Affirmative Attitude

Affirmative Attitude

Dan Pimental's positive take on General Aviation

Taking Us to Incredible Places

Taking Us to Incredible Places

Through well-produced YouTube videos, Doug and Denise Winston show just how much fun you can have when flying your own airplane.

We all know life can be a lot like a game of “Chutes and Ladders,” where one minute we are climbing for the sky, and the next, we are sliding into chaos. Every person reading this has had to overcome some level of adversity, and many of us have been challenged to push on when others would have given up.

I’m currently reading “Never Broken: Songs are Only Half the Story” by Jewel Kilcher, the wildly successful singer-songwriter who has endured decades of struggle to achieve her dream. Jewel’s records have topped the charts and her sweet voice has won her awards, but she would still be living in her car in San Diego if not for a strong instinct to survive anything that came her way.

Kilcher writes in her autobiography that we must dig deep to pull out every last shred of self-motivation and continue chasing our dreams until they are truly fulfilled. For Jewel, life’s major challenges were merely bumps in the road.

In October 2014, Doug and Denise Winston of Bakersfield, Calif. experienced one of these major challenges. Doug has logged about 2,300 hours since earning his ticket in 1985 and has owned five airplanes.

A significant portion of his flights were as a volunteer, using his beloved Cessna 210, N234SS, to fly for Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans Airlift Command, pet rescues or donating flights for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Yet, the Winstons’ volunteer flying could have abruptly ended after Doug received the kind of call that nobody wants to take.

“Our Cessna 210 was in annual inspection,” Doug explained, “when I received a call from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall AFB in Florida informing me that my new 406 MHz ELT had been activated.

“I let them know the plane was in maintenance and gave them the phone number for the maintenance facility, thinking it was an accidental activation of the ELT that we all read about. I left a message at the shop, but was not able to talk them until the next day.”

But this was no accidental activation.

“The next day when I could get in touch with the shop,” Doug continued, “after a very long pause on the phone, the owner of the facility told me that my plane was gone, burned to the ground in a hangar fire.

“After questioning him on what happened and asking if anyone was hurt, I did an internet search for the airport where the plane was located and sure enough, there was news video, pictures and articles about a big hangar fire the prior day,” he explained.

“This is something you never want to hear—it was akin to losing a close friend.”

The fire occurred when the pilot-side fuel tank was being emptied to perform an AD. It was draining into a 55-gallon drum on metal wheels via a large funnel.

The mechanic noticed that a dribble of fuel on the underside of the wing was making its way toward the open cockpit door. He wiped it with a cotton rag, and static electricity ignited the fuel, the rag, the mechanic’s hand, and then the stream of fuel into the barrel.

“Everyone ran for fire extinguishers,” Doug recalled, “and the mechanic grabbed the barrel and began dragging it out of the hangar.

“This was a mistake as the flaming fuel was now spreading in a large puddle on the floor. They had every fire extinguisher in the building spraying the flames, but once they were spent, the interior of the plane ignited from the heat, and fire consumed the plane.

“The airport fire truck arrived quickly, but it was too late.”

Denise was out of town on business and when she heard the tone of Doug’s voice on the phone, she knew something was wrong. “He said, ‘The plane is totally destroyed,’” Denise remembered, “then proceeded to walk me though what happened.

“I felt a pit in my stomach,” she continued. “This plane has taken us to incredible places; provided so much joy and memories for those who flew with us. When I got home, our friends came over with a plaque that said ‘Final Flight Following Request for N234SS’ with a beautiful picture of the plane.

“It made me realize how lucky we are to be able to do the things we do! General Aviation is an incredible lifestyle that not many get to experience.”

With Four-Sierra-Sierra destroyed, the Winstons could have packed it in as aviation volunteers. But anyone who knows them will confirm that quitting was not an option. The Winstons get extraordinary satisfaction out of their volunteer flights, and nothing was going to take that away from them.

Doug’s inspiration for giving back comes from Denise, a successful financial expert, author and motivational speaker. “Doug has heard me asking my audiences three questions: ‘What are you good at?’ ‘What do you love to do?’ and ‘How can you be most helpful?’

“Anyone can write a check,” Denise explained, “But using your time, talent and resources are much more valuable, and you get to see where 100 percent of your donation goes, in the smiles of your passengers, or a wet-nose nudge from a pup.

“Doug is using his pilot’s license, plane, time and cash for a purpose—and for me, it’s using my video skills to create a lasting experience for those who fly with us, and to promote the GA lifestyle.”

Denise honed her video skills while working on a financial education DVD series. She purchased a variety of video and sound equipment, and learned the craft by working with professional videographers and editors.

Wanting to literally “get on board” with Doug’s GA advocacy, she asked herself those same three questions: “What am I good at?” “What do I love to do?” and “How can I be most helpful?”

She documented a flight from San Diego to Mammoth Lakes, Calif. during a Veterans Airlift Command flight for her first video, and realized both she and Doug enjoyed sharing the General Aviation experience.

Together they began producing GA-based travel videos to promote the convenience, fun and adventure of traveling in their flying machine. “We are trying to do our part in public relations for GA, and want to recruit more pilots since the population of flyers has been dwindling over the years.

“We have gotten emails from some aspiring pilots who watched our videos, so we know it works,” Denise said.

The Winstons’ YouTube channel shows just how much fun you can have when flying your own airplane. It’s a large selection of short videos with good production value, combining great travel scenes and in-flight footage with Denise’s smooth on-camera persona.

Now about that destroyed airplane. There was never any hesitation by the Winstons in looking for a new plane.

“We had to get back to doing our flying thing,” Doug said. “I was upset and sad, but what better way to make myself feel better than some airplane shopping therapy?

“In the weeks that followed, we located a beautiful 1970 Cessna T210 before it came up for sale at the same FBO where we kept our plane. The seller heard our story, and we heard his—that his prior plane, a Skylane, burned in a mysterious fire at a private airport.

“We did not wait long to buy his T210... it was destiny.”

Doug and Denise Winston are back in the air now, doing what they love, helping others with their airplane—and filming it all for our enjoyment. You can never keep these kinds of generous people down for long.

Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and creative director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design (celestedaniels.com). He’s an instrument-rated private pilot and has been writing the Airplanista Aviation Blog (airplanista.com) since 2005. You can find him on Twitter as @Av8rdan. Send questions or comments to .

 

Resources

Further reading
“Never Broken: Songs are
Only Half the Story”

by Jewel Kilcher. New York,
N.Y.: Blue Rider Press, 2015.

 

Flying adventures,
weekend trips and more

Winstons’ YouTube channel

DougWinston.com

 

Volunteer opportunities

Boys & Girls Clubs of America

bgca.org

 

Veterans Airlift Command

veteransairlift.org

 

Wounded Warrior Project

woundedwarriorproject.org

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Affirmative Attitude: The Members Will Continue to Guide

Affirmative Attitude: The Members Will Continue to Guide

As the chairman of EAA’s Type Club Coalition, Coyle Schwab works on General Aviation’s behalf.

June 2015-

With each one of these Affirmative Attitude columns, the one constant I’ve discovered is that if given sufficient time, all pilots will do something to give back to the aviation family. The key word here is “time”—and for those of us who have yet to reach retirement age, we need to fit our volunteerism and advocacy in between work, meetings and other obligations.

When Coyle Schwab retired from a senior management position at a major telecommunications corporation in 2014, a door opened for him. Schwab was able to devote more time to being chairman of EAA’s Type Club Coalition (TCC).

The TCC developed out of meetings held each summer at Oshkosh between leaders of many different type clubs as well as owners’ and builders’ groups. TCC acknowledges that many existing type clubs have already created effective training programs and developed best operating practices for their members.
EAA’s mission and vision for its Type Club Coalition is to “leverage the knowledge and resources of the coalition to better prepare General Aviation pilots for flight risks associated with known accident ‘hot spots’ while working toward a future with unprecedented, low General Aviation fatal accident rates.”

Based at DuPage Airport (KDPA) in suburban Chicago, Schwab has been interested in all things aviation since he was a child, and has been a pilot for over 40 years, with about 2,500 hours flown using his Commercial ASMEL with instrument rating.
Schwab’s love for flying was fired up by U-Control gas model airplanes in the mid-1950s, and as a Boy Scout he earned an Aviation Merit Badge while continuing to build, fly (and yes, crash) model planes off and on until he earned his private ticket in 1976.

For the last 30 years, Schwab has flown a gorgeous Cessna 195 Businessliner. He is President Emeritus of the International Cessna 195 Club, and transformed that type club from a social group to one focused on improving safety and maintenance practices for Cessna 190/195s.
Anyone who has ever seen a Cessna 195 up close can relate to Schwab’s love for this particular airplane. When asked why he flies a 195, his answer probably sounds like all others who own this make/model. “Well, gosh, they’re just beautiful,” Schwab answered, “and the character and sound of a radial engine just makes me smile every time I fly it, even after 30 years.”

He continued, “I think that the 190/195 offers a very unique mixture of being a stately vintage aircraft that harkens to a simpler and perhaps more optimistic time combined with offering some real transportation value. If I can have only one airplane, it’s a perfect compromise!”
The Type Club Coalition is an official program of EAA, and Schwab explains that while he is the current chairperson, Tom Turner of the American Bonanza Society was the first to lead the coalition. “The formation of the Type Club Coalition precedes my involvement,” said Schwab. “I see the core management as being the leaders from each of the member Type Clubs. The members will continue to guide the coalition in its mission; however, that mission may evolve as time goes on.

“The logistics of the coalition are facilitated by EAA using Sean Elliott’s team, with key staffers at EAA HQ including Tom Charpentier and Mack Dickson,” Schwab explained. “These gentlemen all have broad and varied responsibilities at EAA, and the TCC is but one of their interests. EAA staff engagement is critical as it assures the program’s visibility and continuity.

“Type clubs span a complete spectrum from the most informal small, local groups of friends all the way to professionally staffed and managed organizations,” he said. “They are formed by enthusiasts and builders or owners of a specific type of aircraft.
“These clubs offer a forum, virtual or otherwise, to bring together members for purposes of support in purchasing, building, owning and operating or maintaining their aircraft. But they also offer resources for technical issues that may arise during building or maintenance and can be a resource for assistance in obtaining or maintaining airworthiness.”

The work of type clubs does not go unnoticed with government regulators. “FAA has long shown an interest in improving the safety of operation of all GA aircraft,” Schwab said, “including vintage and Experimental-Amateur Built (E-AB) types. The FAA and NTSB have engaged type clubs as a resource in researching accidents or maintenance difficulties, with an eye toward discovery of root cause and dissemination of information to owners.
“One difficulty that governmental organizations face is the many different niches of GA, and the ability to get the word out to builders/owners/operators, particularly for certificated but orphaned aircraft or for E-AB aircraft. The Type Club Coalition aims to facilitate those efforts via its interface with member type clubs.”

According to Schwab, the 37 organizations within the Type Club Coalition each face different issues, but one safety concern affects them all, and that is transition training. “Transition training is often a challenge for new owners,” explained Schwab, “and the ownership of relatively rare airplanes can present a challenge in finding a qualified CFI and methodology for a complete checkout.
“If this challenge is not met, the result may be an accident early in the pilot’s experience curve. Type clubs often represent more uncommon aircraft, such as vintage taildraggers, warbirds and experimental non-certificated planes. Clubs for some of these have created syllabi to help in the transition; others have built lists of CFIs known to be effective in providing training.”

Schwab and the EAA team that oversees the TCC will again be meeting this summer at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh to continue the discussions that have made this work so important. There is a long list of very qualified pilots working within the framework of the coalition, and Schwab considers himself lucky to be on the team.
He may not be working any longer in his telecommunications career, but rest assured, Schwab will be working on General Aviation’s behalf as the Type Club Coalition’s chair. And that has to be considered a win for the entire aviation community no matter what type of aircraft you fly.

Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and creative director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design (celestedaniels.com). He’s an instrument-rated private pilot and has been writing the Airplanista Aviation Blog (airplanista.com) since 2005. You can find him on Twitter as @Av8rdan. Send questions or comments to .

Resources
Type Club Coalition
http://www.eaa.org/en/eaa/
aviation-communities-and-interests/pilot-resources/type-club-coalition

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Affirmative Attitude: The Best in Citizen Service

Civil Air Patrol volunteers—in their spare time, and often at their own expense—skillfully protect the public at large.

May 2015-

Spend a day at any local General Aviation airfield and you'll find someone who is happily volunteering their time to make our GA world a better place. In fact, you can't throw a rock at most municipal airports without hitting an aviator who is giving back in some way. It's this culture of volunteerism that makes being a pilot in the GA community so special.

Some tasks don't get much attention—like the group of EAA members repainting the benches at the airport picnic area or campground, or the pilot who introduces his neighbor kid to aviation by taking him for a first flight in his Cessna. Volunteering in GA isn't so much about the size of the task as it is about the dedication of the aviator.
The more than 60,000 volunteer members of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) are some of the best examples of dedicated pilots who use their aviation skills to give back to the public at large. Civil Air Patrol members began serving the United States in 1941 by chasing and sinking German submarines off the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. Today, CAP handles 90 percent of inland search and rescue missions and saves approximately 75 lives annually.

Since August 2014 Civil Air Patrol has been led by Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, the organization's National Commander and CEO. Vazquez is a 3,569-hour pilot and CFII for single-engine, multi-engine, commercial and glider. Although he spends about 50 percent of his time traveling around the country to meet with members in all eight CAP regions, Vazquez continues to stay active as a CAP check pilot flying a Garmin G1000-equipped 2014 Cessna 206H.
Piloting the Turbo Stationair gives Vazquez first-hand experience with the same issues that members in the field have to deal with to successfully complete their missions. Vazquez has not forgotten his volunteer roots and continues to have extreme respect for the personal and financial sacrifices that frontline CAP volunteers make in the line of duty.

"I started out as a CAP cadet in 1975," Vazquez said, "and later transitioned to the adult volunteer program in 1978. I maintained an active membership in CAP throughout my college years and later as an engineer with DuPont.
"I developed my aviation skills from 1985 to 1987, during which time I learned to fly, got my private and commercial licenses and became a CFII. I was a local CAP volunteer during all of this time, but that changed with my first leadership assignment in 1989 as a CAP group commander in South Carolina." (A "group" in CAP hierarchy is a collection of several squadrons. —Ed.)

Vazquez's ascent from a cadet to CAP's National Commander and CEO allowed him to touch all levels of the organization, and thus, allowed him to see how CAP functioned from within. "After three years as a squadron commander in Maryland," he explained, "my CAP management career began when I served as the Virginia Wing's Chief Flight Instructor and later [as] Director of Operations.
"In 2007, I moved up to CAP national headquarters as the Operations Director, and in April 2014, CAP's Board of Governors selected me to become the next Commander and CEO of Civil Air Patrol."

Vazquez says emphatically that CAP's volunteers represent the best in citizen service to the United States. "CAP volunteers come from all walks of life, and most have full-time careers. They use their vacation time and many weekends a year to participate, and usually pay for their uniforms and personal equipment," he said.
"Unlike our founding CAP fathers—many of whom flew their own airplanes and performed life-threatening missions without any formal training—our volunteers are now provided with top-notch, year-round professional development training opportunities and with airplanes equipped with the most advanced technologies available for search and rescue."

The requirements of a typical CAP mission strictly dictates what level of performance an airplane must deliver. According to Vazquez, the attributes for CAP airplanes include a high wing design (so front-seat or backseat observers have an unobstructed view of the ground) and all-metal construction (to withstand weather while parked outside on ramps). To save on liability insurance costs, single-engine airplanes with fixed gear are used, and they need to be able to carry 600 pounds for four hours at normal cruise.
The standard CAP mission includes a three-person crew: one observer on each side of the airplane, and a pilot to fly the search path. Each crew member is considered to weigh 200 pounds with their gear. The "ideal arrangement," says Vazquez, is to fly three-hour missions and still have a one-hour reserve.

For these reasons, Vazquez explains, "Cessnas are the preferred airplane for CAP operations. The fleet consists of nearly 550 airplanes, most of which are either Cessna 172s or Cessna 182s."
Anyone who knows a CAP pilot will most likely agree that they are some of the finest GA aviators in our community. The high level of proficiency that these pilots demonstrate every day on their missions only happens through a great deal of work.

"Standardized training is one of the biggest reasons for our success," said Vazquez. "CAP volunteers have included many aviation industry and FAA professionals, who are our volunteers in their spare time. Such professionals have helped CAP design a standardized training program over the years so we can control the quality of the flight instruction CAP members receive from CAP CFIs.
"The standards are higher than those in General Aviation, and CAP pilots expend more hours per month and year training to remain current."

Even though CAP was one of the few volunteer organizations in the country that had a combat mission during a time of war, unfortunately, Vazquez says, "CAP has come to be known as a 'best-kept secret.' The public at large does not know about the existence of CAP and the volunteer members of CAP in their midst."
If the public knew how extensive the CAP network really is, or what CAP's core mission means to their own personal safety, it's likely more youth would seek out CAP's Cadet Program. "CAP has something for almost any volunteer interest," said Vazquez, "from a youth program, to aviation, ground search and rescue, and an extensive HF and VHF radio network.

"The Civil Air Patrol, as the auxiliary of the United States Air Force, is a great asset to the nation—for search and rescue, disaster relief services, youth aerospace education and youth leadership development."
When natural and man-made disasters happen in the United States, CAP members are some of the first to respond on scene, transmitting digital images of the damage around the world within seconds via satellite and providing disaster relief and emergency services. Hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, flooding—even events like 9/11—this is where you'll find CAP pilots doing what they do best.

"The whole reason for the existence of CAP since its start in World War II is for the benefit of the United States public," he said, "and saving lives can be no better expression of that purpose."

Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and creative director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design (celestedaniels.com). He's an instrument-rated private pilot and has been writing the Airplanista Aviation Blog (airplanista.com) since 2005. You can find him on Twitter as @Av8rdan. Send questions or comments to .

Resources
Civil Air Patrol
United States Air Force Auxiliary
gocivilairpatrol.com

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Affirmative Attitude: A Part of Our History That Must Never Be Forgotten

Affirmative Attitude: A Part of Our History That Must Never Be Forgotten

Book research inspired Mike Pungercar to organize the South Willamette Valley Honor Flight hub.

April 2014-

The sky is filled with aviators doing great things with their airplanes, advocating for General Aviation and volunteering to give back to a community that has given them so much. In my quest to seek out subjects for this column, I occasionally find a person who is doing something extraordinary to help others while not flying an airplane to accomplish the task.

This month, I'm going a bit off-script in order to bring attention to someone who is doing incredible work to honor veterans of World War II, among them military pilots who flew in the United States Army Air Forces and with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

Mike Pungercar, director of South Willamette Valley Honor Flight in Springfield, Ore., is not a pilot—but his father was a radio operator on B-17s during World War II, so Pungercar grew up with a great deal of respect for military airplanes and the brave flyers who rode them into battle.

"The Honor Flight Network's mission," Pungercar said, "is to get our country's senior veterans to Washington D.C. free of charge to receive recognition and thank them for their service. Priority is given to World War II veterans, then to Korean War veterans, and then to Vietnam War veterans. We take any terminally ill veterans on the next available Honor Flight.

"Most of these aging veterans never received any thanks for their service 60 to 70 years ago," Pungercar continued. "Our time to honor our World War II veterans is running short."

"Among the 251 World War II veterans who have gone on our Honor Flights are pilots who flew in both Europe and the Pacific. Other veterans who have gone with us served on bomber crews and as ground crew personnel," Pungercar explained. "Aside from the World War II Memorial, most of these veterans will always remember their visit to the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va.

"I enjoy the company of all of our World War II veterans on an Honor Flight, but those who flew for and served with the Air Force hold a special place in my heart."
Pungercar's work as director for his Honor Flight hub in Oregon began during his research on "The Promise Kept," his 2011 book describing what the men who flew in bombers high above the German battlefield had really experienced.
"While working on the book," Pungercar explained, "I met a World War II veteran in Wisconsin who shared his experience on an Honor Flight; my aha moment came when I was introduced to Bob Maxwell, a World War II Army communications [specialist] and recipient of the Medal of Honor.

"After spending time with Bob, and having met other World War II veterans during my book research, I decided to get involved with the Honor Flight program and try to honor as many of these veterans as I could. In November 2011 I started making contacts around the state, and ended up forming the South Willamette Valley Honor Flight hub in March 2012."

Today, if you see Pungercar working with a sense of urgency, there is a very good reason. "The Greatest Generation," as they are frequently called, are not getting any younger. Several hundred World War II veterans die every day.

The work of flying veterans to Washington to see the memorials is hard, and the hours are long. For each Honor Flight, Pungercar and his team of other volunteers start working six to seven months in advance.

Along with negotiating the best possible rates with Southwest Airlines, securing about 100 round-trip tickets and arranging ground transportation, the team also obtains hotel rooms in the departure city of Portland, Ore., and rooms in Dulles, Va.

In addition, there is a very, very long list of behind-the-scenes work that is completed before the flight ever departs. "We first phone veterans on our waiting list to fill openings on the flight and arrange for their guardians to help with pushing wheelchairs and help them with their medications," Pungercar said.

"There are many details that go into a flight, like lining up 500 bottles of water and contacting our local congressional representatives so we can present United States flags flown over the Capitol in D.C. to each veteran.

"We also furnish every vet and guardian with our hub's Honor Flight shirt; lanyards from Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps recruiting offices (for our name tags); and [supply] ball caps for each veteran identifying them as a World War II or Korean War veteran."
A major part of the planning for each flight is to make reservations for viewing the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. This requires bus passes and making reservations, if possible, for representatives from the group to participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb.

For anyone who has flown commercially in a post-9/11 world, you know the drill regarding security, but you may not know that these Honor Flights get a little help from TSA at the departure airport.

"At PDX," Pungercar explained, "TSA personnel escort us to the security screening area and open at least one separate line for our group. With 25 to 30 wheelchairs and walkers typically in use [and] senior citizens with metal implants—some still carrying shrapnel from 70 years back—screening is a slow but steady process."

If this all sounds like a lot of work, it is. But the rewards for those who make it happen are priceless, said Pungercar. "On the first Honor Flight I led, we were at the Tomb of the Unknowns and had witnessed the Changing of the Guard and a wreath laying ceremony.

"I looked around at the veterans as 'Taps' was being played. Most had removed their hats and were standing or sitting erect and saluting—and, like me, had tears in their eyes. I knew in my heart that what I was doing was making a difference for these men and women who—like my dad—had helped save our country with their service in World War II.

"I have had the privilege of having this experience six times, and will never forget any of them," he continued. "When I see these veterans being thanked by total strangers for serving our country, I feel very humble, knowing that what I am doing is helping to make it possible.

"This is a very powerful and emotional experience for everyone. The stories these men and women have are a part of our history—and what they did for our nation, and for the world, must never be forgotten," Pungercar said.
South Willamette Honor Flights is always seeking donations to make sure more veterans are honored. If you would like to make a contribution, visit the website and click the Donations link.

Pungercar's book has 310 pages with over 200 photos and is available at Amazon.com and from the publisher. Signed copies of "The Promise Kept" are available from the author via email. (See Resources for links. —Ed.)

Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and creative director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design (celestedaniels.com). He's an instrument-rated private pilot and has been writing the Airplanista Aviation Blog (airplanista.com) since 2005. You can find him on Twitter as @Av8rdan. Send questions or comments to .

Resources
South Willamette Valley (Ore.)
Honor Flight
swvhonorflight.org

"The Promise Kept"
by Mike Pungercar
outskirtspress.com
Order a signed copy
by email:

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Affirmative Attitude: Riding the Edge of the Risk Envelope

Affirmative Attitude: Riding the Edge of the Risk Envelope

JAARS mission pilots support Bible translation efforts around the globe.

March 2015-

I write each month about extraordinary pilots who use their skills and their airplanes to advocate for General Aviation or do tremendous work for the greater good of humanity. Sometimes these advocates help others in the aviation family, and that work is appreciated. And other times, pilots "on a mission" will ride the edge of the risk envelope to accomplish their chosen endeavor.
This is the story of just such an aviator.
"With ongoing conflicts between rebels of contrary religious and political aspirations, there were times when I had to evacuate missionaries from villages threatened by rebel activity," said Mike Mower, director of the JAARS Missions at the Airport program and a former JAARS mission pilot.

"One time a radio call came in that a village in the southern Philippines where we had a family working was being threatened by rebels. Several days before, the local people had conflict with a rebel group and the rebels were responding in force. The rebel forces moved in to the area and established a camp about three-quarters of a mile off the end of the airstrip that we used to serve the family."
That's a scenario that would certainly send many good pilots full throttle in the other direction. But not Mower, a 6,000-plus hour mission pilot with commercial ASEL and AMEL, CFI and instrument ratings, plus a valuable A&P certificate which comes in handy for the remote missions that JAARS has been regularly flying since 1948.
"There was an imminent threat of attack to that village," Mower continues. "The airstrip was along the top of a ridgeline, 720 feet long with a 30-degree left turn about one-third of the way down the runway.
"Normally, I would overfly the runway to make sure there were no people or animals on the runway, followed by a normal rectangular approach. This day, because of the rebels in the vicinity of the runway, I stayed high, flying a low-powered descent to a close in base leg to reduce noise and hopefully keep the rebels from hearing my approach.
"At about 10 nm from the airstrip, I reduced power to idle and began a long glide to the base leg. Not quite a dead-stick landing approach, but as stealthy as I could get. The landing was successful and after we loaded the family into the aircraft, we departed after only a few minutes on the ground.

"It was reported that the rebel encampment never heard the airplane until I powered up for takeoff."
That kind of flying takes a large amount of training and dedication, and you would think that would translate into a hefty paycheck. However, Mower and the many other JAARS pilots and maintenance specialists around the world are all volunteers. And while the flying is very hard, the reward is enormous.
"We raise our own funds from family, friends and churches who are interested in our work of supporting Bible translation," Mower explained, "and we do not receive a regular salary. We step out in faith that God will provide for our needs. And He has done so for me and my family for the past 33 years."
The original name of the organization—Jungle Aviation and Radio Service—at first sounds like the volunteers fly supply missions and coordinate communications between remote villages. Yes, they do plenty of that, but the real mission is Bible translation.

Today, the organization is referred to only as JAARS, and personnel are members of Wycliffe Bible Translators, assigned to serve with JAARS or the organization's international partners in support of Bible translation.
"As Christians who have experienced transformed lives through the Bible," Mower said, "we believe that it is important for people to have God's word available in the language that they best understand; that is, in their heart language."
Mower is passionate about this work, and his devotion to faith as much as flying is what kept him accepting these risky missions. "Many people have faced war, famine, oppression, natural disasters and epidemic diseases like AIDS," he says. "They may get physical help, but have no way to work through the deep emotional scars. God's word can speak to their pain."
Mower sums up this philosophy by referring to the words Eddie Arthur, the director of Wycliffe UK. "Arthur said the Bible was written by and for people who have suffered. It isn't a book about nice, comfortable suburban living."
After a full career as a mission pilot, Mower now heads the JAARS Missions at the Airport program, the educational and public relations program of the organization. It's designed to introduce the public to Bible translation and the many ways JAARS support makes Bible translation possible.

"As director of the Missions at the Airport program," Mower said, "I schedule events, coordinate communications with local sponsors, handle public speaking and outreach and fly rides and demonstrations at local airports. We invite people to come out to the airport and learn how transportation and technology are used in support of Bible translation."
While he works as the public face of JAARS today, his logbook is filled with stories of flights in the Philippines and Cameroon that would challenge even the most skilled pilots. Mower mostly flew Helio Couriers, a Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub and an Aero Commander 500B during his service. The Cub was perfect for the kind of flying that left little room for a mistake.
"One marginal airstrip in the Philippines called Panganan was 800 feet long by 45 feet wide, set in the bottom of a tight river valley," Mower explained. "The airstrip's side boundaries were bamboo fences marking the 'front yards' of the residents.
"There was very little room for error if you were off centerline on landing. You needed to fly very close to the terrain on approach, with a turn to final less than one-quarter mile from the touchdown zone. The airstrip did not come in to full view until just prior to turning final.
"Panganan was a one-way strip; the pilot was committed to landing when turning final approach. The wind was normally very calm, but on occasion a landing or takeoff was performed with a tailwind. With usually no breeze to assist the takeoff, performance could be very anemic, and sometimes I felt the need to curl my toes to clear the trees off the end of the runway."
Today JAARS has several primary focus areas, including aviation, maritime and land transportation. Emphasis is placed on the use of computers and information technology. The use of non-print media in local languages is a fast-growing ministry of JAARS, which had a 2013 budget of $14.2 million.

The JAARS Missions at the Airport program is always looking for new locations to visit and share the work of the organization. To inquire about bringing the JAARS program to your local airport event, email Mike Mower.
And if you have 500 hours of flight time, a commercial license with instrument rating, a second-class medical or equivalent, tailwheel and high performance endorsements and an A&P mechanic rating, visit the JAARS website to learn more about becoming a mission pilot. (Mower's contact information and the URL for JAARS are published under Resources at the end of this column. —Ed.)
Yes, the flying was hard and dangerous, and living conditions in remote locations that Mower served could be challenging. But asked if he would do it all over again, Mower's answer was swift and sure: "In a heartbeat!"

Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and creative director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design (celestedaniels.com). He's an instrument-rated private pilot and has been writing the Airplanista Aviation Blog (airplanista.com) since 2005. You can find him on Twitter as @Av8rdan. Send questions or comments to .

Resources
JAARS, Inc.
jaars.org

Missions at the Airport

Read more...
Affirmative Attitude: Making Women Feel Welcome

Affirmative Attitude: Making Women Feel Welcome

Martha Phillips, the International President of The Ninety-Nines, Inc., leads a worldwide organization focused on the recruitment of more women to earn private pilot certificates.

February 2015-

General Aviation has a growth problem, and the solution is right in front of all of us.
When you look around your local airfield, you'll probably see plenty of gray hair atop the heads of those (mostly male) senior pilots who are still medically legal to fly. It is inevitable that as each day passes, more of these aviators will fly west, and our pilot population will continue to shrink.
One of the best ways to assure that GA has a solid future is to keep recruiting new, young pilots to take their places in the left seats. And while many aviation organizations have programs to make flying interesting to children and young adults, only a handful of these organizations focus on the recruitment of more women to earn private pilot certificates.
The disparity between the number of women in the nonflying public and those licensed to fly aircraft is vast. Females make up about half of the general population, but only about six percent of licensed pilots. If we can be successful in significantly increasing the number of female pilots, we stand a chance at solving GA's growth problem.
And in the quest to make flying attractive to women, there might not be anyone working harder than Martha Phillips, the International President of The Ninety-Nines, Inc. She leads a worldwide organization with members from 44 different countries, all focused on making women feel welcome in our skies.

While you might have heard about The Ninety-Nines, there is a good chance you know only a little about this well established organization. "In 1929, several women pilots—mostly air racers—got together in New York to form a club for female pilots," Phillips explains. "At that time, there were only 117 licensed women pilots in the United States, and letters were sent to each one inviting them to join.
"Within a short period, 99 of these pilots responded and soon after, the members decided to honor the original charter members by calling the organization The Ninety-Nines. Growth started almost immediately and almost every woman pilot of note, from the early aviatrixes to astronauts, has been a member of The Ninety-Nines."
Phillips, who is a private pilot and owner of a single engine aircraft based at the Camarillo (Calif.) Airport (KCMA), spent 20 years of her career as a business owner and teacher, and before that held positions in marketing, sales and management. As the Ninety-Nines International President, she frequently pulls from her large skill set and has dedicated much of her time and effort to enticing more women to discover flying.
"The largest percentage of the membership resides in the United States and Canada," said Phillips, "and in those two countries, there are currently 160 chapters to facilitate the gathering of local pilots both for [interaction with] others who have the same interest in aviation as well as to provide support, mentoring and scholarships to student and prospective pilots.
"We have seen a growth in membership in the last couple of years—not large jumps, but steady increases—and, most importantly, an increase in the number of younger members who find the organization meets many of their needs, whether it is for career or for 'fun' flying."

Phillips started her affiliation with the Ninety-Nines as a guest attending a Santa Paula, Calif. chapter meeting in 1995. As a devoted pilot who just wanted to do anything she could so that more women would have the opportunity to enjoy flying, she quickly moved through the structure of the organization. "Soon after joining," said Phillips, "I was asked to serve as secretary before being asked to be the chapter chair. I was selected to be the Southwest Section treasurer, and the governor of the section.
"Because I was a co-chair of the 2010 Ninety-Nines International Annual Conference in Kona, Hawaii, I attended all the international board meetings at our headquarters building in Oklahoma City," she continued. "I was next elected International Treasurer, and was elected International President in 2012. I am into my second and last term as president."
Leaders often must give up personal time in order to give back, and Phillips' work leading The Ninety-Nines is no different. "The sacrifices I have made are the same as anyone makes when they take on the commitment to lead an organization," she says.
"Much of that is the time that is expended in handling correspondence, phone calls, emails and meetings. Of course, this is time that is taken away from family and friends. I am very lucky to have the support and encouragement of my husband, Art.

"The other part of personal sacrifice is financial. While I do have a travel budget, there are inevitably travel [costs] and other expenses that aren't covered."
And while Phillips does spend considerable time as the organization's top executive, she does get back a feeling of accomplishment. "Part of the satisfaction I get from being the president of The Ninety-Nines is knowing that I am helping the organization that I love to grow and become relevant... I think we are on a threshold of increasing the percentage of women pilots, and [we] have support options in place to help them attain their aviation goals. I want to be part of that growth, and I see it taking place in the near future."
One recent change she made to the organization stands out for her. "One thing I pushed through that made a big difference for The Ninety-Nines," Phillips says, "was a change we made at EAA's 2013 AirVenture.
"Up until I was president, [the Ninety-Nines] were located in a tent on the grounds, which made it hard for people to find us. I was convinced that we needed to be in a higher traffic area and worked with EAA to get a favorable location in Hangar B.
"We quadrupled the number of new members signing up during that week. In addition, with the increased traffic, we were able to let many more people know about the organization with a welcoming booth and available information about The Ninety-Nines as well as about aviation in general."
Phillips reports seeing more interest from younger women who see aviation as a potential career track when The Ninety-Nines meet the public at aviation events and trade shows such as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and AOPA Regional Fly-ins.

"Maybe it's just wishful thinking," Phillips said, "but my sense tells me that we are at the beginning of [an] increase in the female pilot population. The biggest problem is the financial hurdle, to get to a point where [more women] can actually start flying for fun or start to make a living at it."
The Ninety-Nines, through its Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship Fund, has dramatically increased the number of scholarships for primary training while continuing to offer advanced training. "We've increased our $3,000 primary training scholarships from one or two per year to 50-plus per year," explained Phillips. "The purpose of these 'Fly Now' scholarships is to encourage more women to learn to fly.
"Our advanced training scholarships, on the other hand, are unique in that the scholarship amount is determined by what the individual actually needs to complete her rating or certificate."
Each day when Martha Phillips begins making her contributions to help The Ninety-Nines become a more relevant and purposeful organization, she remembers why she does this work. "Every time I talk to a student taking flight lessons, or one who has just soloed, or see the self-confidence radiating from the face of the female who has just passed her checkride," she says, "it reminds me of the joy that conquering the skies brings to each of us.

"Seeing that over and over and knowing that The Ninety-Nines is doing so much to assure that this accomplishment is available for women is worth the time and effort that I and many others put into our organization."
This is work that needs to be done. And Phillips and The Ninety-Nines deserve the support of the entire aviation family, because their success could very well be our success.

Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and creative director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design (celestedaniels.com). He's an instrument-rated private pilot and has been writing the Airplanista Aviation Blog (airplanista.com) since 2005. You can find him on Twitter as @Av8rdan. Send questions or comments to .

Resources
The Ninety-Nines, Inc.
ninety-nines.org

Read more...
Affirmative Attitude: Doing some real good

Affirmative Attitude: Doing some real good

January 2015-

Patient transportation is an important mission for one family that's very passionate about General Aviation.

Life can sometimes be a wild ride, with more deviations and surprises than an IFR flight in IMC through the Northeast in the dead of winter. You are born, and at some point, you go west to fly forever with Lindy and Amelia. But it's what you do with your life in between your arrival and departure that is important.
Many of us do good deeds with our airplanes, and regardless of the type of work you and your airplane do to make the world a better place, it is all to be admired and celebrated. But there is one thing you can do with your airplane that might earn you extra credit when you're closing your life's flight plan.
Most likely every person reading this has lost a friend or family member to cancer. Many of us now need the fingers of both hands to count those who have succumbed to some form of the disease. Those who have left us fought hard to be survivors, and when that fight required several trips to a faraway city for treatment, the transportation may have been donated by generous members of the aviation family like David Fill II and his wife Brandi.

"We both love all aspects of aviation, whether it's just hanging out at the airport, flying or attending EAA meetings," said David Fill. "So the patient transport work is just a natural fit. It gives us a chance to do some real good and to help real people while we are enjoying our passion for aviation at the same time.
"I think that it's important to volunteer our aircraft, time and skills because, let's face it... the utility and convenience of GA cannot be matched. It certainly helps to dispel the stereotype that GA is just a bunch of old rich guys flying their toys, when [patients and their loved ones] see people like Brandi and I using our airplane for good."
The patient transportation flights that the Fills perform are flown in their light twin from their home base of Stafford Regional Airport (KRMN) in Stafford, Va. "We do a good deal of hard weather flying when flying for work or fun," Fill explained, "and this aircraft gives us that much more flexibility to navigate over the ocean or Great Lakes rather than having to hug the shoreline."
Fill continued, "For patient transports, it really is a fantastic airplane—patients love it because it seems more like a 'real' airplane to them. With two engines and a few more seats, it also keeps our options open for dealing with weather and mission requirements."

Those missions give the Fills a great deal of satisfaction, too. "Both Brandi and I love accomplishing the mission of getting a patient or family to where they need to go," Fill said, "but there is also the social aspect of flying patients and their families.
"It's impossible not to become emotionally involved once you learn their stories. There is no better feeling than getting a phone call or email from a patient after months of flights for treatment to say they are cancer-free."
I met David and Brandi at EAA's AirVenture Oshkosh in 2014, and like so many in the aviation family, they are pleasant, social people who are passionate about anything that involves airplanes and flying. In between planespotting and consuming incredibly good burgers at Ardy & Ed's Drive In, the couple worked together like a well-oiled machine when taking care of their infant son and toddler daughter while doing everything there is to do at Oshkosh.

In order to properly illustrate this couple's passion for aviation, and in particular, the Experimental Aircraft Association, you need only look at the level of importance they place on EAA membership—for their children.
"Our daughter Audra was just 10 weeks old when we signed her up as an EAA Lifetime Member at Oshkosh 2013," explained Fill. "At the time, according to the EAA staff, she was the youngest lifetime member ever.
"Our son, David Fill III, was born on June 2, 2014, and my wife called EAA while she was in the hospital bed in labor to sign him up as a lifetime member—making him the new youngest lifetime member per EAA staff.
"He attended his first EAA AirVenture convention this past summer at just about eight weeks old."
The teamwork the Fills demonstrate at Oshkosh is put to great use when flying cancer patients, too. "The patients we fly are amazingly grateful," Fill said. "They come from all walks of life and have amazing stories. Some have been on top of the world as successful business owners, CEOs... only to have their illness take everything from them.

"I have never met a single one that wasn't 100 percent grateful and joyful at the chance for a ride to their treatment. I think that in many ways, my wife's role riding in the back of the plane with the patients—helping them out and just talking to them—is even more important than the actual flying I'm doing up front. Sometimes they are just happy to talk to someone about something other than their illness!"
This is one "aviation family" that will be at the big party and reunion in Wisconsin each summer in the coming decades. "Oshkosh is an important event for our family," Fill said. "We literally plan our year around it to make sure we're available to attend for the entire week. This event is mainly about the people and the friendships you develop at Oshkosh, good friends we only see once a year at Camp Bacon or elsewhere on the grounds.
"This past year was busy with airplane shopping, spending time with the kids and putting out content for the Airplane Owners Podcast that I host," Fill explained.

David Fill is a former Air Force medical evacuation crew member and is currently an airplane broker. Brandi is a former airport manager for LAX, PDX and the Portland Air National Guard, and runs the family contracting business. Neither David nor Brandi have any plans to slow down their work or volunteering.
Perhaps, when it's the Fills' time to finally go west, they will again meet those patients who, despite a valiant effort, lost their battles. One thing is for certain: the hours this couple is spending as devoted patient transport volunteers in this life is the kind of legacy we all should like to achieve.

Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and creative director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design (celestedaniels.com). He's an instrument-rated private pilot and has been writing the Airplanista Aviation Blog (airplanista.com) since 2005. You can find him on Twitter as @Av8rdan. Send questions or comments to .

Resources
The Airplane Owners Podcast
airplane-owner.com

Read more...

Affirmative Attitude: Showing Up for the Party

December 2014-

Mass arrivals add another dimension to the AirVenture experience.

Of all the great things about the late summer aviation family reunion in Oshkosh, one of the most popular elements are the mass arrivals of owners flying Cessnas, Cherokees and other brands of airplanes. These arrivals are the perfect way to show the world that as pilots, we stick together, and we love showing up for a party.
But these mass arrivals don't just happen, as if a bunch of rogue pilots somehow happen to meet over Ottumwa, Iowa and sort of just show up at Oshkosh around the same time. These mass arrivals are carefully planned and briefed, and the organizers work all year to make sure we get to see the sky filled with either high wings or low wings—take your pick.
Two of those organizers are Terry Hocking of Cherokees to Oshkosh and Gil Velez of Cessnas 2 Oshkosh. Both Hocking and Velez work with teams of other pilots, and both are dedicated to making sure their mass arrivals are safe as well as loads of fun for the participants.

Cherokees to Oshkosh
Hocking, a CFII/MEI and owner of a PA-28-160 based at Range Regional Airport (KHIB) in Hibbing, Minn., said the Cherokees to Oshkosh mass arrival began after he and wife Karen were watching the Bonanzas 2 Oshkosh arrival each year.
"As we watched the Bonanzas arrive," Hocking said, "I made the cavalier comment asking why there was not a Cherokee Mass Arrival. When 2009 rolled around, I started knocking on doors. EAA was more than helpful, as was the FAA."
As a pilot, Hocking says the mass arrivals into KOSH elevate the experience to exciting levels. "Being able to arrive en masse into Oshkosh is the embodiment of the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. Each pilot makes a commitment of time and resources to fly the arrival. It is a decision not to be taken lightly, and all those that join us rise to the challenge."
And there can be challenges, especially when you have over 20 private pilots with varying levels of formation experience. Those challenges are met by a team that works independently all year participating in conference calls before they meet for one week in Waupaca, Wis. where they finish training, brief for the arrival and stage for the actual flight into the show.
Throughout that week together, the founding principle of safety is adhered to, and the group never deviates from it. "Each flight begins with an extensive briefing," Hocking says, "and nobody leaves a briefing with any unanswered questions.
"This is because we have the world's greatest Director of Air Operations in Dwane 'Ferg' Ferguson," added Hocking.
Ferg is an ATP, CFIA/CFII and A&P from Gallatin, Tenn. who "stopped counting" after 15,000 hours flying everything from Pipers, Cessnas and Grummans to the T-37, T-38, C-130, MD-80 and the Boeing 727, 737, 757 and 767.
"Although we ask for pilots with at least 500 hours flight time," Ferg said, "we have found that flight time is rarely a good indicator of ability. Those with recent currency and instrument training are often well qualified, and we have included individuals with less than 250 hours who demonstrated the right attitude for safety and learning.
"Every new pilot receives a complete briefing before flying an observation ride with an experienced pilot—and no pilot is required to fly closer than they are comfortable. Even the most experienced pilots are set to standards that ensure safe separation."
"While all the mass arrivals adhere to their FAA Letter of Agreement, there is one thing that makes us unique," says Hocking. "For the period of time we are in Waupaca, there are Cherokees [flying] in formation over Waupaca the entire day.
"This is driven not as a mandate, but by the unbridled enthusiasm that increases each day, beginning when [the pilots] are reunited for breakfast early each morning at our host hotel. This is truly a family of aviators."
Yet, Hocking continued, "They do not want to stand around and compliment each other's aircraft, they absolutely want to be in the air with one another and increase their skill sets in the process."
Cherokees to Oshkosh had 23 aircraft for its 2014 arrival, a number that has remained relatively static over the past several years, says Hocking. "We feel it may have something to do with our Friday arrival date. People only have a finite amount of vacation time, and the two days from the time we arrive to the opening of the convention seem to be an issue."
This will change in 2015 as the Cherokee mass arrival moves to a new date and time of Saturday, July 18 at 11:00 a.m. EAA AirVenture runs July 20–26, 2015.

Cessnas 2 Osh
For Gil Velez, a commercial and private pilot and Skyhawk owner based at Sky Manor Airport (N40) in Pittstown, N.J., getting involved with the Cessnas 2 Oshkosh mass arrivals began in 2006 when he received news of a planned mass arrival into Oshkosh to celebrate the 50th anniversary of production of the Cessna 172.
That arrival was being planned by Fred Johnson, Rodney Swanson and Dennis D'Angelo, part of a small group of Cessna owners who met in the North 40 in 2005 to figure out a way to fly into Oshkosh and hang out together as a group under the wings of their airplanes in the North 40.
The group's goal was to share their mutual passion for aviation in general, Cessna aircraft in particular, and have a good time together during the whole week of EAA AirVenture. It seemed like a mass arrival was the way to make that happen.
Velez is now in charge of the group's communications and serves as database administrator and webmaster. He spent time with me explaining in great detail the choreography that allowed 54 aircraft to participate in the 2014 Cessnas 2 Oshkosh mass arrival—a 29 percent increase in participation compared to the previous three mass arrivals.
"The greatest challenge is to train all the participating pilots in basic formation flight prior to our meeting at the staging airport the day of the arrival—the first-time registrants, as well as returning ones," Velez said.
"Starting in the spring, we organize and hold formation training clinics given by volunteer lead pilots who have been trained using our own program created by Rodney Swanson, our Director of Training and Operations."
The group uses precise safety procedures. "The mass arrival flight starts with a pre-brief meeting, when Rodney assigns each checked-in pilot to either the lead or the wingman position within their specific element, based on the aircraft model they are flying and their individual experience flying with the group.
"Each section (the group of elements of a specific model) is assigned a specific airspeed. In addition, a time interval between sections is calculated. The airspeed of each element and the time interval between sections are calculated to provide a separation of approximately 500 feet between aircraft in an element and 2,500 feet between elements over the threshold of Runways 36L and 36R (Taxiway A) at Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH)," Velez explained.
"Once the makeup of the flight is completed, we move to Dodge County Airport (KUNU) in Juneau, Wis., where all the participating pilots and passengers await the start of the preflight brief.
"At the conclusion of the preflight brief, we move to our planes; after engine start, Rodney hands control of the flight to the 'Cessna Shooter' who starts launching each element and section observing the interval times calculated during the pre-brief meeting.
"We do not take off in formation; the takeoff is sequential," Velez explained.
"After liftoff, each lead pilot accelerates and holds the briefed climb airspeed and keeps the climb rate under 500 fpm. Each wingman maneuvers to join the lead aircraft in formation using the technique taught and practiced in the formation training clinics.
"Radio silence is maintained throughout the flight. Only the lead aircraft talks to Oshkosh Tower to report when [the arrival aircraft are] 20, 10 and 5 nm from KOSH.
"These compulsory reporting points, along with other procedures that rule the mass arrival flight, are included in the Letter of Agreement between Cessnas 2 Oshkosh and FAA. The radio silence is only interrupted by the lead pilot of each element to call the trail formation, approximately two nm from the threshold of the runways.
"After landing, we taxi to the end of Runways 36L and 36R and then follow the instructions of EAA volunteers to parking in the North 40."
If this kind of precision flying and camaraderie sounds like fun—and of course, if you fly a Cessna—consider joining the Cessnas 2 Oshkosh group. (See Resources for the website where you can get more details and register. —Ed.)
Even though Cessnas have high wings while a Cherokee's wings are low, these two groups are very similar. They are both made of regular pilots that want to have some fun with their airplanes—and nothing shouts "FUN!" like a mass arrival with your pals into Oshkosh.
Hocking and Velez are only two people within the large teams that make these arrivals a reality, but they represent the kind of aviation advocates that do the work behind the scenes to make sure these arrivals come off safely each year and highlight for everyone the capacity for mass cooperation among pilots.

Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and creative director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design (celestedaniels.com). He's an instrument-rated private pilot and has been writing the
Airplanista Aviation Blog (airplanista.com) since 2005. You can find him on Twitter as @Av8rdan. Send questions or comments to .

Resources
Cherokees to Oshkosh
cherokees2osh.com

Cessnas 2 Oshkosh
cessnas2oshkosh.com

Of all the great things about the late summer aviation family reunion in Oshkosh, one of the most popular elements are the mass arrivals of owners flying Cessnas, Cherokees and other brands of airplanes. These arrivals are the perfect way to show the world that as pilots, we stick together, and we love showing up for a party.
But these mass arrivals don’t just happen, as if a bunch of rogue pilots somehow happen to meet over Ottumwa, Iowa and sort of just show up at Oshkosh around the same time. These mass arrivals are carefully planned and briefed, and the organizers work all year to make sure we get to see the sky filled with either high wings or low wings—take your pick.
Two of those organizers are Terry Hocking of Cherokees to Oshkosh and Gil Velez of Cessnas 2 Oshkosh. Both Hocking and Velez work with teams of other pilots, and both are dedicated to making sure their mass arrivals are safe as well as loads of fun for the participants.

Cherokees to Oshkosh
Hocking, a CFII/MEI and owner of a PA-28-160 based at Range Regional Airport (KHIB) in Hibbing, Minn., said the Cherokees to Oshkosh mass arrival began after he and wife Karen were watching the Bonanzas 2 Oshkosh arrival each year.
“As we watched the Bonanzas arrive,” Hocking said, “I made the cavalier comment asking why there was not a Cherokee Mass Arrival. When 2009 rolled around, I started knocking on doors. EAA was more than helpful, as was the FAA.”
As a pilot, Hocking says the mass arrivals into KOSH elevate the experience to exciting levels. “Being able to arrive en masse into Oshkosh is the embodiment of the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. Each pilot makes a commitment of time and resources to fly the arrival. It is a decision not to be taken lightly, and all those that join us rise to the challenge.”
And there can be challenges, especially when you have over 20 private pilots with varying levels of formation experience. Those challenges are met by a team that works independently all year participating in conference calls before they meet for one week in Waupaca, Wis. where they finish training, brief for the arrival and stage for the actual flight into the show.
Throughout that week together, the founding principle of safety is adhered to, and the group never deviates from it. “Each flight begins with an extensive briefing,” Hocking says, “and nobody leaves a briefing with any unanswered questions.
“This is because we have the world’s greatest Director of Air Operations in Dwane ‘Ferg’ Ferguson,” added Hocking.
Ferg is an ATP, CFIA/CFII and A&P from Gallatin, Tenn. who “stopped counting” after 15,000 hours flying everything from Pipers, Cessnas and Grummans to the T-37, T-38, C-130, MD-80 and the Boeing 727, 737, 757 and 767.
“Although we ask for pilots with at least 500 hours flight time,” Ferg said, “we have found that flight time is rarely a good indicator of ability. Those with recent currency and instrument training are often well qualified, and we have included individuals with less than 250 hours who demonstrated the right attitude for safety and learning.
“Every new pilot receives a complete briefing before flying an observation ride with an experienced pilot—and no pilot is required to fly closer than they are comfortable. Even the most experienced pilots are set to standards that ensure safe separation.”
“While all the mass arrivals adhere to their FAA Letter of Agreement, there is one thing that makes us unique,” says Hocking. “For the period of time we are in Waupaca, there are Cherokees [flying] in formation over Waupaca the entire day.
“This is driven not as a mandate, but by the unbridled enthusiasm that increases each day, beginning when [the pilots] are reunited for breakfast early each morning at our host hotel. This is truly a family of aviators.”
Yet, Hocking continued, “They do not want to stand around and compliment each other’s aircraft, they absolutely want to be in the air with one another and increase their skill sets in the process.”
Cherokees to Oshkosh had 23 aircraft for its 2014 arrival, a number that has remained relatively static over the past several years, says Hocking. “We feel it may have something to do with our Friday arrival date. People only have a finite amount of vacation time, and the two days from the time we arrive to the opening of the convention seem to be an issue.”
This will change in 2015 as the Cherokee mass arrival moves to a new date and time of Saturday, July 18 at 11:00 a.m. EAA AirVenture runs July 20–26, 2015.

Cessnas 2 Osh
For Gil Velez, a commercial and private pilot and Skyhawk owner based at Sky Manor Airport (N40) in Pittstown, N.J., getting involved with the Cessnas 2 Oshkosh mass arrivals began in 2006 when he received news of a planned mass arrival into Oshkosh to celebrate the 50th anniversary of production of the Cessna 172.
That arrival was being planned by Fred Johnson, Rodney Swanson and Dennis D’Angelo, part of a small group of Cessna owners who met in the North 40 in 2005 to figure out a way to fly into Oshkosh and hang out together as a group under the wings of their airplanes in the North 40.
The group’s goal was to share their mutual passion for aviation in general, Cessna aircraft in particular, and have a good time together during the whole week of EAA AirVenture. It seemed like a mass arrival was the way to make that happen.
Velez is now in charge of the group’s communications and serves as database administrator and webmaster. He spent time with me explaining in great detail the choreography that allowed 54 aircraft to participate in the 2014 Cessnas 2 Oshkosh mass arrival—a 29 percent increase in participation compared to the previous three mass arrivals.
“The greatest challenge is to train all the participating pilots in basic formation flight prior to our meeting at the staging airport the day of the arrival—the first-time registrants, as well as returning ones,” Velez said.
“Starting in the spring, we organize and hold formation training clinics given by volunteer lead pilots who have been trained using our own program created by Rodney Swanson, our Director of Training and Operations.”
The group uses precise safety procedures. “The mass arrival flight starts with a pre-brief meeting, when Rodney assigns each checked-in pilot to either the lead or the wingman position within their specific element, based on the aircraft model they are flying and their individual experience flying with the group.
“Each section (the group of elements of a specific model) is assigned a specific airspeed. In addition, a time interval between sections is calculated. The airspeed of each element and the time interval between sections are calculated to provide a separation of approximately 500 feet between aircraft in an element and 2,500 feet between elements over the threshold of Runways 36L and 36R (Taxiway A) at Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH),” Velez explained.
“Once the makeup of the flight is completed, we move to Dodge County Airport (KUNU) in Juneau, Wis., where all the participating pilots and passengers await the start of the preflight brief.
“At the conclusion of the preflight brief, we move to our planes; after engine start, Rodney hands control of the flight to the ‘Cessna Shooter’ who starts launching each element and section observing the interval times calculated during the pre-brief meeting.
“We do not take off in formation; the takeoff is sequential,” Velez explained.
“After liftoff, each lead pilot accelerates and holds the briefed climb airspeed and keeps the climb rate under 500 fpm. Each wingman maneuvers to join the lead aircraft in formation using the technique taught and practiced in the formation training clinics.
“Radio silence is maintained throughout the flight. Only the lead aircraft talks to Oshkosh Tower to report when [the arrival aircraft are] 20, 10 and 5 nm from KOSH.
“These compulsory reporting points, along with other procedures that rule the mass arrival flight, are included in the Letter of Agreement between Cessnas 2 Oshkosh and FAA. The radio silence is only interrupted by the lead pilot of each element to call the trail formation, approximately two nm from the threshold of the runways.
“After landing, we taxi to the end of Runways 36L and 36R and then follow the instructions of EAA volunteers to parking in the North 40.”
If this kind of precision flying and camaraderie sounds like fun—and of course, if you fly a Cessna—consider joining the Cessnas 2 Oshkosh group. (See Resources for the website where you can get more details and register. —Ed.)
Even though Cessnas have high wings while a Cherokee’s wings are low, these two groups are very similar. They are both made of regular pilots that want to have some fun with their airplanes—and nothing shouts “FUN!” like a mass arrival with your pals into Oshkosh.
Hocking and Velez are only two people within the large teams that make these arrivals a reality, but they represent the kind of aviation advocates that do the work behind the scenes to make sure these arrivals come off safely each year and highlight for everyone the capacity for mass cooperation among pilots.




Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and creative director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design (celestedaniels.com). He’s an instrument-rated private pilot and has been writing the
Airplanista Aviation Blog (airplanista.com) since 2005. You can find him on Twitter as @Av8rdan. Send questions or comments to .

Resources
Cherokees to Oshkosh
cherokees2osh.com

Cessnas 2 Oshkosh
cessnas2oshkosh.com

Read more...
Affirmative Attitude: Moved by the Grandeur

Affirmative Attitude: Moved by the Grandeur

November 2014-

The mission of the Commemorative Air Force is important
to anyone who has ever given even a moment’s thought to the
freedoms we enjoy in this country.

     There is something about warbirds that sparks a fire in every aviator’s soul. The sight of their sturdy structure impresses us, while the sound of their powerful engines can almost bring some airplane enthusiasts to tears... especially those who flew these significant machines in combat.

      Warbirds always look great in a museum environment: perfectly shiny, not a drop of oil anywhere. You can get close enough to be moved by their grandeur, and really study their every detail. But while the most pristine warbirds in the finest museum exhibit are a sight to behold, those same models in airworthy, “mission-ready” condition are the ones that really come alive.

      Fully restored versions regularly fly at airshows all over the world, and the sound of their wonderful round engines is reason enough for many to work on keeping our country’s warbirds in the sky where they belong.

     One of the most important organizations enjoying great success at keeping warbirds flying is the Commemorative Air Force (CAF).

     “We founded the ‘warbird’ movement over 50 years ago with the idea of preserving, flying and exhibiting these aircraft, and the Flying Museum concept was born,” says Stephan C. Brown, CAF’s president and CEO.

     “We feel it is important for the audience to see these aircraft as they were intended—in the air. Seeing them in a static museum is great, but we hope to tell a more complete story by flying them and also providing the opportunity for people to ride in our aircraft through the Living History Flight Experience program. Flying our aircraft is what makes the CAF unique.”

     Brown came to the CAF after working for EAA from 1998–2002 as an executive vice-president in marketing. After leaving EAA to start his own business, he found that he loved the aviation industry as much as he liked flying. By 2007, Brown was looking to get back in.

     “I contacted David Pasahow, owner of Blue Line Advisors,” Brown explains, “His company focuses on placing aviation executives, so I sent him my resume to see if he had anything that might be a good fit.

     “Unknown to me, he had been contracted by the CAF to search for their new CEO. When I read the job description and qualifications, I knew that this job was meant for me, so I aggressively pursued it and was fortunate enough to be selected.”

     As a former U.S. Army Captain, Brown’s love of warbirds comes from being an Army Aviator flying UH-1s and OH-58s while serving in Schwäbisch Hall, West Germany. He bought his first airplane in Germany, a Reims Rocket FR172. And while Brown is the CAF leader, he’ll be the first to tell you he is but one part of a very dedicated and much larger team.

     “Right now,” says Brown, “I would say that the CAF is at its strongest point in its history. We have over 12,000 total members and 162 aircraft. Our aircraft ‘mission ready rate’ is at 89 percent, and we flew approximately 5,000 fleet hours each of the past two years.

     “We have 80 units in 60 locations, across 26 states. The CAF is an amazing organization that attracts passionate people who care about vintage military aircraft and educating Americans on the impact that these airplanes—and the people behind them—had on preserving and protecting our freedoms.

     “The teamwork that is exhibited around the country in our units always astounds me! I can’t think of another collection of people that comes together and operates such complex equipment as the CAF.”

     The mission of the CAF is important to anyone who has ever given even a moment’s thought to the freedoms we enjoy in this country. Brown sums it up perfectly: “I think the importance of the work CAF performs can be seen every time we land at any airshow in this country. Immediately, a crowd gathers, usually because very few airplanes operate with round engines, and it is this unique sound that should not be lost.

     “But more importantly, warbirds are a shining example of what this country can accomplish when we set our mind to it. When war came to us in the attack on Pearl Harbor, our country mobilized from peacetime to a wartime manufacturing footing in an incredibly short timeframe—and our freedom depended upon it.

     “As an example, we produced over 17,000 B-17s, but only about a dozen of these aircraft remain. So these airplanes in the CAF fleet—and warbirds in general—remain as a testament to our determination and will… and serve to remind us of what is possible.”

     One of the big success stories of the CAF in recent years is that of their Red Tail P-51C Mustang. It is a vivid example of how members of the CAF’s units often join together to do some very important work preserving aviation history.

     “We have many, many projects that I could point to with pride,” Brown said, “but the Tuskegee Airmen (TA) Red Tail Mustang is probably the most noteworthy. This aircraft suffered an engine failure in 2004 and the subsequent crash killed pilot and unit leader Don Hinz and destroyed the aircraft.

     “The Red Tail Squadron leadership gathered the next day and decided to rebuild the aircraft in memory of Don and continue its educational mission. After raising the money to rebuild the aircraft, the Red Tail Squadron took things to the next level by partnering with the Texas Flying Legends [Museum] to build the Red Tail Rise Above traveling exhibit.

     “The Rise Above program uses a proprietary film about the Tuskegee Airmen, shown on a 160-degree screen within a 53-foot double pop-out tractor trailer. The program uses the TA story to inspire young people—telling them that if the TA can rise above their circumstances of segregation and discrimination, then they can ‘rise above’ their individual circumstance to accomplish their dreams.”

     There is also another bright and shining example of the mammoth projects CAF has undertaken and completed. She is big, with a name that might conjure up images of a dancing girl at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. “Our largest and rarest aircraft, our B-29 Superfortess FIFI, is our standard bearer—the queen of the fleet. It is an incredibly complex and expensive aircraft to operate and campaign across the country,” Brown said.

     It is that one word—“expensive”—that everyone who loves warbirds should notice, because it takes an incredible amount of money to keep so many of these historically important airplanes flying. Brown is spot-on when he says, “The only thing that is consistent about keeping these aircraft flying is money! Therefore, fund raising is paramount to every unit’s survival.”

     Brown continues, “Across the entire CAF, our annual revenues last year were $24 million. And most of the fund raising is done at the grassroots level.”

     People who are interested in donating can go to the CAF website and find information on local units, or they can contact Steve Buss to find out how they can help, as CAF has many needs across the country—not all of them financial. (See Resources for contact information. —Ed.)

     And if you want to really participate and directly help to keep these airplanes flying, you can always join CAF!

     The next time you are on a ramp when one of CAF’s airplanes fires up, think about the thousands of hours of work that some volunteer put in just so you can enjoy that moment. Every CAF member plays an important role in keeping such rare airplanes flying, and for that, they need the support of every aviator at every level of aviation.

     Because if the CAF were ever allowed to go away, it could be a death sentence for those glorious round engines that produce the throaty rumble we all crave.

Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and creative director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design (celestedaniels.com). He’s an instrument-rated private pilot and has been writing the Airplanista Aviation Blog (airplanista.com) since 2005. You can find him on Twitter as @Av8rdan. Send questions or comments to .

Resources
Commemorative Air Force
commemorativeairforce.org

Steve Buss

CAF Red Tail Squadron
redtail.org

Read more...
Affirmative Attitude: A Full Year’s Worth

Affirmative Attitude: A Full Year’s Worth

October 2014-

Half a million stories, ready for sharing, can be found at Oshkosh.

     I have just returned from several incredible days at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (or just 'Oshkosh" to most attendees), which, for one week a year, becomes the epicenter of the aviation universe. The show has everything we aviators crave, and as an aviation writer, my to-do list included finding some interesting people to write about for this Affirmative Attitude column.

     I knew that among the crowd would be a full year's worth of material to write about in this space, as anyone who has experienced Oshkosh knows that literally every person at the show has as a story to tell you. EAA reported that just north of 500,000 people attended its annual convention, trade show, airshow and family reunion in 2014, a total attendance increase of about six percent.

     The purpose of this Affirmative Attitude column is to give credit to GA advocates, volunteers and nonprofits that are doing great things. Many of these people also represent GA well when they use their airplanes to provide services and support to the nonflying public.

     In this space during 2015, you will read about people who fly into remote jungle strips to offer translation and communication services to isolated villages, and a woman who has devoted most of her adult life to encourage women to begin flying.

     You'll be introduced to a couple of pilots who work tirelessly to organize mass arrivals into Oshkosh each summer, and get to know a regular guy who uses bacon as a means of bringing "avgeeks" together each year at Oshkosh's "Camp Bacon," a phenomenon that could perhaps only happen at that show.

     Stories from Oshkosh attendees are plentiful and can come at a writer many times a day in the least-expected places, because our community is made up of friendly people who love to talk about their flying machines. With half a million passionate aviators on the grounds and around town, all I had to do was ask.

     There was one Oshkosh tram ride that stands out as an example of how many of these conversations can be rare bits of aviation greatness. As I rode one of the slow but comfortable tractor-powered people movers from the north end of the grounds near the warbird display southbound to the vintage aircraft parking area, I struck up a conversation with the guy next to me. Like many at the show, he identified himself as a "builder"—but what he was close to finishing was not your average homebuilt.

     "I've been building it for 12 years, and all I have to find is the machine gun," the man said, "and my Fieseler Storch will be done. It's a Model 156," he explained, as if I would know that was special.

     After researching the airplane later that evening I discovered that the Storch is a small German liaison aircraft built before and during World War II, and today, airworthy examples are few. Why someone would spend 12 years restoring one obscure airplane is the perfect topic for this column, and the story might appear someday in these pages.

     The opportunities for column content could be found even while eating an incredibly tasty burger-and-bratwurst "Drive-in Double" at Oshkosh's iconic Ardy and Ed's Drive-in, which sits conveniently under short final to KOSH's Runway 27. That's where I met David and Brandi Fill, who I had communicated with many times on Twitter.

     Both of the Fills are confirmed "avgeeks," a subculture of our aviation family that gravitates toward Twitter and enjoys using technology. I spotted the letters "B-AGILE" on the side of their stroller (for a child who is said to be the youngest recorded EAA Lifetime member) and cracked a joke asking if that was a Brazilian aviation registration number.

     Turns out it was model number of the stroller... but we all got a chuckle out of watching a number of avgeeks around us race to their smartphones to see which country's registration number begins with B. (It's the People's Republic of China, in case you're taking notes for a future aviation trivia contest).

     In my conversation with the Fills, I found out that one of my theories was intact: almost everyone at Oshkosh uses their airplanes or love of aviation to give back in some way. "We use our light twin to fly patients for Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic," David Fill said, "and both Brandi and I are highly involved in our local EAA Chapter 1099 in Fredericksburg, Va.

     "I fly Young Eagles throughout the year and Brandi does a lot of work as ground volunteer for these flights. We also fly kids for Youth Aviation Adventure, and our aircraft is also used for patient transport for a private cancer foundation in the northern Virginia area," Fill continued. "We also volunteer our time to move these patients from D.C. or Philly and Boston to get second opinions and options on treatment."

     Powered by a pair of Lycoming IO-540s, this airplane is not particularly cheap to operate. Add to this the maintenance costs for a light twin, and you can see that the Fills—despite having a young, growing family—have chosen to spend their own resources to use their highly capable airplane in ways that indeed help the public.

     Each time they fly a patient or a Young Eagle, they impact a completely new segment of the nonflying public in a very positive way. We can be assured that the people whose lives have been touched will tell their friends and family of the generosity and goodwill shown by a General Aviation pilot. Any time that happens, it's a great thing for the aviation family.

     So expect 12 of these stories in the coming months. I have found a long list of people like the Fills, and will drill down into their backstories to uncover the "whys" underlying their advocacy or volunteer work—and explain how it helps to improve GA while giving back to the public.

     I am often asked to write product reviews or serious breaking aviation news, but I choose to let others cover those beats. I like to say my writing in this space is about people, not stuff. It is the motivation of these advocates and volunteers that is interesting to me... and, hopefully, to you. What pushes them to do extraordinary work—sometimes at great personal expense—that is the story I am after.

     Walking the show grounds last summer I took 73,042 steps and logged 32.59 miles, according to my fitness tracker. What wasn't measured on the device was that I also found 500,000 aviation people with 500,000 stories. I'll pick a dozen of these as column topics this coming year. And I am already looking forward to returning to the shores of Lake Winnebago again next summer in search of round engines, cheese curds and acres of talkative aviators waiting to share more stories.

Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and creative director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design (celestedaniels.com). He's an instrument-rated private pilot and has been writing the Airplanista Aviation Blog (airplanista.com) since 2005. You can find him on Twitter as @Av8rdan. Send questions or comments to .

RESOURCES
Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic
angelflightmidatlantic.org

EAA Chapters
Young Eagles Volunteers
eaa.org (under the "Chapters" tab)

Youth Aviation Adventure
youthaviationadventure.org

Read more...
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