May 13th Chapter Gathering Recap

May Bush CatWhat a show! The meeting we had on Saturday, May 13th was informative, inspirational and impressive! If you were unable to attend the gathering, here is what you missed:

Mike started off the meeting with a schedule of upcoming events. The flyout to Manitowoc is scheduled for the 10th and Barnstormers is on the 17th of June. Please contact Stephanie McClellan if you are interested in volunteering. Come out and join us for the events in June, however, if you can’t participate on those dates, consider making it out to Planes and Puppies with the Young Eagles on October 7th. When you fly with Young Eagles, our chapter earns points which can be used as buying power for chapter supplies. Another opportunity to consider attending is the Build N Fly program. This past session, each student brought their own plane home! Members of the Chain of Lakes RC club participated alongside instructors from our chapter and helped students throughout the build process. Students will also fly their model airplanes with guidance from Build N Fly volunteers. The next new build session begins either this Fall or Spring of 2024.

Dan Johnson and Parker Johnston took the audience on a wild ride during their presentation, 7,000 miles in a BushCat. Attendees were able to witness snapshots throughout their 7,000-mile journey and listen to the chronicles of clearing customs. Starting at Galt, the pilots took off early in the morning in April of 2016, in an attempt to showcase a South African ultra-light aircraft at a Fly-in and Airshow in Valdez, Alaska. This was a time sensitive mission, as the clock started ticking, unexpected delays arose, one after another. Their preplanned route took them from (planned) fuel stop to (occasional unplanned) fuel stop and over national parks. After leaving Illinois, they passed over Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and crossed the U.S. border into Canada. Make sure you write down and save the clearance number, the Chief of Customs may call you! Dan and Parker not only handled customs litigation well, but also navigated through mechanical repairs. New pilots take note: look out for dripping red fluid! Those drops of red are brake fluid! In the case of Dan and Parker’s BushCat, the landing gear caused a crack at the tip of the hose. For the rest of the trip, the landing gear stayed down. It is important to carry tools and survival equipment. Tape saved them from further delay when the zipper on one of the wings wouldn’t zip shut. It is also recommended that sleeping reservations are made in advance; the key is to book an over-night stay before the construction crew books every room in town for the next five months. Remember, when flying through glaciers, cool air creates wind. The powerful gusts can pick up dust during the warmer months. Be aware of wind direction. Always fly on the downwind side when canyon flying. Never fly in the middle because if the pilot must turn around in an emergency, such as an engine failure, the aircraft needs enough space to avoid impact. 45 degrees is the proper angle of attack. The best advice is to always have a way out. Pilots like Dan and Parker ensured that their flight path has an escape route. Clouds may close behind you! Be observant of weather conditions and deviate from your planned route if there is a safer alternative. The flying experience shared between Dan and Parker prepared them for such an adventure. They succeeded in their mission and arrived with the BushCat, a duct taped zipper, gear down and all. Their story is a true testament of skilled pilots.

A Bushcat was tied down at Galt Airport for display during the Chapter Gathering on Saturday, May 13th. Thank you, Daniela and Jeremy Knoll for allowing chapter members to see the plane in person. Thank you to Dan for volunteering to fly the BushCat to Valdez, Alaska and for sharing your story. Thank you, Parker for your words of wisdom and for speaking about your experience. Thanks to all those who attended the meeting, and to those who were absent, we look forward to seeing you all in the future.

Flying A Bushcat To Alaska