Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ray Hill's Last Battle

To the flying friends of Ray Hill:

Some of you are aware that Ray has been fighting cancer for some time. His fight is nearly over. Becky and I visited him tonight, and he is in extreme pain and very weak. Hospice has been helping him now for a little over a week. Both he and Dorothy are at Park Center in Newton, Iowa.

One must be very close and quiet to hear Ray speak. But, tonight I showed him pictures of the Smiling Thru hangar restoration, and he seemed to perk up a little. He was wearing a T-shirt from the fly-in in Brodhead, Wisconsin. His flying friends mean a lot to him.

As many of you know, Ray was one of the first Marines to hit the beach in five major campaigns in the Pacific during WWII. He survived some of the worst battles in Marine history--without a scratch. But he is losing this battle. Please pray that his family will be comforted. Pray, too, for Ray.

Update 7/1/07: Ray passed away on June 30, 2007.

I have been asked by the family to organize a fly-over of the grave side services. If you would be willing to participate please call me (641.792.9764) or e-mail me asap. Any and all airplanes, owned, rented or borrowed, would be welcome. The more the better. It will be our tribute to a man that helped so many of us in so many ways. He is a great American and a great friend.

Please pass this information on to others.

Jim Jones

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Administration Attacks GA--Again

Think you dodged the big bullet from FAA user fees? Well, the Administration's Anti-G.A. Department of Homeland Insecurity is determined to ground General Aviation and has the money (yours) and muscle to implement its next phase of Operation Freedom Removal. Below are exerts from today's NY Times (© NY Times, June 16, 2007; complete text at: )

NY Times ©: "WASHINGTON, June 15 — Acknowledging that the nation remains too vulnerable to terrorist attack by small planes and recreational boats, the Department of Homeland Security is considering new requirements to allow authorities to identify operators and passengers in millions of these vehicles as they ply the coasts and skies..."

If you, pilot and airplane owner, were unaware of this looming threat from J-3 Cubs terrorizing tall buildings--the tops of which are beyond my Aeronca Champ's service ceiling--read on: "...The threat posed by small planes and boats has been well documented." (Really? Where? and by Whom?) "While the United States is spending billions of dollars to screen cargo containers carried by ships, as well as passengers and baggage on commercial planes, a small private jet could be used to fly a weapon, or a team of terrorists, into the country.
The first set of new rules, to be announced by the end of this summer, will most likely be for small planes...."

Not just small jets, which as we all know are owned and operated by terrorists, but all "small planes."

Afraid yet? This Administration is built on fear of the unreal, so read on until you, the pilot, are very, very afraid: "...Under another proposal, general aviation airports, which range from a grass runway in the middle of a field to sprawling complexes with air traffic rivaling that at some major city airports, would have to conduct security assessments, identifying vulnerabilities. In addition, planes parked at those airports might be required to have ignition or propeller locks.
Kip Hawley, assistant secretary of the Transportation Security Administration, said two goals of the new initiative could provoke at least some protests (Ya think? ed. note): ensuring that unauthorized pilots cannot gain access to small planes and that officials have a way of knowing who is at the controls of a plane in flight."

Let's pause the tape right there. This Administration can't control the airplanes that are filed IFR with any efficiency, so how do these political (non-pilot) wizards plan to control all air traffic? Oh, yeah, by locking the propellers. Okay, that's clear. Please, read on:

"...A variety of options are under consideration to meet these goals, including requiring that small planes eventually have equipment that would allow the authorities to know automatically the plane’s owner and the pilot’s identity."

Don't we already have a system that does that? N-numbers, pilot certificates, registration...

But, wait, there's more: "(Bush appointee), Michael Chertoff, secretary of homeland security, said his department would not be shy about making new demands.
“If we just need to be a little tougher,” Mr. Chertoff said, “we’re going to be a little tougher.”

Certainly happy to hear that an unelected official is not shy about locking up my 1946 Aeronca Champ on its grass runway in Iowa to aid in the chase for Osama bin the way, how's that security operation going? Any sign of the Saudi billionaire terrorist yet? I'll check inside my hangar....

"First, the TSA came for the airline pilots, I ignored it, because it didn't affect me, a small-airplane owner. When they came for the corporate, charter and turbine pilots, I, again, ignored them, because it didn't affect me. Then--they came for me, and there was no one left to help." *

Call to Action: Forget fear! Contact your elected reps. They may be useless political hacks, but they're your hacks, you pay 'em, and they do bow to political pressure. Here's a link:

And contact AOPA and the Antique Airplane Association, because they don't cave to anyone.

--Paul Berge, AOPA member since 1977, Antique Airplane Association Lifetime member, former FAA employee, pilot, voter.

* With compliments to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"Miss T," a Lady In Distress

"Miss T" ©
by Dick Summer

I call her Miss T…and she was hit by an SUV last night…and she’s badly hurt. Miss T.’s full name is painted on her tail…N2203T. Miss T. is my little airplane. I was tucking her back into her bed the other night, when the SUV came roaring around the corner of the hangar and ploughed into her.
It happened fast…like bad stuff usually does... (For the full story Go to: )


Thursday, June 7, 2007

In A World…©

In A World…©

By Kevin Garrison

Palm fronds are waving in the light warm breeze as we sat around the bar table and began our layover happy hour. Today’s destination happens to be the Hooters ® in Fort Lauderdale and the layover is one of the nice ones – got in at noon and we don’t have to saddle up until 10am tomorrow.
Another special treat is ours to enjoy. Three of our flight attendants-- all females to boot--have joined Fred and me even though we had picked what might have been a dicey selection of a place to eat. Either they were bored, or… No, they must have been bored. There is no other plausible explanation.

Er… so? See any good movies lately?

So, there we are, sitting. Our third or fourth pitcher of beer is traveling through various nephrons in our kidneys and will soon arrive in a flood at our respective bladders. The hot wings hadn’t arrived yet and the usual sexual double entendre’ guy talk that Fred and I would normally engage in at a place like Hooters ® was off the list of things to talk about because of the presence of the aforementioned flight attendants. What to talk about using our newfound alcoholic buzz?
Tracy, the blond soccer mom/flight attendant on my left broke the ice and brought up a great subject for mixed but jovial company: Summer Movies.
She had spent two or so hours of that very afternoon watching the new Shrek movie. About two minutes were spent updating us on what that particular ogre was up to and then the conversation lagged. It wasn’t because there weren’t a lot of summer movies to talk about. We just hadn’t seen them yet.
It was Fred who thought up a subject to discuss in between slurps of beer, smacking our lips at hot sauce laced chicken wings, and dabs of paper towels on burning lips. “What kind of movies,” asked Fred, “would they all be if they were airline or flying related?” I know that isn’t exactly discussing the nature of the universe, or bitching about how poorly our airlines continue to do financially, but like I said, we were at Happy Hour, not the United Nations Starbucks.

Muggles and magic make movie money

Sally, the single brunette on my right, came up with the first summer movie title. “I’d like to see Harry Potter and the Flight to Phoenix,” she said. It could all start with Harry at the airport in Newark. He could have all his crap on this wheeled suitcase carrier and the movie could open with him running his cart full force into a concrete pillar in the terminal expecting to go through a magic door to a train station. He runs right into the pillar and gets a concussion and a badly broken nose.
Once Harry figures that he has to get to his boarding school like thousand of other kids, he boards a beat-up MD-88 for his flight to Phoenix. All sorts of almost magical stuff happens to him. There are gross frogs, bugs, disheveled passengers, ghosts, weird smells and greenish gasses coming out of the airplane’s lavs.
The pilots are odd looking and do strange things in the cabin only to disappear behind a “forbidden cockpit door”. The movie ends when Harry finally gets to Phoenix only to be picked up as a security threat by the TSA because his owl looks Middle Eastern. They send him on another plane, which will lead to the next sequel: Harry Potter and the Flight to Gitmo.

Kevin hopes Captain Jack has a Maybelline® endorsement

There was a short, appreciative silence interrupted only with beer slurps until Fred spoke up with his movie idea: Air Pirates of the Caribbean.
This movie would open with 767 Captain Jack Aero in a Holiday Inn Express ® bathroom during a layover putting on his eye makeup before he dons his uniform to begin his flying day. Fred could see a replay of that great scene from the first movie when Jack Sparrow rode his ship up to the dock as it was sinking and stepped off right as the last part dropped beneath the surface. In our movie, Aero would step off of a 767 seconds before billowing smoke comes out of the forward entry door.
The plot of Air Pirates would revolve around dead airlines that keep showing up at various ramps. You know, TWA DC-9s, Braniff 727s and the occasional People Express 737 would all limp to landings while covered in cobwebs and deregulation dreams. The bad guy in this story would be an eye-patched Frank Lorenzo look alike called “Davie Jones Ichann.” Fred and the rest of the table had no idea how this ends much like the producers of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

You can’t go wrong with penguins ®

Kerry, the third girl who I haven’t mentioned yet brought up a movie concept none of us had thought of yet. “We have to get penguins in there somewhere,” she said. “Flying penguins would be okay, but it has been overdone. I think maybe we should have penguin mechanics or maybe penguin flight attendants.”
I had to jump in here because I had a real vision of the movie. If we pitched this to Hollywood we could all retire on our back-end money. What we need are penguin mechanics running a maintenance base in the Antarctic. They spend their off time dancing, surfing, singing Elvis tunes and other cute penguin stuff. The pilots would, of course, be seals, the flight attendants would be played by cute sea lions and the senior momma on every flight would be a sea cow (I got a frown from Kerry on that comment). Airline management would be played by scheming humans with harpoons and bad intent. The plot would be Islands in the Sun combined with Alien blended in with Walking Tall.
I was pretty excited while I was pitching my movie idea and hadn’t even gotten to the surfing penguins armed with Uzis scene when Sally quietly moved my beer mug out of my reach.
Another tray of wings along with yet another pitcher showed up and after only a short while, Fred and I were able to avert our gaze from our server’s uniform top (remember, eye contact!) and were able to focus on Tracy’s idea.

The Horror

She was thinking along the lines of a film noir--a black and white, sepia, artsy-fartsy film. “When you think about it,” she said, “every summer movie season requires a classic horror film. You know, a real heart-thumper that leads to all sorts of huggy-bear activity, resulting in a baby boom come the following February.”
Fred said, “You act like you speak from experience.” Tracy only nodded and jumped right back in with her movie title.
“The title of the film,” she said, “will be, I Know Where You Ate Last Layover.” The whole thing takes place in a grimy Pancake Hut on the outskirts of the layover hotel in Buffalo, New York. It is the only eating place open, it is very late at night and it’s Christmas, making it the only place for our young frightened flight attendants to eat. Creepy stuff happens. Strange noises come out of the kitchen. Just what was in that sausage that came with the waffles?
One by one, the flight attendants disappear under very scary circumstances. The bad guy is a short order cook who used to have a nice job working with an airline caterer before all the cutbacks. He blames flight attendants for his ill fortune and will appear in all the future sequels.
By now we were too far into the game of pitching bad summer movie ideas to bring it to a halt. We were surrounded with the bare bones remains of hundreds of chickens. Millions of hops had given their grain based lives to kill our brain cells. Even the novelty of trying to read and correct the spelling of the server’s tattoos was getting old.
Because of this weariness, I have no idea who came up with the Transformers ® movie slant for aviation, but I do remember that it was about an Airbus that could transform into a battling robot who defended our planet from some Japanese looking robot that could transform into a Mitsubishi Kate bomber. It was clearly getting to be time to head back to the motel for a few hours of pointless television watching and an early bedtime.

Kevin leaves the bar with a sour taste

I had almost made a clean getaway when Fred remembered that I hadn’t contributed a movie title or story concept yet. Everybody demanded that I come up with something before we all left and if their bladders were in the same shape mine was after all that beer, I knew I didn’t have much time.
“Come on,” they all said. “You have to come up with a really great title, or we won’t let you leave.”
I’ve had a lot of ideas but can only remember a few and they are pretty obscure. We could re-write the comedy Knocked Up to describe the airline industry by replacing only one word.
Or we could we could rename the upcoming Fantastic Four Silver Surfer movie and use it to describe a three-hour sit-around in a hub airport terminal. We could call it: Fantastic Bore Slouching Sleeper. Using the title Delta Farce would be too easy and we wouldn’t need to change it. The only problem and unrealistic thing about that title is that it might make money.


Captain Kevin Garrison ® (ret) can be found on AVWeb as the "CEO of the Cockpit" as well as on the TSA (Transportation Speakers' Association®--See link at left) speaker circuit, updating Jepp® binders for beer.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Once Upon A Jetstar

“Once Upon A Jetstar” © by Gary V. Plomp

Personal Memories of Lockheed's Four-engine Bizjet

In the late 1960s and early 70s Continental Telephone had a sizable aviation department with many turbine-powered aircraft. The flagship was a Lockheed dash 8 "Jetstar" four-engined jet (four JT-12s), based at Meadows Field, Bakersfield, California . It often flew between its headquarters there and Watsonville Municipal Airport (WVI).

It was quite a sight--and, I must add, sound--to watch that turbojet-powered Jetstar land and takeoff on Watsonville’s 4,500-foot runway. Often its veteran pilot would deploy the thrust reversers just before touchdown.

I recall one cold and overcast morning when the Jetstar roared through Chittenten Pass between Hollister and Watsonville, ducking beneath the scud at, I'd estimate, 300 feet AGL. I personally witnessed this.
The Jetstar’s ADF was, I suspect, homed in on the KOMY unpublished radio fix to runway 19. That was our unofficial instrument approach at Watsonville way back then.

Later, the pilot told me that the Jetstar had once been on a trip to Europe from the East Coast when they ran into unexpected headwinds on the flight over the pond and fuel became a problem. The long-range jet had become a shorter-range jet and near the coast one of the four engines flamed out. On final approach another engine quit and on rollout the other two died. about pucker factor. Needless to say, the airplane was towed to the corporate ramp and I am sure the crew seats needed cleaning.

That’s how I remember it.

Bio: Gary V. Plomp is an aviation artist and historian living in the Bay Area.