May 9, 2005

Friendly Chicago Pilots

chi_mf.jpgI recently moved to Chicago to Chicago. As a pilot I was sad that I was moving to Chicago too late to take advantage of the great Meigs Field that was closed over a year ago by Mayor Daley. You can read all about Meigs Field and efforts to re-open Meigs at I was curious what the good general aviation airports in Chicago would be and whether there were preferred Fixed Based Operators to rent from.

I received some great feedback from some of my readers via posts and e-mails. I have also received several offers to go flying with some chicago based pilots. I have consistently said that there is a neat bond between pilots and in relocating to Chicago I have experienced that phenomenon once again with the generous offers from Chicago Pilots.

Between unpacking from the move and a busy first week at the new job I have not been able to go flying yet but look forward to getting up in the air soon. Thanks to everyone that sent in some suggestions!

Posted at 10:32 PM | Post Category: General | Save & Share This Story

April 28, 2005

Like an Eagle Soaring Over Mountains

firstflight.jpgIt was a year ago that I started this blog and took my first flight lesson. I remember it well and the best part was the emotion I felt during and after the flight. The best thing I can equate it to is what it must feel like to be an eagle soaring over mountains*.

To any of my readers who have dreamt of flying but not taken the first step to do so I recommend you go out to your local airport and sign up for a lesson this spring. Visit and get your introductory flight certificate for just $49.

It has been an exciting year learning to fly and interacting with fellow pilots through this blog. I look forward to another great year of flying!

*If you love photographs of eagles check out my friend Tom's Alaskan Photography at - Some of the best Eagle photographs you will ever see.

Posted at 7:07 AM | Post Category: General | Save & Share This Story

April 26, 2005

Moving to Chicago

chi_skyline.jpgMy wife and I have decided to move from Cincinnati to Chicago and the moving day is quickly approaching. I was hoping to get one more flight in before leaving but based on the current weather forecast it doesn't look like it will happen.

I will miss flying over Cincinnati and in and out of such great airports as Lunken and Blue Ash. I will also really miss being able to drive or fly to Sporty's Pilot Shop at the Clermont Country Airport. Anyone looking to learn to fly in Cincinnati should check out Co-Op Aviation based out of the Blue Ash Airport.

Although I will miss flying in the Cincinnati area I am really looking forward to new flying experiences in the Chicago area and in Wisconsin. You can't go wrong with having the Chicago Skyline as a backdrop for your flying experiences.

I plan on posting a message on to find suggestions for great airports in the area. If you know of a great Fixed Based Operator(FBO) or airport let me know. I will need to spend some time working with an instructor in Chicago getting comfortable flying in a higher trafficked airspace and being so close to an airport as busy as O'Hare.

Posted at 9:03 PM | Post Category: General | Save & Share This Story

April 5, 2005

Spring Flying

I am not sure if all pilots associate flying with the spring or if I just do it because that is when I started learning to fly last year. But, Spring is a great time to fly.

For the past few months I have not flown as much. It just is not as much fun to pre-flight a plane in the dark and the cold not to mention it has been cloudy and overcast for much of the winter. But, with the time change behind us providing more evening light combined with warmer weather I am itching to get back out to the airport and in the air.

The weather looks to be nice this weekend so I plan on reserving a Cessna 152 or 172 on Saturday or Sunday. The Katana I flew recently although more sporty does not allow you to open the windows and I am looking forward to getting up in the air and letting some cool spring air float through the cabin.

Posted at 7:53 PM | Post Category: General | Save & Share This Story

March 27, 2005

AOPA Working Hard for General Aviation

phil_boyer_aopa_thumb.jpgAs, I posted earlier this week I had the opportunity to hear and meet Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association President, Phil Boyer, speak at an AOPA Pilot Town Meeting. The purpose of these meetings is to share all the great work AOPA is doing for its members.

Phil talked about the ongoing concern that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could begin imposing user fees for General Aviation pilots. The FAA is always looking at ways to save on their budget and pilots have been concerned they might start charging GA pilots to pay for usage of FAA services. Phil played a video clip of FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey saying the FAA is not interested in charging usage fees which was followed by applause in the auditorium. Phil mentioned AOPA has been proactive in helping the FAA find ways to cut costs so that usage fees would not need to be an option.

One way to cut costs is the privatization of Flight Service Stations (FSS). AOPA has been supportive of this process and active in finding a solution. Phil recently was quoted saying " the consumer advocate for general aviation pilots, AOPA fought in the halls of Congress and the FAA to make sure that FSS customers are going to get the service they need." Flight Service Stations for a long while have been functioning with older equipment and tight staffing. The FAA selected Lockheed Martin to take over management of the flight service stations and modernizing them while at the same time providing an FAA cost savings estimated to be more than $2 billion over the next ten years.

Lockheed Martin is also guaranteeing to answer FSS calls within 20 seconds and radio calls from aircraft in five seconds. Additionally, they will be setting up a profile system so that when I call in for a weather briefing they already have information including my common routes, aircraft flown and my experience readily available to them to help personalize my briefing. AOPA was very involved in the selection process.

Phil also talked about another big initiative for AOPA which is the development of the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). AOPA has worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration in the development of WAAS which will provide more accurate GPS navigation. One benefit of WAAS is that it improves GPS signals accuracy from 100 meters to approximately 7 meters.

The FAA states the following benefits:
  • Greater runway capability
  • Reduced separation standards which allow increased capacity in a given airspace without increased risk

  • More direct enroute flight paths

  • New precision approach services

  • Reduced and simplified equipment on board aircraft
  • Significant government cost savings due to the elimination of maintenance costs associated with older, more expensive ground-based navigation aids (to include NDBs, VORs, DMEs, and most Category 1 ILSs)

I love that AOPA offers these forums to share all the great work they are doing for General Aviation on behalf of their members.

Posted at 5:39 PM | Post Category: AOPA, General | Save & Share This Story

March 24, 2005

AOPA Pilot Town Meetings

aopa_logo.jpgIf you are a frequent reader of this blog you know I am a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). AOPA is a great organization that promotes and protects general aviation through local, state, federal and international advocacy.

Throughout the year AOPA holds Pilot Town Meetings where they share their accomplishments and goals with pilots as well as talk about current issues related to General Aviation. I was excited that one of these meetings was planned for Cincinnati.

I did not know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. First off it was great to see over 200 pilots or General Aviation enthusiast in a room together some of which travelled great distances by plane and car to make it. I met a gentleman that drove an hour and a half to be part of the meeting. His home airport is in Hillsboro, OH which happens to be home of one of my favorite airports - Highland County Airport (KHOC). I wrote a post about this airport when I was first learning to fly.

Secondly it was great to hear all the accomplishments AOPA has made. They work very hard in Washington to protect the interests of General Aviation enthusiasts. Phil Boyer, President of AOPA, gave a great speech and was not only knowledgeable but very entertaining as well.

Keep an eye out for a Pilot Town Meeting near you and make sure you attend!

I will write tomorrow night about some of the issues that were discussed in the meeting.

Posted at 11:11 PM | Post Category: AOPA, General | Save & Share This Story

March 20, 2005

Be Cool Star is Just That

travolta_house_small.jpgJohn Travolta is not only a huge movie star but he is a huge aviation afficionado. Travolta stars in the recently released Be Cool which is a sequel to Get Shorty. I saw the film this evening and found it to be very entertaining. I would recommend it to anyone that enjoyed the first in the series.

Now, back to Travolta being cool. Travolta has always been an aviation enthusiast and has spent his earnings on flying from the start. With the success of his career he has been able to indulge his passion for flying. He has moved to a house within the Jumbolair Aviation Estates community. At the Jumbolair Estates he built with his wife Kelly Preston a house styled like a 1950's airport terminal, that was featured in an issue of Architectural Digest. To complete the part he has a remarkable fleet of aircraft that include:

  • Gulfstream II Luxury Jet
  • DC3 Dakota Airliner
  • Lockheed Constellation
  • 1964 Boeing 707-138B

So in my book John Travolta fits the bill - Be Cool.

Posted at 10:17 PM | Post Category: General | Save & Share This Story

March 6, 2005

Building My Pilot's Operating Handbook Library

poh.jpgToday was a beautiful day to fly. Unfortunately, I had not reserved a plane today and there were no openings. But, that did not deter me from visiting the airport. I stopped by Blue Ash Aviation to pick up a Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) for the Diamond Eclipse. You may notice I had previously referred to this plane as a Katana. It is actually a variant with the name Eclipse.

Every aircraft has a POH and it should always be in the airplane. I believe it is a great practice for pilots to purchase there own copy of the POH for planes they fly in order to better understand the aircraft. Most POH manuals will include the following:
  • General Information
  • Operating Limitations
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Normal Operating Procedures
  • Performance
  • Weights and Balance
  • Aircraft Systems
  • Maintenance

My flight instructor taught me to read through the POH highlighting the important information. Then if I have not flown that plane recently I can quickly flip through the POH and familiarize myself with important performance and emergency procedure information.

I look forward to reading through the Diamond Eclipse POH this week and flying it next weekend.

Posted at 7:31 PM | Post Category: General | Save & Share This Story

February 20, 2005

Tsunami Relief Efforts - Follow-Up

Earlier this year I posted about AOPA sponsored Tsunami relief efforts. In a recent AOPA ePilot Newsletter they announced that member have donated more than $115,000 to Air Serv International. Air Serv is a non-governmental humanitarian organization that used GA Aircraft to provide logistical support to other non-governmental humanitarian organizations.

According to the AOPA Newsletter "Air Serv's C-208B Grand Caravan is being used to transport humanitarian staff, emergency medical supplies, and rabies and tetanus vaccines to Banda Aceh, one of the hardest hit towns in Sumatra. The material is then transferred to helicopters for transport to displaced person clinics along the west coast of Sumatra."

Stu Willcuts of Air Serv said "All of us express our deep appreciation to our AOPA partners for this significant response."

Posted at 4:16 PM | Post Category: General | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

January 22, 2005

Air Serv International and AOPA Offer a Way to Aid Tsunami Relief Efforts

airserv.jpgAir Serv International is a non-government and non-profit organization that assists the world's leading relief and development agencies in getting their cargo and humanitarian staff safely delivered to areas of need. According to a recent Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association newsletter, "Air Serv brings badly needed logistics support, equipment and hope to millions of people in some of the harshest environments in the world. Its staff is currently deployed in Sri Lanka and Sumatra, some of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami."

AOPA has selected Air Serv, an approved agency by the USA Freedom Corps, as a partner in its Tsunami relief efforts. AOPA, in conjunction with Air Serv, established the AOPA Tsunami Fund with all funds going specifically to support relief from the tsunami disaster. AOPA has pledged up to $25,000 to match member contributions.

To learn more about how anyone can make a donation and AOPA members can make a donation that will be matched, visit the Air Serv Give a Gift page on the Air Serv Website.

I enjoyed reading a variety of reports from the field that are posted on the Air Serv International Website. Even one that shares how Air Serv came to the rescue of Angelina Jolie while she was on a goodwill tour in the Democratic Republic of Congo. You can also learn about the fleet of general aviation aircraft used on their missions.

Posted at 6:14 PM | Post Category: General | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story