You are hereMarch/April 2012

March/April 2012

Despite a few last-ditch efforts by winter to hang on, spring is upon us. It’s time to tune up your flying skills, turn on the ignition, and go flying! Once again, we’ve got you covered coast to coast, from Florida to California and points between. Take an exciting aerobatic flight, complete an Emergency Maneuver Training program, or pick up pointers on flying a retractable—all in this issue. We’ve got fly-in dining destinations, a historic town near Washington D.C., and a quaint seaside city, all easily accessible to general aviation pilots.

Santa Paula, California

Local pilots call Santa Paula their “sunny spot” because this little airport is almost always in the clear, even when neighboring coastal airports in Ventura County are socked in. But Santa Paula Airport is a great pilot destination for a number of other reasons too. You won’t need a car after you land, because downtown Santa Paula is only a block away; it’s so compact it’s easily walkable. You’ll find a number of interesting dining options in this small town, beginning with a brand new restaurant right on the airport, complete with an expansive runway view. Fuel prices tend to be lower here, so many southern California pilots just fly in for fuel and a great lunch. But don’t leave without visiting the three museums and learning about Santa Paula’s impressive contributions to America’s economy. Home to a huge variety of specialty agriculture, Santa Paula has long dominated Western citrus production, making it the “citrus capital of the world.” Not only that, California’s first oil gusher erupted here over a hundred years ago, leading to the formation of Union Oil Company. Perhaps the most exciting reason pilots come here, however, is for specialized aerobatics training and Emergency Maneuver Training (EMT) as originally taught by the FAA’s 2006 CFI of the Year, Rich Stowell. Santa Paula is home to CP Aviation, where the head flight instructor, Judy Phelps, is also the FAA’s 2011 CFI of the Year. Take their EMT course to learn how to instantly right your aircraft should you ever encounter an unexpected upset. You’ll learn spin recovery and prevention techniques, and acquire new flying skills. Or you can just take an aerobatics ride as a passenger in a Citabria or a Pitts. Any way you look at it, Santa Paula has so much more to offer pilots than meets the eye.

Pacific City, Oregon

Pacific City has a small, general-aviation-friendly airport located on the spectacular central Oregon coast. The small fishing town makes a perfect romantic weekend getaway for pilots, as author Erin Willison explains. Since the airport is located right in town, you won’t need a car after you land. Snuggle up with a fire in your cozy inn and watch the waves pounding onto the shore. Or get out and enjoy the rich biodiversity of this unique estuary environment. Two rivers converge here, creating a quiet bay teeming with fish like Chinook salmon. The slackwater fishing is excellent, but you can also get out onto the ocean for more fishing. One of the last fleets of beach-launched dories sets sail right on the beach in Pacific City. Guided fishing expeditions take you out for Ling cod, rockfish, tuna, and sometimes salmon. You can also try clamming right on the beach, explore the tide pools, rides horses on the beach, or try a hang-gliding lesson. A number of excellent restaurants serve the freshest seafood, along with a wide selection of local microbrews. Raise a glass with the friendly locals and toast your good fortune at being able to fly in to such a beautiful seaside hotspot.

Alexandria, Virginia

Old Town Alexandria is a small, walkable village along the banks of the Potomac River just south of Washington, D.C. It’s an easy drive from Maryland Airport, just outside the inner ring (FRZ airspace), but within the outer ring of the Washington D.C. Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA). Many pilots avoid this entire area, but we’ll show you how to navigate safely within the SFRA so you can enjoy all Old Town Alexandria has to offer. Heather Sanders Sable brings you along to sample traditional American fare prepared with modern twists. Dine in the same restaurant where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and many other Founding Fathers once enjoyed their meals. History is everywhere in Old Town Alexandria, built before American independence as a port for shipping tobacco and other products. Take a scenic boat cruise up to Washington D.C. to see the monuments and blossoming cherry trees that were given to the United States by Japan 100 years ago this year. Visit art studios and galleries where you can purchase art, witness its creation, and visit with the artists. When it’s time for bed, you can stay in an 18th-century Federal-style manor house. Enjoy butler service, wine hour, and the piano bar. Other 18th-century accommodations feature antiques, high ceilings, and poster beds in unique loft settings with private gardens outside.

West Palm Beach County, Florida

When in Florida, you can give your taste buds a treat. Just land at friendly Palm Beach County Park Airport in Lantana, Fla., for lunch or dinner at the lively Rosalita’s Tex-Mex Grill, which is just a half-mile walk from the airport. The menu offers traditional Mexican recipes like chimichangas and tacos, but there are several unique and innovative surprises. Traditional American comfort-food recipes have been enhanced with a zesty Mexican flair. Their pot roast is served with chorizo mashed potatoes. Chipotle baby-back ribs are marinated for days and served with cumin fries and their own Mexican slaw. Rosalita’s will also happily customize your dish for you, any way you request it. Vegetarian, children’s, and “gringo” items round out this fun menu. Happy hour lasts all day, so you can really celebrate if you’re planning to stay overnight. There’s a cozy bed and breakfast not far away, loaded with antiques and artwork. Golfers will find two courses nearby, so you can enjoy a great meal and get in your golf practice. No matter how long you stay, West Palm Beach County is a refreshing, GA-friendly spot on the Atlantic Coast without the crowds, glitz, and high prices of its Palm Beach neighbor to the east.

Get Your Gear Down

All too often, we see or hear another story of someone landing gear-up in a retractable-gear airplane. Although these accidents are almost never fatal, they are costly in terms of aircraft repair. Technical Editor Crista V. Worthy discusses the main culprits behind gear-up accidents, and provides essential tools and memory items to help make sure this accident never happens to you. Scenarios in this article include flights in both VFR and IFR conditions, regular and emergency procedures, distractions, and other issues relevant to the prevention of a gear-up landing. Don’t miss this vital information. Even if you fly a fixed-gear aircraft, you may find yourself as a passenger in a retractable, or end up flying one yourself!