Every now and then… Blog (when I’m feelin’ gabby)…
November 10, 2019… UPDATE: My letter of resignation from the CAF follows. First, I want to say that I am sad for what was and what could be. However, I am relieved to have removed myself from the cancer caused by the Coates/Campbell/Major connivance!
Apparently, I should have spelled out what Skulduggery and Connivance means and how it applies to the malfeasance ongoing at CAF Headquarters and Airbase Arizona.
Skulduggery by definition: is the underhanded or unscrupulous behavior; trickery by a person of low moral character.
Connivance by definition: is one’s willingness to secretly allow or be involved in wrongdoing, especially an immoral or illegal act.
There is plenty of evidence/examples that both of the aforementioned definitions apply to the President/CEO of the CAF and the Airbase Arizona Leader along with certain members of the elected staff. NOTE: this does not apply to former XO (Russ) or the Financial Officer (Jim).
So far, there’s but a handful of CAF members/former members who have challenged the Skulduggery and Connivance. Too many seem to just accept things, shrug their shoulders and move along…
My letter titled “SKULDUGGERY AND CONNIVANCE” follows:
As the first of the year approaches, I’m looking back at 2019 as a year of disappointments and damn few bright spots.
My greatest frustration is realizing that, for these past many months, I have been swimming up-stream in a river of skulduggery. As discouraging as this has been I’ve remained hopeful that the Headquarters Leadership would recognize the skulduggery going on at Airbase Arizona. Any hope evaporated with the underhanded classless act dealt by Coates to two long serving volunteer members, Gilmore and Newberg. Just prior to the ABAZ election, Coates kicked Alan Ripa out of the CAF. Corruption runs rampant within the CAF.
Alas, it is even worse! While I have, until a few days ago, had the utmost respect for the Headquarters Staff, I now find my respect limited. The president/CEO Hank Coates is undeserving of any respect. His malfeasance, in handling my appeal of expulsion from ABAZ, has been an unbelievable sham. I do not want to deal with him ever again.
Therefore, I want nothing more to do with the CAF organization until, perhaps someday, another Bob Stenevik comes along to put the CAF back on track. I herewith resign.
My own situation pales compared to what the the Coates/Campbell/Major collusion has done to Russ Gilmore and Ed Newberg. The Coates/Campbell/Major connivance is like a page out of Mein Kampf (precedent to the Nazi takeover in 1933 Germany). Gilmore with 23 years of volunteerism, Newberg with 24 years volunteering along with having made a huge investment in museum displays. Many of the aircraft Newberg acquired was at the request of previous Unit Leaders.
You as a HQ Staff and members of the BOD should be ashamed letting something such as this happen. As of now I wash my hands of this once great organization. The CAF has become a festering suppurate place with little to no character shown by those who have been entrusted with leadership. CAF leadership is fraught with corruption!
The latest sickening collusion is Coates having personally prevented the possible election of Alan Ripa. This action is beyond belief. Not qualified? Not allowing the Ripa candidacy? Who is kidding who?
My heart aches for those many wonderful volunteers who have put so much time and effort to the mission. The CAF mission itself has become less than secondary to the subversive “mission” going on behind closed doors. Bob Odegaard must be restless in his grave…
Billy Walker Ex-COL # 35970
NOTE: T’day Coates is here with Jim Lasche to make “an announcement!” I will pass this “can’t be a good thing” announcement to you sometime later today. This “announcement” should happen within the hour. It is now 1505 local time…
October 17, 2019… It’s been a few days since my last posting. Frankly, I’ve been really bummed-out after the totally rotten action by BOTH local and national leadership of the CAF.
Ed Newberg had near a quarter-century as a CAF volunteer at the Arizona wing. At the request of prior local leaderships, Ed made sizable investments in historic aircraft to display in the airbase museum. The onerous current leadership has totally ignored his past dedication and investments ignominiously kicking Ed out of the CAF.
If you know Ed you know him as a good fellow who will do anything he can to help out. His talents are so far reaching it becomes difficult to condense. He flies, he fixes, he orchestrates airplane movements, he sings, plays the guitar and harmonica to everyone’s amazement.
Russ Gilmore had over two decades of service and held several important positions. A GREAT aviator, he was arguably the best Ops Officer in history according to many long-time members. Of late he was the Executive Officer (XO) and had been elected by a very high margin. However, as soon as Russ was elected he was effectively neutered by onerous behind-the-door actions of the Leader, Campbell, and current Ops Officer, Major. I am amazed at his having put up with the abuse he suffered through while seemingly waiting until a change in leadership could come about in the October 27th Election. Russ is a retired American Airlines captain. He is an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner and authorized to administer type ratings in numerous aircraft.
What happened to me pales by comparison to what happened to Ed and Russ. I was expelled by the local leadership but am still a member nationally. I’ll fix that right away. I want nothing to do with an organization who condones a serious lack of forthrightness – especially in those entrusted with leadership roles. The airbase has become a terrible neighbor to others sharing space at Falcon Field. I had hopes that electing a new leader would begin a healthy turn-around. Apparently, that will not happen!
The absolute crap these malfeasants are pulling to manipulate the up-coming election is something totally sickening! I will expound on this after it becomes fact in 10 days…
I’ve learned who my friends are and who aren’t. I’ll miss those of you who feel saddened about this and who’ve offered me emotional support. Thank you!
October 9, 2019… NOT a good day for the CAF nor the Arizona Airbase. Two long-time volunteer members, actually stalwarts, were summarily kicked out of the CAF entirely today. More to follow!
October 7, 2019… I enjoyed a nice lunch with Michael Beale at Durants, a wonderful old steakhouse, on Central Ave, that has been there nearly seven decades. Great food and ambiance made for an excellent choice for a place to visit about old pilots and old airplanes.
Michael, a lawyer, flew with me sometime ago in 964, the magnificent Stearman I restored and sold to the CAF foundation. Michael saw a story I’d written about a college buddy/fraternity brother, Larry Duthie, who’d been shot down and was, we wrongly thought, KIA (Killed In Action).
Michael has loaned me a book “Dead Men Flying” by “Mule” (Mike Mullane) one of Duth’s squadron mates who, later, became a lawyer. Mike & Michael were with the same firm and have remained good friends since.
I feel like I too know “Mule” from all the stories Duth has shared about his Navy experiences and those intrepid Navy aviators he shared combat extremes with…
Also, if you are an Vietnam era aviation historian, check out this link to an absolute TREASURE:
October 5th, 2019… The rumor mill is working fast and furious at ABAZ! Apparently, some of the “leadership” at the airbase are spreading rumors that I have sued the Airbase and the CAF. NOT TRUE! Certainly, the potential is there for that to happen, but I hold on to a slim thread of hope that the wrong-headedness will go away and that our differences might still be resolved.
If you have heard this rumor, please tell the person spouting it that he/she is wrong!
October 2, 2019… Please take a look at this link to Alan Ripa’s website. It tells his story and speaks volumes as to his ability to lead Airbase Arizona back to a happier and neighbor–friendly place:
ABAZ Election is set for 27 OCT!
Below: the late David Voplait with Mac McCauley lost in “Nine-O-Nine’s”crash. Mac had over 7000 hours flying the B-17!
April 22nd, 2019 David was lost in the crash of the Northrup N9MB “flying wing”
NEWS FLASH: B-17 “NINE-O-NINE” CRASH! My long-time flyin’ buddy, Mac McCauley was the pilot (PIC). Great guy, excellent pilot.
His co-pilot, Mike Foster was a highly experienced former Navy Captain and retired Northwest Airlines 747 captain.😢
On a happier note, here’s up to 11 Corsairs in formation recently:
September 30th, 2019… As of t’day I am 18 years old with 60 years experience! Just like the fellow who fell off the 33 story sky scraper. …as he fell past the 21st floor he hollered to a lady on her balcony, “So far – so good!”
No real complaints, it’s been an amazing experience, this life I’ve been blessed with. The good people, I’ve come to know, far outweighing the bad. I’ve had to deal with a few (5) not-so-good folks lately. I’m hopeful that will be a thing of the past by January 1st.
So, if you are not one of those 5 (who know who they are) thank you for your friendship…
September 8th, 2019…
Three days from now we will be seeing remembrances of the horrors of 9/11/2001. Horrors for sure!
Here’s my perspective from that time:
Cheryl & I stopped by to check on N-29XF currently in hangar PP1 at Falcon Field. I had not exercised the airplane for nearly 10 days. So, I pulled this amazing airplane out and ran up the engine. All systems checked out great. Next trip to the airport will have me exercising the duster to remove the remains of a recent dust storm. If I was just 20 years younger this would be MY airplane! It’s YOUR’s – just a phone call away!
August 27th… We had an absolutely wonderful time with our nephew Kurt Garbin (my sister MJ’s oldest) at his stunningly beautiful mountain ranch near Steamboat. Lots of wildlife abound with deer, elk, bear, mountain lion, bobcats, and some marmots that he is trying to discourage. Kurt has HD motion camera’s so, day or night, he never misses a visitor!
Talk about difficult leaving serenity… Kurt is one of Caterpillar’s best salesmen. Below: why we limit our visits to Kurt’s to summer weather…
This afternoon we rolled into Red Cliff Inn on the Colorado River NE of Moab. We have stayed here many times. Something about this place keeps drawing us back.
Below: Sunrise August 28th – taken from Suite 204 Red Cliff Lodge, Utah a few miles up the Colorado River from Moab. Serene comes to mind…
Tomorrow we’ll head for Ahwatukee (perhaps one more stop given it’s an 8 hour drive!) If all goes well for the next 497 miles we will remember this as a really delightful trip resplendent with enjoyable people, scenery, and weather. 👌
August 24th... Lotsa fun sharing stories with the few surviving classmates from the Class of ’59. 7 were expected (out of the 15 classmates). 6 showed up with Merle Oxford (Ft. Collins, CO) having to cancel. We gathered at Post 54 American Legion last evening. Later, 5 of us plus our support group went to the Firewater for a nice dinner. T’nite we meet at the historic Wolf Hotel.
Thanks to Clyde Thrasher and Donna Mae Nordin for their efforts setting up this epic event. Jody Wilson Saba and Phil, Kenny and son, Jordan, Caroline Henderson Browning, have n’joyed the opportunity to catch up with a sixty year look-back!
Classmate Kenny Carpenter has written several books with one now being made into a movie. KUDOS Ken!
During the day t’day, Teense & Sandy Willford took us on a lovely driving trip to the magnificent Brush Creek Ranch, Medicine Bow Lodge, by 10 Mile Inn and past my folks Cedar Creek Ranch at the foot of Old Baldy mountain.
T’morrow, we’ll depart for a scenic drive over the Sierra Madre’s to Steamboat Springs for a visit with nephew Kurt Garbin at his mountain chalet. This trip has been GREAT so far! We’ve seen a lot of animal life on this trip. Deer, antelope, one cub black bear, and we hope an elk or two and, perhaps, a moose will be seen on t’morrows drive as we depart the Platte Valley.
Dawn McBride joined us. She’s the late-great Kendall McBride’s widow. We remembered well our departed class mates, Norm Perue, Marilyn O’Toole, John Verplanke and Kendall. Norm was lost in the crash of a Grumman Wigeon off the Alaskan coast. Marilyn lost her battle with cancer. John apparently suffered a heart attack while operating a tractor. Gone all too soon!
August 22, 2019… Cheryl and I arrived in Saratoga, Wyoming at noon t’day for my 60th Class Reunion of the Platte Valley High School “Panthers!”
I felt it important to attend. After all I was such a strong part of the academia having graduated 13th in my class! OK OK! So there were just 15 in my class…
Coincidentally, there will be about 15 attending our two-day event. Seven surviving class members along with spouses and significant others. In my case, my immediate supervisor…
On the way, we spent a night with Charlie and Patricia Trantham in their beautiful home near Durango, CO. BOY HOWDY did we eat well and nearly as well went the visitin’! Lotsa catchin’ up in a short time.
Charlie and I flew t’gether at Good Ol’ Frontier Airlines. There’s a great story about Charlie and me flyin’ a series of trips t’gether. Charlie, his guitar, and great voice singing as we flew across the “Highline” our route from Great Falls, Montana to Minot, North Dakota and back.
Often we were empty, no passengers and, on occasion, no cargo. In those instances, Charlie would connect a microphone to his guitar and then play and sing into the intercom. It was deeeeelightful! Absolutely!
I remember Charlie playing and singing “Raindrops Are Falling…” The theme song in the Paul Newman/Robert Redford movie “Buch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.” We were on the first day of a three-day trip.
Charlie finished his rendition. Then his said, “Who was that that sang THAT song in the movie?” I could not, for the life of me, remember. Nor could Sir Charles!
At the end of our trip we both commuted back to Denver on the FAL 727. Still, neither of could remember the artist who sang that song! We went to the DEN crew room to take care of the paperwork before heading to the crew parking lot.
Just before we climbed into our respective vehicle and head for home, Charlie said, “I don’t care if it is in the middle of the night, if you remember who sang it, call me!”
Cheryl and I were soundly sleeping at 3AM the following morning when the phone rang. I groggily answered. All I heard was “BJ Thomas!” before the phone went dead!
Here it is nearly forty years later and I still remember who sang that song and I remember Charlie. He made it a pleasure flying the “Highline!”
Tomorrow we’ll meet life-long friends Teense & Sandy Willford for breakfast before the 10 O’Clock Coffee Gathering at the Saratoga Inn.
Below is the co-owner of the O.P. restaurant in Craig, CO. We absolutely vote this place #1 for service, food, and ambiance! Gotta admire the political statement on her t-shirt!
Below: The plaque on the huge bridge spanning across the Platte River. Even the street (Pic Pike Road) in front of the Saratoga Inn Resort is named for my father! His, Mom’s and my sister, MM’s, ashes were scattered there. I could actually feel their presence at t’day’s visit!
My dad, Pic Walker, moved this bridge intact some 18 miles from Cow Creek to it’s present moorings to link the 1st and 9th holes with the rest of his beautiful golf course. …the FIRST all-grass golf course in Wyoming! This was back in 1956 when I was 14 and in the way of this mammoth project…
Boy Howdy has the Saratoga school system changed since the Walker kids went there! Really nice facilities, along with a beautiful football field, are mind blowing to my 1959 recollections! Compared to Frank Schilt’s hayfield it wouldn’t hurt nearly as bad getting knocked around on the blue grass at PVHS now! Below: The sign in front of the high school with Mt. Baldy in the background.
August 14, 2019… I met with my legal team t’day. As most of you are aware, I’ve been expelled from Airbase Arizona. Unfortunately, the CAF’s CEO, Hank Coates, upheld my expulsion. However, in his letter, he based his decision on things attributed to me that I know nothing of! This thing is likely to go “Western” before it is resolved! My attorney(s) include the former Arizona State Attorney General, John A. LaSota, Jr. and Tim LaSota a renowned attorney with some notable legal successes to his credits.
This case is easily termed “bizarre!” Back in March of this year, I had an issue with the current Airbase Leader’s lack of forthrightness. I challenged him on that and announced that I was going on a sabbatical until he was no longer the Leader. Out of spite he “expelled” me.
I appealed to the President/CEO of the Commemorative Air Force. Col. Coates upheld my expulsion but he based it on things attributed to me that I know nothing about. I was accused of making vulgar statements and other unsavory comments that I never made. I feel very fortunate to have an extraordinarily talented legal team to help me deal with this unpleasant issue.
I greatly miss the camaraderie with fellow volunteer members at the airbase. I miss flying the magnificent old Stearman that I restored and sold to the Airpower Heritage Flying Museum (CAF). Hopefully, the elections in October will rid the airbase with the destructive influences presently in control. As General McArthur said, “I shall return!”
August 10, 2019… T’day is Fearless Fred Gorrell’s 78th Birthday! Fred is a pilot with the Arizona Stearman Squadron and all-round Good Fellow!
Sadly, today we celebrate the life of Margaret Pogue (80) who lost her battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Margaret was a special friend to Cheryl and me. We’ll miss her.
August 9, 2019… Check out the nifty Waco UPF-7 for sale on my “Aircraft and Parts For Sale” page. Someone will get an amazingly well restored 1940 bi-plane! Below: WACO N-29926 with N-29XF a Curtis F11C-2 ‘lookalike’ over Firebird Lake, Arizona.
August 1, 2019… I thought you might n’joy an e-mail exchange with some aviation extraordinaries I happen to know:
Thanks for sharing that amazing story ‘Shadow’! (Shadow is a legendary Marine Grunt-turned-fighter pilot)…
See Shadow’s story below in black type…
BTW — I’m still a round engine guy. I fly N-29XF albeit am tryin’ to sell it for a buddy, Larry Dustman. It very closely replicates the Curtis F11C-2 “Goshawk.” It’s fuel injected R1340 has it off the ground at half-throttle and screaming skyward at full throttle. It’s an absolute joy to fly!
17 or 18 years ago, I flew “Puff the Magic Dragon” for 2 1/2 years doin’ airshows around the country. We discovered, after-the-fact, it had been “That’s All Brother,” the lead ship in the Normandy Invasion! Life’s full of missed opportunities! The CAF rescued this venerable ol’ bird, restored it, and recently flew it to France for the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day!
My buddy, Captain Larry Perkins, restored an old C-47 with “Puff” in mind from his USA stint in Vietnam. He wanted to honor those who flew it, and honor those Puff, often heroically, flew to protect those dark lonely nights over the jungles of SE Asia. We saw many a tear shed by former “Puff” vets on board for a very nostalgic flight in skies devoid of anti-aircraft fire! Those 2 1/2 years with Larry & Puff were memorable!
In ’71-’72 I was based outta Pochentong Airbase Cambodia. As I recall, there was just one AC-47 gunship based at PNH albeit it sported 3 .50 Cal guns. So, instead of the long red tendrils of flame, (tracers) unbroken, you’d see dashed red lines moving thru the night as the .50 Cal tracers reached out from the plane to the ground below… seconds later you’d hear this deep… guttural sound similar to an air conditioning compressor failing. This venerable ol’ airplane along with the occasional AC-119 and AC-130 was our night entertainment as we watched from the roof of our villa (Toulecourt(sp) located at the NW section of Phnom Penh). We became expert at discerning the difference between “Incoming and Outgoing!”
The airwar in Cambodia was run by LTC Mark Berent. Mark was on his third tour in SE Asia. F-100s then F-4s where he became “Poppa Wolf” Commander of the Fast FACs.
AMAZING! A LTC doing a 3 Star’s job! You will likely recall that Nixon and Kissinger were telling the world that there were no American’s in Cambodia! So, Mark, as the US Embassy USAF Air Attaché, had this duty dumped in his lap. He grabbed up the challenge and did extraordinary well. He saved my sorry butt twice! After the war Mark wrote 5 books that became required reading at the USAFA and the War College. www.markberent.com. Mark’s books are fact-based novels. Just the names changed to protect the not-so-innocent… Page turners ALL!
Back to “PUFF” — Larry had Dillon Precision (KSDL) build 4 (one spare) 7.62 replica mini-guns of which 3 pointed out the aft windows and doorway. Larry installed a dozen B-747 seats up front for riders. We’d open the top escape hatch and delight in the long-haired girls visiting the cockpit where their hair went vertical! A few baseball caps departed the airplane too!
I had begun my airline career with Frontier Airlines in 1967. The DC-3 was my first airplane there. Like most who flew Her I loved that old “Goon!” Even though we’d need to wear slickers backwards flyin’ thru the rain! It was an airplane most of it’s pilots revered. DANG! I’d sure love to turn the clock back…
From: Roy Stafford
Subject: Round engines saved the night…
Date: July 31, 2019 at 9:55:03 PM EDT
You were a round engine guy… here’s a little story from my Grunt days. Fast movers aren’t always the best choice.
A little background to this… About 12 years ago… one of my Grunt Buds reached out to me. He was my first Company Commander. In an email he asked about one of our Lieutenants who was killed after he’d left to return to the States. He asked me because I was on the same patrol when we got ambushed and Hartley was killed… happened right in front of me. Well he distributed it to others and one night our phone rang and my wife answered and this voice says… “Mrs. Stafford, you don’t know me… but on the longest night of my life… the voice I kept hearing was your husbands… is he there”? Dan (my former C.O.) had given him my phone number. His name was Don Cuneo. What he was referring to was what happened a couple of days after Hartley was killed. We’d moved back to Dong Ha from Cam Lo and left behind a small force to guard what remained of a 105 battery until the last guns could be removed. They also were in the process of breaking down the camp and only had one row of concertina wire left around the perimeter. They were due to join us in a couple of days. Well, the night in question, all hell broke loose. When my wife told me what Don’s opening words were… I. Used it to describe that night. By the way, I recently shared a book with “The Bear” on Heime Aderholt who had a hand in creating “Spooky”… a book we should all read. I found his thoughts and philosophy mirrored my own…. Maybe “The Bear” will give us some comments on his thoughts about it.
CUNEO’S LONGEST NIGHT
Before I start… I was wrong about Hartley’s first name… It was Bill (I knew that)… I just screwed up, but at least I suspected I was screwing up… That’s why the disclaimer.
Two days after the ill-fated patrol… The 105 Battery at Cam Lo was being re-located. As was normal, when we moved out of a place, everything was being broken down, waste and debris buried… wire was being rolled up, etc. The 105 cannons were being helo lifted out as I recall… some may, have been towed.
On the day in question… I believe there were only three 105’s still there, after the last lift. Alpha had removed much of the wire surrounding the perimeter and I believe in most places there was only one strand of concertina in place. We had a section of 81MM mortars out there with them. I think the mess tent was still up, but a lot of others were pulled down in anticipation of moving the next day or so. Thank God the Command bunker was still up and functioning.
As the sun went down, it had been a day like so many others… Much busy work, no contact with the enemy. I’m sure the Company was still thinking about Hartley’s and the others deaths. It takes a while to get such a loss out of your system… You don’t show it overtly… or even talk about it much…. But the thoughts are still there.
As routine as the day had been…. This was to be a night… unlike any other.
I’m gonna use times, based on a thirty some year memory… I don’t have any official logs or any other data to go by… So don’t harangue me if I’m off an hour or two.
I believe it was around 0130 or so, that I received the call that Cam Lo was being hit. Looking to the southwest, we could see the flares from the mortars. In the distance we could also hear the rattle of heavy automatic weapons fire and explosions… Occasionally, we could see tracers ricocheting in the air… It was immediately obvious, that this was not an ordinary probe and mortar attack… like we’d become used to.
I came up on the radio as Permission 6… this was to let everyone know that the Battalion Commander was up on the net. I had rigged my PRC-25 with a speaker when in the rear, so Westerman could hear what was going on as soon as I did.
In the bunker at Cam Lo was Don Cuneo and one other radio operator… There may have been another… I’m not sure. For the life of me I’ve wracked my brain and can’t remember the other RO’s name. I apologize to him for leaving him out.
Their initial reports were startling… The perimeter had been breached and the bad guys were running all over the place.
What we able to glean… in bits and pieces (These guys were running the company net too and were incredibly busy)… was that the attack had started as a mortar barrage. Then sappers, under the cover of their own mortars, came into the wire to blow it up and provide lanes of access. They concentrated on the automatic weapons and machine gun positions. I can’t remember what officer was in the bunker… if there was one… But Cuneo and the other RO were up to their asses in alligators.
Things were getting worse by the minute and they asked for all the help we could give. Westerman… to his credit… asked Regiment for permission to mount a relief column on 6X’s right away. Regiment nixed the idea… fearing an ambush of such a relief in the dark. As horrible as it sounds… Alpha would be on its’ own.
I kept talking to them and trying to assure them that we were doing everything we could… That we’d be coming as soon as possible. We then got word that our mortar guys had burnt up 2 tubes already. They were practically vertical… as I remember… and they would fire two rounds of HE, then one of illum… as fast as they could.
About 45 minutes after the attack started, we got the first good news. The Regimental FAC discovered that an AC-47 Gunship, call sign “Spooky”… was operating not far from Cam Lo and had requested he be moved over to support Alpha. He got approval and help was on the way. I called Don and told him “Spooky” was on the way.
“Spooky” was an old military version of the DC-3… Some genius (I mean that in a good way) had come up with the idea to mount several 7.62 mini-guns (A modern version of the Gatling Gun) on one side of the plane and it would go into a low orbit around a point on the ground and lay down a withering amount of fire. They also carried a prodigious amount of flares. It was the one weapon… that was probably conceived for just such an occasion.
No one… who has ever witnessed one of these aircraft in action at night… will ever forget it… It was not just a visual feast… but the noise assaulted your senses as well… As long red tendrils of flame (tracers) unbroken… reached out from the plane to the ground below… seconds later you’d hear this deep… guttural… brrrrruup, brrrrruup… brrrrrrrruuup… as thousands of rounds of 7.62 went through the Gatlings. The sight and sound were of another world… it was like a hose of fire. And that sound…. It is like no other I’ve ever heard. No wonder it would later become affectionately known by the grunts as… “Puff… the Magic Dragon”.
It was surely an ancient, fire-breathing dragon of mythical proportions… breathing hell fire …on the enemy down below
This next part, once again, I’m relating something I got from a conversation over 35 years ago. So bear with me if I’m a little off.
If I recall correctly, Don Cuneo was the primary FAC radioman… He was used to talking to aircraft. He and the other RO were juggling two different radio nets and trying to keep up with what was going on around them. “Spooky” presented an additional problem… They couldn’t communicate with him from inside the bunker. Now I don’t know whether this was because their outside antenna was destroyed… or not hooked up… or that the sand bags just interrupted their signal… Regardless one of them had to go out into the maelstrom.
I keep thinking… in my mind… that they flipped to see who was going out (That may be legend… but I also think I remember them using something like a C-Ration lid for a coin). What ever… Don got the nod… Probably because he was the FAC RO. What happened next would make a great action movie scene.
The bunker had the typical “L” shaped entry. Cuneo crawls out and sits with his back against the bunker, radio and pistol between his legs, next to the entrance. He gets “Spooky” on the radio and starts directing flares and suppression fire around the perimeter… based on information being yelled back and forth from those inside the bunker. Shit is flying everywhere… By this time, Alpha had been completely over-run.
In the middle of all this, Don is sitting there… when this NVA with an AK-47 comes running around the bunker and stops… about two feet from Don, he’s right next to him. (I’m sure at this point… Don’s heart probably went up into his throat) At the same instant GySgt Weinbar comes running around the other side of the bunker with his M-14 about 15 feet from Don. (Weinbar was a real character, red headed with a handle bar mustache at the time, very well liked by all) Evidently, neither Weinbar or the NVA had noticed Cuneo sitting there… But they had seen each other…
Don was about to be witness to a modern version, of the shoot out at the OK Corral… Weinbar reacts immediately and raises his M-14 and fires an entire magazine (20 rounds) at the NVA, who was standing next to Don. The NVA almost simultaneously, fires his 30 round magazine… at Weinbar… Both of them completely missed at point blank range… In the twilight of the flares they’re staring at each other in disbelief… When Cuneo reaches out and shoots the NVA from about a foot away.
Weinbar nods, reloads and goes off looking for more infiltrators. I’m sure I’ve left out a nuance or two… but again, I’m trying to re-construct a conversation from long ago. The next morning I remember seeing one of the dead NVA near the bunker and he was wrapped in TNT charges… I wondered if this was the guy Don shot, but I never asked
him. But if he was… I’ve often wondered if the whole belt would have gone off if Don had hit the TNT.
The fight raged on until just before dawn, when the NVA finally withdrew… Because of the valiant efforts of Don Cuneo, his fellow RO’s and a whole host of Alpha’s grunts… who kept their heads and wits about them… when it appeared their world was coming to an end… They prevailed in the end.
I hate body counts… But in this case it should be noted… When we arrived there just after dawn… Over 87, enemy dead lay within Alpha’s perimeter… Only God knows… how many lay in the area around them… cut down by “Spooky”. Three Marines died that night, one of them possibly by our own folks because of the way he was dressed… (Shorts and T-shirt with no helmet.) Two of the Marines were from the 105 battery… A sapper had dropped a satchel charge into their foxhole.
In front of one of the machine guns laid 12 bodies, between the gun and the wire… less than 10 feet away. Another group lay on the wire itself. There were other scenes similar to this, all around the perimeter. This was in close, savage fighting.
Alpha requited themselves for Hartley’s death two days before… against an overwhelming force. One lone company of Marines… against a Regiment of NVA Regulars. As far as I’m concerned… They were hero’s all.
A short note about the NVA… Through documents we were able to prove this was part of the same outfit, which had ambushed us two days before. One of the NVA dead was carrying a wooden rifle… just a silhouette of the real thing. We were told this was in punishment for having lost his real rifle… and that to make up for it… he had to participate in the assault and capture a real weapon to replace the one he lost. There were a lot of weapons captured here… far more than normal. Virtually all the weapons were brand-new… some still had preservative on them.
Many of the sappers had blocks of TNT… each was wrapped in oil paper and tied with bamboo in an intricate pattern… They could run along and pull one from their belt and it armed the fuse as they pulled it away. They dropped them in foxholes and tents all over the compound… One can conjure up visions of Jim Brown in the Dirty Dozen… running along and dropping grenades in pipes. Except this time, it was the bad guys doing it.
I’d also like to comment about the mindset of those of us who were watching and listening… from miles away… and helpless to do anything… other than to stay calm, re- assure and try to think of any and everything we could to help. It is an agonizing, frustrating experience.
In reality, we did what little we could… But these men prevailed because they were warriors… They had the mettle, the courage and the will to see it through. I have often joked about the fact that on the longest night of Cuneo’s life…. The voice he kept hearing… was mine… I thank God it was not the last…
I’m still proud of you… Marine. More later… Shadow
I finally met Captain Trig Johnson. We grabbed a ‘shroom n’ Swiss burger at The Monestary at Falcon Field. You might imagine the tales that we swapped yesterday as July 2019 was closed out.
Trig wrote a real page turner “THE BAD GUYS ARE WINNING” written with a style and knowledge of someone who’s paid his dues in aviation. I recommend it. The stories are mostly true and lived by the author. He’s changed names to protect the not so innocent.
July 25th, 2019… I met Captain Ron Nielson in 1978. Ron flew as my co-pilot at the greatest little airline the world has ever known, Frontier Airlines.
Ron was/is an excellent pilot with extraordinary people skills. Soon he’d be a captain and we would later cross paths post-Frontier when we were both with America West Airlines.
Somewhere along the way he developed a GREAT program to help folks assuage the fear of flying.
Be sure to check Ron’s website:
July 15th, 2019… We arrived home safe yesterday afternoon 3,666 miles of road travel later. We are getting settled before our next launch next month.
“Black Dan” Lt. Gen. Walter Druen USAF, Ret.
July 9th, 2019… Cheryl and I are traveling we departed Ahwatukee June 21st and expect to return in another few days or so… Please tune in around the 15th. I’ll update with photos then. So far, it’s been a pleasant and very interesting journey…
June 12, 2019… As with my last output herein, I’ve been away a spell. I could claim all kinds of excuses. Lazy comes to mind! …and, I have been to too many funerals! Also, my bladder decided to become afflicted with a malignant tumor.
Good news! Dr. Dyer successfully surgically removed a thumb-sized tumor then to punish me additionally, he had me hooked up to a catheter for 10 days. Trust me that interferes with any wild animal sex!
My pal, “Fearless” Fred Gorrell, has it tougher! This past Saturday he and Clede were enjoying a movie when he broke out with chills followed by abdominal pain. So, they returned home where it all worsened. Quickly, Clede had Fred at the John C. Lincoln Emergency Room. In a nano-second he was experiencing emergency surgery for an “exploded abscess” in his colon.
Hopefully, Fred’ll be OK, but he’ll be challenged for a while. Presently, he has three bags to drag. One, a temporary bag for the surgical drainage, another, a colostomy bag, and a catheter. Oh joy! Eventually, he should be all fixed and back to normal and back in the cockpit!
Fred & Clede are such great friends. We truly n’joy sharing time with them. Fred certified me in the hot air balloon and I flew a number of flights for his company Unicorn Balloon Co. We’ve flown a number of airplanes together and flown in formation as well. Fred is an important part of our Arizona Stearman Squadron.
964 would not have turned out as magnificent as it did were it not for Fred!
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)…