Super Cub raffle highlight of Alaska show

raffle prize

For 10 years the Alaska Airmen’s Association has raffled off an airplane during its annual Alaska State Aviation Trade Show & Conference. Only once during those 10 years has the winner of the aircraft raffle been on hand to claim his airplane when his name was drawn at the end of the annual conference. On May 2, the tradition continued as Jim Sitkiewicz of Anchorage was declared the winner of this year’s plane, but he was not in attendance to claim his prize at the end of the 13th annual show.

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TTF efforts bearing fruit; leader deserves praise

For more than 30 years, I’ve tracked residential airparks and encouraged their development and encouraged the aviation community to support them.

Most flyin communities are private – owned and private – use but a significant number have been established over the years on property adjacent to public-owned and public-use airports. These residential airparks have provided financial support, security and even helped FBOs with their business.

Unfortunately, the FAA has taken a ridiculous stand against residential airparks at public-owned airports. The result has been threats to restrict grants for airport improvements and demands for repayment of past grants. The FAA has demanded that TTF (through the fence) agreements be canceled, causing property owners to suffer financial loss as they tried to sell a home.Under fire from the flying community, the FAA issued Airport Compliance Manual Order 5190.6b, prohibiting TTF access.

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LSAs bring back memories of 1980s ultralight craze

Reading issues of The Pulse of General Aviation and Dan Johnson’s SPLOG column on Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) in the latest issue of General Aviation News put my memory on overload the other day. It also sent me digging into my files of far too many unfiled and poorly organized slides.

Do you remember slides? That’s what folks used before the digital camera came along. Back in the film days, a person would shoot a few pictures of various planes and hope they had the correct exposure and angle, etc. Today, you know immediately what you’ve got, the time and date is automatic, and you even get to designate where the picture was taken. Wait a minute — pictures on slides vs. digital is beside the point.

But while I was looking through the slides, it got me started thinking about the many ultralight aircraft from the early 1980s. That’s when the ultralight craze was sweeping the aviation world. One of the designs was built by a couple of guys working at Robertson Aircraft on the Renton Municipal Airport (RNT) in Washington State. Called a B1-RD, it was a high-wing, fabric-covered ultralight. It came in kit form and I decided to build one.

The kit arrived in several boxes with a manual that I felt left a lot to be desired. Unpacking the boxes I found a couple hundred small brown paper bags with only a part number written on the outside. There was no indication of what the part looked like. I remember spreading out the bags on the hangar floor in numerical order to make it somewhat easier to find the needed items. Helping me was son Ben, then 12 years old (and now the publisher)!

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More memories from ‘Nine Lives’

Recently I’ve been reading a book by Malvern (Mal) Gross titled “Nine Lives – Adventures of a Lucky Pilot.” (See the first part of the review here.) Gross started his career as a CPA and during his many years he set world records in his Cessna 210, headed up a couple of national and international aviation organizations, and won a battle against Mobil Oil over its Mobil One synthetic oil.

In his book he describes a lot of flying from his earliest in northern Maine (where I grew up) in an Aeronca Champ. It was the experiences in those early days of his flying — it appears to me — that convinced him to become a lot more careful about his planning. That ultimately made him a “lucky pilot.” Gross describes a lucky pilot as one who survives because his “luck didn’t run out.”

The book reads like a thriller at times, such as his first cross country flight from the Presque Isle Air Force Base in Maine, where he was stationed, to his home in Rochester, N.Y. He had earned his pilot’s license flying the Champ on skis but replaced them with wheels to make the flight home. Logbook time? 44 hours and none of it on wheels. [Read more…]

Book review creates flood of memories

Every now and then I get a call from the office and the conversation usually goes something like this:

Ben: Hi dad, what’s going on?

Me: Nothing much just watching the Olympics or working on some Rotary stuff but nothing critical … what have you got in mind?

Ben: How about coming into the office. I just got a book in for a review that I really think you would enjoy reading.

Whenever this happens, I know someone has sent in a book that Ben has taken a quick look at and decided he either isn’t interested in trying to get through it or he is simply too busy to try and do it himself.

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Ask Dave: Are hangar homes compatible with regular airpark homes?

Q: Are hangar homes — basically an apartment located within a hangar — compatible with regular airpark homes that can be either a home with an integrated hangar or just a home with a separate hangar building?

We’ve recently learned that several lot owners are asking the city for building permits to erect hangar homes. The airpark isn’t in the midst of a metropolitan area, but it isn’t exactly in the boondocks, either. All the current airpark homes have integrated hangars and are approximately the same size; none of the homes stands out as exceptionally larger or smaller. Right now the airpark sports about a dozen homes, but there are another 24 lots scattered throughout the property that are still vacant.

A: It appears to me there are a couple of aspects to this situation. Although the questioner doesn’t raise it, I think the first thing that needs to be questioned here is whether the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R) address this issue. As I have written many, many times before and mentioned at every forum I’ve presented, the CC&Rs are critically important to what and how any airpark develops and how those potential changes affect your lifestyle.

As for the compatibility between conventional homes and hangar homes, I think the two types of structures can be compatible if the people living within them want them to be. In other words, if you think you can or think you can’t, you are correct.

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‘Stop the FAA and Save General Aviation’

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In the many years that I published General Aviation News (under a variety of names), we enjoyed having a variety of individuals write columns for us.

IMG_0161 2One of those columnists was the late Peter Bowers. He did a regular column on historical aircraft for us for many, many years. I often told him that I wished my aviation knowledge was just a small fraction of his.

Another of those who wrote for us on a regular basis, although for not as many years as Bowers, was Darryl Phillips. His column regularly chastised the FAA for issues Phillips felt didn’t do anything to promote general aviation and frequently hampered it.

Columnists are supposed to inform readers, present them with ideas that make them think and, of particular value to the newspaper, cause readers to talk about the column and, subsequently, the publication. Both Bowers and Phillips succeeded in informing, but Phillips really got people to thinking and talking and, very importantly, writing letters to the editor.

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A buyer’s market for airparks

To prepare for the forums I’m presenting at this year’s AOPA Aviation Summit in Tampa, Florida, (Nov. 5-7), I’ve done a lot of talking with people about the status of residential airparks.

It probably isn’t much of a surprise to anyone that the sale of lots and homes on residential airparks, regardless of their size, location and the number or quality of amenities, has slowed down, just like the rest of the economy.

Although I haven’t done a recent survey, the people with whom I have been in contact seem to feel there are a lot of people in the aviation world who are among the 90% of the employed, rather than the 10% of the unemployed. Additionally, many interested in living with their airplanes are retired — and have been for a few years — and, fortunately, are finding that their finances aren’t completely in the tank.

The net result seems to be that there’s a significant segment of people involved in the general aviation world who are finding themselves in the enviable positions of being able to take advantage of the plight of those who may not have fared as well during the current recessionary period.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying: Buyers aren’t lined up at the end of the taxiway competing for lots or homes on residential airparks, but neither are they in a holding pattern that has no end.

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Backcountry strips featured in new book


There are two things virtually every pilot I’ve ever spoken has indicated he would love to do: Live on a residential airpark with his airplane in a connecting hangar, and climb into his aircraft and explore the backcountry strips that dot our country, particularly in the West.

bookWell, Capt. Harry B. Hardin doesn’t live on a residential airpark, but he did climb into his 1956 Cessna 180 and head out for the experience of a lifetime. The result of that three month-trip is his new book, “West by 180.”

An airline pilot by profession, Hardin didn’t take very many chances. He had lots of experience plus he talked with experts in mountain flying and particularly in the places he planned to visit. He knew his plane in and out and he didn’t push weather, himself or his plane.

The end result is a book describing flights into airstrips in valleys and on mountains, next to rivers in canyons where the runways disappeared until short final and in weather where altitude and high temperatures made him offload equipment to make sure he could get off the ground safely.

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Ask Dave: Should airparks reveal names of residents behind on their bills?

Q: I live on a residential airpark with covenants and deed restrictions that I consider to be pretty good. When I was looking into the property I followed the advice you offered during a Sun ‘n Fun presentation about taking the CC&Rs to a good attorney and making sure I understood them.

After buying the property and moving here I discovered there are a few property owners who have failed to pay their annual assessments. The board of directors keeps talking about the situation but doesn’t appear to be doing anything.

At the last meeting I asked for the identity of those failing to meet the financial requirements of their agreements and was told that the board didn’t want to make that information public for fear of legal action or other problems.

My questions: Should the identity of the miscreants be disclosed and what action should the board take?

A: This is a very common problem that isn’t unique to residential airparks.

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