AOPA Minneapolis Fly-In 2015

A couple of us from Aircraft & Marine Insurance were able to attend the AOPA Fly-in in Minneapolis this year. There are several AOPA fly-ins around the country each year, and there’s always food and fun to be had along with a celebration of aviation!

Here are Justin Wulf (left) and Kevin Gruys (right) at the event.

AOPA Fly-In

Recreational Boating in the United States: An Infographic

Here are some facts and figures about recreational boating in the United States. Did you think the Midwest would be the top area for recreational boaters? These numbers are from the 2011 National Recreational Boating Survey done be the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division. For more numbers, check out their survey.

Recreational Boating in the U.S. Infographic

Note: Click the image for the full-size version.

Top 5 Weekend Getaway Places via Aircraft

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Much of the country is in the midst of one of the coldest winters we’ve seen in a long time, but don’t let that stop you from hopping on your plane and finding some fun. The question is: where to go? We put together a list of destinations that may tempt you to take a flight this weekend.

1. Grand Canyon – You may have visited the Grand Canyon before, but have you seen it from the air? It will be hard to see as much as you can of one of the seven wonders of the world since it ranges 277 miles long, but you can certainly try. There is no landing fee at Grand Canyon National Airport, so that is an added bonus.

2. Lake Placid/Kiwassa Lake, Adirondacks, N.Y. – If you’re looking for a more zen-like location, there’s no other place like Lake Placid. The area hosts many resorts and is also great if you have a seaplane, allowing you to land directly on any of the 23 miles of Adirondacks waterways.

3. Jackson Hole, WY – If you’re not too concerned about the cold, try Jackson Hole at this time of the year. Hiking the scenic Tetons are a wonderful way to get away from the city, plus the city boasts chuck wagons to get your fill of steak and comfort food.

4. Nashville, TN – There’s New York and L.A., but there’s also Nashville in terms of the music industry. Walk into an establishment on any given evening, and you will be sure to find some of the best musicians jamming.

5. Kansas City, MO – Some people consider Kansas City a flyover area, but it is home to some of the best and most authentic barbeque in the United States. Check out Arthur Bryant’s and Jack Stack Barbeque; they will have you licking your fingers clean.

As a pilot, you have access to a fun weekend with some of the most amazing places. So grab your camera and suitcase, and gas up that plane.

Winter Activities for Boaters

Winter Activites for Boaters

Does putting away your boat for the winter season give you the blues? Unless you’re a snow and cold lover, you probably dream about getting your boat back out all winter long. Luckily, there are some things boaters can do in the wintertime to enjoy boats, even when yours is in storage. Here are our tips for feeding your love of boating throughout the off-season.

Attend Boat Shows

Even though going to a boat show isn’t quite as glorious as going out on the water, it can still satisfy your boat junkie cravings. Go to a boat show and drool over the shiny new boats and futuristic new technology while hanging out and chatting with other boat lovers. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list of boat shows:
http://www.boatshows.com/calendar.aspx

Get a Magazine Subscription

If you don’t already subscribe to a boating magazine or two, winter is a good time to do so. You can pine over the pretty pictures of new boats, learn about emerging technology, brush up on boating news, read intriguing boating stories and more. Here are some of the most popular ones:
http://www.boatingmag.com/
http://www.yachtingmagazine.com/
http://www.sailingworld.com/

Browse Boats for Sale

A boater can dream, right? Winter is actually a fairly good time to shop for a new boat if you’re in the market for one, as you can take your time shopping and getting boat insurance it before boating season starts. Of course, even if you aren’t in the market for a new boat, it’s still fun to look, right? Head to a local showroom or shop online:
http://www.boattrader.com/browse

Go on a Boating Vacation

This one requires a bit of cash, but if you were already planning on a vacation, you might as well go somewhere where you can go boating! There are many, many possibilities for boating vacations in warmer climates. Try searching for them online in the place you’d most like to go. Here’s an example of a site that suggests boating vacations:
http://www.moorings.com/

Watch Boat Videos

There are thousands of boating videos on YouTube, waiting to be enjoyed. Sit down with your computer and get lost in them:
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=boating&sm=3
Or, if you’re the more adventurous type, try watching GoPro videos. No, they’re not all about boating, but they’re awesome:
http://www.youtube.com/user/GoProCamera

Catch Up on Boating News

There’s always news about the boating industry being published online. Find a site and subscribe or visit often. Here’s an example we found:
http://www.tradeonlytoday.com/

Shop for New or Better Insurance

Looking for a better boat insurance policy from a company you can trust? Let us give you a quote!
Get a Boat Insurance Quote

Resolutions For the New Pilot in 2014

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Did you know that learning something new is one of the top ten resolutions people make for the new year? So for those looking for a new hobby, why not take up learning how to pilot a plane? To help you on your way, here is a quick list to coax you into taking to the air.

For the new pilot:

  • Safety first – Vow to always be safe in the air, and in turn keeping any passengers you may have safe, by always following procedures that are necessary before taking off. Have a pre-flight list prepared and use it; soon it will be second nature.
  • Maintain your aircraft properly – Just like anything other machine, airplanes require maintenance every now and again. Do maintenance after and before every flight, including every few months. Keep a schedule of when something needs to be replaced.
  • Take a trip – A flight takes a lot of planning, so kill two birds with one stone by integrating another resolution of taking more trips into your new year. Take a day trip for a picnic in a hard-to-reach by car location or plan a week away to a  picturesque area. If you’re into photography, make sure to bring a camera along. (These are from a commercial plane, but you get the idea.)
  • Get more education – Even if you’ve just taken the license test and have crammed your mind full, there’s always something new to learn. Talk to other pilots or read a book on flight and see what else you can learn.
  • Have fun – Why did you get a pilot’s license? Just like in life, make sure that what you are doing is enjoyable. There may be a lot that goes into piloting an airplane, but that doesn’t mean that you have to forget about getting the most out of it.

Flight Instructor Joe’s IFR Preflight Check

IFR-Instrument-Check

In a recent blog post by Flight Instructor Joe over at flightinstructorjoe.com, he posted the picture of an askew Artificial Horizon just after start-up, and asks a question: Do you know what to look for when you’re about to complete an IFR flight? For an IFR flight, you must be sure that your instruments are all functioning properly, as you’ll be completely reliant upon them to control the plane.

In Flight Instructor Joe’s blog post, he goes over what you should look at when completing an IFR instrument check, including Pilot heat, a compass check, and more. Head over to his blog to read the complete post.

Top Ten Reasons Why Top Ten Safety Lists Are a Waste of Time

Keltner Aviation Safety Support

My associate Richard Keltner of Keltner Aviation Safety Support recently wrote a blog post about how he feels about top ten lists. Specifically, he discussed aviation safety lists from organizations such as the NTSB and NBAA. He was offered the chance to participate in the development of the NBAA Safety Committee’s top ten lest. Here are his thoughts:

Egotistically I assumed I was assisting in creating a set of priorities that might be used by people like YOU. But I doubt that, if tested, you can replicate even 50% of that list we safety “professionals” worked diligently to build. Perhaps you can guess a few of the items like “Fatigue” (Number 9) or “Impact of Technology” (Number 6) because those challenges are beaten into your head.

He does go on to find a positive impact if the list he helped create:

These leaders who think deeply about YOUR safety can repeat the list and they know why each challenge is included (and which were left off). Through the process of creating the list they renewed the focus on thorny challenges. And these leaders are now working as teams on the processes and tools that might just save a life or two.

To read his entire post, head over to the Keltner Aviation Safety Support blog.

Ways to Winterize Your Plane

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November is winterizing month, making it time to prepare your aircraft for the colder days ahead, whether you plan to use it throughout the harsh months, or if you plan to store it. Storing your aircraft in a hangar where it will be protected from the bitter weather is the best, but there are some things you should do whether it will be in a hangar or at in outside tie-down. It is good habit every year to go through a quick check list of the steps you must take to maintain your aircraft’s peak efficiency through the winter.

If you do not plan on flying much during the winter:

  • Change the oil before you put your plane away
  • Add one quart of preservative oil as part of the oil change
  • Before you put the plane away, do a short flight on the oil to ensure that all of the parts of the engine are supplied with new oil.

If you live in a warmer climate or use your plane all winter long:

  • Stay with your normal, every four months oil change schedule
  • During the winter months, consider using a multigrade oil, especially if you do not have any pre-heat equipment and/or plan on flying into colder climates. Multigrade oils don’t eliminate the need for pre-heating; they only give you an extra margin of safety during cold start conditions.

Fuel

  • When using auto gas, remember that it is good for about six months
  • If your plane sit longer than that, fill up with 100LL before you put it in storage
  • Auto gas that contains ethanol that sits during storage absorbs water and becomes corrosive — if you have fuel that has ethanol, drain the tank completely and refill with a fuel sans ethanol

Grease

  • Since all qualified aviation greases have excellent low temperature properties, there is no need to change grease
  • Even though there is no need to change grease, make sure you clean greased areas before storage
  • Try not to use power washers, because it may strip off all of the grease and some parts are designed to be kept in grease and not meant to have an moisture

This list is not a complete list of all things needed to prep your small aircraft for winter. Consult your manual, or for a more comprehensive list, check out AVWeb‘s for more recommendations.

Ways to Winterize Your Boat

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With winter on the horizon, for many of us, it’s that time of year when we need to prepare our boats for winter storage. Hibernation sets in, and we begin the long wait for spring, warm weather, and another boating season.

Taking the initiative now to protect your boat will assure that it will be ready to get back on the water in a few months when you are. Winterizing your boat doesn’t have to be difficult. Aircraft Marine and Insurance has put together a checklist to keep your marine craft in good condition during the winter months.

Exterior

  • Thoroughly wash the motor and boat hull removing all stains, dirt, or debris.
  • Coat the boat and painted motor surfaces with a fresh coating of wax.
  • Cover boat with a high-quality, breathable cover.
  • Remove the propeller and check thoroughly for damage. If you have a damaged propeller, now is the time to replace or service it — not at the start of the next season.
  • Clean the propeller shaft and apply a protective coating of grease.
  • If your boat will be kept in the water, install a de-icing device.
Interior
  • Make sure bilges are clean and dry.
  • Remove bilge drain plug and make a note of where you have placed it. Consider attaching the plug to the steering wheel or other conspicuous location with a piece of string so you don’t forget to reinstall it in the spring.
  • Install a dehumidifier in cabins and enclosed areas to help prevent mildew growth.
Electrical
  • Check and repair all electrical wiring and connections. Make sure nothing was damaged during the season.
  • Remove boat batteries and store in a cool dry place. Place batteries on a smart charger or charge them approximately once a month.

Engine

  • Change crankcase and gearcase oil while engine is warm and run the motor afterwards to distribute fresh oil throughout the power head.
  • Change oil filters.
  • Flush the engine with fresh water and drain.
  • Circulate antifreeze through engine block and manifolds.
  • Drain vapor separator tank of fuel by drain screw.
  • On carbureted outboard motors, drain the carburetor float bowls.
  • Change transmission fluid.
  • Fog the engine by spraying fogging fluid into each of the carburetors or throttle body throats.
  • Remove hoses from raw water pump.
  • Replace spark plugs and spray fogging fluid into spark plug ports.
  • Perform a complete lubrication service on the boat and motor.
  • Apply grease to all external engine fittings.
  • Apply protective anti-corrosion film to engine’s external parts.
  • Check the motor for loose, broken or missing fasteners. Tighten fasteners and make necessary repairs.
Fuel Systems
  • Fill permanently installed fuel tanks with fuel to prevent the formation of condensation.
  • Add appropriate amount of fuel stabilizer to fuel tanks.
  • Remove portable fuel tanks to safe, well-ventilated area. Drain plastic tanks and top-off metal tanks. Drain attached fuel lines.
Boat Trailer
  • Place the trailer on stands or blocks so the wheels are supported off the ground. Raise the bow higher than the stern to promote draining of rainwater or snow.
  • Remove trailer wheels to clean and repack the wheel bearings.

Please note: as with all boat repairs and maintenance, follow the instructions in your boat owner’s manual.