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Monday, October 12, 2020

Knights dominate days at Butler airport

What’s Up
by LeRoy Cook
12 Oct 20


In the absence of much other traffic, the Butler Memorial Airport was host to a series of events that put it on the map last week. Part of the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights parachute demonstration team was here, doing a bunch of honor jumps for people who were on the front lines of virus and emergency response situations, as well as VIP jumps that helped in the airborne Army’s recruitment efforts.

Which explains why the 65-foot wide, 19-foot tall Twin Otter jump plane was occupying SkyDive KC’s spot on the parking ramp. Several times a day it made runs to 12,500 feet to discharge jumpers, mostly tandem rigs with an experienced instructor strapped to a complete novice going along for the ride. Normally carrying 20 in airline service, a dozen was the normal jump load. To slake its thirst, the Otter would divert to New Century for fuel periodically, where military refueling is available. Normal SkyDive KC jump operations resumed Friday evening, with a powered parachute horning in at the drop zone occasionally.

Otherwise, transient traffic was sparse. One reason was inclement weather not too far away at times; Hurricane Delta was bringing rain up as far as the Missouri bootheel early in the weekend, and the thick fog that was present early Saturday, while it broke open here, stayed in place through noon just west of here, in Johnson County, KS and out to Wichita. On Sunday, the fog blanketed Missouri east of Butler. Local flying was done by Randy Shannon in his new Zenith CH-750HD, Brandt Hall in both his KIS Cruiser and Slipstream Genesis homebuilts, and Riley Gilkenson in a Cessna 150.

Butler Memorial Airport got written up in the latest issue of Readers Digest magazine. There’s a note on page 47 about “unusual airport designations,” including our own “BUM.” Actually, airports in the U.S. now have a “K” in front of their three-letter code, to differentiate them from a similar navigation aid fix, like the BUM VORTAC station just west of town. RD also mentioned “YUM” at Yuma, AZ and “LOL” for Derby, Nevada.

So, with international travel severely restricted by border enforcement in the Covid age, some airlines are promoting getaway ventures for bored house-bound people. Those flights will depart and arrive at the same in-country airport. Quantas, for instance, is offering a round-robin tour of Australia lasting seven hours, a perfect antidote for folks who’ve been unable to leave Sydney and Melbourne on normal cross-Pacific routes.

Last week, we asked if there any deaf pilots licensed by the FAA. Actually, there are about 200, whose only restriction is to avoid airspace requiring two-way communication unless they have a hearing pilot with them. For next time, true-or-false: There is a pilot flying an airplane who has no arms. Send your answers to kochhaus1@gmail.com.