What’s Up by LeRoy Cook
Be ready for spring flying, even as we still deal with threats of cold and snow. Saturday’s brief thunderstorms got our attention, fueled by strong winds aloft blowing warm air from the southwest against the cold airmass moving in from the north. Iowa got hit hard by tornadoes.
Transient traffic at Butler Memorial airport this week included a 2003 Cirrus SR22, a Vans RV7 homebuilt, a Cessna Skyhawk and a Beech Bonanza A36. A CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter also passed through, from the Army Reserve unit at New Century.
Local flyers we observed taking wing were Gerald Bauer in a Cessna 150, along with Jeff Arnold and Kenion Nance, also operating 150s. CFI Eric Eastland regained currency in the Cessna Skyhawk, Roy Conley was up in his Grumman Tr2 and I made a maintenance run in the 1946 Aeronca.
Every so often I get asked why the local airfield is called “Butler Memorial.” Like a lot of other Missouri airports, the name stems from a Memorial Airport Act the state legislature passed in the early 1960s. This was before there was a Federal Aviation Trust Fund doling out airplane fuel tax money, so the only government grants available for airport construction were from the State. When the City bought the airport property from the Grover Gilbert estate in 1963 it received $25,000 for a “Memorial” airport, enough to build a half-mile buckshot runway back then. In the small park south of the ramp you can see a monument erected to all veterans, a grant requirement.
We can expect flying to get more expensive, just like driving and moving freight, thanks to the rising price of crude oil and fears over supply disruptions, all fueled by the Ukrainian war. Aviation gas is a specialty fuel, only made in a few places in the U.S. and generally is priced high anyway, but it’ll only get worse. The current pump price is $5.25, just above the average for this area last month. Airline tickets will be going up, as jet fuel escalates.
For this week’s question, we asked readers to tell us whose picture can be found on U.S. pilot licenses. If you look on the back side, you’ll find portraits of Wilbur and Orville Wright, inventors of the airplane. Okay, for next time, tell us how you can tell which one is Wilbur and which one is Orville, at a glance. Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org