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.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

No Sinful Sundays in June and July

Artwork by Ross Buckland
We're sorry to report we will not be having Sinful Sundays in June and July of 2019(Please pass the word). The reasons are many however there is no reason to make a list. We are still here at the field though.

Drop in to see us or fly into the field because it exists when so many others no longer do. We're keeping the grass cut for those who still fly and continue to stand up the cones whenever someone blows them over. The tables are still here for picnics - the fire pit ready for a fire.


Monday, February 18, 2019

The Ongoing, Ever-present, Repetitive Rebuild of all Things Digital.

If you get our emails and find them to look a cluttered, you aren't the only one. With the ever changing digital field of marketing, new formats and protocols are coming online daily. Unfortunately, if you are tasked with keeping up with them all it often gets tiring and you let them go. That's on me, Rich.

On the upside, slowly we are making progress. Slowly we are updating. Hopefully, we'll be fully done before the next round of major changes.

Question: When is the last time you were at  

Donations Via Website

There have been some problems with the donation page at Currently WIX is working on the issue, as are we.  We apologize for the inconvenience. Thanks to all of you for pointing out the issue.

Meanwhile, there is an easy solution. For some reason the button needs to either be close to center on your screen or you have to double click the "donate" button.  These temporary workaround methods should help.

A Beast, Thought Extinct, Spotted at Lee Bottom

A "survivor" visits Lee Bottom.

Have you seen the image above? If so, you most likely received a 2019 Lee Bottom calendar. Although it may not be the flashiest photo (purposely aged), it is easily the most historically correct ever used.
Lee Bottom’s timeline is dotted with nearly every kind of aviation that exists, or has existed. From Barnstorming to maintenance, flight training to salvage, the place has seen it all, including a long stint as a duster field. Along the south side of the runway you can even find parts of junk Ag-cats, used as landfill, sticking out of the ground.
The plane featured here is one of the last “survivor” Stearman dusters. Still in its duster configuration (unrestored), and powered by a P&W 1340, it’s most likely the only one of its kind remaining – a true time capsule of aviation history.
Every time I see this plane I wear the grass in a continuous path around it. There are endless details to find and ponder. Some things are almost comical; others are mechanical exclamation points. In short, I love it.
Thanks to Mike Rutledge for bringing it by on a rare cross-country. “The Beast,” as it is affectionately known, isn’t something usually chosen for flights more than an hour or 100 miles long.

***Thanks to all of you who participate in our annual calendar fundraiser. Each year you help us a do a little more to the field to improve it, and keep it open for future generations.

Would you like to contribute?  Click here.

The End

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Nature's Reveille

Photo - All About Birds

Earlier, as a not so permafrost melted Hanover into mush, I laid in bed contemplating the day. A week long deep freeze, and a night of sleepless "Reserve A," had robbed me of the energy to stand upright. Within my head, dreams and reality wrestled for the win.
Times like these are common. Sleep is my friend. Coming through for reality was a list of things to do. Dreams’ strong rebuttal was a final scene I wished to experience. It was the perfect balance of ambition and sloth. Then, there was a sound.
Outside the window, low in the maple, was something unheard in a week. Until then it had not occurred to me, the world had been silent. Everything was hiding; trying to survive; fighting its own reality, or dreams.
A single robin was the first to announce results.
Singing louder than before, the redbreast derided my laziness. Was it avian attitude, personal guilt, or nothing but perception of volume after an extended and unrecognized silence? It is impossible to know. Whatever the case, nature’s reveille telegraphed sharply through the glass.
The first report of winter’s death, received. The battle for spring, nearly won.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

What's In A Name?

There is a list of things to do, the annual calendar letter needs finalized, a rating exists that must be completed, clothes need folding, and a bulb has gone dark, yet for some reason, tonight, I can only think of my Dad’s Dad, Orlando Davidson. A man who did what was right, not what was popular – my grandfather.
Other than the many grand stories passed down by family, to me he exists in two places, my single but unwavering memory of him, and my name. I’m proud of that more than ever. Although, it wasn’t always that way.
Nothing about my name was ever easy. First, it breaks many of the unspoken but subconsciously recognizable rules of flow, consonants vs vowels, and easy speech patterns. In short, it doesn’t flow off the tongue.
When you’re young, the name Richie is an invitation to a dozen childish jabs. It’s also greatly misunderstood. Everyone believes it’s either Ricky, short for Richard, or spelled wrong. Yes, people have told me I spell my name wrong. After all, who would name their kid, Richie?
Of course, there’s also the obvious point that Richie sounds like an eight year old. Several weeks ago, when checking into a hotel, the guy behind the desk, seeing the full spelling of my name, said, “Hey, you know, I know a Richie. He’s a buddy-o-mine, and you know, he’s actually pretty cool,” as if it was an anomaly. My response to him was, “Yeah, it’s kinda like a boy name Sue. You kinda have to be.” He thought about it, then with a loud laugh, he said, “HA. I guess that’s true, hu?” Thus, completely affirming what I had always believed.
For all these reasons and more, years ago I started going by, “Rich.” Right out of school it seemed more capable of hiding the reality of my age than my behavior, so I went with it. Unfortunately, Rich is also difficult off the lips – the sound, reminiscent of a German teaching behavior to a dog, is impossible to express with the smoothness of butta (sigh). Still, it seemed better than Richie, which actually is descended from the German name Ritchie. Hence, the accusations of incorrect spelling. Again, one reason why I continued to go with Rich.
However, there is one thing about my first name that I have always cherished. It is my mother’s maiden name. Despite all the pitfalls of Richie, not only did my parents bring me into the world, they managed to keep both families alive with me. For that, I am ever grateful, and regretful for shunning it.
Names really do have an effect on who you are. In my case, a strong sense of person comes from the Germans and my total distaste for bullshit from the Scots-Irish – Davidson. The latter being a tough brand of human who worked their way into the country, moved down the east coast, then inland, through the Cumberland Gap, to become some of the poorest yet most proudly self-sufficient people on the planet. These are my people. Well, wait. There is the Creek Indian part that I can’t talk about since my membership is not up to date, but I have always wondered if that’s why I’m so good at smelling the white man’s bull. However, I’ll save that for another page and paragraph.
Orlando and Nettie Davidson, my father’s parents, lived in the bottom of a deep valley acquired through trade. Elder family members exchanged a Kentucky Long Rifle, a hunting dog, and a fifth of whiskey for the acreage upon which their shack rested. There they had six children.
Orlando, known to family and friends as “Lando,” was, for the most part, your typical hard working dirt farmer/all around capable Appalachian man. Three things were important to him, his family, his land, and his people. Asking for nothing, except to be left to his resources and property, he planted row crops on the sunny side of a steep hill, terracing the land with a plow pulled by cows and mules. Below, in the shadows, was a typical Eastern Kentucky homestead by a creak. Everything you needed to survive was the land offered. Then came the strip mines via broad form deed.
Crony Capitalism has always been a Kentucky specialty. The timber and coal industries perfected it. Buying politicians to cast aside those without power, these industries extorted, from the simple people of Appalachia, the minerals below their feet and the timber that gave them shelter. For some it was an annoyance; for many it was a nightmare; to others it was deadly.
Acting without malice, and with the permission of government, corporations who claimed ownership to the sediment below ripped landowners from their land. Adding insult to injury, this left shell-shocked families with no logical choice but to sell all the timber. After all, were it not sold it would be bulldozed and left to rot. Unsurprisingly, mine owned timber companies offered pennies on the dollar.
With the permission of government all the streams went dead, mountains were clear-cut of trees, and the mountain tops sheared off – the rubble pushed over the hills. More than once, boulders rolled onto homes below. More than once it was intentional.
Today most people know only the populist slogans pushed by politicians to stir up their base. Many believe coal has helped Appalachia. Kentucky has an “I support coal” license plate. However, the area has, on numerous occasions, qualified as the poorest area in the nation. It ranks high among the areas of drug use, low in the rankings of health and education, and no longer has the land that once rivaled any park in the nation. Put bluntly, it is “the hood” for white people - where folks were used up and spit out by government and corporations, taught no other options, and left with no ability to fight back.
Yes, you will find people made slave to the industry – people who always go back to the jobs. However, it is difficult to argue they are better off than their grandparents who had the same quality of life but they also had freedom. Today, those that still depend on the mines are little more than subjects of the Kentucky king, coal. They live and die on the decisions of others. Moreover, as you would expect, like users they support their dealers.
My single memory of my grandfather, Lando, is of him and me sitting on a bench at the base of a shade tree, on a warm summer afternoon. Within a few seconds run, on a child’s legs, a creek once full of life gurgled over rocks. By my side my Grandfather whittled.
I remember this moment because I felt, for the first time, the greatness in someone. He was a good man who loved his family, who knew wrong from right, and stood for it even when he was alone. His appearance was old but inside was something beyond time – a presence. I’d give anything to have what he was carving that day. In some ways I guess I do. I certainly got his name, Lando.
Yes, my name has been problematic from the start. People have problems with my first name, although it’s simple. Some have even accused me of spelling it wrong. My last name gave me a spirit that doesn’t fit in the modern world and its spelling gets me confused with some old coot (and friend) who flies Pitts and spells his name wrong. However, it is my middle name, Lando, which earns my biggest chuckle.
Many years ago, when I was trying to fly shrunken heads from the Amazon into the USA, I had to produce a birth certificate. When it arrived, I was shaken to my core. On the document was, LANDAU. Fortunately, since my core is little more than a tiny burned out ember it really wasn’t much more than a curiosity until I learned the why behind the spelling - someone at the hospital spelled it wrong when I was born. HA!
When I was young everyone assumed my middle name to be, Lee. I never mentioned it, only printing “L,” so they guessed the most likely country middle name and that’s what I got. The day after I finally told some friends who were ribbing me about it, Stars Wars debuted. That didn’t help. The name was as alien to small town Kentucky as cars without giant bird decals on their hoods. And yet, today, every time I look at my work ID it pisses me off it’s spelled wrong.
I wish there was more about Lando remaining. I wish I had known him better. After decades of watching his beloved land and people struggle against the evils of government and corporate tyranny, he had a stroke. That day, a coal train blocked the only road to the hospital.
To know that, you know his son, my dad, Eldon. To know my dad, you know me.

Note: I have my father’s gun somewhere. If he missed he meant to. To understand that, you have to read this.