Load 2 – Flying Skydivers at Skydive Chicago with Dave Schwartz in the Otter

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Today we return to Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois for the second jump run with Dave Schwartz.

Just to remind everyone, Skydive Chicago is a 230-acre complex. The hangar has about 15,000 square feet of shade and shelter and the adjoining building contains more than 22,000 square feet of classrooms, common areas, a recreation center, a pro shop, a video department, and a deli that serves food and beverages of both the soft and adult varieties. Just to the east is a full hook-up campground that has a large pond that’s surrounded by decks and highlighted by an island. On the north shore is a white sand beach that adjoins a large pavilion with showers, laundry facilities, and volleyball court. The entire complex is surrounded by acres of pastures near the banks of the Fox River. You can canoe, hike, bike, and ride horses on the property.

It has its own runway, arranged 3/21, and it’s paved, 4,522 feet long and 50 feet wide. There’s automated weather 16 nm west and 16 nm east and six navaids within 40 miles, of which the Ottawa NDB is the closest at 3.5 miles.

We’re flying one of Skydive Chicago’s two DeHavilland DCH-6 Otters. It’s powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6A SER engines, which produce 750 horsepower each. It weighs 8,000 to 9,000 pounds empty, and has a max gross takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds. It carries up to 23 people at a time.

I flew two loads with Dave in September and this is the audio from the second. If you missed the first load, please go back and download it. It posted in early January.

This load is a little different. As you’ll hear Dave explain at the beginning, we have a student getting out at 5,000 and then we’re taking the remaining jumpers the rest of the way up. So there are two jump runs in this one. The flight is about 23 minutes from wheels-up to wheels-down (as opposed to about 18 minutes last time) because Dave was kind enough to show me some more of the flight characteristics of the airplane. Just like last time, Dave is an excellent commentator and I didn’t have to do much editing. Mostly, it’s getting rid of the longer breaks in cockpit audio, most of which ware between 15 and 30 seconds. I cut about a minute and a half max.

The audio starts on the ground at the loading point just after the jumpers have settled in. The runway is only a few hundred feet from the loading point, so we’re airborne very quickly.

We maneuver to let the first jumper out at 5,000 and then it’s upstairs for the remainder of the load. I got to fly a bit more on this one. There’s one place where you’ll hear me comment about the instruments. I had been training hot and heavy for the instrument rating in Cessna 172s just before going over to Skydive Chicago and my mentality was seriously in the single-engine rut. I found myself flying on Dave’s instruments across the cockpit because it continued to evade me that I might have a full set of gages right there in front of me.. I managed to fix that halfway through the flight.

After the jumpers exited, we took a few minutes to explore the envelope of the airplane a little more. You’ll hear a power-off stall and some single-engine work before the Vne descent and then Dave will take the controls for a steep descent and short field landing. It’s a Bob-Hoover-esque demonstration of energy management with no brakes required until we rolled to the loading point.

The Otter is my favorite airplane to fly so far. It’s a solid performer and smooth as can be. Even though this was my first time flying from the right seat, it became pretty natural after I got used to the sight picture. And started using the right-seat gages.

In any case, rest assured that Dave, as pilot in command, was right there at the controls the whole time – authoritative, attentive, and the obvious master of the aircraft. Listen to the guy. Crisp and solid procedures. Checklists run with precision. Oozing safety culture. Can you imagine being in the cockpit with him and not having a great time?

So set the wayback machine for late September on the prairie outside of Ottawa, Illinois just short of the runway with a load of skydivers in the back.


Thanks again to Dave Schwartz and Skydive Chicago for the chance to check out a great aviation operation. You can find out more information about Skydive Chicago at www.skydivechicago.com or by calling them at 800 SKY-DIVE in the Chicago area and 815-433-0000 from everywhere else.

You can get your first tandem for about $200 and there are programs and pricing for every level of jumper. I believe that they start up operations for the season in late March or early April.

I once saw a website for a drop zone where the pilot profiles included interesting questions and the pilots’ answers. In response to the question, “Why do you fly skydivers?” one pilot had two answers: 1. Someone has to bring the airplane back. It’s too expensive the other way. 2. Nobody complains about my landings. In fact, it’s pretty quiet back there.

I can attest to both. Although Dave deserves an audience back there. I can tell you that it was pretty impressive from the right seat!

BFR and IPC Complete – Beautiful Day

I won’t begrudge Florida aviators their 300-odd VFR days a year or give them crap about the days I spend under 800-foot freezing overcasts here in Michigan. And it’s because of days like yesterday.

Just look at that sky! 15-20 F on the ground. Scattered at 3,500. Visibility unlimited. The airplane climbs like crazy. Lots of air molecules very close together.

Note the superior service here. Line tug and everything. I can finally say that I got a pushback!

Went through a Biannual Flight Review (BFR) yesterday. Even though the instrument rating in October essentially counts as a BFR, I hadn’t flown for any material amount of time VFR for a long time and I wanted to get some stalls, slow flight, takeoffs, landings, etc. in with an instructor in the right seat. Pattern work at Lapeer (KD95). Then I put on the hood and we went over to KFNT for the ILS 27 and then the RNAV 18. Did very well on each of the approaches, even with 20+ knot crosswind on the ILS.

Here’s a shot of the two aircraft that I have flown the most of late. N16TA and N20TA. They’re the two newest of the Tradewinds fleet other than N15TA, the G1000-equipped aircraft.

Got to go over and check out Flight 101 sometime in the next few weeks and make sure that I have a place to rent. Might be dun to get checked out in the C-152 again and also fly the DA40s. For now, though, I’m current for everything other than night landings and that’s pretty good for me this early in the year.

Kevin Larosa, Jr. – Our 172-Driving Proxy from One Six Right

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So I’m doing my bit for the next generation last night watching One Six Right with my kids. I decided to watch the credits because I thought it’d be nice to see whether Will Hawkins’ grandfather was credited. I noted that the producers had included a “Featured Talent” section to the credits. First, I thought it was cool that the credited these folks. Second, I thought that it was very cool that the guy who played the role of the student pilot was, in fact, a student pilot. Third, I thought that it was great that he’s now a private pilot. There’s class and genuineness at every turn in this film!

So there’s Kevin doing his preflight. I also noticed that there’s a Kevin Larosa credited as the aviation director of the film and as a pilot. On the assumption that it’s not coincidental, I’m guessing that our student pilot here is the aviation director’s son. Okay, a minor deduction for nepotism, but points the other way for including your son in the movie. The generational story appeals to me.

I’m the first guy to get all misty-eyed at the Pitts aerobatics and I get butterflies watching the DC-3 sequences. (I’m going to get rated in one of those this babies this summer! Can’t wait!) But the thing of which I’m most proud is that I can give my daughter a squeeze there on the couch and point and say, “That’s the kind of airplane Daddy flies. This movie is about a very special kind of flying. Other people point at other airplanes and say different things, but daddy is one of thousands of people that point at that kind of airplane and tell their kids, ‘That’s what I fly.’ This movie gives us a chance to be proud in front of the people they love about something that not everybody understands.”

All general aviation pilots identify with someone or something in One Six Right. Larosa the Younger is my proxy. I’ve only been flying since 2001 and only been a private pilot since 2004. The student element appeals to me. The fact that Larosa the Younger flies a C-172 as I do adds to the appeal. And even if I was a PA-28 jockey, I’d still point to the C-172 with almost equal pride as the aircraft that represents me and what I do.

Additionally, they did a great job with the air-to-air footage. I think that the C-172 and the student pilot message got its fair shake and then some. It’s gorgeous stuff, whether over the houses or out over the mountains. And I really liked the portrayal of Larosa as performing a diligent preflight, getting into the left seat next to a wizened CFI, donning his headset, taxiing, and flying competently. It’s a great visual statement of what students do and can achieve.

Larosa has some other credits as helicopter wrangler for The Guardian and miscellaneous stunts in Mr. and Mrs. Smith according to the Internet Movie Database. But for me, he’s a proxy in a film that captures the soul of what drives many of us as pilots.

Good on you, Mr. Larosa! And on your dad!

Every time I peel the onion of One Six Right a little further, there’s more amazing stuff. What a great touchpoint for GA and people like me and my listeners!

Tradewinds Closing its Pilot Center – No More Part 141 Training on the Field

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Got the above letter last week. Tradewinds is closing down pilot center operations. Bummer! I really liked their aircraft and staff.

I’d imagine that the local economy has something to do with it. Tradewinds has not, within recent memory at least, been the cheapest game in town. In fact, it’s been pretty pricey. But they have great aircraft and and take really good care of them. Spotless hangar floors, a well-maintained flight line, friendly folks, etc. I’ll miss ‘em. I hope that some of the aircraft, particularly N916TA and N920TA, stay on the field somewhere.

The other thing is that Tradewinds is the only Part 141 school in Oakland County of which I’m aware. Really glad I got the instrument rating done. Part 61 requires 50 hours PIC cross-country and I didn’t have the time in the logbook. Part 141 lets you jump right in and you can technically qualify for the checkride after only 35 hours with no PIC time requirement. I probably paid more for the training itself (and of course didn’t do my wallet any favors by stretching it out over more than three years) but, if your focus is solely on getting the rating (and mine was), it’s a lot cheaper to go Part 141.

I’ll probably be stopping by Flight 101 over the next couple of weeks to check out their aircraft and see if I can get a checkout. I’m also scheduled to try to get the flight portion of my BFR done on the 20th and get a few more approaches in to keep my instrument rating current.

Just goes to show that it’s always up to you, the pilot, to manage his or her own destiny in aviation. This’ll be the fourth flight school I’ve used since 2001. Not bad, really. But it’s still a pain to switch to another place where nobody knows you and you don’t know the aircraft, the procedures, etc.

And carb heat! I’ve been flying fuel-injected aircraft since 2003 and now I have to go back and add carb heat to the checklist! At least I’ll have a place to hang my ring finger and pinky again. If the spacing from the throttle is right.

Might get checked out in the DA40 over there. But will likely start out in the C-172 for rental purposes and it might be nice to fly a C-152 again for old time’s sake.

But first things first. Hoping for good weather for the BFR on the 20th!

Legal Aspects of Aircraft Ownership – Part 2 – Sales and Use Taxes

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Today, I’m joined by Eric Carver, my fellow member in the law firm and an expert in tax law. Eric’s practice focuses on business entity planning; taxation; estate planning; family wealth transfers; business entity formations; corporate planning and taxation; limited liability company planning and taxation; tax controversies; mergers, acquisitions and divestitures; real estate acquisitions, charitable giving and charitable trusts; contested estate, trust and probate matters; probate litigation; and decedent estates and probate administration, among other areas.

He’s admitted to the bars of Florida, Illinois, Michigan, and New York, in addition to four US District Courts and four US Court of Appeals Circuits.

And, most importantly, he’s the guy I call when I’m doing airplane deals to make sure that I get the tax aspects right.

Today we’re going to talk about the tax aspects of aircraft purchase, ownership, leasing, and sale.


Eric (http://www.dykema.com/bio/ericcarver.htm) and I (http://www.dykema.com/bio/stephentupper.htm) are members of the Dykema law firm. We recorded and published the episode as a service to our clients and friends for informational purposes only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should not consider any information on this website to be legal advice and should not act upon any such information without seeking professional counsel. Use of, and access to, this website or the episode audio does not create an attorney-client or any other relationship between Eric, me, or Dykema and the user. Accordingly, please do not send us any confidential information unless and until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established, as such information will not be protected by the attorney-client or any other privilege. Certain jurisdictions may consider the episode or this post advertising and require that we inform you of same.