A Small Business That Took Off

The Griffing Flying Service in Sandusky, Ohio is a small business that took off and became a crucial part of commerce along Ohio’s north coast.  Since the 1930s, Griffing has operated a combination flying school, airport, and charter service that caters to the Lake Erie islands and provides a key travel option for island visitors and residents alike.

Waiting to board on the Griffing air strip

If you walk in the front door of the Griffing terminal building, you will immediately see colorful scraps of cloth tacked to a bulletin board, with handwritten information reporting on milestones — like “first solo” — achieved by flight students.  The rest of the operation has a similarly down-home, relaxed feel to it.  The pilots are friendly and will load your baggage for you.  If you are a regular traveler, the receptionist will keep your name and passport information on file from year-to-year to make the reservation process easier.  When you fly with Griffing, you really do fly the friendly skies.

Aboard our 8-passenger plane to Pelee Island

The flying experience at Griffing also a lot of fun.  You fly in propeller planes that offer a totally different sensation than flying in a jet.  You aren’t shielded from the experience by a huge, soundproofed plane and plush seats.  Instead, you are close to the ground, feeling the plane picking up speed as it bounces down the runway and lifts steadily into the air.  The pilot isn’t locked away in a closed cockpit, he’s just a few feet away, doing his pilot thing.  (On some flights, I’ve even sat in the co-pilot seat for an especially close-up view.)   On our trips to Pelee Island and Rattlesnake Island, the planes have never gotten more than 1000 feet off the ground (or over the lake, as the case may be), and when the plane banks and comes in for a landing, you feel the pull and the drop to the runway in your gut.

Anyone who has never flown in a smaller plane should give it a try sometime.  Griffing Flying Service is a good place to start.


Recall Wisconsin?

Remember Wisconsin?  It’s been knocked off the front pages by more pressing stories, but earlier this year Wisconsin dominated the national news when Governor Scott Walker sought to reform public employee collective bargaining laws, Democratic Senators fled the state, and protesters occupied the Wisconsin Statehouse for days.

Today Wisconsin is back in the news, writing another chapter in the saga of the public employee collective bargaining law.  Six Republican Senators face unusual mid-summer recall votes today.  If Democrats can win three of those seats, the Wisconsin Senate will flip to Democratic control.  Proponents and opponents of the collective bargaining law have poured millions of dollars — at least $28 million, according to estimates — into advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts.  Polling data indicates that all six of the races are close, with turnout likely to tell the tale.  And who can predict how many voters will show up at the polls on a hot summer day?

In Ohio, there is special interest in Wisconsin because the Buckeye State followed Wisconsin’s lead in enacting a public employee collective bargaining law.  In Ohio, the fight will resume in November, when the electorate will vote on a public referendum on that law.  Wisconsin’s votes today could be an indicator of how the political tides are flowing.  I also wonder whether the recent national news about government spending, debt, and credit ratings will have any effect on voters.  Wisconsin Republicans have defended the collective bargaining law, in part, on the ground that it has meant savings for cash-strapped state and local government entities.  If recent events have made voters more concerned about government spending, that may work to the Republicans’ advantage.