Weekly Blog (when I’m feelin’ gabby)…
For our horrific Mexico adventure: https://captainbillywalker.com/war-stories/do-not-travel-to-mexico-heres-why/
Sadly, here is another example of why NOT to travel to Mexico!
Newly-engaged couple looking for wedding locations in Mexico reveal how they were kidnapped at gunpoint, robbed and severely beaten over several hours. See story by Emily Crane:
May 20th – Ed Beauvais showed up for the first anniversary gathering of The Cactus Crews (retired America West crew members). The group was started by Captain Ken Barnett and more have joined with 70+ there last evening!
May 14th – Yesterday, the 13th, Travis landed 964 at Falcon Field after nearly ten hours of pure joy flying with the Stearman Squadron to Gillespie Field for the Annual Allen Airways Fly-In.
Bill & Claudia Allen should write a book on “How to Host a Vintage Aircraft Fly-In.” We all anticipated it would be great and it surpassed our expectations immeasurably!
Above, A Kurt Gearhart photo showing 964 in formation (part of a flight of eight Stearman’s) over Hotel Del Coronado. We flew over the Coronado Bridge, The ‘Midway,’ a Navy carrier (CVB-41), past North Island Naval Air Station, Point Loma and up the coast past Del Mar turning east just past the famous race track. We headed east north of the Miramar US Marine Airbase before lining up for an overhead approach into Gillespie Field.
OUR VIEW CROSSING THE BOW OF THE MIDWAY
Those of you who know me are aware of how blessed I feel that I am to be able to continue to fly. I’m now just three years shy of my 80th birthday. Just thinking of what I get to do, a big-assed grin breaks out on my ancient kisser😜
Here’s a link to Kurt’s videography:
If you are young, and not yet sure of what you want to do with your life, I have some advice! Do something you truly enjoy doing and you will never work a day in your life!
Yup, I’m truly blessed!
Below: Travis Major, and some ol’ guy, flying 964 over the Arizona desert en-route to San Diego May 10, 2018:
The Arizona Stearman’s, in addition to 964, were Terry Emig in 034 – Kurt Gearhart in 955 with former POW, Bob Jeffrey – Larry Dustman with nephew, Dakota, in 181. Missing were Roger Parrish and Fred Gorrell in 832; Joe Sottile in 386; Lee Maxson in 610; and Mike Braegger in his Waco UPF-7.
May 9th – gettin’ ready to fly 964 to El Cajon, CA t’morrow with Travis Major. We will fly in a four ship formation departing early AM arriving at KSEE (Gillespie Field) noonish after the fog burns off. Three days with terrific people hosted by Bill & Claudia Allen. Lotsa stories about old pilots and old airplanes of which some will be partially true! Photos and stories to follow!
Cinco d’Mayo! Starting t’day I have to stop braggin’ on the Ahwatukee weather. Already it’s 102º! My buddy, Larry Duthie (KIA in ’67) is fly fishin’ in Utah. Yup! Ol’ Duth has things figured out better’n I do!
May 2nd update… Check out a really COOL photo from a recent flight:
I love the expression of the passenger riding in the front seat. This is how Photo Shop can make our sitting on the ramp look pretty snazzy…
I’ve been both busy and lazy lately. The longer I’m retired the busier I seem to be! It’ the first of May 2018 and I just added a new story. Check it out! It is about losing a good friend now 8 years ago but seemingly yesterday:
We are about to start ‘nuther busy week! This past week was full of good stuff. Lots of flying for me and Cheryl kept busy with her volunteerism. On her way out the door last week she looked up and caught the Stearman Squadron overhead. We were heading to ASU’s International School of Business (soon to move to downtown Phoenix). The school is located on the site of the WWII Thunderbird 1 Airfield.
I’m far left in 964. Next is Larry Dustman in 181 (an original Thunderbird II ‘Stearman;’ Terry Emig leading in 034; Lee Maxson in 610; and Mike Braegger in his UPF-7 Waco (doing what he does best) – blowing smoke🤪
I had my Prius wrapped. It turned out GREAT! In my view anyway… Parked in front of 964 just prior to my flying four revenue flights Saturday, April 14th. It was a GREAT day to commit aviation!
For a ride in 964 or other cool warbirds call: (602) 448-2350
Visit Airbase Arizona’s
Last evening we had several couples over for some patio refreshments before Cheryl laid out an Italian feast that left everyone with a satisfied look.
I hope I receive more notes like the one below:
One of my pilot buddies from the original Frontier Airlines is pretty original himself. Funny, I’ve known Ron Gallop for more than a half-century, but t’day I feel like I know him a lot better!
I’ve been coaxing him to relate his relationship with Beech aircraft. My father was one of the first Beech dealers. Here’s what Captain Gallop sent this morning:
“A couple of weeks ago you alluded that you were unaware that I grew up in the Beech ‘family’. I resolved then to write you but have been slow to complete that task. My lineage therein is as follows:
April 12th Already four days into our 48th year of marital bliss! We awoke to another magnificently gorgeous Arizona sunrise. Of course we had a somber moment remembering that our son, Preston, and his family awoke to another miserably cold and snowy Pennsylvania day.
I flew four passengers yesterday in 964. Nice! Then Cheryl and I went to the Brown & Bigelow show at the Para Club in Scottsdale.
April 8th Happy Anniversary to TLOML❣ Cheryl, the love of my life, and I celebrate forty seven mostly blissful years t’gether t’day, April 8th!
April 5th 2018! Just had a nice visit with historian, Bill Horst, Porterville, CA. Bill sent me some of his earlier writings and some artwork on his notes that are pure “Charlie Russell!” Bill is 84 and still active with the museum. He’s searching for Joseph Rutherford Walker’s brand. If you’ve read Walker’s story <https://captainbillywalker.com/wonderful-wyoming/captain-joseph-rutherford-walker-1798-1876/> you will recall the many horse herds he moved from California to sell to the military during the Indian wars.
I just added a photo my sister, MJ, discovered of our mother riding a motorcycle! If you knew my mother, the last thing you’d consider was her being a ‘biker!’
From a Lady to a Biker Babe
WHAT! April Fool’s Day and Easter on the same day🧐 I don’t know ’bout that! I do know it has be a great day so far! Cheryl and I enjoyed a delicious Easter brunch with our friends/neighbors, Duncan & Yvonne, WOW! Yvonne is a lawyer, but she’d make it with her own restaurant. Man-O-Man whadda spread.
We’ll fill up again at Jer n’ Pam’s later. Their kids call us Gpa & Grammie. Jer is Preston’s best pal from high school. Pam has been Jer’s best pal since then as well. Their three kids are the same age, roughly, as Preston’s three.
Another really good thing happened today. I no longer use GoDaddy to host my website. If you ever toy with the thought of using GoDaddy, my recommendation is run and hide! What a sham company full of glitz and bullshit! I refer to them as “GoBadly.com.” They promise much and were totally worthless! They were unable to answer the simplest of questions. My new host, ServMask, took eleven seconds to resolve a frustrating issue. Another seven seconds had me understanding the problem. Then and there, I knew that I needed a fast change of hosts. Thank you Yani at ServMask!
March 27th, Feelin’ down, hard to get goin’? Check out the character of this little fellow. Turns out his character is of gigantic proportions!
March 15th has been a good day. Actually, a GREAT day! I had a follow up meeting with my oncologist, Dr. Alice Tsai. My blood test came back with a PSA of ZERO! So far, so good!
March 12th! T’day I filed an official complaint against GoDaddy with the Better Business Bureau! I DO NOT recommend GoDaddy! GoDaddy represented themselves as a host for my website. TERRIBLE! Hopefully, my new host, ServMask will be a good one. So far they’ve been terrific.
March 10th was a GREAT day for members and guests at Airbase Arizona! Everything we had with a single exception flew! I flew three rides in the Stearman, the SNJ, C-45, C-47, B-25, and the B-17 all flew. Some were multiple flights. Yessir! That was commitin’ aviation at it’s best!
March 6th… Here is a link to our grandson, Dylan Walker’s, highlights from his sophomore year:
March 4th... Another busy week for the BnC team! March 1st: EAA 1614 BOD meeting followed by the regular meeting with Mike Wolf’s presentation on his Carbon Cub project. Great job Mike!
Cheryl, outgoing president of PEO Chapter AM has been busy with all too much paperwork in passing her gavel to Barbara Wulbrecht. Barbara has a really tough act to follow. Some of her PEO sisters have exclaimed that Cheryl was the best president ever! No surprise given her achievements. When she graduated from ASU, Cheryl was at the top of the heap (Summa Cum Laude) and gave BOTH the convocation and commencement addresses. And both were stellar performances. Cheryl had never spoken publicly before which made her performance even more impressive!
Our squadron Honored LTC Bill McCaffrey with the Missing Man flight March 1st. We were overhead at our TOT (Time Over Target) of 11:20 AM. With 964 pulling up and turning west we gave Bill the best send-off we could.
Back at Airbase Arizona I had a revenue flight then up again with long-time fishin’ buddy, Dan Todd. Dan has flown a plethora of aircraft but this was his first Stearman experience. Dan was a Sr. VP at good ol’ Frontier Airlines and, before that, the chairman of the NTSB!
March 3rd had me flying 964 with four revenue passengers. Then home to spiffy-up before taking Cheryl to the “West Side Story” at the Phoenix Symphony. I dread this type of thing. Cheryl has culture, I have agriculture! But, I thoroughly enjoyed the performance.
T’day, the 4th, started restful and I’m workin’ on keeping it that way! T’morrow, Monday, March 5th, I will take Dan’s wife, Barbara, and his sister, Christie, up in 964. Christie Todd Whitman is the former governor of New Jersey, former EPA administrator, and author.
February 28th…Cheryl and I join Ed & Mary Ellen Beauvais at L’Amore Restaurant t’nite.
February 27th: Moved some of the F-15/A-10 drop-tanks from Casa Grande to Stellar Airpark. We will clean ’em up to make ready for the pre-purchase inspection. If you are looking for a nice used airplane or two, check out “Aircraft” within this site.
February 26th: This has been a delightful weekend with our good friends from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada visiting. Geoff, Jennifer, and Emily Brayne have filled our humble abode with delight. Good food, conversation, and some activity which included with Emily, Cheryl, and Jennifer shopping. Geoff and I were able to escape from this horror?
Geoff and I flew 964 in formation on Friday morning. We were #3 in a four ship formation over the National Veteran’s Cemetery to honor Captain Tom Weidlich. Tom retired from the USAF and US Airways where he was a Boeing 757 captain. He had restored an old crop duster Stearman turning it in to a pristine aviation artifact. The story of 254, “Charlie and That Yankee Woman” can be found herein. As #3 I performed the pull-up and turn west maneuver.
Yesterday, Saturday, 24 FEB, Tom and I flew for nearly three hours with two other Stearman’s. We flew over Arizona City, then the Iwo Jima Memorial at Sacaton before heading to the Transportation Days event in Ahwatukee. It was terribly cold, but that wouldn’t keep the smiles from our faces. Those of us fortunate to fly these venerable old warbirds are truly blessed.
Geoff owns a hardware store in Lethbridge. He’s masterful at many things. Cheryl and I are the beneficiary of his talents. He was able to accomplish what none of the high-paid electronic-technicians have been able to accomplish! …and he bought dinner as well!
Airbase Arizona honored the Brayne family at the post ground school banquet. For the wonderful hospitality shown our B-25 “Made in the Shade” crew, this past summer, Ops Officer, Travis Major presented the Brayne’s with a beautiful model of our magnificent B-25.
T’day, February 15th, yesterday I awoke to Cheryl’s going all-out to make another memorable Valentines Day. The breakfast table was replete with card – candy – and a table setting that would befitting a king! Yup! I married up. I waited until t’day to mention this. Since the news of Tom Weidlich’s passing was my focus for yesterday’s news.
Tom was greatly respected as an aircraft restorer and pilot. Tom, a former USAF airman, retired from US Airways as a Boeing 767 captain several years ago. He restored an old Boeing Model 75 “Stearman.” Beginning in 1985, Tom and Anne flew Stearman 254 all across America. Tom flew 254 over a thousand hours! Of the many, the last Stearman fuel valve Tom made has faithfully operated in Stearman 964 for the past ten years! Yup! Tom was special with the myriad of talents with tools and flying skills.
Realizing his flying days were over, several years ago, I had the honor of flying Tom’s magnificent airplane to it’s new owner in Houma, Louisiana. Read the story about “Charlie and That Yankee Woman:”
254 in flight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3NjyfTZVBA
Charlie Hammonds 254’s caretaker when Tom retired from flyin’…
These days, David Duplantis of Destin, Florida is 254’s caretaker. Here’s a recent video of 254 flyin’ a Missing Man flight in honor of a WWII Vet:
10th of February! Yesterday, I committed Aviation! The Usury mountains were bathed in sun drenched gold under magnificent azure blue skies as I flew four revenue riders over our lush desert flora and fauna in the East Valley. 964 the Boeing model 75 I restored (thank you Lance & Larry) and sold to Airbase Arizona gleamed in the bright sunlight.
Falcon Field tower cleared us for takeoff. I pushed the throttle forward to the welcome sound of the 220 horsepower radial. Seconds and less than five hundred feet later we softly became airborne as the big bi-plane slowly increased speed. The tower controller’s voice entered my headset, “Stearman 964, you are cleared, smoke-on, for a close-in right pattern with the option followed by a straight-out departure!” I had requested this with the ground controller taxiing out from Airbase Arizona.
At eighty miles an hour, 964 climbed on the downwind leg. Passing over the CAF hangers, smoke-on, as 964 turned sharply back towards the runway diving to one hundred ten miles per hour. Smoke-off, full throttle, and now headed north east over the runway at eighty indicated we were soon a thousand feet as the ground fell away from our gravity challenging steed.
There are several good reasons for my requesting such and orthodox departure. First, safety. Always, safety! This puts us over the departure end of the runway at three hundred feet and one hundred-ten MPH. Then we are one thousand feet over the departure end of the runway instead of the initial two to three hundred feet. Should engine failure occur we are higher and have a better opportunity to select a more suitable place for a forced landing.
Second, we want to be good neighbors. Instead of being much lower over the homes east of the airfield, we are higher and quieter. Additionally, the terrain east of Falcon Field slopes higher to the base of the Usury Mountains that form the eastern barrier to the Las Sendas community.
Thirdly, it sells rides! When museum visitors see this yellow-winged smoking demon roar overhead many will ask, “What do I need to do to get a ride in that?” Airbase Arizona has a team of Ride Coordinators always ready to help sign up hopeful flyers.
Every time I fly, I count my blessings. I was born into an aviation family and realize how truly fortunate I am to be able to continue to ply my craft into, now, my seventy-seventh year.
T’day is a somber one. Cheryl and I have two memorial services to attend. One is for Cheryl’s PEO sister’s mother, the other for aviator and radio talk-show personality, Bob Mohan. Bob received a gift of five years more thanks to Tim Gissel. Read this amazing story herein. Search: “An Uncommon Hero.” T’day we bid farewell to Bob and remember some great stories about his amazing life.
February 5th, 2018 …and I’m delinquent! No excuses, other than I’ve had several great days flying along with some social commitments.
964 Smoke On??
February 2, 2018: America is going to be OK! Just a few more like Preston! Preston Sharp is one of the finest youngsters I’ve ever seen in action. And action is his middle name:
The first day of February 2018.
Here’s a link to a very special airplane and one I flew for 2 1/2 years with my pal, Captain Larry Perkins. We didn’t know at the time just how famous this ol’ C-47 was! We flew it as “Puff the Magic Dragon” dressed up as a Vietnam era AC-47 Gunship replete with three replica mini-guns compliments of Dillon Precision. Great memories of flying this airplane.
Just click on the link below:
Cheryl took this shot during a low pass at Falcon Field. Three T-6’s plus the CAF SNJ flew in formation with us.
28th of January – I met Bill Pennington at N-4516D, a nice V-tail Bonanza I have on my Aircraft For Sale site herein. It looked like a nice day for a flight. It wasn’t. We got into a heck of a windshear over the Usury Mountains just east of Falcon Field. The door popped open and the transponder failed to operate. Not my best sales demo flight…
So, we landed and secured the airplane before going to Airbase Arizona to show Bill around. Sharp young fellow. I hope he joins our nefarious CAF bunch!
Received a call from our friend Clede. She’ spoken to Bette Parrish. Roger had a really tough night. Ol’ Roger is a tough fellow. Instead of lining up on Runway Two-Seven, he rallied. Perhaps all our thoughts and prayers are helping. Hopefully, I’ll soon report him back in the cockpit where he belongs…
Last evening I had the honor of master of ceremonies duty at the dedication ceremony to honor the late-great Bob Odegaard. It was a GREAT turnout with more than forty of Bob’s family and friends along with another fifty or so Airbase Arizona fans of Bob.
We gathered in front of Bob’s Stinson SR-9 and “Stang” the P-51 “Mustang” he built from the parts of 23 Mustangs! Casey Odegaard, Bob’s youngest had the honors of speaking for the family.
Chief of Staff, Doug Rosendaal had the honors of speaking and performing the actual dedication of the absolutely stunning copper plaque extolling Bob’s amazing aviation career. Ed Newberg opened the ceremony with a beautiful song and closed the ceremony with the song he wrote to honor Bob who was truly Ed’s closest friend. It was wonderful and so beautifully sung. Another close friend of Bob’s, Larry Perkins, spoke and reminded us all how caring and giving Bob was. Jon Liebelt found out about the ceremony almost too late. He drove 27 hours to attend. He had some terrific Bob Odegaard memorabilia to share with us. That’s the kind of fellow Bob Odegaard was! He made each of us feel like we were his closest and best friend even though we knew Ed Newberg held that position just below Bob’s wife Donna. Donna had not planned on speaking. But she stepped to the podium to introduce her family. No mistaking the tremendous pride she has with her three grown children and, now, a beautiful granddaughter. Bob’s brother and wife were there as well.
Photo by Vesna Ajic
Soon, Bob’s plaque will have a permanent mounting at the base of the big model of Race 74, the airplane he was flying at the end. The big model sits high up in front of the main entrance of Airbase Arizona, it’s propeller blowing in the wind compliments of John and Marilyn Fisher.
Jason Schwarts’ artwork
…at least this is part of it! Now to figure out how to get the entire plaque displayed herein?
Airbase Arizona can’t say enough about the Brown Family and their company, Metal Magic, who donated Bob’s plaque. I would be remiss not acknowledging Jason Schwartz, the artist who created a work of art that now will remind museum visitors of a man who made such an impact to aviation around the globe. Bob Odegaard will be long remembered as The Best of the Best!
Chuck Yeager once said, “Bob Hoover is the best stick and rudder man ever!” Bob Hoover said the same thing about Bob Odegaard. Those who saw Bob Odegaard perform Bob Hoover’s routine in the Shrike Commander will never forget it!
Stay tuned, I will have a Bob Odegaard story with photos one day soon…
I can picture Bob Odegaard’s spirit soaring like the para-gliders in the video. Sound-on!
23rd of January. 60 years ago I met Rich Rea and Steve Sargent. We were in the Scottsdale High School graduating class of 1959 together. Sarge, especially, helped tutor me so that I not only graduated from high school, I was able to make it thru four years of college at Arizona State University. Thanks Sarge!
T’day we met at the Los Olivos restaurant, a favorite Mexican food place dating back to my senior in high school days. Still good service and cuisine. Traveling with Steve is his friend, Kate, who had a bit of a harrowing adventure herself. She was doing humanity work in La Paz, Mexico. The house she rented was robbed twice. She discovered a murder victim on the road and saw, no less than, six people hung beneath a bridge near her home. Several wives of the people hung were decapitated. MERCY! No wonder she wanted outta there. I know the feeling albeit I wasn’t in Baja California (Mexico)!
Sarge went down to drive her back. They traveled up the coastal highway and safely made it across the US border. I expect it will be sometime before either of them make an excursion south of the US border. For sure Cheryl and I won’t!
The three of us enjoyed successful careers and now look back over sixty years and marvel at how good life has been to us. Each of us traveled a different road professionally, but it is now but a dash mark between 1958 and 2018.
Sarge hold a doctorate and became a world renowned expert in solar energy. Rich has achieved an enviable success in the financial world and is still called on as a consultant. Me, I’ve been paid well to do my hobby. For forty years I was an airline pilot living the dream. I still am! I fly the Stearman I restored and sold to the Commemorative Air Force – Airbase Arizona. I’m like the ol’ whore! I sold it, but still got it!
22nd of January. We are waiting for Steve Sargent and his girlfriend, Kate, to arrive. They are driving from La Paz, Bolivia! They called last night to assure us they’d made it thru Mexico safely. Whew!
Tomorrow evening we’ll have Mexican food at Los Olivos, a favorite haunt from our days as seniors at Scottsdale High. Hopefully, another classmate, Rich Rea, will join us as well. A mini-reunion! Those fellows made a huge difference in my life. Moving to Scottsdale from Wyoming was a big adjustment. I discovered they actually studied and were challenged by the teachers. With their help, I made it getting four years of high school in one year. That plus summer school and I was actually ready to attack life at the university level. Off to ASU! That was a grand experience.
January 21st. Durn it! I missed the Cactus Crews gathering at Majerles last evening. More than 70 stalwarts showed. I was nearby at Stellar Airpark helping Larry Dustman with his spiffy Kit Fox. Oh well, next time! T’day, Cheryl and I plan on catching up with some of the TV stuff we recorded during our ill-fated trip to Mexico.
January 20th… Cheryl and I are trying to get back to normal after our rather harrowing Mexican vacation. Happily, I spent most of the day at Stellar Airpark with my buddy, Larry Dustman. I have two of Larry’s airplanes for sale. I plan to send out some “Thank You” to those who helped us durning our plight. For that, read down to January 15th…
January 19th. BOY HOWDY are we grateful to be home again. NO MORE trips to Mexico! The events of the 15th dampened any enthusiasm we had for Mexico.
Today, I was back in the saddle flying 964 on 5 flights the last of which was a formation flight over the National Veteran’s Cemetery to honor the late-great Jim Munier, a friend and fellow aviator. Terry Emig led our four-ship Missing-Man formation. I was in the #3 position and performed the pull-up turning west-bound symbolic of all those aviators Gone West.
Tomorrow, Cheryl and I will try to replace our stolen cell phones and see what our insurance will do regarding the losses at the hands of the Mexican banditos. I hope to reach out to Dr. Ricardo Castaňeda Santo who made such a difference during the harrowing event of the 15th we shared. Ricardo, Judy, David and Ricardo, Jr. are truly the best of Mexico. Those armed banditos, the worst! I plan on letting Mexico’s Presidantê, Enrique Pena Nieto, along with the governor of Sinaloa, know how much we appreciate, not only Ricardo, but the Police Militare and Estates Police who came to our rescue.
January 18th. Cheryl and I said “goodby” to our hosts Dave & Laurie Baggs yesterday. We headed to the US Consulate in hopes of obtaining a temporary passport for Cheryl. Then we planned to head to the aeropuerto and HOME!
Alas, not to be! Mazatlán has just a satellite for the actual consulate in Hermosillo. So, we now wait for DHL to bring down her replacement. Oh well, the Playa Mazatlán is nice, on the beach, and footsteps from the US Consulate annex.
It is now 1:30 AM. I awoke needing the throne room. Sitting there I pulled off a tiny scab from my leg. IT MOVED! Cheryl and I spent the next hour looking for ticks! Tiny bastards! Cheryl won that contest with 7. I ended up with two. Likely, we picked those up traipsing thru the Mexican jungle at gun point.
We may need to spend one more day here depending on when the US Consulate presents us with Cheryl’s new documentation.
BE SURE TO READ ABOUT OUR HORRIFIC SAGA THE 15TH.
January 16th. Instead of heading back to Phoenix today it looks like we will spend some time with the local constabulary* signing statements that illustrate the horror of yesterday along with listing the items stolen by some very bad people. *We spent four hours there which made us miss going to the US Consulate..@#@$(*)!!
We will have to go to the US consulate tomorrow to resolve the problem of Cheryl’s missing passport. I had left mine at the Baggs’ condo. The consulate is only open from 9 AM ’til 1 PM?
We will have to re-arrange our travel itinerary too. Believe me, that is uppermost on our minds. Gettin’ the hell outta here woke me up this morning at 4 AM! Be sure to read the events of yesterday:
January 15th, WOW! WHAT A DAY! …we started the day with this: Cheryl and I are still in MZT with our flight back to PHX set for tomorrow. We’ve had a delightful time visiting our friends, Dave & Laurie Baggs. I’m writing this from their balcony overlooking the the peaceful waves as they greet the Mazatlán shoreline. As the sun rises it casts a pink glow on the high wispy cirriform clouds forming a soft canopy over this tranquil setting. Cheryl is still in a sweet slumber not yet ready to greet this magnificent day. The only thing missing is a Stearman to cruise by with that rich Continental 220 melody to serenade her in to wakefulness…
However, here’s what happened after we left the Baggs Condo at 0930 AM yesterday:
Photo taken by Mexican Police 1/15/18
On February 18th I heard from Dr. Ricardo Castanez Santo. He told me that the reason we were not killed by the bandidos was that his brother, seeing Ricardo and his family abducted, called Ricardo’s oldest son who alerted some contact high up in the Mexican government. He believes this is why the Mexican military and State Police mounted such a search & rescue effort.
Ricardo lived some seven hours from the point we all were abducted. So, the bandidos thought they had seven hours before anyone would be aware. However, the bandidos soon knew they were the ones being hunted.
Still, it was six hours in the Mexican jungle before we were released and able to head towards our rescuers. Alls well that ends well. We are alive and safe. Unfortunately, at some great cost to Ricardo and my buddy Dave who lost their new high-dollar pickups. Then too, there was the loss of irreplaceable items such as Laurie’s jewelry. The four of us had our cell phones stolen. Cheryl lost her nice $200 purse, and $250 in cash plus some credit cards along with her passport. All no big deal when you think of what would likely have happened to the eight of us had Ricardo’s brother not been behind and witnessed the event…
Yup! NO MORE MEXICO!
January 12th. Cheryl and I are tossin’ a few things in the travel bag. We head to MZT ( ) tomorrow. Bein’ really gusty we will try to non-rev on American (Mesa). If we make it, Dave & Laurie Baggs will pick us up for some beach-front frolickin.’ Always fun with those two. Dave n’ I have been friends since 1964 when we both worked for Teton National Insurance Co. Hard to find friends with the kind of tolerance that’ll last 54 years! O’course my buddy, Joe Davis, has lasted goin’ on 77 years now. Amazing!
January 10th… Our Joe Foss Day at the Knights of the Round Engines group was well attended with Mark Larson as our guest speaker. Mark is the newly retired son of long time friend, Bob Larson a retired test pilot with Honeywell. Mark was a principle engineer for the ultra modern Boeing 787. It was a fascinating talk supported by slides and video. It is the first time since I retired that I wanted to fly an airliner! It is a “WOW” airplane! MGen Carl Schneider was visiting from Tennessee along with a number of folks outside our usual group. Here’s a story about the late-great Joe Foss:
January 9th, CONGRATULATIONS to our nephew on his retirement from the United States Air Force. Colonel Steven R. Hinten enjoyed a stellar career as an officer and a gentleman. Steve was the Deputy Commander at Wright-Pattereson AFB near Dayton, Ohio. His impressive list of accomplishments are too many to list here. Suffice it to say, his achievements were impressive and brought high accolades from the commanding general.
January 8th, 2018. I’ve been sent the following link I want to share. It made me prideful and it will likely push your patriotic button some too:
January 7, 2018, Captain Jack Schade would have turned 97. He made it to 93! See his story herein:
WHOOPS! Already it’s January 5th! Cheryl is on her way to Dayton, Ohio and 12ᴼ weather. WHAT! Actually, she’ll be there for our nephew, Col. Steve Hinten’s retirement ceremony. I couldn’t shake this lousy bout of bronchitis/influenza to go. So, I’ll languish here where it is a tough 78º under azure skies. In another 15 minutes I’ll be pouring a tad of Brandy and toasting all those frozen relatives in the mid-west… And those farther east as well! Our Boston relatives had quite a storm to endure. Ah, more Brandy and I’ll raise my glass once again. …someone has to do this! ?
Hmmm? I wonder if Preston looks at his 12º thermometer and thinks “Arizona?” Well Son, we’ll leave the light on for ya…
We head to Ed & Connie Newberg’s t’day to celebrate the new year. It’!s guaranteed we’ll have great camaraderie, food, and music‼
- 2010 – American airline Northwest Airlines is merged into Delta Air Lines and that is how my pal, Arv Schultz became a retired Delta pilot never having flown for Delta.
- I’m a retired American Airlines pilot‼ Ed Beauvais’ airline, America West, saved struggling and bankrupt US Airways which, in turn, saved struggling American Airlines. The airline business is a very puzzling industry!
- More credit should be given Ed & Mary Ellen Beauvais for their contributions to Arizona and, especially, The Valley of the Sun!
Also, on this day in our early American history we display the Betsy Ross flag to commemorate the birthday of none
other than Betsy Ross herself.
Elizabeth Griscom was born on January 1, 1752, in the bustling colonial city of Philadelphia. She was the eighth of 17 children. Young Betsy attended a Quaker school and was then apprenticed to William Webster, an upholsterer, where she learned to sew.
In 1773, at age 21, she irrevocably split with her family to marry outside the Quaker religion. She and her husband, John Ross, started their own upholstery business. John joined the militia. He died after barely two years of marriage.
In 1777, Betsy married Joseph Ashburn, a sailor, with whom she had two daughters. In 1782, Ashburn was apprehended while working as a privateer in the West Indies and died in a British prison. A year later, Betsy married
John Claypoole, a man who had grown up with her in Philadelphia’s Quaker community. They had five daughters.
Despite a lack of credible evidence to support it, legend holds that President George Washington requested that Betsy make the first American flag.
She spent her last decade in quiet retirement and died in 1836, at age 84. She has been buried in three different locations: Free Quaker burial ground at South 5th St. near Locust St., Mt. Moriah Cemetery, and, finally, on Arch
Street in the courtyard adjacent to the Betsy Ross House. A major Philadelphia bridge is named in her honor.
Our son, Preston, and his family live just NW of Philadelphia. Preston graduated from Villanova University. While there he played linebacker for the Wildcats. Going there for his games provided Cheryl and me ample opportunity to explore many of the historic haunts in the Philadelphia area. A place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there…
Greetings! it’s December 31st THE LAST DAY IN 2017! I had two very pleasant flights in 964 t’day. Ron, from Ohio, was here for his bi-plane flight and was surprised to find it shirtsleeve warm just 500′ above the chilly surface. Next, 80 year old Jerry, celebrated his birthday grabbing the controls for the first time since his last flight in 1974! He was so smooth I suggested he get back into flying. Then I flew N-4516D on a demo-flight with Tom Morrison who will likely become that neat-ol’ airplanes next caretaker.
December 30th! Happy Birthday Preston! Our son turns 45 t’day! He was born during a Colorado snow storm and instantly Cheryl’s and my life changed all for the better. A lot has happened in the five minutes since❣
Part of the Frontier FLamily 1975
Preston & Scamp circa 1980
Christmas at our Colorado Trout Ranch 1986
Preston & his Bunch here to celebrate his Mom’s 65th Birthday 2012
Dylan sitting in the cockpit of the airplane he still has yet to fly in… L-R: Cheryl – Preston – Renee – Billy – Dylan – Kaylie – Gianna. Gianna Is in her first year at Loyola (MD), Kaylie is in her senior year at Daniel Boone High School where Dylan is in his sophomore year. Kaylie will play basketball with Alvernia University. Preston is with Citizen’s Bank and volunteer coaching football. Renee works out of their home in Douglassville, PA.
28th of December. As the year comes to a close, Cheryl and I are driving back to TVOTS from Frederick, Colorado and Christmas with niece Kelly and nephew Dan at their beautiful home just north of town. Turns out my bronchitis was a bit more troublesome. After the second visit to the Urgent Care it was determined that I have influenza on top of the bronchitis and sinusitis on top of all that. Not the Christmas present I was hoping for, but not nearly as tough as what a lot of folks are dealing with. I’m countin’ my blessings. My magnificently beautiful nurse/supervisor has it all under control. We’re in Alamosa soon to depart for Gallup NM then home tomorrow…
December 26th. I hope you enjoyed your Christmas! I spent most of mine in the Urgent Care unit near my niece, Kelly’s, place in Frederick CO. Bad case of bronchitis hit and thankfully help was near by. One Walgreen’s pharmacy was open and I’m happily seeing some results from the drug’s.
We leave for Arizona and less obtrusive weather. It warmed up to 17º T’day after starting at -5º yesterday. If the health thing isn’t too socially undesirable, we’ll stop in Albuquerque to see Larry & Sue Elliott. Larry grew up in my home town of Saratoga, WY (something I’ve yet to accomplish). Yup! Larry is a fly fisherman and we share other passions such as flying.
Larry became a Marine fighter pilot before joining good ol’ Frontier Airlines where we had the good fortune to share the flight deck a few times. After the Frontier demise in 1986, Larry joined Southwest Airlines where he subsequently retired as a Boeing 737 captain. Sue, had a more sensible career in banking. Now they train horses at their New Mexico rancho.
Christman Eve 2017! Cheryl and I are at our niece/nephew’s place in Frederick, Colorado. T’day we ventured over to Longmont to see our old friend, Captain Pete Lamkin. We spent a tad over three hours enjoying a bite to eat and another memorable visit with someone revered by all who flew with him at Frontier Airlines as well as Continental.
I do not know anyone more respected or revered than Captain Pete Lamkin. He achieved a level of professionalism few reach albeit all aspire to. Yet, he repeatedly claims he is just lucky. “I’m the luckiest man ever,” says Pete! But if you know what he’s dealt with since the age of twenty, some sixty-five years now, you’ll appreciate him that much more.
Pete has Rheumatoid Arthritis so severe that the doctor who first diagnosed him said, “…you need to find another profession, you’ll be in a wheelchair in two years!” No wheel chair for Pete, now eighty four! And, no complaints either. Pete did everything he could do to remain an active pilot. Other than a few days down-time he was able to retire normally under the onerous “Age 60 Rule.” The same terrible rule that forced me from my coveted “Left Seat” in 2001. More on this terrible affront to aviation: https://captainbillywalker.com/from-the-heart/walker-bunch-part-three/
Tomorrow, we’ll n’joy Christmas with friends and family at The Fanning residence. The 26th we’ll spend some time with cousin Nora Stull and cousin-in-law, Dean, at their lovely digs in Niwot. More to follow!
December 21st. Cheryl and I are in Albuquerque to rest up for our final leg to Kelly & Dan’s. I was just checkin’ e-mail and had a pleasant surprise I’d like to share with you. I recall this flight and the passenger, John Frisbee. It spells out precisely why we do what we do at Airbase Arizona and with our Bi-Plane Squadron.
Hi Billy. I thought you would enjoy reading a review from Trip Advisor from one of your adoring passengers:
“In 1945, my 21 year old father made the dangerous journey across the Atlantic on board the then troop ship Queen Mary. A long train ride across the USA, and he arrived with his fellow RAF trainee pilots at the fledgling Falcon Field, Mesa, Az. He trained on P17-Stearmans and T-6 Harvards. I grew up with his tales and photos of American generosity, hospitality, and the amazing Arizona scenery. Obviously it was my ambition to one day visit Falcon Field and see where my father flew all those years ago. Finally Oct 2017, and we’re in the States on a 15-day road trip, focussed on Falcon Field – with a flight booked in the Commemorative Air Force Museum’s P-17 Stearman! Billy – thank you so much for such an amazing flight: 35mins of excitement and poignant experience, flying over those same hills, valleys, rocks and landmarks that dad flew over 80 years ago! For me, it was the highlight of our trip. And after the early morning flight…the museum… We were surprised by the large number, variety and superb condition of the static museum’s planes and other exhibits. So much to see, made so very interesting by the explanatory signage, photos, maps, etc. The museum staff were friendly, helpful, enthusiastic & knowledgeable. The shop is excellent too. Large car part out front. Coffee shop just across the road. This is an amazing place to visit: obviously aviation enthusiasts will get much out of it, and should plan on being here for a few hours, but the others in our family group also enjoyed the spacious and interesting museum too. Watching vintage planes take off and land is something else! We felt privileged to visit the CAF Museum at Falcon Field, and would 100% recommend it on anyone’s trip to the Phoenix area…book a flight in one of their fantastic WWII planes if you can. Both the museum and flights are great value, and help fund the upkeep of the museum and its collection of flying warbirds. Sincere thanks to you all, especially Billy the pilot! “I’m gonna show you what your dad would have done here in 1945!” And he did!”
From: John Frisbee
Thank you for always keeping our guests happy and providing an over-the-top experience for them!
Happy Holidays! Hope to see you soon!
December 20th! …just FIVE days away from Christmas 2017! Cheryl and I leave t’morrow for Kelly & Dan’s in Colorado! We must be nuts! Leaving this beautiful weather for what promises to be a very snowy arrival at the Fanning’s in Frederick, CO! We might be nuts, but the certainly of a warm welcome in the snowy cold trumps being alone in the warm climes of TVOTS!
19th of December! Meet America’s Greatest Aviation Ambassador, Cap’n Dillon!
Above: Cap’n Dillon’s name on the side of Mike Boyle’s 450 Stearman
Cap’n Mike & Cap’n Dillon
A few years back, I had the pleasure of flying with Dillon Haynes in the Airbase Arizona SNJ. We had a great flight that was covered by local NBC news. Dillon is a very special young man who is in love with aviation and folks who love aviation. You can’t help but fall in love when you meet Cap’n Dillon. He is so very special. Did I mention he’s in love with aviation. Boy Howdy! …an understatement!
Our flight was arranged by Captain Larry Kline with Wing Leader, Larry Turner, in concert with Luke Genovese, Captain Eric Auxier, and Cap’n Dillon’s magnificent parents.
L-R: Luke Genovese, Larry Turner, Billy, Dillon, Cap’n Aux, Bunny Laverty , Mr/Mrs Haynes, Capt. Larry Kline
For more on Cap’n Dillon check out Captain Eric Auxier’s website: www.capnaux.com
Capn Aux has some great reads published. Be sure to check out his website!
Airline pilot by day—Writer by night—Kid by choice!
This Day In Naval History – December 19 – Thanks to Dave Gorrell, USN, Ret.
1870—Coxswain William Halford, the lone survivor of five, reaches Hawaii after a month at sea in a 22-foot boat and seeks help for the crew of the side-wheel steamer Saginaw, wrecked near Midway Island.
1941—The U.S. Naval Academy class of 1942 graduates six months early due to the nation’s entry into WWII.
1943—USS Grayback (SS 208) sinks the Japanese destroyer Numakaze 50 miles east-northeast of Naha, Okinawa.
1944—USS Redfish (SS 395) sinks the Japanese carrier Unryu 200 nautical miles southeast of Shanghai, China. In the course of this engagement, Redfish is damaged and terminates her patrol early.
1944—PB4Y-1s (VPB 104) attack a Japanese convoy in the South China Sea and sink transport Shinfuku Maru.
December 18th! My ol’ pal, David Edington, turns 76 t’day! Read his story: https://captainbillywalker.com/wonderful-wyoming/mr-ronan-montana-david-edington/ David is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known.
Another long-time friend, Captain Larry Malmstrom, invited me on his next flight. You are welcome to join us:
The Boarding of Flight 2018 has been announced ~Your luggage should only contain the best souvenirs from 2017The bad and sad moments should be left in the garbage….The duration of the flight will be 12 months. So, tighten your seatbelt.The next stop-overs will be: Health, Love, Joy, Harmony, well-being and Peace.The captain offers you the following menu which will be served during the flightA Cocktail of Friendship,A Supreme of Health,A Gratin of Prosperity,A Bowl of Excellent News,A salad of Success,A Cake of Happiness,…and All accompanied by bursts of laughter?Wishing you an enjoyable trip on board of flight 2018…..
Before 2017 Ends,Let Me Thank All The good – People Like You, Who Made 2017 Beautiful For Me. I Pray You be Blessed With a successful Year Ahead.
I (WE) wish you a great 2018
15th of December! I spent part of today at Falcon Field with Don Gray, his brother-in-law, and Dawne Dewey. Dawne is the archivist with Wright University and the keynote speaker at the upcoming American Aviation Historical Society annual bash tomorrow. Don is part of the Dayton, Ohio. We hope to see Don and Dawne when we travel to Dayton next month.
Cheryl and I are preparing to do some serious traveling! On the 21st of December we head for Colorado to spend Christmas with niece Kelly and the Fanning Bunch. We hope to see Cousin Nora and Dean as well as our ol’ Frontier pal, Pete Lamkin. We return by the 28th then head for the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH January 5th to participate in nephew, Col. Steve Hinten, retirement. Steve has enjoyed a stellar career in the US Air Force is both a doctor of medicine and a doctor of veterinary science. We return from Ohio the 9th then to to visit friends Dave & Laurie Baggs in their new beachfront digs.
12th of December. This past evening, Cheryl and I joined our friends/neighbors at a delightful annual patio party at Tom & Jill Ullick’s home. Great friends, excellent food & conversation. Memorable! We are already looking forward to next year! T’nite is our neighborhood’s Annual HOA Meeting. Given who is on the ballot for the BOD, there will likely be a large turnout in hopes of preventing a disaster… Ominous sounding ain’t it?
L-R: Carl Seburn-Norma Bryant-Sandy Lemme-Nancy Seburn-Bob Lemme-Tom Ahillen-Glen Bryant-Tom Ullick-Deb Ahillen-Jill Ullick-Cheryl & Billy-Kathleen & Angelo Daurio
11th of December!
Cheryl and I spent the past few days with our son, Preston, and his family in PA. Really nice! We watched our grandkids play basketball. Plus, our grandson, Dylan, received some nice awards from a fabulous football season. A sophomore, he led the league as a wide receiver and defensive end.We flew on Southwest. T’nite, sitting in the isle seat opposite me was an old guy of my vintage. We sorta nodded at one-another. Four and a half hours later we landed in Phoenix. Arriving at the gate – then waiting for the folks up front to depart this fellow, across from me, noticed my leather flying jacket that displays some airplanes denoting my nefarious aviation career. He asked, “are you a pilot?” “Yup,” I replied. He said, “My son was a Navy pilot and is now a test pilot with Boeing. I wished I had learned to fly.” I said, “It ain’t too late!” Then I noticed his ASU logo on his shirt.“Are you with ASU,” I asked? “Nope, I’m an ol’ ASU Alum,” he said. I replied, “Well shoot! Cheryl and I both went to ASU. When were you there?” He said, “I played football and basketball there graduating in 1964!” I said, “Well that was when I was there! If you played basketball, didju know Raul Disarufino or Tony Cerkvenik?” “I’m Raul!” “I’ll be damned! I’m Billy Walker.” “Holy cow, we haven’t seen each other since we were in Las Vegas t’gether with Dick Mansperger back in the day…!” Raul and I were members of Alpha Tau Omega (ATΩ) at Arizona State University. Serendipity is my favorite word!Raul looks great. He is planning on making our next breakfast April 27th, 2018! With Duth, Frank Conn, Hugo Zettler, and Gordon Watson joining us it otter be a dandy gathering of the Tau Bunch!Grandson Dylan’s star shined brightly this year! Checkout the photos from t’nites awards banquet honoring Dylan’s outstanding play on his high school football team. As a freshman, last year, Dylan started both on offense and defense as well as handling the kicking duties. Dylan was a tad over 6′ 4″ as a freshman and, now a sophomore, is the center on the Daniel Boone High basketball team. Cheryl and I just returned from watching him play along with granddaughter, Kaylie, a star on the girls high school basketball team. Kaylie is a senior and being recruited by several universities. Oldest granddaughter, Gianna, is in her first year at Loyola (MD). All three kids fortunately took to Cheryl’s DNA and are making top grades. Wasn’t it just five minutes ago we were cheering Preston and his best pal, Jeremy, on the Saguaro High School gridiron? Looking at the photo below someone should get the measuring stick out. Preston is 6′ 2″ and Dylan’s stats show him as 6’4.” Either Preston shrunk or Dylan has grown some more?
On this day in history back in 1959 I was a freshman at Arizona State University. It was my first year and ASU’s first year as a university. Frank Kush was the head football coach. Bill Kajikawa was the freshman football coach. My football career lasted barely three days. Forty nine years later I’d sport a prosthetic right knee. I’ve long regretted my being prevented from playing football at the college level. Thinking back, I wasn’t that good at the high school level. My claim-to-fame being that I was awarded FIVE varsity football letters! Likely, no one else can make that claim. I covered this story in Walker Bunch – Part I.
Years later I got to know Frank Kush when I was on the BOD for the National Football Foundation. Frank was the board chairman. We shared the love of fly fishing and made several trips together down the Snake River near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Frank was a larger than life character who achieved greatness as a football coach but gave so much back to the community in many ways. Bill Kajikawa didn’t achieve the national notoriety that Frank Kush did, but anyone who knew Bill ain’t likely to ever forget him, nor hold him other than in the highest regard.
Coach Bill Kajikawa RIP
Coach Kajikawa (September 6, 1912 – February 15, 2010) was a wonderful man who coached football, basketball and baseball at ASU. I recall his caring ways when my not too promising football career ended suddenly. The practice field is now named in Coach Kajikawa’s honor. He lived 97 years.
Son, Preston, had knee problems as well but pushed through the injuries to become All Arizona, All State, and even USA Today All American Hon. Mention. Preston went on to play on a scholarship at Villanova University.
Grandson, Dylan, looks like he might blow right by his father’s outstanding gridiron success. I hope his knees hold up!
6th of December! T’morrow Cheryl and I will be traveling to PA to visit son, Preston, and our three ultra-amazing grandkids! We will both be thinking of what happened on December 7th, 1941 – A Day of Infamy! We’ll be thinking of how great America’s patriotism was during WWII and allowing some sad thoughts as to some of the degradation of patriotism so sad to see. Of course thoughts can be uplifting too. The good work of the Joe Foss Institute where veterans go to schools throughout our country. Veteran’s such as LTC Robert Ashby and Major General Carl Schneider remind America’s patriots of tomorrow the importance of knowing our history and about the sacrifices of our military.
December 3rd… Cheryl and I are awaiting for the arrival of Colorado/Edmonton friends, Dave & Laurie Baggs. They are enroute to their winter digs in Mexico. Dave and I have been friends since 1964 when we both were with Teton National in Cheyenne. Dave & Laurie met in Mexico a few years ago and have been together since. Cheryl and I have spent several Christmas’ with Dave & Laurie. One year we were on the RiverWalk in San Antonio, another year in New Orleans where we thoroughly enjoyed the WWII Museum started by author Steven Ambrose. We recommend you put both places on your bucket list!
2nd day of December 2017. I spent the morning with some flyin’ buddies at Stellar Airpark. Kurt Gearhart organized the annual EAA Young Eagles flight. 19 airplanes stayed busy taking youngsters for their first flights. Some, no doubt, will become pilots and even a few might become aviators (a rare thing in a growing pilot population). Here’s a few photos of Joe Sottile in his mirror shiny Myers 145 taking a huge smile attached to a youngster aloft. Speakin’ of smiles Ed Newberg was there in his magnificent ol’ UC-78 “Bamboo Bomber!” It was a fine day for flyin’:
Later this evening many of us will gather at Airbase Arizona for the Christmas party to honor the many CAF volunteers who make our lives seem brighter.
…the last day of November 2017! I found my dream airplane. Actually, it’s a new Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner.’ It is available for rent! …at only $20,000 to hire! https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/-step-inside-the-worlds-only-private-boe/f-40cfc0b5ea%2Fbusinessinsider.com
I can’t even guess what a nice flight from Phoenix to Saratoga might be but I guarantee it would hit the front page of the Saratoga Sun if that flight were to happen…
November 28th, I found the following in one of my pilot pubs. I thought I’d share this with you. Fellow pilot David Fields OK’d my use of his poignant story:
…a poem written by eleven year old, Mary Wheatley, in 1941 after her father was killed test flying a B-24.
One day Mary talked about Reuben Fleet, president of Consolidated Aircraft and Bill’s employer. “That Reuben Fleet had eyes for my mother, but Daddy Bill won that contest! One day a flyboy tried to drive my mommy home and Daddy Bill pulled up alongside him at a stop light and ripped out his distributor. Daddy drove her home.” Lisa also put us in touch with Vera Wheatley, Bill’s 11-year-old great granddaughter. Vera read the poem for a film. My colleague and the Wheatley family desperately wanted Mary to see a rough cut of the movie before she died. Hemlock Films was able to do the job. Lisa played the film for her mother. Seeing her father on screen and hearing her grand-niece read the poem, “…filled Mary’s face with pride and joy and indescribable emotions,” according to Lisa. As Mary put it, “I couldn’t ask for a better ending to my life.” We then got the news that our usual narrator was ill and unable to work on our film. Mary’s younger half-brother, Peter, stepped up. A veteran Hollywood actor, he did the voice-over free of charge in honor of his big sister. Mary went west September 4. Some of her ashes were spread in San Diego Harbor, site of her father’s 1941 crash.
November 26th Cheryl and neighbor, Kathleen, enjoyed the symphony last night while I enjoyed a great party for Gordon Johnson’s 60th birthday at Brown’s Classic Car’s in Scottsdale. Life entertainment and scrumptious eats!
T’day, catchin’ up some at home with Miss Cheryl. I’m reading pal Captain Mike Daciek’s family history. Mike is a great writer who enjoyed a great military and airline career retiring as a captain with Continental. Mike and I were in the same new-hire class with the historic ol’ Frontier Airlines now more than a half-century ago. You’ll hear more about Mike here one day soon.
November 25th – yesterday I flew four flights in 964. It was a beautiful Arizona azure sky day with everyone seemingly delighted with their bi-plane experience. T’day I’ll be part of a five-ship Missing Man formation flight to honor Horace Griffen. A bit about Horace is on the November 21st blog. It’ll be an honor to honor his memory t’day…
I wrote a story about my Uncle Jack (“Uncle Barnsmell”). Be sure to check it out: https://captainbillywalker.com//uncategorized/uncle-jack-aka-barnsmell-walker/
November 23rd ?
Thanks to Cheryl for the great Thanksgiving card!
November 22nd… I was sent a site: Rolling Thunder Remembered http://www.rollingthunderremembered.com/ which reminded me of Col. Mark Berent’s book series beginning with Rolling Thunder. Go to www.markberent.com These are excellent reads!
I found this site which is narrated by “The Voice” Sam Elliott. It is as gripping and poignant as you’ll undoubtably agree: https://www.youtube.com/embed/aVeBtnfAxP8
November 21st! I’ve completed the re-write of Fly The Wing – Fourth Edition! It is now in the hands of ASA, the publisher, where the real work begins with the editing process. Lotsa back and forth will take place before the book is on the shelves…
If you are near Leisure World Saturday (Nov 25th) at 3:30 PM, look up! You’ll see our bi-plane squadron over head in the Missing Man Formation to honor WWII veteran pilot, Horace Griffen who died suddenly in Mexico at 96. Horace was the sole surviving member of “The City of Yuma” endurance flight in 1949. Horace was a remarkable fellow. My squadron mates and I feel it a privilege to honor Horace in such a way as our smoke-on formation. That is precisely our mission statement.
Above: Horace Griffen driving the Buick convertible he donated for this amazing feat!
More on Horace’s very full life: Horace Bigelow Griffen III passed away peacefully on October 11, 2017 at the age of 96, while visiting Cancun, Mexico.
Horace was born Feb. 14, 1921 in Mesa, Arizona. After graduating from Mesa High in 1939, the star quarterback went to USC on a football scholarship. He was inducted into Mesa Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. Horace lived life to the fullest and had a variety of interesting careers and hobbies. He was a paperboy for the AZ Republic, an actor, a pilot and pilot trainer for British fighter pilots in WWII at Falcon Field, a Buick dealership owner in Yuma, a New York Life salesman in Yuma, Scottsdale, Farmington and Durango.
He and his wife, Jackie, were very good at their sales and received national recognition. He was a member of the 1949 City of Yuma record breaking endurance flight. And, in 1999 a member of the historic plane’s restoration and re-enactment flight. He was a lifelong Rotarian (past president, Durango), a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, the Elks Lodge, Yuma Chambers of Commerce, the Yuma Union High School Board, past president of the Arizona Automobile Association, founding member of the both the Yuma and Durango Barber Shoppers and president of the Hillcrest Golf Club and for many years chaired the Navajo Trails Tournament.
He loved 4-wheeling in the mountains of Colorado, spending summers fishing and house boating on Lake Powell and winters RVing throughout southwest US and Mexico. He was an avid golfer. In 2004, he moved from his home in Durango CO to Casa Grande, AZ. Then in 2015 he returned to his birthplace of Mesa AZ.
He is survived by his children Kent Griffen (Anne), Judy Griffen Gardner, Linda Bray (Brian), 7 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren, various other family members, and his long-time significant other, Mary Ann Elliott and her family.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Horace Bigelow Griffen II and Jessie Griffen, wife and love Jackie Eubank Griffen, and sister Clare Griffen Horlbeck (Earl).
Horace was a leader among leaders and a gentleman’s gentleman. He never spoke unkindly of anyone and never met a stranger. Anyone who knew him was better for it. His smile was infectious and his love of children and animals was unmeasured. His faithful dog Mitzi still sits by his chair. Horace will be forever loved and greatly missed.
Donations may be made in his name to Valley Humane Society, PO Box 10480, Casa Grande, AZ 85130 or Child Crisis Center of Mesa, 1045 E. University Dr. Mesa, AZ 85203.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, Nov. 25 from 4-7 pm at the Leisure World Club Room located at 908 S. Power Road, Mesa, Arizona.
November 17th Cactus Pilots meet. Last night my pal, Arv Schultz joined our select group of Wright Brother’s Master Pilot awardees. Arv and Gen. Carl Schneider were the ones who nominated me for the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame (2011). My selection is as puzzling as is the apparent stagnation by the Pima Air & Space Museum folks who, at least for now, control the HOF.
The last laureates selected 2013! Up to that point this was an annual event starting in 1990. Here is a complete list: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arizona_Aviation_Hall_of_Fame>
15th of November 2017. Cheryl and I had a lengthy conversation with Kevin (Missouri State Office for Health & Senior Service. Hopefully, Kevin (Missouri State Office of Health and Senior Services) is on track to find a way to help Cheryl’s sister, Helen, with her stressful issues. Our family has been at a loss in trying to find a way to help Helen through this bizarre situation. Please keep Helen in your prayers.
November 14th, Cheryl and I are home catching up. Fly The Wing (Fourth Edition) is nearing completion of the updates. I’ll soon have it in the hands of my publisher, ASA.
A gREat website: https://matadornetwork.com/read/bush-pilots-alaska/
Happy Veteran’s Day! Cheryl and I are in Carlsbad, CA for our niece, Valerie Lotz, wedding t’day. So, I’m missing out on our annual Veteran’s Day formation flights. But then family gatherings are nice too. We head back for TVOTS t’morrow.
Fly The Wing – Fourth Edition is coming along. My publisher, ASA, expects it to be ready by late spring or early summer 2018…
November 9th, I was driving in my Prius to Falcon Field cruising along the Red Mountain 202 just west of the Gilbert Rd. turnoff when I was suddenly under attack! A large Kenworth dumptruck was passing me while simultaneously leaving part of his load smashing into my car. More than 100 hits including a busted windshield.
Tried getting the driver’s attention and finally did with my middle finger! He slowed and pulled onto the far right lane just behind me. I figure he would stop. He didn’t. He kept going with me keeping pace slowly ahead. As we passed the next exit (Val Vista), he turned off. I was able to slow and turn off as well. Now I was behind the truck. He pulled into a gravel yard and stopped. I stopped and got out of my car. I was still on the phone with the DPS dispatcher. Yup, all is recorded…
The driver was very angry at me for “flippin’ him off.” I said, “Interesting, you are upset with me signaling you. Waving and flashing my lights didn’t seem to work. Yet, it is my car, as you can see, with considerable damage from your truck.” I asked his name. “Monty” he replied and said, “You are the reason why we have signs on the back of our trucks to stay back 500′.” I said, “There are a couple of things wrong with your statement.” “Like what,” Monty challenged. “First,” I said, “looking at the back of your truck, there is no such sign and your license plate is barely readable. Second, you passed me!” Monty said, “I’m in compliance.” I said, “Perhaps, but you damaged my car!” Monty turned for his truck. I figured it was time to get the insurance folks involved.
November 6th! I had expected to spend the day polishing Fly The Wing – Fourth Edition. Instead, I traipsed all over town trying to find a replacement for our Blendtech blender that crashed! None found!
Wednesday, I’ll fly 964 at Airbase Arizona. Such a joy flyin’ this magnificent ol’ Stearman!
Already it’s the 2nd of November! Cheryl and I are looking forward to seeing long-time friends, Dave & Tomme Kaplan. We plan on meeting this evening at a favorite restaurant, L’Amore on Lincoln Drive near The Biltmore. Excellent cuisine and ambiance. Pal, Darrell Sawyer, introduced us to this excellent eatery sometime back. Put it on your bucket list!
Now, back to work on Fly The Wing – Fourth Edition. I’m thru Chapter 25. So, I’m making good headway. Still, lots of work left to do with hopes of presenting the manuscript to my publisher, ASA, by late spring/early summer 2018.
October 31st – It’s Halloween night t’nite! Cheryl and I join our neighbors in our annual “Welcome the little goblins to the ‘hood!’ It’s always fun with lots of kibitizing with our neighbors along with sharing tasty food. What tops it all is seeing the little faces light up as they fill their bags with not-so-healthy albeit very tasty treats!
October 30th, our Stearman Squadron, with Joe Sottile leading, flew our Missing Man formation to honor Gerald Parker, a WWII veteran pilot who flew the ubiquitous C-47 in the Normandy Invasion. Just three days after this video was done, Gerald had Gone West. RIP Gerald! Thank YOU for your service to America.
Our formation recently over John Walkup’s Memorial Celebration of Life.
Our formation was much the same yesterday for Gerald Parker’s service.
We were a four ship yesterday with Joe Sottile, Larry Dustman, Billy Walker, & Mike Braegger.
October 27th – Nice BBQ Bash with old friends from the America West days. Officially we are American Airlines Retirees now. We were at the Heritage Center where 2017 History Maker and the founder of America West, Ed Beauvais, is honored.
Mary Ellen – Ed – Cheryl – Billy
T’day – more work on the Fourth Edition of Fly the Wing. T’nite we dine with Jim & Suzy Thorne at their new home in Sun Lakes. Jim was Director of Facilities at America West and my former partner in N-6RJ, the 1950 Bellanca 14-19+ that, sadly, we sold. I shoulda kept that one!
October 26th. I’m working all day on my book. I’m up to 19 Chapters so far. This evening, Cheryl and I will go to the Arizona State Historical Society Heritage Center in Tempe for our annual AWA/US Airways/American retiree BBQ.
John C. Hazelwood, the designer of my website, has been trying to help me with one page that is dad-burned stubborn! It refuses to populate in my editing site but displays properly going to the public site. Mystifying!
October 25th. I’m 15 Chapters out of 34 in the Fourth Edition of Fly the Wing. A lot of work for a potential NY Times ‘Best Seller!’ Just kidding, books like this are for a very specialized market. If you know someone coming from the military into the airlines, someone going into corporate aviation, or anyone wanting a good review of what it takes to fly in the environment an airline pilot flies in, this is THE book! The book will be available sometime in the coming year…
I just had a delightful flight with Chris Schaich in 964. I’m so blessed being able to still ply my craft at 76 and counting! Currently, I’m an Instructor Pilot with Airbase Arizona. T’day’s mission was to complete a 602 check ride with Col. Schaich. The wind was squirrelly with gusts to 25 knots. No problem for Chris. It was an easy day for me. …until I showed up at Lifetime Fitness for a coached workout with Jordan Pero. When I arrived home, Cheryl asked, “How’d it go?” I handed her the printout Jordan gave me and suggested she’d do well to request a session with him. Jordan is a Physical Therapist on top of his talents coaching fitness. At least with Miss Cheryl, Jordan can hope for some success!
After another of Cheryl’s culinary delights, I was about to start back working on my book, Fly the Wing (Fourth Edition), when a couple of e-mails caught my eye. They ended up amazingly inspiring. So, I thought I would share ’em with you. Yup! Truly inspiring! …almost as much as Cheryl’s convocation and commencement address given at Arizona State University in 1996. That, folks, tops ’em all!
Cheryl graduated Summa Cum Laude and received ASU’s Distinguished Graduate Award among other accolades in 1996. On the spot she was promoted from being ‘Wife’ to ‘Supervisor’ after discovering how much smarter she was than I… Cheryl continues to this day to being the wind beneath my wings…
The wisdom of a third-grade dropout will change your life. – Dr. Rick RigsbyInspired? Get Rick Rigsby's book; Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout: http://amzn.to/2zf5P2x
Posted by Goalcast on Thursday, October 5, 2017
Hi Captain Walker! Hope you’ve been well and treated to calm winds and blue skies. I’m glad you liked the article, it was very fun to write and you were instrumental to its success! I’m more passionate about airplanes than I am about getting page views, so I hope all of my articles maintain that true-to-life feel! Thank you for that.
October 22nd. Cheryl and I are watching a dismal Cardinals game with the LA Rams in London. It’s ugly! On the good side, ASU knocked off Utah yesterday 30-10.
I flew 964 in a five-ship formation to honor our ol’ flyin’ buddy, Bill Hane who is Gone West at 88. In the formation was Sentimental Journey, our B-17, along with Bill Hane’s magnificent P-51 ‘Mustang,’ a T-6, our SNJ, and 964. Reid MacCosham and Brian Churchill flew the B-17, Ralph Rena flew ‘Ho Hum’ the ‘Mustang,’ Dale Churchill flew the T-6, Francois Bergeon flew the SNJ and I flew 964.
Here’s a shot of 964 sailing over the hangar roof taken by Zdenek Kaspar:
Sentimental Journey & Ho Hum
Ho Hun Bill Hane’s P-51D for 36 years!
Last evening I enjoyed the company of several former America West Airlines colleagues at our monthly ‘Cactus Crews’ gathering held at Majerle’s (Chandler Mall). Ed Beauvais joined us with everyone delighted with seeing the founder of good ol’ AWA.
L-R: Jay Prochnow, Billy Walker, Ed Beauvais, Tom Grayson, and Tommy Townsend.
Friday, Cheryl and I went to Williams Field High School to watch our “Grandson” Jackson Vaught’s team win 45-18. Jackson played an outstanding game with a smash-bang sack on the Mesquite QB. Here’s a play published by Hudl.com showing grandson, Dyan, running a 64 yard fumble recovery to a TD. GO DYLAN!
We will spend the rest of the day cussing the program directors who elected to broadcast Seattle Sea Hawks rather than our Denver Broncos?
It’s October 18th tonight Cheryl and I were at the Arizona Historical Society – History Makers event honoring this year’s History Makers which included our dear friend, Ed Beauvais. Ed and Mary Ellen were joined by friends and family. Our friends from the White Mountains, Wink Crigler and Gerald Scott were unable to make the unveiling of her display. There was a nice turn-out of folks there to enjoy the comaraderie, food and wine.
Below: Cheryl and I with Ed and Mary Ellen Beauvais.
2017 History Makers:
Senator Jon Kyl
The Papp Family
Dr. Robert Spetzler
Dr. Warren Stewart, Sr.
October 16th Thanks to pal Dave Sirota here’s a happy story to start your day with:
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:
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: https://disciplesofflight.com/boeing-stearman-model-75-aircraft-profile/
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
September 11, 2017 …SIXTEEN YEARS AGO TODAY! 9/11 A DAY IN INFAMY! LET US NEVER FORGET!