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Don Lee: Missing the maples, except for the sap it leaves behind

EDITOR’S NOTE: Don Lee is taking a break from his column this week. The following is a piece that originally was published on Nov. 18, 2017.

In late 2017, the Lawrence County Airport was getting a new office in the way of a trailer with the hard work of the Tri-State Pilot’s Association and with the permission of the county commissioners.

Danny Pelfrey was one of the prime movers of the procurement with the help of Bill Nenni.

There were several others who provided labor and equipment to prepare the site and foundation for trailer, which included cutting the huge maple trees that Howard Mayes planted in the early 1930s.

Howard told me that he had help from an “airport bum” whom he sent to local stable to get horse manure to fertilize the planting.

The guy didn’t want to go.

He told Howard that the horse manure wasn’t very good this year because the pasture was sparse. But Howard convinced him to go anyway.

I had mixed feeling about seeing these tree cut, but I remember tying down my Cessna 182 near them for a few days and it took me quite a while to scrub off the dried tree sap off my tail surfaces and fuselage.

I have mentioned that I was eager to land on the eastern end of the runway since the trees were cut. It didn’t happen.

Since it has been a long dry spell since have flown due to plane repair, I go up with an instructor. Jessica, my instructor, and I were all set to go flying, but I found that when the throttle was closed to idle, the engine dies.

We decided that the prudent thing to do would be to have one of our local mechanics look into the problem before we flew.

It might be more than embarrassing if when we throttle back for landing and the engine dies. Later, it was found that the throttle linkage had slipped.

There should have been a locking material applied to bolt threads, it wasn’t done. It was not our local mechanics that had not applied the locking stuff.

A few words about one of my favorite subjects, space travel. I find that there are three rival companies in the launching business: Space X, United Launch Alliance (ULA), and Blue Origin.

It is an expensive hobby to be in this business.

Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin is reported to sell some of his Amazon.com stock each year to be able to spend about $1B a year on developing engines and vehicles for his venture in space.

He has an agreement with ULA to supply BE-4 engines to replace the Russian made engine that they have been using for their Atlas rockets.

The Blue Origin Engine will use liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen for fuel. ULA also hopes to use the BE-4 for their new Vulcan Rocket.
Blue Origin’s claim to fame is the use of the first stage rocket multiple times.

Blue Origin is leasing Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral in Florida along with SpaceX for future launches.

Don Lee, a pilot flying out of Lawrence County Airport since 1970, has been in charge of equipment and grounds maintenance for the last several years. He can be reached at eelnod22@gmail.com