You are hereJanuary/February 2009

January/February 2009

It’s a new year, and each new day brings with it the possibility for new adventure. Take those possibilities to new heights across America by exercising the privileges you earned along with your pilot license. As always, we’re ready with more ways to relax and have fun, whether your budget is large or small. Our current issue features a number of trips to areas with mild weather as well as a ski review—airplane skis, that is.

Vacaville, California

A visit to Vacaville will give you a chance to feel good about “Made in America.” As author Michael Coyle explains, raw materials enter its gleaming factories, large and small, and emerge as high-quality finished products. Tour the Jelly Belly jellybeans factory where Ronald Reagan’s favorite treats are made. You’ll see that while making a batch of jellybeans takes 7–21 days, the candy plant turns out 1,680 jellybeans per second! Nearby, learn what it takes to make Budweiser beer at their factory tour, and watch the brewing and bottling processes in action. Both of these tours are more fun on weekdays, so you’ll have an excuse to take time off while you see how others spend their workdays. A number of small, high-quality, family-run wineries in the area are open to visitors for tasting and tours as well. The Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum and the Western Railway Museum are don’t-miss destinations for plane and rail enthusiasts. The quality everywhere extends to your restaurant selections and you won’t be disappointed with your meals in Vacaville, especially if you follow our directions to the secret little Italian bistro located among the valley’s vineyards.

Greenbrier Resort, West Virginia

Nestled in West Virginia’s picturesque Allegheny Mountains, The Greenbrier Resort is AAA Five-Diamond rated and is built around medicinal springs said to melt away whatever ails you, any time of year. Where former visitors arrived by stagecoach to “take to the waters,” you’ll fly over the scenic mountains and parks before landing on the state’s longest runway. Resort guests are coddled by attentive staff at the 40,000-sq.-ft. spa where you can soak in the mineral water, or savor a variety of massage treatments, mud baths, facials, and other treatments. If you’d prefer to play outside, take advantage of three championship golf courses, ride a bike along the river, or try paintball or archery. The resort is so elegant, 26 presidents have stayed here. Take a complimentary one-hour interior tour to learn about the resort’s history, guests, and special artworks and interior features. One interesting fact about this place is that a huge secret bunker was built under the resort during the Cold War to house Congress in case of a nuclear attack. Today you can also take a fascinating tour of this fortunately-never-used hiding place. Choose from a variety of rooms, suites, or guest houses to suit every taste. And speaking of taste, the resort boasts a variety of restaurants, from the tiny Dutch Haus and the Café & Tea Room to larger dining rooms and cafes. You’ll neither want nor need to leave—maybe ever!

Austin, Texas

Austin is not only the state capital but arguably the most beautiful city in Texas. As noted by Senior Editor Stephanie L. Smith, Austin is the self-proclaimed “live music capital of the world”. With more than 200 places to hear live music, it’s also the home of September’s Austin City Limits music festival. Mid-March brings new talent to the South by Southwest festival, with music fans and record executives flocking in to hear the latest and greatest on multiple stages all over the city from dawn to dusk. When your ears have had enough, you can visit the capitol rotunda or the infamous clock tower at the University of Texas. You can always root for the Longhorns at a football or basketball game, too. A number of interesting museums grace the city, and when you’re ready for a little exercise, you can take advantage of myriad cycling paths or go visit Lady Bird Johnson’s wildflower center. You can stay at the Driskill Hotel, where LBJ took Lady Bird on their first date, and where “W” holed up to select his cabinet after the 2000 election, but don’t miss the excellent steakhouse. You might prefer a night in the historic Mansion at Judges’ Hill, with its elegant courtyard and crystal chandeliers, or try the funky Mid-Century Modern Hotel San Jose. Dining options run the gamut from hippie-vegan to Southern barbeque to the always-prime Texas steak.

Wakulla County, Florida

Florida’s Big Bend is the sweeping bend of coastline as the panhandle curves south through massive salt marshes and swamp forests toward the Florida peninsula. Four major rivers drain into the Gulf of Mexico here creating vast estuaries that provide safe haven for baby fish as well as a variety of other creatures. As author Sandra Friend explains, the area holds a special allure for pilots with a strong fly-in community supporting the local airport, a good restaurant on the field, and friendly local pilots eager to meet new visitors. Wakulla County is a wonderful outdoor recreational playground as over one-third of the land is protected. Paddle the quiet rivers and streams, interact with marine life, take a guided tour, or fish along the estuaries. Hike through ancient palms to quiet vernal pools, take a jungle cruise, or get in a tropical game of golf. Details reflecting the nature of the local flora are apparent throughout your accommodations, whether you stay in one of the unique lodges, or a small B&B. Savor a sunset meal along the bay as you toast your good fortune to have found such a wonderful, out-of-the-way slice of America.

RF-8001 Aircraft Skis

Experienced backcountry pilot and author Michael Vivion was the first U.S. pilot to have the RF-8001 skis installed in the States, and reports that they are a quantum leap in technology compared to other retractable wheel skis. Designed by German glacier pilot Thomas Dietrich, these skis deliver great performance at a light weight, while allowing the flexibility of landing on skis or wheels. Made from carbon fiber and other composites, the skis are lightweight yet incredibly strong, with a very large bottom surface area. Add a unique curved bottom and you have skis that allow superior flotation in deep snow, as well as very tight turns. The wheels ride on the skis, providing additional cushioning to the airframe in case of rough snow conditions. When the skis are retracted, the ground clearance is so large that they can safely be operated even from gravel strips, further adding to their utility. The hydraulic system is simple, effective, and lightweight, while the skis themselves can be removed or installed in about 20 minutes with a couple of wrenches. Takeoff performance of these skis is exceptional as well, and remember, takeoff performance, especially in deep snow, can often be the difference between getting home or camping in the snow.

Class E Surface Areas – That Magenta Dashed Line on the Chart

From your last flight review, you should remember that magenta dotted line: Class E surface airspace. It’s one of those things pilots sometimes overlook, but doing so can expose you to a violation or safety hazard. Class E surface areas, designed to separate VFR and IFR traffic at uncontrolled airports on marginal weather days, are being added around more airports since the advent of GPS. Author Mike Vivion explains why pilots should understand the ramifications of the magenta dotted lines. Learn under what circumstances you can continue your VFR approach, when you should contact Center, and how to stay safe. Remember to use current charts and not rely on an outdated GPS database!