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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Warm Weather Brings Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge to Life

The refuge is coming alive at a quicker rate than hoped.  Yes, it's great to see the warmer seasons approach but they bring with them an increased work load we never look forward to. Want an example? Early on, when the grass starts to grow, we often have to mow three times a week to keep up.

Oh well, everything has a price. These are the bills that reward all of us with a beautiful place to fly.

This week, with the help of some friends, we've made a change to the tractor that should leave less impact on the ground, the "outhouse" has been re-opened, and we're working to get everything else ready to mow next week.

Around the property, green is starting to show on the trees, flowers are in bloom on the hillside, and wildlife is becoming more active. Overhead, an increase in traffic has occurred.  Inside the house, the airport has taken the lead in conversations.

When it comes to years, there are Lunar, Gregorian, Tropical, and more.  Around here we go by the "Airport Year," the beginning of which is signaled by the items above. Therefore, it seems another has arrived to do with as we please.  Let's do our best to make it a productive one.

Thoughts on a Memorial

Photo - Rod Reilly
What makes a good man great? The building blocks, what are they? The answer defies me.
Have you ever known someone who was subtly and inexplicably different from everyone else, and in a good way? Can you explain why they were?

Sure, there are good people out there; the way your daddy is or was a great man. The best father on the planet. Yet, most likely, he isn’t the Merriam-Webster definition of great that eludes me. Instead, he, like many others, exist as bluebirds in spring. Look for them and you’ll find one; a unique specimen, a bright spot on the day, but not the birds on my mind.

Perhaps the perfect definition of a great man is one that is itself undefinable. It’s merely something you understand without thought. That’s most likely it - I can’t tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it.

Ron Alexander was such a man. His memorial provided the proof.

A varied range of people, great in number, is not driven to span latitude, or longitude, for a man of succinct definition. Migrations of this type occur only when undefinable forces compel souls to move - forces they feel, and must honor.

The Ship

What is dying
I am standing on the seashore, a ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her till at last she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says: "She is gone."
Gone from my sight that is all.
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her, and just at the moment when someone at my side says,
"She is gone"
there are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout:
"There she comes!"
and that is dying.

Attributed to several authors

*The poem above was something Ron was known to send to friends who were suffering through great losses.


Friday, March 3, 2017

The Stuff Things Are Made Of

Stuff. My life is stuffed with it. Hell, some of my stuff is stuffed with the stuff. It’s a constant problem for anyone attached to things.
Things have a way of generating stuff that relates to the things your life is stuffed with. If you have a passion for history or machinery, God help you. It’s the stuff insanity is made of.
Insanity was famously said to be, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Being passionate about old things, each time I bring some new stuff home I expect it to go differently. “This time the project will get done,” I think, and Ginger loses her stuffing. “What the hell do you plan to do with that thing?”
You see there’s some sort of physical law associated with stuff, or was it things? But then again, how would I know? I’m insane. The results prove it.
Realizing my handicap, some time ago I decided to remove the things stuffing my life. Those I could sell for enough money to stuff a mattress would be sold. Those that reminded me of friends would get stuffed into boxes and sent to them so that they could deal with the thing. And those that were worthless would be offered to anyone whose wife was not yet fed up with stuff lying on their things. It was a great plan.
An idea born of genius often puts a new kick in the step of its creator. That’s what happened to me. Suddenly, all this stuff was exciting again. The things nagging my conscience became the stuff dreams are made of. The image of friends excitedly opening boxes and placing the thing with the rest of their stuff brought a smile to my face.
One thing after another was stuffed into my car, driven to the post office, and shipped away. It was a magical time. People would drop by the airport for some friendly conversation and before they could swing the prop I’d say, “Hold on, I have something you might want.” Of course they wanted it. There was no “might” to it. They were aviators. Much like their cousins, Crows, they liked shiny things and couldn’t fight the instinctual urge to stuff their home with another jewel.
Away they’d fly with a thing I felt perfect for them. Inside our house each newly unencumbered shelf represented a friendship strengthened. The selfless act of stuffing other peoples homes, with things that had once stuffed my life, continued to put a new kick in my step - right up to the day I tripped over something on my step. It was a box stuffed with things.
Several days later, I was an expert on Crows. As it turns out, members of the Corvid family like to keep their stuff. In fact, they’ll often hide their things where they believe the Magpies down the road would be least likely to look. If they think the Ravens are interested, they’ll put them under lock and key. My friends, it turns out, are no Rooks.
What then was the reason behind the box?  A second inspection revealed a carefully worded hand written note stuffed nicely alongside a well-worn Stearman part. This set my ever-investigative mind to work recreating the scene.
The gesture had obviously been a big production, and I knew there was only one reason a man would do such a thing. Writing the letter, then thoughtfully placing both items into a stuff delivery device, was one act, of an animated play, produced for his wife who was tired of his things. That night, he probably ate steak. A few days later, I got tuna.
“Where are you going to put that?” Ginger asked. “With the rest of my things,” was the obvious answer. “But I thought you were getting rid of stuff,” she said, smartly, as my mind wandered.
Admittedly, this was nothing new. My mind had occasionally pondered the notion of living a minimalist lifestyle. Moving from one city to the next, the door would ring, and I’d say to the movers, “Put it over there with the rest of the stuff,” pointing to a small singular pedestal upon which sat a single vase, holding a single orchid, placed perfectly to highlight the white walls and my lack of a life. Each time that’s when I fall in love with my things all over again and consider renewing our vows. “I swear to lug you around for no particular reason and always come back to you at some time in the future, so help me God.”
Coming out of the daydream, Ginger had already moved on to another of my cherished deficiencies and all was right in the world. The briefly bare shelf was again encumbered with stuff, and my plan was falling apart. Over time, one after another, more stuff came in to replace all the things I had given away. The stuff wasn’t thinning but my workload was increasing. It had to stop.
Currently, I am no longer giving things away and am rethinking my formula. It is my hope, if nothing else, it will be discovered that these things are the dark matter making our universe expand at an ever-increasing rate. On the other hand, maybe the universe is expanding to make room for more things? Yes, I suppose that could be the explanation why there is always room for more stuff. It could also explain where the things I can never find go. Accelerating exponentially, eventually they zip away in a flash of light, not to be seen until they make their way through a wormhole and are found in the neighbor’s garage.
Whatever the answer may be, my friends and I now have things with a story - our stuff connecting us the way things always have. People who can’t let go of yesterday, carrying all these things, into the future, so the people of tomorrow have a reason to build shelves.

Author - Rich Davidson