On Saturday, April 12th the Nashua Airport (KASH) & Daniel Webster College (DWC) opened up their runway, ramp and campus to the pilots of New England. With 50+ aircraft packed on the normally baron ramp, the event was a true success!
My former student Peter and I flew up from Mansfield (1B9) to Nashua, NH (KASH) in his Piper Challenger, and it was a beautiful morning to fly, crystal clear & smooth as could be! Upon arrival we parked on the main ramp, where at the time the 10-ish aircraft already parked made the ramp seem full compared to its normal state these days…
On a typical Tuesday/Thursday I park at the aviation center (tower building) and walk across Perimeter Road onto the main campus to teach my first course of the day, Airport Ops, in the Eaton-Richmond Center (ERC) building. While DWC may not have a huge campus, it is an enjoyable walk, with a great atmosphere. Making the same walk from the ramp to the ERC this past Saturday, we found a variety of vendors/exhibitors and the registration tables.
One of my extremely few complaints about the event is that there were no signs on/around the airport directing pilots where to go… Being an FAA-sponsored event, the priority should be centered around attendees that FLY in for the event (one of the few opinions you’ll see on this blog, but I’m right and YOU know it!), not around those who drive to the event. Being familiar with the facilities at both KASH & DWC I understand the way the event was laid out and it worked well, but it was EXTREMELY disappointing as it was clearly evident that pilots that flew in were not a priority and seemed to be a group of, “Oh you guys and ladies coming from over there…” To be fair, one of the sponsors did offer van rides from the ramp to the ERC building, however, there were no signs to indicate this, so unless the shuttle van was waiting there, you’d have no way to know this.
The event was designed to have running courses essentially from 930am to 5pm, a gigantic undertaking put into motions by Mr. John Wood of the Portland FSDO, who did a great job of coordinating and planning such an excellent event. It was great to see so many friendly faces from both the Portland and Boston FSDO offices as well as the New England Region FAA office. Mr. Wood even made time to spend 5 or so minutes answering some specific questions that I had, completely unrelated to the expo, he really cares about what he does and it shows!
The keynote speaker, Mr. Matt Zuccaro from Helicopter Association International (HAI) made a great presentation. My initial skepticism that his remarks would be too slanted towards helicopters turned out to be unfounded as he delivered great information and I was especially interested in the work HAI is doing for flight instructors. Working to establish flight instructing as a legitimate career, rather than a stepping-stone to something else for example, was a very interesting piece of the presentation.
The course offering was varied and the presenters were all genuinely excited about their presentation topics, at least for the seminars I attended. One of the presentations that I really enjoyed was the “Can Your Airport Really Perform?” Three gentlemen, all instructors, from Parlin Field in New Hampshire delivered a great seminar course. The content was rich with three very pointed examples that showed the importance of adding safety margins to the “book’ performance numbers. I thought the examples were so good that I asked on of the presenters if they would email me their presentation so that I could use the examples during the aircraft performance lesson of the private pilot ground school course that I teach. Russ, one of the presenters, emailed the presentation this week, thank you Russ!
One of the things that was a big takeaway from the event was illustrated on a poster on display with the vendors/exhibits that showed the accident numbers for pilots that have never, have previously and are currently participating in the FAA WINGs Program. The program clearly works, and if it shows that it makes pilot safer, why wouldn’t every pilot WANT to participate?
The numbers from that poster reflect the period from 2008 through 2010. The numbers below truly illustrate the value of the wings program…
2008 – 1,289 general aviation accidents, only 5 involved a pilot that was current with WINGs
2009 – 1,173 general aviation accidents, only 4 involved a pilot that was current with WINGs
2010 – 1,192 general aviation accidents, only 3 involved a pilot that was current with WINGs
You can join by visiting: www.faasafety.gov
Even though the attendance was excellent and many seminar courses were marked as “FULL” at the registration table as the day went on, I still believe that we could do better as a region. I would encourage every pilot in the New England area to be on the lookout for the 2015 event as I know we can have fit even more aircraft on the ramp at KASH and more pilots into the seminars! The more of us that participate the better off we will all be!
-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9