Bremerton National Airport in Bremerton, Washington, is home to the Kitsap Aviation Squadron, an organization that has been providing pilots a fun, affordable, and educational way to head skyward since 1956, when it was founded by Fran Galles and Bobby Ulsh.
From Bremerton, located in Kitsap County just west of Seattle’s outer Class B airspace shelf, a pilot has a wealth of options when it comes to choosing a destination: To the north there’s scenic Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, and other coastal choices that afford a chance to land, walk into town, and enjoy some good dining. Or head south, taking in the high mountains to the east, and make an aerial inspection of Mount St. Helens, famous for a major eruption in 1980.
The 30 members of the Kitsap Aviation Squadron, ranging from "pleasure pilots" to airline pilots and military aviators, have two airplanes to choose from for their outings, said club President Steve Jennings. The fleet consists of a 1979 Cessna 172N, upgraded with a 180-horsepower engine, and a 1965 Cessna 182H outfitted with a Continental P. Ponk O-470-50 engine and a Hartzell three-blade propeller—a conversion that upgraded the power output from 230 horsepower to 260 hp.
Both aircraft are kept in private hangars, and fly between 100 and 2,000 hours yearly, locally and on trips ranging as far as Alaska, and Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Each aircraft has a club member who is an airframe and powerplant mechanic looking after its needs. Both aircraft are scheduled for avionics upgrades.
Hourly rates are based on economical engine tachometer time, not "Hobbs time," and are priced at $77 per hour for the Cessna 172 and $115 per hour for the Skylane, Jennings said.
All active club members are certificated pilots, and most are instrument-rated, Jennings said. He added that the Northwest’s changeable weather affords ample opportunities to work on IFR proficiency under actual instrument meteorological conditions. Members fly annually with the club’s chief instructor to make sure all pilots are "up to snuff," Jennings said.
The club is governed by a board of directors that includes a president, vice president, treasurer, the Cessna 182 mechanic, the Cessna 172 mechanic, a training instructor/safely officer, and the past president.
Social activities include an annual spot landing contest and airplane wash, annual flour bombing contest, and an annual dinner meeting with spouses. Regular monthly club meetings also include a training session on a timely aviation topic; for example, in the fall, it is a good time to do some refresher study of night flying. The December 2014 meeting was to feature a guest speaker form the National Weather Service to address advanced aviation weather topics.
A monthly newsletter, Rudder Flutter, is published by a club member and filled with stories on club members, airplane updates, destinations, and news.
"One of members stated, 'We have great people in a great club at a great airport in a great part of the country,'" Jennings said in an email to AOPA.