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Different Kind of Chapter Fundraiser – Flying Scavenger Hunt

By Shane Crider, EAA 1111196

May 26, 2016 - On April 23, EAA Chapter 611 members gathered for a pancake breakfast to kick off the chapter’s annual aerial scavenger hunt competition. Years ago, Chapter 611 held their first scavenger hunt but, for an unknown reason, the event soon ceased. 

When myself, and several other new, younger officers came in, we looked for ideas to spark interest, gather the chapter, take non-pilots flying, and have fun while accomplishing an objective. We wanted to do something different so an elder member in the chapter suggested we revisit holding a scavenger hunt. After getting the details on how the event was run in the past, we revived the hunt and it has become an annual event.

For each hunt, one or more non-participants determine local clues and landmarks. These are narrowed down to eight or nine and a clue sheet is created. Participants are required to find five of the clues, take a picture of each and return to the airfield. Because safety is always our first priority, and to avoid everyone leaving out in a mad dash and trying to beat the others back, we timestamp each clue sheet as the pilot taxis by to depart. Participants are not allowed to see the clues until they are handed their time sheet and are ready to fly. 

The clues can be as simple as finding a golf course or a windsock, other than the one at our field.  Our varied landscape is a benefit for clues and landmarks, since we are based at the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains, and border one of the largest lakes in the state.

Keeping an eye on safety, the clues are spread across surrounding counties and in all directions but not more than 35 to 40 nautical miles. We also suggest everyone monitor the air-to-air frequency 122.75. In doing so, we have had no close calls or complaints. 

Once each airplane arrives back at home base and shuts down, we timestamp their arrival time, tally up their total time and review their pictures for accuracy. 

Some of the pilots are highly competitive and take to the sky as soon as they are given their sheet, while others participate to have fun and enjoy the experience of flying with friends. The competitive participants have argued that faster airplanes, like a Mooney or a twin, have a competitive advantage over single-engine aircraft. However, for the last two years the podium has included Cessna 150s and an LSA, proving it’s all about flying skills and local knowledge.  

There is a $10 entry fee to participate, regardless of how many passengers are flying. The proceeds are divided into percentages for the first-, second-, and third-place finishers. Typically, our winners choose to donate their prize money back to the chapter. We had nine airplanes enter this year’s competition with a total of 19 pilots and passengers. At the end of the day, everyone had fun and left with full stomachs, and­­ some left with bragging rights until next year’s competition. I would encourage other chapters to try an event like this. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at scrider@bellsouth.net.

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