You are hereJuly/August 2010

July/August 2010

It’s the peak of summer and the peak of flying season. If you’re planning on attending this year’s EAA AirVenture, we’ve got a convenient and fun sidetrip for you. We have other new destinations, from the desert Southwest to the Northeast, as well as an excellent fly-in dining destination in the South.

Grand Canyon Caverns, Arizona

Here’s a fun destination to drop in with your kids, right on the old historic Route 66 near the Grand Canyon. You can flight-see around the Grand Canyon here for breathtaking views of one of our country’s most majestic natural wonders, and then land nearby on the Grand Canyon Caverns’ long dirt and gravel runway, taxi right up to the gas station, and park among cars for a classic American adventure. Technical Editor Crista V. Worthy leads you 21 stories below ground level to one of the largest dry caverns in the U.S. The eerie formations will spark your kids’ imaginations, as will the giant ground sloth that ended up trapped in the cave. For a real unique twist, you can even spend the night down here in a special suite, surely the deepest, darkest, quietest hotel room you’ve ever stayed in. Aboveground, there’s a recently renovated 1960s-era motel, swimming pool, restaurant with home-style cooking, a curio shop, Frisbee golf course, and the opportunity for a horseback ride through the pines. You can also take a Jeep ride down to the Colorado River inside the Grand Canyon where you can gaze up at the ancient rock walls towering nearly a mile above you.

East Hampton, New York

Think Hamptons in summer and you think rich, as in the celebrities Paul McCartney, Madonna, and Steven Spielberg who spend time here annually. The secret is that the Hamptons are for everyone on virtually any budget. Writers Norma Davidoff and Richard H. Shulman point the way to a romantic weekend of beachgoing, nature walks, golf, concerts, artist studios and galleries, or high-end Manhattan-style shopping, punctuated by an array of dining options. This 300-plus-year-old community is full of historic homes now operating as luxury B&Bs, as well as antique inns that serve gourmet breakfasts. For meals, your choices range from an inexpensive yet very fresh and inventive coffee shop to romantic three-course dinners served in a historic home. You can also find contemporary Italian cuisine and casual dining with live entertainment. Numerous local vineyards offer wine tasting, so you may want to pack a case or two in the back of your plane to remember your dreamy Hamptons weekend long after you return home.

Kohler, Wisconsin

If you’re planning to visit Oshkosh this year, you might want to make a sidetrip to Kohler only 35 miles away. You may know the name Kohler as the manufacturer of bathroom appliances and faucets; the town of Kohler was renamed to honor the family-run company that employed many of its citizens for more than 100 years. The company planted gardens, built hotels, and generally turned the city into a happy place to live as well as a wonderful destination for visitors. As author Patricia Strutz explains, Kohler is home to championship golf courses, botanical gardens, restorative spas, and fine dining. Located along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, visitors can also enjoy sailing, salmon fishing, and hiking. The Kohler Design Center will remind you how plumbing appliances have changed through the decades reflecting American tastes, or inspire you to spruce up your own home. Golfers will want to test their skills on the Straits Course at Whistling Straits, a rugged Scottish-style course on the banks of Lake Michigan, which hosts the 2010 PGA Championship this August. You can learn to sail a boat, try sport fishing on the lake, or just hike any of the dozens of nearby trails. You’ll find an excellent steakhouse right at the airport, or visit the Wisconsin Room for its famous Friday night seafood buffet. When it’s time to retire, you can take your pick from nicely-equipped campsites at the park to the Midwest’s only AAA five-diamond hotel.

Carthage, North Carolina

Savvy North Carolina pilots know just where to drop in for the finest hickory-smoked barbeque—the Pik N Pig, smack in the center of the state. Author Renee Wright visited this southern restaurant at Gilliam-McConnell Airfield to sample their offerings and came away impressed. So will you. A family-run business, the restaurant is staffed by nine members of the Sheppard family, which has been in the barbeque business for generations. Seat yourself in the rustic cedar-sided cabin and dig in. Pulled pork is smoked 8–10 hours over hardwood coals after being rubbed with a secret spice mix, and served with your choice of sauces. Other selections include thick, hand-cut pork chops, barbequed chicken, and on Saturdays, long slabs of pork ribs. You’ll also find hush puppies, corn muffins with jalapeño butter, sweet potatoes, baked beans, and slaw. Bluegrass musicians often play on Saturday afternoons, and there’s even a driving range on the airfield with full golf courses nearby. Land hungry here and you’ll leave very happy indeed.

Special VFR & Contact Approaches

As private pilots operating within the United States, the FAA has given us a number of tools to accomplish our goal of flying from one place to another safely and expeditiously. Two such tools are Special VFR and the Contact Approach. Technical Editor Crista V. Worthy explains that these techniques allow pilots to fly into or out of airports visually when the reported weather is actually below standard VFR minimums. If this sounds like “scud running”, well, it is, but there are times and places when it can be done and save you time and money, and even enhance safety if done correctly. Interestingly, you’ll have to request to operate under Special VFR or conduct a Contact Approach, because the FAA expressly prohibits controllers from offering them, even when they might like to. In the case of Contact Approaches, they are requested so rarely you may even momentarily stump your controller. One we spoke to recently said he had only issued four such clearances in his entire career, and he was close to retirement. Yet he felt it was an excellent technique under the right circumstances. Learn how and when to ask for and successfully complete a Contact Approach or Special VFR departure or approach. Even more importantly, learn how to recognize when they are inappropriate and you should either utilize a complete Instrument Approach, or fly somewhere else if you need to remain VFR.