News from HQ: A Season to Soar

A Season to Soar

Soaring—the art of sustaining flight in a glider by using naturally occurring currents of rising air in the atmosphere to remain airborne—is one of the most challenging and rewarding forms of recreational flight.  The sport is naturally dependent upon the prevailing weather conditions, and there is no time to go gliding quite like summer.  In this edition of The Club Connector, we celebrate the fun and excitement of soaring—and all the clubs out there that make it possible.

Gliding is an activity that frequently takes place in a club environment, and tends to be social by its very nature.  This is because in the world of soaring, no pilot is an island.  Every flight requires different people working in coordination, including at the very least a tow plane pilot (or winch operator for those who launch in this manner), the glider pilot, and a wing runner.  Due to the fact different roles must work together every time that a sailplane takes to the air, an inherent camaraderie can be found in the many glider clubs scattered throughout the United States.  One club that exemplifies this quality is the Cleveland Soaring Society (CSS), which considers itself to be as much a social club as a glider club and is the focus of this month’s Club Spotlight

In a bit of a departure, this month’s Aircraft Spotlight focuses not on a single aircraft, but on several common gliders that can be found in soaring clubs: the Schweizer SGS 2-33, the Grob 103, the Blanik L-23, and the Schleicher ASK 21.

There are many reasons why pilots are attracted to gliders; the idea of being able to sail silently on the air currents while enjoying stunning views, and the mental challenges associated with seeking lift and calculating glide distances are but two aspects that draw aviators to the sport.  Also—a reason that might be of particular interest for powered pilots—is that flying a glider is almost certain to make one a better, safer pilot in any aircraft.  Some of the skills that flying a glider is likely to enhance are examined in our Safety article.  

Are you a powered pilot who has ever thought about making the transition from airplanes to gliders?  If so, read this month's Question of the Month, which takes a look at some of the basics of glider training, and what you can expect should you decide to pursue an add-on rating in sailplanes.  

Join AOPA's Flying Clubs Team for a One-Day Workshop 

AOPA's Flying Clubs team will be holding a free one-day Flying Clubs Workshop at AOPA headquarters in Frederick, MD on Saturday, August 4.  The workshop—which will be the first of its kind for the team—is targeted at existing flying clubs, and aims to spread best practices and offer guidance in areas including safety, maintenance, communications, and club management. 

"The workshop will provide a perfect opportunity for clubs to get together and share their experiences, and also for us to pass along some of the things we've learned from speaking with clubs across the country," Flying Clubs Manager Michael Hangartner explained.  "Every club has different strengths and areas in which they might want to improve.  There's always something to learn, and it's our hope that every attendee will walk away with concrete ideas about how they can better operate or grow their club."   

The Flying Clubs Workshop will be specifically aimed at flying club officers or members with leadership positions.  For clubs interested in the workshop, it is strongly recommended that three representatives attend, as this will allow them to take advantage of three parallel tracks: Safety & Maintenance, Communications, and Management.  Registration for the event is currently open.  There is limited space, however, so if your club wants to take advantage of this opportunity sign up now!  

Come See Us at Oshkosh

AirVenture—the EAA’s annual fly-in at Oshkosh, WI—is fast approaching!  The event, which represents the largest gathering of general aviation aircraft in the world, begins on July 23.  AOPA will have a significant presence, and there will be a variety of representatives to talk to from You Can Fly’s Flying Clubs Initiative.  Les Smith, Sr. Director of Pilot Community Development will be on hand, as will Flying Clubs Initiative Director Steve Bateman and Manager Michael Hangartner.  Two of AOPA’s regional Ambassadors—Andy Miller (Midwest) and Norm Isler (Northeast) will also be available.  Whether you are interested in starting a flying club, already a flying club member, or are just curious as to what all the fun is about, feel free to stop by and talk to us!  To find AOPA flying club representatives on hand, come to the AOPA Village, located just across from the wooden arch. 

During the week of Oshkosh, there will be several You Can Fly events that flying club members might want to mark on their calendars.  The ever-popular flying club social will be held on the evening of Thursday, July 26.  The social, which will begin at 5:30, will offer flying club members a chance to eat, drink, and socialize with other club members from across the country.  Also, if your club makes the journey to Osh, be sure to bring a club banner along to the social.  Steve Bateman and Michael Hangartner will be bringing one for their own Westminster Aerobats Flying Club, and encourage you to do the same! 

On Friday, July 27, Steve will be hosting a Maximum Fun, Minimum Cost flying club seminar at 1:00 p.m.  This seminar is ideal for pilots with an interest in forming a flying club, and also represents a great way for existing clubs to get new ideas and potentially recruit new club members. 

2018 High School Scholarships Awarded

The 2018 High School Flight Training Scholarship winners have been selected!  The scholarships—which are awarded annually to high school students with an interest in pursuing flight training—are funded entirely by generous donations given to AOPA’s Foundation.  22 scholarship recipients were selected this year from a pool of over 1,000 applicants, and each winner will receive $5,000 toward their primary flight training.  To win a scholarship, high school students must submit an application that shows—through essays and letters of recommendation—that they are highly driven, and possess a strong likelihood to succeed in training.  We would like to congratulate all the 2018 winners, and to offer our gratitude to all the donors who make the scholarships possible—in a very tangible way, they are contributing to the future of aviation.

There is Still Time to Take AOPA’s Flight Training Experience Survey

Did you log any flight training time last year?  If so, there is still time to take AOPA’s annual Flight Training Experience Survey!  The survey—which is open to any pilot who has received training in the past twelve months—solicits opinions about flight instructors and flight schools.  Whether you recently completed primary training, or whether you added a new rating or endorsement, we want to hear about your experience! 

The Flight Training Experience Survey, first launched in 2012, is a tool that AOPA uses to evaluate commercial flight training providers, and to recognize the best in the business with the Flight Training Experience Awards.  While flying clubs are not eligible to win training awards, any flight instructor that you might have trained with is!  The survey will close Monday, August 13,  2018, at 12 p.m. noon Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). 

Mandate Update: 406 MHz ELTs Required for Flights to Mexico

Our regular readers might recall that in our May 2018 Event Spotlight we looked at some of the requirements that are necessary if one is planning to fly to Mexico.  As a reminder, there is now an additional mandate with which pilots must comply when going across the border: their aircraft must be equipped with a 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter (ELT).  This requirement, ordered by Mexico's Direccion General De Aeronautica Civil (DGAC), ends a series of extensions AOPA has requested since the mandate's originally scheduled effective date of Jan. 15, 2002.  

Mexican authorities have notified airports that the rule is set to take effect, and that pilots should now be prepared for a possible ramp check upon arrival at Mexican destinations.  To learn more about the new 406 MHz ELT mandate, read AOPA's recent article on the topic.  

The mandate is exclusive to Mexico.  The United States, Canada, and Caribbean nations are continuing without 406 MHz ELT requirements.  

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