You're Not The Only Person Flying
by jeff edwards
Airports are like your neighborhood. At our little privately owned, public use airport we have 125 hangars and hundreds of airplanes, a couple of flight schools, a Part 135 operation, fueling facilities, an office, an aviation museum and more. Most importantly we have lots of people! I am sure there are many airports like it around the country. For the most part, these small airports are self-regulated. We pretty much live and let live around here. Right now, due to the flooding plaguing the Midwest, another nearby airport has largely relocated to our little place. We have become very crowded—mainly because a large local flight school came with that relocation. We are happy to help them out.
The floods are affecting our airport as well. Over 100 of our hangars now have water in them. Due to rising flood waters, some of us hosted the displaced aircraft, helped out relocating hangar stuff, etc. I currently have a Comanche in my hangar waiting for its own hangar to dry out. The flood waters are due to recede later this week, and my hangar appears to be spared.
Last week I found the Sonex pictured below parked on the grass next to my office blocking the taxiway. No one in the FBO office knew anything about it. I was not happy because I planned to do a little flying that morning. Not only was it parked there but it was immobilized due to a busted tailwheel. I looked up the N number and called the pilot on his cell phone. I explained the taxiway situation and he apologized. I thought about my then not so neighborly attitude and immediately changed my tone. I told him I noted his tailwheel was busted and he explained that he and his wife were on a long cross country from the west coast to visit family in Ohio when it broke on landing. They were AOG far from home. He asked about a small shop here and asked if they could handle the repair. I assured him that they would do a good job. He and his wife arrived soon afterwards and I offered him hangar space but by then the shop was coming down to move the aircraft. The shop had to order a tailwheel assembly from Sonex and it would not arrive until the next day so he and his wife rented a car and continued their trip to Cincinnati to visit their son. I saw him again today as he was at the pump fueling the little bird to fly home. He is a homebuilder like us and works for a major aerospace company and he is planning on being at Airventure again this year. Nice gentleman, and I am glad I met him.
This situation has caused me to think more about being a good airport neighbor. I have been blessed to have a front row seat from my office at our local airport since my window fronts the main ramp. I am sure all of you have your list of dos and don'ts when it comes to being a good airport neighbor. Here are a few of mine:
Do: Be cheerful and welcoming to strangers at your airport. An elderly man and his 17-year-old grandson mistakenly entered our office today looking for the flight school. Due to the floods I invited them in and gave them a seat and located the instructor. It was the grandson’s first flying lesson. I could have sent them to the FBO which has several inches of water in it but they did not have any waders or galoshes. I wanted his first experience to be the best for him. Wet shoes would not have helped that situation.
Many times I have found Lancairs on the ramp overnight. Invariably, I wander out and introduce myself to the pilot and offer my hangar space for the evening (or longer). Only a few have taken me up on it, but I have made some great friends that way—especially Dr. Hassan Malik!
Rarely, someone experiences a grounding breakdown on the ramp, and I have spent some time assisting with tools, wrenching, etc. No one likes to be stranded, but the kindness of strangers goes a long way to ease the burden.
The don't list is long, but if you remember one thing, remember this: You are not the only pilot with the only aircraft in the universe. Be considerate of others!
- block taxiways. Don’t pull up to the fuel pump and walk away or go to lunch. Don’t leave your APU running outside my window all day.
- smoke while you are refueling the aircraft, because the person you blow up may be me. My office is less than 150 feet to the fuel pumps. I am certain a flaming airplane will consume my office and me with it.
- turn your aircraft towards my open hangar door and do a full power runup. It tends to reorganize the hangar real quick!
- do a runup at the fuel pump. Find out where the runup area is and do it there.
- pull up to the hold short line blocking the taxiway and do a 30-minute runup. Be ready to takeoff when you get to the hold short. Give way to others if you are not ready!
- go NORDO in the traffic pattern. God gave us radios to use for official business like traffic advisories. Use yours!
- follow the B-52 on downwind. When you extend a downwind to practice the dreaded 7 engine approach, everyone else has to follow. Again, be considerate of others in the pattern.
- buzz the pattern. No one needs to see that your aircraft is a lot slower than the F/A-18 the Blue Angels fly. Besides, half of the airport bums will think you are a douche for doing so, and the students in the traffic pattern will scatter like birdshot as soon as they see Mr. Hot Shot approaching the numbers. Don’t be that guy. If you are looking for approval get it somewhere else.
- fail to study the A/FD. It has a lot of important information about the airport and local airspace. Our airport is right traffic for runway 16 but occasionally some knucklehead uses a left pattern and violates the Class B airspace one mile east of us. Also, our traffic pattern is 800 feet AGL. Higher puts you in the Class B.
Finally, adjust your attitude and be a good neighbor!
For comments/questions on this post send an email to info [at] lancairowners.com.