You are hereMarch/April 2016
Spring has sprung, so it’s high time to start planning this year’s flying adventures. Experience Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and a plethora of hidden treasures in the Las Vegas Valley. See where the famous Budweiser Clydesdales are born and immerse yourself in a vibrant Midwest college town. Plan a sidetrip from Oshkosh on the Mighty Mississippi River. We also take you to a range of fun fly-ins across the country and across the aviation spectrum.
Fly-Ins are a grand aviation tradition and a wonderful way to meet other aviators who share your interests. In this article, Managing Editor Crista V. Worthy takes you to a variety of aviation get-togethers across the United States. Some fly-ins offer takeoff or landing competitions, while others have flour-bombing contests. Food can be potluck or provided by that region’s most iconic restaurants, from barbeque to deep-fried fresh trout. Fly-ins can be put on by aircraft manufacturers, aircraft type clubs, or state aviation organizations. Some fly-ins started by just one person and grew to cult status, including one where you can land on a dry lakebed and compete in airplane “drag races.” Fireworks, a shooting range, and landing near a hot spring for a communal soak are also on the agenda there. And don’t think we only covered fly-ins for wheel-equipped aircraft. Skiplanes and seaplanes have their own fly-ins too! Pick one of these fun fly-ins and get ready to make new friends and have a great time!
Columbia is a true gem at America’s center. Perched beside the Missouri River, Columbia earned the nickname “Collegetown U.S.A.” due to the presence of four institutions of higher learning that boost the town’s population by about 40,000. The largest, by far, is the University of Missouri, better known as Mizzou. The campus is a hotspot for college sports in both spring and fall. Author and Mizzou alumna MeLinda Schnyder explains the entire campus is a botanical garden and beautiful to walk around. In town, you’ll want to explore the galleries, exhibits, museums, public art, and local shops and restaurants. Or hop in the car to visit a rare Clydesdale breeding facility. Take a tour and find out how Budweiser raises the huge and beautiful horses that pull its famous traveling hitches. You can also visit a museum dedicated to the achievements of Winston Churchill, hero of World War II. Luxury boutique hotels, both new and historic, are located right in the center of downtown Columbia, or you can choose a quiet bed and breakfast. Stop by the pizza place so popular they mail frozen pies to hungry Mizzou alums all over the U.S. You’ll see why so many other graduates are happy to settle in here after graduation. Columbia is a great find!
Boulder City, Nevada
A decade or two ago, flying in to McCarran, the main Las Vegas airport, was a breeze. But those days are long gone. Thankfully, the Las Vegas Valley offers several fine GA airports that cater to pilots flying themselves to Sin City. Boulder City is one of those, but it’s also a destination in its own right, as Managing Editor Crista V. Worthy discovered. Play to your heart’s content in Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir, with superb fishing, boating, and water skiing opportunities. A visit to Hoover Dam is a must as well, and you’ll marvel at the immensity of the structure and its powerful turbines. Boulder City was built to house the dam’s workers and there’s no gambling here, so it has a different vibe than Vegas. Kids cavort in the ample parks… that is, when the desert bighorn sheep aren’t grazing and resting on the shady grass. You might go for a zip line adventure in the canyons high above town, or just hang out at the local’s favorite breakfast joint, proclaimed “the bomb” by none other than Guy Fieri, the Food Network star, on his “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” show. You can also get a fine steak in Boulder City, sleep in a historic hotel, and, if the urge hits you, it’s only 25 minutes to the Las Vegas Strip.
An easy side-trip if you plan to visit Oshkosh this summer, Dubuque, Iowa, sits on the western bank of the upper Mississippi River, which serves as a focal point for the city. Historic landmarks, museums, public art, casinos, entertainment venues, recreational activities, outfitters, a winery, local bars and restaurants, and retail shops all connect people to the river area. Ride one of the world’s steepest funicular railways for great views of the river and city or take a leisurely horse-drawn carriage ride around town while your knowledgeable guide fills you in on area history. You can get on the river, too, either via scenic boat ride, or under your own power atop a kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Golf courses, wooded trails, and zip lines provide abundant recreation and entertainment for outdoor types. Author MeLinda Schnyder’s husband is a baseball fan, so you know they took the side trip to the legendary “Field of Dreams” from the classic film starring Kevin Costner and Ray Liotta. You can too. Bring your glove and bat or just gaze at the perfect cornfield around the ballpark. Who knows? Shoeless Joe and his friends just may come out to play. If you have kids in tow, you might want to stay at a downtown hotel that offers an indoor waterpark as well as an arcade and onsite restaurant. Or you can sleep in the three-story Victorian mansion, now converted to a unique bed and breakfast.
Work Parties – Do Good, Have Fun, and Make New Friends
Fly-ins are not the only fun way to meet other aviators. Work parties are a great way for pilots to help maintain the facilities they use, all while having a good time. Managing Editor Crista V. Worthy is also an officer with the Idaho Aviation Association and a veteran of numerous work parties who promises you will get more satisfaction out of a work party than another $100 hamburger run. And kids love to help out at work parties and are also generally welcome. Aviation work parties most commonly take place at backcountry airstrips, but a work party can be organized at any airport that needs a little help with upkeep, pending approval of the airport and/or property owner. We’ll show you where to find this year’s work parties or how to start your own. And yes, they are aptly named, because not only does a lot of work get done, but a lot of fun is also had at the same time. Gopher holes get filled, weeds get whacked, runways get mowed, outhouses get installed, and trees get trimmed. Somebody always brings hot coffee and breakfast or lunch, and there’s plenty of time to goof around, watch takeoffs and landings, catch up with old friends, and make new ones.