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  • 05/06/2020 5:31 AM | Chris Haven (Administrator)

    From Vice President Doug McDougall

    Anybody remember the old song from the sixties “Big Yellow Taxi”? The refrain went:  “Don’t it always seem to go That you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone?”

    The lyric summarizes where we are now. We used to take for granted everyday activities like going to the grocery store, going out for dinner, getting a haircut, or walking in our neighborhoods, but suddenly everything is different. I don’t think things have ever changed so fast or so much at any time in my life as they have in the past two months. 

    Yet out of adversity comes opportunity. The pace of life has slowed. Our dog loves the extra attention. We’re finding ourselves spending more time on the phone talking to relatives and old friends than we did before shelter in place. We’re checking on vulnerable people we know to be sure they’re doing alright. Although we are physically distancing, we’re socially closer.

    It is a good time to reflect on what a wonderful community we have at KAUN. We thrive on the friendly connections we have when we meet at the airport. Now, things are not the same, and we have to think about keeping physical distance from everyone, for their safety as well as our own. It feels awkward. It makes me realize how much the airport, or more accurately, the people who make it such a great place, mean to me, and I look forward to the time when conditions will improve. I don’t know when or if airport life will ever be quite the same again for us, but I believe good days and fair weather lie ahead.

    We’ll get through this crisis in much better shape if we all pull together and look out for each other. A lot of our local businesses are having a very difficult time. Think about steering a little business their way if you can. Many of the stores and restaurants we normally patronize are still open and have found creative ways to continue to be of service to our community. Let’s do our part to help get them through this unprecedented economic turmoil Here’s a glass-half-full view for you: The weather is beautiful. The grass is green, and the blue skies are clearer than they have been in ages. The airport is open, and we can take the opportunity to raise the hangar door and fly in the sky. Maybe take some of your quarantine-stressed housemates with you--pulling back on the elevator has been known to lift the spirits as well as the airplane!

    So stay safe and stay healthy, remain calm, be patient, and maintain your physical distance while we wait for this storm to clear!

    Doug McDougall

    Vice President Doug McDougall

  • 03/26/2020 3:51 PM | Chris Haven (Administrator)

    From President Randy Leys

    I’m sad to announce that we will not be meeting April 1 for our pot luck dinner due to circumstances I’m sure we are all well aware of. In these times I’m reminded of a quote I heard many years ago. “In every adversity lies the seed of an equal or greater benefit or opportunity.” I’m already encouraged by reports of a dad telling of going for bike ride with his son. Something they had not done in ten years.

    I was super excited after visiting with Don Wolfe last week about our combined efforts with the EAA offering bright futures to aviation dreamers I have asked Don to share about that. Take it away Don!

    The combined EAA Chapter 526 and Auburn Aviation Association Flight Scholarship interviews are complete. This is the first year for the two organizations to team up with a combined online application and interview process. More about this new program in the article: “Combined Flight Scholarship Program 2020”.

    There were over 20 applicants for the two $2500 Flight Scholarships. 6 candidates were chosen to interview on Saturday March 14, 2020.

    The Interview Team consisted of Steve Kendall and Brad Hawley from Chapter 526. Jessi Dreschler, James Jacobson and Don Wolfe represented AAA. The greeter table was chaired by Marleen Wekell. The team met at 08:00 in the Barnstormer room and prepared for the first interview at 08:30. Don Wolfe conducted the interviews while the Interview Team rated the candidates.

    Following the interviews the team debated the results over a very long lunch from Wings restaurant. All 6 candidates were highly qualified and highly motivated. The decision was not an easy one for the team to achieve. In the end Andrew Chubatenko and Benjamin Rubash were chosen to receive the scholarship funds. Both gentlemen have also been awarded lifetime memberships in Auburn Aviation Association.

    Andrew Chubatenko: Andrew is attending the Sierra College with plans to transfer to UC Davis where he will study aerospace engineering. Andrew is looking forward to experiencing aerodynamics first hand at the controls of an aircraft. He is also looking forward to the day he can take his family and friends for an airplane ride. Andrew will be researching Mach 5 Aviation and Sunshine Flyers to discover which flight school is the best fit for his flight training. Andrew was very active as a young flyer in the EAA Young Eagles Program here in Auburn. EAA Chapter 526 will be funding his training.

    Benjamin Rubash: Benjamin is attending American River College with plans to transfer to Embry Riddle University in Prescott, AZ. Benjamin is additionally researching options with the Air National Guard and the military. He hopes to become an airline pilot one day and travel the world. Benjamin is currently training at Mach 5 Aviation in the Cessna 172 Skyhawk. His Private Pilot flight check is scheduled for May, 2020. Benjamin will receive the Auburn Aviation Flight scholarship

    Shayden Eagleheart and Caden Hamm were awarded the scholarship trips to the EAA Air Academy.

    Thanks, Don, for that great exciting report. Until next month Eh!

    Randy Leys

  • 03/02/2020 3:49 PM | Chris Haven (Administrator)

    From President Randy Leys

    My first dreams of flying was easy for me. It all got started on a farm near the metropolis of Hughton, Saskatchewan, Canada. Our area was known as the buckle of the Canadian wheat belt. As far back as I can remember, parked in the yard along side the truck and tractor was an airplane. Any time I thought that Dad was going to fly the airplane I was in it. Some times we had to make tough decisions whether to take the truck or the airplane to town four miles away. While driving the tractor on the farm, I world see jets flying over, wishing, hoping, dreaming of flying one some day.

    Dream a little more…….

    When I was twelve, we started traveling to Texas for the winters, then farm back in Canada in the summers. I received my private license in Texas at the age of 19. In the winters, I had many opportunities to fly in my dad’s Cherokee 180 to Mexico and Central America assisting missionaries. All the while still dreaming, hoping, wishing to be flying jets.

    Dream bigger……

    After the twenty years of traveling back and forth from Canada to Texas, I married Lisa and settled in Texas. I received my Commercial license and started my professional pilot career. Over the last 37 years, we raised three boys, and there I was, now sitting in a Business Jet looking down at a tractor on a farm remembering a dream that had come true. I also thought that maybe there was someone looking up at me dreaming, hoping, wishing to be flying jets.

    Never stop dreaming…….

    I had flown hundreds of different aircraft, flown awesome jets, but still had a dream of flying more incredible, cool flying machines. A restlessness set in, enticing me to do something crazy like chase a rainbow and find a pot of gold! That rainbow led us to Auburn. Meeting, teaching, mentoring future professional pilots. Flying and riding in cool airplanes!

    While waiting for some our wildest dreams to come true, take time to help someone with their dream and your dream will show up before you know it. And that’s what I see here at AAA! The Dream Machine! Eh?

  • 01/29/2020 2:58 PM | Chris Haven (Administrator)

    By President Randy Leys

    About this time two yearss ago Lisa and I were having coffee on our deck in south Texas considering the possibility of moving to California to join our son Jason. Four months later we loaded up our Jeep said, “Good-bye” to family, friends and corporate flying and with some apprehension headed west to “Cali”. After getting settled in, I was ready to check out the local airport. I could not believe how many airplanes and hangers I was seeing. I walked into Sunshine Flyers, to check on an flight instructor job and Diane Hammer hired me right away. Mike Duncan took me under his wing providing me with many opportunities by introducing me to his many aviation friends, getting me involved with Friday Fly Days and AAA. It did not take long to feel at home in Auburn in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills.

    Recently, I had a cool opportunity to meet a nine year old young lady who traveled with her mother and father from Austin, TX to attend Col. Bud Anderson’s 98th birthday party. I had the honor of giving Toni her first flight, gifted by Michael Brown. I presented her first log book that was also signed by Bud Anderson, her hero, as well as others. She told a story that on one of her visits to meet Bud she brought airplane cookies that she had personally baked. The cookies did not travel so well on the flight. She was sad at first, but then had a great idea that the broken cookies would be the airplanes that Bud shot down.

    A huge thank you to our VP Doug McDougall for stepping up to the plate for conducting a great meeting while I was cloud dancing in Arizona last month.

    I could not have imagined that a year and a half later, I was asked to represent Auburn Aviation Association as their president. I am amazed and humbled to be welcomed and accepted by such a wonderful community. It is an honor and a privilege to support a great organization that provides training, leadership, mentoring and scholarships to future aviators!

    One last note, the end of February is the deadline for submitting applications for the AAA scholarship program. So spread the word.


    Randy Leys


  • 12/30/2019 10:48 AM | Chris Haven (Administrator)

    From Immediate Past President Doug Fee

    As our new President, Randy Leys, is in the bullpen warming up, I offered to step in for him with an opening message this month.

    Our December meeting brought a room full of members and guests who showed up to partake of the fun. Aside from the usual great dinner, and a little bit of Association business, we had live Christmas music as Marcia Winborne-Graven played the piano for us.

    The big event for the evening however was the silent auction, that wasn't always quite silent. We had a surprisingly extensive and eclectic array of donated items available for bidding, with all of the proceeds going to our scholarship endowment. Model airplanes, E6-B flight computers, navigation plotters, a guitar, RC models, books, collectable magazines, a bottle of scotch, headsets, a birdhouse--we had tables full. The bidding was robust, competitive and fun. In the end, we all had a good time, and the auction wound up adding over $800 to our endowment. It was a real win-win. There's talk about making it an annual event.

    On a more somber note, I'm sorry to be reporting the sad news to you that our own Tom Camilli has gone west. Most of you will remember Tom as our entertaining speaker from a year or so ago when he presented us his story and slideshow about flying his Sundancer motorglider from Auburn to Florida for the Sun 'N Fun fly-in. Tom was not a loud, flamboyant sort of guy, but had a quiet, upbeat, cheerful humor and intelligence that made him an extremely pleasant and entertaining fellow to be around. Flying seemed to be part of his DNA. Reared on episodes of Sky King, Whirlybirds and WWII flying movies, he soloed on his third birthday (in an orange crate “airplane” constructed by his uncle) and earned his pilot's license before he was old enough to shave.

    As with many aviators, real life and family obligations caused him to set aside his flight bag. But after a 40 year career as an educator, author and workshop presenter, he returned to the cockpit to tackle the challenge of learning motorless flight. He has since been an avid supporter of general aviation. Tom is survived by his wife, fellow glider pilot and AAA member Karin, as well as two adult children.

    He was an integral part of our Association, as well as our airport community, and will be missed. Our condolences go out to his family.

    Blue skies,


  • 11/27/2019 10:32 AM | Chris Haven (Administrator)

    From President Doug Fee

    Aside from another summer season of flying activities coming to a close, for the AAA, a year of change and transition is winding up.  Of course, the big change for us has been the establishment and initial funding of our endowment.  That process has taken a fair amount of work and decision-making, as well as leaps of faith on the part of your Board of Directors.  Our initial funding efforts have been fruitful, and we are almost two-thirds of the way to the point where the endowment will be able to produce a scholarship every year . . . . forever.  Of course, we'd like to continue to build the endowment so that we can increase the opportunities that we will have to assist deserving young folks in our community in achieving their aviation career goals in the future.  And, as we pursue that funding goal, keep in mind that:

                "One person's trash is another one's treasure"

    One of our end-of-the-year activities will be a silent auction to be held at our monthly meeting on December 4th.  We are looking for donations of items to be raffled off to the highest bidder, with all proceeds going into our endowment.  Although the items to be auctioned will probably center around aviation related things, don't limit yourself to that.  Want to clear Uncle Harry's Louisville Slugger baseball bat out of the hall closet?  Someone at our meeting just might want it.  Have a 1951 issue of National Geographic Magazine?  Bring it in, and let someone bid on it.  Do you build wooden birdhouses in your free time?  Or, maybe you have a personally autographed photo of Scholarship Chairman Don Wolfe.  Surely someone will bid on that!  How about that unused David Clark headset that's been collecting dust in the back of your closet for the last five years?  Some new pilot will need it.  A gift certificate from our own Wings Grill?  Or maybe the Owner's Manual to a 1958 Bellanca Cruisemaster?  We will also be auctioning off all of the beautiful selection of aircraft models that were on display at our last month's meeting. 

    This is going to be fun and, again, all of the proceeds from the auction will go directly into our endowment. 

    If you are going to bring something for us to auction, I'd suggest that you plan to arrive a bit on the early side--maybe around 5:30 or so.  That will give us time to get our displays organized and bid sheets set out and marked.  And finally, everyone, bring cash or your checkbook so that you can take home some unexpected treasures. 

    As my year's tenure as your president comes to an end, I want to offer some thank yous.  First of all to all of the directors and committee chairs.  Without their hard work and dedication, the Auburn Aviation Association would not be the success that it is.  To every single one of the members of our organization, thanks for supporting us and giving us the opportunity to do what we do.  And, finally,  thanks to everyone for humoring me and putting up with my shenanigans for the last year.   

    Blue skies,


  • 10/30/2019 8:22 PM | Chris Haven (Administrator)

    From President Doug Fee

    It's that time of year again. The leaves are beginning to turn--and collect on the lawn. Pumpkins and jack o' lanterns are showing up. Children--and grown children--are planning their Halloween costumes as they contemplate their expected haul of candy. AND, it's time for the Auburn Aviation Association to elect our new officers for next year. Our Nominations Committee, headed by Wayne Mooneyham, has been working behind the scenes to come up with a slate of candidates to fill our elected posts. They have done, in my opinion, a great job of finding some newer faces to take some of those jobs. The slate of new officers, as proposed, will include a very good mix of new faces and ideas, with seasoned and experienced people. Here are some of the newer faces: Our nominee for President is Randy Leys. Randy is originally from Saskatchewan, Canada, and learned to fly in southern Texas. He and his wife followed their son here to the Auburn area several years ago. He's instructing at Sunshine Flyers, and is also flying charters part time in a Hawker jet out of McClellan Airport. Randy is a great guy who has a wide range of flying experience. Doug McDougall is our nominee for Vice-President. Interestingly, Doug is also originally from Saskatchewan. (Do you see a trend here?). He is a recently retired veterinarian, who specialized in treating cats and dogs, and is a partner in a Piper Cherokee Six based here in Auburn. He's a bright guy who has a great sense of humor, and should be a real asset to our organization. Of course, one of our Association's challenges this next year will be for the Board of Directors to put the brakes on our Saskatchewan-born-and-bred officers' attempts to build a hockey rink on the ramp by the fuel pumps. These two gentlemen were introduced to the membership at our October meeting. The formal election will be held at our November 6th meeting, so put it on your calendar and be there for the festivities and to help us confirm our new officers. One other item of additional Association news involves our developing an organizational structure to account for and recognize donations to our endowment. I have been very gratified to see the enthusiastic support for the funding of our endowment. But, because it is a new area of activity for us, we need to make sure that we manage it properly. Aside from simply keeping track of our donations, I feel that it is very important to make a point of thanking each donor for their contribution. You'll be hearing more about this as we finalize our plans. Blue skies, Doug Fee      

  • 09/26/2019 7:16 PM | Chris Haven (Administrator)

    From President Doug Fee

    One of the really magic things about this invention that Orville and Wilbur gave us, is the ability to whisk ourselves off to places that would, otherwise, be inconvenient to get to.  A good friend of mine and his wife departed home here in Auburn a few days ago, drove down to Sacramento International, and hopped on an airplane to Minneapolis/St. Paul.  There, they connected to another flight to Amsterdam, followed by one more short flight to their destination.  Some hours after leaving Auburn, he sent me a photo of them lounging and sipping beverages at a sidewalk cafe in Stockholm, Sweden.  One hundred-and-fifty years ago, that trip would have taken them twenty days, not twenty hours.

    But if Sweden is beyond your travel horizons, how about something a bit closer to home?  Maybe the 60th Annual Camel Races in Virginia City, Nevada?  Too long of a drive, you say?  Auburn to Carson City Municipal Airport was only twenty-seven minutes in our RV-6 a couple of weeks ago.  Mountain West Aviation had a rental car awaiting us as promised, and another thirty minutes by road put us in the small, old west mining town of Virginia City.

    While they're called Camel Races, they also had zebra, ostrich, emu and chicken races.  The bottom four rows in the grandstands were marked off as being the "camel spit zone".  However, I'm not certain that there was any actual risk of a close encounter with dromedary saliva.  It's possible that those cautions were made purely for dramatic effect.  However that was a hypothesis that we elected not to test.  We sat up high in the stands and remained, thankfully, spatter-free.  The whole spectacle was rife with all the ambiance that you'd expect of the pig races at the state fair, but with more showmanship.  And of course the aroma of . . . . well . . . . camels.


    It was a high-energy, fun birthday outing for my bride, and gave us a good excuse to go flying.  But, next time, we'll be sure to take along ear plugs. 

    It's magic what these airplanes can do for you. 

    Blue skies,


  • 08/29/2019 7:57 PM | Chris Haven (Administrator)

    From President Doug Fee

    There has been a lot of interest in the endowment, and I've gotten a number of questions about how to go about making a contribution. So, if you are interested in making a donation, I'd like to try to explain how simply this can all work.

    Our endowment is being held and managed for us by the Placer Community Foundation (PCF). A registered charitable organization, they have roots going back to 1948 here in Auburn. They currently manage nearly two dozen charitable funds.

    If you would like to make a donation to help establish "forever funding" for our Bud Anderson scholarship, it can be very simple:

    1. Go to the PCF website. They can accept on-line donations with a credit card or Pay Pal. And, we have a link to the PCF on the home page of our Auburn Aviation Association website.

    2. Or, you can write a check made out to "Placer Community Foundation", and mail it to them at P. O. Box 9207, Auburn, CA 95604. If you send them a check, be sure to put "Auburn Aviation Association" in the memo line, so they know which fund to direct your contribution to.

    3. Or, the PCF can accept cash donations at their office located at 219 Maple Street, Suite 200, Auburn, CA 95603. Their business hours are 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, M-F.

    4. Or, If you'd prefer, you can simply put cash or a check (again, made out to PCF) in my hand or that of Don Wolfe, and I guarantee that we will get it to the right place for you.

    5. Or, consider a Life Membership in AAA. Your Board of Directors is finishing up details on a new Life Membership plan that will help fund our endowment.

    But there are some slightly more complex, yet equally enticing ways you could help out:

    1. Include the AAA Endowment in your estate planning. This is actually simpler than it sounds, and PCF (ph. 530-885-4920) can help guide you through the process. It doesn't even necessarily have to involve changing your will.

    2. Or, between the AAA and the PCF, we are in a position to accept donations of real goods that can be turned into donations to the endowment. Airplane, hangar, car, boat, stamp collection, coin collection? Most of these are things that we can work with. It's a bit more complicated, but it's possible.

    Finally, keep in mind that both the AAA and PCF are registered charitable organizations. So you can take into account all of the tax ramifications that go with that status. Again, it's important to me that none of our members feel obligated to make a contribution. But if you would like to do so, you will be helping the Association fund our scholarship . . . . . forever. Blue skies, Doug  

  • 07/01/2019 5:58 AM | Chris Haven (Administrator)

    From President Doug Fee

    As has been previously reported to you in this space, as well as at our monthly meetings, your Board of Directors has been researching and debating the possibility of establishing a permanent endowment. The purpose of this endowment would be to provide a ongoing source of funding for our scholarships. This has been a nearly six-month discussion that has involved multiple briefings with the Placer Community Foundation, followed by extensive question and answer sessions. Untold numbers of emails have zipped back and forth between various members of our Association, members of the Board, and the PCF representative. Your Board also met with a financial advisor to discuss the issue, and to get his perspective and thoughts on just whether or not this would be a good move for the AAA. I believe that your Board has truly performed it's duty of due diligence. The end result is that, on June 3, your Board met and unanimously voted in favor of establishing an endowment to be held within the umbrella of the the Placer Community Foundation. Personally, I'm very excited about this move. While we may have a few years of work ahead of us to bump up the funding to a level that we want, I believe that, in years to come, we will look back on this move and be very glad that we did it. The beauty of whole idea is that the endowment will be a permanent thing that will fund our scholarships in perpetuity. Long after you and I are long gone, our endowment will still be providing aviation career help to our youth here in Auburn. That is a legacy that, I believe, we can all take great pride in. Meanwhile, where things stand right now, we've put about half as much into the endowment as we'd like to have. Our very energetic and creative Scholarship Director, Don Wolfe, has been brainstorming ways to finish it's funding, and you'll be hearing more about his efforts in months to come. Of course, we're open to your ideas, input and suggestions. More to come on this issue . . . . Our July Meeting This year, the first Wednesday of the month of July happens to fall on the day before our Independence Day holiday, so we decided to shift our meeting for this one month to the second Wednesday of the month. And it will be a somewhat special and unusual meeting in that we are planning to meet jointly with the Auburn chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). So anticipate a full room and a somewhat different meeting format than usual. I'm expecting it to be great fun, so please join us! Blue skies, Doug 

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