You are hereSeptember/October 2012

September/October 2012

As hot weather is being replaced by cool nights and crisp leaves, we look forward to fall, which brings some of the year’s best flying weather with clear days, fewer thunderstorms, and less wind. Our cover story on Palm Springs is timely, as aviators will gather there for the annual AOPA Aviation Summit. You can also celebrate fall colors along Lake Michigan, sample the harvest in Washington’s Wine Country, or pull up an Adirondack chair in luxurious Lake Placid.

Palm Springs, California

The annual AOPA Aviation Summit will be held this year October 11–13, with the traditional Parade of Planes taking place the day before, where a parade of aircraft will travel one mile down the road from the Palm Springs airport to the convention center. Palm Springs makes an ideal fly-in destination at this time of year, with mild temperatures and lots of activities, as Mark and Stefanie Spencer explain, but any time of year is great to take advantage of its array of activities for the whole family. Top on the list is the Aerial Tramway, taking you from the desert valley floor to the mountain station at over 8,500 feet elevation. You can hike among pine trees, enjoy the views, or choose from two restaurants. Golfers love Palm Springs; with roughly 125 courses there’s a course for everyone. The Palm Springs Air Museum has one of America’s finest collections of airworthy warbirds, downtown offers numerous shopping opportunities, or you can take a tour of the local, palm-filled canyons. Hotels abound, whether you want to be right in the action of downtown, or prefer the seclusion of a desert-hideaway B&B. You can even stay at a Moroccan-style resort with lush courtyards and a stone waterfall Jacuzzi.

Walla Walla, Washington

Those of you who grew up watching Road Runner cartoons may recall Walla Walla as the headquarters of the fictional ACME Corporation, maker of the miscellaneous contraptions Wile E. Coyote unsuccessfully used to try to catch the Roadrunner. But Walla Walla is a real place, and is now home to over 100 wineries making some seriously good wine. Good enough for many experts to deem it “The Next Big Wine Country.” Technical Editor Crista V. Worthy lets us know about this unusually close-knit, well-educated, and passionately enthusiastic group of winemakers who are turning heads from around the world. No other American region has more exciting Bordeaux-style reds and Syrahs, so your biggest worry for your flight home might be your weight and balance calculations; you may want to buy them all. Your wine-tasting adventure can begin right on the airport property where you’ll find five wineries lined up in pastel-colored barns. From there we’ll guide you to some don’t-miss wineries, all just a few miles away. One of them even has a program in which you can participate and make a case of your own wine. Downtown is charming, easy to navigate, and filled with quality shops, more wineries, and some truly innovative restaurants. You can take in a theater show, hear the oldest symphony west of the Mississippi, or even watch a roller derby bout, where tattooed and fish-netted female skaters duke it out, all in good fun. You can call it a night at the classic downtown 1920s Marcus Whitman Hotel, or stay in a quiet, exclusive Inn, surrounded by vineyards and a running creek. Without the crowds, high prices, and attitude of other famous wine regions, you may just make Walla Walla your regular wine-country trip.

Charlevoix, Michigan

A vintage resort town, Charlevoix is perched between Lake Michigan and Round Lake. As you walk along the shore of Lake Michigan, it’s easy to imagine you’re actually walking along the ocean. Search for “Petoskey stones” washed up on the beach; this fossilized coral reveals its beautiful hexagonal pattern when immersed in water. You can take a cruise on a 110-foot ship to get views of the lighthouse, drawbridge, and town. Charlevoix is known for its interesting Earl Young homes, whimsical, sloping, stone homes that feature curvaceous cedar roofs, rolled eaves, eyebrow dormers, and pyramidal chimneys. Walk or bike through downtown; author Patricia Strutz reveals where to find original Mackinac Island fudge, a museum, castle, and an excellent golf course. Decadent home-style breakfasts served in several quaint inns within walking distance of downtown will have you energized for the day. Later, whether your cravings tilt toward fish, steak, or burgers, you can enjoy them by the waterfront as you relax and watch the boats sail by. Charlevoix is the perfect place to take in the sights, sounds, and crisp air of fall.

Lake Placid, New York

You may only know of Lake Placid as a host of the winter Olympic games. However, Lake Placid is also a wonderful and luxurious vacation hideaway. Author Heather Sanders Connellee takes you on a tour through several of the Northeast’s most exclusive lodges here. One resort, a former Rockefeller property, offers 75 acres of seclusion on Lake Saranac, where you can canoe or kayak. World-class chefs create individualized menus daily, while the staff caters to your every whim at all hours. Another hotel, on Lake Placid’s waterfront, is built of spectacular wood logs, with stone fireplaces and Adirondack-style twig furniture and beds carved by local artisans. Tour the lake on a 35-foot mahogany Hacker-Craft, swim, fish, canoe, or take out an electric boat. A third gated property offers all the nature you can handle, as well as outdoor heated pool, hot tub, fitness center, bowling alley, ice cream parlor, game room, movie theatre, and an outdoor fireplace where you can snack nightly on S’mores. A special kid’s camp offers a variety of nature-based experiences and activities. Lake Placid offers a variety of top-notch restaurants. Enjoy rack of lamb, filet mignon, foie gras, or smoked salmon with fine wines and lake views. Your luxury vacation can include a variety of cutting-edge spa treatments, or you can turn it up a notch and enjoy the thrill of speed at the Olympic village. Try a real bobsled for a heart-pounding adventure, ride to the top of the 120-meter ski-jump tower, or take the gondola to the top of the mountain. Whether you like it tame or wild, you’ll find Lake Placid the perfect place to escape all your cares.

Kill Otto—Getting Back to Basics

While the new glass panel displays offer many wonderful improvements, flight instructors have been struggling for years to keep the eyes of pilots off the screens. Author Peter King, ATP, MCFI, relates various techniques on how to “Kill Otto” (automation) and get back to basics, like using the chart for pilotage and how to incorporate new technologies, like the iPad, in your technique. Flying “old school,” even in technically advanced aircraft, is not only fun, it can make you a safer pilot by reminding you that you are pilot in command as well as improving your situational awareness.