What is the Michigan Air Tour?
The Michigan Air Tour is a celebration of aviation in Michigan as well as a demonstration to the public of both the economic and social importance airports and aviation have within the state. Although the modern day Michigan Air Tour began as a historic tribute to the original 1929 tour, it has evolved into its own as an annual weekend flying and social event.
Is the Michigan Air Tour a race?
Absolutely not. It is an opportunity to see Michigan's wonderful scenery from the air, potentially discover new destinations, and meet new friends. There are no prizes for the one that gets there first and no one will judge how long it took you to get there. The only thing that counts is that you get there safe.
What about sport planes?
All general aviation aircraft, including sport planes, are welcome on the MAT. We try to make the destinations far enough apart to appeal to the faster plane pilots and close enough together so that all planes and pilots can pariticipate.
I noticed that on some tours the course depicted shows us going over water. Do I HAVE to follow the course depicted to each of the stops?
No. You are the Pilot In Command and you are the final authority on how your flight is conducted. Many times, a route might be depicted as crossing over water, but that is to simply show what direction the tour is taking to the next stop. In the case of crossing large bodies of water, most pilots will alter their course so that their exposure over water is minimal (as in the case of crossing from the Lower Peninsula to the UP).
Do I have to follow behind the aircraft that took off in front of me all the way to the next stop?
No. There are many different kinds of aircraft that fly on the Michigan Air Tour. A slower or faster aircraft may take off in front of you but it is not expected or even recommended that you follow behind that aircraft. As Pilot In Command, you must fly at the speed that is appropriate for your aircraft and that makes you comfortable.
I’m concerned about flying with so many different kinds of airplanes, especially entering the pattern and trying to land.
That's common question asked by people that have never been on the Michigan Air Tour before. Each leg of the tour is designed to be of sufficient length to allow “like” aircraft to “group” so that not everyone arrives at the same time. In addition, there is a hard limit on the total number of aircraft that can participate in the tour to help ensure that even among like aircraft there aren't too many aircraft in the pattern at any one time. In practice, landing at an airport on the air tour is no different than landing at typical pancake breakfast destination.
I don't have an instrument rating. What do I do if the weather goes below VFR minimums or my personal minimums?
The Michigan Air Tour has always been a VFR tour. Over the many years of the Air Tour, there have been occasions where the weather precluded VFR flight and alternative plans were made. That is part of the fun of the tour. There have even been entire tours where the participants actually drove to the destinations due to weather. The tour will never continue under IFR.
Is the Michigan Air Tour safe?
Safety is the number one priority on the Michigan Air Tour. The airports on the tour are selected based on having a hard surface, and a minimum runway length of 3,000 feet. Whereever possible parallel taxiways are preferred to ensure a smooth flow in and out of the airport.The MAT has a safety committee which reviews the planned route and makes changes, where necessary, to ensure safe flight and operation both in the air and on the ground. In addition, the safety committee works with the airport personnel to ensure safe movement of aircraft and people on the ground. Distances between stops on the air tour are selected to allow time for the various types of aircraft to spread out along the leg and results in staggered arrivals at the destination airport in groups of similar performing aircraft. At each stop we will have people to help marshal aircraft as well as a designated individual who is responsible for checking-in each aircraft as it arrives. In the case of an overdue aircraft, we will alert search and rescue. As Pilot In Command, you are responsible for, and the final authority on, all aspects of your flight while on the air tour including weight and balance, fuel, weather briefings, and making the Go/No-Go decision. The safety committee includes a designated individual who will act as a weather advisor. At the start of each leg this individual is responsible for determining if the tour will continue based on prevailing weather conditions. This can include bypassing a stop on the tour or simply stopping the tour until the weather improves. The weather advisor will meet with the pilots as a group so that information can be shared and any concerns can be addressed. If at any time you are uncomfortable with any aspect of the flight, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever changes are necessary to ensure the safety of your flight including making a No-Go decision. We do ask that you advise us of your plans so that we can account for you on the tour.
What do I do if I'm uncomfortable landing at one of the stops on the Michigan Air Tour?
Not all airports are created equal and there may be a rare time when a number of factors might make landing at a particular airport uncomfortable. In that case, you could wait to depart giving time for other aircraft to arrive; or you could go on to the next airport and make some new friends while waiting for the tour to catch up with you. Whatever you decide as Pilot In Command, we do ask that you advise us of your plans so that we can account for you on the tour.
My question isn't listed here where can I go to get an answer?
Contact us using the form here. We'll be happy to answer your questions.