Experiencing your first fly-in as a private pilot

While everyone else currently considers me a student pilot I don't let it stop me from going to some of the greatest aviation events out there. After all, I'm still a pilot and there's no better place for a student pilot to learn than at one of the greatest back country STOL fly-ins, the High Sierra.

Landing at the High Sierra Fly-in

Located in the high desert on a dried up lake bed this back country fly-in is unique in so many ways. But learning how to fly in a 200hp Aviat Husky gave me even more of a reason to go. Being able to watch and talk to other pilots who are the pros of short field takeoff and landings (STOL) would benefit me as a tailwheel pilot in so many ways I couldn't turn down the opportunity.

Unable to fly-in to the fly-in I flew commercially and met some of the crew at KRNO where two of us rented a true California girls dream vehicle, a white Jeep Wrangler. Lets just say piling a bunch of guys and gear in that thing to head off into the middle of the desert may have looked a little funny for all the bystanders watching us at the curbside of the airport.

Our jeep and motorhome we rented as we stock up at Walmart

Yet we took that stock jeep along with an oversized motorhome through places neither one of them should have been to get to the dried up lake bed. Being some of the first few people there we zoomed side by side down the lake bed kicking up dust and having a good ole time.

After we set-up camp it was time to get up on the roof of the motorhome and watch as the aircraft and campers started to arrive.

Racing down the lake bed

The following day was the first day of competition. The safety and overall concern each and every pilot had was something I had never seen before. As Kevin Quinn stood up in front of the large crowd preaching about safety and good flying habits I actually felt as if he cared about each and every person standing there listening. It was somewhat of a motivational safety speech.

Flying Cowboy Kevin Quinn as he speaks about safety at the High Sierra

As the days went on the group of us made it our goal to meet new people and enjoy an event that not everyone has the opportunity to go to.

A surprise visit from the AirSmart Pilatus. Who knew they had the potential of off pavement landings

For me as a student pilot I learned a lot. From the STOL pros to the other pilots that flew in there was so much pilot knowledge floating around that dried up lake bed it was somewhat unbelievable.

Either way meeting up with a large group of people who are all just as excited about aviation as I am was more than I could have ever imagined. All I know is I enjoyed it so much I look forward to flying to plenty of other fly-ins throughout the course of my life.

An Aviat Husky enjoying the final show at High Sierra

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