Aerial view of the Reno-Stead Airport taken from an aircraft flying overhead.

Information for pilots and users of Reno-Stead Airport.

Fall 2014 Reno-Stead Airport Association Newsletter



FAA Releases Draft Hangar Use Policy

Sport Aviation October, 2014

In late July, the FAA unveiled its draft policy for permissible uses of hangars at airports that receive federal grant funding. The proposed policy, a response to confusion in the aviation community about hangar use policy stemming from a series of legal interpretations over the past 15 years, seeks to clarify the agency’s position on items and activities that are allowed in hangars slated for aeronautical use.

For homebuilders, the draft policy offers protections that never existed previously in hangar-use guidance. Specifically, the new draft policy states that “final assembly of an aircraft” constitutes a protected aeronautical activity. Previously, homebuilders had no protection from airports that demanded only fully operating, airworthy aircraft could be housed in hangars. While the FAA formally accepts that final assembly of an aircraft is an aeronautical activity, EAA’s comments to the agency will ask the FAA to change the proposed policy to recognize all active aircraft construction as an acceptable aeronautical use of a hangar.

Before this policy was released to the public for comment, the FAA did not have a comprehensive, single-point policy on hangar usage at obligated airports. Instead, the agency’s policy was scattered in a collection of orders, legal interpretations, letters and court decisions, many of which EAA considers to be unduly restrictive for the recreational aviation communities at general aviation airports. EAA supports the agency’s efforts to create a hangar use policy because it helps eliminate confusion about appropriate hangar use for the aviation community.

One significant point in the proposed policy is the FAA’s allowance for storage of non-aeronautical items in hangars. The proposed policy language states that “incidental storage of non-aviation items that does not interfere with the primary purpose of the hangar and occupies an insignificant amount of physical hangar space will not be considered to constitute a violation of the grant assurances.” This means that airport managers, many of whom who were inclined in recent years to force tenants to have only a bare minimum of aeronautical and flight-planning items in their hangars for fear of violating grant assurances, can feel comfortable allowing their home-field pilots to keep personal, social and decorative items in their hangars along with aircraft.

EAA will continue to advocate for common sense policy that allows the recreational aviation community to exercise the right to fly, build and socialize at airports with a minimum amount of regulatory oversight.




The History of Stead Air Force Base Sought

The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority is seeking photos, artifacts and personal stories about the history of Reno-Stead Airport including its days as the Reno Army Air Base and Stead Air Force Base.
The walls and rooms of the new terminal at Reno-Stead Airport will display historic photos and artifacts from the old Stead Air Force Base. The airport authority is reaching out to the public for their memories and memorabilia of the base.

Photos, memorabilia and personal anecdotes can be mailed or dropped off at the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority offices inside Reno-Tahoe International Airport. (Those donating materials should be sure to include contact information).

For details, contact:

Kimberly Matthews,
Marketing Coordinator
Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, 2001 E.
Plumb Lane, Reno, 89502

Musk’s SpaceX adding launch site in Texas

Reno Gazette-Journal
October 16, 2014
Associated Press

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Texas and SpaceX have announced that the company will build the first commercial site for orbital launches on the state’s southernmost tip.

The $85 million site at Boca Chica Beach, east of Brownsville, will be used to launch commercial satellites.

Governor Rick Perry’s office said it will provide $2.3 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund. The state will offer an additional $13 million from the Spaceport Trust Fund to pay for infrastructure development.

California-based SpaceX is expected to create 300 jobs at the site. The company already has a rocket testing facility in McGregor that employs 250 people. SpaceX says it plans 12 launches a year from the Texas facility. CEO Elton Musk says the site will draw tourists, inspire students and expand suppliers.

Musk also is the CEO of Tesla Motors, which has broken ground on a potential battery factory near Reno. Texas and three other states are also competing for that battery factory.




Minden Soaring Club at tops in world standings

General Aviation News
August 17, 2014
News Staff

The Minden Soaring Club (MSC) at Minden Tahoe Airport (KMEV) is #3 in the world standings, out of 1,111 clubs. MSC is only 12 points out of first place in the world, club officials said.

Club officials said they will be getting the word out to their members to go for speed flights that qualify for more points. The points are based on a pilot’s speed during a consecutive 2.5 hours of flight, so long flights are not necessary, officials explain. The pilot must start within 15 km of the takeoff airport, or come back to within 15 km after release from tow or engine shutdown on self-launching gliders.

Individual pilot scoring is done differently than club scoring and Jim Payne, a local resident and airport tenant, is the individual leader by more than 3,300 points. Mitch Polinsky and Keith Essex, also area locals and airport tenants, are also in the top 25 individual pilot listings.

MSC has been very successful in recent years awarding scholarships to the area youth for glider lessons with SoaringNV, the local soaring commercial operator owned by Laurie Harden, club officials added.



Minden pilot Jim Payne wins world soaring contest

The Record-Courier
October 5, 2014
Staff Reports

A Minden pilot won his third consecutive world championship in the Aerokurier Online Soaring Contest.

Jim Payne won the year-long contest with almost 15,000 competitors from around the world. To compete, glider pilots record their flights with a GPS logger and submit their flight logs to the contest website for scoring.

Payne’s six best distance flights covered a total of 7,839.7 miles. It makes him world champion in the OLC Plus (distance) for the fourth time in the last seven years.

He also won the world championship in the OLC Speed category. His average speed for his six best flights is 139 mph. This is his seventh world championship in eight years in the speed category.

Payne’s 1,678 mile-long flight on December 29, 2013, was the world’s longest of the year. His fastest flight of 150 mph was also the world’s fastest in 2014.

In Barron Hilton Challenge for the longest triangle flight of 2014, Payne is the world champion in the 20-meter class. He flew a 674-mile triangle.

In the All Flights category Payne is the vice world champion with 28,347 miles in 51 flights. This is greater than the distance around the world.

The Minden-Tahoe area is reputed to be one of the best in the world for soaring pilots.

Pilots flying from the airport logged 133,079 miles, more than any other airport in the United States during the 2014 season, according to Minden-Tahoe Airport Manager Bobbi Thompson.

Anyone interested in soaring may visit SoaringNV at the Minden-Tahoe Airport. The Minden-Tahoe Airport is recognized as one of the best locations m the world for soaring and is home base to approximately 350 aircraft including 80 gliders. Annual aircraft movements are estimated at 90,000 with about 40 percent of these as glider-tow plane operations and motor-gliders. The airport has an annual economic impact of over $52 million and is one of the leading airports in the Lake Tahoe region.


South Lake Tahoe scraps idea of commercial service at airport

Tahoe Daily Tribune
August 7, 2014
Tom Lotshaw

South Lake Tahoe City Council is dropping its exploration of commercial airline service at Lake Tahoe Airport as a new master plan continues to be developed for the general aviation facility.

C&S Companies is helping South Lake Tahoe prepare the master plan document, a planning tool the FAA requires for airports it funds. The San Diego-based consulting firm found the city would face steep obstacles if it wanted to restore the commercial airline service that ended at the airport 14 years ago.

There have been many changes in the airline industry since 2000 and attracting carriers back to Lake Tahoe Airport would likely require large subsidies of up to $2 million per year. Commercial service also would require major infrastructure and facility upgrades to handle bigger aircraft and higher passenger volumes, some of which would be hard, if not impossible, to accommodate on the existing airfield because of environmental constraints, the firm found.

Restoring commercial service “appeared unlikely in the next 20 years. Not impossible, but unlikely,” Michael Hotaling, of C&S Companies, told the City Council recently.

Closing the airport as some people have advocated also would pose financial challenges. If authorized by FAA to pursue closure, South Lake Tahoe would
have to pay back some portion of the $18 million in airport development grants and all of the $1.1 million in land acquisition grants it has accepted from FAA during the last 20 years.

Council members agreed the master plan study should move forward with a focus on how the Lake Tahoe Airport can be maintained and developed as a general aviation facility. The airport sees about 24,000 general aviation flight operations per year, a tally that includes both landings and takeoffs.

Councilor Tom Davis said he wants to see South Lake Tahoe retain its federal Part 139 certification that allows unscheduled commercial airline service at the airport, in case new technologies or federal subsidies make restoring the service more feasible in the future.

The certification costs about $75,000 per year to maintain.

Council could also pursue a separate economic impact study for the airport to complement the master plan study. FAA is paying for 90 percent of the master plan’s $350,000 cost.
“City residents are paying for it when everyone else is using it,” City Manager Nancy Kerry said about the airport and community requests for an economic impact study. “They would like to know what they are getting for their value and what investing in it could look like.”

Development Services Director Hilary Roverud said officials also are working to ensure the city’s other planning documents are updated according to the findings of the master plan. That includes the Tahoe Valley Area Plan being created and an outdated Airport Comprehensive Land Use Plan, a zoning overlay that imposes various height, density and other building restrictions on some areas based on their proximity to the airport’s safety zones and approach paths.

©2005 – 2014 Swift Communications, Inc.




Earhart stops in Nevada in 1931

Reno Gazette-Journal
June 10, 2014
Patty Cafferata

In 1931, pilot Amelia Putnam Earhart flew a Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro airplane from the East Coast to the West Coast, stopping in several Nevada towns for fuel.

She referred to her plane as a ship that had two stub wings with a revolving wing near and over the front of the machine. The plane depended on its revolving wing to fly. The rotor propeller lifted the plane up in the air, and the plane rose at a steeper angle than an ordinary plane and could land almost straight down, similar to a helicopter.

She described the plane as a “windmill ship.” The plane’s cruising speed was about 80 mph. Earhart believed the ship was safe and could land in almost any place, but it could not glide for a long distance: She was not sure about its commercial uses, so, she undertook the the journey to determine whether the ship was commercially practical.

On June 5, 1931, the first leg of the Nevada portion of the trip was uneventful. After she left Salt Lake City at 8:30 a.m., she touched down in Wendover and reached Elko at noon, where a large crowd greeted the aviatrix.

Then, she took off for Reno at 2 p.m., landed at Battle Mountain and then flew toward Reno, but she zoomed into a swirling dust and rainstorm.

Needing a place to land, she spotted the emergency field about 21 miles east of Lovelock, near the Quicksilver and Montgomery mines, and safely put the plane down.

Bob Anderson, surveyor for the Quicksilver mine, watched the plane land and drove over to rescue Earhart, and transported her to Lovelock. Waiting for the storm to blow over, she spent the night at the Pershing Hotel, while her passenger “Eddie” McVaugh, a mechanic from the autogyro factory, stayed with the plane overnight.

In order to carry a passenger, she sacrificed gas capacity. Earhart told reporters, “You understand this ship carries only enough fuel to last for two hours, so I am never certain when I hit a storm whether I have enough gas to go over it and find a landing field.”

When she stopped in Lovelock, the autogryo contained about two gallons of gas.

Eager to continue her trip, she woke up at 4 a.m., and flew out of the Lovelock area.

When Earhart landed in Reno at 8:10 a.m., a large crowd, including the representatives of the National Aeronautical Association, were waiting to greet her at the airport.

Earhart discussed the ship and aviation in general with District Court Judge George Bartlett and other interested Renoites.

Admitting to reservations about the small amount of fuel the ship carried, she left Reno for Sacramento at 10:30 a.m. and flew over the Sierras without difficulty. When she arrived in Sacramento about 12:30 p.m., she had plenty of fuel on board. Two hours later she left for Oakland, California, where she landed at the Boeing airfield and her east to west journey ended.

Days later, she attempted to fly back to the East Coast, but abandoned her trip after three crashes.

Reach Patty Cafferata at and


“How I acquired a Bonanza A36TC”

ABS Magazine
Reprinted from May, 2007
Tom Hall, Reno, Nevada

My father was a 17,500+ hour captain for Western Airlines who acquired a 1953 D35 about 15 years ago. Too many hours in DC-2s and DC-3s without protection took its toll on Dad’s hearing and he told me he was selling his Bonanza, as he did not feel comfortable flying due to his diminished hearing. I made an offer and flew the D35 home to Reno with Lew Gage as my instructor.

After flying for about 10 years, I started my instrument training. About halfway through, I decided I needed a better IFR platform with an autopilot. In my business, I had an uncertain account receivable that I was attempting to collect and promised myself that if I ever collected it, I would upgrade to a newer Bonanza. In March 2004 I received a check on that account, and promptly went to eBay, just to see if there were any aircraft available. And there it was, a beautiful 1981 A36TC, N3813Q.

I happened upon the plane with several days left on the auction. I plunged into “due diligence” and learned all I could about 13Q. A title search through AOPA showed a $2,500,000 lien that had not been released previously by a prior owner. A fresh annual inspection had just been performed. I obtained a valuation through AOPA-Vref.

As the end of the auction approached, I spent some time with my CPA who advised that I could use Internal Revenue Code Section 179 to shelter some of the purchase price. In anticipation of the winning bid, I arranged a bank loan for my maximum bid amount.

On the final day of the auction, my wife insisted that we attend a Reno Philharmonic performance. At intermission, I literally ran to my office and —with less than 10 minutes to go in the auction — entered my first bid and a backup bid.

Luck was with me and I won the auction at the low reserve price. The sellers were great and delivered the plane to Reno Stead for the price of gas, plus two full passes to the 2004 Reno Air Races. TTAF was 3,135 hours at delivery.

With the transfer of cash from selling the D35, IRC 179 tax shelter and the fortunate bid through eBay, I was able to acquire 13Q for a little over $10,000 new, out-of-pocket money. I have spent approximately $10,000 since then for a new windshield and tires, thorough annual inspections and touch-up paint. As a result, I now have a beautiful 1981 Bonanza A36TC.

I completed my instrument rating in 13Q and have attended three BPPP programs. Trips to Cabo San Lucas, Calgary, Oregon and Colorado have allowed me to use the new long legs of this great aircraft.
Maintenance has been easy at Aviation Classics, Reno Stead. No major problems or repairs have been required.

I use the TC for worry-free high-altitude takeoffs and climbs. Being based next to the high Sierras has made the TC a very valuable component of my flying.




The Brigadier General Fred L. Michel Aviation Scholarship

The support of budding aviation enthusiasts is important to people who have themselves developed and expressed a love of aviation through participation and appreciation. One way we can support young people who share our passion for flight is through the support of scholarship opportunities.

The “Brigadier General Fred L. Michel Aviation Scholarship” was established in the Fall of 2007 by the Reno-Stead Airport Association and the Reno Air Race Foundation’s Pathways to Aviation Program, to honor Brigadier General Fred L. Michel and to assist Nevada youth in the pursuit of aviation careers.

During his 27 years of military service, Fred L. Michel was a Captain in the United States Air Force, flying the T-34 and the T-38, before moving himself and his family to Reno, where he flew the RF-101 and RF-4C in the Nevada Air National Guard until his retirement as Brigadier General. He was, as well, a retired Captain from United and Pan American Airlines, completing a career which saw him through the early, unfettered “good old days” of airline travel. His passion for aviation extended well beyond his careers in the military and the airline industry. A 38-year resident of Reno, he served 28 of those years as a Director of the Reno Air Races. Fred served as the second President of the Stead Airport Users’ Association for many years.

The Brigadier General Fred L. Michel Aviation Scholarship Committee will make annual scholarships available to deserving students. The principal purposes of the Foundation will be to support and make grants to and for youths who desire to seek careers in aviation. The purposes of the scholarships and grants include:

1. To promote the training, equipping and vocational support of private, commercial and military pilots and flight instructors.
2. To promote the development and encouragement on the Aeronautics and Astronautics industry in the State of Nevada including training, research, invention, development, testing, manufacturing and marketing.
3. To establish a library for aeronautics and astronautics, including history, achievements and literature.
4. To engage in research, consulting services and related activities that address the need of aviation, astronautics and related industries.
5. To cooperate with State and Federal Government agencies including military, either for or on all of the above purposes, including those being conducted through or in connection with, the University of Nevada, Reno.

Scholarships to be awarded are valued at $1,000 to $1,500 per year for four years. Recipients are chosen by the Fund’s Selection Committee consisting of representatives from the education and business communities in Washoe County, Carson City and Douglas County areas. At the end of each academic year, the students must provide a satisfactory UNR transcript before receiving an award for the subsequent year.
The scholarship fund has achieved much interest from its inception. Funds will be used to assist accomplished young students, male and female, annually to fulfill their dreams of higher academic and athletic achievement with a focus on aviation.