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4th Annual Skymaster Owners and Pilots Association Fly-In and Meeting
In Key West, Florida - "Need More Sleep..."
By Kevin Mackenzie
Photographs contributed by Kevin Mackenzie and Mary Lightfine

(Click here if you just want
to see the airplane pictures.)

Liza and I are back now, and we've had a couple of weeks to recover. We had a fabulous time at the 2005 SOAPA meeting in Key West. Even though some medicine I am taking required me to reduce my normal beverage consumption rate, I must admit that my memory of the evening activities is significantly impaired... A common theme of the postings on the 337skymaster.com message board during and just after we returned is the theme for this report:

"What an active and wonderful day... I'm so tired... must s.l..e...e....p.....ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ" -Jim Stack from message posted during meeting

This article is only one view of the meeting. The group frequently splintered in the evenings, with some of us spending time with non-pilot family and friends that we had brought with us, and others splitting in smaller groups for some serious hangar flying... What follows is what the meeting was like for Liza and I...

Wednesday: Meeting Begins

Paul Rooy found a perfect size room for us at the Wyndam Reach Resort, just a couple of blocks from the Southernmost hotel, where most of us stayed. Paul and Mary brought their own sound system, projector, etc. saving SOAPA a lot of cash. This is just one of a hundred things we all have to thank Paul and Mary for.


Paul ran the meetings very professionally, which is to say, with an iron hand (and we're glad he did). When each speaker had five minutes remaining, Paul or Mary would discretely lay a "5 minute warning" note on the table in front of them.

Those speakers that did not cooperate were TASRed and removed by armed security. (Kidding.)

The first speaker was Rick Galvin, who has the misfortune (author's bias) to live within the Washington DC ADIZ. Rick outlined the procedures that must be used to transit the ADIZ outside the 10 mile "no fly zone" ring.

Rick also risked life and limb for SOAPA (what a guy!) by going through the vetting process that is needed to get permission to fly within the "no fly zone", and flew to one of the DC airports within it (Potomac Field, operated by Skymaster owner Dave Wartofsky) just so he could report to us all on the experience. He is now privileged to buy $2.50 (or something like that) fuel (at Potomac Field). All he has to do is fly within range of 17 year-old kids operating Patriot missile batteries... But hey, we'd all do that for cheaper fuel, right?

The next speaker was David Underwood, who wins the "longest distance traveled" award for flying to the meeting from ENGLAND in his Skymaster. David gave a fascinating talk on the "Joys and Vicissitudes of Flying in the UK and Europe". (In which I learned what the word "vicissitudes" means, at the very least.)

David went over a lot of material, and we learned a lot about the much higher expense, much more obtrusive and uneven regulation, as well as some of the joysl of flying on the other side of the Atlantic. My overriding impression after listening to David is that I am very glad I fly in the U.S.

We had lots of time for breaks, and a lot of entertaining discussions happened between and after the speakers. (In the picture at right, Keven Kenison elucidates to Peyton McCool. Lee Henning is in the blue shirt in the foreground.)

The opportunity to spend time with Skymaster and O-2 pilots from all over the U.S. as well as other countries would be worth price of admission all by itself.

By the way, special recognition should be made of the Montana contingent. For those who thought nobody would come all the way to the Keys from the western U.S., please note we had 3(!) Skymasters from Montana (let's see, six passengers each would be about 10% of the population of that state, right?). Other long distance attendees (beside David Underwood from England) included your webmaster from Oregon (by airline), as well as an airplane each from Texas and Oklahoma, and Jim Muse, who flew his normally aspirated 337G from Los Angeles.

The afternoon session continued with Ray Torres from RT Aerospace discussing the various modifications/STCs he offers, and the history behind each. Ray explained that with one exception, all the modifications were originally designed to meet his own needs on his own Skymaster. All the meeting participants received a well done booklet describing RT Aerospace and its products.

Sadly, the flash on my camera failed at this point in the meeting, so I did not get a very good picture of Ray here.

Here is another, better, picture of Ray (on the left) along with H.L. and Kyle Townsend (center and right).





Ernie Martin closed the first day of the meeting with a talk on how to make your first flight to the Bahamas. Ernie had just completed doing that with five other Skymaster pilots on the Bahamas Side Trip he organized just prior to the SOAPA fly-in. (Thanks Ernie!). Click here for more pictures of the side trip. See the home page for a report on the Bahamas Side trip contributed by Paul Rooy.

Ernie explained that flying to the Bahamas is easy, safe, and can be some of the most fun you can have in a Skymaster with your clothes on...


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