Pine Island

Mar 31, 2008 "It's Not Winter Here"

Better late than never.

Yes, I do occasionally have to work, and yes, it does occasionally cut into my fun flying. Such was the case at Pine Island. After slaving over hot throttles for three days (in a row!), I got to visit briefly with family in Naples then finally make it to the Pine Island Fly-In.

55 pilots or so enjoyed beautiful weather for the four day event with stragglers remaining (including me) as I write this Monday morning. Others showed up just to kibitz without flying. More pictures to come, especially since I'm flying again this morning.

Thanks to airport owner Wayne for having us and Paul for putting on the event. What a great host. He comes with a beautiful wife and supporter, Jenny, too.

The Saturday night meal that I missed was, apparently, quite the ordeal. Hungry masses gathered for goat, chicken and other goodies. Neighbor/farmer and all-around interesting character Chris provided the goat and helped with preparation.

In contrast to my New Year's visit, the weather was perfect. Sunny, warm, and not too windy. The other cool thing is that, by flying only a few miles in any direction, you get to water and its perfectly smooth. On one cross country, just after crossing the shoreline, it got smooth and Paul keyed his mic. "OK, now that's smoothed out, will the flight attendant please bring me some coffee." 

I got nearly the full island experience after crossing small bits of water for dry (or nearly dry) little spits of land. It was great exploring other islands and seeing all the wildlife. On Sunday, I poured over two tankfuls through my Blackhawk, whose 172 has been a reliable trooper since we replaced the carburetor at Eric's place. The exhaust has been a pain but it seems like I may have that licked, too. You'd never know a belt sander could be so versatile. More on in Chapter 12 hopefully.

Do those preflights! Just before launching on another long flight I took a #5 allen to check my exhaust bolts and figured I'd check the prop bolts, too. Good thing--they were all loose. Three of them were sticking out a good inch and the others were loose. I'm extremely lucky not to have lost the prop on my previous flight. Yes, the over water. Did I mention the sharks?

Aquatic wildlife obviously thrives in this area and, given the crystal clear water, we have an incredible vantage point. I saw two Manatees, one dolphin, many stingrays, and three mammoth, hungry sharks. OK, mammoth may be relative. Upon our return, Paul said they were probably about 7 feet long. That surprised me, I half expected to see a conning tower on those things. It doesn't matter, though, seven feet of muscled flesh driving a sharp-toothed jaw is still nothing I want to mess with. In water I become the bottom of the food chain.

The flights were gorgeous and we flew all day Sunday. Others, who were there for the entire event, flew both mornings and evenings on most of the days, too. It was a great time.


Since I arrived on Sunday, these pictures don't do justice to the crowd that showed up. But we sure had a great time. Paul took me on an Island tour that included doing touch and goes on a 5 square yard sand bar.


1. Heading for some "slalom" flying around the tiny islands (my name).

2. While flying along the beach we kept our height (I was zoomed in  to get this close) and avoided lingering in one spot. Consequently, the waving never involved just one middle finger.

3. Wayne owns the airport. He's a fun-loving flyer who makes us all feel welcome. Paul Czarnecki runs his school from here and is continuing to improve the facility along with help from others. They've got it good.

2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!