Around the Airport

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Refuge for a Fox

Photo found several places with no photographer credit.
A full day of mowing was a third gone when from the tall grass sprung a burnt orange fox. Fifty feet at a time it would dash then stop to see if I was still there. Our individual paces matching, the fire on four legs was exasperated.

Obviously trying to tell me something, I eased off the throttle. So did the fox. Again, I pulled a few hundred rpm and again the little streak did too. This continued a few more times until I had no more to give. I was stopped. So was my friend.
Staring at me staring at him, or maybe her, it was obvious our message to each other was understood. I wished it no harm. It wished to carry on with life.

No longer sensing danger, it casually trotted about. My presence accepted, its mission continued.

Forward, half a turn left, then right, then forward again, the long orange tail followed the slender body, which followed the head, which turned with every move of its ears. Eagerly I watched as sound steered it along a path I recognized. Where it hunted was a known colony of moles.

Occasionally stopping to look my direction, much the way an intelligent dog looks for approval, it seemed to want me to watch, and so, I did. Turning and jinking, its ears redirected it faster and faster, until suddenly, it froze. Motionless and focused, it appeared as statue of a an animal living its life.

On display was a healthy body so slender a person unused to foxes may believe it sick. Its rakish head and tapered ears juxtaposed the other end. Round, fluffy, and long, its tail so attractive people once nearly wiped its predecessors from the Earth because they wanted to be seen wearing it. Today though, this fox was the featured piece in an outdoor art museum, a refuge for wonderful things.
BAMM!  Mesmerized by stillness of the creature, I jumped when it came instantly back to life. Its nose buried into the ground, the body and tail appearing to push it deeper. Determined, it went sharply about its target. Then, for the briefest second, it froze again.

Having rocketed after its target, over a short bank, I could see the top of its head as it jerked its muzzle pulled from the ground. Did it have something? I could only hope, but expected it to trot away without knowing.

Instead, the fox reaffirmed by belief. Somehow we had communicated, or at least understood enough about each other to leave the other alone. Lifting up its head, looking back at me from over the bank, it took four spritely steps to level ground to show me the prize. Draping from its mouth was a mole.

Staring at each other, I laughed aloud. The fox, seeming to recognize my approval, gave the mole a shake, turned, and vanished into the tall grass along the runway - neither of us harmed by the other, and both better off for it.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Changing Times Deliver Another Issue to Resolve

As many of you have noted, I've not been active with NORDO News.  The reasons for this are many.

Broadening interests, a different focus, and not being able to write about what I truly want to write about has brought it all to a crawl.

That last one is particularly important. Remember, I will tell you what I think. Cuts from honesty are better than health with lies.

With the emphasis being placed on the Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge, I can no longer write about the things that interest me because the things that interest me, other than aviation, infuriate too many of today's easily offendeds. Therefore, I have been focusing on physical projects while attempting to come up with a solution.

Without doubt, I will have to create a separate newsletter for "the Refuge."  NORDO News cannot be its mouthpiece. Additionally, I will have to figure out a way to restrict some folks from some NORDO posts, or allow them to choose categories they wish to read about, so that the others will not be delivered to them.

Although readership has actually been on the rise, if I were to write what I truly want to write, eventually I will have made everyone mad and they all will have left. Honesty and non-politically correct viewpoints are not appreciated, even by those who claim to love honesty and hate PC. A solution is needed.

Meanwhile, I'll keep cranking out feel good stuff that requires no thought.  Well, I'll be trying to do that. Heck, who am I kidding?  That's not going to happen.  But, as they always say, it's the thought that counts.

Peace be with you.

Chicken Scratching Type-Setter - Rich Davidson

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sinful Sundays Return in June

As you may have heard, SINFUL SUNDAYS return this year.  A favorite event from previous years, it is a critical step in moving forward with the recently announced Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge.  We hope you'll make plans to attend and support both efforts. 

The first Sinful Sunday, to be held on June 11th, will be hosted by the RAF. Members of their organization, along with other volunteers, will be running the show.  Additionally, the entire weekend is part of a string of events for RAF pilots. Therefore, many of the organization's members will be on hand for the entire weekend.

If you have been to Sinful Sundays in previous years, you may expect Ginger's patented Twinkie Sundays. Since she's away for training, you should expect otherwise.  In fact, the sinful part of Sinful Sundays will now be up to the host.  That too is different.

From here on out, we are going to rely on other groups to host each Sinful Sunday. Those groups will also decide on the sinful part of the event.  For the first one, they have chosen Ehrlers Ice Cream.

As usual, I hope you will make your best effort to attend. When we bring in vendors, it is imperative we have a good turnout to insure their return. And be sure to get here early. The time on Sunday is 12-3, or until the ice creams runs out.

Imagine an Airport 100 Years in the Future

100 Years from now, it won't be able to fly if no airport remains.
Kids will not build planes.  The spirit of aviation will not exist. 

The future of aviation, for most aviators, is an uncomfortable subject.  The writing is on the wall. The pressure is everywhere. "SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!" Nothing ever really is.

What is the sexiest part of aviation; the piece that really gets attention; something that gets people involved? Can you name it? Most likely you are thinking warbirds, vintage, or flying itself. The airplanes are always the first to come to mind.  Can't think of anything else? How about aviation's favorite object of philanthropy - kids? It's always for the kids isn't it? Can you think of something else? What about airports?

Airports aren't very sexy. Although, most of them are treasured by those who don't have to take care of them. I know this because when one is threatened, suddenly, everyone is interested in the future.  Unfortunately, by the time it comes to the tenants doing the hard work, the final nail has already been set.

Airports simply aren't sexy. They don't go airborne, have puppy dog eyes, or do anything other than house our flying machines. Still, it is popular to say you support airports. But, evidence of action says otherwise.

I don't understand. I put a bumper sticker on my car.
How could this happen?

Today, caring about airports is aviation's "Save the Whales." The bumper sticker is easy. Climbing in the boat is what the crazy people do, right?

Aviation's efforts to save airports are equal to rowing up to the Titanic's screws, just before they slip under, grabbing a brass blade, then yelling, "HELP!" I'm always amazed at the shock generated in the aviation community when it is announced an airport is closing. There hasn't been a single time, that I can think of, an airport was closed without warning.  Yes, even Meigs.

Years after development has reached the fences, politicians have announced their dislike of the field, and GA has been squeezed out, that's when everyone looks around, taps their friend on the shoulder, and asks, "Hey, shouldn't we do something about this?

This is exactly what we intend to do.

This is the largest hurdle we face with the Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge. How do we get people to think about the future - to save an airport, not for today, but for tomorrow?

Lee Bottom is the perfect field to set aside.  It could still be protected because there is no development on its fences. It is far enough from civilization to have no opposition but close enough to benefit society. The surrounding land would make the perfect recreational buffer which would benefit more than aviation alone. Additionally, a parallel river allows for air, land, and sea activities. It's beautiful.

Passionate supporters who can see the future, and see Lee Bottom as part of it, are needed. If that's you, we hope you'll join us in our effort to build the Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge. Everyone, whether stated or not, wishes to leave their mark on the world. This is your chance.


I have always loved this anonymous Greek proverb. It states the issue at hand with a single sentence. “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit.”

Friday, April 28, 2017

Sporty's Aircraft Insurance - Our Positive Experience

I always see people discussing their aircraft insurance online. Like most folks, they are typically looking for better treatment from their agent or better prices.   Everyone else is either a new or potential aircraft owner looking for suggestions as to whom they should contact for aviation insurance.

Ginger and I have dealt with several agencies through the years. Some have been good and one bordered on criminal. Yet, they all operated in pretty much the same manner.  Let's face it, the aviation insurance business is thirty years behind everything else the same way aviation itself is. Status quo is the modus operandi.  Because of this, we've learned to accept sub-standard business practices when it comes to the subject.

It's time that changes. 

Always one to try something new, Ginger recently gave the new Sporty's Insurance Center a try. I remember the moment clearly. Things were quiet in the house, then I heard her walking briskly through the living room towards me.  Something was up and I hoped it was good.

Strutting into the room as if she'd won a gold medal, she proudly stated, "I just saved us hundreds of dollars by switching to Sporty's."  Additionally, as Ginger continued her upbeat report on the experience, she told me how the Sporty's service offered a more modern method of getting a quote online. That was great news.  It also made her day.

Maybe times are changing?

If you want to see for yourself, go to Sporty's Insurance Center and give their quick quote service a shot.  You may be surprised.  Ginger certainly was, and that isn't easy.

The Cure for Boeing Butt

If you’ve ever flown a Boeing you know the problem. It’s called “Boeing Butt.” In all fairness, I’m fairly sure the cockpit “cushions” in all airliners are made from the same vertabrea crushing material. Created by combining the harshest qualities of crushed rock and a wood rasp, the seats are rumored to have spawned the notion of ripping someone a new a__hole.

Being a pilot, I can get over Boeing building planes without hot mics, that many of their seats lack a critical neck saving safety device required in cars for decades (head rests), and the apparent company directive to build ear crushing noise into the last workplace not covered by OSHA. But (no pun intended), I cannot accept their inability to build an acceptable seat.

Pilots lug around a lot of crap. In addition to the stress at home, the number of physical items which go with them on every trip can be staggering. Some even refer to their roll on bag as a mobile home. Look around the airport and you’ll see what I’m discussing. It is not uncommon to see an aircrew member packing three or more bags. For this reason, the thought of adding another item to the list can induce cringes similar to those created by sitting in one of Boeing's cockpit seats.

Amazingly though, the seats are so bad, many pilots choose to add another item to their non-descript, two wheeled, circus wagon. What is it? The luxury of choice is a seat cushion.

The most common example is a simple air inflated camping cushion sold by REI. These things suck. At no point do they work well. Not enough air and you have no cushion – too much air and you are sitting on a beach ball. And yet, thanks to its deflated compactness, pilots carry them out of desperation; each of them getting high on the placebo effect.

What do I carry? For the longest time it was nothing. Every flight was torture. Then a friend sent me an Oregon Aero Softseat Portable Cushion.

Out of the box, my first thought was that it was big. Again, when something is a pain to carry, the idea of keeping track of it will cause a pilot to leave it at home. Yet, I had to try it.

The first issue was figuring out a way to carry it carefree. It would be nice if it had the clips that would allow it to attach to many roll on bags, but it doesn’t.  Another solution was needed.

When I figured it out, it made great sense and was less hassle than carrying a third bag.  The photo at the top is how it looks. Basically, the hook strap goes through the carry handle of the cushion’s carry bag(an accessory), then onto the second bag you typically drag around. This locks it in place. Quite easy.

Warning: The first time you bring this cushion to work it will feel like you are carrying a small badger or a lava lamp. It really stands out as something not typically seen in the crew area. Well, after almost two decades in the cockpit, I guess the lava lamp isn’t really that odd. But, nobody carries small size badgers. Therefore, don’t be surprised if someone asks you what it is. And don’t be surprised if you hesitate to answer. Nobody wants to be the pansy.

When you place the Oregon Aero magic butt cradle in the seat that changes. It actually fits onto the Boeing “cushion” as if it were made to spec. I was amazed. It gave me hope. Then I sat on it.

Strange, is the only way I can describe the experience of comfort while staring at the Boeing brown panel. Up to that point, I could have argued it was that color that made my ass hurt. After trying out the Softseat, I knew it was the seat all along.

If you’re a pilot, and you know the struggle, I encourage you to try the Softseat. It is a great addition to every cockpit. You’ll arrive less fatigued, say goodbye to “Boeing Bed Sores,” and wonder why you waited so long.

Looking down on the seat with the Softseat addition.
Fits perfectly and provides improved lumbar support.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Vintage Experimental & Reproduction Aeroplanes

1967 Hafe CH-1
What is the best airplane page on Facebook?  The answer, for me, is easy.  It's "Vintage Experimental & Reproduction Aeroplanes."

The page currently does not have a huge following, and that's good.  Once a group has thousands of followers things get "hinky." People start wanting to post unrelated items, next come the screenshots from flight simulators, and finally, advertisements for making money at home make an appearance.  Soon after that the grim reaper arrives and folks scurry. Therefore, I hope the page stays stingy with its acceptance of members.

Look at the craftsmanship on this bird.

As it stands, many of aviation's greatest unknown enthusiasts randomly show up to post images of long forgotten homebuilts and reproductions. These folks reveal unique experimentals to younger members who never realized how amazing the homebuilding movement actually was in its early years. The evidence of America's greatest innovators, and the spirit of the country, are crafted into each and every plane on display. Some of the aircraft pictured are of groundbreaking designs, while others reveal evidence of broken dreams. Whatever the case may be, my God, aviation was so alive back then.

Unfortunately, there is an underlying message to the page that few stop to mention.  Perhaps the truth is too painful for the enthusiasts to face.  It took millions of years to etch dinosaurs in stone and only five or six decades to do the same with airplanes.

If you are interested in archeology, but don't like to get dirty, all you need to do is visit the Vintage Experimental & Reproduction Aeroplanes page on facebook. It's a fossil record you uncover with a keyboard - if you can get in.

The Swannee Special

NOTE:  I firmly believe there should be an entire wing, no, and entire building, at the Smithsonian, dedicated to homebuilding and experimentals.  There is no other realm of aviation more diverse and representative of the American spirit, and aviation itself.