LAA Southern Strut, UK (Twin Chapter)

The EAA Chapter 186 Board of Directors is pleased to announce our chapter has become a TWIN! Several months ago we received an email from Steve Hutt, a member of the LAA Southern Strut in the UK and RV-7 builder, who would be visiting our area of the US in August and wanted to drop by the chapter house with his wife Corrine to say hello. The LAA, or Light Aircraft Association is similar to the EAA. A “Strut” being their equivalent to a “Chapter.”
From the LAA website:

“We are the UK’s principal representative body for amateur-built and vintage light aircraft. Our history dates back to 1946, originally as the Ultralight Aircraft Association and more latterly the Popular Flying Association, and we are proud to have His Royal Highness, Prince Michael of Kent as patron.

We are a not-for-profit association, owned by our members, providing airworthiness services under direct delegation from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority. We represent the aviation interests of over 8,000 pilot, amateur builder, vintage aircraft owner and enthusiast members, providing sector-leading consultation and lobbying on UK and European aviation regulatory matters. With over 2,500 operational aircraft, including microlights and autogyros, and another 1,700 aircraft under construction, our technical competence is second to none, worldwide.

In addition to our core airworthiness services, we boast a nationwide network of pilot coaches, each familiar with a wide range of light aircraft types and their operation, and also provide technical courses spanning aircraft construction and maintenance aspects. We provide a professionally-produced monthly full-colour member’s magazine and support a nationwide social network of clubs (struts) who organise regular meetings and fly-ins. Our annual LAA Rally, held over a weekend each September, has attracted close to two thousand visiting aircraft and represent the single largest such event in Europe.”

One of the goals of the LAA Southern Strut was to develop relations with an EAA counterpart in the US and start a “Twinning” program. Other LAA Struts have already established such relationships with EAA Chapters– it’s very much the same as having a sister chapter with similar objectives.

Here are the objectives:
• To foster links with a similar like-minded group in another country
• To gain a better understanding of GA flying and aircraft building in another country
• To facilitate international acquaintances/friendships related to flying
• To encourage the possibilities of arranging exchange visits
• To enable social meets at flying events (e.g. Sun’n’Fun/Oshkosh Duxford/LAA Rally/AeroEx)

Goodwood Airfield, England

Goodwood Airfield, England

So on Saturday, August 30th, in between their visits to the National Mall, the WWII Memorial, and the Air & Space Museum, Steve and his lovely wife Corinne made time to drop by our chapter house (truly a DC landmark in its own right) just in time for our deck BBQ. And what a visit it was! Steve and Corrine are truly delightful people and aviation enthusiasts. The members present all mentioned to us what a delight it was to meet them and to share and compare our aviation interests. The following is an article Steve posted in their newsletter, and we think he recaps the meeting quite nicely! Next time you plan a trip to the UK, be sure to contact Steve and the LAA Southern Strut — We know they will be thrilled to meet you! They meet “on the first Wednesday of the month near Shoreham Airport (currently at The Swiss Cottage) at 8pm for social chats about aeroplanes and flying, with the occasional invited speaker. We also organise flying and social events.”

Southern Strut’s New U.S. Twin
by Steve Hutt

I’ve just returned from a great holiday in the U.S.A. We flew into Washington D.C. But the main theme of the holiday was visiting American Civil War history sites such as Gettysburg, Antietem, Fredericksburg and Richmond. While planning the trip I did a quick search for EAA local chapters in the vicinity and came across the EAA Chapter 186 ( EAA 186 are a very active chapter that has many and frequent events and it was my good fortune to find they were having a meeting and BBQ on the very day we were going to be driving by. So, I thought there was nothing to lose, and dropped them a line to see if they’d mind if I dropped in to say “Hello”.

I soon received a very hospitable reply from Sande Miller-Long (Vice President of EAA 186), saying I was most welcome, explaining how to find them and what was planned for the day. So, on 30th August, enroute from Frederick, MD, to Fredericksburg, VA, we dropped into Manassas Regional Airport to meet the folks of EAA 186, and had a lovely time comparing notes on the differences between flying in the US and the UK.

EAA 186 is a relatively large chapter. Although not everyone is involved all the time and some members have moved away retaining their membership just to keep in touch, they do have around 250 members. One very impressive fact Sande told me was how many Young Eagles flights the chapter flies – around a thousand per year! Young Eagles is an EAA programme to encourage young people into aviation by getting them up in the air. Sande said there were only a few EAA chapter that do more Young Eagle flights than them, and EAA 186 are hot on their heels.

EAA 186 members fly from airfields all around the Washington D.C. area but their chapter base is at Manassas Regional. As bases go, it is pretty amazing. We’d be well pleased to have something similar. The EAA 186 Chapter House is airside at Manassas Regional, next to the control tower. They have a small hangar that they hire out to members for final assembly of airplane build projects and they have a large meeting room with computer/flight planning desk and kitchen facilities plus attached decking overlooking the runway. The decking is the perfect venue for their regular BBQs.

Manassas Regional is an interesting airport. It is probably 50% bigger than Shoreham and has a wide mix of traffic, from small experimental a/c up to large biz jets. Being so close to Washington D.C. makes it a popular business entry point to the capital. Proximity to Washington does impose some constraints on flying. Airspace restrictions and rules mean they have to submit flight plans for all flights into/out of Manassas and comply with special procedures. Apparently the locals manage ok with these constraints but it does put off some visitors from dropping in.

You may recall many months back that we, that is LAA Southern Strut, agreed to establish a ‘Twinning’ programme with similar groups around the world and I volunteered to co-ordinate it. Well, I’ve not had much time to move this forward since then. But this visit to EAA 186 was too good an opportunity to miss, so I put the idea to Sande of EAA 186 twinning with the LAA Southern Strut and the idea was very well received. Sande said they tended to use the term ‘sister’ organisations but the concept is exactly the same. Sande is very keen to move the idea forward.

Since then Sande and I and Richard Griffiths have exchanged some emails and we are going to sort out announcements to go on our respective websites. This is just the beginning of the things of course and it will be a long term process. Getting connections going between the two groups would be good so we need to take advantage of any opportunities that arise in the coming years. Hopefully we will get some EAA 186 visitors to the UK that we can meet up with and likewise if any of us get to visit Washington. And I’m sure EAA 186 members go to Oshkosh and Sun’n’Fun just like we do, so that’s another possibility to meet up. Do let me know if you have any ideas/opportunities and I will do my best to help make the most of them.

It’s a bit ironic that on my recent holiday, Manassas was the one place we visited where we didn’t have the chance to visit the American Civil War history sites, so I’ve got a good reason to visit Manassas again!

Visit the LAA Southern Strut website.

Steve's panel

Steve’s panel