Saturday, December 26, 2020

$300 Donation (by end of 2020) Allowed in CARES ACT

Dear Friends of Lee Bottom,


These are difficult times for everyone. We find ourselves in uncharted waters while the demand for our services continues to grow. In order to keep fulfilling our mission, we can always use your help.


We want to let you know about a few key provisions of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. This law, passed earlier in the year, was designed to assist you, businesses, and nonprofits facing economic hardship during the coronavirus pandemic. 


However, the law is specifically relative to the Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge as it allows all taxpayers to take a charitable deduction of up to $300, even if you do not itemize. You might think that this is a small amount that would not make a difference. But what if all of our donors gave “just” $300? Such support would have a huge impact on our ability to make improvements while also maintaining the field.


For those who do itemize their deductions, the new law allows for cash contributions to qualified charities such as ours to be deducted up to 100% of your adjusted gross income for the 2020 calendar year. 


As always, we are grateful for your generosity, which has greatly assisted us in keeping Lee Bottom open as a public use airport. We hope you'll take this one time unique opportunity to contribute again by following the instructions found at the bottom of this letter.




Richie Davidson

The Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge.


HOW TO DONATE - Step by Step: 

1. Click on this link or go to on your browser.

2. At the end of the black menu bar along the top you'll see the word "DONATE." Click on it.
3. Clicking on "DONATE" will take you to a location on the website where a yellow "DONATE" button will be visible in the center of the screen.
4. Click on the yellow "DONATE" button to go to the first page of the SECURE DONATION PAGE.
5. Enter the amount you wish to donate by using the up or down arrows, or typing in whole dollar amount. This will change the appearance of the page.
6. When you entered your amount the right side of the page will change to show to boxes, PAYPAL CHECKOUT, OR PAYPAL CREDIT.  Click on PAYPAL CHECKOUT
7.The next screen you'll see is "PAY WITH PAYPAL."
*If you do not have a PayPal account you can pay as a guest by clicking the gray box at the bottom that says, "Pay with Debit or Credit Card.
*If you have a PayPal account you can "LOG IN" to pay as a registered user or do the same as above by clicking the gray box.
8. You will now find yourself at a recognizable online pay information screen. Enter your information and click "Continue" at the bottom.
9. The remainder of the process will be very similar to any online purchase you have made elsewhere. When finished making your donation, be sure to screenshot the page or print it for your records.

Thank you for your support. We hope to see you at Lee Bottom in 2021.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas From a Distance

Now you know where to find me.

Each year as Christmas nears the same feeling comes to visit. This time more than ever. Something good, an undefinable spirit among men, is vanishing. The season’s Christian holiday no longer serves us best as a moment to rejoice, but barometer of our collective character, a literal and proverbial calendar on its last page.

Almost certainly some of these feelings come from being born into my generation; one of many fed fantasies and unfounded ideas by generations of parents who did so unknowingly, without introspection, and no concern for what they’d incur. Even serial realists such as myself find it hard to release our grip on the unrealistic notions of Christmas. Programmed from day one, by mothers and fathers living their own fantasies, they are etched upon our hearts.

My observations, however, are not meant to infer Christmas is a lie, or the religion of its creation bad. They are written to state what I feel to be the obvious - that a holiday once well rooted in religious faith has been co-opted away from its true meaning, into the Switzerland of days off; neutral territory defined by excess consumption. The biblical story of an unskilled red-nosed reindeer once guided our thoughts to peace, love, and joy. Shooting approaches to minimums so that all the little angels would get the Easy Bake Ovens and Evel Knievel motorcycles mail ordered from Sears taught us selfless servitude. Today, the tale of kerosene beasts, with microwave noses, fill the heads of children. Flying autolands in the snow so all the little angels who lack for nothing can complain about capitalism while enjoying senseless game consoles their parents purchased only eight hours earlier from Amazon has taught us what?

Many argue times have changed. Can you see it? No?

Our biggest holiday has become a grand hyperloop of marketing and consumerism no longer possessing the deeper meaning and purpose of Christmas - a foundation that would give it everlasting strength. Instead, it is so lost to time few remember when it wasn’t. I certainly don’t. But I do remember how it used to feel, or how I think it should.

A Denver landing captured by my GoPro.

Back then, for reasons unexplained, upon first observation everyone was treated to a smile. Each person encountered also shared kind words. Every day delivered the peace of a population wide truce. For at least three remarkably peaceful hours, depending on when your family opened gifts and ate the big meal, we all assumed everyone was good, had the potential to be, or would be better off punched on a different day.

Sitting here today I don’t feel it. Days away from the 25th and 12,000 miles from home, I can tell you it doesn’t seem like Christmas. There are no gifts, no glowing red noses, and the only guiding star to be found is actually two planets that have nothing to do with Christmas (sorry to burst your bubble). However, I do find myself continuously thinking of the people from my life, the principles life crudely engraved on my heart of stone, and all the great memories I have been given, or opportunity to create, by the miracle of life. Among them is a sunset flight over the Keys on Christmas day, the notion of telling the truth ‘till it hurts, and the hundreds of people I’d love to see again.

Were the names of those people printed, many would undoubtedly be surprised to find themselves on the list. Having last walked away enemies, or unfortunate casualties of life, they have surely long since forgotten me. Yet, for all of them I find myself hoping they have lived great lives, corrected the errors of their ways, and forgiven me for mine. But, that is all part of the fantasy - I guess. Or, maybe not.

Could it be the final embers of Christmas keeping out the cold?

If you need me, I'll be outside chopping wood.

*Written on a long layover in Japan - December 23rd, 2020.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Invisible VS Visible

Surveying the northern property boundary

Yesterday, in freezing temperatures and drizzle, a crew surveyed the final boundary of airport property. The project took over two years to complete - over two years beyond the month originally estimated. It was an arduous process. However, it was necessary for the airport’s long-term outlook. The downside for us is that to outsiders it is invisible. A great task nearly complete yet seemingly non-existent to those who use the airport.

We realize people would rather have events; pilots would rather have stories to tell; followers would love to see tangible evidence of work. Yet, all too often the real work goes unseen. But, for those who need tangible, please allow us to point to the approach path of runway 36.

Working our way up the hill.

Trees have been steadily growing towards the certified approach path (trapezoid) for years. Naturally, 2020 was the year they reached it. This led to one of our most severe underestimations of all time.

After drone flight, bucket truck, binocular, ground, and satellite imagery surveys of the trees, we estimated removing five to eight of them would solve the problem. Then the work started.

Every time a tree fell another appeared behind it. No matter how hard we tried (not just us, but also professionals) to identify every suspect tree, it continued to happen. Eventually this led us to the only solution that offered any chance of completing the task – we’d remove all but a small handful of trees in the approach path area.

Mind you, we love our trees. However, we would never have been anywhere close to completion if we hadn’t made the call and gone with absolute removal. As one neighbor who also loves his trees said, “Take them all the way down so we don’t have to do this every year.” It turned out to be sound advice. The approach path should be clear of trees for some time to come. After all, somewhere in the neighborhood of two hundred trees came down.

That said, the project isn’t finished. There is a still a lot of cleanup to do; several trees along the runway still have to come down; the roadway needs landscaping to resolve the issue of the ugly stumps left behind. Yet, anyone who uses the field can clearly see the massive amount of work that went into this highly noticeable project.

To do this job we've had to buy equipment, hire in a
professional tree removal service, then spends weeks
by ourselves and with friends to get to this point. Cleanup
is the next phase. For this we'll need a dozer, full time
skid steer/grapple work, and many
days of manpower. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Urban Archaeology


The inspiration for the Manta Mirage.

I never cared for yellow cars until today. Why the sudden change? To understand it you need a window to my youth; or, perhaps, an archaeological dig into the strata of my childhood home.

The Manta Brochure

At the bottom of a closet in a poorly lit bedroom, with dark blue walls and dusty aircraft models strung from the ceiling, lies an original brochure for this yellow car. If you really wanted to find the cardstock sales pitch intended to market dreams to dreamers, at some point you’d have to stop to allow your eyes to adjust. Having dug your way past the black leather jacket, a t-shirt that says, “Disco Sucks,” a giant papier-mache spark plug from art class, old posters of airliners, and several 22 long rifle shells lost to the floor, human physiology would reveal the next era. Exotic shapes appearing from the shadows, thanks to enlarged pupils, would indicate you’re almost there. Cautiously peeling back the stack of “Hustler(s),” scanning every page of every month, would lead you to the prize. Hours later underneath Miss October, fittingly pressed against a hard wood floor, you’d find a package labeled "Manta."

The placement was strategic. Being the youngest child in family heavily swayed by aviation, I was intent they never discover I was a car guy. Being a testosterone-fueled competitor in the championship of mating was far preferable to that. In retrospect, that’s probably why I once knew Miss April but never owned a Manta. Unfortunately, today I’m also quite sure the Manta Mirage would have given me more lasting pleasure. That’s what led me to this sexy yellow beast.

A scene from the original "Gone in 60 Seconds."

When I saw this car online I immediately recognized it was different. Most Manta kit cars ended up rolling junk. However, Gregg Umek bought this one decades ago and used all his skills to make it right. After a career of racing his own cars, working as an engineer for Dan Gurney, helping build a steam engine Indy car for Bill Lear, and many more automotive stops along the way, he set up his own shop for retirement and began having fun with kit cars. In turn, he created one of the nicest Manta Mirages on the planet.

Having never seen one in person, let alone sit in one, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I found made me smile. It was exactly what I expected; maybe more. Gregg’s attention to detail is evident in ever part of this rare machine and I’d love to have it. However, there was snow on the ground, it had not been off the lift this year, and a drive was out of the question when I arrived late. But, I got the next best thing – to sit in the cockpit and hear it roar to life.

I had to laugh when Gregg began explaining how I could make it quieter. “You’re advertising this to the wrong people,” I said. “I’d want it louder.” From that point on we were great friends.

Who knows what will happen. It has no heat and no AC. That means I’d probably always be alone in the car. That said, it might work in my favor. Although it is a two seater, it’s tight. How tight?

As I explained to a friend, I’ve been in many cars, some of which you put on and wore like a glove. However, this was the first one that inserted me like a tampon.

The chase is almost as fun as the buy.