Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Fly-In That Cried Wolf?

I really like that title. It’s funny. Plus, as one friend said last year when we asked if they would be attending, “Sorry, but I can’t be there. Plus, you’ve said this might be the last for the past few years”. The meaning there was that they thought we were crying wolf. That’s why I like the title. There is much more there than meets the eye.
Today, it seems everyone takes everything for granted. In turn, our world is filled with “looking back” headlines. Yeah, nobody seems to care or care enough until it is too late. They vote or don’t vote and then find themselves in a world of hurt because who was elected; people put things on their bucket lists and then get upset when that thing they always wanted to do disappears all together before they could do it; friends cry out in disbelief when one of theirs jumps off a bridge when all along the person was telling them they were going to jump off a bridge. Yep, nobody cares until something is gone. Then they get all worked up. Unfortunately, too late is too late.
How does this relate to Lee Bottom? Well, just in case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been telling everyone for several years now that the end of all the fun was coming unless we got some help. I love the old saying, “The man who spends freely has many friends”. And I must admit it often feels very much like a description of our fly-in. Though in reality, it is our fault for not fully explaining how much work and money goes into it. A few weeks back we corrected that error when we laid it on the table and asked for help. Last Tuesday we held a fly-in meeting to see if anyone got the message.
We have always said we have the best airport family and last Tuesday they proved it. Nearly 80% of the small cross section of people (38) we emailed, plus several more that were not on the list, showed up to see how they could help. That’s a pretty impressive showing and I think it indicates that as long as people are told up front what they are up against, and what they need to do to make things work, if they support the goal they’ll do their best to be part of the team. Thanks to all of you who attended; many of you driving several hours to be there.
What did the people in the meeting learn? We need help and we need sponsors and we need them by May 1st. That’s what it all comes down to. Thanks to those who attended, the fly-in moves forward.
Did you get that? The fly-in moves forward.
Wait! Don’t stop reading; there is more to do.
Lining the walls of the conference room were large yellow sheets of paper listing items with which we need help. These items were labeled A, B, and C. In past years, we had been responsible for all the items and even I found it hard to believe how many there were. By themselves, there were 32 A items. The “A’s” are critical to having the fly-in.
Thankfully many of the A items were accepted but we still need people to step up to help. As we told our airport family members in the meeting, when we say help, this is what we mean:
* Helping this year is of no help to us unless you are willing to commit to at least 3-5 years.
A person who volunteers only one year merely kicks the can down the road. When someone helps from year to year they know where things are and how to do it and nobody has to train them or watch over them to make sure things are being done correctly.
* If you commit to help you are actually committing yourself to help. In the past we have had to schedule surgeries around the fly-in, miss weddings, funerals, and sporting events, and have even worked the event with injuries that would make most people no-shows. Therefore, if you commit to be part of the team, you will be doing the same. You will tell your daughters that they will not be getting married on the weekend of the fly-in, games that you would love to see will be recorded and watched later, a plumbing leak in your house will be fixed by someone before hand or it will continue to leak until the fly-in is over, you will not be attending re-unions that fall on that weekend or the weeks leading up to it, and you will not cry about the nail you drove through your hand last night as it will have to stay there until the fly-in is over and cleaned up. That’s what we have to do and if you are telling the rest of the team you’ll be there to help, then you will.
* Helping means working year round, not just at events. We have a rule of thumb that if something isn’t planned by May, then it probably isn’t going to happen at this year’s event since May through September is spent on implementing the plan.
* Fun. Even if you have a nail sticking out of your hand, you’ll have fun. There is no reason for any of us to do this unless we are having fun. So, if all the planes and great people who attend the event don’t sound like fun to you, then there is no reason to volunteer. Yes, leading up to the event and during, it often feels very much like work. Yet without fail, half-way through the fly-in you always start thinking about the next one. Nothing worthwhile is easy and anything that is fun has a price.
Here I think it is important to share another thing we shared with our airport family members at the meeting. People often act as though, or think they are helping us, Ginger and myself, when they volunteer. Well, that isn’t the case. When you volunteer, you are helping aviation.
We are doing this for aviation and not ourselves. I realize that may be hard to understand but that’s the reality and if you aren’t in this for aviation, then you are in it for the wrong reason and you are keeping us involved in something we don’t need to keep doing. Yes, it can be fun but it is a lot of work and it is work we don’t need if aviation doesn’t want it. So just to be clear, when you help us just to help us you are not supporting our hobby or being helpful. You are perpetuating senseless work. If you get it, and you want to be part of the family, then there is plenty of room for you to help.
What do we specifically need? We still need volunteers to take charge of some A-items, and we really need sponsorship commitments. This year’s fly-in budget is $30,055 not including the airport operations budget which is an additional $20,000+. I should also note that by trimming costs everywhere we can find them, having a caterer do the food (they bear the cost), and by doubling last years attendance, we would just break even with $12,000 in sponsorship commitments. Any of this that isn’t sponsored we eat.
Those of you who have had the Lee Bottom Fly-In on your bucket lists for several years should take note. We are in the process of making long term plans for the airport and that involves the discussion of changing the flavor of the fly-in, Sinful Sundays, and even the airport in the coming years. Although we think the changes, if any, will be seen as favorable, with the future in mind everything is on the table for modification. Therefore, it is time for you to scratch The Wood, Fabric, & Tailwheels Fly-In off your list.
As for everyone else, our airport family members can work their butts off but if you do not attend, then it will all have been for nothing. Gas will be going up this summer, everyone will be complaining about it, and fly-ins everywhere will continue to thin with fewer and fewer people flying. If you would like to see this airport come out the other end as one of the survivors, you should start making your plans now to attend. Put September 29, 2012 on your calendar, set aside the money and time, find someone you’d like to share aviation with, and come hang out in one of the last places your kind are welcome.
With your support, enough volunteers, and the needed sponsorships, you’ll never hear us talk of ending the event again.

A-item coordinators still needed:
Medical Emergencies
Store Apparel and Cashiers
White Cone Adoption
Event Listings

Please let us know if you are up for doing any of these.


Anonymous said...

For the LOVE OF AVIATION!!!! You have spoken to my heart.

Anonymous said...

Rich and Ginger ,

I'd love to be involved in the Tram operation this year at the FLY IN and I'll be available for duty during this June's Sinful Sunday as well. The fact of the matter is . I enjoyed TRASH DUTY two years ago so put me were I'm needed. I"LL BE THERE ...

Bob Waggoner
Louisville , KY.