Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Thursday, January 31, 2013

EAA Chapter 64 Meeting Features Program Director for the Center for Aviation Safety Research

By Carmelo Turdo
EAA Chapter 64, based at historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport, hosted Dr. Damon Lercel, Program Director for the Center for Aviation Safety Research at Parks College of St. Louis University ( at the February 5 meetingDr. Lercel has extensive experience with the FAA on Surface Movement Advisor ( SMA ). The FAA just approved more that 10,000 civilian Unmanned Aerial Vehicles ( UAV ) to be flown in our national airspace system.  Dr. Lercel  has exceptional knowledge of the forthcoming ( UAV ) introduction to our airways. Further, he has significant experience in commercial and corporate aviation and maintains interest in Safety Management Systems ( SMS ) and Next Generation Aviation Maintenance. 
Dr. Lercel has earned his FAA Airframe and Power plant Certificate, FAA Private Pilot Certificate and Federal Radio Communications Commission's General Radiotelephone Operators License. He holds a Masters in Business Administration and Bachelor of Science in Aviation Operations and just completed his Ph.D. in Aviation from Saint Louis University.

Dr. Lercel discussed FAA-funded Center for Aviation Safety Research, including current projects in the areas of safety management, development courses and research including Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).  In the coming months, St. Louis University will receive Taurus and Zagi UAS vehicles and a simulator (to be integrated with air traffic control).  Partners in UAS research include Williams Aerospace, General Dynamics, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.  A major part of the UAS research project involves the integration of UAS vehicles into controlled airspace.  Flights at the Cannon Range at Fort Leonard Wood have been performed, and the search for additional airspace for testing in Missouri or eastern Illinois continues.

More on the Center for Aviation Safety Research will be forthcoming in a future post.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Learn to Fly Day Attracts Future Aviators and Aerospace Industry Workers

By Carmelo Turdo
Day two of the Midwest Aviation Conference and Trade Show was "Learn to Fly Day," sponsored by the Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association.  The event is designed to attract the next generation of aviators and aerospace industry workers, and judging by the attendance today, it was a great success.  Families and students gathered around the exhibitors and the flight simulators provided by Mr. Mike Saettele of St. Louis Flight Simulator (  Many of those who flew the simulators were then introduced to the EAA Young Eagle flight program by nearby EAA Chapter 32 representatives and were also invited to visit the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum for more interactive and educational aviation activities.  

Many of the exhibitors from yesterday's Trade Show, including local airport FBOs, educational institutions and local non-profit organizations, were again available to meet with visitors.  Several new exhibitors, including Mark Ezro with his RC Edge 540, Alexandra Honey from Trans States Airlines, and an FAA air traffic controller added variety to the career specialists on hand to counsel interested youth.  Special guest speaker Mr. Dave Desmond, Chief F/A-18 Test Pilot, Military Tactical Flight Operations at the Boeing Company, showed a dramatic video of military flight operations with the Hornet fighter and discussed military aviation career opportunities with an attentive audience.   

Special thanks to the Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association, Missouri Pilots Association and the exhibitors at this year's Trade Show - all of whom were gracious and generous with their time and talents.  Here are some scenes from today's event:

Bob Crandell from MO Pilots Association Gateway Chapter 
Flight Simulators and EAA Young Eagles Exhibits

Realistic Flight Simulators From St. Louis Flight Simulator 

Future Aviators Receive Training During Their Sessions 

Boeing Test Pilot Dave Desmond Discusses Flying Jet Fighters

Bill Macon (left) Owner of Ideal Aviation Visits With Guests
McDonnell Aircraft Retirees With the Missouri Aviation Historical Society

Paul Voorhees of the St. Louis Aerospace Institute Explains Programs 

Alexandra Honey Recruits Future Flight Attendants

Mark Ezro Demonstrates His RC Edge 540

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Midwest Aviation Conference & Trade Show Features Experts, Exhibitors

By Carmelo Turdo
The Midwest Aviation Conference &Trade Show (MACTS) opened today at the Maryland Heights Centre in St. Louis County.  The Super Safety Seminar, held concurrently with the Flight Instructor Revalidation Clinic, featured the FAA's Al Gorthy, aviation safety expert Cathe Fish, pilot/Missouri Congressman Sam Graves and Sara Newton from the FAA Medical Division.  During breaks between presentations, many of the the several hundred attendees visited representatives from local aviation service providers and non-profit organizations at this year's trade show, also held in the main auditorium.  MACTS has become an annual gathering of the "Who's Who" of St. Louis general aviation, and the addition of new exhibitors this year reflects the cautious optimism of the local aviation community.  

Al Gorthy, Assistant Manager of the FAA's Regional Runway Safety Program, is a regular speaker at MACTS and other safety seminars.  His theme today was "Trust, and Verify."  The causes of runway incursions can be divided generally into these categories: pilot (60%), Air Traffic Control (20%) and vehicles (20%), with piston-engine aircraft involved in 61% of the incidents.  Tragedies can occur when any one of these actors makes an error, so taking a few seconds to understand the current operating environment can avoid, or at least minimize, the chances of catastrophic mistakes.
"Attentiveness and awareness must work in concert with one another," Gorthy observed.  "Situational awareness, by definition, is a continuous perception of what has happened, what is happening and what may happen...There is time involved, and it's moving,"  he continued.  "It is also not linear, and may be moving up and down as well as forward," he added.  Improving one's situational awareness is the key to reducing the number and effects of human error that are at the root of runway incursion incidents.
Cathe Fish, National Accident Prevention Counselor & AOPA Air Safety Institute Instructor, is another MACTS regular presenter that has no trouble keeping the attention of the audience when she discusses human factors in aviation.  She wasted no time getting to the point of her message: "The name of the game is error management," she began.  "Expecting and preventing errors.  Knowing exactly what to do when bad things happen.  Never being complacent.  Avoiding temptation."  Then she gave a concrete example used in aviation every day: "Why do we have standard operating procedures?  They are there to protect us from being bitten by our human factor."  Fish also explained that four of the top six causes of aviation accidents in the St. Louis area are pilot-related, regardless of pilot experience.  Several examples of commercial aircraft accidents, caused by crew mismanagement of minor aircraft malfunctions, were used to illustrate the need for proper error management in addressing the weakness of the human factor.
Fellow pilot Congressman Sam Graves gave an update on the recently enacted "Pilots Bill of Rights."  "It basically gives us due process," he explained, referring to the ability of pilots cited by the FAA in pending enforcement actions to receive information on the case in order to become a participant in the investigation.  Also, better access to NOTAMS and other flight-critical information is part of the new law.  Other legislative proposals that would negatively affect general aviation, like user fees and "aeronautical use" of private hangars requirements, are perpetual threats that Congressman Graves works to defeat in Congress.
Trade Show participants began arriving around 7:30am, setting up displays and welcoming early arrivals to the auditorium.  Area aviation service providers and non-profit groups, including Ideal Aviation, Air Associates, St. Louis Community College Aerospace Institute, Southwestern Illinois College, the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, Missouri Aviation Historical Society, EAA Chapter 32 and the St. Louis Ninety-Nines among others, were available to discuss their contributions to the greater St. Louis area aviation community with pilots and enthusiasts in attendance.  The Trade Show will continue tomorrow during the "Learn to Fly" activities.  Here are the Trade Show participants from today - be sure to visit them tomorrow:
St. Louis Community College Aerospace Institute

Missouri Aviation Historical Society

Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum

Southwestern Illinois College

EAA Chapter 32

Gateway Flight Training and IMC Club International

AeroWorks Aircraft Interiors

Missouri Pilots Association, St. Louis Chapter

St. Charles Flying Service FBO

Air Associates FBO

Parks College of St. Louis University

Women With Wings

Ideal Aviation FBO

The Ninety-Nines, St. Louis Chapter
Be sure to visit Maryland Heights Centre tomorrow from 1-3pm for the "Learn to Fly" program, and meet special guest Mr. Dave Desmond, Chief F/A-18 Test Pilot, Military Tactical Flight Operations, at The Boeing Company.  Flight simulators will be available, and EAA Chapter 32 will be available to discuss registering youth for Young Eagle flights in the coming spring and summer.
Special thanks to Mr. Dave Pressy, Mr. Phil Dixon, Missouri Pilots Association Gateway Chapter and Maryland Heights Centre for their assistance in reporting today's event. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Missouri Pilots Association Gateway Chapter Remembers Doolittle Raider Reunion

By Carmelo Turdo
B-25 "Show Me"
The January meeting of the Gateway Chapter of the Missouri Pilots Association featured a presentation by Mr. Hubert Looney, crew member on the MO Commemorative Air Force's B-25 "Show Me" that participated in the 70th anniversary gathering of the remaining Doolittle Raiders.  The gathering of 20 B-25s is said to be the largest with the type since World War II, and it began April 14 of last year with the departure from St. Charles County Airport (SMARTT) for the staging area in Urbana, Ohio.  B-25s from all over the country, some traveling a week or longer (since most B-25s can only fly in VFR conditions), converged Grimes Field Municipal Airport (named for the former Grimes Aircraft Lighting company) for briefings and practice flights prior to the April 18 ceremony.  The B-25s and warbird fighter aircraft took up all the available ramp and hangar space, and many visitors were able to view the aircraft and visit the crews between practice flights.  Looney reported hearing stories of veterans using walkers spryly boarding the aircraft and manning their crew stations.  One veteran was said to have broken decades of silence in the cockpit of a B-25.    

The aircraft departed for Wright-Patterson AFB on April 17 for the reunion ceremony to be held the following day.  Four of the surviving Raiders (Lt. Col. Richard Cole, Maj. Thomas Griffin, Lt. Col. Robert Hite, Lt. Col. Edward Saylor and Master Sgt. David Thatcher) were present, along with a survivor of the sinking of the USS Hornet, Chief Petty Office Allen Josey.  The 20-plane formation of B-25s then saluted the Raiders, past and present.  Looney, who attended the 68, 69 and 70 year reunions commented, "Each time I thought it would be the last reunion."  He was gratified to participate, and looks forward to the next one.

For more information on the 71-year reunion of the Doolittle Raiders, please visit

Monday, January 14, 2013

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012: Air Force Big Iron

By Fred Harl
You can expect just about any aircraft at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, and U.S. Air Force big iron cargo planes were on hand for public tours.  A C-5B Galexy from the 312th Airlift Squadron from Travis AFB, CA served as the backdrop to the gathering of current and retired military cargo planes.  Nearby sat a McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) C-17A Globemaster III from the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH.  Both aircraft serve with the Air Force Reserve Command, illustrating the integrated nature of the active and reserve components of the modern U.S. military forces.  Here are some views from in, out and around these two massive airlifters: