Bush Pilot

Ninety-Nines to hold clinic for off-airport landings in Alaska

Sportsmen readying their aircraft for upcoming hunting season trips to off-airport locations might want to participate in a short field assessment being offered in Palmer in early August.

The Alaska Chapter of the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots is offering the clinic-type flying event at the Palmer Airport (PAQ) on Saturday, August 6 .

"It's important that pilots know their aircraft and its capabilities, and to stay current," said Gloria Tomich, with the Alaska Ninety-Nines. "This is not Valdez. The intent of this is for pilots to load their aircraft just like they would for their hunting trips and know how the aircraft responds with more weight. "

The assessment will offer a seminar by Rex Grey on off-airport operations at 11:20 a.m., followed by a lunch break and a mandatory safety briefing at 1 p.m., with flying starting promptly at 1:30 p.m. on the gravel strip. The assessment is part of a day of safety seminars and flying events held at the Palmer Air Fair & Rendezvous at the Palmer Municipal Airport (PAAQ)

"Flying starts at 1:30 from the white line on the gravel strip. We will have 99s volunteers every 100 feet, to mark where the wheels lift off and touch down so we can figure each aircraft's distance," said Tomich, past Chairwoman for the Alaska Ninety Nines. "We have contacted the airport and will be using a right-hand pattern to shorten the circuit flight times in the pattern."

Attention to matching aircraft types and speeds while planes are in the pattern will add an additional safety measure, according to Tomich. Past clinics have attracted from 10 to 15 aircraft. The event will use the gravel strip that is parallel to the main runway, recently marked by the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Division with white paint every 100 feet on the 1,560-foot landing area.

"We can only handle no more than 15 due to the two hour period we have set aside," said Tomich.


The Ninety-Nines started short-field clinics back in the early 1990s.

"The 99s clinic started when a bunch of women pilots were sitting around in a bar in Tok listening to flying stories by bush pilot Lud Larson, and one of the group decided to get some planes together and offer a short field assessment clinic," Tomich added. "This is according to notes from Judy Eckersley, in 1990."

Clinics were moved from the Willow airport to Palmer in 2008 when the first Palmer Air Fair & Rendezvous was held.

Aircraft performance cards from the FAA Safety Team will be offered so that pilots can record their performance, speeds and distances for future use.

On-location sign-ups will start at 10 a.m. at a table near the Palmer Flight Service Station.

For more information, call 907-279-1560.

Contact Rob Stapleton at robstapleton(at)alaska.net.