News & Information You’ll Want To Know In Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska & Iowa
by Yasmina Platt
Manager, AOPA Central Southwest Region
Have you ever flown on an air tour? I recently joined the 2014 Fly Kansas Air Tour – part of a week-long series of aviation events around the state held September 22-26 as part of the Kansas Aviation Expo.
What a great experience! Can you imagine… flying about 700 nm in 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? That’s what Joey Colleran, AOPA’s Director of the Airport Support Network (ASN) program, and I did when we participated in the air tour.
Lots of aircraft, including some pilots who did not participate in the air tour, came to the Wellington Municipal Airport (KEGT) to kick it off with officials from the Kansas DOT-Aviation Division and locals. Skydivers brought down the U.S. flag as the local high school band sang the national anthem and a Stearman with smoke flew around them. A local ag operator performed an ag spraying demonstration and lots of local students got the chance to walk around all the aircraft. And Kansas Governor Sam Brownback showed his appreciation by proclaiming the week as “Aviation Appreciation Week.”
We then flew to Hutchinson (KHUT) for lunch at the Airport Steakhouse before traveling to the Cosmosphere for a behind-the-scenes tour and aerodynamics activities with local students. 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.
We were on to Dodge City (KDDC) for the night where Joey and I had a good time showing a group of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (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 started off with a stop at Scott City (KTQK) where we toured the Spencer Flight Training Center – 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 in flight.
The flight to Salina was our longest leg, 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’s aviation program.
And we made it to the Capital… Topeka – Philip Billard Municipal Airport (KTOP)… to learn about the Aviation Explorers Post 8, where 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 with KDOT Secretary Mike King.
On Wednesday, we were off to Pittsburg (KPTS) where one of the largest student crowds was awaiting our arrival. This stop focused on business aviation because several local companies operate aircraft. We talked about using the Archer for AOPA business and they understood it well when we put it in perspective and worked some example trips with them.
And, because “aviation means independence” everywhere, but especially in Independence, Kansas, we stopped at KIDP. A group of kids had already taken the tour of the Cessna facility, so they were pumped to see the aircraft pull up. We 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 people.
All along the three-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 each local community the importance of their airport, including the access and economic impact it provides. Joey and I were also able to meet with our wonderful Airport Support Network Volunteers (ASNVs) along the route and even recruited some new ones.
We invite you to consider flying the 2015 Fly Kansas Air Tour, already being organized for September 28-30.
As always, you can stay up-to-date with my schedule and regional happenings via our Twitter page: www.twitter.com/@AOPACentralSW.