News from HQ: Making a Splash

As hard as it is to believe, the last days of summer are upon us.  Here at the Club Connector, we’ve decided to celebrate the final days of the season by focusing on a type of aircraft that perhaps best exemplifies the sheer fun that can be had in skies (or on the water, for that matter)—seaplanes. 

While seaplanes in flying clubs might not be a common occurrence, there are clubs that operate them.  One such club is the Boeing Employees' Flying Association (BEFA), the focus of this month’s Club Spotlight.  BEFA—a club of Boeing employees, retirees, family members, and customers—operates a Cessna 172XP-II, an aircraft you can read about in the September Aircraft Spotlight.  If you don’t have a seaplane rating, but have ever considered getting one, be sure to read AOPA Ambassador Pat Brown’s article answering our Question of the Month: what does it take to get a seaplane rating? 

Seaplanes—along with being uniquely fun conduits to adventure—can present an aviator with unique challenges. In our Safety article, we address some of these challenges, as well as ways that seaplanes can improve any pilot’s stick-and-rudder skills.

Whether you are a member of a club that operates a seaplane, a club with an interest in purchasing one, or are just curious to learn more about seaplane flight, this is an issue sure to buoy your enthusiasm!

AOPA in Santa Fe 

The second of AOPA's regional Fly-Ins took place on September 14 and 15 beneath clear, expansive desert skies, with New Mexico living up to its nickname as the "land of enchantment."  The Fly-In in Santa Fe featured a variety of in-depth Friday workshops and shorter Saturday seminars, a large exhibit hall, and 40 static display aircraft.  A total of 328 aircraft landed at Santa Fe Municipal Airport for the show, and pilots who flew in were able to enjoy what AOPA President Mark Baker said "might have been the best weather yet for an AOPA Fly-In."  

The 5,000th inactive pilot to get back in the air through AOPA's Rust Pilots program was present in Santa Fe, and was introduced by Katie Pribyl, Senior Vice President of AOPA's Aviation Strategy and Programs.  "My last flight was actually 2002.  I thought there was no way I could go through all that again; it was such a pain the first time," said Ted Malone of Scottsdale, Arizona. 

While Malone had initially thought the Rusty Pilot course he signed up for might be a waste of time, he was surprised by the effectiveness of the seminar.  "What really shocked me was the material was simple and well done," he recalled.  "Everything they talked about, I remembered.  It really came together when I got in the plane with the instructor."

Malone flew about two hours to Santa Fe in a Cessna 182 with his wife—their first cross-country flight together.

Next Stop: Carbondale

Following Santa Fe, AOPA Fly-In season will continue in Carbondale, IL on October 5-6.  Carbondale—hidden away at the southern tip of Illinois—is home to lakes, state parks, a national forest, and Southern Illinois University.  It is an ideal area for outdoor adventure, and visitors will be able to enjoy rock climbing, hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, boating, and geocaching among the rolling Shawnee Hills.  The community is also a cultural center, replete with gourmet cuisine, museums, shopping, wineries, breweries, and a vibrant music scene.  Simply put, in Carbondale there is something for everyone.

The Carbondale Fly-In will contain all of the exciting elements that AOPA's Fly-Ins have become known for, including a Friday night Barnstormers Party and an amazing aircraft display including everything from vintage aircraft to the latest models that GA has to offer.  There will also be numerous workshops and seminars for pilots to attend, and a Pilot Town Hall held at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday featuring AOPA President Mark Baker.

If you come to Carbondale and are a member of a flying club (or thinking about forming one), stop by the AOPA Village and say "hello" to AOPA Ambassador Andy Miller and AOPA Flying Clubs Manager Michael Hangartner.  Andy Miller will be hosting a Maximum Fun, Minimum Cost seminar at 9 a.m. on Saturday.  This seminar, which discusses starting and growing a club, is great to attend whether you are a current member of a club or curious about how to set up a new one.  Also on Saturday, Michael Hangartner and Pablo Maurelia, AOPA's Senior Director of Flight Training Technology, will be giving a new type of seminar called You Can Be a Pilot.  This seminar—aimed at a nonpilot audience—conveys the fun and excitement that is possible in aviation, and all of the ways in which one can become a part of the pilot community.

We hope to see you there!

Redbird Migration Comes to HQ

Over the course of the last 8 years, Redbird's Migration Flight Training Conference has become the leading conference for flight training professionals across the country.  This year, the conference—which will take place from October 9-11—will be held at AOPA Headquarters in Frederick, Maryland.  Specifically, it will be held in the organization’s new You Can Fly Academy—a building funded by donor contributions to the AOPA Foundation and intended to serve as a source and destination for AOPA programs aimed at growing the pilot population.  “We’re really excited to be hosting this signature event at the Academy,” said Keith West, Senior Director of AOPA’s Flight Training Initiative.  “Our initiative is devoted to helping flight schools thrive, and we look forward to introducing our facilities and resources to the flight training community.” 

The Migration will include presentations from a wide range of leaders in the flight training industry, as well as small break-out sessions that will allow event attendees to explore solutions to the current problems facing both flight schools and universities.  West emphasized that the event is not just about sharing knowledge with training professionals, but also about listening.  “It will be a great opportunity to sit down with flight schools and to hear what their current interests are.  We are always looking for new and innovative ways to address the training industry’s needs.” 

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