recovering from tornado damage
field owners hope loyal friends
will contribute to renovation costs
HANOVER, Ind. (June 2012) Lee Bottom Field
in Hanover, Ind., is a little known gem to many. But to pilots who love
visiting there, its one of a kind.
You could do a movie like Field of Dreams for Lee Bottom Flying
Field. Old barnstormer pilots would come walking out of the corn and
ask, Is this heaven? No, its Indiana.
Thats how Glenn Frith, owner and president of Aeronautical Charters
Inc. of Fort Meyers, Fla., describes it. Its the closest
thing for me as a pilot to heaven.
Rich and Ginger Davidson operate Lee Bottom Field, which opened in the
Go to any airport in the world, and you will find a pilot who
knows Lee Bottom, Rich Davidson said.
courtesy of Rich Davidson
and Ginger Davidson (left)
are cleaning up from the
tornado damage (below).
Lee Bottom Field offers service to military, commercial
and smaller planes, but the authentic grass runway proves perfect for
antique and vintage aircraft. Local pilots, as well as those flying
coast to coast, frequently stop at Lee Bottom Field to chat and rest
before going on the next leg of their flight. Flying instructors from
Louisville, Cincinnati and Indianapolis routinely bring students to
practice at the field.
Frith says Lee Bottom provides the best airport in the world for old-fashioned
flying. The next closest is in Australia.
He continues, Rich and Ginger are gifts to the aviation community.
They never had kids, so the pilots became their children. What they
give to the community cannot be measured in dollars. They make flying
what its supposed to be. Now the Davidsons need pilots to
measure that gratitude in dollars and give a little back. The March
2 tornadoes devastated the airfield and facilities. Winds tore away
roofs, scattered tools and wrecked tractors leaving behind nearly $200,000
The Davidsons insurance wasnt enough to cover the damage,
so they opted to transform the 2012 Fly-In into a fund raising event.
Were taking a step back toward a longer goal, notes
Every private pilot knows the phrase, the $100 Hamburger.
Private pilots frequently enjoy the privilege of hopping into their
plane and heading to a nearby city for dinner noting, Im
going out for a $100 hamburger.
This year, the Davidsons hope the hundreds of pilots who have relished
Lee Bottom will do just that. The 2012 $100 Hamburger Tornado
Relief Fly-In will take place Saturday, Sept. 29, all day. For this
one year only, the usual $10 entrance fee will increase to $100. Pilots
have the chance to literally go out for a $100 Hamburger.
The entrance fee gets each person a hamburger, chips, soda and a stake
in the preservation of Lee Bottom Field. The Davidsons hope to raise
more than $50,000.
The annual Fly-In offers pilots the chance to show off their aircraft,
share information and catch up with each others lives. Rich notes
that these events bring more than $500,000 to the Madison economy each
year. Because of Lee Bottom Fields international reputation, the
airport draws people from all over the world who then discover the other
attractions of Madison.
The annual Fly-In is so popular it has been covered in every aviation
magazine in the United States plus 12 international publications.
Its pretty much a family reunion for pilots, Rich
But its a large family reunion. Typically more than 400 aircraft
and 2,000 family members get together for the weekend event.
Pilots fly in from as far as Alaska while others come from around the
world, as far as Australia, to take part.
Rich realizes the increase in entry fee will shock many locals who have
always supported the airfield. He wants to ensure everyone that this
is a one-year-only increase simply to get the airport back on its feet.
He hopes that people see the value Lee Bottom Field is, not only to
the aviation community, but to the Madison community at large, and give
their support to keep the airport going. He also notes that children
age 16 and under will still enter for free. Hamburgers will be $5. Only
those age 17 and up will pay the entry fee.
Frith urges pilots and locals to turn out. He says, Rich and Ginger
make aviation what its supposed to be. I get pretty jaded from
dealing with unscrupulous people. My job becomes just getting from point
A to point B. But, when I get in my old plane and fly to Lee Bottom,
I reconnect to flying. They bring the soul of aviation to life. I will
do anything to bring awareness of that little gem on the Ohio River.
I hope others will, too.
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