Flying Into Writing: Huntington Beach Airshow: Never A Dull Moment

By Eric McCarthy

(Eric McCarthy)Wow! Just…wow! Does it get any better than this? Beautiful Southern California weather and a world-class airshow, on the beach – or, in my case, on a boat! Sponsored by Breitling – makers of exquisite aviation watches – and in just its second year, the Huntington Beach Airshow managed, once again, to secure a plethora of top-tier performers for the weekend show that benefits the Aerospace Education Foundation of Huntington Beach.

Last year, it was the USAF Thunderbirds and the Breitling Jet Team headlining the show, with a host of other military and aerobatic performers, including an F/A-18 Super Hornet Demo, and performances by John Klatt, Bill Stein, and, having just finished their Red Bull Air Race season the weekend before in Las Vegas, both Michael Goulian and Kirby Chambliss. An impressive lineup for their inaugural event, and with just a few months’ marketing, they drew over a half a million people!

This year? Well, they really outdid themselves with wall-to-wall entertainment kicking off at noon each day! This year, it was the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds that held the top billing for the show, with at least a dozen additional performers and demonstrations scheduled between noon and 4 p.m.

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Editorial: The Mother Tongue

By Ed Downs

Is this going to be an English lesson… in an aviation magazine? Yep, and by the time you’re finished reading this, you will hear the long-ago voice of your fifth grade English teacher reminding your bored and disinterested self that, “someday you will need to know this stuff!” It may also interest the reader to know that the title of this editorial view is, in fact, plagiarized from one of the most fun books about English ever written, Mother Tongue, authored by famed satirist/humorist, Bill Bryson, who knows more than a little bit about just about everything. But English, the “mother tongue?” Isn’t that a bit disrespectful in a western world bent on nurturing “multi-culturalism,” meaning the support of separate languages and social structures within the borders of a given country? The short answer is no. In our world of aviation, English IS the mother tongue.

Let’s start at the beginning. A short time ago, the editorial crew at In Flight USA received a news announcement from Embry Riddle University announcing a new program and area of research. The contention of this announcement is that inflight communication difficulties, meaning language, have been a contributing cause to more accidents than previously thought. That research is just one part of Embry-Riddle’s overall Language as a Human Factor in Aviation Safety (LHUFT) Initiative to heighten awareness, improve aviation safety, and enhance future investigations. Two examples were given involving language-related confusion. Three new courses—Language as a Factor in Aviation Safety, Aviation Topics, and English for VFR Flight – are also being offered at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus to increase awareness and improve communication with the goal of expanding to Embry-Riddle’s worldwide campuses.  Embry Riddle points out that English is the world standard for aviation, a fact that is technically defined by both international law and the FARs.

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Airman Ropes Off Stress, Uses Music

By Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese, 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Senior Airman Hannah Walker, 633rd Force Support Squadron food service journeyman, sings live music at the Langley Marina on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Sept. 23, 2017. A big inspiration for Walker’s music is her family, most notably her daughter. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese)Sitting on the edge of her stool, staring out at a sea of faces staring back, she tunes her guitar. Once the guitar is just right she takes a sip of her drink, grabs her pick, takes a deep breath and begins playing.

Senior Airman Hannah Walker, 633rd Force Support Squadron food service journeyman, is performing live at the Langley Marina. She occasionally does this to help de-stress and re-center herself.

“When you’re in the military and you don’t have a hobby or something to do outside of work, it can make you go insane,” said Walker. “I wear this uniform every day and I am an Airman whether I’m in uniform or not in uniform, but there is a time to take the uniform off and put it away and be who you’re called to be, whether that’s to be a husband, a wife or a musician. Those are the things that are going to keep you grounded.”

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Big Names and Small Towns 

By Mark Baker, AOPA President & CEO

More often than not, when we make plans to fly somewhere, the name attached to the airport is more of an afterthought than anything else. How often do we take the time to learn about the person behind the name?  Such a prestigious honor as having an airport named after you isn’t something that’s handed out to just anyone.

Thankfully for Rushford, Minnesota, there’s Robert W. Bunke, without whom, Rushford would not have an airport to begin with.

In July of this year, I had the honor of traveling to Rushford to present Robert Bunke, a Marine Corps veteran and general aviation pilot, with an AOPA Presidential Citation Award during a naming ceremony and fly-in of 90 aircraft – all organized to recognize one relentless man, in his hometown. Forty years after Bunke’s tireless work to bring an airport to his town, Rushford Municipal Airport would now be named Robert W. Bunke Field.

Bunke soloed at age 17 back in 1945 and trained in a variety of taildraggers he rented for about $7 an hour. Later in life, he took on business challenges to merge small rural telephone systems into a regional cooperative, and created a Wisconsin management and engineering services firm. He was able to incorporate his love of flying with his professional life—and eventually brought aviation to Rushford.

At first, Bunke’s small town rejected the idea of an airport, arguing there were no airplanes in Rushford, so an airport wasn’t necessary. Luckily, Bunke kept a Field of Dreams mentality of, “Build it and they will come.” He persisted and after more than 10 years of advocating for an airport, his vision would eventually become reality.

As advocates for general aviation, we must work to embody the spirit and honor the contributions of people like Bunke. Many times we take for granted small airports that allow us the access essential for growing businesses and reaching countless places across the globe. Many smaller towns across America still struggle to keep their airports running or are still searching for ways to build new ones. Yet, the importance of small airports was never as well demonstrated as during the recent hurricane relief efforts in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. 

The next time you’re flying to a rural town or even a big city, take a moment to reflect on the person that airport is named for. You might be surprised to hear the story of that person’s journey.  Even better, take the time to learn about your airport’s history, the people responsible for it, and consider honoring them for their contributions.


This Year's NBAA BACE Made Me 100,000 Times Happier

By Paul T. Glessner, M.S. 

Tuesday (Oct. 10) morning speech participants. (Paul T. Glessner)This year’s NBAA-BACE held in Las Vegas last month marks the 70th anniversary of the organization and just nine days after the horrific shooting, was the first major convention since the nightmare. Extra security was present in the form of added staff to check IDs and plenty of K-9s. I have luckily attended a handful of these conventions over the last 20 years, including last year’s Orlando location, and I must say, if you have any business in aviation, you must attend! If not for the educational seminars and the tactile touch and display of products and aircraft, the social aspect where new acquaintances today mean more profits and avenues tomorrow. While I will do my best to give my personal overview in this short article, NBAA did a more extensive and detailed summary that can be found at

The event featured about 1,100 exhibitors, including more than 100 new exhibitors. Attendees, estimated at 27,000, represented all 50 U.S. states and dozens of countries, according to NBAA. Approximately 100 aircraft were on static display, both at Henderson Executive Airport and inside the convention center. 

Tuesday kicked off with the leaders of six influential general aviation (GA) advocacy groups delivering a powerful and coherent message of united opposition against ATC privatization during the “No Plane No Gain” Media Kick-Off Breakfast. All the acronyms were represented: NBAA, EAA, GAMA, HAI, NATA, and AOPA.

“This year, we mark NBAA’s 70th anniversary,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “Starting at our first convention in 1950, 19 companies came together in a hotel to work together and pool their resources. They realized we could do more together than any company can do by itself. And today, we’ve grown to more than 11,000 members.

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