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Getting Back to Our 'Grassroots'


Eagle Flight
Chapter 237 (Anoka-Blaine, Minnesota) recently hosted a Grassroots Pilot Tour stop.

Jeff Skiles addresses crowd
Jeff Skiles addresses the attentive crowd.

By Trevor Janz, EAA 656941
EAA Manager of Chapters and Eagle Flights

September 18, 2012 - Just recently, I was able to attend one of our many Grassroots Pilot Tour (GRPT) stops. I joined Jeff Skiles (vice president of chapters and youth education) and Brian O'Lena (manager of Young Eagles), and we invited Dana Heimos from our marketing department. We thought it was a good idea to invite Dana, so he can meet the chapter members and leaders out in the field doing the work of EAA. It proved to be a very good idea indeed. I believe more people from EAA headquarters should get out in the field and we are working on exactly that.

We loaded up the 1972 Piper Aztec (graciously donated to EAA) to head to Blaine, Minnesota, to meet with the host, EAA Chapter 237. The weather was VFR and perfect for the flight. We leveled off above the small cumulus clouds that were gathering around 4,000 feet for a nice smooth ride from Oshkosh to Blaine. As we began our descent into Blaine's Anoka County Airport (KANE), we could clearly see the skyline for St. Paul and Minneapolis off the left wing.

When we arrived, we taxied to the FBO that was hosting the GRPT - Key Air. When we shut down the Lycomings, we were immediately greeted by Chapter 237's president, Kirk Fjetland, and the manager of Key Air, Michael Lawrence. Walking into the Key Air FBO, just about every one of us simply said, "Wow!" It was one of the nicest FBOs that I have been in at a small general aviation airport.

Michael and Kirk walked us over to the hangar in which we were having the meeting. Key Air graciously donated a large portion of its hangar for our meeting. With four other area chapters invited, we would need the space. Chapter 237 invited Chapter 1537 (Siren, Wisconsin), Chapter 551 (Two Harbors, Minnesota), Chapter 1221 (Cloquet, Minnesota), and Chapter 25 (Twin Cities). We encourage chapters to invite other area chapters to their events. Working together will produce greater results. This was an excellent example of local chapters sharing ideas.

When the members were filing in, I noticed most of the seats were taken. I asked Kirk how many chairs he placed in the hangar and he said around 200. I asked what they did to promote it, and Kirk said he sent out direct e-mails to his chapter members and worked with the other chapters to do the same. Kirk distributed the GRPT posters (sent by EAA HQ) at the FBO and also put a sign at the entrance to the FBO, ahead of the event. He also mentioned that our postcard mailing to EAA members within a certain radius helped.

It was nice to get out and meet all the members and be able to answer their questions, and, more importantly, ask them questions. We got valuable feedback and suggestions. The meeting was simply invigorating for the EAA team and me.

We spent the night in Blaine. Thank you Key Air for keeping our Aztec in the hangar at no charge that evening. The next day we were off to Superior, Wisconsin; I will cover that in the next ChapterGram.

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