Log

Quincy, IL Fly-In & Ratings Clinic

2012 June 15 Education, Benefit, and some fun flying

A great chance to learn, help a fallen flyer, and have some Father's Day fun. As always, it was the people that made it cool. What a treat to see Michael Mixer driving to the event. Last time I saw him he wasn't in shape for driving more than his eyelids up and down so this was great. Not only did he drive in and unload all his gear, but he was out there coaching students and even took a flight. I've lost several friends in this sport, it felt like I was given one back.

Clinic

We wound up with 6 clinic participants seeking both PPG 2 and 3 ratings. We covered a lot of material and had some great classroom time. Thanks also to Steve Reed who helped on the field. Realistically, it would be tough to handle more than about 4 pilots for one instructor in a clinic like this. Having to cover so much material exposed some areas where the program could be improved. Mostly it could be streamlined a bit and made clearer.

As we've always known, the problem areas for PPG 2 pilots are the no-wind launches and spot landings. It's harder than it looks and takes some practice. Plus, if you haven't been coached on how to do spot landings it can be very difficult to be consistent. Probably the two biggest problems I saw were pilots on too long of a final and over controlling near the ground. It's DANGEROUS to try too hard. We emphasized that and nobody fell but I could see where they would . One pilot came darned close!

Boy do I wish video 4 (Advanced Landing) was done. It will have some really good tips on this subject. A summary would be:

1) have a short final. The longer your final approach, the more exposed you are to up/down drafts and misjudgment. Slow down on base leg and use brakes to help control glide. S-turning works well in a wind but plan for a final approach at least from 20 feet or so.

2) You're allowed to swoop for the spot landing. And that will help with making smoother landings anyway. At 20 feet (much higher on heavier loaded wings) ease your hands up to get some dive, using the swing to scoot along the ground.

3) Promise yourself you won't pull too much brake and that you will beg off turning below 20 feet. Straighten out and take the miss rather than breaking a leg by trying too hard.

An Airline Airport

It's handy that Jeff Steinkamp, who runs most of the event, is the Airport Manager. Our group was pretty small but, more importantly, they knew how to play well with others. This is a sensitive environment and it helped keep our welcome up by everybody minding the rules. It's actually an airline airport that also supports a number of bizjets, too, in addition to the usual mix of general aviation craft.

Speaking of airline airport--that fact amazes me. Cape Air serves Saint Louis from here with 9 seater Cessna 402's flown by one pilot. It was fascinating to watch him. You know he's working for a living, being the guy who does everything from seat folding to flight planning. I used to work for a commuter flying 19 seaters but we always had two pilots albeit no autopilot. These guys are bustin' butt in all kinds of weather, flying every leg, in an airplane that requires far more management than did my Dornier 228. Turboprops are much easier to manage than these Cessna 402's whose engines require as much TLC as our needy Two Strokes.

I also marvel at how much government subsidy goes into maintaining it, courtesy of the Essential Air Service program--money that allows them to continue. The money comes from Passenger Facility Fees, I understand and, if the government collects money, you know they're gonna spend it!.

Michael Mixer

Had you been there in Panama City Beach when Michael went in, this would be especially sweet. Seeing Michael not just alive but almost back to normal was an enormous uplift. He's one tough dude -- after weeks of intensely painful physical therapy he finally went to a different doctor whose X-Ray revealed that he wasn't kidding about it hurting. They had missed that his bone was still broken. I suspect the problem is that he tolerates pain all too well. He had another surgery to put screws into that bone and will resume therapy afterwards.

Amazingly he has flown his Quad at least twice, once at the fly-in, doing a nice job steering it around before launching.

There was an Auction with goodies donated to help plus all the clinic payments will be donated. Kudos to Mike Robinson from Paratoys who donated a kiting harness and brand new wing.

We also presented his "Sportsmanship" award. To be honest, at the time it was given, with Mike in the hospital, it really wasn't that relevant. But having seen him handle this whole thing with grace made the award seem so much more appropriate. He had offered to let me use his motor in case mine didn't have enough power to propel me on full speedbar. As it turned out, I didn't need it because I had already decided not to use full fast trim.

More than anything it's good to see that Michael is back. His pylon racing career is over but he may still do the short courses like those of USPPA's and FAI's competitions. I'll look forward to flying with him on one of those.

Media

I don't know that I've been to an event with this much media coverage! Two TV stations and the Quincy newspaper were out there. I wound up on the front page with a photo that I was leery of doing. It was really windy the first day and I was out kiting, along with Tom Dresner who was on a speed wing. I would get running mostly sideways, turn into the wind, and get several seconds of air time and maybe 5 feet of altitude. The photographer saw that and asked me to fly over him while he lay on the ground snapping shots at a furious rate. That was fun.

All in All it was another great time with fun people.

 

 

Dawn Pistocci inflating a wing during another ratings clinic in Arkansas. Photo by Randy Blackburn


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