EAA Chapter 54

St. Paul, MN. (Lake Elmo)

News Archive

Board of Directors previews survey results

Members of Chapter 54's Board of Directors discuss the results of the all-chapter survey during a meeting on May 6, 2024

Chapter 54's Board of Directors met in person (mostly) at the Chapter House on Monday night with the results of the all-chapter survey the primary topic of the agenda. The survey was commissioned by the board to be sure the chapter's direction aligns with members' interest. Of the 79 current members, about 35 took the survey, which immediately raised questions about whether the Board got viable data to answer the question. The Board discussed how to present this data to the chapter at the regular monthly meeting next Monday. Most responses were self evident, but a few -- such as "do you feel valued and welcomed"  -- are open to different interpretations.

The Board also got an update from Jim Pearsall on planning for the fly-in August.  Members should be advised that this is an all-hands-on-deck event and participation to help is expected from all members.

The Board also approved the purchase of baseboard trim to complete the interior chapter house renovations.

See the minutes >>

Flying to Canada
The Chapter House is open every Saturday morning The bottom line of last Saturday's seminar at the Chapter House was don't bother flying to Canada if you're on Basic Med. Canada does not recognize the FAA's medical certification alternative. Other than that, Paul Jackson provided great information on how to fly your plane to Canada as part of the FAAST Team's Saturday morning safety seminar, which Chapter 54 provides on occasional Saturdays over coffee. Laura Hermann also announced that the safety seminars will now be provided on a YouTube channel, although they're not eligible for Wings credit when viewed on demand.  On an as-able basis (basically, Saturdays when the Twins don't play a day game, or a Young Eagles Day), EAA Chapter 54 invites its members and visitors to stop by the Chapter House for a cup of coffee and the Saturday Morning Coffee and Wings Seminar.  The House is also heated every Saturday for those who wish to stop by. Email Bob Collins for the door passcode.   See schedule >>

David Becker, 1945-2024

David Dean Becker, born December 5, 1945, passed away peacefully in Chanhassen, Minnesota on Friday, April 19, 2024. Dave was the second born son to Walter and Alvera Becker of South St. Paul, Minnesota. After graduating from South St. Paul High School, he went on to earn his certification as a Tool and Die maker and was able to utilize his skills in the Army where he served his country as a machinist. In 1977, Dave was hired by 3M as a Systems Control Technician. After 30 years at 3M, Dave retired as a Senior Technologist. His retirement was spent pursuing his love of flying.
David's passion for flying started shortly after high school when he earned his private pilot's license. After a few years of hobby flights, he decided to train as an aerobatic pilot which required parachute training. Dave took his first jump course to learn parachute safety and quicky traded in his wings for a parachute. While working as a jump instructor, David met his wife Monta as she took her first of many jumps. On July 28, 1972, Dave and Monta married while living overseas in Australia.

Dave had a love of photography and was rarely seen without his camera. He combined his love of jumping with his love of photography by welding a camera and camcorder to his helmet, photographing and videoing thousands of amateur and professional skydivers.
After 2,000 jumps, Dave retired from jumping and went back to his first love: flying. Dave joined the EAA Chapter 54 Flying Club in Lake Elmo, MN and immediately got involved with the Young Eagles program. Dave served as a pilot and Certified Flight Instructor for many years, providing free plane rides to kids from the ages of 8-17. In his favorite plane, the Piper Archer, Dave introduced the aviation experience to hundreds of kids, giving them the opportunity to take the controls once in the air.

In December 2021, Dave and Monta moved to Riley Crossing in Chanhassen, MN where he was the self-appointed greeter, spending his days welcoming residents and visitors to the building. Throughout his life, Dave went out of his way to make others smile. Whether it was a joke told at breakfast, a card or impromptu song on your birthday, or the red clown nose he put on any time a child walked by, Dave made it a personal goal to make people smile.
Dave is preceded in death by his parents Walter and Alvera Becker and brother Ken Becker. He is survived by his wife, Monta Becker, sister-in-law Mary Becker (Ken), niece Kelly Sorkin (David), nephew Kevin Becker, and grandnephews Aaron and Eli Sorkin.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the EAA Chapter 54 Young Eagles Program. Donations made in Dave's honor will be put towards their scholarship program which sponsors young pilots for a week at the EAA Air Academy. All are welcome to join us immediately following the service to celebrate Dave the only way we know how: with Burgers and a Beer! Location details will be available after the service.

Donations can be sent via the below link or by mailing a check to EAA Chapter 54 or donate online.
Lake Elmo Airport-EAA Building
Attn: Treasurer
3275 Manning Ave North Suite 7
Lake Elmo, MN 55042

Pancake planning underway in earnest

Jim Pearsall, left, and Marlon Gunderson, right, go over a list of duties for volunteers at a planning event on April 13, 2024 for a pancake breakfast fly-in in August.

The steering committee and interested volunteers met at the chapter house on Saturday April 13 as planning begins for the first chapter fundraiser since the pandemic. A fly-in breakfast will be held on Sunday August 11. It's a huge effort to pull off, and all chapter members will be expected to help as the chapter's programs depend on fundraising revenue to continue. Please mark your date now and be thinking of what roles you'd like to play.  For more information, see this dedicated page for the fly-in planning.

MAC reliever boss brings positive vibe to chapter
Joe Harris, MAC's director of reliever airports, speaks at the chapter monthly meeting on April 8 2024Joe Harris, the head of reliever airports for the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) gave an upbeat report on the area's airport situation during the regular monthly meeting of EAA Chapter 54 on April 8, 2024. It was a relatively sparsely attended gathering, possibly owing to the solar eclipse earlier in the day.

Chief among the positive vibes was the fact that, at least for storage tenants a Lake Elmo Airport, MAC fees are going down.

"The last time we looked at our rates and charges for our reliever reports was 2014," he told the group. "From about 2000 to 2014, we adjusted rates and charges every other year.  We're lowering the annual escalator from how it's written into the ordinance today. So that's a good message because that represents about 95% of my audience and when I say that I'm expecting the public hearing not to go too bad. Now they might still say, 'hey, they're high.' Okay, fair. We're not cheap. We get it but what we hope and what we offer to you and services is unmatched, the reality is as all six of our reliever reports today." Read more about the meeting >>

First Young Eagles rally scheduled

The cub pilot in a Cub airplaneRegistration has just opened for the first Chapter 54 Young Eagles Day of the summer. Slots are very limited as the day depends on having enough volunteers. You can sign up young people 8-17 here.  We're always looking for pilot volunteers and ground support personnel. Chapter members can find the requirements here.

Saturday morning safety seminars
On an as-able basis (basically, Saturdays when the Twins don't play a day game nor a Young Eagles Day), EAA Chapter 54 invites its members and visitors to stop by the Chapter House for a cup of coffee and the  Saturday Morning Coffee and Wings Seminar.  Although these seminars are eligible for Wings credit, we're unable to provide the credit because we don't have a FAAS team representative to monitor attendance. If you register separately, you will not be able to obtain Wings credit unless you log in separately and the chapter house WiFi cannot handle the additional bandwidth at this time. See schedule >>

April Board of Directors Meeting
The April meeting of the EAA Chapter 54 Board of Directors was held on Monday April 1 with eight of 13 directors attending, enough for a quorum. Directors discussed planning for the August pancake fly-in and got their first look at the chapter survey, which revealed - among other things - that most of you aren't reading this. Thirty-five  members  clicked the link to take the survey, which will be used to align the chapter's focus to their desires. The survey will be discussed at the May regular chapter meeting.  See the minutes >>

St. Paul tower controllers seek to reduce air conflicts
Downtown St. Paul tower controller Keith Thompson shows what his radar screen looks like during a safety seminar on March 30, 2024Meeting with area pilots, including several chapter members,  at South St. Paul's Fleming Field, two tower controllers from downtown St. Paul Airport sought to enlist help in reducing the number of traffic conflicts between pilots arriving and leaving South St. Paul and air traffic -- mostly jets -- arriving downtown. To be sure, the controllers noted that conflicts have been substantially reduced over the last few years in the East Metro because of increased emphasis on "hot zones" by ATC and the FAA. Read more >>

Chapter 54 Newsletter screenshot

The last quarterly newsletter
"With the advent last year of the EAA SiteCore based Chapter 54 website, brought to you by the amazing, talented, national website award winning, RV-12 building, Bob Collins, with its new web pages and semi-monthly eBeacons bringing frequent news of chapter meetings, board meetings, activities, and other airport news, the quarterly Beacon 'newsletter' has become even more of an anachronism, and conveniently so because your newsletter editor is now the chapter president and wishes not to wear both those hats. The only content from prior Beacon Newsletters that is not now covered by semi- monthly eBeacon dispatches is the president's column, but Bob has enabled SiteCore's 'president's page' on the website to let me place that content there. So here's your last Beacon, and/or inaugural website based President's Column. I'll be posting a president's column at least quarterly, if not more frequently. May the Beacon Rest In Peace, or explode into a continuous Roman Candle of eBeacons, however you want to think about it. [ed. note: eBeacon will now be known simply as "The Beacon"]

As alluded to in my brief State of the Chapter segment of the January Member meeting, the Board took up the topic of the chapter's ongoing budget deficit for covering the fixed, mostly clubhouse related, chapter expenses, and in March the Board approved a resolution to increase chapter annual membership dues, effective June 1st, from $25/year to $40/year for individual memberships. Student/family memberships will increase from $10/$30 to $20/$50 per year, respectively. The last dues increase coincided with the acquisition and completion of the chapter clubhouse over 20 years ago which ushered in the fixed expenses of building lease, insurance, heat, and electric costs that needed to be covered by membership dues. These costs, unlike our dues, have not stayed constant for 20 years, particularly in the recent inflationary years, plus we've also added the recurring cost of internet service to enable hybrid meetings and webinars and other internet content at the clubhouse. Our fixed costs are currently a bit over $4000/year and we've been running near 100 chapter members; this has informed our choice of dues amount." - Marlon Gunderson
Read all about it >>

Preliminary report issued in Moore/Zahler crash
The NTSB last week issued its preliminary findings in the crash of Pat Moore's Globe Swift on March 2 in Afton. The crash claimed the life of Moore and Mitch Zahler, both members of Chapter 54. As with all preliminary reports, the NTSB did not provide any cause of the crash, although a reader might find details to lead to speculation. In the report, the NTSB noted that its inspection that the #2 and #4 top spark plugs were both carbon fouled, but damage prevented any compression testing. This link downloads the report to your device.

Chapter 54 event culminates Learn to Fly Week
Evangelos Savvas
On May 18, EAA Chapter 54 will be hosting a Flying Start Day at the Lake Elmo Chapter House as part of the EAA's Learn to Fly Week, a national campaign to help aspiring pilots take flight. Leading up to the Flying Start event, individuals interested in learning to fly can participate in variety of free interactive webinars hosted live. These webinars will run May 15 through May 19, and cover topics ranging from getting started in flight training, how to save time and money, and other flight training tips. Webinars are free to attend, but pre-registration is required. Events for Chapter 54 are being coordinated by Evangelos Savvas. At this point, the chapter is not intending to offer Eagle Flights unless mentor pilot members volunteer, but we may need volunteers to help at the chapter house. Flying Start Day is consistent with the chapter members' interests in attracting new faces to aviation and our chapter. Read more >> 

Emma Gaustad earns instrument rating

EAA Chapter 54 treasurer Emma Gaustad celebrates after earning her instrument rating.

(March 15) - Congratulations are in order for Emma Gaustad, Chapter 54's treasurer, who received her instrument rating on Friday, finishing up a checkride from earlier in the week. On Tuesday, she passed most of her checkride with flying colors but because of wind shear concerns, the checkride completion was pushed to Friday. Emma received her private pilot certificate in 2022.

Observation area opens for the season

The airport viewing area at Lake Elmo Airport(March 13)  - The Lake Elmo Airport observation area, maintained by Chapter 54, has opened for 2024, a sure sign of an early spring. The tarps were removed from the recently restained benches (still not sure that stain is going to be durable). New brochures and magazines were added to the protected display box. Later in the spring or early summer, we'll start scraping and then restaining the pergola. We may also plant some shade plants around the base of a tree.

Chapter members hear from the Sonex president; remember Moore, Zahler
Members listen as the president of Sonex presented a program at the chapter meeting on March 11, 2024

(March 11) - About three dozen people at the chapter house and a handful online heard from the president of Sonex at the monthly meeting Monday evening. Mark Schaible described his company's effort to keep aviation affordable. He said an introduction to experimental aviation should cost more than a nice, new car.

Earlier in the meeting, members had a chance to reflect on their friends, Mitch Zahler and Pat Moore, who were killed on March 2 when their plane crashed in Afton.

And the chapter announced this year's recipient of the Ray Scholarship for flight training. Read more >>

Funeral services set for two chapter membersMitch Zahler and Pat Moore were killed in a plane crash in Afton on March 2, 2024

Funeral services have now been announced for EAA Chapter 54 members Pat Moore and Mitch Zahler, who were killed Saturday March 2 when Moore's Globe Swift went down in Afton, shortly after taking off from Lake Elmo Airport. Moore, 85, of White Bear Lake, and Zahler, 68, of Baytown Township, were enroute to the Fagen Fighters Aviation Museum in Granite Falls with a group of other aviators, according to an email from member Bill Schanks Jr., who had departed the airport just before the Swift. While names of the victims circulated within the chapter over the weekend, the county sheriff's office made the identifications public Monday afternoon.

A celebration of life for Pat Moore will be held on March 15, 2024 from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm with a time of remembrance at 5:00 pm at Mueller Memorial, 4738 Bald Eagle Avenue, White Bear Lake, MN 55110. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Pat's name to the Swift Museum Foundation, 223 County Road 552, Athens, TN 37303 (see obituary).

Funeral services for Mitch Zahler will be held on April 5, 2024 at Rockpoint Church, 5825 Kelvin Ave N, Lake Elmo with visitation from 9-11 a.m. with a Celebration of Life at 11 a.m. A full obituary is pending from Bradshaw Funeral Home.  See full story >>

Two chapter members killed in Afton crash

Pat Moore, right, and Mitch Zahler, left, died when Pat's Globe Swift crashed in Afton on March 2, 2024

EAA Chapter 54 members Pat Moore and Mitch Zahler were killed Saturday March 2 when Moore's Globe Swift went down in Afton, shortly after taking off from Lake Elmo Airport. Moore, 85, of White Bear Lake, and Zahler, 68, of Baytown Township, were enroute to the Fagen Fighters Aviation Museum in Granite Falls with a group of other aviators, according to an email from member Bill Schanks Jr., who had departed the airport just before the Swift.

"Pat Moore and Mitch Zahler were both engaged chapter members, generous with their time and talent for the good of the chapter and the community," EAA Chapter 54 President Marlon Gunderson said. Read more >>

Voluntary noise abatement plan approved
Fly Neighborly(Feb. 28) - A plan to mitigate noise complaints by some neighbors of Lake Elmo Airport won approval by the Lake Elmo Airport Advisory Commission on Tuesday. The document recommends that pilots at the airport avoid “touch-and-go operations” and avoid “repetitive activity over residences, including when conducting flight-training activities.” It also asks pilots to “choose a path that avoids flying over residential areas if practical … when departing the traffic pattern.” The document also suggests that pilots avoid operating aircraft during nighttime hours, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., Mary Divine, of the Pioneer Press, reported. The plan, officially called the Noise Abatement Recommended Practices document, will be published by MAC by March 31 and distributed to Lake Elmo Airport users. You can find the LEAAC meeting presentation here.

Among the recommendations is Runway 32 as the preferred runway, following the PAPI glideslope, flying the traffic pattern at the appropriate altitude (1000 feet AGL for props or 1933' indicated), flying a tight traffic pattern, using the full length of the runway, avoiding stop-and-go operations, and avoiding repetitive flights over the neighbors.

Important chapter survey now underway

EAA survey(Feb. 26) - Chapter 54's Board of Directors has been assembling a chapter survey in recent months to make sure the chapter's efforts align with members' wishes and to ascertain whether a future is possible in an era of declining volunteerism. Over the weekend, membership director Scott Hanson opened the survey to members and your participation is absolutely vital.

Please take the survey here. The results will be presented at an upcoming membership meeting.

Aviation Groups, Skydivers Oppose Part Of Reauthorization Bill
A contentious section of the latest version of the FAA Reauthorization bill has survived the Senate markup and seven organizations have written Congress urging it be scrapped at the conference committee stage. The Air Tour and Sport Parachuting Safety Act would require sightseeing businesses, including heritage flight operations at aviation museums, to operate under Part 135. They now operate under Part 91 through letters of authorization. It also requires recurrent training on terrain avoidance and weight and balance calculations and the installation of terrain warning devices. The letter says most of the small businesses engaged in those types of operations will not be able to afford the measures. Read more on AVWEB.

Marlon's 'fireside chat'
Marlon on the farm
At the regular chapter meeting on Monday February 12, chapter vice president Jay Schrankler hosted a fireside chat with chapter president Marlon Gunderson, part of Marlon's plan to get to know chapter members better and be an even more welcoming chapter to members and visitors. He detailed his journey from a farm in Mora to California and back, a career as an engineer, and now the presidency of a chapter. It's a compelling story. Read more >>


Cinema 54 debuts in March
Starting prior to the March meeting, we invite you to come by the Chapter House a little earlier than usual to watch a documentary or aviation-themed feature film. We call it Cinema 54.  Popcorn will be available, and soda/pop can be purchased out of the refrigerator as usual. Bring your dinner, Showtime is set so that the movie ends at exactly 6:45 p.m., just in time for the chapter meeting social hour.  Potential members are invited to stop by and say "hello" and get to know us. 

Schedule of Films*
March: Barnstorming (5:55 pm)
April: Top Gun: Maverick  (4:15 pm)
May: Sully (5:05 pm)
JuneAmelia (4:55 pm)
July: Cubs 2 Oshkosh (6:10 pm)
August: The Aviator (4:35 pm)
September: The Spirit of St. Louis (4:30 pm)
October: A Century of Flight: Those Daring Young Men (5:15 pm)
November: For the Love of Flight (6:05 pm)
December: Devotion  (4:25 pm)
January 2025: Up (5 pm)
February 2025: Planes (5:15 pm)
March 2025: Airplane (5:18 pm

* Tentative. All films subject to change at the last minute.

Chapter board holds monthly meeting

 The EAA Chapter 54 Board of Directors held its monthly meeting on February 5, making comparatively quick work of a packed agenda as the new administration settles in. Among the efforts of board members is the creation and distribution of a chapter survey, under the direction of Vice President Jay Schrankler. It's vitally important that members take a few minutes to respond to the survey to ensure that the effort of the chapter are matching your interests.  The Board, under the direction of Ed Trudeau and Scott Hanson, are also trying to update the membership roster and contact members who are in arrears on dues to determine their future with the chapter.

Past President Leif Erickson announced he's been working with the Sodbusters RC Club to set up activities in the Chapter House during and after Young Eagle flights to help interested young people learn more about aviation and the next steps they could take after their flights.

In other board updates:
   * Benches from the observation area have been restained and returned to their location. Their departure from the chapter house allowed the initial creation of an "office area" in the house addition. The small desk, formerly located in the meeting area, has been moved to that area. An effort will shortly begin to organize and inventory items currently stored on the "shelf".z
   * Emma Gaustad, chapter treasurer, is going to research the feasibility of adjusting the PayPal options on the website so the chapter isn't footing the fee for the convenience when members renew or join via the online site. She reported a positive cash flow ($28.74!) in January although the chapter is generally not covering fixed expenses without dipping into reserves.
   * There was discussion about whether the chapter will provide scholarship help for Air Academy attendance and, if so, when? To the Board's knowledge there are no candidates who've appeared this year.
   * Some discussion took place about Flying Start Week, May 13-18 but with the lack of pilots, a Friday afternoon national Flying Start Day, and a Young Eagles rally on Saturday, support did not materialize.
See Ed Trudeau's minutes and director reports>>

Rosemary Frank and A The Amsden-Frank Newsletter Archive

All available newsletters from Chapter 54 have been digitized and are available in the archive. More than 55 years of newsletters have been converted to pdf format thanks to the foresight of chapter members Rosemary Frank and Al Amsden. Frank wrote many of the newsletters and kept meticulous minutes (many of which are attached to the digitized newsletters) as the longtime chapter secretary through the '80s and '90s. Al Amsden saved almost every one of the newsletters, donating his collection to the chapter. The archive, which is available via the drop-down menu under "Newsletters" is organized by decade and each month's primary content is noted on the page.

The newsletter has had several names over its lifespan from EAA Chapter 54 News to Speed's News to The Beacon. Much of the content is valuable today, particularly excellent tech counselor articles and engine maintenance articles from chapter legends such as Bill Schanks and Jim Montague. There are also fascinating reports on journeys members have taken in their aircraft to such destinations as Alaska, Florida, and Yellowstone.

2020-Present editions
2010-2019 editions
2000-2009 editions
1990-1999 editions
1980-1989 editions
1970-1979 editions
1968-1969 editions

February Chapter Video

In the latest episode from the EAA's Charlie Becker:  1.) Virtual Ultralight Days 2.) EAA Aviation Foundation Sweepstakes 3.) EAA Learn To Fly Week 4.) EAA Tribute Opportunities 5.) Chapter Leadership Training. Watch video >>

Noise, chapter future, 3D printing highlight January meeting
Brad Cornell, an airport noise activist, speaks to the chapter

The first regular meeting the presidential term of Marlon Gunderson took a surprising turn on Monday January 8 when the subject of noise complaints around Lake Elmo Airport dominated the early part of the meeting. That's because Brad Cornell, who has led opposition to a flight school and increased airport activity stopped by the meeting and asked to speak.  The meeting also featured a discussion of the chapter's future, with Marlon Gunderson presenting his State of the Chapter report. And member Jim Pearsall displayed hiss 3D printer and conducted a program of aviation uses for 3D printing. Read more >>

January Board of Directors meeting
It was a working meeting on Monday January 2 and members of the Chapter 54 worked through several issues and events facing the chapter including improved WiFi at the chapter house, financial issues, late dues payments (please renew your membership), the membership roster, recruiting volunteers, the creation of a survey to be sure Board efforts align with member wishes, and the process to ensure that new members are properly introduced to the chapter. Ed Trudeau's minutes have been posted.

First newsletter of the year published
EAANewsletter editor and chapter president Marlon Gunderson has some things to say as he outlines issues facing the chapter and Lake Elmo Airport. He's posted the January newsletter. Highlights: Marlon pays tribute to Leif Erickson; the new leadership; who are we and where are we going? Chapter House updates. Hybrid meetings now offered. A review of previous meetings. Lake Elmo Airport noise plan. Find the issue on our newsletter page or wherever fine manuscripts are sold.  At the same time, all available hard-copy editions of the newsletter are being digitized.  You can find links to the archived newsletters at the bottom of any page in the newsletter section. At present, we've scanned copies back to 1977, when the newsletter was called "Speed's News." The first newsletter was published in 1968. Many of these old newsletters have disappeared, including most from the '80s. If you have any you'd like to donate to the chapter, kindly contact Bob Collins.

January chapter video released

(Dec 27)  In the latest episode, EAA boss Jack Pelton looks at what's coming in 2024: leadership academies,  MOSAIC's timetable, advocacy efforts, Young Eagles recap, the 70th anniversary of chapters, Homebuilders Week, ultralight days. Watch video >>

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