Monday, March 25, 2013

Joe Gill's Logbook

Page One of Air Cadet Joe Gill's Logbook.

My father stopped by Saturday afternoon with a copy of Joe Gill's flight log from World War II.  I wrote about Joe's visit to the Carolinas Aviation Museum earlier this month in a post titled:  63 Missions.  The original log is kept in a safe deposit box, but Mr. Gill graciously provides a copy for those who are interested.  It was a fascinating read!

Dorr Field, Arcadia, Florida.

November 25, 1942

Started Primary Flight Training in PT-17 Stearman biplanes at Dorr Field in Southwest Florida.

December 14, 1942

First solo!  Total Flight Time:  9:41.

January 19, 1943

Primary Flight Training complete.  Total Flight Time:  60 hours.

Vultee BT-13 Valiant trainers.

March 29, 1943

Completed Basic Flight Training in the Vultee BT-13 at Shaw Field in Sumter, South Carolina.  Total Flight Time:  136:25.

May 22, 1943

First flight in a Curtiss P-40.

North American T-6 Texan.  Photo by Eddie Price.

May 27, 1943

Completed Advanced Flight Training in the North American T-6 Texan at Spence Field, Georgia.  Total Flight Time:  214 hours.

Bell P-39 Airacobra.

June 21, 1943

First flight in a Bell P-39 Airacobra at Venice, Florida.  Joe logged 126 hours in the P-39.

Curtiss P-40.

December 29, 1943

Flying P-40s out of Punta Gorda, in Southwest Florida.


April 26, 1944

While still based at Punta Gorda, Florida, Joe had to bail out of his P-40 when the engine caught fire near Mayo, Florida.

June 14, 1944

First flight in the North American P-51 Mustang at Key Field in Meridian, Mississippi.

August 8, 1944

Last flight stateside prior to European deployment.  Total Flight Time:  662 hours.

North American F-6 D.

September 8, 1944

Three months after D-Day, Joe was in Versailles, France flying a North American F-6D, the photo reconnaissance version of the P-51D Mustang.  Eight days later he was in Charleroi, Belgium.

September 16, 1944

First Combat Reconnaissance Mission in the F-6D.

Still understating. . .

Joe flew sixty-two combat reconnaissance missions while stationed in Belgium; most were out of Charleroi.  Six months later he was flying in Germany.

March 29, 1945

First mission from German soil, Gemund, Germany.

Final entries from Germany.

May 10, 1945

Final Combat Reconnaissance Mission (82nd), Eschwege, Germany.  (I see I short changed Joe by 19 missions in my first post.)

May 19, 1945

Last flight in the F-6D, Eschwege, Germany.

Current map of Germany, Eschwege marked.

Joe finished the war with 849:28 in his logbook.  The first entry was on November 25, 1942.  The last entry was on May 19, 1945.  Thirty months, total.  In addition to the airplanes already listed, he logged time in a Cessna UC-78 Bobcat, and a Douglass A-24 Banshee.  I had to look that one up---the A-24 is the Army Air Force version of the SBD Dauntless dive bomber.  Joe flew the Banshee at Punta Gorda, two days after his P-40 bail-out.  He logged four additional hours, in a Piper Cub, after the war.  His last flight as a pilot was in 1946.

1st Lt. Joe Gill, February 27, 2013, Carolinas Aviation Museum, Charlotte, NC.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Saint Patrick's Day Greetings

Saint Patrick's Day Greetings from Orlando, Florida---a place that used to be orange, but is now "green" with tourist dollars.  I wonder sometimes:  In the last thirty years, just how much of that green have I delivered to the Central Florida economy?  I dropped my first passenger on the steps of fantasy land in 1983.  Back then there were plenty of orange groves to view on the arrival routes in to Orlando International Airport.  One is hard pressed to find any now.  I know the mouse pays the bills; but I liked orange better.


This picture of Orlando Air Lines' Cessna T-50 Bamboo Bomber hangs on the wall of a restaurant on International Drive.  Don't you know this was a hot and bumpy ride in the summertime!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Major Award!

Pop Cottom received the 2012 Floyd S. Wilson Award at the Carolinas Aviation Museum Volunteer Appreciation Dinner Friday evening.

Way to go Pop!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wright Flyer Sim

Brother Baker demoed his Wright Flyer Simulator to EAA Chapter 961 at KUZA last night.  His presentation was outstanding!  As was expected, he used a lot of BIG words.  I'm still looking them up. . .


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Thanks Singapore!

When we pushed back from the gate in Minneapolis, the visibility at San Francisco International Airport was 1/4 mile in fog.  The forecast for our scheduled 11:40 AM arrival was scattered clouds and six miles visibility; a typical morning in San Francisco.  I told my First Officer they would probably be shooting visual approaches by the time we got there; most likely the FMS Bridge Visual to 28R.  As it turned out, I was being optimistic.  One hour out of San Francisco, Salt Lake Center asked if we were Category III capable.  When we checked in with Oakland Center, the controller asked: "Delta 2305, what's the lowest RVR (Runway Visual Range) that you can accept?"  We told him we needed 600 RVR---and then set ourselves up for a Category III ILS (auto-land) approach to runway 28R.  We also checked to see that the weather at our alternate (Sacramento) was holding steady at clear and better than ten miles visibility.  You know; just in case. . .

When Oakland Center handed us off to Norcal Approach, the SFO ATIS was broadcasting 100' scattered, 1/2 mile visibility, and calm winds.  Since the visibility was improving, I briefly considered "bugging" for a standard ILS.  Then Southwest Airlines checked in on the frequency and was told to expect to hold for Oakland.  I decided it was probably a good idea to just fly what we had briefed.  The ATIS was calling it "scattered," but from our position we could see that San Francisco Bay was completely covered with fog, maybe three hundred feet thick, from the touchdown zone of Runway 28R, all the way to the Oakland Hills!

Norcal Approach had us join the localizer just outside of DUMBA.  Before handing us off to SFO Tower, the controller told us to look for a Singapore 777 that was joining the localizer six miles in front of us.  It was easy to spot.  Triple-sevens tend to stand out---even at six miles!  "San Francisco Tower, Delta 2305 is with you for Two-Eight Right."  "Roger Delta, maintain 170 to AXMUL, you're six miles in trail of a heavy triple-seven, caution wake turbulence, cleared to land Two-Eight Right, touchdown zone RVR is better than 6000."

We were pretty heavy.  In fact, our MD-90 was just under it's max landing weight of 142,000 pounds.  To hold 170 knots on the glideslope we had the flaps set at 23 degrees, the maximum prior to extending the landing gear, and still the jet wanted to accelerate. We were gaining on the triple-seven; but only slightly.  It would probably be touching down when we crossed AXMUL, so our spacing was still good.

Crossing AXMUL, I called:  "Gear down, flaps 40 on the green, landing checklist."  I set the airspeed bug to our final approach speed, and watched for the triple-seven to disappear in the fog.  It didn't.  Moments later it's nose was pointed skyward on a missed approach---climbing like crazy!  About what you would expect from a jet that is light on fuel, and has over 100,000 pounds of thrust on each engine!  After a brief delay, Singapore called the missed approach.  SFO Tower told them to fly runway heading, and climb to 4,000 feet. . .

As we were descending through 1000 feet, United Airlines checked in on the frequency---asking why Singapore had gone around.  The controller replied that there was a layer of clouds 100' above the touchdown zone, and several airplanes had gone around in the past thirty minutes.  Along about here I was thinking:  With 50' bugged on the radar altimeter for the Category III approach, we'll probably be under the layer.  The triple-seven is a BIG airplane---and the flight deck sits pretty high. . .  Maybe it's time for the little guy to shine!  Passing through 300' the fog began to clear.  Seriously!  It started with swirls on both sides of the runway that spread to the center line---a valley in the fog for us to fly through---we were in the clear all the way to touchdown!  As we exited the runway, the First Officer said:  "I guess that guy's wake, and the heat from his engines, cleared that stuff out.  Thanks Singapore!"

Flight 2305, Gate 42, San Francisco International Airport.
In the hotel lobby, one hour later, another crew from Big D was checking in.  The captain asked:  "Where did you guys come in from?"  I replied:  "Minneapolis."  "Were you guys on 2305?"  "Yes."  The first officer had a weird look on his face:  "And you made it in?"  Now it was my turn to have a weird look on my face:  "Yeah, why do you ask?  Did you guys divert?"  The captain replied:  "No, we're San Jose guys.  We followed you out of Minneapolis, but we heard they weren't getting in to San Francisco."  I laughed, and then told them about Singapore.  The San Jose captain smiled and said:  "The mighty triple-seven had to go around; but the lowly MD-90 made it in!  Well done!"

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

63 Missions

The Tuskegee Airmen Red Tails Exhibit was at the Carolinas Aviation Museum February 26th through March 2nd.  Unfortunately, due to an engine change, the Red Tail P-51 Mustang was unable to attend.

In it's place was the spectacular P-51D, Swamp Fox, owned by Robert Dickson of Concord, North Carolina.

Even more spectacular; Air Corps pilot, Joe Gill, reunited with a P-51D Mustang---the same model that carried him on 63 combat missions over Germany during WWII.

Bob Cottom, Sr., Joe Gill, & Herbert Gill (Joe's brother.)