One of the joys of flying is visiting new places and meeting great new people. One of my favorite ways to do that is to participate in a "Fly-In". No, this does not describe what you find in your soup. A fly-in is simply a group of pilots who decide on a place to go - a date and time to be there - and a place to meet. And, of course, food is always a prerequisite. The wonderful thing about these gatherings is the people that you meet. We have certainly made life long friends from some of these outings and will continue to do so. What's also part of the fun is introducing new people to flying by taking them along. Most aircraft will arrive at a fly-in with at least one or two empty seats - and we miss a great opportunity to take a non-pilot or low time pilot along. Or even a fly.
Planning is always important. Several web based sites now offer the opportunity for groups of pilots to plan a fly-in, and communicate the details to all. These are usually arranged in regions - such as the Northeast Flyers who operate out of the AOPA Web Boards, AOPA Forums or the New England Pilots meet-up board (New England Pilots). These and others usually post plans for outings well in advance - giving owners and renters an opportunity to secure their plane and make their plans.
And while we're at it, we use the opportunity to train. Often I will fly with my favorite safety pilot or treat a CFI to lunch and make the trip IFR, throwing in some 'unplanned' challenges enroute. Who else would celebrate a beautiful clear day by placing a hood over their head? It makes for a fun trip, but also a very useful time in the cockpit.
So, as the new year is upon us - check out a site near you - and join a fly-in group for a $100 hamburger or pancake. It's a great way to keep you skills sharp and have fun at the same time. And - by the way - check out those pancakes at the other end!