More than 100 Mooney aircraft are scheduled to flock to East Texas Regional Airport later this week for a four-day conference that also offers passengers a chance to make their role in a flight more significant.
“They’ll have about 100 to 150 airplanes, depending on the weather,” Airport Manager Roy Miller said of the Mooney planes that are built in Kerrville and serviced at Don Maxwell Aviation Services at the airport.
“He’s expanding his operations,” Miller said of Maxwell, who co-owns the Mooney service hangar with his wife, Jan. “He’s going to almost double in size.”
The MooneyMax fly-in starts Thursday and runs through the weekend at the airport and at Hilton Garden Inn on Hawkins Parkway just west of Fourth Street. Speakers will share their technical knowledge at several events at both the airport and the hotel.
The public also can join a two-day, Right Seat Ready clinic that helps people shed their fear of flying and even provides basic flight skills in the event the passenger in the “right seat” next to the pilot must take over.
Jan Maxwell said she developed the copyright program about 14 years ago and has taught it across the country. She later brought on Jolie Lucas, a California psychotherapist, to help with the popular class.
The clinic is for both passengers and anyone who thinks they might like to learn to fly.
“We teach them in two days all the information they need to know to get the plane on the ground,” she said. “We teach the person in the right seat how to know what to watch for. ... We’re open to anybody that wants to come. It’s a great introduction for anybody; it’s a great introduction for young people that might want to fly some day. We do it in an informal, fun format.”
Cost is $199. The course is from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at the hotel and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the airport.
The clinic covers navigation, instrumentation, a lesson on how to interact with air traffic controllers and, in the “so-slim” chance the pilot becomes incapacitated, how to safely land with instructions from the tower.
“We use a simulator,” she said. “We take them over to the tower. They meet the people; they learn what goes on behind the scenes.”
For information or to sign up for the class, call Maxwell Aviation Services at (903) 643-9902.
Maxwell said the Mooney aircraft are built in the only airplane manufacturing facility in Texas. She said a MooneyMax fly-in last fall was a big success.
“And they were wanting us to do another one,” she said. “So, it looks like it’s turning into an annual event, and more than likely, it’ll stay in Longview.”