Thursday, November 26, 2015

Three More From Tom Kalina

Racing Abeam the Terminator, by Tom Kalina

Behold!  Racing Abeam the Terminator, by aviation artist, Tom Kalina.  This stunning rendition of a Delta Air Lines Convair 880 is one of three new Tom Kalina art prints on the wall at Casa la Cottom.  Here's what Tom has to say about the painting:

"The all-white painted Convair 880 races along the rising night sky.  Catching the last few minutes of sunlight, the plane is bathed in peach colored light.  The dividing line between day and night is known as the terminator.  At higher altitudes, this line of contrasting illumination can be quite vivid and pure in color."

I absolutely love this painting.  Tom has captured perfectly my favorite time of the day when I am at work.  When you are at cruise in the flight levels, the last few minutes of sunlight are quiet times on the flight deck.  The workload is usually low.  Conversations wane as the sun dips below the horizon.  This is the time I think about all that I hold dear:  My family; my friends; my colleagues---my extraordinary good fortune to be able to view "the dividing line between day and night."

The Terminator, Flight Level 320.
Calling all Super Connie fans!

Path of Experience, by Tom Kalina

Are you a fan of the Lockheed Constellation?  If so, then Tom's your guy.  He has three offerings to choose from:  An Air France L 1649A Super Starliner; a TWA L 1049G "Super G" with tip tanks; and Path of Experience, the Eastern Air Lines "Super G" shown above.

Let's not forget the DC-3.

Summer of My Youth, by Tom Kalina

A boy, his dog, and an Ozark Airlines DC-3.  What more could you ask for?  Summer of My Youth is my wife's personal favorite; and for good reason.  There is a tremendous amount of depth in this painting.

Nancy and I had a chance to visit with Tom and his lovely wife, Bonnie, at the Airliners International Convention at the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia this past June.  We chatted for a couple of hours.  It was fun to hear the story behind each painting, and Tom's ideas about future projects.  (I'm saving space on the wall for a Pan Am offering, hopefully.) When he's not painting, Tom can be found circling the globe in a Falcon 900---not too shabby, for a day job!

Sikorsky S-38/Falcon 900 Pilot-Aviation Artist, Tom Kalina, and Your's Truly at the 2015 Airliners International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

To see more of Tom's work, and to listen to the theme song to The High and the Mighty, check out; you'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Wings Over Wine Country 2015

After a two year hiatus from flight line safety duties at the Wings Over Wine Country Airshow in Santa Rosa, California the EG, my good friend, Duncan Flett, known throughout the world as the Exotic Guy, decided it was time to reengage.  Duncan was the flight line safety head-honcho for the airshow back in 2012.  I was his volunteer sidekick.  The EG called in December:  "Come on out to left coast and help with the airshow, again.  Anita (Exotic Wife) says to bring your wife this time."

Non Rev Adventures:

In 2012 the airshow was held in August, the height of the summer travel season.  Flights to San Francisco were full.  I would say overbooked, but the word is frowned upon in the airline business.  We had one shot:  A six AM flight out of Charlotte, North Carolina connecting with the only flight in Atlanta, Georgia that had seats available for non rev passengers.  Our connection was tight; forty-five minutes.  Any hiccups; we were toast. When it was time to board the flight the gate agent said there was one empty seat.  If I would be willing to sit on the flight deck jump seat, my wife could have the open seat. Before I could reply, the captain appeared in the jet-way door.  "Hold off on boarding, we have a maintenance issue."  We were so close. . .  Ninety minuets later we were having breakfast at a Cracker Barrel close to the airport---and I was making plans to jump seat on a non-stop US Airways flight to San Francisco the following morning.  This time I'd be flying solo.

This year it was an entirely different story.  The airshow was scheduled for the fourth weekend in September, and there were plenty of seats available for non rev travel.  I decided to bypass Atlanta, and booked our connection through Detroit.  Charlotte-Detroit was a low hassle affair; smooth and on time.  When it was time to board our Boeing 737-900 flight to San Francisco the gate agent said we had a choice of two seats in the last row of the airplane, or a couple of seats with extra legroom in the Delta Comfort section behind First Class.  I asked if the Delta Comfort seats were together.  She said: "No; a middle seat at 10B, and the window seat diagonally behind it at 11A."

When it comes to riding the airlines, my wife is a nervous flyer.  I'm not sure why.  My armchair psychologist diagnosis is this is a "control issue."  I say this because General Aviation airplanes don't seem to bother her.  For example, she loves to ride in Brother Barbeau's Hatz biplane.  Whatever the reason, her anxiety level is much lower if she can hold my hand during takeoff and landing when we fly in the big jets.  So a decision had to be made:  My wife's piece of mind; or a four hour flight with extra legroom.  It was a no-brainer, really.  I said:  "We'll take the seats with the extra legroom."

Feeling slightly guilty as we walked down the jet-way, I decided to be a nice guy and give my wife the window seat at 11A.  I could suffer a middle seat for four hours. . .  When I got to row 10 there was a middle age woman seated in 10C, the aisle seat.  She had a scowl on her face and was clutching a wooden cane.  I could relate to the scowl.  Seat 10C on a 737 is not the place to be during boarding.  The center aisle narrows at the first class bulkhead---knees take a beating from carry-on luggage as passengers transition into the coach cabin. . .  Over by the window, in seat 10A, sat a frazzled looking gal with a spilled cup of coffee on the floor by her right foot---I saw it go over as she fussed with a stack of magazines in the seat-back pocket in front of her.  I thought, Uh-oh, this one's a whack-job!  Once again, a decision had to be made: My wife's piece of mind; or a four hour flight sandwiched between Scowlface and Whack-job!  Another no-brainer.  I pointed at seat 10B, and said to my wife:  "That one's yours.  Good luck, baby!"

Detroit-San Francisco was another low hassle affair.  Well, it was if you had the window seat at 11A.  Up in 10B, it was a different story.  A couple of hours into the flight Whack-job set out to retrieve an item that was stored in a bag in the overhead bin---right next to 10C's wooden cane.  When the bin was opened, the cane's hook caught on you know who's bag. . .   Then, in the best Three Stooges fashion, the cane swung down and conked my wife on the side of her head.  She never saw it coming!  Of course I laughed. It could have been me!

Wings:  Scenes From The Airshow, Sunday September 27, 2015.

Warbird Flight Line early Sunday morning.  Five P-51's, a P-40, a Yak, and a couple of hot air balloons in the background.

I've always liked the P-40.

P-51D, Lady Alice.

The EG got to sit in Lady Alice.  He was all smiles for the rest of the day.

Hawker Sea Fury.

Sea Fury fly-by. . .

VIP tent next to the flight line.

Some of the crowd. . .

A Great Lakes Biplane from Livermore, California.

Vicky Benzing's Stearman.

Check out the co-pilot in the front cockpit.

Frank "Dr. D" Donnelly's Tumbling T-Cart.  This was a great act!

Something you don't see every day. . .  MiG-15 from the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California.

Headliner for this year's show:  The Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

Canadair CT-114 Tutor.

Nine CT-114's in tight formation. . .

The Jets were definitely back!

A most impressive performance!

No fancy flight suit for this P-51 pilot.  A pair of shorts and a t-shirt was the uniform of choice for the guy flying the Jelly Belly P-51D, SPARKY.

The Flight Line Safety Head-Honcho. . .

Pacific Coast Air Museum

Wine Country:

Vineyard near Healdsburg, California.  As you can tell, they could use a little rain in Northern California.

Sculpture on the grounds at Wilson Winery.

Vineyard below the winery. . .

. . . a view of the valley.

On the grounds at Lambert Bridge Winery.

Lunch at the Bear Republic Cafe in Healdsburg, California, September 28, 2015.  The EG, his lovely bride, Anita, my lovely bride, Nancy (with a goose egg on the right side of her head,) and Your's Truly.