Getting to Know the Neighborhood: The Short Story of 68 Airports

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Why is this man smiling?

George Mendonca has been flying for more than 51 years and has just made a personal goal: fly left-seat into all 68 non-privately owned airports within 100 n.m. of his home base in Hayward, California. That took more than you might think, though. Among the airports are SFO (Class B), Oakland and San Jose (Class C) and several military fields. The only way to accomplish this was to start out flying KC-135s for the USAF, then switch to Boeing 737s with United and finally his own Kitfox 4, which you might recognize from KITPLANES Completions. Mendonca logged more than 22,000 hours of flying in his career and still has the enthusiasm to average about 80 hours per year in his Kitfox.

He did get a bit of kidding, though, because almost half of that 100 n.m. circle is over the ocean. Perhaps he’ll try for an aircraft carrier?

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KITPLANES readers will remember Bob Fritz (1947-2011) for his acclaimed Home Machinist series, but his accomplishments go well beyond that long-running feature. Following a stint in the U.S. Navy, Bob put his degree in mechanical engineering to use and was a tireless advocate for effective and consistent quality control. He brought that discipline to his work for KITPLANES. An avid diver and motorcyclist, Bob's love of flying was a surprise to no one.

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