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Thoughts From The National Waco Club Reunion Fly-in

by Tori Williams 2. July 2017 12:30
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Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend an aviation event that truly inspired me. The 58th annual National Waco Club Reunion was held at Wynkoop Airfield in Mount Vernon, Ohio. My husband and his father have flown into this particular fly-in for several years. This was my first year being able to join them, and I am so glad that I did.

Our trip to Wynkoop was a little over 200 nautical miles. We arrived Thursday evening and did our best to prepare for the incoming thunderstorms on Friday. The rain definitely hit full force and pilots were grounded for the majority of the day. Thankfully all was not lost, and the skies opened up to beautiful sun and favorable winds on Saturday. It was the perfect weather and a great backdrop to the 22 unique Waco aircraft that flew in.

There were several factors that made this fly-in so special. First, the majority of the Waco aircraft flown in are project planes that have been meticulously restored from the ground up. The passionate aviators who have dedicated thousands of hours to their planes aim to honor historical accuracy. These are friends that go back decades and have watched the progress of each other’s projects over time. They call it a reunion for a reason!

Second, the pilots at this fly-in wanted to do just that – fly! At any point in the day there would be several beautiful biplanes whirling around the field, doing low passes, and occasionally taking the lucky passenger for a ride. I like this aspect better than events like AirVenture because you are able to go up whenever you’d like, whereas it can be difficult to get into the air at AirVenture if you aren’t in an airshow.

The third special thing about the National Waco Club Reunion is the locals who come out to see the planes. They are always respectful and curious about general aviation. Unlike some fly-ins where the public seems to come just for the entertainment value, these people have a much deeper passion and respect for the work that goes into restoring and maintaining these aircraft.

An important part of every fly-in is the food that is available. There was a hearty breakfast served Saturday as pilots prepared for the day ahead. In the afternoon attendees enjoyed brats, burgers, and hotdogs with all of the fixings. Another great option was the homemade ice cream food truck parked outside the FBO. The Saturday night banquet was especially delicious and the catered buffet was served on the field!

The fly-in is not heavily publicized in the area. Locals just know that near the end of June the biplanes will come in, and they will show up after they see them flying around town. I had a good experience with every single person that I interacted with from the town of Mount Vernon. They were enthusiastic about the airplanes and we had several of them thank us for coming to town.

My husband especially enjoyed taking the locals up for rides during the fly-in. He said it’s important to him to show people that aviation is a lot more than a way to get from point A to point B. General aviation is more than a hobby, but rather a lifestyle for many. The more that the general public knows about it, the more they will be willing to support pilots and airports in legal matters they may have a voice in. Giving a face to general aviation and the people who enjoy it is an important mission for both of us.

Overall this fly-in was a great experience and I highly recommend attending in the future. The enthusiasm and zeal for aviation shared by the pilots is very clear as soon as you step onto the field. This fly-in truly serves as a great example of success for all other types of aviation events.

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Flying | Tori Williams | Vintage Aircraft

The Best Free Online Aviation Resources

by Tori Williams 1. February 2017 20:30
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It’s no secret, being a pilot is expensive. Especially during the initial training phase where you have to worry about plane rental, fuel costs, paying your instructor, purchasing study materials, paying for written exams and checkride fees. That doesn’t even include the hundreds of dollars you spend on a headset, kneeboard, charts, foggles, and any other required materials for beginning your piloting career or hobby.

While it is worth spending a little extra money for quality flight training, there are also plenty of free resources available for student pilots to take advantage of. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite completely free aviation resources for you to check out and hopefully benefit from! Do you have a favorite free resource? Let me know in the comments below!

1. FAA FAR AIM

As any good student pilot knows, the Federal Aviation Regulations are everything. Love them or hate them, you’re going to have to know and understand a good chunk of them for your checkride. Luckily for you, these regulations are publically available for free on the FAA Website. This might not be the most exciting news, but it is handy for quick reference if you don’t have a physical copy on hand.

2. Podcasts

I was surprised by the amount of times I heard my fellow pilots talking about aviation podcasts that they listened to while I was at my flight university. As it turns out, there are quite a few great quality podcasts out there for new and seasoned pilots alike. A few of my favorites are The Finer Points, Coffee Break Flight Instruction, and Airplane Geeks. There are tons more out there with topics ranging from flight instruction to military aircraft to aviation current events. A quick Google search can bring up dozens!

3. AOPA Student Resources

An AOPA membership is known for being a great resource to the world of aviation, but they also have several free resources available without a membership. Student pilots have access to tons of articles, event calendars, and flight planning tools right at their fingertips. To sweeten the deal, AOPA is offering 6 months of free membership to student pilots, including 6 monthly issues of their Flight Training Magazine. That’s an offer you can’t refuse!

4. Pilots of YouTube

For someone like me who is an extremely visual learner, YouTube has been a lifesaver. A quick search on YouTube for “flight training” resulted in 5,180,000 videos. Of course, not all of these are going to be winners. However, there are several that have a great way of explaining private and instrument pilot techniques and information. I highly recommend poking around to see what has been created, or searching for the specific problem you are stuck on.

5. GlobalAir.com

Did you know that the very site you are on right now has several wonderful (and completely free!) aviation resources? Our Aviation Directory is a great source to find links to all things in the flying world. Check out the “Airport Resource” tab to look up detailed information about any airport, or to check the fuel prices at thousands of airports around the nation. There is so much you can learn from the information listed on GlobalAir.com. Go ahead and check it out!

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Aviation Safety | Flying | Tori Williams

An Aviation Movie for Every Preference

by Tori Williams 2. January 2017 17:00
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There’s nothing better than curling up with a good movie and some hot chocolate on a cold winter night. There are dozens of options if you prefer an aviation themed film, and I have categorized some of the best films into different categories based on content. I personally always love a great vintage aviation film, but sometimes I’m more in the mood for a drama or documentary. Thankfully with so many options out there, it is easy to find a film that suits your tastes.

Vintage Aviation

The Great Waldo Pepper

If you’re in the mood for biplanes, barnstorming, and aviation when it was far less regulated, you should seek out a vintage aviation film. My all-time favorite is The Great Waldo Pepper, which is currently streaming on Netflix if you have an account. This film is about a barnstormer-turned-movie star that flies in several “air circuses” during the era that more and more government regulation is occurring around aviation. He tries to make a living flying, but gets shut down several times due to breaking the new regulations. It is a great movie and worth seeing more than once!

Other examples: Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines, Amelia

Airline Flight

Sully

If airliners and commercial aviation excites you the most, there are several great films about that too. Arguably one of the best aviation movies of the year, Sully follows the real-life story of the miracle of the Hudson. The forced water landing due to a bird strike was a historical moment that is beautifully retold with Tom Hanks playing Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. It gives insight into the way that the NTSB has to investigate airline accidents, and shows how years of flying helped Sully beat the odds and have a completely successful landing.

Other Examples: Flight

Military Flight

Top Gun

Perhaps one of the most popular genres of aviation movies, military aviation boasts several classics. Top Gun has been one of the most popular aviation movies of all time since its release in 1986. The catchy songs, action-packed flight scenes, and dramatic love story make for a great film. I’m sure that more than a few Air Force and Navy hopefuls were inspired by this movie. This film is also currently available on Netflix, so you have no excuse not to watch it if you haven’t yet!

Other Examples: Red Tails

Aviation Humor

Airplane!

This genre is a little sparser than others, but there are a few good films. It goes to show that people can find humor in anything. Full of enough aviation puns to last you a lifetime, the movie Airplane! is an automatic classic and must watch for anyone who likes aviation or silly jokes. This movie is also the definitive origin of the “Surely you can’t be serious!” “I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley.” joke.

Other Example: Disney/Pixar Planes

Drama/Thriller

Air Force One

Everyone loves a good thriller, and Air Force One starring Harrison Ford will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire movie. Ford plays the role of the president who is on Air Force One when Russian Terrorists hijack the plane. His family happens to be onboard as well, and they are quickly taken as hostages. I watched this for the first time inside of a camper at AirVenture in 2013, and it has stuck with me ever since. It’s always interesting to see how characters that are trapped in an airplane with virtually no escape handle difficult situations.

Other Examples: Snakes on a Plane, Red Eye

Documentary

One Six Right

Aviation has some historical stories that are stranger and more interesting than any fiction Hollywood could think up. Documentaries about these actual events can teach you something new and lead to further investigation into other new things. I personally loved the film One Six Right. It should be required in school curriculum. The film shows how general aviation has such resounding effects on the world, as seen through the happenings at a local airport. This film was deemed so important by AOPA that they sent a complimentary copy of it to every member of congress who was a private pilot in the spring of 2005. That is saying something!

Other Example: Living in the Age of Airplanes

I hope that at least one of these films peaks your interest and inspires you to watch an aviation film this weekend! There is certainly plenty to choose from, and the classics will never get old. Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite aviation movie that I did not mention!

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Using Your Skills to Overcome New Challenges

by GlobalAir.com 6. April 2016 10:20
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By Greg Feuerbach – Jet Service Crew Chief
Elliott Aviation

A quality maintenance team has experienced and reliable technicians who have the knowledge to understand the basics of aircraft maintenance. The challenge comes when you transfer these fundamental skills to a new airframe. Just like basic car components are similar in all makes and models, the way a manufacturer assembles them and the types of parts they use and tools required could be dramatically different. The same idea applies to airframes. As a good car mechanic can learn a new make and model, with proper training, a quality technician can understand the fundamentals while applying his skillset to a new or different aircraft.

We recently completed our first Challenger 300 96-month major inspection and delivered it squawk free. A major reason we were able to do so is because we have a solid base of good mechanics, but have key team leads that have substantial experience with the airframe. For instance, as team lead for the project, I have extensive knowledge of the airframe, spending 15 years at a Bombardier Challenger Service Center. In addition, one of our Customer Support Representatives, Andrew Nicewanner spent 18 years with both the 300 and the 600 series. This allowed us to prepare our technicians who had never touched a Challenger. In preparation, we sent many technicians to be factory trained before the inspection.

To help technicians who did not have Challenger experience, we set clear and precise instructions with illustrations for the tasks assigned each technician, along with time for review and periodic checks of their progress. In addition, we also held a five-day onsite training with Global Jet Services before the aircraft arrived.

A quality maintenance team can learn the many differences in a new airframe. Having key members with experience on that airframe, preparation before any inspections with added training, schooling, and constant communication was key in a successful inspection.

Greg Feuerbach, Elliott Aviation’s Jet Service Center Crew Chief has 38 years of maintenance experience with 21 years in the Air Force working on F-4E Phantoms, F-16 A,B,C,&D Fighting Falcons, and the A/OA-10A Warthog. Prior to joining Elliott Aviation, he worked for 15 years at the Bombardier Challenger Service Center in Tucson, Arizona on all models of the Challenger 600 and 300 series aircraft. Thirteen of those years were as Lead Technician. In addition, he is also qualified to perform engine operations and taxi all models of Challenger aircraft.

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Aviation Safety | Maintenance

Top 5 Favorite Airports

by Lydia Wiff 1. March 2016 14:32
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Ever get that exciting feeling when you walk into an airport?  I know I do!  The excitement of jetting off to some other part of the country is often enough to keep me awake, despite that 5am flight.   Today I’ll cover my top 5 favorite airports and hopefully it’ll get you daydreaming about your next big trip.

#5:  Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK)

Nantucket Memorial Airport is situated on the beautiful Nantucket Island, about 30 miles from Boston.   Normally, I probably wouldn’t have ever been to the East coast except for vacation, but that all changed last summer.  The airport gets extremely busy in the summer due to airline and General Aviation traffic, so they hire many seasonal workers. 

UND put up the ad on their website and I applied to work full-time in the Fixed Based Operator (FBO).  It was a great job, and I lived in a beach house the airport owned while working there over the summer.  The beach was very picturesque and I got to bike to work every day.  I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything, and that’s why Nantucket Memorial Airport is #5!

#4: San Antonio Int’l Airport (SAT)

San Antonio holds a special place in my heart.  Located in southwest Texas, this little gem of an airport is like my second home.  If it weren’t for a special someone, I might have never been able to experience Texas.  It’s located conveniently close to downtown San Antonio and home to some notable corporate aviation departments like Valero, Pace Foods, and H.E.B. 

Photo courtesty of San Antonio International Airport

You know you’re not in the Midwest any longer when you walk down that jet bridge and feel the heat and humidity.


#3: Sydney Kingsford Smith Int’l Airport (SYD)

www.dailytelegraph.com.au

Sydney Airport is the one of the few international airports I’ve had the opportunity to visit and my favorite Australian airport.  Situated in downtown Sydney, this airport hosts some spectacular views of one of Australia’s most urban cities.  Oftentimes, if you’re traveling to Australia from the U.S., your first stop will be at Sydney where you will clear Customs and head over to the domestic terminal.

When I originally traveled to Australia about 4 years ago, I was on my way to Brisbane, a city on the Gold Coast (east side of Australia).  We had to clear Customs, pick up our bags, exit the international terminal and take a shuttle to the domestic terminal a few miles away.  It turns out that there were more than 1 jumbo jet that got into Customs at the same time and we ended up missing our domestic connection.  However, Qantas Airlines has some pretty amazing employees and they rebooked us on the next available flight. 

The terminals are very white and sleek looking.  The airport feels newer than most U.S. airports and the hustle and bustle is amazing.  Many Australians travel by air as it’s not exactly easy to drive between large cities.   In addition, most Australians live within 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) of the coast, so it’s often faster and cheaper to fly.  Security is a little different in Australia and when I asked if I should take off my shoes and belt, they laughed at me!  I’m guessing they don’t have the same security issues we have here in the U.S.

#2: Flying Cloud Municipal Airport (FCM)

#2 is the airport of many firsts for me.  My first flying lesson, my first solo, and where I earned my Private Pilot’s License.  I also got my first aviation-related job there working for a small flying school.  That flying school turned out to be a great place because I met a lot of my flying family there.  We still all hang out when we can – one of the couples in our group even got married in a hanger there! 

Flying Cloud is home to a lot of General Aviation and the pilots there are a pretty tight group.  It’s also home to the Wings of The North Organization that has an aviation museumand hosts AirExpo every summer on the airport’s property.  Viking Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol has a hanger there and many flight schools call Flying Cloud their home.  

#1: Minneapolis-St Paul Int’l Airport (MSP)

www.lakenwoods.com

Minneapolis-St Paul is #1 because it’s the first international airport I ever traveled from.  I flew from there to Alaska with my dad, to Florida to visit my brother, to San Diego to connect to Australia, and many other destinations.   This airport is exciting and nostalgic all at once – it could mean a new adventure, or returning to home sweet home.  There is something special about being connected to the world through just one location – it never ceases to fascinate me… And that’s why Minneapolis will always be #1.  So, what's your #1 airport?

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Lydia Wiff



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