Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mindanao Saga Flying Club revives old airport

The first and only flying club in Mindanao and Visayas, the Mindanao Saga Flying Club (MSFC) in Mati City, Davao Oriental, is driving visitors to an old facility that has not been of much use for decades now, as it offers exceptional flying experience to both local and foreign adventurous travelers.

Making sounds and waves in social media nowadays, the business runway of this flying club has been significantly changed since 2014 as traffic of tourists who intends to try its 15-minute trial instructional flight (TIF) continues to grow.

The club is located at the seldom-used Mati National Airport formerly known as Imelda R. Marcos Airport in Dahican, Mati City, with 13 aircraft composed of seven ultra-light flying planes and six light-sport aircraft. At present it has over 20 active flying member pilots.

IƱaki Sievert, president and general manager of the club, said in an interview with Sun.Star Davao that the number of trial flights catapulted from 390 in 2014 to 932 in 2015, an increase of 138.3 percent, same with its number of aircraft rentals from 86 to 172, a growth of 100 percent.

“As more and more smart and adventurous travelers showed interest in trying new things, MSFC taps that potential by utilizing the power of social media,” he said.

He said that back in 2013, when they first introduced the TIF, tourists only visited there by chance. Starting late 2014, visitor traffic has been driven by Facebook and Instagram.

“The club wanted for the place (Mati) to be recognized as something adventurous, something fun not just because of the beach. This is the only flying club in Mindanao and Visayas,” he said.

“We want to share the joy and thrill of flying in this part of the country,” he added.

Opening the skies for everyone since 2012, MSFC, through ultralight flying, enables anyone to witness and be amused by the beautiful and picturesque landscape of Mati City, from its white sand, clear blue beaches facing the Pacific Ocean, coconut plantations, mangroves, and green mountains.

Pioneered by the club owner, Retired Colonel Samuel G. Afdal (Saga), the club’s paramount concern for all its customers and members is safety, thus achieving a zero accident incident since it operated.

“We are keeping that record because of our strict safety measures,” said Captain BJ Grasparil, MSFC chief flight instructor.

The aircraft have its own parachute equipment, pilots are well-trained on all possible emergency procedures, weather monitoring is well observed to avoid difficulty in flying and emergency landing.

For interested customers, best time to fly as advised are between 5:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The ultra-light planes, as designed for slow and low flight, the open type can fly as high as 6,000 feet and as far as 120 nautical miles, while the closed-type is capable of soaring until 10,000 feet in a maximum range of 400 nautical miles.

However, for TIF, pilots normally fly the customers between 200 to 800 feet. All these for an affordable price of P1,600 for 15 minutes.

Laying down its future plans for the club, Inaki said that the owner’s ultimate goal is to provide not just flying experience but also something a family can bond and learn flying.

“We want this to be a one-stop adventure for the family, friends and even couples. There are plans to establish a pool area here and a commercial flying school,” Inaki said.

Original article can be found here:

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