Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our 10th Anniversary

This image means a lot to Ginger and me.  Read below to find out why.
Photo by Matt Cashore
Ten years ago, nine days after attending the disastrous 100th Anniversary Ceremony of the the Wright Brothers' first flight, Ginger and I made wedding plans. Five days later, on December 31st, 2003, we were married.
Lying in bed on December 26th of that year, I was set to work the next day and we both were trying with no luck to go to sleep early.  Instead, conversation turned to the future and before long we had come to a logical conclusion; we should get married.  Five minutes later we had a plan.
I would go to work and while on an overnight find us some rings online.  She would locate a cabin chapel in Gatlinburg where we could get married and a place in Knoxville to stay.  Ginger would also iron out all the other details, such as the wedding license, and then contact me between flights to verify I was ok with her decisions.  Then, late on the 30th she would pick me up at the Louisville airport and we would drive straight to Knoxville and check in after midnight. Amazingly, it all went as planned.
The next day we did everything first class; ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel, got a wedding license at the court house from the sheriff, and drove to the chapel to get married.  Along for the ride was the only person who had been told about our wedding, Ace, our dog.  He was our best man.
Sitting there in the parking lot rehearsing our lines, at the time we had only one concern; how mad would our families be at us for not including them.  Then, just before we stepped from the car to go inside, the phone rang.  It was Ginger's parents calling to say her newest nephew had just been born.  It was great news.  It also took the heat off us.
As for the ceremony, it was longer than three minutes but definitely shorter than ten and the big thing we came away with was that we were a "special gift" to each other.  That line has never left us and it still gets repeated often.
So what role does that picture of the two Cubs play in our lives?  Well, after we were married we had one major thing left to do; let everyone know.  Conquering that task turned out to be much harder for us.
Should we have a party and if so when would we have it; where would we have it; how would we host it?  Our wedding had been all about us and now after the fact we were trying to come up with something to do for others under the guise of it being about our marriage.  It just didn’t make sense.  Next we worried that some might try to send gifts and we didn’t want that either.  We had spent less than $1500 on our wedding and we didn’t want others spending their money.  Nothing seemed right.  Therefore we just went with an announcement in the form of a letter written by me and approved by her.  Gracing the cover of that letter was the photo above.    Since many of you didn’t know us back then, if you would like to, you can click here to read it.
A few months before our wedding Ginger and I were flying the Cubs for a photo shoot over her territory, Indianapolis.  Having spent very little time over the area and quite a while flying on her wing, when she and the photo ship broke off for some individual shots, I circled at an agreed upon spot.  There I waited for them to call me back or come get me.  They didn’t.
Fifteen minutes of radio silence later, I realized I was alone.  Circling over the designated area I called for them on every frequency.  Meanwhile, one “three-sixty” after another marked my attempt at orientation.  Like I said, I had been flying on her wing instead of watching where we were going.  To make things worse, the shoot was done late in the evening an effort to get good lighting and the sun was setting with fog right on its heels.  I’ll never forget that.  Neither will Ginger.  I was pissed; at myself and her.
“NEVER LEAVE YOUR WING MAN” I sternly said after finding my way to the ground fog covered runway.  Yeah sure, splitting off from the shoot was planned but everyone understood I had somehow been left behind.  Ginger on the other hand had assumed I had become bored and left because I wasn’t there when they came for me, or something like that, she claimed.  Whatever the truth is, and whichever of us actually tells the most accurate version of the story, it’s something neither of us will ever forget.
But then again how could we?  To this day whenever we go somewhere if I turn my back for a second she wanders off and whenever she assumes I know what I am doing I prove her wrong.  Thankfully though, because of that flight, we also learned a much bigger lesson; when we’re together things go great but apart not so much.  Now if only we could figure out who’s leading this formation. 

Note:  Thanks to the photo above and our letter, later that year attendees of the fly-in used the opportunity to congratulate us; we finally had our party.  Each year since, those who attend have been like family.
Know why I'm walking to this other Cub?  Because after I found my way back to the runway, the
Clipped Cub rolled about 200' and died.  Yeah, that was a memorable evening.

Monday, December 30, 2013

High School Reunion

There they are making the most of a freezing drizzle night at O'Hare.
When I left high school I never looked back.  Behind me was nothing I wanted to experience again.  Of course others felt differently and stayed to keep the town alive.  I never understood that and I've never understood the allure of reunions.
To me, if you liked the place or people you would have never left and therefore there'd be no reason for a reunion.  Those who gave a damn were still standing in line with you at the local Wal-Mart or playing bingo at the same table.  It just never made sense.  Then tonight I ran into some friends.
It has been a year and a half since I left the Republic Empire and started flying for Atlas.  During that time I have seen places I never thought I'd see, hauled things I never imagined hauling, and witnessed things I can't repeat.  Yet in disappointing fashion, few of them were much fun.
Due to the schedules you're usually alone and when you're not by yourself you're in far away lands with people whose number one goal is to find McDonald's or an Irish Pub.  Put bluntly, a large percentage of them are no fun.  The reasons for this are many but suffice it to say the number of people I know who explore by themselves is quite high for a reason.
Don't get me wrong, I have had some great fun at Atlas.  But the number of days where fun has come easy in as less than one if divided by ten.  The rest of the time the other guy’s health issues, anger, or “I can’t let go of the military” mentality sucks the fun right out of Disney World. In other words, there’s no reunion in sight for me.
So, with that in mind, there I was tonight walking through the terminal at O’Hare.  Our crew had just brought a 747 from JFK and all that was left for me to do was hop on a commercial flight.  Pulling my mobile home through the corridors connecting one regional jet cluster to another, I couldn’t help but remember some of the fun that was had there years before.
Republic was a typical regional operation.  By its nature the misery quotient was high but because of that the people were mostly fun.  Basically, if you weren’t capable of finding the humor in insults or making toys from dried dog turds, then you most likely weren’t there.  Those were the people I thought of, them and the gyro place in terminal F, as I walked head down to avoid eye contact.  Then for some reason I looked up.
Ahead of me walking the opposite direction was a Republic crew.  I knew them all and we stopped to say hello.  During our brief conversation I asked them how long they were there (hoping they had time to kill) and they asked me about the new job.  Following Airline Employee Regulation 24, part 5, sub-section a to the letter, I told them only the best parts.  Then we went our separate ways.
To them what probably seemed like a break between cattle drives was to me a welcome reminder of the good people I once worked with.  I wish instead of "Happy New Year", I had said “It was great to see you guys”.   And that’s when I realized the allure of reunions.
Sometimes a seemingly incongruous group of people comes together on a train traveling from one of life’s landmarks to the next; they talk, laugh, share stories, and lose track of time.  And although they casually waive goodbye as each person steps from the train in search of a connection that will take them where they need to be, neither realizes the uniqueness of the situation until they step without notice from their next connection.
Standing there on that platform, one leg of the journey stands out.  Then and only then does it occur to each of them the randomness which brought the group together makes it impossible to recreate and they long to be part of something like that again.  After that, for some illogical reason, ten years down the road, one of them, usually someone who stayed behind, puts together a reunion.  Remembering that train ride, people far and wide purchase tickets, put their lives on hold, and go in search of those who made one of life’s commutes a little more bearable.   Not me of course, I’ve never understood those things.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The 2014 Calendars are Done

The 28th annual, limited edition, Lee Bottom Calendars are done and set to be mailed out on the final days of 2013.  If you get one we hope you enjoy it.  They hang in the hangars and offices of aviation enthusiasts around the world and its arrival in your mailbox places you in great company.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lockheed Vega Returns to the Air

Today, December 17th, 2013, John Magoffin put one thing right in aviation; he returned a Lockheed Vega to the air.  Others exist but they do not fly and that is important. Without the roar, a lion is not a lion; mounted heads do not make a zoo and static airframes do not make an airport.  A plane that does not fly cannot stir the soul.  For John though that will not be an issue.  This beauty is sure to turn heads and stir emotion wherever it lands.  Thanks again to John Magoffin and Rick Barter for bringing her back to life.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bud Nosen Passes Away

Here's to Bud Nosen.  He brought large scale radio control aircraft kits to the masses.  If you ever flew radio control aircraft, or you still do, then I'm sure you know the name.  I still wish I had kept that 1/4 scale Champ.  I wonder where it is today?
Click here to read his local obituary.  I put here in "NORDO" because I wasn't sure anyone else would cover it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Friend of Lee Bottom Leads the Charge Against Medicals

Everyone needs a dream.  Let's hope his comes true.
Today the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act of 2013 was introduced.  Created to remove the medical requirement for flying most GA aircraft, if it somehow manages to make it into law it will be the first truly positive step forward for general aviation in a very long time.  This is very exciting.
Of course we have to admit there is another reason we're excited to see this introduced. Indiana's very own Congressman Todd Rokita, a friend of Lee Bottom and fellow Sinful Sundays aficionado, spearheaded this legislation along with Congressman Sam Graves of Missouri.  Thanks to these two gentlemen, GA finally has some representation on the hill.
Come to think of it, maybe I'll just send them a donation instead of sending it to EAA and AOPA.

In its current form, if the bill makes it into law it will offer the following:
Ability to use drivers license to operate a non-commercial vfr flight in an aircraft weighing no more than 6000lbs, with no more than six seats, up to a maximum altitude of 14,000 msl, and a maximum speed of 250 knots.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What's In This Newsletter?

Every month or so we take most of our blog posts and combine them into a newsletter.  Next we mail it out to around 7000 aviation enthusiasts who then read it as their leisure.  Ordinarily we leave it up to readers to discover what's inside.  This time though we wanted to give a quick rundown of what's inside for several reasons.
The first and most important reason is there are a lot of posts going into this one and we don't want you to be overwhelmed by them.  Most, in fact, are nothing but short explanations for a survey/poll at the end.  We hope you have fun with them and actually participate.
Next, we wanted to point out to those of you who get this newsletter that these blog posts can be seen in a more timely manner if you visit the NORDO News blog and sign up to follow the blog.
And finally, for your enjoyment, we have thrown in some videos of the recent first flight of a vintage Jenny, an article from another blog about how you are seen by the rest of the world, a video of Christmas tree harvesting by helicopter, and a blog admission by Rich that he is considering giving up.
Remember, you can find us here, on facebook, at linked in and on twitter.  Our clothing can be found on some of aviation's finest bodies, our calendars hang in pilot caves around the world, and our airport is open year round to the planet's finest aviators.  If you love aviation you'll love it here.  It's "where old planes go to fly".

Would You Like to Receive a Limited Edition Lee Bottom Calendar?

Where will you hang your calendar?  Do you already know?  If you already have a place in mind then you’ve likely received one before.  If not, then you probably have not.  That's a problem.  Fortunately, there's fix.
If you didn't get one of the limited edition Lee Bottom Calendars last year and you would like to receive one, all you have to do is work quick.  As with every year, due to various reasons, a limited number of calendar slots have come open.  Therefore if you are among the first 17 people to send your mailing address to this address, you'll get one.
The openings will likely be gone by the end of tomorrow so make it fast.

The Christmas Tree / Aviation Connection

This video has been going around the internet for the past week but I'm betting many of you have yet to see it.  In most the descriptions the pilot is hailed as a God, a dare-devil aviator, or a little of both.  But locals to the area, where much of this happens, indicate this is actually quite common and there are many helicopter pilots out there doing the same thing.  That said though, it is pretty fun to watch and I'm guessing it is pretty fun to do.

The view outside:

The view from inside another helicopter operator:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Maybe I'll Just Give Up and Give In

Wow, I just realized I’ve written and scratched a ton of writing over the past few weeks.  Keystrokes have been many but useful production low.  Looking it over I can only blame one thing; I’m worn out.
Yes, I’ve reached that point.  I’m about to give up and give in.  It would be so much easier to write one column once a month for some struggling publication.  There I would have a really good editor to catch my mistakes and yet I could write below average fluff pieces and get paid because I know what appeals to aviators - Flew the J-3 this morning and was intercepted by a P-51 flown by one of the girls from the Warbird Pinup calendar.  The GPS I was using allowed me to connect wirelessly to her via Bluetooth which made the entire flight safer.  Later we drank alcohol and cursed the FAA for not focusing on pilot pay.  User Fees.  Sleep apnea.  The end.
I can see the letters to the editor now:
“I really enjoy reading Dick Davis’s monthly column, “Sex, Drugs, Safety, and Flying”.  It seems to offer everything I’ve been looking for.  Please tell him to keep up the good work and to keep running into the pinups”
“I want to thank you for finally bringing to print, one of the finest characters in aviation, Dick Davis.  Somehow he speaks to me as if he’s been listening to the voices in my head.  Everything is right on.  PS – Please tell him to keep up the stories about the pinups and beer.”
“I have read your publication for many years but only now do I find myself eagerly awaiting its arrival each month.  Your new author, Dick Davis, well, he just seems to be the real deal.  It’s been forever since I read anything from anyone who spoke to GA as well as him.  And on top of that he’s a real character.  How else do you explain always running into pinups in warbirds who insist on buying the first round?  Great stuff”.
“I was reading the April issue of “Boring Aviation Publication That Gives Me Erectile Dysfunction” when out of nowhere I was hit with this great piece by your new author Dick Davis.  Where did you find that guy?  I sure would like to spend a day flying with him.  He’s one lucky man to run into all those beer drinking pinups, err, Martha Lunken, who was safely flying her P-51 equipped with the most recent electronics.  And to do so in a Cub, wow!  If Dick Davis ever needs an assistant I would like to volunteer.  In all my time flying I’ve never done that but he seems to do it every month.  I guess it’s the Cub.  Sleep apnea”.
“Is it true Dick Davis wanted to title his column “UP YOURS?  I was talking to these guys in a bar who used to fly with him and they said he once bit the head off a user fee while on stage”.  They also said he always told them if he ever got a monthly column he intended to title it “UP YOURS”.  So when I read his column and saw that he almost always seems to be running into those girls from the warbird pinup calendar while flying a J-3 off a strip behind a bar, and how he uses the latest electronics to improve both the safety of flight and his chances of spotting a P-51 while he tells the feds to f off I thought there may be some truth to it.  Myself, I think it should be called, “True Stories About Warbird Pinups and Beer”.  I hope you keep him around”.
“I called the other day to say thanks for bringing Dick Davis to the publication and was told he’d been fired for writing bogus material that would appeal to readers.  I was in shock.  Everything he wrote was right on the money.  And what does it matter; 90% of your magazine is advertorials disguised as copy anyway.   Pilots don’t care about honesty.  They just want a good story.  Letting Dick go was a serious mistake.  PS – I really enjoy the new Garmin panel I purchased after reading about it in your magazine”. From Mystified.
Editor response:  Dear Mystified,
We believe we were justified in our firing of Mr. Davis.  After his last article, CPAP P where he claimed to have  urinated on a CPAP machine after drinking beer from a helmet with pinups in a P-51 while using the latest electronics to make flying safer, we were compelled to let him go. Upon receiving his third and final warning that he needed to be plugging angle of attack indicators, he told the editor, "UP YOURS, no real pilot uses an angle of attack indicator" and left for Montana without telling anyone.  When we finally found him we attempted to negotiate a deal that would allow him to stay on staff.  Then he said he would consider the offer if each of us first told him what our favorite airplanes were.  Apparently "Cirrus, The Spartan Executive with a nosewheel, and Cherokee 140" were not the correct answers and things quickly got out of hand.  One of our employee's ear drums burst into flames due to his language, another was able to return to work this week after ten days of intense mental therapy, and as for myself I got away lucky having only to admit I was a vagina in order to keep my testicles (ironic).  Nobody knows for sure where he went after that although he said something about finding a Stuka, (whatever that is).  If you or any of our remaining 5 readers locate him, please tell him we'd like our wallets back.   By the way, I see that you indicated an interest in stick and rudder skills.  Did you read the article about using an angle of attack indicator in place of basic flying skills in the March 2013 edition?  If you liked what you saw, we can point you to several manufacturers of these fine instruments which greatly improve the safety.

The Best Part of Aviation Is
J-3 Cubs
Warbird Pinup Girls
Poll Maker

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Is Aviation Wearing You Down? Survey #6

Are you tired of not having excellent representation?  Does the never ending assault on our sport depress you?  Have you ever considered taking up a new sport simply because all of the bullshit involved with flying? As a pilot or aircraft owner do you ever feel like a whipping boy?  Is it all just wearing you down?
Or are you one of those people who fart butterflies?  Nothing is bad to you?  In fact, you feel fortunate to be allowed to fly your plane because none of the regulations or bureaucrats ever bring you down.  Maybe this is you?
Whatever the case, tell us how you feel in this next survey.

Is Aviation Wearing You Out?
make a poll

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How the World Sees You

More relevant than you may think.
Are you into old planes?  I mean, do you love antiques?  Does the sound of an old biplane put lead in your pencil or set your pants on fire (best I could do to cover both sexes)?  Do you spot things like 5 vs 7 cylinders when you look at a radial?  When tapes aren't straight on a fabric job do they make you twitch like spotting a crooked picture on the wall?  If you get the point and this is you then you ought to read this blog post written by a car guy.
Click here to read the piece I'm talking about.  I think it adequately covers a lot of our readers.  It also demonstrates how those of us in the internal combustion sports have a lot more in common than we might initially realize.  I've always believed we should be working together and after reading that last line, one which is as true as the laws of physics, I have no doubt.  If nothing more, we definitely need a new marketing strategy.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Has The Time Come For New Aviation Representation? Survey #5

Survey #5 deals with aviation representation and again it is to the point.  Has aviation come to a crossroad that requires new representation?  We've already asked if you feel you're being well represented.  Now we're wondering if you think there is a need for a new group; perhaps one that would focus on representing the issues of aviation from the side of owners and pilots instead of corporations and manufacturers?  What do you think?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hitler Is Not Amused by the Aviation Sleep Apnea Controversy

Wow, I can't say I ever saw Hitler so dumbfounded and mad.  But, like every tyrannical dictator he's figured out a sure fire way to get out of this mess.  Watch, laugh out loud, and share it with your friends.  This is one of the better one's I've seen in a while.

Part of Who You Are? Survey #4

Today's survey asks another very simple question.  Is aviation a hobby or is it part of who you are?  Is it something you do for fun or is it something you live ?  Can you go without flying or does your heart-light go out and all the flowers around you die if you go for long periods without it? Are you a pilot or an aviator?  Either is ok so be honest.

Another Legendary Flying Machine Returns to the Air

There’s one kind of phone call I always love to receive.  On the other end of the line is a good friend with great news.  And although they almost always try to conceal it, the excitement in their voice can never be fully constrained.  Those are truly special moments.  Two days ago was the latest.
When you watch an aircraft project begin, often it is hard to imagine the finished product.  For something like a Jenny, the problem always lies with fully grasping how many man hours will be required.  You look at fragments of wood, bent and broken metal, and think, “an army of talented men would take 20 years”.  But it’s never really that bad and somewhere around year 19 ½, you get the call, “We flew the Jenny today”, and you think, “Wow, that was much quicker than I expected”.
Soon after you learn such news, you too begin to get excited.  In your mind, far away you see your friends accomplishing what was most likely a lifetime dream and you can’t help but smile.  There on that patch of grass a group of people stood marking time, kicking at the unseen objects, pacing in circles, and making small talk.  Everyone was nervous but none were willing to show it; all of them wanting to help but few knowing how.  It’s not every day you get to see a vision develop into an experience of the senses.  Therefore, it’s not uncommon for spectators to be more excited than the builders whose minds are far more concerned with everything going well.  Only afterwards when the final cylinder has fired, the first flights have been made, and she’s sitting there silent on the grass do the owners begin to get giddy.  And in your mind, all those miles away, you can see the smile sweeping across their face.  It’s a great experience and you weren’t even there.
This Hisso Jenny will be based at Peach State Aerodrome.
Such is the allure of an old stringbag.  Demanding craftsmanship, skill, and the concerted efforts of many, machines like this Jenny bring people together in ways they never thought possible and leave them with some forgotten part of their soul reignited.
Congratulations go out to Brian Karli and Ron Alexander on the first flight(s) of their “Hisso Jenny”.  It’s about time our geographic area of the country (South of Pennsylvania and East of Texas) got such a plane and to know this one was built to fly as often as possible makes it that much more exciting.  Thanks for seeing it through.
Below are some videos from the day of the first flight:
*And here is a link to Brian's blog about the restoration.  This has been one of the better rebuild blogs I've followed.  Check it out.