On Saturday May 18, Joyce and I had the pleasure of hosting a fly-in to Savannah, Georgia as part of the COPA Southern Region events team. We had a great group of COPA pilots and partner, coming from as far away as California, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. Some flew in on Friday to get a early start, with the majority arriving Saturday morning.
Everyone was transported to the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum for the beginning of the program. After registration and a few organizational details, Chuck Copley and Chuck Watson presented a one and a half hour seminar on Thunderstorm avoidance and weather planning. The feed back was very good in that attendees gained a renewed appreciation for the danger of thunderstorms and a new perspective on types, sources and uses of weather data. As one attendee put it, “there are some real important nuggets in there”. I’m sure this seminar is going to be repeated at future South East COPA get together
After a buffet lunch in the seminar room we met our tour guide Gil Terry who did a super job of telling the incredible story about this page of aviation history covering the air war in Europe in WWII.
The Museum tells the story with exhibits and simulation that cover the prelude to the war, the battle of Britain, a simulation of the planning, aircraft preparation and actual combat mission over Germany. Starting in an actual Quonset hut, we were briefed, saw a film of the ground crew preparing and repairing the B-17′s and then sat in a theater with multiple screens with actual combat film taking you on board a bomber on a mission. This was very well done and everyone gained an appreciation for those that served. We then viewed actual aircraft and exhibits on equipment from that period. During that time COPA members met an 93 year old bombardier/navigator who had been shot down and was a prisoner of war who was visiting the museum. The COPA members thanked him for his service. We learned that 26,000 crew members died and 24,000 were POW’s, which gave us a greater appreciation of those who served. Our guide showed us a picture of the main characters of the book “A Higher Call”, that was taken at the museum. Other exhibits told the story of the POW’s, the women in the Air Force and the end of the war. We scratched the surface in the two hour tour, it was poignant but a very good visit.
We left the hotel for the Mulberry Inn in the historic district of downtown Savannah and arrived just in time for complementary wine and cheese. Some members did a little touring of the river front near by and others relaxed and socialized. After freshening up it was time for cocktails in our private room, then dinner. Everyone had time to get to know their fellow COPA members, discuss the day and of course aviation. It was a very jolly evening and everyone seemed to have a good time socializing. The evening was made even more pleasant courtesy of Executive Air of Hilton Head, who sponsored the wine with dinner.
Dinner was served and was very good!
Coffee and desert and more socializing and the evening came to an end, with everyone having had a very full COPA day.
After breakfast a number of attendee’s took advantage of the optional tour of Savannah’s Historic District. The old Savannah Tours company sent a shuttle to the hotel and picked up most of those participants, others boarded the trolley right in front of the hotel at stop 7. The guide did a great job of telling the story of the history, pointing out the unique architecture that has been restored and the significance of the many city squares.
At he conclusion of the tour it was time to depart. The participants were transported to the airport and soon in the sky heading home.
It was a great COPA weekend, with some new knowledge about weather, interesting aviation history, an appreciation for a beautiful southern city and most important quality time with new and renewed COPA friends.
We departed Hilton Head Thursday April twenty fifth for Sarasota to spend an afternoon and evening with our NCR colleagues,the Whites,Stephans and Exleys. We arrived in time for lunch with Elton, Gordy, and Chuck, then spent the afternoon visiting with the Whites. We had dinner with all three couples and soaked in the great Sarasota ambiance with our friends. Friday morning, after one of Gordy’s great breakfast, we headed for the airport and flew to Fort Lauderdale. We spend the day with Jennifer and Alexandra, our daughter and grand daughter and were joined by Mike for a birthday dinner. Saturday was more family time and then we joined the COPA group at the departure hotel near KFXE, for the trip briefing and cocktails. The trip was expertly organized by Joe McMonigle, Nancy and Jim Knollenberg. After the briefing we had dinner , with our friends from Texas, Bob and Mary Miller. The next morning we started a trip that would take us to Treasure Cay in the Bahamas and then on to the Dominican Republic.
The flight to the Bahamas was easy, over gorgeous water, past Grand Bahama Island into Abaco, only one hundred fifty five miles. Its an impressive site to see 30 Cirrus parked on the ramp. What was more impressive is the attendee’s were from as far away as Oregon, Northern and Southern California, Canada and all across the United States. We were greeted by the Bahamian tourist representatives and served the obligatory rum or Bahamian beer.
After the short flight, we checked into the Bahama Beach Resort, which is on a beautiful beach. We relaxed, had lunch and then attended the cocktail reception at the Tipsy Seagull at the Treasure Cay Marina resort, hosted by the Bahamian tourist bureau. After dinner we found a very nice restaurant and dined with COPA friends.
Monday, everyone did there own thing, including boat excursions, exploring the area by golf cart, beach time or just hanging out with friends. We did the exploring and some beach time.
The group dinner was on the beach and it turned out to be a great evening.
Tuesday, there was a optional boat trip to Green Turtle Cay for touring shopping and lunch. Just about everyone decided to go. This is a small island that was colonized by the “loyalist”, basically, the losers in the revolutionary war. It is quaint and historic and a great place to visit.
We boarded the boat for a short trip around the island for lunch to a great place, the Green Turtle Club.
Back to Treasure Island and then guess what, cocktails before dinner. Dinner at one of the good local restaurants and then file the flight plan either back to Florida or in our case to the Dominican Republic.
Joe, Nancy and Jim did a great job organizing the trip to the Bahamas and everyone had a great time. Some headed west and some headed south, but all left Treasure Cay with a great experience and more COPA friends.
Wednesday we got up early and were out smarted by the hotel telephone so we filed on the phone at the airport. No big deal, we were in the air headed for our refueling stop on time. In the Bahamas, they want to make it a, “no problem mon”, experience and it was. Onward!
On Wednesday, May 1st. we left Treasure Cay for a fuel stop at Stella Maris a two hundred twenty mile flight. We met some of the Jim Parker group that were refueling on there way from Florida. We then took off for La Romana, MDLR for the four hundred ninety mile flight to the Dominican Republic. Joe McMonigle, enlisted Jim Parker to organize this part of the trip and it was a great decision. Our arrival was a breeze, customs a non-event and the Dominican Aviation Authority greeted us and hosted a cocktail party that evening at our resort hotel Casa de Campo. There were seven COPA airplanes with eight members on this leg of the trip and a number of other aircraft filling out the group. After the reception, we enjoyed dinner at the near by outdoor restaurant, the food and wine were very good.
Casa de Campo is a resort with just about everything you could ask for, including world class golf. We had been there before and on Thursday decided to play the new Pete Dye course, Dye Fore. A few others made the same choice. We met again for cocktails and another fine dinner, this time at the Beach Club, again, great atmosphere, food and drink.
Friday there was an optional trip to the capitol city Santa Domingo, which we joined. The hour and a half bus trip took us through the town of La Romana, and the country side, which displayed the typical Caribbean extremes.
Our first stop was the Dominican Aeronautical Administration headquarter, for a demonstration of their tower and ATC training simulators. They hosted lunch and we were off to tour the central city.
The tour took us to the Cathedral of Santo Domingo an impressive four hundred year old structure, the Christopher Columbus square and museum, the building that houses the Domincan country hero’s, and ended at the family palace of Christopher Columbus.
After the tour we stopped at a sidewalk café for a cold Dominican beer and enjoyed the street music.
Then we returned to our resort to get ready for dinner, which was at a replica of a sixteenth century European village, called Altos de Chavon.
Saturday, most of the group flew one hundred twenty six miles to the town of Barahona, for lunch, zip lining and relaxing at the pool. Joyce and I elected to chill out at Casa de Campo after going to the airport to refuel.
We toured the beautiful marina, had lunch at the Beach Club, got some sun at the pool and had a great day. We joined part of the group for dinner at the outdoor restaurant that we enjoyed the first night for our fare well dinner.
Sunday we departed La Romano for Stella Maris at nine A.M. . again Jim Parker made sure everything was painless, filing our flight plans, and getting us through customs at warp speed. We climbed out on a beautiful day for the three and a half hour flight to our refueling stop. We were feet wet at Ponta Plata in about an hour, then skirted the Turks and crossed Crooked Island an hour out. We dodged a few build ups, but otherwise it was a great flight.
We refueled and were in the air in thirty minuets and arrived at Fort Lauderdale at three P.M. We cleared customs, checked into the hotel and then met our daughter, grand daughter, and son-in-law for dinner. Monday we took off for Hilton Head and arrived at eleven A.M., completing our twenty five hundred mile journey with a great flight up the coast. Thanks to the good work of the COPA Bahamas committee and our friends in Florida it was another great flying trip. Flying and visiting great places is fun, but being able to visit friends and make new friends is priceless.
The Prado family joined Joyce and I on Spring Island for Easter. The festivities started with an Easter egg hunt, Brenn with the big guys and Caitlin and Kinsey with the medium sized kids. Everyone did well as the Easter bunny made his visit then on to the the play ground. It was then time to visit the nature center before brunch. The brunch was the usual Spring Island super spread with lots of good things to choose from. The finale was the dessert display that filled the Post Office, with a couple of trips allowed. It was a great Easter get together and everyone had a good time including the grand parents.
On the occasion of the NCR CPC on the island of Maui Joyce and I decided to arrive early and spend time at the other end of the island. We left Savannah on Friday, Feb. 22nd. at 7:00 AM and arrived in Maui at 4:00 local time. We checked into the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua after an hour drive from the airport and much to our surprise ran into our old friends Lynne and Lou Earl. We arranged to have lunch the next day since they were leaving Sunday. The Ritz is a great property and perfect to relax and enjoy the Hawaiian ambiance.
We did some exploring visiting Lahaina, the old whaling port, which now is a cruise ship and tourist stop.
Monday we played golf and the Bay course at Kapalua, with a couple from Michigan who were very nice. We learned that Hawaii is better than Michigan in February. The Bay course is right next to the Ritz, with lots of ocean views and elevation changes. Did I mention wind, oh yes, Kapalua can be windy and it was when we played.
We decided to travel to the windward side of the island to have lunch at Mama’s Fish house. This took us by the airport that is in the valley between the two peaks of Maui and funnels the trade winds. We noticed when we landed it was blowing and learned that this was normal. Mama’s Fish House is just past the little town of Pa’Ia and turned out to be worth the drive. We even had one of those drinks with the little umbrella on top. It turned out to be a great spot and we enjoyed the visit. In the afternoon it was more time by the pool.
The next day we played the Plantation course, which is just above the Ritz. The Plantation is where they play the PGA tournament on Maui, which was suspended for a day because of high winds this year. It wasn’t that bad when we played it, but it was blowing enough to make it interesting and very beautiful.
We hung out at the Ritz and then on Friday March First we traveled to the Gold Course at Wailea to play golf with Elton White and Joe Stephan who had arrived early for CPC. It was a fun round of golf and we had a chance to catch up with old friends.
To celebrate Joyce’s birthday we met the Fleets, Stephans and Whites for dinner at the Waterfront restaurant in Ma’alaea about forty minute from Kapalua. It was a jolly birthday party.
Saturday morning we checked out of the Ritz and headed for Wailea to attend the NCR CPC. It was a great week and we were excited to see old friends and spend time at the other end of the island.
Joyce and I were invited as “Life Honorees” to participate in the NCR CPC celebration at the Grand Wailea on Maui starting March 2nd. Saturday after golf with Gil’s fellow life honorees we checked into the hotel. That evening we participated in the Welcome to Maui reception and dinner. There were 15 Life Honorees there and we had a chance to catch up and enjoy the dinner and entertainment.
Sunday was the opening General Session and Award Ceremony, then a luncheon for the Life Honorees.
Sunday Evening we were transported to the Moonlit Makena Evening. The site of the party overlooked the ocean, included cocktails and dinner as well as a great band. The evening turned into a great party.
Monday was a golf day for Gil and Joyce spend time with friends.
Monday evening we attended the Gala reception and dinner that included great entertainment and closing remarks by our NCR host Peter Leav.
Tuesday we spent a relaxing morning on the beach and after lunch we checked out and headed to the air port. We had a good flight back to Savannah and were home by 1:00 the next afternoon. All in all it was a great trip.
On Saturday Febuary 2, Joyce and I flew to Savannah to attend Brenn Prado’s ninth birthday party. It was a great day to fly and to attend a party. Brenn has a great time and the whole family joined in the festivities. Brenn received lots of gifts and had time to shoot a few hoops with his dad and play with his new toys. Caitlin and Kinsey showed off their new gymnastic outfits and had fun helping Brenn open his presents. Our intention was to then fly to Saint Simmons and join flying friends for lunch, however when we returned to the Savannah airport it was closed due to a disabled aircraft on the runway. So after waiting for an hour we flew back to Hilton Head instead and had lunch. It was a great day anyway.
Alexandra was one happy girl, first time out with her new pony she won 2 classes and was reserve champion.
Joyce and I made a quick trip to Fort Lauderdale to fly Mike back to Hilton Head to pick up his new car. We arrived in time on Friday to pick Alexandra up from school and accompany her to the stables to see her new pony. Peter Pan is a pretty horse and Alexandra had a ball showing off her considerable riding skills.