Senator Herb Kohl in support of the EAA and Youth Education

Did you know that pilots donating 100% FREE RIDES  to children in the EAA Young Eagles program cannot accept any donations for flight expenses?  If a non-pilot wants to help pay for fuel so a few extra children could have a flight experience, the Pilot cannot accept any money for Fuel or any other expenses of the flight.  This puts an unnecessary limitation on the number of people who are able to experience General Aviation!

Why can’t the pilot accept a “Fuel” donation?  Because it would be considered reimbursement that is contrary to operations by private pilot, recreational, or sport pilot certificate holders, or the operation of experimental aircraft and accepting the donation would be in violation of Federal Law.

§ 61.113   Private pilot privileges and limitations: Pilot in command.

(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) through (h) of this section, no person who holds a private pilot certificate may act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying passengers or property for compensation or hire; nor may that person, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of an aircraft.

It’s time to change the Regulations!  Write your senators and congressmen and ask them to support the petition to the FAA.  We need all the support we can for this important exception to the regulation.


Response from Senator Herb Kohl:  Thank you for actually reading my request Senator Kohl!

Dear Mr. Lettow:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about your support for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles and Eagle Flight program. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome this opportunity to respond.

As you may know, the Experimental Aircraft Association has petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to provide free fuel for volunteer pilots who fly with young people.  The FAA currently prohibits volunteer pilots from accepting any compensation, including free fuel.

The Young Eagles and Eagle Flight programs are excellent programs that are crucial to educating the next generation of our nation’s aviators.  Headquartered in Oshkosh, the Young Eagles program has helped young people throughout our state develop an interest in flying.  I support any efforts to ensure the Young Eagles and Eagle Flight programs continue their success.

I appreciate you weighing in on the issue, and will keep your thoughts in mind should Congress consider any changes to the FAA regulations regarding fuel donation exemptions. Please do not hesitate to contact me again about other matters important to you and your organization.


Herb Kohl
United States Senator


Response from Senator Ron Johnson:  This completely generic response was disappointing.  It would appear Senator Johnson is not very interested in aviation or education related programs and does not actually read his constituents requests.

Dear Mr. Lettow,

Thank you for taking the time to contact me and share your thoughts. It is important for me to hear the views and concerns of the citizens of Wisconsin and for you to know where I stand on issues. Since taking office, I have received over 400,000 pieces of correspondence and have had over 200,000 participants in live forums and telephone town hall meetings. 

Unfortunately, the federal government has expanded far beyond its enumerated powers. The size, scope, and cost are threatening America’s future prosperity. The main reason I ran for office is because we are bankrupting America and mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren. This continues to be my primary focus and should be the number one issue on everyone’s agenda in Washington. 

Because of government’s intrusion into our lives, there are literally thousands of issues that might be debated in the U.S. Senate. It is impossible for me to have a position on all of them. Should your issue or concern come before the Senate, I will review the correspondence I have received and take your views and opinions into consideration. 

Please feel free to contact me in the future with anything that is of concern to you or your family. You can also visit my website at if you would like information on legislation that I am sponsoring, press releases, and my stance on other issues that are important to you. It is an honor serving you and the good people of Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate. 


Ron Johnson
United States Senator

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Windows 7 64bit – Sloooowww downloads from any browser

This post is off topic but it was driving me nuts for a few days and I feel compelled to share the answer.  If anyone is having problems with Windows 7 and horrifically slow download speeds, try the following command from an elevated privileged command prompt.

netsh int tcp set global autotuning=disabled

Performance immediately improved in all online applications!

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First High Performance/Complex Flight – Piper Cherokee Six

After nearly 3 years of flying Cessna 172’s and 152’s, the opportunity to fly a different airplane finally came along on April 30th 2012. The aircraft was a 1969 Piper Cherokee Six.

How did I get so lucky?  The opportunity took almost 4 months to arrange.  There is rarely a week that goes by where I do not talk with someone from work about flying. One of my favorite people to go “Hanger Flying” with is one of the salesmen, Jerry.  He is a familiar face in the store and knows almost all of our regular customers.  After talking about it for a few weeks, we I finally matched up our schedules and met at the airport for a flight.  I like to think I help encourage his interest in airplanes but it is obvious he has always had the bug.

Another random morning a few weeks later, Jerry handed me a post-it note with a phone number and a N-Number written on it.  The look of total confusion followed by intrigue on my face must have been apparent.  Jerry began telling the story of one of his long-time customers Jim.  Jim was a partner in a Flying Club that owned a Piper Cherokee Six at our local airport in West Bend Wisconsin.  Jerry had flown with him in the past and shared his flight experiences with me.  Jim was attempting to sell his Partnership in the club and I was willing to look at the airplane and fly it if possible.

After almost 4 months of phone tag, rescheduling and weather related delays Jerry, Jim and I finally had the opportunity to meet up for a flight in the Cherokee.  On a Sunday in late April, we took off from West Bend headed for Baraboo/Wisconsin Dells. One of the most important questions you have to answer when you are NOT the Pilot-in-Command of the aircraft is; Do I want the front seat on the way there or on the way back.  A quick check of the wind direction and I knew I wanted to sit in front for the return leg.  The strong headwind would be me more time in the right seat and an opportunity to watch Jim act as PIC during the flight out.

I watched closely as Jim did this pre-flight checklist.  This was my first real opportunity to watch another pilot in action.  Obviously I spent my share of time with flight instructors but this was different. It was an opportunity to watch another experienced pilot do their thing.  Even for this short flight he was well organized and never rushed a step.  After the engine run-up and pre-flight inspection was complete we taxied to runway 13 and lined up for takeoff.  With the brakes on we went to full power and released the brakes. The most noticeable difference between the Cherokee Six and a typical training airplane is the horsepower.  Of course it will have more “umpff” but you really only feel it while accelerating down the runway.  Once airborne, I was delighted to see how similar the flight experience was to the trusty C172 I had flown many times before today.

On the flight out I split my time between the scenery I had never noticed while flying the route as PIC and the avionics in the cockpit.  The flight was a mere 32 minutes and we were at our destination.  I knew from previous flight experience that the airport was difficult to spot from the air when arriving from the east and provided any assistance I could in helping Jim locate the airport and other traffic near the airport.

I watched closely as we entered the traffic pattern and setup for final approach.  It appeared to be high and fast but who was I to judge, I was not the Pilot and I had never flown in this aircraft before.  My suspicions were confirmed when the first bounce off the runway occurred until we finally slowed and settled onto the runway.  It was encouraging to see another pilot make a less-than-perfect landing even with much more experience than I had.  The landing served as a reminder of my flight lessons when Glenn, my Flight Instructor said “Every single landing is different. Don’t be discouraged by the less-than-perfect landings, learn from them”.

As we ate lunch I could not wait to get back to the airport for my shot at the front seat of the Cherokee Six.  Jim walked through an abbreviated pre-flight check with me before we prepared to leave Baraboo and it prompted an interesting question.  Do you return the fuel samples to the tank or dump them?  I had always dumped them on the premise that any unseen contaminates or particles from the fuel test would not be returned to the tank.  Jim’s was in the school of returning the fuel to the tank if there were no problems.  The jury is still out on the correct answer for me.

Do you return fuel samples to the tanks?

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As we lined up on the runway for the return leg of the flight, Jim gave me the airplane but followed along closely during the takeoff.  After we were about 100 feet off the ground I saw Jim relax on the controls and I knew it was really me at the controls.  This was a great moment!  I was flying an airplane that I had not been in before and I still felt like I knew what was going on.

I continued the climb and turned on a heading for home.  We were climbing at about 600 feet-per-minute and I wanted to do my best to climb to altitude and level out without overshooting.  About 200 feet before my chosen altitude I started to reduce the climb rate and we leveled out within 50 feet of my target.  Success! (it’s the little things in life).  For the remainder of the flight I concentrated on heading and altitude hold in light to moderate turbulence.  I managed to successfully hold heading within 10 degrees and altitude within 100 feet.  I’m sure the professional pilots will laugh but I was proud of the small success.

The flight home was approximately 45 minutes with the headwind and I was happy to make the position reporting radio calls as we approached West Bend.  As much as I would have liked to take it all the way to the runway, Jim needed to land this time because I was not trained or insured on this particular airplane.  His approach and landing at West Bend Airport were flawless and I was impressed with the limited runway he used to land.

This flight experience was defiantly one for the log book.  None of the flight time was actually logable but I use my log book to record all my flight related activities and this is one to remember.  Before today I often looked at the other airplanes at the airport as something I would likely never fly but now I can’t wait to start my Complex/High Performance endorsement.  The increased capabilities of these larger aircraft as compared to training aircraft make flying distances with family and friends possible even with their luggage.  The Cherokee Six may be known as the station wagon of the sky but I wouldn’t feel any less manly behind the controls of this airplane.

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Why Wautoma?

Why would anyone fly to Wautoma municipal Airport (Y50) ?  As any great philosopher might say, Why Not?  Recently the AOPA proposed a challenge to its members to log 5 hours visiting 5 different airports over 50NM  apart.  In addition to this challenge, Rose Dorcey recently shared her story with my local EAA Chapter of visiting 60 airports in 60 different counties within the state of Wisconsin.  Her story was inspiring and I knew I needed to set my own goal.

With the AOPA challenge in mind, I decided to visit 5 airports I have never landed at, in the next 3 months, and take a non-pilot with me on every trip.  It will not be hard to find 5 airports I have not landed at as I am still under 100 total hours.  The difficulty actually lies in finding non-pilots who are available and willing to fly with me when the weather is good.  Maybe they are nervous of my limited experience?  Safety is always my number one priority and I do not take unnecessary risks.  None-the-less it is difficult to convince someone who has never been in a small airplane to fly with me.  Fortunately for me, my wife Kim is comfortable with my skills as a pilot and is not afraid to fly!

The weather cooperated with us for the trip.  The ceiling over West Bend was scattered clouds at 1200 feet so we would need to climb between the clouds  to relieve ourselves from the turbulence.  After reaching 4500 feet, the air smoothed out and within 20 minutes we were in clear skies.

Wautoma airport was visible from over 15 nautical miles arriving from the southeast and the wind was variable at 6 knots.  My final approach was high and I used the full 40 degrees of flaps in our Cessna 172N to get down a little faster than I should have.  A last second gust of wind along with the extra airspeed caused us to bounce and float but I managed to finish the landing smoothly using a little extra power.

Wautoma Municipal Airport (Y50)

We stopped in to use the restrooms and chat with the gentleman running the airport.  It always amazes me how receptive and supportive everyone is to new pilots at these small local airports.  After a few minutes we walked around outside for a photo opportunity and sat under a tree to enjoy refreshments.

The flight home was bumpy but fairly uneventful.  As we approached the north side of the Horicon Marsh the clear skies became scattered with a ceiling of 3300 feet.  We descended under the clouds and tolerated a few bumps for the last 20 minutes of our trip home.  The landing at West Bend proved routine and we were both pleased with the successful flight.

One airport down, four more to go…….  Stay tuned

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FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt arrested for DUI

What a stupid thing to do!  Wait, Maybe this is  just the publicity he needs to run for president.  Babbitt 2012?


UPDATE: 5-10-2012

The charges were dismissed because the Police Officer did not have just cause to pull him over.  This is BS!  Anyone who was not connected to the Washington DC insiders would have had the book thrown at them.  He was still driving under the influence no matter how you look at it and that was wrong.

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