Friday, April 29, 2011

Stamford's Thumbs- Up Story for the Month of April: Fairway Does Good Deeds for the Community

Here in Southeastern Fairfield County we are starved for good news...

(We wish we could keep Superintendent of Schools Joshua Starr here in Stamford for another 4 years....but Montgomery County Maryland is one of the most highly educated communities in the US and has a student enrollment of 144, 000 and education budget- at $2.1 Billion- ten times those of Stamford.)

So when a feel good story comes along, it's got to be publicized.

Fairway Market in the South End of town opened in November of last year.

As part of their true community spirit, Fairway formed a' partnership' with St. Lukes Lifeworks, a social service agency which provides the homeless a shelter and an opportunity to turn their lives around by fighting homelessness and joblessness. Many have been fighting substance abuse, mental problems as well as criminal backgrounds.

Fairway has given jobs to a number of residents from St. Lukes allowing them the opportunity to get back on their feet and get their own apartments.

In addition, week-long fundraising events have been planned in which proceeds will be donated to St. Lukes.

Hats off to Fairway.

The blogger is indebted for the excellent reporting by the Stamford Advocate on these upbeat tidings. Click here to read the entire story.

Pilot in Command: Tips on Mastering Night Flying

For Part I , click here.

So, you are a hotshot lowtime VFR pilot with higher aspirations and a wanna-be master of the night sky.

First off, get yourself some practical experience flying solo or with passengers as pilot in command. (click on previous link to read tips on the advisability of taking passengers)

Hire yourself continuing instruction with good mentors as I have over some 30 years. You need to learn from the best and not so best and learn to differentiate between the two. (Click here for a brief tribute on the importance of finding and utilizing excellent flight mentors.)

Read and follow the relevant FAR's (Federal Aviation Requirments) on night flying: FAR 61.57, FAR 91.205 ,FAR 91.151, FAR 91.155, FAR 91.157 and FAR 91.209 on position and anti-collision lights. (be sure to click on the above FAR link for an excellent article on night flying requirements!)

As I indicated in Part I, get to know your own body rhythms. And don't push yourself to be at a certain place at a certain time. Remember you are flying as a recreational pilot to buy yourself more pleasurable flight time

Next, if you are doing some serious night flying, invest in bilberry (tablets) which were used by World War II allied pilots-in the form of jam-since bilberry was thought to improve night vision.

Coming soon Part II: Flying Deep into the Night When you are in actuality a morning person....

On the way to Night Flight Part II: A word of thanks to All my Instructors over the Past 30 Years

Stearman Bi-Plane similar to the one Alan Kline
and I flew in back in the early 1980's

Part I can be read by clicking here. You will shortly be able to skip this short introductory accolade and access Part II by clicking here.

Private pilot flying should be and must be a pleasurable enjoying experience. Why else invest all those hard earned dollars to accumulate all those hours in pursuit of your next rating?

And so, before I have some fun discussing the excitement (the upsides and downsides) of night flying Part II... a word of thanks is in order.

So...A word of thanks to the many experienced pilots I have had the good fortune to train and fly with: first California pilots: Dennis, Orville and David from Butte County; Tim Rahn and Johnny Moore from Plumas County.

....and the Oregon pilots: Al Stockstead and Alan Kline of Lane County (for an aerobatic experience in his Stearman).

....And the Connecticut pilots Lloyd Salisbury and Yuval Hedaya of Executive Air (now Arrow Aviation) in Fairfield County.

...For with their input, dedication and passion for flying-- they have inspired me to be a competent pilot under all VFR or marginal VFR conditions--but, above all to celebrate the art of flying--now that I've been 'up' as pilot in command for 30 years!

Now onto Part II...shortly to be posted.

Photo courtesy of

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Stamford is getting a New Auto Dealer: Hyundai Motors set to open on Magee Ave.

The showroom is already framed and being built out.

The sign announcing the new dealership is already up on Magee Ave. in the Southend of Stamford.

And Hyundai which is a very aggressive company that has overtaken number 4 Ford in global sales is gunning up to surpass Toyota in the J.D. Powers survey for initial quality.

To learn more about this company click here for an excellent Fortune Magazine article that appeared last year.

Welcome to Stamford, Hyundai and best of luck!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Seder Ritual is Enriched by the Presence of a Kindertransport Holocaust Survivor

Frank Meisler's Kindertransport Memorial
Stands Outside Liverpool Street Station

She will be turning 90 next year, was born in Dusseldorf, Germany and transported by rail and boat to England in February, 1939--one of
10,000 children saved by caring parents from the onslaught of the Nazis.

There, she was taken in by a caring family.

Her father had died in the early 1920's and her mom raised her. Her mother left Germany bound for Chile two days before Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, the official start of WW II.

And it was 10 years later that Hana Deutch was reunited with her mom in Chile.

Our seder table was graced by her stately and elegant presence.

For many years, I have been attending my brother's seder--but not until this year did I once appreciate and identify with the experience of a miraculous 'exodus' that saved the life of this marvelous woman who has served as a commander in the Jewish War Veterans in the Jackson Heights community.

Thank you, Hana, for lighting up our Seder with your presence.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Eric Foner Noted Columbia University History Professor Wins Two Prestigious Awards

Eric Foner, Columbia University Historian

Eric Foner whose lecture on Abraham Lincoln's early views on history was widely acclaimed in Stamford has won two prestigious prizes.

First, the trustees of Columbia University just granted him the Bancroft Prize for his latest book "Fiery Trial."

A week later, it was announced he received a Pulitzer Prize for the same book.

It was a rare pleasure and experience to attend the Stamford lecture and then write about Foner's discussion of his book in two earlier blogs.

Congratulations to Professor Foner.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Burning Chometz in Stamford

Stamford Hosts a Plethora of Public Art: Here's Just One for this Spring Day

Stamford's Pleasing to the eye Public Art

While waiting for the stop light at Summer Street and and 5th Street , a patient driver, eager to climb 5th homeward bound to Strawberry Hill Ave.,has such a pleasing work of outdoor art to behold.

This seaside vista opening up to the water is at once captivating, soothing and so serene in its melange of mellow sedate hues of green, pink, brown and blue pastels. It's a work of art that could easily be framed and hung in one's living room or den.

That one lone, wandering- branched. stark tree looks like it will shortly spring into floral life in what I imagine to be an early April scene along Fairfield County's shoreline.

Again, hats off to Stamford.

For a few of my dozen or so earlier blogs on Stamford's public art, click here. Then for the most recent post on public art at Glenbrook Metro North station, click here. And finally, here is a slide slide from last summer's "Raining Cats and Dogs" public outdoor display.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reconnecting with Ed Pressman fellow College Classmate after all these Years

Ed and I had not seen each other for nearly 50 years since the days we both graduated from Columbia College in New York City.

(It's not fair to say we had been incommunicado for all that time. Ed had acted as Class-correspondent for Columbia College Today, from 1987-2001 and so he kept a steady stream of communications flowing my way)

So, it was a delightful experience reconnecting with Ed Pressman at UConn Stamford last month to hear Columbia History Professor Eric Foner discuss President Lincoln's early views on slavery.

How did Ed and I reconnect? Ed located me on facebook, was piqued by one of the projects I have been nurturing and rang me up to see if he could write a blog for our magazine. This was about a year ago.

We quickly caught up on our lives and agreed to get together sometime after the Easter/Passover Holidays. Well time passed and before I knew it, we were into 2011.

Then I happened to get an email about Professor Foner's coming to Stamford in March of this year. Remembering that Ed was an American History, Political Science major, I instinctively phoned him up and sure enough we were finally able to connect. It turns out that Ed knew Professor Foner from our Columbia days back in the 60's and brought his two latest books for autographing.

After the Foner lecture (which I summarized in an earlier blog), Ed and I went out for a snack at a downtown cafe and further caught on our lives.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Stamford's Glenbrook Metro Train Station honors World Trade Center Fallen Hero: Sean Rooney

Mural of Newfield Greens Golf Course at the Glenbrook Train Station
(photos courtesy of RJ Schwartz)

On a rainy grey, bleak day earlier this week, while waiting for the connector train at the Glenbrook Metro North station, I was delighted to suddenly behold a piece of outdoor art I had never seen before.

The painting seemed to exude sunlight, a green, fecund and fertile energy and serene sense of eternal repose to the otherwise dull mundane surroundings

There, on the side of a building opposite the station stands a mural that depicts the Newfield
Greens Golf Course displayed above. The wall art was painted in memory of Sean Rooney a Stamford resident who lost his life on 9/11/01.

The painting was commissioned by his wife, Beverly Eckert.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pilot in Command: Should I Be Flying at Night? Getting to know your natural body rhythms along with your limitations

That's me at Oroville Municipal Airport
on Cherokee 1029H which was just delivered to me
Photo Courtesy of Bob Owens

You are a low time VFR private pilot and you wonder--should I be flying at night? My initial answer to you is NO-- assuming you are lacking in the nocturnal experience of flying as pilot in command. There are, however some extenuating circumstances.

In my opinion, this is not an easy question because your own decision will be based on many factors including experience flying at night with an instructor (and then solo), whether you own a plane, your proximity to the airport, weather conditions including visibility and winds aloft, your mental and physical condition--including the health of your eyes.

Ultimately you have the 'ticket' and will have to choose. And I can attest that night time flying is an awesome event, incomparable in many ways to VFR daytime flight. More on this later in Part II.

Here are some pointers to think about based on my experiences. Part One consists of preparation, while part two will consider actual flying situations.

I am a low time VFR private pilot with about 400 flying hours, but I had the privilege of piloting my own plane for nearly two years under many conditions. And have had many many hours of both VFR and IFR instruction in my plane with its ADF, DME, dual navs and dual radios--fully equipped for IFR flight.

First off, my plane was on tie down at Oroville (California) Airport a mere 20 minutes from my home atop the mesas of Butte County. Secondly, I am an early morning person and have been for nearly most of my life. So, the middle of the night was and still is a perfect natural time for me to fly.

Get to know your own body rhythms because if you don't, you can land into some deep trouble. I recall a situation where I nearly had to declare an emergency because I chose to ignore them.

It was late Spring and I elected to begin flying cross country from Eugene, Oregon's Mahlon Sweet airport to Chico Municipal Airport at about 4 PM. I figured, I would arrive at Chico in about three and a half hours when it was still light. I did have some reservations about taking off late in the PM as opposed to leaving the following morning at 7AM when I would be my freshest.

Well, in retrospect, I realize I chose to ignore my body's natural rhythm. Here's what happened.

I am flying smooth VFR flight following Route 5 south out of Eugene and doing a normal scan. I had been flying about an hour and a half and had just left Medford and the Rogue Valley International Medford Airport behind me and was approaching Ashland, Oregon -another one of my visual checkpoints. Yes, I could make out the town and its airport to the east of Route 5 from my altitude of 8, 500 feet!

But then, shortly before I was over Ashland , I started experiencing severe fatigue and lightheadedness . My eyes started to droop and I realized I was beginning to doze off.

At this point, my survival instincts kicked in. I must have instantly activated large amounts adrenaline.

I initiated a smooth descent from 8,500 feet, grabbed my Oregon Airport charts showing one active runway 30/12, 3600 X 75 and elevation 1885; I visually checked for traffic, overflew the airport to determine the landing pattern via the windsocket direction, communicated my intent to land on 122.8, joined the pattern at a 45 , touched down safely, tied 29'er Hotel down for the night, called flight service to cancel my flight plan, found a hotel nearby and was sound asleep in a comfortable bed within 30 minutes.... a decision that, in retrospect, clearly saved my life as I started to doze the controls--lulled to a drowsiness even as was constantly scanning and looking for safe landing platforms in case of an emergency.

You 'gotta' know your natural rhythms...If you are a morning person, as I clearly am, that is the optimal time to fly. If you are a night person, the darkness should not intimidate you. Fortunately, I am both a night person and morning/afternoon person (until about 2-3 PM), but not a late afternoon one.(There are even exceptions to this rule as Part II, will clearly and dramatically demonstrate. So stay tuned!)

That means, I have been waking up refreshed, alert and raring to attack the day's schedule when most people are dreaming and snoring away. (For instance, this blog was commenced at 4 AM, this day in early April. And tonight, the second night of composing this blog, it happens to be thunderstorming.

So, it was natural for me to wake up early at 3 AM, grab a light breakfast and head down the mountain to Oroville airport and pre-flight my plane by flashlight. I always made sure there was plenty of avgas in the dual tanks (24 gallons on each side). (Even though I had always topped off the tanks to the tabs after each flight, I still visually checked by flashlight to be sure. More on how important this procedure when you read Part II)

The best part of pre-flighting your 'bird' at 4AM is that there are no distractions at this hour unless you consider the crickets a major one...

As I review my logbook, I see my night flying totals 25.6 hours or about 5% of my total flight time.. Most were accumulated during summer when the air is calm and the nights clear. I flew 7.8 hours with my first instructor Dennis and the rest were aggregated flying solo as pilot in command in my own plane.

Part II will be coming soon: (featuring my counter-intuitive experience of flying late at night.) Part II is now up, click here to view.

For tips on mastering night flying, click here.

For a brief thanks to my many pilot instructors over the past 30 years and my introduction to aerobatics, click here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tough Times are With Us and What lies Ahead????

The latest earthquake in Japan --a 7.4 on the richter scale- is another major tragedy for a country just ravaged by a Tsunami.

This event should be a wake up call for the rest of the world?

Tough times are ahead for all us..globally, nationally and locally.

Our elected employees, lucky to have well paying jobs, guaranteed salaries, the best of health care--are closing down the government because they cannot decide on how much to cut the budget.

Walmart is announcing major price increases.

Gasoline at the pump here in lower Fairfield County is at $4 a gallon for regular and goes up weekly. How high will it climb?

Prices we pay for basic foodstuffs- bread, milk, butter, eggs--will undoubtedly rise as the cost of transportation rises.

Portugal is crying out to the western countries for a major bailout as our planes continue to hammer away at Libya-- as there come reports of at least two air strikes that have killed innocent rebels. Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria, Iran are experiencing continuing protests against authoritarian regimes.

Our war against the Taliban continues unabatedly in Afghanistan as we enter our 11th year--fighting a war that in enmeshed in confusion in a place that has taken down earlier empires.

Meanwhile, back home 5 out of every 6 persons seeking work (perhaps even higher) are still unemployed. And millions of Americans face foreclosure as Wall Street executives continue to rake in the bucks, still free to operate in the murky field of derivatives.

It's time to clean up our individual acts and help those in need. It's time to give up some of our creature comforts and seek to help someone in need.

It's time to realize that we are accountable--our actions to help others really do matter...

It all begins in our own families... What can each one of us do to alleviate the mental, physical or economic hardships that a family member is experiencing?

It's time to wake up, world! Together we swim or together, perish the thought, we sink...