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.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Breaking In A New One
New engines, like new friends, take a little while to get to know
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Obituary For My Friend
You don’t know true sorrow until you lose a dog
It was early on the first day of the EAA Northwest Regional Fly-In at Arlington, Wash., and Marlene called me at the exhibit. She sounded strange, so I walked away from the booth for some privacy and stood in the middle of a wide and grassy fire lane with lines of exhibit booths on both sides. Then a voice I knew said words that I understood, but that my brain refused to comprehend: “Budd, Nizhoni died about an hour ago.”
Saturday, October 1, 2005
Is there a solution to skyrocketing fuel prices?
I did something incredibly stupid the other day. My fuel is on an open account, and the price is always buried in a seldom-seen monthly statement. So, I asked the price. The nice young lady said (with a perfectly straight face) that because I’m a tenant, I get a discount. I’m only paying $3.88.
Thursday, September 1, 2005
Remembering Curtis Pitts
Some losses are extremely hard to accept
I had just parked in front of my insurance agent’s office and was cursing myself for forgetting to bring the premium check when it hit me. It was as if someone way down at the end of a long, gloomy tunnel had whispered, “Curtis just died.” I looked down and saw goose bumps on my arms.
Monday, August 1, 2005
Are airplanes ever so far gone that they’re truly dead?
I’ve mentioned them before—those long-dead, thoroughly baked carcasses I taxi past each day that at some time in the past, were airplanes. Now they’re aeronautically shaped mounds of dust and bird droppings that occupy the last tie-down spots on the ramp. It’s as if they’re purposely quarantined away from “real” airplanes, those that fly, so as to not pass on the lethal disease they may carry. Out here, we refer to those kinds of airplanes as roaches. Don’t ask why. It just seems to fit.
Friday, July 1, 2005
Whether real or imaginary, these obstacles keep us in and others out
Yesterday evening, a friend and I were flying across the desert a few miles south of Phoenix, when my fellow pilot asked, “Hey, wanna look at the horses?”
A wing dropped, and I found myself looking down at 30 horses that ignored us as we spiraled down around them. They were in a loose bunch in the sagebrush. Some were grazing, others were lying down, while a couple chased each other around in what appeared to be an equine game of tag. Every color and pattern was represented and spring had obviously arrived, as a number of colts frolicked about.
Wednesday, June 1, 2005
Tomorrow has a way of becoming yesterday entirely too quickly
As I’m typing this, my little red airplane is in the hos-pital for a 100-hour inspec-tion that is going to cost nearly 1⁄5 of what the air-plane is valued new. Every time the phone rings, it’s another one of those $1,000 calls. Yesterday, I was in a funk when I figured out that I would have to fly it another 100 hours just to pay for that inspection and then it would be time for yet another inspection.
Sunday, May 1, 2005
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
“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.