April 23, 2008

Aviation Town Meeting Spurs Passion for Flight

aopa_townmeeting_group_small.jpgI enjoyed a great night of aviation at the AOPA Pilot Town Meeting tonight. Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association President, Phil Boyer, spends about a week each month traveling around the country to meet with pilots and to talk about issues that are near and dear to pilots. I remember attending a Pilot Town Meeting several years ago and was excited to see Phil was bringing his show to Chicago.

I arrived nearly an hour early so that I could save some seats for fellow members of the Chicago Aviation Meetup Group who were going to join me for the event. As is often the case at any pilot get together or at a local airport it is nearly impossible to be alone long around pilots. Within seconds of sitting down I was engaged in a conversation with several fellow pilots. One of which was a remarkable man, Clarence (Clancy) Hess. Clancy was one of the first members of AOPA when he joined for the price of $3 in 1940. He was a Marine Aviator in WWII and also was a co-founder of Wings of Hope, a non-profit organization that delivers food and medical assistance to third world countries. He shared with me and a few fellow pilots some amazing photos including one of him with Jimmy Doolitle who inspired Clancy to pursue aviation. Clancy was recently inducted into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame.

In looking around the room it was obvious why AOPA is working so hard to bring new pilots into aviation as the median age had to be close to if not over 50 years of age. I knew that this particular AOPA event had both presentations for current pilots and for prospective pilots. I was excited that three of the six members of the Chicago Aviation Meetup Group who were able to attend were interested in learning to fly. Mid-way through the evening those interested in learning to fly were taken to a separate room to learn about the steps it takes to learn to fly. As a special gift, AOPA presented them each with a voucher for a free introductory flight. It was great hearing from the three future pilots after the meeting, each of them sounded very excited about taking the introductory flight. A.J. commented that he always knew he wanted to fly, he even was close to attending Embry Riddle to learn to fly but chose another career path. He now wants to get into aviation and stop putting off his dream of flying. He said this event just fueled his interest in learning to fly which was great to see.

Another fun story was from Mark, a private pilot who has not flown in several months. He mentioned this weekend he was outside when his young daughter pointed to the sky and said "airplane". He was so excited he took her to the local airport and showed her the planes up close as they watched from the fence line as planes came and went. He is looking forward to getting current again this spring and taking his daughter flying.

Tonight my eyes were opened once again to what I already knew but just needed a reminder of; all of us pilots are very passionate about aviation. In most cases it is a love affair we have had since we were children. It is our duty as pilots to be good ambassadors for aviation. We need to be vigilantly looking for the twinkle in one's eye when the topic of aviation comes up or one's attention is drawn to an overflying plane and we need to seize that moment to share our passion for flying with that person. I know I find great joy in helping people step away from the fence line and cross over to the tarmac to take an introductory flight or simply to visit an FBO or look at the inside of a General Aviation plane.

Tonight was one of those great nights where I enjoyed the camaraderie of other pilots and remembered again what a joy it is to have the privilege of flying. Thanks AOPA for looking out for the interests of pilots and offering this great forum to bring fellow aviators together for a great evening!

The photo above is of several Chicago Aviation Meetup Group Members along with the President of AOPA Phil Boyer and Clancy Hess. (Left to Right: Rob, Catrina, Phil, Clancy, A.J. & Myself.)

April 20, 2008

Completing Another Biennial Flight Review

BFR Flash CardsOn Saturday the rain cleared and the clouds rose high enough to allow me to go flying. I was flying with a CFI performing my Biennial Flight Review. When you earn a private pilots license there is no expiration on it. Though to fly as pilot in command you need to periodically prove you still know what you are doing. There are several ways to satisfy the FAA including earning a new certificate, participating in the FAA Wings - Pilot Proficiency Program or completing a Biennial Flight Review.

Since I needed to perform a check out ride anyways to rent aircraft from Windy City Flyers I decided to make it a BFR as well to fulfill that requirement in advance of my deadline later this year. We flew up to Lake in the Hills where we performed a wide variety of takeoff and landings including: short field, soft field and a simulated engine out emergency landing.

After that I performed many of the maneuvers on the private pilot check ride like an simulated off field emergency landing and stalls. The flight went smoothly. We also did a review of aviation knowledge. To prepare for that portion of the BFR I used Biennial Flight Review Flash Cards by James Spudich. They were very thorough and great for refreshing my knowledge.

At the end of the day I had passed my second BFR.

April 14, 2008

Flight Training Blogs

flighttrainingblogs.jpgIn February I posted about an artcle in AOPA Flight Training Magazine in which several aviation blogs were showcased. That article came on the heels of an article that promoted MyFlightBlog.com and several other aviation blogs in the Wall Street Journal.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that when Mike Collins wrote a follow-up article on blogs for the April issue of Flight Training Magazine. In "Blogs for Reading: A Summary of Reader Recommendations" Mike featured seven aviation blogs including MyFlightBlog.com. For those that don't have a subscription to the magazine I scanned a copy of the article that you can read here. This website was in great company with several other blogs that I read on a frequent basis.

Mike Collins wrote "We've all seen 'information' on the Internet that wasn't worth reading, but I was impressed by both the quality and variety of aviation blogs." When I started this blog in the Spring of 2004 there were only a handful of other aviation blogs. One of which was David West's Flight Lessons Learned which was also mention in this article. It is great to see that several years later there are an abundance of blogs to help educate and inspire aspiring pilots.

Also featured in the article was fellow Illinois based student pilot Evan Krueger of The Flying Toga. I was glad he was featured as I had not stumbled upon his blog yet. I have really enjoyed following Evan's experiences learning to fly. He is learning to fly out of Lake in The Hills airport a small airport Northwest of Chicago.

Also mentioned were Finally Learning to Fly, Signal Charlie and Roger's Soaring Blog.

April 9, 2008

AOPA Pilot Town Meeting Coming to Chicago

phil_boyer_aopa_thumb.jpgPhil Boyer, President of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is coming to Chicago for an AOPA Pilot Town Meeting. The event is at the Sheraton Chicago Northwest in Arlington Heights a suburb of Chicago on Tuesday, April 22.

Three years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Phil Boyer at an AOPA Town Meeting in Cincinnati. I am an advocate of AOPA and appreciate all the hard work Mr. Boyer and his staff put in every day to protect the rights and interests of private pilots.

If you are a pilot and live anywhere near the Chicago area, I encourage you to come out to this event.


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