Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dial an Altitude - Potential Money Saver

A few days back, bright and early in the morning, we heard a plane flying around overhead.  By the sound of the powerplant and the fact we could tell it was circling over the house (literally), we knew it had to be one of a small list of people who knew how to get us out of bed.  And sure enough we were right.

Running to the edge of the patio in my socks and shorts, looking up I could see our good friend Drew Middleton.  Drew and his family have one of the prettiest PA-12s in the country that comes with a great story to boot.  Anyway, seeing this sock wearing idiot (me) waving his arms from a wet patio on a cool morning must have made him feel pity as he called over the radio to see if I wanted to go for a ride. 

Riding is not something I do well in airplanes but the combination of friend, clear morning, and airplane was something I couldn't refuse and soon we were flying about the area.  This brings me to the reason for this entry. 

As Drew and I flew around in the rising sunlight, he told me the following story.  Having heard the many  "wive's tales" about cell phones and gee whiz aircraft items, it was something I had long ago accepted as BS but now I know better.  If any of you have newer electronics in your aircraft, his following message might save you some money in the future.

Message from Drew:

Transponder: Garmin 320
Encoder:       Ameri King 350
I thought I would post this for others flying small airplanes. I spent a week this month chasing a frustrating problem in my PA-12.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A glitch in our get-up - SORRY!

Today we sent out our first NORDO News in 6 months using a new distribution program and format  After it was gone, we realized those that view their emails with web-based email systems like yahoo, gmail, and hotmail were not able to see the newsletter in its entirety or with the proper formatting and therefore the email look rather unprofessional.  Now it appears that although we ran it through a test program designed to look for such issues, these most common systems were left out of the test with unfortunate results.  And, as if that wasn't enough, while working on a fix to this problem, the original email was accidentally sent to all of our subscribers again.

Geez, we apologize!  There were just to many projects and changes happening at the same time.

While searching for a solution, fiiring the IT staff was an initial consideration.  Then we realized there wouldn't be an airport or any events if we did so we've retained them.  Instead, they have been put to work on plans that will fix all of this for next month's issue.  Thanks for your ongoing support and for hanging in there with us as we strive to create a new and better NORDO News.

Updates from the Field

It’s Been a While

Wow, it’s been a long time since an edition of NORDO News went out. The reasons for this are numerous. First and most obviously, we were completely burned out after the fly-in turned into a drive-in due to unprecedented amounts of rain and we could not get ourselves motivated to do anything for some time. Second, having produced the newsletter via email since 2001, last year we began looking to make it more timely and modern and the little bit of ambition we had went toward those goals. Third, did I mention we were completely burned out?

Modern and Timely?
Modern and timely, like most things these are relative. Were we part of Silicon Valley, making that claim would be daring. When it comes to aviation though, modern and timely are fairly easy and so it should be easy for us to accomplish. The first step in this process is the move to a blog.

NORDO News will now be available on demand in the form of a blog where entries will be posted throughout the month. This may be new to some of you and knowing that during a change to something different people are often lost in the process, we hope you’ll give the blog a chance to grow on you. The address is nordonews.leebottom.com. There are already several posts listed. Read a few and if you like any of them, another benefit of the blog is that you can get a link to share it with others.  For each post entry, there are icons at the bottom where you can share the entry with your friends on social networks like facebook or email to those that you keep in contact with via email.  We encourage you to take advantage of these features.

For those of you who prefer the emailed newsletter, each month the blog will automatically collect and send out the most recent posts for that month in one email. It will not be quite as graphically interesting as it was before but it will offer you a way to continue getting NORDO posts by email.

Should you want to comment on blog postings, feel free. We have them set so you can. The only thing you will need in order to do this is a Google Account. These are free and easy to acquire - click here to set one up.   Additionally, for those of you who are already members of social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, the new blog posts will be available on the Lee Bottom profiles associated with these networks.

Continuing with the modern and timely theme, Ginger is currently working hard to update our website. With this website refresh, the foundation will be set for us to offer some services we’ve wanted to for some time. Keep you eyes open for these in the near future.

Lee Bottom Store: Shop.LeeBottom.com
Email'ed newsletter: Subscribe.LeeBottom.com

Fly-In Wash Out - But First Some History
Years ago when it was decided the Wood, Fabric, & Tailwheels Fly-In needed a firm recurring annual date, Rich chose the last Saturday of September. The why behind his decision serves to explain the why behind the cancellation of last year’s fly-in. The method he used was to get the NOAA rain data for the area for as long as it had been collected and study it to find the week that had the lowest historical average rain total. That turned out to be the last week of September and so it was decided the event would always be held on the last Saturday of September. The historical record showed the monthly rainfall for September to be around 4” with the last week rarely having rain. Last year though, we had at least that many inches of rain every day for a week leading up to and including the day of the fly-in. In fact, the rain totals far exceeded all previous records for that period. Needless to say, it was wet.
Last September’s wash out was a disappointment to all. Fortunately, nearly every single person we spoke with understood why we had to call it and why we couldn’t allow aircraft on the runway. On the unfortunate side, there were a few people who made a long journey to get here only to find the airport closed. That sucks and no matter what, it still sucks. But, as we all know, that’s part of aviation and having been there myself, we hope everyone was able to make the most of it and possibly enjoy an unexpected stop.

Knowing the way things work, I guess we shouldn’t be shocked that the one year we decided to go over the top to prepare and improve the infrastructure for the fly-in was the one that broke all the records for rain in our area since they started recording it. The level of rain was unbelievable and unending.

Several years ago as the fly-in grew larger, we began offering attendees the ability to pay in advance for many of their fly-in items. The policy on these up front purchases was that they would not be refundable and that if, God forbid, some unbelievable something canceled the event, the funds would go directly into the airport operating fund. And as we promised, that is what happened. Due to their nature, these funds went toward paying the fly-in bills that we are still paying down. Among the many fly-in bills are items like the water well that was installed to move us toward the goal of a separate and permanent shower facility and contracts with vendors, such as the big top tent provider, that had to be paid rain or shine. Furthermore, those people, along with several who contributed in an effort to help out, were identified as Airport Supporters on our annual contributors list.

Ultimately, it was a very tough year for us and our supporters, yet we are moving forward and not looking back. Over time, with your help, we will continue to refine the event, make it stronger, and secure for it a long term future.

If you were one of the hundreds of aircraft owners or thousands of folks who planned to attend last year’s lost event, we hope you’ll give it another try and visit us this year.

Over and Above the Call of Duty
Last year, as the fly-in drew near, the number of things working against us began to tumble like dominoes. Ultimately, I guess it is logical to say that more will go wrong whenever you add more things that can go wrong but I have to tell you, it sure can be disheartening. Despite all the things working against us, there were several groups and people adding a positive light to things by going above and beyond the call of duty to help improve the fly-in. These folks donated materials, time, thoughts, and sometimes the skin off their hands to help us. The best example of this is the electrical power panel that was installed to provide electricity for a new well and the increasing number of vendors interested in attending.

When we first brought up the idea, Alan Gluff of Greenwood, Indiana offered to come down to help us design it and create a materials inventory list. Then David Cain and his father offered to donate the needed electrical supplies, Charlie Laird came down to help us construct the wooden structure that would house the panel, Terry Bickel and Russ Kippes from the Kentucky Aviation Historical Society drove in to install the electrical components, and Larry Hagen helped throughout the process ultimately finishing it by installing the shingles on the roof. When you see so many people going out of their way to help, it’s hard to be completely down even when everything is going wrong. Thanks again to all those people who’ve done so much to support the event and the airport itself.

New Photos
As the new website comes together, some things will come online before others. At this time, one of the new items is a new collection of airport photos shown on the slide show on the home page. We hope you enjoy them.  www.LeeBottom.com

Runway Maintenance
The record amounts of rain received late in the season last year caused the runway to get a disease called ‘brown patch’. This fungus, common to wet climates and areas thoroughly soaked with rain, began to appear the week of the fly-in. Shortly thereafter, we put a grass maintenance program into action that we hoped would rid us of the problem and fill in any spots that were fatally injured due to this disease. This program includes many things; among them was the annual application of fertilizer and broadleaf killer. We believe our maintenance and lack of use late in the year will give us ga ood thick carpet of healthy green turf for all to enjoy this summer. If you have time, or you’re in the area, please drop in to do so.

If you didn’t get a calendar, we are very sorry. There is a formula we use to determine who gets them. The formula is very scientific in nature and the secret is guarded about as closely as the secret recipe used in Kentucky Fried Chicken. First and foremost, we need a complete, legible, accurate, current mailing address as recognized by the US Post Office.  After that,  it entails donating to the airport operation fund, attending events, volunteering, purchasing merchandise from our online store, staying in our cabin and/or subscribing to NORDO News. If you’ve never been here and you would like to get one, start making your pitch early. Or, if you would like one for this year we have a few of the 2010 calendars available from our online store. The calendars are the core of our annual fundraising efforts so if you like what we do and would like to support our efforts, there’s a good chance you could get one.

Great to see you!
For a while there Dave Kaufman did not have a medical and was restricted to flying with others. Recently though he regained his medical and the first place he flew was here to Lee Bottom; a real honor for us. Dave taught formation in B-24s during WWII ultimately flying B-29s in the Pacific. Needless to say, it’s great to see him back in the saddle.

2010 Event Dates
June 15:  Sinful Sunday
July 11:   Sinful Sunday
Aug 8:    Sinful Sunday
Sept 25: Wood, Fabric, and Tailwheels Fly-In

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Free T-Shirt with Purchase

Last year we decided it was time to create a simpler more professional logo that could be used when the full color original one would be too much. We hope you like it.  If you do, we have some very nice Columbia shirts available at the online store with the new logo. The old logo will continue to be available at the online store on several items while the new logo will be used for everything else.

For those of you who buy a shirt or a cap from the store, if you are signed up to receive NORDO News you will get one of the sponsor fly-in t-shirts from the fly-in that never was for free. We have large and x-large so if we don’t have your size we’ll give you the closest one. 

Click here for the store.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Who Got Through The Fence?

Recently the FAA produced its new airport regulatory guidelines. Included in these were some new rules forbidding through the fence operations. By now I’m sure you’ve all heard about this and have likely found yourself, at one point or another, scratching your head at these anti-aviation rules that could only come from folks out of touch with flying. This is a disaster that could only come from the FAA.

Thankfully more pilots are becoming active and attempting to speak up about issues such as this. What I fear though, as usual, is that many of those speaking up are simply doing so to the choir.

A month or so back it seemed nearly every email I received had something to do with this issue. Amazingly most of these included some expression of surprise. But, if like me, you had watched with great concern the construction of airport boards in this country during the past twenty years, you would not have been surprised by this at all. Therefore upon receipt of most of these messages, having long pushed for privatization of airports, activism from local pilots, and accountability from our aviation alphabet groups, I could only shrug my shoulders. Then came the days after these new rules were revealed and the reaction from our friendly lobbyists was received. Fortunately for me, I’ve grown numb to their failures.

Yeah that’s right, as you all know by now, AOPA and EAA admitted to being blindsided by these rules. I’m even pretty sure that one of the groups said in a memo to members that essentially they had no idea of what was coming down the pipe and were completely surprised by them. At home, members read it and then went back to their bitching and moaning about the FEDS. This I cannot handle.

By definition, AOPA is a lobby group for aviation and their job is to know these things. By admitting they knew nothing of it, they claimed ownership of two things; one that this was a complete failure on their part, and two, we have been paying money to people who are simply not doing the job.

How many of you remember when you were told AOPA had hired a Washington insider as its new leader? Do you remember that among other things, this decision was said to give the group better connections to the inner workings of the hell hole known as D.C. What happened??? And as for EAA, if you are a member and you haven’t figured out the joke that’s known as EAA Government Affairs, then, well let's just say don't believe everything you read in Sport Aviation. How about this?  Whenever you hear one of our groups talk about Government Affairs, think of it in a literal sense; they are sleeping with the FEDS instead of us?

Now lets talk about the people who are actually making things happen.   Through the Fence is a group dedicated to preserving the sanity and logic of through the fence operations. As always, it is scrappy little groups like this that do the real work while people renew, without thought, their memberships to other groups which repeatedly fail to do theirs.

Follow up: 
The piece above was written months ago and we had almost decided not to include it but then today we received a wonderful email. Apparently, throughthefence.org has generated enough heat to get bills introduced in the House and Senate (by Republicans) that would correct the through the fence issues.  Although it is sad the FAA is so inept and conniving it would try to restrict such an obviously great thing, Brent Blue's scrappy organization, with the help of pilots like you, is closing in on a fix.  Please go to their website, http://www.throughthefence.org/ to see what you can do to help push this through.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Aviation - A Glimpse of Reality

Aviation – The Reality
Aviation has and always will be a mystery to the masses.  That to me is of no concern.  However, the fact that aviation, the real aviation, the one behind the curtain of coolness and intrigue, continues to be a mystery to most pilots, that worries me.   

According to NOAA records, 1999 was the forth busiest year for tornadoes since the agency began keeping records. It all started in January when 216 twisters blew through Mississippi and Tennessee, tripling the previous record for that month. Mid-year, the vintage aircraft community was dealt a blow when the legendary Stearman parts and repair shop, Dusters and Sprayers took a direct hit from an F-5 that also leveled parts of Oklahoma City. And as if that wasn’t enough, adding to the frequency of storms was the additional oddity of the season with places such as Salt Lake City, taking casualties. That’s how the weather went until the last storm blew through Bentonia Mississippi on December 9th drawing the season to a close. Strangely enough, this was also record season for me.

According to my logbook, 1999 was a busy one. In fact, from May through September, I managed to average over 130 hours per month in DC-3’s.  And due to the nature of the job, before it was over I had personally witnessed a few of those tornadoes myself. This is the story of the last one.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

We are good for another year!

Every year in late winter, when most of you are dreaming of getting back into the air, our airport is inspected for compliance with state and federal regulations.  We are happy to tell you that, once again, we  have our airport operating certificate in hand.

To us, this means that the flying season is just around the corner and it is time to start thinking about getting the tractors and mowing decks ready for another year of grass mowing! 

We hope that you are close to wrapping up the annual inspection on your airplane so that you can plan on visiting us this year!