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A Douglas C-47, a Grumman Albatross, and a Piper Super Cub are displayed at show center Saturday morning, Oct. 7, during AOPA's 2017 Groton Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.

By Alyssa J. Cobb

Novelist Tom Casey and his partner Silvia Erskine have the ultimate airplane camping setup—two rattan couches fold out to make a single double bed, and a two-horsepower generator powers a couple of lights and a small heater while also charging their electronic devices. That’s a sweet set-up, but put all of that in a restored Grumman HU–16A Albatross flying boat, and you’re in airplane camping heaven.

The couple had a prime view waking up October 7 from their parking spot (on pavement) at the AOPA Fly-In at Groton, Connecticut, presented by Columbia Aircraft Sales. The Douglas C–47 Skytrain Placid Lassie was on one side of the Albatross’s, a Piper Super Cub on amphibious floats on the other, and a row of display aircraft lined up in a long line in front of it, ending with a Connecticut Air National Guard C–130 and Black Hawk.

A total of 6,364 people attended the two-day event and 480 aircraft flew in. Aviation enthusiasts taking in the Barnstormers Party on a balmy New England evening Friday dined under the stars, with the Albatross and amphibious Super Cub lit up, and live musical entertainment. Hundreds of the attendees watched a trailer of an upcoming film about Casey’s American Clipper during the Saturday morning pancake breakfast and some toured inside the amphib; Casey said he plans to retire American Clipper at the end of the year once the flying boat film is complete.

Casey has instructed in Albatross aircraft for 23 years, helping about 40 people earn their type ratings. He purchased American Clipper in 1994 and spent $1.2 million restoring it to flying condition and having it painted in Pan American Clipper livery. He flies the American Clipper about 15 hours a year because it burns 100 gallons of fuel per hour and requires a lot of maintenance. “I know this airplane well and I love these airplanes, but they’re not for sissies,” he said.

The aircraft on display at the Groton Fly-In sparked many memories for John Behene of Connecticut. A Cessna 170 restored to pristine condition reminded him of a flight in a 170 when he was about 10 years old. The C–47 brought back memories of his college days in the ROTC when he once got to take the controls of a Skytrain in the air, and the C–130 made him recall thoughts about 15 jumps that he made from the model as a Navy Seal.

Behene’s eyes sparkled as he recalled those flights, saying, “It’s fun to see the C–130” and the rest of the aircraft on display.

In addition to the unique aircraft on display at the Groton Fly-In, attendees participated in safety seminars, hands-on workshops, the exhibit hall, and a Pilot Town Hall with AOPA President Mark Baker, during which they learned about the association’s latest advocacy efforts against ATC privatization and egregious fixed-base operator pricing. Those who participated in the hands-on workshops on Friday learned about aircraft maintenance, instrument proficiency, flying with companions, and water survival—even getting a chance to tour the Survival Systems USA training system first hand.


AOPA Insurance

Are you covered?

Understanding your insurance limits

By Jim Pinegar

Have you ever stared blankly at your insurance policy, trying to understand all the jargon, unsure of how it all applies to you? You’re not alone. Let’s take a scenario and apply your policy.

You and a friend are flying to lunch when something goes wrong and you make an emergency landing. A golf course near your current location has a nice, long, fairly straight fairway. You’re able to land, but your passenger suffers a serious neck injury; one of your wings clips a golfer who couldn’t grasp what was happening until it was too late, knocking him to the ground; and the fairway and your airplane are completely torn up.

You’re looking at bodily injury inside and outside the aircraft, damage to the golf course, and damage to your aircraft. Hull coverage will handle the damage to your aircraft, but the bodily injury and property damages will fall under your liability limit:

Smooth limit. With a smooth limit you have the entire limit amount to address all three liability claims. This means if you insured at $1 million smooth, you have the full $1 million to cover the claims. Policies with smooth limits are typically more expensive.

Per passenger sublimit. Coverage for the passenger is reduced to the limit listed on the policy. For instance, if you insured at $1 million with a per passenger sublimit of $100,000, the golfer and the course would be covered under the $1 million; coverage for the passenger would be limited to $100,000.

Per-person sublimit. Coverage amount is limited not only for the passenger, but also for the golfer since each is a “person.” For instance, if you are insured at $1 million with a per person sublimit of $100,000, the course would be covered under the $1 million; the golfer and the passenger would be limited to a maximum of $100,000. Because per-person sublimits are the most restrictive—and there’s almost never a related premium savings—they should be avoided if possible.

Jim Pinegar is vice president of AOPA Insurance Services.

Pilot Protection Service


What is your risk for stroke?

By Gary Crump

The latest iteration in scoring for stroke risk assessment is CHA2DS2-VASc—important to know if you hold a medical certificate and have a history of atrial fibrillation (AFIB) not related to heart valve pathology, or other risk factors for stroke, or “cerebrovascular accident.” This new scoring system expands on the previous CHADS2 score by including additional common stroke risk factors. The names are acronyms for conditions considered when assessing one’s risk of stroke.

CHA2DS2-VASc assigns points for medical history and risk factors that help your physician (and the FAA) minimize your risk for a potentially incapacitating event and to maximize your likelihood for being issued a medical certificate. The higher the score, the higher the risk.

  • C. If you have a diagnosis of congestive heart failure or left ventricular dysfunction, one point is assigned to your risk profile.
  • H. For hypertension, another point is earned, as poorly controlled blood pressure is a provocateur for stroke risk.
  • A2. If you are 75 years of age or older, the A2 earns 2 points.
  • D. Diabetes mellitus is another single point, and hopefully you have good control numbers for blood glucose.
  • S2 stands for prior stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), or thromboembolism, and an affirmative in that column gets you two more points.
  • V is vascular disease, including a prior heart attack, peripheral artery disease, or obstructive blockage in the aorta, and that is one point.
  • A is age 65 to 74, and being under age 75 gets you just one point instead of 2.
  • Sc. Finally, the Sc—sex category— assigns a single point for being female.

The FAA uses the CHA2DS2-VASc system when evaluating pilots who have a history of AFIB and are using some form of anticoagulants. Anticoagulation can include a daily 81-milligram baby aspirin, but under the scoring system, aspirin alone may not be sufficient for medical certification purposes. The FAA allows Coumadin (warfarin), an anticoagulant that has been around for decades, but use of warfarin requires periodic blood tests, International Normalized Ratios (INRs), that should be in the range of 2.0 to 3.0 for good control. Other medications that don’t require INR monitoring are Eliquis (apixaban), Pradaxa (dabigatran), and Xarelto (rivaroxaban).

AFIB is a common arrhythmia in the aging population, but good control demonstrated by cardiac testing can get you a special issuance medical certificate for operations that require a medical.

Gary Crump is director of medical certification for the AOPA Pilot Information Center. (Web:

AOPA Air Safety Institute: ASI News

Say goodbye to mic fright

‘Ask ATC’ comes to the rescue for communication jitters

By Machteld Smith

It’s not unusual to feel intimidated keying the mic when you’re first introduced to radio communication, especially when talking to air traffic controllers. The seemingly rapid-fire instructions coming in over the airwaves can be startling at first, and it’s not always easy to recognize when an ATC instruction is for you. With patience and experience, basic communication skills improve and interaction with air traffic control tends to smooth out. However, lingering concerns and misunderstandings about controllers’ roles and the services they provide can hinder pilots from fully engaging with ATC.

For example, some pilots may worry about contacting ATC to request VFR flight following services because they think the controllers are too busy to help. Others are under the unfounded impression that declaring an emergency with ATC will have dire consequences—and they hesitate to confess their situation, when doing so would offer welcome assistance at a critical time. It’s time to dispel these myths and encourage improved communication and more productive engagement between pilots and air traffic controllers.

The AOPA Air Safety Institute recently partnered with the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) to develop a series of short videos that clarify ATC’s role and the assistance controllers can provide. In Ask ATC: Bothering ATC, the first installment in the updated series, air traffic control specialist Sarah Patten debunks the notion that talking to VFR flights is an inconvenience for ATC. Other Ask ATC videos offer pilots advice on airspace clearances, communications during emergencies, air traffic controllers’ see-and-avoid limitations in nonradar environments, and the best way to contact ATC when they seem too busy for GA aircraft. You’ll also learn how to communicate with controllers when they talk faster than you can comprehend and what information to convey while receiving traffic advisories.

The videos are featured on ASI and AOPA channels such as YouTube and Facebook, and through NATCA’s website and the FAA’s “All Points Safety” website.

Machteld Smith is an aviation technical writer for the AOPA Air Safety Institute.

Pilot information center: Tips from PIC

People to people

Aviation experts are standing by to help you

By Ferdi Mack

Imagine that you could tap the collective aviation experience obtained from pilots with more than 80,000 hours of flight time. That is precisely what you can do when you contact AOPA’s Pilot Information Center with your aviation question, concern, or idea. The AOPA PIC has 20 experienced aviation professionals available for your needs, who can address overall aviation topics such as flight training, aircraft sale and purchase, airport and airspace issues, regulations, and aircraft maintenance—just to name a few.

The AOPA Pilot Information Center also has specialists who focus on medical certification. Perhaps you have a new medical condition or medication and you are unsure whether your ability to fly will be affected. These experts can help guide you through the often unclear FAA policy related to your condition or medication, and get you back in the air safely and legally.

The AOPA PIC digital products support team provides training and troubleshooting with online digital products such as the AOPA Flight Planner, weather tools, mobile apps, and the AOPA airport directory. If you haven’t tried the AOPA Flight Planner yet, call the AOPA PIC and the aviation experts will get you started, setting up your pilot and aircraft profiles.

AOPA members can contact the AOPA PIC through phone calls and email as well as in person at major airshows and the AOPA Fly-Ins, located around the country. The aviation experts in the AOPA PIC help more than 150,000 members each year through direct contact—and hundreds of thousands more members through other resources such as online subject reports, webinars, podcasts, magazine and website articles, ePilot weekly quizzes, and educational YouTube videos.

To find out what the aviation experts in the AOPA PIC can do for you, contact us at 800-872-2672 or email

Ferdi Mack is the senior manager of the AOPA Pilot Information Center.

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