Written by the author, Yasmina Platt.
Reprint from October 22, 2014, from AOPA's Views From the Region (VFR) blog: https://blog.aopa.org/vfr/?p=1781
700, 10, 10, 9. 3, 60, 40, 600 are all great numbers. Can you imagine… flying about 700 NM in around 10 hours of flight time to 10 airports, in 9 cities, in 3 days, with about 60 other pilots in close to 40 different aircraft while learning about general aviation in your state and sharing your love for general aviation and flying with over 600 school children, many of which could be our next generation of aviators? Yes! That’s what Joey Colleran, AOPA’s Director of the Airport Support Network (ASN) program, and I did September 22-24 when we participated in the 2014 Fly Kansas Air Tour as part of the Kansas Aviation Expo – a week-long series of aviation events in Kansas. In the history of flight in Kansas, this was only the third organized air tour of Kansas.
2014 Fly Kansas Air Tour’s circular route
Joey and Yasmina on right of the picture accompanied by the other three female air tour pilots Tiffany Brown, Star Novak, and Pat Hockett (left to right).
On Sunday, Joey and I headed up to Wellington, KS (KEGT – Exhaust Gas Temperature? Ha!) to prepare for the start of the air tour on Monday. On the way, we stopped at the Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport (KGOK) for fuel, to see how things are at the airport since I had met airport manager Justin Heid at an earlier event this year and had asked me to stop by, and to check out the home of Zivko Aeronautics, the builder of the Edge 540.
The air tour started out at the Wellington Municipal Airport (KEGT) bright and early on Monday. Lots of aircraft, including some who did not participate in the air tour, came to Wellington to kick-off and celebrate its start. Several skydivers brought down the U.S. flag as the local H.S. band sang the national anthem and Randy Hardy flew around them in his Stearman with smoke on as they were coming down. A local ag operator performed an ag spraying demonstration and lots of local students got a chance to walk around all the aircraft. There was a formal presentation of the air tour by Jesse Romo, the Kansas DOT-Aviation Director, and a discussion of the local benefits the airport and its activity and business brings to the community. Each of the pilots also introduced themselves and their aircraft.
Flight line at KEGT
Skydivers, Stearman, and the National Anthem
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback showed his appreciation of the Kansas Aviation Expo program by proclaiming September 22-26, 2014 as “Aviation Appreciation Week.”
From KEGT, we flew to Hutchinson (KHUT) for lunch at the Airport Steakhouse. After the lovely lunch, the pilots departed to the Cosmosphere for an awesome behind-the-scenes tour by Brian Youngers, President of the Kansas Commission on Aerospace Education (KCAE), and aerodynamics activities with local students. I’m not sure who loved this visit more… the students or the pilots… Once back at the airport, students interacted with the pilots, learning all about their aircraft, how to become a pilot, pilot jobs, etc. They also got a chance to see a Life Team helicopter and a fly-by by several Stearman and a Navion. I tell you… those kids sure got excited when they turned their smoke on! (well, and the “not so kids”)
First group of kids learning about aerodynamics
Kids testing their propeller-driven vehicle
From Hutchinson, rather than getting the heck out of dodge, we went to it – Dodge City (KDDC) for the night. Several Boy and Girl Scouts joined us after dinner. Joey and I had a good time showing a group of them (and their parents) the Archer we were flying. They had great questions and we enjoyed linking Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) to aviation by doing a few math problems and science experiments with them.
Tuesday called for stops at Scott City (KTQK), Salina (KSLN), and Topeka (KTOP). We toured and learned about the Spencer Flight Training Center in Scott City – a non-profit center whose objective is to provide access to resources and training opportunities for pilots to keep their skills as sharp as possible and help ensure their safety while inflight. We had read about it but it was great to be able to visit it and learn more about what they’re doing first hand. Great work!
Some of the air tour pilots and Spencer Flight Training Center staff
The flight between Scott City and Salina was our longest leg of the trip – 150 NM+ direct with a couple of deviations for airspace so we were ready for lunch upon arrival. Salina had organized booths for several of their based tenants to include military, law enforcement, and K-State Salina’s aviation program.
And we made it to the Capital… Topeka – Philip Billard Municipal Airport (KTOP)… before nightfall to learn about the Aviation Explorer’s Post 8, where Post 8 kids learn about aviation, flying, and leadership. The organization operates two aircraft to provide young people an introduction to aviation and a private pilot certificate! We also enjoyed dinner accompanied by Kansas Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Mike King.
Learning about Aviation Explorer’s Post 8
Joey, Secretary Mike King, Yasmina, and Jesse Romo (left to right)
On Wednesday, we were off to Pittsburg (Pittsburg-Atkinson, Kansas, that is…). Lots of students (one of the largest crowds we saw) were awaiting our arrival at KPTS. They watched us land, taxi, and park from the fence. This stop was centered around business aviation because several companies operate flight departments and aircraft from Pittsburg so we talked about using our Piper Archer for AOPA business travel and work. They really understood it when we put it in perspective and worked some example trips with them.
Names and Numbers, a local aviation operator discussing business aviation on the field
The youngest of the air tour bunch also met us at KPTS – an adorable 13 month old future aviator – with her dad Andy!
"Daddy day care"
And, because “aviation means independence” everywhere but especially in Independence, KS… we stopped at KIDP for our second to last stop of the trip. A group of kids had already taken a tour of the Cessna facility by the time we had arrived so they were pumped to see the aircraft pull up. We toured the facility where Cessna makes C172s, TTXs, Mustangs, etc and gave the students an opportunity to jump in our aircraft and ask questions.
The final stop of the tour was at Benton-Lloyd Stearman Field (1K1), where we had a hangar party and shared our great air tour experience with other aviation professionals. Stearman Field is a lovely residential airstrip with a cool restaurant but it was a bitter-sweet moment to see the air tour end…
2014 Fly Kansas Air Tour group
All along the 3-day tour… the pilots developed a great camaraderie and lasting relationships. We were also able to get a couple of rusty pilots back into flying and one worked on his tailwheel endorsement. In addition, we showed the local community the importance of their airport, including the economic impact that their airport and general aviation has on their community and the state.
If that wasn’t enough… Joey and I were able to meet and talk with the wonderful AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteers (ASNVs) along the route. Joey also recruited a few new Volunteers. I say it was a very successful tour.
Several of the ASNVs we met with along the route.
Joey and I flew one more very short reposition leg over to Colonel James Jabara Airport (KAAO) from Stearman (all 5 NM!) to prepare for Thursday’s Flying Classroom (and Joey’s airline flight back home to Austin).
So, yes, we invite you to consider flying the 2015 Fly Kansas Air Tour, already being organized for September 28-30, for many reasons: 1) you get to visit new airports you may not have visited before, 2) you can learn more about aviation in Kansas, 3) you can introduce young people to aviation and have an impact in their lives, 4) you can show a local community and a state why general aviation is important, necessary, and that they should protect it and promote it, 5) you get to meet some great people and pilots, 6) you can bring friends or family with you (maybe even someone new to aviation!), 7) you can build time, work on another rating, build cross country time, or whatever else you may want to work on, 8) you can share rides with people (several pilots got a chance to fly in other people’s airplanes), and, yes, 9) it is lots of fun!
See you then!
Written by the author, Yasmina Platt.
Reprint from October 7, 2015, from AOPA's Views From the Region (VFR) blog: https://blog.aopa.org/vfr/?p=2519
What does 530, 145, 172, 9.8, 10, 10, 4, 35, 30, 800 mean?
What a busy but fun time for Jim Pinegar, AOPA’s Vice President of AOPA’s Insurance Services, and myself!
This year’s Fly Kansas Air Tour started on Tuesday, September 29 and ended on Thursday October 1, 2015. As a bonus, a brunch at the historic 07S – Beaumont Hotel was added for Friday, October 2nd and EAA Chapter 88 scheduled their annual fly-in in KEWK – Newton on Saturday, October 3rd and a lot of Air Tour pilots attended it as well. Jim and I did not make it to Beaumont but Jim did attend the Newton fly-in with his wife and two kids.
2015 Fly Kansas Air Tour’s goldfish route
This year’s Air Tour started in Wellington (KEGT), as it did last year.
Sunset flight between Wichita and Wellington on Monday night
The City of Wellington puts a great deal of effort into the start-up with several of the elected officials (including the Mayor, an airport supporter herself), the High School band, lots of local kids, several sponsors, etc. An Air Bike, flying overhead with smoke on prior to landing, was the hit of the stop.
Start of the 2015 #FlyKansas Air Tour at KEGT
The City, after the request of and help from Patrick Hamlin (local instructor and KEGT’s airport manager), has started offering aviation/flying as an elective to their high school students this semester. We got a chance to meet all nine of the students and both Jim and I were really impressed with their knowledge, especially since they have only been in the program since mid-August. When we were showing Jim’s Cessna 172 to three of the girls, we were surprised with the great questions they asked: What class airspace is this airport? When you do the weight and balance, how do you measure the formula… weight x arm = moment? Is this the VSI (pointing at it!)? The plan is for them to take the private pilot written exam in December before the semester is over! We gave them all applications to AOPA’s free AV8RS program and followed up with them via e-mail regarding scholarships. Are you based in or near Wellington and want to take these kids flying? Better yet… are you going to a nearby fly-in and have room for one more? Send me an e-mail and I’ll put you in contact with Patrick!
Students from Wellington HS learning about Jim’s C172
Formation flying with a Cessna 175
From Wellington, we were off to KPTT – Pratt (kind of cool for a Platt, ha!). Most of us were surprised and pleased to visit the All Veterans Memorial Complex and learn the history of the airfield as an Army B-29 base during World War II.
ALL Veterans Museum Complex
We connected and shared our passion for general aviation with hundreds of students of all ages in Dodge City (KDDC). While most of the older ones seemed only interested in the cost of aircraft at first (even though they had no concept of cost or money), we were able to instill in them more useful information than that as well.
We were passed by faster aircraft (Apache, Navion, Eagle…) time and time again but we did not care… that’s the more air time and fun we had, right? “Life is a journey, not a destination!” according to Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The final destination for Tuesday was Liberal (KLBL) where we visited the Mid-America Air Museum. We could have spent hours going through their rich aviation collection and we also visited the cool FedEx B727 they have turned into a classroom/conference room where they are going to be starting STEM-based aviation classes for kids.
Lots of cool aviation memorabilia and aircraft
What’s wrong with this picture? Too big of a windshield wiper for such a small windshield? Counterproductive?
With John Smith, our AOPA ASN Volunteer for KLBL, in the B727 classroom
How cool is this? 1965 AOPA wings
While we were able to “get the heck out of Dodge,” we got stuck in Liberal on Wednesday. Low IMC that lasted until about 1:30 pm prevented us from visiting Garden City (KGCK)and Shalz Field in Colby (KCBK). Hopefully we can make it up to them by visiting them during the next air tour.
After circumnavigating Dodge City on the way from Liberal to Hays due to continued low (to minimums or even lower) ceilings, we made it to Hays (KHYS). We took advantage of the weather to give Jim a good actual IMC training flight. I always enjoy being on top and he seems to be a fan now too.
VFR on top
Once in Hays, we visited the RANS aircraft factory. We all enjoyed Randy’s (founder, entrepreneur, owner, President, and designer) tour. It’s impressive to go through a factory where you can see innovation and engineering in process. Randy has sold a combination of about 5,000 airplanes and airplane kits to all corners of the world and he is still working on a few more designs. Keep an eye out for a 4-seater in the near future! Jim and I were lucky to get to know Randy and his wife Shelly more during dinner. Did you know RANS started as a bike company? Does that sound familiar? Bikes and airplanes? Yup, the Wright Brothers started with a bike shop also. Randy says both have a lot to do with each other: aerodynamics, light weight and durable materials, maximum performance, cutting edge technology…
A lucky builder will soon be getting this RANS 7 Courier in the mail :)
Alan Core and Seth, a grandpa and grandson team from Iowa, flew the Air Tour and Seth wanted to leave with an airplane kit as a “good science project.” I say the young man will not only be a pilot but also an aircraft builder when he grows up and we need more of that!
With Nathan Marcucci, KHYS’ ASNV and airport manager
Dinner at Gellas Diner & Lb. Brewing Co.
Thursday started pretty chilly but the 4th graders at Blosser Municipal Airport (KCNK) in Concordia warmed all of our hearts quickly. They were beyond excited the entire time we were there, from arrivals to departures and everything in between. Selfishly, I felt like we had just as much fun with the kids as the kids did with us.
Kids cheering the aircraft arrivals
Steve Richard, AOPA’s Airport Support Network (ASN) Volunteer for CNK, and I taught “principles of flight” to the kids before taking them out to the airplanes where they put their new knowledge to work. I went over the four forces of flight, parts of an airplane, etc. and then Steve pulled a couple of interactive ideas from AOPA’s Parents and Teachers Handbook (PATH) to demonstrate aerodynamics. The kids loved it! I was not quick enough to capture some of the kid’s reactions with my camera but I will not forget one of the girl’s face when Steve and two volunteer kids did the “toilet paper” experiment. Her mouth was wide open and her eyes denoted excitement and surprise. Funny enough, I think some of the pilots went home after the tour and practiced those experiments themselves, haha.
Teaching the principles of flight
Demonstrating aerodynamics and building a human airplane
With Steve and Jim
The kids were able to see, learn about, touch, and get in many different types of aircraft. Some even got to “fly” as Jaden Stapleton pushed down on his Eagle’s elevator simulating a takeoff for those at the controls.
Hard to tell who had more fun: the kids or the pilots!
Fun selfie with our group of 4th graders after they all learned the aviation alphabet
Jim and I were personally proud of Steve for organizing such a great stop for everybody. He really did a terrific job! One we may try to emulate in future years.
Concordia was very much K-State Country! The kids went crazy when they saw the K-State C172 taxi by for departure. “K-State, K-State, K-State” screamed the kids.
This link has a good time lapse video of our departures from Concordia.
It felt like “Helicopter Day!” at Freeman Field (3JC) in Junction City. The Fort Riley 1st Infantry Division Brigade brought several helicopters, from an Apache to a twin engine Chinook, and the local EMS operator had their air ambulance helicopter out on display as well. I personally enjoyed that stop since I intend to work on my helicopter add-on in the near future. I learned a bit more about helicopter flying and operations from the pilots and crew.
Trying out all the helicopters
Parking area at 3JC
I never want anybody to need these type of services when, they are needed, they are the best!
And, the bitter sweet moment came… we made it to our last stop: Emporia (KEMP).
Left downwind for KEMP
The “Cook Boys” (Greg Thomas and Jason Wojteczko from K50 – Cook Airfield) won the aviator golf (flour bombing) contest. I guess all those thousands of skydives came in handy for Jason. He understands exactly when and how to drop the bomb.
Then we were off to some real golf as a networking activity. No luck getting the ball from the tee box to the hole but laughs were flowing! Most of us were swinging for the first time so we were happy to make it outside the tee box.
On Friday, a few went to Beaumont and the rest went home.
Lady aviators of this year’s Air Tour – higher than normal statistic! (left to right) Yasmina Platt, Tiffany Brown, Vicki Hunt, Star Novak (below), Pat Hockett, Phyllis Blanton, and Kari Lee.
We hope you can join next time as the Air Tour provides us with a great opportunity for comradery among the pilots and passengers, increasing aviation activity around the state, showing the local community the importance and economic impact of their airport, introducing our youth and others to aviation as both a hobby and a career, all while showcasing and learning about different aviation entities at different airports and reaching out to our members and ASN Volunteers among other things.
The comments from the parents and teachers involved were great.
No official word on whether or not there will be an Air Tour in 2016 since it takes a lot of work and commitment from many people, but keep your eyes open and your ears tuned in case there is one. The rumor is there will be one in 2017 and every other year after that.
Until then, fly safe and fly often!
July 3, 2016 update: Here is the proposed route for the 2016 #FlyKansas Air Tour.
BLOGS ON THIS PAGE
- Showcasing "Kansas Aviation is for Everybody"... The 2014 Fly Kansas Air Tour
- The 2015 #FlyKansas Air Tour