By Jim Timm
This past February we have had a few weekends messed up with bad weather, preventing flying out for breakfast or lunch, but overall, outside of the rainy weekends, the flying was great. We need to take advantage of our good flying weather while we can. There are a lot of aviation events coming up soon. When you are out there attending some of them, if they are at uncontrolled fields, fly with heightened awareness, and have a safe and fun time. I hope to be seeing you at some of them. Just Fly Safe!
There is a lot of interest being expressed by pilots about replacing their Class 3 Medical Certificate with the new BasicMed Rule. When considering the change, remember the restrictions; pilots cannot operate an aircraft weighing more than 6,000 pounds and cannot have more than six people on board, IFR operations are allowed, but pilots must fly at less than 18,000 MSL and no faster than 250 knots. Pilots using BasicMed also cannot fly for compensation or hire, and must fly only within the United States.
To qualify for BasicMed, pilots also must have held a medical that was valid any time after July 15, 2006. New student pilots must obtain a medical certificate, but then they can operate under BasicMed to keep it current. The restrictions are pretty generous and if they are not a problem for you, BasicMed may be the way to go. There have been questions raised about doctor’s willingness to perform the basic med exams, but we are hopeful that this will not become a problem, particularly if you already have a family doctor that knows you and your medical status.
In spite of the Presidents executive order putting a freeze on new regulations, BasicMed is still set to go into effect May 1, and pilots should use the intervening months to get ready to take full advantage of the new regulations. Pilots must note that they cannot operate under BasicMed until the new rules take effect on May 1, and then they must first meet certain requirements to fly under BasicMed. Pilots who have held a regular medical certificate or special issuance anytime on or after July 15, 2006, and whose most recent medical was not suspended, revoked, or withdrawn, can fly under BasicMed by getting a physical exam by a state-licensed physician in accordance with a checklist that will be filled out by the pilot and the physician, and then completing the online aeromedical course. Remember, only Medical Doctors may perform the exam, not a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant. Pilots should take those steps in that order because upon successful competition of the aeromedical course, specific information must be transmitted to the FAA such as the name, address, and contact information for the pilot as well as the physician who performed the exam, the date of the examination, an authorization for a National Driver Registry check, and the pilot’s certifications acknowledging their fitness to fly. The FAA is currently working on finalizing the checklist for the physical exam.
To be ready, now is the time to start digging into the details of the new BasicMed rules so you will be prepared when the date rolls around to start participation. In the back of my mind I have this nagging question, if you are not now flying with a special issuance medical certificate, is the new BasicMed process going to be so complex and difficult that it may be easier to simply get a Class 3 Medical Certificate?
The new sectional charts in May will have Grapevine Airstrip on Roosevelt Lake marked with a new identifier and a CTAF of 122.9. It took the APA and RAF Backcountry teams a lot of hard work, but it will finally happen. While charted as private, it will be open for non-commercial use without prior permission. Please note, training is not allowed here and camping reservations will be made through the APA. When it hits the chart, we’ll let you know, and be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules of use and respect the land manager’s vision as we don’t want to lose their support! Don’t jump the gun, please wait for our announcement to land at what will be the second airstrip we’ve successfully charted (or re-charted) on USFS lands here in Arizona! Until then, we’ll hope to see you there the third weekend of each month, and these monthly group fly-ins will continue even after it is charted. The port-a-john will continue to be there October through May.
From March 31-April 3 the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four event will be happening in Phoenix with its associated events, such as parades and concerts, which I’m sure will most likely result in some TFRs. The Luke RAPCON will be open and the SATAR will be in effect. NOTAMs will be filed, so if planning on flying that weekend, check for NOTAMs for PHX, GYR, GEU, SDL, and DVT, and use extra caution.
FFZ is planning an Airport Open House on Saturday, March 25th. There will be a number of military and general aviation aircraft on display and an auto show in the airport park. The airport also announced they are moving closer to getting an ASOS but the commissioning date still is unannounced.
There is a new RNAV GPS RWY 30R Approach into Gateway that will published later this year. Starting March first, Gateway Airport will be reinstituting their parking fee of $20 for parking at the General Aviation Terminal. The fee will be waived with a purchase of 10 gallons of fuel. Because of the very diverse size and type of airplanes using the terminal facilities, ranging from large military to smaller general aviation, be sure to follow the lineman's directions as to where to safely park. APA met with the airport director and terminal manager to discuss the parking fees and their negative impact on general aviation activity at Gateway and on the FAA Wings Safety Seminars that are being presented at Gateway Airport. In the interest of promoting aviation safety, they agreed that parking fees at the General Aviation Terminal would be waived for pilots attending the FAA Wings Safety Seminars if they could give the terminal a few days prior notification or upon arrival that they will be attending the Wings Seminar and provide evidence upon departure that they had attended the seminar. I think it’s a positive step forward, and we will have to see how it works out.
Please be aware, there are still a lot of major and minor construction projects going on at many airports around the state, particularly in the Phoenix area. Unfortunately, the activity will be going on for several months, so before you take off, make sure you check for NOTAMS at your destination airport so you don’t have a surprise awaiting you when you arrive.
From a flight safety standpoint, the last reporting period started rather badly with an accident that occurred very late in January at Tucson International Airport that resulted in two fatalities. However, the reporting period did end well in that there were no reported accidents from the NTSB or my other sources for the rest of the period ending very late in February. I would hope that everyone has been flying as usual during this time, but doing it safely, and I hope we can keep the trend going and have a safer year than we had last year. For the details of the January accident, see my March Accident Summary.
APA is still continuing to work with various airports around the state, providing the pilot and aircraft owner’s perspective in the process of updating their Airport Master Plans. The City of Superior has just started an update of their Municipal Airport master plans. An update of the Sedona Airport (SED), Flagstaff, and Grand Canyon Airport (GCN) master plans are currently in process.
THINGS TO DO - PLACES TO GO FOR BREAKFAST:
- The fly in breakfast at Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08) is on the first Saturday of the month.
- The second Saturday of the month, Ryan Field has been the fly in breakfast destination until the Tucson Airport Authority closed the restaurant down in January. The Airport Authority is undertaking a major renovation of the building inside and out, and they are seeking a restaurant operator that will expand the hours of operation from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm when renovations are complete. We have not heard of an opening date yet.
- The Mesa Falcon Field EAA Warbirds Squadron fly in breakfast and car show is on the third Saturday.
- The third Saturday of the month there is a fly in breakfast at Benson (E95) at Southwest Aviation. (There are special fuel prices for breakfast attendees.)
- Also on the third Saturday, around noon, a donation lunch is served by APA at the USFS Grapevine Airstrip next to Roosevelt Lake.
- The last Saturday of the month there is a fly in breakfast at Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ). The Airport’s restaurant, Foxtrot Cafe, operating in the Terminal Building, is open 6:30am to 2:00pm Monday thru Saturday. On the last Saturday of the month they have a “Fly in Breakfast Special” available on the menu; the price for adults is $7 and kids $5.