Greetings! FIRST, an apology! I am trying to learn how to put a feature within where you can book-mark and go back to the spot you where you quit reading. So far this has eluded me, but I’m persistent.
In this “page” you’ll see weekly (sometimes daily) postings. At the end are some links to stories herein. Or, simply go to the Home page, select BLOGS and then use the “SEARCH” box to find a story… Most of the stories are, of course, mine. Some, such as the Buffalo story, are authored by others. Credit is given in all cases. Please send me your thoughts – corrections – additions, etc… THANK YOU for checkin’ in! CaptBilly964@gmail.com
BE SURE TO CHECK THE AIRCRAFT FOR SALE PAGE: http://captainbillywalker.com/aircraft-for-sale/aircraft-for-sale/
T’day September 19th… Cheryl and I had planned on flying N-4516D to Driggs, ID.However, the weatherman has not been kind with weather too severe for flying the Bonanza.So we’ll remain in Saratoga another day. This’ll give us more time to spend time with ol’ chums, Teense & Sandy Willford.
We will miss showing a prospective buyer Jim Swanke’s nifty G-model Bonanza.And, we’ll miss my friend, Rich Sugden’s, induction into the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame.
Congratulations to Rich! In 1968 Rich ran into similar weather. This morning Rich said,“Looks like weather on a trip from HOU to JAC back in 1968 … landed in Pinedale and no rental cars, but mortuary let us rent one of their hearses!! Only in Wyoming!!While we were waiting for the hearse, discovered a parka-making shop in one of the hangers … ordered a double-stuffed down parka that I still wear when less than -20 deg.!!”
September 17th…. We are in Saratoga with family sharing a special moment when we honored my sister, Mary Margaret’s, wishes.Her ashes joined those of our parents as we all gathered on Pic’s Bridge* with the North Platte River flowing westward at that point.
Lois Richardson, MM’s best friend from their college days at Arizona State University, reminded us that MM had said a number of times, “The North Platte River flows through Heaven!”…a thought we all grabbed hold of…
Our niece, Kelly Fanning, had set us up at a quaint turn-of-the-century hotel in Elk Mountain where we stayed the night enjoying a wonderful dinner together. Special time with special people.
* Pic’s Bridge is the huge single-span bridge my Dad, W. Dillard “Pic” Walker moved 18 miles from it’s moorings at Cow Creek near the intersection of highways 130 and 230. Read more about this amazing feat in Walker Bunch Part One.
September 15th, Cheryl and I are getting ready to fly Jim Swanke’s nifty G-35 Bonanza to Colorado & Wyoming. We plan an early departure Sunday morning with our first stop at Grand Junction, Colorado, home of Joe & Kippy Davis who, of course, aren’t there! Joe & Kippy are in their motor coach at son Mike’s in Chaska, Minnesota. They suffered a hit-and-run which caused a lot of damage to their coach. So, they are stuck there to untangle things with the adjuster. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Cash, their magnificent Labrador, slept thru the collision! Joe & Kippy will be here by month’s end for the memorial of Joe’s sister, Carol Sue. Ironic, Cheryl & I are going to Saratoga Sunday to join family to scatter my sister, MM’s, ashes.
Col. James Swanke, USA Ret. & his spiffy G-35 Bonanza
See more on Jim’s Bonanza and other aircraft I have posted for sale: http://captainbillywalker.com/aircraft-for-sale/aircraft-for-sale/
September 12th, Cheryl and my sister MJ are off to PEO, I’m heading for my oncologist, Dr. Alice Tsai. Today I get to hear “you are cancer free!” At least thats what I hope I’ll hear! I went thru eight weeks of IMRT Radiation Therapy that began eleven months ago. Now, the radiation therapy equals or betters the morbidity of the surgical removal of the prostate. It’s amazing to me that one little gland, the size of a walnut, can be a source of great pleasure and, yet, an equal amount of vexation! I’m confident the IMRT folks have zapped the little bugger into submission where it works as designed and it’s orneriness subdued…
T’nite, MJ and Norm will be here for Cheryl’s delicious rib dinner. Sloooo cooked all day! I’m smakin’ my lips in anticipation!
Back from Dr. Tsai’s with really great news, at least from my perspective! My PSA is still ZERO and my Testosterone level is still rising (155). The latter not enough to cause the female population to cringe in terror, but a big improvement nonetheless…
POLITICS: I was asked by two people t’day where I stood politically. I replied, “mostly confused!” I said, “as a young man I became part of a union, The Airline Pilots Association. ALPA is, consists by nature, mostly Democrats. I became the Master Chairman of the Frontier Pilots and was, back then, voting democratic. Then, I started thinking! I started leaning towards the Republican political mainstream. Then, I started thinking! Once I understood the difference, I became a Conservative. Lately, I’ve again been thinking. IF the Conservatives don’t smarten-up, I’ll become an Independent or, perhaps, a Libertarian. Heck, maybe I’ll dig into what was going on with the political landscape back when our forefather’s created The United States of America.
Federalist Party, the Jeffersonian Republicans, John Adams “National Republican Party,” Anti-Masonic party, The Whig Party (I always liked the sound of that one), The Liberty Party, The Free Soil Party, The Know-Nothing-Party, and, lastly, The Greenback Party. All these political parties are, of course, extinct other than “The Know-Nothing-Party” which morphed into becoming today’s Democratic Party…
Yesterday, 9/11! A day that lives in infamy! I few t’day, it was nice! Very pleasant. I performed a test-flight in 964 at Airbase Arizona. Ace mechanic, Ed “DZ” Dzielski, went along to grade my flying skills. He is of the opinion I need more experience. He asked if that was my worst landing ever. I replied, “It was my best ever landing!” We have an absolutely wonderful group of folks at Airbase Arizona.
My pal, Mike Boyle, a fellow Stearman aficionado, flew The Ghost Ship (N-29XF) t’day. He’ll likely never be the same after that “WOW” experience. The Ghost Ship is no Stearman but is constructed of Boeing parts. Built by John Pike, it is truly an airsho airplane!
TODAY, I sailed my memory ship back sixteen years when the horrors of 9/11 2001 captured America and showed us all how vulnerable we are to radical Muslim terrorism. Please take a moment to read my perspective of that horrible time in our country’s history: http://captainbillywalker.com/from-the-heart/9-11-2001-my-perspective/
September 9th, Set up a CaptainBillyWalker.com Facebook Page. Have had a few inquires already. T’day I’ll go thru the corrections my editor, MJ, as submitted as corrections to what I written. …a full time job for her!
Just click on the link above… I’ve update my Aircraft for Sale page. Please check it out and pick out your next airplane.
September 3rd, I remembered a story about a flight Cheryl and I had back in 1970. Since it was in a Stinson 108 I added it to the Kathryn Stinson story. Scroll down to July 8th!
Also, my ol’ friend, Rick Broome called. We recently discovered that we had a mutual friend who had Gone West in 1967. Don Bringle had soloed Rick in a Piper Colt back in 1962. Rick sent these photos!
Rick Broome is a renowned aviation artist. I’m honored to be the caretaker of one of Rick’s magnificent paintings, “Denver Sunrise.” At the time this photo was taken, Rick was a kid full of enthusiasm for aviation. The art would follow. Seeing “Denver Sunrise” with a black light is awe-inspiring! The lights in the airplane and on the ground illuminate. It IS impressive! Check out Rick’s website: http://www.rickbroome.com/
Back in 1967 Don Bringle was my all-round buddy, my roommate, and my boss when I had my flight instructor’s hat on. I was the sales manager at Roach Aircraft, a Mooney dealer located at Broomfield’s airport. Don was the chief pilot. When I wasn’t selling, I would instruct or fly charters. I had just arrived from a long flight taking Colorado National Bank’s VP on a tour of their investments between Denver and San Francisco. I had just shut the airplane down when one of the line boys ran out to tell me they had just heard of Don’s crash! I left the airplane where it sat and jumped in my car. I had the location of the accident site and made a beeline for a small farm just east of Longmont not far from Broomfield.
I arrived just as the body of Don’s student was being removed. I was spared seeing my pal in death. It was immediate for both Don and his student.
How could someone with Don Bringle’s experience and expertise allow this to happen? It would not be long before the probable cause was evident. The student Don was teaching was a very large fellow. He was, by profession, a preacher who had exhibited great trepidation learning to fly. Don had mentioned him in that context. Don was well known for his ability to work with challenged students. He purveyed a relaxed atmosphere instructing. Don prided himself by being able to talk a student thru issues. That likely contributed to his demise. He simply waited too long to intervene with the controls.
Adding to the equation was the airplane they were flying. It was a 1967 Mooney ‘Executive’ that had a degree and a half twist at the wing tips. The ‘Executive’ was a stretched M-20E ‘Super 21.’ This particular airplane had a very unusual (for Mooney aircraft) tendency to enter a spin from a stall not common to other aircraft of this type. I believe a stall/spin is what occurred. Ordinarily, it would not be a problem to recover from. However, in this case, when the spin began, Don likely was “talking” the student thru the recovery procedure. Unfortunately, the extra-large student apparently froze on the controls. Don waited perhaps too long to take over control. The student didn’t relinquish control. Don, a slightly built fellow, was unable to wrestle control away from his larger-stronger student. That ended things for Don and his student. I still cringe recalling this. I can’t help wonder what coulda been… Don Bringle was one of the finest individuals I’ve had the honor/pleasure of knowing. He’s been gone over a half-century but I miss him every day. DAMN!
September 2nd, …after our travels, we are getting back into the home-scene. I had Jim Swanke’s Bonanza at Stellar Airpark to get some things spiffied up. It looked pretty good before, but now it’s a really sharp looking airplane and flies GREAT! New door seal, carpet, glare shield, instrument panel rejuvenated, and polished up nicely. This will make someone a very nice comfortable and economical airplane. As soon as Lance Winter returns from the Red Bull Air Races he’ll mount the set of new tires. This airplane even has air-conditioning!
September 1st, Grandson, Dylan Walker, seems to be on the road to out do his Dad, Preston, in football. Dylan started on both offense and defense as well as did the kicking duties last year as a freshman on the Daniel Boone High School varsity team. This year, as a sophomore, playing in their first game he became the standout catching two touchdown passes. One a one-handed catch:
August 30th, Cheryl and I enjoyed a pleasant drive thru the high desert between Lordsburg and Phoenix by way of the Historic Western Trail which was a lot of asphalt laying on top of the Butterfield Stagecoach ruts… What a joy avoiding I-10 and the truckers. We didn’t see a single car for the first 32 minutes of our drive on US 70. The desert fauna was lush and green with more than the usual numbers of birds and wildlife. Lovely!
August 29th, Cheryl and I made it to Lordsburg, NM (pop. 2797) an old Butterfield Stage stop from the post Civil War era. Lots of history around here. We have just 236 miles left to make it back to our abode. …a four-hour drive. Travel has been fairly easy with few construction slow-downs and only one trucker who needed a good ol’ Wyomin’ ass whoopin! Given my age and condition, I had to pass on the urge. Don’t get me wrong! I’m in shape! Round is a shape, right!
August 28th, After a long day driving from Plano, we are still in Texas gettin’ some RnR at the “No Tell Motel” or, perhaps at Odessa’s, The Sleep Inn. Catchin’ up on some e-mails I’ve heard from a long-time Frontier pilot, Captain Steve Tidler. Our contact has suffered a thirty-two year hiatus! Steve was one of the best fellows I flew with at Frontier. Maybe now I can coax him to Phoenix for a bi-plane flight… It’s nice hearing from someone you’ve thought of from time-to-time but lost track of.
One of my e-mail came from Rich Sugden, MD. Vocationally, Rich is a former Navy Flight Surgeon who has been a renowned physician in Jackson Hole for a half-century. Here’s a glimpse of his advocation: https://youtu.be/c3SUcfJ_Ma0This is a WOW aviation video I know you’ll enjoy. The 19th of September Cheryl and I will be on hand to see Rich inducted into the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame. To read Rich’s story: http://captainbillywalker.com/?s=sugden
August 27th, Cheryl and I are in Plano, Texas on our way back from our Frontier FLamily reunion in Fort Smith, Arkansas. It was a nice turnout. According to Jake Lamkin it was the most in many years. Several of the Frontier pilots were there to celebrate Jake being named “Honorary Frontier Captain!” This is only the second time such an honor has been bestowed on an individual. Jake certainly deserves the honor. He’s been the heart and soul of the Frontier Airlines Family since our demise in 1986! Of course Ace Avakian was as well for many years until Gone West at age 85. Jim Hanson (Denver) and Jack Schade (Salt Lake City) also. Phil Stallings (present and accounted for in Fort Smith) along with JoDelle Burwell (Kansas City). But no one can come close to the Herculean effort made by Jake Lamkin.
Pilots traveling to Fort Smith for the presentation to Jake, in the order of their seniority: Phil Stallings, John Green, Ron Gallop, Billy Walker, and Tom Robertson. A hurricane kept Big John Winter from making the trip. As I write this, Sir John and Miss Sheryl sit on an island formed by the encroaching flood waters off the San Jacinto River near Kingwood, Texas just NE of Houston. FIFTY inches of rain! …you’d think by now we’d have a way to pipe excess water to areas needing it!
Below: message plus photos sent to the Frontier FLamily on my list…
Cheryl and I joined a GREAT group of former Frontier folks in Fort Smith, Arkansas Saturday (26th). Several of us came from afar to honor the man who has long dedicated himself to the memory of our once GREAT airline. Jake Lamkins has literally been the heart and soul of the historic ol’ Frontier Airlines for more than three decades since Frontier was raped and murdered by corporate megalomania under the direction of United Airlines’ Richard Ferris. Since Ace had “Gone West” February, 18th, 2011, Jake has been the Frontier Pilots Number One go-to guy in addition to the entire FLamily.
In 1986 when the United pilots turned their backs on us it was literally over. But, our horrific roller-coaster ride would continue. Ridiculously, we would be saved by, of all people, Frank Lorenzo🤔. However, before Continental, the next thrilling ride would be the near-miss of having American Airlines at the door step. It was a “No-Go” there in what was a mystifying dealing with one Robert Crandall. So, we tightened our seat-belts and sequestered, for what seemed like an eternity, with Darth Vader and Continental negotiators. A merger of sorts resulted. The deal stunk to high-heaven, but at least our FLamily would be able to feed our families. For many, it was a place to go until something better came along. Some hung in there with CAL and ended up doing well with the flying and, later, retirement.
Back in the early to mid ‘ 80s, Jake had been handling the tiller of the ALEA group at Frontier until Carolyn Boller assumed the duty.
Jake was still around doing what he could. I think “Dedication” is Jake’s middle name.
If you haven’t seen the Frontier display Jake put together at the Fayetteville airport, put it on your bucket list.
It is a very nicely done display that is sure to grow some with the Frontier memorabilia we brought Jake to add to his displays.
Finally, after seeing his efforts over these many years, several of us thought it would be a poppin’ good idea to honor Jake as the second one ever to be named “Honorary Frontier Captain.” The first one, FAL ground school instructor, The Late-Great Captain Frank Meyer, was the first. A special copper engraved plaque was created with Jake’s image imposed.
Along with Phil Stallings, John Green, Ron Gallop and Tom Robertson, I had the honor of presenting Jake his plaque. But first, tongue-in-cheek, I handed him an unframed simple “Attaboy” certificate. Instead of reacting with a “What the hell is this,” Jake very humbly and proudly accepted the attaboy. Then, I handed him this very nice framed copper plaque. I think this surprised Jake to the point he had a bit of difficulty remaining his stoic self. It was for us all a special moment. It was a good way for us to say “Thanks, Jake, for all you do for all of us!”
ABOVE: Two grizzled ol’ codgers enjoyin’ the moment…
I’m sure Jake will have more photos posted on thewww.oldfrontierairlines.com website!
Yesterday, we traveled to Fayetteville to see the museum at the old Drake Airfield where, seemingly yesterday, I had landed a Frontier Convair 580. The museum is in an old WWII hangar where we had parked the “Mountain Master” to deplane and emplane our passengers as we made our way thru the stops back to Kansas City. It was obvious a lot of care and effort went into this museum filled with interesting memorabilia dating to the dawn of aviation. Photos of this marvelous museum to follow.
Last night we stayed with long-time friend and former neighbor, Susan Chesnut. We enjoyed a lovely evening catching up along with some Thai cuisine at a nearby location. Now, if we can just stay ahead of all the rain and weather from the hurricane, now moving NW of Houston, we’ll be just a couple more days from home. As soon as I receive the photos, I’ll post ’em here.
August 23rd FROM DICK BRICE: Storied former CAA/FAA Inspector, now 95, regarding the Miles City DC-3 Crash:
The Miles City Accident was not caused bu Icing. It was Caused by the Wrong Altimeter Setting, which was given by the Great Falls Center. Miles City was an uncontrolled Airport, no Tower.
When the DC-3 passed over the Miles City VOR, he should have been at an MEA of at least 1000′ above the VOR,
but an FAA Airways Mechanic was at the VOR and he said, “the FAL Flight was very low, he was just few feet above the VOR Facility.”
Then the minimum Altitude for FORT Intersection was 400′ above Ground and that was where he Crashed.
Cause was an Old Altimeter Setting that was given by Great Falls ARTC, also the Miles City Station Agent failed to give a Current Setting when FAL made the in Range Report to the Agent. Apparently the Agent was outside checking the Visibility and did not get the In Range Report.
I interviewed the Lover’s and Witnesses, they were less than 300′ feet from Ft. Intersection, Weather Clear enough so they could see the Crash. If there was light Snow, I did not Document it.
Don Madole, the Chief for the CAB Accident Branch held the Hearing at Miles City. Both my Self and the AAU Insurance Man was at the Hearing.”
Cheryl and I are gathering our stuff together for another driving trip. We depart early tomorrow morning…
In addition to toothpaste and clean socks we have the back-end of our mini-SUV full of Frontier Airlines memorabilia to take to Jake Lamkins in Fayetteville, AR. But first, we will stay in Fort Smith for this Saturday’s FLamily Reunion. It should be a GREAT time.
A number of the folks Cheryl and I worked with at the historic ol’ Frontier will be there. Sunday, we’ll travel the hour’s drive to Fayetteville to see the Frontier museum Jake has curated.
Jake Lamkins is THE “Mr. Frontier Airlines!” He is in his thirty-first year being the heart and soul of our once great airline.
Frontier (no relation to the current Frontier) was the safest airline in the world-wide-history of civil aviation! Frontier flew in and out of mountain valleys and black holes, safely. In her storied forty year history, Frontier flew in and out of Canada and even down to Old Mexico, Safely. Frontier flew mostly older equipment such as DC-3s and Convairs with antiquated navigational systems. And, we mighta lost a bag or two, but our passengers could be certain of making it to their destinations. We lost a single employee/passenger and the crew of a DC-3 that lost a battle to low-level icing going into Miles City, Montana nearly six decades ago! Based upon the most stringent measure, that of the number of take-offs and landings, no one will ever come close to Frontier’s enviable safety record!
Frontier had trips with as many as TWENTY ONE landings in a single day. Year-in and year-out I flew a round trip from Salt Lake City to El Paso and back with a total of seventeen landings. All hand flown! Frontier did not have any auto-pilots in the propeller driven aircraft. Some days, with bad weather, there would be multiple approaches with lousy weather with icing and imbedded thunderstorms and slick runways with strong cross winds. It was challenging, but it was magnificent! The feeling was unbelievable when you fought the elements in aircraft challenged by their antiquity arriving at the destination safely with grateful passengers showing their appreciation as they deplaned. Memories, we all will no doubt share over the next few days. Special people recalling special times.
No doubt we will raise our glasses high in honor of those stalwarts Gone West. For sure, all of us present will remember them and how they mentored we fledglings those many years ago. Truly, we learned from the best of the best…
August 20th. On t6his day in 1834 absolutely nothing happened! Cheryl and I enjoyed a delightful day! We visited our former neighbor, 94 year-old Vera Patterson, in her new digs. Vera is still elegant, alert, and appreciative of having ol’ friends stop by. I stopped by Stellar Airpark to check on the progress my pal, Larry Dustman, is making with N-4516D, the 1956 G Model Beechcraft Bonanza I have for sale. Someone will end up with a very nice classic Bonanza!
August 19th is National Aviation Day falls on August 19, Orville Wright’s birthday. It was established in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to encourage interest in aviation in the United States. If you’re fascinated by aviation you are in the right place! I hope you enjoy your visit to CaptainBillyWalker.com!
Today I will join my former colleagues from America West Airlines, “Cactus Crew,” at Majerles at the Chandler Mall. KUDOS to Captain Ken Barnett for organizing this monthly gathering of some of aviation’s finest.
I clipped this from one of my philosopher buddy’s sites: “Black people who were never slaves are fighting white people who were never Nazis over a confederate statue erected by democrats, because democrats can’t stand their own history anymore, and somehow it’s Trump’s fault?”
Friday, August 18th, I just completed my editing assignment from one of my chief editors. Thanks to sister, Martha Jo (MJ) I went thru three pages of corrections. I can’t say ’nuff about my immediate supervisor, Cheryl, and my editor, MJ. they have been invaluable assisting me in producing something that is, hopefully, reader-friendly…
Flying buddy, Larry Dustman, is into the task of spiffyin’ up the 1956 G Model Beechcraft Bonanza I have for sale. It’ll look like seven-million bucks when Larry finishes working his magic. I restored my 1943 Stearman in Larry’s hangar at Stellar Air Park (P19). Thanks to Larry and IA, Lance Winter, 964 won three first place awards plus Best of Show at Midland, Texas. So, I’m confident N-4516D will look amazing in another day or two…
Wednesday, August 16th, I flew N-4516D from Falcon Field to Stellar Air Park where Larry Dustman is working his magic on this delightful ol’ V-tail Bonanza. Soon it will sport a new door seal, new glare shield, front/back carpet replacement and paint touchups where needed along with a new engine instrument cluster plexiglas cover. This will make someone a delightful four place fast & economical aircraft. In a word, SNAZZY!
Tuesday, August 15th, Cheryl and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Uncle Sal’s a FAVORITE eatery in Scottsdale. We were the guests of Ed and Mary Ellen Beauvais two of our favorite people. GREAT food and even better company. Ed and Mary Ellen were the founders of America West Airlines, the airline saving bankrupt airlines such as US Airways and, more recently, American Airlines.
Tomorrow evening we are to be the guests of Dr. Robert Ditch, the commander of the CAP Composite Squadron at Falcon Field. My father was a founder of the CAP in 1940/41.
Monday, August 14th, Cheryl & I had a nice JetBlue flight to Boston Friday. We lucked out with emergency row seats t’gether and tons of legroom. Saturday, the 12th we enjoyed an absolutely wonderful day with the Allen/Faieta/Hollingsworth Bunch at Mike and Carol Hollingsworth’s. Great food and camaraderie! Yesterday, more of the same with more of the family at Jim and Donna Faieta’s. Highlight was Ron Allen’s world renowned eggplant parmigiana and fresh whole lobsters. Whatta a feast! What a great bunch to be tied in with. Ron and Alice begat what has to be one of the finest of the American Dream Familes.
Preston sent us a highlight video of our grandson, Dylan’s, freshman football season. AMAZING! Dylan (6’4″) started both ways on the varsity football team as a freshman. He was also their kicker! Daniel Boone High School (NW of Philadelphia) is a large high school. Being pulled up as a freshman or even JV is remarkable. Starting BOTH ways, incredible! Here’s a link to his season. Dylan is #17, but you don’t have to hunt for him. He is spotted prior to each play. Pretty neat! Cheryl and I are anxious to head back east to watch him play this fall and to see Kaylie, our middle grandchild, play basketball. Our oldest grandkid, Gianna, is heading to her first year of college at Loyola (Maryland).
August 11th, Cheryl and I are making ready for our second non-revenue flight on JetBlue in 11 years! We’ll spend the weekend with Cheryl’s sister and family in the Boston area. Dan & Kelly are due here t’day. We’ll be like two ships passing in the night. Likely, we won’t make the top 25 hosts this year! Oh well, at least their sheets have been shook out some and there are clean towels with at least a third left of the bar of Dove soap.
Hey! Check this out! a 55% scale model of the venerable Stearman. Sounds GREAT – Flies GREAT! Just click on the video…
August 10th is Fearless Fred Gorrell’s 76th birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY ol’ friend! Fred is an FAA Wright Brother’s ‘Master Pilot’ and a flight instructor extraordinare! He is much older than I am.
REMEMBER tomorrow: Civil Air Patrol hosts blood drive at Falcon Field Airport
There is currently an emergency blood shortfall across the United States, and the Civil Air Patrol is responding with both airborne transport assistance and donation support. Falcon Composite Squadron 305 will be hosting the second of three Operation Pulse Lift Blood Donation opportunities this year at Mesa’s Falcon Field Airport on Friday, August 11.
While walk-ins will be accepted at the Civil Air Patrol building, 4731 E. Falcon Drive, reservations are requested for planning purposes. Appointments are available from 1-7 p.m., and efforts will be made to honor specific appointment requests as possible. To schedule a donation appointment, please email Dr. Bob Ditch, Commander/CAP Squadron 305, email@example.com
August 9th, I’m off to Airbase Arizona to meet with Col. Jim Swanke. Jim has a pristine 1956 G Model Bonanza for sale. I used to have one, a GREAT airplane. Comfortable, reasonable speed, and fuel economy. Photo below.
SEE THE new post for pre-owned aircraft for sale. Just go to the BLOG and “search” Aircraft
Yesterday, Cheryl and I along with sister MJ and husband, Norm, went to the OdySea in Scottsdale. A definite “must see” if you haven’t. We’ll take in the Butterfly World next door next!
August 7th, I published a story about the late-great Joe Foss. Joe was a friend and someone I have long admired. Just go to my home page BLOG and search “Foss.” I met Joe in 1990 when he spoke at Ann Faught’s services. Ann was the wife of C. K. “Buddy” Faught. They were long-time family friends. So, there is, naturally, some I’ve written about those two wonderful people. Buddy was a WWII Marine fighter pilot my Dad had taught to fly in the Plains Airways CPT Program. Buddy was one of the founders of what became Frontier Airlines, my first and favorite airline. Cheryl’s too. That’s where we met and those are the ties that bind…
August 6th, A day to catch up some. Cheryl and I are making plans to travel to Boston for a family gathering. We’re traveling on JetBlue Airways for the second time in more than a decade since I was JetBlue’s first retiree. Later this month we will travel to Fort Smith, Arkansas to be with some of the Frontier FLamily at the reunion there. Then to Fayetteville, AR to visit Jake Lamkin’s Frontier museum. In September we will fly to Saratoga to be with niece Kelly and family to disperse her Mom’s ashes. My sister MM was just 71 when she passed just a little over a year ago. From there we’ll fly to Jackson Hole & Driggs, ID to help celebrate Dr. Rich Sugden’s induction into the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame.
Rich will be the 25th inductee into the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame. My father was the first selectee. There were four inducted that first year in 1995. A single selectee has been inducted each year since. Go to the Blog and “search” SUGDEN for his amazing story.
Rich in the middle flying the FJ “Fury” with his two Mig’s on each wing…
August 5th, I spent most of the day at Airbase Arizona working with 964’s Crew Chief, Bob Gates. We’ve been puzzling over an issue with the landing gear where the airplane pulls left much more than normal. We’ve measured, changed this, changed that, and still the problem, while better, remains unresolved. Bob went with me and I flew another test hop in 964 so he might see, first-hand, what the airplane was doing. One of the many likable things about Bob Gates is is persistency. He will stick with any issue until he understands and then produces a proper fix.
August 2nd: I don’t know the author’s name on the following piece, but I do know who could have written this:
“As I saw it, the major detrimental change came in 1974 with the introduction of the TCA (Class B airspace). Prior to that we had the ability to cancel our particular flight plan and proceed without the “help” (and growing bureaucracy) of ATC (PATCO). That one government rule changed everything.
Three years later came deregulation. We in the industry then know of the changes that wrought. Low cost airlines were born and flew only the high volume lucrative routes, leaving the legacy carriers to continue to service its less profitable routes…for diminishing profits.
About 4 more years and we had the computer driven glass cockpits come upon us. There is no argument, the dumbing down of pilot abilities (and lessened training skills) is the result of the glass cockpit.
You never lived until you smelled the exhaust of a Connie or Convair…and lumbered through thick and thin flying in those days. Then came the finest flying machine conceived: the Lockheed Electra. Anybody who tells you the Electra was not their favorite flying machine never flew them.
With introduction of the jets came the first changes in our cockpit environment. No longer was flying just pure joy, but a regimented system of operations evolved. More numbers and specific procedures began to take away the pure joy of A to B flying. We flew above the weather for a better passenger experience, but at a loss of sightseeing experience.
Which brings me back to 1974. What is answer to making the job enjoyable and revered again? To make the Captain an object of respect and praise again? It’s very simple. Turn off the air conditioning; fly below 10,000 feet in all the weather & turbulence you can find. Pass out peppermint lifesavers. People will be so hot and airsick, that when you get to your destination, the passengers will debark and profusely thank you for saving their lives. It cannot be any more simple a solution than that. And that exactly describes the first 25 years of passenger travel.
Who am I? I did all the above and early retired from Eastern Airlines. I miss the layovers, the special restaurants, the junk shops, the takeoffs and landings, the camaraderie of fellow crewmembers, and the variety of experiences.
The things I don’t miss are an encroaching and unknowledgable management (incompetent bean counters) , FAA, ATC, TSA, DHS and a half-dozen other government agencies designed to interfere with the competent and safe operation of my airplane from A to B…”.
Yup! This piece coulda been written by anyone of those of us flying before, during, and after de-regulation! I wish I knew who to credit this to?🤔
August 3rd: Just finished a story about Dr. Rich Sugden, aviator extraordinare, and soon to be inducted into the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame. I have two other stories to add pending approval from the subjects. Pete Lamkin is one of the most revered pilots from the historic old Frontier Airlines. Cheryl and I recently enjoyed a delightful visit with Pete. We had breakfast together spending over two hours catching up. Pete is a hero to many.
Another story is about my friend and former colleague, Clayton Osbon. Clayton became famous when he had a brain seizure over the Texas skies while he was captain of the JetBlue flight. Clayton’s story needs telling. Hopefully, I’ll have his story published soon.
Meanwhile, there are nearly fifty stories to, hopefully, entertain you or, possibly, assist you in falling to sleep😝.
August 2nd. Yesterday I flew The Ghost Ship from Stellar Airpark back to be on display in the Airbase Arizona museum. N-29XF has a fresh annual along with a new forward (removable) windscreen. My friend, Jordan Ross, was the guinea pig ridin’ in the front cockpit to test the new windscreen. It worked GREAT!
I did a max-performance takeoff and pulled up into a teardrop screaming down the runway at 160 indicated. Mid-field I pulled up to the vertical and had to quickly push over to keep from climbing into Sky Harbor’s airspace! What an extraordinary aircraft. Such a joy to fly it.
Ghost Ship @ Stellar 8-1-17
To properly put an explanation point on a fine Arizona day, I test flew 964 again. Crew Chief, Bob Gates, is still working on resolving our landing gear issue. We are getting there! Bob is terrific to work with and will not quit until he has the problem licked!
If you haven’t, please put on your bucket list a visit to the Airbase Arizona museum. www.azcaf.org . 2017 N. Greenfield Road, Mesa, AZ (NE corner of Greenfield Rd./McKellips Rd).
Actually, Cheryl and I ended the day with a pleasant evening with my sister, MJ and BIL (Brother-In-Law), Norm. Great meal & conversation.
July 30th. I was asked what TVOTS was an acronym for: “The Valley of the Sun” However, t’day – NO Sun! A welcome rain is on the forecast!
Yesterday, I test-flew 964 after Crew Chief, Bob Gates, overhauled the landing gear. Flew great but expect we may have a tracking issue to resolve now. More work on it Monday along with bringing The Ghost Ship back to display at the Airbase Arizona Museum. I’m amazed this airplane hasn’t sold. It is a dream airplane for airshows. Read the separate story herein. Just search for “The Ghost Ship.”
July 28th. We are back in TVOTS! We had a great trip of 21 days and 7,622 miles with an average of 47.8 MPG in the Prius, our mini-motor home. Hey! It works for us! That Prius killed more bugs than Ed Newberg’s Air Tractor 502!🤣
We fold down the rear seats of the Prius where Cheryl and I each set a plastic container. The containers sit next to each other with all our trip clothes. Side-by-side the containers fit perfectly. Length-wise just ’nuff space left for another container housing shoes, etc., along with a dry-stores and cooler that fit equally well. We can even stack the containers enabling the use one rear seat for a third passenger. When we reach our lay-over point we put our next-days clothes in a small ditty-bag along with our toiletries and we’re set for the following day. We figure we can stay in a 5 star hotel for what we save over owning a motor coach. Hey! It works for us😜
I’ll post some photos later-on. We are off to meet sister MJ and Norm for breakfast. Cheryl has a beauty shop appointment (unnecessary in my view) and I have a BOD meeting with the Arizona Historical Society CAC.
Returning home, Cheryl and I stayed with our niece and family. More on Dan & Kelly Fanning to follow. The next morning, we enjoyed a nice two hour visit & breakfast with long-time friend and colleague, Captain Pete Lamkin. Pete’s always a delight to be with. We figured we’d been friends fifty years and twenty-one days as of our Wednesday, July 26th, get-together. He’s one of the first Frontier Pilots I met when I went with good ol’ Frontier July 5th, 1967.
Pete is one of the most extraordinary individuals I’ve ever known. We both share a love of flying but NO ONE can equal Pete’s efforts to stay in the cockpit. He will soon turn 84 and, given all he’s been thru that is truly a feat. No one has been challenged by as much. For Pete to have overcome the obstacles such as he has, he will long be admired by those who know him. Pete made it all the way to mandatory retirement plus an additional year down-bidding to the flight engineer station. AMAZING!
Captain Pete Lamkin, Billy & Cheryl (Longmont, CO July 26th, 2017)
More later. N’joy your day!
July 23rd finds Billy with his immediate supervisor, Cheryl, at Ed & Connie Newberg’s, friends from Hector Minnesota. Newberg Sky Spray, a very successful aerial application business based at the Hector airport, where Ed is the airport manager. Ed, a 2015 inductee into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame, was the second largest ag business in Minnesota! The largest is an ag pilot who weighs 300 pounds! 🤣 No longer living at the Hector airport, Ed & Connie have a beautiful lakefront cottage on Lake Kandiyohi and, their main residence, a farm mid-way between Hector and Bird Island. They spend their winters in Mesa Arizona where Ed is a prominent aviator and collector of some beautiful old aircraft on display at Airbase Arizona. www.azcaf.org
Ed Newberg singing & Billy toasting to a great day at the Newberg’s Minnesota Lake House
Ed Newberg sings Johnny Cash better’n Johnny Cash sang Johnny Cash! Google: Ed Newberg “Is it Raining at Your House.” There are other songs by Ed on the web, but it’s even better in person! Some of you remember Ed along with Teense Wilford signing at Cheryl’s surprise 65th birthday party nearly five years ago…
Cheryl – Gator & Connie toasting to Billy’s toast
On the Newberg yacht on Big Kandiyohin Lake
Ed & Connie, Cheryl and Billy toasting to Jay and Gator the photographer of the moment.
Some of the Walleye’s we didn’t catch😜
A&P Jay Anderson and Gator The Wonder Dog
Lookin’ out at Big Kandiyohin Lake
Cheryl – Connie – Ed – Billy – Taylor (Newberg’s middle son)
Street view of the Newberg retreat
Jay Anderson and Gator “the wonder dog” are here as well. CONGRATULATIONS to Jay being awarded his A&P (Aircraft & Power-plant) FAA certification. Jay stays busy keeping Ed’s fleet airworthy.
Rex Hammarback flew his 235 Cherokee down for a $100 cup of coffee. Actually, he knew Ed would buy breakfast. Then, after dropping Rex off at the airport, Miss C and I sauntered down the road via North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico en-route home.
July 21st, TEN DAYS lost in the Canadian wilderness! Actually, not lost and not really in the Canadian wilderness, but across Canada we’ve been! Cheryl and I arrived at Lethbridge, Alberta the 13th and spent a few delightful days as the guests of Geoffrey, Jennifer and Emily Brayne. Geoff has a Super Man-Cave at the Lethbridge airport that houses a museum full of memorabilia along with his Seneca II and his PT-13 I that I had delivered to him three years ago. The Brayne Family are the consummate hosts.
The Airbase Arizona B-25 “Made in the Shade” was there along with some of the great CAF crew! Aircraft Commander was Rich Petty. Ops Officer, Travis Major shared the flight deck along with Flight Engineer, Bob Taylor. The rest of the crew alternated with each other. “Oscar” was Gordon. He was helped by Bo, Mike & Mike.
Our host, Geoffrey Brayne in front of his spectacular “man cave” at the Lethbridge AB airport (CQYL)
Gordon Jonsen (OSCAR) – Emily Brayne – Travis Major (Ops Officer)
Geoff’s PT-13 with “Made in the Shade” coasting by…
Emily & Cheryl
Cheryl – Jack Appleton (Geoff’s instructor) – Jennifer Brayne
Some bald-headed fat-man taking advantage of some spectacular hospitality
More of Geoff’s “man cave”
We headed for Dave & Laurie Baggs in Edmonton where we enjoyed a few days of seeing the sights including the air museum. Heading east on the Yellowhead highway we RON’d in Regina last night. We visited Fort Qu’Appelle and Moose Mountain Provincial Park today. Back in CONUS, we are in Minot, ND and will head for Ed & Connie Newbergs in Hector, MN tomorrow.
July 11th (Logan, Utah) …
We’ve had a busy few days. Spent a couple of days roaming the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. T’day we left Marble Canyon, Arizona at 0700AM arriving Logan, Utah at 0600PM. Traveling was with good weather albeit a few light sprinkles en-route. Serendipity is still a favorite word! That is exactly how we enjoyed a muy sabroso dinner at a delightful little Italian restaurant, Le Nonne (Grandma in Italian) has GREAT food and ambiance. The owner/chef is first generation Italian.
Tomorrow we head further north where we’ll meet up with Airbase Arizona’s B-25 in Lethbridge, AB. We will be the guests of Geoff and Jennifer Brayne. More on the Brayne Bunch after we arrive.
Look close for “Angel’s Eye” a large hole in the formation. We could see the Colorado River flowing in the distance thru the Angel Eye opening.
July 8th Miss Cheryl and I are traveling. We expect to arrive at Lethbridge, Alberta on the 14th in time to help with “Made in the Shade” Airbase Arizona’s B-25 on tour. Between now and then we are in Flagstaff with our friends/neighbors the Daurio’s and, tomorrow, will head for Marble Canyon and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Our friends, the Brayne’s, expect us to pull up to their magnificent man cave, some call a hangar, the morning of the 14th.
WELL KNOWN AVIATRIX…
I remember forty years ago t’day pioneer aviatrix, Kathrine Stinson, died at age 86 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Kathrine Stinson learned to fly when my father was just a year old! She earned her spot in aviation history but was long removed from aviation when she passed. After she married, she became an practicing architect in Albuquerque for many years. In 1912 she was just 21 and called “The Flying Schoolgirl.”
Stinson’s brothers formed the Stinson Aircraft Company. Glen Curtis helped her modify a “Jenny” to fit her needs. It was called the Stinson-Curtis JN-4. All of her stunt flying was done in aircraft using the Wright control system, which uses two side-mounted levers for pitch and roll, with top mounted controls for throttle and yaw.
An early Laird biplane, looped by Stinson, is on display at the Henry Ford Museum. A replica of her 1918 Curtiss Stinson-Special is on display in the Edmonton, AB air museum. The second oldest general aviation airport in the US is the “Stinson Muncipal Airport “(KSSF), San Antonio, Texas. The honor includes Kathrine and her family. There is a middle school there also named for her.
Katherine Stinson’s biography is featured in CBS TV series “The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation,” S3/Ep02 (2016), originally aired October 8, 2016, episode 54 in the series
Kathrine Stinson and Wilbur Wright (1912)
There are a number of stories and books celebrating Stinson’s aviation history. Here’s three still available:
ANOTHER STINSON STORY!
I was working with Larry Frear who was working on his ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) rating. HIs father owned a very nice Cessna Skylane (182). I needed to pick up an ol’ Stinson 108 at the San Francisco International airport. Perfect! The weather was such that Larry could log some actual instrument time but still not be bad enough to be troubling.
Cheryl rode in the back, Larry in the left seat, me in the right seat. Off we went and it was absolutely a great flight. Larry was exceptionally sharp and would later join Frontier Airlines in May of 1973. He flew a near-perfect ILS approach into SFO. After landing we taxied to the FBO where the Stinson was parked.
That ol’ Stinson was a clean machine. You could have eaten your breakfast in the engine compartment. Then I became disheartened seeing the panel and avionics displayed there. It had a Coffing Industries attitude gyro that was the craziest thing I’d seen. The idea was to fly the little airplane in the attitude you desired at the moment. I’d never used one before! The owner said, “No problem, it works great!”
Worse, there was and old VHT-1 “Omnihomor” combination transceiver and VOR (Visual Omni Range) navigation. NOT for instrument flying. Certainly, not for a busy international airport when it was necessary to change frequencies instantly. It was even more archaic than the VHT-3 shown!
I told Larry the only way it would work would be for me to fly with him in formation until we topped out of the low Stratus deck. It was about a thousand feet thick. I said, “Larry, you need to have half flap and keep your speed at 70 indicated for me to stay with you.” “OK,” replied Larry. After a good pre-flight all gassed and good to go with Cheryl strapped into the right seat, I clambered aboard.
Everything went well with Larry calling for an IFR clearance as a flight of two. Clearance received, he called ground control for a taxi clearance. Each time he would signal a thumbs-up. Run-up complete I signaled thumbs-up to Larry. He called SFO tower for our take off clearance. We lined up on the runway and started slowly down the runway lifting off together and soon entering the base of the Stratus layer. Then, POOF! No Larry, he left me. No problem, I’ll just top out and get away VFR On Top. Then, and very suddenly, the Coffing Industries artificial horizon failed. I was then needle ball and airspeed! …and busy!
The down-and-dirty basic instruments include a working airspeed indicator, a needle-ball and airspeed indicator, and a magnetic compass (often called a “wet compass”). The Needle-Ball is a turn needle that will indicate the direction and rate of turn. It’s source of “power” is thru a venturi tube which creates a differential pressure that can be measured. The ball is kept in the center by coordinating the bank (ailerons) with the yaw (rudder).
THANK GOD for Frontier Airlines training! We were always given partial panel and no-gyro training in the DC-3 and Convair aircraft. All of our flying at Frontier prior to the jet-era was hand flown. No autopilots.
Cheryl never had an inkling that anything was wrong until after we were on top of the cloud deck in the sunshine. It was a very cold day, but she noticed sweat running down my face. “What’s wrong,” she asked? “Nuthin! Everything is fine,” I lied. Our goal was Salt Lake City where we were based and where my little airplane business was.
Gawd it was cold. NO heater! I landed at a little fly-in community NE of SFO, to see if we could get the heater going. No heater! We bundled up best we could and pressed on. We finally were too cold to continue. I landed at Elko, Nevada and parked the airplane for another day. We hopped aboard the Frontier CV-580 that was on it’s way back from SFO, Reno, Elko, and Ely. We enjoyed a nice warm cabin the remainder of our trip. The little 108 would complete it’s voyage on a warmer day…
A lot of renewed interest in the Amelia Earhart/Fred Noonan mystery now eighty years old. There will be a special on the History Channel this Sunday. Set your DVRs it promises to be very interesting with the revelation that there is now evidence showing Earhart and Noonan survived only to be captured by the Japanese. The next thing will be to discover DNA proof likely within the Jap prison in Saipan.
Sad to think they survived only to suffer at the hands of the ruthless Japs… I am left wondering which country has the most ruthless savagery; which has the upper most humanity. Seeing what terror has happened through the ages it would, seemingly, be difficult to quantify. Ultimately, for human survival, a world tribunal would be necessary. Imagine, a United Nations with the ability and power to control the despots who would Hitlerize otherwise.
Cheryl and I leave tomorrow on another “See America driving trip.” We arrive in Flagstaff to be with friends/neighbors, the Daurios, before spending a few days at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Then we work our way to Lethbridge, Alberta to see friends, the Brayne’s, and meet up with Airbase Arizona’s B-25. Then to Edmonton to catch up with the Baggs before workin’ our way back to TVOTS and it’s rather overwhelming warmth…
I sent the following to my surviving fellow new-hire classmates at Frontier Airlines. T’day is our FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY of our Date of Hire! Mike Daciek, Dick Martin, Neil Miller, Mel Brooke, and Gary Miller. If you run into Hugh Thornton, Lee Bavender, or Marv Larson tell ’em I said “Howdy!” Gone West are Jack Burt, Skip Pennyweight, and Ev Myers, I’ll catch up with them soon ’nuff.
Yesterday was the 241st birthday of our great nation! T’day we celebrate having known each other now a half-century!
I am proud to be the tail-end Charlie of our nefarious group, H Koch notwithstanding…. I still have zero recall of W. R. Olson and H. Koch. But, I fondly remember you fellows and would include Hugh Thornton, Lee Bavender, and Mark Larson in that thought if I had a contact for them.
T’nite I will raise my two-fingers full glass of VOX Brandy in your honor and in the memory of Jack, Skip, and Ev. BEST of the BEST to you!
FIFTY YEARS! 🤔.
Yesterday I was part of a 28 ship formation flight as part of an annual celebration of our nation’s birthday. We taxied out as a 28 ship gaggle and took off as a 27 ship gaggle after Lynn Miller’s RV-8A caught fire. Boy Howdy! The flames were shooting upwards of eight feet above the canopy. Fortunately, Lynn escaped unhurt. Not so fortunate was his RV now in need of mechanical attention after the front of the aircraft pretty well melted and scorched.
The rest of the flight went well arriving on-time over our “target” the Fairmont Princess Resort in North Scottsdale. Cheryl was on the ground and became our “official photographer.” Over the years she’s taken some memorable photos. Two you’ve likely viewed within this site. The photo of the C-131 over our villa just outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia along with the AC-47 gunship surrounded by T-6’s and the CAF SNJ come to mind.
Here are a few photos she took yesterday:
I led the bi-plane flight in 964. #2 was Larry Dustman in Stearman 181. Joe Sottile was #3 in Stearman 386. Mike Braegger was #4 in his magnificent Waco.
The rest of our large gaggle consisted of some ten Chinese Nanchang CJ-6’s and Russian Yak’s, a Cirrus flight of four, there were 6 in RV flight, a flight of Mooney’s, and, of course, our show stopping Stearman flight of three plus Mikey’s Waco UPF-7.
Jim Anderson was in the Cirrus flight. He runs Starr Aviation insurance. Because of Starr I was able to restore 964 to better than new! 964 ended up museum quality and award winning with three first place awards along with Best of Show at the Midland, Texas air show.
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!
The Good ol’ USA is 241 years old t’day! God Bless America!
If you are in the North Scottsdale area this afternoon you might see between twenty and thirty war bird type aircraft flying together over the Fairmont Princess Hotel. Our “target” is the main swimming pool right of the red pin. There will be four or five bi-planes flying at 1000 feet above the ground – smoke on! 500 feet above our bi-plane flight will be the rest of the airplanes flying in several formations one after another.
3 July back in 1937 Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappear over the Pacific Ocean on a flight from Lae, New Guinea, to Howland Island, and are never seen again.
The Lockheed Model 10 “Electra” Earhart & Noonan flew into history…
Note: I deleted several links to “On this day in Aviation History:” at the request of Bryan R. Swoppes.
My first assignment with the historic old Frontier Airlines was training on the DC-3. I was soon flying the line in the Convair 580. This was just FIFTY years ago. My hire date was July 5, 1967. Just Yesterday!. Later, I would fly one of the most historic DC-3C/C-47 as “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Turns out that “Puff” had been “That’s All Brother” the lead C-47 in the Normandy Invasion! 292847 will soon be flying thanks to the Commemorative Air Force and will celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion ON SCENE! Boy Howdy would I like to be one of the pilots on that trip!
Photo by Cheryl Walker KFFZ 2006
Dick Delefield & I were flying the AC-47 “Puff the Magic Dragon”
T-6 pilots: Brian Churchill – Billy Friedman (RIP) – Dale Churchill – Russ Allen (RIP)
Col. Russell L. Allen, lost his life tragically in an aircraft accident 11-6-04 during a Veteran’s Day Fly-in. He was a veteran himself, retiring after 20 years in the Air Force. He has spent the last 14 years flying for commercial airlines, the last 10 at Southwest Airlines. He was a dedicated volunteer for the Commemorative Air Force. He enjoyed fishing and hunting, but his passion was flying. Russ was one of the best fellows you could hope to associate with. He was NEVER without a smile!
40-year-old Prescott pilot, Billy Friedman, was among five people who died Wednesday afternoon when a twin-engine Piper PA-42 (400 LS) crashed on a flight to take pictures of a former Soviet military Mig 21. I had flown formation flights many times with Billy. He was a sharp, smooth, capable aviator. Hard to believe what happened happened.
Billy was a local Prescott pilot who has spent numerous hours volunteering for the Sheriff’s Office. Friedman was the captain of the YCSO Air Group, said Dennyse Loll, YCSO volunteer coordinator. He flew Bob Elliott’s T-6 often. Here’s a photo Bob Elliott took of Billy & Billy in formation. Bob was in Doc Lundell’s AT-11. I was flying one of the Churchill Brother’s T-6s. The same one our dear pal, Jesse Goodwin, was lost in in 2016.
A Federal Aviation Administration official reported that five people died in the plane crash 16 miles northeast of the Prescott airport near Perkinsville Ranch. A Piper Cheyenne and a MiG-21 took off from the Prescott Airport at 1:30 p.m., FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said previously. “The purpose of their flight was for the people in the Piper to photograph the MiG in flight,” he said.
The MiG pilot told the Piper pilot that he may have a possible problem with a landing gear door, Gregor said. The Piper pilot went underneath the MiG to take a look. That was the last the MiG pilot saw or heard from the Piper pilot and the MiG returned safely to the airport. We now know that the powerful jet blast from the Mig took the tail off the Piper.
Billy participated in the search-and-rescue missions, smoke patrols during summer months and would fly deputies out-of-state for extraditions. He also is a 2003 Volunteer in Protection graduate, Loll said. “He put in a lot of volunteer hours with smoke patrol,” Loll said. “He was a definite asset for us.” YCSO Cmdr. Scott Mascher knew Friedman professionally and as a friend. “I’m just devastated,” Mascher said. “He was a friend of mine. He helped me find an airplane that I own.
“It’s a loss to the Sheriff’s Office. His volunteer services to our community are something that we are proud of. And he has been doing it for years. He did this for the community.” Mascher described Friedman as an extremely experienced and competent pilot. Rhodes, one of the first people to arrive on the scene after the crash, also knew Friedman. “He is a super-nice guy,” Rhodes said, adding that Friedman knew how to fly a number of planes, including vintage ones parked at the airport. Mascher said sheriff’s office friends will miss Friedman dearly.
House painting completed. Alex was terrific! Excellent job and clean-up. His buddy, Carlos, came and did the pool. His brother, David, did the yard. I gave Alex a letter of recommendation. They are next door painting our neighbors home now!
Made reservations for Rich Sugden’s Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame induction. We’ll fly or drive to Driggs, ID where Teton Aviation will host the banquet September 9th. Promises to be a festive aviation evening…
Monday, June 26th.
We’ve been busy havin’ our house painted along with more work on some of the stories within. This weekend was conflicting! The happy part was attending Les Gray’s 95th Birthday Party Saturday the 24th. Les is a retired US Navy Commander and an Ace from WWII flying the F6F “Hellcat” and the F4U “Corsair.” Les belies his age. He gets around great and is mentally sharp. So’s his wife, Paula, who put together a GREAT surprise party at the Pebble Beach Golf Resort. There were some wonderful tributes to Les along with good food and camaraderie.
In 2008 I was laying in my hospital bed having just received a new right knee. Back and forth, the machine persisted in maintaining a constant flexing of my new knee. I thought I had the room to myself when they rolled in another new knee recipient. Soon, we were by ourselves with his left knee mimicking my right knee compliments of modern technology. Back and forth, back and forth. I hear, “My name’s Les, what’s yours?”
“Billy,” I said.
“Well, Billy, what do you do?” asked Les.
“I’m retired” I responded
“I’m retired” said Les.
“What did you do?” asked Les.
“I flew airplanes.” I said.
“I flew airplanes!” Les remarked.
It was back and forth from mid afternoon until between two and three AM! It was a rare time that pilots talked about airplanes! Usually, when pilots are around airplanes, they talk about girls. When they are with girls, they talk about airplanes. Pilots are like that you know… So, the dialogue between Les and I had little about girls and was all about airplanes. Of course, we did mention some about our two ladies. Les and I have a lot in common. We both married up!
At some point, in our back and forth conversation in that hospital room, Les had told me he owned a Beech Bonanza and asked me what I flew. I said that I had an old Stearman. Les asked if I knew Terry Emig. “Sure, Terry is part of the Stearman squadron I’m attached to.” Then it hit me! Terry honors Les by having “CMDR L. E. Gray, Jr., USN Ret” embossed under the aft cockpit gunnel of Stearman 034. The next morning I called Terry and told him where I was and who I was with. Terry had his nephew, Chance, set to fly to Kingman so I invited Les.
Above: Les re-uniting with the Hellcat (Kingman, AZ 2008)
We became good friends! Two weeks later Les would join me in flying my Stearman in a flight of five to the Kingman air show. Les flew all the way there and all the way back. I flew the close formation flights although Les could have likely done a better job of it! Amazing, really. Les flew like he’d been flying the Stearman everyday. Yet, Les had not flown a Stearman since his primary flight training in the Navy back in 1942. Possibly, he had flown this same airplane… Below, Les and I are in the second blue fuselage airplane (964). Roger Parrish is leading the flight. Joe Sottile is to my right. Tom Weidlich behind me and slightly left while Terry Emig and Chance is behind and to the right of Joe.
It’s fun being with Les and Paula. I’ll tell his story by itself one of these days. Right now, Paula is likely making plans to surprise Les on his 100th birthday now less than five years away!
On a sad note, Captain H. A. “Jack” Frost’s memorial service was yesterday. I just could not put things t’gether to be there. Oh, I was there in spirit for sure, but will always regret not being there to remind everyone just how much the Frontier FLamily owed “Frosty.”
Frosty was an entirely unique individual who had a multitude of talents. Co-pilots who flew with Frosty found themselves with a peerless mentor. Crews found their layovers full of humor and great stories. Passengers, were safe in his hands. But it was his knowledge and energy along with an innate ability to negotiate that made a huge difference during the Frontier employees efforts to save a wonderful little airline, Frontier. As bad as things were, they’d have been much worse had it not been for Frosty.
Jake Lamkins said, “Frosty was as good as they come!” Boy Howdy! RIP ol’ friend. I’m grateful I had a chance to say “goodby” before you lined up on Runway two-seven…
Friday June 23rd:
Two of Arizona GREATs passed yesterday. In addition to Frank Kush, John Walkup lost his hard fight with pancreatic cancer. I nominated John for the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame has been in a period of stagnation for nearly four years. None of us know why?? I’m sure, eventually, John Walkup will be inducted into the HOF. Sad that he will not be there to enjoy the festivities…
John Walkup and his vivacious wife, Diana, built up what is, arguably, Arizona’s finest aviation flight school. Just recently, they completed their new facilities.
We ASU folks have our flags flying at half-mast after yesterday’s announcement that Coach Frank Kush has “Gone West.” We all thought this, bigger-than-life, man would live forever. There is some comfort knowing that he’s reunited with his beloved Frances “Fran.” Fran passed in 2010 at 80.
Thursday – June 22nd: Late breaking news. Legendary ASU coach, Frank Kush, is dead at 88. I never got to play for Coach Kush. My ASU football career was not quite 3 days! Our freshman coach was the late-great Bill Kajikawa, Thanks to that folly, I now have a new left knee. My new right knee is compliments to my high school football experience. I did get to know Frank Kush when we fished the Snake River in Jackson Hole several times over the years. Once, we fished Lewis Lake and caught some nice 2-3 lb. Browns. Thanks for the memories Frank! RIP!
Another scorcher t’day! Phoenix should top out at 113º – a cool spell following the 119ºs we had a couple of days ago. Thank goodness our ol’ A/Cs are holding up. Both quit within a day of each other last year. To the rescue came Parker and Sons. Bad decision! Parker & Sons bombed badly. We DO NOT recommend them.
To the rescue came Ryan Mikita of Comfort EXPERTS Air Conditioning company. If you are in TVOTS (The Valley of the Sun), and need air conditioning service, call Ryan. My sister and her husband had recommended Ryan. We can’t say ’nuff good things about Ryan’s expertise, people skills, and “let’s getterdone attitude. …and the $$price$$ was right!
By every measure, our A/Cs should NOT still be running! Thanks to Ryan, it looks like we might milk another summer out of these ol’ 1994 units.
If you care about the Washington D.C. goings-on SEE THIS: To all my liberal AND right winger buddies. Click the link below. This should clarify everything!
WHEW! ‘nuther hot one. Lookin’ for another record high of 117º for this date in history. The all-time record is still intact at 122ºF set June 26, 1990. But, you likely knew this after seeing an earlier posting June 15th…
Here’s what my pal, Captain Eric Auxier “Cap’n Aux” had to say about the problems airliners have when the temperature rises:
Here is a video that Boeing produced as a PR workup for the Paris Airshow this year. It showcases a couple of their new model variants. It’s hard to believe that the 737 Max variant can hold 230 passengers.
Yesterday was GREAT! Cheryl began the day spoilin’ me just because it was father’s day. We met my sister, Martha Jo, and her husband, Norm, for breakfast. Then a quick stop at Bass Outfitters for some ammo then home to watch a couple of movies. One, William Kelly’s War, was terrific! It was based upon a true story. The time period was WWI. Cheryl doesn’t like war movies. She loved the Billy Kelly story. It was on Amazon.
Rounded up the day with calls from sons Preston and Jeremy. Granddaughter Kaylie called as did grandson, Dylan. Always terrific catchin’ up with our all too far away family. The afternoon of the 17th was spent at the Vaught Family gathering. That is always special, great family camaraderie, food and entertainment galore.
Jeremy was Preston’s best buddy in high school. When Jer’s father passed away suddenly, Cheryl and I were “adopted” as surrogate parents. There’s no competition with Jer’s Mom, Pam, when Cheryl is called “Mom” and I’m usually “Pop.” Special! We are so blessed being included in this marvelous Vaught family.
T’day I received a powerful 37 minute video from my pal, Roger Brooks. I’ve known Roger since we were college kids. He was my pledge son at our ATΩ Fraternity at ASU. He was with Air America the same time I was during the Vietnam War. Then he showed up as a pilot with Frontier Airlines. We’ve remained good friends and were there when he and Veryl Goodnight tied the knot. Cheryl and I met, in person, the star of this video, Charlie. It is an amazing story with an important piece at the end of the video. You can play a part in this great cause. All it takes is writing a letter or making a phone call. But, here I am gettin’ ahead of my self again. Check out the video and let Roger and Veryl know your thoughts. Roger@verylgoodnight.com; Very@verylgoodnight.com
Thanks to Danny Don for sending this amazing video: ABOUT THE FILM LAST FLIGHT HOME
“The ‘Last Flight Home’ documents the story of Dr. Patrick Scannon’s work searching for and finding missing World War II aircraft and the MIAs associated with them in Palau. A ferocious battleground nearly forgotten by history, yet more than 200 US aircraft went down on and around the islands. Almost half of those with crew now listed as Missing In Action.
Over 60 years ago all the familes got was a telegram. Whereabouts unknown, Missing In Action. And over the generations these families have refused to forget and refused to stop waiting. For an answer, for their return, for some clue as to what happened. Surprising though it may be, hope has remained. Then, the phone call out of the blue, “Are you the nephew of Arthur Miller?”, finally brings the answers. Dr. Scannon furthers his research into the MIAs of Palau by scouring the National Archives, After Action Reports, and interviews with veterans of the campaign, no stone left unturned.
Scannon’s small team of self funded private citizens have taken on these tasks simply as a way of thanking the MIAs and their families for the sacrifices made decades ago. Our film follows the story of three searches in Palau and the families touched by the work. Filmed over the course of nearly six years and seven expeditions to Palau, where we thought the adventure was to be found. It was our delight to discover the adventure and heart of the story here in the U.S. with the families.”
Six years of blood, sweat, and tears in combination with a huge roller-coaster ride of emotions that has lasted for seven expeditions to Palau since 2001, interviews with families of the MIAs in our story in seven US states, all of this to amass over 230 hours of footage and in the process go through six pairs of jungle boots, three wet suits and two skin suits, one pair of sunglasses (that were re-found in the debris field of an MIA Corsair site), numerous bumps, bruises, and blisters, untold amounts of sashimi devoured, over two dozen U.S. aircraft found, nearly 20 MIA mysteries solved, and countless hearts touched.
Watch the full movie below and scroll down for more related links and reviews.
A BOOK ABOUT THE PLANE IN THE FILM “LAST FLIGHT HOME”
A sweeping narrative, comes the true story of the missing men, their final mission, and the real reason their disappearance remained shrouded in secrecy for so long. This is a story of love, loss, sacrifice, and faith — of the relentless determination of archaeologists and explorers to solve one of the enduring mysteries of World War II.
REVIEWS & FEEDBACK
“Congratulations on a touching, restless haunt of a film. …one stops breathing, to watch………
wonderful sensitivity, knowing when to press and when to back off quietly and let the story whisper for itself. Now I take inspiration from you two, finding you conquered the “no edge” arguments. It never crossed my mind that your film, born of desperate conflict, shows no desperate conflict! I was riveted and inspired in a wonderfully subtle way by the quiet, long-term, unswerving determination of the man and the group.
You catch these wild contrasts beautifully…no exclamation points, no fanfares. So softly do they sing on their own.The final line and the end is filmmaking at its best. I’ve been deeply impressed, Last Flight Home did not let me go for a long time after the screen went dark…”
I went to the special screening of the Documentary “The Last Flight Home” which was produced by AGA member Jennifer Powers. It is the story of Dr. Patrick Scannon’s work searching for and finding missing WWII aircraft in Palau and the MIAs associated with them. I had to let you all know that Jennifer did a truly outstanding job on the documentary!!! As a Navy Veteran, I am so impressed with the work done by the Bent Prop Project crew … and this film is absolutely amazing, and evidence that those still listed as MIA are not forgotten. Congratulations Jennifer on a film that is truly Well Done!!
I’d like to tell you about Last Flight Home and Jimmie Doyle and his son Tommy. But before I do, it’s only fair that I declare a personal interest: my father was a naval aviator during WWII and flew many missions against the Japanese during the same period and not far from where this superb film is set. But I get ahead of myself …
In 1993, as part of an expedition searching for a Japanese trawler sunk by Ensign George H. W. Bush in July 1944, Dr Pat Scannon saw an aircraft wing near the Palau shoreline. His guide knew nothing of its origin or the fate of the crew. “You can’t have this kind of catastrophic failure without death,” Scannon said, “and the scene just overwhelmed me … I didn’t want them to be forgotten.” Six years later, the BentProp Project took form.
More than 200 Marine, Navy, and Army Air Corps planes were lost over the Palau Islands, where Scannon and his team of volunteers give up vacation time to search for crash sites. Their annual trips have recovered the remains of more than fifteen MIAs, whose surviving family members knew only that a father, brother, or husband died defending his country there.
Jennifer Powell and Dan O’Brien’s filmis part history lesson, part detective story, and all human interest, segueing effortlessly from jungle and watery searches, to profiles of lost airmen, to interviews with their families. While each of the vignettes is guaranteed to touch your heart, none is more moving than the discovery of the fuselage of a B-24. Matching serial numbers with US Air Force records revealed it was the Liberator Jimmie Doyle boarded on the last day of his life. Half a world away, his son Tommy received a telephone call from Pat Scannon.
“That was just like a dream come true that wasn’t ever going to,” Tommy remembered. “Somebody’s actually found this thing, sixty years on …”
Last Flight Home is a testament to fallen warriors, the families who remember them, and the small group of men and women dedicated to finding and honoring them.
As I said at the beginning, my father flew in that war. He came home. Jimmie Doyle and thousands of others did not.
June 15th, absolutely nuthin’ is happening ‘cept watchin’ the thermometer climb. Potentially, a new high may occur in another day or two. On June 26, 1990, the temperature reached an all-time recorded high of 122 °F (50 °C). The present forecast for Tuesday is 121°F . That, friends, is hotter’n a loved owl!
Fortunately, it is pleasant early in the mornings. I have two Stearman flights on the docket for Saturday 06:30 and 07:00AM. We should be through flying by the time the temperature kicks-in…
June 14th! I just added a story written by Orville Wright. There is a link to his This Is How We Made The First Flight. The forward is by Paul Garber (Historian Emeritus – Smithsonian Air & Space Museum). Use the “SEARCH” feature. Type: “Orville” and BINGO there you are…
My sister, Martha Jo, has sent her reflections growing up in a Wyoming village. I will be reviewing her story and, hopefully, soon add this to my collection of family history. Since MJ’s writings cover nearly three-quarters of a century, likely her’s will be bifurcated, in part, and placed into the appropriate place among “…Part One; Part two; and part three”
As a reminder, Airbase Arizona, The Arizona Wing, of the Commemorative Air Force is giving, some GREAT prizes!! I just received more raffle tickets to sell…the first batch went fast and they are only selling a set amount (4000 total tickets) so you have a good chance of winning!!
Tickets are $50.00 each…if you’d like a chance to win, and support this great flying historical museum, please e-mail me and I’ll give you instructions on how to get a ticket, and where to send a check!
June 12th. Happy Birthday to Dance Hall Dave Baggs!
Cheryl and I spent a lovely time last evening at Bill & Kathy Bullocks surrounded with some extraordinary folks all sharing a love of aviation. None more so than 96 year-old Ole Griffith. Ole is a retired USAF bird colonel who flew B-25s during double you double you eye eye (WWII). He’s also a retired engineer from Honeywell.
Stopping by to pick up Ole early, we enjoyed a personalized tour of his museum. Ole has it all from an autographed picture of Orville Wright to wood-inlayed art work. Countless books, countless models, and walls covered with original art works and framed photos depicting important events all chronicling the history of aviation. Much of this eclectic display personally experienced by Ole himself.
Above: Lt. (later Colonel) O. C. “Ole” Griffith as a 22 year old B-25 pilot
See the 2007 Prescott News story about Ole. Later, I’ll have one of Arv Schultz, Arizona’s pre-eminent aviation historian.
Our host, Bill Bullock’s father, William B. “Bill” Bullock had, for years, been acknowledged as Arizona’s aviation expert. Bill had Gone West at age 92 in October of 2004. Since then it has been Arv Schultz who has assured his place in Arizona aviation history.
I had the honor of taking Bill Bullock, Sr. for his last flight in Puff the Magic Dragon AC-47 gunship not long before his final flight west.
While at Ole’s museum, I picked up How We Made The First Flight by Orville Wright. It has an introduction by Dr. Paul E. Garber, Historian Emeritus and former head of the National Air & Space Museum. Here’s a link to that great story (photos and all):
Happy Anniversary to cousin n’ cousin-in-law Nora & Dean Stull. America’s Couple!
I just heard from Carol Neff. She’s having a tough time after losing her husband, my pal Bill Neff. Bill was Best Man when Cheryl and I married in 1971. Bill and I were new-hires with Frontier Airlines in 1967. He commuted to SLC and stayed with me before Cheryl and I decided to marry. He said, “So how is it that you want me to stand up for you and then you are kickin’ me out of your house!”
After the Frontier demise we both migrated to America West Airlines in Phoenix. With America West we enjoyed a similar family atmosphere to what we lost with Frontier’s demise.
Bill was a retired captain living the good life. Bill had it all, a beautiful wife, two handsome sons, lovely home, and a hangar full of airplanes. Unfortunately, Bill was a smoker. He ended up with COPD which eventually caused his passing at just 72.
Now Carol is tasked with selling their dream home near DFW. It’s a perfect place for a DFW based (or commuter) pilot. Cresson is just 13 minutes from DFW.
June 10th I had a nice breakfast with some pilot buddies reminiscing about old airplanes. Used to be we’d be around airplanes talking about girls and, when with girls, we’d talk of airplanes. We really must be gettin’ old. Now, it’s just airplanes!
Two of the AOFG (Aviator Old Fart Group) Jim Thorne, Mike Braegger and I used to own a magnificent Bellanca 14-19 “Cruisemaster” that Roland Joslyn had restored and modified back in the early to mid ’70s. More true than not, Mikey and Jim used to take care of the maintenance. Jim handled the partnership books. I did the flying… We owned equal shares in the airplane. As you might suspect, we didn’t share equally in the work part…
The engine, an IO-470 of 260 horse power, was 70 horsepower more than the original. It cruised 30 knots faster than the original with an honest 208 MPH cruise speed burning just 13 gallons of gas per hour. That’s nearly car mileage at more than triple the speed! In 1977 N-6RJ won at Oshkosh!
When you look around for a low-cost, four place, low wing monoplane with retractable landing gear, controllable or constant speed propeller, high performance and most important, a tubular steel fuselage for crash impact resistance, there is very little from which to choose. And, if you like to see the tail on the ground, you have got to ‘home in’ on a Bellanca. Late in 1969, I purchased a 1950 Cruisemaster, N509A, a cosmetically good looking plane in need of tender care. Although I had previous Air Force flying experience and a degree in aeronautical engineering, my newness to private flying and eagerness to purchase the plane clouded common sense. How blind I was to the difference between what is flyable and what is safely flyable. This was a Bellanca forecast for an accident. When I started to change the battery, I uncovered a broken baggage floor under carpet, and this, in turn, led to a leaky auxiliary fuselage fuel tank, oil soaked fuselage insulation, worn control pulleys with dirt and debris around them, a wing with skin delimitation, broken main landing gear springs on both sides, worn oleo struts and on and on. I could not believe that I had flown in the plane prior to purchasing it, and that it had, two weeks before, received a fresh annual by a licensed aircraft inspector. The fixes began, slowly at first, but it was like trying to stem a tide. Too much wrong, too many fixes. I could gulp, or get mad, but I had to start all over. Might as well build it fresh and incorporate all the goodies that I would like, that time, willpower and budget could stand. Grin and bear my mistake … and change the registration number to eliminate the grim reminder. Strip the fuselage to the frame, glass blast it – – beautiful condition – – spray on zinc chromate and clear epoxy to keep it that way. Use new wood throughout and a fresh Ceconite covering with nitrate through the silver. Stuff in layers of lightweight air line insulation and then put in a beautiful interior to cover it, high-lighted by solid mahogany trim for the baggage floor and around the exposed frames and doorway . Build new seat frames and get Terry Martin, a real craftsman, to cover them in yellow ‘comfort-weave’ fabric to compliment the oyster headliner and tobacco colored carpets. (This was Terry’s last job before he ducked into the better paying insurance business.) Scrap the instrument panel and design and fabricate a modern layout. Place functions in groups, and stick to the Air Force standard flight arrangement; put all the engine instruments in one row and above their appropriate controls; all radio circuit breakers in one line, and all aircraft circuit breakers in another. Change the landing gear warning circuit so that when the gear is up no lights glow, and the terrifying red light glares only when the gear, is in transit or not down and locked. Find space for dual nav-coms, dual transceivers, ADF, glide slope, marker beacon, transponder, G-meter, remote compass, and a remote ELT. Don ‘t think of auto-pilot (you have a licensed pilot for a wife) and wait on DME to become more reasonably priced (it never will.) Paint the panel any color but black, so settle on a soft shade between the yellow seats and the oyster head liner – – in fact, mix the trim paints together to get the right background for the individually eye-brow lighted instruments. Put microphone buttons in the control wheels, and spend a small fortune to duplicate the old Bellanca flying geese wheel medallions to give the cockpit a taste of its original character. Don ‘t forget the intercom – – planes are noisy. Landsakes, all that work and still harnessed to an old powerplant. I Sell the Lycoming 190 hp to a Stinson owner and latch onto a 260 hp Continental I0-470F from a later model Bellanca, complete with cowling, engine mount and exhaust system. It only cost $2500 for this maneuver, but watch out, down the line it will cost more. Modify the cowling to fit the lower firewall contours; attach a support ring to the firewall; put in a cowl flap (FAA cooling tests ahead) and change to a single air intake system (no nose gear to go around). Bellanca hasn’t changed the mounting points on the firewall in 40 years. The new mount, less nose gear trunnion, fits perfectly. Bolt in the engine, and reshape the exhaust stacks to get them to comply to the new cowling contours. Do an analysis on the forward fuselage truss, and a fuel flow report and test for the FAA. Work on the wings. Completely de-skin the one that is delaminating; check a spar repair made in 1952 by performing a load test up to limit loads on the main spar – all OK. Truck the wings to Harley Kiesz in Clements, California, for re-skinning. Truck them back home and start the long process of micro-ballooning both wing surfaces to eliminate the valleys and smooth the rough spots. New wood fuel tank covers, too. Bond to the outer wing surfaces copper foil transceiver, navigation and glide slope antennas designed by Glenn McClure. Cover the wings with two ounce fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin, and listen to the ‘experts’ say I have made a grave mistake. They are wrong. Install power-packed strobe Iights in the wing tips – – it’s fun to fly at night. But nobody will know what I’ve done or will appreciate the subsurface work without seeing the outside glitter. With Neal’s help at Thunder Airmotive, overhaul the landing gear hydraulic and oleo system, then chrome plate the gear to MIL specs to eliminate hydrogen embrittlement, and add shine to an otherwise dull undercarriage. Spend days coloring and drawing over Xeroxed outlines of the wings and fuselage to get a paint scheme that will soften the older Bellanca’s ugly window shape, and stay away from the racy, current factory designs which do not lend grace to an older lady. Four colors of white, soft yellow, rich brown and orange, for accent, should do it. And along the way, flush the windows. It sounds as though I have done a lot, but most of it I have forgotten to write down here, and that’s true for anyone who has built or restored a plane. See, I almost forgot to mention the wheel pods, some smart thinking by Wally ‘Bellanca Bert’ Bertram, which add an easy five to seven mph to the cruise speed . ROLLOUTI Your lovely wife and great kids throw a big hangar party and friends turn out to watch champagne spill over the spinner. Nothing can go wrong on the first flight. Too much time, labor and love have been expended. Get old pro Don Dwiggins to accompany you because he has watched it from the beginning and knows it almost as well as you do. Everything checks out fine. GO! On climbout, the plane begins to shake. Vibration, but from where? Friends and authorities all have ideas and recommendations and I try them all. Block off the trim tab system, change engine mounts, check the fuel system for air leaks, take off the cowl flap and wheel pods, change propellers, check tail wire tension, put in new engine hydraulic lifters, even try dynamic balancing of the engine-propeller combination in flight. Is it one of those things that Fish Salmon says you sometimes must live with because you can never find it? Stop the guesswork and talk to Stan Rasmussen, a dynamics whiz, who hands you off to Sandy Friezner at Specialized Testing Service. Mount recording equipment on the backseat, and tape six accelerometers to sensitive parts of the plane. (Will the duct tape peel off the lovely paint job ? – it didn’t.) Flight test and readout and there it is. Engine and propeller imbalance, but the propeller is a new Hartzell, especially made for this plane. It has to be the engine, and Lynn Cooter, in Long Beach, is the man who can find it. A complete major engine overhaul with dynamic balancing of the crankshaft – the crank was almost an ounce out, and you wonder how it got through the factory in the first place, and how the previous owner had never noticed the vibration. Remanufacture the engine and fly again. It still shakes, but not as badly. I want to put a match to the plane but decide to try another propeller. Back to Ray Fulton at the Santa Monica Propeller Shop and a switch to a McCauley. It WORKS . It had been an unlucky combination of BOTH engine and propeller being sour. Like finding needles in a hay stack . Now a good cross-country and a trip to the East. Cruise at 185 TAS at 67% to Alexandria, Minnesota, and stop at the Bellanca workshop. Yes, I know every part of my plane and I’m thrilled to see them making the new Vikings the same way, with infinite care, precision and pride. And then a week’s stay at Oshkosh, because friends have been raving about the show and the campgrounds that are cleaner than Disney land. You see your competition and wonder if you measure up, what two years of test flying and abuse did to that pristine plane that once was. Well, good enough to win a beautiful and well appreciated trophy. It was all worthwhile. Now, maybe I should change the registration number back to N509A. (Roland left the N-6RJ and, when we three sold it, it was still N-6RJ. In fact, Roland once paid us a visit and spent some time with us going over his “old friend” in our Chandler Airport hangar.
Fast, comfortable, economical. Cheryl said, “You’ll regret selling that airplane.” As usual, Cheryl was spot-on! I’d really like to have N-6RJ back! That airplane is one smooth flyin’ machine. This is where you raise your eyebrows. I out ran Frank Smith’s Bellanca 17-31 ATC (Turbo Viking). Of course it was down low. But still, Frank’s Viking had a 300 horsepower Lycoming with dual Rayjay turbochargers). We were at the same power settings of 23″ and 2100 RPM. Another time, I surprised Jimmy D. Appleby taking off ahead of him at Stellar Airpark. He couldn’t catch up until I powered back. Jimmy flies a pristine Cessna 320 “Skynight.” Yup, Cheryl was so right!
Took all these kids except my very puzzled grandkids for a flight in N-6RJ. I still have yet to take my grandkids flying. Can I borrow yours?
N-14MC with Taylor, Caroline & Jimmy D Appleby
We went to Dave Stover’s hangar to see Lee Maxson’s latest airplane buy. It is a very rare 1936 40 horse power Piper J-2. Lee’s Cub is in exceptionally good condition with a spare engine AND a set of metal floats. Mikey was helping Lee fix some things in the cockpit area. Lee has some other plans to make it even more original.
ABOVE: My parents and their 40 HP J-2 Cub departing for their “Honeymoon” in 1938
June 6th! Happy Birthday to my sister Martha Jo! We will celebrate this evening at Charleston’s.
T’day I’m completing my draft of The Captain Clayton Osbon Story. Osbon was the JetBlue captain who achieved national notoriety when he seemingly went berserk on Flight 191 en-route from JFK to LAS in 2012. His is a compelling story of how easy it is to be totally maligned by rough handling faceless bureaucrats. His story will be published herein soon. Cheryl and Martha Jo, my chief editors, need to go over it first.
Also, I have recently added to some of the stories already published. Search for:
You will then have these stories and more at your beck and call!
Monday, June 5th to Airbase Arizona to check up on Stearman 964’s maintenance. A minor electrical glitch was quickly resolved by master mechanic and crew chief, Bob Gates.
Then off to meet Col. Roger Parrish for lunch. More war stories, talk of airplanes and, yes, old-age infirmities. Roger just cheated the Grim Reaper again. He’s used up four of his nine lives so far! I told him that I figured neither God nor the Devil wanted him. Good! We’d like him “Not Dead Again T’day” as Willie Nelson sings…
Wednesday, May 31st. Our regular visit to see Sara Newman, likely the best of the best skin care specialist! She owns Ahwatukee Skin & Laser which has several offices now. Home now to work on The Clayton Osbon Story. Clayton’s story is incredible. I just hope I’m able to do it justice. Stay tuned!
Tuesday May 30th. Big day at Airbase Arizona. Sentimental Journey departed for it’s first tour stop, Hays Kansas. 40 years ago that was a regular stop for Frontier. I landed there many times in the Convair 580.
I flew the Ghost Ship yesterday! A short but SWEET flight from Falcon Field to Stellar Airpark for N-29XF’s annual inspection by esteemed Aircraft Inspector, Lance Winter.
KFFZ Tower: “Cleared for an early cross-wind, smoke-on!” “Roger that!”
Then I’m off the ground with just half throttle and rattling the tower windows at 36″/2250. The speed builds to 130 as those four ailerons roll me into a 90º bank – smoke on! Quickly rollin’ level, I pull up over the top of the CAF hangars rollin’ smoke in the doors. Exhilarating! The airplane has it all: NOISE -SMOKE-SPEED!
Then, a quick flight to P19 Stellar Airpark for a low-pass. BOY HOWDY! Balls-to-the-wall indicating 160 (IMAGINE 160 in a bi-plane) maybe 10′ off the deck. Pull up to the vertical mid-field with the owner, Larry Dustman, and half the residents standing agape. …life is GOOD! I can’t believe Larry wants to sell this amazing airplane🤔 Twenty years younger and it’d be MINE!
Read more about the Ghost Ship in it’s own story herein!!
Saturday, May 27th! I helped Crew Chief, Bob Gates, along with former Crew Chief, Rich Petty, remove the wood MT prop on 964 and replace it with the freshly inspected McCauley prop. After a few adjustments I flew a test hop. I also flew Aaron Harvey for a short flight to thank him for all his help keeping 964 clean and sharp. Aaron is a fine young man and working on earning his pilot certification. He will travel some in support of Sentimental Journey – AirBase Arizona’s magnificent B-17 summer tour. I gave Aaron the flight controls and he did very well. I hope he pursues aviation we need more young folks like Aaron.
Larry is an aviation enthusiast. He serendipitously came across my website. Seeing what I had written about Al Litzenberger, he was compelled to send his thoughts that instantly became a treasure.
I followed up my conversation with Larry by another with long-time pal, John Litzenberger. John is a retired captain with Coppers Company and lives in the Pittsburgh area.
I enjoyed a nice luncheon with my fellow ASSHOLES! Ancient Secret Sacred Honorable Order of Learned Ex-Supervisors acronym coined by the late-great Jim Tucker. Jim was the BEST boss ever! The ASSHOLES group is our management team from those wondrous days at good ol’ America West Airlines. We toasted our Gone West members, Jim Tucker and Ken Bruno. Gone but never forgotten. And we cheered the recovery of former Director of Training, Roger Parrish, now home recuperating from another near death adventure. We have it figured that neither God nor the Devil want anything to do with Roger. Good for us as we were not yet ready to give him a send off over the Great Divide! We all (Joe Hoodak; Tyler Waddell, Bob Guayante, Tom Sceurman, Dee Rush and I) enjoyed catching up and already look forward to our next year’s ASSHOLE Conference!
T’day is, brother-in-law, Norm Tisdale’s birthday. So in another couple of hours we’ll be celebrating at the Black Bear followed by peanut butter pie. Can’t wait!
More work on The CAPTAIN CLAYTON OSBON Story. The more I get into this fascinating story the more I see it as a future movie.
Thursday, May 25th. I’m home t’day workin’ on the Clayton Osbon story. Clayton was the JetBlue captain on the receiving end of some really bad publicity in 2012 when he experienced a mental episode on Flight 191. Most of what you’ve heard is so far off base that I felt compelled to research it in depth. I plan on publishing The Clayton Osbon Story soon. This story NEEDS tellin’!
This evening Cheryl and I will be at Justin Vaught’s graduation party. Justin, Pam & Jer’s oldest son, graduated last night from Williams Field High School. The Vaught boys are like grandkids to us. Pam & Jer graduated from Saguaro High School with our son, Preston. Jer and Preston were best buddies and still are. I call Jer “The Good Son!” O’course Jer lives nearby while Preston is 1800 miles away in Pennsylvania.
Justin is the same age as Gianna, our oldest granddaughter. In fact all three of the Vaught kids are the same respective age as the Walker kids.
Justin Vaught May 24, 2017
Wednesday, May 24th. I flew two revenue rides in 964 this mornin’! The first passenger was an 82 year young visitor from Ohio. The second “victim” was a fellow from Safford located in the mountains south east of TVOTS (The Valley of the Sun). The second rider was a pilot who had not touched the controls in a decade. He had never flown an airplane with a “stick.” His had a yoke. He was surprised how fast it all came back to him and that he could actually fly the big bi-plane so well. Looking at him in the mirror mounted in the upper wing I could see and share his all so apparent joy.
It was a beautiful clear day t’day along with experiencing rare calm winds. The temperature was cool and comfortable as we soared over the Usury Mountains toward Four Peaks, the high point in the Mazatzal Mountains north east of Phoenix. The Salt River was flowing nicely as was the Verde River. The confluence is just 6 nautical miles north east of Falcon Field. Passing over the Usury Mountains we flew over the Apache Trail before cruising around the majestic Superstition Mountains and Weaver’s Needle. Weaver’s Needle is where Jacob Waltz (1810-1891) purportedly discovered the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. Waltz kept his discovery a secret.
The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is, according to legend, a rich gold mine hidden near Weaver’s Needle just east of the Superstitions. There have been many stories about how to find the mine, every year there are people searching for the mine. Some have died on the search. Apparently, no one has found it. Kinda makes one suspect…
“Dutchman” was a common American term for a “German” (or “Deutsch”), since for the English-speaking Americans the words “Dutch” and “Deutsch” have a similar pronunciation, for example Pennsylvania Dutch; “Dutch” is the English cognate to the German word, “Deutsch”.)
The Lost Dutchman’s is perhaps the most famous lost mine in American history. Arizona place-name expert (and former WWII WASP) Byrd Granger wrote, as of 1977, the Lost Dutchman’s story had been printed or cited at least six times more often than two other fairly well-known tales, the story of Captain Kidd’s lost treasure, and the story of the Lost Peg-Leg mine in California. People have been seeking the Lost Dutchman’s mine since at least 1892, while according to one estimate, 8,000 people annually made some effort to locate the Lost Dutchman’s mine.Former Arizona Attorney General, Bob Corbin, is among those who have looked for the mine. Some argue that there is little or no evidence for the mine’s existence, but others say that the main components of the story have at least some basis in fact.
Monday, May 22nd. I flew three revenue flights in 964 yesterday and spent this morning cleaning it up along with the L-5 named “Kindred Spirit.” Owned by Jon Libelt, a pilot from Aberdeen, South Dakota, the L-5 displayed at Airbase Arizona honors my Uncle Jack. He flew them in China-Burma-India during WWII. His Dog-Tags hang from the magnetic compass. There is a photo of Uncle Jack flying the L-5 over the jungles of Burma. The photo was taken by Gen. “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell. Uncle Jack flew Gen. Stilwell several times checking troop movements in 1942.
Shown below: The three first place awards 964 that were awarded are shown below. KUDOS to Lance Winter and Larry Dustman for how 964 turned out following restoration. Additionally, 964 was awarded “Best of Show” at the big Midland, Texas air show.
It is such a joy flying this venerable ol’ Navy primary trainer. Give the Ride Coordinator a call (602) 448-2350. You will see the Arizona desert from a magnificent perspective. $300 for a half-hour flight. Or, $300 for an unforgettable memory! Scroll down for more photos…
Thursday May 18th. Cheryl and I just saw a cool Tex Earnhardt commercial, on Channel 12, honoring Airbase Arizona’s efforts to preserve historic aircraft and promote aviation history. Following the Earnhardt commercial there are other GREAT videos of our Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona activities…
Wednesday, May 17th. I had a nice flight with Amy Jo, the daughter of my pal Ollie Urbigkeit, in 964. Turns out she’s friends with Moose and Sharon Peterson. Moose took some GREAT aerial photos of 964 a while back. Here’s a few!
The COOL video above shot by my pal, Gary Mathews, a former combat Seabee during the Vietnam War. Thanks for your service Gary!
Monday, May 15th. Most Monday’s begin hectic! Not so t’day! Fraternity Brother, Bobby Meyer, will stop by mid-morning and that’s it! So, I’ll work on some of the stories herein. N’joy your day!
May 14, 2017 “Happy Mother’s Day” If you were born pre-WWII then here is are some interesting facts about us. Brought back some long ago memories…
TO CHILDREN OF THE GREATEST GENERATION
(and their children – so they will understand)
Born in 1930s and early 40s, we exist as a very special age cohort. We are the Silent Generation. Well perhaps not so silent now…
We are the smallest number of children born since the early 1900s. We are the “last ones.”
We are the last generation, climbing out of the depression, who can remember the winds of war and the impact of a world at war which rattled the structure of our daily lives for years. I don’t actually remember the “winds of war.” I was just a little over a month old when the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor!
We are the last to remember ration books for everything from gas to sugar to shoes to stoves.
We saved tin foil and poured fat into tin cans.
We hand mixed ’white stuff’ with ‘yellow stuff’ to make fake butter.
We saw cars up on blocks because tires weren’t available.
We can remember milk being delivered to our house early in the morning and placed in the “milk box” on the porch. [A friend’s mother delivered milk in a horse drawn cart.] We sometimes fed the horse, and our dog, Spot, a Fox Terrier, would greet the milkman when he made our delivery, then he would ride in Glenn’s truck til the end of his route, when Glenn would drive by the house and let Spot off the truck just in time to greet us coming home from elementary school.
We are the last to hear Roosevelt’s radio “fireside chat” assurances and to see gold stars in the front windows of our grieving neighbors.
We can also remember the parades on August 15, 1945; VJ Day.
We saw the ‘boys’ home from the war, build their Cape Cod style houses, pouring the cellar, tar-papering it over and living there until they could afford the time and money to build it out.
We remember trying to buy a new car after the war. The new cars were coming through with wooden bumpers.
We are the last generation who spent childhood without television; instead we imagined what we heard on the radio.
As we all like to brag, with no TV, we spent our childhood “playing outside until the street lights came on.”
We did play outside and we did play on our own.
There was no little league.
There was no city playground for kids.
To play in the water, we turned the fire hydrants on and ran through the spray.
The lack of television in our early years meant, for most of us, that we had little real understanding of what the world was like.
Our Saturday afternoons, if at the movies, gave us newsreels of the war sandwiched in between westerns and cartoons.
Telephones were one to a house, often shared and hung on the wall.
Computers were called calculators, they only added and were hand cranked; typewriters were driven by pounding fingers, throwing the carriage, and changing the ribbon.
The ‘internet’ and ‘GOOGLE’ were words that didn’t exist.
Newspapers and magazines were written for adults and the news was broadcast on our table radio in the evening by H.V Kaltenborne and Gabriel Heatter.
We are the last group who had to find out for ourselves.
As we grew up, the country was exploding with growth.
The G.I. Bill gave returning veterans the means to get an education and spurred colleges to grow.
VA loans fanned a housing boom.
Pent up demand coupled with new installment payment plans put factories to work.
New highways would bring jobs and mobility. Eisenhower’s behemoth project for transcontinental roadways.
The veterans joined civic clubs and became active in politics.
In the late 40’s and early 50’s the country seemed to lie in the embrace of brisk but quiet order as it gave birth to its new middle class (which became known as ‘Baby Boomers’).
The radio network expanded from 3 stations to thousands of stations.
The telephone started to become a common method of communications and “Faxes” sent hard copy around the world.
Our parents were suddenly free from the confines of the depression and the war and they threw themselves into exploring opportunities they had never imagined.
We weren’t neglected but we weren’t today’s all-consuming family focus.
They were glad we played by ourselves ‘until the street lights came on.’
They were busy discovering the post war world.
Most of us had no life plan, but with the unexpected virtue of ignorance and an economic rising tide we simply stepped into the world and started to find out what the world was about.
We entered a world of overflowing plenty and opportunity; a world where we were welcomed.
Based on our naive belief that there was more where this came from, we shaped life as we went.
We enjoyed a luxury; we felt secure in our future. Of course, just as today, not all Americans shared in this experience.
Depression poverty was deep rooted.
Polio was still a crippler.
The Korean War was a dark presage in the early 50s and by mid-decade school children were ducking under desks.
Russia built the “Iron Curtain” and China became Red China .
Eisenhower sent the first ‘advisers’ to Vietnam ; and years later, Johnson invented a war there.
Castro set up camp in Cuba and Khrushchev came to power.
We are the last generation to experience an interlude when there were no existential threats to our homeland.
We came of age in the 40s and early 50s. The war was over and the cold war, terrorism, technological upheaval, “global warming”, and perpetual economic insecurity had yet to haunt life with insistent unease.
Only our generation can remember both a time of apocalyptic war and a time when our world was secure and full of bright promise and plenty. We have lived through both.
We grew up at the best possible time, a time when the world was getting better. not worse.
We are the Silent Generation – “The Last Ones”.
More than 99.9% of us are either retired and if not deceased feel privileged to have “lived in the best of times”!
May 12, 2017: An absolutely gorgeous morning greeted us as we began our daily rituals. Checking our e-mail we once again found the oft bragged on technology lacking. A total re-set of our Cox modem wasn’t enough. So, we unplugged the modem and router. A minute later we were back in business – of course after re-heating our coffee. Now, we’ll see what we can salvage from another Cox abysmal performance…
May 10, 2017: Every day is a blessing and, surely, something will happen of note! And today something has already happened of note! I woke up, no toe-tag, and I knew right away the day was off to a good start!
May 9, 2017: T’day is my pal, Joe Davis, 76th birthday! We have been pals for over 75 years and never so much as a cross word. HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE!
Below: More than three decades ago, show’s Joe flying my new Cessna Skylane to Lake Powell. Kippy and Cheryl supervising from the back seats.
Above, A couple of years ago, Billy & Joe fishin’ at Hog Park, Wyoming. Joe’s cool two-place boat folds up and stores in his motor coach.
Here in Arizona, I started today with a visit to my ol’ friend, Dick Jones, a fellow aviator. As with me, Dick moved to Arizona from Colorado. So, we know a lot of the same people.
Dick is fighting a tough battle with Stage 4 Cancer of the Pancreas. He has been thru the gambit of radiation and, now, chemotherapy. All was going good until a couple of days ago when he experienced a bad episode putting him back in the hospital.
As often happens with cancer, the body’s immune system gets outta kilter. Dick is no exception and he is now fighting an infection on top of everything else.
Dick was in excellent spirits t’day and, ever the optimist, he is hopeful of going home tomorrow. Please put Dick and the Jones Bunch in your thoughts and prayers.
May 7th, 2017 I learned some of the BEST EVER news!
A former Frontier pilot called to tell me Captain Pete Lamkin had “Gone West” a couple of days ago. That immediately put me in a real funk! Pete was a good friend and revered by the Frontier Pilots for his amazing character, friendship, instructional and aviator skills all while battling severe arthritis. Never a complaint! We all looked at Pete in utter awe. It made me sad and melancholy thinking he was gone…
Hearing about his having Gone West at 83 was upsetting to everyone. But it wasn’t true! I just spoke with Pete the better part of a half-hour. He is fine! He is doing well and will, hopefully, be with us for many more years.
Yesterday, May 6th, I took 92 year old Genny Buchanan up in 964. A couple other rides went as planned albeit the wind was challenging.
Photo by Moose Peterson
If you know of someone who might like a flight in 964 give our Ride Coordinators a call: (602) 448-2350 Tell ’em I sent you and I’ll give you a bonus ride you won’t forget! Also, www.azcaf.org
I spent four decades as an airline pilot. I have heard and seen things I agree with and, similarly, things I’ve been in disagreement with. Given all the hullabaloo with United (actually Republic Airlines flying with United’s livery) and yesterdays brouhaha on Delta I offer a colleague’s comments:
The following was written by a commercial airline pilot who speaks for all of us. I have a feeling most of my aviation friends will agree with what he wrote.
“Let’s get some facts on the table. As an airline captain, I am the sole authority on the airplane. With that authority comes great responsibility. Likewise, FAR 91.1 states that I am solely responsible for the safe operation of the flight. Therefore, I am responsible for each and every one of you once you cross the threshold of the airplane door. Keep that in mind as we progress. In other words, you break a rule and I could lose my license. My livelihood is not worth your inability to comply. That aside, lets look at why the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR’s) are what they are.
Most pilots will agree that the FAR’s are written in blood. Every one of the rules was written as the result of the loss of life (a crash.) For example, most of you don’t get why you have to have your seat-back and your tray table up for take off. Fact is, the most dangerous part of your fight is the high-speed takeoff regime– that point from approximately 100 mph to lift-off. I don’t need to get into the reasons why, but it is. Should an engine fail and the captain decide to stop on the runway, the odds are great that the plane will sustain damage and emergency evacuation will be likely. Imagine that situation with the moron in front of you having reclined his seat to the aft position and the idiot in the seat between you and the aisle having his tray table down. The FAA knows this and regulates against it because the FAA certifies airplanes based on a full airplane evacuation in a set amount of time. They do not take into account idiots like the guys ahead of you and next to you. In this scenario, you will likely burn and die. Those non-compliers blocked your egress, and you suffered. I wish our Flight Attendants could tell you all this. Maybe you would police each other for your own safety. Then, our flight attendants would not have to tell you to put your seat up and hear words like “witch” uttered under your breath. This is just one example of rules made by the FAA to protect YOUR safety.
Fast forward to this situation. Do you remember 9/11? Do you remember Pan Am 103? There are so many security protocols of which you are not aware. Seats assigned must match names. Luggage must match seats assigned. You cannot book on two flights simultaneously. The computer systems know this. You cannot merely give a seat to another person. That is kinda how Pan Am 103 happened–seat bought for someone then someone else showed up and took the seat. As a result, the security systems in place at every airline can immediately send me, on the flight deck at Flight Level 350 (35,000 feet), everything I want to know about you. I can conference call every government security entity that I so desire. I plan to go home to my son and the other Captain Walker at the end of every flight, so guess what? I’m not giving an inch on security. I get paid to get ALL 220 people there safely, not just you and your whiney, self-centered issues. Your refusal to play by the rules like the rest of us and merely change the name on the seat is no better than any other law-breaker.
At some point, all this arguing on the ground in the back of my airplane becomes a threat to FAR 91.1, my edict that I ensure the safe operation of the flight. If you cannot follow orders on the ground, it’s highly unlikely you will do so at FL 350. Get one thing straight , once you board a US airliner, you are entering a DICTATORSHIP. IT IS NOT A DEMOCRACY. I AM THE DICTATOR. NORMALLY, I AM A VERY BENEVOLENT DICTATOR, BUT A DICTATOR, NONETHELESS! DON’T FORGET THAT. It is my ship. I am in command. I have the full faith and backing of the Federal Aviation Administration (thus the US Government), my company, and my co-workers. There are NO “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts” about it! I don’t care about your lawyers, or your camera phone. I have one job to do, and that responsibility–the safety of the other 199 people–trumps your wants or needs. And, if I do not do that job, including removing you for being disruptive, I could lose my licenses, livelihood, and even end up in jail. Therefore, when push comes to shove, I WILL WIN. You can take that to the bank.
Let me take a moment and explain this. 99.99999% of the time, all goes great. I meet wonderful customers for whom I am sincerely thankful for their business. I take kids to see Mickey Mouse; military sons to reunite with their families; and, even fallen heroes home to rest. But, every now and then, there is one. There is one person who cannot play by the rules; one person who thinks their situation is more important that all the others on the airplane; one who just cannot follow instructions.
Imagine for a moment you are a Captain on a flight with someone who just cannot follow instructions, whether it be not turning off their phones for takeoff (there really is a reason for this), or someone won’t put their tray table up. You know all this before take off because the flight attendants keep calling. Would you take this insolent passenger for a ride knowing that if everything goes great, no harm done, but if one thing goes wrong, you could be called to sit before the NTSB and answer questions about your judgment and likely lose your career? You have a passenger on board who will not comply with simple flight crew requests on the ground, and you stupidly take them flying. Now you are at FL350. You cage a motor; conduct an emergency descent; and, ask your flight attendants to prepare the cabin for an emergency landing. There are deadheading flight crew in various seats in the back. They are fully trained on the operation of the over-wing exits, slides, rafts, and evacuations. As Captain, you tell the flight attendants to move the crew to the emergency exit rows to facilitate a fast evacuation giving the most number of passengers a fighting chance at survival. However, your insolent problem who refused to put up his tray table is now refusing to change seats with the trained deadheading pilots. The lives of 200 people are in your hands. What do you do?
Now, perhaps, you understand why the law of the sea governs the skies. You know why you need that dictator at that point who knows their job, and can fly the $hit out of that plane. And, you know why the majority of us pilots will get problems removed before we ever get in the air.”
Email me your comments on this or anything I’ve published: BillyWalker@cox.net
Some of the ATO brother’s for our annual breakfast at the Arizona Country Club Friday morning April 28th. Seated L-R: Larry Summerson; Jack LaSota; Ron Iverson. Barely standing L-R: Pete Bernal; Bobby Meyer; Jerry Greene; Paul Fisher; Rock Anderson; Jack Phillips. We were just a part of a very good turn out!
ALSO: Check-In with Captain Eric Auxier http://capnaux.com . Eric skillfully and accurately stated what needed to be said about the recent United (Republic Airlines) debacle. Absolutely SPOT-ON!
April 25th note: Windy and hazy t’day but a nice flight in 964 nonetheless! Joe Hammer showed up for a 2nd flight after just a couple of days since his last Golden Age of Flying flight! Joe runs HB Aerospace near Williams-Gateway, the former Williams AFB.
On April 22nd I received a sad note from Carol Neff, widow of Captain Bill Neff. Bill was Best Man when Cheryl and I married 46 years ago. Billy has Gone West and now Carol is selling their “Dream Home.” It is a really beautiful place with a hangar that is more of a “Man Cave” than hangar. Someone will get a fantastic deal!
Thought for the day: if all you can do is rumble, rant, and threaten, you’re counterproductive to discussion of policy, politics, and community building…
I flew in a three-ship to honor TSGT James “Jim” Lambert who succumbed to Agent Orange from his days as an USAF mechanic in SE Asia. He recalled standing on the wing of an F-105 he was repairing at D’nang Airbase watching the circling C-123’s spraying “something.” Turns out he was watching “Operation Ranch Hand,” the effort to defoliate the Vietnam, Cambodian, and Laotian jungles with what turned out to be a horrible chemical now exhibiting devastating effects.
I recently learned that the VA has finally accepted responsibility for some of the cases heretofore denied. This came about when the Air National Guard accepted some mothballed C-123s that had sat in desert storage at Davis-Monthan AFB for TWENTY YEARS! They were cleaned up and used for National Guard support missions. Then these C-123 pilots started manifesting ailments. Finally, the aircraft were checked and found to still, after TWENTY YEARS, have strong presence of the Agent Orange chemical!
We just do NOT know how far reaching the Agent Orange problem extends!
Some of our Stearman Squadron members spent Easter at the Fairmont Princess Resort in Scottsdale. Nice day t’day, but April 14th was the kicker!
I spent the day at Luke AFB touring the F-35 program with John Marusiak. It was John’s 100th birthday!
My friend & neighbor, George Chase arranged this adventure to help LTC Marusiak begin his second hundred years with a visit to his old squadron, the 61st Fighter Squadron, the “Bulldogs.” They are part of the 56th Fighter Wing, the US Air Force’s largest.
The Bulldogs fly the new F-35. The helmets for the F-35 pilots cost more than my house! Presently, there are some 76 F-35’s at Luke with more on the way. We were able to get next to the Squadron Commander’s personal F-35 with many of the fascinating components explained. Fascinating may not be a strong ’nuff adjective!
George set us all up with a bus ride to Luke, the tour, lunch at the base and then back with plenty of snacks and drinks both ways. It was a glorious day made truly memorable seeing Col. Marusiak welcomed by the base personnel. He was photographed and video recorded along with being interviewed by the Luke PR folks. I didn’t sit in on the interview but imagine he was telling about the P-47s he flew in the 61st those many years ago.
John was a fighter pilot and a test pilot during WWII. John’s experiences as a combat fighter pilot and, later, test pilot would easily fill a couple of volumes.
After the war he became a successful businessman developing a high-tech machine shop that is still going strong. John flew his own aircraft until just a few years ago. An extraordinary man, John Marusiak is a proud American! How honored I was to share his moment. Thank you Sir George for making it a memorable outing for all of us. It was FIRST CLASS!
Sill hopeful our friends at Wings of Flight Foundation will prevail in their efforts to remain in the historic ol’ WWII hangar at Falcon Field. I was at the airport t’day and overheard some of the folks who are upset with the onerous decision to evict WoFF. If this happens, oh my gosh, some of the threatening statements I overheard. “We’ll anti-up and buy an ad in the paper exposing the malfeasance of the airport and city council!” Another, “Let’s think about a recall.” I think they meant the Mayor and City Council but can’t say for sure. And I heard a couple of threatening statements that I want no part of!
It would be so easy to fix this travesty! Just keep WoFF in their hangar and move the helo company into the hangars they propose moving WoFF to. I guess it is difficult to understand faceless bureaucrats. This has been a real eye-opener in that respect…
April 8th was ‘zactly 46 years since Miss Cheryl and I tied a knot that was apparently tied to tight to loosen! Here’s a few photos from those days when I had hair, Cheryl’s hair was brown, and for every hair I lost I’ve gained a pound! She, on the other hand looks magnificent still…
Also, here’s the front page of today’s Arizona Republic. Hope this helps in our quest to save the Wings of Flight Foundation!
Below: WWII B-17 gunner, Gus Fleschlei (91 years young).
Greetings! Above is a photo of Gus Fleschlei and me taken by Rebecca Hazelwood, mother of John C. Hazelwood the web designer of this site.
“Reeeebeca has a strong Texas accent so I put a really long “e” on her name when I say it! Below: Rebecca is Queen for a Day flying with me in 964 at Airbase Arizona.
When the CAF members discovered Gus was a bonifide WWII warrior with 35 combat missions in the B-17G they had him sign the bomb-bay door of “Sentimental Journey.” Dennis Sturm, airbase newsletter editor, took a photo and it soon found it’s way into the “Falcon Flyer” newsletter for the airbase. Gus is on our CAF website too! Check the link below…
Gus is a WWII veteran with 35 missions over Germany in a B-17G. We’ve been friends since he returned from the war. Gus’ parents and my parents were close friends from the 1930’s. Check-in at the Airbase Arizona website: azcaf.org
Also present were with Joe & Kippy Davis who you’ve read about herein. Joe is the co-developer of Wyoming’s first Bidet! See: “The Adventures of the Walker Bunch – Part One”
It was another memorable evening with truly GREAT friends. Amazing! Gus could pass for Joe’s and my age (75) and we could pass for his!! And with that red shirt, Gus woulda fit right in with our invasion of the Mesa City Council last night!
April 3rd, 2017:
Yesterday the WoFF principals will meet with the Assistant City Manager. Cheryl and I along with 120+ others put on red shirts and headed for the Mesa City Council meeting. Hope it helped! We’ll see…
Here’s the You Tube video of the Council Meeting: Go to 25:40 for WoFF’s presentation…
Mesa City Council – April 3, 2017
57 E 1st
Please make your best effort to be there for the Churchill brothers and the WoFF preservation supporters. IF YOU CAN ATTEND PLEASE RSVP DALE CHURCHILL: (480) 620-6100
Today is also grandson, Dylan’s, 15th birthday!
REGARDING THE WoFF EPISODE: Several have sent letters and e-mails to the Mayor, Vice-Mayor, City Council members, and the airport manager expressing their dismay over the eviction notice purveyed on the WINGS of FLIGHT FOUNDATION (WoFF). Please join us in objecting to this travesty! THANK YOU to those who have joined our effort to save WoFF.
TOMORROW THERE IS A PLAN TO MEET AT THE CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS IN PROTEST. WEAR RED! WE EXPECT TO MEET THERE @ 5:30 PM. THE COUNCIL SESSION IS SET FOR 5:45 PM.
PLEASE RSVP TO DALE IF YOU CAN ATTEND: (480) 620-6100. PLEASE WEAR RED!!
The photos below are what the city wants to evict and replace with storage boxes… Sad!
Cheryl and I enjoyed a marvelous reunion with Joe & Kippy Davis, Gus Fleschlei, Rebecca Hazlewood and her son John C. Hazlewood. John is the genius who developed this website.
Update on the plight of the WoFF (Wings of Flight Foundation) . hangar situation at Falcon Field. Several pilots, tenants, and concerned friends have joined in the effort to raise awareness of the airport manager’s questionable effort to evict the Churchill Brothers and their WWII aircraft and memorabilia from the historic hangar.
My pal, Matt Packard, suggests we get into a letter-writing campaign and send the Mayor of Mesa a letter objecting to the terrible wrong being done by the airport manager against the WoFF group. I concur and have sent a letter to Mayor Giles, Vice Mayor Luna and the City Council. There has to be a way for us to help preserve what Dale, Brian, and other’s have done to preserve and promote aviation history.
Here’s what Matt has to say, “To all my family & friends,
Please take a moment & read the story about my good friends, the Churchill brothers on the Standunited.org/petition website listed below. In effect, the city of Mesa, AZ wants to evict them from a WWII era hanger where they house their aircraft collection & non-profit foundation. The brothers have always been very generous with the use of their hanger for various causes. It has been the site of their annual charitable Christmas party benefiting local homeless & children causes. For those of you that came to my retirement party Nov ’15, this was the building where it was held…the brothers donated the use of their hanger for my benefit! So, PLEASE…help me help them. Sign the petition after you read the story & do it ASAP!!! Time is of the essence!
Greetings friends & neighbors, We need help, again …. Many of you were asked, and many of you graciously responded and helped last year, when our organization was trying to get a lease on our hangarat Falcon Field. Thank you !! Fourteen (14) months have passed, and now we’re being evicted. Obvious disparate treatment from the city. This link will take you to an on-line petition. Standunited.org/petition/woff The narrative explains a lot….. please sign. Additionally, If you live in Mesa, please write Mayor John Giles directly w/ a cc to your council member.
Thank you for your help and support !
I signed the petition & later today plan to launch a request to everybody in my address book to sign as well…even if they don’t know the Churchill brothers or live in AZ. It’ll be a wider disbursement of negative publicity for Falcon Field & the city of Mesa. I encourage everyone who gets this to do the same.
Consider writing a letter to the Mayor!
I remain hopeful that some individuals with political ooomph will step forward along with the media. Please help pass the word on this travesty!
The City of Mesa has some bureaucrats runnin’ amok! It is unconscionable that the airport manager and Mesa city officials are cancelling the hangar rental agreement with the WoFF foundation. Sadly, the airport manager has the right to do this! That’s the way the contract reads. But, her actions are sooooo WRONG!
The WoFF foundation, for years, has promoted, preserved, and protected the rich aviation history that dates back to the early days of WWII.
The hangar the airport manager is evicting WoFF from was built, along with the airfield, as part of the military training of pilots for the US and Britain.
The WoFF hangar is part of the National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.
Below is a link to a seventy seven page document explaining how it works.
So, how is it that the airport manager and other city bureaucrats can ignore all the good the WoFF has been to aviation, especially aviation in our community? To make things worse, the seemingly faceless bureaucrats are replacing the beautiful historic aircraft such as the North American AT-6G “Texan,” Boeing Model 75 “Stearman,” and L-16 with storage boxes?
Is it possible for these ‘faceless bureaucrats’ to pull something like this with impunity? We need to find a way to call them to task over this… PLEASE HELP!
The two World War 11-era aviation hangars at Falcon Field represent the local manifestation of a national, indeed international, historic context. As described in the historical narrative, thetraining of British aviators in the United States occurred as the result of careful diplomacy between the two countries as the U.S., formally a neutral prior to December 7, 1941, expanded its support for the Allied cause. The hangars are nominated at the local level of significance because of the historic and emotional attachment between the broader story of the war effort and the cooperation of locals, like the City of Mesa, who made the site available and who welcomed and assisted the cadets throughout its operation. The city has since maintained the hangars as part of an active airport and supported the use of the hangars by groups dedicated to the preservation of historic aircraft. In addition, the airport sponsors events like air shows, which publicize the history of the airport and its historic connection to the war. Although the hangars have had alterations since the war, this document has emphasized the preservation of the interior space and structure as their most important character-defining features. The purpose of a hangar, after all, was to provide a large space for the storage and maintenance of aircraft. Visitors today entering the hangars see, essentially, what the trainers and cadets from 1941 to 1945 saw. For their ability to convey an important story of how Allied cooperation actually worked, from the cooperation of nations to the support of local citizens, the hangars are recommended as meeting the criteria of the National Register, specifically, Criterion A in the military area of significance.
103 VanderMeer, Desert Visions and the Making of Phoenix, 223; Simmons, 53, 249; “Talley Industries, Inc. History,”
Funding Universe, http: //www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/talley-industries-inc-history/, (accessed June l, 2015).
104 Simmons, 249, 259. Sections 8
Please support the petition below.
The City of Mesa is kicking the Wings of Flight Foundation (WOFF) aviation heritage folks out of their historic WWII hanger. They are replacing living aviation heritage with storage boxes! The new entity is NOT increasing employment. They are simply moving from their present location and will store boxes where historic WWII airplanes now reside.
Mesa officials ARE planning to TERRIBLY misuse this venerable old hangar where so many trained with many sacrificing their lives for our freedom. Someone needs to get their attention and fix this TRAVESTY! Please contact anyone you know who might make a positive influence on this wrong-headedness! Read more below…
To the Mayor and the city council of Mesa, Arizona :
Keep Wings Of Flight Foundation in their current hangar and give them a lease NOW!
Wings Of Flight Foundation, Inc. (WoFF), is a 501(c)(3) charitable/educational organization based at Falcon Field in Mesa, AZ. WoFF is currently occupying one half of a WWII hangar at Falcon Field (two (2) WWII hangars exist). Their mission is Education, Aviation and Preservation — focusing specifically on the history of the British Training Program at Falcon Field during WWII. WoFF owns and flies the exact types of aircraft used by the British cadets at Falcon, the Boeing PT-17 Stearman, and the North American AT-6 “Texan”. In February, 2016, the half of the hangar not occupied by WoFF was vacated. This additional space would allow WoFF to expand their operation and enter into a vintage aircraft restoration business as they have customers throughout the world wishing to bring their restoration projects to Falcon / WoFF. The officers of WoFF have been consistently asking airport management for a long-term lease, to no avail. The city indicated that they (the city) would advertise and offer the vacant half, AND ONLY THE VACANT HALF of the hangar to the candidate that submitted the best business proposal. WoFF did submit a proposal in November, 2016. On March 20, 2017, WoFF was notified that not only were we unsuccessful in our proposal, but that the chosen occupant wanted the entire hangar. WoFF was given their eviction notice. The crux of this petition is simple. WoFF was consistently told that their half was not being offered; Although one-half (10,000sf) of the entire hangar was advertised, the new occupant was offered 20,000sf; Although the other WWII hangar occupant at Falcon Field has a long-term lease, WoFF has never been offered one, showing obvious favoritism, disparate treatment and denying equal protection to WoFF; City policy and protocol was not followed — if WoFF’s half was “available”, shouldn’t it be advertised and candidates be vetted and considered as was done with the original 10,000sf? Please support WoFF ! This single act by the city is closing our doors for good. The history of Falcon Field, is being evicted by Falcon Field. By signing this petition, you are expressing your wish that city management and representatives allow WoFF to stay in their hangar and offer them, as they do to others, a lease.Thank you!
MARCH 20TH: GREAT NEWS! Thanks to Dr. John Raniolo I have a spankin’ new flight physical in my pocket!
I flew several revenue flights in Stearman 964 with three just t’day! Life is good!
Here I am lookin’ pretty! This is the cover shot for the big Falcon Field Open House yesterday:
Also, there are some new stories AND VIDEOs added along with some additions and corrections to the stories you might have seen earlier. More photos and still more will be added soon. Don’t forget to leave me your comments. I will always appreciate your critique/corrections/suggestions, etc.!
With the talents of John C. Hazelwood “RockRiver, LTD,” a design firm in Denver, I finally have a centralized place for my stories. A sincere “Thank You” to John, my wife Cheryl and sister MJ for all their help with this project.
The superior editing skills of my immediate supervisor, Cheryl, as well as those equally unrivaled abilities of my sister, Martha Jo, what is available to you, herein, is hopefully in acceptable form.
Initially, access is by invitation. However, I would be honored should you feel the contents of this site worthy to pass along.
Any errors and/or omissions are mine and mine alone. If you would be so kind as to point them out to me, I will make the correction.
Regardless, I thank you for taking the time to peruse the stories within. Some may be an excellent means to thwart insomnia!
Some stories are still a work-in-progress. As of this writing there are some thirty stories. “Walker Bunch Part Three remains unfinished… I’ve added a story about Joseph Rutherford Walker. He was the first Captain Walker and likely one of the greatest of all early American pioneer trailblazers…. I just added a story about David Edington an amazing friend from childhood who’s story should encourage us all as to what perseverance and dedication truly mean.
I might add that if you go to the Blog link to see all the stories, it is awkward. Click the three lines on the home page. Go to “Blogs” then look thru the different categories to find something of interest. Training videos are listed with “Stearman Stories.” Below, I have provided the links to the individual stories and videos. If the links below don’t work, simply cut and paste on your browser.
WELCOME TO MY WORLD – An Introduction – is followed by the stories in order of the listing below:
MORE STORIES BEING ADDED ALL THE TIME. THERE ARE THREE PAGES OF THE LIST OF STORIES SO FAR…
Please make comments ! I appreciate any and all feedback!
Billy Walker – 1 JAN 2017
“Once the wings go on, they never come off whether they can be seen or not. It fuses to the soul through adversity, fear and adrenaline and no one who has ever worn them with pride, integrity and guts can ever sleep through the “call of the wild” that wafts through the bedroom windows in the deep of the night.
When a good air crewman leaves the “job” and retires, many are jealous, some are pleased and yet others, who may have already retired, wonder. We wonder if he knows what he is leaving behind, because we already know. We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times.
We know in the world of flying, there is a fellowship which lasts long after the flight suits are hung up in the back of the closet. We know even if he throws them away, they will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very bearing of a man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.