Airshow Season – Sun N Fun and AirVenture
Airshow season is my a favorite time of year. I use Sun N Fun as my kick off show usually. It is like they say, the “Spring break for pilots”. And i usually write about attending events like Sun N Fun and AirVenture for the Cessna Owners and Piper Owners Magazines. So if you want more details join those two groups and you can get access to the articles. I have also put up a short video here about Airshows.
Anyway, I usually see four major issues which I have noted below (which were in the Cessna and Piper article! These are my opinion only, that I have formed from years of attending airshows and insurance.
Airshow-itus – Getting all excited and making high performance take offs and landing or a fly-by that end up in a mishap. There is something about being at an airshow or a fly-in that gets to a pilot and make them want to impress others. I do believe that being a pilot is a great achievement. Its also a great experience and it is also a huge ego boost. But remember the line from Top Gun, “Your egos writing checks your body can’t cash”, its amazing how many people try to “cash” at an airshow.
Volunteerisms – most events, shows, fly-ins are manned by volunteers. Volunteers make the shows go around. And they are trying to do their best even if they don’t quite no what they are doing. But watch out when they are directing you to park, you are still the pilot and need to have the final decision. Many a pilot has followed the direction of the vested flag bearing volunteer and needed up with a collapsed nose gear or prop strike. They directed, you pay.
Weather – is one of those things that change and at a show like Sun N Fun it can be nice this morning and storming this afternoon, just like AirVenture. Be prepared for weather changes. That includes tie downs and control locks. And if you are tenting… well, maybe you can sleep in the plane?
General population – The regulars, the muggles, whatever people call the “non-pilots”. I know that kind of sounds bad. But one thing about big airshows, especially if the show has a military team (Blue Angles, Thunderbird’s etc.) they draw big crowds. And not all those people are pilots or owners. Many are just aviation enthusiast that like watching “Top Gun” movies and dog fighting on their simulators. That’s okay, a show needs to make money and pilots are small numbers compared to the general public. What that does mean is a lot of the attendees are people that do not know about airplanes and what’s acceptable behavior around aircraft. So watch out for people walking into props, bumping heads on flaps or putting kids on wings. Be alert to those around you!
I also put together a few Airshow season tips that I have heard from customers, friends and my own experiences.
- Check the weather forecast and pack accordingly (but you can always buy stuff if needed)
- Look at the events website and see what’s happened in past years and talk to past attendees about what to expect
- Make sure you have tie downs appropriate for the event and the size of your aircraft
- Check your aviation insurance and make sure it has the appropriate coverage use of your plane at the event. If you need additional insureds and a Certificate of Insurance start early. Don’t wait until the last minute and not get a chance to display your airplane
- Know the navigation, TFR’s and of course the arrival and departure procedures
- Need a rental car? Reserve ahead.
- Make sure you have more than one credit card and extra cash. One thing about airshows, they always cost money. One of the first things in my pre-flight is checking my wallet for credit cards and licenses.
- If you plan on shopping for aircraft supplies for the year, make sure your weight and balance will handle the return trip. But, don’t worry, you can always send your passengers home on the airlines if needed.