Weekly Blog (when I’m feelin’ gabby)…
May 10, 2019… I’ve been away nearly a month! Cheryl’s sister, Helen, passed at age 79. Helen had been all of the nieces and nephews favorite aunt. I’m glad Cheryl was able to go to Mexico, Missouri to see Helen and say goodby although we are promised that we will meet again…
On April 29th I had bladder cancer surgery. All went well and my longterm prognosis looks good. My third bout with “Mr. C!” I hope he’ll leave me alone for a while.
This past year I have been extremely disappointed with the leadership at Airbase Arizona. So, I went on a sabbatical. Apparently, the leader wanted me gone for good. He sent me a letter of expulsion. So, now I have a new retirement project. Stay tuned!
April 19th, 2019… After watching the fascinating video (link below) it reminded me of a story.
My father taught a goodly number of Mexican/Central American/South American’s to fly in his CPT program. One, Guillermo Sottile, was his favorite.
April 16th, 2019… I just received a note from the legendary Burt Rutan giving me the OK to share with you an absolutely captivating presentation he made at Stamford University about SpaceShipOne’s technical issues. It was done for a small group of Stanford Aerospace students, not long after he’d won the X-Prize in 2004. There is a bonus Q n’ A as well. It is 1:45:31 long, but such a treat!
WHEW!! The 2018 tax year is behind us!
A friend found this link you might like. If, o’course you like Stearman’s!
April 14, 2019… I just published “Pic and his Airmaster” on https://www.wattpad.com. It may be a day or two before they have it on their website. New to me, but why not give it a shot…?
On a sad note: The photo below is my ol’ friend and colleague, Don Madden now Gone West. The photo was taken around the time he and I were new hires at good ol’ Frontier Airlines in 1967. In fact we were hired the same month, July 1967. Don had been a Navy S2F “Tracker” pilot prior to starting his airline career.
We shared several crash pads and a goodly number of stories. Later we were colleagues again at America West Airlines. Don was a really good fellow!
His daughter Lorenda wrote: “He’d been fighting cancer for the past 4+ years….but was doing well. He went in for a routine checkup and they found more cancer. He had just finished going through the treatments for that and was actually getting stronger. He had extremely low blood pressure, however and had a heart attack this past Thurs. He passed away at 7:15pm on Friday. It shocked all of us. 🙁 I was so thankful to be able to be there with him and hold his hand. It’s been a pretty rough week but I know my dad is not hurting any more.
April 2, 2019… I’ve been slackin’ some with updating my “blog.” I’m not even sure what ‘zactly a “blog” is🧐
Be sure to check out Aircraft Sales site to see the pristine G-35 Bonanza I have for sale. https://captainbillywalker.com/aircraft-for-sale/aircraft-for-sale/
I have an AMAZING Airshow airplane, The Ghost Ship, for sale as well. Let me know if you’d like to take a look at them. Both are hangared at Falcon Field, Mesa, AZ.
This past March 30th, Cheryl and I went to Captain Dan Condon’s USAF retirement ceremony held in the WOOF hangar. Dan is one of those rare people who fit’s in everywhere he goes.
The two general officers officiating agreed that, as a Chief Master Sergeant, Dan literally ran the United States Air Force!
Dan was a Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force but he became a pilot and rose to a captain’s slot with American Airlines.
Above: Dan & Billy
Below: Billy with Doug James, Col. USAF, Ret., Jet Blue Captain
Above: Dan receiving special recognition from the Civil Air Patrol. My father, the late Col. W. Dillard “Pic” Walker was a founding member of the CAP.
I remain on a “sabbatical” from Airbase Arizona. The horrid present leadership has caused six owner aircraft, plus a pristine WWII Jeep, to vacate the now very empty museum. Sad😢
I sure miss flying 964 and being with the truly wonderful group of volunteers there. It is so unfortunate to see the denigration of the Air Base caused by, essentially, one person. Hopefully, he will soon be gone and we can work towards getting the place back on solid ground.
March 13th, 2019... Holy Smokes! I’ve been away from my blog duties for almost two weeks!
I’ve been a bit bummed out. Yesterday my long-time flying colleague, Captain Bob Banta experienced a major stroke. I was able to say “goodby” thanks to Mike Clevenger, Bob’s neighbor and care giver. Mike held the phone to Bob’s ear.
Bob and I flew many a flight together at the original Frontier Airlines and in a number of old war weary aircraft of WWII vintage. So many Banta stories. He was legendary. Search “Banta” and you’ll come up with several stories herein.
Likely, you knew that I had sold my Boeing Model 75 “Stearman” to the CAF a few years ago. I’ve enjoyed flying that venerable ol’ airplane giving rides to folks visiting the museum.
However, there is a political quagmire presently going on which makes a lot of the members uncomfortable. I’m one of those. I’ve decided to go on a sabbatical until there is a course correction. Likely, this will be in the fall with the next election of, hopefully, a new Airbase Leader. The current one is, in my view, a charlatan.
March 1st 2019… Geez it’s sure quiet here! Cheryl is out overheating her credit card. I’m home alone. …just finished Craig Johnson’s latest novel “Dead of Winter” and have zero on t’day’s calendar! So, I must really be retarded ‘er retired! I’m motivated to write ‘nuther short story. I hope you read the latest one “Pic’s Airmaster.”
February 26, 2019… Check out this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6VLzKACnS8
February 20, 2019… Lots goin’ on even with our home now empty from a GREAT visit from the Brayne Bunch of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
February 17, 2019… Thanks for checkin’ in! Cheryl and I just finished the last of Pablo Perez’s Sonoran Hot Dogs 🌭! ZOWIE! are they good! Pablo was here Friday night, with his portable hot dog trailer, feeding some 60+ aviation friends and greeting our Canadian guests Geoff, Jennifer, and Emily Brayne. ‘Cept Emily is now Emily Brooks. Her husband, Kyle, showed up at 1AM after driving from the LA area.
It sure has been nice having their visit that, sadly, will end t’morrow when Kyle and Emily head back to the west coast and, Tuesday, when Geoff and Jennifer head back to the really cold country! 🥶
Geoff is working on acquiring a ‘Harvard’ in need of much repair. If it’s like everything else he does the airplane will end up pristine! We will head for Airbase Arizona t’morrow to visit with our SNJ Crew Chief, Jake Zeiber. He’ll have some great pointers for Jeff. And I first flew the T-6/SNJ in 1965 and have flown it off and on since. I’ll share what I haven’t forgotten!
A few years ago I met Geoff and Jennifer when I delivered his PT-13 to Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Good friends ever since!
Our weather hasn’t been the norm for Arizona. Rain with temperatures in the 40s and 50s. Friday we lucked out with clear skies and near 70ºF! Luck does play a part in the scheme of things! It was a great gathering with The Ed Newberg orchestra of one. Ed sings ‘Johnny Cash’ better’n Johnny Cash sang ‘Johnny Cash!’
Roger Parrish’s widow, Bette, was here at likely her first venture out since Roger had Gone West January 12th. 96 year young WWII Ace, Les (and Paula) Gray were here along with a passel of flyin’ buddies and wives.
Our neighbor said, “Sounds like everyone was having a great time at your party!” Either we were too noisy or the sounds were telling the story of our fine evening…
February 8, 2019… Thanks for checkin’ in! Not much to palaver about t’day. Just wanted you to know Cheryl and I were still kickin’!
Last evening we went to flyin’ buddy, Larry Kline’s, 70th birthday bash. Nice turnout, great food, a fine evening. T’day Cheryl and I are planning a party for our Canadian friends, Geoff, Jennifer and Emily. Hope the weather cooperates! ‘Course it’s gotta be better than Alberta Canada this time of year…
L-R: Geoff & Jennifer Brayne with Jack and 007, the Stearman I delivered to Geoff’s airplane palace at the Lethbridge airport, Canada…
February 3, SuperBowl Sunday… ‘Cept we won’t see much of the game. Cheryl and I have not watched any pro football this season due to the onerous attitude of the players dishonoring our flag and our veterans. 🤬
We’ve certainly kept busy. Cheryl with her projects and volunteering. Me with flying. …a good thing!
Roger Brooks sent this photo of my first captain trip in the Frontier Boeing 737 back in 1977. Roger, a long-time pal, was the First Officer. Cheryl and, then young son, Preston, were along.
January 22nd… A busy day catchin’ up after our friends departed following a truly wonderful reunion a year after we were abducted and held at gunpoint for six hours in the Mexican jungle east of Mazatlán. The Sinaloa Cartel are not nice people! Read an update on our story along with new photos:
T’nite we attend the “A Place For All People” event at the Heritage Center. Dan & Barbara Todd along with Bob and Dorina Ashby will join us for this awsome event.
T‘morrow we’ll meet to compare notes on our exasperating situation going on at Airbase Arizona. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and we will soon be back on course…
January 18th, 2019… T’morrow we greet Dr. Ricardo Castaňeda Santo, Judith, Said, David and Ricardo, Jr. They arrive via American Airlines from San Antonio where they’ve been living since escaping the threat of the Sinaloa Cartel following our abduction last year.
It promises to be a grand reunion showing them some of the Arizona culture and countryside. I plan to take them all for a flight in 964 and Mike Boyle’s 450 Stearman.
Below, Mike Doyle on the right of 964.
Above, Mike Doyle with Dr. Santo in N-450MD “Captain Dillon Haines”
January 15, 2019… A year since Cheryl and I were kidnapped with six other innocent souls and force marched through the jungles of Mexico with as many as twelve automatic weapons pointed at us. Not a fun experience but one we won’t soon forget.
Remembering our plight I feel a great need in sharing this. I wish that I could share this wonderful piece with EVERY child in every school in our nation…
This is so good. It should be seen by every American. Shown in every school!
every time they hear Our National Anthem.
January 7, 2019... Above is a link to the History Channel program about Air America. In case you are unaware, I flew for Air America (Tri-9) during the Vietnam War. I was based out of Pochentong Airbase Cambodia. Lotsa interesting flying. a few downsides such as being shot at along with flights in some rather nasty weather & heavy rains all while experiencing poor to nil ground navigational equipment. Below is a link to our SE Asian War Games adventure:
Below, aviation icon the late-great William Richard Cutter and me with Cutter’s magnificent 1944 Beech Staggerwing D-17S N-44562.
January 5, 2019… We were amongst a very large gathering at the Cutter Aviation hangar for the over-the-top send-off of our late-great buddy, Bill Cutter. Above, creating another amazing aviation memory just two years ago.
Here is Connie Tyler’s tribute:
Jim Appleby and I flew The Ghost Ship to Cutter’s. It was the last airplane Bill was to fly but his passing prevented it. The Ghost Ship was part of the ambiance.
Here is a link to a story I wrote about my friend Cutter and his family:
Thanks to my Arizona Stearman Squadron buddies for a GREAT Missing Man fly-over. Nicely done!
Joe Sottile, Ben York, Kurt Gearhart, and Larry Dustman & Fred Gorrell.
December 30, 2018…
T’day is our son, Preston’s, 46th birthday! Happy BD Son!
A Frontier crew from 1973
My how he’s grown!
Last evening we were in a gathering of friends celebrating Dr. Mikey’s 70th birthday which isn’t actually taking place until the first of January! GREAT food/drink/and camaraderie! Happy BD Mikey! KUDOS to Jan for the wonderful food and organizing a superb party!
Mike Braegger, Jim Thorne and I owned a magnificent Bellanca 14-19+ a 1950 triple-tail Bellanca that Roland Joslyn restored and won the 1977 grand prize at Oshkosh. Along with some unique modifications, he installed an IO-470 which moved the airplane an honest 208 mph! What a marvelous flying machine! Reflecting, I realize Cheryl was right. She said, “You will regret selling N-6RJ!”
Back in the ’90s Mike, Jim, and I were members of the Lafayette Escadrille d’ Arizona squadron flying our plans-built Nieuport 17s. That, friends, was a decade of challenges and joy.
Founder/leader Mike Wray #1 – Billy Walker#2 – Roger Parrish#3 – Mike Braegger#4 – Pete Geiser#5. Jim Thorne built a 2-place Nieuport 12, and Ken Lambert was in the process of restoring his when Mike Wray was lost in his Lancair IV-P. POOF! Our Nieuport Squadron was no more…😢
December 28, 2018…
December 27th, Falcon Field, Mesa AZ:
DJ Sweeney’s son, Sean, flies The Ghost Ship!
Christmas Day, 2018…
MERRY CHRISTMAS! 🎅🎄🤶🏻 FROM BILLY & CHERYL
We’ve received some really terrific Christmas cards and letters lately and realized that we are not doing our share. We feel very blessed with good health and stamina to go with having great friends and family.
So, here’s our update from TVOTS (The Valley of the Sun)! So far, so good!
We have found retirement a contradiction! Both of us seem to stay busier in retirement than when we were working, albeit Billy never worked a day in his life. He is still flying as a volunteer pilot with Airbase Arizona (Commemorative Air Force) as an instructor pilot in 964, the Stearman he restored and then sold to the CAF.
Cheryl stays busy with her volunteerism as a very active past president of her P.E.O. chapter. She’s also active with the Sky Harbor Auxiliary, a group of former flight attendants as well as our neighborhood activities.
Preston and his family are still busy with work and play in PA. We stay in touch some by phone and try to travel to their eastern digs yearly. Gianna is in her second year at Loyola University – Maryland. Kaylie is in her first year at Alvernia University, where she plays basketball. Dylan is a high school junior and expects to be playing football his senior year after a year off from ACL surgery.
In addition to a busy flying schedule, Billy finished The Fourth Edition of Fly The Wing. The Third Edition has been selling since 2004, so it was time to update the book which has helped pilots moving into advanced aviation flying high performance airliners around the world. While it will likely never find its way to the NY Times “Best Seller” list, FTW has found it’s way to a goodly number of pilot’s book shelves over the past 45 years!
With Love and Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year, we hope the Christmas Season is a joyous one for you!
Billy & Cheryl
December 24th, 2018. . . Cheryl and I head for Pam Vaught’s for Christmas Eve dinner, an annual event. Her son, Jeremie, was Preston’s best pal in high school. When Jer’s father passed away he adopted us! We’ve been Mom n’ Pop Walker ever since! Pam is Jer’s birth mom and happens to be the name of his wife. We are undaunted and have never been confused by this anomaly. Rather, we are so blessed and honored to be included in all their family events. I especially enjoy Father’s Day at the Vaughts. That’s where all the Mom’s n’ Wives serve the guys. Mother’s Day is, of course, my least favorite😜But, likely it’s Cheryl’s favorite…
One uncanny thing of note, both Preston’s and Jeremy’s three kids were born nearly at the same time. That gives pause, but we won’t go there…
Both Jer and Pam have made sure their three boys have grown up knowing us as ‘grandparents.’ So, we have six grandkids not just the three back east! So Cool! Thank You Jer & Pam!
Click the link below for our 2018 Christmas Letter:
December 16th, 2018… Cheryl and I thoroughly n’joyed the American Aviation Historical Society dinner last evening. We all were regaled by Don Gray’s presentation on the ‘Memphis Bell’ restoration project at the USAF Museum in Dayton where Don has been a major fixture for the last couple of decades. We have enjoyed being with Don and Karen both here and last summer during our visit to this incredible museum.
December 12th started with the Knights of the Round Engines breakfast at the, appropriately named Round Engine Room, located at the Best Western Suites — Scottsdale Airport. Don and Karen Gray from the USAF Museum at Dayton, OH joined us and regaled the assemblage with stories of the Wright Brothers. Then, we toured Airbase Arizona at Falcon Field before enjoying a nice dinner at Red White and Brue. We will hear Don again with the American Aviation Historical Society at Beatitudes Saturday.
December 11th, 2018… A very very sad day for those of us who knew Bill Cutter – Gone West this morning. Bill made a huge contribution to Arizona aviation. He was such a great friend. His passing has left a huge hole in my heart. Bill’s father and mine were friends and colleagues from the 1930’s when both were early Beechcraft dealers. Bill took me aloft on my first hot air balloon flight. I would buy one and fly it for a decade. I jokingly say, “I sold the balloon, but kept the hot air!”
Here’s a link to a story I wrote about my friend Bill Cutter:
A photo of Bill, me and Harry Amster with Bill’s magnificent Staggerwing Beech. We stopped at Alpine, Wyoming on the way back from the Round Engine Round Up in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
December 6th… Cheryl and I spent the morning n’joying a light welcome rain with Coyotes singing. Likely, pups in the nearby den across from our back yard. We have another hummingbird nest with two chicks at the ready for their mother’s arrival from the nearby feeder she guards closely.
T’nite we joining several other couples from our Airbase Arizona group to see the newly out WWI movie’s special showing: “They Shall Not Grow Old,” a World War I documentary.
We continue to hold our squadron mate, Col. Roger Parrish and his family in our thoughts and prayers. He arrived home from the hospital an hour ago (1PM Mesa, AZ time). It is easy for me to see Roger’s smile and “Buddy’s” waggin’ tail!
Hospice of the Valley will hopefully help ease Roger’s transition. They were wonderful folks to deal with when my parents were in need.
December 1st, 2018… We had 92 kids take their first flight this morning. Our EAA Chapter 1614 at Stellar Airpark was a very busy place with 16 pilots and aircraft along with a great number of volunteers, some serving a fine pancake, scrambled eggs, & sausage breakfast.
I spoke with my ol’ pal Roger Parrish this morning. He will be moved into Banner’s hospice care facility. His poor ol’ heart is plumb worn out. Facing the grim reality, Roger had his doctor’s turn off the defibulator on his pace maker.
We all have held high hopes our friend and squadron mate would recover and, again, take to the cockpit of 832. Alas, it is not to be. Roger has decided to have the doctors render inop the defibrillator on his pace maker. Bette has let us know this was Roger’s decision. ’Nuff’s ’nuff!
Please keep Roger, Bette and their family in your thoughts and prayers.
November 27th, 2018… We have our buddy, Roger Parrish, in our thoughts and prayers. Roger is, again, back in the Banner Heart Hospital. We remain hopeful that he’ll once again get back on his quest to be able to fly 832 with Fred soon.
T’day is a catch up on my ‘Honey Do List!’ I flew with Jake Hansen again yesterday and have more training flights in 964 Wednesday and Friday. Yup! I’m still livin’ the dream albeit the pay isn’t near what it used to be…
Be sure to check out the revised story about my college pal and fraternity brother, Larry Duthy. He was killed in action in 1967 and that, we thought, was the end of things for ol’ Duth. T’wernt at all. Check out the back and forth e-mail traffic at the end of Duthie’s story: https://captainbillywalker.com/war-stories/larry-duthie-kia-67/
November 24th, 2018… I’m still full from a delicious Thanksgiving with Joe & Lori Sottile at Stellar Airpark. They served 35 hungry friends and family. Delicious! Stellar neighbor, John Morris, an American Airlines pilot brought 144 deviled eggs, a big batch of Salmon spread, and Key Lime pies. Cheryl and I are involved with one terrific bunch of folks.
November 16th, 2018… It’s been a very busy time these days surrounding Veteran’s Day. Today, is the second day of a two-day Stearman Formation Clinic at the WOOF hangar at Falcon Field. I flew with Canadian, Kevin Bennett, in his Jacobs powered Stearman. This was Kevin’s introduction to formation flying. We were #2 in a four-ship formation.
November 14, 2018… Hooray! Fly the Wing – Fourth Edition is now officially on the shelves. Here’s a look at the book:
I wrote the 3rd edition in 2004 so it was time to update this classic born thru the efforts of the late-great Jim Webb.
November 12, 2018… On the ground looking up at my buddies flying overhead the Mesa Veteran’s Parade. For many years I was one of the Stearman Squadron members participating. Prior to our operating the Stearman’s, we flew the ubiquitous Nieuport 17 for a decade! There is a story herein about the Lafayette Escadrille d’Arizona.
Below: Kurt Gearhart leading Joe Sottile, Terry Emig and Danny Don (PT-22) overhead. I was in the back of a new Ford pickup holding a photo of Col. Roger Parrish in front of me. I had the honor of representing my ol’ flyin’ buddy in this HUGE parade! Roger has been slowed up of late. He’s tough which helps his recovering from bouts with heart related issues.
Heckofa strong suspension in that truck!
I gained new perspective seeing the streets lined full of three, four, and five rows of spectators on both sides of the parade route. All there to celebrate our Veteran’s of today and yesteryear.
Our very close friend, Cmdr. Les Gray was the honored Grand Marshall. It was great being with Les and Paula. Then we n’joyed a nice lunch at the ‘Blue Adobe’ Mexican restaurant with Jim and Joan Monroe. Jim ran the parade for many years and still helps with the logistics. Joan flew with me in 964 for the commemoration of Arizona’ Centennial in 2012.
November 11, 2018… Veteran’s Day marking a century since the ending of the ‘Great War’ a war to end all wars. All to bad that prophesy didn’t prove true!
Here’s a great link Captain Ernie Lingren sent of video interview of 101 year-old P-38 pilot, Col. Frank Royal, being re-united with his ‘Lightening’ “White 33” …Great stuff:
Sadly, this seemingly spry retired Colonel has Gone West – just three months following the interview…
However, this was another busy day flying beginning with a mission for a single-ship to start the Apache Junction Veteran’s Parade. I then became the ‘Stinger’ on a six-ship formation over the Mesa Cemetery to honor the American and British pilots killed during training at Falcon Field. Hopefully, some video and/or photos will arrive from those on the ground.
November 10, 2018... A busy day. Gave a presentation on WWI Aviation to Airbase Arizona. Seemed well received.
November 9, 2018… Happy Birthday to The Love of my Life! Miss Cheryl is celebrating the 32nd Anniversary of her 39th Birthday! She looks closer to 39 than 71! Below, April 8, 1971 and March, 2011. Yup! I’m one lucky son-of-a-gun!
November 8, 2018… On this day at the Walker’s absolutely nothing happened. It was almost a GREAT day too!
November 7, 2018… I flew three flights in 964 then to Scottsdale for the Navy Pilots luncheon. It was a GREAT day to commit aviation!
RADM Denny Wisley spoke to the Navy Pilot Group “The Road Runners.” “Spoke” isn’t the right word “REGALED” is more descriptive and fits ADM Wisley’s program.
He will repeat his presentation the 15th at ASU. Prof. Valerie Adams invited Adm. Wisely to speak to her class and YOU too are invited:
Green Ink is the title of Adm. Wisely’s book. It’s a MUST READ! Not mentioned in this bio-sketch is that, flying the F-4 ‘Phantom,’ he shot down two Mig 17’s over North Vietnam! An amazing story from a truly amazing fellow!
October 30th, 2018... Another magnificently sunny Arizona day!
Be sure to listen all the way to the end of Mike Rowe’s great story…
Below are photos from Dave n’ Tomme Kaplan’s gala event at Desert Mountain. The David & Tomme Kaplan Kidney Center is part of the Denver Children’s Hospital. Please consider a donation to a tremendously worthy program:
The David and Tomme Kidney Center
Attn: Leslie Schaffer
13123 E. 16th Avenue B045
Aurora, Colorado 80045
October 28th… DEEELIGHTFUL getaway to Carefree. We shared a couple of days with old Frontier friends at the Civana Resort with an evening at David & Tomme Kaplan’s hovel in Desert Mountain. Such squalor😳 I couldn’t live like that… Actually, it was, of course, the opposite with outstanding food and drinks topped off with catching up with old friends from our days t’gether at the historic Frontier Airlines.
Houstonian, Big John Winter, was there with his son, John, also a big guy and a former Chief Pilot with United. John Jr. now retired from UAL runs Lone Tree Brewery in Lone Tree, Colorado. Like father, like son! John, Sr., was, himself, a CP for Continental. Doug & Vicky Bader arrived from Colorado. They are always a delight and more family to us than friends. Dewey Mrosla was there with his wife, Margie. Dewey and I shared the flight deck at good ol’ Frontier. Bonnie Dahl, who wrote a book about her life as a Frontier Stewardess was there. She’s always a hoot as is Denise Hurd. So, we had at least four “stews” there counting Cheryl and Tomme.
The second night was at one of the Desert Mountain Chiricahua Patio where David & Tomme treated, what seemed like, some 300 friends and neighbors to an elegant sit-down dinner with all the trimmings. The celebration? Dave’s 80th and Tomme’s 70th birthdays! They both look much younger and work at staying fit. I do as well. I do leg-lifts with my electric powered recliner! Hey, I have to save energy for dessert.
I’ve known Dave Kaplan since 1964. He’s made a HUGE impact on my life. He’s the one who literally talked me into going with Frontier. I was reluctant at first not liking the idea of giving up (what I thought was) a lucrative aircraft sales job to pull gear on a DC-3. Dave, eminently smarter, said, “you can do both!” So, I spent the next couple of glorious decades with Frontier. That is a heck of a story, itself, and is dealt with in the story section of this website.
Then, in 1999 I had an opportunity to go with a start-up airline, “New Air.” Again, I was reluctant. I was managing the Airbus Training Program for America West Airlines making a good salary and home every night. Again, Dave was the one who talked me into going with what became Jet Blue Airways. I became the senior line captain, senior check airman and FAA APD (I administered the captain check rides). I ended four decades as an airline pilot in fine fashion. I will always be grateful to Dave Kaplan. So much so, that when ever he wants to host a magnificent dinner party with drinks and ‘horse ovaries’ to tasty desserts, I’ll be there…
Cheryl and I thoroughly n’joyed catching up with these friends from our glory days at Frontier.
Dave and his #1 precious granddaughter
T’nite (28th) we go to Aunt Chilada’s for some good Mexican food with Sis (Martha Jo), B.I.L., Norm, and our nephew, Kurt, and his girlfriend, Mattie.
October 25th… I am moving stories to their own menu site. Thank you for your input! Please feel free to let me know what you like or don’t like!
October 23rd… I hope you will give me some feedback. Still a work in progress. My aim is to make access easier…
October 22nd… I’m closer to getting my website improvements accomplished. Thanks to Bob Diercksmeier (RJD Creative LLC) we’re getting there. Please stay tuned!
October 8th, 2018... “It always rains after a dry spell,” Marshall Trimble. But, when it rains it pours. Now we await Jim Tucker Roofing to fix a wee leak. Ah, the life of the happy homeowner!
Here’s a couple of photos from our very enjoyable evening at the Navy Ball. My ol’ pal, Jack Holder (97) was the star of the show.
October 6th… T’nite’s the Navy Ball at the Hilton in Scottsdale. Along with Pearl Harbor Survivor, Jack Holder, and his significant other, Ruth, we will be joining Rear Admiral Jim Symonds and wife Anne; the Admiral was 2nd CO, USS RONALD REAGAN. We’ll celebrate the 243rd birthday of the US Navy albeit the actual birthday is the 13th of October.
My less than illustrious Navy career was cut short just a few months into the Naviator Program when I suffered a rather severe bronchial infection. The Navy flight surgeons thought it was a terminal condition. Fortunately, my family doctor thought otherwise. He solved my problem with a series of cortisone injections (the days before Prednisone). My two-week medical leave was up, I hot-footed it back to Pensacola where I was given two options. I could change the color of my shoes and serve aboard a Navy ship or opt out. I chose the latter albeit I have always felt an emptiness never having earned those coveted Navy Wings of Gold.
Ironically, I would later fly the same T-28s from Tucson to Tegucigalpa for Allied Aircraft and, later, during the SE Asia War Games. Life does have it’s funny quirks…
I received a note from balloonist pal, Ed Cain, with a photo of Ed Cain, Sr. next to Waco NC-30183 circa 1935. Ed’s a great guy. I’ll bet his dad was too. In addition to the Waco, he flew a Porterfield, a Kinner Bird, Curtis Sedan, Challenger Fledgling, along with the ubiquitous Piper Cub. I love stories like Ed’s and I’ll bet you do as well!
Also t’day was a landmark vote by the United States Senate. I was happy to note that there were more sensible senators than otherwise who voted for the good of the order rather than a shabby political decision in the case of the Kavanaugh nomination. I believe this man will prove to be a great justice.
I must note here that there has never been an airline pilot nominated to the Supreme Court. My personal qualifications were stemmed early on as shown:
We are gettin’ lotsa rain! Reminds me of the Ed Newberg/Alan Ripa song:
Here’s what it looks like right now: 8 AM Phoenix time. Tropical Storm Rosa extends from down into the gulf of Mexico to north of Grand Junction Colorado. Denver will see this later t’day!
October 1st, 2018…
We attended the ASU announcement unveiling the new Watts College
Here were are with Sparky and a shot of us in the rather large crowd as Dr. Crow regaled us with, yet another, ASU acclimation! He’s been an amazing leader of the largest university in the country!
September 30th 2018…
September 21st… Be sure to check out Captain Ron Gallop’s website with tons of photos from the historic Frontier Airlines. If you have any photos from those glory days be sure to send ’em to Ron: email@example.com
If you are former Frontier Ron will send you the password to his website!
September 16th: Cheryl and I met Ernie and Marilee Lingren for a delightful brunch, in Draper Utah, and visit before they left for the Northwest and we to the Southwest. They are such special friends who made such a difference during those dark days in 1986 when United Airlines raped and murdered our proud little airline, Frontier. Ernie and Marilee were absolutely wonderful undertaking the Family Awareness Program so helpful to the Frontier FLamilies much impacted by the Frontier demise.
September 13th, 2018 finds Cheryl and me in Boise Idaho. We enjoyed a pleasant visit with Larry and Roz Duthie in Walla Walla < https://captainbillywalker.com/war-stories/larry-duthie-kia-67/ > then to Couer D’Alene for a couple of days before heading to Bob & Lee’s in Boise. Bob Zimmer recently retired as the Teton County Sheriff (Jackson Hole, Wyoming). He had an amazing 40 year career in law enforcement. We used to hunt and fish t’gether along with our owning a Mackenzie dory for floating the Snake River.
The last time I was in that boat, Bob took Coach Frank Kush and I for a float trip down the Snake. Lotsa great memories of hunting & fishing.
Our trip requires an adjustment to our schedule due to the very sad loss of long-time friend and colleague, Captain Robert L “Bob” Williams, having Gone West suddenly. We leave for SLC tomorrow for his services Saturday morning in Pleasant Grove.
Bob Williams was one of the finest people I have ever known. We were co-pilots together at the historic Frontier Airlines. We never flew t’gether at FAL, but shared the cockpit outside the airline. Once, Bob and I flew an DC-6A from Tucson to Clearwater, Florida. My Dad went along. Memorable and made more so by one event caused by my proclivity towards shock n’ awe!
The DC-6 had dual radar scopes. One for the captain, one for the co-pilot. We were cruising along fine with Bob in the right seat intent on watching the city of New Orleans slide by with his head buried in the radar scope’s hood. I got up to use the ‘Blue Room’ and get us sandwiches/drinks. I asked my Dad if he’d like to sit in the left seat a while. As I got out to the seat I reached up to activate the fire warning test which, in the DC-6 & 7, is delayed several seconds before a LOUD Klaxon aural warning activates along with ALL the red-lighted handles for the four engines plus ALL the cargo bins! I stepped to the back of the flight deck.
The very LOUD Klaxton warning activated. Did I say “LOUD?” My Dad just looked as Bob’s reverie was suddenly and rudely disturbed. I watched a very startled Bob beginning to reach for one of the “E” handles to pull. In a nano second he realized the only fault present was me with my ornery nature. We’ve had several laughs about that over the years. He always said, “I’ll get you for that!” He never did. Bob was fun to be around but he wasn’t ornery or mischievous like some folks…
Bob landed that ol’ DC-6 at Clearwater. It was a ‘squeaker!’ A good guy and a good stick!
Bob was the very first ever MEC Executive Administrator and an invaluable member of our team of employees trying to save our beloved airline. Bob made a huge difference ameliorating many tense and trying situations always present with management/labor relations. His ability to diffuse volatile moments was seemingly a natural gift.
Bob and Sue were t’gether 55 years producing a wonderful family and making his workplace along with his community a better place. Bob had met Sue when she was a Frontier DC-3 ‘Stewardess.’ Their marriage has been a special example of how love and caring can spill over into church and community. It will be difficult to adjust to his physical absence albeit he’ll never be far from our thoughts.
CAPTAIN ROBERT LEE WILLIAMS 1939 -2018
RIP ol’ friend!
September 5th 2018… Cheryl and I arrived at niece & nephew, Dan & Kelly’s, place in Portland Oregon. First the hugs then a scrumptious lunch. We left Ahwatukee 20 AUG and have been eating our way here since! Likely, my svelte physique will bloom from my trim 230 to 500 pounds. Nothing phases Cheryl she still looks magnificent!
Cheryl and I RONd at Palm Springs then to Santa Clarita for Emily and Kyle’s grand wedding. Emily is the daughter of our Canadian friends, Geoffrey and Jennifer Brayne, whom we met when I delivered 007 his spiffy Stearman a few years back. Nuthin’ like a Stearman to make new friend with.
The wedding was perfect in all respects. It was even officiated by Kyle’s father, Keith is a US Navy commander & chaplain. Along with everyone there, we were absolutely blown away by the magnificence of Geoff’s “speech” to Emily and Kyle. Those remarks are now the bench-line for future weddings!
We’ve been driving up the Pacific Coast highway (1 & 101) with stops enroute at Ft. Bragg and, last night, Coos Bay. From here we leave to visit Larry and Roz. I expect you’ve read the unbelievable story of how Larry was shot down and killed in action back in 1967. If you haven’t check it out: https://captainbillywalker.com/war-stories/larry-duthie-kia-67/
More to follow! Stay tuned!!
August 27th… The Ghost Ship is still available, surprising to me as it is such an incredible airplane! Call me if you’d like to see/fly this extraordinary aircraft. (480) 773-2823.
Click on the link below:
August 23rd… I have the assignment of “MEMBERSHIP” for our new EAA Chapter 1619 (Stellar Airpark). If you would like more information:
Our mailing address is:
August 20th… HAPPY BIRTHDAY to niece Kelly Fanning! I was there when she was born at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital in 1969, just FIVE MINUTES ago! Kelly shares her day with Brenda Parker, a cousin, she doesn’t yet know about! Happy Birthday to Brenda too. Our friend, Pat Giddings, turns 65 t’day. Pat volunteers at Airbase Arizona.
August 12th… Here is a new link for the Frontier FLamily that Captain Ron Gallop put together. Lotsa pictures:
https://www.fal580.com/ the password: flightcrew
If you have any Frontier photos to share, please send to Ron: firstname.lastname@example.org
August 11th… I received a link to an article by Carly Courtny. She interviewed me for this sometime back: https://disciplesofflight.com/boeing-stearman-model-75-aircraft-profile/ . . Also, I’m 60 pages along in my story about Trailblazer Joseph Rutherford Walker (1798 – 1876). One story about Joe Walker is herein. The one I’m writing now will be more comprehensive and will, no doubt, replace this one:
August 9th… Thanks to Kimberly Rose, (Airbase Arizona’s Public Relations & Marketing). Kimberly is a whiz and fixed up this website enabling folks to contact me via e-mail. Simply click the “contact” next to “gallery” on my home page. T’day I continue to work on my Captain Joseph Rutherford Walker – Mountain Man – Trailblazer – story. Tomorrow, Kevin Bennett & I will go flying in his Jacobs powered Stearman. Life is Good!
August 4th… Already four days into the month and I’m without any interesting drama to offer. I was going flying this morning but that is postponed to Tuesday. So, Cheryl and I will n’joy the air-conditioning while we watch the golfers stagger by in 110º heat.
July 30th… A busy day for Miss Cheryl and me. We did the doctor visit thing along with me getting an MRI as part of my aging back recovery program or ‘Spinal Stenosis’ for you technical folks. Then a nice dinner with my Sis, MJ and Brother-In-Law, Norm at Bass Pro. A surprise great food at a fair price and all-you-can-eat which is not a good thing for a fat boy! Let’s hope August is unseasonably cool with much rain…
July 24th – Cheryl and I n’joyed a wonderfully fine evening with our friends John & Linda Fritsch along with Gerald Scott & Wink Crigler. We are staying at Wink’s X-Diamond Ranch in “The Fisherman’s Cabin.” Cheryl cooked a wonderful meal of Steelhead (sea-run rainbow trout) and a vegetable medley from fresh corn-off-the-cob… Augmented by fine wine and good conversation it was such a pleasant evening. Dessert on the patio watching elk graze while the sun set then to see the moon and planets align across the sky. With the app “SkyView Free” we could identify Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and Venus nearly perfectly aligned across the clear night sky.
The X-Diamond is an ideal retreat. It is the ONLY private trout fishing in Arizona. Scroll down for a view and the link to the X-Diamond website..
July 23rd Setting up a flyer to sell The Ghost Ship:
Some new photos to add shot by acclaimed aviation photographer Scott Germain:
July 22nd – nice sunny warm Arizona day t’day! …a balmy 106º Cheryl and I have been relaxing at home. Tomorrow we will pack up for our visit to the X-Diamond Ranch in the White Mountains of Arizona. Cheryl will do some hiking while I limber up my handy-dandy fly rod on the Little Colorado River running thru the picturesque valley home of Wink Crigler and Gerald Scott.
Wink’s family has been there since the1890s. The previous owner, James Hale, came out on the short end of a gunfight in nearby Springerville Christmas day 1886. Hale was gunned down by a scoundrel named Billy Evans, also known as Jack Diamond and Jack Timberline. Evans was accompanied by five or six outlaw pals who surrounded Hale, then knocked him to the ground. As he lay there, Evans delivered the fatal shot because, he said, he wanted to see if a bullet would go through a Mormon. Five months later, Evans and another bandit were shot and killed in a narrow canyon near the Blue River after stealing several horses. Peaceful t’day, Round Valley was anything but in those early days.
Wink has put hard work and intelligence into preserving her legacy. Put the X-Diamond on your Bucket List!
July 21st a sad day for aviation A beautiful C-47 Blue Bonnet Bell was lost in a crash at Burnet Texas.
July 20th, 2018 Cheryl and I just returned from a weeks travel to Douglassville, PA to visit our son, Preston, and his Bunch. Our granddaughter, Kaylie, celebrated her high school graduation with a nice party with all the trimmings replete with a large circus tent, a smaller tent, and, thanks to her mother, an endless supply of delicious food. Music, games, the adults had as much fun as the kids!
From there we flew to Dayton, Ohio for a few days to visit the National USAF museum which has grown to possibly surpass the Smithsonian! Our host, Don Gray has been with the museum 14 years and regaled Cheryl and I with a first class tour. We went to the Wright Brother’s locations including the bicycle shop and Huffman Prairie where so much of our earliest aviation occurred. One of the National Park Rangers gave us a tour of the pasture the Wrights “borrowed” from a local banker for their experimental flights.
We had a nice visit with our friend Mark Berent. Mark is the REAL DEAL. He saved my life TWICE during the South East Asia War Games. Read more: https://captainbillywalker.com/war-stories/cambodia-air-adventure/
We even came across our friend, Carl Schneider’s great book “Jet Pioneer!” Carl, a retired USAF Major General is not only a great aviator, he is a heck of a wordsmith. Don’t miss this read!
C-141 ‘Hanoi Hilton Taxi’
This aircraft brought the first POW’s home including my friend Bob Jeffrey. Bob signed his name inside the fuselage SEVEN and a half years after he was shot down and captured on his FIRST mission flying the F-4 Phantom. Bob now lives nearby and is still actively flying his Lancair in the Reno Air Races! Bob often commits aviation as part of our Stearman Squadron!
Don Gray introduced us to a GREAT restaurant. We need to find a way to coax owner, Steve Crandall, into bringing the Fly Boys Deli to Arizona! If you like aviation and good food this place is a must! Steve, a former USAF Colonel and pilot, along his wife, Eunice Kim, have created a perfect eatery! Fly Boys is literally filled with ambiance and menu choices to satisfy even the most discriminating taste.
Click on the link below:
If you have trouble linking just type www.flyboysdeli.com in your browser!
July 4th – Our Country’s Birthday! 🇺🇸
BELOW: Look close our 8 ship flight became 9!
Here’s a story my sister, Martha Jo, wrote for her writing class. She’s my proof reader and an excellent wordsmith!
Assignment for Monday, July 9 – Joy of Writing
Select a person you see often, but don’t know, and write a story about them.
‘There’s Joy In The Morning’— if you’re familiar with that song. Or you may be singing a different song . . . .but I hope you wake up singing . . . .or at least ‘have a song in your heart’! It truly will carry you through the day!
I see Joy often but have not met her. I can tell she is a woman of purpose. She is deliberate, organized and punctual. That’s about all I know, so far anyway. She is tall, slim, and has dark hair. Usually her hair is casually swept to one side or the other. [You see women on TV like that every day! Is there not another hairstyle?]
I saw Joy yesterday and she had braided her hair. No hair adornments such as a bow, or silver hair clip were visible; not even a bobby-pin. Perhaps she had plans to stop by the gym on her way home. I should have glanced at her feet; sometimes women who work outside the home walk to work. I sometimes see a purple bicycle locked to the bike rack in the parking lot and have wondered if it might belong to Joy.
How would it feel if you thought someone was watching you and perhaps taking notes? You might think about a recent movie you’d seen where another party had hired a private investigator to watch you, and more than taking notes, might even be taking pictures.
Joy was in the hallway as I was going to the women’s bathroom. I spoke first but just with a polite ‘good morning’. She smiled and in a whisper-like voice responded. I was surprised as I had heard her loud and clear on the phone when she had been at her desk. Maybe she is more shy than I first perceived. Oh well, maybe she was talking to someone who was hard of hearing!
I had absolutely no idea what my Independence Day would be like when my husband and I accepted an invitation to go to a fly-over of vintage warbirds which would be putting on a “show” mid-afternoon. We joined over some four thousand visitors who gathered at a big hotel in the north part of town. It was a hot day so we tried to find a breeze or a little shade under the trees which grew along the edge of the golf course.
The announcer said the program would start in 4 minutes! We were ready with iPhones on the ‘picture taking’ setting; the music blared loudly but was soon drowned out by the familiar roar of the Stearmans flying in formation overhead with the lead plane being flown by my brother! It never ceases to thrill me!
Smoke from the planes filled the skies and right away more planes were visible until all 47 planes had made the circle over the hotel and the golf course . . . . .and the show wasn’t over yet! They came around again and again and in between one time and the next we could hear the announcer telling us to look 👀 up to the left and watch for the parachute jumpers! They were up so high; we could barely see their drop plane, and then one . . .and two . . .and three were floating toward their target — a red, white and blue flagpole on the golf course.
Then we saw their red smoke, released by jumper #1 and then by jumper #2 and then the cheering became louder and the music was drowned out by the crowds as we stood in awe with our eyes fixed on OLD GLORY as it floated down just ahead of the jumper! Just gives you chills. The jumpers, gathering up their parachutes, were heading for the fence to shake hands with the crowd. I caught the eye of the second jumper as she reached the fence, her arm out stretched to shake hands with. . . . . me…..OMG. . .it’s Joy!
Martha Jo Tisdale
July 2nd, 2018
A beautiful day to commit aviation! I flew Kenny MacGibbon in 964 this morning. Kenny is a First Responder (Fire) from the Seattle area and the son of my friend, Captain Rick Lucas-MacGibbon, a retired Flying Tigers captain. It was quite comfortable to fly at 06:30 this morning as we departed Falcon Field, a former WWII training base for the RCAF and the US Army Air Corps. And we were flying the same type of aircraft use for primary training there more than seventy five years ago!
Then I flew to Yuma and back with retired Southwest Airlines captain, Larry Kline. His pristine Mooney Ovation was a treat. I was a Mooney Dealer in Salt Lake City a half-century ago. I LOVE the Mooney airplane for it’s sleekness, strength of design & construction, along with unbeatable economy of operation producing nearly two-hundred mile per hour speeds. The Mooney has always been like that.
But the Mooney Ovation is light years from N-2653W, the 1966 M-20E “Super 21” I had. 53W was fast for it’s 200 HP Lycoming IO-360-A1A power plant. Jack Riley’s first RayJay Turbo-Charger and would scoot along at 250 MPH at 10,000 feet. I did all of the flight test for this after-market addition. I loved that airplane. It had a paint scheme exactly like the one shown below (without the Swiss cross on the upper tail)…
But, Larry’s Ovation with a upfront and personal look I discovered so much more. The Ovation sports a Continental IO-550 engine producing 310 HP. The instrument panel looks more advanced than the Airbus I used to fly with America West and JetBlue. The Garmin 1000 panel along with all the additional accoutrements is literally dazzling. Our mission was to deliver blood platelets to Yuma.
June 26th, 2018
Holy Smokes I’ve gone more than ten days without being gabby! Mostly just sittin’ around watching the thermometer rise!
I have flown some early morning flights and am in the planning stage of our annual Fourth of July Fairmont Princess Resort fly-over. Last year it was an impressive 26 aircraft gaggle. This year there are FIFTY THREE aircraft set to bring the sights and sounds of aviation to those below our flight path. We should be over our target at 5:15 PM the 4th. SMOKE-ON!
Sunday evening, the 24th, Fred & Clede Gorrell were here as guinea pigs! Cheryl has a new handy-dandy pressure cooker. We were all delighted with the results of her ham/bean soup. It was unanimous that Cheryl’s efforts produced a winner! Perhaps she’ll enter it in the Airbase Arizona chili cook-off! Our lovely evening was topped off by the Gorrell’s homemade ice cream! The combination of good friends and good food was unbeatable!
T’day, the 15th of June culminated with a nice dinner with Ed & Mary Ellen Beauvais. Cheryl and I have enjoyed our time t’gether which would please my dear departed sister, MM, a lot. She and Mary Ellen were close friends.
If you haven’t been to Sal’s (a quaint and popular Italian restaurant near Hayden/Osborne in Scottsdale) you will be pleased with the food, service, and ambiance. Thanks Ed & Mary Ellen we certainly n’joyed the evening!
Mary Ellen & Ed at Cheryl’s 65th Birthday (November 2012)
Cheryl and I just experienced a delightful ‘staycation’ at the Fairmont Princess Resort in North Scottsdale. Every 4th of July our bi-plane squadron joins a large gaggle of some 26 airplanes in a coordinated flyover of the resort. The quid pro quo is each pilot receiving a two-night stay with cash credit for meals and other amenities. Nice.
On the 12th we honored the late-great Captain JR Baker. JR, all too young at 67, was just getting adjusted into retirement when he was suddenly felled by a heart attack. JR had been Chief Pilot as well as the MEC Chairman for the America West pilots. Here’s a video of the flyover we performed in his honor: Click on the link below:
I had the high honor of working with Jr at America West Airlines. A GREAT FELLOW! who will never be far from our thoughts…
June 10, 2018 – a beautiful morning spent with squadron-mates, Terry Emig, Roger Parrish, Joe Sottile, and Mike Braegger having breakfast t’gether at Biscuits. It was camaraderie at it’s finest. A couple of the stories could possibly be repeated in mixed company🤣
Former AWA colleague, Captain Tom Sceurman, is an extraordinarily talented photographer. Tom took an already superb photo taken by Airbase Arizona member, Gary Oglesby, and enhanced it.
Gary’s photo Top; Tom’s enhancement Below:
Two very talented fellows, right? The three of us will have lunch t’gether the 12th!
June 6th shoulda been a great day. After all it was my sister Martha Jo’s 75th birthday! But, as it happens all to often, the day ended badly for Ray and Jo Ann.
Read more of this tragedy:
June 1st, 2018! Another beautiful morning for a flight so I went three times! Two were retired US Army pilots going for their first open cockpit bi-plane flights. All three wore huge grins as they deplaned.
Here’s a video of a recent flight showing a gentle wingover or two…
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…
Rick Rigsby – Make An Impact
The wisdom of a third-grade dropout will change your life. – Dr. Rick RigsbyInspired? Get Rick Rigsby's book; Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout: http://amzn.to/2zf5P2xPosted 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!