HIGH-COUNTRY AVIATION WORKSHOP FOR KIDS
Also Known As
Mack Mesa Airport, Mack, Colorado
GREETINGS, members, donors and supporters around the USA…. Please accept our apologies for the long gap in our communications with you. Personnel turnover, relocation of our facilities to one 3-hangar plus classroom configuration and, of course the Pandemic and its related 3-month shutdown have all combined to interfere with our schedule, and it’s time to get things back to normal. A lot has happened in the last year, and here’s a thumbnail summary for you:
NEW GENERAL MANAGER
The loss of our General Manager Eddie Clements in 2018 created (to no one’s surprise) a significant negative impact on our leadership group. HAWK’s corporate officers shared duties and did their best to cover for this loss of talent and commitment, and we have now transitioned to a new General Manager. Tim Allen (and his father) were long-time friends of Eddie, and long-time members of the local aviation community. As an owner of Allen Industries (machine and production services), Tim brings impressive skills in designing and creating with multiple materials to build, repair and restore our aircraft. Our Junior Members are learning a lot from this craftsman and aviation mentor. HAWK’s Board is much relieved it has filled this critical position, and considers this appointment an important first step in our return to normal operations.
HAWK’s Chief Pilot and Flight Instructor Sterling Hurst now has some key backup. Retired American Airlines Captain Bruce Erickson (ATP, MEI, CFI/CFI-G) has joined HAWK. He is giving flight lessons and has assisted Junior Members with scholarship applications. HAWK President Bryan Miller has completed the aviation degree program at Colorado Mesa University and now also holds a CFII rating, and is providing instruction within HAWK. All three also assist our Ground School Instructor Michelle Hobbs with the classes we hold 2 Saturdays each month.
HOT AIR BALLOON PILOT
When we lost Eddie, we also lost our only licensed hot air balloon pilot. HAWK Member James Mullin, who worked for many years as a balloon ground crew volunteer with other organizations, has completed balloon pilot school and is now HAWK’s pilot. James is in the process of accumulating hours and proficiency. The kids love the balloon, and can hardly wait.
The Ray Aviation Scholarship Fund is a program funded by the Ray Foundation, managed by the Experimental Aircraft Association (national) and administered through the EAA Chapter network. This program provides up to $10,000 to deserving youths for their flight training expenses. HAWK flight instructor Bruce Erickson took the initiative to get the local EAA Chapter 800 approved for this program, HAWK Member Randy Owen was selected to administer the funds and supervise the student, and HAWK Junior Member William was approved as its first Scholar. Initial funding has been received, and William’s lessons have begun. If EAA and the Ray Foundation continue this program in years after 2020, HAWK has a ready pipeline of aspiring future participants.
MOTOR GLIDER GRANT
While working through the Scholarship paperwork, Bruce noticed the Ray Foundation also gives grants for other worthy aviation causes. As a motor glider owner and pilot, Bruce long believed that motor gliders would be great for student instruction – the 80HP Rotax motor only burns 3 to 4 gallons per hour (car gas) and students can begin instruction a year earlier than in conventional aircraft. Flying a glider also teaches students much about weather, reading terrain and aerodynamics. Under Bruce’s direction, HAWK applied to the Ray Foundation for funding for a used Pipistrel Virus motor glider for student instruction, and the Ray Foundation has generously approved this project. These gliders are much less expensive if purchased in Europe, and then shipped to the USA and reassembled. This is the plan. However, the Pandemic has stopped transportation to Europe (to find the one we want) from the USA for the immediate future. We are eager to get past the Pandemic and get this project under way.
Early in 2018, Ron and Gayle Huddleston very generously donated a beautiful several years old Lightning (dealer-assist assembled from a kit by Arion) to HAWK. Since we take Junior Members to the EAA AirVenture event every summer in Oshkosh, WI, we decided to exhibit the Lightning there to sell it (the Lighting is no beginner’s aircraft for our student programs). Unfortunately, the nose gear collapsed upon landing at Oshkosh, and the plane ended up in the repair shop there for the fall and winter. There, the motor was removed and sent to Jabiru for inspection and other damage repaired. We got the plane back better than new (Thank You Falcon Insurance!) The Lightning was sold and delivered it to its new owner near Phoenix last November. The proceeds of that sale were a lifesaver as HAWK worked through reduced contributions revenue this year while hangar rents and fixed costs like insurance were uninterrupted obligations.
Another consequence of our loss of Eddie Clements is that he held the A&P/IA certifications necessary to rebuild certified aircraft. Without those credentials, HAWK decided to abandon the certified aircraft restoration projects then underway, and/or waiting in line. Both of these were donated by HAWK Member Russel Franke. The 1947 Luscombe N1338B was sold to a gentleman who needed its wings to repair the Luscombe he inherited from his father which he had ground looped in Michigan. The Cessna 172 N13245 had been stripped to a bare shell, and was sold for parts. Selling these projects enabled HAWK to vacate one hangar and reduce its monthly rental expense.
DAKOTA HAWK N280DH
The Fisher Dakota Hawk N280DH, restored by HAWK’s members as our first project and displayed in the Youth-Build area of the AirVenture 2016 event in Oshkosh (flown there and back by HAWK member retired flight surgeon and Brigadier General Don Coleman), cannot be used in our flight training programs because we cannot find an insurance company which will insure experimental aircraft for student flight instruction. This fabric over wood frame plane developed a leak on one wing fuel tank, and the wing had to be opened to do the repair. Closing it up has been a challenge without Eddie’s expertise with fabric. We are close to finishing this, and this plane may also be sold to create room for future build projects.
Zenith 701 N838CP
This aircraft has been the current HAWK build project for about 2 years, and is nearing completion. Project Manager Pat Wheling (retired career pilot with NOAA) has begun discussions with a DAR from Denver regarding paperwork and documentation for this project with multiple builders in its history. It came to HAWK after initial assembly by students of the Aeronautical Engineering Dept at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. HAWK has changed the motor from a Continental to a Rotax, and repaired transport damage to one wing and the tail, and modified the fuel tanks and flight controls and finished a myriad of items for completion. With its Dedalus gravity-slat STOL wings, it will be a fun plane to fly when finished, perhaps by year-end.
ZENITH 601 KIT
A partially completed Zenith 601 kit was donated to HAWK in 2016 and later years. It came with a Subaru motor modified for aviation, which we sold and used the proceeds to buy the Rotax motor for the above Zenith 701. The Continental C85 motor which came mounted on the Zenith 701 is a better fit for this 601, and will be installed in this project, which we expect to start in early 2021.
NEW SONEX KIT
A builder in Cheyenne, WY has made a partially completed Sonex kit available to HAWK for a price we could not refuse. Two of our members have Sonex aircraft, so this is a craft with which we are quite familiar. It comes with a Jabiru motor mount, but no motor. Coincidentally, a couple years ago another builder in Green River, WY gave us a Jabiru motor with 500 to 600 hours on it. We hope to make an aircraft from these two transactions. Since AirVenture 2020 has been cancelled due to the Pandemic, our Junior Members missed their out-of-town trip this summer. As a substitute trip, General Manager Tim Allen is this month taking a half dozen of them in the bus on the overnight trip (including camping at the airport) to pickup this kit and bring it home.
Junior Member and Student Pilot Christa soloed on June 12 and completed her long cross-country on June 23….. we knew she was a natural!…..
HAWK’s new summer hours are Saturday mornings 9:00 am to 1:00 pm (we still provide lunch), except for the 3rd Saturday of every month, when EAA800 Chapter uses our facilities for their monthly meeting…….
HAWK has new mailing address: P.O. Box 321, Loma, CO 81524 (we still accept donations using the PayPal Donate button on the website at HAWKAVIATORS.org)…….
Junior Member Trevor is now working with our webmaster Lyle Bingham to update our web pages – you should see improvements soon…….
A HAWK member wishing to remain anonymous has donated $1,500 for a scholarship to pay $150 for the FAA written test fee for each of 10 HAWK student pilots….. Thank You, Sir!
Lastly, as Eddie used to say” “And, the Build continues……….”