Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Adventures of Bestmann and Robin

It’s a rarity for Ginger and me to get away from the airport.  It’s even rarer when we have time to visit friends at their events. Therefore, if enough time comes free, we always try to sneak in a trip to a event hosted by someone else.  This November, it was the Veteran’s Day Fly-In at Ron Alexander’s place, Candler Field.
There's always something really special about other people’s fly-ins. To us that something is the fact that wherever it is it’s being put on by someone else; a real guilty pleasure of ours.  Despite this though, our need to do something always kicks in and before long we find ourselves folding chairs, running errands, and moving planes.  The last one is how I came to spend a day with an amazing duo, Bestmann and Robin.
Moving antique airplanes is a funny business.  When it comes time to push, nearly every owner is silently nervous but physically spastic about the help he needs but does not want. To make things worse, the abundant volunteers often seem to run at the airplane from all directions as if the machine had an injured leg and wolves were descending.  Witnessing this, the owner quickly imagines the inevitable damage, weighs it against the potential cost of exposure to the elements, and says “Ok, puuuush.”
There is another side to this experience though, being the volunteer.  If you have ever helped an owner reposition his or her mechanical eighty year old baby into a tight hangar, you understand that in this manner one can quickly ascertain the disposition of said owner.  Human dispositions may vary widely but when it comes to aircraft owners, there are basically two types; non-pilots and pilots.
The first type is the guy who wants the tires to hit the same tracks on the hangar floor, demands the tires sit on carpet squares, and insists on checking everything you do despite the fact you obviously just checked it yourself. Once it is in the hangar, he drapes a cover over any opening, hangs from the airplane a special gadget he made to catch drips, and finishes with a ritual.  This ritual, or rain dance as I call it, usually involves the random checking and double checking of random odd items on the aircraft, the wiping of key aircraft surfaces to remove any traces of flight, positioning of aircraft control surfaces to neutral, and a final inspection of that one thing he is worried might break, whatever it is.  The next or second type is the pilot.
In this case, the owner's biggest concern is not the hangar floor but that his flying machine is airworthy and remains so.  Therefore, although he might share a few traits with the non-pilot, the reasons for his madness are much different. This is the guy I met back in November, when I placed my hands on the struts of his Curtiss Robin; “Ok, puuuush.”
It’s hard for me not to admire a wonderful plane when in its shadow and after a few minutes of doing so, I found myself with a new friend named Richard Epton.  Soon thereafter I was given a tour of the plane. Of note in this tour were all the things you would expect; the large diameter high pressure tires, the wide out-rigger landing gear, the long wings, and the way it feels to sit in the pilot seat. I must say, that pilot seat does feels unique. Therefore, when Richard asked what time we were leaving the next day, I instinctively responded, “When should we?"
As I pulled up the next morning to collect on Richard's offer to fly, a cold clear blue sky awaited.  Climbing into the pilot’s seat, I listened carefully to what he had to say. Well, actually I listened as well as I could.  Underneath me though, wicker crackled like a saddle announcing the mount a horse and out front metal plinked as it cooled from Richard’s warm up flight. These little details made it difficult to stay focused and yet I somehow managed to gather the Robin does nothing unexpected, you fly it mostly with rudder, and “it flies like a Cub with a thousand pound bomb strapped to its belly.” That last bit is typical of Richard’s sense of humor. Thankfully, this is all you need to know to fly a Robin and just when I was about to shut the door, Richard grabbed it.
Sitting there, looking out at Richard with him looking in at me, the air took on a brief feeling of seriousness. “I’ve never done this before, just letting someone fly my plane" he said.  "It feels like I’m sharing a girlfriend with a stranger. Are you sure you’re up to it."  Being the first person let loose with another man’s plane is a great honor, but being set free with another man’s girlfriend is something else altogether. Therefore, I assured him I was up to it “and oh yeah, she’ll be needing some rest when I get back.” He closed the door and I cranked the engine.
Leaving the ground in any old Curtiss is an incredible thing, but leaving the ground that day in that Robin is something I’ll never forget.  There, in one machine, existed a true vintage design from the early days of aviation, a panel layout that only five years later would have been unthinkable, an enclosed cabin that would be the future of aviation, and a powerplant that unfortunately would not.  In that plane was engineering from the twenties before flying was truly figured out, some clues to the future when it would be, and a pilot born one year before man stepped on the moon. That is my kind of flying.
Working the old girl about the sky, I quickly found the ailerons to be more of an afterthought to control than  guidance control.  Don’t get me wrong, the plane flies great.  It’s just that in a Robin, the ailerons are used more to correct a trend in direction than to start one.  As for stalls in the Robin, they come and go casually enough for noon tea, and for the most part she flies like a Cub with a thousand pound bomb strapped to her belly. Landings are likewise just as much fun.
Slipping base to final in any nearly any plane will tell you how easy the landing is going to be.  Coming ‘round the corner in this old girl feels like driving a car you’ve had for twenty years. You know exactly where it’s going to go, and how it’s going to do it.  It just won’t do either as well as a new car. The steering isn’t as tight, the controls are heavier, and a few things may rattle, but the outcome is still just as predictable.
Flaring for the three point, one only need remember how high the pilot’s seat is off the ground and set up accordingly to be successful. This requires adding a few inches to where you think that’ll be because it’s always just a hair higher than you remember.  Touching down, the large diameter wheels assemblies tug on the plane as they attempt to spool up, the oleos and tailwheel absorb any additional evidence of turf, an odd sound grows louder, and very quickly she is done rolling.  That’s when you realize the loud noise in the cockpit is that of yourself howling out loud with the laughter of pure unadulterated aviation fun. What a hoot she is to fly, is all I can say.  If you ever get the chance fly one, make sure cash that coupon.
Needless to say, at this point it was already a perfect day.  Then, as if that just wasn't good enough for Richard, he turned to me and said something along the line of, "it’s a shame you don’t have more time because we’d get the Bestmann (Bücker Bestmann) and give it a whirl if you did." Ring….ring……ring…hey sweetheart, you’re ok with leaving later, right? And like that I had seen Richard’s home, his man cave hangar, and was flying over the skies of Georgia in what is considered the only flying Bücker Bestmann in the states; airworthy doesn’t count.
How could I accurately describe the Bestmann? Well, let me spit out a highly overused statement, “It’s a good thing Hitler was in charge of the German military because if not for his many poor tactical decisions, we would be speaking German.” This aircraft design, originally a primary trainer for German pilots during WWII, easily earns a title above that of airplane. Much in the way a BMW is not a car but “The ultimate driving machine,” the Bestmann is not a plane but a flying machine.
I was so impressed with the Bestmann and so taken by all its details, that for my first flight, I forgot to follow my “rules for flying anything” mental flash cards and made a mess of the first take off.  But there was hope.  Applying a little self punishment and Richard's advice allowed me to recoup my composure and make a couple of nice landings and take offs. What? Oh yes, how is it in the air; well it’s great.
In the air, the Bestmann follows true to its Bücker lineage. If you’ve ever flown a Pitts, think of it as a stable Pitts only better. Now I know some of you Pitts guys will stir me up for this and some of you  Bücker guys will stir me up for the same, but let me explain.
If two pilots flew a Bestmann and a Pitts from the East Coast to the West Coast, when they arrived there would be a red mark on each pilot’s leg where their arms had rested and their thumb and first two fingers would need a little rest. Neither person’s fingers though would be tired from working so much, it’s just that their fingers would have been the only things to ever touch the highly responsive sticks.  A difference though would show through if both pilots were then asked to hit the town.  Having made it coast to coast successfully, I am quite sure the guy flying the Pitts would be mentally exhausted and ready for sleep while the pilot of the Bücker would still be up for the taking of a small corner of France. That’s the difference. Flying from A to B in a Bücker is fun, while flying the same in a Pitts can be an exhausting exercise of "flying the bumble bee.”
Now again, I realize some of you Pitts guys will still want to stir me up over the idea of traveling in a Pitts and the Bücker guys will want to stir me up for comparing a Bücker to a Pitts, but however you feel about either plane, the one big difference between the two comes down to the practicality of ownership. In such a runoff, in my opinion, the Bücker would always win, despite its rarity. And this is coming from a guy who thinks highly of the Pitts design.
Thanks again to Richard Epton for introducing me to Bestmann and Robin. Without guys like you, there would not be enough “fixes” to feed my vintage aircraft addiction. And to my wife Ginger, thanks for your willingness to read a book while I flew about the blue skies of Georgia. Oh, and I can’t forget all the veterans that keep our country safe.  While you were out fighting our wars, I was having fun and that is not lost on me. You guys and gals are great and I think about you often and pray in my own way that you are safe. Keep up the good work.  You have my support.

NOTE:  AIRCRAFT FOR SALE.  Both of the airplanes I flew that day in Georgia, the Bücker Bestmann and Curtiss Robin, are for sale.  Richard has bought himself another fine aircraft and he needs to make room for it.  If you are seriously interested in either of these fine specimens, feel free to contact him at 770-460-8730.  I can personally attest to how well they fly and how great they both are.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

FAA Back Door Attempt at Crushing GA

If you haven't heard by now, the FAA has recently proposed another change to current regulation that would effectively wipe out general aviation mechanic inspectors.  If this passes, expect it to become nearly impossible to find an A&P/IA to sign off or do an annual on your aircraft.  The change is subtle but deadly.  In this proposal, all they would do is define "actively engaged" to mean something most mechanics could not attain.  If you want to know more, you can go to  You can also go to to leave a comment.  Search for Docket FAA-2010-1060, read the proposal and then leave a comment.  But remember, this is not something to be negotiated.  Your message should say how you believe it would hurt aviation as a whole and that this proposal should be dropped and the regulation left as it is.

The following is my comment to them:
With the recent FAA proposal (FAA-2010-1060) to vaguely assess and decertify A&Ps/IAs deemed unnecessary, the FAA has exposed its ever accelerating spiral into the realm of absurdity. This extremely shortsighted effort is a symptom of a larger disease that threatens general aviation as a whole. That illness is the FAA’s misconceived belief they are graded on how much perceived safety is improved, and how many rules are placed on the books per annum. The result of this idea is an obsessive compulsive agency that chases, with frenzy, any ill-conceived safety suggestion to the far limits of the scale of diminishing returns while valuable improvements to aviation lie dead on the table from lack of basic care. This must stop.

The previously mentioned proposal can only have one of two purposes behind it. One it could have been designed to remove potential mechanics from the realm of General Aviation where a large percentage of Mechanic IA’s would not meet these new standards. Or two, this could be a follow up to the recent misguided rulings on pilot hiring standards which amazingly fell prey to one of the most well known and documented myths in aviation, hours equals ability. Again, absurdity rules and one can only imagine who or what is leading this agency and its (our) employees down the path to ruin. But whatever the case, it is time we get to the root problems at the FAA so that an end is put to the creation of additional needless resource wasting proposals, such as this one, down the airway.

As for the proposal that specifically addresses the definition of “actively engaged” mechanics, it is best left untouched. Additionally, by proposing to fight with aviation over further definition of more and more precise definitions, it is clear the employees of the FAA are putting off real work by creating the appearance thereof and telling us how busy they are. And by offering compromises, aviation enables more and more take from an agency that never gives. Mechanics get their experience, pass their FAA approved tests, and get their FAA approved licenses and that is how it should be. This is not a complex issue that should be debated as many will attempt to make it. It is simple; leave us alone.
As for those of you at the FAA, here’s the a problem; the citizens of this country and those of us in aviation are not stupid to what is going on and we are no longer willing to put up with your constant attacks on that which you are supposed to promote. The FAA is wasting valuable time and tax resources in an attempt to stay relevant by chasing safety vapors when all you really need to do is start listening to your employers, us. Out here in the real world, creative citizens are constantly inventing solutions to issues, building opportunities for further development and employment, and dreaming up the next big thing in aviation. None of these people want people to die and none of them want to do anything unsafe. Could you, as the FAA, play a valuable part, of course you could. But until you realize you are here to help instead of stand in the way, you are unnecessary to aviation and I deem you no longer “actively engaged.” Please gather up your stuff and turn off the lights.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Get your tickets here . . .

Advance ticket purchases are once again available online for admission, camping, food, etc.  

We offer these as a convenience to those attending and feel that it offers you the following advantages:
  1. guaranteed to have a ticket when there are limited amounts available; or 
  2. limit the amount of cash that you need to carry as we do not have ways to process credit cards
  3. speeds up the registration process once you arrive

IMPORTANT - On the flip side, we do not offer refunds for unused tickets - for any reason.   This event is a fund raiser for the airport's operation fund since it does not receive federal, state, local, grant, or stimulus funding.  So, any unused tickets proceeds will go towards the airport's operation fund to absorb disasters such as last year's rain-out and to keep it going for future generations to enjoy.

Drive In Admission Ticket - $15 per person 
*   12 and under free with adult
*   Good for entire weekend

*   Limited to first 750 sold 
Fly In Admission Ticket - $10 per person 
*   12 and under free with adult
*   Good for entire weekend
*   Currently not limited on number sold 
Shuttle bus tickets - $6 per person per round trip
*   Only goes to Clifty Inn Lodge

*   Reserved for fly-in guests only 
Friday night dinner ticket - $15 (requires reservation) 
Saturday night dinner ticket - $12.50 (requires reservation) 
Auto Camping pass -  $15 per vehicle
*   Friday noon until Sunday 4PM  
*   Limited to 30 spots 
*   One vehicle/tent per spot  
Fly In Camping pass - $15 per plane
*   Friday noon until Sunday 4PM
*   Currently not limited on number sold
*   2 tents per plane max 

Purchase tickets by clicking on the following links:

Deadlines for purchasing advance tickets:
  • ALL Mailed In tickets:  Received by Thursday 9/16
  • Admission, Shuttle Bus, and Camping passes:  Noon, Wed 9/22
  • Fri & Sat Meal Tickets and Reservations:  Noon, Fri 9/17

After I purchase my tickets, what happens?  

The tickets will be available at the event.  Please bring your receipt with you and be willing to show your id, if asked, to receive your tickets.  They will be at the following locations:

Pre-purchased admission tickets & camping passes can be picked up at
*  Main Entrance gate for those arriving via car
*  Pilot Registration Tent for those arriving via plane

All pre-purchased meal tickets and shuttle bus tickets will be available at the Pilot Registration tent.

Around the world in an RV-7

Detlef Heun and Liliana Tagliamonte are flying this RV-7 around the world over the next two years.  Their expansive route is impressive in many ways and to fully appreciate it, you must visit their website.

During the two weeks prior to Oshkosh, Detlef and Liliana stayed with us here at Lee Bottom to rest up and ended up insisting on working around the field.  Here's a photo of Detlef giving the mowing rig a good workout.

We're not sure how Detlef ended up in all these photos but here he is again.  On this day, we found them parked under the legendary Oshkosh brown arch and while there, Detlef pulled out a Lee Bottom Flying Field decal and affixed it to their flying machine.  We are extremely honored that they would want to carry our logo with them around the world.  Knowing all the amazing work they put into this modified RV-7, it is extremely gratifying to know we earned a spot on its very slick finish.

Our Fly In Sponsors Are The Best

The following is a list of sponsors for the 14th Annual Wood, Fabric, and Tailwheels Fly In to be held September 25, 2010.  Please support this great group as they have gone out of their way to help us make this event one of the best yet.

This group was founded by Jed Keck a few years back after the National Biplane Association decided to call it quits and go home. Jed's organization is rapidly increasing in size and his online collection of biplane photos, stories, information, and legends is hard to beat. Each day, it seems, he ads more and more to the collection of anything and everything biplane. But Jed's greater goal is to have a group of biplane enthusiasts around the world that will carry the flame for these wonderful old planes and perhaps hold a worldwide biplane fly-in on the same day each year where ever they may be. We want to thank the IBA for sponsoring our event and we hope you will take a look at his group join up.

Poly-Fiber Aircraft Coatings
Poly-Fiber is today’s premier covering and paint system for antique, classic, and homebuilt aircraft.   Take a look around any at any gathering of these aircraft and you will see what the system has to offer.   Over the years I have flown a great many planes covered with Poly-Fiber and have never seen anything but great results from the system.    A big thanks goes out to Poly-Fiber for their continued support of our kind of aviation.

Randolph Aircraft Products
Randolph Aircraft Products' nitrate and butyrate dopes are made right here in America and are still the choice for recovering jobs that require the ultimate in authenticity.   Furthermore, a lot of people out there have shown original dope systems can be just as slick as newer processes and thankfully Randolph continues to supply these time tested products to the aviation community.   A big thanks goes out to Randolph for their continued support of our kind of aviation.

American Air Campers Association
There is a new association dedicated to pilots and families with a passion for camping under the wing - American Air Campers Association (AACA). Founded by long-time pilot and camping-enthusiast, Don Abbott, the American Air Campers Association is the culmination of five years of research and planning.  If you love camping with your plane, have thoughts of camping with your plane, or are curious about the possibilities of camping with your plane, check this group out. They have a wonderful staff, a great group of advisers, and will help you get the most out of any air camping experience.

Signature Engines
Signature Engines Inc. is a well known and respected aircraft engine overhaul shop that stands behind its service.  Based at Lunken Field, Cincinnati, this shop believes so much in what they do that they have been known to take on the FAA to stop questionable methods allowed by the same.   If you want an engine you can trust, give Signature Engines a call.   They care about their customers and do what it takes to put the best product out the door.    We cannot say enough good about them. 

Aeronautical Charters, Inc
Maybe you have an important meeting to attend, family to see, or maybe you just want to get away with as little hassle as possible.  If this is you, maybe you should give ACI a call.  Based at Page Field in Ft. Meyers Florida, this charter company offers a varied fleet of aircraft to meet your every need.  Offering charter flying throughout the USA and beyond, this company offers personal service that many find missing in most of today's charter operations.  Reliable personable service is what you get at ACI and we highly recommend them for your charter needs.

Maverick Insurance
Maverick Insurance, founded in 2004, offers something for just about everyone.  With locations in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, this company has grown significantly in the past six years by building close personal relationships with their clients.  But perhaps most important to you is the fact that they also offer aviation insurance.  If you have a wide range of insurance demands and find yourself in need of someone that can handle it all, give these folks a call. 

Thatcher CX-4
This airplane has been getting a lot of good press and for good reason.  This simple, easy to build, single seat aircraft looks great, apparently flies very well, and is cheap to build.  Furthermore, a local guy, Peter Beck, has been making kits that I hear are the cat's meow.  Every now and then, when everyone is going all crazy over new technology, new materials, and gee whiz gimmicks, someone comes along to offer a truly inexpensive fun plane to own.  This is the CX-4.  Look for several of these planes, including the company demonstrator, to be on hand at the fly-in.  The demo plane will be in the vendor area and the guys will be there to answer any questions.  Also, be sure to thank them for the sponsorship.

Jeff Lumpkin (Quality Assurance Management, Inc.)
Pilot and quality control expert extraordinaire.  Contact Jeff if you have a project in need of a professional quality control service.

Merstitch International
If you own a piece of clothing with our logo on it, you may have wondered what company would dare take the responsibility of stitching such a detailed, multi-color logo for people who are very picky about such things.  If so, that company is Merstitch International.  Mike Merrell, the founder, has done every piece of Lee Bottom logo embroidered clothing ever created and along the way helped with printed shirts too.  If you would like some of the same high quality work for your company, you should not hesitate to contact Mike.  He has experience with large corporate accounts, small operations like us, and everything in between.  In addition to that, he has a pilot's license.

Alcorn Goering and Sage, LLP

Alcorn Goering and Sage, LLP is a local general practice law firm with extensive litigation experience, representing a diverse group of clients. One of the partners, Wil Goering, is quickly becoming one of the hardest working members of the Lee Bottom Family and has helped us in many ways. This year he offered to help raise sponsorship funds, find volunteers, be a volunteer, take photographs, drive a shuttle bus, and just about anything else. During our time working with Wil, we have found him and his law firm to be well respected and are glad to have them as a sponsor.

Derrick Engineering, Inc
Dave Derrick and his company, Derrick Engineering, Inc, have been volunteering their efforts here at Lee Bottom for as long as we can remember.  If you have a construction project that involves anything dealing with the movement or use of water, Derrick Engineering, Inc, is the place to call.

Anderson Sales and Service
This locally owned company has been providing the fly-in with John Deere Gators for over 4 years.  They carry a wide variety of equipment:  from Gators, to ATV's, to customized Honda Goldwing Trikes, to weed trimmers and mowers.  It's a family owned business dedicated to customer satisfaction and they carry the best equipment money can buy.  If you need something they have, we encourage you to give them a chance at your business.

Reed's Orchard and Farm
This locally owned farm, in the same family since the 1800's, produces a wide range of crops but it is best known for the amazing peaches grown there.  Yet these are not the reasons they make the sponsorship list.  This family and some of their kids, have been part of the Lee Bottom Family since way back when.  A few of them have even volunteered at every fly-in to date starting when they were as young as six years old.  Whenever we need some heavy lifting or special assistance that only a group of intelligent farmers could offer, they always come to the rescue.  Be it equipment, bush hogging, manual labor, paper work, or even controlled burning, these folks have continuously offered us a great deal of sponsorship through the use of their minds and backs.  There are no words that can thank them enough.

Work kampers

Debbie and Carey's motorhome looking out of the runway
Every year, it seems that we are fortunate to have work kamper volunteers to bail us out in the time of need.  This year is no different.  A couple weeks back, we received an email from Debbie Smith and Carey Kriger asking if we needed any help in ramping up for the fly-in.

Unfortunately, they said they could only be here for 3 weeks and would have to miss the fly-in.  That didn't seem right to have helpers working on an event that they would have to miss but they assured us that it would be a fun time for them and so they came to help out.  Fortunately for us, Debbie is a glutton for manual labor and Carey has a knack for anything requiring mechanics or engineering.    

Currently we are introducing them to a rural lifestyle and they are helping us out tremendously.   We'll be sad to see them go this week; but in the meantime, if you stop by and see them out slaving around the field, you might offer to take them flying or at least thank them for the long hours they have been working to help us make your event even better.

Larry, Sharon, Pam, Ginger, Kirk, Rich
Many of the Work Kampers we've hosted over the years have become long term friends and we know that many of you have also become friends them so we thought we'd give you an up date on two of the couples.

A few weeks back, we had dinner with Pam and Kirk Wood (2005 season) and Larry and Sharon Hagen (2009 season).   All are doing well!  Pam and Kirk are still enjoying the work kamper lifestyle and have many interesting stories to share about their adventures.  While, Larry and Sharon have settled down a little and purchased a small house about 45 miles away from us.  They still have their motorhome and enjoy traveling but they are now closer to the grandchildren and enjoy visiting with them as much as possible.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Send A Message To Washington (Part 2 of 2)

The guy who owned Lee Bottom Flying Field before us was named Fritz Hagemann. Fritz was one in a million; a truly unforgettable man possessing a great way with words. When he spoke, you remembered what he said.
Gone from us ten years now, I still sit and think of the many conversations and debates we shared before he passed. These were unforgettable times and because of them, the thought has at times crossed my mind that I'm glad he is not alive to see what our has become of our country. He was honorable and self reliant, he cherished freedom, and despised nothing more than the ideology held by the majority of those in Washington today. He was also my friend with whom I saw eye to eye on all but the most trivial things. Therefore, with him in mind, this year we are going to offer a new service at the fly-in.
In an effort to offer you some background on this service I offer the following. Years ago, during conversations between Fritz and myself about the state of things in Washington DC, Fritz would often get so worked up, he would say, “IT’S TIME TO SEND A MESSAGE TO WASHINGTON!” and into his office he would go to do so.  Some time later, he would emerge feeling better about himself and the state of things in general.
Thinking that many of you might also be so worked up that you might want to send a message to your representatives in Washington, we have decided to give you the chance. When you arrive at the fly-in, look for these words, “SEND A MESSAGE TO WASHINGTON” affixed to booths around the airport. When you see one, please step inside to send your message. It’s what Fritz would have done. (Note, this service works sitting or standing).

Whose Team Are You On (Part 1 of a 2 Part Series)

Pilots, I believe, are inherently freedom oriented. Created to capture the freedom of birds, manned flight is at one time both an act of freedom and quest for freedom.  And here in the home land of freedom, it should be no surprise to future generations that this is where that freedom became a successful reality.  Sadly though, we pilots have known far longer than the general population that freedom is under attack.
Yes, it is easy to see that it was aviation’s symbolic role in freedom that made it such an effective weapon in the hearts and minds of Americans on 9/11.  But often it is more difficult to accept what our own eyes are telling us when it is our very own citizens on the attack.  Is it the curse of thinking the best of people, or maybe that we are lazy, or more likely our unwillingness to face reality that keeps us from accepting what we see?  Whatever it is, I know that aviation has long served as a test bed for politicians wishing to gauge the willingness of a people to bequeath their freedom to others.  Most terrifying though has been the eagerness of our sport and our leaders to hand it over.  This my friends CANNOT continue if we are to survive as a sport and a nation.  You are either for freedom, or you are against it.  And, it is time we all decide whose team we are on.


This year, once again, we will be holding the very popular "Early Arriver" dinner on Friday night.  So, for those of you who don't want to mess around with the traffic on Saturday, we are inviting you to come join us for dinner, music by the The Rascals of Ragtyme, a movie on the hangar wall, and a bonfire for some great fire-pit flying.  In 2008, 150 planes and over 400 people attended this part of the event.
Then on Saturday, if you find yourself worn out from watching all the planes and you just don't have enough time or energy to make home, you are invited to join us for another dinner that night. 

If you'd like to attend the Friday and/or Saturday night dinners, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT you make a reservation so that we will know how much food to have prepared. 

This year, these meals will require a RESERVATION FEE of $5.

The providers of these meals require us to guarantee food amounts. And since we are responsible for paying for the guaranteed amount no matter what happens, we need an accurate count. Please note that the cost of all meals is passed on to you at our cost and we do not charge the caterers/vendors any fees to attend the event in order to keep your costs minimized. Furthermore, we have chosen to require the reservation fee instead of increasing the price of the meals in order to cover no-shows and other circumstances which might require out of pocket expenses. The reservation is required to attend the meal and the small fee is credited to the total price of your meal when you arrive.

Country Style Ribs
Grilled Citrus Chicken
Broccoli & Cauliflower Casserole
Smokey Beans
Hash Brown Casserole
   Drinks (diet coke, coke, sprite, iced tea, coffee, and water)
A cash bar will also be available for wine and beer.
The buffet style dinner is $15 per person.
The reservation fee is $5 per person
and is credited to your dinner ticket purchase.

Pumpkin Pie
Cold beverages
The dinner is $12.50 per person.
The reservation fee is $5 per person and is credited to your dinner ticket purchase.
Both dinners are open to anyone and everyone
to attend and 
must be made by Noon Friday, Sept 17

Both dinners start at approximately 6:30 PM.

Click here and go to "Tickets and Reservations" to RSVP


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cubbing About The Country

We were recently visited by two nice Cubs and their owners who were out adding to their cross country time.  Not that either of them needed it though.  One was Bern Heimos who is well known for his cross country travels in his Cub, and Gary Baglien, once a 747 instructor at Northwest, likely has more travel time than all of us combined.  That's the nice thing about this place, you just never know who's going to land next.
Bern usually stops at places that offer fuel (logically) but when he showed us his trip sheet and planned stops, we couldn't help but feel honored to see ours marked "visit."  This meant that he would be going out of his way just to stop and say hello.  If you ever get a chance to meet Bern, you won't be disappointed.  Follow his journey at
As for Gary Baglien, well, we've known him for some time and he has always had great taste in aircraft.  In the picture above you can see that hasn't changed.  For his trip to Wisconsin, Gary called Lee Bottom Coastal Command to request a fuel drop and it was quickly granted.  There's a bit of a thin spot in this area of the country for seaplane fuel stops and we were glad to help.
If you've never been to Lee Bottom, drop in to see us the next time you're in the area and add yourself to the ever growing Lee Bottom Family.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fly-In Less Than A Month Away

The Lee Bottom Fly-In is less than a month away and now is the time to make your plans. Will you be here on Friday to camp, will you be here for the smoked BBQ ribs and chicken on Friday night, do you plan on staying in a hotel room in town, will you watch the old aviation movie on the hangar on Friday and Saturday night, are you staying Saturday night, do you want to bid on items in the silent auction, do you want to take photos, and do you want to have fun and forget all your worries on the last weekend of September? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself and if your answer is yes to any of them, we strongly suggest you make your plans this week.
Additionally, you should keep your eyes open during this week and next for updates and information about the event.  Here's your first tip:  If you plan on staying in Madison in a hotel room, there are only a few rooms left and you need to make your reservations by August 28th.  Your only other option, if you are not camping, is to get a room in Scottsburg, a twenty-five minute drive away that requires you to have a rental car.  For more information on lodging, click here.

We hope to see you here in September.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A New Design

Our website has a new look and 
we've updated the home page slide show with new photos.  
We'll be adding content to the website as time allows 
so check back often.

We hope that you enjoy the new design and the photo slide show. . .

Administrators Faulty Cause and Effect

As I mentioned earlier, Randy Babbit is nothing more than the next peg to be crammed into the well worn slot titled “Agendized Bureaucrat”. I have no idea where they find these people but there must be some underground network of assholes being continually prepped for placement in positions such as FAA Administrator. There, wherever it is, out back covered by an old blue tarp, next to a rotting fence, and surrounded by weeds is sure to be a pile of things determined useless to government employees and thus surgically removed from these puppets in the making. Among the pieces rot logic, common sense, understanding of physics and nature, and the conscience.

Exhibit A: During Oshkosh, Mr. Babbit said that the statistical percentage of overall accidents credited to experimental aircraft was unacceptably high and that something must be done to counteract this trend. He then went on to express all the reasons homebuilders and pilots are at fault. Well, there’s a surprise. Mr. Babbit, like all administrators before him, sees everything as aviation’s fault and he’s sure he’s the man to fix it. Yet I strongly disagree.

A man as supposedly educated and well trained in aviation, as Babbit is claimed, would know that the FAA is more likely than not, the root cause of this trend. But then again, I believe Mr. Babbit would see record ice cream sales on a hot sunny day and come to the conclusion the ice cream sales made the sun hot.

One particular problem Babbit pointed to was new pilots who just bought a homebuilt. This segment he said, was quite high. But ask yourself, why does someone buy a homebuilt airplane?

There are two reasons and only two reasons a person buys a homebuilt; either it’s cheap to own and operate, or it outperforms everything on the certified market, and often it’s both. That’s it. There are no other reasons someone would buy a homebuilt aircraft. So then ask yourself, why are homebuilts cheaper and or better performing than certified aircraft? Because the FAA has its hand in certified aircraft, that’s why.

This government organization is so restrictive, certified aviation is still operating on 1930’s technology and struggling to survive at a time experimental aviation offers the innovation, performance, and ease of maintenance owners desire. Therefore, you have a large number of pilots doing anything they can to get out from under burdensome FAA restrictions by purchasing homebuilts. And in the process, many of them are dying.

Mr. Babbit, the next time you want to lay the ground work for new regulation by pointing fingers, you should do a better job of making sure they don’t point back to you.

FAA Administrator and EAA Out of Touch - Together Though Lots of Touching

Each year we visit Oshkosh, there is one thing that practically ruins it. That thing is the EAA’s obsession with current and past FAA Administrators. This year, EAA gave Randy Babbit the best rides to be had and a podium every thirty minutes (seemed like it) from which he could tell all facets of aviation all they are doing wrong.  To make my point clear, I guess you could say this guy was like third degree sunburn on the first day of a honeymoon.

Having studied politics and EAA for many years, I believe there is a chance EAA is trying, although in misguided fashion, to buy favors or leniency with the Administrator by making him feel important and liked. This is the same reason citizens and businesses give money to candidates from both major political parties; to pay unspoken shakedown money in hopes it will keep the FEDS off the donor’s back. I would prefer to believe this is what EAA is doing; politicking. But during the past decade, EAA has snuggled awfully close to the FAA.

Examples include EAA’s support, several years ago, for the FAA’s new restrictions on ride hopping that quickly earned EAA a waiver from the very same rules.  And then of course there was EAA’s recent support of increased restrictions on homebuilding and a crackdown on the same. This brings me to another possibility, EAA is complicit to the FAA. And you know what, I’m ok with that.

Growing close to your captors is so common there’s a name for it.  Yet we, as members, do have the ability to rectify the situation if we really want to. Dropping our memberships or actively voting for board members comes to mind.

What I cannot stand for though is EAA continually and repeatedly, throughout the week of Airventure, giving the administrator a bully pulpit from which to spread his anti-general aviation agenda and to promote a his horribly flawed organization that is killing aviation. This to me is outright offensive. Meanwhile, Senator Inhofe, currently one of aviation’s best supporters, was given a microphone to a loud-system early on Saturday morning that allowed him to be heard by the three people paying attention. There was no pomp and circumstance around the Senator’s sound system update nor was there an EAA response to the sometimes laughable notions expressed by the administrator.

Friends, this leaves us with one of two situations; EAA is complicit to the FAA or the staff at EAA HQ is incredibly spineless and thus a poor choice for anyone in aviation when looking for support.

I understand you, the reader, may be one of those people that say you don’t like anything that sounds the least bit political but don’t fool yourself.  If this describes you you have your head in the sand and playing the neutrality game is no help to anyone. Our sport is in great trouble folks and if we don’t collectively shove a large, sharp, cold, steel bar under Washington and pry it out of our of lives by the roots, I can assure you it will leave aviation to die in the hands of our wealthiest citizens, locked away in collections, and experienced only through books.

If you don’t believe me, ask Adam Smith of EAA. This is what happened in his homeland and I was hoping his placement within EAA would bring with it a warning that would ring throughout the halls of Oshkosh. Or maybe he just brought the mentality of European aviation organizations with him, a mentality that is terrible by the way.  Or maybe he's always working up hill.  I don’t know.  Maybe Adam himself or someone who knows the answer to this could clear that up for me.  For now though I’ll assume the best and send a suggestion his way. Adam, since you are now a major player in membership department of EAA, I would like, with great sincerity, to offer one suggestion.   If you claim this as your own, pass along to the aging lifetime appointees on the board, and manage to sell them on this idea, I promise it will make you the first person to increase the EAA membership roster in ages. Here it is, ready? START PLAYING FOR OUR TEAM.

Volunteer for the Fly In

Most other events of this size are run by organizations or clubs but this is a 2 person husband and wife team. They enjoy having you visit their backyard but will not be able to continue to grow this event without your help. We plan to utilize more volunteers at this year's event than we had attendees at the first fly-in.

One of our biggest needs (if we are to maintain our sanity) is volunteers. We hope to find enough volunteers so that 4 to 5  hour shifts can be assigned to most positions.  

Each registered volunteer will receive a complimentary admission pass to the event and a T Shirt.

Follow these simple directions to SIGN UP to be a Volunteer:
Note: We are utilizing a service called VolunteerSpot to help us keep track of volunteers this year.

Step 2: Enter your email address and check your emails for a confirmation.
Step 3: Follow the directions in the email. If you don't receive the email, check your spam folder.
Step 4: Click on the date that you wish to volunteer and follow the directions. You can sign-up for more than one day and task. Be sure to hit the BIG RED CONFIRM BUTTON when you are done.
Step 5: Expect to receive an email from us before the fly-in reminding you of your schedule and telling you about your assignment.

Important Information About The Fly-In

Are you ready for the big event at Lee Bottom?  Have you told your friends, invited them along, and made your plans?  We hope so.  After last year's rain out, we could really use a great turnout to recharge our batteries.  If you or someone you know would like to attend, keep reading.

There are just a few weeks until the 2010 Wood, Fabric, and Tailwheels Fly-In.   For those that plan on attending, you'll want to finalize plans soon because other events are going on in our area during the same weekend.  Therefore,  we recommend that you book lodging and rental cars as soon as possible.  Here is some information to help you make plans for attending the fly-in. . .
Early Arriver Day:  Friday September 24th
Event Date: Saturday September 25th
Rain Date:   Sunday September 26th

To see information about CLIFTY INN:                   CLICK HERE
To make a reservation at CLIFTY INN:                   877-925-4389
Be sure to tell them the group code  "0924LB".    
Rate is $122 - 132/night + tax

There is a 2 night minimum due to event weekend.
If you have problems, Kim Gardner is our contact person.

Reservations required by August 28th.

The Enterprise in Madison Indiana is offering a  "Pick of the Lot Program"
All cars will be guaranteed to be a 4 door and hold a minimum of 4 people. They will have unlimited mileage. This special will includes Enterprise delivering and picking up the vehicle from Lee Bottom.   The earlier that you arrive the better the selection.

2 days Friday @ 1pm or 5 to Sunday @ 1 or 5pm.   $74.99 +tax
3 days Friday @ 1pm or 5 to Monday @ 1 or 5pm. $94.99 +tax

This special can only be booked through the Enterprise Madison, IN location 812-265-6260.

Camping with your airplane
*  Camping with your airplane is great and we love seeing you here! 
*  Port A Pot facilities available
*  Bring your own tie-downs
*  Shower facilities will be available Friday afternoon - Sunday afternoon
*  $15 event camping fee per plane
*  Limit of two tents per airplane
*  Those arriving on Friday night will be parked along the hillside treeline 
*  Those arriving on Saturday will be parked along with everyone else

RV/Motorhomes/Car camping with tents or campers
*  If weather permits, there will be 30 spaces for RV/Motorhome/Car campers and tent parking across the street in the auto parking area
*  No hookups are provided
*  Those with a tow behind will need to detach and park it in auto parking
*  No grilling or fires allowed
*  $15 event camping fee
*  Set-up available only after NOON on Friday
*  No LOUD Music

CLICK HERE To reserve one of the 30 spaces for RV/Motorhome/Car camping with tents or campers.  Also be sure to read all the extra information about the approach roads.

It is very difficult to get food vendors to attend an event in the middle of nowhere with no services available for food preparation, and no idea of how many people are going to show up.   In order to keep your costs minimized, we do not ask our food vendors or caterers for percentages of food sales and do not charge them a set-up fee. Therefore, we hope you will help us support these great people that show up every year to make the event special. If a meal is not listed here for a time or day you would like to eat, you are on your own and should plan accordingly. 

Lunch - working on this check our website for the latest information

Dinner - 6:30PM  Cost is $15 per person.  If you plan to attend the BBQ on Friday night, we have to get a RESERVATION ** from you by noon September 17th. You can also prepurchase a ticket online.  The dinner costs us around $3000 up front and we need to know an accurate count of how many people will be here.

The caterer's will be onsite grilling and the menu will include:
   * Country Style Ribs,
   * Grilled Citrus Chicken,
   * Broccoli & Cauliflower Casserole,
   * Smokey Beans,
   * Hash Brown Casserole,
   * Rolls,
   * Dessert, and
   * Drinks (diet coke, coke, sprite, iced tea, coffee, and water)

A cash bar will also be available for premium mixed drinks, wine and beer.  

Breakfast – 8-10 with coffee starting at 7am

Lunch – starts around 11

Dinner – starts around 6:30 and cost is $12.50 per person.

Menu:  salad, pizza, pumpkin pie, and drinks
A RESERVATION is required for this dinner by noon September 17th and  pre-purchase tickets are available online  

Breakfast around 8AM
Coffee and pastries will be set out with a donation jug to cover costs 

As we have done in the past, the Friday and Saturday dinners will require a reservation. The providers of these meals require us to make accurate counts and to guarantee food amounts. We are responsible for paying for the guaranteed amount no matter what happens. The cost of all meals is passed onto you at our cost and we do not charge the caterers/vendors any fees to attend the event in order to keep your costs minimized. Therefore, new this is year is a $5 Reservation Fee.  

We have chosen to require the reservation fee rather than increasing the price of the meals to cover no-shows and other circumstances which might require out of pocket expenses. The reservation is required to attend the meal and the small fee for the reservation is credited to the price of your meal.

To make your reservation and/or  to pre-purchase the entire meal ticket and other tickets for the fly-in: CLICK HERE 

These will be published soon on the website and available in the next issue of NORDO News.

We have specified a easy to remember website name for the fly-in.  In case you forget the above information, you'll find it repeated on the associated website pages: