News from HQ: Keeping it light

Summer’s here, which means the time is right for kicking back and enjoying the fun side of flying.  As the more volatile weather of spring gives way to sunshine and languid breezes, it can be nice to slow down and enjoy the scenery—in a light sport aircraft.  While last month’s edition of the Club Connector focused on long cross-countries, this month the emphasis is on the kind of flying that takes place closer to home. 

The light sport aircraft (LSA) designation refers to simple, low-energy aircraft with a maximum of two places that weigh no more than 1,320 pounds.  In other words, aircraft ideally suited to cruising the local area and taking in the sights of summer with a friend.  While the term’s official definition came about in 2004 with the FAA’s release of its Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft rule, older aircraft that meet the rule’s specifications—such as a Piper J-2 or an Aeronca Champ—also qualify as LSA.

There is a simplicity and a purity to LSA flying that cuts to the core of what makes aviation fun: great views and the ability to share them.  This month’s Aircraft Spotlight will focus on a plane that epitomizes this idea—the Taylorcraft BL-65.  Despite being from a bygone era, the BL-65 continues to be operated and enjoyed by a small number of flying clubs.  One such club, which owns a 1941 model of the aircraft, is the Athol Orange Aero Club.  The club—which has been in operation since 1937—has a rich history of light tailwheel aircraft, and is the focus of this month’s Club Spotlight. 

While LSA aircraft tend to be simple, that isn’t to say that the uninitiated will find them easy to fly.  Light aircraft—particularly those with tailwheels—often come with a unique set of challenges.  Some of the nuances common to LSAs are examined in this month’s Safety article. 

On the topic of tailwheel aircraft, are you a pilot looking for a fun, challenging new endorsement that is almost certain to improve your skills as a stick-and-rudder aviator?  If so, you might want to consider earning your tailwheel endorsement.  Learn what is involved in transitioning from a tricycle to a conventional landing gear, and how you can begin your training in our Question of the Month.

Find Us at Osh!

AirVenture—the EAA’s annual fly-in at Oshkosh, WI—represents the largest gathering of general aviation aircraft in the world.  AOPA will have a significant presence at the event, and a variety of representatives from You Can Fly’s Flying Clubs Initiative will be on hand to talk to.  Les Smith, Sr. Director of Pilot Community Development will be there, 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.  If you have an interest in starting a flying club, or if you would just like to stop by and say “hello”, we would love to talk to you.  To find AOPA flying club representatives on hand, come by the AOPA Village, located just across from the wooden arch.

In addition to maintaining a presence at the AOPA Village throughout the week, there will be specific 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 mingle with other club members from across the country.  If your club does make the journey to Osh, be sure to bring your club banner along to the social.  Steve Bateman and Michael Hangartner will be bringing one from their own Westminster Aerobats Flying Club, and encourage you to do the same!

In addition to the social, there will also be a Maximum Fun, Minimum Cost flying club seminar on Friday, July 27 at 1:00 p.m.  The seminar, which will be presented by Steve, represents a perfect opportunity for pilots interested in starting a flying club to learn more what the fun is all about, and also for existing clubs to get new ideas and recruit potential club members.

Rain Fails to Dampen Pilots' Spirits at Missoula Fly-In

Rain swept across big sky country on Saturday, June 16, making the AOPA Fly-In in Missoula, Montana a rather wet experience.  This rain, however, would not deter hundreds of pilots from enjoying the various seminars and activities offered at Missoula International Airport.  Between 30 and 40 people attended a Maximum Fun, Minimum Cost seminar hosted by Flying Club Initiative Director Steve Bateman on Saturday, and Steve was able to meet with several local flying clubs in person while on site. Also popular was a brand new type of seminar, titled You Can Be a Pilot.  Unlike other offerings at the fly-in, the You Can Be a Pilot seminar was targeted at people of all ages who do not currently hold pilot certificates--but are interested in becoming aviators.  

While Saturday was cold and wet, Friday saw ideal conditions at the fly-in as aviation enthusiasts educational seminars a STOL (short takeoff and landing) demonstration presented by Phillips 66 was held, delighting and entertaining attendees.  In total, pilots flew about 300 airplanes to the first AOPA Fly-In of 2018.

Did You Receive Flight Training Last Year? Take AOPA’s Flight Training Experience Survey!

AOPA’s annual Flight Training Experience Survey is currently live! The survey—which is open to any pilot who has received flight 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 to your repertoire—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 pm noon Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).


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