Saturday, December 29, 2012

800 Mike Echo

Five years ago my New York crash pad roommate, Mike Elliott, started building a Van's Aircraft RV8A.  Mike lives in Olympia, Washington and was commuting to New York as a 767 ER First Officer.  We are relatively close in seniority, and I remember discussing the merits of being a senior First Officer, and having time to build an airplane, vs being a junior Captain, and not having time for anything.  When I checked out on the MD-88 six years ago I was the junior Captain at Delta Air Lines.  I spent a lot of time at the crash pad!  Mike could see that being a junior Captain was not the way to go if he wanted to build an airplane in a timely manner.  Instead of bidding Captain, Mike ordered a RV8 quick build kit from Van's Aircraft.

Two years ago Mike received a transfer to our base in Seattle.  Free from the cross-country commute, he had even more time to work on his airplane.  In April the project moved to the airport.  He wrote that he hoped to be flying by the end of the year.  Two weeks before Christmas Mike sent the following email:

I don’t know if you saw my log yet, I only updated it today. I flew the first flight on 12-12-12! It went smoothly. I have a pretty heavy right wing which I am told is not unusual. I will fly it for a while to break in the engine then sort out what I need to do to fix the heavy wing. I messed up with the video camera (GoPro)* that I had on the first flight, but I took some video cloud surfing yesterday. I will be down for weather for a couple days, I am sitting my last on call day tomorrow, I managed to go nowhere this month. I even did the flight yesterday on Short Call, I know I was taking a chance but I stayed over the airport and I had cell coverage and a uniform and bag packed in the car!! Maybe I will shoot up your way when I am on the east coast in March-April.

I received an update from Mike two days before Christmas.  His said his Flight Advisor suggested putting time on the engine before trying to correct the heavy right wing.  Apparently adding the wheel pants and leg fairings helps with that issue, somewhat.  He hopes to have the airplane painted in February.  A shop in Texas is scheduled to do the work.  Mike also said he had nine hours on the airplane---and the weather looked good for the next four days.  He hoped to fly at least twenty-four hours during that time.  That would leave just seven hours to complete the required forty, and he could then leave the local area.  That is an aggressive schedule!  But I understand.  I know he can't wait to take his bride for a ride in their new baby!

Mike Elliott's Airplane Factory:

*Apparently the Jellystone crew are not the only operators with GoPro "issues."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Father-Daughter Day

Brother Baker called Tuesday evening.  He had a break in training (US Airways A320 School) and was heading down to Jellystone Air Park Wednesday morning to take his oldest daughter, Katie, flying.  Katie just finished her first semester at BYU, and is home for the holidays.  My youngest daughter, Holly, a Senior at NC State University, is also home for the holidays.  Holly and I had planned on flying earlier in the day, but quirky winds forced us to cancel.  I asked Holly if she was up for another attempt.  She said: "Sure, Dad."  I told Joe that Father-Daughter Day was a go, and we would see them in the morning down at Jellystone Air Park.

Holly liked the ride at two thousand feet.

She even documented her stick time!

And snapped a shot of Pop pretending to be an Airbus pilot. . .

Katie and Joe bouncing along at one thousand feet. . .

Was the Mayan Calendar off by two days?  No, just the sun. . .

Joe and Katie with Katie's friend, Maggie. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ned Mac's Latest Verse

Aviator, Photographer, Philosopher, Airport Manager, Chef.  Our good friend Eddie Price is a man of many talents.  I know what you are thinking, Tell us something we don't already know.  Would you believe that prior to becoming the Chief Pilot at Pond Branch Airways, Brother Price was a man of verse.  That is correct; a poet---his pseudonym was/is Ned Mac. 

My first exposure to Ned Mac was in a "Reply to All" email that made the rounds several years ago.  I can't remember what triggered the event---possibly a comment after viewing one of his many photo albums; but I was not surprised.  I could tell he was a man of the arts by the way he titled his email postings.  I particularly like the way he snags a line from a previous post, and then uses it to send the thread in a slightly different direction.  But that's not important right now. . .

Last week Eddie and a few of his Tree Top Flyer buddies flew up to Shelby, North Carolina and had lunch at a Bar-B-Q joint that is located next to the airport.  After viewing the photo log of their trip, I sent Eddie the following email: 
Looks like your trip to Shelby was a good one! Was it bumpy? It was rough in the upper layers Friday! Can't remember when I've had a worse ride. Picked up the Orlando Magic basketball team in MCO and flew them up to CLT. I could see the lights of PBA (at least the general vicinity) on the descent into CLT. Dropped them off at the FBO that Gary and I used to work for. Nobody remembered me. (Sounds like the start of a sad Ned Mac ditty.)  In TPA for the day. Don't leave until 6:30 pm. One leg up to LGA and then we're done.  Have a great day at the center of the universe!

This was his reply:
 When I Thought I Was Special

(Inspired by NSEG’s Experience at the CLT FBO)

Nobody remembered me at the FBO.

That can make a fellow start feeling pretty low.

It wasn’t long ago I was there pumping fuel.

At the time it was my dream job, really a jewel.

Then later I was a pilot and flew all around.

Pay wasn’t that good but adventures did abound.

Flew a plane from Hampton - Varnville in ‘83.

That wasn’t long ago as any dude can see.

How can they not know somebody special like me?

Keep in touch with your past or you might be forgot.

Some things you find important and other things not.

Remember your roots and from where it is you came.

If nobody remembers don’t you feel ashamed.

Ned Mac 12/24/12*
Alias E in PB

*Revised from 12/16/12

Sunday, December 16, 2012



FDC 01/0912 SFO.  12/09/12. 06:00GMT




Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hangin' With The EG

I love small town airports.  One thing I always look forward to when I visit the EG in sunny California is spending time at the Petaluma Municipal Airport.  Even though Petaluma Muni is a little on the fancy side (like much of California) it's still a great place to hang out.  The airport restaurant, the Two Niner Diner, is really top notch.  If you visit sometime (other than mealtime) the observation deck at the terminal building is a relaxing place to shoot the breeze and watch the local North Bay traffic.

My most recent visit to the Left Coast was back in August.  I was there to assist the EG with his Flight Line Safety duties at the 2012 Wings Over Wine Country Air-Show, in Santa Rosa, California.  It was a quick trip; arriving on a Friday morning, and departing the following Tuesday.  The weekend was full of air-show, but Monday afternoon, while we were running errands, the EG decided we should swing by the airport and continue our tradition.

There was just one airplane on the ramp when we arrived.  A King Air 350 out of San Louis Obispo, California.  The two pilots were dozing in the shade of the terminal building---only slightly irritated that a couple of off-duty airline pilots would interrupt their naps.  They warmed up to us, eventually.  After they figured out they could pump us for information about the airlines.  Still; the older of the two---I could tell what he was thinking:  You're an airline pilot.  Why aren't you out on the golf course?  The short answer:  Never learned.  I was always out at the airport!

I guess we had been chatting with the King Air guys for about thirty minutes when this zippy little One Design aerobatic machine taxied up to the self-service fuel pump.  When the pilot climbed out of the cockpit, Duncan said:  "That looks like a friend of mine, John Posson, a classmate from United!"  He gave out a shout:  "Hey John is that you?"  And so it was. . .

Duncan "EG" Flett & John Posson 

John and the EG started New Hire Pilot Training at United Airlines in February 1991.  The EG is now a long time Captain, and Line Check Airman, on the Airbus A320, based in San Francisco.  He is closing in on twenty-two years of service.  Prior to joining UAL, he spent time at Eastern Airlines, and Pan American World Airways.  John came to United by way of Wien Air Alaska, and Hawaiian Airlines.  He retired several years ago, and now earns his keep as a P-51 and L-39 Instructor at Stallion 51, in Kissimmee, Florida.  He is also a member of The Patriots Jet Team.  I guess John doesn't play golf either!

While the EG was passing out "wisdom" to the King Air guys from San Louis Obispo, I had this nagging feeling that I had seen this all before somewhere.  Hard as I tried, I couldn't figure out where.  Later; after downloading the photos to my "EG" file, it came to me---only this time it was in black and white. . .  The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree!

Northeast Airlines Captain Buzz Flett (left) back in the day.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Stormy Weather

The winds were howling at JFK Wednesday afternoon!  When we arrived for our shot at the ILS to runway 4R the ceiling was at 300 feet, and the North wind was gusting to 27 knots.  That was lighter than forecast too!  When we departed Orlando the forecast winds for JFK were 360 @ 30 gusting 45!  The approach lights were also out of service.  I suspect Hurricane Sandy had something to do with that.  We saw the runway at 200 feet.  Did I mention the sideways snow?

Of course my connection home canceled.  Not that it mattered.  I was selected for a random drug test, and would have missed that flight anyway.  My next "best chance" to get home was at 7 pm.

We landed at 2:40 pm.  The visibility at the time was 2 1/2 miles.  By 4 pm the visibility was down to 3/4 mile, and there was two inches of snow on the ground.  By 6 pm there was four inches of snow on the ground---and the 7 pm RJ to CLT was delayed until 8:30 pm.  At 7:45 pm it canceled. 

After that it was the AirTrain (elevated railway) to the E-Train (subway) to walking through six inches of snow to get to the crash pad.  A routine trip. . .  Then I slipped on the sidewalk in front of the Dunkin Donuts shop on Queens Boulevard.  That left a mark!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Some Gave All

Tuesday afternoon in Syracuse, New York the gate agent informed me that the inbound flight, our next airplane, was transporting the remains of a Korean War soldier who was killed in action in 1950. 

Cpl. Elmer Kidd of Seneca Falls, New York died in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea.  His remains were returned to the United States in 1993.  In October DNA tests confirmed his identity.

His 80-year-old sister was there to welcome him home.

Monday, November 5, 2012

GoPro Great Lakes

Brother Baker and I bumped in to Mark Accomazzo Friday afternoon as we were leaving Jellystone Air Park.  He had the GoPro video camera mounted on the Great Lakes and was about to go flying.  A few hours later I received an email from Mark with a couple of photos and this YouTube video link.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Glorious Tuesday Evening

I can't think of a better way to enjoy a glorious fall evening. . .

The view from downwind at York, South Carolina.  The leaves are not quite at peak.  Soon it will turn cold and grey. . .
Brother Barbeau and I weren't the only ones enjoying the great fall weather.  Across the way, Russ Farris was flying his R/C DC-3 with Capitol Airlines markings.
When was the last time you saw anyone roll a DC-3?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Jumpseat Rider

My good friend John Mullis sent the following note: 

Your picture of Brother Baker's ancestor with the license signed by Orville Wright reminded me of something that happened to me at Braniff.   This was in the pre-TSA and pre-FAA intense scrutiny days, so what happened  next would be a serious anomaly today.  A very senior couple came aboard one of my flights and asked if she could come in to the 727 cockpit.  Of course we invited her in and then she asked if her husband could come up because he was a pilot.  Of course again.  He was in his late 80's, a diminutive man no more than 5'7".  He looked around just grinning and we all chatted for a while about his flying years.  He said he still had his license and he proceeded to take it out.  It was very old, kind of fading to brown but intact.  He handed it to me and I couldn't believe what I was seeing...his was signed by Orville Wright, in 1920 something.  The captain asked my why my mouth was hanging open and so I showed him the license.  Ed Leviker was the captain and he told me "John, close the door", which I did.  He then asked the man if he would like to ride in the cockpit with us from Kansas City to Dallas.  The man was so elated he could hardly stand it.  We strapped him in behind Ed, briefed him, and off he went.  Ed was as delighted to have him in the cockpit as the old man was, heck, we all were, and both of them grinned ear to ear all the way to Dallas.  It was a neat experience and I often thought about how good it was that Ed risked his neck to allow the old man to ride with us.  It was one of my most memorable 727 trips....


John is retiring from FedEx this month.  I know his colleagues will miss flying with him.

November 1972, John's first trip to "The Boat."  USS Lexington, Gulf of Mexico, near Pensacola, Florida.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fall Vintage Fly-In


The Carolinas-Virginia Antique Airplane Foundation (EAA Vintage Chapter 3) had it's Fall Vintage Fly-In this past weekend at Woodward Field in Camden, South Carolina.

The Jellystoners were there for the revival!

Brother Baker and I met up with Benny Zimmer and Les Kanna at Unity Airfield early Saturday morning.  Les has a spread on the North side of Unity's 2700 foot grass runway that Brother Baker and I both covet.  Does that make us bad people?  Seriously!  Look at that view!

In keeping with the theme, our three plane caravan to Woodward Field was arranged by vintage.  Les was our pathfinder in the '46 Cessna 140.  I was next in the '47 Luscombe 8A.  Benny and Joe were Tail-end Charley's in the '67 Cessna 150.

For you airline types out there (especially Airbus pilots), this is a chart.  I know it's old school, but that's how we do things at Jellystone Air Park.  This particular chart was a gift of the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission. . .  GAMECOCK 1 MOA, 100' AGL to 6000' MSL. . .  We went anyway!

I keep telling my wife (Nancy) that I know what I'm doing.  She keeps insisting that I call her whenever I reach my destination.  I sent her this "See; I didn't get lost!" picture of Joe and Benny standing in front of Jim Wilson's 1936 Cabin Waco.

Folks in the congregation. . .

Randy Berry, Benny Zimmer, Joe "Big Iron" Baker, and Les Kanna on the ramp at CDN.  Randy is Head Honcho of the Tree Top Flyers - EAA Chapter 1467 out of Gaston Airport (2SC8) just South of Columbia, South Carolina.

Randy has a great looking 1968 Cessna 150 that I forgot to photograph, apparently.  I swiped one from the Tree Top Flyers website.

Eddie Price, Chief Pilot at Pond Branch Airways, was on the scene with his 1950 Cessna 140A.  I found him chatting with Jack Austin.  Jack lives in Florence, South Carolina.  Their Great Great Great Great Granddads may have crossed paths way way way way back when.  Seriously!

Jerry Langley (pictured) and Ed Kale were there with their award winning 1941 Aeronca 65-CA Super Chief.  Jerry and Ed restored this airplane in a warehouse close to Brother Barbeau's UPS Store in the Southend area of Charlotte, North Carolina.  Gary and I would drop by every now and then to check on their progress.  (See photos at the end of this post.)

The '41 Aeronca Super Chief.

The Fleet was in!

A pair of Fleets.  Model 2 & 16.

Stan Sweiker with his Airventure 2012 Silver Age Champion Bronze Lindy 1929 Fleet 2 Biplane.


What kind of chart does one use in a 1929 Fleet Biplane?  Vintage, of course!

Fahlin Propellers, Sunnyvale, California.

Fleet 16 Biplane & the MetLife Blimp.

The other varieties. . .

Tree Top Flyer Don Schmotzer's beautiful 1946 Taylorcraft BC-12D.

Russ Farris was there with the 1957 Cessna 172 that he co-owns with Forrest Walton.

Whoa!  It looks like the fat lady moved to the front of the blimp!

This 1947 Stinson 108 was stunning!

Inside and out! 

You don't see that every day. . .

1971 Champion Champ with a two cylinder Franklin engine.  Red line on the tach was 3200 RPM!

How about a hand crank starter chain for your Fleet 16?  Just insert the handle and crank away. . .

The Benediction. . .

Brother Baker endorsing Benny Zimmer's logbook for a solo flight from CDN to LKR.

Parting shots. . .

Complements of Eddie Price.

Les & Joe in the Cessna.

Yours truly in the Luscombe.

Complements of Randy Berry.

I traded places with Randy for this shot.

Ed & Jerry's 1941 Aeronca Super Chief, November 2008.

Ed Kale with the Mighty 65.

The panel markings were all hand painted! 

A few years later. . .
Roxboro, North Carolina, May 2011.