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?

Monday, August 29, 2016

You Can Still Get NC vs NX Shirts

You have two more days to get NC vs NX shirts.  We can't guarantee they'll get to you before the fly-in, and they don't count toward the contest. But, if you really want one you can order through August 30th.  After that, there will be no more to be had.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

New Runway Crossing Guard

You may have read how difficult it has been to keep people from crossing the runway during the fly-in.  You may have also heard how hard it has been for us to find food and volunteers.  The great irony is that people love the place because it is in the middle of nowhere yet nobody can help because it is so far away from where they live.  Seeing this as a serious issue, we have started looking elsewhere for assistance.
The results of our new search tactics have already paid off.  Our first new volunteer was located a few days ago in Clarkesville.  Introducing, Krusty Oldepharte.  He's our new runway pedestrian crossing guard.
If you see Krusty at the event, be sure to thank him for his tireless effort.

Fly-In Prep Days - Volunteers Wanted

Between now and September 16th, there is much to do if we are to be ready for the fly-in.  A long list of small items awaits.  Do you have time to help?
Next Saturday, September 3rd, we will have a fly-in prep day.  If you would like to come help we would love to have you.  Leading up to that, every day this week except Wednesday the 31st, we will be working on the event.  During those days we could also use volunteers.
Click here to sign up.

Note: Also look for the 10th and 11th to be work days.


Bringing Back Favorites From Past Fly-Ins

The Rascals of Ragtyme band will be back this year for Friday night.
The last fly-in will usher the return of a past favorite, Sinful Sundays.  It will also bring a repeat of other previous greats. S'mores, the ragtime band, burning man, and the creation of an atomic bonfire isn't out of the question.  Heck, even our friends Kirk and Pam have returned to help, one last time. 
The makings of s'mores have already been purchased, The Rascals of Ragtime have been booked, a burning man has been located, and the search is on for Sequoia sized firewood.  Keep your fingers crossed for good weather.  If the planetary atmosphere is favorable, this is sure to be a fly-in to remember.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Winner of the NC vs NX T-shirt Challenge Is...

The NC vs NX T-shirt Challenge came to the finish line late last night (August 22nd).  Both teams put out a great effort and a honest challenge was demonstrated.  Yet, when the deadline arrived, a clear winner was evident.
Congratulations to TEAM NC.  You won the final Lee Bottom Fly-In T-shirt Challenge.  Go forth and celebrate.  Sing songs, drink wine, and apply for your field approvals (good luck with that).  We suspect Team NX will be closing on your tail from here on out.
TEAM NC WINS - 145 - 104

What is the Most Difficult Part of Hosting the Fly-In?

Occasionally, people ask us, "What's the hardest part of hosting the fly-in?"  Depending on the date, our answer has been different.  Usually it is locating a food vendor, finding enough help, or keeping our sanity.  Today though, we realized our responses have been wrong all along.
What's the most difficult part of hosting the fly-in?  Now that we've discovered the truth, it is hard to believe we didn't see it before.  It may even relate to keeping our sanity.
What is it?  Having all the supplies to make s'mores sitting on the counter and not touching them until the fly-in.
Refusing to partake in the digestive deconstruction of such wonderful treats is so difficult we believe we have discovered a universal truth.  S'more ingredients bought too early will vanish without cause.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Lee Bottom Fly-In Hall of Fame

Having decided to end the fly-in, Ginger and I have been discussing its history. During dinner or random moments, one of us will remember something, then we're both laughing. It has been an interesting trip.
There are so many unforgettable times the idea of a Fly-In Hall of Fame was hard to hold back. Of course, some of these moments would only be funny to a very few people and that posed a problem. How do you have a hall of fame most when people had to be there to find it memorable? The solution was easy. We'd have a hall of fame for our own appreciation.
Mr. Custom PT Cruiser Guy - This wanker called us and, in his mind, ripped us a new asshole. He had followed his GPS instead of following our driving directions and when he ended up on a washed out road, in his "highly customized" PT Cruiser, he was upset we didn't have more signs pointing the way. 
The Great Flaming Gas Can - Yep, that was me. Never one to shy away from putting fuel on a fire, when the fire in our newly built fire pit refused to light I had a solution. The fire took off, flashed, caught the gas can on fire, and I flung it away. There, in the yard, lay a flaming ball of plastic. Grass didn't grow there for years. Those who were on hand still laugh about it.
Extra across the Runway and Up the Hill Guy - One year, right in the middle of it all, an Extra came across the field toward the hill at around 100'. Reaching the hill he pulled up, rolled, and barely missed a helicopter at the top that was supposed to be there taking photos. Several months later the same guy was on the news. He had flown another plane south and bailed out attempting to fake his death. Yeah, it was that guy.
George Pascal - George and I used to be flying friends when I had a Stearman. We were each other's excuse to fly and when possible those two planes were going somewhere with all seats filled. I have never once heard anything even remotely unpleasant about George. Years ago I looked to him for advice and did my best to mold my horrid ways so they would better match his. If there are a few polished spots on this turd, he is responsible for one of them. Anyway, the reason I mention him here is because he and I together approached Fritz about holding a fly-in here and it was he and I who started it. Very quickly though, having a full plate of his own, he took on the role of attendee and many forgot he was part of its founding.
The Aerobatic Guy Who was called by the FAA - One year, a regular attendee took off and flew west. He was far enough away to be clear of the field but close enough you could still see him over the top of the hill. He did a few rolls and a loop, maybe, and left. On hand that day was an FAA guy I had known for a long time. In his soul he was friendly to GA, but ultimately, he was loyal to the FAA. A week later everyone was talking about how I had turned the aerobatic guy in to the FEDS. To the contrary, after hearing about it I had called my friend at the FAA and chewed him out so badly we wouldn't talk for a long time. I felt he should have either been there as a FED or an attendee but not both, and also that he should have called me and let me handle it (self-police). I later found out a nearby person, who always wanted to host such an event, had started the rumor. From there people ran with it. People who knew me well were more interested in obviously false gossip than reality. I still remember the names of each person who perpetuated that lie.
Desperate for Wine - There was a couple who used to come to the event until there were two bad weather events in a row. That evening Ginger and I visited with them, and a few other friends, at their hotel. The plan was to drink wine as we knew it would be their last. Sitting there panic struck us all when it was realized we had no way to remove the cork. Struggling with racing minds I had an idea. Inside the truck toolbox was a rechargeable driver. I used it to drive a screw into the cork and then used pliers to pull on the head of the screw to remove the cork. We'll never forget that wine. It turned out to be a funny end to a bad day.
Guy Calls to ask "My friend is supposed to land there in a Champ; have you seen him?" - Ginger answered the phone, heard the questions, giggled, and replied, "We have fifteen planes in the pattern. I have no idea.” The guy got mad and hung up. He called back and Ginger's dad answered. The same guy immediately went on about a rude lady who had laughed at him and he wanted to know if his friend's plane had landed. Ginger's dad said, "You'll have to talk to the lady in charge.” It was Ginger. The guy then went on and on about being some uber master commander of the CAP and how he was concerned about his friend. It turns out the Champ pilot was only one minute late, landing off a perfect flight - with no flight plan. The master commander had a reputation for checking on everyone that way.
Is That You Phil? - The year our friend Phil had been around quite a bit. At times he is quite the jokester and it had become part of our lives. That year, during the fly-in, whenever somebody called and asked a ridiculous question of Ginger. Her response was, "Is that you, Phil?” Funny, both ends of those conversations thought the other was crazy.
The "I'll Run over You Pilot" - One year we had a DC-3 here who caused a stir. What he did wouldn't be bad if it happened somewhere else, and by a stable individual, but because it was during the fly-in it caused a shit-storm of problems. The pilot, well known for such things, left a trail of bad juju wherever he went. Observers, and low-information pilots, thought he was great. Those in the know, not so much. After our event a photo of his "performance" became remotely famous and in turn I received calls from airport managers throughout the southeast. They had had similar issues. Film from that day shows him almost take the head off one guy and nearly hit two different planes in the air. Having to take evasive maneuvers to miss one of them (didn't even see the other), he flew over another group of planes on the ground. This story is highly abbreviated and leads to the next.  Oh, I almost forgot.  This guy would also later end up in the national news.
The Guy Whose Shirt Got Stretched - When the DC-3 madman flew over the group of planes on the ground, one owner went ape shit. By this time I was absolutely exhausted, didn't feel well, and didn't give a shit about anything. That's when I got word someone had screamed at Ginger about something. I asked her what happened and the angry aircraft owner had come up to her and gone bananas screaming about the dangerous display and blaming us for it and on and on. Being somewhat tired of it all with fatigue, I found the guy and went a little ape shit on him. Do what you want but don't attack Ginger. This guy was a notorious "I have money so I should be pampered and listened to" type and I wasn't about to have any of that. When I grabbed his collar and pushed him onto his plane another guy walked up, flashed a badge, and suggested he leave. The guy climbs in his plane to fly off and we start to walk away. As we do our friend says, you do know that isn't a real police badge right? Suddenly it was the funniest thing that had happened all day. Note: Angry guy went on to have a very short run for Senate.
Volunteers - Our volunteers have done an amazing job helping us build this event. There are so many great people involved it is the one thing we don't like about ending the fly-in. They've built showers, walked in the heat to find holes and filled them, hosed out port-o-lets, and scooped up dead skunks. Together they ran trams, dumped trash, parked planes, parked cars, and all the little jobs it took to make an event work. Some of them also volunteer at another event a week earlier. Thanks to all of them.
Our friend Nick Stroud sees things. - We'll never forget how Nick, while visiting the event, hesitated then said, "I've either had too much to drink or there is something floating around making little flashes.” Being from the UK, and London, he had never seen a lightning bug (firefly). We also introduced him to s’mores. Wha? You've never had a s’more? Good God man!
The "I know you say no aerobatics but can I do aerobatics" guy. - After one event when only a few people and planes were left, one guy came up to ask a friend who was sitting by me, "I know the website says no aerobatics, and the newsletter says no aerobatics, and they don't like aerobatics, but can I do aerobatics?” True story. My friend points to me and says, "You should ask the owner.” He asked me the same and having witnessed this guy's behavior throughout the day I knew it didn't matter what I would say, therefore this is a quote of what I told him, "NO, you can't do aerobatics, but if you decided you are going to go out there and do them anyway and you crash and kill yourself I'm going to tell everyone what an idiot you were.” Guess what? He crashed. In the process he almost killed his friend and himself. They were both very lucky although severely injured. Later it would turn out he had a history of such things. He was obsessed with being the cool pilot and had put many people in great danger. The FEDS wanted to take his license for life. Someone in the Air Force pulled strings and months later he had it back and was attempting to turn it into a Hallmark Channel movie about a pilot who courageously came back from an accident. Friends at the IAC got word of him trying to pin his problems on us and very quickly shut him down. The next year at Oshkosh the guy who was in the front seat when it crashed found us. He had felt his big toes for the first time that day and wanted to tell us.  Standing there, with the help of a cane, he told us one of his biggest issues to get over was, in his words, "How was it that you knew he was going to do that and I didn't?” Pilots are among the most easily conned people in the world and many have suffered because of it.
Barry Bannon - If cherry picking a few people to mention by name, Barry's has to be on the list. If you have enjoyed the showers, sinks, water, and many other things, thank him. Yes, other people helped him but Barry is a machine that never quits. Thanks Barry.
The No Longer Selling Alcohol Fly-In - One fly-in Saturday morning we got word of a disaster. The port-o-lets had been puked in by several folks and they needed to be cleaned. I was standing there when a guy opened on and said, "HOLY HELL! Were these guys from ___burg?” We never sold alcohol at the event again. People had fallen in the fire, moved stones and dropped them on their toes, twisted ankles, and more. The portable outhouses were so bad they had to be fire hosed clean.
The Old Guys Who Never Listened - From the beginning we told attendees there was no crossing the runway except at the north end. However, old pilot guys being old pilot guys they didn't listen. A few times they decided to cross without looking. One pilot yanked his plane into the air early and barely missed giving one dude a haircut. Ginger grew so tired of this she got air horns and a bullhorn and waited. The first group of old pilot guys to try crossing the runway soiled their shorts and were mad as hell. We still laugh about that a few times a year. The rules are there for a reason.
Both Families - Both our families have gone beyond the call of duty to help through the years. Thanks to all of you.
The Rain Out - Only three planes made it and only two landed at the event. Glenn Frith in his Travel Air and Nathan Hammond in a New Standard. The field here, resting on loam soil, can take an amazing amount of rain and still be firm. One year we had between three and four inches of rain Friday night and still had the fly-in on Saturday. However, the week of the rainout was a freak of nature. It rained continuously, all day every day, from the moment Glenn arrived on vapors through a gap in low clouds, early in the week. We pushed him in the hangar and it began to rain. That day of the fly-in the ground was like pudding. I've never seen it anywhere close to that. When we started this event in the 90's, I chose the date based on data from NOAA. It was, on average, the driest weekend of the year, as far back as records went. One other plane made it from Florida and I still hate we told him to land elsewhere. Looking back, the ruts would have been worth it - one of my few fly-in regrets.
Glenn Frith - Few people have put out the effort to attend and help than Glenn has. I am hesitant to name names because then I have to name all the exceptional folks and that would take days. Nevertheless, Glenn must receive mention. Every year since 2004 or 5, I can't remember, he has flown here from southern Florida, nearly a week early, so that he could help us make sure the event is possible. There aren't enough “THANKS” in me to cover what he has done for us.
The Marriage and Honeymoon - One couple was married here at the fly-in. Another wonderful couple showed up in a Champ and on their windows were words "Just Married.” They had come here on their honeymoon.
Unexpected Visitors - There is actually a low-level training route that comes near Lee Bottom. One fly-in a formation of F-16s were going by, saw us, and decided to circle. That was fun. Liberty Belle, the B-17, used to fly over the event each year. They would be at Clark County giving rides and our place made a perfect max distance point for the length of their rides. Then there was the year the big Sikorsky from St. Louis Helicopters dropped in. Flying overhead after a lift in Cincinnati, someone looked down and said, "I bet they have food down there.” They circled back, gave us a great fly-by, and then landed. They were a great bunch of guys. The next year, I heard that machine was somewhere working when it had a mechanical and crashed.
Cory Thomas - This dude has helped every year since the beginning. He's truly part of our family. His sister Maggie is much the same, helping until she went away to college.  Note: remember the peaches from Sinful Sundays? Their family grows them.
Moved into Hotel Due to No Electricity - Most people are surprised when we tell them the biggest threat to our event is a hurricane. During September it is common for hurricanes to hit the gulf. After landfall the remains come up through the Midwest. One year the remains were so strong they still qualified as a class one hurricane when the eye came over Lee Bottom. This knocked out the power two weeks before the event and it appeared it would not be back on in time for the fly-in. In response we moved everything into a hotel and ran it from there. Meanwhile we stayed on the phones calling movers and shakers and one day before the event it came back on.
College Students - Students from a university flight school volunteered one year. They were a great help during the day and at night their true pilot spirits came to life. Reports of loud noises coming from their tents, raucous behavior, and plucking used ice from the grass to chill their beer made us laugh. We wondered how they would feel if they knew three different airline chief pilots camped nearby - airlines they would love to fly for.
Broken Foot - There's no way for me to dress this one up but Ginger still attempts to make it sound reasonable. One year, as the fly-in drew nigh, she decided to do some painting, from a ladder, sideways, on a slope, while stepping from the ladder onto some steps, and somehow, God only knows, she managed to fall and break a bone in her foot. That was an interesting fly-in. 
Volunteers of Old - People like Jim Hartlage, Errol Hand, Steve Kratt, and Charlie Laird used to put out an exceptional effort in the early days to help out. They put in great efforts and made a huge difference before their lives went in other directions.
Media Coverage – Media groups from around the world covered our event.  For all the profit in the top end of aviation, it is the grass roots level keeping it alive. Thanks to everyone in aviation media who understands.
Sonerai Guy - Some guy from Madison who had recently learned to fly, in a tricycle aircraft, decided he needed a race plane and bought a Sonerai. The next thing he decided he needed to do was to bring it to the fly-in. Coming down final, without slowing down, it appeared he went under the horizontal and over the wing of a Lake Amphibian, went hauling ass by the video camera I had set up to record, and as the outcome of his landing attempt grew more questionable people in front of the camera could be seen to watch him go by, straighten up, the step forward to look downfield, then run further to watch the accident, then to sigh in relief and shake their heads.   After touching ground a few feet from the end of the runway, at over 100 mph, he located a brain cell, shoved in power, and yanked back, barely clearing the trees off the south end. He didn't make another attempt. I still have that video.

Bowman Eagles and the Louisville EAA Chapter - The members of these groups are here due to their undying support of the field and our events.  Thanks to all of you. 
BEES! – We had some trees that were rotting where we now have fly-in central and one of them had fallen down.  I asked Glenn and Little Donnie Weber if they could cut it up and move it.   The next thing you know they came running.  When the chainsaw started, Donnie screamed, “BEEEES” and they both had split as they came out.  Yet, despite saying “BEEES” they said they were yellow jackets or wasps or something.  Therefore, I fell back on tradition, grabbed some gas and a lighter, and went after them.   First I doused them with fuel.  Then I lit a paper towel, and as I swung my arm and released it I saw they had actually been bees.  I felt horrible.  But the story of Glenn and Donnie running around like their heads were on fire still made me laugh.
The Atomic Bomb Bon-Fire – Several years ago we had a huge pile of tree limbs, old lumber, and odd stuff to burn.  Leading up to the fly-in, if there was a piece of wood to be disposed of, we put it on a pile near the river so we could have a bon-fire at the event.   When the day came I poured old oil, bad kerosene, and even some Illudium Q45 on it so that it would light off that night.  Well, when we went to light it, nothing.  The wood was too wet.  So, while the rest of us enjoyed a small fire up at the airport, our friend Mike Korff, and one of the RV Campers, continued to pour everything they could find that was flammable onto the pile.  An hour or two had gone by and I went to the house for something.  Standing there, pouring a drink, I saw a brief flash, my retinas fried, I felt the heat, then the house shook with a massive KA-BOOOOM!!!  Running to the window, what was left of my eyesight made out what appeared to be the after effects of a small thermonuclear weapon’s blast. Apparently, when you reach a fuel to wood mixture of 50/50, it doesn’t matter how wet the wood.  It will burn; burn like the light of a thousand suns.
And there has to be at least this many more.  What stands out in your mind?

Have You Made Your Fly-In Plans?

A few years ago we switched the date of our fly-in because it conflicted with another large local event.  Community leaders saw their art festival as the flagship and either continuously treated us as competition or refused to participate in ours.  At one point our event was even criticized for taking all the hotel rooms. Left with few options, we moved our event to one week earlier.

What did the local community do?  They started another event one week earlier than the arts festival.  For you, that means our attempt to make getting accommodations easier was invalidated.  Therefore, if you need a room, you need to be looking now.

Go to this link to find accommodation information. 

NC vs NX - T-shirt Challenge Ends Monday Night

Team NX
You only have until 11PM, Monday night (22nd), to participate in the NC vs NX Fly-In T-shirt Challenge. Currently, NC vs NX is going strong with a score of 91 - 70. TEAM NC is in the lead. 

Team NC
If you are on a social media site, or page, that represents either NC or NX, now's the time to share this link. Support your team and get in free if you buy a challenge shirt and wear it to the fly-in.

Click here to purchase a shirt and participate in the challenge.

Volunteers Needed

Reaffirming our decision, this last year of the fly-in is shaping up to be the most difficult. Arranging for food at the fly-in has been a real task; getting the grounds ready with so much rain is slow going; finding volunteers is a challenge. Can you help for a few hours?

Volunteers are needed for the usual spots, aircraft parking, and the front gate, meet and greet, and so on. There is also a need for people in the days leading up to it to get everything set up. This year though, we need some volunteers to help Friday night with the food.

Earlier in the year, a local community group agreed to do the Friday night dinner. After that they disappeared.  While struggling to find a replacement, a new member of the airport family told us he had been in charge of such meals for non-profit groups before and would put something together for us. This saved the day. HOWEVER, we still need 4-5 folks to help him take money, put the food on plates, etc.

If you can help with this, or any other area, please let us know.  With all volunteer positions we have found it usually works better if a club or group can supply a handful or two of folks. They seem to show up with some cohesiveness and sense of purpose.  On the other hand, some of our best help has been the random person who arrived out of nowhere and quickly became a member of the airport family.

We appreciate anything you can do to help us through this last fly-in.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Free Music and Light Show at Lee Bottom Fly-In

As usual, weather permitting, the Lee Bottom Fly-In will offer a free music and light show.  Come to our corner of the world, set up your tent, and prepare to be dazzled.  It's all happening here.

If you've attended one of these events before, you know what we're talking about.  If not, you've missed out. Don't miss it again.

Photo by David Woods

Snuggle into your sleeping bag and absorb the show.  Singing frogs, various critters, and the random coyote will serenade you beneath the light of a million stars.  Watch satellites pass, meteors fry, and lightning bugs flash to the sounds of nature.  You won't be disappointed.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The 2016 Lee Bottom Fly-In Challenge - NC vs NX

Print off and post.
Announcing the 2016 Lee Bottom Fly-In Challenge - NC vs NX.  You've seen WACO vs Stearman and Champs vs Cubs, but this time it's something much bigger.  The ultimate aviation question will be put to the test at this year's event - CERTIFIED vs EXPERIMENTAL.

Some have called it AOPA vs EAA, others have said it follows political lines, pro-government vs freedom from government, and a few have said the exact same thing about the other, "Who would want to deal with all the hassles of a (insert certified or experimental here) plane?"  Whatever your opinion, there's a way for you to participate.

There are three parts to the competition.  A win is based on points:
1. T-shirt sales - 1 point possible.
2. The People's Choice Payoff - 2 points possible.
3. The category with the most aircraft on hand during the fly-in weekend - 1 point possible
A tie is decided by coin toss, with at least three witnesses, on Sunday.

Once again, t-shirt sales will be part one of the challenge.  Go to this link and buy a shirt to support your team; Team NC or Team NX.  The team with the most t-shirt sales wins the first part of the challenge and gets one point.  Additionally, with a purchase of a shirt you get a bonus.  Buy a shirt, wear it to the event, and get in free.

People's Choice Payoff
The second part of the challenge is the People's Choice Payoff.  There will be two jars at the fly-in operations tent marked Team NC and Team NX.  The jar with the most money in it at the end of the event wins the second part of the challenge.  If the team winning this part of the challenge wins with more than twice the amount of the losing team, their win is worth two points.  Note: All funds raised by this part of the challenge will go to The Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge, a 501C-3.

Most On Hand
The third part of the challenge comes down to the category with the most aircraft on hand during the weekend.  When you land, be sure to put your N# and category on the board.  When Sunday rolls around, we'll count the totals and the group with the largest total wins this part of the challenge. 

The overall winning team is the one that has the most points at the end of the challenge.   As you can see, we've made it so you can participate even if you cannot make it.  Additionally, the team with a weak showing can buy their way to a tie if they didn't win the t-shirt part (proceeds going to non-profit).  If this were to happen, the tie would be broken with a coin toss on Sunday.  That said, a t-shirt win gives you a clear advantage for the overall challenge. Head on over to the page and pick your team.

The winners will receive the grandest award of all, BRAGGING RIGHTS.  That's right, winners will be able to talk unlimited amounts of smack about the other team and will go down in history as the winner of the final Lee Bottom Challenge.

NTSB Report - The Final Lee Bottom Fly-In

The 2016 Challenge

Casualties – One five gallon gas can(fatal), a PT-Cruiser, one rudder(and one leading edge), two bungees, one set of landing gear, eight 10x10 tents, two 20x10 tents, one 30x40 tent, two trash cans, two scarecrows, three acquaintances (none missed), one S2A, five tables, Ginger’s fifth metatarsal(left), one swarm of bees, one catalytic converter, one transmission, five bushels of corn, and three cones.

Conditions – Mostly sunny with occasional winds and one downpour.
Time – (1997 – 2016) Originally started in a dearth of activity and finished in time of plenty.

Location – Lee Bottom Flying Field (64I). Find Louisville on your iPad then drag the screen down and to the left.

It’s true. September 16th-18th, 2016 is the date of the last Aviation Migration Fly-In. Originally known as Wood, Fabric, & Tailwheels, the name was changed to reflect what the event had become – a collection of all types of aircraft and enthusiasts. Yet, no matter what the name, most referred to it as The Lee Bottom Fly-In.

Although we’ve witnessed many friends react to this news with disbelief, it should not be a surprise to anyone. We’ve hinted at it for years. During the 2015 event, Rich came within five minutes of telling everyone it was the last. However, it didn’t feel right to do it without warning. With that in mind, we figured it would be best to have a “last one” and give everyone some insight to the decision.

We are bringing this era to a close for many reasons. The most important of these being that the event has continued to consume time and monetary resources while doing nothing for the long-term viability of the airport. Unknown to many, the fly-in came into being because another airport followed the same path, never insuring a future for itself. When that field closed, we started the event to give local pilots something to do.  Nobody considered it might take off.

When an event is successful it, is difficult to keep it from consuming everything. We knew of this possibility and it still happened. Years ago the focus was on the airport. Today it is all about the fly-in. That is potentially fatal.
Aviators once understood the importance of protecting the airport and keeping it available to them. Today, most only know the difficulties of hosting the fly-in. We aren’t the only ones this has happened to. Think of other events you enjoy, ask yourself what would happen if the members of the family running it were to die, and if you don’t have an obvious answer you’ve found another disaster in the making. Or, to put it into perspective, what do you think would happen to EAA if there was a horrible crash, emotional parents reacted, politicians listened, and Oshkosh (AirVenture) were cancelled due to new regulations? How difficult would it be for the organization to survive at its current scale without the show?

While we’re on the subject, what if an event like Oshkosh went away and you had never gone? Each year people tell us “I’ve got to get there at least once.” If you believe that, really feel it, then this is your chance.   It should also be a wakeup call for all those other things people say they want to do.

If you hate to see airports closing, then start using them. If there is an event you’ve always wanted to attend, quit making excuses and do it.  Life is short and most things you care about are fleeting.  “I did” will always be more rewarding than “I wish I had.”

WORKING AGAINST EACH OTHER - When we started this event there was very little going on nearby with aviation. Today, there are so many events it is difficult to choose which to attend. There is a positive and negative to this.

The positive is obvious; more to do. On the other hand, we always worked hard to get everyone to coordinate their events so crowding wouldn’t happen. Nevertheless, just like the aircraft types with multiple clubs, there’s always someone who wants to have their own, they start another club doing the same thing, filter off a few, and neither club is as good as the first.

For us, it actually worked out well at first. Our event was well known for what it was and those who didn’t fit the laid back, aviation of yesterday, true enthusiast mold went somewhere else. Recently though, there started to be so many events, so many groups wanting to stack things on or around our date, and so little coordination, it became a contributing factor to our decision. Annoying at first, but after stepping back, we realized we had fulfilled our mission.

VOLUNTEERS. The gears of the machine. Although we have used the title “volunteers” for clarity’s sake, we have never liked the term. Instead, most often we use “family members” because that better describes those who have become part of the fly-in. Our event has grown up with many of them, seen each other through good and bad, and even started to grow old together.  They truly are family to us.

But, as with every family, eventually everyone becomes too old or too busy to make the reunion and one year they all decide, that was the last one. That’s really how it feels to us. It has run its course, and to continue on would be merely for the sake of continuing on. The time has come to take the family in a new direction.  We hope they’ll go with us.

AGE – We’re not getting any younger and yet each year we give up our much of our free time to host the event. Unfortunately, despite the time invested, it hasn’t done anything for the long-term viability of the airport. Therefore, we’re going to work on enjoying ourselves and making a future for the field.

OTHER EVENTS – With all this doing going on there’s been no living. Ironically, our fly-in has given us friends around the world but has likewise kept us from visiting them. Heck, we’ve never even been to a Third Thursday or hung out with Chmiel at Wausau. Galesburg is nearly impossible, visiting Jimmy and the West Coast gang is off limits, splashing at Tanglefoot is still on the list, and we have yet to watch the feral hogs tear up Jed’s runway. From Southern Florida, to the high desert of California, and the Hudson Valley, there are people to see. Did we mention the people who have gotten mad at us for not attending their events? There’s simply not enough time to do the event and do anything else.

SINFUL SUNDAYS – Remember Sinful Sundays? We get more requests and questions about those events than anything. They were fun for families and easier to operate. Held for a couple hours on a Sunday during each summer month, they were a regular activity. Therefore, we’re bringing them back in 2017.

Here’s the deal, though. Sinful Sundays will be an important part of going forward. And to make going forward possible there will be a few changes. First, the goal is to have these set up so they can almost run themselves. In fact, our objective is to have them set up so that they could run without us. We’d also love to have different aviation groups “host” each of them and be on hand to handle the light work required.

Food and dessert trucks will handle the food. This means business owners will be driving in for the event and we may have to pay them to be here for the first year or two to get the event re-established. Some of these businesses will operate during the last fly-in and we really would appreciate everyone giving them your business and giving us feedback.

If you’d like Sinful Sundays to stick around after next year, be sure to tell your aviation, car club, and motorcycle friends about them. And again, please make sure you do business with them during the fly-in. We would like for these businesses to have a good experience and the word to get out to other possible vendors.

THE FUTURE – We’ve had a plan for the future for some time. Unfortunately, the fly-in got in the way of it also. If you’re wondering, the airport is not going away. Ideally it will continue to grow. Yet, that depends on the level of interest. As we work toward our long term plans we hope you’ll play a part.

The Lee Bottom Fly-In is coming to an end for many reasons. Although traced to a primary cause, there were many contributing factors, all of which are not included. Should you require a fully detailed report, send a self-addressed, paid shipping envelope to Gilmore Fulfillment Services at Rainmaker 1, Star-Kist Drive, Pago Pago, American Samoa, with the reason for your request. All requests to be filled within 30 days of January 1st, 2049. 

****Make your plans now for the last fly-in.  Click here for details.