Sunday, March 27, 2016


I started negotiating with Scottsdale Airport (SDL) to install self fuel for 100LL 7 years ago. Last week the FBO started it's self service pump. When this was being negotiated self fuel did not go out for a request for proposal (RFP) as the FBO said it would be competitive in it's price. Well that did not happen.

The price at SDL is .95 higher than Phoenix Deer Valley Airport (DVT), pre paid, which is only 10 miles west of SDL.

Here is how you can help. The Aviation Director, Gary Mascaro, asked for phone calls to his office stating that the self fuel price at SDL is too high and not competitive.

I am ask you, your spouse, girl or boy friend to take Gary up on his offer, and call him at
480-312-7735, and tell him the price at SDL self fuel is too high and you are not going to use it. If he gets enough calls he can negotiate a better price on self fuel. Do not beat him up on the phone as he is a good guy and can help us out.

There are 28,000+ of you who have read this column. Your phone calls would be appreciated and this is what he asked for. If you get a voice mail just leave a message. You can tell him if fuel was only .25 more than DVT you would use it. It does not matter if you fly or not, and you do not have to leave your name.

This is your chance to help others who love to fly but cannot afford high fuel prices. So please help us out and make that call!

Friday, March 25, 2016


A record number of businesses and employees have moved into Scottsdale's bustling Airpark corridor, which is emerging as a one of the Phoenix area's major hubs for urban growth, according to a new report from Colliers International.
More than 55,000 employees work for about 3,000 companies within the Scottsdale Airpark area, which covers about 5 square miles in north Scottsdale and Phoenix's Kierland neighborhood. The Airpark added nearly 1,200 jobs over the past year and more than 7,000 jobssince the height of the recession in December 2009, according to Colliers.
The previous record for jobs in the Scottsdale Airpark area was set in 2014 at 54,100, the report said. There were also 2,950 companies in the area last year.
The annual report, compiled by Jim Keeley, founding partner of Colliers' Scottsdale office, also shows significant improvement in vacancy rates, land sales and property values over the past several years. Colliers is among the real-estate firms that broker deals in the Airpark and other parts of the Valley.
Although Airpark office space was leasing for about $50 to $70 per square foot in 2011, tenants are paying closer to $150 or even $200 per square foot now, Keeley said. He expects rates to continue climbing over the next two or three years toward the prerecession peak of around $270 to $300.
Land sales totaled $94.8 million for about 89 acres in 2015, up from $46.7 million for about 38 acres the previous year, according to Colliers.
Investment from GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and global investment firm Vanguard helped the Airpark build on that momentum in 2015, Keeley said.
His Colliers report detailed several key announcements for the area last year, including:
  • Parsons opened the world's largest Harley-Davidson dealership in November at Hayden Road and Northsight Boulevard. The dealership features a 95-seat chapel for weddings and a movie theater.
  • Vanguard added 600 employees while expanding to fill a 150,000-square-foot building near Pima Road and Raintree Drive.
  • American Girl opened its only Arizona retail store, which includes a 25-seat bistro, at Scottsdale Quarter in August. The store is one of only 20 in the U.S.

Urban living arrives, transit needed

Residential towers have begun to spring up among the Airpark's corporate offices and shopping centers as young professionals pursue a more urban lifestyle within walking distance of their workplaces.
Crescent Communities recently opened 275 high-end apartments at Scottsdale Quarter, and another 220 luxury condos are under construction across Scottsdale Road at Optima Kierland.
Liv North Scottsdale built 240 apartments just north of Scottsdale Quarter in 2014, and a 282-unit complex called Sunrise Commons is planned to replace a former car dealership on Hayden Road.
"I think society is into enjoying urban living," Keeley said. "The Millennials, that next generation of working people, they have a different mind-set."
With the arrival of more "transit-oriented development" at Scottsdale Quarter and Kierland Commons comes the need for more public-transit options, Keeley said. A city proposal to add trolley service in the Airpark would help, but Keeley would like to see light rail come up through Scottsdale from the south.
"There's a definite need for improvement," Keeley said. "I think if you look around the country at other employment bases that are evolving, you need that type of alternative."
A new transportation plan up for City Council consideration this year includes three potential rail routes through Scottsdale, including two that would end near Scottsdale Fashion Square mall. The plan also includes a new bus route with non-stop service between the Airpark and Fashion Square.
If approved by the council, Airpark trolley service could start in April 2018, and the bus service could start in October 2019, according to city officials.

A cornucopia of industries

Although some airport commerce parks trend more toward heavy industry and warehousing, the area surrounding Scottsdale Airport features a higher concentration of corporate office space, including several regional and national headquarters.
JDA Software announced plans last year to move its headquarters to two floors of a new six-story office building opening at Scottsdale Quarter. Taser International maintains its main offices 2 miles to the northeast, and New Zealand-based Orion Health picked the Scottsdale Airpark in 2014 for its North American headquarters and about 500 jobs.
In all, there are 130 business categories represented within the Airpark, ranging from aerospace to hospitality, according to Colliers.
The area ranks among the largest employment centers in the Phoenix area and is uniquely located to draw employees from the West Valley, Phoenix, Scottsdale and the Southeast Valley, Scottsdale Economic Development Director Danielle Casey said.
"The top thing that everybody has been talking about in the last several years is that talent is the biggest issue," Casey said. "That's one of the things going for us in the Airpark. It can pull from pretty much all nodes, which is very advantageous when you are looking at a dispersed talent pool."

Airport grows busier

Along with the growth has come a spike in air traffic at Scottsdale Airport, which in 2015 surged to No. 21 among the nation's busiest general-aviation airports. When you account for major airlines, which don't have a presence in Scottsdale, and military operations, the airport ranks No. 76 nationally, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol maintains a daily presence at Scottsdale Airport, which boosts its appeal to international travelers and businesses, Casey said.
The FAA reported about 77,300 general-aviation takeoffs and landings at Scottsdale Airport last year, up from about 74,700 flights in 2014 and 69,800 in 2010. General-aviation traffic reflects private flights to and from other airports.
The airport reported more than 157,000 takeoffs and landings overall in 2015.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


I wrote the below column in May of 2104 having spent the morning flying the WACO at Sedona, AZ. It came to my attention this week that the WACO rides have become discontinued and both WACO's are up for sale. This is very sad!

Saturday, May 17, 2014



Sedona Arizona (SEZ) is one of the most beautiful cities in the US. It is a tourist destination located 70 miles north of Phoenix and 70 miles south of the Grand Canyon. Sedona is truly an eclectic city surrounded by red rock formations on 3 sides. The people are laid back, spiritual  and extremely courteous. Sedona is also home to the famous Pink Jeep tours, which in itself is an amazing excursion.

SEZ sits on a 500 foot mesa. It is like landing on an aircraft carrier that is not moving. When flying into SEZ the calm wind runway is 3 landing uphill and departing 21 downhill. One has to be careful landing at SEZ, if windy there is a lot of sink at the beginning of the runway. It is best not to land on the numbers but stay a little high on approach. The elevation is 4800 feet but you have to be aware of density altitude as Sedona is a high desert, and it gets hot during the day but cools off at night.

The facilities at SEZ are way above normal for a small city. SEZ has a beautiful terminal building, a restaurant that has glass walls that allow you to look at the red rock formations and planes arriving and departing and just north of the restaurant is Red Rock Aviation/Sedona Air tours.

Red Rock is an fantastic entity. They offer Grand Canyon tours in light twins and jet helicopters. There are multiple tours available including a dinner tour and wine tour. In addition Red Rock offers open cockpit tours of Sedona in their 2 WACO biplanes. Each WACO’s flies about 8 to 12 missions a day. In the summer when it is hotter, only one WACO runs Monday through Friday as the other pilot flies for the forrest service. During Red Rock’s main season, 2 WACO’s fly 7 days a week.

When I arrived on May 16 to fly the WACO, Red Rock’s office was full of tourist to fly to the Grand Canyon and for the WACO ride. I arrived on Friday at 8:30AM and met my pilot at 9AM. Scott Sibson lives not far from Sedona in Prescott, AZ. He drives from Prescott to Cottonwood (P52) where the main operation is housed, and then flies the WACO on a short trip to SEZ. When Scott and I sat down to talk, we knew a lot of the same people in aviation, as I lived in Prescott hearing juvenile criminal cases for 4 years and was chairman of the aviation commission. Scott became an A&P flying for the forest service. He learned how to fly tailwheel in Prescott (PRC) having started by helping to rebuild a Piper Cub and was very handy at recovering a cloth airplane. I do not know which I enjoyed more talking to Scott or flying the WACO.

                                                              Scott Sibson...pilot 

I have been fortunate enough to fly gliders, fixed wing, helicopter, seaplane (see my blog on flying the Grumman Widgeon) and jets (see blog on transitioning from pistons to jets) . Until yesterday, I had never flown in an open cockpit biplane. I have flown with a lot of pilots over the years, and found that the best pilots I have flown with are airline pilots that also own their own GA airplane. I now have to add Scott to that list. He is a consummate professional. I have not enjoyed flying with someone more than with Scott in a long time.

The WACO we flew is a 1997 YMF 5-C Super. This WACO has more hours on it than any other WACO in the county clocking in at over 7500 hours. I was giving a pre-briefing by Scott which included entry into the front seat and how to operate the door which only opens and closes from the outside. Scott entered my seat to show me the best way to enter the cockpit. The front seat holds 1 or 2 people. After entering I was sitting low in a hole. My instrument in the front only included an airspeed indicator. Along with that I had stick, rudders, brakes, trim and throttle. My seat was under the wing and Scott’s was in the open behind the wing. He wore a baseball cap to keep the sun off of him. I had no forward vision and Scott does not either sitting in the back seat.

I donned my leather helmet, after entering the cockpit, that was attached to an over the ear headset. Scott primed the Jacobs 275 radial about 7 times and hit the starter. The radial came to life, and we taxied out doing S turns all the way to the active runway as there is no forward visibility in the WACO. SEZ is a Unicom field. Having finished our pre-flight runup we checked on the radio that no one was in the traffic pattern and took the active. After being perfectly straight down the runway Scott locked the tailwheel, and we were ready to go. Upon reaching 60mph the tailwheel came up, and we lifted off at 80mph. It was smooth as silk. Top speed is about 110mph, and we cruised at 100mph. There was no wind in the cockpit as the windshield does a great job of blocking the wind. I had on jeans and a light jacket and could have flown in my shorts and a polo shirt. In flight I pulled the headset away from my ears, and the noise was very loud. With the headsets on it was quiet as flying my Bonanza. Upon departing the runway we climbed to 7500 feet. This altitude kept us above the helicopter tours. We were only going to fly for about 15 minutes but were having so much fun we stayed up longer. Scott asked me if it was okay to do a wingover, and I said go for it. With one wing down about 90 degrees we turned on a pin head. Then we did one to the other side. After that I did some dutch rolls realizing how much rudder push is need to fly this big bird. All the time flying I had to look out 45 degrees to see where we going. The only time I could see directly over the cowl was on descent. There was a King Air on final so we crossed over the runway and then landed. Airspeed in the WACO is very important on landing. There is so much drag that airspeed had to be at 80mph to keep us flying. Pilots are always judged on their landings, and Scott outdid himself. We landed on the mains and kept the tail up until we ran out of airspeed. When stopped Scott unlocked the tailwheel to taxi back into Red Rock ramp. He let the engine run for about 2 minutes to prevent the engine from hydro locking. This is where excess oil drains down to the bottom 2 cylinders.

After the flight was over we could not talk long as there was a couple ready to go and take their WACO ride. 

I rate Red Rock/Sedona Air tours operation as a 10 out of 10 and enjoyed meeting John, James and others that work at the operation. Hats and t-shirts are available for sale in the Red Rock building. My thanks go out to Larry Bruner, owner of Red Rock, for for a wonderful day.