Around the Airport

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What Happened to the Photo Contest?

Earlier in the year, we decided to hold a contest.  What was it?  We asked you to submit the most incredible photo you could come up with which included your Lee Bottom Calendar.  Well, that's what it was supposed to be.
When the first round of photos came in, none of them included the calendar in the photo.  Then I sent out a message to everyone to make sure they understood the rules.  The post was also changed to include large red letters specifically covering the important criteria.
More photos came in and none had the calendar in them.
Once again I reworded the post and sent out notices.  And yet, still more photos came in but none of them had the calendar in them.  Getting to the point of comical, I had numerous people look at the post to see if I was just reading my own material and not seeing something that was confusing people.  Each of them read it and described back to me exactly what the rules were. Hmmmm.
Thinking it through, I have come to believe there are a lot of people out there who have photos they want to share and that was the driving force behind their submissions. Therefore, we are going to have a new contest very soon that will involve you submitting your favorite photo of whatever it is.  The winners will get something they can proudly display for all to see.   Look for it soon.
Oh yeah, about that earlier contest, it was cremated and spread over Lee Bottom.   If you contributed to it, don't feel bad.  It was actually good for a great laugh.  I have no idea what caused the problem but sometimes these things just can't be explained.  If I were to guess though, I would say it involved common core.

Where'd It Go? Vanishing Posts

If you've been reading NORDO News for more than a year, you likely know I sometimes put posts up for limited time periods and then drop them a few hours later. Doing so serves many purposes.  It allows me to vent and it also allows those who read it regularly to see them.  The occasional readers typically do not.
Allowing a post to be seen only by a few also limits the number of responses that make me question what people are reading.  My friends often say I like to stir the pot but if that's the case I'm not successful.  Stirring a pot makes a substance mix and move in a controlled manner.  It doesn't cause a chemical reaction which ends up with a new element bursting forth out of thin air.   That's what usually happens to me.
This situation has happened so many times I've been considering the phrases used to describe them and from now on I prefer you say I am "practicing mousetrap fission".   Yes, you heard it right.   Click here to see what I am talking about.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Tiger Moth AD; Coming to the USA?

You can see my grin.  This shot is from a photo shoot during Oshkosh.  Maybe JK can tell me
the photographer's name.  She cranked out some great images.
Click here to see the British AD.
For the first time I can remember, last November, I actually put in a bid for vacation.  Flying for 121 carriers involves bidding for everything.  Of course it also involves knowing how to work a schedule to your advantage.  This means it is often best not to bid at all.  Yet, this time something big was up.  I wanted to participate in the Australian Tiger Moth Rally/Race, and thanks to some prodding by a friend "over there", I set things in motion.  Then, well, read on.
At this point I would like to go straight to offering my most sincere apologies to the entire de Havilland Community.  Davidson’s Law, three pages back from Murphy’s, says, “Plans made are nothing more than the earliest foreshadows of pain”.  Or in its shortest version, it reads, “The act of planning invites disaster”.  It’s true, and it doesn’t matter the reason.
I can plan a tedious day of to-do listing (marking items off) and our well will get hit by lightning thus forcing me to spend the five best days of the year so far tracking down the fault.  If a day is set aside for working a chain saw eight hours, it will be the coldest and cloudiest day of the month.  And likewise, if I plan to do something extremely fun, a serious AD will be placed on the flying machine I was hoping to fly.  If you want proof, this paragraph describes only one week in my life; this week.  It ended tonight with a few messages from overseas.
From the Vintage Wings Canada website.
First there were the messages from Aussies describing a scenario painfully similar to the one that created the onerous T-6/SNJ wing attach angle AD several years ago.  Put briefly, a somewhat abused and neglected Tiger Moth, operated in ways that were always stressing the airframe, crashed and killed some people.   Next, all Moths were placed under suspicion.
The ensuing investigation may have revealed several things of interest, but ultimately the big finding was that airframe failure sucks.  After that, a specific area of weakness was identified.  Then it was determined there may have been a run of faulty tie rods.  These parts run across the bottom of the fuselage between the attachment brackets for both port and starboard lower wings. They tie the wings together so that the load is not taken by the fuselage alone (TR).  When combined with rough operation it appears they let go.  And there you have the story behind the latest AD set to sweep around the world.
Wish I could have made this one.
Two days ago, friends in Australia and New Zealand said they believed little had been done to discuss the problem with the UK or de Havilland support.  Then today UK authorities published an AD addressing the very issue in question.  Therefore, it seems they have been talking and you can also expect to see it in the good old USA.   If you have a biplane Moth, of almost any variation, you could be affected.  Click here to read it.
Whatever the case, be it rough treatment, faulty parts, or components going airborne beyond their life limit, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  And again, I apologize for planning a great Tiger Moth trip.  I won’t be doing that again.
Maybe I’ll just sneak over in October for something else.  I hear the race has been postponed.
Thanks to Nick Stroud, from The Aviation Historian, for sending me the official UK AD. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Commemorative Air Force Follow Up

This seems to be about the right era.
If you’ve read my posts for very long, you’ve likely seen me reference a memory of one unforgettable day in elementary school.  It was early in the day and the class was in full swing when someone knocked on the door.  The teacher walked over, opened it, and in short order I was told to get my stuff together and meet my brother at the principal’s office.
Being a regular, when I arrived I was greeted with the secretary’s usual smile as I walked by her and straight through the door and breaching a line most kids never wanted to cross.   That’s when I got the news I would never forget; “You’re going with John (my brother) to Lexington to see some planes”.  Did I mention my dad was the principal of the school?
Sadly, although I often have a pretty detailed memory, for the life of me I can’t remember exactly what my dad said.  I do though vividly remember the intent and purpose behind the trip.  Roughly put, he said we were going to see these planes because they were important to the history of our nation and that we would go there, see them, learn about them, and understand what they meant to our country and to the history of the world.  Somewhere in there, I was also told that he, and therefore us, may not even be alive were it not for these planes.
Looking for love.  In need of restoration.
You see, my dad was on a carrier in WWII that was part of Task Force 58.  Had the United States invaded the Japanese mainland, he would have been in the thick of it and the chances of him and his buddies (maybe your dad) dying would have greatly increased.   But, we dropped “the bomb” from a B-29 instead.  And because of that, my brother and I, both still very much kids, would be driving two hours away to see The Confederate Air Force aircraft, “Fifi” and “Diamond Lil”.
So what’s the point of this?
A few weeks back I posted a letter concerning the CAF, now the Commemorative Air Force, that was being rapidly fired about.  If you’ve been around aviation long enough, you’ve seen several of these.  They have the tone that can easily go one of two ways; one last angry holdout of the old days fighting against new ways that are actually better, or someone who is the only person willing to speak out against the club.  I wanted to believe the prior but having known the CAF in its glory days of the insider’s club, I felt its true soul was up for debate.  In either case, these communiqués never, in any form or fashion, feel like a love letter.  Therefore, I posted it to look for outside opinions in hopes someone might know what was going on and be willing to tell me.  Doug Rozendaal would turn out to be that person.
Doug is one of those people I always enjoy talking to.  90% of percent of the time we agree on any given situation but 50% of those instances we disagree on the cause or solution.  That’s one of the reasons I look forward to our limited conversations.  Nothing is more useless than someone who thinks exactly the same as you and Doug is firm in his convictions.  To debate anything with him you either have to understand the situation or be willing to agree and move on because he’s rarely going to concede defeat.  Doug, if you don’t know, also has a long history with the CAF.
Before I go into our conversation though, let me back up and review the overwhelming response expressed to me by the aviation masses.  Clearly there are a lot of people out there who verge on hate of the organization.   Those that don’t hate them have had some sort of experience that makes them sure they’ll never drop another dime on the group.  And the rest, at some point in time, have merely become disenchanted with the CAF due to some flight suit wearing Colonel Jackass (sorry but we all know it’s true) at one wing or another.  Maybe you too feel the same.  And to my surprise, during our conversation, Doug openly admitted to much of the group’s sordid past.
During our time on the phone, it also became clear that every complaint you may have about the CAF is something the group is doing its best to move past at a rapid pace.  But how are they doing this?  In short, they’ve committed to a mission of telling a story.
The story they wish to tell is one of freedom and how their aircraft, and the people who touched them from initial design to combat, helped shape the free world.   And in turn, by being committed to teaching history to new generations, their message and the sincerity in which they strive to convey it, drives contributions.  Essentially, it is the organization version of “do what you believe in and the money will follow” and yet that’s not to say money is their primary goal.
Sure, it takes dollars to make things fly.  But as I talked with Doug, it became clear they were on the right track.  The fact it takes money to keep the operation going, does not make the organization bad.  And the fact the heavy iron is sponsored by big money donors does not necessarily indicate people are buying their way in.  At one point he even went so far as to ensure me that even the biggest money donors are not guaranteed a “ride” if they aren’t up to speed or don’t bring the skills necessary to operate the historical machines safely.   That’s a great thing to hear if you knew the CAF when it was best described as “one a day in Tampa bay”.   And even if you are someone who wants to believe the worst, it is hard to deny they’ve turned things around.  The evidence is in his corner.
Then there’s the marketing.  This is my area and as we talked, and he gave his best pitch, I realized he didn’t have to.  Many of the things the CAF is doing today are things we’ve supported in the past as they represent the application of sound branding and marketing principles.  Something, to our dismay, the rest of aviation continues to ignore. 
Of course there is also that decision to move their HQ which generated the letter we recently posted.  Listening to what Doug had to say about the move, again it was hard for me, being a person who believes in sound ideas and logical decisions, to argue with any of it.  Their facilities may have been incredible but the location was horrible.  Heck, if you’ve been paying attention, even Kermit Weeks has come to realize the same issue.   It’s cliché to say, but location - location - location is hard to challenge.  And this is what the CAF boldly overcame when they decided to move.  Unfortunately, as is always the case, a very small number of people were not happy with the planned relocation and they have made it their goal to be a thorn in the side of progress.  That’s what Doug said, and by the evidence I can't disagree.
As for all of you who have personal stories that make you distrust or dislike the organization, it seems most of them stem from a past wing interaction gone south.  And since the stories are always remarkably similar, I’m going to move beyond all the possible reasons they weren’t great and share the CAF’s solutions to these problems.
First, from what I gather, the focus from here on out will be the teaching of history.  This means the airplanes will not exist to puff up egos but to serve as exotic props in an amazing story.  Pilots who merely want to fly don’t fit that mission and therefore will not feel at home.  To Doug's credit, he admits that wasn’t always the case.  But, he also insists those days are gone and that the group if focused on moving forward.
Next, I get the distinct impression that CAF wings not participating in that story, or existing only as social clubs for a few people, will be allowed to wither on the vine.  And as time goes by the mission will be refined until the CAF is known as the organization who teaches the history of freedom with the use of some impressive machinery to help convey the message.   To me, that’s one of the most positive things I’ve heard from aviation in some time.
Of course, it’s always tough for members of any group to stay grounded in reality as they spend more and more time together.  For that reason, I wish them a steadfast course.  If they mean what they say, and vigilantly guard against this ever present problem, in the future I believe many more people will be able to share their own childhood story of seeing the planes for the first time.  If the CAF has its way, they will also understanding the role they played in our history.


Note:  Of relevance to this conversation is the recent addition of Adam Smith to the CAF roster.  This may indicate the organization is becoming the new refuge of previous EAA employees estranged by the Hightower administration.  I only mention this because I can see the CAF developing an event that would seriously compete with Oshkosh in the future.  It would be more centrally located, have predictable weather, and come equipped with flying machines that are typically the biggest draw.  One thing’s for sure, Adam did great work with Oshkosh and I’m sure he’ll do the same for the CAF.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Only You Can Prevent Nosewheels.

Click the link below to get one of your own.
A while back I posted a photo I found online of a good-natured bumper sticker.  As it moved around Eric Preston sent a message to say it was a photo taken years ago of the back of his green van.  The image stayed up and time went on.  More people saw it.  Then two of them decided they liked it enough to make them new. Wayne Bressler prodded Jessica Voruda to work her digital magic, and before long they were available.
If you want one of your own, you can purchase it at this website.

As for my friends with tricycle aircraft, I'm sure you know this is all in good fun.  If not, there's not much I can do for you.  But then again, you could put one of these on your plane as the ultimate joke.