Hey, you know what I just heard?

If you hang around the airport long enough you’ll hear all sorts of interesting news. For example, just last week a local stopped into my office to ask about the new seaplane base being built on Lake Hartridge. The lake sits across 21st Street NW, which borders the airport on the eastern side. This individual explained in great detail how the seaplane base was going to be expansive, with ramps and an electric gate that would allow seaplanes to taxi up out of the lake, across the street, and onto the airport grounds.

It was a fascinating story.

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Where’s Sky King when you need him?

It occurs to me that aviation has been a player in the entertainment industry for some time. And I’m not just talking about stunt pilots plowing Jenny’s into barns for the spectacular visual it creates when a moving vehicle slams into a structure that’s not meant to move. I’m talking about television, baby.

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Which way do we go?

As general aviation comes to grips with the various opportunities to grow our community, we become aware that we face a few issues as well. First and foremost among those vexing problems may be the fact, and yes it is a fact, that we and our potential customer base speak different languages.

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A different approach to learning to fly

The spark that causes otherwise ordinary people to pursue a pilot certificate is as unique as the individuals who feel it. Once that impulse is felt, the path we pursue to get the training and experience needed to pass the FAA’s tests is varied, too.

That is certainly the case for Jill Manka, a central Florida woman who put her flight instruction on hold, bought a project airplane, and has spent the past two years restoring it. She’s intent on flying, but she’s decided to fly in an airplane she knows inside and out — and it’s hard to blame her.

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At no cost to you…

While at SUN ’n FUN this year I stumbled one morning into the SAFE breakfast for a bite to eat and a bit of social engagement. SAFE is the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, a group dedicated to improving safety in aviation through improved educational options for pilots. Their goals are as noble as their efforts are noticeable in the industry.

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Put me in coach

While it’s common knowledge in the aviation community that SUN ’n FUN’s International Fly-In and Expo is massive, you may not know the whole story. Sure, you’ve read about the economic impact of this weeklong event creeping up on $70 million. You may have heard rumors of the staggering air traffic, too. The fly-in will see somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 aircraft operations during this one week period, making it the busiest airport on the planet – bar none.

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Teamwork of the voluntary kind

There is a new compass rose plastered on the ramp outside my office window this morning. It’s roughly 50 feet in diameter, and at its center is an interlocking pair of 9s – representing the logo of the International Organization of Women Pilots. The 99s.

How this compass rose came to be on the ramp is a classic example of how individual people, acting cooperatively, can make a positive difference in their community. [Read more...]

Defining the Bob Costas effect

Every now and then it’s good to challenge your views. If nothing else, it gives us the chance to grow. As we mature, our insights become more in depth, our tastes tend to be more nuanced, and our goals have us reaching higher and farther than a younger, less experienced version of ourselves might have thought possible. All of that tends to make our thought processes shift a bit.

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The great equalizer

With all the hand wringing and brow furrowing we’ve experienced lately as a result of the sequestration, it’s probably worth remembering that we live in the most technologically advanced, affluent, and safe period of human history.

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Learning to speak the customer’s language

While sitting at my desk last week, passing the time of day in a genial manner with one of the local CFIs, I noticed Rick Matthews wandering by my door. Being in a particularly social mood, I called him into the office. Rick is one of the creative minds behind the Aviation Access Project, but he’s based in Atlanta. What’s he doing in Winter Haven, Florida? I wondered.

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