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Old men: from Lindbergh’s flight to the horrors of World War II

It was not long before draft notices arrived in the mail of all young men. It was not a question of if you would receive one, but of when. Many decided to enlist and hope for the choice of which branch they would serve in, instead of waiting to see where they would be placed. For my brother there was never a question: if he was going to serve, his choice would be as a pilot.

You’ll get in trouble sonny

There were two older ladies eating at a nearby table. As Hugh walked down the stairs and through the gate to the airplane, one of the ladies stood up and called out to Hugh, “Don’t go out there, sonny. You’ll get in trouble.” She had mistaken him for a teenager without authority to be in that area, so was totally startled when he swung up into the belly hatch of the B-17 and briefly appeared in the cockpit.

Test pilot: two lessons learned in Cessnas

The plane started its takeoff roll and went about 200 feet before pitching up and leaving the runway. It was about two feet above the runway when I suddenly found the seat and I were against the rear seats of the plane. The front of my seat was no longer on the seat tracks and had pitched backward as well.

Stabilized approaches: the last six inches is all that counts

There are groups of pilots who seldom use a stabilized approach because the variables of most of their landings make that difficult, and their normal landing is to use a flexible approach with almost everything varying except the final contact with the ground. A stabilized approach is best for normal flying but is a luxury that some pilots don’t have.

Don’t stretch the glide—easier said than done

The wind had seriously increased while we were aloft and on downwind I realized we were too far out when I turned base. I was getting a close-up view of the trees at the end of runway 11. I did two things, one of which was apparently necessary. One was fighting the urge to raise the nose. The other was to continue a conversation with the passenger so our landing would appear normal, not frightening. 

Full of life

The day included close observation of three different types of fighters: P-40s,  P-51s, and P-47s. The pilots gathered to watch their first Thunderbolt land and taxi to the area where all squadron aircraft were parked. The canopy was already open for landing safety, then the pilot shut off the engine, unstrapped the seat belts and parachute harness, then stood up in the cockpit to exit. The pilot’s helmet was removed and long, blonde hair fell to her shoulders.

Engine failure at 150 feet, with a glider in tow

I was towing and we were taking a passenger on a ride. As I recall the ride was a very attractive young lady so there were many volunteers among the commercial pilots, but it was Joni Whitten’s turn and she was not relinquishing that turn. The flight was normal until we were at about 150 feet over the woods at the south end of the runway, when the engine quit.

Go Goodyear—mixing it up with the blimps

When flying in the Akron area in daylight, one would occasionally see one of the slow flying Goodyear blimps. Wingfoot Lake grass airport and hangar, a few miles south of Akron, was the location where Goodyear built the blimps and trained new crews. The blimps appear quite large to most people on the ground but when flying near them they do not seem as large.

Twin Beech omelettes: learning the ropes from a freight dog

It was either the third or fourth day and night of almost continuous flying. Ray and I had taken turns flying while the other slept. This had been working until I recall waking up and realizing Ray was asleep in the left seat. We were flying straight and level and on course—the Beech 18 had no autopilot but was extremely stable in the air. On the ground it wanted to taxi all over the airport.