Calhoun Air Center celebrates 2011, looks ahead to 2012

The folks at Calhoun Air Center at Calhoun County Airport (PKV) in Texas, have put together a video looking back at the great progress made at the airport and business in 2011.

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SEF adds new benefits for companies that relocate

Florida’s Sebring Regional Airport (SEF) has modified its Foreign Trade Zone Act to provide a new benefit for businesses that locate within the service area of the Foreign Trade Zone, [Read more...]

Indiana GA airport prepares for Super Bowl

The Shelbyville Municipal Airport (GEZ) will be busier than ever this Super Bowl season and will need additional support, according to a report in the Shelbyville News. “I’m going to need a lot of volunteers at the airport to make things run,” airport manager Darrell Shrader said.

Marinvent and Embry-Riddle expand R&D relationship

Marinvent Corp. and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University have expanded their long-standing relationship, and will now cooperate on the development, testing, and certification of new avionics concepts and technologies that will become part of the FAA’s NextGen system.

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Let silence reign

Jamie Beckett is a CFI and A&P mechanic who stepped into the political arena in an effort to promote and protect GA at his local airport.

My local newspaper, The News Chief, ran a piece in its Reader’s Rants and Raves section this week that read as follows; “Where are the clear-thinking Winter Haven leaders who are looking out for the everyday residents? We are saddled with an enormous airport – a white elephant that serves not even the pilots…”

Now the News Chief is owned by the New York Times Co., which means that a national audience could be exposed to this sentiment. Then again, the News Chief is available online, as most newspapers are these days. You can read the piece yourself on their opinion page if you’d like. So can anyone else. And what do I propose we, the aviation friendly public, do to correct this skewed perspective in the public mind? Nothing. I suggest we do nothing at all.

Let me explain. [Read more...]

Coming clean in the TSA era

Jamie Beckett is a CFI and A&P mechanic who stepped into the political arena in an effort to promote and protect GA at his local airport.

The conversation turned to the TSA at my morning coffee gathering today. Pretty much everyone at the table flies for business or pleasure, at least occasionally. So it is no wonder that scattered amongst the chatter about local, state, and federal government shenanigans, the recently implemented grope-fest going on at airports all across the United States should come up.

Opinions differed as to how each person felt about the latest security measures. Eventually the focus shifted to me, the pilot in the group. Which caused me to admit publicly what I seldom speak of. The truth is this: I don’t fly commercial. Not ever. Not for any reason. I just don’t. [Read more...]

Building a winning team

Jamie Beckett is a CFI and A&P mechanic who stepped into the political arena in an effort to promote and protect GA at his local airport.

Powerful allies can pop up out of the blue, if you’re open to recognizing the opportunity. Since my basic rules of advocacy lean in the direction of the more the merrier, I am always on the lookout for either new converts, or old stalwarts, who are willing to join the campaign to make general aviation more readily accepted, and better understood.

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Persistence pays off

Like so many GA airports, mine faced a problem that was brought into sharp focus by the recent capture in Santa Barbara of those two wily desperados, John and Martha King. If nothing else the incident made it clear that emergency response workers (including police, fire and EMT crews) do not necessarily have a clear view of how aviation works on a day-to-day basis. Certainly the differences between VFR and IFR operations were not well understood on the law enforcement side of the equation.

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One thing leads to another, and another…

With Oshkosh in full swing, the eyes of the aviation minded are on Wisconsin. But here in central Florida there is one city commissioner who has just become a major fan of aviation, thanks to a husband and wife who restored a Stearman and shared the excitement with him. I love it when the fever spreads.

It was only a few weeks ago that I wrote about Elizabeth Amundsen, a CFI and IA who was busily restoring a Stearman to its former glory along with her husband, Jonathan. That story may have been the impetus for the local newspaper here in Winter Haven to run a story about the same couple as they prepared to get the last few details completed in preparation for their departure for AirVenture 2010.

That newspaper story gave our new interim airport manager an idea. It stood to reason, she thought, that if one couple was headed off to Oshkosh for the big wing-ding, maybe others from our field were making the trek, too. What if the city’s staff and commissioners showed up at the airport to provide an official send-off? That would be great!

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Building a more aviation friendly future

Success is an elusive goal. In order to be truly successful you have to first define what success is. It’s only with that definition in hand that you can establish a plan to achieve the goal. Jumping to Step 3 without first taking Step 1, and Step 2, is a sure path to failure. Unfortunately, failure on those terms has been an unwritten policy for many municipalities when it comes to operating an airport.

Unlike a pickup truck, a book, or a chocolate milkshake, all of which are tangible, easily identifiable items, success is subjective. Each of us has a slightly different definition of what success is, and understandably, we all have a somewhat different idea about how we might reach our goals. In order for us to move forward it is imperative that we have an open, honest discussion and make some significant decisions, however.

The first step is to define the playing field. Here in Winter Haven, Florida we’ve embraced that reality in an organized and deliberate fashion – finally. After literally decades of running our airport as an after-thought, the city commission has begun asking difficult questions about the way this publicly owned facility is being run, and is making demands that affect our methods in the future.

It started simply enough. Two candidates for the city commission (myself included) ran on a platform that included the airport as an integral part of the city’s financial responsibility. My contention was that safety and customer satisfaction should be Job Number 1, and Job Number 1A, respectively. Anything less was insufficient. I was a strong proponent of the idea that the status quo had to change if we were going to turn this under-performing jewel of an airport into a facility that lives up to its potential. [Read more...]