTS).

I know it’s been a while since I last posted. Wow, I just checked and didn’t realize it had been 2 months. Life happens.

According to Logbook Pro I have flown 4 times since then, including yesterday when this photo was taken. There is still snow on the top of Mt Rose but nothing anywhere else.

During the break in writing I have changed hosting providers so maybe you will notice quicker page load times than you were getting. The change will also give me more capabilities with my website development business – which pays for my flying habit.

During that 2-month period I also helped an EAA friend/flight instructor conduct a Private Pilot (PPL) test prep ground school. It was an interesting exercise in remembering all those things that the FAA considers important to new pilots. It had been years since I had even picked up an E-6B much less worked a wind problem with one. The same could also be said for the plotter and determining a Magnetic Heading to fly after drawing a line on a sectional chart and measuring the True Course. All the GPS units available and the online flight planning software has made us lazy – like losing your hand-flying skills if all you do is turn on the autopilot after takeoff.

There were 9 students in the class, of which 7 made it through to the end (7 weeks, two nights per week). It was a quick trip through the text and test-prep book (both ASA products).  In order to receive a course completion certificate which would enable the student to take the FAA written exam, the instructor set a requirement to pass one of the available practice tests with a score of at least 80.  The tests were available on the ASA website as a benefit of purchasing the course materials from ASA.  Unfortunately, only one of the seven who stayed through the entire course had taken any practice tests and met the instructor’s minimum score.

The instructor is starting a new session of the course next week and has invited all the students to attend again at no charge to get ready for the test. A nice gesture. The amount of material to be covered and the time allowed meant that if you ever got behind with the study assignment it was almost impossible to catch up – especially if you had a life outside of class.



I saw this guy/gal land in the back yard the other day. Not something that you expect to see in a residential area of Reno – at 5000′ MSL.

Most of the lakes in the area are severely low. Washoe Lake, just a few miles south of us is almost completely evaporated. I imagine Mr/Ms Duck was looking for something green and our backyard appeared pretty inviting.

On tap next – this-coming Saturday is a pancake Breakfast – but since it’s only two hangars away from me I doubt I’ll fly to it. It will be a good reason to get out to the airport early. Then I can grab a plate and, hopefully, spend the rest of the day trying to finish the Spring polishing on the plane. I have the top of both wings and one side of the tail finished so far.  Have to look good for fly-in season, right?

I’m planning on making the AOPA regional fly-in again this year. This time it is a 2-hour flight to Salinas, CA (KSNS). It should be a fun time.

A Weekend Flight to Washington


SPOT Messenger flight track to Spokane and back.

As most of you already know, AOPA has changed to a series of Regional Convertions/Fly-ins this year rather than one large event. Their thinking is that they will reach more people by going to them instead of requiring them to travel to AOPA. This month the regional event was in Spokane, WA, at Felts Field. In September the regional event is at the Chino, CA airport in the LA Basin.

Chino is about a half hour shorter flight than going to Spokane but the airspace around Felts Field is a good 10 orders of magnitude less complicated.  I have flown into Chino a few times and I decided I really didn’t want to do it again with 300-400 other planes headed the same direction.


Laird Commercial biplane in front of the only flying Boeing Model 40.

The flight up to Spokane took 3.6 hours engine start to stop. It was a non-stop flight that ended with the fuel totalizer saying I still had 15 gallons remaining, a conservative hour of flight at low altitude. There were VFR arrival procedures published for the convention but when I arrived on Friday just before noon I wasn’t able to comply with the instructions because of weather. I flew the depicted route, but not at the designated altitude. The airport was reporting 2200′ scattered and 6000′ broken when I arrived. About 2 hours after I landed all the clouds decided to get together and have a party – it rained off and on for 2-3 hours.


Gee Bee Q.E.D – a huge airplane with a 1425 H.P. Wright Radial engine

1931 Bellanca J-300 Miss Veedol (Replica). See http://www.spiritofwenatchee.org/

1931 Bellanca J-300 Miss Veedol (Replica). See http://www.spiritofwenatchee.org/

There were plenty of volunteers around to direct me to my parking spot, but I wasn’t too impressed with the parking arrangement. If I had been King I would have started parking arrivals in front of the convention area first and then as available spots filled, progressively move new arrivals farther away from the main area. That would have provided the greatest number of aircraft within the public viewing area for the longest time, would have rewarded early arrivals with parking close to show center and provided closer parking for the arrivals who would be staying the longest and had the most baggage to lug to/from the plane. Obviously, that was not the way it worked. I’ll only say that there were maybe 4 planes parked farther from the convention area than me.

I had never been to an AOPA event, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  About 4-5 days before the event I decided to help out and put my name in as a volunteer.

Rod Machado - Thinking Small to Avoid Big Mistakes

Rod Machado – Thinking Small to Avoid Big Mistakes

I chose to work Saturday 6am to 11am and was assigned to the air side of the operations – the aircraft parking areas rather than the street side auto parking/directing operations. I ended up on a multi-person crew directing aircraft to their parking area and then, if necessary, pushing the plane into place. There were also individuals assigned as greeters for the arriving pilots and others assigned to take fuel orders and deliver them to the FBO representative.  It was a fairly efficient operation. During my shift we were allowed to take some time out for the pancake breakfast. I had prepaid the $5 fee before I signed up as a volunteer. Volunteers were given a free breakfast. The afternoon crew came on at 10:30 to have a half hour overlap to see how things were working. At eleven I headed out to my rental car and changed my shirt – volunteers were all given a lime-green shirt and AOPA hat to make it obvious that we were on a working crew. We were asked to take the shirt off after our shift. If the organizers needed a runner or someone to accomplish a task on short notice they would look for a volunteer shirt in the crowd.

Mark Baker AOPA President/CEO during his Town Hall/ Q & A session.

Mark Baker AOPA President/CEO during his Town Hall/ Q & A session.

The west end of the convention area had a display of aircraft of various types. I’m not sure how you are invited to display there or if you pay for the privilege – I’m sure that the manufacturers pay as I remember seeing something on the website about reserving display area. There were a few unique aircraft there owned by individuals, though. I imagine they were included by invitation.

After I returned from the rental car I got into line for lunch. Event registration includes lunch and a drink for all attendees. (yes, there is a free lunch.). Food was selected from a variety of Food Trucks parked east of the convention area. You had a choice of  Thai food, burgers, hot dogs/brats, pizza, BBQ and most things in between. I went with the BBQ and had a great tri-tip sandwich. After lunch I attended Rod Machado’s talk on Thinking Small to Avoid Big Mistakes.  As usual, it was a great talk – humorous, fast-moving and efficient in getting the point across to the audience.  The next speaker on the schedule was Mark Baker, the President/CEO of AOPA. He started with an overview of the current efforts/programs in which AOPA is involved – the Third Class Medical, Flying Clubs, the refurbished Cessna trainers, user fees, etc. He then spent about an hour answering questions from the audience. As an aside, both Baker and Machado could be seen talking to small groups of people in various places around the convention area – easily approachable and willing to talk. That is what is making these Regional events much more effective in connecting the AOPA leadership with the AOPA members.

Everything wound down by about 4:30 on Saturday. Rather than trying to get the plane packed and fight my way to the runway for departure with 3/4 of the rest of the attendees I decided to spend Saturday night and leave early Sunday morning. The cafe in the Felts Field terminal opened at 7 am so that is when I got to the airport. I had a nice breakfast, turned in the rental car and made my way to the Swift. I was airborne at about 8:15 and was back in my hangar at Stead by 12:45 with a stop in Burns, OR for fuel. Each leg was 2 hours, so I made sure I had at leas 3 hours of fuel on board for each leg. The second leg was a bit hot and bumpy, but nothing more than occasional moderate. About what I would expect for a high desert afternoon in the summer.

If you have the chance to attend one of the three remaining regional conventions I would highly recommend it. I met a lot of friendly aviation people, learned some things and had an enjoyable weekend of flying and airplanes. What more could you want?

Aviation Articles for July 15, 2011

The week started out with some nice prospects for this post but yesterday something I was working on locked up my computer almost to a standstill. I thought I had managed to close down all the programs correctly, but when my browser started up again after the reboot the open tabs were wiped clean.

During the week when I run across and interesting article I usually leave the article open in a tab to refer back to when I sit down to write this post. Oh well. I guess I’ll have to find a safer way to go about this.

Here are a few that I have found since my ‘wardrobe malfunction’…General Patton.

A definite oops – guess they won’t take that route again…
This article is from The Province, one of the major newspapers in Vancouver, B.C. It seems that a DC-10 flying hospital had some time on the ground at the Vancouver airport. When it came time to depart, the ground crew at the facility they were using began tugging it to another location – until they found a ‘soft’ spot in the pavement.

Ever heard of NAPP?
This article is from Mason City, IA. I have to admit that I had never heard of the National Association of Priest Pilots (NAPP). Here’s an article about their national conventions and one of their members who was just recognized for his 50-year career as a pilot and flight instructor.

A WASP returns to flying
This article is from the Tucson, AZ area. Silvia Clayton is now 91 years old, but after waiting 60 years she decided it was time to get back into flying. A great WASP story.

It’s unfortunate that this is funny…
This article is from AOPA Online. The Mooney Ambassadors did a man-on-the-street survey of the type you see on a late night show once in a while. Their survey asked the simple question ‘What is general aviation?’ If you are reading this column you are ‘into’ aviation, but we all know that the average individual on the street has no real concept of what aviation is, how it works or what contribution it makes to our daily lives. I really wonder if that will ever change…

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