Helping Heroes Fly

I first became aware of Helping Heroes Fly by a small homemade flier on the bulletin board of the school where I was tutoring. They have come a long way since that first posting. Who or what is Helping Heroes Fly you say? Let me introduce you to them.

Helping Heroes Fly was started by two Greeley women which, as their flier states, have a love of God and a heart for the military. It started as a spark in Terri Keeney’s heart when she learned of a soldier who was not able to come home for Thanksgiving because he couldn’t afford the airline ticket. She later learned that it was a common struggle for enlisted men and women who were paid on a near poverty level.

The dream stuck in her heart unfulfilled until she met Pam Matt, whose son served in the Marine Corps. Pam’s passion for the military became the catalyst needed to attack the logistics of starting a non-profit organization. In February of 2016 they became a 501(c)(3).

They began the process of raising funds. They take advantage of social media and it’s beginning to pay off. They have had a couple of fund raisers, an article in Women’s World magazine, which led to a large donation of $15,000 and were featured on The Denver

In 2016 they were able to provide 65 flights. To date in 2017 they have provided 52 flights. They have limited the flights to one per customer and with that said, in March they got a call from a 1st Sargent at a Marine base in Baltimore requesting his entire unit of 30 to be able to fly to Illinois to attend a fellow Marine’s funeral who was tragically killed. They understood they were giving up their opportunity to go home for the holidays, but it was that important for them to attend. HHF was able to send 14.

They volunteer their time and in 2016 their operating expenses were 3.4%. It looks like in 2017 it will be closer to 3.6% as they had to pay for the entertainment for one of their fund raisers. They vow no matter how large they get, they will never spend more than 10% on expenses. They take no salary and “World Headquarters” is run out of Pam’s house.

At the end of this month they will fly to Connecticut to film two different internet based programs, one for Behind the Uniform and one for The Whiskey Patriots. Both organizations have over 100,000.00 followers so they know they will be overwhelmed with requests for the holidays.

Eventually they are hoping to find a way to have a system similar to Angel Flights so that the money they raise can be used for those flights that can only be met by the use of commercial airlines.

Our New Name

After 18 months of our airport’s name change sitting ignored on the desks of various FAA employees, we were surprised by a set of FDC NOTAMs released on Friday, October 13 for each of our instrument approaches, like this one:

Fort Collins/Loveland, CO.
THIS IS VOR-A, AMDT 7A 1710121321-PERM

Jason Licon sent out an email to each badge holder on our airport, notifying us that our name change is effective immediately.  Denver Approach and Denver Center frequencies are now calling KFNL Northern Colorado Regional Airport.

I recommend using the phrase “Northern Colorado Regional Traffic” on CTAF.  We’ve discussed shortening our callsign to NoCo Traffic, but this designation will be unknown to Approach, Center, and transients, so I recommend we table that for awhile until everybody gets used to our new name on the air.

Be alert out there; our airport will now have a new list of almost-correct references on CTAF in addition to the current list of almost-correct references.  You may hear us called any of these (and more):

  • Northern Colorado Regional
  • Northern Colorado
  • NoCo
  • NoCo Regional
  • NorCo
  • NorCo Regional
  • Northern Regional
  • Colorado Regional
  • Fort Collins  Loveland
  • Loveland
  • Fort Collins
  • Fort Love
  • Longmont (yes, I’ve heard this on 122.7)

Let’s try to standardize on Northern Colorado Regional Traffic to be precisely correct and to avoid confusing our many transient pilots during this changeover.  Thanks all!

UPDATE (October 16, 2017): FNL Pilots Association will be holding a round table discussion on Wednesday, October 25, at 7pm in the jetCenter hangar for our local pilot population to come to consensus on our radio call convention.  If you can’t make the meeting, send your preference(s) to Steve Wolf at

UPDATE 2 (October 17, 2017): FAA rescinded the NOTAMS, and promises to change our name on December 7.


UPDATE 3 (October 25, 2017): EAA Chapter 515 held a CTAF round table at their meeting last Tuesday, and FNL Pilots Association held another this evening, for our pilot population to discuss what radio call to use in the FNL pattern once FAA decides to make FNL’s name change official.  The preferred choice from both groups is “NoCo Traffic“.

NOTE: For now, keep using what you’ve been using (“Fort Collins – Loveland Traffic”, “Fort Love Traffic”, and all other variants) until notified by airport staff that the name change is official.   We don’t want to create any confusion by injecting yet another variant until we’re ready to standardize on the new radio call.

Once FAA starts stamping “Northern Colorado Regional Airport” on its documents (sectionals, approach charts, chart supplement, etc.) and airport staff notify us that the new airport name is in effect, EAA 515 and FNL Pilots Association ask all pilots to standardize on “NoCo Traffic” when giving position reports on 122.7.

Some have recommended “NorCo” rather than “NoCo”; if that’s what you want to use instead, it’s fine.  I contend that the two will sound virtually identical over our AM radios.

If our entire pilot community, including based pilots, pilots from nearby airports, flight schools, and corporate users can standardize on “NoCo Traffic”, it’s almost a slam dunk that we can talk our Remote Tower into using “NoCo Tower” when it comes on line in a couple years.  Thanks for your cooperation.

We anticipate the name change to happen on December 7, but based on recent history would not be surprised by another delay.  We’ll keep you informed about when to implement this CTAF change.

September Commissioner’s Meeting – Summary

The NOCO Regional Airport Commissioners meeting on 9/20/17 covered progress in three areas as follows:

– The emphasis of the discussions was on land development on and around the airport, to the exclusion of promoting the airport and its operations!  Comment by Jerry Stooksbury that we should have a booth at the NBAA convention (too late this year!).  That’s an obvious way we can support aviation interests at KFNL.  There are other ways that we should pursue.

Searidge of Canada has been selected to implement the remote tower at KFNL, work beginning in November this year.   They bring some impressive video and other sensor capabilities to this project and are committed to adding new technologies as they become available.  A comment was made that consideration should be given to the design of the new Terminal Building when remote tower camera masts are placed so both can co-exist without interfering with each other at a later date.

Sealcoat will begin next week (Sept) sequentially around the hangars, closing hangar access for about a day each row.  Work will start on the northeast corner of the hangar area and work toward the southwest throughout the week.

Then the seal coat work will extend to the runways, taxiways, and main ramp (out front) areas on Oct 1st.  These areas will be CLOSED for four days by NOTAM and physical barriers as this work is being done.  Both runways will be closed at the same time (15/33 and 6/24).

Be advised, and if you really need to use your plane, move it to another location early.  Consider using the tie-downs out front.  Planes there will be sequentially towed by Jet Center employees to other airport locations as necessary to avoid coating operations in the tie-down area.

Howard Abraham

Kenneth J. Curry

Mr. Kenneth J Curry is a Viet Nam veteran who flew 157 missions in Southeast Asia in the B-52 aircraft. His presentation will relate the harrowing details of one mission over North Viet Nam during which his B-52 was heavily damaged by surface to air missile, yet he and his crew were able to make it back to South Viet Nam and land as fuel gushed from the aircraft.

Ken was most recently the President and owner of KC Aviation Consultants LLC, in Loveland. Previously, he held top executive management positions with multiple business aviation companies. His diverse experience in the aviation industry spans over 35 years.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Sales Management from Woodbury College in Los Angeles. Following college, he served in the United State Air Force as a B-52 Pilot and Aircraft Commander. He flew 157 missions in Southeast Asia and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after his aircraft was hit by a surface to air missile over North Viet Nam.

After leaving the Air Force he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Pepperdine University. second generation native of Los Angeles, Ken grew up in Westchester, near the L.A. Airport. He started surfing at age 13, skiing at age 18,became a USAF pilot at age 23, started running at age 32, weight lifting at 36, competed in triathlons starting at age 40 for six years. and won his age group in a 10k race at age 63. He still loves to travel, is still surfing, skiing and is stoked to be living an adventure.

BasicMed Considerations

QUESTION: Is the new BasicMed Aviation Medical Certificate right for you? It’s new since May 1st, 2017 and a bit radical for the FAA that I am used to, but there have been about 15,000 BasicMed Certificates issued to date. I’m an early adopter for many things and an “older” (don’t tell anyone) reasonably high time active pilot. So even though I’m certain I could pass my usual 3rd Class Aviation Medical due this month, I was curious and decided it was time to try this out—to see if it was right for me.
Bottom Line: I got an appointment with my GP, took the AOPA on-line course and test, then got my “athletics OK?” exam from a local doctor, and PASSED. Along the way, I got some insights that I’ll mention in this article.

Key Questions: (1) Who should consider a BasicMed Certificate, (2) How to pick a Doctor, and (3) How to Proceed.

First: (1) Who should consider BasicMed? There are some pros and cons:

– If you haven’t failed a regular Aviation Medical within the past ten years (even if it’s out of date now and even if you have resolved a problem with a Special Issuance medical from the FAA), you can do BasicMed. Many previous “flags” for an AME (Airman Medical Examiner) physical don’t count in BasicMed if your condition is CONTROLLED (for example high BP and diabetes).
– The FAA recognizes that you self-diagnose your ability to fly every time you act as PIC. In this program, you are urged to learn about and know conditions (and some meds) that could make you unsafe. You are expected to talk with your doctor about your conditions, get them under control, and make SAFE decisions about flying.
– You can’t “fail”. You can take the on-line course and test again until you pass! If your doctor won’t sign the physical exam form, you can see another doctor. You may find things out about yourself that you didn’t know before, and if two or three doctors find the same thing, you probably should pay attention and do something about it first.
– There are only three things that will get you referred to an AME and the FAA for a Special Issuance medical…a serious unresolved Cardiovascular, Neurological, and/or Mental Health condition. After Special Issuance and continued good health, BasicMed can apply.

Cons: (know the rules…)
– You still need an FAA medical from an AME If you fly for HIRE or if you are a student pilot and haven’t yet had an FAA Medical. BasicMed is valid for a specific subset of GA flying, briefly: aircraft less than 6000 lbs, 6
seats or less (5 pax or less), flying at 250 kts or less, in US airspace below 18,000 MSL.
– However, BasicMed is allowed for charitable flights (ie: Angel Flights), shared cost flights, certain business flights with no passengers, and IFR or VFR. No distinction made for class or category of aircraft (piston, jet, helicopter) or license (CFI etc).
– Efforts are underway to get Canada and other surrounding countries to recognize BasicMed as well. Check with AOPA or other sources before flight internationally In general you can always continue to see your AME! However if you meet the restrictions above, you might want to consider BasicMed if you hold a Special Issuance license and don’t want to go through the hassle of renewing it through the FAA each period. Also, perhaps you are an older pilot and are beginning to question whether you will trigger a “flag” on the official FAA Medical application you’ve always had to fill out (once filed you can’t take it back!) and risk the AME not issuing you a Medical, but sending your paperwork to the FAA Oklahoma Office for further action. Perhaps you should consider BasicMed.

– First, you can’t “fail” BasicMed. Your paperwork stays with you in your logbook. Details aren’t sent to the FAA.
– Second, you will become familiar with factors that YOU SHOULD KNOW in order to decide if you really are safe for a given flight. The AOPA on-line course is excellent. It makes you aware of things your AME knows and looks for and may not have taken the time to tell you about (like what will “flag” his attention and why).
– You will find out it isn’t the specific medicine you are taking or doctor you are seeing that counts (you MUST record these accurately, however with BasicMed you don’t have to send these details to the FAA). It’s the underlying CONDITION you are addressing that counts. The med or  treatment may point to something unsafe that needs further investigation. If you and your doctor can handle the condition so you can be healthy and fly safely, that’s the end of it (except for the three serious conditions listed earlier…those need a Special Issuance when diagnosed for you to continue to fly).

Finally, certain meds have serious side effects that can adversely affect flying! You need to know what they are, what effects they can cause, and how long to wait after taking those meds before flying. The on-line course will tell you what you need to know. Your doctor will discuss his health findings with you after your physical. There may be issues you should know about but most likely won’t stop you from being approved for BasicMed. My insurance agent said BasicMed is fine because it’s FAA approved.

Next: (2) Picking a doctor
I visit many specialty doctors for various conditions (eyes-Cataract surgery fixed them, kneeswatching my arthritis, colon-check every five years, EGD-check every three years, etc…we don’t need to list them all). These doctors aren’t good candidates for BasicMed exam. Are you an existing patient somewhere? Check with your GP even if you haven’t seen him (or her) in a while. They regularly give “athletic OK?” exams to  approve golfing, sports, climbing activities, etc. for folks of all ages.
My doctor at Banner Health Clinic in Loveland was not familiar with BasicMed but the first page on the handout quickly filled him in (he’s a fast reader)! We talked for about an hour as he followed his “checkup” list. Then as the nurse was administering the eye check, he read the
rest of the form and covered one or two other items left on the BasicMed list. I may follow up with him on two minor items…may need hearing aid in left ear some day, but that’s easily handled with my aviation headset, and he mentioned a new generic medication now available for a med I have been avoiding up until now–may be helpful during long flights.
At the end of our discussion he checked the required box and signed the form. The cost was higher than my usual 3rd Class medical, but the BasicMed physical is good for four years instead of two. I was surprised to hear that many doctors are limiting new patients because good doctors are leaving the profession. Also, check if your insurance covers the cost of this exam. Some do, many don’t.

Finally (3) How to proceed:

– Create a BasicMed Login and Password (existing AOPA and FAA accounts won’t work).
– Take and pass the on-line course. Spend some time at this…there are several extra links at the BOTTOM of the pages that may apply to you. These are not on the quiz, but you will want to read them if they apply (they are short). Excellent information.
– Push NEXT at the right side of the page to advance through ALL the course steps. Take the test at the end of the course. You can start over again if you’d like but I just swallowed hard at my dumb mistake…I confused CO with CO2 by working too fast!
– Fill out your part of the form completely. Use a copy of a past airman’s medical for reference—enter meds and doctor visits as requested.
– You need to have your physical exam before you can obtain your Completion Certificate, but you can easily log out, log back in, and pick up right where you left off.
– Print out a set of instructions and forms for you and your doctor. Leave a copy with him.
– After he has examined you, he will fill out his form and sign it in front of you.
– Back on-line, Request your BasicMed Certificate. Print and carry it and the doctor’s signed form, with your logbook. Don’t do anything that would require the NTSB or FAA to request to see it!
– Then Go Fly, but skip one or two hamburger runs next year to pay for the exam…better for your health anyway.
Postscript: There is an excellent summary of several studies that attempt to relate aging and piloting capability. Most were done in conjunction with the age 60 rule in the airlines. Despite dancing around the subject a bit, two conclusions emerged…
1. We are all aging! Our skills will degrade over time, and we will eventually die! (Surprise)
2. Our “capability age” and our “birthday age” will differ for each individual (depends on a lot of things!). However, flying capability at any age can be prolonged with EXPERIENCE and FREQUENT FLYING. So…don’t get rusty! And keep having birthdays!