Good grits

March 24, 2012

Recreational Aviation Foundation Director Tim Clifford flies his Husky in formation with the others down the coast. Recreational Aviation Foundation Director Tim Clifford flies his Husky in formation with the others down the coast.

The morning of March 23, the Husky flight team awoke in beautiful Cedar Key, Fla. The gulf breezes and sunshine were a great start to the day. Even better was having another Husky join the group for a few hours. Tim Clifford, director of the Recreational Aviation Foundation, joined the crew for breakfast. After talking about how great Sun ’n Fun will be this year over a meal, three Huskies took off from Cedar Key and headed south along the Florida coast. Clifford shared his knowledge of the area with the other pilots as they flew low and slow, watching marine life and plenty of spring breakers enjoy the water below. With a “See you at Sun ’n Fun,” Clifford broke off from the group after a few minutes to head home, but the two Huskies continued south. The coast was a breathtaking site; aquamarine water turned to bright blue north of the Saint Petersburg area. The air was smooth until the flight turned inland to a fuel stop in Venice.

Two Huskies are on a four-mile final to Venice, Fla. Two Huskies are on a four-mile final to Venice, Fla.

After lunch in Venice, the Huskies set out for Naples. The controllers were happy to accommodate the team of traildraggers, which landed between a Falcon jet and a Velocity in the pattern. The smooth air over the water was replaced with a few bumps over land in the afternoon sun.

AOPA President Craig Fuller (left) speaks with Ted Soliday, executive director of the Naples Airport Authority (center), and Bob Knight, chairman of Sun 'n Fun (right). AOPA President Craig Fuller (left) speaks with Ted Soliday, executive director of the Naples Airport Authority (center), and Bob Knight, chairman of Sun ’n Fun (right).

Upon landing at Naples, the Husky team enjoyed visiting with Bob Knight, chairman of Sun ’n Fun, who happened to be on the apron. Ted Soliday, executive director of the Naples Airport Authority, also came out to visit the AOPA bunch. Soliday spoke with AOPA President Craig Fuller about the airport and general aviation issues. From there it was off to the hotel by car, which was just plain boring after the fantastic flight. The team planned out a possible morning itinerary before retiring early. The only thing for certain at the end of the evening: The next day shall involve the Florida Keys.

Smile! Parasailers were out in full force for the perfect weather.