Staying in touch with the chapter members in this time of social distancing. So tell us, what have you been doing to stay connected to flying, the IAC, training and just life?

Brian Pham: I’ve been flying in places where mountains fall out of the clouds.

When this the stay at home order hit, we closed our office and I had a lot of time, so I have been flying a lot. Some aerobatics, some formation flying with the RV guys, and some putting around just-having-fun type of flying.  I also finished the condition inspection on the Laser, had some really fun flights with it, then sold it. It was sold to a retired F18 fighter pilot who came down with his buddy who’s also an F18 guy.  The three of us had a blast with some formation flying as I escorted them out of LA. It was a bit surreal to watch my Laser fly without me flying in it! I never realized what a nice looking bird she is, especially from the air.  Now, I’ll start working on the Sportsman Known and Free Sequences more seriously (instead of just having fun doing things that have nothing to do with my sequence like practicing vertical rolls, snaps, rolling circles, and generally just goofing off, LOL). Our office is slowly opening back up, so soon I’ll be working full time again and not as much time to practice.  But for now, I’m still flying at about twice a week. Sometimes as much as four times a week!

Here’s a video of me flying with the guy who bought my Laser and his buddy.

Eric A: Having your plane in APV has allowed lots of time in the box this spring: “I have my main focus within CH 26 for 2020 is fundamentals regarding any variant of rotations; Spins, Snaps, Rolls in all lines and figures possible. Perhaps tumbling too?”

When pressed for a more verbose response from Eric I learned much about the APV airport cat “Taco”; taking a page from the reverse spelling of Citabria is airbatic, the reverse spelling of taco cat… is taco cat. This cat apparently lives in Tim Just’s hanger. But who scoops the litter box? When the old APV airport restaurant closed this cat had been living off the scraps from the restaurant. Discovered by Graham Gitlin and Jennifer Rich, it was skinny and starving. “Taco” now seems to be the Chapter 26 mascot and the resident hanger mouser. Taco now appears to me to be well feed and cared for!

Continuing on the animal rescue side: While Tim Just was coaching Susan Bell in the APV box, this pup just trotted up to Tim. Well fed and in good shape, but with no collar or micro chip this adolescent bundle of joy had obviously been dumped in the middle of nowhere. Thank goodness our team was out there practicing and this dog was not too afraid to approach them. A check with the vet shows him in good health, so now to find him a good home. Do we need to register as a “Animal Rescue Group”?

Lloyd Massey (your newsletter editor): My wife and I took the Super Decathlon, “Bessie” on an 8 day trip flying around Arizona and New Mexico; Taos, Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Gallop, Winslow and spent a few days at most stops. I attended Jim Bourke’s Judges School in early February at SZP. To get ready for the spring competitions I took a spin refresher training at CP Aviation in SZP (Santa Paula) with Mark King. Inverted and accelerated and every crazy spin we could come up with. A great review of the EMT training. We also reviewed the maneuvers required for the Sportsman known sequence. I had hoped to compete at the sportsman level in 3 or 4 competitions this year. I had also hoped to attend multiple CH 26 Training weekends in APV in April. Of course, all the competitions are now canceled for the spring and early summer… Bessie is now in annual.

I rarely have full fuel because I either do not need that much or I plan to do acro, but the trip to New Mexico revealed a slight leak in the right wing fuel tank when full. The leak was very small and only when the tank was absolutely full. Cracks in the fuel tanks are a fairly common problem on pre 2005 Decathlons and Citabrias. The left fuel tank had already been replaced by the original owner with a newer (post 2005) fuel tank. So as of May 11, the right wing has been removed from Bessie, the new fuel tank is installed and the first 1/4 of the wing has been re covered with new fabric (pictured)… paint to take place late this week or next week (trying to get paint that is color matched is proving tough).

I went through 737 Captain upgrade with United airlines just in time for the COVID lock down and subsequent economic and travel industry collapse. After finishing my final check ride in the simulator on March 21, I have not done a thing and have nothing on my United schedule. I was told to expect to go back to being a first officer this summer. To keep my mind sharp in this flying drought, I have been reading: Rich Stowell’s 2 books, “Emergency Maneuver Training” and “Stall/Spin Awareness”. I am now well into Alan Cassidy’s book “Better Aerobatics”. I hope to have the Decathlon back in time to spend a late May weekend in APV training with fellow Ch 26 members and look forward to the fall competitions, maybe even going to Corvallis if it still happens.

New Box Markers

Susan Bell and Eric A. ventured to a hardware store in May (social distancing and wearing masks) to procure sheetrock to refresh several of the APV practice box markers. When the old markers were located, it was surprising that they could even be seen from the sky in their current state. The new markers might not be perfectly square, but they are very visible! Once things open back up and we can hold practice days, there is no excuse to not know where you are in the APV box.

The Fox Field west practice box was also updated and painted by Mike Hartenstine in May. These boxes need yearly upkeep and maintenance and I am grateful for all the people that pitch in to make this sport happen!

Susan Bell: In February, I flew up to Merced and presented my Competition Aerobatics 101 talk to the EAA Gateway 1401 chapter. Wonderful bunch of pilots and enthusiasts who were really intrigued by the sport of aerobatics. Had several kids and potential EAA members in the audience, and several others had planned come out to the Coalinga contest to watch the flying. After a long presentation with many questions, we visited my Extra at the airport and went for a late lunch. I was presented with a Merced airport cap and pot of tulips, which I did manage to buckle in the front seat for the flight home.

This spring I made a planned move from Pasadena to Apple Valley, which was an interesting experience as things shut down as stay-at-home orders went into effect. I am borrowing a hangar at APV while waiting for one to open up to lease, and I’m practicing almost every day. Getting some great coaching in and planning on flying Intermediate at Nationals. Plus trying to make friends with Taco Cat at the airport.

Zinnia Kilkenny: Chapter 49 held a successful judges school instructed by Jim Bourke in February. Approximately one month later, most went into shelter-in-place. As for myself, I self-imposed a SIP one week earlier. While not ideal, I used this time to get into a place of stillness and quiet. I attempted to use this time constructively, and to my surprise (as well as my waistline’s), I just may emerge as the Gordon Ramsay-esque home chef I’ve always aspired.

While grounded, two National Judges administered the final oral review requirement for becoming a National Judge. Though I wasn’t flying in the box, I was flipping through the rule book, rigorously answering questions of what I’m certain were challenging past scenarios brought before contest jurors and chief judges. As the current situation improves, and Foxy Figures is a go, I’ll cut my teeth as a newly minted NJ and chief judge during the glider portion of the contest.

Before I bid adieu, and until we physically meet in our aerobatic sisterhood and brotherhood, Jim Bourke has announced his campaign for IAC president. Jim’s agenda can be found at: Jim Bourke Airshows, additionally on his Facebook group: Jim Bourke for IAC President. Voting opens June 24. Take care, and continue in health and safety.

IAC news and competitions

Competitions have been cancelled for the spring and early summer. While some groups have been doing training camps, it seems many pilots and owners have taken this time to do ADSB upgrades or heavy maintenance. Competitions will resume as states open up. As of the endow May, the August Corvallis contest, our Foxy Figures, and an Apple (something) in Ephrata are still planned. We have learned that Nationals is still on in late September.

Fox (KWJF) Practice Box Update: Within a month, the waiver for a new practice box at Fox Field will hopefully be in hand. This box is not yet marked, but is in the same position as the Foxy Figures contest box one mile north of the field. We will be able to hold practice days at Fox in the future, especially before our contest there. A reminder about box waivers — these boxes “belong” to specific pilots named on the waivers. They are not public or open to other pilots to use without a named pilot explaining the waiver restrictions. The box also must be properly opened with the controlling authority. Our Chapter Practice Days, when they resume, are our members’ chance to fly in these boxes and get coaching from the ground.

The next judges school to be held in Santa Paula (KSZP) will be Feb 6-7, 2021.

Personally I have not “binged watch any TV shows, That makes me a bit out of touch about some guy with his Lions and Meth and large cat rescue. While not getting those current event jokes I have been going through EAA/IAC and FAA webinars that are archived and watching some of them to learn and feel entertained by my favorite subject. Here is another link to webinars and videos about coaching camps:

If you haven’t picked up your chapter polo shirt because practice days were canceled, never fear that they are safe in Susan’s hangar. We will distribute them as soon as we can hold a practice day later this year.

That is all for this spring. Be safe, stay healthy and fly often until we see each other again.

by Lloyd Massey, IAC Chapter 26 Secretary


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