By Jim Timm
I hope all of you have been able to start the new year right by getting in some time aviating around. The weather has been great, and there are a lot of places for us to fly out for that proverbial $100 Breakfast or Hamburger Lunch. Let’s get out and do it, but do it safely!! Our calendar is full of fly in events both in the front country and the backcountry. See you there.
The date May 1, 2017 may not be important to many people, but for more than 25,000 pilots it is a very significant date, as it marked the implementation of BasicMed, the biggest shift in aeromedical certification for general aviation pilots since the 1960’s. In its nine months of existence, BasicMed has in fact stimulated an interest in aeromedical reform around the globe. Perhaps the most noteworthy accomplishment is that of giving thousands of pilots a chance to fly again and simplify aeromedical certification. The new regulations permit pilots to fly aircraft up to 6,000 lbs., fly up to 250 KTS indicated air speed with five passengers, day or night in VFR or IFR conditions, and at altitudes up to 18,000 feet. The BasicMed pilot must take an online aeromedical course every two years and visit a state licensed physician for a physical exam every four years. The aircraft limitations cover most general aviation airplanes that we fly, and the medical requirements are not difficult to comply with. It was a tough fight to get BasicMed implemented, but it certainly was worth it.
It seems that very little has been said about FAA Administrator Michael’s Huerta’s term of office ending on January 6, 2018. President Trump has not yet named his replacement, and until that happens, Deputy Administrator Daniel Elwell will be taking his place. Mr. Elwell was previously a senior official at Airlines for America, an airline lobbying group, and he also ran his own aviation consulting firm, Elwell and Associates, in Washington. He served in the U.S. Air Force and the Air Force Reserve, including combat service during Operation Desert Storm, and he flew for American Airlines for 16 years. Given this background experience, I hope he will also fully understand the concerns of the general aviation segment of the aviation community and provide a seamless transition in continuing the mission of the FAA.
Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ) recently received a notification from the FAA that, because they have received federal funding, they will need to come into compliance with their FAA Grant Assurances by permitting Sky Dive operations on CGZ. We realize this decision was based only the letter of the law, and not on the realities of the situation at hand. With the significant amount of air traffic, including corporate jets, and the intense amount of instrument training occurring at CGZ, to permit a parachute drop zone on the airport property would not be possible without presenting very serious safety problems. The issue is being discussed with legal counsel to determine a viable course of action, and assistance from aviation groups in the near future may be solicited when that suitable course of action is determined. APA is closely monitoring the situation and will keep you informed.
Boeing is still conducting heavy lift test operations in the area around Gateway Airport (IWA) with H-47 Chinook helicopters. Be alert and use caution.
Falcon Field (FFZ) is in the process of replacing their runway and taxiway lights with LEDs and there will be runway and taxiway closures to accomplish the task. Check NOTAMS for closures; one of the runways will always remain open.
On Saturday, March 24, 2018, Falcon Field will be having an open house, and it’s anticipated that they may possibly have an aerobatic display. Be sure to put it on your calendar.
Chandler Municipal Airport (CHD) will be having an open house on Saturday, February 10, 2018 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Lunch will also be available on the field from food trucks. It’s being planned as a family event.
Deer Valley Airport (DVT) has new run up area construction project going on. So watch for NOTAMS and use caution.
In other words, before taking off, always be sure to check for NOTAMS at your destination airport so you don’t have an unexpected surprise awaiting you. With the cooler winter weather, many of the airports around the state have construction projects under way, or possibly an open house. So always fly informed.
I can’t believe it, but this past reporting period we received five notices of GPS interference testing that was going to be occurring at Barstow, CA; Yuma, AZ; and White Sands, NM; all within a few days of receipt of the notice. The White Sands testing however will be occurring January 27 thru February 24 from 0700Z to 1030Z and could impact eastern Arizona. Once again, if at any time you encounter an unexplained loss of GPS navigation signal lasting more than a minute or two, notify the nearest FAA Air Traffic Control facility advising them of the time, location, altitude, and nature of the signal loss, and also please advise APA with the same information.
Flight safety in the last reporting period has been excellent with the NTSB reporting only one accident in Arizona. The positive side of it was that the accident reported was minor in nature and resulted in either minor or no injuries. See my February Aviation Accident Summary for details and a 2017 year end summary.
APA is still working with various airports around the state, providing the pilot and aircraft owner’s perspective in the process of updating their Airport Master Plans. Adding to the list of airports that are updating their master plans, Mesa Falcon Field (FFZ) has just initiated their master plan update process. An update of the Superior Municipal Airport (E81) master plan, Sedona Airport (SEZ), Flagstaff (FLG), and Grand Canyon Airport (GCN) master plans are also 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 Falcon Field EAA Warbirds Squadron fly in breakfast and car show is on the third Saturday of the month.
- 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 lunch is made available by APA at the USFS Grapevine Airstrip (88AZ) next to Roosevelt Lake. $8 per person donation encouraged.
- 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 $8 and kids $5.
- The Tucson Airport Authority has completed the renovation of the restaurant at Ryan Field, and it’s now open under the name of Richie’s Cafe. The hours are 6:00 am to 2:00 pm doing breakfast and lunch daily.