Despite all this cold and snow, I've been able to get in some good flying including a bit of night flying. The Reiff engine heater sure paid off this winter. Just plug it in for about 12 hours and you're off the peg and ready to go!
Speaking of ready to go, I'm sure most of Us are ready to go to this weekend's fly-in at New Bedford, Mass.(EWB) on Sat.3/22 with Sun. the 23rd as the alternate. Dave Adams has Arranged/notified the Airport Grille of our impending arrival around noon. It is located next to the tower in the terminal. Just tell the ground controller you're going to the restaurant. Dave also tells me that the FBO Sandpiper Air has the best fuel prices. I sure hope that we can get in this fly-in/mtg. because it's been a while. We have our calendar to set, a discussion of possibly hosting a SWPC convention, filling the position of secretary, not to mention it's been a while. Please try to make this one.
With all this cold, did anybody get to land On Lake Winnepesauke at Alton Bay? Chapter member Paul Fleming put me on to the New Hampshire Aviation Association's website (Paul is their President) and the ice runway did look real good. If anyone made it and took some pictures please send some to me so I can put them on our website. The website will be updated after next week's fly-in with current info and we'll put any future dates on the SWPC site.
UGH - WINTER!
I base my Tri-Pacer at Westchester Co. Airport (HPN) in White Plains, N.Y. Just Ask Fred DeFillipis, Marty Tennenbaum,or Eric Winston - they'll tell you this is the High Rent District. I'm sure that there are folks in this chapter that pay less for a hangar, than we pay for a tie-down space. As a matter of fact, during this one weekend early spate of spring weather, with its 50-65 degree weather, I flew down to Millville, N.J. for the Mid-Atlantic chapter's fly-in (which was well attended). Their president, Rich Capece pays $5 less for a hangar, than I do for a tie-down!
What do we get for our$190 a month? Three ropes of approximately proper length. We actually have what would be called a very fancy Big City FBO with all the amenities. Since moving into their snazzy new facility, the little guy has taken a back seat to the cabin class twins, Pilatus, TBMs, and corporate charter jet business. Since 9/11 the charter jet business has soared and parking on any of the ramps at HPN has gotten scarcer. That's the only reason I got moved from my old spot to the farthest reaches of the ramp. Actually I like the space. It has an electric outlet included. They needed the fragile Tri-Pacer out of the way of the newly constant jet blast.
The airport does a pretty good job of snow removal on the main ramps, taxiways, and runways due to the high volume of charter, corporate, and airline traffic. The GA ramps and parking, along with access gates could use improvement. Now it is true that the GA FBOs do have hangar facilities for rent (all taken!) but so do landlords on 5th Avenue, Central Park West, and Beekman Place in NYC - you know what I mean? Our FBO doesn't offer pre-heating; they don't have to!
You can arrange to put your plane in a heated hangar at hourly rates. They will shovel your plane out and even clean off the snow for a price. Of course with a fabric plane, they won't touch it. I don't blame them. How did you deal with your plane this past winter? Come on, break down and write a piece so that we can share in your experience and empathize/sympathize with you. Also we desperately need material for this newsletter!
Now I'm sure we would all agree that having a hangar is the answer. Not so fast!! Last weekend Fred DeFillipis flew up and met me at Columbia County Airport for a $100 burger. Chapter member Tom Bennenson was puttering around his hangar so we walked over to shoot the breeze. Tom's hangar faces south with the sun doing a good job of melting the snow and ice from the hangar roof and ramp. It seems that the melting process drips down when the hangar door is open and pools up on the floor around his Cardinal RG's tires. Oh yeah, it's not a heated hangar. That's right, the plane is frozen in place! He was considering putting in some wooden boarding to get the tires above the water/ice. Hangars aren't always nirvana. If you think Tom's situation is a drag, consider this little tale. At yesterday's Mid-Atlantic fly-in, Rich Capece read a letter from a member who hangars his (I believe) Clipper at Rising Sun, a grass strip in Northern Maryland. He reports that they had so much snow, that the weight of it on his hangar's roof caused it to collapse, crashing down on the aircraft. He's not sure yet the total extent of damages due to the large volume of snow and debris that fell. Ouch!!
We'll have to tighten up security! Have every aircraft owner/renter wear a photo I.D. Change the tie-down ropes to plastic coated chains. Perhaps the county will provide prop locks? All of this might come out of the county's budget. Wait, I thought the county was reeling from state and Federal budget cuts? Where's the money coming from? They passed an increase of property taxes in Westchester by close to 25% but they have $$ to buy chains and prop locks? Some local and state governments want to regulate pilot background checks and require certain things for aircraft that fly over or into their airspace and airports. Last I heard, the Federal government already does this regulating through the good old FAA. Now states, cities and counties want to further regulate aviation (and kill off flight schools of all sizes) with burdensome, irrelevant, and in some cases, illegal regulations invoking the name of public safety! And these well intentioned folk that are trying to formulate some of these policies ain't what you call well informed on aviation - period!
Thankfully we have associations like AOPA, EAA, NBAA, as well as local pilot groups and politicians who are GA pilots that can at least have the voice of reason heard by some of the regulatory groups. Let's hope these groups are not hearing impaired.
I remember soon after 9/11 there was a flurry of ill-thought out policies and regulations that came out on GA. If I remember correctly, Mike Berry had e-mailed me some of the more onerous ones coming out of the progressive state of Massachussetts.What ever happened to those regulations? What's happening in the area of security at your home base? How about a story on this subject for the newsletter? If things are getting uncomfortable with the prospect of more regulations, remember that it could be worse. You could be based at the DC-3 fields: College Park,Md.,Hyde Field, and Potomac Airpark. What's worse is that you could own one or work there. As I'm writing this, I received an e-mail from AOPA with the new airspace regulations for the NYC airspace - ugh! Here we go again. Times they are a changing.
All of this can have a potentially big impact on the cross country flyer. Imagine flying to this weekend's fly-in, crossing many state lines, breaking many unknown local aviation regulations, diverting to an airport to make a toilet stop and getting busted because you didn't put a prop lock on in your rush for relief?
What I'm saying is that I hope some calm, clear minds sort through these concerns and come to a sane, logical and fair solution that will benefit and protect all of us. Quick knee - jerk solutions are never a good thing for any solution. Whew!!
There is nothing on the calendar after our March fly-in to EWB. We need to come up with some interesting places and events to attract our members. The Bayport Aerodrome Society is holding a fly-in on Sun. July 6th from 10 a.m. on at their lovely grass strip on the south shore of Long Island, N.Y. They want to feature the Short Wing Pipers. I know that this is a holiday weekend and it is right after our national convention, but not everyone is going to Missouri. I told the organizers that we, as well as the Mid-Atlantic chapter would plan to attend if at all possible. I'll keep you informed. I had every intention of attending this year's convention. It actually doesn't interfere with my school schedule. I told Bev Jewett 2 weeks ago that I was going, even if I had to give up a couple of concerts. Then I got offered the ballet at Lincoln Center that might conflict so I'll have to see the final schedule. That's life. The important thing is that you try to get to one of these events!
I get calls from many folk looking for Short Wing Pipers of any condition. If you have or know of one for sale let me know so we can put the word out. One person was a student that was purchasing a Pacer, had no tail wheel time, and had not obtained insurance! This could be a huge liability on his part. Make sure that you have insurance, especially liability insurance. I just read an article about a high time pilot that was based in southern Florida. He owned a C-206 and flew regularly between the Keys and his vacation home in the Bahamas. He experienced an engine failure about 20miles off shore and had to ditch (successfully) in the Atlantic. Lucky to be alive! Unbelievably, he did not have any insurance! Did any of you encounter problems with obtaining insurance? How about a story on that? Please send some material for the newsletter! You can count the members that have contributed on one hand. Did I mention that it's been a while since we got together? Safe flying to you all.