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San Diego Hosts 2010 NWOC

By Bill Fischer

More than 250 warbird owners, operators, mechanics, suppliers, and enthusiasts headed to the West Coast February 18-21 to participate in the 16th National Warbird Operator Conference or NWOC. The San Diego Marriott La Jolla hotel was the perfect setting for this year’s conference. The facilities and staff exceeded expectations, with spacious rooms, excellent meeting facilities, and friendly, helpful staff.

The conference kicked off with registration Thursday afternoon and a special optional tour of the San Diego Air and Space Museum. The group was welcomed by docent Mark Carlson and his guide dog, Musket—a yellow Labrador retriever. Legally blind for a number of years, Mark has successfully committed the museum’s artifacts to memory. Look for a separate feature article about Mark and Musket in Warbirdsmagazine.

Thursday evening, Specialty Aviation Underwriters sponsored the NWOC welcome reception. The gathering allowed attendees to reconnect after the long winter break from air shows (at least in the northern climates). For some, it was their first time attending NWOC, and the welcome reception provided a great opportunity to get acquainted.

On Friday morning the educational sessions began. Congressman Sam Graves (R- Missouri) gave the welcoming remarks with an outline of the important issues affecting general aviation these days. He encouraged attendees to work with their local representatives in Congress and the Senate to support our privileges of flight, especially in our warbird aircraft.

The next session was the aeromedical session with Dr. Michael Schloss covering cardiovascular issues. Dr. Warren Silberman covered aeromedical certification, with a discussion of medications that may influence the ability of a pilot to maintain his or her FAA medical certificate. Dr. Melchor Antunano discussed safety and survivability issues in general aviation, and Dr. Bill Busch reviewed human factors in aviation. The aeromedical session, as always, was packed with important information for pilots to review. The important take-away from this year’s aeromedical session was for us, as warbird pilots, to keep our minds and bodies in top condition—to “Keep Us Flying.”

In the FAA session, EAA’s Earl Lawrence discussed the current state of the experimental-exhibition (EE) category. Many of the NWOC attendees fly aircraft certificated in the EE category. Along with Lawrence, Bill Fischer, executive director of EAA Warbirds of America, and Ray Stinchcomb, the FAA’s national resource for vintage and experimental aircraft, participated in the session. The three covered operational issues in the field, the background of FAA Order 8130.2, and advocacy efforts by EAA, Warbirds of America, and other warbird groups. The overall goal of the industry is to reduce the complexity and restrictions for aircraft operating in the EE category, while maintaining the highest level of safety.

Later in the session, Lawrence discussed the topic of aviation fuels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is mandating that all lead be removed from aviation fuel by the year 2017. This will have a significant impact on all general aviation aircraft—not just warbirds. Lawrence pointed out several companies are working diligently to develop alternate fuels for the general aviation fleet. Rather than focus on the various companies working on alternate fuels, Lawrence outlined the process for bringing new fuels to the market. This was a lively topic, with lots of good interaction and discussion among NWOC attendees.

The next item on the agenda was Darrell Gary and CDR. Paul Olin presented the special Friday lunch program entitled Top Gun—Building Fighter Pilots for 40 Years. Gary and Olin captivated the audience by sharing their direct experiences with Top Gun.

The Friday afternoon session focused on safety. Doug Rozendaal and Rogers Smith presented Creating a Safety Culture: The Issues & Solutions. Returning to NWOC 2010 was Allen Silver, presenting Emergency Bailout Procedures & Survival Equipment. Both sessions were well-attended and gave attendees an opportunity to reflect on safety—both from an equipment perspective and a mental perspective. The bottom line is to be prepared and be mentally focused.

To close out the afternoon, NWOC attendees broke up into small groups for the aircraft-specific breakout sessions. The groups included T-6s, T-28s, T-34s, jets, bombers/transports, liaison/primary trainers, Yak/CJs, and fighters. In the breakout sessions, all things related to the particular aircraft are covered in detail.

Saturday morning began with the engine session, featuring Mike Nixon from Vintage V-12s, Warren Varney from Precision Engines, Sam Thompson from Tulsa Aircraft Engines, Jack Roush and Paul Draper from Roush Aviation, Bud Wheeler from Allison Competition Engines, and David Hamilton from Covington Aircraft Engines. The panel gave brief overviews of their operations and areas of expertise. These panel members also shared additional information about their products and services in the aircraft-specific breakout sessions.

Next up on the schedule was Steve Hinton and his son Steve, presenting Reno Gold —Winning the Unlimited Class. Their presentation was a unique blend of roaring video, vintage photos of the elder Hinton’s air racing career, and photos from Steve’s 2009 Reno Unlimited Class victory. Both father and son gave NWOC attendees a fascinating insight into the world of air racing. The younger Hinton’s win at Reno was, without a doubt, the top story coming out of the air racing community in 2009.

The legal session was next on the agenda, with Patrick Bailey and Steven Hofer presenting Legal Issues Related to Private Aircraft Ownership. Their presentation offered case studies and examples of some of the most important legal considerations for aircraft owners/operators.

Following the legal session, the insurance panel took to the stage with moderator Bob Cannon, along with Angie Harris, Don Barker, Robert Haire, Michelle Patterson, and Ted Thomas covering the types of aviation insurance coverage available, the current aviation insurance business climate, claims, and risk management. The panel also outlined the EAA Warbirds of America and U.S. Specialty Insurance Company aircraft insurance program.

During the Saturday lunch break, Capt. Rich Dann from the U.S. Navy presented an overview of 100 Years of Naval Aviation. Dann shared dozens of rare, vintage photos from the earliest days of naval aviation. He also outlined the proposed schedule of activities for the U.S. Navy’s 2011 celebration. Air show enthusiasts can look forward to a big Navy presence next year.

Visit http://Centennial.AHF.NMCI.Navy.mil/default.asp for more information.

The next speaker was Mark Clark of Courtesy Aircraft Sales. Mark presented The 3 P’s of Buying & Selling a Warbird. He covered details such as process, paperwork, and pitfalls—all of which require great attention to detail to ensure you get the best possible transaction—buying or selling.
The featured tour of NWOC 2010 was a trip to the aircraft carrier USS Midway, a floating museum, docked in San Diego. The NWOC group toured the flight deck, where 25 aircraft were on display, representing all phases of carrier operations. Above the flight deck they toured the bridge, primary flight control center, admiral’s and captain’s quarters. On the hangar deck, World War II aircraft such as the SNJ, TBM, and SBD were proudly on display. Going further down into the center of the Midway, areas such as the mess, sick bay, laundry, and shops were toured. Docents and guides provided excellent services while the group was onboard. If you’ve never been on an aircraft carrier, the USS Midway Museum tour is highly recommended. For more information, visit www.Midway.org.

Saturday evening was reserved for a special reception and dinner, sponsored by Cannon Aviation Insurance. During the event, Walt Fricke from the Veterans Airlift Command presented Warbird Drivers & Wounded Warriors…A History of VAC. Fricke outlined the origin, goals, and objectives of a special program that matches up pilots and aircraft with wounded veterans who require personal transportation. The Veterans Airlift Command is a godsend for many veterans who would otherwise be unable to travel by alternate means. For more information visit, www.VeteransAirlift.org.

The 2010 National Warbird Operator Conference concluded Sunday morning with a recap of the aircraft breakout sessions and reports from the various warbird associations including EAA Warbirds of America, the Commemorative Air Force, Classic Jet Aircraft Association, T-34 Association, RedStar Pilots Association, and North American Trainer Association.

The 2010 NWOC sponsors include:
Presenting Sponsor – Cannon Aviation Insurance
Elite Sponsors – U.S. Specialty Insurance Company and Specialty Aviation Underwriters Inc.
Choice Sponsors – Courtesy7 Aircraft Sales, Precision Engines, Air Capital Insurance Inc., Trudeau Warbird Enterprises, Heritage Aero
Support Sponsors – EAA Warbirds of America, Tulsa Aircraft Engines, Rezich & Rezich Aviation Consulting Inc., Commemorative Air Force, and Trojan Phlyers
Conference Sponsors – Covington Engines, North American Trainer Association, and Warbird Depot

Special thanks to the NWOC “planning crew”—Bob Cannon, Mark Clark, Wendee DeBusk, Bill Fischer, Rick Siegfried, and Eric Van Hoff.
Stay tuned for details on next year’s NWOC at www.WarbirdConference.com.  

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