July 25, 2017

Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 461 Clow International Airport

Happy New Year to everybody and their families as we start 2017.

The end of one year and the beginning of another is always a good time for reflection. Many believe it to be a time of rebirth…a fresh start. Granted, it’s hard to think of a fresh start when all the Christmas bills come due in a couple of weeks. Many people think of this as a time to set goals and attempt to make the new year a little better than the last.

Personally, I have never been one to adopt new year’s resolutions. While I have numerous areas that need improving (please don’t send me a list), I dont like setting lofty goals, thereby setting myself up for failure… when I dont lose those 15 pounds, or whatever. But I do think of things that I would like to accomplish this year.

So, humor me for a minute as I discuss goals in general, and the relationship to our Chapter going into 2017. This article will focus on a look at 2016. The next article will hopefully provoke some thought on where we go from here.

Our sage, wise, and equally sarcastic Grand Poobah, Wayne, has been working to engage us in a discussion of where the Chapter wants to go this year. There have been some ideas forwarded to the group for consideration.

Of course, this Chapter is only what we make it, with everybody participating as they feel able. Some may like just coming to meetings. Some may only want to help with Young Eagles. Some are just focused on getting their own aircraft built. That’s just fine. The beauty of our Chapter is that we have a large and diverse group of folks that can encompass all of that and still make the Chapter successful.

I sometimes envy those in our group who have been here for 20, 30, 40 years or more. The local knowledge they possess, the stories they have accumulated, are invaluable (it’s a goal of mine to get some of these stories into a future article). I on the other hand have only been in this Chapter for 10 years, but having lived in many different areas, Texas, Alaska, Florida, New England, I have been associated with other Chapters and other airports. So, I’ve seen some chapters that were not very strong, chapters that did not really care about YE or outreach, who didn’t have the support of the airport, much less the community. We have a good Chapter. It is very blessed with strong community ties and an engaged membership. There is a lot of talent and experience in this group.

We all know what the Chapter did this year, but humor me as I list out the reflection part of this piece.

We had another good year of flying Young Eagles. While there were a few weather cancellations, it was still a positive year. We sent 4 young adults to Aviation Camp at Oshkosh using YE funds and the Jim Offinger Scholarship. That, in and of itself is spectacular. We all understand the impact we make on the lives of the young kids when we take them flying. While not all of them will want to pursue a career in aviation, they will still remember their flight (or flights) for the rest of their lives.

Arnie loves to tell the story (and rightly so) about a young kid who went for a Young Eagle ride in his Breezy many years ago. That ride sparked a life-long (so far) love for aviation in this kid. Now David Oliver is the Director of Flight Operations for the Commemorative Air Force and one of the pilots of “Fifi”, up until just a few months ago, the only airworthy B-29. He test flew and is now training the new cadre of pilots for “Doc”, the world’s 2nd flying B-29. David is just one of many who were inspired to pursue a goal of learning to fly because of the YE program at Clow.

Along those lines of creating the next generation of aviators, the Jim Offinger Scholarship Fund is doing well. We’ve used the fund to send 3 kids to EAA Aviation Camp. Jim always had the most fun when he was showing a young adult the joy of flying. It’s a fitting tribute that we continue to find productive ways to use those funds to give kids, who would not have the ability otherwise, the opportunity to fly.

We made a fairly large commitment to help the Illinois Aviation Museum build a Zenith Cruiser. It’s is a big undertaking and we must continue to support that endeavor. We were lucky enough to convince EAA Headquarters to donate the wings. This has an interesting caveat attached to it. More on that in a little while. As part of the outreach program to the community, the IAM has been inviting residents to come and help build the aircraft. A number of families have come to the hanger to help drill holes, pull rivets, etc. This has connected with many in the community who will be able to see the airplane, that they helped build, fly this spring (yes, I’m hinting at a deadline).

I know there were many other things we did as a chapter this year, Sun-n-Fun, AirVenture, picnics, Cavalcade, visit to Midway Tower, just to name a few. It was a really successful year.

I think I’ve written enough for now. Next time, we’ll take a look at a few things going for 2017.

Thanks for reading,

Dave K

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