37 Summit Avenue
Catskill, N.Y. 12414
How’s your summer going so far? Have you had enough heat & rain? Have you been flying at all? I, along with Marc Pekowsky, have experienced the heat, haze, rain, and a lot of flying. We flew out to the Short Wing Piper Club convention in Springfield, Mo. As is always the case, these conventions are a big family reunion and this one was super! Hats off to all the Mid-America folks, especially Chuck & Dorothy Morris and Steve marsh for keeping the tradition of a “classy affair” alive in our club. We in the Northeast chapter know what is involved with putting on a convention, because we did one 10 years ago.
When planning a trip like this (900 plus nautical miles) from east to west you know that you’ll have to deal with the weather . The westbound trip afforded us good VFR all the way! We planned to depart HPN at 6am on Sat., giving us plenty of time to make it by Mon. night, the actual start of the convention. Takeoff was around 6:30 and we made our first stop in Altoona, Pa. For breakfast and an in-person weather briefing at the AFSS on the field. Did I mention that I worked till 11pm the night before? It was hot the entire trip and we climbed above the scattered clouds into cooler & smoother air whenever possible. A stop at Cape Girardeau, Mo. on the Mississippi River put us within a couple of hours of our final destination. Upon landing here, we noticed that the radio wasn’t quite right.
Marc & I ran into the cool confines of the FBO and I hastily plotted our course to Springfield Downtown. After getting an update on weather and being
told that the MOAs enroute were cold, we blasted off into a hazier sky with the sun low enough to blind you, even with the Rosen Sun Visors. As I turned right on course to the west, I noticed that the GPS and Loran were indicating a left turn to the east! Well fly the plane first, right? Level at 4500’ we tried to troubleshoot the GPS & Loran. We couldn’t raise anyone on the radio and the handheld wasn’t charged. Did I mention that I had worked late the night before? Yes I was tired. Marc wasn’t current for night flight. I was on the verge of busting my personal flight minimums for night flight. We quickly reversed course and returned to Cape Girardeau. The sun had just slipped below the horizon. The guy at the FBO gave us a crew car and directions to 2 sorely needed things – a good meal and sleep !
What I’m getting at is that when you are tired and hungry you tend to make some mistakes. These mistakes can multiply and creep up to bite you. I have over 3000 hours of night flying. A couple of rules that have gotten me through are no night flying when tired and no night flight with essential equipment inoperative. The thought of flying about 275 nm at night over unfamiliar hilly terrain with not much in the way of emergency landing sites, a questionable radio, conflicting nav. Signals, and being exhausted added up to a no-go!
Once again in the comfort of the FBO, I saw the big mistake that I made. I had plotted the course from the wrong airport ! I had plotted the course from Paducah, Kentucky which is S.E. of Cape “G” also on the Mississippi River.
Both airports are marked in blue with control towers. My first checkpoint was to the east of where I was! Yes I was tired!!
The next day dawned bright, hot and we were well rested. All worked o.k. and the flight to Springfield was most pleasant. I was surprised to see how many planes were already there by noon on Sunday when the actual convention started Monday evening. There were people coming from the west coast and the south, who had to deal with weather.
There were 70 plus Short Wing Pipers that flew in. Alas there were no Vagabonds. All other species were in abundance. What was odd was that none of the Pacers wanted to be judged. Go figure! There were, I believe, well over 200 people at the convention. The seminars were fine; the vendors were on the light side. It’s not easy to secure vendors for a group like ours. We aren’t the big spenders of the GA set. The activities and side trips were all great. There were plenty of door prizes. Our chapter donated a $50 check for “gas money” that was happily received by a lucky winner. One evening we had a dinner cruise and show aboard the Branson Belle, a replica paddle wheel Show Boat. The food was o.k. and the entertainment was, surprisingly, first rate!
One thing about going to a convention like this and viewing the aircraft – there’s always going to be a more spectacular plane “around the corner”. And then there’s Miss Pearl, Frank Sperandeo’s Short Wing Wonder. The keynote speaker at the banquet was Phil Boyer, president of AOPA. Mr. Boyer spoke in 1991 at the convention at Brunswick, Ga., his first year as the president. Mr. Boyer is a good speaker and did a good job of explaining what AOPA and other “alphabet groups” are doing to preserve and better the cause of General Aviation. The message was clear that we have obstacles before us
that have to be dealt with and the future looks bright. I was glad to hear this from him. His message was a bit different from what I am seeing and hearing here in the Northeast. Maybe I need new glasses and a hearing aid? Flight schools here aren’t exactly knocking them dead and a look at most ramps show that the economy is having an impact on pleasure flying – the planes are remaining tied down. Since 9/11 we are all, especially here in the northeast, getting used to on again-off again restrictions (TFRs) to GA flying. I also have to say, that without organizations like AOPA, EAA, & SWPC fighting for us we’d be grounded!
A very good presentation on safety was at the welcome dinner, given by 2 talented and knowledgeable guys – Jim Dickerson & Steve Johnson. This duo combined music, video, and humor to put on a safety seminar that was truly engaging, entertaining, and informative. If you ever hear that “Straight and Level Productions” is doing their thing, do attend!
Garry Butler, from Michigan, was elected President of the SWPC. The matter of future conventions was addressed and voted on. I may have the ordser of the 2 nd & 3 rd conventions mixed up, but next year’s convention will be in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan, followed by Hillsboro, Oregon, and Kingston, Ontario by the 1000 Islands. These groups all put on good presentations. I’m sure we’ll help the new St. Lawrence Seaway chapter with their convention in any way we can.
As always, it was great to see old friends and make new ones. What really impressed me was that Dorothy Morris wasw able to secure/rent a sousaphone from a local music store when all my efforts failed. She also was able to get a clarinet for Marc. This enabled Marc, Frank Sperandeo, & me to play for a sing along in the bar after the banquet, continuing another long standing tradition.
The Springfield/Branson area in the Ozarks is not far, by air, from Gaston’s Resort on the White River in Arkansas. Marc and I flew there for lunch one day and had agreat time. The resort has a fine grass strip adjacent to the river and restaurant. This is a world-class fishing spot where fishermen go out, catch some really phenomenal fish, bring them back, have the restaurant folks clean and prepare them, and then enjoy the catch in a restaurant overlooking the river. I had read about this place for years and finally got there!
Our next fly-in is our “beach party” at the Montauk, N.Y. airport (MTP) at the eastern end of Long Island this Saturday July 26 th with Sun. the 27 th the rain date. The beach is right over the dunes at the approach end of runway 24 and the van will take you and yours to and from. There are shower and restroom facilities at the FBO. Across the street from the airport are 2 restaurants. If you want to go into town, a cab can be arranged. Bring any food and drink that you may want. We haven’t been to Montauk as a group for quite some time, but in years past, we had 20 planes at one fly-in! Normally the landing fee is $15 but they are reducing it, for us, to $10. Make sure that you tell Hellen or her assistant that you are with the Short Wing Piper Club to get the discount. This is a popular fly-in spot and on a good weekend day, traffic could be brisk. Unicom is 122.7 and there is no fuel available . Plan for fuel accordingly.
Our August fly-in will be our annual “bash” at Zene & Marcia Garnsey’s strip on the Hudson River in Schuylerville, N.Y. (B04) on Sat. Aug. 23 rd with Sun. the 24 th as the rain date. This is a good turf strip about 2600’ 2-20 and CTAF is 122.9. As in the past, bring and food and drink that you want. The Garnseys literally open their home to us! They also provide a barbecue grill for
any grilling like burgers or hot dogs etc. If you are a swimmer make sure to bring
swimsuits because the Hudson provides some fine conditions up there! We’ll conduct any business that arises, the least of which are chapter officer elections. Here’s your chance to step up to the plate and serve! All offices are open for grabs. You might have noticed that the office of Secretary has been vacant for some time now. Think about it and any of the other offices. Also think about how we might be able to get more people to attend fly-ins and contribute to the newsletter. As in the past, we’ll try to nail down as many of our monthly destinations as possible. What are your suggestions?
Member Rich Capece, President of the Mid-Atlantic chapter, showed me some nice items that his chapter has developed with appropriate logos such as a flight bag and a real classy flight jacket. The prices were reasonable. Hopefully Rich will be able to make it to Garnsey’s and fill us in on the particulars. Some members of the St. Lawrence Seaway chapter will also try to make it to Garnsey’s as well. I do hope that the weather cooperates for the 23 rd because I must work on the 24 th . In that event, our V.P. Dave Adams will hold court. This is our biggest and most attended event and we hope to see you there. If you’ve never made one of our fly-ins, this is the one to make! By the way, Garnsey’s also does not have fuel available so plan accordingly. Ther are several airports in the area with fuel such as Saratoga, Glens Falls, & Granville, N.Y. I hope to see you at one of our upcoming events. Safe flying to you all!
By Steve Sevits
No pilot ever stops learning as long as she or he continues to fly. Sometimes an entire session at a safety seminar or magazine article yields a
single but significant “golden nugget” of flying wisdom of inestimable and enduring value.
Those of you who know me are well aware of my legendary propensity to bouts of “hoof in mouth disease” wherein I deftly put the foot in the mouth more often than I like.
A couple of years ago one of the higher ups at the place where son David attended high school asked if I could teach an “aviation course”? Tending to the practical, I explained that the only meaningful and practical course would be a Private Pilot ground school, led by an FAA licensed ground instructor. The prospect was greeted with enthusiasm. It was asked if I could get such certification? In a monumental surge of weakness of intellect, I replied “sure, no problem”.
With all the necessary qualificatioins: years of flying, gray hair, thick glasses and expanding waistline, it was soon apparent that learning the necessities to qualify for a ground instructor certificate was to be as easy as pushing a boatload of stone uphill. I don’t learn new things as quickly as years ago. An ample supply of study materials, including computer CDs which can simulate the actual FAA exam are available. They work; they even worked for me. The FAA protocol requires both a knowledge exam and another separate written on teaching methods.
Once I got started in front of a class, I found the experience exhilarating. Moreover I suddenly found myself explaining to the class the finer points of piloting which I had not fully understood prior to studying for the instructor certificate. It readily came to my realization that perhaps the quickest way a pilot can quickly and dramatically upgrade his or her aeronautical knowledge is to take a serious look at the knowledge portion of the material required for the ground instructor certificate.
I readily admit that the study for the knowledge exam yielded more insights than preparation for the Private and Commercial pilot writtens, and 3 decades of flying all put together. The subject matter covers the usual information: Aerodynamics, Airspace, Regulations, Navigation, Weather, Aircraft Systems, Weight & Balance, etc. The difference is that the depth and intensity of the material is of such a nature as to yield greater insight into the flying process than on the private or even the commercial written exams. I don’t ever recall encountering questions on the functional purpose of wing dihedral or the relationship of drag versus wing aspect ratio.
While some of the material may seem beyond the practical or necessity when flying, the overall Ground Instructor study experience has served to sharpen up some points which have been relegated to the back shelf in my mind and introduce totally new material. I’ve always looked at the sky to get a feel for visibility, but now I look at the clouds in terms of “lifting action” as well. A great deal of the experience in learning has served to change the view I have of many familiar aspects of the flying experience. The upgrading of aeronautical knowledge has been so dramatic that I keep the instructor’s knowledge exam material on my computer so that I can continually review and refer to it. A little more proficiency never hurts!
Many of us go to safety seminars seeking information to enable us to fly safer. Continuing education in the interest of pilot safety should know no bounds. Actually teaching, standing in front of a receptive group to preach the GA message with enthusiasm, slaying some of the misconceptions along the way is quite something. Improving one’s own understanding of the aviation environment and enhancing safety along the way-how much better can it get?