Sunday, August 24, 2014

Groups Gather to Prepare for Stearman vs. WACO Challenge

This could get ugly.
As you may have read earlier, this year at the Lee Bottom Wood, Tailwheels, & Fabric Fly-In we are going to have the first ever Stearman vs. WACO Challenge.  If you haven’t heard about it, you can click here to see what it’s all aboutBasically it’s a fairly simple contest, based on attendance, designed to give the winning group bragging rights.  The Stearman and WACO folks have always had a little friendly rivalry going on so we thought it would be nice to put some numbers to it.  Until then, if you want to see either group in action, you have two options.
The National Stearman Fly-In is being held at Galesburg, Illinois on September 1st-6th.  This amazing event has one of the largest gatherings of type specific aircraft on the planet.  Show up the last half of the week to witness the lines upon lines of Stearman Aircraft.  You can click here to find out more.
The WACO Fly-In held in Troy, Ohio, scheduled for September 13th-14th, is another must see.  It has been a few years since I last visited but I remember it being a very nice gathering.   The field, being smaller and more intimate, feels much more limited than Galesburg at first sight, but it is not.  To see all the WACOs there together is something to remember.  Unfortunately, EVENT information online is sorely lacking.  You can find informationabout the field by clicking here.
So there you have it.  During the weeks leading up to the Lee BottomFly-In, Stearman and WACO owners will be meeting to get their challenge plans in order.  They’re two very different groups but in the end only one can win.  The bragging could get pretty interesting.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Help Us Out While Flying About

This weekend, when you’re flying around at your local airport or fly-in, you could really help us get the word out about the Lee Bottom Fly-In by placing one of our posters on a bulletin board.  You can find the image at our website There on the left you’ll see a link under “IT’S BACK”.  Click the link and you will be taken to a page where you can download a printable PDF.
The poster prints out very nice on a 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper and the colors are light so it doesn’t use a ton of ink.  Did I mention it's getting great reviews?  Therefore, while you are there you might want to print one out for your wall.
We're a small community, us aviators.  Somehow though we are often out of touch with each other.  This means an event can go without notice by many when most of us assume everyone already knows about it. For that reason, we hope you'll help us spread the word about the event, remind everyone tickets have to be purchased in advance online, and that you yourself will consider making the trip.  It's our first year back and we'd love to see all of you.

Monday, August 18, 2014

First Fly-In Sponsor

The Lee Bottom Fly-In has received its first sponsor for the event, Gordon Farms. Having been in the same family for over 100 years, the owners of this operation based in New Palestine, Indiana, felt our out-in-the-country, laid back event was the perfect venue for their sole sponsorship of 2014.  We want to thank them kindly for getting us off to a good start.
Of course, we're pretty sure that when they realized they could be first on the list, that may have been what pushed them over the edge to do it.  Being first on the sponsorship list comes with many great benefits such as being first on the list, being ahead of the second sponsor on the list, and of course, not being last on the list.  The Gordon Family have always been known for their shrewd monetary decisions and this obviously fits the bill.
Thanks again to Gordon Farms for the sponsorship.  We're sorry you can't make the fly-in but we'll understand the absence.  How many folks ever get the opportunity to sail half way around the world to teach farming to the people of the the South Pacific? Have fun.

For anyone else who may want to sponsor the Lee Bottom Fly-In, click here to learn how. Sponsors keep this event alive.

Changes Set For 2014 Wood, Tailwheels, & Fabric Fly-In

If you've been to previous fly-ins, this year you're going to notice some changes. Some of them came from the desire to make everything more accessible to everyone in attendance, others came about by trying to trim costs (which many of you recommended), one is temporary and merely for mischievous reasons, and one of them seems to solve a wide range of issues.
Let's talk about the big one first.  In our efforts to trim expenses and manpower required to host the fly-in, the process of registration quickly became a focal point. The number of people, amount of training, and volume of record keeping involved with this part of the event had to be trimmed.  Not only was it work for us, it was also work for you.  Getting everything in place after arriving, making your way to the registration tent, then going through the process of getting your pre-purchased tickets, no matter how simplified, was a chore.  Therefore, we wondered if there was a way to get rid of it all.  Ginger found the answer.
It should be noted the Chinese built a very big wall.  Just say'n.
This year we are moving to an online service for registration and ticketing.  What this means to you is that all tickets must be purchased in advance and printed.  Each ticket is coded individually and emailed to you so please print each of them.  The process is very easy and it solves all the issues mentioned above. When you arrive, you'll get out of your plane, hand your ticket(s) to a "meet and greet" person, and you'll be done. That's it.  The same goes for drive ins.  Present your ticket at the gate and walk in.  It's that simple.  (Read here to see how it works)
Let's reiterate that point.  ALL TICKETS WILL BE PURCHASED IN ADVANCE AND PRINTED before you leave for the event.  With this new system, tickets will also be available for purchase to the end of the event.  We hope you find the process much better.  It will make your fly-in experience much simpler and will help us continue to hold the event by reducing costs and busy work.  Additionally, please be sure to let your friends know this if you are unsure if they get NORDO News.  And again, click here for more information as to how it works.
We understand.  But, it is inevitable.
The next change on the list will be the location of the food tent and Lee Bottom Store. These areas of operation will be moved to the north end of the field near the red brick house.  This accomplishes several things and does so by moving all the services to the center of population.  With people parked on both sides of the runway, and the only runway crosswalk being located at the very north end, everyone will be closer to food and the store.  The food tent will be closer to more electrical power and a better supply of water, handicapped parking will be much closer to all these items, and the focus of people will be positioned at one of the locations least likely to be visited by an out of control aircraft.  It would be difficult to find a better location.
As for people arriving and camping with their planes, the showers will now be located on the west side at the north end near the trees.   This puts the showers much closer to the campers which is an obvious plus.
When it comes to auto camping and RV's, that area has been cut.  We apologize if this was something you routinely did in the past.  Unfortunately, the place where we usually allowed this just wasn't very good for it and it always took a disproportionate amount of effort. Auto parking will be expanded to include the previous auto and RV camping area.
The name of the event is also changing, but only temporarily.  For 2014, the Wood, Fabric, & Tailwheels Fly-In will also be known as the Wood, Tailwheels, and Fabric Fly-In.  This is our own little way of giving mother nature the finger for the past few years and blowing off a little steam while having some fun in the process.   Since hashtags (#) have taken off as a way to build buzz and community within social networking, this means our official hashtag will be #WTF2014.  It also means the possibilities are endless for sharing photos from the event.  For example, the first plane to land might generate a "#WTF just happened".   Mid-day Saturday has to be good for a few photos of the planes on hand tagged with "#WTF is going on".  And of course when everyone has left, "#WTF over" (thanks Chris) would be a perfect post. Yeah, I understand some of our older more refined followers may be uncomfortable with this but the younger generation, those we need to build the ranks, are sure to have fun with it.
OK, so there's the rundown of big changes for this fly-in.  We hope to see all of you here in a few weeks. 

If you have any further questions about the fly-in, click here for details.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Claim Your Cone - Update

As you can see the current cones are getting rather tired.
Fortunately, you can help this one retire by sponsoring its replacement.
Read how below.
(The sponsorship of cones is starting to take off.  We hope you'll consider getting one for yourself or someone special.  There simply is no better way for individuals to support the continuation of the Wood, Tailwheels, & Fabric Fly-In than by sponsoring a new runway cone.  Leave your mark on Lee Bottom and support good, old-fashioned, grass roots aviation.)

Identifying the runway at Lee Bottom are 48 white, high visibility, rubberized cones.  Used for their ability to contrast with the grass and mark the boundary without inflicting damage to errant aircraft, they hold an important position here at the field.
Throughout the typical year, one or two will get beat up by a mowing deck, a few might grow legs in the middle of the night, several are chewed on by deer, and all of them witness the incredible variety of people and aircraft that come and go.  Standing as sentinels they see it all.  Unfortunately, they also wear out and they aren’t cheap.
Having nursed this latest batch of cones to twice their typical lifespan, the time has come to replace them.  How to pay for them though is always a tough question.  Because of this we’ve come up with a fun way to do it.
This year each cone will be available for sponsorship.  “Claim a cone” for $100 and you get to sign your name to it and replace an old one with your new highly personalized version.  You will also receive one ticket to the fly-in.

Until the cones wear out again, or something tragic happens to your cone, it will sit watch over a beautiful grass strip.
Maybe you want to write an "in memory of" on your cone, place a short note about the weekend on its base, or just fire off a fancy signature.  Whatever your desire, we hope you will consider claiming a cone and adding your mark to Lee Bottom Flying Field.

All funds raised through the program will go directly to paying for fly-in expenses.  If the friends of Lee Bottom were to sponsor every cone, a significant percentage of fly-in expenses would be covered.
Claim your cone now by clicking here.  It is the same page where you purchase fly-in tickets.
Our friend Larry "claimed" three cones several years ago when he hit them with the mower.
This one only suffered minor lacerations.  The other two spent time in the ICU.
To this day I think of Larry every time I see one of "his cones".

The Fly-In is Back!

The fly-in at Lee Bottom is just over a month away and there is much to do.  Yet, we wanted to take a break and remind you once again that it's just over a month away and there is much to do.   I realize I said that twice.  Our heads are spinning just trying to get ready for it.  That's how it is to us.  Go like mad until the event kicks off and then try to keep up.  For you though, we hope your excited to attend its first year back.
If you've forgotten, here's a quick rundown of the event through the years.  First held in the mid/late 90's, the event rapidly grew to become something special.  For many years it expanded, finally reaching the point it attracted over 400 planes and visitors from nearly every continent..  Then, starting in 2010, we had a rain out, followed by average weather year at best (but ok turnout), followed by a tornado, then a small fund raiser which was tailed by a year in which we just couldn't bring ourselves to do any kind of event at all.  We were tired of spending money, beat up, and literally sick.  A new job and an illness in the middle of that was more than we could handle so we simply took a break.
This year, later in the calendar, the decision was made to hold it once again.  Ginger, being pretty much fed up with it all and on sabbatical, said it was up to me and I made the call a little late in the year.  I just couldn't see not having it again but I had to figure out if it could be done with minimum expense and fluff and still be a quality event. So, that's what we're doing; trimming expenses and fluff.
Now the question falls to you; will you attend?  Out of sight out of mind is as relative to fly-ins as it is to people.  Some events, having missed just one year, were never able to make it back. I've seen it happen time and again.  But, many of you tell me that is not the case with Lee Bottom. Your words of encouragement are very kind and we hope you are right.  We hope to see you here on the grass come the weekend of September 19th.

NOTE:  If you do plan to attend, be sure to read the following posts which will contain important information.
If you want more details about the fly-in, click here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fly-In Campers - The Spirit of Aviation (Updated)

Rarely do I write about specific parts of the fly-in.  The whole thing is so much fun that it is hard to pick apart.  But, as the event draws near, I find myself thinking more and more about one specific segment; the campers.
Like I said, the fly-in is great fun.  Yet, what I have come to realize is that it is the campers which make the event.  Now I'm not meaning the others aren't important.  What I really intend to say is that it is the Friday night fly-in campers that set the tone of the event.
Friday arrivals are almost always eager and fun.  They cut loose from work early and put forth a special effort to make the fly-in.  On their mind was having a good meal under the stars, watching a movie on the hangar, sitting by the campfire with friends, and waking up early to see every arrival on Saturday.  They are truly intrepid aviators in a time of timidity.
When others look for excuses not to attend, they look for every way possible to be there.  Only the worst of weather keeps them away.  Their planes don't carry emergency kits, their planes are emergency kits. Everything inside accounts for some what-if and every step they make is calculated.  Yet, watch them and you'll see they are seemingly carefree; prepared but not fearful. That's why I enjoy them so much.  They are the living among us.
With all that said, it should therefore be no surprise when I say that as the fly-in Friday rolls around, I'll be watching closely to see how many campers arrive.  They are an aviation bellwether indicative of the truth.  Saturday may bring hundreds of planes, but if Friday is slow I will quietly mourn the loss of aviation spirit.
UPDATE:  This post from last year's fly-in was a favorite of many, including myself.  When I finished it I read the words and thought, "Yeah, that is exactly what I wanted to say."  Thankfully, many understood.  When Friday rolled around, the number of campers to arrive was exceptional.  They even turned out to be almost half of the total number of aircraft on hand.  The spirit of aviation is alive and well.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Volunteers Wanted This Weekend

This weekend we’ll be working to get the airport in shape for the fly-in.  Mowing, filling holes in the parking areas, moving a gazebo, repairing doors, cleaning tents, and doing an inventory of fly-in materials are among the things we need to accomplish.  If you can help with any of this, we’d greatly appreciate it.  See how below.
Want to volunteer?  Then click on this link.  It takes you to the page where you can sign up.  Filling it out helps us know who is coming and what activities to plan.  Also notice it covers the weekend before the fly-in.  We could use some help then also.
We thank you for any help you can offer.

I thought this one was funny.  We've all been there.  But I think if you ask
our volunteers from previous fly-ins, they'll say our volunteers are treated well.