Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

By Randle Corfman
President Minnesota Pilots Association 

In person gatherings?


October 1, 2020

Let’s face it, “the times…they are a’changing”. The Minnesota Pilots Association has seriously questioned the wisdom of continuing “in person” gatherings in this time of heightened awareness of transmission of infectious disease. We have seen the success of excellent webinars put on by the FAA and AOPA, in which top notch speakers share their wisdom as it pertains to aviation. The ability to sit down and watch these in the comfort of our own homes or offices certainly has some appeal, eliminating the need to travel to and from a meeting place. Given the instructions from government officials to avoid large gatherings or risk substantial fines, organizers have been placed into a precarious position, making it even more difficult to consider holding a gathering of any significant size. Are large meetings out?

Last month I had the privilege of flying my super cub up to the Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association Safety Seminar, landing at East Gull Lake airstrip and hitching a ride from Brian Thuringer to the Seminar. I had patients to attend to in the morning, so I arrived after the morning sessions had ended. Brian, and now his son Ben, have lead Madden’s Resort for many years, making it the premier destination for vacationers from across the nation. They have also been staunch supporters of the Minnesota Pilots Association and the Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association. Several years ago the Safety Seminar moved to their beautiful resort, and for good reason. East Gull Lake makes a great venue for landing seaplanes and the nearness of the meticulously maintained East Gull Lake (9Y2) grass runway produces an ideal place to hold the Seminar.

This was the first time the Seminar was held in the Fall and this fact, coupled with the China Virus mandate, made me wonder how well attended the meeting might be. As I overflew Madden’s I was delighted to count 25 seaplanes lined up along the shore of the lake, and my aircraft made airplane number 16 at 9Y2. Brian told me that attendance was excellent, and it was! I counted 70 people in the audience for the panel discussion at lunch, all staying for the afternoon sessions. There were a lot of happy pilots there, to be sure, and I think this was due not only to the excellent program that had been put together, but also due to the pleasure of finally getting out to mingle with our fellow aviators. Sure, social distancing rules were in place and complied with…there were many “elbow bumps” exchanged between attendees…but there was a warmness and joy that could not be mistaken.

I must admit that I was curious as to how well received the Seminar might be, but the beautiful weather and Fall colors on that Saturday, coupled with the thirst that our fellow aviators had for renewing friendships in person, made for a glorious day.

Kudos for the leadership of the MN Seaplane Pilots Association for putting on an excellent event! This reassures us to press on!


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