IMC Club

Last Spring, a pilot friend flew down to Centennial Airport to attend an “IMC Club” meeting put on by Independence Aviation.  He enjoyed it very much, and told me he thought it would be great if we could create such a club at FNL.

The idea of the IMC Club is to present a scenario of something going awry during an IFR flight, and then to discuss amongst the attendees what they would do in that situation.  There are no canned answers provided, and so there are no wrong answers.  Each attendee can contribute to the conversation, whether an aspiring instrument pilot or a Master CFI; having zero hours of experience or thousands.  The attendees can learn from each other during the course of the meeting.

As a result of the conversation, I did some research on IMC Clubs.  I discovered that about a year ago the independent IMC Club non-profit merged into EAA, and the club’s new model is to sponsor local clubs through local EAA chapters.  I also found that they have a large library of scenarios already created, making it very simple to run a meeting.

So I got agreement to form a club from our FNL EAA chapter President, attended a web-based training from EAA, and hosted our inaugural FNL IMC Club meeting on May 18.  We’ve held meetings the third Wednesday of each month since.  Attendance gets you a WINGS Knowledge credit.

We have a regular group of attendees, along with other pilots that drop in from time to time.  Because the meetings are advertised on the FAASafety website, we’ve also had pilots fly up from the airports to our south (LMO, BDU, BJC, APA) to attend.

My pilot friend recently told me that he’s changed some of his piloting and decision making practices as a direct result of the discussions during our IMC Club meetings.  That’s what these meetings are for: to challenge the way you fly and make decisions, and to make you a better pilot as a result.  He made my day!

If you are an instrument pilot, or thinking of getting the rating, feel free to join us in the jetCenter hangar each month.

How FNL handles dignitaries

I sat down with Jason Licon this month and asked him what it was like when he got the call that Mr. Trump would be coming in.

He very calmly explained he didn’t receive “a call”. He said there is a county wide system for when dignitaries and the like fly in. Usually the visit is venue specific with the Budweiser Event Center, Larimer County Fairgrounds, Moby Arena or CSU being the ones to get a call to inquire about availability. Once the venue has been confirmed the advance team for the dignitary will start including a lot of the emergency services personal on planning the event.

Secret Service, in this instance, provided the lead on safety and security with the local law enforcement agencies providing support. Colorado State Patrol, Fort Collins and Loveland Police Departments as well as Larimer County, Thompson Valley EMS and Loveland Fire and Rescue Authority were included. Each agency is an expert in their field. Then it was just a matter of figuring out who would handle the motorcade, who has traffic control, who has perimeter security and so on.

Situations like this create a lot of interest; therefore, it creates a lot of additional tasks for the agencies involved.

Line of sight is a big issue for Secret Service and since they had limited staff and were unable to stand shoulder to shoulder, it was arranged by local SWAT to bring out public works trucks to provide a line of security. That is when Jason put his foot down.

“No. I don’t want trash trucks on my ramp.” He said. “It’s gonna look terrible and stink.” So he asked Green Ride if they would be able to park their buses on the ramp and they were more than happy to do so. He then filled in the holes with available trucks.

Jason has been airport manager for about 5 ½ years and has been through a visit from Obama and a couple of times with Paul Ryan so this stop was a well-oiled machine.

The airport staff had about a fifteen minute ramp stop, meaning all ground personal remained where they were until Mr. Trump exited his plane and the motorcade left the airport, but everything else was business as usual with no other impact to airport operations.

I think, after talking to Jason, our airport is in very capable hands.

 

Runway Condition Reports

Effective October 1, airports are required to report runway conditions using a new scale.  To date, runway conditions have been reported as good, fair, poor, or nil.  From now on, however, they’ll be reported using a Runway Condition Code (RwyCC), and fair has been replaced with medium.

Here’s how GA pilots can convert the RwyCC to something more familiar…

RwyCC Braking Action
6 (uncontaminated)
5 Good
4 Good to Medium
3 Medium
2 Medium to Poor
1 Poor
0 Nil

The RwyCC is reported via a Field Conditions (FICON) NOTAM for each third of the runway.  For example, 5/4/5 means the first third of the runway is Good, the middle third is Good to Medium, and the final third is Good.

Airport operators have a Runway Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM) that they use to determine which RwyCC to report. Airline pilots have their own version of RCAM which tells them whether or not they can land based on each code. Life is simpler for GA pilots; we just need the table above and our common sense.

Another change that comes with this is that if the braking action is nil, the airport must close the runway. They must also temporarily close the runway each time they assess the condition, because they need to drive along the runway with their sensors.

You can see the airport operator’s RCAM and some additional information on the FAA website.

So be on the lookout for temporary runway closure NOTAMS and FICON NOTAMS this winter during inclement weather.

Oshkosh AirVenture Presentation

On March 24, 2016 Steve Wolf gave a presentation on Oshkosh Airventure and Mass Formation arrivals. He expressed the excitement, fun, pride, and comradery of participating in a formation arrival of similar performance aircraft.

These mass arrivals increase the efficiency and safety of traffic at Wittman Reginal Airport and are scheduled for late morning through mid-afternoon, weather permitting. The arrival of these large arrivals often interferes with regular FISK VFR traffic.

Participation is limited to aircraft registered in each group. Currently there are four groups, Bonanzas which began in 1990, Mooneys which began in 1998, Cessnas which began in 20016, and Cherokees which began in 2010. All presently are still active in the mass arrivals at Oshkosh.

Large formations require an EAA approved training program and a letter of agreement with the FAA.

Julie Wolf then spoke about the Oshkosh event from a non-pilot view point. She described the event as a Pilot’s Disney World. She talked about the many vendors, workshops, air shows, concerts, and group activities.
She expressed her amazement at the amount of people who attend and the cleanliness of the venue. Although she loves attending the event, there comes a point, as a non-pilot, that the hanger talk causes her eyes to glaze over. So she takes advantage of the many transportation opportunities to both the events and into town for various stops.

They both enjoy meeting up with friends both new and old.

IMC Club starts at FNL

EAA_IMCClub_4cLogo_rgb-300I’ve gone through the training to become the EAA Chapter 515 IMC Club Program Coordinator.  Our inaugural meeting will be Wednesday night, May 18, at 7pm in the jetCenter Hangar.

IMC Clubs were started by Radek Wyrzykowski in 2010 as a support group for instrument pilots and students, and the IMC Club non-profit corporation was acquired by EAA effective November 2, 2015.  Now anybody who is an EAA member can also be an IMC Club member.

IMC Club has a library of instrument flight scenarios.  At the beginning of each meeting, the participants watch the video, and then spend the rest of the meeting discussing what they’d do in that situation.  The scenarios are flexible; I can change the parameters, such as “Now suppose it is at night.” or “Now suppose you are picking up ice.”  Meetings are kept to an hour.

IMC Club gets its scenarios from its members.  Members are encouraged to send in stories of their instrument adventures.  Radek and his staff anonymize the most teachable scenarios, changing location and equipment, and generate a new scenario each month.

For our first meeting, we’ll be watching an introductory video from Radek, and will then work through an abbreviated scenario for about 30 minutes.

For more information on IMC Clubs, visit http://www.eaa.org/imc.  If you fly instruments, or are interested in flying instruments, we hope to see you on May 18, and then on the third Wednesday of each month.  Let’s become better pilots.