The 4th Annual Fly-In is now in the history books and by all accounts it was a resounding success: 22 ships from 7 states across the country, 34 pilots and co-pilots, 50+ TMG-interested participants. Add to this all the camaraderie, great accommodations at Walley's Hot Springs Resort and Spa, wonderful food at all three restaurants, and outstanding presentations on TMG's, mountain flying, and soaring/ aviation in general. And of course there was the usual world-class Minden weather.
After three years of three-day events we decided to extend the Fly-In by one day?and we still didn't have enough time to accomplish everything. Wow, this thing is really taking on a life of its own!
Ships began arriving Wednesday, a day early, with virtually everyone on the flight-line by Thursday: Grob, Ximango, Lambada, Taifun, Diamond, Stemme, Scheibe, Moni, and Mira Slovak's Bucher Jungmann. We were individually welcomed by Minden-Tahoe Airport Executive Director Bobbi Thompson and her excellent and efficient staff. Dinner Thursday was at the local-area brew pub/restaurant, Flight, where we had a private room reserved for us. Most everyone stayed at Walley's Resort, a short ten-minute drive to the facility nestled at the base of the Sierra. We believe the spouses, especially, loved it.
The formal kick-off was Friday morning, beginning with introductions, followed by presentations on the local area (Laurie Harden, owner of SoaringNV, and Bobbi Thompson), mountain weather (Fred LaSor -- local glider specialist), and aero-medical issues (Dr. Morgan McCarrol). A quick lunch and most of the ships launched. Peak climb that day was just over 16,000 feet (a not unusual altitude at Minden).
Our Photographer-In-Chief, Andy Robinson (Big Andy) started the first of several air-to-air photo missions. Andy's Cherokee 6 is the aerial platform; pilot and master aircraft mechanic Michael Haisten (Auburn Airplane Works) flies while Andy shoots through the space where the rear door has been removed. This is VERY precision flying and thorough pre-flight briefs are mandatory. You can see some of Andy's work in the Gallery section of the web site. There's nothing quite like a picture of you in your ship with the spectacular Lake Tahoe in the background. If you come next year, you need to sign up early for this very special opportunity.
Dinner on Friday night was at the Basque restaurant located at the Carson Valley Country Club. We warned everyone to come hungry; everyone went home stuffed and happy.
Saturday morning started with individual introductions, followed by a talk on mountain-flying techniques by SoaringNV chief pilot and instructor Russell Holtz (flying wiz and author of some of the best soaring instructional guides on the market), and a detailed weather briefing. Lunch, and then launching into the cloudless sky for another high-flying day. Dinner that evening was at the Minden-Tahoe Airport Taildragger restaurant. BBQ steak or chicken with all the fixings.
The highlight Sunday morning was the introduction to the group of Mira Slovak, and a DVD showing of his extra-ordinary life and accomplishments. Aviator (Continental Airlines), motorboat racer (national champion in the unlimited hydroplane class), TMG record-setter (Germany to Santa Paula, CA in his just-constructed Fournier), and patriot (he escaped from Communist-dominated Czechoslovakia in 1953 to Western Berlin by commandeering one of his airline's aircraft. In the DVD you see him attaching an American flag emblem to the tail of his Fournier prior to the initial launch, and hear the special song/music written about freedom and the desire to achieve one's goals). All this, and being just a wonderful, approachable, human being. It was an honor and a privilege to have at the event; Mira received a standing ovation from the crowd when he completed his talk, and is looking forward to returning next year, perhaps in a Fournier.
Bobbi Thompson (Minden-Tahoe Airport director presented awards for coming the longest distance (Al and Susan Simons - Connecticut), oldest pilot (Rolf Isley), and youngest pilot (Eric Sweeney). Special TMGA coffee mugs were given to all pilots and copilots attending. The TMGA presented the "Flight Line" award to Lambada for having the most aircraft (6) on the tarmac this year. This is a perpetual award; we retroactively included Pipistral (2009), Ximango (2010), and Stemme (2011) as previous winners. A TMGA "Judges Choice Award for Aircraft Excellence" was presented to Steve Sliwa for his beautiful Ximango, and a "Pilots Choice for Aircraft Excellence" was presented to Eric Sweeney for his hand-crafted Moni.
Concluding the Fly-In was assembling the group for a Photo. This year we all gathered around the Flight-Line award winner Lambada while Andy Robinson snapped away.
Special thanks to Laurie Harden, owner of SoaringNV for providing the hangar space to hold the event and general logistics. Several TMGA members took advantage of her operation to gain pure-sailplane soaring; without a doubt, they?re better TMG pilot's because of that experience. Special thanks to Bobbi Thompson and her staff (Chris, Cathie, and ?Mountain Mike?) for their invaluable support. Finally, special thanks to Ron Snedecor for the on-site logistical coordination. (Yours truly was presented with a special cow bell by Laurie and Ron, wearing ?Where's Richard? t-shirts. Apparently they were unimpressed with my spending a few hours during the afternoons with my wife at Walley's).
Somehow, we ran out of time for scheduled presentations. Steve Sliwa ("our web site guru") and Michael Haisten & Eric Sweeney were unable to give their talks on how to get the most out of the web site, and mechanical issues, respectively. Next year, guys, we promise. Perhaps we'll have to extend the Event yet another day.
We have a few official TMGA coffee mugs left. The price is $7 each plus shipping. Please advise and we'll ship until we run out. If there are a lot of people wanting them we'll put in a new order.
And now it's on to planning for next year. We need to find out when potentially competing events are going on so as to reduce scheduling conflicts. We will also be sending out a follow-up questionnaire about the event, asking for your comments and suggestions on how we can improve the Event. In the meantime, we'll set up a separate "thread" in the Forum section of the web site.
Fly high, Fly often, and Fly safely.
Link to Gallery: link