2017 Maine Aviation Forum Held In Owls Head

Sean Collins of the AOPA at the 2017 Maine Aviation Forum
Sean Collins of the AOPA at the 2017 Maine Aviation Forum

Despite the heatwave, aviators and aviation stakeholders across the state gathered in Owls Head at the Owls Head Transportation Museum today for the 9th annual Maine Aviation Forum. The morning started off with updates from 5 Experimental Aircraft Association chapters in Maine and some of the projects they have in the works along with 3 flying clubs, including the 99’s Women’s Flying Club.

Bob Bailey, aircraft conservator from the Owls Head Transportation Museum gave an update on the museum and some of the aircraft they have and others they are working to procure.

The Maine Ace Camp gave a great presentation on this years summer camp. The Brunswick camp is a day camp with adjusted hours to alleviate transportation issues with parents getting kids to the Brunswick Executive Airport during the week. The Bangor camp, to be held at the Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Roosevelt in Eddington will take place July 23rd – July 29th. The week long camp teaches kids in grades 7-12 about aviation, but also about each other and helps to build skills of future aviators. There’s also a ride on a KC-135, sadly I don’t pass for grade 12 anymore, because that would be awesome.

FAA Portland Flight Standards District Office(FSDO) FAASTeam Program Manager John Wood spoke on making the air, and ground safer for everyone. John spoke at length about fuel system failures, not only from running out of fuel, but also plugged vents, etc. Other issues include failures to fully utilize checklists and how many incidents and accidents could have been avoided as well as ground and in air maneuvering mistakes and accidents.

Michael Lessard, cofounder of WINGsRealityEDU.com showcased the Orono based flight school and their move into the Target Technology Center and the ability to now provide live, interactive classes to those wanting to become a private pilot as well as Part 107 sUAS Remote Operator. The move from a room on campus at the University of Maine in Orono, has allowed them to create a more permanent setting, with ultrafast internet and access to technology to reach more students than ever before.

Flight Paramedic, Josh Dickson of LifeFlight of Maine spoke of the growth of LifeFlight of Maine. The opening of the new base operations in the 600 area at Bangor International Airport, which is also the home to their modified Super King Air, N901LM as well as operations center and the winter base for the Eastern Maine Medical Center helo, N901EM.

LifeFlight will be opening a southern Maine base in the old fire station at the Sanford Airport and is working hard to improve landing zones and runways in rural areas of Maine. The runways are vital to LifeFlight’s mission to get to those areas in Maine that don’t have the hospitals to handle the severe medical cases.

The Maine Forestry Service Pilot John Crowley gave a phenomenal presentation on the mission of the Maine Forestry Service, their equipment, and their merger with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. He showed several examples of how Maine Forest Rangers are answering the call to assist other states with wildfire fighting and how it translates to improved firefighting and incident command when they are activated in Maine.

Patrick McGowan of PK Floats presents at the 2017 Maine Aviation Forum
Patrick McGowan of PK Floats presents at the 2017 Maine Aviation Forum

After lunch, Patrick McGowan of PK Floats, a Lincoln, Maine based float manufacturing company gave an update of their operations, the floats they are producing and are developing along with their current offering of aircraft skis for the Cessna Caravan. Their facility in Lincoln had a spectacular year in float production, but many are shipping to out of state aviators.

Sean Collins, AOPA Eastern Regional Manager fielded several questions on topics ranging from the new FAA 3rd Class Medical reform to issues with insurance and barriers to aircraft ownership. He also touched on things coming down the road that may impact general aviation, such as the privatization of national air traffic control system. Sean is going to work with LifeFlight and others at upcoming meetings in Augusta as well as the Maine Aviation Caucus to boost support with legislators.

Marty McMahon, Manager of Airport Services at Brunswick Executive Airport and Executive Director for the Maine Aviation Business Association was up next. First, BXM will again be hosting the Great State of Maine Air Show which will feature the Blue Angels and tentatively an F-16 demo team among other performers. Kestrel, now One Aviation is producing aircraft components in Brunswick for the One Eclipse Jet, but not any of the former Kestrel aircraft. The Maine Aviation Business Association is going to be displaying at Sun N Fun this year along with NBAA to promote business aviation in Maine and try to build on the growing aviation industry in our state. They will also participate in the Maine Aviation Caucus, February 28th in Augusta.

Two of the University of Maine at Augusta Aviation Program faculty members, Greg Jolda and Tom Abbott were on hand to shine some well deserved light on the only aviation program in Maine. The 4 year bachelor’s degree program is in it’s 4th year and will graduate the inaugural class this year. The program, costing 45% of the program through Embry Riddle, continues to grow. They have updated their state of the art flight simulator, which is open to anyone wanting to see get some initial training in or brush up on their instrument flying. Other things on their horizon are expanding on the new Part 107 sUAS regulation and the rise of the use of drones in the national airspace, safe integration and some of the rising trends and uses with drone based technology.

Yours truly had the floor next and I was on hand to pitch a project I’ve been working to develop. As you know, I operate this site out of love for aviation, particularly aviation in Maine. It is my hope to be a small part of the many people who are working tirelessly to expand aviation in our great state. I also have a business, which I provide drone based photo and video along with aerial mapping, construction site progress as well as asset inspections of cellular communication towers, wind mills and more.

My hope is to produce a video, utilizing the drone as well as ground based photo and video to promote general aviation in Maine by attending fly-ins, showing points of interest, FBOs and GA airports in Maine. The integration of drones into the national airspace is a touchy, sometimes heated topic. In producing a video of this nature, I hope to educate people on the safe operation of them, show how they operate and, hopefully, bridge the gap for between manned aircraft pilots and remote pilots. If you have an event that you would like to include in this project, please feel free to contact me. This is an ongoing project and I hope to encompass the 4 seasons in Maine and as many fly ins and other GA interests as possible.

Other presenters included Lou Sapienza and the Greenland Expedition/Fallen American Veterans, Central Maine Pilots’ Mike Willey and the status of E0 MoGas, Maine Aeronautics Association’s Lisa Reese, CAP’s Dan LeClair and the Recreations Aviation Foundation’s Andy Rowe.

Due to a time commitment, I had to leave after my presentation. The day was well run and very informative. I’m already looking forward to making a return trip to the Owls Head Transportation Museum as well as the 2018  Maine Aviation Forum. A huge thanks to the Duke Tomlin and the many volunteers who helped put it together.

In the coming weeks, I will be putting together a list of fly-ins at various fields across Maine and will continually update it as others are announced. Wheels up!

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