With the Citation Jet Pilots (CJP) Annual Convention drawing in roughly 100 Citations and more than 300 pilots, the addition of smaller Regional Events taking place throughout the year, in various unique venues, was quickly met with interest and enthusiasm from CJP members and their companions.
In years’ past, the group has visited the home of the NASA’s astronaut training program at Ellington Field in Houston, toured the Paul Allen Flying Heritage Collection in Seattle, took in Kermit Weeks’ private aircraft collection in Sanford, Florida, enjoyed an exclusive Napa Valley Wine Train tour, and went behind the scenes at Bell Helicopter in Dallas. Another round of memorable Regional Events were offered to CJP Members in 2014, as well.
In March, the group experienced their first adventure to the Southeastern Caribbean, spending a weekend in The Turks & Caicos Islands. With around 20 Citations making the trip, the weekend was all about new flying experiences, fun, relaxation and friendships – both old and new. As one member stated, “I really enjoyed the destination and meeting new friends. We enjoyed the activities, but mostly time spent with other members.” With limited space available, the 72-hour sellout time confirmed it was a highly anticipated destination and event for CJP members.
The May Regional Event held in Austin, Texas brought an entirely new schedule of events, and along with it some fantastic guest speakers. Beginning with a private tour of Circuit of the Americas (COTA), the group had the rare opportunity to drive 1 of 5 luxury cars around the track (with an experienced instructor on-board!) followed by a very special guest speaker: retired professional motor racer Brett Lunger, who is perhaps most renowned for being one of the drivers who saved Niki Lauda from the flaming remains of his Ferrari F1 racecar during the 1976 German Grand Prix, a scene replayed in the recent release of the film Rush.
Day 2 of the event started with a presentation by Lt. Col. Jon “Huggy” Huggins and his experience flying the U-2. Recognized as the highest-time U-2 pilot in the United States Air Force, Lt. Col. Huggins gave an excellent presentation on his experiences and lessons learned, and also allowed attendees a chance to learn more about the U-2 program. A weekend in Austin wouldn’t be complete without a day of fun on Lake Travis. Members finished off their weekend enjoying some fun and sun aboard their fellow member’s 94-foot houseboat. With perfect weather, around 50 attendees and 15 Citations, Austin – otherwise known as the “Live Music Capital of the World” – provided the perfect fly-in destination for CJP members.
Near the end of June, members packed up their Citations and headed North for the first ever Canadian Regional Event. The picturesque destination of Kelowna, British Columbia brought 15 Citations and included the chance for members to view and demo two new Citations, the Citation M2 and Citation CJ3+. Wine country brought with it numerous opportunities to taste great wines and embark on VIP tours of local wineries, as well as listen to some fantastic speakers.
Captain Al Haynes (below) presented “The Story of Flight 232,” the incredible story captivating the entire group as he recounted the events of July 19, 1989 and the contributing factors that allowed 184 people to survive an “against all odds” crash landing. Without question, Haynes’ is among the greatest stories of aviation leadership. When asked about his favorite part of the weekend, one member stated “It’s always about the folks that attend. It’s the camaraderie of us Citation folks. And to cap off the event we had Capt Haynes!”
Members also took part in some education on thunderstorms. Guest speaker Jim Johnson, often referred to as a “Pilot’s Meteorologist” gave his unique perspective on flying in (and, most importantly, around) stormy weather, focusing his presentation on judgment and decision making when dealing with weather and everyday flying.
With three very successful Regional Events completed for 2014, Event Chairman Cyrus Sigari believes the Regional Events provide participating members with unique flying destinations and a small enough group for attendees to interact personally with one another, share their flying experiences, operating tips, partake in ongoing education and location specific activities and have a lot of fun while doing it!
The 2015 Regional Event calendar kicks off with a 4-day event to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Attendees will join together at the St. Regis Deer Valley for a great schedule of activities, speakers and events to soon be released. Other locations for 2015 are still being finalized, however, and could include such destinations as Salzburg, Austria; Ben Harbor, Maine; Naples, Florida; and San Diego, California.