Friday, December 16, 2016

Have You Heard We're Closing?

If you haven’t, congratulations. You, apparently, are not connected to the string of aviators who believe contributing to the future of aviation means “offering their wildest gossip.” Why aviation has to be the low rent version of TMZ I’ll never know. However, I do find it quite funny.
The last time crazy gossip started was when we were looking toward development. Someone started the rumor the airport floods every year. Amazingly, in a week’s time, many regulars were asking us how we dealt with the flooding.
I’m not talking about the stray threads of society. These were people who fly in every few weeks throughout the year; people with strong heads on their shoulders. Yet, with no pushback, their minds accepted the gossip as reality and they repeated it.
As for the guy who started the flooding rumor, he ended up in deep water (irony alert) for deceptive practices (elsewhere) and quietly vanished. But, how did the latest rumor start? Any guesses?
Many things likely led the first aviation gossip fairy to utter the rumor we were closing. The last fly-in was held this year. That’s a potential trigger point. Then there was the fact I told those in attendance we had too much crap and to make me an offer on anything not bolted down. I hoped to free up some space, and instead of them getting great deals people gossiped. Finally, and admittedly, I have been known to mention selling everything so we could have a mountain retreat in Montana, an expedition boat, or a DC-3 converted to a flying Winnebago. But hey, let’s be realistic. Montana and the boat are not practical.
Note:  We're always looking for someone, possibly a retiree, who would be interested in extremely cheap rent on a home and hangar in exchange for mowing and basic upkeep. There is too much to be done for us alone to conquer.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Masters of Flight - Special VFR in Icing Conditions

Somehow, I managed to capture the scene.

On a crisp fall night I stopped and wondered,
                   Where is that formation of trumpeted thunder?
                                                               Chilled by the moon, and its gray light,
                                                                                           Ahead to the south, persisted a flight.
                                                  Head tilted back, my eyes strained to see.
                 "THERE THEY ARE!" Sandhill cranes in a V.

Marveling at the magic, I am alone in the experience. Standing quiet on a frosted deck, above me the last leaves of fall oscillate against a vague undercast moon. The slightest blue wind encourages them to drop.  North, in the darkness, a new facet is being cut through the night.  Collectors see brush strokes; investors the bottom line.  Myself, it is the undaunted voices I hear among the sedge.
Their volume growing at individual rates, each crewmember, perhaps playing coxswain, projects a staccato cheer.  Life is a race for these longnecks.  Losing has permanence. Cold is the opponent; warmth the finish line.
Shadows among shadows, their beating hearts deny cover.  No accumulation of moisture would ever behave that way.  Organized and directional, the gracefulness of the flight contrasts the song.
When receding temperatures set the scene, and gray skies become backdrop, these actors stir my soul. Waning in the distance, the song of the sandhills always elicits a thought. Both selfish and selfless, it is an eternal wish for safe travels and to see them once again.

Look closely.
Click here to listen to an example of their song.
The Philosophy of Aviation
A pilot dispassionate of birds is dispassionate of flight - RD

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Discarded Words May Be Fatal

Wandering through pages of discarded keystrokes can be treacherous. A virtual forest of unmapped landmines lies ahead. Step here, you live. Step there, you don’t. Each coordinated effort of leg muscles begins with a cringe.

Whenever I charge into words I’ve written and never published, that’s how it feels. Will I implode from embarrassment or find a surprisingly strong script? It’s impossible to know.

Today I found a document written for Ginger. Titled, “When I die,” it was nothing more than a rambling list of post mortal instructions. My wish was that they would help her make decisions when she didn’t feel up to it. Hopefully, they would also discourage Death Induced Character Improvement Syndrome.  This is when the people at a funeral, while waiting for the right time to ask the widow if she's ready to sell, describe the recently deceased as a much better person than he actually was.

Below is one bullet point from the document. I still stand behind these words. Someday, for kicks, I’ll publish the others.

“Should I die in an airplane (as I have always felt likely), unless the proof is indisputable, please do not say stupid things like “he died trying to save others.” When your ass is in a sling, you try to survive, and it is difficult for me to believe everyone who perishes in a plane did so dodging some poor soul who was in the way.”

Saturday, December 3, 2016

New Management Abruptly Cuts Popular Column

Whenever I’m in town and needing to kill time, a bookstore serves me well. It’s the perfect place to feed a wandering mind. My friends are there, too.
One you can always find in the bookstore is Budd Davisson. Look through enough publications, and you’ll find multiple examples of his work. My favorite has always been the final page of Plane & Pilot, “Grass Roots."
Here’s how it ends up in my hands.  I walk into the store and stroll casually by the over-hyped books printed for the masses. Staying the course, business, philosophy, history, photography, and politics all get their moment of consideration as I travel to my destination; an isle of photos and captions. There, the simple mind is free to run wild. The heavy subjects which came before are forgotten.
Of course, being increasingly pressed for time, the herd thinning begins. Air & Space, the NPR of aviation, is booted because one writer has covered the same story a million times. Flying, well, there’s Martha and Peter. Unfortunately, a few buoyant lifesavers can’t float concrete and I move on. Aeroplane? I remember when they were cool.  Oh look, fifteen warbird magazines covering the same planes in rotation. Moving on I see something bizarre. It says Plane and Pilot, but the cover looks more like a fashion magazine. “How can that be?” I ask. Peeling back the cover gave me a clue. Pop culture and global warming creatives with a fetish for safety had surely taken over.

That actually was my reactive guess, from the cover alone. Looking up Madavor Media, I laughed out loud. I can smell them from two sectionals away. Sure enough, they fit the bill. So does management.
Fighting the urge to set it down, I thumbed pages to see what had always been the bright spot, Budd’s article. Hastily flipping open the back cover, I found he wasn’t there. “Maybe they redid everything and his piece is now in the middle?” I wondered. Nope. He was nowhere to be found.

Setting it down, I stared at it. Considering aviation may be in the final throes of self-immolation, I stepped back as if to avoid the heat.

Next, I sent a text, “What happened to your piece in Plane and Pilot?”  What I got in return was more evidence of my suspicion, “Last Grass Roots was June issue. 46 years to the month. That wasn’t written to be the final Grassroots. It was just the next one in line when they pulled the plug. Which I think is so apropos.” Along with the surprise cutoff, I learned the new editor had offered a brief statement about writing styles. Then, with that, it was over.

Why did Budd describe it all as “apropos?” I searched for the article and am including it below. With no warning, it was his last piece in P&P. On the upside, the new editor may have done us all a favor. Closing the door on “Grass Roots” was notification, whether you noticed it or not, that you and I no longer fit their target demographic. Therefore, we never have to bother picking it up again.

Always working.
Photo: Rich Davidson (Oshkosh 2016)

“The Last Flight  –  by Budd Davisson
*Everything has an end but too often we don’t know it’s coming.

Our Christmas morning wasn’t what it should have been: we got a call early on that my ex-brother-in-law had just unexpectedly died. He was only two years older than I am and a health freak. The net effect on me was stronger than I would have expected. It was as if the concept of mortality suddenly became real and I began looking at my life with a different eye. I thought back on that this morning, as I strapped in to fly, and a thought clicked through my mind that was as bright as a neon sign, “Someday you’re going to fly for the last time. Is this that time?”

There’s an old, rather macabre saying that the only thing worse than knowing the next flight will be the last is NOT knowing that it’ll the last one. Frankly, I think not knowing would be a blessing of sorts. I can’t imagine going through the boarding dance and the strapping-it-on ritual knowing for a fact that will be the last time I ever taste flight while at the controls. As I’m sitting here typing this, part of my brain is refusing to wrap itself around the inevitability of that thought.

This puts me in mind of the conversations I’ve had with former military pilots, especially fighter/attack types. They may have disliked the BS so often attached to a military existence, but they lived for getting the gear in the wells. They loved the flying and dearly miss the “squadron feeling” of being with kindred souls. Each of those guys knew ahead of time when they were prepping for the last time that they would be astraddle a high-Mach column of fire, a Nomex-clad Zeus who was master of the heavens. You’ll not talk to one of them, no matter how old, who says they don’t miss it. Unfortunately, there’s a last time for everything, both aeronautical and otherwise.

I so clearly remember the last time I hugged my Mom. She didn’t really recognize me but, in the midst of the hug, she pushed back, looked me squarely in the eyes and the lights come on for a fraction of a second, as she said, “You know I love you, right?” and smiled that impish, almost devilish grin of hers. Then the lights went out and the veil of dementia was once again smothering the brilliant woman who had raised me. That was the last time we truly connected and I still get choked up thinking about it.

When you’re young, the concept of a final anything exists only as an existential, theoretical understanding, not an emotional one that connects with every fiber of your being. When you’re young, the concept of time is meaningless because there’s so much of it out there in front of you. When you go blazing through middle age, the reality of time nibbles at the edge of your consciousness but it doesn’t do much more than tiptoe into your thoughts now and then. However, Christmas morning the limits time places on us suddenly vaulted over the barriers I had erected around my thoughts and every minor movement during my days since then has been seen in a different light.

I now actually grin a little in anticipation, as I push the hangar door open for the first flight of the day. The low morning sun paints my little fabric-covered friend the color of wet lipstick and I can’t adequately explain how that makes me feel: it feels so good, it’s almost silly! It’s a wonderfully clean portrait not only of flight, but of a segment of life that I wish could go on forever. But, I know it can’t. On the one hand, that flat pisses me off, but, at the same time, it makes me more appreciative of the moment.

Then, there is that magical instant, when, amidst the thunder that fills the cockpit, I feel the Earth give up its grasp allowing me and my mechanical friend to leap free. And believe me, my friend knows how to leap much better than most. It’s not so much a take off as it is a release, a step through an invisible portal into another world where we are king and gravity is only a temporary inconvenience.

If it’s an early morning takeoff, I’m blessed with a golden sunrise much earlier than those below. Many are still sleeping and others are just arousing to a day that is still hidden in Earth’s shadow. Climbing up into a sunrise is a moment only pilots know and I sometimes feel sorry for those who don’t experience it.

The bottom line is that time respects no man. We clearly know when our time began but we don’t have a clue, when it’ll run out. Worse, we never know when time will begin to erode the person that we have been. Regardless, a last flight is a foregone conclusion. The key is to enjoy every flight as if it’ll be the last and take nothing for granted. Time is our friend at the beginning, but slowly turns into an aggressive enemy. For that reason alone, I’ve always lived by the mantra, “When you’re running as fast you as you possibly can, it does no good to look at your watch.” So, just keep running. You’ll get more done and it makes you a moving target. “
Thanks to Budd for writing what may have been the last true aviation column that was human, personal, and deeper than three drops in a thimble. Unforced and genuine, it was a unique holdout in a world driven to "replace what works with what sounds good."

One of Budd's many talents.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Once in a Lifetime Light Show

Photo - Panoramic Images. Not quite like what we saw but still good.
I have experienced the northern lights. Although seeing them is fairly common, what our crew witnessed last night, over Canada, is not; a natural light show of atmospheric proportion.

Climbing away from Rockford, they were immediately visible. Alive in ways neither of us had ever heard described, the view left us attempting to do it ourselves. To the north, overhead, and even to our south, they whipped excess energy from the atmosphere the way flames transport the coals’ hottest fire to their tips.

From takeoff to landing, they were visible. It was impossible to look away for six hours. Closing in on Anchorage, the entire burning sky became sheets blowing in cosmic wind. Curving away into the distance, areas of color turned brilliant white. Their hems changing sharply to green and then red. If there were any Italians in the air in our area, today they are telling friends of a message from God.

With me was a captain who once lived and flew in Alaska. His reaction revealed what I felt was no overreaction. It was something I would never see again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How Did We End Up With Such Good Sponsors?

See a list of this year's sponsors here.
How a field in the middle of nowhere ended up being sponsored by some of the best companies in aviation never ceases to amaze me.  Sure, Lee Bottom is a public use field.  But, other than that, it isn't part of a large aviation group, there aren't any major businesses bases here, and there's not even some wealthy guy building up a private collection of rare aircraft. No, it's a large grass runway with view and that's pretty much it.

Why then did it end up, associated through the years, with such names as Sporty's, Cub Crafters, Oregon Aero, Garmin, Poly-Fiber, Univair, and more.  Maybe it's the same reason Lee Bottom earned the support of many first class smaller businesses that are owned or operated by aviators.  Everyone is looking for something honest and genuine; a glimmer of hope the aviation we all love still exists, somewhere, out there.

Ironically though, the things that make the field so appealing are also its greatest weaknesses.  Located in the middle of nowhere it has survived where others while gobbled up. It's too far for many convenience seeking pilots to frequent, yet without their support it is guaranteed to disappear. Were it closer to a city, it would have been gone long ago. Still, we all want places like Lee Bottom to survive, and that's why I believe we have such great sponsors.  I also speaks volumes about the sponsors themselves.

Thanks again to our sponsors. They believe in what Lee Bottom represents and are willing to stand up to support it.  Please thank them by giving them your business whenever possible.

Click here to see the items our sponsors have contributed for auction.

The "We're Over It" Review of the Fly-In.

A view from Sunday
The 2016 Fly-In at Lee Bottom was what it always is, fun. Those on hand had a great time. Unfortunately, the weather was not kind.

Proof God thinks we should do something else.
Counting back from today, the last three weeks contained repeated days of sunshine with only two lost to rain. Those were the two primary calendar dates of the event. On the surface, that sounds horrible. Fortunately, we have great friends.
As usual, Ginger insisted everything was just right.
Our only option, faced with such a forecast, was to let everyone know Saturday would be a stripped down version of the day. Sunday would then be our rain date and primary event day. Of course, as luck would have it, Sunday morning brought fog to the entire region. Every plan we had for the entire weekend had to be scrapped, modified, or downsized. Yet, those on hand had great fun.
Early in the week Bill Harvey arrived to help.  Later, Melinda Harvey joined in the fun. They are always great to have around.
Horrible photo documenting a great dinner.
Thursday night brought some early arrivals and a bunch of us piled into the car to go eat.  The restaurant had live music and those who made the journey had a great time. Some truly fine people were at that table and it turned out to be a great evening.
When Friday rolled around, we already had a pretty good group of fly-in campers on hand. They ate lunch delivered by Betty.  Several more people flew in for dinner cooked by our friends Mike and Julie Grecco.  They were assisted by some outstanding volunteers from As we ate, the Rascals of Ragtyme shared some wonderful music with us and we gave away some items provided by our sponsors. Afterwards everyone watched The Blue Max before making s’mores by the fire.
Saturday started with RAF-Jeff bringing in breakfast and Jacob delivering coffee.  The day would  thendeliver one or two new arrivals and everyone pretty much hung out talking to each other and watching The Rocketeer. Meanwhile, Mike and Julie grilled up some great hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch. Meanwhile, Cathy Babis spent some time hooking the ladies up with some fancy hair berets. After that, Mark Thornberry, from Garmin, gave us a great presentation about ADS-B that I personally found quite useful. Others said the same. Next, we ordered pizza and finished the night by watching another movie and sitting and polishing off the s’mores supplies by the fire.
Setup day.
Then there was Sunday. Iceman-Jeff brought in coffee and breakfast. This day was the rain date but when we woke up the entire region was blanketed with fog. Not until mid-day did it begin to clear. That’s when new arrivals started to show. When the day was over a good number of planes had arrived, many making it for the first time ever.  Mike and Julie, once again, came through for food. Lunch came to an end and people trickled out until only one, Matt Erwin, was left.
This photo tells a story.  You decide what it is.
IF you made it this far, trudged through the prior paragraphs that read like minutes of a meeting, congratulations. I had the desire to let you know what happened during the weekend but no interest in the details. That’s obvious, right? It's not that I don't care. I’m merely so done with it I don’t have the energy or will to detail it properly. Please accept my apology. Instead, maybe it would best if I gave you my overall impression of the weekend.
Here’s what I took away from the last fly-in. No matter the size of the turnout, our people always have fun.  With less than 100 or over 400 planes on hand, those that come and invest some time in the event are always likeable folks; those that push through the weather to be here equally so. Because of this, even when things go south, the fly-in has never failed to leave you with good memories.
Two great planes divided by a hundred miles an hour or so.
Thanks to all who have supported the event through the years. This includes our wonderful sponsors. I hope each of you are able to work together in the future, aviation businesses and customers alike. We’re in this together and it is obvious we have the same goals. If we cooperate we may actually reach a few of them.
Matt Erwin - the last departure.
If you're left thinking, "There has to be more," stayed tuned to NORDO News.
Burning everything that wasn't bolted down.
Firsts at this fly-in:
Took someone to emergency care.
Two words - hair berets.
Had a microphone and speaking.
Sponsor give-a-ways.
First time we ever had an official rain date.
The first time the event was over and we weren't energized to do it again.

And then, a new day.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Help the Refuge - Place Your Bids by September 30th

It could be you.

Here’s your chance to get in on some good deals. The fly-in may be over but the online auction fundraiser is not.  You have until September 30th to bid on the items our generous supporters have contributed.

Go to to see what’s available. Items such as the amazing (my description) Garmin D2 Bravo Watch, an Oregon Aero SoftSeat (championed by all who use it), a Univair gift certificate, aerobatic dual, biplane rides, and more. It really is a great selection of items.
Again, Lee Bottom family members have until September 30th to get in on a deal and support the future of Lee Bottom. Click here toparticipate.

NC vs NX Results

Team NC is the winner.
The winner of the NC vs NX Championship is Team NC.  Despite crappy weather and the relative low turnout, Team NC pushed through to trounce Team NX. Congratulations!
Team NC, your love of government bureaucracy delivered a clear win. The pleasures of continuously asking the FAA for permission and forgiveness clearly outweighed those of increased performance, speed, and freedom. Here’s to you.
Wear your shirt with pride. The next time some NX person tells you how fast their plane is, how fast it climbs, or how short a strip their machine can use, remind them how complete your logs are and that you are ok with it because you know some crazy-eyed recluse name Fred didn’t build yours.
All joking aside, thanks to everyone who competed by buying the shirt, and to all who made it to the event. It was great fun.

If there is anyone who would still like to purchase a NC vs NX shirt, you can still get them online through October 7th.  Click here to buy.
Below is a photo of the board after it was all over. Not all N#s are there but most are. That’s Kirk Wood removing it from the previous year’s Cubs vs Champs board. We’re going to save them for wall decorations.

Despite bad weather, fun was had by those on hand.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Lee Bottom Fly-In Update for Sunday

It appears Sunday is going to be a great day.  We'll be grilling chicken around lunch.  So, if you want to drop in please do.
The field is in great condition.  Additionally, pilots on hand have been taking joy rides around the area, now that the weather has passed.  Come join the fun.
We will have a limited amount of chicken so get here early if you want to eat.
***There is no good prediction of how many people or planes will be here.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


***Revision at bottom.

Currently it appears Friday is going to be a good day. Therefore, all the speaking, give-a-ways, bonfire, the cookout, and random fun stuff will happen that evening.  And yes, the Rascals of Ragtime band will be here too!

Saturday is cancelled due to weather. We will not have food on hand on Saturday, but, if anyone shows up Friday and plans to camp through to Sunday, we’ll make runs to town for food.  Sunday is not cancelled.

Sunday we will be here.  Currently we are trying to arrange for BBQ on that day in case a hundred or so folks show up.  If nothing else, some might want to fly in on Sunday to hang out for an hour or so.  I guess you could call this our rain date. Fly-in or drive in, and hang out.

As for the people who have asked if we could postpone the event until another weekend, we’ve already committed to $5000 worth of vendor support.  This is spent, event or not. That’s not counting the dollars it takes to get the place ready. OR, put a different way, when you’re half way through building a new home, you can’t expect the builder to put it on a different lot.

If there is no way to make it due weather, feel free to help out by clicking here to bid on some of the great products our sponsors have contributed.

That’s all we have for now. Thanks for your ongoing support.  Watch for other possible updates.
Please remember our sponsors.  When events are affected by weather, so are they.  We will never forget all the companies and individuals who have supported us through the years.

Revision:  It appears some are going to show up and camp anyway.  Four planes have arrived today (Thursday), with more daylight left.  Therefore, although technically cancelled, it looks like we'll be doing a very stripped down version of the fly-in on Saturday.  Stripped down means we'll all be figuring out how to make it work, running to town for food if there are enough people to warrant it, watching movies, and or telling BS stories.  As one friend said, "The best memories are made when things go to sh_t."   Additionally, if you want to car camp, we'll do our best to find places for you - most likely up on the field. But, you should bring food as we've cancelled nearly all the Saturday food.  If you want to come spend the weekend roughing it, feel free to do so. Please remember though, it will not be much more than camping at an airport.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

It's the Last - Fly-In or Drive - Don't Miss It

Don't miss the fly-in.  It's this weekend - September 16th and 17th.
Need information?  Find it by clicking here.

Team NC is Up by One

Same pilot, different plane.
The first fly-in attendee has arrived. Once again, it is Glenn Frith from Ft. Meyers.  His bird has air conditioning and a glass panel.  NC is up by one.

What Will be Missing from the Fly-In?

Bob Dalzell - a good spirit.
If you've attended any Lee Bottom event, you've most likely met or seen Dr. Robert Dalzell Jr.  Or, as we knew him, Bob. Back at the end of May, he was flying one of his treasures when his body decided to retire without written notice.  It was a totally unexpected and heavy loss for aviation in our area.

Ginger and I both really liked Bob.  He was one of those Lee Bottom family members you couldn't help but look forward to seeing.  Although short on words, he left a tall impression wherever he went.

Bob was also one of those pilots you expected to see wherever you went, because wherever you went there he was. If something aviation was happening, chances were good he'd be on hand.  Right there with him would also be Chris May.  The two of them were great friends.  Together, they often made an event qualify as such.  Heck, half the time they were the event.

Bob with his Sea Ray
When word began circling Bob was missing, I was out of town. What I remember was wishing I could go search for him.  He was the kind of guy you expected to find sitting unharmed, with a dead engine, in a hundred foot square patch of land.  When the truth was discovered, something much more important had quit.

Looking back through our Lee Bottom photo collection it was surprising to see how many photos contained an image of Bob.  He even made the calendar, possibly more than once. Like I said, he was always there.

Ultimately though, what keeps coming to mind is how much he'll be missed at this fly-in. Airplanes aren't the same without propellers. The sky isn't the same without flying machines.  And the fly-in will not be the same without him.

Here's to you Bob. Thanks for being part of our lives.  Our family feels much smaller without you.
These two guys were great friends.  Chris May (left) Bob Dalzell (right)

Garmin Sponsors Lee Bottom Fly-In - Surprises Us With Amazing Products

If you host an event of any size, sponsors are going to come into play. For most, finding them is much of the work. Sometimes though, when you’re lucky, you create an event sponsors wish to be part of. When those companies are world leaders in their field, their interest is a true compliment.

A few weeks back I sat down to read my emails and noticed one from Garmin. Opening it purely out of curiosity, the message caught me off guard.  Garmin wanted to be part of our event. Honestly, I was a little surprised.

Garmin is no lightweight. Why would they want to be part of our fly-in? The company commonly stands up large displays, in large facilities, at large events, to promote their larger than life products.  They also do it without blinking. Why Lee Bottom? I had to ask.

Scott McCurley had the answers I wanted. Here’s what he said. “The reason we want to do more personal events is because it’s a really good way for us to directly connect with aviation community. Many of our recent product announcements were products that resulted from feedback we received at events like these. Most members of the aviation team at Garmin are pilots, so we enjoy events like the Aviation Migration for the same reasons other pilots do, and if we can support them then we are happy to do so.”

The aera 660

I wanted to quote Scott because I know, to some, Garmin often feels like the 800lb gorilla. Yet, what he said shows a side not always seen. Inside the company are pilots who, like the rest of us, love flying. They value input from others and, if there is any way they can, they wish to support the kind of flying we love. That was great to hear.

If you know me, you understand I am someone who values pure and simple. Heck, our blog is NORDO News. NORDO = no radio. Some of you may even wonder how that levels with support from Garmin. Yet, there is nothing I love more in a plane than simple AND USEFUL. Here is where the big admission comes in.

I have been flying without any modern electronics. I’ve never needed them, or even wanted them. When someone first showed me ForeFlight on an iPad, although I thought it was cool, I didn’t need it. However, I do remember flying with someone’s Garmin 496 and thinking it would be nice to own. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit with my super practical ways.

Then came the day Scott, from Garmin, told me they’d like to contribute some items for our online auction; an aera 660 portable GPS and a GarminD2 Bravo Watch - Titanium Edition. Again, out of curiosity, I searched for them online. When I found the links - Holy wow!

I must have one of each! No kidding, I was stunned by the products. Wondering if I was alone, I sent a link to a few other flying friends and they too were surprised.

Both products are obviously the culmination of years of improvements. Finally, Garmin has worked everything I’d like to have, into single packages, at prices that mesh with my practical side. I must have one of each.

If you’d like to bid on one of these items, click here. If you want to know more, or see what else Garmin has in store for the fly-in, keep reading.

Some folks from Garmin will be here Friday and Saturday (September 16th and 17th), ready to discuss any questions or comments you have about their products. Additionally, they will be holding a forum on ADS-B at 12:30 on Saturday. This would be a great time for you ask questions about any ADS-B requirements you don’t understand, to get a better understanding of what ADS-B may or may not mean to your type of flying, and to see if Garmin has a product that surprises you.

Whatever the case, please stop to see the Garmin folks and thank them for supporting grass roots aviation.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Oregon Aero Contributes Pain Relieving Items for Auction

Oregon Aero. What do you think of when you hear that name? For me, the answer is easy; quality and ethics, morals and good business.

I cannot remember the year, but I do remember the seminar.  It was an Oshkosh forum about aircraft interiors. During that presentation, the name Oregon Aero was mentioned. Ten minutes later, everyone had shared a story of their positive experience with the company.

Here at Lee Bottom we’ve always attempted to have the best sponsors. Not just any sponsor, but the best.  Therefore, when Oregon Aero said they’d like to contribute to our online auction fundraiser (running in conjunction with the fly-in) we were very pleased.

The company says they are “The Ultimate in Flying Comfort.” I would say they make flying painless. It’s the same thing, I guess. But, when it comes down to it, often there is a pain created by an underperforming seat cushion, stock headset, or even shoe insert, that prompts a person to seek refuge with an Oregon Aero product. I even know a few airline pilots who carry the company’s products in their overnight bags. ***

One of the items up for auction - a headset upgrade kit.

Flying should be fun, not uncomfortable. It should also be ethical. Good business makes for good aviation. This is another area in which Oregon Aero excels.

When you do business with the company, you are doing business with the owners and its employees. They stand behind what they produce and they love their customers. For fun, I googled “ethics and morals Oregon Aero.” Although I couldn’t find anything bad, there was no shortage of good things. Anecdotal stories of how they took care of soldiers’ needs for better products, how they helped pilots struggling with poor ergonomics, and how the folks at the company were generally good people were abundant.

I could go on but I think you get the point. Thanks to the folks at Oregon Aero for believing in us. We’re excited to have you on board.

Click here to bid on some quality products from Oregon Aero and support the Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge.

 ***Airlines are notorious for purchasing the cheapest seat options for the pilots. You think you have it bad in the back, the seats up front are hell.

Spartan Executives at Oshkosh - The Lee Bottom Connection

Photo: Kevin Horton RV Blog
When Ginger and I began growing the Lee Bottom Fly-In, and NORDO News, things took on a life of their own. Back then we had energy and ambition. Things were innovative.

Our plans for the future delivered varied but exciting reactions. Often we caused a stir. The website was ahead, instead of behind.  NORDO News kicked up anger, praise, and confusion. And the fly-in? It breathed life into grass roots events friendly to all pilots. One attendee had so much fun he went home with a burning desire. The note he sent us was unique.

The original email read something like this, “I came to your fly-in in my Mooney and had so much fun I went home and bought a Spartan.” That person was Jim Savage. If that name sounds familiar, he’s the guy who led the charge to get all those Spartan Executives together at Oshkosh.

Photo: Found at Jim's page.
Looking back through the years made me think of Jim and his note. I had to ask him about it. One short message later and we had the full story. This following is part of that conversation. “In 2006, I visited Lee Bottom for the first time for your Wood, Fabric and Tailwheels event. I arrived with my friend in his 1958 Bellanca Cruisemaster. While there, I was so impressed with what I saw, that I decided I needed to shift gears and turn my attention from late model airplanes to vintage tailwheel airplanes. I decided to focus my attention on getting a Spartan Executive and spent the next year casually looking for one. I returned to Lee Bottom again in 2007, and with a fresh dose of inspiration, decided to pick up the pace in looking for the right Spartan.” The rest is history.
If you loved the collection of Spartans at Oshkosh, remember, it was a grass roots event, friendly and open to everyone, that inspired Jim Savage to purchase such a plane. Today, he is one of aviation’s most energetic and enthusiastic members.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Half Price Fly-In Tickets Available Through September 5th

If you want a deal on fly-in tickets, here is your chance.  Through September 5th, 2016, you can get them for half off the regular rate.  Of course, if you'd rather pay full price you can wait and get them from the same location.
What else does buying early accomplish?  It helps us plan for the level of attendance.  Imagine trying to plan for how much food you need at an event like this.  Anything that gives us a better idea at an earlier time makes that easier.
Buying early also means you are willing to make a small investment in the future of field.  There are no refunds on the tickets.  Therefore, by making the purchase you are saying I'm willing to risk a small amount of money in exchange for an honest effort to host a great aviation event.  If horrible weather strikes, everyone takes a small hit instead of a few taking it on the chin.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Online Auction Raising Funds for The Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge.

The Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge is holding its first ever online auction fundraiser.  Thanks to many great sponsors, there is something for everyone.  From cutting edge Garmin products to comfort inducing items from Oregon Aero, everyone should be able to find something they want.

How does an hour of T-6 dual sound?  Want to take a romantic biplane flight with a friend?  Or how about aerobatic training in a Super Decathalon? Maybe you're looking for a discount on items at Univair. Whatever the case, and wherever you are as a pilot, we have something for you.
Look through the list of items offered to see what you need. If you can't find anything, bid on something you want.  This may be the best chance you'll ever have to get "a steal" on these items.

What is The Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge?  It is a non-profit initially started to save flying fields like ours.  Today it is moving to focus on a future for Lee Bottom Flying Field by preserving it, and the land around it, as a recreational area.

If you approve of this effort, please help us out by sharing the link to our auction with your friends.

Fly-In Hall of Fame, Part 2

We thought of a few more.  Here they are.  If you missed Part 1, be sure to check it out.

Unexpected Charges for Auto Parking - The first year our friend Ken Bittner showed up we were like, "Who is this guy?"  If you don't know him and his wife Terri, they are wonderful people.  They used to do the 50/50 at the event.  Ken wore the board and they both wore beanie hats with propellers on top.  Walking around they encouraged you to play the 50/50.  And, they did this after driving all day to get here.  Anyway, that first year Ken wanted to help out so we asked him if he could help park cars.  Later that day he bounds up with a big smile and a wad of money.  He had collected auto parking fees - fees we never charged.  What can you do but laugh?  Even funnier, he had later realized the mistake and had no idea how to find the people he had "shaken down."  We still have no idea how he decided what to charge.

Marking Aircraft Parking - All those years Mike Korff helped us lay out the aircraft parking lines.  Each year we'd refer to a diagram, use a 200' measuring tape, and mark off each of the nearly fifty reference points.   From there we would set out cones and either paint lines between them or mow the area short.  If things were going well, we could start at 8am and be done around sunset.  Trying to figure out a better way, someone came up with the idea of steel pegs in the ground at all the reference points.  We'd use a metal detector to find them.  The next year that's what he and I did.  A large nail, a washer, and a square piece of plastic went in the ground.  We then painted the whole deal neon orange.  From that point on we'd find the first three pegs much easier and, using them for reference, could walk to the next, set down the metal detector, and it would go off.  Yet, despite this improvement, one or both of us would fall to the ground, scrape around looking for the spike, getting more hopeful with each flake of orange paint discovered, and each time we'd find a spike it was like Christmas.  A big "HEY HEEYYYY" could be heard before the following word, "NEXT."

The 50/50 Stearman Flight - One year our friend Jim Jarvis won the 50/50 drawing. If you've never met Jim your missing out - great guy. Anyway, Jim wins the drawing (no small change), walks over to Cliff Robinson who was here giving rides in his 450 Stearman, and gives him his winnings to purchase a ride for Jackie Apted.  Jackie is one of our long time volunteers and she's wonderful.  A real joy to be around.  That day, instead of taking home found money, Jim gave Jackie a gift she'll never forget. I'll never forget the smile on her face.

The Kid Makes the Fly-In - The year Amy G. finally made the fly-in.  Having attempted the journey one or twice before, this time she was hell bent on success.  Heavily invested in the Champs vs Cubs competition, nothing was going to stand in her way, not even her boyfriend who was flying an American Champion product (Sorry Jody, you're Amy G's boyfriend.  Get used to it.)  Determined to cancel each others entry, together they forged ahead making it just before dark on Saturday night.  The next morning they stood by the competition sign, said goodbye to us, and started the long flight home. There is probably no more than a handful of pilots in the U.S. who would have come all that way in a Cub, knowing they would do no more than eat, sit by a fire, and go home the next morning, just to be loyal to a promise she would make it. Impressive. Of course, Jody didn't have a choice. 

Military Food Tent Attempts to Take Lives, then Rescues - Years ago we had an old military tent we put up as the food tent.  That damn thing was so heavy, while trying to erect it five people were injured, one was mentally traumatized, and another got a hernia laughing about the process.  Somehow surviving the battle, those of us involved went about enjoying the fly-in and thought no more of it until Saturday morning arrived.  That night we had four or five inches of rain and many of our friends had their tents flooded.  When it came time to eat breakfast some were surprised to find the refugees camped out in the food tent.

Cajun Avgas - Ginger and I used to make 87 bean chili for the fly-in. Hell it was some crazy number of beans, don't question the number, just assume I'm telling you the truth and that it will be more the next time I tell it.  To cook that stuff we used two seven gallon pots and made so much we had to start cooking it a day early.  All through the night we'd trade off shifts of getting up to check it.  Many people enjoyed the chili but they were always curious why we looked so exhausted.  We called it Cajun Avgas.

Intimate with Rodents - Our friend Matt Warner used to come to the fly-in with our friend Glenn. Back when he still got shore passes, he was one of our favorite visitors.  He was always smiling, laughing with us at Glenn, and generally being one of the gang.  The only difference was that Glenn could only sleep in a bed and Matt would camp.  One night it came a big rain and Matt's tent flooded.  Seeking refuge in our shop, he found a roll of foam, unrolled it, and slept there.  The next day he woke up staring at dead mice.  They had built a home in the foam and he had taken it with force. At the time it was hilarious but we think his wife thought we were serious when we told her he had slept with some mousey little girl.

American Hot Air Campers - One year a new group, The American Air Campers, contacted us about sponsoring the event.  They were very energetic about playing a part, had some wonderful materials, flashy videos about camping with your plane, a heart felt story, the whole bit. When the fly-in rolled around, they arrived, did a lot of back-slapping friend making, tied down their plane, got in a rental car, and went to a hotel.

Clothes Pins - Fritz was a unique character.  He was from the generation that never let anything go. If it could be reused he kept it.  And, if he could order a couple more cases he would.  After he passed away, his habits left us looking for ways to use many of the oddball items.  One of them, clothespins, found a memorable spot at the fly-in.  Ginger and Mayor Maggie took the 4178 clothespins, (it was some crazy number, just assume I'm telling the truth and that it will get bigger the next time I tell it) and used them as a way to know who had purchased dinner. That year, new arrivals wondered aloud why all the people had clothespins hanging off them.  Some were on hats, others on collars, a few on belts, one showed up on a nipple, and more.  It was such a small item yet incredibly memorable.

Four Wheeling Skybolt - I'm not actually sure if it was a Skybolt of Starduster, but one year during the fly-in, when arrivals were hot and heavy,  one of these homebuilt biplanes landed.  Listening carefully to what our controller was telling him, but probably a little excited, he turned early.  That turn took him over the bank by the runway.  Without missing a beat and without damaging the plane, he went over, bounced down the bank, taxied out the bottom, and to park like he meant to do it.

Guy Wants Shirt Refund - Last year we had a guy who bought the t-shirt that allowed him to get in free and when he got here he wanted a refund on his shirt.  Pilots, always looking for an angle. 

See Rule #1 - A few bad apples can really sour the cider.  One year, after I had met one too many rotten ones, Ginger asked if there was anything I thought we needed on the list of rules for the event.  I jokingly said, "No assholes allowed.  Yeah, make that number one."  On the day of the fly-in a few people asked me if rule #1 was mine?  Ginger had actually put, "No A-holes Allowed" as the number one rule.  Every year after that, and whenever it fit, we simply said, "See Rule #1."  It has become one of our trademarks and I was even honored to receive a shirt that has it on the back.

Who Flies the 150? - One year, for ease of parking, we began placing all the light tailwheels on the east side of the runway and tricycles on the west.  This left one married couple with a dilemma.  Having a Cessna 150, and a small tailwheel, they struggled with the question of who would get to fly the tailwheel to the fly-in and get the good parking.

Bus to the Bar - One of our friends used to always get a bus to take everyone into town on Friday night.  Back before the event grew to such great size this was a workable option for the dinner.  Then came the year we went to Shipley's afterwards.  The place is, I believe, the longest continually operating bar in Indiana.  Rolling up to the curb it didn't occur to us why we were getting strange looks.  On the side of the machine was the name of the group it belonged to, a church. 

WTF - Ginger could never keep the name of the fly-in straight.  Saying WTF in her head, then rearranging it, is how she would remember it.  As a joke, when hashtags were big, she said we should have WTF (Wood, Tailwheels, and Fabric) as our hashtag.  After saying it we laughed out loud, thought about it, then said why not.  Thankfully, most people had fun with it and we began to see it talked about in many places.  Then we got a nasty phone call from someone who said they'd never be back because the name wasn't family friendly.  Our response?  WTF?

Sending the Right Message - We've never been people who hold back. Neither of us care for political correctness or its followers.  As for government we feel pretty much the same.  And, for that matter, whatever is on our mind typically gets verbalized.  Ginger has a shirt that says, "Its my runway so you can kiss my grass."  One year we sold shirts with the image of a little cherub peeing on the bold letters "TSA."  And then there was the year I put signs on the port-o-lets that read "Send a Message to Washington, Step Inside."  We actually had people who were upset about that.  WTF?