A Journal, with Pictures


Manzanillo, Mexico

by on Mar.15, 2017, under Flying

On Tuesday February 23 we left Alamos to fly to Manzanillo with the COPA group. We had decided to fly in loose formation with Charles and Debbie Langdon down the Copper Canyon on our way. We got a great view flying down in the canyon, which is Mexico’s Grand Canyon. We stopped in Mazatlan for fuel, then continued to Manzanillo, flying along the beautiful coast and over Puerto Vallarta on the way. When we landed we had 22 Cirrus that had to get fuel at a self service pump, which turned into a social event as we all pitched in to push planes in place. We stayed at the Grand Isla Navidad, which isn’t in Manzanillo, but in Barra Navidad, about 20 minutes from the airport. The hotel turned out to be great, with fabulous grounds including a golf course and a little village a short boat ride away to explore. We had lots of time to socialize with fellow COPA pilots, and ended our stay with a grand cocktail party and dinner on a terrace overlooking the bay.

The Cocktails and Dinner on the final evening of the COPA event was particularly jolly. Lots of sharing of experiences, new friends made and old friends enjoyed. It was a perfect warm Mexican evening to celebrate the end of a great get adventure together.

Tomorrow, Friday, we all fly out to another Mexico destinations or on to home.

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Cabo San Lucas and Homeward Bound

by on Mar.15, 2017, under Flying

On Friday , Feb. 24 we flew the three hour flight from Manzanillo to Cabo San Lucas arriving in time for lunch. We flew in loose formation with Charles and Debbie Langdon and spent the next few days doing fun stuff. We landed at the General Aviation airport, MMSL and were treated royally, including cheap hangar fee and “free”  Cervazas and tequila. We checked into our Hotel, the Casa Dorado, which looking out at the cape and is where the action is. Great room, and a perfect place to get some sun and relax. Breakfast was at “the office” on the beach, which was a jumping place to start you day with a bloody Mary or Mimosa then brunch. We found some good restaurants, explored and generally had a great time.

On Monday Joyce and I started our journey home. We flew up the Baja Peninsula and crossed back to Ciudad Obregon about a hour and forty five minutes, cleared customs then flew to El Paso to clear US customs. We overnight-ed in El Paso and then left early to get ahead of a front causing very high winds. The flight was less than three hours to San Marcos, Texas where visited our friends Lou and Lynne Earle. The next day we again left early to beat the winds and flew direct to Fair Hope, Alabama again another three hour flight. We celebrated Joyce’s birthday at a great resort on Mobile Bay. On Thursday, March 2nd. we flew the final two hours and forty five minutes back to Hilton Head. We had tail winds all across the country, had to make a couple of instrument approaches and had gusty winds on landing at every stop, good practice. One day short of two weeks, 37 hours in the cockpit, 15 legs and over 5000 miles added up to a fun flying trip. We visited with friends, we saw lots of interesting sights, we made new friends and managed to learned a few things. GREAT TRIP!


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COPA Migration 14 Duluth

by on Sep.15, 2016, under Flying

COPA members from across the country and around the world started to arrive September 7th, with the majority on Thursday the 8th. Registration opened noon on the 8th. and our amazing registration volunteers, Donna, Kim, Justin and Stan made checking in effortless. The first evening welcome party the “COPA cabana” was a very jolly event held over looking Lake Superior in front of the host hotel the Inn on Lake Superior. Pat Wadick Cirrus President with other Cirrus management  mingled with COPA members.  Friendships were renewed and made as always at this kick off party.

The next two days were packed with activities, including the annual meeting, in which Andy gave us a update on the incredible progress that has been made, Membership grew 31% since 2012, Training is up 50% year over year, fatal accident rate down dramatically and much lower than general GA, over 30 Regional Events in last 12 months and much fun stuff going on. There were lots of seminars, the exhibitor hall was full with many new exhibitors and all of the regulars, Friday, evening Cirrus hosted a great hangar party at their facility with entertainment, a few commercials and Dale Klapmeier giving an update and recognizing the COPA and Cirrus people contributing to the training that has helped improve safety. It was a great evening appreciated by COPA attendees. Thanks Cirrus! During the cocktail party many walked out to look at the flight line, Over 100 Cirrus parked together is a impressive site.

Saturday Seminars and Exhibits continued and the day ended with the annual Migration COPA Gala dinner. Another great evening, with COPA Volunteers, outgoing board members receiving recognition, Rick Beach receiving a award for his work on safety, John Ylinen accorded Volunteer emeritus status, the key note speech by AOPA president Mark Baker ending with Andy turning the gavel over to Roger. A very fine evening, and a great Migration organized by Craig Albright and the incoming Migration chair Bill Meyer. Thanks Migration committee. Sunday the flock took off for their home bases in glorious weather. See you all next year in Nashville, TN.

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Jekyll Island Fly-In 2016

by on May.23, 2016, under Flying

Weather was unsettled in the South East prior to the weekend of the COPA Jekyll Island Fly-In, however the weekend turned out to be beautiful. There were attendee’s from Alabama, Texas, Indiana, New York, Maryland, North and South Carolina, and Florida. They started arriving on Friday for a long weekend, or Saturday for the weekend or Sunday for the famous Sunday Brunch and some stayed on. Rick Dawson, hosted  dutch treat cocktails and dinner Friday evening. Saturday, COPA members took advantage of the many things to do on Jekyll Island and some flew with the Patty Wagstaff aerobatics school that brought up their Super Decathlon Aerobatic trainer. Saturday evening there were cocktails and dinner, and door prizes, including a demo ride in an Extra 300, donated by South East Aero. Sunday the final arrivals for the Jekyll Island Club Brunch and to hear aerobatic champion/air show star/super flight instructor Patty Wagstaff talk at the COPA Brunch. Some more door prizes, including a aerobatics flight won by Bob Marini from New York, were drawn on Sunday.



Patty Wagstaff spoke about her career and observations of stick and rudder flying  and  her schools approach to airmanship as well as upset/recovery and aerobatics. Patty and her chief instructor Allen then answered a large number of questions.

A Big Thanks go to Gerald Gaige, South East Region Lt. Governor and Event Coördinator for the COPA Jekyll Island Fly-In.

Thanks also to a long list of sponsors, with special thanks to lead Sponsors Cirrus Aircraft, South East Aero and the Patty Wagstaff Aerobatics School. 

A great group of COPA members had a great time, thanks to Gerri.


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COPA Bahamas Adventure 2016

by on May.02, 2016, under Flying

On Wednesday April 20, we flew to Fort Lauderdale, KFXE, and spent the afternoon and evening with our daughter, grand daughter and son-in-law. Great visit, then Thursday morning we left for Abaco, Marsh Harbor Airport, MYAM, in the Bahamas, to meet the 40 other COPA members and partners for the annual COPA Bahamas adventure. The one and a half hour flight was great, with views of the beautiful water as we passed Grand Bahama Island, into Marsh Harbor. Customs and tie down was effortless and we were by the pool having lunch and chatting with friends by mid-day. Some took to the water by boat, others just relaxed by the pool. We spent the afternoon on the beach and then joined the group for welcome cocktails hosted by Bahamas Tourism ministry. Joe McGonigle, our organizer had everything arranged including door prizes. Lots of socializing at cocktails then dinner.

Friday was a day to explore. Some went fishing, others took boat tours, others drove to near by Treasure Cay, there were also the relaxers on the beach and pool. We explored the town of Marsh Harbor, which is a short walk from the resort. Lots to see, along the harbor side, shopping, and a restaurant for conch salad for lunch, then relax and socialize by the pool.

In the evening everyone met on the beach for cocktails, then dinner.

The Abaco Beach Resort knocked themselves out with an incredible buffet dinner, we then had entertainment and a huge bond fire on a perfect Bahamian evening.

Saturday, there was an optional ferry trip to Elbow Cay and Hope Town. We did that trip, although we had done it before, others did the many island things available. Hope Town is a historic settlement, on its own little island with lots of pretty pastel colored cottages and little shops on winding streets. There is a great beach on one side and harbor view restaurants on the other where we had lunch. . The land mark is the Hope Town Lighthouse.

In the evenings we all met at Curly Tails, for final cocktails, took one last group picture as the sunset and then had our last dinner on Abaco.

It was another great COPA Bahamas adventure, with a great group of people having a lot of fun together and experiencing flying over the incredibly interesting and beautiful Bahamas waters. Sunday some continued their adventure in the Bahamas others winged home in perfect weather. Thanks again, to Joe McGonigle for organizing the trip and Jim and Nancy Knollenberg for their help, as well as the Bahamas Tourism ministry for their support.


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Paradise Island, Bahamas

by on May.02, 2016, under Flying

Sunday April 24, we left Marsh Harbor, MYAM, for the 45 minute flight to Nassau, MYNN. A beautiful day and a beautiful flight. This part of the trip was organized by Joyce and we were met by car and driver at Odyssey Aviation and whisked to the One and Only Ocean Club, one of the premier resorts in the world. “Nothing is to good to celebrate Gil’s birthday”, says Joyce, did I mention the car was a Bentley. The Ocean Club is a magnificent property, with extensive manicured grounds, two pools, one an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, multiple restaurants, one five star, a spa, a gym and on and on. It is a oasis from the crazy world we live in, designed to free you of any cares. You do have to be at your room at 5:30 PM when the champagne and chocolate covered strawberries are delivered by your butler so you can relax and watch the sun set. After the partying in Marsh Harbor I tried, not to successfully, to get back to a healthy life style, hitting the gym everyday. We celebrated my birthday in style and then departed Wednesday April 27, at 9:30 AM, cleared customs and had lunch in Fort Pierce arriving in Hilton Head at 2:00 PM. Another great flight and Bahamas trip.

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COPA Hilton Head Fly-In

by on Oct.25, 2015, under Flying

The weather as is usually the case in the fall, was beautiful. COPA members from around the country started arriving as early as Wednesday, with the majority on Friday. Some flew in on Saturday. Rick Dawson, COPA SE Governor set up registration in the FBO and provided cold drinks for the arrivals on Friday afternoon. We rented a van and one of Chuck Copleys advanced student, JT, volunteered to be our driver for the weekend, making getting around much easier and more economical.

That evening we gathered at the Red Fish for coctails and dinner. Although the reservation had been made a month before and reconfirmed in person on Wednesday our private room had been double booked by mistake. So, being good pilots we had an alternate, extend the cocktail hour. This all worked out, since we had some late arrivals flying in from Florida, so they were right on time. A jolly time was had by all and we were off to a good start making new friends. By the way the restaurant gave us 10% off of our checks, which almost paid for the extra drinks consumed.

Tomorrow is going to be a full COPA Day.



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COPA Hilton Head Fly-In Saturday

by on Oct.25, 2015, under Flying

Another beautiful fall day on Hilton Head Island. COPA members start their day with either a great flight in or for the Friday arrivals breakfast overlooking the beach at their hotel. Around 9:30 our van and locals with SUV’s converg on the airport for the days activities. In total there were over 60 participants for the days activities. For the spouses there is a tour of Hilton Head Island to see this gorgious place and learn about the history. For the pilots it will be the COPA University Command and Control course. Brian Turrisi is the lecturer and provides a two hour intense presentation on the subject.

The tourist get a end to end view of the island on the Hilton Head trolley with guide.

After the morning activities COPA members moved to an ajacent hangar for a Southern Bar-B-Que lunch, including bar-b-qued pork and chicken, beans, cold slaw, corn bread and Ice Tea, yummmm! The lunch was sponsored by Avionics Source.

During and after lunch members were treated to a demonstration of a unique art form of the Gullah people of the area sweet grass basket weaving and some took home one of these treasures. In additon Mike Mathews, Cirrus Regional sales rep joined us and displayed his G5 demo. In addition Cirrus sponsored the spouses tour, which was much appreciated.

After lunch and the demos, most of the attendee’s took the Gullah tour, which introduced them to this unique people and their history on the Island. They took two air conditioned coaches with guides and saw the sites, learned about the history of the Gullah people and the first African American town to be formed after the Civil War, Mitchellville. Some of the COPA group choose to chill out on the beach and others traveled to nearby Sanannah for exploring and then dinner,

To cap off the day, most of the group were treated to dinner at the Old Oyster factory. This restaurant was built on a site where oysters from the nearby marshes were gathered and shucked. A beautiful sunset view, from the private room, with time for cocktails, dinning and lots of socializing. Perfect way to end the day, before the flight home tomorrow. Some attendees stayed over Sunday to do the COPA/Cirrus landing clinic put on by Brian and Chuck.

Everyone seemed to enjoy their COPA weekend on Hilton Head Island, learning, experiencing new things and a beautiful place, making friends and socializing with fellow members. The weekend was made possible by Rick and Joyce Dawson (COPA SE Governor and wife), Brian Turrisi and Chuck Copley great COPA volunteers. Also a big THANKS to Cirrus who sponsored the Spouses tour and as usual gave great support to the event and Avionics Source who sponsored the Saturday Southern Bar-B-Que lunch. Becuase of our COPA volunteers and generous sponsors along with great members, life is good in COPA land.

Hilton Head Flight line Sunday morning as recorded by Chuck Copely, out giving instructions early. According to Chuck, ” Cirrus as far as you can see”.

Safe Flight Home.

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COPA Churchill Adventure August 2015

by on Aug.12, 2015, under Flying

Gary Black, COPA member and Cirrus sales executive, traveled with his daughter in 2014 to Churchill at the top of Manitoba . He was so impressed he wanted to share the experience with other COPA members. Gary contacted Peter Storer, Governor of the COPA North Central Region, and volunteered to be the Event Coördinator and lead the trip. Peter did the organizing and when the registration was open it sold out in a few days. The trip started August fifth with most of the participants gatherning in Duluth. Two planes from Calgary, Alberta choose to fly direct. Cirrus Aircraft gave a tour of the Jet production line and sponsored a dinner at the Inn on Lake Superior, that included a welcome by Pat Waddick. Cirrus President. Everyone appreciated Cirrus sponsorship and a chance to meet our fellow adventurers. Andy Niemyer, COPA President, attended the cocktail reception and pre-trip briefing so it was a auspicious beginning to the trip. Joyce and I taveled from Dayton, Ohio, but we had attendees from across North America as far away as Arizona and Texas.


The next morning an area of precipiatation and imbedded thuderstorms lay between Duluth and our first stop Winnipeg, where we would clear customs. This called for a new route, west then north. Our arrival in Winnipeg was at IFR minimums with lots of traffic, mainly us. We landed and took a break, then set out for Thompson in upper Manitoba. The weather improved as we went north and we saw some big lakes. Lake Winnipeg and Manitob surprised us at their size. There was also lots of desolation and smaller lakes, in the end we had to do an approach into Thompson. We refueled, had lunch and then were off to Churchill. Again, it required an approach, but in this case it was more for traffic control. We landed, tied down and were off to the Lazy Bear Lodge.

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Friday August 7

by on Aug.12, 2015, under Flying

This is our first day and we have a full day of touring around. After breakfast we load up the lazy Bear bus and met our guide Gerald. In the morning we are going to scope out the area and maybe see a bear. So we head out in the lazy Bear school bus and sure enough we see a bear. I think. it could be a white rock, but through my 400 MM lens, yes its a Polar Bear. We then visit the site of a crash of a C-46 and then learn about the ” the bear problem”. Polar bears come into town and have to be trapped and incarserated. We visit the bear prision, but this is a slow period so no bears in captivity, although some of our group try to solve that problem. It’ s interesting and fun morning.


After lunch we board the Lazy Bear boat to visit Fort Prince of Wales on the other side of the river, then to look for bears and whales. We split into two groups and we visit the Fort first. Our guide is a local woman named Judd. Judd really knows her ecology and history but her dread locks, that are tied into a knot to keep them from dragging on the gound, adds a little something special to her persona. The Fort was one of the Hudson Bay Companies main trading posts and it took almost 40 years to build. The French captured it and disabled it in a day, took the commander and all the furs back to France. The Indian chielf who was the link to the fur trade is said to have committed suicide. Bad day at Churchill. Very interesting history.

Now its time to look for bears and whales so we head back to the boat and out onto the river. We spot a mother and cub and get to observe them as they hang out and then when they get warm take a swim.

The bear sighting was the highlight of the day, but we see Belugas in the river on our way in, but the big day for Belugas is ahead, so its time for a little COPA social activity. Strange how that works, get some COPA members together and a party breaks out. We ended up enjoying the fine weather and having a glass of wine or two right in front of the lodge. Then it was off to dinner.

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