EAA Chapter 54

St. Paul, MN. (Lake Elmo)

(March 27, 2024)


Marlon Gunderson



From the Flight Deck




The Passing of the Beacon
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.

Chapter Activity
Bob's eBeacons and website news this year have kept you abreast of chapter news, board meetings, and member meeting topics including 3D printing in January, a Fireside Chat in February, a conversation with the Sonex CEO in March, Emma Gaustad's IFR rating, Anna Donovan's Ray Scholarship award, and, tragically, the passing of our friends and fellow chapter members Pat Moore and Mitch Zahler. I joined several dozen chapter members at the memorial gathering Vicky Moore arranged for Pat in White Bear Lake on March 15th. It was a beautiful farewell to a beloved husband, father, and friend that left me wishing I had spent more time with Pat while I had the chance. His was a life well lived. Beloved as well, the memorial for Mitch Zahler is scheduled for April 5th.

The First Chapter Dues Increase in 20 Years
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.

Despite recent deficits and lack of Fly-In fundraisers, the chapter is in reasonable financial shape due to reserves maintained for building restoration projects and to lack of EAA Academy scholarships awarded during and since the pandemic. But these reserves have been in slow decline and will be needed for planned clubhouse renovation and maintenance projects. As a 501c3 organization we dedicate our fundraiser income to support of youth summer camp scholarships and activities, and we advertise our fundraisers as such. The public can rightfully be expected to more enthusiastically support fundraisers that benefit local youth than they would be to support the expenses of a clubhouse for private aviation hobbyists. Our members need to collectively cover the recurring costs of maintaining our clubhouse, and the dues are an equitable way to do that. At just 40% of the proverbial $100 hamburger pilots are reputed to chase, it should we within our reach. While our membership may sometimes fall below 100 people, or our expenses may exceed $4000, we do expect to continue to occasionally receive additional member donations in the way of member or estate charitable giving and voluntary round-ups of dues contributions. We are very thankful for those who do so!

A Running Start to the Flying Season
Lots of activities ramp up the flying season quickly in April and May. I and several other chapter board members will be attending a local EAA HQ led Boot Camp hosted at ANE EAA Chapter 237 on April 6th. Then May lights up with our first Young Eagles rally, then Learn to Fly week culminating with a Ch.54 Flying Start event on the 18th. GMAG, the Greater Minnesota Aviation Gathering runs May 17-18th , which I'll be attending the 17th, and I'll probably hit a Fly In event at New Richmond on the 18th before stopping by the Flying Start event at 21D. And our Education Director is looking into hosting a hangar tour for Farnsworth Elementary sometime during May. Keep an eye on your email inbox for notice of Flyout events, monthly meeting topics, and other summer events. We'll have a good contingent of members as usual at Airventure '24, including a Chapter 54 beachhead in Camp Scholler, and possibly a midweek pancake breakfast fundraiser in Camp Scholler if we win the chapter lottery for that. And then in August....

2024 Chapter 54 Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser at 21D
Reading the tea leaves from the partially completed membership survey, and leaning forward a little, Bob, Jay, and I have formed a planning committee to resurrect the Chapter pancake breakfast for 2024. We haven't had one since 2017! This event is good for the chapter, for the airport, for the surrounding community, and for pilots all over the region looking for an excuse to visit that shiny new runway in the East Metro. For chapter members and local pilots it's a chance to roll out our aircraft to show the public what we do, and to pay back visiting pilots who have hosted us at their Fly Ins around the region. We shouldn't be the only metro airport to not host a Fly In for their community. It builds chapter cohesion to work towards a common goal and we need a revenue source to support our EAA Academy summer camp scholarships. It will be a great way to proudly showcase our newly improved airport and to support our local FBO, Elmo Aero, and its dedicated owners and staff. Mark your calendars: it will be Sunday August 11th, the traditional 2nd August Sunday we've done in the past, conveniently avoiding conflict with the Milaca and Redwing Fly-ins the previous weekend and the Forest Lake and Boyceville FlyIns the following weekend and coinciding with Lake Elmo's Huff n' Puff Days which draws people to the area that weekend. Planning has just commenced. Stay tuned for the call to volunteer. We need and want you all to help pull this off. It'll be fun, and a day later we'll have a volunteers' BBQ celebration at the monthly members meeting to share stories from AirVenture '24 and from our own Fly In.

The Lake Elmo Airport Advisory Council meeting on February 26th continued to be a lightning rod for community noise complaints, but the commission did review and approve, with minor revision, the new Lake Elmo Airport Noise Abatement Plan. See the meeting notes for a presentation of the history of 21D's long term comprehensive plan since the original one in 1968. The Noise Abatement Plan currently in effect can be found via the 'Noise Management' tab of the MAC's Lake Elmo Airport web page.

At the March 26th Regional Airport Advisory Council, MAC Regional Airports Assistant Director Kelly Gerads briefed the council on the review of rates and charges for airport tenants currently underway. The rate review has been completed and MAC will be sending, in May, information and notices for hearings and meetings to share their recommendations with tenants and stake holders. The review has concluded that the current lease rates for storage tenants are appropriate and there are only two recommendations of change that would affect storage tenants that are under consideration: elimination of the sublease fee for hangar owners who rent out space, and reduction of the annual lease rate escalator by 10% from 3.3% per year to 3% per year. These are both positive developments relative to status quo for storage lease tenants at MAC reliever airports. Commercial lease rates, which are considerably lower than storage lease rates, may experience a slight increase. Proposed changes will be communicated in May, reviewed in public MAC hearings in July, and implementation is targeted for January 1, 2025.

Thanks for reading. I hope to see you all at upcoming member meetings and chapter events!

- Marlon

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