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Grassroots

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, February 23, 2010

Fear & Preparedness


Being concerned is only logical, but we can’t let that rule our lives



Fear & PreparednessAs he sat in my office and we prepared to leave for the airport after three hours of ground school, he hesitated for a moment, locked eyes with me and said, “Look, I have to tell you something.”
Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Science, The Art, The Realities


Perfect airplanes usually exist only in the eye of the beholder



The Science, The Art, The RealitiesAnyone 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



The Grandfather They Only Thought They KnewA 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




From The Editor: Spreading The WordWhile 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



The Character Of RiskIt’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

Listen Up!


Bull sessions can sometimes impart valuable lessons



Listen Up!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

What Recession?


Oshkosh shows that passion trumps depression every time



What Recession?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



Life Begins At 40As 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

Remembering Aviation


We often have to see through the eyes of an outsider to appreciate what we have



Remembering Aviation 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

Harry


Some characters we simply remember; others leave an indelible mark



grassrootsAt 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



grassrootsI’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

Early-Morning Cockpits


Right at this moment, aviation lives are being lived that we can’t imagine



grassrootsAs 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



grassrootsThe 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



retreads & meI’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

Simplify, Simplify


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

Fuel’s Gold


Sometimes cutting an expense costs more in the long run



fuel's goldAre 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



grassrootsThe 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.