NEW Daily Blog! October 1, 2017

NEW Daily Blog!  October 1, 2017
NEW Daily Blog! October 1, 2017

Greetings! it’s the 12th of December.  This past evening, Cheryl and I joined our friends/neighbors at a delightful annual patio party at Tom & Jill Ullick’s home.  Great friends, excellent food & conversation.  Memorable!  We are already looking forward to next year!   T’nite is our neighborhood’s Annual HOA Meeting.  Given who is on the ballot for the BOD, there will likely be a large turnout in hopes of preventing a disaster…  Ominous sounding ain’t it🤔


L-R:  Carl Seburn-Norma Bryant-Sandy Lemme-Nancy Seburn-Bob Lemme-Tom Ahillen-Glen Bryant-Tom Ullick-Deb Ahillen-Jill Ullick-Cheryl & Billy-Kathleen & Angelo Daurio




11th of December!  

Cheryl and I spent the past few days with our son, Preston, and his family in PA.  Really nice!  We watched our grandkids play basketball.  Plus, our grandson, Dylan, received some nice awards from a fabulous football season.  A sophomore, he led the league as a wide receiver and defensive end.  
We flew on Southwest.  T’nite, sitting in the isle seat opposite me was an old guy of my vintage.   We sorta nodded at one-another.  Four and a half hours later we landed in Phoenix.  Arriving at the gate – then waiting for the folks up front to depart this fellow, across from me, noticed my leather flying jacket that displays some airplanes denoting my nefarious aviation career.  He asked, “are you a pilot?”  “Yup,” I replied.  He said, “My son was a Navy pilot and is now a test pilot with Boeing.  I wished I had learned to fly.”   I said, “It ain’t too late!”   Then I noticed his ASU logo on his shirt.   
“Are you with ASU,” I asked?  “Nope, I’m an ol’ ASU Alum,” he said.  I replied, “Well shoot!  Cheryl and I both went to ASU.  When were you there?”  He said, “I played football and basketball there graduating in 1964!”  I said, “Well that was when I was there!  If you played basketball, didju know Raul Disarufino or Tony Cerkvenik?”   “I’m Raul!”  “I’ll be damned! I’m Billy Walker.”  “Holy cow, we haven’t seen each other since we were in Las Vegas t’gether with Dick Mansperger back in the day…!”  Raul and I were members of Alpha Tau Omega (ATΩ) at Arizona State University.    Serendipity is my favorite word!
Raul looks great.  He is planning on making our next breakfast April 27th, 2018!  With Duth, Frank Conn, Hugo Zettler, and Gordon Watson joining us it otter be a dandy gathering of the Tau Bunch! 
Grandson Dylan’s star shined brightly this year!  Checkout the photos from t’nites awards banquet honoring Dylan’s outstanding play on his high school football team.  As a freshman, last year, Dylan started both on offense and defense as well as handling the kicking duties.  Dylan was a tad over 6′ 4″ as a freshman and, now a sophomore, is the center on the Daniel Boone High basketball team.  Cheryl and I just returned from watching him play along with granddaughter, Kaylie, a star on the girls high school basketball team.  Kaylie is a senior and being recruited by several universities.  Oldest granddaughter, Gianna, is in her first year at Loyola (MD).  All three kids fortunately took to Cheryl’s DNA and are making top grades.  Wasn’t it just five minutes ago we were cheering Preston and his best pal, Jeremy, on the Saguaro High School gridiron?  Looking at the photo below someone should get the measuring stick out.  Preston is 6′ 2″ and Dylan’s stats show him as 6’4.”  Either Preston shrunk or Dylan has grown some more🤔
Below:  Dylan (12/11/2017 – Age 15)

Kaylie – Dylan – Renee – Preston 

On this day in history back in 1959 I was a freshman at Arizona State University.  It was my first year and ASU’s first year as a university.  Frank Kush was the head football coach.  Bill Kajikawa was the freshman football coach.  My football career lasted barely three days.  Forty nine years later I’d sport a prosthetic right knee.   I’ve long regretted my being prevented from playing football at the college level.  Thinking back, I wasn’t that good at the high school level.  My claim-to-fame being that I was awarded FIVE varsity football letters!  Likely, no one else can make that claim.  I covered this story in Walker Bunch – Part I.  

Years later I got to know Frank Kush when I was on the BOD for the National Football Foundation.  Frank was the board chairman.  We shared the love of fly fishing and made several trips together down the Snake River near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Frank was a larger than life character who achieved greatness as a football coach but gave so much back to the community in many ways.  Bill Kajikawa didn’t achieve the national notoriety that Frank Kush did, but anyone who knew Bill ain’t likely to ever forget him, nor hold him other than in the highest regard.

Coach Bill Kajikawa RIP

Coach Kajikawa (September 6, 1912 – February 15, 2010) was a wonderful man who coached football, basketball and baseball at ASU.  I recall his caring ways when my not too promising football career ended suddenly.  The practice field is now named in Coach Kajikawa’s honor.  He lived 97 years.   

Son, Preston, had knee problems as well but pushed through the injuries to become All Arizona, All State, and even USA Today All American Hon. Mention.  Preston went on to play on a scholarship at Villanova University.

Grandson, Dylan, looks like he might blow right by his father’s outstanding gridiron success.  I hope his knees hold up!



6th of December!  T’morrow Cheryl and I will be traveling to PA to visit son, Preston, and our three ultra-amazing grandkids!   We will both be thinking of what happened on December 7th, 1941 – A Day of Infamy!  We’ll be thinking of how great America’s patriotism was during WWII and allowing some sad thoughts as to some of the degradation of patriotism so sad to see.  Of course thoughts can be uplifting too.  The good work of the Joe Foss Institute where veterans go to schools throughout our country. Veteran’s such as LTC Robert Ashby and Major General Carl Schneider remind America’s patriots of tomorrow the importance of knowing our history and about the sacrifices of our military.

4th of December…  Cheryl and I just waived ‘bye to our Canuck/Mexican friends Dave & Laurie.  We plan on seeing them at their new digs in  after the new year doins.’

December 3rd…  Cheryl and I are awaiting for the arrival of Colorado/Edmonton friends, Dave & Laurie Baggs.  They are enroute to their winter digs in Mexico.  Dave and I have been friends since 1964 when we both were with Teton National in Cheyenne.  Dave & Laurie met in Mexico a few years ago and have been together since.  Cheryl and I have spent several Christmas’ with Dave & Laurie.  One year we were on the RiverWalk in San Antonio, another year in New Orleans where we thoroughly enjoyed the WWII Museum started by author Steven Ambrose.  We recommend you put both places on your bucket list!

2nd day of December 2017.  I spent the morning with some flyin’ buddies at Stellar Airpark.  Kurt Gearhart organized the annual EAA Young Eagles flight.  19 airplanes stayed busy taking youngsters for their first flights.  Some, no doubt, will become pilots and even a few might become aviators (a rare thing in a growing pilot population).  Here’s a few photos of Joe Sottile in his mirror shiny Myers 145 taking a huge smile attached to a youngster aloft.  Speakin’ of smiles Ed Newberg was there in his magnificent ol’ UC-78 “Bamboo Bomber!”  It was a fine day for flyin’:

Later this evening many of us will gather at Airbase Arizona for the Christmas party to honor the many CAF volunteers who make our lives seem brighter.


…the last day of November 2017!   I found my dream airplane.  Actually, it’s a new Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner.’ It is available for rent!  …at only $20,000 to hire!

I can’t even guess what a nice flight from Phoenix to Saratoga might be but I guarantee it would hit the front page of the Saratoga Sun if that flight were to happen…

November 28th, I found the following in one of my pilot pubs.  I thought I’d share this with you.  Fellow pilot David Fields OK’d my use of his poignant story:

…a poem written by eleven year old, Mary Wheatley, in 1941 after her father was killed test flying a B-24. 

Mary was just one day shy of her 11th birthday when her father died. Her poem is a real tearjerker. The poem ran in her local newspaper in Buffalo, N.Y., then went viral. Newspapers all over the country picked it up and it even ran in Ladies Home Journal. Kate Smith read it on-air during her NBC radio program. A colleague, David Fields, discovered the poem a few years ago while researching early pilots.  
…a picture of Mary. Where was she? Was she still alive? Poring through the same newspaper archives where my colleague found the account of Bill Wheatley’s death and Mary’s poem, then he stumbled across Mary’s 1953 wedding announcement. This presented a new name to search and…boom! A phone number popped up and he nervously called. Mary, age 87, answered the phone. Her voice was sweet but weak. Mary was in Hospice. Over the next 30 days he was in touch with Mary and her family almost daily. Mary and her daughter Lisa were ecstatic that “Daddy Bill” and Mary’s poem were not forgotten, especially in Mary’s final days. Lisa sent us photos of Mary and kept us apprised of Mary’s condition. 

One day Mary talked about Reuben Fleet, president of Consolidated Aircraft and Bill’s employer. “That Reuben Fleet had eyes for my mother, but Daddy Bill won that contest! One day a flyboy tried to drive my mommy home and Daddy Bill pulled up alongside him at a stop light and ripped out his distributor. Daddy drove her home.” Lisa also put us in touch with Vera Wheatley, Bill’s 11-year-old great granddaughter. Vera read the poem for a film. My colleague and the Wheatley family desperately wanted Mary to see a rough cut of the movie before she died. Hemlock Films was able to do the job. Lisa played the film for her mother. Seeing her father on screen and hearing her grand-niece read the poem, “…filled Mary’s face with pride and joy and indescribable emotions,” according to Lisa. As Mary put it, “I couldn’t ask for a better ending to my life.” We then got the news that our usual narrator was ill and unable to work on our film. Mary’s younger half-brother, Peter, stepped up. A veteran Hollywood actor, he did the voice-over free of charge in honor of his big sister. Mary went west September 4. Some of her ashes were spread in San Diego Harbor, site of her father’s 1941 crash. 

To My Father 
They say my daddy died. 
He did not die. 
Why just tonight I heard him fly
Above my roof Is that not proof 
That he’s alive and breathing where 
The world is safe and free from care? 
They say he folded wings at sea 
But daddy would have wanted me 
To doubt those things 
You can’t fold wings 
that for a lifetime have been spread 
To fly above a first child’s head 
Tonight when all the world is still 
I’ll lean upon my window sill 
And listen for you, Daddy Bill 
And though the whole world fails to note 
A fast approaching flying boat 
With ghostly motors in its throat 
I’ll hear it come and I shall be 
Proud – proud that you flew east to me 
On wings that no one else can see!


November 26th Cheryl and neighbor, Kathleen, enjoyed the symphony last night while I enjoyed a great party for Gordon Johnson’s 60th birthday at Brown’s Classic Car’s in Scottsdale.  Life entertainment and scrumptious eats!

T’day, catchin’ up some at home with Miss Cheryl.  I’m reading pal Captain Mike Daciek’s family history.  Mike is a great writer who enjoyed a great military and airline career retiring as a captain with Continental.  Mike and I were in the same new-hire class with the historic ol’ Frontier Airlines now more than a half-century ago.  You’ll hear more about Mike here one day soon.

November 25th – yesterday I flew four flights in 964.  It was a beautiful Arizona azure sky day with everyone seemingly delighted with their bi-plane experience.  T’day I’ll be part of a five-ship Missing Man formation flight to honor Horace Griffen.  A bit about Horace is on the November 21st blog.  It’ll be an honor to honor his memory t’day…

I wrote a story about my Uncle Jack (“Uncle Barnsmell”).  Be sure to check it out:


November 23rd ?

Thanks to Cheryl for the great Thanksgiving card!

November 22nd…  I was sent a site:  Rolling Thunder Remembered which reminded me of Col. Mark Berent’s book series beginning with Rolling Thunder.  Go to  These are excellent reads!

I found this site which is narrated by “The Voice” Sam Elliott.  It is as gripping and poignant as you’ll undoubtably agree:

November 21st!  I’ve completed the re-write of Fly The Wing – Fourth Edition!  It is now in the hands of ASA, the publisher, where the real work begins with the editing process.  Lotsa back and forth will take place before the book is on the shelves…

If you are near Leisure World Saturday (Nov 25th) at 3:30 PM, look up!  You’ll see our bi-plane squadron over head in the Missing Man Formation to honor WWII veteran pilot, Horace Griffen who died suddenly in Mexico at 96.  Horace was the sole surviving member of “The City of Yuma” endurance flight in 1949.  Horace was a remarkable fellow.  My squadron mates and I feel it a privilege to honor Horace in such a way as our smoke-on formation.  That is precisely our mission statement.

Above: Horace Griffen driving the Buick convertible he donated for this amazing feat! 

More on Horace’s very full life:  Horace Bigelow Griffen III passed away peacefully on October 11, 2017 at the age of 96, while visiting Cancun, Mexico.
Horace was born Feb. 14, 1921 in Mesa, Arizona. After graduating from Mesa High in 1939, the star quarterback went to USC on a football scholarship. He was inducted into Mesa Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. Horace lived life to the fullest and had a variety of interesting careers and hobbies. He was a paperboy for the AZ Republic, an actor, a pilot and pilot trainer for British fighter pilots in WWII at Falcon Field, a Buick dealership owner in Yuma, a New York Life salesman in Yuma, Scottsdale, Farmington and Durango.

He and his wife, Jackie, were very good at their sales and received national recognition. He was a member of the 1949 City of Yuma record breaking endurance flight. And, in 1999 a member of the historic plane’s restoration and re-enactment flight. He was a lifelong Rotarian (past president, Durango), a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, the Elks Lodge, Yuma Chambers of Commerce, the Yuma Union High School Board, past president of the Arizona Automobile Association, founding member of the both the Yuma and Durango Barber Shoppers and president of the Hillcrest Golf Club and for many years chaired the Navajo Trails Tournament.

He loved 4-wheeling in the mountains of Colorado, spending summers fishing and house boating on Lake Powell and winters RVing throughout southwest US and Mexico. He was an avid golfer. In 2004, he moved from his home in Durango CO to Casa Grande, AZ. Then in 2015 he returned to his birthplace of Mesa AZ.

He is survived by his children Kent Griffen (Anne), Judy Griffen Gardner, Linda Bray (Brian), 7 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren, various other family members, and his long-time significant other, Mary Ann Elliott and her family.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Horace Bigelow Griffen II and Jessie Griffen, wife and love Jackie Eubank Griffen, and sister Clare Griffen Horlbeck (Earl).

Horace was a leader among leaders and a gentleman’s gentleman. He never spoke unkindly of anyone and never met a stranger. Anyone who knew him was better for it. His smile was infectious and his love of children and animals was unmeasured. His faithful dog Mitzi still sits by his chair. Horace will be forever loved and greatly missed.

Donations may be made in his name to Valley Humane Society, PO Box 10480, Casa Grande, AZ 85130 or Child Crisis Center of Mesa, 1045 E. University Dr. Mesa, AZ 85203.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, Nov. 25 from 4-7 pm at the Leisure World Club Room located at 908 S. Power Road, Mesa, Arizona.

November 17th Cactus Pilots meet.  Last night my pal, Arv Schultz joined our select group of Wright Brother’s Master Pilot awardees.  Arv and Gen. Carl Schneider were the ones who nominated me for the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame (2011).  My selection is as puzzling as is the apparent stagnation by the Pima Air & Space Museum folks who, at least for now, control the HOF.

The last laureates selected  2013!  Up to that point this was an annual event starting in 1990.  Here is a complete list:  <>

15th of November 2017.  Cheryl and I had a lengthy conversation with Kevin (Missouri State Office for Health & Senior Service.  Hopefully, Kevin (Missouri State Office of Health and Senior Services) is on track to find a way to help Cheryl’s sister, Helen, with her stressful issues.  Our family has been at a loss in trying to find a way to help Helen through this bizarre situation.   Please keep Helen in your prayers.

November 14th, Cheryl and I are home catching up.  Fly The Wing (Fourth Edition) is nearing completion of the updates.  I’ll soon have it in the hands of my publisher, ASA.

A gREat website:

Happy Veteran’s Day!  Cheryl and I are in Carlsbad, CA for our niece, Valerie Lotz, wedding t’day.  So, I’m missing out on our annual Veteran’s Day formation flights.  But then family gatherings are nice too.  We head back for TVOTS t’morrow.

Fly The Wing – Fourth Edition is coming along.  My publisher, ASA, expects it to be ready by late spring or early summer 2018…

November 9th, I was driving in my Prius to Falcon Field cruising along the Red Mountain 202 just west of the Gilbert Rd. turnoff when I was suddenly under attack!  A large Kenworth dumptruck was passing me while simultaneously leaving part of his load smashing into my car.  More than 100 hits including a busted windshield.

Tried getting the driver’s attention and finally did with my middle finger!  He slowed and pulled onto the far right lane just behind me.  I figure he would stop.  He didn’t.  He kept going with me keeping pace slowly ahead.  As we passed the next exit (Val Vista), he turned off.  I was able to slow and turn off as well.  Now I was behind the truck.  He pulled into a gravel yard and stopped.  I stopped and got out of my car.   I was still on the phone with the DPS dispatcher.  Yup, all is recorded…

The driver was very angry at me for “flippin’ him off.”  I said, “Interesting, you are upset with me signaling you.  Waving and flashing my lights didn’t seem to work.  Yet, it is my car, as you can see, with considerable damage from your truck.”   I asked his name.  “Monty” he replied and said, “You are the reason why we have signs on the back of our trucks to stay back 500′.”  I said, “There are a couple of things wrong with your statement.”  “Like what,” Monty challenged.  “First,” I said, “looking at the back of your truck, there is no such sign and your license plate is barely readable.  Second, you passed me!”  Monty said, “I’m in compliance.”  I said, “Perhaps, but you damaged my car!”  Monty turned for his truck.  I figured it was time to get the insurance folks involved.

November 6th!  I had expected to spend the day polishing Fly The Wing – Fourth Edition.  Instead, I traipsed all over town trying to find a replacement for our Blendtech blender that crashed!  None found!

Wednesday, I’ll fly 964 at Airbase Arizona.  Such a joy flyin’ this magnificent ol’ Stearman!



Already it’s the 2nd of November!  Cheryl and I are looking forward to seeing long-time friends, Dave & Tomme Kaplan.  We plan on meeting this evening at a favorite restaurant, L’Amore on Lincoln Drive near The Biltmore.  Excellent cuisine and ambiance.  Pal, Darrell Sawyer, introduced us to this excellent eatery sometime back.  Put it on your bucket list!

Now, back to work on Fly The Wing – Fourth Edition.  I’m thru Chapter 25.  So, I’m making good headway.  Still, lots of work left to do with hopes of presenting the manuscript to my publisher, ASA, by late spring/early summer 2018.


October 31st – It’s Halloween night t’nite!  Cheryl and I join our neighbors in our annual “Welcome the little goblins to the ‘hood!’  It’s always fun with lots of kibitizing with our neighbors along with sharing tasty food.  What tops it all is seeing the little faces light up as they fill their bags with not-so-healthy albeit very tasty treats!


October 30th, our Stearman Squadron, with Joe Sottile leading, flew our Missing Man formation to honor Gerald Parker, a WWII veteran pilot who flew the ubiquitous C-47 in the Normandy Invasion.  Just three days after this video was done, Gerald had Gone West.  RIP Gerald!  Thank YOU for your service to America.

Our formation recently over John Walkup’s Memorial Celebration of Life.

Our formation was much the same yesterday for Gerald Parker’s service.

We were a four ship yesterday with Joe Sottile, Larry Dustman, Billy Walker, & Mike Braegger.

October 27th – Nice BBQ Bash with old friends from the America West days.  Officially we are American Airlines Retirees now.  We were at the Heritage Center where 2017 History Maker and the founder of America West, Ed Beauvais, is honored.

Mary Ellen – Ed – Cheryl – Billy

T’day – more work on the Fourth Edition of Fly the Wing.  T’nite we dine with Jim & Suzy Thorne at their new home in Sun Lakes.  Jim was Director of Facilities at America West and my former partner in N-6RJ, the 1950 Bellanca 14-19+ that, sadly, we sold.  I shoulda kept that one!

October 26th.  I’m working all day on my book.  I’m up to 19 Chapters so far.  This evening, Cheryl and I will go to the Arizona State Historical Society Heritage Center in Tempe for our annual AWA/US Airways/American retiree BBQ.

John C. Hazelwood, the designer of my website, has been trying to help me with one page that is dad-burned stubborn!   It refuses to populate in my editing site but displays properly going to the public site. Mystifying!


October 25th.   I’m 15 Chapters out of 34 in the Fourth Edition of Fly the Wing.  A lot of work for a potential NY Times ‘Best Seller!’    Just kidding, books like this are for a very specialized market.  If you know someone coming from the military into the airlines, someone going into corporate aviation, or anyone wanting a good review of what it takes to fly in the environment an airline pilot flies in, this is THE book!  The book will be available sometime in the coming year…


October 24th.  

I just had a delightful flight with Chris Schaich in 964.  I’m so blessed being able to still ply my craft at 76 and counting!  Currently, I’m an Instructor Pilot with Airbase Arizona.  T’day’s mission was to complete a 602 check ride with Col. Schaich.  The wind was squirrelly with gusts to 25 knots.  No problem for Chris.  It was an easy day for me. …until I showed up at Lifetime Fitness for a coached workout with Jordan Pero.  When I arrived home, Cheryl asked, “How’d it go?”  I handed her the printout Jordan gave me and suggested she’d do well to request a session with him.   Jordan is a Physical Therapist on top of his talents coaching fitness.   At least with Miss Cheryl, Jordan can hope for some success!

After another of Cheryl’s culinary delights, I was about to start back working on my book, Fly the Wing (Fourth Edition), when a couple of e-mails caught my eye.  They ended up amazingly inspiring.  So, I thought I would share ’em with you.   Yup!  Truly inspiring!  …almost as much as Cheryl’s convocation and commencement address given at Arizona State University in 1996.  That, folks, tops ’em all!

Cheryl graduated Summa Cum Laude and received ASU’s Distinguished Graduate Award among other accolades in 1996.   On the spot she was promoted from being ‘Wife’ to ‘Supervisor’ after discovering how much smarter she was than I…  Cheryl continues to this day to being the wind beneath my wings…

Rick Rigsby – Make An Impact

The wisdom of a third-grade dropout will change your life. – Dr. Rick RigsbyInspired? Get Rick Rigsby's book; Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout:

Posted by Goalcast on Thursday, October 5, 2017

October 21st…

Hi Captain Walker! Hope you’ve been well and treated to calm winds and blue skies. I’m glad you liked the article, it was very fun to write and you were instrumental to its success! I’m more passionate about airplanes than I am about getting page views, so I hope all of my articles maintain that true-to-life feel!  Thank you for that.

Also, a ride in a Model 75 seems like a good enough reason to head down to Arizona, but I will definitely give you a holler if I get down that way soon!


Very nice to hear from you, and thanks again for your help with the article!
Carly S. Courtney

October 22nd.  Cheryl and I are watching a dismal Cardinals game with the LA Rams in London.  It’s ugly!  On the good side, ASU knocked off Utah yesterday 30-10.

I flew 964 in a five-ship formation to honor our ol’ flyin’ buddy, Bill Hane who is Gone West at 88.  In the formation was Sentimental Journey, our B-17, along with Bill Hane’s magnificent P-51 ‘Mustang,’ a T-6, our SNJ, and 964.   Reid MacCosham and Brian Churchill flew the B-17, Ralph Rena flew ‘Ho Hum’ the ‘Mustang,’ Dale Churchill flew the T-6, Francois Bergeon flew the SNJ and I flew 964.

Here’s a shot of 964 sailing over the hangar roof taken by Zdenek Kaspar:

Sentimental Journey & Ho Hum

Ho Hun Bill Hane’s P-51D for 36 years!

Last evening I enjoyed the company of several former America West Airlines colleagues at our monthly ‘Cactus Crews’ gathering held at Majerle’s (Chandler Mall).   Ed Beauvais joined us with everyone delighted with seeing the founder of good ol’ AWA.

L-R:  Jay Prochnow, Billy Walker, Ed Beauvais, Tom Grayson, and Tommy Townsend. 

Friday, Cheryl and I went to Williams Field High School to watch our “Grandson” Jackson Vaught’s team win 45-18.  Jackson played an outstanding game with a smash-bang sack on the Mesquite QB.  Here’s a play published by showing grandson, Dyan, running a 64 yard fumble recovery to a TD.  GO DYLAN!

We will spend the rest of the day cussing the program directors who elected to broadcast Seattle Sea Hawks rather than our Denver Broncos?


It’s October 18th tonight Cheryl and I were at the Arizona Historical Society – History Makers event honoring this year’s History Makers which included our dear friend, Ed Beauvais.  Ed and Mary Ellen were joined by friends and family.   Our friends from the White Mountains, Wink Crigler and Gerald Scott were unable to make the unveiling of her display.   There was a nice turn-out of folks there to enjoy the comaraderie, food and wine.

Below:  Cheryl and I with Ed and Mary Ellen Beauvais.


2017 History Makers:

Ed Beauvais

Wink Crigler

Senator Jon Kyl

The Papp Family

Dr. Robert Spetzler

Dr. Warren Stewart, Sr.




October 16th Thanks to pal Dave Sirota here’s a happy story to start your day with:

16-year-old solos in 100-year-old Jenny

October 15th!  After some nudging by my publisher, ASA, I’m tackling the writing of Fly the Wing – Fourth Edition.  Jim Webb first wrote Fly the Wing back in 1971.  I re-wrote this classic aviation masterpiece in 2006.  So, eleven years later, it’s time to update Fly the Wing to encompass the many changes to aviation and, in particular, flying mellinnial generation airliners.  T’day I begin what promises to be a lot of interesting effort…


October 14th.  Rather than looking back in aviation, t’day we’ll look forward.  Look at this remarkable five year old boy with an extraordinary understanding of the fly-by-wire Airbus A-320.  It really is extraordinary!


October 7th and 8th:

T’day a look-back at Early Aviation: 

Yesterday, October 7th In 1922… The Fokker T-2 flown by Lt John Macready and Lt. O.G. Kelly stayed aloft for more than thirty five hours earning acclaim with a world record for flight endurance.
T’day, on October 8th, back in 1909 Glenn Curtiss became the first American awarded a pilots license.  He held certificate #1 much to the chagrin of the Wright Brothers.  Twenty six years earlier, Albert and Gaston Tissandier flew the first airship powered by electricity!

T’day a look-back at Early Aviation:  It was mid-afternoon October 6th, 1955 I was working with my Dad on our ranch, the Shay Ranch, south of Saratoga, Wyoming when Ruby, the wife of our foreman Bill Forest, came to tell us that a United Airlines plane had crashed into nearby Medicine Bow Peak.

Early the next morning we had our horses in the trailer heading to the scene on Highway 130 “Snowy Range Road.”  I recall the daunting feeling knowing what we would soon be seeing.

Medicine Bow Peak is a picturesque setting footed by beautiful Mirror Lake.  The beauty suddenly blemished by the scene of the tail section of Flight 409’s distinctive tail.  All that was left of the Douglas DC-4 was that tail.  There were two huge splotches near the top of Medicine Bow Peak where the fuel and the oil exploded on impact just fifty feet from the mountain top.  Just fifty feet!  All sixty six on board perished.

Flight 409 departed Denver for Salt Lake City.  On board there were several members of the Mormon Choir along with a number of military men.  Just fifty feet would have cleared the 12,005 foot peak!

We went up with a string of horses nose-to-tail.  I don’t remember how many, but a number of local ranchers came to help knowing the only way the bodies of those on board could be carried was by pack animals.  My Dad was ahead of me with “Togie” in tow.  I was leading my palomino mare, “Sarah.”  It was rocky and rough going.

“Sara” and “Togie” were palominos.  Given where we lived their names fit.  I never thought about that until my sister Martha Joe drew my attention to the SaraTogie..  I still don’t know who named them.  My Aunt Muggs gave me “Sara” when I was ten or eleven.  There’s a story about this tough-mouthed speedster in “The Walker Bunch – Part One.”

Above:  October 6, 1955

Some scattered parts remain

I made just one trip up and back.  As I passed a National Guard soldier literally scraping an infant off a rock I became too physically sick to return.  I had just turned fourteen.  I later learned this was the only infant on board.  The scene remains vivid sixty two years later.  Just fifty feet…

On a more happy note, for many years, I flew Convair 340/440 (C-131) airplanes along with “The Mountain Master.”  Today, in 1955, was the first flight of the Convair 440 “Metropolitan.”  The 340/440 was a delight to fly at lower elevations.  Powered by CB-16 and CB-17 engines (advanced Pratt/Whitney R-2800s) they were underpowered in the Rocky Mountains where Frontier operated.

I flew the 440 as a C-131 in SE Asia during the Vietnam War based out of Pochentong Airbase, Cambodia.  Most of the airports were near sea level, so the performance was great.  I experienced a couple of engine shut-downs which were no problem.  The problem there was those folks who kept shooting at us.  I didn’t like that a bit.

Converting to the Allison 501-D13H made the Convair a fine aircraft with amazing performance which was how it’s name “Mountain Master” came about.  A Convair 580 could lose an engine during take-off at Laramie, Wyoming (7200′ above sea level)- climb to 10,000 feet and cruise faster on the remaining engine than the 340/440 could go with both engines.   The Allison was nearly double the power.  From five thousand horsepower to over eight thousand horse power!  That folks is huge!

The 580 was not as easy to fly.  The turbo-prop Convair would go thru the skies at one hundred knots faster and weigh more than ten thousand pounds heavier than it’s predecessor.  It was an airplane requiring some muscle!  We’d joke that the 580s soon had heel marks on the instrument panel where pilots would brace to give enough leverage to pull the yoke back for take-off.  Not true of course but you get the picture, right?  Yup!  After nearly ten thousand hours in Convairs I’m left with some great memories and bad hearing…


It’s the 5th of October!  So far nuthin’ much has happened.  One good thing, for sure, I woke up and there was no toe-tag.  So, I got up to a beautiful Arizona morning followed by breakfast with the Love of My Life, Miss Cheryl, and began the tedious process of re-wiring my office/man cave…   How can a little job such as this become so daunting?

T’nite, it’s cheezless pizza with Larry and Peggy Perkins.  Well cheezless for Larry anyhowz…

Tomorrow, more wiring and labeling.  Saturday will be spent at Airbase Arizona.

Crew Chief, Dan Watson, will go along when we do the 5 PM Missing Man formation to honor the late-great John Walkup at the Chandler Airport.  John lost his battle to Pancreatic Cancer recently.  Diana and the fine folks who make up Chandler Air Service will be on hand along with the many who loved and respected John for his contributions to Arizona aviation.

Diana & John Walkup

It’s NOW nearly lunch time and a LOT has happened!  My sister, and editor extraordinare, MJ has been nudging me towards some fixes to this “blogitory” effort…

I even added a new page “Welcome to My World” with some directions on using my website.  Hopefully, this will make things easier for my Editor-In-Chief along with you folks who can’t wait for the next morning to see what profundity I’ve come up with…


October 5th, 1954 Tony LeVier, Lockheed Test Pilot first flew the “Missile With a Man In It” the F-104 “Starfighter!”  I met Tony Levier when I was a kid growing up in Wyoming.  He was a guest of Lockheed VP, Carl B. Squire.  Carl was a long-time friend of my father from the Golden Years of Aviation. Carl was a regular at our resort “The Saratoga Inn.”

Tony (Mr. LeVier back then) gave me an autographed photo of him in the Starfighter.  I still have it on my office wall.  I remember him saying that they had leading edge covers installed while on the ground to protect personnel from injury from the knife sharp leading edge!  I had trouble grasping this until I saw an F-104 up close years later.


October 4th, I came across a website authored by Carly Courtney:

I was one of those Carly interviewed for her Stearman article.  I knew of it, of course, but had not seen the story until this morning.  Well done Carly!


October 2nd,  Catching up t’day and working on “Fly the Wing” Fourth Edition.  The Third Edition has been in print for more than a decade.  So, I reckon it’s time to get things up to date.

October 1st,  I had a SNAFU with my earlier daily blog.  So, I begin with October 1st 2017 as the start of this 2nd Daily Blog.

October 1st,  was delightful with Joe, Kippy, Mike and Miki along with our favorite black lab, “Cash”  I’ve never known a more closely bonded family.  They are folks, special!  Mark had to leave at 6 AM  but he was preceded by Jimmie who departed at 3 AM!   Mike and Miki left at a more decent hour.  Joe and Kippy along with their wonder dog, “Cash,” departed this morning, October 2nd.  A few minutes ago we received a call indicating Joe, Kippy and Sir Cash had arrived in Grand Junction safe and sound.   Cheryl and I reflected as to how blessed we have been for our shared friendship with the Davis Bunch!    Had Mash, the Davis’ youngest, been with us it woulda been, as Joe exclaimed, “icing on the cake”

xBilly & Cheryl with the Davis Bunch at Aunt Chiladas 9/30/2017