Talk about a long, hot summer… this has really been one to remember. Fortunately, with the coming of September, perhaps we will start to see the temperatures begin to come down. I don’t particularly care to have to get up well before dawn to go flying so it can be halfway tolerable. The type of flying I now do has undergone some rather significant changes. Because of the virus pandemic, I have given up flying someplace for breakfast, because at this point in my life, contracting the virus would probably be the end of me, and I still have a lot of flying I want to do. It’s part of my DNA. Because I don’t have a need to fly someplace for a specific reason, I have been flying to new places and revisiting places I haven’t seen for a long time. I’m discovering that some of these long-ago landing strips no longer exist, and either the desert has reclaimed them, or something has been constructed on the site. It’s an interesting and sometimes disturbing encounter.
I’ve heard comments that flying activity has slowed down in the past few months, but other than perhaps the foreign student training that may be winding down, there still seems to be a lot of airplanes out there when I look at the ADS-B targets on my iPad. One slow down I have noted is the sudden lack of NTSB accident reports in Arizona. I have wondered if it’s because the marginal accident-prone pilots have stopped flying, or is it the pilots in general have become much more careful in their flying because of the pandemic, or maybe combination of the both. The NTSB certainly hasn’t closed up shop, I’m sure. Whatever it is, I hope this present accident rate continues. It’s good to be preparing short accident reports. In any case, I hope all of you out there are able to fly as much as you want, and please continue to do it safely.
Because of the present pandemic, not a lot seems to be happening, and this month’s report will be short. A positive note, however, is that all the usual meetings are continuing, either as a teleconference or a video-conference meeting. No more spending a lot of time driving to meetings, and the meetings are shorter, but just as productive.
There has been a change in the traffic pattern altitude at Chandler Municipal Airport (CHD). The Fixed-wing TPA is now 2300MSL and Helicopter TPA is 1900MSL. For those of you familiar with the Taxiway Charlie helicopter ops, their normal TPA will increase by 100’ up to 1900MSL, but the 180 auto-rotations will remain at/below 2000MSL, as they have in the past. Also, the CHD NDB 4R Approach will be discontinued and the NDB will be decommissioned.
As all of you are aware, with the hot and dry weather we have been having, the forest fire season is in full swing, so use extreme caution to watch for and avoid forest fire TFRs. If you enter one of these TFRs, all aviation suppression activity is stopped, resulting in further spreading of the fire. Besides, you will most likely get a chance to discuss your flight into the TFR with the FAA.
Speaking of TFRs, with the political season in full swing, there may be Presidential or VIP TFRs that could pop up. Be aware that these Presidential TFRs are established by the Secret Service, NOT the FAA. If you penetrate one of these TFRs you can be assured of having an F16, or equivalent, on you wing tip to escort you to a landing, and a meeting with guys in dark suits, and even darker dispositions, making a bad day even worse. So be aware.
I thought this would end once we had ADS-B implemented, but last month we are still receiving last minute notices of GPS interference testing being conducted that could impact us in Arizona. Remember, if you get an unexplained interruption of GPS signal lasting for a few minutes, notify the nearest FAA controlling facility and advise of the altitude, time, and location of the interruption.
Aviation safety in the past reporting period was apparently very good; the NTSB didn’t issue any notices of accidents that occurred, nor have I heard of any accidents. The NTSB is obviously still working, because they did release three Preliminary or Findings reports of previous accidents, and the details of these three reports are contained in my September Accident Summary. Please continue to fly safe.
Now that the FAA requires aircraft to have ADS-B, pilots may have an increased sense of security, thinking they know how many aircraft are sharing their same airspace. This may not always be a true picture of the situation. We must remember, many aircraft may still not have ADS-B, or may not be required to comply with the mandate. To know who is out there, you need a Traffic Advisory System (TAS) or a Traffic alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). There are systems available out there, but in the meantime, always keep your eyes open and be alert. Don’t bury your head in the cockpit, and don’t rely solely on your ADS-B system to tell you who is out there with you.
If the COVID-19 restrictions and the very hot summer weather have kept you close to home or work, the promise of cooler weather is in the wings, and there are many pilots out there that may be chomping at the bit to go flying again. Before you do, there is a question that you may want to ask: Is your logbook up to speed to get you flying again? Did you miss a flight review or proficiency check over the last few months? Check out this brief article to learn how to properly understand and record logbook endorsements: https://medium.com/faa/understanding-logbook-endorsements-b34e74733717
Despite the hot weather, there are many airports around the state with construction projects in progress or planned to start. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the latest details on all these projects, so check for NOTAMs at your destination airport to see what may be happening, and when you do get there, use caution. Always fly informed.
APA is continuing work with a number of airports around the state assisting with the updating of their Airport Master Plans, providing the pilot and aircraft owner’s perspective in the process. Chandler Municipal Airport (CHD), Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport (HII), Superior Municipal Airport (E81), Sedona Airport (SEZ), Flagstaff (FLG), Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport (IFP), and Grand Canyon Airport (GCN) are currently in the Master Plan update process.
THINGS TO DO - PLACES TO FLY FOR BREAKFAST:
Because of the present virus pandemic, many of the airport restaurants have take-out service available. Call ahead.
- The fly in breakfast at Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08), normally on the first Saturday of the month, has stopped for the summer. The next Fly In Breakfast season is scheduled to restart October 3, 2020.
- The Falcon Field EAA Warbirds Squadron fly in breakfast and car show is normally on the third Saturday of the month. The breakfast has stopped for the summer and should resume in October.
- The third weekend of the month APA has a camping potluck at Grapevine Airstrip. Lunch is no longer served on these weekends. Weekend camping is often being planned. Always check for TFRs because Grapevine, which lies within a National Forest, is heavily used by the Forest Service for fighting wildfires.
- The last Saturday of the month there was a fly in breakfast at Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ). Due to the Coronavirus crises, the Foxtrot cafe was forced to close on July 18.
Check with the APA Getaway Flights program and online calendar for fun weekend places to fly.