Around the Airport

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Long Standing Problem Resolved

What's right with this picture?
When I first flew into Lee Bottom back in the mid 90's, there was a specific safety issue Fritz wanted addressed.  Standing within the runway edge boundaries, but before the displaced threshold of 35, was a pole the power company had put up without approval.  The "without approval" should have mattered but it didn't.
As we all know too well, when it comes to things such as this, the little guy almost always takes it in the shorts.  When Fritz attempted to do something about the pole, the power company indicated it would keep it there because it could; meaning they had power and influence and Fritz was some old guy with limited funds.  They were right.
Nobody, not the FAA, InDOT, or local authorities dared question the almighty power company.  Yet, Fritz put up a fight.  He didn't win, but he didn't give up.  After twelve years of trying, he passed away without the issue resolved.  That never sat well with me.
Big companies are not something I automatically hate.  Yet, I have known for a long time that they will almost always screw the little guy when it comes to getting what they want.  Power companies, perhaps more than any, were and still are this way.  Therefore, I never quit stewing over that pole.
If you've flown into Lee Bottom, you have probably noticed the pole.  I say this because many of you have asked about it.  Landing north it always feels as though you are going to clip it.  Thus, many choose to land well beyond it even though it would be off the wing were they on centerline.  Planes like the DC-3 though have no choice but to land long.  Even if perfectly centered, the wingtip of a "three" would be a mere foot or two away from the obstruction.  Again, it has never been far from my mind.
This year all that changed.  Naturally, there were other things that needed to be done.  A hangar needed rebuilt and another needed erected.  But, an opportunity of timing and circumstance came about unexpectedly and I had to jump on it.  Because of this, we finally got rid of that damn pole and the associated power lines right before the fly-in.
This shows where the pole was.
It was actually taller than this but I think you get the picture.
If you look closely you can see the runway cones in the distance.
To you this may not seem that big a deal.  To me though it is a wrong which has been righted.  Standing as one of the last items on Fritz's wish list, I am thrilled to have scratched it off.
The next time you fly into Lee Bottom, I hope you'll remember that pole and the fact it took twenty-seven years to get rid of a serious safety hazard.  Several regulating authorities had the right to demand it be removed.  But in the end, it was a few persistent "little guys" who accomplished the task.  Never give up the fight for what's right.

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