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  • 08/27/2020 4:14 PM | Chris Haven - Bronze Life Member (Administrator)

    From President Randy Leys

    Was I the only one or did anyone else learn how to spell while enjoying a nice hot bowl of Alphabet soup? Mine usually ended up cold because of trying to find letters to spell words like airplane, jet, wing, aileron, stick and rudder. And oh ya, did I mention "FLY??" I would dream a little and then my imagination would quickly take over and off I would go, cloud dancing!

    My favorite airship of choice was the Massey Harris 21 combine that was retired to the back 40. Oh, those controls! They took me to the moon and back in the blink of an eye. As you can see I was well prepared to defend myself against any unfriendly's.

    The ole Massey 21 was eventually replaced by a brand new shiny Massey Ferguson 410 with a glass enclosed cockpit. But she was limited to a 4 mile radius of the farm yard and her job was to bring in the harvest. The Starship Massey Harris had no limits, Pluto, Venus, Jupiter or Mars, or even a pass to see how close I could get to the sun.

    But today I am older, some people call me a man, I say the day after tomorrow, I think you'll understand. Now my FLYing is a little more down to earth.

    Cruising 500mph at 41,000 feet delivering a liver to Scottsdale, AZ in a Hawker 900XP; 330 mph at 31,000 feet in a King Air 300; picking up passengers from Redmond, OR to Livermore, CA.; 265 mph to Little River in a King Air C90 to enjoy a sunset on the Pacific coast with our VP Doug McDougal; or at 100 mph in Chris Bennett?s Zenith 750 for overnight at Dead Cow Lakebed for some R-N-R.

    All thanks to my first grade teacher telling me "Randy, you're not going to get anywhere staring out of a window."

    Let your imagination run wild, shoot for the stars! You may end up piloting a Boeing 777 named Venus, an Air Bus 380 called Mars, or how about a Gulf Stream named Jupiter? Sorry, Neptune, it's taken - painted on the side of the Starship Massey Harris.

    I leave you with this thought to ponder: There are no regrets in the future. Life does have a rear view mirror. It has a switch on it. One switch where you see everything. The other switch you see the blessings. I know it's easier said than done, but well worth trying!!

    That's my story, eh! I'm sticking to it.

    Randy Leys

    PS Thx mucho, JR

  • 07/30/2020 11:52 AM | Chris Haven - Bronze Life Member (Administrator)

    From VP Doug McDougall

    Our ancient ancestors lived in small groups; we’re told their odds of survival increased if there were others nearby to help with the tasks of daily life. At night we imagine them around the fire, telling the tales of their culture and feeling safe, surrounded by their family and friends. In the modern world, almost all of us have communities in our life that mimic those of our distant forebears: family, church, work, leisure activities, and many other groups all contribute to meet important needs in our lives. Recently, a family in our aviation community suffered the tragic and unexpected loss of their youngest son, Jason. We, as their friends and fellow aviation community members, extend our deepest and most sincere sympathies to Lisa and AAA President Randy Leys, and their family--Casey and Taylor and Caitlin. Words can scarcely express the sorrow we feel, and I know that all of us want to be there to support them in any way we can through this unimaginably difficult time. On another front, Auburn Airport members raised money and purchased the additional outdoor seating tent for Wings Café. Hats off to the generous donors who organized and contributed to this successful community effort. Next month’s AAA meeting on August 5 would normally be our annual barbeque. Your board of directors is considering our options using county guidelines. We’ll let everyone know the plan via e-mail within the next few days. Looking forward to better days and clear skies!

    VP Doug McDougall

  • 06/24/2020 11:55 AM | Chris Haven - Bronze Life Member (Administrator)

    From President Randy Leys

    Hang in there…..

    What a ride these last four months have been and the effect it is having on aviation. For those aviators in training, their dreams may have dimmed a little. I am impressed that we were able to implement precautions and to safely continue training keeping hopes and dreams alive.

    I am very optimistic from a Corporate/Charter standpoint. In the past three weeks, I have flown over  ten flights. The Auburn flight schools are very active. Net Jets and Flex Jet are getting busier. I recently talked with a long time friend and mentor of mine based in Orlando, FL. He is seeing a lot of activity in corporate aircraft purchases and upgrades. There may be a shift for the near future to fly corporate and charter travel reducing larger group exposure. I would expect that may even trickle down to high performance single engine aircraft. So hey newbies, keep your chin up and continue your training. Even if you hold a single engine commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating, get that resume together and show it to a mentor for review and pointers to successfully represent your qualities. Get it out there in the hands of operators. Many turbo props and some jets are single pilot rated and you may be just what they are looking for. They may even finance future upgrades.

    I was talking to Kelly recently and he reminisced that about four months ago, he had a class date for training with an airline then received some disappointing news. Just the other day, he received an email stating that he still was on the list. The airlines might be down, but not out. We have been hearing that Southwest Airlines are back to running a full schedule. Other airlines are not planning future layoffs and expecting better days ahead.

    Those of us that have been in this business of aviation for a while, have seen and experienced its ups and downs. But patience and persistence have paid off over time.  And if you love what you do you will never work another day in your life.

    I look forward to seeing everyone on our “Zoom” meeting Wednesday, July 1st. We have another great guest speaker presenting. Most of all I look forward to real face time in the near future. I am hoping that in August, AAA will get together for BBQ at an outside venue!

    CAUTION: You may have just been infected by some OPTIMISM! Spread it around!

    That’s my story Eh, and I’m sticking to it!


  • 06/11/2020 9:54 AM | Chris Haven - Bronze Life Member (Administrator)

    From President Randy Leys

    It was two years ago the end of May that I started instructing at the Auburn Airport. I could not have predicted this incredible experience and meeting such great people over the past two years! The most fun has been to see pilots in the making and receiving their certificates and ratings.

    Full Circle My first summer here, I helped Diane Hammer, Ben Foss, and their volunteers with Friday Flydays. It was at those events that I got to meet Auburn’s finest and saw what made this such a great airport. I met Christian Watt, one of the Friday Flydays crew. I sat down with Christian to find out a little about his journey. He told me that about four years ago he had taken an intro flight, but at that time he was just starting to attend college with his focus set on a degree in mechanical engineering.About three years ago, a young private pilot named Camile Tricomo invited Christian on a flight. He got the bug. He knew then that he wanted to become a pilot and direct his engineering studies towards aerospace. After attending a AAA Interview Training course and eceiving a letter of recommendation from Don Wolfe, he got an internship with Icon Aircraft at Vacaville Airport. In the meantime, Camile was advancing her ratings and Christian was advancing his credits. Six months ago,Camile earned her flight instructor certificate and Christian went on to be her first start-to-finish student pilot. Just last week, Christian received his private pilot certificate and a few days later he graduated with a masters in mechanical engineering/aerospace. He will be moving to Maryland to work for Lockheed Martin as a power plant flight test engineer.Both Camile and Christian have been recipients of AAA scholarships. Camile in turn has served on the scholarshipinterview team. (Full Circle) Tierra Bickford took Camille under her “wing” to pursue aviation and was mentored by Shawn Bickford, Don Wolfe and many other AAA members.

    Where are they now?  Renata Mackenroth was one of my first private pilot students here at Auburn. I am proud to say that she was my first start-to-finish to receive her private pilot certificate at the age of 17. She took flying very seriouslyand that translated into becoming a skilled aviator. She then followed with getting tail wheel and high-performance endorsements. Renata is also a AAA scholarship recipient and has been on the interview team for scholarship applicants.Renata is now a freshman attending Utah State studying aviation technology. She is currently competing on the Utah State intercollegiate flying team in Colorado in a Garmin 1000-equipped Diamond DA-40. While aspiring to fly competition aerobatics, she plans to continue adding certificates and ratings. Renate also enjoys raising and showing dairy goats and competing with her thoroughbred mare.

    Getting started!A few weeks ago, a young man named Andrew Chubatenko came to check on flight schools. I did not know at the time that he had received a scholarship from Local EAA 526. Instead of my interviewing Andrew, he essentially interviewed me by asking great questions about flight training, type of flight school, our training program, average hours to solo, length of time to achieve a private license, etc. Last week Andrew signed up and will start his training with Peter Hastert. You can read more about Andrew Chubatenkoin last month’s AAA news. I’m proud to have been a part in Peter’s instrument and commercial training. There is more about his recent achievements in the following pages.It’s very exciting to see AAA and EAA partnership in providing aviation training, mentoring and scholarships to Auburn’s aviation dreamers. You all are a big part in this through your membership, donations and time investment.This letter has highlighted scholarship achievements and successes. There are many more hard-working students, pilots and instructors achieving and having success stories of their own. I look forward to hearing their stories.In the meantime, please join us for our exciting monthly (Zoom) meeting Wednesday June 3rd@ 6:00pm. Hopefully soon we will be able to meet again at the Barnstormer for our great potluck dinners!That’s my story Eh! And I’m sticking to it.

    Randy Leys, President

  • 05/06/2020 5:31 AM | Chris Haven - Bronze Life Member (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 

  • 03/26/2020 3:51 PM | Chris Haven - Bronze Life Member (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 - Bronze Life Member (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 - Bronze Life Member (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 - Bronze Life Member (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 - Bronze Life Member (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,


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