After the excitement of last Saturday's Board election, activity in the week returned to its more normal level – not a great deal, with the exception of the construction and preliminary erection of Ryan's new hangar, which is going ahead with the usual astonishing speed; another week, and his recently purchased Sparrow Hawk will have a new home out of the elements. Regarding the elements, we enjoyed a few drops of rain overnight on Thursday, not a lot, however enough to settle the dust and always welcome. Half an inch of rain this year already!
After the cold front had passed, Saturday dawned with perfect weather for this month's fly-out, organized as usual by DOOF Rich Czarniecki, this time to Calexico, a relatively short 75 miles east of SDM. Calexico is a small town, situated, as its name implies, at the Mexican border, with part on the north side, and the larger portion on the south. The airport itself is only a few steps from the border – it's also hard to spot from the air, (as some of or members found out), just an asphalt strip in an area of sand. In spite of its small size, it is an airport of entry, with customs on site, and much favored by small aircraft returning from Mexico because of its more friendly and laid-back inspections. However, this day we didn't see any customs activity, perhaps Sunday is busier with returning aircraft. Of course, there is also a restaurant on the airport, Rosa's Plane Food Mexican cafe, the reason for our visit.
Chapter members flying from SDM were four airplanes, Rich, Mark Albert, Gary List and myself; Joe Pribilo and Ben Zanin arrived from Gillespie. However, word of our Chapter fly-out must have leaked out, because on our arrival at Calexico, we found a number of other airplane which are normally regular attenders at our Saturday get-togethers at SDM already there – a Bucker, the Helio, a Husky and Jim Wright in his 172, maybe more. We all enjoyed a tranquil flight over the mountains with a nice ten-knot tailwind, and calm winds on arrival at the airport.
With everyone gathered, we descended on the restaurant, where the owners had kindly arranged a long table to accommodate most all of us, although late arrivals were relegated to a separate table; in all there were twenty five diners, certainly a record for our monthly fly-outs. Perhaps we can encourage more of this flying – not just Chapter members, but anyone else who wants to join us. It helps that aviation fuel prices at at a level we haven't seen in years – less than $5/gallon at SDM! Long may it continue!
Rosa's Mexican breakfast food was excellent, the usual Heuvos Rancheros and such, with quantities to satisfy the most ravenous appetite. A very convivial meeting. The return journey to SDM was hardly a navigational challenge – just follow the border fence all the way to Brown Field; can't miss it!
Meanwhile, in Hangar 1 at home base, a small crowd had assembled for lunch of chicken lasagna catered by soon-to-be ex-President Larry Rothrock, with assistance from Richard West. It was reported that fewer than twenty members showed up, with so many having departed on the fly-out.
After the failure of my pleas for voter turn-out in the last few editions of my news, I'll try once again with a reminder that the end of the year is approaching, so it's time to once more come up with your membership dues – a measly $25 to enjoy all that Chapter 14 has to offer: facilities, food and fellowship!
The third Saturday in November, and the Annual General Meeting as decreed by the powers-that-be to validate our status as an official organization; not really any different from our regular monthly meetings, with the exception that an election is held to select directors and Board members for the following year. This time, an astounding count of twenty ballots were submitted, out of two hundred members; come on, folks, is this the best we can do? Can't we show more interest as a Chapter in who is going to run the show?
Early exit polls suggest that their will be no surprises in the results, although long-time president Larry Rothrock's name was not on the list of candidates this year, he having resigned after many years of significant contributions to the Chapter, in particular his dedication to dealing with the City to obtain a long term lease to ensure our existence at Brown Field for many years to come. In recognition of this service, Joe Russo presented Larry with a Life Member plaque (but no gold watch) – actually Larry's second plaque, since no one recalled that he had received a similar one some years ago. However, this time we really mean it.
Most of the activity this week centered around the anticipated visit of a large group – originally expected to be about thirty-five, pupils from the Science Club at La Jolla High school. They had requested that we provide some education in the field of aviation, scientific and otherwise. In planning for the visit, Donna and Ryan arrived on Friday to spruce up Hangar 1, space was made for seating in Hangar 3, and even Hangar 2 was cleared sufficiently to allow hands-on demonstrations. However, as so often seems to happen, the number of Young Eagles participants from the school was whittled down to eighteen, a more manageable number. Also, the school (or their legal advisers) had ruled against having the kids fly, so the planned program was reduced to seminars only. Mark Albert and Eline Kok-Vermeulan (I have to remember how to spell that Dutch name) were in charge of the event, so I'll let them report more fully on how things went - lots of action there. I should mention that Mark had arranged for the purchase of some special shirts for the YE's volunteers, bright red, with pockets, and suitably emblazoned with their affiliation. Can't miss them with that color.