Monday, May 28, 2012

Liberator Landing

Saturday evening, shortly after block-in at DCA, I received a text message from Brother Baker.  He said the CAF Liberator that was visiting the Carolina's Aviation Museum had landed nose gear-up on Runway 36 Right at CLT! 

That was news!  I knew that Dad had been out at the museum earlier, and was scheduled to ride in the B-29 (also visiting) if the last two seats didn't sell.  Unfortunately for him, that flight cancelled.  I wondered if he might have worked his way on to the B-24 instead.

I replied to Joe that I hoped Pops wasn't on board. . .  Mom would have a cow!

Later, Brother Baker sent the following:

So we went to the Carolina's Aviation Museum today.  The CAF had their B-29, B-24, and a P-51 there.  All giving rides!  I watched the 24 from the parking lot at Sam's earlier today.  Looked like a lot of fun.  But the 400 price tag was a tad steep for me. . .    And at 1100 bucks for the Mustang?  Nah.

I dragged Colin and a friend out to the place, found Bob's dad, who works there as a docent, and watched the B-24 crank up and take off, with about a dozen lucky (and 400 dollars poorer) folks on board.  Bob's dad was on duty, so we went and poked around in the F-4 cockpit and around the "Miracle-On-The-Hudson" Airbus, and in about half an hour went out to watch the B-24 land.

We heard folks say it had done a fly-by and wondered how much extra they paid for that, but it was getting hot, and we were getting hungry.  Well, Colin was getting hungry.  You know about me and talking to folks about airplanes!

On the way out, we meet the folks who purchased the B-24 ride.  It was clearly them, since they had a large "B-24 Diamond Lil" lanyard around their necks and the ticket large and in charge hanging on their chests!  But they were coming in from the road side!  I thought that a little odd, but figured maybe they had some sort of VIP entrance somewhere.  They DID look excited!  I figured they had a good ride.  One of them even thanked me for the ride!  Me!?  What did I do?  I was only holding the door, on our way to Dairy Queen for dinner!

So in the middle of my DQ Blizzard, I get a text and a phone call from a buddy I just flew with (we watched the B-24 come in and land last night.)  He is flying today (poor sap) and sent me this image.  Turns out 36R was out of commission for a while today.  Don't know if the gear didn't come down, or it collapsed on the runway.

No confidence in the news tonight either!  Watch, we'll hear about a "crash landing" of a military plane.

Thanks to Chad, for this image.

Seems like Charlotte is a large black hole for old airplanes.  First the DC-7, now the B-24.  



Chad also sent a picture of "Diamond Lil" after she was removed from the runway.

Here is a shot of Pop Cottom with the B-29:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Father-Son Day at Jellystone Air Park

Tuesday afternoon I took Number One Son, Miles, for a ride in 43 Bravo.  It was his first flight in a vintage airplane.  What a great afternoon!  He got to hold the brakes while Pops turned the prop, fly a little, land on grass, and even managed to return the sick sack to the glove box unused.  If either one of us had remembered to bring any money, he might have enjoyed an ice cold strawberry smoothie from the Bush-N-Vine Produce Stand, at York, South Carolina.  I know; poor planning on my part.

Below are a few photos from Miles' point of view.  Enjoy!

Jellystone Air Park

43 Bravo, sitting pretty.

Checking the oil in the Mighty 85!

Turning final at York, South Carolina.

Reflections. . .

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Few Ounces Lighter

I was chatting with Brother Baker yesterday afternoon.  He was filling me in on the goings-on at the Vintage Fly-In last weekend at Roxboro, North Carolina.  Towards the end of the conversation he said:  "You don't happen to know where Gary found the cushion that is in the front seat of the Hatz, do you?"

Well folks; one of the things I have learned about Brother Baker over the years:  When he leads with a question; there is usually a story to follow.  "I think it came with the airplane.  Why do you ask?"  "Well, I guess I owe him one. . .  Coming back from Les' place (Unity Airfield, northeast of Lancaster, South Carolina) last Thursday, I decided to try some aerobatics.  I lost the cushion in the middle of a roll.  You know how when you push the stick forward to keep the nose above the horizon. . .  It flew out then---hit me on the side of my head as it went by." 

After I stopped laughing, I told him that Gary said he flew the airplane Sunday afternoon.  He didn't mention anything about missing a seat cushion, so I guess he didn't notice.  He did say he got to pattern altitude faster than normal though! 

Joe "Barrel Roll" Baker

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Captain's Suite

I have to admit I was a little bummed when I signed in for my trip Wednesday morning at JFK.  The four day rotation would prevent me from attending this year's Carolinas-Virginia Antique Airplane Foundation Spring Fly-In, at Roxboro, North Carolina.  I tried to swap for a different trip; one that would at least give me Saturday off, so I could attend the Fly-In, but luck had forsaken me---so I thought.

Actually, the rotation is pretty nice.  Four days, two legs a day (Florida turns), and two of the three layovers are in midtown Manhattan, at the Roosevelt Hotel on Madison Avenue.  It's a nice hotel---far and away the best that I have ever stayed at in New York City.  But "nice" is a relative term.  In the airline world, a "nice" hotel room is usually located right next to the ice machine, or across the hall from the elevator with the extra loud bell.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to room 1108 Thursday afternoon and discovered an honest to goodness two room, two bath, GIANT suite!

I fired off an email to the Brethren that said:

 You know how we all kind of joke, "Ah yes, this must be the Captain's Suite" when we pick up our room keys at the front desk?  Well today at the Roosevelt Hotel it was no joke!  The bedroom and sitting room are both larger than the living room at Casa la Cottom!  Now I know this is standard stuff for you UAL and FedEx guys, but the dudes from Dixie just don't see this sort of thing!  I'm living large tonight Brethren!  Too bad I have to get up so early tomorrow; I could party like Bernie Madoff in this joint!

"View from the Captain's Suite"

Today I received a reply from John Mullis:

Like the T-shirt says, Bob:  Life is Good!

In my entire career, this has happened only twice. . .  Once in Boston at the Copley Square Westin, and I swear the room was 2000 square feet.  Magnificent view of the city was only the half of it.  The other time was in Paris at the Concorde LaFayette.  Top floor, 3 bedroom, 3 bath suite, looking east at all the great landmarks.

We all share your good fortune and your excitement!

The EG also replied:

Oh, I'm sorry my friend, but we need to see some part of the room.  You just can't leave us hanging like this.

Sorry Duncan, I could not get a picture that would do the room justice.  This one will have to suffice.

"Baron Von Cottom"