Training Tip: Just a local flight

This is, of course, a not-very-tricky trick question—and here’s a huge hint: Both pilots have the same duty of care. Preparing for two kinds of flights may require attention to different details, but one flight isn’t more worthy of dutiful preparation than the other.

For one pilot who downplayed the importance of preparing for flight within a familiar local area, the sequence of mental errors started with making a hybrid hash of preflight checks and cockpit organization, creating vulnerability to omissions with nothing left but luck to save the aircraft and occupants.

The Cessna 172 was in cruise at 2,000 feet when the engine failed just out of reach of the departure airport. The pilot’s choices for an off-airport landing were few in the damp fields below. Luckily, a paved road was within reach, and free of obstacles and traffic, permitting a safe landing.

What caused the engine failure?

Nothing exotic.

“Upon completion of the landing roll it was noticed that the fuel selector valve was positioned to the OFF position,” the pilot wrote, adopting a passive voice for composing an Aviation Safety Reporting System filing. “When positioned to BOTH the aircraft was able to be re-started and returned to the airport without further issues.”

The pilot peppered the report with descriptions of having used a tablet-based checklist for preflighting, then setting it aside and switching to a physical checklist during startup. The switchover somehow resulted in skipping the crucial check of the fuel selector valve’s position.

Now add a dash of rust and complacency to the recipe: The pilot wrote that the decision to remain local for the flight was “due to not flying for two months.” However, familiarity with the local area elicited the complacency error of stowing the trusty tablet—and with it, the engine-out checklist—beyond reach in a flight bag after preflighting.

Had the pilot followed accustomed preflighting practices, “the emergency checklist would have been readily available and the fuel selector valve would have been caught on the descent and the engine may have been able to be re-started,” the report said.

Have you begun to regard local flights as more “casual” than longer journeys? This narrow-escape tale offers an opportunity to re-evaluate the attitudes you have formed about risk.

Saving turtles also salvages senior year

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach, Florida, campus is within easy reach of the world’s most popular loggerhead turtle nesting sites along the state’s eastern shore. Not much was easy to reach in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, however, with shutdowns, social distancing, and travel off the table for many. Embry-Riddle moved classes online and shut down flight operations.

That left Andrés Larrota, a native of South America who moved to the United States nearly two decades ago, among many Embry-Riddle seniors in need of flight experience with graduation approaching fast.

Larrota has been aiming to become a professional pilot since his first encounter with aviation as a child, a six-hour red-eye flight from Colombia to New York that lit the spark.

“I did not sleep a single minute. I was just looking out the window to see what was going on and listen to all of the noises,” said Larrota, in a recent video chat.

That sleepless flight eventually led Larrota to Embry-Riddle, where he quickly earned his private pilot certificate and an instrument rating. Then, he discovered the school’s unmanned aviation offerings as a sophomore.

Larrota has a unique connection to unmanned aircraft systems: His father works in Colombia as a land surveyor and uses unmanned aircraft for photogrammetry and topography work. Larrota’s father gave the young pilot a DJI Phantom 4, and that proved to be enough to nudge him onto a new course studying UAS.

A rare Kemp's Ridley sea turtle builds her nest. (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.)Larrota was lined up for a study-abroad trip to the Balkan Peninsula when the pandemic struck, planning to join a team of professors and fellow students on a project to survey archaeological sites with UAS, and develop urban air mobility concepts as well.

“That was going to be my first hands-on experience,” Larrota said. “When the coronavirus hit I was left with nothing.”

He was stuck in Florida with time on his hands and not much to do, until he remembered a conversation with professor John Robbins, and decided to follow up. Robbins is Embry-Riddle’s unmanned aircraft systems program coordinator, and he had an opening on a team of eight students being assembled for a turtle conservation mission to work alongside staff from Northrop Grumman and the Brevard Zoo. The collaborative effort, known as “Turtle Tech,” seeks to learn more about the types of turtles inhabiting Florida’s Space Coast, and their nesting patterns.

Turtles might not be suffering the consequences of the coronavirus, but they do have other problems. While sea turtles might lay 100 eggs or more in each nest, biologists estimate that only one in 1,000—and perhaps as few as one in 10,000—hatchlings will reach adulthood. The reasons range from racoons to artificial lighting on beaches, and this attrition threatens the survival of many species of sea turtles.

That’s where Turtle Tech comes in. The program is working to launch a sophisticated surveillance effort to provide crucial conservation insights by documenting hatching events and migration behavior on a massive scale with minimal personnel. Turtle Tech has earned buy-in from several corporate, educational, and governmental organizations including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Sea Turtle Conservancy, among others.

“This just has the potential to bring out so much cool work and do some really good things for the turtles and conservation in general,” Robbins said in a video chat.

Larrota dug into this newfound opportunity with gusto, and spent much of the summer crafting procedures, researching airspace, and assessing the available unmanned aircraft technology.

Turtle Tech will use two types of unmanned aircraft systems to fly: the Applied Aeronautics Albatross, a fixed-wing platform with vertical takeoff and landing capability, and DJI quadcopters including the Matrice 210 for turtle close-ups. The versatile quadcopter can carry multiple payloads and capture detailed images of sea turtles, while the fixed-wing Albatross can cover more ground and loiter much longer, with endurance of up to about four hours per flight.

The two aircraft types will work in tandem, with the Albatross scanning a wide swath to locate turtles of interest up to 12 miles offshore, and the Matrice 210 closing in on turtles spotted by the Albatross to capture detailed images of the marks and patterns on the turtle shells, detail that will allow animal identification to be automated.

Richard Beers serves as a program and offshore leader for Northrop Grumman. He noted in a press release that unlike most drone-based surveillance efforts this tandem approach will yield far more data in a short time than would have been possible by more traditional means: ”This sequential approach will allow the team to populate a sea turtle database—without having to capture and attach tracking devices to each animal.”

The Embry-Riddle students have spent the past few months preparing the drones for launch by replacing servos, working on the airframes, and conducting test flights. Larrota looks forward to the moment when the entire team takes off for the first time: “How everyone came together to accomplish this one mission is what I’ve been most excited for.”

Like many unmanned aircraft missions, the data analysis piece is where much of the Turtle Tech magic will happen. Images captured by the aircraft will be loaded into a “neural network,” a powerful artificial intelligence platform trained to automatically identify turtles pictured in the vast trove of data. As turtles are identified, the system will match location data to the digitally captured turtles in the database. Engineers hope that this sophisticated survey will deliver insight about turtle behavior and movements that will help them more precisely target future efforts to preserve the population.

For Larrota, the project has given him confidence that he made the right decision transitioning from manned aviation to unmanned: “It’s surreal… To give information to biologists and researchers is the most exciting part of this, it’s actually making a difference for the animals.”

Student success is what inspires Robbins in the classroom.

“It’s a great experience to see them start to make the connection points; they’ve learned how to do this and now they’re applying it to the field,” he said. “The fusion between those two elements reminds us that we’ve done things right.”

 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University student Andrés Larrota and professor John Robbins prepare to fly a DJI Phantom 4 Pro. (Photo by Marc Compere, courtesy of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.)

Longtime ag pilot Randy Berry killed in crash

Berry, 67, was flying the school’s Piper Pawnee at the time of the accident, which occurred in a field south of Inverness Airport. “For unknown reasons, the plane crashed into the tops of trees in a heavily wooded area, catching fire,” the Citrus County Chronicle reported. Berry was the only occupant of the airplane.

Berry’s aviation career spanned more than 50 years and included aerial application and flight instructing. He and his wife, Beverly, founded Eagle Vistas in 2007, and the school has trained pilots from around the world. The Berrys were the focus of a feature article, “Homegrown,” in the September 2020 issue of AOPA Pilot. The Berrys have two apprentices at their flight school who are learning agricultural application. “He [Randy] does not want the legacy of this business to disappear with him,” Beverly Berry said in that article.

A memorial service with missing man formation will be held Saturday, October 3, at 11 a.m. at Inverness Airport in Florida. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Tyler Haymore Scholarship Foundation.

Facing a Reduction in Income? Here’s What You Should Do

Merely saying that things are difficult right now feels like a massive understatement but there are some hard-yet-necessary things you can do right now if you’re facing a reduced income.

Create a budget

The first thing I recommend is to get a tight grip on your spending and create a realistic budget.

I’ve found that when people really start paying attention to precisely where money is going, it becomes much easier to slash expenses and save.

Explore CARES Act options

The CARES Act offers several provisions, including mortgage forbearance for up to 360 days and, as a last resort, penalty-free withdrawals from your tax-deferred retirement accounts (such as a 401(k) or IRA) of up to $100,000. You have until the end of 2020 to do this.

I strongly encourage you to think very carefully before tapping into your retirement savings. While, thankfully, you won’t get hit with the usual 10% penalty for taking a withdrawal before age 59½, you will still eventually have to pay taxes on any withdrawals (the upside is that you’ll have three years to do it).

Consider refinancing

For homeowners, right now might be the ideal time to refinance your mortgage to a lower interest rate. The key is to reduce monthly outflow and conserve cash, even if it means refinancing to a 20 or 30-year loan.
While you have a lot of decisions to make, it’s imperative that you make the absolute best choices for your unique situation. Because some of these approaches are complex, if you aren’t already, procuring the help of a fiduciary advisor, is something you should consider.

Lastly, keep yourself protected for the future. While you need to cut expenses, you also need to make certain they are the right expenses. I’m referring to things like insurance coverage. Try not to let any key coverage slide or, I’m sorry to say, you run the risk of making a bad situation even worse.

Unfortunately, this is high-stakes financial chess, and the decisions you make right now will have long-lasting implications.

Know your options and continue to do your best to stay on course.

We will get through this.

Airport and nearby restaurant guide

Pilots should check for any travel restrictions and call ahead to the restaurant to make sure it will be open during the arrival window. Many restaurants have posted COVID-19 messages on their websites about operating at reduced-capacity indoor seating and reduced hours of operation. Other restaurants have been affected by recent hurricanes and are in the process of reopening. Sadly, some that members nominated (not listed here) have been forced to close permanently because of the pandemic. Supporting general aviation airports and the on-field or nearby restaurants is important, particularly during this difficult time. 


Dauphin Island: According to the town of Dauphin Island, restaurants in the area serve locally harvested seafood, such as “shrimp, oysters, fish and crab,” that is “mouthwatering.” Jeremiah Denton Airport puts you on the island to enjoy a plethora of restaurants listed on the “Visitors” page. Before flying here, check with the restaurants for their status. Restaurants are starting to reopen after Hurricane Sally.

Gulf Shores: Stop in at Jack’s Aces, the old terminal building at Jack Edwards National Airport, for a free bite to eat, or enjoy fresh seafood. Try the gumbo at Lulu’s and the fresh oysters at the Acme Oyster House. (Check the websites ahead of time or call the restaurants before flying in. As of September 23, Lulu’s was planning to reopen with normal hours on September 25 after Hurricane Sally, and Acme Oyster House had not yet posted a reopening date. Call the airport to find out about Jack’s Aces.)


Talkeetna: Talkeetna Airport is a short walk from town. Popular with tourists and mountain climbers flocking to Denali, the restaurants in Talkeetna serve huge portions. Get a sugar high at the Roadhouse with a cinnamon roll that takes up the entire plate (dining open only to overnight guests right now), enjoy pizza to go from Mountain High Pizza Pie, and try reindeer meat at Twister Creek Restaurant at Denali Brewing Co.


Sedona: The Mesa Grill at Sedona Airport serves all three meals with American and Southwestern dishes. “Our seasonally changing dinner menus feature customer favorites such as [Caesar] salads, table-side guacamole, Colorado red trout with crispy skin, fish and chips, and pulled pork barbeque,” the restaurant’s website says. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are also available. While you are eating, watch aircraft and take in the views of Sedona.

Seligman: Fly to Seligman Airport and explore a bit of Historic Route 66. Eat at Westside Lilo’s, a family-owned restaurant with an eclectic menu and all-day breakfasts, and amazing sandwiches.


Bentonville: Bentonville Municipal/Louise M. Thaden Field features Louise, located in The Fieldhouse at the airport; it is currently open Wednesday through Sunday for takeout only. The restaurant is named for Iris Louise McPhetridge Thaden, who was born in Bentonville and became a pioneering aviator with multiple women’s records. From Hippie Hash to biscuits and gravy, the ”Louise” Burger to grilled mahi-mahi, and Seasonal Pie in the Sky to the Runway Sundae, this restaurant offers something for everyone including gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options.

Lakeview: Gaston’s Airport is located along the White River and is part of Gaston’s White River Resort. The airport features a 3,200-foot-long Bermuda grass runway that pilots can use to drop in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The restaurant offers a full menu of steak, seafood, chicken, pasta, salads, sandwiches, and burgers.

Ozark: Get permission to land at Byrd’s Backcountry Airstrip, a privately owned, private-use grass strip at the Byrd’s Adventure Center, and “enjoy steaks, trout, catfish, chicken, smoked meats, burgers, sandwiches, salads, breakfast, and homemade desserts” at the Riverfront Restaurant. It’s open Friday to Sunday, March to December. The restaurant offers the best fried pies.


Camarillo: Enjoy patio dining at The Waypoint Café at Camarillo Airport. The restaurant’s signature items include old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes, a spicy chicken sandwich, ice cream milkshakes, Tri Tip Caesar salad, and the Smokehouse BBQ Burger. It’s a popular fly-in eatery, so ask ground control for transient parking or the Waypoint Café after landing.

Oceano: Oceano County Airport is better known for flying in to visit the beaches just a walk or bike ride away. But, you can also fly in and enjoy about a two-mile walk to Fin’s Bar and Grill near the Pismo Beach Golf Course. The restaurant touts its fish and chips. Also nearby, the Rock and Roll Diner will take you back to the 1950s with its train-car building, 1950s- and 60s-era music, and classic milkshakes. It offers American, Greek, and Mexican dishes.

Oceanside: After landing at Bob Maxwell Memorial Airfield, borrow a bike through the airport’s bike program to head to the Oceanside Harbor for fresh seafood. There’s also an amazing, authentic Mexican seafood restaurant, Mariscos Huatulco, within walking distance.

Redding: Benton Field features the Airpark Café, which “serves up delicious breakfast and lunches from a second floor outdoor deck overlooking the field,” one pilot explained. The seating area also provides a view of the mountains. The restaurant is open daily, but at slightly reduced hours, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Check the restaurant’s Facebook page for menu items and events.

Rosamond: Craving pizza? Fly to Rosamond Skypark and eat your heart out at Guido’s @ Hangar on the field. The restaurant also offers salads, calzones, hoagies, burgers, pasta, and desserts. You can even order ahead so that it’s ready upon your arrival.


Denver: The Perfect Landing Restaurant near Centennial Airport is co-owned by father-son duo Jim and Sean Carter. The restaurant is designed to be a place where “your love of food, and of airplanes comes together.” It offers great views with great food—think huevos rancheros, chile relleno and eggs, chicken fried steak, lobster Benedict, bananas Foster French toast, prime rib au jus, Alaskan cod fish and chips, fresh oysters, salmon Oscar, Mediterranean chicken breast, filet mignon, and more.

Glenwood Springs: If you fly to Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport to visit the area’s hot springs, check out local restaurants to treat your palate. Enjoy “fine dining on the Roaring Fork” at Rivers Restaurant; “world famous meatloaf” at the 19th Street Diner; elk sliders and more at Native Son Restaurant and Bar; “clean ingredients sourced from the greater Rocky Mountains” at Rocky Mountain Pizza Co.; “delicious American pub dishes” at Glenwood Canyon Brewpub; tacos and hot dogs at Slope and Hatch (delivery or order ahead and pick up); Western inspired menus with ranch raised meats at Co. Ranch House; and brunch, dinner, and dessert at The Pullman.


East Haddam: Enjoy lunch or dinner before taking in a musical at the Goodspeed Opera House. The theater and restaurants are within walking distance of the Goodspeed Airport. The opera house has been creative, offering an outdoor concert through September 27, and online programming.

Groton: Land at Groton-New London Airport and get an Uber to  B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in Old Mystic, or enjoy fine dining at the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino.


Georgetown: Delaware Coastal Airport has an on-site restaurant, Arena’s at the Airport. The restaurant offers sandwiches and seafood galore. Also, catch a ride to the beach and enjoy a variety of restaurants.


Everglades: From Everglades Airpark, walk or borrow a beach cruiser bike to have great fresh seafood at City Seafood.

Vero Beach: American and Southern style comfort food offerings, a panoramic view of the runways, and a garden walking area create a casual dining experience at C.J. Cannon’s Restaurant and Lounge at the Vero Beach Regional Airport. Eggs, gravy, pancakes, burgers, steaks, homemade meatloaf, slow-cooked pot roast, seafood, baby back ribs—yep, those are the comfort foods many of us grew up on and can’t wait to sink our teeth into after a flight for food.


Atlanta: Enjoy two aviation-themed restaurants near Dekalb-Peachtree Airport. The Downwind Café is scheduled to reopen in September. It boasts an outdoor deck that overlooks Runway 3L/21R and the Greek-influenced fare is very good. The 57th Fighter Group World War II-themed restaurant near the threshold of Runway 3L (with excellent Sunday brunch) has ample outdoor seating on a patio with gas heaters available too.

Jekyll Island: Fly in to Jekyll Island Airport and walk, bike, or get an electric car to enjoy restaurants and the beach scene. Enjoy pizzas, calzones, spaghetti, and salads at Red Bug Motors Pizza and save on a casual breakfast or lunch at The Pantry (try the shrimp salad croissant). If you want to stay overnight and rub elbows with movers and shakers, stay at the Jekyll Island Club Resort and dine in the Grand Dining Room.

Williamson: Land on the pristine grass strip at Peach State Aerodrome and enjoy watching vintage and modern airplanes come and go while eating at the Barnstormer’s Grill and Event Center. The restaurant serves popular “American fare, including burgers, steaks, sandwiches, and seafood” and is known for a tummy-filling Sunday breakfast. You can get lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday, and breakfast as well on the weekends. The restaurant features a large outdoor patio.


Because of Hawaii’s coronavirus-related travel policy and partial interisland quarantine, we have not listed any restaurant locations.


McCall: Enjoy some mountain flying at McCall Municipal Airport and fill up your tummy at The Pancake House, Hometown Pizza, Frenchie’s on third (reopening September 29 after a weeklong closure), and more.


Bolingbrook: Charlie’s Restaurant at Bolingbrook’s Clow International Airport (named after a famous aviator who crossed the Atlantic in 1927) is a staple of the breakfast and lunch crowd with generous portions at reasonable prices. Charlie’s has two large tents that can accommodate as many guests for outdoor dining as the restaurant can for indoor dining.

Champaign/Urbana: University of Illinois-Willard Airport features many nearby restaurants, but you’ll probably want to get a car or Uber. TripAdvisor rates Jarling’s Custard Cup, Biaggi’s, The Ribeye, The Original Pancake House, Sakanaya, and Maize Mexican Grill among the top in the area within about five miles of the airport.

Rochelle: The Flight Deck Bar and Grill, located at Rochelle Municipal Airport-Koritz Field, has always offered outdoor dining on a nicely furnished patio overlooking the runway. It’s the perfect setting for dining on premium airport food, watching a seemingly continuous stream of skydivers jumping from Cessna Caravan and de Havilland Twin Otter airplanes, and viewing beautiful sunsets.

Schaumburg: Pilot Pete’s, Chicagoland’s popular aviation-themed restaurant and bar, located in the terminal building at Schaumburg Regional Airport (in the western suburbs of Chicago), recently erected a large tent for outdoor dining.


Columbus: Enjoy a “made-from-scratch breakfast” at Blackerby’s Hangar 5 in the terminal building at Columbus Municipal Airport. The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. It’s popular with pilots and locals who like to watch airplanes, so there can be long waits on weekends.

Indianapolis: Rick’s Café Boatyard near the edge of Eagle Creek’s Reservoir and the Eagle Creek Airpark features “fresh seafood, prime steaks, live music, and craft cocktails.” The menu includes Atlantic salmon, Southern catfish filets, South African lobster tails, Alaskan red king crab legs, pork chops, prime dry aged ribeye, filet mignon, and sirloin. Wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and a variety of appetizers round out the menu. The restaurant offers several decks for outdoor dining.


Mason City: The Patriot Wings CAVU American Kitchen and Cocktail Lounge at Mason City Municipal Airport is open in the evenings Tuesday through Saturday and offers brunch on Sundays (hours might change after September; reservations encouraged). The menu features a variety of salads and sandwiches, including The Hot Mother Clucker, Mile High Chicken Club, and The Flightless Bird; and chef crafted entrées including filet mignon, ribeye, and bruschetta chicken spaghetti (though not as cleverly named as the sandwiches). There’s even a special menu for your little co-pilots.

Radcliffe: Land on the 2,480-foot-long grass runway at Drake Airport and enjoy a three-quarter-mile walk to Babe’s Steakhouse, a “privately owned steakhouse that specializes in serving some of the finest quality steaks in Iowa.” If you go, order the Prime Rib or Steak de Burgo. Check the restaurant’s Facebook page for updates on dinner specials.


Greensburg: A 3,200-foot-long grass runway greets you at Greensburg Municipal Airport two miles from town where you can check out restaurants. Ice cream lovers, try this: See if you can down 15 scoops of ice cream with 10 toppings in half an hour in the EF-5 Challenge at the Kiowa County Commons building. (You could burn off some of the calories by walking back to the airport.)

Wichita: Hangar One Steakhouse combines two of Wichita’s nicknames, the Air Capital of the World and “Cowtown.” Enjoy great food in this aviation-themed restaurant, just a short drive from Wichita Dwight D Eisenhower National Airport. Hangar One Steakhouse is now open daily for dinner.


Falls-Of-Rough: Rough River State Park Airport is right next to the Rough River Dam State Resort Park, where you can eat at Grayson’s Landing Restaurant and the Lake House Restaurant.

Louisville: Enjoy a slice of France at Bowman Field. Bistro Le Relais, located in the airport terminal, offers a French menu including foie gras.


Covington and Slidell: St. Tammany Regional Airport and Slidell Airport in the St. Tammany Parish area, nicknamed Louisiana’s Northshore, open the gates to dining opportunities such as Oxlot 9 and Del Porto Ristorante.


Augusta: Sweet Chilli Thai Restaurant at Augusta State Airport serves dishes with “spice levels to fit any taste.” It is currently open for takeout only.

Sanford: Pilots Cove Café “is the place where great cooking and a fantastic vibe meet” at Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and offers dine-in and outdoor seating. Check out the house favorite Pilots Big Breakfast (you won’t need lunch) and fresh lobster roll.


Hagerstown: If you want to feel like a VIP, fly to Hagerstown Regional-Richard A. Henson Field, taxi up to the Rider Jet Center overhang, and let your passengers out at a waiting red rug to dine at The Grille at Runways with a view of the ramp (and your airplane). Even with a limited menu currently, enjoy your fill of seafood (crab is Maryland’s specialty), such as crab fries, surf/turf pizza, crab cake, scallop Rockefeller, Salmón y Langosta, and more. Nick’s Airport Inn is just outside the airport, so you’ll need to get an Uber for a short ride. Nick’s Airport Inn offers a cold curbside menu and a weekly in-restaurant dining menu, and, you guessed it, crab is a popular item. The restaurant is open for indoor and patio dining as well as curbside pickup.

Stevensville: Surf and turf isn’t on the menu at Kentmorr Restaurant and Crab House on the Chesapeake Bay, but you can make your own by landing on the turf runway at Kentmorr Airpark and then walking 10 minutes to the nearby restaurant for crab cakes and other seafood delights. The restaurant is open for carryout and outdoor seating. A beach on the restaurant property makes for a great place to hang out with friends and family. Bon appétit.


Chatham: Call ahead, fly in to Chatham Municipal Airport, and pick up your order from the Hangar B Eatery, or place your order once you arrive. You can enjoy your dinner at the picnic area at the airport while watching other airplanes. The restaurant’s breakfast sandwiches and burritos will make you want breakfast all day long. A variety of sandwiches are available for lunch and dinner, and dinner specials include pork tenderloin, sirloin, swordfish, and lobster dishes.

New Bedford: New Bedford Regional Airport is home to the Airport Grille, which is open for indoor and outdoor dining. Enjoy New England Clam Chowder, burgers and sandwiches, barbecue, baked stuffed haddock, and more.

Stow: Don and Nancy McPherson run the Minute Man Air Field and Nancy’s Air Field Café, which is a favorite culinary destination drawing pilots from all over New England, and beyond. Indoor dining is not available, but that’s not a huge problem: The restaurant overlooks the ramp, with some spots available outdoors to grab a seat for a feast.


Mackinac Island: Take a horse-drawn taxi from the Mackinac Island Airport to the downtown area to explore various eateries, from fine dining to sweet treats like fudge. Be sure to read and comply with the COVID-19 travel policy before flying in.


Brainerd: Soak in the views of the Brainerd Lake area while you dine at Madden’s on Gull Lake. The resort offers several dining options, including The Classic Grill, Mission Point, Madden Inn, Parfecto Pizza, and O’Madden Pub. Note there are special hours and reservations are required for indoor and outdoor dining. Fly in to East Gull Lake Airport or Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.


Clarksdale: Learn about Delta Blues artists and enjoy a variety of restaurants after landing at Fletcher Field. Pizza and barbecue shops, fast food restaurants, and mom and pop shops abound in this little town.


Miller: Dine inside a hangar-style restaurant at the Hangar Kafe at Kingsley Airfield. Or, enjoy the large outdoor patio seating for a view of all the activity that can occur at the airport—skydiving, hot air balloon flights, and perhaps even a drop in by a Kansas National Guard CH–47 Chinook. The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Kalispell: Enjoy views of Glacier National Park as you fly into Kalispell City Airport. Restaurants close to the airport include Blue Canyon and MacKenzie River Pizza Co.

Red Lodge: From Red Lodge Airport, you can walk down a trail into town, about 15 minutes, to explore restaurants. Check out PREROGATIvE Kitchen, Piccola Cucina at Ox Pasture, Scoops Pizza and Ice Cream, The Pub at The Pollard, Carbon County Steakhouse, and more.


Valentine: Members of the Prairie Club can land at Miller Field Airport just under 20 miles away and dine. Reservations are not currently being accepted from nonmembers. Known for its golf courses, you could work some socially distant play into your itinerary, or enjoy the Niobrara National Scenic River.


Boulder City: Pilots in the mood for an omelet should head to Boulder City Municipal Airport and the nearby World Famous Coffee Cup Café. For omelets, choose among the Godfather, the Cali, Downtown, Western, Big Texan, Pork Chili Verde, Country, and a make your own. Burgers and sandwiches dominate the lunch menu. The café is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

New Hampshire

Keene: The Flight Deck at Dillant-Hopkins Airport boasts “Great Food. Great People. Great Views. Great Times.” That could be expected at an airport restaurant, where pilots gather and watch airplanes. The restaurant offers lunch Wednesday through Friday, and breakfast and lunch on the weekends.

Hampton: Enjoy a lobster roll, cinnamon streusel French toast, cranberry walnut chicken salad sandwich, and other specials at the Airfield Café at Hampton Airfield. It’s open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. for breakfast and lunch and has patio, tent, and indoor seating.

Nashua: Overlook Boire Field from the outdoor deck at the Midfield Café Wednesday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch.

New Jersey

Lincoln Park: The Sunset Pub and Grill at Lincoln Park Airport strives to be “Everything to Everybody” by offering “exceptional food, beautiful décor, creative libations and friendly service overlooking a beautiful and unique setting.” For us pilots, that means airplane watching. The restaurant is open for outdoor dining and takeout orders for lunch and dinner, and reservations are recommended. The menu includes several vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. The Sunset Pub and Grill is famous for its fish and chips.

Ocean City: Walk to the beach and boardwalk (or Uber to the boardwalk) from the Ocean City Municipal Airport to chow down on typical boardwalk fare.

Pittstown: The Sky Café at Sky Manor Airport offers breakfast and lunch every day except Tuesdays. Breakfast sandwiches, specialties, pancakes, French toast, Belgian waffles, and creative omelets (Maverick, Propeller, and Black Hawk, for example) round out the breakfast menu. Lunch features salads and a variety of sandwiches. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating where you can watch aircraft takeoff and land.

West Milford: After landing at Greenwood Lake Airport, relax in the pilot lounge of a remodeled Constellation and then dine at the on-airport restaurant, Smoke Shack BBQ & Burgers. Barbecue chicken, barbecue pulled pork, barbecue chopped brisket, barbecue chicken mixed green salad—you get the idea.

Wildwood: The Flight Deck Diner at Cape May County Airport offers breakfast all day in addition to lunch. Enjoy pancakes, French toast, Belgian waffles, three-egg omelets, and specialty breakfast platters named for various warbirds. Lunch includes soups, salads, sandwiches, and angus burgers. The Cape May Brewing Co. is located across the street from the airport if you want to take a tour or enjoy a beer if you plan to stay overnight. If you meet the owner when you go, feel free to talk airplanes. He’s also a pilot.

New Mexico

Ruidoso: Fly in to Sierra Blanca Regional Airport and drive the airport courtesy car to nearby Che Palle, a restaurant specializing in pizza, po’boys, chicken and waffles, and more. Che Palle’s Facebook page says, “We’ve made it our mission to serve folks homemade food that’s made from scratch starting with real ingredients—lettuce grown in town, tomatoes from Tularosa, and fresh produce from Nogal.” Don’t forget to save room for dessert. According to one pilot, “You won’t be disappointed” when dining there.

New York

Elmira/Corning: Elmira/Corning Regional Airport is situated conveniently in wine country in the Finger Lakes region. Two must-see wineries include the J.R. Dill Winery and Glenora Wine Cellars.

Great Valley: Katy’s Fly-in Restaurant is right by Great Valley Airport and serves “homey classics like Country Fried chicken, fresh [salads], hand-pressed burgers, and more.” Whether you are interested in homestyle breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the restaurant is open and offers takeout and outdoor dining.

North Carolina

Carthage: “Pik-N-Pig has the best barbecue this side of the Mississippi,” one pilot wrote of the barbecue restaurant at Gilliam-McConnell Airfield. Many pilots who have been there will likely agree. The secret to this great barbecue? “We cook our ‘Q’ with hickory & natural hardwood charcoal,” the restaurant’s website says. “Some people say we’re crazy for slow coking our Q all night long over a natural wood fire… We say, ‘It’s not polite to talk with your mouth full!’” Outdoor seating is available.

Ocracoke: Enjoy walking, biking, or riding a golf cart around this barrier island after landing at Ocracoke Island Airport. Be sure to check out The Pony Island Restaurant to enjoy a Southern breakfast. The oldest restaurant on the island, it opened in 1959.

North Dakota

Bismarck: La Tejana Mexican Market and Restaurant and Jack’s Steakhouse and Seafood are both about two miles from the Bismarck Municipal Airport. La Tejana “was created to be a cultural center for the Latin community of Bismarck.” It is open with restricted hours. Jack’s offers curbside takeout as well as indoor dining.


Carrollton: The Carrollton County Airport Restaurant at Carroll County-Tolson Airport features home-cooked meals but the pies are the highlights. “Sit on the porch for a great view of airplanes!” the restaurant exclaims on its Facebook page, which is updated daily with a photo of the day’s menu.

New Philadelphia: Satisfy your sweet-tooth craving at Miller’s Creamery next to Harry Clever Field. Caramel corn, homemade sherbet, hand-dipped ice cream, shakes, and sundaes offer lots of flavors to fill your craving. Sandwiches are also offered to help offset the sugar rush you’ll likely get. (This location is open April through October.)

Port Clinton: Feel like you’ve traveled back in time at the Tin Goose Diner at Erie-Ottawa International Airport. Menu items are cleverly named with aviation themes, such as the Fighter Scramble, Flyboy Special, S.O.S. Over Toast, The B–25, and six different kinds of Fly Over Omelets. Lunch and dinner offer soup, salad, burgers, sandwiches, and hot entrées. There’s also a menu for your junior aviators. When you order, don’t forget to add a milkshake.


Norman: From the University of Oklahoma Westheimer Airport catch an Uber to downtown, where you can walk along Main and Gray streets to find a number of restaurants.

Ponca City: Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant on the Ponca City Regional Airport is a popular fly-in restaurant that draws pilots from all over the state and region to chow down on the homemade chips and salsa among other menu items. AOPA Live shares the restaurant’s story. Take note that the Ponca City airport is undergoing runway reconstruction and is closed until at least March 2021. However, the airport has a courtesy car at Blackwell-Tonkawa Municipal Airport about 15 miles away so pilots can fly in there and drive to Enrique’s.


Pacific City: Pacific City State Airport sits near the coast so you can walk to the beach. Nearby restaurants include Los Caporales, Beach Wok Asian Inspired Cuisine, Sportsman’s Pub-n-Grub, Megpies Bakery and Café, the Grateful Bread Bakery, and more.

Salem: “Get away from the hectic everyday lifestyle and relax with friends, good food and drinks” at the Flight Deck Restaurant and Lounge at McNary Field. Watch aircraft operate at the airport with the Cascade Mountain range in the background while you enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. (Breakfast is available on Saturdays and Sundays, and lunch and dinner every day.) Breakfast includes omelets, sandwiches, French toast, pancakes, and more. Soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and melts round out the lunch menu, while dinner features chicken, seafood, pasta, steaks, and more.

Sunriver: Sunriver Airport is part of the Sunriver Resort and is open to the public. The resort offers 10 dining options. Ask any pilot in the region, and they will give a unanimous “two thumbs up” to Sunriver.


Lancaster: Pizza, pasta, patio, and airplanes equal perfection at Fiorentino’s Restaurant, Bar and Patio at the Lancaster Airport. Whether you are seated inside or outside, you get a view of the airport to watch aircraft takeoff and land. In addition to a great selection of pizzas and pasta entrées, the restaurant offers salads, sandwiches, and subs.

Rhode Island

Block Island: Check out what “Ma” is cooking at Bethany’s Airport Diner on Block Island State Airport. If breakfast is your favorite meal, you can get it all day at Bethany’s. The island also features lots of great restaurants if you are looking for an outing beyond the airport.

South Carolina

Georgetown: Georgetown County Airport is just five miles from Rollin Local, a sushi and hibachi restaurant. The restaurant also branches out to tacos; quesadillas; burgers; chicken and steak bowls; and traditional Southern food such as fried okra, shrimp and grits, and fried green tomatoes. Check Rollin Local’s Facebook page for specials.

South Dakota

Pierre: Pierre Regional Airport is less than five miles from town, where you can enjoy Italian, Mexican, and Japanese fare in addition to steakhouses, barbecue, and pizza.


Pigeon Forge: Satisfy your sweet tooth at The Old Mill Candy Kitchen and The Old Mill Creamery in The Old Mill historic district. Outdoor picnic tables have been added to Old Mill locations, and the Old Mill Restaurant and Pottery House Café are open for inside dining at reduced capacity. The Old Mill Square is less than 10 miles from the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport.


Angleton/Lake Jackson: The Runway Café at Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport claims to “have the best gumbo in the area.” In addition to seafood, the restaurant also serves steak, burgers, and Asian food. The Runway Café features an outside porch so you can easily watch aircraft takeoff and land.

Fredericksburg: Chow down on the Bomber Burger, enjoy a milkshake, and watch airplanes take off and land from the classic 1940s-era Airport Diner across from Gillespie County Airport. Breakfast is served all day long. And if sweets are what you desire, you can pick among floats, sundaes, banana splits, and more.

Lockhart: Hungry for some barbecue? Lockhart Municipal Airport has a courtesy car available that you can use to check out Kreuz Market, The Original Black’s Barbecue, and Chisholm Trail BBQ.

Llano: Visit the Texas Hill Country, known as “the BBQ capital of the world,” according to Cooper’s Old time Pit Barb-B-Que by flying in to Llano Municipal Airport and borrowing the courtesy car. The restaurant is “home of the original World Famous ‘Big Chop.’”

Lufkin: Angelina County Airport features a “great little burger joint” and an airport pavilion where you can eat outside.

Port Aransas: Fly to Mustang Beach Airport and get an Uber to the beach where you can walk and enjoy many restaurants with open-air seating.

Woodville: For Southern homecooked goodness, head to Tyler County Airport and the Pickett House Restaurant. (Check to see if they will pick you up at the airport.) Fried chicken, country vegetables, chicken and dumplings, desserts—yes, please.


Monument Valley: The Stagecoach Restaurant at Goulding’s Monument Valley resort serves Southwestern and Navajo fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You have to submit some paperwork and comply with other requirements to land at the resort’s airstrip.


Burlington: Fly to Burlington International Airport and enjoy hotcakes at The Skinny Pancake on the airport or go to the Barnyard Wood Crafted Pizzeria one mile from the airport.


Basye: Bryce Resort boasts its own airport, Sky Bryce, and Copper Kettle Restaurant that serves lunch and dinner, including burgers, sandwiches, salads, and entrées ranging from pepper-crusted ribeye to seared salmon.

Saluda: Just across the road from the end of the runway at Hummel Field, Eckhard’s features German and Italian dishes as well as fresh seafood and steaks.

Wakefield: The Virginia Diner started out as a refurbished railroad car in 1929, and the “old railroad car has become a legend,” according to the restaurant’s website. Perhaps even more well-known than the historical railroad car are the diner’s famous peanuts that have earned it the nickname of “The Peanut Capital of the World.” The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is just one mile from the Wakefield Municipal Airport.


Auburn: Auburn Municipal Airport is located in a suburb of Seattle. Pilots can park on the transient ramp and use a gate to walk to nearby restaurants.

West Virginia

Davis: Windwood Fly-In Resort offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Amelia’s Restaurant. The resort features its own runway and “is surrounded by the Dolly Sods and Otter Creek Wilderness areas, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley State Parks, and 900,000 acres of National Forest land.” It’s open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Wiley Ford, West Virginia/Cumberland, Maryland: Greater Cumberland Regional Airport almost straddles the West Virginia-Maryland border, but officially lives in the Mountain State. The airport hosts The Hummingbird Café, which serves traditional American breakfast items, burgers, sandwiches, and dinner entrées. It is open Tuesdays to Sundays, has outdoor picnic tables, and offers takeout. See the café’s Facebook page for daily specials.


Delevan: After landing, cross the street and pass through the gates of Lake Lawn Resort—owner of the Lake Lawn Airport. Here you’ll find a full-service resort offering golfing, swimming, boating, and multiple restaurants on the shore of Delevan Lake. Enjoy outdoor dining at the Lookout Bar and Eatery.

Sturgeon Bay: Door County Cherryland Airport sits on the peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan and is near a variety of restaurants including the Inn at Cedar Crossing Restaurant and Bar, Kitty O’Reillys Irish Pub, and the White Birch Inn and Samuelson’s Creek Pub and Grill (takeout).

Webster: Seek permission to land at Voyager Village Airstrip, a privately owned, private-use airport. About 100 yards from the airport is the Voyager Village Golf and Restaurant. The restaurant offers contactless dining and provides weekly “take & bake meals.” In addition, the restaurant offers salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and several pasta entrées in addition to meatloaf and steak.


Casper: Casper/Natrona County International Airport is about 15 miles from the FireRock Steakhouse, which specializes in cooking over wood-fired grills. “We use oak hardwood for its high heat and light smokiness which elevates our wood cookery to new heights,” the restaurant’s website says. For steaks and chops, choose among top sirloin, ribeye, bacon-wrapped filet, New York strip, prime rib, bone-in ribeye, Kansas City strip, porterhouse, cowboy cut T-bone, bone-in filet, bone-in lamb loin chop, Cajun pork porterhouse, and French cut pork chop.

International travel restrictions extended

September 24, 2020

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended coronavirus-related cross-border travel restrictions through October 21, limiting arrivals from Canada and Mexico.

Notices published September 23 in the Federal Register detail the extensions of limits on nonessential travel from Canada and Mexico.

The restrictions, first implemented in March, continue to allow for the return of U.S. citizens from the respective countries, as well as travel for medical, education, military, and diplomatic purposes.

The United States declined to extend measures implemented in March that funneled international arrivals through designated airports where passengers would be subject to additional health screening.

Seattle Avionics acquired by technology investor

Seattle Avionics will maintain its commitment to being a “leading provider of aviation solutions in the general aviation space with an outstanding value proposition for our customers,” said company President Steve Podradchik in a September 14 letter to customers posted online.

In the letter, Podradchik introduced Seattle Avionics’ clientele to AFV Partners’ founder Tony Aquila, whom he described as “an inventor with 100+ patents, a serial entrepreneur and philanthropist.”

Aquila founded software enterprise Solera “in his garage in 2005 and established it as a global technology company with over 235,000 customers in the automotive, mobility, fleet, insurance and cybersecurity industries in 90+ countries with over 7,000 employees,” Podradchik wrote.

Aquila is chairman of flight planning service provider RocketRoute Limited and flight operations engineering firm Aircraft Performance Group; is active on other corporate boards; and is regarded as a “global expert in connected mobility,” according to his biography on the AFV Partners website.

Podradchik also told customers that he and Seattle Avionics’ cofounder John Rutter would join Argyle, Texas-based AFV Partners “in leadership positions,” and that they were “ecstatic” about the changes. He said the acquisition would boost resources to accelerate the addition of features to FlyQ and expand ChartData’s depth and geographic coverage.

Noting that GA is Seattle Avionics’ core area of expertise, Podradchik assured FlyQ’s lifetime subscribers that they would “continue to enjoy great value from the ongoing use of our current products.”

2020 does it again: Arsenal of Democracy flight scrubbed for weather

This time Mother Nature joined forces with 2020 to deliver an ironic sucker punch: several days of dazzling fall weather to give the airplanes time to assemble and practice for the formation, only to have ground crews and pilots disappointed as the morning fog cleared and then made a reappearance in the form of IFR conditions over the Potomac River, an important part of the flight’s route over downtown Washington, D.C. The flight was intended to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of World War II and was pushed to September 26, only to have low ceilings persist, forcing the difficult decision to cancel the commemoration.

The Arsenal of Democracy Executive Committee broke the news on September 26 that the online portion of the event would proceed as scheduled at 10 a.m.; however, the opportunity to put the vintage warbirds in the air for the planned procession had passed. The authorization to fly formations of fighters, bombers, and other aircraft that helped win the war through the nation’s most closely guarded airspace would expire before the weather improved.

“We are disappointed that we could not deliver the planned aerial tribute that our World War II veterans and heroes deserve for their selfless service to our nation and the world,” the committee said in a statement. “We are, however, pleased to offer the special programming commemorating the end of World War II with never-before-seen footage of many of the aircraft scheduled to participate in the Arsenal of Democracy flyover, exciting footage from the practice flights that took place this week and a thought provoking interview that took place last night with Tuskegee Airman Brigadier General Charles McGee with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.”

The committee said the “tough call” was made in the interest of safety and security of the many pilots, volunteers, and others who orchestrated the logistical feat.

“We are thankful for all the local, state and federal support that we received in the planning and postponements of the flyover,” the committee continued. “They wanted to see the flyover tribute executed just as much as we did. Unfortunately, given all the planning, preparations and organization, including meeting the extensive security criteria that go into such a massive event, there are no plans to reschedule this year. We are grateful for the generosity of our sponsors and all the hard work that was put forth to honor the sacrifices of America’s Greatest Generation.”

The air boss held out as long as he could before breaking the news of the first postponement on September 25. Formations of Boeing Stearmans had already departed to begin assembling their formations when the word went out, and they had to return. Honorary Air Boss Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bob Vaucher, who led more than 500 Boeing B–29 Superfortresses over Tokyo Bay during the signing of the Japanese surrender, was already strapped into the navigator position of the B–29 Doc. Eight North American T–6 Texans had just started, the oil in the rumbling Pratt & Whitney engines barely getting a chance to warm up.

“We didn’t even get a chance to fly,” David Steele, pilot of N5451E, lamented good-naturedly. Steele, of Glen Allen, Virginia, practices formation flying regularly with some other local T–6 pilots and had been looking forward to participating in such a large-scale event. He’s owned the 1949 T–6G since 2017 but has been a warbird enthusiast for years. He grew up in a flying family, soloed in a Piper J–3 Cub, and is now a first officer for United Airlines.

Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Vaucher takes a position in the navigator’s seat of he Boeing B-29 ‘Doc’ before the Arsenal of Democracy flyover of Washington, D.C., was scrubbed by weather on September 25, 2020. AOPA Photo by David Tulis.

“It’s the biggest warbird I could afford,” Steele said of the bright-yellow T–6.

At the September 25 flight briefing, Arsenal of Democracy Air Boss Mike Ginter praised the group for its practice run on September 24. “The practice flight yesterday was letter perfect, outstanding job, you all made it perfect,” he told the assembled pilots and crew.

The warbird community turned out in full force for the Arsenal of Democracy. Pilots and crew in green and khaki flight suits greeted each other as familiar names—FiFi, Champaign Gal—could be spotted on jackets and hats. Warbirds came to the staging airports in northern Virginia from as far as California and Texas, including the B–29 FiFi, owned by the Commemorative Air Force. FiFi Crewmember Curt Lewis had been looking forward to flying the formation—in a Twin Beech, as he does not yet have formation training for the bomber. An airline pilot, Lewis said his company had originally planned to furlough him on October 1, but that has been pushed to November 1. He said he’s not too concerned for himself, but more for his colleagues who have “mortgages and babies.”

Second attempt

Arsenal of Democracy flyover organizers had hoped to launch the aerial assembly on September 26. Waves of aircraft—from slower liaison and training models to faster bombers and transports—were still in position to fly over the National Mall, grouped according to their assigned military roles. More than 20 different types of military aircraft were ready to participate in the ceremonial flyover, which was rescheduled from May 8, Victory in Europe Day, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A separate but smaller remembrance in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, occurred between August 29 and September 2.

While low ceilings prevented the flights on September 26, organizers proceeded with portions of the plan, including the streaming programming, much of which was prepared in advance. Interviews with veterans and footage of many of the rare aircraft, such as Piper L–4 Grasshoppers, Stinson L–5 Sentinels, a Consolidated PBY Catalina, and a Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer, that were to have led five classes of military aircraft down the Potomac River was set to begin streaming at 10 a.m., even if the actual airplanes could not fly the plan. A procession down the river with a left-hand bank at the Lincoln Memorial would have taken the groups over the Mall at 11:30 a.m. spaced by two-minute intervals. The flight plan included a missing man formation to honor those who died in battle, exiting with a right-hand turn near the U.S. Capitol.

A squadron of training aircraft comprised the largest class of warbirds that assembled for the tribute, with eight Boeing Stearmans, eight North American T–6 Texans, five North American T–6 SNJ U.S. Navy variants, three North American T–6 Harvards, a de Havilland Tiger Moth, and a Fairchild PT–19.

The only two flying B–29s—Fifi and Doc—were in position to anchor a wing of strategic weapons that was to include five Grumman TBM Avengers, four North American B–25 Mitchells, a Boeing B–17, a Douglas A–26 Invader, and a de Havilland Mosquito. Several Douglas C–47 Skytrain transports had been slated to pull up the rear including That’s All, Brother, which led the D-Day invasion over Normandy, France.

A North American P-51 Mustang honors the Tuskegee Airmen after preparation for the Arsenal of Democracy flyover of Washington, D.C. Nearly 70 World War II warbirds will help recognize the seventy-fifth anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. Photo by David Tulis.A formation of five North American P–51 Mustang long-range fighters paying tribute to the red-tailed aircraft of the Tuskegee Airmen were prepared to fly cover for the bombers, just as fighters did 75 years prior. The escort detail was to have been joined by two Grumman FM–2 Wildcats, two Vought F4U Corsairs, two Curtiss P–40 Warhawks, a Supermarine Spitfire, a Grumman F8F Bearcat, a Hawker Hurricane, a rare Fairey Firefly, and an even more rare Bell P–39 Airacrobra.

The waves of military power were orchestrated to commemorate D-Day, the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Atlantic, the Battle of Midway, the Battle of the Bulge, the Guadalcanal campaign, the Doolittle Raid, the Chichi Jima incident, the Big Week, the Hump, Iwo Jima, Berlin, Pearl Harbor, and the Final Act that signaled the war’s end. The Civil Air Patrol, which formed in 1941 and transitioned to U.S. Air Force auxiliary search-and-rescue missions, was also to have been represented. 

Preserving history

Many of the historic aircraft were provided by organizations and individuals whose mission is to preserve the artifacts in flying condition.

Connie Palacioz, one of the original ‘Rosie the Riveters,’ shares her story with people at a northern Virginia airport before weather postponed the September 25 2020, Arsenal of Democracy flyover of Washington, D.C., by one day. AOPA Photo by David Tulis.Boeing B–17G Sentimental Journey pilot Pete Scholl and first officer Brian Churchill supervised as crew members readied the Flying Fortress for flight. Scholl complimented the B–17 as “a gentleman’s airplane” but stressed that power management is “critical.” The aircraft is powered by four Curtiss-Wright 1,200-horsepower radial engines that burn 200 gallons of fuel—and four gallons of oil—per hour, and costs between $3,000 and $3,500 per flight hour.

On September 23, North American B–25 Devil Dog pilot Mark Frederick and first officer Beth Jenkins deftly handled the tricycle-gear Mitchell bomber as it rumbled down the runway for a practice flight. Aluminum skin and metal ribs bucked and creaked in a symphony of sounds before a formation of four North American T–6 Texans led by Veterans Airlift Command CEO Walt Fricke bore down on their tail for a photo mission during the “golden hour” before sunset. Farmland passed under their wings and the Appalachian Mountains came into view as other pilots formed up nearby in twos, threes, fours, and fives during practice for the Arsenal of Democracy flyover.

Author and pilot Kathryn “KT” Budde-Jones, who flies a North American T–6 Texan with her husband, Syd, watched as pilots and crew gathered near the warbirds, arranging their chairs to make new friends and renew old acquaintances. “We haven’t seen anything like this in about a year,” she said of the social opportunity.

A little help from above

The California Disaster Airlift Response Team, the Oregon Pilots Association, and Angel Flight West responded to an appeal from humanitarian relief organization Direct Relief, which had collected the critically needed supplies but needed help getting them where they needed to be. GA pilots assembled a “flying armada” of 20 aircraft, Direct Relief noted in the description of a YouTube video documenting the effort. Volunteer pilots converged on Northern California’s airports, including Santa Barbara Municipal Airport and Reid-Hillview of Santa Clara County Airport, and loaded 20 aircraft with 5,000 pounds of medical supplies—including 100,000 KN95 masks.

The fleet—consisting of a Cessna Citation CJ3, Kodiak 100, Bonanza A36, and multiple turboprops—departed throughout the day en route to Oregon’s Mahlon Sweet Field in Eugene, where volunteers were waiting to coordinate the efforts. The relief flight marks the biggest single operation of supplies moved and total air miles flown in the history of CalDART.

Direct Relief, based in California, would normally use commercial shipping companies like FedEx or UPS, but because of delays from the wildfires, it sought help from GA. Each medical kit included inhalers, antibiotics, and wound care to treat up to 750 people.

In addition to the logistics challenge, conditions proved taxing for pilots as they had to avoid temporary flight restrictions for forest fires and contend with heavy smoke and instrument conditions. However, the mission went off without a hitch, and their efforts were recognized by several major news outlets such as ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX stations that had picked up the story.

CalDART President Paul Marshall thanked the pilots who generously donated their time and aircraft, writing, “Saturday was a test of how we might handle an even larger future disaster, and it showed the potential enormous benefit that we can bring. Imagine the number of planes and volunteers we would need, and the kinds of transport operations the communities would need if we had a 7.9 earthquake in LA, San Diego, or the Bay Area. It is our desire to be ready for such a catastrophe so that all 54,000 pilots in the state of California have a chance to offer their services to help, in a scale that will be meaningful to the minimization of misery, suffering and loss of life after such a major calamity.”

Speaking to ABC’s KEZI 9, Andrew MacCalla, vice president of emergency response for Direct Relief, said, “You actually see the best of humanity in these times. You really see people offering to help in whatever way they can. It’s not just giving money. Sometimes it’s giving time.”

As aerial firefighting continues on the West Coast, it’s clear the role GA pilots and airports play is crucial for surrounding communities, especially in times of crisis. In California, Reid-Hillview airport has played a significant role in firefighting efforts with the deployment of tanks for helicopter fire retardant used by Cal Fire. Despite being an asset for residents, Reid-Hillview has been continually targeted by officials in Santa Clara County who are actively planning to close the airport. Likewise, Santa Monica Municipal Airport is set to close in 2028 despite being a key tool in disaster relief and an irreplaceable piece of infrastructure.

Meet Laura Humphries, aka ‘The Flying Princess’

While working as a flight attendant, Laura Humphries saw a Black female airline captain working the same flight. That’s all it took for Humphries, known as “The Flying Princess” to her friends and social media followers, to know that she could one day sit in that same seat.

And she knows that dream is not unique to her. Humphries hopes to change the trajectory for the next generation of pilots as she continues her journey to become an airline captain.

While continuing her work as a flight attendant, she has earned her private pilot certificate and instrument rating along with advanced ground and instrument ground instructor certificates, and is also a certificated remote pilot. Humphries was also the recipient of a scholarship from the national aviation organization Sisters of the Skies to help with her training and advanced ratings. And she is writing a series of books and documenting her journey toward 1,500 hours through a blog and social media to inspire more pilots who look like her to follow their aviation dreams.

For others, especially young Black girls aspiring to become commercial airline pilots, the path to aviation might not always be simple. Only 7 percent of U.S. pilots are female and less than one-half of 1 percent of professional pilots are Black and female. In their lifetime, many minorities, especially females, might never see an airline captain who looks like them. Seeing someone in such a position might help them realize—early on—that it’s something they can achieve.

AOPA touched base with Humphries to find out about her journey and why she believes representation is important in any industry.

What led you to get involved in aviation?

Many individuals from a young age know the career path they will embark on. However, for me, my journey has been unorthodox, to say the least. As a child I wasn’t exposed to pilots or flight attendants. The aviation world was nonexistent in my eyes, and I never knew how passionate I’d be about becoming a pilot. I have always challenged societal norms, and there is no surprise that I am pushing the envelope by becoming an African American female pilot. My first taste of the aviation world was my job as a flight attendant. This was my steppingstone to entering the flight deck. About two years in as a flight attendant I took interest in becoming a pilot. I knew it was possible, but it was still discouraging never having seen a Black female pilot. One day my life changed forever. I went to work and couldn’t believe my eyes. There was a Black female captain preparing to take flight. At that moment, I could see myself in the captain’s seat. It was such a monumental moment for me. I remember having so much energy and feeling so empowered that it encouraged me to research every avenue for flight training. And now, I am actively pursuing something I love.

What is your favorite thing about aviation?

The camaraderie. Everyone in aviation has the same sparkle in their eyes. A sparkle that’s filled with love, passion, and a personal journey dying to be discussed and shared among each other. It’s an immediate sense of understanding that we all yearn for and receive in the aviation world.

Did you have any fears before entering the world of aviation, and if so, what were they?

If there was any fear or something holding me back, it was the lack of representation. My whole journey has been centered around representation. When I decided to become a flight attendant, it was because I saw a young Black female flight attendant that ultimately showed me I could do it too. When I finally decided to become a pilot, it’s because I saw a Black female captain. Seeing someone who looked like me took away any fear that it wasn’t possible.

How did the moniker ‘The Flying Princess’ come about?

Growing up I’ve always been called a princess. It’s how I always introduce myself “Princess Laura.” Or, I’d say, “My name is Laura but feel free to call me Princess.” Anyone who knows me, knows I’m super silly and goofy. For me it’s more like a joke or an ice breaker. When I started training to earn my private pilot certificate, my instructor, Stephen Yates, loved calling me Princess. We were the perfect student/teacher match. After my first solo, he cut out the back of my shirt to write on it and hang it on the wall at the school. When I saw it, it said “The Flying Princess!” I cried because it was so perfect and so fitting! I asked him how he came up with it? He said, “Because Laura, you’re my Flying Princess!” Tears were flowing! Since that moment, I said that will be my name on my pilot journey.

What is your ultimate goal in aviation?

My first goal is to help inspire and expose our youth and especially young girls to the amazing career fields where we have the least representation in, like aviation. I truly believe our time on this Earth should be to evoke change and making it easier for the next generation. Eradicating stereotypes and gender biases will ultimately help promote equality and dismantle discrimination. My second goal is to become a captain for Delta Air Lines.

What inspired you to write ‘You Look Like Me’? And where can people buy your book?

Once I decided I wanted to be a pilot, I was immediately disappointed that I didn’t know I wanted to become one sooner. If I had known I could have been happier sooner, or if I even knew this was something I would enjoy, I would have begun my aviation journey a long time ago. With my frustration came the idea to create a children’s book that emphasizes different career choices where women are thriving. I don’t think unusual careers are talked about or experienced in our school systems. You always hear about becoming a doctor, teacher, lawyer, or nurse, but there’s so much more out there. I want my books to touch as many students as possible to get the conversation started and spark the idea of other career fields available to young girls who look like me. Seeing is believing. I’m just trying to give the next generation the head start I wish I had, while also coming up with creative ways to help sponsor my pilot journey. The Flying Princess is the first book in a series and it’s my story. If you’re interested in purchasing and supporting my first book venture, you can go to

What are your thoughts on diversity in aviation?

Diversity among any career field is extremely important. If you want the best of the best, you can’t have limitations to any one gender or race. There’s a severe lack of diversity in aviation for many reasons. One reason is that there’s a certain look associated with being a pilot and it has been that way for many years. Many of us are in the process of breaking that stigma, but it can also be discouraging and daunting not seeing diverse representation in the aviation field. Some people grow up knowing they want to be a pilot, but there are many people like me who needed to see someone who looked like them to even consider taking that leap. Another huge reason is the cost of flying. It’s so expensive, that it makes it seem like only a certain demographic can really achieve this dream. But, it’s just as costly as getting an undergraduate or master’s degree. In order to bridge this gap, we have to push the narrative that this is possible. And it can be done. Sometimes we just have to show people how to do it.

Do you have anyone who inspires you?

Many people inspire me! There are so many talented and creative people in aviation. Being extremely new to the aviation world with no real background in it, I’m easily inspired and I’m often in awe. My inspiration comes from everyone who is pushing through any obstacles or setbacks and making their dreams come true, with no excuses. The people who are selfless and are helping people up on their way up. The people creating their own lane and breaking barriers! Everyone’s journey is going to be different and it’s not always about where you end up, but the integrity and character that was displayed on your way there. My friends that are on the same path inspire me and encourage me daily.

How do you feel you inspire others?

I think I inspire others by being my authentic self and sharing my journey with others. Being a woman in a male-dominated field is major to me. I understand the impact it can have for other women, so I choose to put myself out there and show it can be done. I know I can be a beacon of hope for more than just my immediate family, so I made the choice to be vocal about my journey. I’m usually private about my moves until I’ve made them, but the struggle is what most people can connect with, not the illusion of it falling in your lap or seeming easy. I started a blog for this reason so I can talk about my doubts or my moments leading up to my wins. It has been hard work and dedication, but strength is what you overcome, not what is handed to you.