At Avian Flight Center, a spotless FBO owned by Pat Heseltine, a Piper Cub received a newly varnished wooden propeller on a summer day. Heseltine’s border collie, Madison, hugged Heseltine’s wife, Gin—nearly toppling her over.
Although Bremerton is a short hop across Puget Sound from Seattle, the little brother beats to a different rhythm. Children playing hide-and-seek dance along fountains framing the flower-lined Louis Mentor Boardwalk. Tethered sailboats rise and fall while seven Navy ships loiter in their Sinclair Inlet docks, an homage to city founder William Bremer, who helped establish the naval shipyard in 1891.
Pilots will experience all the Pacific Northwest has to offer during the fly-in, which features a pancake breakfast, the popular Rusty Pilots seminar, exhibits and aircraft displays, a Pilot Town Hall, and an ice cream social. Attendees can find inspiration and unique aviation stories at the Main Stage, check out the latest products from leading industry experts at the Aviation Products Pavilion, improve their skills at the Skills and Safety Pavilion, get tips for making flying more accessible and affordable at the You Can Fly Pavilion, and engage with AOPA’s efforts to protect pilots’ freedom to fly and their local airports at the Airports and Advocacy Pavilion.
Visitors arriving for the August 19 Barnstormers Party presented by Jeppesen can munch on barbecue and quench their thirst with local brews made from the state’s acclaimed Willamette hops while listening to U2 tribute band U253. A limited number of early fly-in registrants will have a special opportunity to tour either the Boeing factory floor at Paine Field or the USS John C. Stennis at the port of Bremerton on August 19. Reservations are first come, first served, and open online at 9 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time July 25.
At Paine Field, northeast of Bremerton, aircraft buffs visiting the Historic Flight Foundation will need to scoot around the front of Bad Kitty, a Grumman F7F-3 Tigercat, and duck under a Piper L–4 aileron for an up-close look at the 10 flying vintage aircraft maintained by museum owner John Sessions. Mechanic Warren Morrison was elbow-deep “stopping oil leaks” on a B–25 Mitchell bomber during a recent visit. At Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection, Scaled Composites’ White Knight hangs from the ceiling above a Focke-Wulf 190 and a P–51 Mustang. Across the field, Boeing’s Future of Flight aviation museum operates daily factory tours that are quickly booked.
Perched on bluffs overlooking the expansive waterway, the city of Bremerton is cradled in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains to the west and Mount Rainier to the east. The pace is slower, the mountains appear closer, and the city has a comfortable small-town feel. You won’t want to miss it.
A special treat awaits 100 attendees for a not-to-be-missed rare VIP tour of the Boeing Co. factory floor in Everett, Washington, with excursions to both the Historic Flight Foundation and the Flying Heritage Collection. The VIP tour was organized by general aviation enthusiast, AOPA member, and Boeing Chief Pilot Stephen Taylor, and it is normally reserved for paying customers who have put down deposits on the $300 million aircraft. “When President Obama came, we let him in on the floor, but that’s about it,” said executive tour guide Mike Murray.
Taylor said visitors to “the world’s largest building by volume” will be able to walk among the giant airliners as workers drive rivets, string cable, and turn wrenches on the company’s 747, 777, and 787 commercial aircraft. The assembly building is about 100 acres, so be prepared to walk. Once the exclusive tour is filled, attendees can still visit Boeing’s Future of Flight museum on their own and sign up online for a tour with walkway views high above the massive jet assembly plant.
In Bremerton, 100 fly-in attendees will have an opportunity for an excursion to the active Navy warship USS John C. Stennis. The 1,092-foot-long ship was commissioned in 1995 and, according to the Navy’s website, can accommodate 70 aircraft and “is 4.5 acres of sovereign United States territory capable of traveling to the furthest reaches of the globe.” The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is available for immediate deployment. It is not handicap accessible; visitors must be prepared for a lot of walking and stair-climbing. Wear closed-toed shoes and pants or shorts, and exercise caution. For national security reasons, you must be a U.S. citizen; passports are required, and they must be presented in person.
Nearly surrounded by water, the Seattle area has an abundance of floatplane pilots. Kenmore Air Harbor, Rainier Flight Service, and Seattle Seaplanes offer training that can open up new horizons for those interested in an adventure while attending the AOPA Fly-In at Bremerton. A seaplane rating can be done in as little as two days.
On a June day, Kenmore seaplane instructor Sean Brady’s arms were a blur of movement configuring a straight-float-equipped Piper Super Cub for flight. With power applied, the aircraft transitioned from a tail-low, drag-inducing position and onto its planing point “on the step” of Lake Washington’s surface. The Super Cub’s nose lowered a bit before the aircraft rocketed forward, leaving a frothy wake on the lake. Many pilots remember that special moment of liftoff to be what hooked them on a seaplane rating.
Brady analyzed the water’s surface like a professional golfer reads greens. “Waves smear in the direction of the wind travel,” Brady said, “and the aircraft will naturally weathervane into that wind.” Windsocks, flags, smoke, and other vessels, he said, give clues about the wind’s direction. Wind velocity is determined by streaks (eight or nine knots), whitecaps (12 to 15 knots), and waves (25 knots or more, and a no-go situation for the Super Cub).
Compared to a wheeled airplane, the flare in a floatplane is gentler and more gradual, and Brady said it can be easy to misjudge height. Seaplane pilots also need to be aware of other boat traffic sharing the waterway.
Brady advised flaring a little higher with “very small pitch adjustments until you get to the step angle” for landing. Learning the step angle’s sweet spot was his biggest hurdle, and he said it took a lot of practice.
“Finding the step angle is all about sight angle and feel. That’s the most essential part of seaplane flying.”
Adrian Eichhorn and his Beechcraft Bonanza P35 completed the trip of a lifetime June 7 when he landed in Manassas, Virginia, after a 25,000-mile flight around the world. His aircraft was modified with 100-gallon tip tanks on the wings, helping to propel him to 21 countries.
Eichhorn launched his round-the-world flight on April 10, flying in five continents and over three oceans for a personal achievement that, he says, had nothing to do with record books. “This isn’t a record, it isn’t a best this or that, it’s pushing the limits of anything I’ve ever done,” said the 60-year-old Jet Blue Airways pilot. He remembers that aviator/inventor Burt Rutan once signed his autograph book by drawing a picture of Voyager and writing Adventure is the essence of life. “It stuck with me. I was at a point in my life, both time and financially, that I could do it,” he said. The trip pushed the aircraft’s performance and Eichhorn’s endurance. He came home physically tired but emotionally energized by the experience. He will share his insights and stories at seminars at all of the upcoming AOPA Fly-Ins.
Aircraft maintenance has become Eichhorn’s avocation, and he recently was named the 2016 Maintenance Technician of the Year by the FAA/industry General Aviation Awards program. For the past four and a half years, he dismantled and restructured his 54-year-old Bonanza for the trip. He enlarged the baggage door, replaced the skin—“Sheet metal work is a form of therapy,” he said—rebuilt the panel, rebuilt the wings, and added those tip tanks. He had 270 gallons of usable fuel, which served him well on the long-haul flights this trip demanded. The longest leg was from Hilo, Hawaii, to Long Beach, California, where JetBlue flies. “Flying GA keeps me sharp. I never want to be an airline pilot who doesn’t know how to fly,” he said.
City Fish Company’s Dagan Alexander heaved a fresh-caught $800 halibut over his head. “This one’s fresh, just off the boat,” he barked as Seattle visitors sampled smoked salmon, crab, and other seafood goodies on display and peppered him with questions.
“Sure, we can ship it anywhere in the world—for a price!” Alexander roared to customers gathered at one of the two Pike Place Market seafood stands. When reminded that nearby competitor Pike Place Fish Market drew a crowd by throwing its fish, Alexander said, “Yeah, but we did it first.”
Perched on a hill overlooking Puget Sound’s ferry boats and sightseeing seaplanes, Pike Place is one of the United States’ most famous city markets.
A few feet away and across cobblestone-lined Pike Place, at Starbucks number one, the caffeine giant’s signature mermaid logo surveyed a never-ending crowd clamoring for lattes, espressos, and just plain old coffee. The chain was established here in 1971 and currently operates nearly 24,000 coffee stores worldwide.
A red neon sign on the bank of Puget Sound beckons shoppers to the city market, with its crustaceans, plump Rainier cherries, and exotic treats in a never-ending sea of humanity and commotion.
1. Overfly the Kenmore Air Harbor seaplane base (W55) toward Apex Airpark Airport (8W5) to stay well south of the prohibited area above the Naval Base Kitsap Trident submarine base.
2. Aim west toward the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal. Look for the ferry slips and a large parking lot, and make sure to stay south of the docks.
3. Continue west over Apex Airpark. Overfly midfield.
4. Point south and hug the left side of Hood Canal near the jutting-out point of Scenic Beach State Park.
5. Navigate Hood Canal’s sharp left elbow to point yourself to the northeast and straight toward Bremerton.
1 Olympic and Cascade mountains. Glaciers and fjords make for spectacular scenery.
2 Puget Sound. World-class sightseeing, sailing, fishing, and recreation.
3 Floatplane flying. Take an introductory seaplane lesson or add a rating.
4 Airport Diner. Bremerton’s on-field restaurant has fish and chips so good the dish was featured in Microsoft Flight Simulator.
5 City of Bremerton. Take the walkway to Louis Mentor Boardwalk and the USS Turner Joy Museum, visit Harborside Fountain Park, and sample seafood at Anthony’s.
6 Ferry ships. From Bremerton, cross Puget Sound to Seattle in an hour.
7 Seattle. Visit Pike Place Market, the first Starbucks, the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, and more.
8 Paine Field. Fly or drive to Everett’s general aviation airport for Boeing factory tours, Future of Flight, Flying Heritage Collection, and Historic Flight Foundation museums.
9 San Juan Islands. Whale watching excursions accessible by ferry.
10 Canada. Our northern neighbor is less than an hour’s flight from Bremerton. Or take the Victoria Clipper passenger ferry from Seattle.