Around the Airport

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Final Sinful Sunday of 2018 is August 12

You heard it right folks. The final Sinful Sunday of 2018 is this Sunday, August 12th.  Hope to see you here. Thanks again to the RAF for hosting it.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Will Your Plane Die With You?

The photo above was taken at Silo Field, Lexington, Kentucky. Of note in the image is
a yellow Piper Cub (left), polished Spartan Executive (landing), convertible
Mustang (right side, green and behind tree), and an XKE Jaguar (foreground).
Below is something I posted on LinkedIn four years ago. It was forgotten to me until a friend recently referenced it. When a family member ended up being asked a very similar question from a homebuilder I decided I would place it here for you to read. Like it or not, there is a large segment of aviation rapidly approaching a turning point - a point where people do the tough things to help it survive or the easy things and let it go.

Will Your Plane Die With You?

What do you see when you look at this photo? Most eyes land on the obvious; the blue sky, Piper Cub, Mustang convertible, Spartan Executive, and beautiful E-type Jag. Yet, what lies hidden in this image is a valuable lesson.
The Cub tells us some things don’t lose their value as much as others, the Mustang reminds us that pure and simple are typically the best things in life, and the Spartan is a great example of how the prettiest things need constant polishing. But again, those things are obvious?
What isn’t so easy to see is the lesson contained within that beautiful red Jag. Bought new by a gentlemen while overseas in the service, only recently did it change hands. When I saw it I stood at stared at its beauty. Imagine buying that at the dealership and still having it. So what’s the lesson?
Well, look at it. It’s a dream on wheels. Would you want that car? If the owner offered it to you would you take it? I mean, if the guy who bought it originally were to call you up and say, “You know Fred, we’re like family and if you want the car you can have it”, would you say, “No”? Can you imagine anyone saying no to that? Well, here’s the thing, as it was told to me, that’s what his kids said. They didn’t want it; had no interest. But, up to that point he thought they would. That’s why he asked.
Are you starting to see the lesson?
That big plan of yours to give your vintage plane to one of your kids, well, it may be nothing but a fantasy. The fact they fly with you and have a pilot’s license is no different than kids who have a driver’s license and talk to you about your old car. Chances are really quite good that when the time comes they’ll not want it or to take care of it, and most likely would rather sell it. If it doesn’t make sense to them, it doesn’t matter how much it makes sense to you.
But there’s more to this than your kids. This demographic shift will play heavily on the values and the future disposition of our vintage fleet(note: four years later it already has). For those of us who want the planes to be preserved and flown, this is something we must face head on and be willing to discuss.
Do we want these planes to take on the role of rare cars that are trailered from one event to the next; only started for show? Is our number one priority to make a killing on the sale of them to a trophy room collector whose biggest thrill is overpaying at auction? Or, do we really believe the talk and are willing to walk the walk to keep them alive?
If the later is you, the time is fast approaching where you’ll need to find someone you trust with the plane; an individual who would love the plane and keep flying it; a person who may not be able to pay you the full fortune you once imagined. I realize that’s a tough idea for many people, especially those from the parenting generation of “give your kids everything”. But, if you love that plane and want it to go to a home where it will be taken care of and flown on a regular basis, your kids may not be getting that truckload of money they fantasize about. Are you OK with that? Good, then there's one additional thing we need to discuss.
What happens if you die without a thorough will? Do you trust your family to do the right thing with your plane once you've passed? If you don’t find it a home before you are gone it’s only going to cause problems for everyone. Even worse, your actions will have likely set the scene for disaster.
Allowing your family to believe a vintage plane is worth a fortune, when it is not, is irresponsible. Yet, either by the owner's desire to believe it himself, or to convince family the money spent on the plane wasn't a bad investment, this belief is what most owners leave behind. Therefore, if this is your situation (don't fool yourself, this is likely you), once you’re gone the wife and kids will be looking to sell it as soon as possible to anyone offering top dollar. Unfortunately though, after you pass, what they believe they know about plane will be largely incorrect. That in turn means they’ll be left believing everyone is out to take advantage of them because every offer will seem like a low-ball.
Next, brokers will show up and reinforce the notion of a high value in hopes of getting a big commission. The family will cling to these dreams, sign a contract, and hold out for that big payoff that never comes. Meanwhile they’ll be getting angrier and angrier as the low but realistic offers continue to trickle in. Then when they are at their wits’ end, they’ll do one of three things.
One, they’ll let it go to some dreamer friend of yours who’ll truck it home and there it will sit. Two, and as hard as it is to believe, they’ll chose another resolution; they’ll scrap it or let it rot. Or finally, they’ll give it to a museum. This they’ll do because they can justify it in their minds as something you would like and also because they can get a highly inflated appraisal to help them with potential tax issues. And yet, none of these are good options if you’d rather that plane go to someone who’ll treat it like family and keep it flying the way you did.
I know the subject of dying is a tough discussion. But, if you’re one of those people who have ever stated proudly, “I’m not the plane’s owner, but merely its caretaker”, then it’s time to think about who its next shepherd will be. Of course, there’s always the chance you merely latched onto this popular gratuitous statement as a way make yourself sound really deep and complex when asked about the airplane at fly-ins. If that’s you, people will remember your BS the same way people remember sports players who claim to do it all for their fans then take the highest salary they can find and move elsewhere. But, whichever of these people you are, and without passing judgment, I hope you’ll at least try to find a new owner that will keep the old bird flying. Leaving the decision up to your family, or looking only to get top dollar, will betray who you said you were and the airplane you claimed to love.
So there you have it; the upbeat subject of the day. Nobody likes thinking about death. But, if you really are its shepherd I encourage you to think it through. Others may look at it and see nothing more than an object, but let’s face it - most of us know at least one airplane that feels alive to us. The decisions you make will determine if it lives.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Stop to See the Shadows

The shadow created by clouds on the horizon at sunrise.

"Do you see that?" Outside of "Where the eph are we going", "Why is it doing that", and "Shouldn't we be higher", this is probably the most common question I have on the flight deck. Cruising along at three-four-zero, I'm amazed at the number of other pilots who fail to see what can only be seen "up there." I don't know why that is but I suspect it has to do with the never ending effort to remove everything that is beautiful or moral from all that is good. Never let that happen to you.

The Beast Visits Lee Bottom

Our good friend Mike Rutledge recently stopped by for the night in what could best be described as an aviation time capsule. Known to most as "the Beast," it is the last flying unrestored Stearman cropduster in its cropduster configuration. Get that?

Essentially a critical piece of aviation history, it is the Stearman cropduster of aviation lore. Drug around by a "1340," lifted by extended wings, and full of hopper tank, it displays the pinnacle of Stearman duster mods in a way that has to be seen to believed.

If you happen to run across it somewhere, stop and take it all in. I believe it is one of the most underrated pieces of aviation history flying today.

I always wanted one of these to be saved. Now, thanks to the Schiffer brothers, I can rest knowing one has. Flying it was pure bonus.  Thanks Mike. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

No Sinful Sunday in July

There will be NO SINFUL SUNDAY IN JULY of 2018. Please pass the word around. The August Sinful Sunday will be hosted by the RAF and will be August 12th.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Sinful Sunday is One Week Away

The first Sinful Sunday of 2018 is June 10th.  We hope to see you here.

2017 was a successful year for Sinful Sundays and our effort to get more groups involved. Two of those groups will be hosting this first event of 2018. The organizations are the Bluegrass Chapter of Women in Aviation and the 99's. Together these "volunteers" will be offering Bernoulli Small Batch Ice Cream and a classic summer picnic lunch.

We hope to see you here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Thoughts on Life; Lived or Wasted?

Twenty years ago, this April 5th, I made a decision. It was time to get on with it. I was thirty. Soon, I'll be fifty.

Somewhere, I can't remember where, I recently wrote about forty and a lesson taught to me in college by a favorite professor. When you hit your forties, that's it. That is what you've accomplished and that's pretty much where you will spend the rest of your life. Wherever you are on the ladder, that's your rung. Your climbing days are over.

No doubt many of you are poo-pooing this notion at this very moment. It goes against every flowery, bullshit, rehashed and repackaged, self-empowerment book you ever bought to convince yourself there was hope - that you could be more. It was a lie. That optimistic mysticism bought for 20% off was little more than a repackaged politician offering hope. All you had to do was donate, lean forward. You bought it, literally and figuratively.

Don't lie. I know you read, "What Color is Your Parachute." Well, I'm sorry, but if you're over forty your skydiving days are over too. And what the hell were you thinking using it as a guide for raising kids? Sorry. There I go again, digressing. (Mental Note - is this a sign of dementia? Make Dr. appointment).

I get it. It's not a great feeling to be shown the door to reality. It sucks. For those of you planning to see "After 40" in theaters anytime soon, here's a spoiler alert - it doesn't stop there. Each successive year reality grows a new head that's ugly, and wrinkled, and filled with conversations of doctor visits, death, and "kids these days." Holy $*&# kids these days(Mental Note - tell Dr. it's increasing).

Then, one day, one very scary crap yourself after a night of beer and tacos day, you wake up smelling of old age instead of sex and wonder what the fuck happened. Well, no fucks happened - that's what happened. But life certainly did, and to add insult to soiled flannel pajamas it did so with no push-back from you. That's the scary part.

Imagine sitting at some crappy desk in your typical on-air police station.  There's a German-American chick who is a serious cop, an Asian lady you're pretty sure is a statistician, a wise African-American cop, some Latino bad-ass who everyone obviously likes, a stiff lipped officer who must be from Internal Affairs, and the racist, homophobic, sexist pig, Irish-American, male cop who gets your case because nobody likes him and you're the dumb-ass "victim" who put a sign on his door stating, "Please come into my home and take everything I care about. There's cake in the fridge." This is what it feels like to wake up with the realization you're almost fifty and you've wasted three decades reading self-help books in search of that amazing (and profitable) inner you that never was actually there. (Ask Dr. if an MRI might reveal a hidden amazing inner me)

Yep, you're a human Oak Island with nothing to show for it but the scattered tailings of failed mining expeditions and a cancelled reality show. Of course, you probably hated mining, didn't like the location, and really hated asking investors for money, but you did it anyway because you were responsible. Does this sound remotely familiar?

If you're answering yes, I have news for you. You're fucked. You need help.

If you've spent any time on the internet I'm sure you've seen someone post a meme with the words, "From the day you're born you begin dying." It's a load of crap. If you are skilled in self-preservation you'll recognize this fraud as the one who is always attempting to sound deep.  She's the same person continually posting about "the right guy" and how she'll know when he arrives because he'll be sensitive, intelligent, and able to see how incredibly great she is. Holy crap! If any of you fall for that I'm coming over to take your stuff and eat your cake. (Note for Dr. - if I write "cake" too much will I get diabetes?)

You don't begin dying when you're born. Your soul starts cutting spars for a flight out of hell the day you quit living - real living. That's when death taps you on the shoulder, looks around to make sure you're alone, then leans gently into your ear as if to say, "I'm not wearing any underwear," but what you get instead is a disgusted, "Where's your fucking toys?" It's the most miserable day of any guy's life. Death thought she was getting a man but instead got you. 

There you were thinking you were about to get laid by some random Goth chick in a robe when BAAMM, Low-T arrives in the form of a question. Panic sets in. You've been mining while everyone else was living! Those days spent mowing a runway for others could have been spent flying. Remember the time you fought some airport board for pilots who didn't care enough to show up for their own meeting? You could have put that effort and money toward a Mangusta, driven it to some hinky festival, parked at a cafe, then sat outside to look at it while the wine snobs at the next table confirmed everything you ever thought about hipsters. (Question for Dr, are all wine snobs really born through the butthole?)

The day you realize what you've missed, how little time there is to set foot, poke your nose, or stick your finger in new places, that's the day the clock starts. How you react sets the pace. It's a limited time offer, you better act fast.

Somewhere out there is a life with your name on it, multiple switchbacks for your bike, a track for the car, an airworthiness certificate for your soul.

In an era of man-bashing this is often used to infer men are on
some lower level of maturity - that they are somehow inferior - when
it is actually an astute observation into the constitution of men,
who they really are, and what they need to be happy.

"Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night." - dylan thomas

April, 3 2018