There was time when I attended a safety pilot seminar monthly. Be it hosted by the FAA Safety Office, AOPA, 99s or other aviation organizations. In fact I helped organize some fly n talk safety seminars as an active member of the local SLO chapter of the 99s. Living in a small town with numerous highly active aviation organizations there was never a chance to feel rusty.
Lately that is what I have been feeling. Rusty. I no longer fly as often as I did and I am sorry to report that today was the first in person safety seminar I have attended in the last 4 years (sans the one or two AOPA webinars I managed to listen in to). Living in a large metropolitan area, commuting on a weekday competing with the rush hour traffic attempting to get home expeditiously, it is impossible to consider attending a safety seminar.
Safety seminars on any topic are a great asset to general aviation pilots. It’s a shame to pay $50 when AOPA hosts so many freely if only they were conveniently timed and located. But considering I hadn’t attended one in 4 years, it was still worth the cost to attend one to review all that I had learned during my private pilot training. An in person safety seminar is also an excellent way to get all your doubts and questions answered. I even managed to come away learning something I did not know before!
In 1939, FDR proclaimed and congress codified August 19th National Aviation Day. It marks the anniversary of Orville Wrights birthday and each year allows the sitting President to proclaim August 19th, National Aviation Day.
Events are organized by airports, aviation organizations and associations across the US. It’s the day to spread your wings and go fly. Or visit a museum, watch an aviation themed movie, take an intro lesson or just go fly, hang out at an airport plane spotting, read an aviation themed book, or build a plane. It’s a day to celebrate.
It has been one thousand two hundred and forteen days since my last flight at the controls, not counting that Low and Slow Flight over Cape Canaveral back in January 2020. Back in 2011, I thought 4 months was too long. This is the first time, I missed a BFR (back in 2020), since I started flying. Happy to be back in the air for my flight review. Will take a few flights to feel normal again. But excited to be back at the controls after the long hiatus.
Finally this year, I had the opportunity to attend Airventure 2002. It was well worth the effort to travel to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. We arrived in Oshkosh on Friday afternoon. The place was brimming with people and with luck we found a decent site to pitch tent and settle in. Camp Scholler is not only a fun place to camp but is also very close to the action, within walking distance to the airport and the airshow. There are shuttle buses that operate on a regular basis between the campground, the entrance to the airshow, seaplane base and the EAA Museum.
This year marked the 50th anniversary of Airventure. It is estimated that more than 750,000 attended this year; an estimated 10,000 aircraft were flown with a total of 2503 showplanes.
“Aircraft arriving over Lake Parker, expect holding until 7:15 pm over Lake Parker,” was what we heard on the radio a few minutes after our planned group departure from Leesburg International Airport (KLEE) in Leesburg, Florida.
Four aircraft from the Mid-Atlantic had made it easily, albeit, at different times to our chosen airport of rendezvous. Considering the aircraft in play: a Columbia 400, a twin Baron, a Cessna 182 and a Cessna 172, we definitely needed a rally point to meet, prepare, and plan a departure to Sun ‘n Fun (SNF).
According to our original plan, we had all congregated at KLEE, briefed the arrival procedures and departed on cue around 6:00pm. The plan was to arrive at Lakeland Airport around 6:30pm for a group arrival.
Like any new student of Instrument training I eagerly awaited my first foray into clouds. Would I be nervous, disoriented, distracted or maybe even a total disaster, I wondered often how I would react when it all happened. It has been several months now since I had started my instrument training. Now almost at the end of my training, I was sure I would not get a chance to find out, at least not yet, how it would all be.
Lo and behold, Saturday loomed gloomy and cloudy. For once I was excited and eager to be off the ground! This is quite contrary to my normal expectation for nice, clear weather on a Saturday morning. You see, I had scheduled a flight with my instructor for that morning. I was literally waiting for 9 am so I could be up, up and away.
It was the first day of my advanced flight training class. The weather outside was superficially deceptive. Clear blue skies and sunny, but with moderate turbulence and wind shear. Not the best of days to select for a flying lesson. I went to the airport guessing, I wasn’t going to be having my first lesson after all. My instructor walked in and said “Ready to go?”. Surprised I said “Still want to go ahead with the lesson, considering the weather?”
We got some feedback from other instructors. The general opinion was it was quite rough flying. Earlier in the day there were reports of 3000 foot drops!
It was one of those days when nothing was working in my favor. Have you experienced one of those days when you feel more like a spectator and things appear beyond your control? When you want to protest or butt in and say that is not what I want to do or how I want to do it? Or realize just a tad bit late that was the wrong thing to do? I was determined to not let the day’s somberness pull me down. After all every cloud has a silver lining.
So when Mike offered the greatest show in the world, I jumped at the chance to ride right seat in the Baron down the Hudson river corridor southbound past the Alpine Tower, GW Bridge, Intrepid, The Clock, Circle the Statue of Liberty, VZ bridge, and back home to DC at night. New York city was resplendent as always with lights turned on all over the city. The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building stood majestic as always lit up to brighten anyone’s day. If seeing New York from 1100ft during the day was awe inspiring, seeing it in all its glory at night left us breathless. It was one of the coldest days of the season, but the air was clear and crisp in the night sky. With very light traffic flying the corridor that time of the night, we flew in complete contentment enjoying the splendor of the New York skyline at night.
“You have to go down to 350 feet for the flyby,” I reminded gently. “I am not going any lower“, pat came the response while Grace stayed steady at 400 feet. “We’ll be disqualified if we are not at or below 200 feet for the flyby,” I said a trifle forcefully.