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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.

Sunday, May 1, 2005

Young Geniuses


When do you get too old to be a prodigy?



The other night, at the urging of a friend, Marlene and I did something we rarely do: We went to see a band play at a local watering hole (I would have said “dive,” but didn’t feel it necessary to be that accurate). The actual reason we went was because we kept hearing about Nick Sterling, this unbelievable local guitar player that everyone, from MTV to Gibson Guitar, was falling all over. We weren’t disappointed. He was an experience not to be missed, and this was just weeks after his 14th birthday.
Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Smarter Than A Tow Bar?


It hurts when even the simplest things make you feel stupid



What’s the tennis ball for?” asked one of my students. Almost every one of them ask the same old question. I answered, “That’s one of the IQ tests that came with my hangar. You can’t be issued a passing grade around here until you figure it out.”
Saturday, January 1, 2005

Fear Of Flying


Conquering it may just be a matter of control



Am I the only person in the aviation world who has ever gone through, and still goes through, periods of apprehension when it comes to flying? I can even go so far as to say that I’m maybe even a little afraid. In my case, I don’t mean ready-to-soil-myself scared. I mean, I’ll be chugging along at about 4,000 feet, and for the briefest of moments and for absolutely no reason, a little twinge of fear sneaks a quick jab to my confidence. Then, it’s gone.
Wednesday, December 1, 2004

No Offense


Keeping quiet may be the safest tactic, but it’s not always the best



Exactly what part of the brain controls our egos, anyway? Since I’m not a shrink and simply apply what I’ve seen over a lifetime, I’d have to say that the part that controls our aviation ego is also tasked with the management of our sexual ego. This has to be the case and the reason for our egos because you get exactly the same reaction when you insult, degrade or, in any way, question a guy’s ability in either of those areas.
Monday, November 1, 2004

Recovering From The EAA AirVenture


The countdown to next year’s show begins the minute you return home



We had just returned from Oshkosh, Wis., late last night, which is another way of saying that today, I’m going to be nearly useless. There are lots of things to be done, but I don’t have enough energy in order to cope, so screw ’em. That stuff will get done tomorrow.
Friday, October 1, 2004

Serendipitous Encounters


Sometimes, being in the right place at the right time is a spiritual experience



We were in the pattern and just in the process of turning downwind from crosswind when the tower said, “Eight-papa-bravo, you’re number two to a Liberator that will be crossing over the airport to join downwind in front of you. He’ll be doing a low pass.”
Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Useless Aviation


Just because you don’t do it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done



Useless aviation. Now, there’s a term you seldom hear. It popped up in an e-mail that was addressed to me last week. The writer, a longtime pilot himself, was explaining that because I’ve chronicled various battles with off-airport individuals, he thought it was important that I understand that as you get older and can no longer fly, you lose patience with those involved in “useless” aviation—those who make noise and aren’t accomplishing anything.
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Gréyjà Vu


Clouds happen—even in Arizona



Wow! I just returned from the airport where I had to cancel a hop because the clouds were down around 700 feet and it was raining. This is spectacularly unusual for me. In fact, in 12 years of flying here in Arizona, it’s only the ninth time weather (usually it’s the wind) has stopped me from flying with a student.
Saturday, May 1, 2004

Flying Is Exercise


Being a hangar potato is actually hard work! No, really!



Until recently, I was convinced that the only exercise I get is pushing a computer mouse around between trips to the refrigerator (it’s a rule that periods of procrastination can only be interrupted for fridge trips).
Last week, however, while defending myself in a conversation with a student who insisted golf was good exercise, I arrived at a startling realization—I actually do exercise, but it’s disguised as flying.
Thursday, April 1, 2004

Pitts Specialski


A world away is as near as the next key stroke



An e-mail that I received said:
Report, can I gain the necessary drawings for independent building given plane PITS. Is it Beforehand thanked for answer,
Mihail K.
Monday, March 1, 2004

Setting The Record Straight


I’m not on the outside, looking in. I’m just on the outside.



Lyn “I’m the boss?” Freeman, Plane & Pilot’s leader (a scary thought, at best) challenged me to put my flight-instructing skills to the test by checking him out in my airplane for an article. I figured, sure. It ought to be fun. I mean, it’s just a little article, right? And we’ll have a good time flying. But, the flying aspect turned out to be nothing compared to the talking part and the aftermath when the article came out.
Sunday, February 1, 2004

Whispers


The tiny voice in our head sometimes isn’t in our head



At first, I wasn’t certain I had heard it. It was a faraway voice, not quite a whisper, and my headset killed the engine noise just enough that I could tell it was there. Had I imagined it? Was I actually hearing it, or was my own mind talking to me and making it sound as if it was coming through my headset?
Thursday, January 1, 2004

Becoming Invisible


“Sometimes, we’re all alone in a crowd”



Officially, the EAA AirVenture was over. Only a few hours earlier, a voice had boomed over the PA system, saying thanks and come again next year. That was the signal that it was time to return to the real world and normalcy. However, those of us milling around the boarding lounge at Appleton Airport, waiting for our commuter flight, were mentally and emotionally still walking the grounds at Oshkosh. We weren’t ready for normalcy yet.
Wednesday, November 30, -0001

The White-Coat Syndrome


It’s real, it’s ridiculous, and for some of us, it’s impossible to avoid



The White-Coat SyndromeCourtesy of my laptop, it's 0450 hours (that's in the morning, in case you missed my whining), and I'm in another airport terminal.