Joyce and Rick Dawson organized and executed a fabulous fly-in for 53 COPA members flying 23 Cirrus into KTIX, Titusville, Florida for a weekend of socializing and touring the Kennedy Space Center. The whole weekend was perfectly organized with attention to every detail. Most flew in Friday to arrive for the 5:15 PM bus to the hotel, Four airplanes were delayed by choice or weather and arrived Saturday morning. Upon arrival Joyce and Rick Had goody bags organized for everyone, that included snacks, water, a roster of all attendees, name tags, and a program for the weekend. We were off to the hotel, to get settled. Cirrus Aircraft sponsored another goody bag when we arrived at the hotel so we were loaded with stuff before we took our first tour. That evening the weather was a little cool for Florida so we had our bar-b-que dinner inside after cocktails. Lots of COPA socializing and pilot talk before, during and after dinner.
Saturday at 8:30 the bus left for the Space Center and those that came in Saturday were picked up separately to meet the group. We entered the visitor area and started to explore on our own. The first thing you come to is the early space exploration exhibit and the rocket garden. One of our attendees tried the Mercury capsule on for size, very tight fit. On our way to the IMAX Hubble 3D movie we saw next generation space vehicle the Orion. The IMAX experience was the best ever for us.
After the IMAX film it was time to board the private COPA tour of the Shuttle launch pad. On the way we past the VAB, Vehicle Assembly Building, which is huge and being prepared for the next generation vehicle delivery system. We viewed the Shuttle launch pad from all sides and up close in the blast trench, it is big and impressive.
The Launch Pad tour ended at the Saturn V/Apollo exhibit. The exhibit starts with a film of the period leading to the race for space ending with the moon landing. We then went to the moon launch control room and the launch was reenacted. We then viewed the exhibit, again the size of the Saturn V is staggering and the exhibits numerous.
After the Saturn/Apollo exhibit we returned to the visitor center and most went to the Space Shuttle exhibit. It started with a film about the project and all of the engineering challenges and ends with a second film of the first launch. As the film ends the screen dissolves into a close up of the Atlantis and disappears and there is the shuttle Atlantis, very dramatic. Again a very extensive exhibit. After the Shuttle exhibit there was a little time to wander and explore. We still just scratched the surface but we were starting to run out of gas and we headed for the waiting bus. Some, not to mention any names, Brian, were so engrossed that a special straggler rescue mission was, accomplished by our event coördinator extraordinaire Rick Dawson. Let the record show the buses left right on time with great precision, just like a space launch.
Saturday evening there was COPA cocktails and Dinner, lots of discussion about the the days activity. After cocktail hour and dinner we had a drawing for door prizes, that included prizes for Cirrus one of our event sponsors, and LoPresti donated their next generation Landing and Taxi light system valued at $2000. Avidyne then sponsored our guest speaker Bob Curry the retired operations manager of the Orlando tower and tracon, who gave us a briefing on flying through class B airspace.
Rick and Joyce Dawson, organized and put on an incredible event. Every detail was done at the highest professional level and continued into Sunday, when buses left for the airport , at 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 Am with special arrangements for those that wanted to visit the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum on the way. Every one of the 53 attendees gave Joyce and Rick a big THANKs for a great job at Saturdays dinner and as we were leaving.
SOUTH EAST REGION EVENT COORDINATORS EXTRAORDINAIRE
JOYCE AND RICK DAWSON
We were supposed to fly to Key West on Thursday February 13, but the weather sucked in Hilton Head and by time it cleared it was too late, so we left on Friday. Good decision, since it was a perfect day to fly Friday. We flew along the east coast and turned toward the middle of Florida over Orlando then straight down over the everglades and across the water to Key West. It was about a three and a half hour flight is near perfect weather.
The trip was planned by Dennis and Jill White Haber, for a small group of COPA pilots to meet for Valentines day. Our organizers picked the Simonton Court as our place to stay which was a very private, charming B & B only a block from the center of the Key West action. We checked in to our very nice room, had lunch then did a little touring of the crazy sites in the very different place. We had been there before, but there is always something interesting happening. We joined the group for some wine around the pool, then were off to a big Valentines day event held each year in Key West, which was good fun.
On Saturday after a leisurely breakfast, the COPA group headed in different directions to explore, with some of us visiting the Key West live butterfly exhibit, which turned out to be fascinating and beautiful. We of course saw some interesting sites and believe it or not characters along the way.
That evening after wine by the pool , we set out for the short walk to the Tin Roof Restaurant, which is on the water facing the sun set. This was a very jolly evening with a fantastic special COPA menu and a beautiful view of the sunset.
The next morning after breakfast we flew to Fort Lauderdale Exec. KFXE, and then drove to Weston to visit our daughter, son-in-law and grand daughter as well as our grand puppies. We couldn’t believe how much Autumn the new golden retriever had grown since Thanksgiving, but she has become a big bundle of joy. We had a very nice lunch then dinner with our family, then it was time to get a good nights sleep, file the flight plan and get ready to fly to the Exuma’s in the morning.
On Monday February 17, we left Fort Lauderdale Executive at 9:00 AM for the two hour flight to MYEF Exuma International at Georgetown in the Bahamas. This is a beautiful flight, we were cleared past Bimini, past the Berry Islands,right over the top of Nassau and right down the Exuma chain into MYEF. We landed with a stiff cross wind and tied down with a quick and painless trip through customs. We were then whisked to the Sandals at Emerald Bay for check in. This was our second visit and the property is first class and still one of our favorites in the Bahamas. Our friends Nolan and Nancy Hanson were flying from Hilton Head and would arrive late in the afternoon. We had lunch and checked into our room, made dinner reservations and relaxed.
The Hanson’s arrived and we started our Sandals routine, which was cocktails and then dinner at one of the fine dining restaurants, then a after dinner drink to cap off the evening. Very civilized if I do say so. On Tuesday we just relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful property, including time at the pools, lunch at a Italian restaurant, snack a the Parisian coffee shop, and then another Sandals evening routine, this time in the French restaurant. Fortunately, for me Sandals has a good gym so I was able to burn off a few of the calories there. Wednesday after breakfast we played golf on the Emerald Bay Club course, which with the wind blowing was plenty of golf for us. The question was would be run out of balls before we finished 18, however we found as many as we lost, so all was well. More relaxing, a little champagne before the fine dining and then it was time to file our flight plan for our trip home on Thursday.
Our return trip was a breeze this time we flew up the Exuma chain, by Nassau, over the Berry Islands, past the tip of Grand Bahama Island into Fort Pierce, KFPR to clear customs. Another gorgeous flight ending with a no hassle customs experience. We had lunch with the Hanson’s and then were in the air for the last leg home. Nolan and Nancy stopped in St. Augustine to visit a friend and although we landed without incident, two hours later they had to land in Beaufort because of low ceilings in Hilton Head and had to rent a car to get home. If you have time to spare go by air, is the saying that every once in awhile comes true. Nolan and Nancy are a pleasure to be with, which added to the enjoyment of being at the great Sandals property, making this a great trip. We all agreed if we made one mistake it was to make our stay too short. Next time we will stay longer.
Alexandra, and her parents traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada to participate in the National Club gymnastics championships. Alexandra qualified at the state level in Vault and Bars, as well as placing all around. Alexandra is the National Champion in her age group in Beam, Third in floor and third all around. Congrats to Alexandra. Alexandra’s team took first place.
Our family gathered in Port Canaveral Florida to board the Disney Dream for a four day Christmas Cruise together. Jen, Mike and Alexandra drove up from Fort Lauderdale. Heidi, Gary, Brenn, Kinsey and Caitlin Prado down from Savannah. Joyce and I flew our plane from Hilton Head the day before boarding, landing on Merritt Island, a short cab ride to Port Canaveral. On the Sunday before Christmas we boarded around 11:00 AM, with everything very well organized. We met in the terminal and after checking in boarded together. After a very ample lunch and unpacking, it was time for the Sail Away party on the main deck. Everyone had a great time as we got underway and sailed out to sea.
We learned that there was an excellent live show every evening starting a 6:30 PM. There was a break (adult cocktail hour), then dinner at 8:30 PM, our choice for the late seating. We had the same great waiters every night, but a different dinning room three out of four nights. The dinning rooms were very different and a show in themselves. After the children’s dinner they had supervised activities available while the adults enjoyed dining. Very civilized, particularly for grand parents, but appreciated by parents as well. The food was very good considering that the shipped served over 10,000 meals a day. Our next stop would be Nassau in the Bahamas.
In the morning we pulled in Nassau the capitol of the Bahamas. It would be a day of fun on board and for Joyce and I a quick trip ashore for some provisions as in rum. The weather was perfect so the children spent time in the pool. The pool served two purposes swimming as well as a movie theater since there was always a Disney movie playing on the jumbo screen. There was soft ice cream available all the time, so life was good for the younger generation and the adults as well. Sun bathing, swimming and of course there were lots of organized activities. Brenn and Alexandra went on a tour of the ship solving a mystery that had clues on multiple decks as well as fore and aft. They were a successful team, solving the crime of the missing puppy,
That evening it was time for a Disney live show before dinner. The Prado’s like the front row so they can interact with the performers. Again, it turned out to be first class entertainment.
That evening it was time to leave Nassau for the next stop Castaway Cay.
The Disney Dream was docked at the Island owned by Disney called Castaway Cay. Today would be a day at the beach, with a bar-b-que lunch. Everyone enjoyed the beach time in perfect Bahamas weather. The children spend time in the ocean, and adults cooled off with a dip or in the shade. We did a little exploring of the island that at one time served as a major drug distribution center. There are old abandoned aircraft next to the runway that now serves as a bike bath.
Back on board it was time to get ready for another live show and then Christmas Eve dinner.
We all met for Christmas morning in the Star Bucks coffee lounge, on a balcony overlooking the main gathering area. There was face painting, Christmas goodies, carols and Disney characters creating a very festive atmosphere. Some coffee for the adults, then the gift exchange. This year there were a few gifts for each person, small because we had to carry them on in our luggage. It was different than the paper tearing frenzy of past years but everyone enjoyed family and the real meaning of Christmas.
After exchanging gifts we all had breakfast together, then it was time for activities. We met before the evening show for the family picture by the big tree in the gathering area.
After another great Disney live performance, it was time for our last dinner on board. That evening we packed, since we needed to be ready to leave early. The Prado’s were off the ship the next morning early and on their way to Savannah. The Montgomery’s, Joyce and I had breakfast at eight and then disembarked. It could not have been smoother and we were in the air by 10:15 AM and home by noon. When we landed we called everyone and they were just getting to their homes, safe and sound. We had a great family Christmas together, thanks Disney Cruises.
One of the joys of living in the Carolina’s is that you experience mild weather (Played golf in shorts on December 6th) and you still enjoy the changing seasons. Our Japanese Maple in our front court yard puts on a beautiful display of color before its short hibernation until early spring. This happens annually a week or so after Thanksgiving as the Christmas decorations go up.
We are certainly blessed.