No, the airport was not under attack Saturday morning, Feb. 6, but two of the local pilots and seven members of the Pagosa Springs Aviation Venturing Crew were out practicing their pilotage skills with a Spot Landing and Flour “Bomb” competition.
Even though the weather forecast was for a chance of snow, and the outlook of having our neighboring pilots join us for the event was grim, the Pagosa Springs Aviation Venturing crew gathered that morning to learn first hand the physics of gravity and momentum in the world of aviation.
The competition was based on the same format and rules set up by the National Intercollegiate Flying Associations which is a professional organization that provides a forum of competition and learning for aviation education at the college level.
Each of the crew members took their turn flying with local pilots Bob Goubitz, AvJet general manager, and Anne Kautzky, local flight instructor, and the Venturing Crew advisor. The crew member and their pilot flew three circuits around the airport. The first two runs were to give the crew member an attempt to drop a 10-ounce sack of flour from an altitude of 200 feet and have it land as close to the target as possible. On the third run, the pilot would attempt to land the aircraft as close to a specific spot on the runway.
The crew found out very quickly that the “flour drop” was not as easy as they first thought. Kautzky explained, “This is a team effort. First the pilot needs to be dead center so the drop does not land outside the target zone. If the drop landed in the snow it was not counted, mainly because we couldn’t find it. Next, the flour sack does not fall straight down from the release point, the momentum of the aircraft carries it and this is what each member had to figure out, how far will that flour sack drift.”
Goubitz explained to the crew members prior to the event the mechanics of landing the aircraft on the designated spot. This takes lots of practice from the pilots to be consistent with airspeed and procedures to consistently land on the target. Just because you pull the power back does not mean you will touch down right away. The aircraft will float and that distance will be determined by the amount of excess airspeed you have.
The snow held off long enough so all participants could get a chance at the events.
Preston Dale, president of the Pagosa Springs Aviation Venturing Crew, commented, “This was a blast, we need to do this again in the Spring when the weather is warmer and the snow is gone.”
Wes Royston remarked “The 200 feet is a lot higher than I thought. This was a lot of fun; when are we doing this again?”
Awards were presented by Elmer Schettler and Dale.
Schettler commented, “I have never seen so many flour bombs land so close to the target and in such a small cluster as what these crew members did today. Technology has nothing on the skill level of these young men.”
The winner of the Flour Drop Event was Tyler Moore, with a score of 15 feet.
The winner of the Spot Landing Event was Anne Kautzky with a score of three feet.
A special thanks goes to The Springs Resort and Spa and the Buffalo Inn for their generous donations of prizes Also a thank you goes out to the Stevens Field Auxiliary group for providing food and drinks after the competition.
The Venturing Crew is planning a similar event in late spring or early summer when the weather is warmer and the snow is gone.