Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Produce Run

I called The Great Barbeau yesterday afternoon to see if he could come out and play.  He answered with:  "I just checked the AWOS down at UZA.  It says the winds are variable at five. . .  I wonder if the smoothie machine is up and running at the Bush-N-Vine?"

When the weather is nice, biplane owners are easily persuaded.  As you can see in the photo above, yesterday was a busy day at the UPS Store.  Just a minor detail for Gary.  He was waiting in the parking lot when I arrived.  I wonder sometimes, if Gary's employees dread my phone calls.  They know that when I appear, there is a good chance Gary will be gone for the rest of the day.  It happens a lot.

For those of you who are unfamiliar; the Bush-N-Vine Produce Stand sits on the northwest corner of a picturesque grass airfield on the west side of a peach orchard in York, South Carolina.  It is a fifteen minute Hatz flight west of Jellystone Air Park, and a favored destination of the Jellystoners, especially during the summer, when the smoothie machine is cranking out ice cold strawberry, peach, or apple cider smoothies!  Since spring came early this year, the folks at the Bush-N-Vine have been picking strawberries since the second week of March---good news for a couple of thirsty pilots.  As you would expect, strawberry was the flavor of the day.  Gary had a small (Yvonne says he is the gayest straight man she has ever met) and I had a large.  We also picked up a gallon bucket of strawberries, and a dinner's worth of green beans and potatoes---about what will comfortably fit in the rather limited cargo compartment.

When we walked into the produce stand we were greeted by Sam Hall, who works in Marketing and Sales for the Bush-N-Vine.  He said they are holding their annual Strawberry Festival next month on April 28th (the week after the flour bombing competition at Pond Branch Airfield), and wondered if the Red Biplane would be available to do "loop-d-loops" for the crowds.  Then as an afterthought he asked:  "Do you guys know how to do "loop-d-loops?"  Gary's reply was:  "On purpose?"  The gal working the smoothie machine thought that was funny.  Gary doesn't know if he will be available that weekend.  My experience with "loop-d-loops" is fairly limited (except for landings) so I think I will defer to Brother Baker on this one.  I have Sam's number for you Joe.

Monday, March 26, 2012

March Photo Ops

Greetings Brethren!

Three of my four trips scheduled for March are in the logbook.  Here are a few photos.


MD-90 on the ramp in Tampa, Florida.

I know this because it was parked in the right spot.

I like to get the walk around on the First Officer's legs. 

Rain or shine. . .

Shine is better! 

This building is across the street from the hotel in downtown Miami.

Thumbnail Moon, March 23rd, Flight 1911, ATL-DFW.  The lights on the left side horizon are from Jackson, Mississippi.

 Future prize heifer, perhaps?

The Mighty Mississippi!

Me and my shadow. . .

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Meet the Skipper!


The gentleman in the front seat of the Hatz is Brother Brad Wigren.  His Oath to the Brethren was duly sworn---in the sky's above Jellystone Air Park on Sunday, March 11, 2012.  You can listen to his acceptance speech in the video below:

Brad and Gary first met when they were aviation cadets at Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Yeah, that was back in the day. . .  When Gary and I were flying for the FBO in Charlotte, North Carolina, "DC-6 Brad" was hauling conch in DC-6s for Turks Air, in Miami, Florida.  We were so jealous!  Of course we never really stopped to ponder how an old DC-6 full of 30,000 pounds of seafood smelled in the South Florida heat---DC-6s were cool!  Then in January 1986, when Gary was flying a King Air for Winn-Dixie Stores, and I was a new hire Flight Engineer at Eastern Airlines, Brad got the call from Northwest Airlines.  Since then he's been known as:  "Northwest Brad", or "DC-10 Brad", or "757 Brad", and since the Northwest-Delta merger, "ER Brad".  (ER is short for 767-300 Extended Range in Delta's world.)

Brother Wigren wears many hats.  He is also an expert motorcyclist (I'm assuming, since he's still alive), and more importantly; an outstanding sailor.  In fact, since 2008 he's skippered both of the BVI sailing adventures that Brother Barbeau and I (and our significant others) have enjoyed!  So with that in mind, I say:  Welcome to the Brethren, Skipper!  May you enjoy the pleasures of Jellystone Air Park henceforth.

DC-6s are still cool!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

ebay Treasure

My wife thinks I need an ebay intervention.  Not just me; she thinks Brother Hogan could use one as well!  I disagree---but I'm an addict, so what do I know?  My latest ebay "treasure" is a copy of Legacy of Wings, The Harold F. Pitcairn Story, by Frank Kingston Smith, published in 1981.  Winning bid, $4.99!

My curiosity with Pitcairn Aviation started when I was a new hire Flight Engineer at Eastern Airlines.  Prior to my employment; my knowledge of the history of "The Great Silver Fleet" was pretty slim.  I knew that Eddie Rickenbacker had once run the airline, but that was about it.  Learning the relationship between Eastern Airlines and Pitcairn Aviation came later; after I read a copy of From the Captain to the Colonel, written by Robert J. Serling (Rod's brother), that I purchased at the company store in Atlanta, Georgia.  I learned that Eastern Airlines started out as Pitcairn Aviation, flying the U. S. Mail at night, in PA-5 Mailwing biplanes between New York City and Atlanta, Georgia.  Pretty neat stuff!  I've been hooked on Mailwings ever since.

Of course Pitcairn is probably more famous for his line of Autogiros.  He used the proceeds from the sale of the mail run to fund autogiro research and production.  I was never much of a autogiro fan until I saw one at Oshkosh a few years back.  It was quite impressive; I'm a big fan now!

When I started applying to the airlines back in 1983, the majority of pilot applicants had military backgrounds.  The airlines loved those types.  If you were a civilian trained pilot, you were at a disadvantage.  To have a shot, you needed the "scoop" on how to get an interview---and what to say if you actually got one!  The Future Aviation Professionals of America (FAPA) provided this information (with updates) for about $125.00 a year.  One of FAPA's suggestions was to research the history of the airline you were applying with.  Time spent in the library would translate into a better interview, so they wrote. . .

I didn't do any of that.  My best friend, Joe Mullis, worked as a part time Reservation Agent for Eastern Airlines.  When it was time to send in my application, I gave it to Joe.  He then stuffed it in a company mail envelope, and shipped it right to the desk of Woody Montgomery, the Director of Pilot Employment for Eastern Airlines, Inc., in sunny Miami, Florida.  So Brethren; the next time someone says:  "It's not who you know, but what you know."  Tell them you know a guy with a different point of view!

For more photos of Pitcairn Autogiros: