A Journal, with Pictures


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 Coor­di­na­tor 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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Saturday August 8th.

by on Aug.12, 2015, under Flying

Today we are going to explore the Hud­son Bay by boat leav­ing the riv­er and going up the coast to a prime Bel­u­ga gath­er­ing spot. We leave late morn­ing so we take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to vis­it the Eski­mo muse­um which is a short walk away. The muse­um is well done and you come away appre­ci­at­ing their art and incred­i­ble abil­i­ty to sur­vive and flour­ish in the harsh­est climate.

We then take the lazy Bear bus to the dock, but first we don sur­vival suits (what we called poop­ie suits in the Navy). This should have been a clue. We board­ed the very impres­sive lazy Bear boat designed for this mis­sion. We start­ed out toward the mouth of the riv­er and who do we run into our moth­er and cub bear swim­ming toward town. Wal­ly the lodge own­er, who is our guide today, indi­cates we have to herd the bears back to their side of the riv­er. Once we get this done, we spy Papa bear, who is by him­self being a lazy bear. Male bears are not too friend­ly toward cubs, want­i­ng all the atten­tion, so mama and cub stay away.

Now we turn out onto Hud­son Bay and its cool and a lit­tle rainy for the next hour pound­ing up to the Bel­u­ga spot. When we final­ly get there we are in shal­low water (12 t0 20 feet and the Bel­u­gas are feed­ing on fish that hide in the rocks on the bot­tom (artic char, trout, pick­ril) so we actu­al­ly stir up thi­er prey. The Bel­u­gas inter­act with our boat and we are sur­round­ed with whales.

To view a video on You Tube of the Bel­u­gas cour­tisey of Eric and Janet Prim go to :Bel­u­gas

We watched the whales for about an hour then had lunch and chat­ted. We then head­ed back, with an hour of pound­ing back along the coast back to Churchill. A long day in the ele­ments and every­one was ready for a lit­tle COPA social­iza­tion.

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Heading Home

by on Aug.12, 2015, under Flying

The first group left for the air­port at 7:30 AM Mondy with an eye toward the low ceil­ing. We pre-flight­ed our air­craft and by time we were done the ceil­ings were above our min­i­mums and we called for our clear­ance. Churchill radio did a good job of get­ting us qued up and after delays for spac­ing we were air­born and on our way to Thomp­son above the clouds. Oth­ers flew to Red­lake, or Gil­am or west then on to their des­ti­na­tion. We land­ed in a lit­tle over an hour due to a nice tail­wind, refu­eled, called US Cus­toms and were on our way to Duluth. We were in the clear, then scat­tered clouds, then build-ups with rain some­times heavy. When we were out of the clouds we saw miles of des­o­la­tion and thou­sands of lakes. We touched down in Duluth in three hours and twen­ty min­uets on a beau­ti­ful clear day.

We overnight­ed in Duluth and had din­ner with oth­er Churchill adven­tur­ers plus some oth­er COPA friends. Tues­day we launched at 9:30 AM CDT and enjoyed a beau­ti­ful day with tail winds the whole way. We arrived in Day­ton arround two PM EDT. Great way to fin­ish a great trip, that includ­ed 22 hours of inter­est­ing and some­times chal­leng­ing fly­ing, great COPA peo­ple, new and renewed friend­ships, new sights and experiences.

Our hats off and thanks to Peter Stor­er North Cen­tral Region Gov­er­nor who did the orga­ni­za­tion to set up the trip. Most impor­tant­ly Thanks to Gary Black the COPA vol­un­teer event coor­di­na­tor, the insti­ga­tor and great trip leader.


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COPA Central America Adventure

by on Mar.26, 2015, under Flying

A group of nine planes, three leav­ing from Key West and six from McAllen Texas,with 20 COPA mem­bers and friends on board left for Tikal in Guatemala on March 14, 2015. Joyce, my broth­er Mike and I, left Hilton Head Island, SC on Fri­day March 13 to join the group leav­ing from Key West. Our planned route of flight is depict­ed below:

Our return would retrace our route, with the Texas con­tin­gent fly­ing through Mex­i­co on their return. In total our route would cov­er Thir­ty five hun­dred and nine­ty miles. Our stops would be in Belize City, Belize, Tikal, Guatemala, Liberia, Cos­ta Rica and Golfi­to, Cos­ta Rica. Our first flight to Key West was unevent­ful. Joyce, Mike and I checked into our hotel then had lunch at the South­ern Most Beach cafe with a flock of spring break­ers. We then met our Key West trav­el­ing com­pan­ions for a flight brief­ing con­duct­ed by Peter Stor­er, and then had a delight­ful din­ner at Louie’s Back­yard an excel­lent restau­rant on the water. This trip is start­ing off right. Tomor­row we take off for Belize City where we will clear cus­toms and refu­el then fly on to Tikal.

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Central America Tikal and Las Lagunas

by on Mar.26, 2015, under Flying


We are in the air on sched­ule at 9:00 AM local, and our route takes us to the north of Cuba out of sight of land. The flight is unevent­ful and we see only a cou­ple of cruise ships until we see Mex­i­co at Can­cun, then turn south over Cozumel and fly along the Yucatan coast. We do an instru­ment approach into Belize City, and our han­dler gets us through the for­mal­i­ties and on our way. Belize City is a very busy air­port and there are some dif­fer­ences in pro­ce­dures, but we work our way through it and get back in the air. We arrive in Tikal air­port after an inter­est­ing instru­ment approach in clear weath­er down a very pret­ty val­ley and by a big lake. We are met by our han­dler, tie down, clear cus­toms, and head to Las Lagu­nas resort. The resort is very nice on a small lake with mod­ern rooms over­look­ing the lake. We arrive first, but the group fly­ing from Mex­i­co arrives a short time lat­er. It’s time to show­er, relax, have a cock­tail and enjoy our first din­ner with the entire group.

The next day we are off to tour Tikal which was the cen­ter of the Mayan world dat­ing back twen­ty five hun­dred years. Over 3000 struc­tures have been mapped, and we will vis­it the cen­tral area that has been exca­vat­ed, essen­tial­ly reclaimed from the jun­gle. We have break­fast are briefed by Peter and John and off we go to meet our guides after about a hours dri­ve through the Guatemalan coun­try side. The tour was fas­ci­nat­ing with lots to learn includ­ing the local flo­ra and fau­na. We met a fam­i­ly of Koaty­mundi’s (Eng­lish Coaty­mun­di) dig­ging for insects, their lunch on the way to our lunch. This tour alone was worth the trip, and of course we had a shop­ping stop on the way back to the resort.


A chance to fresh­en up, relax then we went into the city of Flo­res for a din­ner at a Guatemalan Ital­ian restau­rant, anoth­er adventure.

The next day after break­fast we took a tour by boat to view a fam­i­ly of mon­keys and oth­er local ani­mals that live on the lake shore.

In the after­noon we went into the city of Flo­res for lunch and a tour of a zoo island and the city.

We returned to the lodge to brief our flight for tomor­row. It will be a long day of fly­ing with cus­toms to clear in three coun­try’s with refu­el­ing in two and we will fly over five coun­tries. Our des­ti­na­tion is Golfi­to in the south west­ern most cor­ner of Cos­ta Rica on the Pana­ma board­er. Golfi­to is non-tow­ered and clos­es at five forty five which is sun­set there. It sounds like anoth­er adventure.


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Central America Golfito and Zancuda Lodge

by on Mar.26, 2015, under Flying

We wake up and look out at the lake and can’t see across it due to fog, ouch, looks like more adven­ture today.


We get to the air­port and and our take off is delayed until after ten, but if all goes well we can make it. We fly to Belize City, refu­el, clear cus­toms and are in the air for Liberia, Cos­ta Rica. We fly over the moun­tains above clouds and land in a twen­ty knot wind with thir­ty knot gusts right down the nine thou­sand foot run­way. Cus­toms and refu­el­ing seems to take for­ev­er since our win­dow to get into Golfi­to is get­ting tight. As we land Car­ol and Stan Jensen are tak­ing off so they will get there. Final­ly we are in the air and we now face thun­der­storm build ups along the coast so we pick our way over land on the coast vers­es going out over the water into the build ups. Golfi­to air­port is hard to find in a val­ley off the water and its get­ting dark and now rain­ing. We are the last plane in, and as expect­ed we have more adven­ture. The fol­low­ing video is Stan Jensen’s approach ear­li­er in the day. I know my ter­rain warn­ing sys­tem works since it was scream­ing “pull up, pull up” on base and final.


We unload the air­plane and tie down, of course we get soaked but we are just hap­py to be safe and sound after six and a half hours of fly­ing with a very sporty land­ing at the end. We are tak­en by cab to the boats and then are whisked in the dark to our new home for the next few day, Zan­cu­do Lodge. Zan­cu­do turns out to be a won­der­ful resort, and the drinks tast­ed awful­ly good as did the din­ner wait­ing us. No trou­ble sleep­ing tonight.

The next morn­ing some went deep sea fish­ing, some relaxed and some explored the lodge and sur­round­ing “vil­lage”. Mike and I checked out the vil­lage, quaint and quite.

In the after­noon we took a tour by boat of the man­groves bor­der­ing the rivers that flow into the gulf. Lots of birds and mil­lions of man­grove trees. We returned just as the fish­er­men arrived at the dock.


It was time for cock­tails and din­ner after a very inter­est­ing first day in Zan­cu­do. On our last day we decid­ed to take a tour of Mat­a­pa­lo which is locat­ed on the penin­su­la across the gulf from the lodge. A boat ride to meet our guide then by car to the jump­ing off point for our long walk that took us into the for­est, onto one of Cos­ta Rica’s famous surf­ing spots, up to a water fall and we fin­ished with a cold local beer at a road side restau­rant. We saw lots of birds and ani­mals and dodged a rain storm by run­ning into one of the lodges along the road, just a lit­tle more adven­ture. It was inter­est­ing our guide pre­dict­ed the rain because the howler mon­keys start­ed scream­ing. While seek­ing refuge we met some peo­ple from the US, one of whom was from Mikes town, small world.

We all gath­ered for a group pic­ture, then had our final din­ner togeth­er. John and Peter were giv­en a big round of applause and thank you from the group for the great job they did orga­niz­ing and lead­ing the trip. We have amaz­ing vol­un­teers in COPA who give of their time and tal­ent with a, make things hap­pen, can do atti­tude. It is rec­og­nized and appre­ci­at­ed. This was a great group of peo­ple who became friends by shar­ing a tru­ly unique adven­ture. Tomor­row we start our trip home.

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Central America Homeward Bound

by on Mar.26, 2015, under Flying

Our return starts in Zan­cu­d­ao lodge with ear­ly wake up, we must eat break­fast ear­ly and be on the boats by sev­en A.M.,because the tides are unusu­al­ly big and we could be strand­ed if we leave lat­er. Weath­er looks good and we are off to the air­port. John and Peter have the flights orga­nized with the group leav­ing for the flight through Mex­i­co leav­ing first and the Key West con­tin­gent will go last to Belize City to overnight before the last legs.


The one hour and twen­ty minute flight to Liberia, Cos­ta Rica is rou­tine and we are refu­eled and through cus­toms in a rea­son­able time and off for Belize City. We have a good view of the vol­cano’s around Man­agua Nicaragua, but in bro­ken clouds over the moun­tain’s and scat­tered into Belize. We see the sec­ond largest Bar­ri­er reef in the world on approach.

Refu­el, tie down the air­plane and our han­dler Rudy has us through cus­toms and into a cab for our hotel in short order. We show­er, time for a cock­tail before din­ner. Its Fri­day night, hap­py hour, with a very loud band, and this must be the place because its loaded with locals. We find a qui­et spot to have our drink before din­ner then have a ear­ly din­ner at the hotel. Next morn­ing we are back at the air­port and Rudy has our flight plan filed, we clear cus­toms quick­ly, and are in the air by 8:00 AM local time. We start to notice some elec­tri­cal anom­aly’s on climb out and for a moment we think we may have to turn back. We cross check and con­vince our­selves that we are get­ting a false fail­ure indi­ca­tor, a lit­tle more adven­ture to end our trip. The weath­er is good and we get a good look at Cuba on our way by, while talk­ing to Havana Center.


We have decid­ed if we can clear cus­toms quick­ly in Key West we are going to refu­el and fly on to Hilton Head since the weath­er fore­cast Sun­day is not good. We make the fast turn around and are back in the air and three hours lat­er touch down at our home air­port, tired but hap­py to have com­plet­ed a great adven­ture togeth­er. We cov­ered thir­ty five hun­dred nine­ty miles in eleven flights over an eight day peri­od. We reward our­selves with big grilled steaks and a good bot­tle of wine.

As we enjoyed our din­ner and dis­cuss our trip, we con­clude, life is so much bet­ter when you embrace adventure.

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