What Can I Expect at a Typical Fly-in?

New members may not have had a chance to participate in a Western States fly-in before, so here’s a brief overview to let you know what to expect at a typical fly-in.

The Western States Association of Sheriff’s Air Squadrons (WSASAS) is a group of fifteen volunteer flying organizations from Arizona, California, and Nevada who support law enforcement agencies. There are roughly 450 individual members. We’ve been around since 1956 and periodically gather for training and friendly competitions.

Fly-ins are a three-day event that lets us get together to share our experiences, compete, and practice our search and locate skills. Most attendees arrive on Friday afternoon and depart Sunday morning. A greeting committee will meet those arriving by plane at the hosting squadron’s local airport. All transportation, lunches, and dinners are provided by the hosting squadron and funded through your registration fees. You’re welcome to bring guests. Sometimes hosting squadrons may provide alternate activities such as outings to local shopping areas for those not participating in the scheduled events.

For shooters, there’s a 30-shot “Camp Perry” style pistol shooting competition. Matches are held for both .38/9mm and .45 caliber shooters. Our handicap scoring system allows everyone to compete against shooters of similar skills. The range is open both Friday afternoon and Saturday morning but you’re strongly encouraged to shoot Friday afternoon so that your Saturday schedule isn’t rushed.

The Saturday flying competition consists of a spot landing, a message drop, and various search and locate tasks. Any equipment or technology you want to use is permitted; from paper sectionals to iPads, etc. You’ll be assigned several waypoints to locate and describe. Be prepared to deal with LAT/LONG coordinates in any of the many possible formats. You might be assigned a grid search (using Civil Air Patrol gridding convention).  The morning briefing will present the task, provide safety pointers and procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

On Saturday afternoon, there’s a training seminar/workshop that covers topics relevant to our search and locate mission. With drones are becoming an increasingly valuable law enforcement tool, this is a current topic of interest for many. Learning from other Squadron’s drone programs, you may be able to greatly increase your contribution to your law enforcement agency.

Also on Saturday afternoon, there is a Squadron Council meeting. This is where we handle the business of Western States: Nominations and Election of Officers, Officer Reports, Rule Changes, New/Old Business, and discussion of upcoming events. All are welcome to attend.

The Saturday evening award banquet is when the shooting and flying competition scores are revealed. Trophies are presented to the pilots, observers, and shooters for their individual performance. Squadrons receive team awards for the combined scores of their members.

You’re encouraged to participate in the Western States fly-ins. Whether it’s training, brushing up rusty skills, learning about new technology, or just enjoying the comradery, there should be something of value for everyone. Our organization exists for the benefit of our members and relies on your participation to achieve this objective.