Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Winner Is...

The contest has a winner.
The final chapter of The Aviation Migration 2015 has been written.  A photo submitted by Mike Pratt received the most votes in the tire give-a-way contest.  Therefore, a set of 600x6 tires, contributed by Desser Tire, will be on their way to him soon.
Mike Pratt organized a strong twitter campaign to get votes
for his photo.
Thanks to everyone who submitted photos.  They were great to see.  Additionally, one of them will likely grace next year's calendar.  But, you'll have to wait to see what it is.
Thanks to Desser for their support of
The Aviation Migration and
grass roots aviation.
We also want to thank Desser Tire for their generous contribution to The Aviation Migration.  As we move forward with long term plans for the field, a greater connection to a broader swath of General Aviation is what we want to accomplish.  Companies like Desser Tire are the perfect fit for that goal.  We help them build a better relationship with the grass roots level of aviation and they help us promote it.  Thanks to everyone at Desser who saw the value in that idea and felt the need to contribute.  We hope we can do it again next year.

We Hate to See Them Go

Driving the executive transport.
Fritz often said most people made him happy twice, first when they arrived and second when they would leave.  That’s not meant to be mean but a statement of how one who enjoys the peace and quiet of the country sees people.  You love them but there’s a limit.  Like Franklin said, fish and visitors….
I have to say I agree with Fritz.  I love it out at the airport.  It’s about as remote as you can get in this part of the country.   Occasionally though I feel like I need the city.  When that happens I go there and very soon am ready to return.  But truth be told, this difficulty of place, where I really belong, is mostly due to the difficulty of finding people you really enjoy hanging out with.
Sure, we have a lot of friends from many different interests.  But people you really enjoy, who you mesh well with and wish you could see more often, eh, those are few and far between.   Take into consideration being married and it becomes almost impossible to find as much as one individual couple consisting of two people both of you like and vice versa.  Then try to find a couple, or people like that, in Hanover Indiana and you’re going to be out of luck.
Always smiling, even in the rain.
Because of this, we are always trying to figure out a way to get more of “our people” out to our area or at the airport.  Unfortunately, all it takes is one spouse or bipolar airport bum to mess it up for everyone.   Therefore, we continue to resist allowing others access.  Despite that, there have been bright points.
Most years we have workampers who visit for a few months to help us around the field.  They are full time RV’ers who get a RV hookup for volunteer work.  And most of the time they’ve been incredible folks.  Some of our most cherished friends we met this way.  This year Gerard and Lacretia Hogan Rowe were added to that list.
These two wonderful people appeared like a gift from God.  They showed up right as our lives began to spin out of control with many changes.  It was going to be an insane two months; we weren’t sure how we were going to do it; Gerard and Lacretia sent us an email.  That’s how it happened and they saved our butts.
Yet, not only did they come to our rescue (repeatedly/even tonight on their last day here), they turned out to be two great people who we both hate to see go.  Unfortunately for me, I was in training for much of their time at the field and lost out on many great fires, burgers, brews, and maybe a little fun BS’n.  The time I was able to spend with them though was always enjoyable and that makes me sad to see them go.
If you didn’t get to meet Gerard, Lacretia, and Rosie (their dog), you missed out.  We wish them all the very best.  When it comes to these three, Franklin was wrong.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Person Behind the Logo

Here they are on the shirt Ginger created for the contest.
See below to find out what "they" are.
Going way back, John Burress has been involved with the fly-in at Lee Bottom.  Working professionally as a graphic artist, he has done the layout for our calendars, mailings, signs, and just about anything else he could help with.   This year, when Ginger came up with a great last minute idea, John was the guy who helped us out.
When I called John to let him know what I needed, I caught him enjoying life.  He was riding his bike through a rain forest somewhere within driving distance of Seattle.  Standing there, somewhere I imagined to be incredibly scenic, he heard me ask, "Can you put together a logo with X characteristics?"
I don't know where he carries his computer and how he powers it from his bike but in no time at all I had what I was after.  How he got it done so quick I do not know.  Granted, it wasn't like he cranked out a Mona Lisa.  But, he produced exactly what I requested and damn near instantly.
Thanks John.
Although he worked on many things, the core item he created for us, the thing I had first wanted, was the header for Champs vs Cubs.  The stylized words, sporting paint schemes to match the airplanes, were John's mark on this year's event.  We used them everywhere.

The Aviation Migration - How Was It?

Photos by Karen Davidson.
If you're wondering how the fly-in at Lee Bottom went this year, here's the answer.  It's success was relative.  Let me explain.

Thanks to some amazing volunteers, two incredible workampers, and input from previous attendees, the field was ready for this event like never before.  It was awesome to see.  Almost a week in advance, everything was set up and prepped in an exceptional manner.  I don't think it could have been done any better.  Everyone did their part to make that piece great.  Then the planes began to arrive. 
When Friday started there were already planes on hand.  By the end of the day it was a near record crowd of camping aircraft.  As I've said many times, the campers always have the most spirit and their presence made for a nice last half of Friday.  Everyone had a great time, ate well, watched a movie, and sat around the fire.  All of them, all of us, were thinking positive thoughts.  All in all, everything was great.
We had all seen the weather forecast and we all knew it could go one of two ways.  Choosing to believe it would turn in a positive direction is what we all went with.  Peeling off for bed, everyone expected blue sky and sun the next day.  Great thoughts abounded. 
Saturday morning, we awoke to a brilliant blue sky.  Being the truest of suckers, for the briefest moment ever, it felt as though it would last.  Then from over the hill drifted a cloud.  By 8:30am it was overcast.  At 9am we started to get calls about weather.  Driving to the house to get a better look at the radar revealed positive thoughts had not helped. 
The weather covered everything north of us and I knew it would be a wash.  That was not a great realization.   But, the people on hand were having a great time.  Like I said, success is relative.
Unfortunately, much of what was shown on the radar that day didn't even exist.  Radar is so good today, even wind shows up as a return.  Sadly though, most of aviation does not appear to have figured this out.  They look at the radar, see light green, and run for the couch.  Yet, if they would peel back the curtains for a look outside they'd have a good chance of seeing sun.  It really is that bad and I have no idea how to get this through the heads of aviators.  You can't tell people to fly in weather but if you don't encourage them to get out and learn to interpret it in a few years nobody will be flying.  That's not good by any stretch.  But, the people at the fly-in were obviously great because they figured out how to make it. 
No matter how I looked at the radar it appeared horrible.  But it wasn't until early afternoon that we received the worst weather of the day.  A light drizzle pounded softly upon the airport for a few minutes.  After that, conditions improved until a clear blue sky returned around 5pm.  By then though, it was too late for all but a few steadfast aviators.  Therefore, despite a handful of new arrivals, Saturday was little more than a repeat of Friday with an added overcast.  For us it didn't feel wonderful.  But, everyone on hand kept telling us they were having a great time.
The people who made it in on Friday had a good time on Saturday and we had another night of movies and sitting by the fire.  And I have to admit, we all had a great time adding fuel to the flames, both figuratively and literally.  The best was made of everything.
Ultimately, for those who worked tirelessly to host the event it certainly felt disappointing.  I simply cannot express how much effort everyone put into this fly-in.   Watching helplessly as one tiny window of gray, in the middle of 14 days of perfect weather, stopped arrivals generated many emotions.  One minute everyone was so beaten we didn't care and the next we were pretty much done with it all.  You can only give so much and put so much into something so many times before you're through with it.  The good years re-energize you.  But when you go a handful of years with no good years, the energy runs low.  But again, our attendees continued to thank us for the great time. 
Additionally, I've never had so many people actually speak so positively of the sponsors.  People would walk up and start talking about how great it was to see these companies supporting the event.  If you were one of those people we hope you'll send them a note telling them the same.  There's something about having quality companies involved that makes everyone feel the importance of working together and being part of something bigger than yourselves.   A HUGE THANKS goes out to our sponsors for supporting this event.  People really do notice when you show up at places other than the biggest of big keystone shows and we all really hope you'll come back.  In short, it was great to have you here.
Of course, one of the reasons crummy weather years hit us so hard is that we hate for our airport family member who provides food to experience wasted effort and our sponsors to not get a return out of it.  It's bad enough when we take a hit.  But, to also see them do food prep work for a much bigger crowd or expected attendance numbers for sponsorships take it on the chin hurts.  Sponsors sponsor events for a reason.  It isn't for charity and we never want that to happen.  That's the simple reality and we always want them to come out ahead.  On the upside, several of our sponsors have already said they had a great time and would like to come back.  That's great news and I really hope they do.  For whatever reason, our sponsors always feel more like part of the fun than someone only buying a spot to display a plane.  To me, that says we are finding the right companies.
So, how was the fly-in?  It was great.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed.  It was set to be such a great year.  But again, mother nature had different plans.  Yet, like I mentioned earlier, when the people on hand keep reminding you they are having a great time, that makes a lot of sandpaper feel like silk.  To all of you who put out the effort to be here, thanks.
You guys are great and you reminded us that success is relative.   If you were to count total airplanes on hand, it may not seem that great compared to the years behind us.  But, when you look at the quality of the folks who were here, you can't help but see it as having been anything but great.