Thanks to all of you who have contributed to the Lee Bottom Flying Field operating fund. This year in an effort to make even better use of your contributions, we will be putting several new ideas to work. Although you will probably not notice most of these items, one you may see has to do with the grass.
Last year, Ginger logged 650 hours on the mower. Additionally the price of fuel forced us, like so many others, to re-evaluate all uses of the magical fluid, diesel fuel. During one of our re-evaluation sessions, Ginger came up with an idea that will benefit us greatly in time management and fuel expense.
I know it's hard to believe but each spring the grass grows so fast we often end up mowing three times a week. After doing this for a few years, Ginger was smart (logical) enough to realize much of this area goes unused until June or later. Therefore this year we will not be mowing the parking area between the runway and the hill until at least mid-June and possibly later. This ten plus acres will be cut and baled for hay. This will get us past the heavy growth period for the grass and will save fuel and time.
When we get a contribution from a Lee Bottom Family Member we take great pride in it, appreciate it in ways you cannot imagine, and immediately begin doing everything we can to use every cent of it to make Lee Bottom better so that you may enjoy it for years to come. Thanks again for everything.
A list of those that have made donations and therefore have commited themselves to "guilt free flying" by helping us keep the grass "green" will be listed in the next edition of NORDO News.
Last Mintue Addition: Ginger wants me to apologize for the extreme percentage of editorials in this edition of NORDO News. You know there are always a few but this one is almost entirely editorial. Amazingly, I cut several of them. There are just so many crazy things going on with aviation right now, I don't know where to start or stop. As for photos, we ran out of time and decided to just let this one fly on its own. See you when we get back...
THE RED TAPE CHRONICLES CONTINUE
I recently received an online note from EAA telling me that in order for GA to survive, the general pilot population needed to communicate directly to their reps in DC because EAA alone could not hold off all the attacks and I agree with them. Yet amazingly, in the March issue of EAA Vintage, we were told to shuttle all communications with the FAA through EAA. Oh you didn't see it? Let me explain.
EAA in all their wisdom has come up with an easier and more effective way for vintage aircraft owners to communicate their aircraft issues to the FAA Small Airplane Directorate. To make it easier for Type Clubs to communicate concerns to the FAA, they are told that instead of communicating directly with the FAA's Small Airplane Directorate they must write a letter or email to EAA Vintage. In this communiqué, the type clubs are to describe their concerns and get it to EAA by the end of April, which conveniently only comes once a year.
Then, EAA Vintage will compile these without loosing, categorizing, or placing more importance on any of these concerns (an assumption). At that point, by fax, mail, phone, or whatever method, EAA Vintage will forward the list to Kim Smith* of the Small Aircraft Directorate. Kim and her team will get back to you in presumed haste because it is stated that issues can be further discussed at Airventure.
Now here's the good part, after Airventure, Kim and her people will report back to EAA. Yes, EAA. One more time, they will report back to EAA (not the clubs or you) about the issue brought forward through this streamlined procedure and as EAA says, this will insure the handling of issues more proactively than in the past. It is then said that because the EAA and FAA are working together (I'm starting to loose the distinction) they can GIVE all type clubs an equal opportunity for their concerns to be addressed...ahh, how sweet.
But that's not all; they kindly ask that only the head of each type club forward anything to this STREAMLINED program. Does this seem odd to you?
I can't help but wonder where these ideas come from. This concept is admitting the FAA's failure and/or unwillingness to do its job and then offering to help them out with the creation of something that can only be described as an 'F' class cluster. At a time when they should be shining a floodlight on the FAA's complete incompetence and failure to address the needs of GA, EAA is attempting to help by adding complexity and middlemen. Clearly the FAA is a failed federal bureaucracy and yet all too often EAA seems to think that sleeping with them will somehow help out. What is the deal? No really, where do these ideas come from? I think I know what they were trying to accomplish but why do they think this will help?
And with all that said, I have yet to mention the serious part of this message; what about those people who are not members of one of these type clubs? What you have here is a government agency, that takes your money, does nothing but screw everything up, and now with EAA's help they can do even less. I would love to believe this mess came from an attempt to make something better but I feel it only makes it worse.
* Please note that Kim was an FAA participant in the "Aging Aircraft" program (witch hunt) a few years back. This program would have grounded many "vintage" and classic aircraft that belong to EAA Vintage members. What do you think about that and why is EAA so damned determined to carry the water for these people?
A NEW BEGINNING
Thanks to early warm weather, Lee Bottom has already seen a rise in visitors. During the past few weeks we've had students, folks on picnics, and numerous aviators emerging from hibernation with a flight to our field. These first sightings are something we look forward to each year.
Like the first singing Robin or bright yellow butter cup at the edge of a fence row, a silver Swift or bright yellow Stearman upon neon spring grass are sure signs that flying season is just around the corner.
Thanks to all of you who have lifted our spirits with the sight of your planes.
NOTE: We apologize to those early arrivers as we usually wait until Memorial Day weekend to get out the picnic tables and clean the restroom facility.
FUTURE EBAY ITEM: PRICE REDUCED
Back at the end of the year, we jokingly talked about doing an annual wrap up of aviation. In it, we would include all the things that have been tried hundreds of times before and still didn't work. We would have included the Jet Pack, the road going airplane (Terrafugia), and talking logically with a TSA Agent. Please understand that by "work" we mean in the real world, under real conditions, in a manner that normal people would experience. Then came the day I turned on the aviation news services to see everyone peeing their pants with excitement that the Terrafugia had flown. Yaaay, big deal.
Sadly, even if all the bugs can be worked out of this bumper car with wings, what happens when the first trust fund millionaire drives up to the fence at the airport to take off? Has no one thought of this? God, himself, can't even walk onto an airport's ramp without a rectal exam from the TSA. So who, I ask, thinks this "flying compromise" is going to just drive up to the gate, honk the horn, and go flying? And if someone works that out, whom among those that can afford one would want it when they could afford hangar rent at their local airport and a real airplane to go in it?
And then there's the issue of taking off from roads. If more than nine of these are sold, you know at least one owner will try it. Who has jurisdiction over that? And what happens when the TSA realizes a terrorist, perhaps the one behind that tree over there, doesn't need to penetrate all the razor wire, land mines, and armed guards at the local county airport in order to steal a plane and fly it into the nearest showing of "Paul Blart, Mall Cop"? Yes you guessed it, that's not going to fly.
Clearly there's only one solution to this problem; fence off all dwellings and parking areas from all roads. Then, require everyone to get a rectal exam from the TSA, a serial number tattooed on their arms, and a retina scanner installed by union labor at every entrance. In fact, this may be the final solution for all of aviation's problems.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
I sincerely hope that those of you who are anti-gun keep reading this to the end as it is relative to aviation. Don't let your 'anti-gunniness' (new word) keep you from staying to the last word. With that said, here we go.
For many years I have said that our aviation groups and gun groups such as the NRA need to be working together. Both groups are constantly under attack for the same reasons, by the same people, with the same goals. Airplanes and guns are demonized as unsafe and claimed as something most people do not want near their homes. The people that 'go after' each of these items are typically of the "let me keep you safe" category. But ultimately the safety angle is merely that, an angle to get rid of these wonderful things.
Anti-gunners are always telling you how unsafe guns are, what a threat they are to your over-simplified life, and that if you would vote to overturn the constitution they promise to take care of you and make you safe. Anti-aviation types typically use a combination of safety and environmental concerns to encourage you to help them get rid of aviation. Planes could fall on your head and if they don't there's the noise and lead just like the guns.
But what is it that bothers these "anti" types? I believe it's obvious, these items are symbols of freedom and freedom to them means "out of their control".
So where am I going with this? Well, the current administration is clearly anti-gun. The president has expressed it, the people he's hired are off the charts anti-gun nuts, and everything they've written has included at least one sentence of anti-gun sentiment. Throw in the media who is always willing to support anything anti-gun and they have their propaganda machine doing the same. The most recent example of this is the alleged use of American guns by Mexican drug cartels in the violence on the border. The argument goes like this; your freedom to own guns and protect yourself is why Mexicans are driving into Phoenix and kidnapping people. Now stick with me, I am coming around to aviation.
The media and the President's people have, if you haven't noticed, been including this claim in all their discussions about the border. But if you research the issue, you find the drug cartels are using weapons that could only have come from the thousands of military men who deserted the Mexican military for the cartels. It is estimated that somewhere around 18,000 of these guys deserted and have since been using "hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, M203 40-millimeter grenade launchers, fragmentation grenades, anti-tank weapons, dynamite, high-grade bulk explosives and other military ordnance that cannot possibly come from U.S. retail shops". This information comes from the liberal LA Times of all places and I found it at gunlaws.com.
In this we have an interesting situation. While trying to find a solution to a serious problem on the border, the LA Times has been forced to admit these weapons are not coming from US gun shops, yet the current administration continues to press on in their attempt to demonize guns and convince you to allow him and his cronies to restrict gun ownership by stating the guns are coming from the US. So why does this affect you of aviation mindedness? Check out this article from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Drug smugglers turning to ultralights to avoid radar. Here's a small piece of it: "Pilots along the U.S.-Mexico border may find themselves with some unexpected company in the air. Border Patrol agents say they have seen a rise in drug smuggling using ultralight aircraft that fly just above the treetops to avoid radar detection. Smuggling by larger aircraft has been greatly curtailed by the use of radar equipped balloons, so the smugglers are trying something different, authorities say".
Uh oh! Did you see that? You pro-aviation anti-gunners who were so fat dumb and happy now have a problem. By the president's newest standard for restricting an item sold in the USA, your planes, your hobby, and your passion might now suffer from the very same agenda; loss of your freedom to make your safer. Where do you suppose those ultra-lights/GA aircraft are being purchased? Oh man, now we have an issue.
As I said, Aviation groups should be teaming up with the other groups who are under the same attacks as aviation. These include motorcycles, boats, and yes gun owners. Like it or not, the arguments are the same and we are in this together.
Today, your government is saying that you are in danger and at the same time saying you should not have the right to protect yourself. Exactly how strange does it sound to you to hear someone tell you that you are in danger from evil men with assault rifles but that you should not be allowed to own a defense rifle of equal power? Furthermore, the knowledge that government officials of a corrupt neighbor state (Mexico) are echoing the same sentiment should have you scared.
Speaking recently to a Hercules pilot who was on his way back to Afghanistan, I took the opportunity to ask him questions about some alarming things I had heard from other pilots. Sadly, when asked, he repeated many of the same concerns.
If you know me, you know that I firmly believe our soldiers have been used and mistreated during this half-effort of a war. It started with poor planning and a lack of the most basic ballistics protection and is ending with kids flying toys. Along the way our soldiers have been pawns of a President trying to hold on to power by pushing the notion of a terrorist behind every tree and another party with hopes we would loose the war so that they could regain it. During all this, soldiers were left to their own solutions and citizens were stripped of freedoms in the name of security.
So how is this relevant to those of you who love to tool around in your Champ on a warm summer day? Kids flying toys - that's what.
A while back a story floated around all the news services about UAV's. The intent was to promote the idea that "UAV pilots are real pilots". Yet I beg to differ. Here's why.
These guys are sitting on their arses in Las Vegas flying UAV's in Afghanistan. These 'toys' have their IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) turned off while our real pilots are flying missions in the same airspace where they might come under fire and yet they must fly with their IFF's turned on. So what's so bad about this?
Well it seems that nearly every real pilot I have spoken with has had at least one near death experience by near mid-air collision with these armed toys flown by kids in Las Vegas drinking Life Water and gambling at night. Meanwhile, the real planes in the hot zones have no way to see or know where these toys are and when asked about the issue, the kids in Las Vegas say "we don't want to get ID'd and shot down". Well hello! Nobody wants to get shot down but for a living person to get knocked out of the sky by a US military toy flown by someone sitting on their arse in Las Vegas with Life Water in their cup holder and casino chips in their pocket is outright infuriating. This should not be happening yet it is extremely common.
Perhaps you are asking yourself after all this rambling of mine, do you really think this effects me? Well yes I do; click here to read this relevant article.
Have you ever flown near a border? If so, be sure to keep your eyes wide open for an expensive toy being flown by someone sitting on their arse in an air conditioned building far far away with Life Water in their cup holder, gambling at night, and no thoughts of you and your safety. I mean, if you can't drive and talk on a cell phone because it's so dangerous, how could you fly these things and watch for airplanes? If these guys want to be considered real pilots, then they should start acting like it. If their commanders won't let them, then their commanders should be court martialed for endangering the lives of other soldiers with their self serving tactics.
BEARHAWK TO ALASKA WITH SPOT
We will be flying the Avipro Bearhawk demo plane to the Alaska State Aviation Trade Show & Conference in Anchorage during the end of April. As you can imagine, we jumped at the chance to do it but it took us a while to wrap up all the loose ends.
First we had to find someone to watch the place that believes in "shoot first, ask later". What? Do you think I'm kidding?
Second, we had to find someone who could mow the grass and fix anything that broke.
And third, Rich had to get the time off from work. Fortunately, we managed to do all three and should be on our way shortly. If any of you live in Alaska, look for the Bearhawk at the trade show. It is an amazing plane and if you're interested in purchasing one, you'll be able to get a demo ride. For more info on the Bearhawk, click here.
Also along for the ride will be our new Spot personal locator. We contacted the company to see if they would loan us one for a demo but I'm guessing they were afraid we would give it an honest review. But despite their total lack of response, since we were going to be flying through some remote areas, we went ahead and bought one anyway. Look for a complete review of the product in an upcoming issue of NORDO News.
For now though, you can check out one cool feature of the product, its tracking option. We signed up for this feature so that you will be able to log onto Spot's website and see where we are with the Bearhawk during our flight to Alaska. To see this option, click here. We should be on our way from Austin by the evening of Monday March 20th.
SINFUL SUNDAYS and LOCAL LOOT
The first Sinful Sunday is right around the corner (June 14) and we have been working hard to line up some new things.
We quickly realized that ice cream was an enticement for many to get out and go flying. It has also worked well to encourage others to go with you. Now, we are adding a new dimension and a different reason to give you to go flying.
This year, we will be working to establish a farmer's market that coincides with each Sinful Sunday. We hope to have fresh produce and artisan products for sale by local people. It usually takes a year or two for something to come into its own so please be sure to visit with any of the vendors who bring items out for sale at the event. Ginger is calling it 'Local Loot' and thus it will be Sinful Sundays and Local Loot.
Let's say that your "honey do list" includes going to the store to pick up eggs. Well, now you can go flying to pick them up! Or perhaps you have a thing for cheese, or fresh veggies and would rather fly somewhere to get them than visiting Whole Foods. If so, then this is what you have been looking for. Or perhaps your brother-in-law twice removed is having a birthday and you need to get a present. One of our local artisans might have that "special" gift that you are looking to buy.
Hope for good weather and we'll see you in June.
We still need some volunteers to help us with the 3 Sinful Sunday events. The volunteer sign-up form is now available from the website. [CLICK HERE]
Lee Bottom Shirts A Big Hit
If you have yet to visit our online store, why not take this opportunity to do so? Here you'll find Lee Bottom clothing, donation opportunities, and other odds and ends.
Among these things you'll also find the wildly popular Lee Bottom shirt that says "Grass Runways, The Green Alternative". The supply is getting low but a new order has been placed and you can be put on a waiting list to get one when they come in - probably in mid-May. Place your order now so you'll have it to wear to all the upcoming fly-ins. Click here to go to the store.
You can now find your tickets for the 2009 Wood, Fabric, & Tailwheels Fly-In at on-Line store (click on the "2009 Fly In" category). * Admission Tickets (Fly-In & Drive-In) * Camping Passes (Fly-In & Drive-In) * Friday Night Dinner * Saturday Night Dinner * Motel Rooms Note: For those planning to Drive In, the admission tickets are limited to the first 750 and there are only 30 spots available for campers, tents, RV's, etc.
When we return from Alaska, we'll be putting the links to these on our website along with RSVP's for the dinners. However, we wanted to give NORDO News readers the opportunity to get their planning out of the way now.
IMPORTANT DATES & USEFUL LINKS June 14, 2009: Sinful Sunday July 12, 2009: Sinful Sunday Aug 9, 2009: Sinful Sunday Sept 26, 2009: Wood, Fabric, & Tailwheels Fly-In