by Christopher Roy, Director
Minnesota DOT Office of Aeronautics
The first vestiges of fall are showing up in many places. Though this may herald the end of summer, it also heralds a beautiful time when flying can be most spectacular. With cool, crisp days and bright blue skies, we can fly over our diverse landscape and enjoy the myriad of colors of the season. And we have 135 great airports to visit around our beautiful state.
It is also a time of the year when millions of birds are migrating south along the Mississippi Flyways. You may know that a vast number of migrating birds will fly south at various altitudes. A majority of them can be found between just above ground level through 7,000 feet AGL, though most strikes occur at or below 3,000 feet AGL. So please stay aware and remain alert.
This is also the time of year when some aviators begin to prepare their aircraft and hangars for a winter hiatus. Just because your plane takes the winter off doesn’t mean you should. Why not use this time to thoroughly review your Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) and Airman’s Information Manual/Federal Aviation Regulations (AIM/FAR)? It is also a great time to attend several FAA safety seminars where you not only can hear the latest safety and flying information, but you can also enjoy the warmth and camaraderie of fellow aviators. This is an opportunity to hear and share best practices, and begin to make plans for the coming spring.
Grab a flying buddy and start planning to participate in the “Fly Minnesota Airports” (FMA) program if you haven’t already begun to do so. It is not only a lot of fun, but also offers some nice rewards for those pilots who complete the program. Check out the details at: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/aero/ and click on the FMA passport at the bottom of the page! You’ll be very happy you did.
I urge you to take advantage of the fall season. There is certainly a lot of beauty to be seen from the ground. But when seen from the air, it is magnified many times over in the variety and expanse of color and texture that can be seen and enjoyed. The sun is warm, but the air is fresh and crisp. It makes for a nearly perfect reason to fly and enjoy fall’s approach.