More than 300 members and guests attended the Van Nuys Propeller Association’s 2006 General Meeting and Luncheon, held May 6, which featured a presentation by widely acclaimed aviation personality Rod Machado. In addition to more than a dozen aircraft and aviation displays, several speakers provided an update on the plans to retain propeller-driven aircraft at Van Nuys Airport (VNY).
This meeting was the first time the Van Nuys Airport Association and VNYPROP held a joint public meeting. Sponsors included Cirrus Corporation, the Van Nuys Flight Center and Cessna Aircraft.
VNYPROP is an organization of aircraft owners, pilots, aviation enthusiasts, homeowners, business operators and other individuals who have joined together to promote and enhance community awareness of general aviation and to assure that propeller aircraft and related businesses maintain a presence at Van Nuys Airport.
The organization’s goal is to provide a means of communication between individuals concerned with propeller aircraft and groups such as the Los Angeles World Airports Association, major leaseholders, homeowners’ groups and the community around Van Nuys.
“We represent the 35 master leaseholders of the airport,” explained Harold Lee, president of VNAA. “LAWA wants more money from the props that are at Van Nuys Airport now, so some will be converted to turbine use with higher rentals. The rents have already been raised.”
According to VNYPROP President Elliot Sanders, “This joint meeting of the tenants association and the props association is precedent-setting in that we have finally met up and are becoming a united force.”
The Van Nuys Airport Master Plan received final approval from the Los Angeles City Council in February 2006. The plan, often referred to as Alternative J, reserved approximately 38 acres for the storage and support of propeller aircraft at VNY.
“It’s the old Air National Guard site, which hasn’t been used continuously for years,” Sanders said. “LAWA is moving forward with the plan for the purposes of demolition, requests for proposals for construction, and the whole nine yards of getting the propeller park started.”
He indicated it would take some time for contracts to be let out, so the Van Nuys Airport’s “Rockin’ AirFest 2006,” scheduled for June 11 at the old Air National Guard site, will still take place.
Barbara Cesar graciously offered Syncro Aviation’s facilities for the meeting. Among the many aircraft inside and on the tarmac were Clay Lacy’s DC-3, a Fleet biplane, a Cirrus VK-30 homebuilt, two Cirrus SR-22s and a Cirrus SR-20, as well as several Gulfstream IV jets. The three Cirrus SRs were courtesy of Silver Wings, formerly Gene Hudson Flight Training, and Cirrus Aircraft.
Dan Katz, president of Hollywood Aviators, a flight training facility at VNY that had a Beechcraft Bonanza at the event, explained that they are offering something new this summer, “Air Camp.”
“It’s a way for kids to have a summer experience where they can actually fly a plane four times during their two-week session,” he said. “The idea is to get them excited about an aviation career—possibly becoming a pilot, maybe an air traffic controller, but to get them exposed. The tuition is $600; that includes ground school and guest speakers like airline captains, tower controllers and former fighter pilots.”
Brian J. Terwilliger, producer and director of “One Six Right,” had a Piper Cub from his movie alongside his booth. He described the movie’s extensive distribution on DVD.
“We’re getting it out to every museum, pilot shop, flight school and FBO in the country,” he said. “We’re also planning for some theater releases later in the year.”
After an Italian buffet lunch inside the large hangar, Sanders spoke briefly about the progress with Alternative J and the cooperation with VNAA. Lee spoke about the joint efforts of VNYPROP and VNAA to assure the future of props at VNY. Following a few short comments by others, Bill Attig introduced Machado.
The professional guest speaker/comedian has authored four books about flying and about 20 years of magazine articles, as well as several CD courses and five DVDs. He writes a monthly column for the AOPA, which he jokingly refers to as the “Aircraft Owners and Party Association.” He also does flight training and flight reviews.
Machado estimates that he has about 8,500 hours. He said that’s not really a lot of hours, considering he started flying in 1970. He became a flight instructor in 1973, at the age of 20. By the time he was 23, he had about 2,500 hours of flight time and got his airline transport pilot rating. The following year, he put in 1,214 hours of flight instruction.
Machado told stories and jokes related to flying, and had the audience steadily rippling with laughter for about 40 minutes. He received a standing ovation.
For more information on VNYPROP, visit [http://www.vnyprop.org].