You are hereJanuary/February 2015

January/February 2015

Now that 2015 is here, we are ready to help you get the most out of your airplane by flying it to new places, making new discoveries, and finding new adventures. We begin with a roundup of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) and how you can see, and perhaps even fly in, one of their amazing and rare World War II aircraft. We’ll show you a sunny beachside trip if you go to Sun ’n Fun, or just want to escape the cold of winter. In the Northwest, you won’t want to miss one of the first big aviation shows of the season that also has lots of other activities available nearby. We also share with you a secret upscale hideaway on the Colorado River near both Arches and Canyonlands national parks. Finally, we’ll talk about what you (mostly don’t) get with that IFR clearance.

The Commemorative Air Force

We’re starting 2015 off by acquainting our readers with the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), an all-volunteer organization of over 11,000 people in 29 states and four countries who work together to maintain and fly 162 World War II aircraft in order to preserve part of our American heritage and honor the veterans who served in that terrible conflict. Managing Editor Crista V. Worthy explains what it’s like to be inside one of these rare birds and how you can go for a flight in one. Choose a fighter like a P-51 Mustang, or a bomber like the B-17 Flying Fortress, or even the world’s only flying B-29 Superfortress, Fifi. CAF aircraft perform in over 300 airshows per year, so it’s a good bet that at least one of them will be coming to an airfield near you. Sometimes a CAF aircraft will be flown in to a small local fly-in; you’re welcome to climb aboard, look around, and touch a piece of history. Or, you can arrange for a ride. CAF aircraft also attend airshows nationwide; we’ll show you how to find their schedules. The CAF also produces some of its own airshows each year. Two of the largest are in Houston and New Orleans, but the granddaddy of them all is simply called AIRSHO, when some 17,000 spectators thrill each year to over 80 CAF warbirds that fill the sky over two days. This August, the 52nd annual AIRSHO will be held in its customary location at the Midland International Airport. Special guests will include the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds precision demonstration team. The 2015 CAF AIRSHO will have a tribute to honor the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Other highlights include a special segment recognizing the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. Aircraft from the conflict that will fly as a unique tribute to veterans of Vietnam include the Douglas A-1 Skyraider, Bell UH-1 Huey, Bell AH-1 Cobra, and the Cessna 0-1 Bird Dog.

Pompano Beach, Florida

If you’re looking for a great side trip from Florida’s Sun ’n Fun Fly-in, look no further than Pompano Beach, where you can be lounging on the beach, wetting a line, or diving among shipwrecks just minutes after you land your airplane. And what pilot wouldn’t love a tour of the Goodyear Blimp that’s based at the airport? Author and pilot Patricia Strutz was given a media ride where she experienced the blimp’s 30-degree takeoff angle. Although it is difficult to get a ride in a blimp, you can visit the blimp’s custom-built, gigantic hangar and then climb aboard the gondola to learn how the pilots control this behemoth. Later, you can climb the stairs to the lantern room of the Hillsboro Lighthouse or marvel at miniature fluttering jewels at nearby Butterfly World, the world’s largest butterfly house. Sooner or later though, the aquamarine water will lure you to the beach for sunbathing, to the pier for fishing, or you can even scuba dive to colorful reefs. Nearby accommodations range from vacation cottages and rental apartments, to a beach resort and spa, and even a quiet campground on the beach with 10-by-10-ft. platform tents, already pitched and ready. Naturally, with a tropical beachfront setting, you’ll find plenty of fun bars, excellent seafood restaurants, and live entertainment. Don’t forget the Sunday brunch! Pompano Beach may become your new favorite Sun ’n Fun side-trip!

Sorrel River Ranch, Utah

Managing Editor Crista V. Worthy visits southern Utah’s redrock country every chance she gets. The quiet sandstone buttes and canyons offer superb hiking and scenery like nowhere else on earth. From the air, your eyes will be dazzled by the interconnected rivers, canyons, and colorful formations, with names like the Needles, the Maze, and Deadhorse Point. But summers are hot, and if you visit the national parks, they can be crowded. In late fall, winter, and early spring, however, you can have some of the world’s most spectacular scenery almost completely to yourself. You don’t have to rough it either. The author recently discovered an upscale retreat with an ultra-rare address: Sorrel River Ranch. It’s right on the banks of the mighty Colorado River, and backed on both sides by walls of glowing red sandstone. The Ranch is just 17 miles upstream from Moab and close to Canyonlands Airport (CNY). If you have a helicopter, you can land right on the ranch’s enormous front lawn, beside the horse paddock and organic garden, but most pilots land at CNY and rent a car or Jeep, or the ranch will pick you up. Sorrel River offers guided horseback rides or hiking adventures into the nearby Arches or Canyonlands National Parks. Expert guides know where the good stuff is: rare ichnofossils (dinosaur tracks frozen into the rock), ancient rock art, or secluded natural arches. For more excitement, try rappelling off a cliff, or even off an enormous arch—it’s a thrill you’ll never forget. Back at Sorrel River Ranch, step into your riverside cabin, luxuriously appointed with Old West chic décor. Soak in a deep hydrotherapy tub or relax on your private porch and just watch the river go by. The ranch is well-equipped to provide all your meals during your stay, and you’ll always eat well. Dine in a restaurant with exclusive Colorado River views, grab a boxed meal and eat-on-the-go, or relax in your own cottage with full room service. In-season, about 75% of the produce comes from the ranch’s own farm, near the entrance. The resort also has a full-service spa and pool open in warmer months.

Tacoma and Puyallup, Washington

The 32nd annual Northwest Aviation Conference & Trade Show returns to the Washington State Fair Events Center in Puyallup, Wash., just south of Seattle, on Saturday and Sunday, February 21 and 22, 2015. Managing Editor Crista V. Worthy, who spoke at the event last year, gives a report on one of the Northwest’s largest annual aviation events. The Showplex exhibit space fills 122,000 square feet with booths, aircraft static displays, avionics, and other demos, and offers more than 75 hours of aviation seminars, even an FAA-approved IA refresher clinic. This year, AOPA President Mark Baker will give a keynote address, and the always-popular CFI/columnist Rod Machado will bring his trademark sense of humor. The trade show is a great way to kick off the flying year, and the area also has much to offer. Fly in for a long weekend so that, in addition to the Trade Show, you can visit Tacoma’s Museum District, just a 15-minute drive away. The LeMay–America’s Car Museum showcases one of the world’s largest automotive collections on a hill above the waterfront. Nearby, restored century-old brick buildings contrast with ultra-modern construction that includes the Museum of Glass. Walk across the amazing Chihuly Bridge of Glass to the historic Union Station and modernist Tacoma Museum of Art, which boasts the world’s finest collection of Dale Chihuly glass artwork on permanent display. Excellent restaurants are within walking distance, as are a delightful B&B and a modernist boutique hotel filled with glass art. Who knew Tacoma had so much great art, architecture, and cuisine, all in one place?

IFR Clearances – What You (Mostly Don’t) Get With One

We all know that pilots file and fly IFR when they need to fly through clouds in controlled airspace. But sometimes pilots fly IFR even when they could accomplish their flight safely under VFR, because they have a vaguely comfortable feeling that by flying under IFR, ATC will “watch out” for them better than if they flew under Visual Flight Rules. But is that really true? Aside from permission to fly through IMC in controlled airspace, does ATC give you anything else to go along with that IFR clearance? How about weather avoidance? Traffic separation from VFR aircraft? Separation from terrain or obstructions? From others in the IFR system? Actually, once ATC issues you an IFR clearance, the only other service they are required to provide you is separation from other IFR aircraft. Managing Editor Crista V. Worthy sorts out what you should always get, what you might sometimes get, and what ATC isn’t at all obligated to do for you when you fly IFR. We’ll cover departures, descents, airspace, weather, and separation from VFR aircraft. You’ll also learn about certain situations where it might actually be safer not to be on an IFR flight plan. This article has good tips for all pilots, even those without an instrument rating.