Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What You Many Not Have Heard About Lee Bottom

If you didn't get one of our annual calendars, you also did not get the letter that accompanied them. The letter described the new direction we're taking the airport. It is the final tangent of my twenty years with the field. We are going into the future.

Have you noticed the name, the Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge, Ltd? That's the non-profit leading the charge. The group also has its own web page under the URL of www.AviationRefuge.org.

The organization's goal is to save the airport, and keep it open, by protecting the land around it. With your help, it will be a recreational area with an airport as its foundation.

Look for more in the near future.


Going to Oshkosh?

Heading to Oshkosh this year? I am. If I’m lucky, Ginger is coming with me. We’ll be parking in Warbirds, talking to friends in Vintage, Oohing and Ahhhing over the Experimentals, wishing for floats at the seaplane base, and feeling nothing but the utmost respect for everyone who flies to the show.

Why are you going? How are you going? Where are you going to stay? What do you hope to see? What do you expect to get from it? There are so many questions to ask. However, do you ever give them more than a passing thought?

Me, I like to research EAA’s standing before heading to the event. Years ago it was a group that held a fly-in. Today, it is a week-long airshow supported by a group. Sure, there’s more to it. Nevertheless, when boiled down, take away the show and the group withers on the vine. Therefore, many things fall into the shadow of “Oshkosh.”

When was the last time you took thirty minutes to research (Google) all the people running for the EAA Board? Have you ever? Do they represent the little guy?  Do they even have a clue how the little guy lives and flies?

I see Jon Goldenbaum is a new director at Vintage.  This gives me hope. Yet, have you paid attention to other folks in the running for the Vintage Board? Why does Vintage never change? Why is it always the same people running the show? That says as much about the members as it does the leadership.

Warbirds, good or bad, it always gets the most jaw time.

As for the experimentals, I’m never happy with the coverage they get. There must be a better way to highlight them, but EAA never has figured it out. For that matter, neither have I. However, I do realize a solution is needed.

What about ATC? Is EAA still paying for it? I know the answer, do you? If you don’t, why not?

Recently EAA, and that other group, have claimed some great victories. I’m not going to go into detail about what they really accomplished and what things other people accomplished which they took credit for. Nevertheless, I will say they supported some good measures that turned out to be ok. Therefore, they get to claim progress.

The only thing I’ve seen recently that really bothers me is a column by the head of governmental affairs. When the person in this position uses their entire allotted space to attempt to convince the group it needs to be friends with the FAA, hold hands, and sing kumbaya, that is a serious problem.

Yet, it does serve as the perfect example of how well intentioned people are pulled into the political fraternity. Before long they are preaching from the other side of the fence, all the while believing they are doing well. Members should be concerned.

I remember the person he speaks of so fondly and what he was like when he was at EAA. It also concerns me the author believes that because someone was at EAA that makes them a good guy. The last time someone was producing such sweet words about people at the FAA, he left EAA to work for the FAA, where he belonged.

What really gets me, though, is the attempt to use the founder as evidence of why we should all assume the FAA will eat us last if we feed it. When Paul was running the show, there actually were some people left in the FAA who had a knowledge of small planes and who actually wanted to see them survive. In truth, that was decades ago. Back then, Paul could find some “good people” in the FAA to work with. Today, if you believe you’ve found such a person you’ve gone mad.

You can choose to take my words on this subject to heart, or to ignore them. Whatever you do, remember that aviation exists on government paper. No government paper, no aviation. Do you really want our guy to be the one reaching across the aisle, managing the downfall instead of fighting for its survival? Not me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we have to throw bricks through windows. However, I certainly would prefer to hear from someone who isn’t trying to convince me to work with his friends at the FAA. If he feels this really needs to be said, then the members are obviously expressing otherwise. And, if that is the case, why then are you representing the FAA and not your members?

Back to the good stuff.

EAA has done another great job of attracting amazing aircraft. Everyone says it’s all about the people, but I wonder how many would show up if there were no A-20s, Spitfires, Hellcats, or Emigh Trojans on the field? No planes, no people.

If you’ve been reading EAA publications you’ve certainly read that many improvements are being made to the grounds. This is a great thing. To be world class you have to be up to date. I hope they keep it going, but do it with membership input.  Without it some horrible assumptions will be made.

Finally, I want to leave you with the following questions. Has EAA accomplished anything in recent years that makes aviation significantly cheaper? Has EAA accomplished anything that makes aviation much more free, as in the freedom to fly? Has EAA done anything that has led to a net increase in pilots?
Keeping a few people behind the stick for a few more years, making a few non-certified instruments available for use, and giving kids free rides do not fall under the category of “much.” Therefore, if you answered honestly, that leaves you with one question. Is EAA right to be managing the decline instead of shooting for a true turnaround? Many of you will not like the answer.  Most of you are afraid to consider it.

See you at Oshkosh. 

The Next Sinful Sunday - July 9th, 2017 - Don't Miss It.

SINFUL SUNDAYS ARE BACK!  The first Sinful Sunday in years, held on June 11th, was a great success. Obviously, everyone is glad they’re back. Don’t miss the next one -  it’s July 9th, 2017.

Remember, going forward, the goal is to have each Sinful Sunday run by an outside group. Our desire is to get all of aviation, in the area, working together to create something we can all enjoy. Sinful Sundays is perfect for that. It attracts everyone – short and tall, big and small, smart and smarter. Whatever your character or characteristic, you’ll love these events. Who doesn’t like airplanes and ice cream? 

Thanks to the Bluegrass Chapter of Women in Aviation, and the 99’s, for offering to host the July edition. Many of the members of these groups were on hand for the June event and I expect they’ll be doing all they can to make it the best Sinful Sunday yet. We’re all a little competitive, right?

If you want to have some aviation fun, be sure to be here July 9th. If you can’t fly, maybe you know someone with a cool car who’d like an excuse to put the top down and go for a cruise. If you don’t know anyone with a convertible, maybe you have a friend who would bring you on their motorcycle?  And, if you don’t have either of those maybe someone with a boat or a rickshaw could drop you off. Whatever the case, you don’t want to miss it.

We hope to see you here.

Oh, I should mention, the volunteers from these non-profit groups will also have hamburgers and hotdogs available.  Come and enjoy.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Return of Sinful Sundays - A Success

Robert W. LaDuke

The return of Sinful Sundays, to Lee Bottom, was a great success. Thanks to the generous support of the RAF, Jeff Smith, Mike Grecco, and various other volunteers, it went off without a hitch and drew many planes. Historically, events such as these take three years to get back up to speed. This one had the attendance as if they had never stopped.
As I mentioned early in the year, having decided to move away from the fly-in and toward Sinful Sundays, one of our decided goals was to have them run by various other groups.  The time has come to rebuild aviation in the area and we can’t do it alone. Therefore, we reached out to others to see if the interest was there. So far, so good.

The first event was the brainchild of Jeff Smith.  Being the the Kentucky liaison for the Recreational Aviation Foundation, he felt it was the perfect opportunity for us to work together. Our goals are similar and it made great sense to us. Therefore, Jeff was offered the opportunity and he approached the RAF. They too thought it was a great idea, and together they pulled it off nicely.
We simply cannot thank Jeff and the RAF enough.

You might also remember, from discussions earlier in the year, that we decided the sinful part of Sinful Sundays would be up to the people hosting it. The RAF often features an ice cream bar at their events (another similarity to Lee Bottom), and to make things easier the Ehrler’s Ice Cream truck was brought in. This greatly simplified everything, gave our volunteers something easier to work with, and allowed us to have great local business on hand. Everyone loved it.

Thanks again to everyone who participated and attended the event. We hope to see you at the next one, July 9th, 2017.