Around the Airport

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pass It On

If you receive NORDO News via email and you like the different perspective it brings to aviation, please take this moment to forward it to friends.   That is all.  Over and out.
A shin-belt.  Why didn't I think of that?

Oshkosh or Bust

Several years ago Ginger and I drove to Oshkosh instead of flying.  Beginning as transportation to an event, it ended up a journey of self-discovery.  When all was said and done, I would never be the same.
Most dictionaries define the word participation as, "the act of taking part or sharing in something".  It is a meaning understood and accepted by most.  Society though sees it as more.  To participate is to accept those around you.  Therefore if you don’t participate you are seen as an outcast or anti-social.  This is unfortunate.
Arriving at Oshkosh properly packed and equipped with unlimited transportation makes the occasion so much more dignified.  Washing your clothes in the shower is a thing of the past.  Compared to some old 1927 stringbag, any vehicle, even a Smart Car, carries more socks.  It’s one of the reasons regulars often have a presence in Camp Scholler.
Naturally, once a person has attended the event by air for several years, the car begins to look good.  And to most it is.  For me not so much.
The problem lies in the definition of participation.  Today, as with the trophy given in its name, it is something so broadly defined everyone can claim it.  And yes, I realize some could read that and see it as condescending but it’s not.  It’s merely an expression of what makes me tick.
Auto racing fascinates me but I see no reason to go to a race.  If I’m not driving a car, there is no interest inside.  Most people though who claim a love of automobiles love going to races.  Baseball?  Yeah it’s fun but if I’m not swinging the bat or throwing the ball why would I watch others do it?  And yet, most people I know love going to the occasional ballgame.  Likewise, aviation may be my passion but events are of little interest to me unless I am putting them on or helping to put them on.  More importantly, if I’m not flying a plane, why would I go watch others do so?  It is the one thing about people I’ve never understood.  Despite that, in the interest of fitting society’s definition of “social”, I tried.   That was at the root of my great personal revelation;  Never waste time doing anything you truly don’t want to do.
Being somewhere is not participating to me, it is attending.  Therefore, driving to Oshkosh instead of flying is attending, not participating.  And attending is of no interest to me.  Therefore I should not want to waste my time in Wisconsin.
Why then am I so excited to drive to Oshkosh?  I will be participating in friendship.  After two years away, I miss you guys.

Geez Beez Honey to Oshkosh

Great on Vintage Cafe pancakes.
If you are attending Oshkosh and have a strong desire for a bottle of Geez Beez Honey or a Vintage Flight Suit, you have until Sunday evening to put in your order.  Email us by Sunday evening with what you want and we'll bring it to you.
Finally, a flight suit for the rest of us.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fame Whore or Half-Ass Historian?

Primary use: This plate would serve as a way to identify the gullible and uneducated.
When Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed a bill stating Gustave Whitehead as the first in powered flight, he proved himself to be little more than a circus ring-leader.  Along its way to becoming law though, someone with a conscience seems to have slipped in the exact wording.  The phrase “first in powered flight” is a subtle hat-tip acknowledgment to the truth; this wasn’t "the first flight".  As anyone associated with aviation knows, the definition of the first flight involves much more than a motor attached to something that looks like a primitive flying machine, controlled flight being among them.
And yet, even debating Whitehead as the first in flight is senseless.  The evidence used by many to claim Whitehead was first has been disproved many times by many people using the most basic of techniques.  Therefore, the claim of Whitehead as first by anyone in modern times should be seen as nothing more than evidence of a need for 15 minutes of fame or a state's desire to add a paragraph to its tourism brochures.   It’s absolutely unbelievable that any educated person can continue to believe in the Gustave theories and worse that state legislatures can be conned so easily.  As for the media, they no longer bother to verify anything.
This photo of John Brown was discovered adjacent to a Big Foot display in Roswell, NM.
Fox News reported the signing of the bill as a vindication for Australian historian John Brown, the self proclaimed Whitehead expert.  Yet apparently the folks at Fox News are a little rusty on their understanding of the definition of “historian”.  Mr. Brown, who’s recently discovered “new evidence” was largely the foundation upon which the Connecticut bill was created, has easily been discredited.  Most troubling though is the use of such “new evidence”.   When Brown lays an egg of such grand distortion at the feet of society and claims it as history, one of two things must be assumed; it is either a third-rate attempt at history or a purposeful ruse.  As Carroll Gray has documented, Brown’s newly discovered photo is nothing more than an unnecessarily grainy rendition of a clear and existing photo; a photo which has nothing to do with Whitehead’s contraptions.
When Gray, a person truly deserving the title “historian”, first laid eyes upon Brown’s new evidence, he immediately recognized the photo.  Next he contacted Craig Harwood to ask him to look for it in his collection of historical images.  And sure enough, there it was; a photo of a JJ Montgomery glider taken in California on May 21, 1905.
I implore you to go to Gray’s website to see for yourself.  After looking over the evidence, sit back and ponder that a Governor of one of the United States of America, actually signed into law a bill based on such historically flimsy evidence.  It’s no wonder then that the same legislature and Governor felt it important, in the same bill, to clarify which polka is the official Connecticut State polka.  I mean, there was all that confusion.

Getting history correct is critical.  Without it we have nothing on which to build the future.  I hope you'll contact The Governor of Ohio, The Governor of North Carolina, the leaders of NBAA, AOPA, EAA, GAMA, The Curator of The Smithsonian, Fox News, and whomever else should be on this list and tell them to urge The Governor of Connecticut to correct this ill founded revision of history.

As for Mr. Brown, he claims to have new evidence Whitehead was first.   He also says he will reveal it on August 17th.  Therefore, you should keep a few important points in mind as the date approaches.  His last "new evidence", which stirred an entire state to claim the Wright Brothers weren't first, has been shown to be a photo of a glider built by a different manufacturer yet he has refused to admit he was wrong.  This not only casts suspicion on his methods but also the spirit of his claims.  And finally, if something has truly been found to change history as every sane person thought they knew it, why does it require a carefully choreographed date weeks in the future to make it impressive?  Maybe it's an attempt to maximize the attention and profit Mr. Brown receives from his claims?

Carroll F. Gray's site

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Another Vintage Warbird Flies

See the video below.
The number of first flights of historic aircraft always seems to tick up this time of year.  Not only is it flying season but many restorers have the goal of making it to Oshkosh to display their latest participation trophy and possibly claim an award.  Adding to this Summer's count is the Stinson L-1 owner by Kermit Weeks.
During WWII, the Stinson L-1 (Model 74) was the American equivalent to the German Fieseler Fi 156 Storch.  It's capabilities were legendary.  This led the government to want more.  Yet, not many were made.  You see, the L-1 had a very high parts count and when the subject of more came up, Stinson said they could build something very close in capability to the L-1 that was faster to produce for much less money.  That replacement was the L-5.

The Aviation Historian Responds to Whitehead Hogwash

Click here to see the article referenced in this image.
Ever so often an idea or a movement comes along that is so blindingly stupid you can’t see your way to respond.  Yet it is the lack of response which allows horribly flawed ideas and incredibly irrational movements to take hold and move forward.  Without a swift and factual retort, the most silly of notions can blossom and propagate until they threaten to choke out reality.  Connecticut’s decision to recognize Gustav Whitehead as the first in flight is such a movement built upon the baseless notions of a man named John Brown.

Sadly, by legally recognizing Gustav Whitehead as the first in flight, the only things Connecticut accomplished was proving its state government is riddled with fools and demonstrating the willingness of groups to accept anything as factual as long as it is self-aggrandizing.  The State of Connecticut is now officially an embarrassment to any American who values facts over fantasy.  John Brown, on the other hand, has become a hero to bullshit artist around the world.

Another tragedy of this Gustav Whitehead business is the downfall of Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft.  By recognizing Whitehead, this publication has shown it is now nothing more than a has been rag looking for any way to prop up its failed business model.  Rest in Peace Jane’s.

Thankfully, there are people willing to stand up for what is right and factual.  Amazingly though, for a good response to this silly Whitehead business you have to go overseas.  Despite being something American aviation should have crushed upon arrival, little was heard in the states except for the repeating of press releases generated by the State of Connecticut.  The Aviation Historian, on the other hand, has produced a point by point factual response second to none.  I encourage you to read it and take particular note of the photo claimed by John Brown to be the new evidence.  It looks to have been taken directly from the Rorschach Tests for Dummies book.  What do you see?
Click here to see the article from The Aviation Historian.  After reading it, I encourage you to pass it on.  Friends don’t let friends cling to silly ideas.  This is a serious issue for aviation to get straight. The Wrights were first; no question about it.

Note:  American aviation publications should be embarrassed by their lack of appropriate responses to this issue.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Another Old Plane Flies

Thanks goes out to Lorraine Morris for the photos.
Congratulations to Ron Johnson, the owner of this beautiful Buhl Pup, for putting another old plane in the air. Yesterday, July 16th, Ken Morris took it aloft for its first flight after some extensive work. From what I understand, the engine has an incredibly precise overhaul and purrs like a kitten; odd for a pup.  Above and below are some photos taken before, during, and after.  Any day something like this returns to the sky is a great day.


What it's all about.  

Thank Ron Johnson (left) for loving this plane enough to put it back in the air.  Ken Morris (right) was the pilot.

I love this photo essay on the Vintage Community.  Your pride and joy is about to go flying, you don't like the look of one of the bungees, and so you decide to change it out.  How do you do it?  Don't worry, "vintage folks" know how to get stuff done.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

You Can Survive

I rarely cover anything in NORDO News that isn’t antique and classic aviation related but in this case I thought I would.  A friend just sent me these photos from the recovery of the Asiana 777 airframe in San Francisco.  Click on the link and look them over closely as there are a few things I want you to take from them.
So what should you take away from these photos?  Although the airframe took a beating, the tail broke off, and the bottom of the fuselage in a few places is crushed upward, look at how survivable this was.  Yeah sure, we’ve all heard the seemingly miraculous story of the survivors but the reality is it was no miracle; the plane simply held together.  Additionally, from all accounts, the fuel tanks didn’t even rupture.  But a sales pitch for Boeing is not what this is intended to be.
Look at these photos, take to heart survival is a possibility, and remember that if you ever find yourself in any kind of accident.  You are far more likely to make it out alive if you keep your wits about you.  Knowing you can survive will help you stay focused and that is the surest way to see your friends and family again.

If you want a better look at the photos, you can click here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Those Were the Days

Cropdusters still operate across the fruited plain.  Amber waves of grain continue to benefit from the practice. And, on either side of purple mountains, agricultural spraying companies offer their services for whatever crop is farmed in their area.  Yet, one thing has changed; the operations themselves.

Absent in America are operations like the one in this video.  Although some may be close, you'll never see the combination of freedom, personal demeanor, and equipment again.  It is the perfect representation of a segment of Americana, which is gone for good.

Watch and learn, or remember.




Mississippi Delta Crop Duster Pilot from Don Guy on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

You Don't See That Every Day

I've always wanted to see this done.  The practice was somewhat common during WWII and to my knowledge nearly every plane had it spelled out somewhere as to how to do this.  The only other video I've ever see of this starting method was of a DC-3.  It was done with a boot over the end of the prop, as were most WWII aircraft, and the pull cord was elastic.  Yet, here is a great example of how to do it today.  Enjoy.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wet Weekend at Wynkoop

Thanks to Dave Pyeatt for these photos.
Despite horrible weather for an aviation event, during the days of June 27-30, the folks at The National Waco Club had a rather sporty turnout for their annual fly-in.  While 18 Wacos may not sound like much, it is a great turnout considering the daily downpours that plagued the area.  Furthermore, a large additional number of spirited members displayed the heart of the group in their efforts to make it.
If you’re ever looking for a fun Waco event to attend, watch where the members of The National Waco Club go.  I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know a wide range of Waco owners through the years and have at one time or another attended many of the breed’s events.  Yet, there is something about the Waco community the larger aviation population rarely sees; historically it has had a highly divided ownership base.
Waco owners aren’t the only aviation type club folks to experience this but they do serve as a great example to those in the know.  You would think a Waco owner is a Waco owner but that just isn’t the truth.  In the past, and still today to some extent, whichever Waco Club you were a member of determined which events you went to and which you didn’t.  Likewise, as a Waco owner, your choice of events spoke volumes about who you were.
More storm clouds building.
Blue blood country club types attended one event, Waco purists attended a different one, and the “just enjoy your airplane and have fun” types attended the few events that weren’t frumpy.  Unfortunately, for a potential new Waco owner, it could make you question your ambition.  It also gave Wacos a reputation that quietly stigmatized anyone involved.  Now, thanks largely to the leadership of The National Waco Club, that is changing and a new generation of pilots are taking note.
Today, if you find a Waco owner at a fly-in, you are far more likely to enjoy meeting that person.  In fact, some of them are almost fun.  Sorry guys, I couldn’t resist; that was the Stearman guy in me offering a little friendly jabbing.  But in all seriousness folks, if you ever get a chance to go to the Wynkoop Waco Fly-In, I suggest you do.  In addition to the beautiful aircraft you’ll see, and the friendly aviators involved, the field is a great little privately owned airport that deserves your support.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Weekend Walkabout - Your Suggestions, Your links

What is The Weekend Walkabout?  In the spirit of talk shows which all seem to have Free Form Fridays, Free-for-All Fridays, Open Lines Fridays, we have decided to try something similar  with NORDO News.  If you are unfamiliar with how "Free Form Friday"  radio shows work, basically they are days (Friday) when listeners are allowed to call in and discuss whatever they would like.  Often callers keep their subjects in line with typical topics of the show, but often other fun or crazy things work their way in due to the format.  Since aviators are typically fun, free spirited types, this could lead to some interesting links.
Because this open format always has a name associated with the time frame in which it is held, I decided the NORDO News "free-for-all" would be called "The Weekend Walkabout".  During the day of Friday, people are encouraged to send links to anything they find interesting.  These can even be things that we would otherwise never post.  And just like call radio shows, unfortunately not all things make it on the list because sometimes the lines are busy or the screener just can't handle them all.  Yet, don't let that stop you from trying.
If there is something you would like to add, feel free to post it in the comments.  If you would like to discuss one or more of the links, post that in the comments also.  Whatever you do, we hope you take a little time to chill out and look at what we ended up with in a very short time frame.  Watch or view them all and you will likely have fun, shed tears, be amazed, or decide to build a really big plane and fly it around the world.
All the contributed links are listed below.  A few of them may be from facebook and other social websites therefore if you don't have accounts with the sites you may or may not be able to see all the links.  Otherwise, the rest should be available to everyone.  In the interest of keeping these random they are numbered but not titled.  Click on each number to see something new.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17



The Answers to the Questions You've Been Asking

What’s Going On at Lee Bottom?
It’s the question many people have been asking.  It’s also one we’ve been pondering ourselves.  What’s going on at Lee Bottom?
What can I say?  Recovering from the tornado damage has been much harder than expected.  The logistics of it all are hard enough but it is perhaps the personal hurdles we’ve experienced that have been the worst.  There are so many philosophical quotes from history that favor those who persevere.  And historically I would have agreed with all of them.  Then last year happened.  I have now come to believe history favors those who don’t lose their sanity.
So how far along are we?  Well, we have new doors on the hangar, a new roof on the house, and the exterior of the house has been painted.  That’s it.  Really, that’s all that’s been accomplished.  The inside of the house still needs both ends gutted and rebuilt, a new air system has to be installed, and any other improvement we wish to accomplish await.  In addition to the day-to-day routine activities that make up life, we have spent much time packing, cleaning, moving, removing, and shuffling things around.  Yet we haven’t even had time to open the door on the cabin since the day after the tornado.  Meanwhile a good amount of what’s left continues to deteriorate while waiting on contractors.  Sounds fun huh?
It's  really quite overwhelming. 
What about events?  Well, there will be no fly-in this year.  Yes your read that right.  There will be no fly-in this year.  It was an extremely difficult decision but once we realized it came down to focusing on the event or getting the buildings repaired, it became much easier.  The event is such a mental and physical drain, despite all the good that comes from it, we just weren’t able to do both.  Furthermore, attempting to hold the even without the necessary infrastructure would be madness. 
The good news is, despite all the struggles, you can expect us to be ready to host the fly in next year.  But remember, planning starts a year in advance.  If you want to help bring it back, volunteer now to help with the planning.
As for Sinful Sundays, the local community has made them harder for us to hold and until we have the appropriate infrastructure, or a membership program in place, we will not be able to host them as they were.  What we are capable of doing is holding a simplified version that offers prepackaged ice cream instead of the homemade shakes and sundaes we’ve had in the past.  Therefore, in an attempt to have something which resembles a gathering at Lee Bottom this year, Ginger is working on an event that would be called ‘The Buzz’.  It will be based around honey ice cream and would be a partnership with local beekeepers.  The intent is to hold it in September so look for more info on that very soon.
How about the future of the field?  That’s a great question.  One thing we have realized is that time doesn’t stop and our own personal countdown clocks are accelerating.  Therefore, from here on out we will be focusing on plans for the future of the airport.  The next paragraph offers a hint of what’s to come.
Holding events for the sake of holding events accomplishes nothing.  Doing so is nothing more than what aviation has done in the past.  Although the fly-ins are great fun, what have they done to insure our type of aviation is around for many more years to come?  Like one night stands or a day of heavy drinking, they’re a thrilling display of hedonism and living for the moment.  Yet, when all is said and done, you have nothing left to show for it.  At the most, depending on who you are, you’re either left with a story to tell or a lot of regret.  Both of which have done nothing for the greater good. 
Some of my friends have said I’m silly for looking at it this way.  As far as they’re concerned, fun for the sake of fun is a good enough reason.  And in many ways, I agree.  Yet, if I wanted to have fun for the sake of fun, I would have sold the place years ago before the market tanked and we would be roaming the United States in a flying Winnebago.  My goal though has always been to leave behind a refuge for our kind of aviation.  It may not sound as glamorous as a massive fly-in of aircraft, but in the end it has much more meaning.  If we can’t do this, there’s no reason to keep having the events.  That gets me to the next thing I want to share with you.
A few years back, we started moving forward with plans to create a living airfield museum.  Two great friends stepped up to help and I just wasn’t mentally ready for it.  It is one of my big regrets but it forced me to contemplate the future.  It also gave time for my vision to gel.  When we have enough of it in place to reveal, we think you’ll like it.  Whatever the case, from here on out that will be our primary focus.
Other than that, the only other news I can think of is that we intend to hold a “thank you cookout” for our volunteers.  Right now we’re looking at August.  If you’ve ever volunteered at Lee Bottom we hope you’ll be able to attend. 
As for today, the airport is still open and operating.  And really, isn’t that what everyone wants; a refuge that allows you to escape the sterile concrete madness of fenced impound lots masquerading as general aviation airports.  Create your own reason to go flying.  The picnic tables are still here and available for a picnic lunch.   Put a blanket in your plane and enjoy the solitude while reading a book.  Invite a friend to go flying, get your son or daughter in the plane, or bring a co-worker for an afternoon away from the office.   Just continue to use the airport and enjoy the freedom it offers.
Thanks to all of you who have supported our efforts here at Lee Bottom.  You’re a great bunch of people.  With your continued support, we can accomplish something special here at Lee Bottom for future generations to enjoy.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Northwest Biplane Fly-In

Click here to see the fly-in website.
If you’re looking for something fun to do in the middle of July, check out the Northwest Biplane Fly-In.  Held at historic Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, the event is sure to please.
Felts Field is uniquely fun and welcoming among community owned airports and it’s due in large part to the pilots who call it home.  Walk among the hangar rows any evening and you’ll find a friendly face turning a wrench, grilling, or looking for an excuse to talk vintage aircraft.  Myself, I’ve never had anything but a great time there.
As for this specific event, I have to admit, I’ve never been.  Yet, I keep doing my best to get there.  Every single time they hold it, for weeks after I am overwhelmed with photos and anecdotal evidence of the pure aviation fun that was had.  Knowing the people who put it on, and many of those who attend, I’m sure it’s even better than I’m told.
If you love biplanes and or vintage aircraft, and you’re looking for something to do during the dates of July 19th – July 21st, check out this link to the event.  It is open to everyone.