Friday, October 11, 2019

And the Wind Was Gone



Among the greatest aspects of aviation is the secret of what lies behind the curtain. Flying is an otherworldly experience - a universe within a universe with rules and colors not shared with the grounded. Aviators don’t think outside the box, they live outside it. Existing among the elemental gears of an ethereal machine painting backgrounds for mortals, they are also, unfortunately, inconsiderate of their realm.
Years ago, when power lines threatened our stretch of clear-span river, we notified the FAA, construction stopped, and a proper site and airspace study was begun. Along with the study came the all-important opportunity for pilots and enthusiasts to file comments with the FAA.
At the time, our fly-ins were attracting over 400 aircraft and thousands of people. Additionally, over 7000 “regulars” were on our email list. “Let’s enlist them,” we thought. And, we did. By giving out all the ways our airport followers could comment on the proposed wires, we were sure to offer a hefty swing. The many followers who were openly unhappy with the notion of the wires would surely come to our defense. And, they did – Can you guess how many? Here’s a hint. It wasn’t one and it wasn’t ten thousand. The answer is below.
The number of people who wrote in was three. Think about that the next time there is a threat to a local airport, a senator speaks out against your activity, or some local group decides they don’t like your plane flying overhead. Think about it and realize that if it happens to your community nobody is going to come to your defense. Because, for all its hot air, aviation does a horrible job of working as a team to promote the sport, and an even worse job of standing up for its own.
Posts on social media are nothing but the worst kind of messages in a bottle, tossed into a closed loop puddle. They may make your feel as though you are doing something, but you aren’t. To be effective you must expend your time, often some money, and a sincere effort to support the greatest freedom known to man. If you love it, stand up for it.
Here’s where I’m going with this…
For many years, people who knew me thought I was anti-warbird. No matter where I went guys would bring it up and make jokes about it. My belief is that notion developed from my desire to question everything. In today’s society, if you aren’t blindly loyal to a single point of propaganda, then you’re against it. Question how things work, well then, you must be against it. Right? Wrong.
My passion for antiques was the result of several factors. First, they’re challenging, fun, and have real history. Two, they are most often chaperoned by down to Earth people. Finally, I couldn’t find a warbird group where I fit. Then, one day, a friend invited me out to the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour. I’ve been involved ever since.
What did I find that made me want to do more? What about the group makes me stay? In short, it was the great group of people committed to keeping the soul of aviation alive, nurturing freedom in the hearts of millions, that made me stay. Some people say it, some live it. The Collings Foundation lives it.
Along the way I’ve met amazing people, worked with amazing pilots, and learned much more than I imagined. I have also watched, with great admiration, as the Collings Foundation mentored more next generation aviators than all other groups combined. Yes, it may be my observation but I stand by it. The organization believes in its mission and it shows. That brings me to my point.
As I’m sure you know, the Collings Foundation’s B-17, “909,” was recently involved in an accident. It was a tragedy. For those of us who knew the pilots, it was heartbreaking. Yet, we also cannot help but think of “our passengers.” To those who volunteer with the organization, every person that celebrates freedom with a flight in a foundation plane feels like family. Thinking of any them being injured, or worse, is crushing.
However, with heavy hearts the organization must go on. Were the foundation to stop promoting the history of our great nation, and the ideas of freedom that accompany it, it would be an admission of defeat, or at the very least an indication of insincerity. Fortunately, that’s not the case. However, for the Collings Foundation to continue its mission it must have the FAA’s approval.
Recently, Rob Collings, Executive Director of the Collings Foundation, sent members a letter addressing this very subject. In light of recent circumstances I cannot fathom the weight he is carrying. However,  as you read his words, I believe you’ll see his commitment shows through in concern for both those in the recent accident and the ongoing mission of the foundation.
Upon reading his closing words (below), I hope you’ll remember our Lee Bottom story about the wires which now cross a once clear-span stretch of river. For those of us in aviation to nurture the freedom of flight we must all positively participate in standing up for it. There are no other people out there who will. It is up to each of us. It is up to you.


“Dear supporters,
Please join the Collings Foundation in our thoughts and prayers with those who were on the tragic flight of the B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine-O-Nine” on Wednesday, October 2nd. We will be forever grateful to the heroic efforts of the first responders at Bradley International Airport and the assistance of all local agencies in the days after the crash.
The Collings Foundation team has been and remains fully cooperative with officials to determine the cause of the crash and we will comment further when facts and details become available. We have suspended the Wings of Freedom Tour for the remainder of the 2019 season and the aircraft have returned to our winter maintenance base in Florida.
The mission of the Collings Foundation remains steadfast in the goal of making history come alive as we have for over 30 years. Since 1989, the Wings of Freedom Tour has touched the lives of millions, as we have made visits to over 3600 communities in that time. Tens of thousands have flown aboard our Living History Flight Experiences (LHFE) on the B-17, B-24, B-25, and A-1E and flight training on the TP-51C, TF-51D, and TP-40N. In the past week we have received many stories on how powerful and life-changing the tour has been for families and as we move forward, and we expect there are thousands more who have been touched by the Wings of Freedom Tour.
In the coming months, federal agencies will be reviewing the LHFE program for not only our organization, but many other organizations nationwide who continue to fly vintage aircraft as a part of their educational mission. As these reviews take place, we feel it is important for the voices of those impacted by the Wings of Freedom Tour over the years to be heard. We need to let federal agencies know that the LHFE program is important to you and other American citizens as an educational tool.
Please take a moment to add your comments to the current docket regarding the renewal of the Collings Foundation LHFE program with the FAA at the Federal Register. You may do so online at the following link:




As you write your comment, please review the tips for submitting effective comments from Regulations.gov at https://www.regulations.gov/docs/Tips_For_Submitting_Effective_Comments.pdf

Thank you for your support of our living history mission.

Best regards,
Rob Collings
Executive Director"



Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Madison Municipal Airport (IMS) Airshow is this Saturday - September 28th, 2019


If you're semi-local and would like to support a local airport here's your chance. Admission is whatever you like it to be - seriously.  There will be fuel discounts - everyone's favorite excuse to fly. If you have a cool airplane they'll feed you for free (see website for details). And, AAAANNNNDDDD, you can take the opportunity to stop at Lee Bottom, take a photo proving you were here, and send it to ask where I was.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Our 2000 Club Car Transporter/Carry All is For Sale

As we continue to reduce our 'inventory of things" toward a minimum of things, more and more things are finding themselves on the "things for sale" list. This 2000 Club Car is one such thing. It is redundant to our needs and we'd really like to move it down the road.

If you want a great household mulch mover, local community cooler carrier, or a great airport tool this is it.  It's in great shape, runs well, has a light duty hitch, four new wheels and tires, and red paint that makes it really fast.

2000 Club Car (Gas)
1875+ hours with ongoing use.
$4500 obo




Ed Escallon - A Friend to Everyone


Ed loved the old race planes and always had a smile on his face.

Last week we learned our friend, everybody's friend, Ed Escallon, had passed away. It was a complete shock. He had the look of a guy who could run laps around a runner, the demeanor of person who had no cares in the world but took a year off to go to the beach to make sure, and enough love of life for a dozen average people.

The news of Ed's passing left me wishing for one last visit. The old saying, "Always leave them wanting more," works with so many occupations. Entertainment, business, and even the black market work best when applying this principle. Yet, it is an extremely rare human trait. Ed possessed it.

I sincerely felt cheated not being able to see him one last time. 

It's the strangest thing. When people are alive, even in the case of your closest friend, it seems odd to tell them, "You know what?  You're a good dude. I mean it. You're a first class person and I thought someone should tell you."  Maybe it's because we know it would sound as though, "..in case you die tomorrow," was coming next. Or, maybe it's something we know to be inherently difficult to respond to. Whatever the case may be, we don't say it. And, as we get older, we wish more and more that we had.

Here's to you Ed.  You were a great person. Everyone knew you by your smile and the PT with a similar grin. Ultimately, though, most people will remember you as a guy they were always glad to see.



If you remember Ed, you might want to attend the Ed Escallon Memorial Fly-In on September 28th, 2019, at Anderson (Indiana) Municipal Airport. Look for it on facebook for more details.

Additional bits about Ed:
About his passion for the Golden Age of Racing
http://supersolutionproject.blogspot.com/2011/05/nobody-builds-airplane-alone.html

About Ed and his most well known aircraft
https://generalaviationnews.com/2010/09/13/it-is-a-p-26/


BOWMANFEST - An Aviation and Military Heritage Festival


Bowman Field's conversation piece.

October 5-6, 2019 is the date for this year's BOWMANFEST. Held at historic Bowman Field, in Louisville, Kentucky, the event has grown in size for many years. Thanks to enthusiastic supporters who step up to offer funds that in turn bring in amazing aircraft, this gathering has finally given Bowman Field what it's been missing - something to look forward to.

Still one of the oldest continually operating airports in the world, in the 70s Bowman field was the busiest GA airport in the world, and home to the most enthusiastic aviators in America. However, a few years back, after post 9/11 security mandates, decades of some of the highest relative hangar rates in the nation, removal of grass runways that were attractive to antique aircraft, and general neglect, the field appears to be turning a corner, getting the attention it needs. Life is returning to the field and BOWMANFEST is leading the charge.


Produced by a group of people who believe in the airport, understand its importance to the City of Louisville, and most importantly, love aviation, BOWMANFEST is doing a great job of reminding the neighbors how fun it can be to have a great airport nearby. I hope you'll support their effort.

All that said, I have an admission to make. That's not the entire story behind why I hope you'll attend. The truth is, Bowman is very important to me.


The airport is where I earned my pilot's license (certificate) and first soloed, rode in and flew my first 220 and 450 Stearman, first took off and landed a T-6, first flew a twin, turbine, experimental, and a seaplane out to a water landing.  I also had my first flight in a business jet there. At Bowman I started an air tour business, drove my first Ferrari, Lamborghini, Viper, etc (thanks Jay),  bought a low mileage TR-3B I still kick myself for selling, saw what was probably the first GPS in the state, made a million mistakes, made what would be (so far) some lifelong friends, burned thousands of gallons of gas and more than one bridge, lost a rare gas cap in the grass on takeoff and actually found it after landing, and helped market the oldest aviation business in Louisville. I also departed from Bowman in search of Lee Bottom.

At the historic field, KLOU, I first saw the B-24 "All American" I would, decades later, get to fly. Bowman field is where I found the world's greatest AME, went six months with a flight every single day, and figured out how to use a 300' triangular piece of grass to land and take off in a Champ(with a passenger) without ever allowing the wheels to touch unholy pavement.

It was there that I would talk to a transient pilot in a BT-13 who would later hook me up with a place to hop rides in the Keys.  A few years after that I wound up flying that BT and still have the friends made from the experience. I met Marvin Rowe at Bowman. He deserved a book and I wish I'd have written it when I could.

From Central American's self-serve pumps I air-mailed a parcel, via Curtiss Helldiver, to my brother flying a show in Geneseo. Today I still find new details on the 1920s Curtiss Hangar still in use, wonder if the remnants of 1-19 are actually the oldest piece of hard surface runway in the world, think about the filming of Goldfinger, marvel at the fact Connies once used the field with tighter patterns than modern pilots in 172s, and wish the place still had a reason to land three abreast - hard surface with grass on each side.


So much happened here, for me, the local aviation community, and aviation as a whole. Heck, I haven't even touched on the real history of Bowman - once a must stop location for the world's who's who of aviation when aviation was at its greatest. However, you can see some of that history if you stop by the "old terminal" when attending the event.

Airports like Bowman need real public support to stay alive and well.  BOWMANFEST.com is certainly doing its part.

For more information, visit the website.  BOWMANFEST.com


"Butt Buster"

Monday, July 29, 2019

Sinful Sundays Update

The air over Lee Bottom.

As I’m sure you already suspected, there will be no Sinful Sundays this year. There are many reasons we chose, early on, to forgo events in 2019. And, someday we’ll tell you what they were. In the meantime, please know in the absence of the events we have been working on several projects critical to the long-term future of the field.
Yes, throughout the year we have implied there may still be some kind of small event which might still happen. IF it does, it will not actually be an event, but us grilling some burgers for ourselves and those who choose to attend. It might even be after the leaves have turned and the air has gained a chill. It could also be on a day most people wouldn’t fly. Whatever the case, if you want to be on the email list please message us to let us know.
Enjoy the remaining days of summer. As always, thanks for your support.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Passing of a Great Man

Two years ago I took some photos of Doc at his desk, of him signing a medical at the podium
the way he always did, and some images of his office. I've spent hours looking for them.
Unfortunately, I have not found them yet. Meanwhile, here is a photo of his B-17 training certificate.

I find it increasingly interesting that as society accelerates toward ferality, individuals are still able to recognize greatness in a man. The case for a lack of examples may carry weight but I myself have known four. Unfortunately, the last one standing, my longtime friend, "Dr. Art J. Shulthise, known to all as "Doc," passed away yesterday (June 22nd, 2019). Through the years, nearly every person who met him would go on to use the word "great" as his descriptor.
With greatness there's something gravitational, perhaps even medicinal, about it. With Doc you felt its power - once you were in his orbit, you didn't leave. In his light, you were warm.
His passing has generated many thoughts for my never-ending search for meaning. It’s impossible to record them all. However, it is the great example he unwittingly provided for all of us who knew him that continues its climb to altitude in my mind. Kind, soft-spoken, generous, caring, and stoic in his resolve to be of use to his fellow man – this combined loss has made me the deepest kind of sad – the expiration of his light has cooled my universe.
Laughing to myself, in a moment of grief, attempting to smile the tears from my eyes, I cannot help but wonder if he was wasted on us, pilots. A grand construct of a man attempting to provide care for the incurable. A virtual saint for whorehouse piano players.
Yet, I also know there were thousands of us, and each thousand touches a thousand more. Be the man, or woman, Doc would have wanted you to be. Set good examples, care for those who need it and those who could use extra, and always do your best to be uplifting. Cast a weary but non-judgmental eye toward things you know are wrong but feel compelled to leave to others. Always smile. Be of use to others. Do your best to leave this world better than you found it.
As individuals we all have the ability to recognize greatness. Therefore, deep down, we also know how to be great. Yes, “it takes all kinds,” and few of us, if any, will ever have what Doc had. However, we can all do our part to share what he taught us about being the best person you can be. Give back what he gave. Be the sun in someone’s cloudy day. Remember my friend, our friend, by never allowing his example to die.

________________________________________________________________
Visitation will be at Highland Funeral Home on Tuesday, June 25th, 2019, from 1-8pm.
The funeral will be held at 10:00 am at St. Raphael Church on Bardstown Road on Wednesday, June 26th, 2019. The burial will follow at Calvary Cemetary.
Following burial, a life celebration will follow at the Old Terminal Building, on Bowman Field.
________________________________________________________________

Points of Interest
Preface: Doc was a local AME and legend.
Doc was a pilot before WWII and was an early member of the OX-5 Club.
During WWII he commanded a B-17 and his B-17 training certificate was signed by Bob Hoover.
During the war Doc was a scrounger. Through his trading he made good friends with a specific family that lived near the base in England from which he flew.  Decades later, when he returned to visit the field he had flown from, a guy on a tractor working the now farm field recognized him just as Doc recognized the guy.  The tractor driver was a kid in the same family when Doc was there during the war.
While in medical school, Doc would crop-dust during summer breaks to pay his way through. While other students were doing things that would look good on a resume he was working. Video exists of him doing so.
He was instrumental in figuring out how to preserve and transport blood.
He once owned a bottled water company fed by the spring used for Maker's Mark.
He owned the old Maker's Mark distillery and preserved it. Before he passed away he sold it to a company that will rehab and preserve it and it will eventually be a stop on the Bourbon Trail.
Doc's 450 Stearman was the reason we met, Ginger and me. Later he suggested we take it on one of our early dates. We did. Later, Ginger used it to get checked out in 450 Stearmans. Years earlier it was the first Stearman I was ever in.
He was still riding a Harley in recent years.
Doc ran a few miles every early morning on the treadmill.
He once had a heat attack one of those mornings, drove himself to the emergency room, and while walking past the deck told the attendings what was happening and continued down the hall and hooked himself up to the appropriate machines. He was back doing medicals a week later.
The first time Doc told me he was proud of me is something I'll never forget. He probably told everyone but coming from him it was special. He was a truly great man.
When he passed away he was 95 and as vibrant and active as many 60 year olds.
>There are so many things that could be listed here it would take me forever to finish.  I included only a few of the items I felt everyone would find interesting.

Back in February, Ginger and I stopped to get gas, in Louisville,
around 12 midnight to 1 am. While pumping gas, a voice from the other
side of the pump said, "What are you doing out at these hours young man?"
It was Doc. I never take selfies but I could not resist. We stood there in the
cold, chatting, then he went back to work! There was a pilot having medical
issues and Doc wanted to make sure he built a strong case for the individual
and had all the paperwork perfect.