Veteran Alaskan pilot shares the lessons he’s learned

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For John Davis, his storied career in Alaska as a Big Game Hunting Guide and bush pilot began when he was a sophomore in high school in his hometown of Quincy, Wash.

The natural-born storyteller, who just completed a book about his life called “My Memories,” recalls seeing a Piper Cub landing on a narrow gravel road on his family’s ranch. “I was impressed,” he says.

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Take off with X-Plane

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As a college student, Austin Meyer was finding it difficult to keep up his instrument currency.

Like so many pilots at the time, he was using Microsoft Flight Sim, but “I wasn’t happy with its flexibility,” he recalled. “I was having a heck of a time passing my currency check.”

That’s when he turned his dorm room into a computer lab and created his own flight simulator, now known as X-Plane, which actually predicts how an airplane will fly.

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Working to save GA

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Aviation faces some fundamental issues: While the FAA reports there were 41% fewer private pilot certificates issued over the last decade, Boeing is projecting the need for 460,000 new pilots globally by 2031. Meanwhile, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is reporting that up to 80% of student pilots drop out of training.

“It’s a mathematical equation that tells us that we have a real problem,” says Ravi the Raviator, a pilot and motivational speaker who has been named “Honorary Outreach Ambassador” by SUN ’n FUN.

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1.7 million Young Eagles and counting…

It’s an impressive number: Since its founding in 1992, more than 1.76 million kids have flown as Young Eagles — a number that’s growing even as you read this.

The premise is simple: Introduce kids to aviation through a flight in a general aviation aircraft and — hopefully — inspire the next generation of pilots. And it’s working.

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North Carolina students ASCEND

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One summer day North Carolina teacher Jana Brown got to thinking about what her students were doing with their summer off.

Then her thoughts wandered to a story her husband told her about being given a helicopter ride one summer at the beach when he was 8 years old. “While he didn’t pursue his pilot’s license until he was in his 30s, the experience never left him and fueled the passion he has for aviation,” she recalls. Putting the two ideas together, the veteran teacher, with more than 21 years in the classroom, came up with the idea for an aviation summer camp called ASCEND (Aviation Summer Camp: Exploring New Dimensions).

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SUN ’n FUN volunteers remember one of their own

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Ask anyone at SUN ’n FUN about Albert Borchik and a smile immediately comes over their faces, followed by the slight glistening of tears in their eyes. That’s because for the first time in more than two decades, he’s not at the fly-in. He passed away suddenly Jan. 30.

To commemorate his memory, several volunteers gathered at the pond behind the exhibition hangars on Monday and set little rubber ducks afloat.

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Sequestration’s silver lining

The news last week that the FAA will delay closing 149 contract control towers should come as a bit of a relief to the folks at SUN ’n FUN, since Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport was among the first slated to close.

That meant SUN ’n FUN had to come up with the money to pay controllers during the week of the fly-in. The FAA’s latest decision, however, doesn’t let SUN ’n FUN off the hook.

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