Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lee Bottom Wood, Fabric, and Tailwheels Fly-In

I received an email late Monday night from a pilot that's a fellow member of EAA Chapter 284 and owns a Luscombe 8A that he hangars at Stewart. He was looking for another pilot to fly with him to Lee Bottom Flying Field's annual "Wood, Fabric, and Tailwheels" Fly-In this morning. Gina has cross-country meets on Saturday mornings and I've always wanted to fly to Lee Bottom so it was an easy yes!

Video of our time in the sky along with some of the action at Lee Bottom

We met at the airport about 8:45 and John already had the airplane ready to go. The weather was nothing short of perfect - clear and CAVU with the wind out of the west at about 6 knots. John climbed in and I hand-propped the engine to get the 65 hp Continental moving, then climbed in myself. It was around 9:05 when we lifted off Stewart's dry grass (we are in serious need of some rain here!) and climbed into the gorgeous blue sky.

The air was smooth as glass the entire way down as we cruised at 2,500 feet. We went direct Cincinnati West (I67) and then direct Lee Bottom to stay under the shelves of Cincinnati's Class Bravo airspace. The Luscombe doesn't have an electrical system so that means no transponder and no entry into the Bravo. I never realized how many radio control clubs there were down this way - we passed almost directly over top of two of them and I could see people out flying their model airplanes.

The Miami Valley Radio Control Club's runway, near Lebanon

Passing over the Lebanon Correctional Institution

Trader's World, the giant flea market next to the charred remains of Touchdown Jesus

Hamilton Area Wireless Kontrol Society - notice the planes flying up top!

The rolling hills of southern Ohio begin to appear as we approach the Ohio River

Miami Fort Power Station - the 36th dirtiest coal-fired plant in the country!

Looking out the front while cruising at 2,500 feet on this CAVU morning

We were passed by this RV that was also enroute to Lee Bottom

More rolling hills as we passed by Friendship, IN

Clifty Creek Power Plant - the 49th dirtiest coal-fired plant in the country!

The recommended pattern entry was to fly west of town, aim for a white water tower, and then fly to the old power plant to enter an upwind leg. I spotted traffic as we approached the area but we successfully sequenced ourselves into the flow. The only crazy thing was one guy that appeared to be going directly towards the old power plant. He was pointed almost head-on at us and John had to make a right turn for spacing. Both of us thought this guy would turn at some point but he didn't seem to me moving!

Due to the tall (I'm guessing about 400 feet) hills on the west side of the field, the downwind leg is always flown over the river. We were number three by the time we were over the Ohio and John flew a great pattern and spaced things out perfectly. He used a healthy forward slip (the Luscombe's got great rudder authority!) on short final to drop us in over the trees and we touched down gently on the smooth grass.

Lee Bottom Flying Field and the Ohio River while flying the upwind leg of the pattern

Turning downwind with the beautiful grass field off to our right

Aeronca Champ landing on the grass - this is what I flew on my first solo

"Buster" - the Luscombe 8A that flew us safely to and from Lee Bottom

This was an interesting plane to see up close, a Republic RC-3 Seabee

Winner of the "worst paint job on the field" award

Row after row of airplanes - nearly 300 were on the field!

The Questair Venture has a crazy short fuselage, 280 hp, and weighs 1200 lbs empty!

Watching a Robinson R44 depart after spending some time on the ground

They even landed a DC-3 at Lee Bottom!

This long line is why I skipped lunch and we flew home in time to beat the traffic

As you can see from all the photos, we walked around looking at airplanes for a couple hours. There were 150+ on the ground when we arrived and the arrival flow didn't slow down much until just before we left. So many beautiful airplanes on a perfect flying day on a great grass strip - talk about vintage aviation exemplified.

The line for lunch was extremely long so I elected to skip that so we could get out and beat the rush. It was around 1:00 when I hand-propped the airplane, climbed in, and we taxiied all the way down to the end of Runway 36. Takeoff was short and we got a great view of all those airplanes still on the ground as we climbed out. The return flight was much bumpier than the flight down. We had to stay below 3,000 feet due to the Bravo airspace so climbing to smoother air wasn't an option.

Crossing the Ohio River on our way home

The Great Miami River and downtown Hamilton, OH

With the prevailing winds from the west, the return trip was about 10 minutes quicker than our flight down. The bumps continued all the way to the pattern at Stewart but they didn't phase either of us. You do tend to get used to these things as a pilot. He set Buster down nicely at the home field and we got everything shut down and pushed the plane into the hangar. It was a great day of flying and airplanes and I'm really glad I was asked to tag along as an extra set of eyes. It's kind of fun to be a passenger once in a while and just enjoy the view. Thanks again, John!


  1. Wow, you couldn't have asked for better weather. Doesn't look like there was too much summer haze, either.

  2. Nope, there was just a little early morning fog/haze in the valleys that was burned off by the time we were airborne. Other than the bumps on the way home it was just about perfect.

  3. What a day to fly! Looked like a fun trip to another great grass field. I need to start landing on that stuff.

  4. Wow, nice way to spend the day! Flying a tailsragger makes it even better! You can have the rain we are having here this week, phew! Will it end? I have water in the basement starting to show up, yuk!

  5. Taildragger I meant :-). The field is really dry compared to when we were there to visit. Nice slip after crossing the road :-)

  6. Yuck - I didn't even realize you guys were getting all that rain until I caught wind of it on the news this morning. I clearly haven't been keeping up on tropical weather like I usually do this time of year.

    Stewart's grass is quite dry - we're quite a few inches of rain below normal right now. We had a spring full of rain and then it pretty much stopped once June rolled around. It finally rained a bunch on Monday but that's the first sustained precip we've had in longer than I can remember.

    Hope your basement doesn't get too bad!

  7. Buster was a local airplane , restored out here in Washington state by a friend who is a talented restorer...
    It is a beautiful 8A Luscombe, glad to see someone
    Is getting a lot of pleasure flying her.... Make me want to get my 8E flying soon.....

  8. I like your blog, you got really amazing collection of pictures.