You are hereJanuary/February 2013

January/February 2013

It’s a new year, and this first issue of 2013 is full of fun flying ideas for you and your family to start the year off right with new adventures. We’ll help you make plans to visit and fly over the Big Island of Hawai’i, with its incredible diverse landscapes and jewel-like turquoise waters. The Big Island’s Kohala Coast is the sunniest spot in the whole state and with some of its finest resorts, yet this island sees far fewer tourists than some of the other islands. It’s not too late for winter adventures, either. Grand Marais, Minn., on Lake Superior is a great area for watching winter wildlife and enjoying winter activities. For many, late winter means it’s time to gear up for Sun ’n Fun, aviation’s annual kickoff to fly-ins. A side trip to St. Petersburg with its beautiful beaches makes a worthy addition to your Florida trip. And if all this watery fun has you thinking about adding a float rating, this issue has the lowdown on how you can do just that.

Seaplane Rating, Montana Style

If you’ve ever thought about adding a seaplane rating to your certificate, read this article to find out how to earn your float plane rating in Montana. Pilot Getaways Editor-in-Chief John T. Kounis earned his seaplane rating last summer with Backcountry Flying Experience. He trained at Stillwater Landing with a highly experienced CFI in a beautifully restored Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser. You’ll read about his training step-by-step, from advance preparations and pre-flight to taxi, takeoff, landing, and glassy water procedures. The training base is close to both Glacier National Park and the town of Whitefish, which is ranked as one of the “10 Coolest Towns in America” by Frommer’s, so your family can have their own adventures while you focus on a few days on flying. You can stay in Whitefish or in a handy apartment right above the dock, where you can relax on your private deck, listen to the birds, and watch deer in the evenings.

Kohala Coast, Hawai’i Island

Many people visit the Hawaiian islands of O’ahu, Maui, or even Kaua’i, but relatively few make their way to Hawai’i, the Big Island. You may know that Hawai’i Island is home to the active Kilauea Volcano, but the Big Island offers a special treat for the discerning traveler: the Kohala Coast. Located just north of Kona International Airport, the Kohala Coast is home to seven of the world’s finest luxury hotels. Technical Editor Crista V. Worthy visited all seven hotels and sampled cuisine and activities from each for this report. Between the spa treatments, world-class cuisine and golf, snorkeling, sea kayaking, outrigger canoe trips, or just relaxing on the beach, all your cares will melt away with the tropical breeze and sunshine on the Kohala Coast. Each modern, open-air hotel has a different look and a different type of beach or lagoon where you can swim with sea turtles and thousands of brightly colored fish. You can even get into the water with a friendly dolphin and make a new friend. We pilots can top it all off with a breathtaking GA flight over the island’s diverse landscapes. Two volcanoes, each towering nearly 14,000 feet above sea level, largely control the weather patterns on this island. You’ll see stark deserts, steaming volcanic vents, emerald green rolling hills, and deep, dark green valleys with waterfalls pouring hundreds of feet down.

Grand Marais, Minnesota

In far northeastern Minnesota, Grand Marais sits on the northwestern shore of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. Author Patricia Strutz explains why winter is a wonderful time to visit Gitchee Gumee, the Ojibwe people’s name for the big pond. Backed by Superior National Forest and the Sawtooth Mountains, Grand Marais plays host to a variety of winter sports you can enjoy for free, with hotels and meals that will fit slimmer budgets as well. Explore alpine ski and snowboarding runs as well as miles of Nordic ski trails. Other options include snowshoeing along the Superior Hiking Trail or zooming around on a snowmobile. These backcountry excursions provide chances to view moose, wolves, and lynx. Stay in a lakeside cabin or cottage with a cozy restaurant and float plane dock nearby. Or you can try a downtown condo with views of Lake Superior. Dine at a gourmet restaurant or local joint loaded with nostalgia. After a visit to Grand Marais, you’ll see why Minnesota’s not just for summer visitors!

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Saint Petersburg, or “St. Pete,” averages 361 days of sunshine each year. That alone might get your attention if you’ve had your fill of winter. Wonderful weather and dozens of attractions within walking distance of a historic general aviation airport make St. Petersburg the perfect winter getaway. Follow along with author Patricia Strutz, a fishing guide herself, as she explores St. Pete’s inshore fishing charters. Perhaps a nostalgic tour in an open cockpit red 1933 Waco UIC biplane is on your bucket list—you can do that here too. Visit the Dali Museum, play in the park, tour on a bike, or relax on the beach. For accommodations, you can choose from several large bay front resorts, or camp at the KOA beach facility. Seafood is a sure bet while vacationing along the shore, but you’ll also find restaurants with unique offerings like Dr. Pepper braised ribs and foie gras steak burgers. If you’re planning to visit Sun ’n Fun, St. Pete makes a perfect side trip!

Risk Management—Making Good Decisions

Whenever we fly, changing weather, complex airspace, unanticipated mechanical issues, and our own capabilities all play key roles in the decisions we make and the safety of our trip. But can we truly plan for the unknown? The answer is “yes.” We can do a lot to maintain some control over the many variables that affect flight safety and proficiency. We gain knowledge through experience and education, and those affect our decision making process. Author Mel Futrell outlines several methods how we can manage our risk, improve our decision making process, and ultimately increase the safety of flight.