You are hereSeptember/October 2007

September/October 2007

The Joys of Autumn Flying!

Fall is a great time to fly—autumn leaves decorate the landscape with splashes of yellow, fiery red, and orange. Thunderstorms have mostly ebbed, and a warm Indian summer makes winter seem far away. Summer crowds are gone at many places, which makes fall the perfect time to visit. Of course it’s not fall without a trip to see the foliage, and this year we bring you Portland, Maine, a great fall getaway.

Griffin, Georgia

For many pilots, the DC-3 epitomizes the Golden Age of Flight, and flying one is a lifelong dream for many pilots. Well, you’re in luck, because you can not only fly a DC-3 (in the left seat!) but also earn a Pilot-in-Command rating in one, right in Griffin, Georgia. Editor-in-chief John T. Kounis shares his experience flying the grand DC-3 with its owner, airline pilot Dan Gryder. Piloting this remarkable aircraft, along with visiting this historical southern town, make Griffin a trip you won’t soon forget.

Portland, Maine

Your visit to the seaside city of Portland, Maine, begins with a spectacularly scenic flight over the rugged coastline and rocky islands, decorated with stark, white lighthouses, as boats cruise in and out of the harbor. Author Amy Dodgen takes you into historic Old Port, where you can admire the seafood as it is brought in, straight off the fishing boats. Visit the home of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, or shop for unique gifts. You can enjoy a cruise on a working lobster boat, and even buy the day’s catch! Portland’s fine seafood restaurants are sure to please the pickiest diners, and you can choose from an array of Bed & Breakfasts or larger hotels. Of course, nobody visits here in autumn without an excursion to see the brilliant yellow ash, fiery red maples, and vivid purple witch hazel trees. Don’t miss this spectacle!

Kemah, Texas

Each October, the Wings Over Houston Airshow comes to Ellington Field, located near Kemah, Texas. That’s just the first excuse for pilots to visit the area in the fall. The Johnson Space Center is always a fascinating stop, as well. But as author Tamara Brown explains, Kemah offers much more for the rest of the family. Just 28 miles south of Houston, Kemah sits at the mouth of Clear Lake, an inlet of Galveston Bay, and is one of America’s top recreational boating areas, with around 10,000 slips! The boardwalk with its amusement park is open year-round, with carnival rides for the little kids and thrill rides for the bigger ones. Get up-close and personal with the occupants of Stingray Reef. Stay in a quaint bed & breakfast cottage with street-legal golf carts, or an inn with a view of Galveston Bay. Shopping, live music and dancing in the evenings, beautiful gardens, and a number of excellent restaurants make this a fun destination for the whole family.

Pomona, California

Even though Los Angeles is a huge, cosmopolitan megalopolis, it actually has a good, old-fashioned County Fair—the Pomona Fair, the world’s largest. Each fall, you can visit the fair and sample the latest outrageous deep-fried creation that tastes so good, you don’t care how bad it is for you! And why fight the legendary horrible L.A. traffic, when you can fly your plane to nearby Brackett Field? Meanwhile, Angelenos who only dream of driving fast on uncrowded freeways live vicariously at the NHRA Motorsports Museum. Better yet, come back in February, as author Stephanie Smith takes you to the NHRA Winternationals, the drag strips made famous in the song “Little GTO”. Horseback riding, a huge water park, shopping and more make Pomona a fun visit any time of year.

Tangier Island, Virginia

Author Heather Sable takes you to Tangier Island, a remote fishing village in the Chesapeake Bay with its own airport. The island is known for its crab harvests, and you’ll enjoy strolling the boat docks and meeting the locals, many of whom share the same few surnames. You can even accompany some of the fishermen and learn how crabbing is done. The island is a joy to bike—pick your own and pay by the honor system. Then ride around town visiting the gift shops, or head to the coast to view the waterfowl. Rest your head in a historic, antique-filled B&B, and enjoy the ample, home-cooked meals. Other restaurants offer waterfront views while you savor the freshest seafood. Tangier Island is truly a one-of-a-kind discovery.

Coeur dAlene, Idaho

Fall is perhaps the best time to visit Coeur d’Alene, with mild temperatures, fewer visitors, and spectacular sunsets over the lake, named one of the five most beautiful in the world by National Geographic. Author Tyler Andrews takes you on a tour of the fabulous Coeur d’Alene Resort that is consistently rated as one of America’s top inland resorts. You can fly over the pristine lake and forested hills in a float plane, hike to your heart’s content, and enjoy a multitude of romantic fine dining restaurants near and even right on the lake. Take a scenic drive into nearby Washington to pick your own fruits and vegetables, play in a corn maze, or even do some wine tasting.

Schafer Meadows, Montana

Montana’s Schafer Meadows is the crown jewel of Montana backcountry airstrips, and the pride and joy of the Montana Pilot’s Association. The strip is beautifully maintained and has a ranger station nearby. Summer sometimes means wildfires in the west, but fall brings friendlier weather. Author Mike Sidders, a highly experienced backcountry pilot, reveals that this strip is located in a wilderness area, and the scenery as you fly in will be spectacular, dominated by the Chinese Wall, a 20-mile long escarpment, rising sharply 1,000 ft. from the valley floor. After you land and settle in, breathe the clean air and enjoy the quiet, punctured only by birdsong. You can hike a number of trails or take advantage of the year’s best fishing and go after hard-fighting cutthroat trout. The local deer are fairly tame, and usually graze near your plane at dawn and dusk. If you want extra adventure, outfitters are available for guided hunting or fishing trips. But most of us are quite happy to sit back, relax, and enjoy the river and the wildlife. Camp under your wing or enjoy the lush campground with picnic tables, water, barbeque pits, and bear boxes. What a treat!

Dust Devils – Invisible Hazards Lurking in the Wind

Air is invisible to the eye, but when it’s whipped into whirling vortices or ripped into violent shears, it can be dangerous or even deadly to the unwary pilot. Editor-in-chief John T. Kounis describes a recent tangle with an invisible dust devil on a hot summer day. Read why even a highly experienced pilot should never be nonchalant on takeoff or landing, especially in a taildragger. You’ll also learn warning signs that may save you from a hazard you cannot otherwise see.