April 9, 2009
The Chicago Aviation Meetup Group will be meeting at Rockit Bar & Grill this Friday at 5pm for a happy hour. We will be joined by two featured guests for this event. Co-Sponsoring this event is Chicago's own Rod Rakic, founder of aviation social network myTransponder. Our other featured guest will be Jason Miller, host of The Finer Points of Flying Podcast.
Come join us for a few drinks and some aviation conversation. If you are not already a member visit the Chicago Aviation Meetup page to signup and to RSVP for the event.
July 13, 2008
A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail from a reader of this blog who is a fellow Chicagoan that was interested in my opinion of a few local flight schools. After going back and forth through e-mail we had one of those "It is a small world" moments when we realized a few years ago we had both been contributors to the same blog, Chicagoist.com. Peter mentioned that as of late he had really been suffering from the aviation bug. He finds himself looking to sky more and more often and is ready to learn to fly. With the pilot population in decline I wanted to be sure to do all I could do to help Peter achieve his goal of earning a pilots license.
This past week I signed up to be Peter's mentor in AOPA's Project Pilot Program. AOPA developed the program as part of their commitment to growing the pilot population. For me it is an opportunity to support his efforts and share in his experiences and I hope that I can provide him some valuable advice that I would have appreciated while learning to fly. Not to mention it is great having another person to talk to who loves aviation.
This weekend he joined me and two other members of the Chicago Aviation Meetup Group for a seminar on Takeoffs, Landings and Low Altitudes Maneuvering at the DuPage Airport. Although the seminar was bit disappointing it was a great excuse for some aviation enthusiasts to get together at an airport. The four of us, two pilots and two perspective pilots, stood at the flightline fence enjoying a conversation on aviation and even judging a few landings. While at the airport we stopped in to The Pilot Shop where Peter picked up a logbook which will come in handy in the coming weeks as he takes his first introductory flight.
Peter has setup a blog, Flying in Chicago, dedicated to his aviation adventures. I hope you will check it out.
June 15, 2008
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has recently focused on two important issues to pilots. One is the ongoing fight against user fees, the other is fighting the decline in the pilot population. The organization recently reached out to the current pilot base through a survey, looking for creative ideas to get more adults to experience the fun and challenge of Flying.
The goal is to attract more adults from the age of 35 to 65 to stop dreaming about flying and to start learning to fly. There are many ways people are achieving the goal of inspiring others to fly. There are those who volunteer their time to fly Young Eagle flights to introduce children to aviation. There is a also growing population of bloggers and podcasters that are writing about their love affair with aviation and inspiring their readers to learn to fly or to fly more often. Additionally, there are those who share their passion for aviation through film like the like One Six Right or two films in the works, A Pilot's Story and a yet to be named film from the Director of One Six Right.
In addition to publishing my blog I attempt to grow interest in aviation by managing the Chicago Aviation Meetup Group. It is a group of more than 50 aviation enthusiasts. We get together every few months for activities like touring a control tower, checking out a flight school's flightline, or flying to a local airport for lunch.
When I learned that AOPA was holding a Pilot Town Meeting in Chicago and that there was going to be two sessions one for current pilots and one for prospective pilots I knew it would make for a great Aviation Meetup Group event. We had several of our members make it to the event and most exciting was that we had three that had not yet taken their first flight. At that meeting they were given a free voucher for an introductory flight as a gift from AOPA.
Phil Boyer, President of AOPA, commented in his President's Perspective about the Chicago Aviation Groups participation at the town meeting saying groups like ours "take hangar flying to a whole new level". I hope other aviation enthusiast will create aviation enthusiast groups like the Chicago Aviation Meetup Group to help foster an interest in general aviation in their own neck of the woods.
April 23, 2008
I 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.)
March 16, 2008
Today was one of those rare days in which I was able to devote an entire day to aviation. I took a brief break for Breakfast after my morning flight. Then I met John of FlyingChicago.com at the Old T Hangers at Palwaukee where he keeps his 1967 Mooney M20F.
We departed Palwaukee and headed east for a flight down the Chicago Lakeshore en-route to Lansing on the South side of Chicago. We had a beautiful view of the city of Chicago on our way down and on the way back. We were heading to Lansing for the March meeting of the Chicago Aviation Meetup Group. We had a smooth flight to Lansing that only took about 25 minutes due to a nice tailwind.
We met four other aviation enthusiasts at Shannon's Landing, the on airport restaurant where we enjoyed a bite to eat and sharing some aviation stories. After lunch we met Luke from Sun Aero who talked to the group about the helicopter operations and training they offer at Lansing. I learned there are hobbies more expensive then flying, flying helicopters that is. It was cool checking out the inside of some of the smaller helicopters that although small did feel less cramped the then the Cessna 152 I trained in.
After an enjoyable time learning about Helicopters we jumped back in the Mooney and flew back up the lakeshore to Palwaukee. The return flight took a little longer as we were flying in the wind but the Mooney still made great time and appears to be a great trip plane.
Check out some photos from the event below.
Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
January 27, 2008
Another successful Chicago Aviation Meetup Group meeting is in the books. On Saturday I was joined by 12 other aviation enthusiast for lunch at Pilot Pete's restaurant at the Schaumburg Regional Airport. Poor weather prevent anyone from flying into the event and did not leave much to watch out the windows. Luckily the conversation was enjoyable.
The group was a well rounded group including pilots, an airline pilot, a kit plane builder, student pilots, an air traffic controller, prospective pilots and aviation enthusiasts. I had a great time chatting with others about their interests in aviation and their aviation experiences.
After lunch we visited Northwest Aviation the main fixed based operator at Schaumburg. Victor offered to take the group out on to the flightline to look at a few of their planes including a few Diamond Aircraft and a Piper Warrior. For many this was their first time being up close to a small general aviation aircraft Though, I have a feeling many will be back out to try flying one soon.
We all agreed to get together again next month with the specific event and location to be determined. If you are interested in joining visit out Meetup group page.
August 30, 2007
The Chicago Aviation Meetup Group August event was a tour of the Chicago Executive Airport control tower. Chicago Executive (formerly Palwaukee) is a Class D airport with three active runways. Although on Saturday only two runways were active as runway 6/24 was partially underwater from recent storms in the area.
There were five other group members that joined me for the tour. I believe I was the only certified pilot in the group but several members were working on their pilots license while others are thinking about it.
When we arrived there were three tower controllers in the tower one that was on a mandatory one-hour break and the one managing aircraft on the ground and another managing inbound and outbound aircraft. Luckily there was not a ton of traffic so the controllers were able to talk to us and explain what they were doing for the few aircraft that were maneuvering on the field or in the surrounding airspace.
One of the controllers showed us the light gun that is used to communicate with planes that are having radio communication problems. He asked if I had ever seen it in use which I have not. He mentioned that next time I am flying if their load is not to much to ask and he will shine it for me to see from the plane, which supposedly it is very easy to see at day or night. So I have added that to my next flight to-do list.
This was my second visit to a control tower and I have found both visits to be enjoyable and educational. I highly recommend a control tower tour for any pilot or pilot in training.
If you are in the Chicago area and interested in meeting up with other aviation enthusiasts check out our aviation group on Meetup.com.
August 8, 2007
I recently became the manager of the Chicago Aviation Group at Meetup.com. The point of the group is to bring local aviation enthusiast together once a month to talk about aviation or embark on some sort of aviation adventure.
We have scheduled our first get together for Saturday, August 25th at Chicago Executive Airport (Formerly Palwaukee) where we will take a tour of their control tower. For pilots it is a great learning experience to see what the Controllers life is like. While I was training for my private pilots license I toured the tower at Lunken Field in Cincinnati and found it very beneficial. For an aviation enthusiast it is a rare opportunity to see how a controlled airport works and how the airport tower controllers manage the airport operations.