NEW Daily Blog! October 1, 2017

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

Greetings!¬† It’s October 16th¬†Thanks to pal Dave Sirota here’s a happy story to start your day with:

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

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


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


October 7th and 8th:

T’day a look-back¬†at Early Aviation:¬†

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Above:  October 6, 1955

Some scattered parts remain

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Diana & John Walkup

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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