Snow & Bonanza

The International Aviation Snow Symposium, presented by the Northeast Chapter, AAAE, is one of those wonderful trade groups that have engaged me to speak not once or twice, but three different times over the years.

This is the meeting for the wonderful people who keep snow off airports, and they do a great job. I have never lived farther north than Tennessee, and I am convinced that the best way to avoid snow is to park your airplane under a palm tree, so I was sore afraid when they first invited me to speak, back in 1991. What if they expected me to know about snow removal?

They turned out to be an excellent audience and we had a good time. They brought me back in 1997 and again, this year for the 47th annual symposium. I reminded them that it had been 16 years since the last time I spoke for them, then said that if they waited another 16 years to invite me back I’d be 88 years old and probably wouldn’t make it.

This group does a tough job well. They take pride in their work, and morale is high. That’s refreshing in a world that often seems to be waging war ‘twixt management and worker bees. One of my students was there from the aviation management class I taught for Southern Illinois,Carbondale, in the 1980s. It’s rewarding to find one of them employed in an important aviation position.

The group always meets in late April—after snowfall trails off for the year—in, appropriately, Buffalo,NY. The program includes sessions on snow removal and winter ops. It’s surprising how much info there is to cover.

I also recently spoke for the third time for the American Bonanza Society (ABS), a group of owners and pilots of Bonanza, Baron, and Travel Air aircraft who share information and experiences. They, too, are always a wonderful audience.

Pilot/owner groups are one of the great bargains of aviation. They can save a bundle in maintenance and improve safety. ABS puts out a 100-page newsletter, has a permanent staff and provides info over a history of over 60 years. On top of all that, they enjoy a great time together.

I learned early not to brag at a table of ABS members. They tend to be very serious, knowledgeable and experienced. I spoke for them in 1997—the 50th anniversary of the Bonanza—and at the dinner table the subject of over-water flights arose. I was just about to enlighten them with the story of my flight with a friend from New Orleans to the Yucatan. My mouth was already open. But the guy next to me, pointing to another fellow at the table, said. “That guy flew his Bonanza around the world—twice!”

I shut my mouth. Quickly.

The Snow Symposium and the Bonanza Society: Great folks, great contributors to aviation and great audiences. They both gave me standing ovations and that ranks them high in my book. I hope neither waits ‘til I’m 88 to invite me back.