Browse Grassroots, a collection of flying-related articles by Budd Davisson. An accomplished aviation journalist, Budd shares his perspective on all kinds of flight-related subjects.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The Science, The Art, The Realities
Perfect airplanes usually exist only in the eye of the beholder
Anyone who has flown for more than 10 minutes has developed an idea of what defines the perfect airplane.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The Grandfather They Only Thought They Knew
If you don’t ask questions, you won’t get answers
A few minutes ago, I finished reading an official document in which a gentleman I knew, a lawyer, had put himself up for questioning by another lawyer.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
From The Editor: Spreading The Word
While working on this month’s Guest Speaker column, Managing Editor Pam Lee suggested that the reference to Patty Wagstaff mention that the air show star performs annually in front of thousands of spectators. Hundreds of thousands, I countered.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Character Of Risk
No adventure is completely risk free
It’s no news to most pilots that we recently lost Vicki Cruse, president of the International Aerobatic Club. What was almost certainly a control failure caught her in the worst possible position, and I can’t get her out of my mind.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Bull sessions can sometimes impart valuable lessons
All of us will reach a stage in life when we’ve lost or are losing friends (as they slip away physically, mentally or both).
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Oshkosh shows that passion trumps depression every time
Is Oshkosh ever really over? It’ll be weeks, maybe months, before my mind catches up with my body.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Life Begins At 40
A lot of words have flowed across this page in the past four decades
As of June of this year, I’ve been cranking out this column for 40 years! These are words I never thought I’d hear coming out of my mouth.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
We often have to see through the eyes of an outsider to appreciate what we have
It’s interesting how we can become so close to aviation that, even though it’s fueled by passion, it takes a “civilian” to point out what a great privilege and joy it is to fly. A lot of us instructor types spend four or more hours a day in a cockpit, but we really don’t do much flying—mostly we’re riding and talking.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Some characters we simply remember; others leave an indelible mark
|At the risk of making this page an obituary for passing friends, let me say this: There’s absolutely no way we can let the passing of Harry Shepard go without saying something, if not profound, at least irreverent. Because that was Harry—a little profound, a lot irreverent and massively talented.|
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Glass Half Empty?
Life & our perception of it
|I’ve been pacing around this semi-dark room, struggling for the words I want to put on this electronic page. This is the first time this has happened in decades. Usually, I just sit down and the words flow. During the week, something happens where part of my mind says, “Yeah, they’d like hearing about that.” But tonight, I’m struggling, and I only just now figured out why: I’m entirely too fixated on the “what ifs” of the new economic era we’re stumbling into. I’m not sure which is worse, the situation or the fact that I’m fixated on it.|
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Right at this moment, aviation lives are being lived that we can’t imagine
|As I was out walking this morning, my brain, as is usually the case, decided to go somewhere else so it didn’t have to deal with the tedium of exercising. This time, it began visiting cockpits around the world. In a matter of seconds, film clips of pilots, who at that exact moment were readying their birds for flight, started playing in the theater of my mind. |
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The Solitary Goose
Not everyone wants to fly solo
|The morning sun had yet to break over the horizon, and as I speed-walked my usual early morning, let’s-get-the-blood-flowing-and-the-joints-loose route, I could actually see my breath. Light frost crusted the yards—a rare but not unknown happening here in the desert. Then I heard a single honk overhead and glanced up: Instantly, I felt just a little melancholy. |
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Retreads & Me
We’re wearing out more than just our airplanes
|I’m not sure what it means, but this morning I glanced down at the Tail-Dragger Dragger dolly that I use to push/pull my bird from its nest, and I realized that the tires are wearing out. Bald, as it were. I was a little surprised and asked myself, “Exactly how much mileage should we expect from the accessories we surround ourselves with while flying?” |
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Adventure Is In The Eye Of…
To some of us, just getting off the ground is an adventure
|Elsewhere in this issue, we’re bantering around the phrase “adventure aircraft” as if it’s a universally understood term. Personally, I’m not sure it is. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think the term “adventure” itself is open to definition and is very much colored by your aviation life and how you live it—one man’s adventure is another’s ho-hum afternoon.|
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The Post-Oshkosh Blues
Good things never last forever, including AirVenture
As this is being written, it’s 7:45 p.m. on the night that the happenings in Oshkosh have ended. I’m sitting in an Arby’s across the street from the airport. I’ve just driven the empty field and, to be honest, I’m feeling pretty melancholy. In fact, I’m a little lonely and depressed. I think that after the high-profile week, my adrenaline meter has just dropped past the big “E.”
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Of Bachs & Ganns & Fabulous Words
Aviation has a deeper cultural background than most people give it credit for
|If it had happened only once, I would have passed it off as just one conversation with an aviation newbie. He had to be new to aviation not to know Richard Bach’s name. But then it happened again. And this time, the student not only didn’t know Bach, but he didn’t know Ernie Gann either. Then it happened with another student. And another. I was floored. So much so that for the next month, each time a new student sat down in “The Ground School Chair” in my office, I’d bounce those legendary names, plus Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and a few others, off of them.|
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Administering a dose of J-3 Cub may be the cure for too much civilization
|No news can sometimes be better than good news. In fact, no news is probably good for your health, because lots of news certainly isn’t. That’s an easy conclusion to come to because most of us listen to, and read, so much news that we wind up feeling hard-pressed, oppressed and just a little depressed. Nearly every facet of life has become too complicated, and all most of us really want is to live life like a pilot flies a Piper Cub. Simplify, simplify.|
Monday, September 1, 2008
Sometimes cutting an expense costs more in the long run
|Are we now seeing apocalyptic signs that the world, as we know it, is about to collapse in on us? I checked my avgas price this morning (yeah, I know, dumb move) and it was $6.72, which means, at present rates, by the time you read this, it’ll be over seven bucks.|
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
My Bucket List
Start early on your list, it makes for a wonderful life
|The other day, a student called to book some flight training, explaining that flying a Pitts has been on his bucket list. I haven’t seen the movie by the same name, but I love the concept: You make up a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket, and little by little, you whittle it down. Naturally, when I heard that, I thought about what I’d put on my own such list. After a few minutes of thinking, however, I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad that I couldn’t come up with many items. |
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Bad Landings, Egos & Me
Experience is a great teacher, but only if you listen to it
|I knew it was windy, but it wasn’t that bad. I mean 15 gusting to 25 isn’t even close to the top of the sphincter-tension scale in my little airplane. In fact, it’s so good in a crosswind that to a certain extent, those of us who fly the type tend to ignore crosswinds. Or at least pooh-pooh anything under 20 to 25 knots. My record, which I mention constantly, is 38 gusting to 50, 60 through 90 degrees to the runway. And therein lies the difference. At 90 degrees, I’m flying one airplane. At 120 degrees, as it was Sunday, it’s something quite different, and I knew it. Still, I didn’t have a doubt in my little airplane. We could handle it.||
Get 11 Issues of Plane & Pilot for only $14.97! That's 77% off the cover price!