Around the Airport

Monday, July 2, 2018

Stop to See the Shadows

The shadow created by clouds on the horizon at sunrise.

"Do you see that?" Outside of "Where the eph are we going", "Why is it doing that", and "Shouldn't we be higher", this is probably the most common question I have on the flight deck. Cruising along at three-four-zero, I'm amazed at the number of other pilots who fail to see what can only be seen "up there." I don't know why that is but I suspect it has to do with the never ending effort to remove everything that is beautiful or moral from all that is good. Never let that happen to you.

The Beast Visits Lee Bottom

Our good friend Mike Rutledge recently stopped by for the night in what could best be described as an aviation time capsule. Known to most as "the Beast," it is the last flying unrestored Stearman cropduster in its cropduster configuration. Get that?

Essentially a critical piece of aviation history, it is the Stearman cropduster of aviation lore. Drug around by a "1340," lifted by extended wings, and full of hopper tank, it displays the pinnacle of Stearman duster mods in a way that has to be seen to believed.

If you happen to run across it somewhere, stop and take it all in. I believe it is one of the most underrated pieces of aviation history flying today.

I always wanted one of these to be saved. Now, thanks to the Schiffer brothers, I can rest knowing one has. Flying it was pure bonus.  Thanks Mike. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

No Sinful Sunday in July

There will be NO SINFUL SUNDAY IN JULY of 2018. Please pass the word around. The August Sinful Sunday will be hosted by the RAF and will be August 12th.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Sinful Sunday is One Week Away

The first Sinful Sunday of 2018 is June 10th.  We hope to see you here.

2017 was a successful year for Sinful Sundays and our effort to get more groups involved. Two of those groups will be hosting this first event of 2018. The organizations are the Bluegrass Chapter of Women in Aviation and the 99's. Together these "volunteers" will be offering Bernoulli Small Batch Ice Cream and a classic summer picnic lunch.

We hope to see you here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Thoughts on Life; Lived or Wasted?

Twenty years ago, this April 5th, I made a decision. It was time to get on with it. I was thirty. Soon, I'll be fifty.

Somewhere, I can't remember where, I recently wrote about forty and a lesson taught to me in college by a favorite professor. When you hit your forties, that's it. That is what you've accomplished and that's pretty much where you will spend the rest of your life. Wherever you are on the ladder, that's your rung. Your climbing days are over.

No doubt many of you are poo-pooing this notion at this very moment. It goes against every flowery, bullshit, rehashed and repackaged, self-empowerment book you ever bought to convince yourself there was hope - that you could be more. It was a lie. That optimistic mysticism bought for 20% off was little more than a repackaged politician offering hope. All you had to do was donate, lean forward. You bought it, literally and figuratively.

Don't lie. I know you read, "What Color is Your Parachute." Well, I'm sorry, but if you're over forty your skydiving days are over too. And what the hell were you thinking using it as a guide for raising kids? Sorry. There I go again, digressing. (Mental Note - is this a sign of dementia? Make Dr. appointment).

I get it. It's not a great feeling to be shown the door to reality. It sucks. For those of you planning to see "After 40" in theaters anytime soon, here's a spoiler alert - it doesn't stop there. Each successive year reality grows a new head that's ugly, and wrinkled, and filled with conversations of doctor visits, death, and "kids these days." Holy $*&# kids these days(Mental Note - tell Dr. it's increasing).

Then, one day, one very scary crap yourself after a night of beer and tacos day, you wake up smelling of old age instead of sex and wonder what the fuck happened. Well, no fucks happened - that's what happened. But life certainly did, and to add insult to soiled flannel pajamas it did so with no push-back from you. That's the scary part.

Imagine sitting at some crappy desk in your typical on-air police station.  There's a German-American chick who is a serious cop, an Asian lady you're pretty sure is a statistician, a wise African-American cop, some Latino bad-ass who everyone obviously likes, a stiff lipped officer who must be from Internal Affairs, and the racist, homophobic, sexist pig, Irish-American, male cop who gets your case because nobody likes him and you're the dumb-ass "victim" who put a sign on his door stating, "Please come into my home and take everything I care about. There's cake in the fridge." This is what it feels like to wake up with the realization you're almost fifty and you've wasted three decades reading self-help books in search of that amazing (and profitable) inner you that never was actually there. (Ask Dr. if an MRI might reveal a hidden amazing inner me)

Yep, you're a human Oak Island with nothing to show for it but the scattered tailings of failed mining expeditions and a cancelled reality show. Of course, you probably hated mining, didn't like the location, and really hated asking investors for money, but you did it anyway because you were responsible. Does this sound remotely familiar?

If you're answering yes, I have news for you. You're fucked. You need help.

If you've spent any time on the internet I'm sure you've seen someone post a meme with the words, "From the day you're born you begin dying." It's a load of crap. If you are skilled in self-preservation you'll recognize this fraud as the one who is always attempting to sound deep.  She's the same person continually posting about "the right guy" and how she'll know when he arrives because he'll be sensitive, intelligent, and able to see how incredibly great she is. Holy crap! If any of you fall for that I'm coming over to take your stuff and eat your cake. (Note for Dr. - if I write "cake" too much will I get diabetes?)

You don't begin dying when you're born. Your soul starts cutting spars for a flight out of hell the day you quit living - real living. That's when death taps you on the shoulder, looks around to make sure you're alone, then leans gently into your ear as if to say, "I'm not wearing any underwear," but what you get instead is a disgusted, "Where's your fucking toys?" It's the most miserable day of any guy's life. Death thought she was getting a man but instead got you. 

There you were thinking you were about to get laid by some random Goth chick in a robe when BAAMM, Low-T arrives in the form of a question. Panic sets in. You've been mining while everyone else was living! Those days spent mowing a runway for others could have been spent flying. Remember the time you fought some airport board for pilots who didn't care enough to show up for their own meeting? You could have put that effort and money toward a Mangusta, driven it to some hinky festival, parked at a cafe, then sat outside to look at it while the wine snobs at the next table confirmed everything you ever thought about hipsters. (Question for Dr, are all wine snobs really born through the butthole?)

The day you realize what you've missed, how little time there is to set foot, poke your nose, or stick your finger in new places, that's the day the clock starts. How you react sets the pace. It's a limited time offer, you better act fast.

Somewhere out there is a life with your name on it, multiple switchbacks for your bike, a track for the car, an airworthiness certificate for your soul.

In an era of man-bashing this is often used to infer men are on
some lower level of maturity - that they are somehow inferior - when
it is actually an astute observation into the constitution of men,
who they really are, and what they need to be happy.

"Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night." - dylan thomas

April, 3 2018

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Lee Bottom Flood Update

Here you can see the flooding around the field.
Photo - Mark Powers

Many of you know Lee Bottom lies beside the Ohio River and a few of you knew the Ohio recently flooded. For those who've been asking and those who didn't know to ask, this is an update on how it affected us.

Most important to this conversation is the knowledge no flood on record has ever flooded the airport. Although the "37 flood" would have put water in some of the land near the hill the runway would have still been ok. Those of you familiar with the field know there is a small county road that runs down one side of the runway.  This bit of chip seal human intervention happens to divide the part of the bottom that floods from that which does not. Therefore, the primary question has been answered - the airport did not flood, the runway is fine, and it is open.

Those of you who know more of our story know we also have a few pieces of property between the road and the river where it does flood. Although we came close to a very bad week (6-8" close), in the end we had one building with a foot and a half of water in it. This was the shop where most of stuff was moved after the tornado.

This is the driveway into "the Nut Farm" across the road.
I waded in after the water was already going down
to take photos.

Our friend Mike Grecco saved the day by helping us get everything up on tables, or move elsewhere, before the water rose. We spent a day and a half getting ready and in the end it worked out pretty well, all things considered.

The water had already gone down a foot to a
foot and a half when I took this.

Although we have one building we are still trying to get dry, we have been able to get the mud out and start the cleaning process. This also jump started our organization efforts to get everything sorted so that we can have an auction to sell off everything that isn't bolted down or absolutely necessary to the operation. We had been wanting to reduce the amount of "stuff" and this forced us into it. Hopefully some of you will come to whatever kind of sale we have and buy it all and leave us with a much more manageable life.

As for that gigantic bonfire we were planning to have, it washed away.  There were a few years worth of trees in that pile and it moved on in the peak hour of the flood.  One less inch and it would likely have stayed.  Oh well...

NOTE: If any of you remember the tram that was the old Cincinnati Zoo tram, it needs a new home. Know any non-profit that would like it or someone interested in buying it to restore?

Friday, February 9, 2018

Ace Turns 15

A truly wonderful dog.
February 14th is Ace's birthday. Ginger calls him her Ace of Hearts (born on Valentine's Day). He's 15 this year.

If you've spent any time at Lee Bottom, you know Ace. He's one of the best dogs I've ever known; a favorite of vets, laid back, and loyal. Anyone who doesn't like him can be written off as "strange" and pretty much ignored from that point on.

Years ago this amazing dog was the best man at our wedding, for years he kept deer off the runway, and now he holds down territory in the house. If you haven't seen him in a while he's friendly as ever, and older, and still never leaves our side.

Dang birthdays!

The Latest from the Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge (and Random Bits of Interest)

Somehow, this relates. I haven't quite sorted it out but
I'm sure it does.
As difficult as it is to believe, the airport has never had an “honest” land survey. Years ago when most of the river bottom and hill-side were sold at auction there was some confirmed shadiness involved in the sale. The case is well-known around here. Because of this, property boundaries in the bottom fall into the “in this general area” category. Now, thanks to a shady real estate agent who misrepresented a nearby property, with the help of some shady “lawyering,” to some shady people, which was missed by local officials, we find ourselves needing to pin down all boundaries to sort it out. Total = $7600.
Remember, that’s only the survey.  It doesn’t include any of the additional expenses already incurred or expected to accrue in order to resolve this issue.
I mention this because it is only one of the things we are aggressively pursuing to reduce the problems for the airport, and its future owners, going forward. All of this comes out of our pockets and it is a great example of why we are so thankful for those of you who support the field by contributing to the airport’s operation fund.
Anything better than this
costs money.
The airport house needs a redefined purpose. The interior updates have not been completed because we are unsure what it will become. We’ve talked to restorers and mechanics about calling it home. You’d think it would be appealing but so far nobody has taken us up on the opportunity. It would also be great for a specialized flight school/instructor.  It could also become a home for someone who likes to mow grass and perform general airport maintenance. If you know an adult Boy Scout we’d be interested in talking to them. You know, all that honest, thrifty stuff…
Question: Is there a demand for hangars at Lee Bottom? This is tough to answer. We’ve long had a place set aside for five 50Wx40L hangars.  However, while we lived on the airport we were reluctant to move forward with them. Now we wonder if anyone would be interested? What would make them appealing to you?
I'm partial to this hangar facade.
We have a huge pile of wood to burn and sometime soon we’re going to light it off.  If you’d like to come hang out and roast some hot dogs then watch the Lee Bottom facebook page for the announcement. It will probably be fairly short notice. If you’d be willing to bring your chainsaw, or willingness to lift, and help us add another few trees to the pile, send us an email at – infoatleebottomdotcom.
SINFUL SUNDAYS – We are looking for groups to run the last two Sinful Sundays of 2018.  The Women in Aviation chapter that ran last year’s July event has committed to run the one in June. If your group would be interested in one of these fundraiser dates please let us know. The group does not have to be aviation oriented. Note: The events are only held if outside groups offer to hold them. It worked great last year.
We are looking to redo, remodel, or rearrange many things this year.  Some will be obvious – most will not. Much of this effort involves selling items we no longer need. Actually, I have decided I want rid of EVERYTHING we don’t need. Therefore, look for a possible silent auction at an upcoming Sinful Sunday to sell every little item I am sure I no longer need. This would include aviation art prints, die cast toys, aircraft parts, books, and more.  When it is over I want what’s left to fit on a wall in the house or two bookshelves.  Oh, if we are to rebuild the hangar and possibly the house, we will no longer need the cabin.  Are you interested? It’s for sale if so. It’s wired for power and is a true, although modern build, log cabin. $8000 (must be removed from the river bottom).
One of our longest held dreams has been to have the Indiana Aviation Hall of Fame at Lee Bottom. Our state is one of the few without such an (established) organization, yet is has some of the richest aviation history. The field is the perfect location, and were non-profits to combine their efforts it would be the only Hall of Fame I know of with its own airport. The time is right. Could it be done? If so, it better start happening. The depletion of my ambition is accelerating.
Ultimately, we are putting all options on the board. Do you have any suggestions?

Another Calendar Old

Did you get a calendar?  Probably not. They only go to a fraction of the people on this list. Why is that?
Despite the calendar’s meager debut 30 years ago, the annual mailing eventually grew to an unwieldy 1500 prints. Attempting to keep a handle on things we capped the production there and sent them only to people who contributed to the airport’s operating fund.  It’s done the same way today.
If you typically get a calendar, don’t worry. The US Postal Service treats bulk mail as a necessary evil. Even though they went out some time ago only a few have arrived at their destinations. However, all of them soon will.
When they do we hope you’ll contribute once again. Each year these funds go directly to keeping the airport running and indirectly they do the same for us.
Anyone who has followed the airport through the years knows we’ve been at it a while. This is my (rich) 20th year at the field and Ginger’s 17th. Along the way we’ve done many positive things and also butted heads with politicians, utilities, the FAA, and inconsiderate pilots. Everything we ever did was to improve the chances Lee Bottom survived the long haul. There’s just one problem. Ginger and I will not last the long haul.
Obviously, I am a fallible biped. My eventual demise has never been in doubt. However, Ginger has been accused of being a machine. Well, I’m here to dispel the myth.  She is not. Borg maybe, but not machine.
What does this mean? Each year the effort required to keep the airport running gets more difficult for us to muster as retirement increases its offer of less involved days. Somewhere in there the lines cross, “S over R Max.”  That’s spending over reward to those who still believe they’ll live forever.  Beyond that point it doesn’t makes sense for us to use all our spare pennies to keep the airport open if pilots don’t feel the need for it. No matter how much we love the place, if we can’t eat or go to the doctor in old age it would be insane to keep at it. For this reason, we’ve been planning our lives so that doesn’t happen. We’ve also been planning a future for the field. That’s where the Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge (a 501C-3) comes into play.
Years ago we told everyone we’d base the airport’s future on how much the community wanted to keep it alive. Therefore, when folks like you contribute to the operation fund it’s a massive shot in the arm. Every time you show your support, it makes it that much easier for us to do the hard work.  THANK YOU!