Time is getting close for the start of our annual event and plans are being finalized for the oldest and largest gathering in the Mooney family – the Mooney Aircraft Pilots Association Homecoming, once again at the home of Mooney in Kerrville, Texas.  September 27th will find dozens of Mooneys converging on the Kerrville – Louis Schreiner Field (KERV) in the quaint Hill Country town where all Mooneys are born.  And we are planning the biggest event ever.

Once again, the Kerrville Airport will close runway 3/21 in front of the factory for our convention use.  It will become the Official Homecoming Aircraft Parking Area as well as the location of “Airport Day” and the “Aircraft Beauty Contest” on Saturday.  Here is where the Welcome vans will pick up attendees who fly in on Wednesday the 27th and transport them to the host hotel, the Inn of the Hills Hotel and Conference Center where all other activities will take place.

Wednesday even we will all meet in the Exhibit area for our Welcome Reception hosted by our outstanding group of exhibitors.  And we are gathering the very best in service and support entities found in the Mooney world.  A complete list will be posted on our website soon, but expect to see Garmin International, Concord Battery, Don Maxwell Aviation, Continental Motors, Lake Aero Styling & Repair, Falcon Insurance Agency and of course Mooney International present.

For those who have never been to Homecoming, after the reception Wednesday evening, things really start Thursday.  This day is dedicated to our exhibitors with all activities including breakfast in the exhibit area.  After the exhibits close, attendees are free to get dinner at the hotel or one of the great restaurants in Kerrville, but be sure to save room for dessert back at the hotel because Thursday night is the MAPA exclusive Ice Cream Social where we provide the ice cream in a Commerative coffee cup that you get to keep.

Friday starts the educational portion of the convention as we begin a full day of seminars beginning with a welcome from the MAPA staff and an update on activities at the Mooney factory from Mooney International management.  After this opening, we will begin with our speakers.  We are assembling a great list of seminars including (but not limited to) Don Maxwell (fun maintenance stull), Dr. Bob Achtel (fun medical stuff), the new ownership at Lake Aero Styling, Tom Harnett (taxes and you Mooney), Dr. Larry Marshall (AME), Garmin International (TBD), Mooney International tech support, Don Grunke (Concord Battery) and Appareo (TBD).  We are adding exhibitors and speakers daily so watch the next issue of the LOG (and the website www.mooneypilots.com) for updates.  Also on Friday, we have a special luncheon for the ladies at a surprise location in the Kerrville area.  There will be a singular presentation just for them.

Saturday is Airport Day, so after we finish any additional seminars that morning, we will all go to the aircraft parking area at KERV to see the beautiful Mooneys and make our selections for our favorites one in each model category.  Saturday will also be the opportunity to tour the newly renovated Mooney International factory as we have arranged for special tours for our convention attendees led by Mooney employees.  Lunch will be served on the runway during all this and then in early afternoon we will all go back to the hotel to rest up (or to town to shop) before the final event of the convention – the Farewell Banquet.

Saturday night we will all gather in the Grand Ballroom of the Inn of the Hills to share more fellowship, a good meal, learn whose Mooney won the “Best in Category” award, win some prizes and listen to a dynamic speaker – Brian Shul.

Brian Shul is a Vietnam War-era attack pilot and a retired major in the United States Air Force.  He served as a Foreign Air Advisor flying 212 close air support missions in conjunction with Air America.  Near the end of all hostilities, his AT-28 aircraft was shot down near the Cambodian border.  Unable to eject from the aircraft, Shul was forced to crash land into the jungle.  Surviving the initial impact of the crash, he suffered severe burns in the ensuing fireball.  Crawling from the burning wreckage, and surviving in hostile territory with extensive wounds for more than a day, he was able to find the most secure location to camouflage himself.  There was a point, due to his location, he had patrolling guards within a few yards distance, he was unsure of his judgement and thought they were hallucinations.

The rescue mission was not immediate due to his location having dense enemy numbers, foliage that was even worse for aerial support, and the fact that he could not stay near the crash site.  With a combination of resources, his general area was later located and confirmed that there was no body at the crash site.  Upon activating his radio, confirming his identity and his general location, so as to prevent enemy attack, although even Shul was not sure exactly where he was, but knew a rough grid.  This initiated an aerial search of the area till his exact location was determined by his confirmation of American aircraft in view.  The only timely way to recover Shul would be helicopter, and it would likely be under fire, considering those facts along with the recovery plan allocating more than usual time on the ground due to his extensive burns, complex location with enemies, and the fact that he was not sure exactly where he was, the recovery team choice was critical and easy.  Conventional forces, such as typical Army Infantry and Medics would not do the time for them to plan the scenarios that could occur, combined with the larger risk on Shul's and their own lives due to lack of experience, variety of techniques, skills, equipment, and close air integration gave an operation employing small unit tactics with high flexibility in all areas.

Air Force Special Operations Command Pararescue teams were the best choice in this situation, given the team's: post-paramedic medical and surgical skills, battlefield trauma expertise and unique crash injury knowledge; helicopter operations skills for exfiltration including aircrew skills (among other methods, but since they had to search first, helicopters were used to insert the teams); infiltration methods could be kept flexible to suit any need; the small unit tactics used by these teams were similar to Naval and Army SOF small unit tactics, except more specialized due to more technical duties and skillsets, but less of them overall.

He was evacuated to a military hospital in Okinawa where he was thought to have suffered terminal burns.  Barely surviving 2 months of intensive care, in 1974 he was flown to the Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.  During the following year, he underwent 15 major operations.  During this time, he was told by physicians that he’d never fly again and was lucky to be alive.  Months of physical therapy followed, enabling Shul to eventually pass a flight physical and return to active flying duty.

Brian Shul has captivated audiences nationwide with his motivating story of perseverance and triumph over tragedy.  His ability to present a serious message with candor and wit has made him a favorite at a variety of functions.  Coupled with his unique aviation slides, his talks are truly one of a kind. Brian spoke to MAPA during Homecoming in 2006 and was a big hit.  We are delighted that he has agreed to a curtain call and will again offer his insightful and highly motivating talk again this year.

Registration for the 2017 Homecoming celebration can be made via the website (www.mooneypilots.com), by completing the form found in this issue of the MAPA LOG, or calling the office at 830-315-8008.  The registration fee is $190 per person if made prior to Sept 1st after which it goes to $260 per person.  Registration gives entry to all planned meals (hospitality on the 27th, Breakfast with the exhibitors Sept 28th, Ice Cream Social, the Ladies Luncheon, Airport Day tours and lunch, admission into the exhibit area, seminars and the Banquet Saturday night).

We have arranged a special convention rate at the Inn of the Hills of $99 per night plus tax if room reservations are made before August 25 after which the room rate will return to the seasonal rack rate.  Call the Inn directly at 800-292-5690 and let them know that you are attending the Mooney Pilots Association convention.

Rental cars are available through Kerrville Aviation (830-257-8840) and the will offer a special fuel price for Homecoming attendees.

So, make plans and mark Sept 27-Sept 30, and get your registration in, and then head to the Texas Hill Country for 4 days of fun, education and food.


Trey Hughes
Executive Director
Mooney Aircraft Pilots Assoc.