Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Aviation Day 09
Saturday was the biggest day of the year for the KSU Aeronautics Department. The “Aviation Heritage Fair” is the new name for Aviation Day, which technically they are not allowed to call it anymore. It’s a little airshow but has some great strengths and I try to go every year. I worked my schedule to fly up to Ohio to help out and see friends from my old flight instructor world.
Things sure are different now, as my former students are the ones running the show. It’s actually very cool and fulfilling to see them stepping into the role that I was in just two years ago. I got to see one of my private students who just got his own instructor certificate a week ago. Flight team members who had just joined when I left are now senior members and officers of the club. Even a good friend from Six Flags/Geauga Lake has started the program and joined the flight team. It’s great to see them continue to build on the success that we started back in 2005.
The weather is always a big factor in how well the airshow goes over, and the last two years have been pretty miserable. Despite a forecast of rain early in the week, the weather was actually very nice all day. I parked my car by Target and walked the parameter to the main entrance. As I walked over, there was a nice rainbow over the hangar and the Cessna fleet. The pic doesn’t do it justice. As I got to the airport, I met Even and Myles who were putting up the signs for airplane rides.
The rides are a big operation, almost a little airline in itself. You have the flight instructors piloting the aircraft; the new flight team members are marshaling airplanes around the ramp under the control of the airport line staff; the senior flight team members are taking reservations and money, assigning crews and passengers, and checking weight & balance under the main tent. The Chief instructors are in charge of us all, but they are so busy throughout the day that we really end up working on our own and being responsible for ourselves. We’re used to it though as the entire airport is pretty much run by the students. It’s always awesome to see the teamwork and everyone works together so well.
I didn’t have much of a plan for the day other than to hang out with people, but as the show started and people arrived for the airplane rides, I began to see a job opening in scheduling. They had done well in making a time slot board, but I made a good system to tell the difference between reservations and completed flights, ways to prioritize flights, etc.. Airplanes would come and go in different orders, but we kept up all day and were never more than 10 minutes off of a passenger’s reserved slot. Even smoother than an airline! We had our share if issues too with the weight and balance. Cessnas are mostly trainers and aren’t able to carry the weight of 4 big people. We had issues with seatbelts not being long enough and too much weight in the front of the airplane, but we were able to accommodate everyone who was willing to work with us. (Only one group stormed off in a hissy fit) I feel it was one of the best years for rides and we made a lot of important cash for the flight team to compete next month.
The displays were alright, the main attraction was a restored C-47. It’s a military version of the DC-3. Also notable were a T-6 Texan, Parker Hannifin’s Citation Sovereign, the Goodyear Blimp, an Extra 300, and many General Aviation aircraft of all types. Flyovers were performed by a C-130 Hercules and a KC-135 Aerial Refueler. Unfortunately, the C-130 showed up about an hour late. The airshow is free though, so take what you can get. Many props to those who organized everything.
I did take an airplane ride myself with my dad, and it was nice to fly a Cessna again. It’s a lot more sensitive than the ol’ ATR. I was a little all over the place, but that’s what you get when you fly one once a year now. I had a good time with my dad watching the flyovers and taking the ride. For the rest of the time I volunteered doing the ride scheduling, and then helped to clean up when it was all done. All in all, a pretty good year for Aviation Day. The airport is always an issue in the city of Stow, for noise and real estate concerns, and we need all the good publicity we can get.
The next day I went out to the airport again to help the flight team practice. They were running a message drop practice followed by landings. In three hours, I think they got 4 heats of message drop in. That is way too little! It’s wasting time and resources. The airplanes are sitting on the ground, not being used and no one is getting any useful practice in. I think I’m going to write up a better schedule and method for them. Don’t know what happened between my departure and now, but that was aggravating. Landings went better. With only a month between now and regionals at Battle Creek, they need to be more efficient to get good practice in and be ready by then.
There’s a few more pics in the Gallery Page.