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 http://www.vintageflying.com/
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:

Thanks to Tom and The Crew

Having read some of my previous posts about EAA, you might be surprised to hear me sending a big thanks to Tom Poberezny. And if like so many others you believe I hate EAA you may be outright shocked. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. I merely think EAA needs someone who can bravely steer the organization forward without being shackled to the wildly out of touch board of directors. Anyway, there is a bigger story here.

During Oshkosh, we had several people ask us what we thought of Craig Fuller of AOPA. And each time this came up, we held back to see what others had to say. Little to our surprise though, every person gave the same story; Craig Fuller is isolating members from the organization and nearly impossible to reach. If you are one of the people who told us this, I apologize for interrupting you with laughter but I just couldn’t help it. Why? Because when I heard his name mentioned as a replacement for Boyer, I wrote something for NORDO News that predicted this very thing. In it I said he was a Washington insider and would act as such. And that’s what we are getting. Am I really the only person who reads resumes??? But back to my point.

Along with each person’s story about Craig Fuller’s isolation, was an equal and opposite story of Phil Boyer and Tom Poberezny being reachable. Effective or not, 'reachability' is a big plus and on the Friday before Airventure was to start, the 23rd, I emailed Tom to let him know we had some friends coming up that day and wondered if he could make sure they were taken care of. These new friends of ours were flying around the world and being from outside the U.S. I thought they could use a little help to make sure everything went smoothly for them. Meanwhile, Oshkosh was being flooded, everyone was doing their best to save the grounds, and somehow right in the middle of it all, Tom emailed back to say he would see they were taken care of. Now I don’t have to tell you I’ve been pretty hard on Tom for many years and yet within a short while he responded kindly to my email. And you know what, the folks at EAA took great care of these people and I want to thank them all for doing so.

Oshkosh Wrap Up

This year, once again, Ginger and I were given the opportunity to travel to Oshkosh in a DC-3 and we jumped at the chance.  Although I love flying into Oshkosh during Airventure, there are some things about flying in an old airliner that has its pluses.  And we made the most of it.

By now everyone has heard about all the DC-3's that attended Oshkosh.  This is old news.  But for us this was not what made it so special.  What did it for us were the people involved and the special plane in which we rode.  Owned by Ron Alexander, this DC-3, a true early DC-3, is the second highest time airframe in existence with over 82,000 hours under her belt.  As witness to this, I offer a photo of the last remaining original rudder pedal.  So many feet have touched this pedal that a hole has actually been worn into it!  Decked out in passenger configuration, this machine is unforgettable and like I said, it has it's pluses.

Arriving at Oshkosh, our friends Ray and Judy Johnson offered to give us a ride to the dorms.  Pulling up to the plane and all our stuff, Ray looked at us and said, "Well, it's clear you didn't come up in the Cub".  We got a big laugh out of that and proceeded to weigh down their car with our cargo.  But like I said, it was the people that made it special.

Fortunately for us, we managed to score a parking spot in front of Vintage as did our sister ship from Flabob.  At the helm of each of these planes are people we're honored to call friends.  Ron Alexander, as I mentioned before, is the owner of The Chandler Field Express and Jon Goldenbaum, of Poly-Fiber, was at the helm of the Flabob DC-3.  Having been friends for a long time, these two guys are similar stand up type of people who are highly respected in aviation circles, not for money but for their down to Earth honest ways.  While there, Ron held numerous forums about DC-3's and Jon gave an excellent forum on flying the Skyraider in Vietnam.  If you're ever in the Atlanta area and need a great place to fly for food, Ron has a grill at his airport (Peach State Aerodrome), and should you ever find yourself in need of aircraft fabric or paint, give Jon a call at Poly-Fiber.

Another highlight of the show for us was reconnecting with our good friend Fern Villeneuve.  Many people know him from his days as the founder and leader of the Golden Hawks, one of the first and often considered the best jet formation team to ever exist.  Yet to us, Fern is our friend who flew those F-86's like nobody else.  If you ever meet Fern, you'll know why everyone thinks so highly of him.  He's just a great guy and his wife is even better.  Look for a white Swift with a red stripe at the Swift convention and you'll end up talking to a quiet, unassuming, hilarious guy that to this day can fly anything you put him in.  A museum in Canada has painted an F-86 as one of the Golden Hawks and if they had any sense, they would let him fly it; my words not his.
Detlef and Lillian, our friends who are flying around the world in a RV-7, managed to get a great parking spot under the Oshkosh arch and there we managed to speak to them again before they left to continue their journey.  These two people make friends wherever they go and we look forward to seeing them again in the future.

One day we made our annual vigil to the seaplane base and managed to snag a few good photos of the planes on hand.  If you ever get the chance, you should absolutely go to the seaplane base during Airventure.

As for the main airfirled, planes of particular interest that were on hand included the last of its kind Hamilton Metalplane, a Rapide, and a Caudron racer replica that was amazing.  Ben Scott brought his amazing Widgeon, there was an L-13 that Ginger swears she needs, Clay Lacy let us climb in his DC-2, and in the grass was a Sikorsky flying boat that sadly will be flown and then parked forever as a monument to the owners.
As for other aircraft I won't mention, it is always interesting to see planes get awards and media attention when you know the real behind the scenes story.  There were several groups on hand with aircraft getting just that and as always the story they were telling did not match the reality.  If I live long enough to reach the point I don't care at all, I'm going to tell the real story of all these shady characters, the lies they've told, and the lives they've put in danger.  But for now, these people will continue to fill the pages of magazines as "heroes" to an unknowing populace.

On another note, Ginger and I managed to speak to some groups that could help shore up the long term viability of the airport and a few potential sponsors for the Wood, Fabric, & Tailwheels Fly-In.  If you know of anyone, any group, or any business that would be a good fit with the event, let us know.

But back to the people.  We sincerely, and with the greatest emphasis words can express, would like to thank all of you who stopped us to say hello and verbalize your support for what we are doing here.  We really do try our best to offer a part of aviation you can't find anymore and to hear from you makes it all worthwhile.  But more importantly, it is great to know that there is still a big demand for friendly grass fields where "all planes and most people are welcome".

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Last Sinful Sunday of 2010

Yogi Berra once said, “That place is so busy, nobody goes there anymore.” This statement ran continually through my mind during the last Sinful Sunday held in July.  Having noted the sunny forecast and expecting a decent size crowd, we bought thirty percent more of everything knowing it would leave us with enough to serve everyone that could possibly show up. Then came the planes.
Our first arrival was an autogyro. After landing, the pilot told us he almost turned for home since nobody was here but having made it this far he decided to land, even if just for a minute. On the ground we assured him some other aircraft would show up and he stayed. But as time went on and he continued to be the only participant, you could see he was starting to doubt us. And each time I walked by him in a frantic pace to get ready, I reassured him others would show up. Thankfully after an hour or so another plane landed….then another, and another, and another.
Before the day was over, Lee Bottom Flying Field and the wonderful volunteers on hand had handled close to 110 aircraft, served hundreds of ice cream treats, and ran out of everything including food. This included the thirty percent extra we had purchased to keep this from happening. In short, it was a zoo.

During it all people waited in line, orders sometimes became confused, and one of our airport supporters had everything go wrong. His order was given to someone else, his kids wanted what we didn’t have, when he finally got his order it was wrong, and I seem to recall that the Earth toppled and fell on his head. Poor Bill, I felt so sorry about it all but with every crowd there’s always one statistical point man and on that day he was it. Next time we’ll do better and to make it up we’ll probably buy a case of his excellent wine. 
Yet this story shows why there is some truth to the statement of “That place is so busy, nobody goes there anymore”. Sometimes growth happens so quick it’s hard to keep a handle on it. But like always, we will strive to do better and in the end we will all have a great time eating ice cream and drinking peach milkshakes on a hot day in the river bottom.
If you would like to experience the fun known as Sinful Sunday, this Sunday, August 8th, is your last chance of the year. Featured will be our famous peach milkshakes and sundaes made with the finest peaches on the planet. Grown within a mile of the airport, Reeds Orchard has been producing these amazing orbs since the 1800’s. You won’t be disappointed.
Lunch is served from 12-2 and Ice Cream 1-3 (ESDT) or until we run out.

See you on Sunday - that's the 8th of August 2010! 

We are sorry that we need to ask that our visitors please refrain from bringing pets.  We love animals dearly but our dogs have jobs to do and that is to keep other animals away from the runway.  Therefore, it becomes a very confusing time for them when other animals visit us.  We are truly sorry and thank you for respecting this request!