Pilot tales.
#41
The "Bad Angel" WWII Story
>
> An interesting story.


> We were in Hanger #4 of the Pima Air and Space Museum to view the beautifully restored B-29, when I happened to take notice of a P-51 Mustang near the big bomber.  Its name?  "Bad Angel”

> 1[Image: Bad-Angel-01-502x360.jpg]

> I was admiring its aerodynamic lines and recalled enough history to know that until the Mustangs came into service, the skies over the Pacific Ocean were dominated by Japanese Zeros.

> Then something very strange caught my eye.  Proudly displayed on the fuselage of “Bad Angel” were the markings of the pilot's kills: seven Nazis; one Italian; one Japanese AND ONE AMERICAN.  Huh? "Bad Angel" shot down an American airplane?
>
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>
> Kill marks on "Bad Angel”

> Was it a terrible mistake?  Couldn’t be.  If it had been an unfortunate misjudgment, certainly the pilot would not have displayed the American flag.  I knew there had to be a good story here.  Fortunately for us, one of the Museum's many fine docents was on hand to tell it.

> In 1942, the United States needed pilots for its war planes lots of war planes; lots of pilots.  Lt. Louis Curdes was one.  When he was 22 years old, he graduated flight training school and was shipped off to the Mediterranean to fight Nazis in the air over Southern Europe.
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> 3[Image: images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTAht1Mc0arPO-D-hYfWNz...wQQsgT6Biw]
>
> Lt. Louis Curdes

> He arrived at his 82nd Fighter Group, 95th Fighter Squadron in April 1943 and was assigned a P-38 Lightning.  Ten days later he shot down three German Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighters.  A few weeks later, he downed two more German Bf -109's.  In less than a month of combat, Louis was an Ace.

> During the next three months, Louis shot down an Italian Mc.202 fighter and two more Messerschmitt's before his luck ran out.  A German fighter shot down his plane on August 27,  1943 over Salerno, Italy.

> Captured by the Italians, he was sent to a POW camp near Rome.  No doubt this is where he thought he would spend the remaining years of the war.  It wasn't to be.  A few days later, the Italians surrendered.  Louis and a few other pilots escaped before the Nazis could take control of the camp.

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> One might think that such harrowing experiences would have taken the fight out of Louis, yet he volunteered for another combat tour.  This time, Uncle Sam sent him to the Philippines where he flew P-51 Mustangs.

> Soon after arriving in the Pacific Theater, Louis downed a Mitsubishi reconnaissance plane near Formosa.  Now he was one of only three Americans to have kills against all three Axis Powers: Germany, Italy, and Japan.

> Pilot Lt. Louis Curdes in his P-51 Mustang "Bad Angel”

> Up until this point, young Lt. Curdes combat career had been stellar.  His story was about to take a twist so bizarre that it seems like the fictional creation of a Hollywood screenwriter.

> While attacking the Japanese-held island of Bataan, one of Louis' wingmen was shot down.  The pilot ditched in the ocean.  Circling overhead, Louis could see that his wingman had survived, so he stayed in the area to guide a rescue plane and protect the downed pilot.

> It wasn't long before he noticed another, larger airplane, wheels down, preparing to land at the Japanese-held airfield on Bataan.  He moved in to investigate.  Much to his surprise the approaching plane was a Douglas C-47 transport with American markings.

> He tried to make radio contact, but without success.  He maneuvered his Mustang in front of the big transport several times trying to wave it off.  The C-47 kept ahead to its landing target.  Apparently the C-47 crew didn't realize they were about to land on a Japanese held island, and soon would be captives.

> Lt. Curdes read the daily newspaper accounts of the war, including the viciousness of the Japanese soldiers toward their captives.  He knew that whoever was in that American C-47 would be, upon landing, either dead or wish they were.  But what could he do?
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> Audaciously, he lined up his P-51 directly behind the transport, carefully sighted one of his 50 caliber machine guns and knocked out one of its two engines.  Still the C-47 continued on toward the Bataan airfield.  Curdes shifted his aim slightly and knocked out the remaining engine, leaving the baffled pilot no choice but to ditch in the ocean.

> One of "Bad Angel's" .50 caliber machine guns built into it wings.

> The big plane came down in one piece about 50 yards from his bobbing wingman.  At this point, nightfall and low fuel forced Louis to return to base.
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> The next morning, Louis flew cover for a rescuing PBY that picked up the downed Mustang pilot and 12 passengers and crew, including two female nurses, from the C-47.  All survived.  Later, Lt. Curdes would end up marrying one of these nurses!

>
> For shooting down an unarmed American transport plane, Lt. Louis Curdes was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.  Thereafter, on the fuselage of his P-51 "Bad Angel", he proudly displayed the symbols of his kills: seven German, one Italian, one Japanese and one American flag.

--
Alexander C (Sandy) Reith 55 Jones Road Stonyford 3260 Victoria Australia + 61 428 85 88 20 Reith General Aviation Consulting Pty Ltd "Summerland Park" 38. 20.8 S 143. 17.7 E Reform for General Aviation, simple rules, independent instructors and maintenance engineers, car driver medicals for Private Pilots. To fly is not a government given 'privilege' but our right to pursue happiness. GA is in severe decline and demands change for growth, jobs and a fair go. Please advise me if you do not wish to to receive emails from me regarding GA.
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#42
THIS - is worth reading.
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#43
Dr Rob Lee - RIP Angel

World renown aviation safety and human factors expert, Dr Rob Lee passed away last Friday.

Via Oz Aviation:

Quote:Aviation human factors expert Dr Rob Lee remembered
May 1, 2018 by australianaviation.com.au Leave a Comment

[Image: Rob-Lee-resize.jpg]
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Long-time aviation administrator and human factors expert Rob Lee died on Friday.

“It is our melancholy duty to advise that Dr Rob Lee AO, a great leader and aviation safety visionary passed away peacefully on Friday morning 27 April 2018,” the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said on Monday afternoon.

“Whilst he will long be remembered for such a significant contribution to aviation safety, he will also be remembered for his warmth, his love for his partner Sue and his family, his infectious smile, his international diplomacy, and for his musicianship, as lead guitarist in the Canberra band ‘Mid-Life Crisis‘.”

Dr Lee was the first human factors specialist to be appointed at the then Bureau of Air Safety Investigation (BASI) – later to form part of the ATSB – when he joined the organisation in 1983 and helped establish and develop the Bureau’s capability in human factors, systems safety and research.

He rose to the position of BASI director in 1989. And in 1999, Dr Lee was appointed director of human factors, systems safety and communications at the newly-established ATSB.

“During his directorship he transformed the Bureau from a largely reactive investigative agency to an innovative multi-skilled organisation that also concentrated on proactive accident prevention and safety enhancement,” the ATSB said in its 2009 Past Present Future publication that celebrated the 10-years anniversary of its formation.

“Dr Lee was instrumental in establishing and developing mutual cooperation in air safety investigation between BASI and the Australian Defence Force, including negotiating and signing the first Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies.”

In 2012, Dr Lee received an Order of Australia (AO) award in that year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list for “distinguished service to the aviation industry, to the development of air safety and accident investigation standards, and to national and international professional associations”.

Dr Lee graduated with first class honours in psychology at Australian National University in 1970. He also completed his PhD in psychology at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, with his research focused on human performance in complex systems, with particular reference to aircraft.

His work as an international consultant has also involved analysing accidents around the world including the Gulf Air A320 accident at Bahrain in August 2000, the Singapore Airlines B747 accident at Taipei in October 2000, and the mid air collision between a Boeing 757 and a Tupolev Tu-154M over Ueberlingen, Germany in 2002.

Further, Dr Lee’s career also included working extensively with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), where in 1976 he was appointed senior psychologist, operational command. He was the first RAAF psychologist to serve as a human factors specialist on RAAF aircraft accident investigation teams.

Later, Dr Lee served as Group Captain in the RAAF Specialist Reserve. The consultancy role involved conducting regular training courses on aviation psychology, human factors, systems safety and air safety investigation within the Australian Defence Force.

Dr Lee is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

In 2000 Dr Lee was awarded the Aviation Human Factors Achievement Award by the Australian Aviation Psychology Association.
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Refer to the following link - https://flightsafety.org/wp-content/uplo...Safety.pdf - for what was probably one of Rob's last presentations at last years Singapore Aviation Safety seminar.

True to the last he stood by the founding principles of the 'James Reason Model' - by anyone's account a legend amongst aviators and aviation accident investigators - RIP  Angel
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#44
Via AOPA -  Wink

Quote:Never-before-released interview with Bob HooverNever-before-released interview with Bob Hoover
Q&A with a vintage legend
May 24, 2018

In this exclusive, never-before-released interview, Bob Hoover, renowned airshow performer, decorated war hero, and legendary aviator, widely regarded by top pilots around the world as the best of the best, shares the secrets of his career.

[Image: 1701p_brf_hoover1.jpg?h=567&&w=840&hash=...01BE&la=en]By Kathleen Bangs 

It was a lucky break. In 2002, across the wide expanse of a Florida trade show conference hall, I recognized an unmistakable aviation icon. A lanky figure, under his signature Panama hat, moving as a swarm of fans buzzed around him. It was Bob Hoover. 

A second lucky break, I just happened to have a tape recorder with me. Hoover graciously agreed to sit down for a spontaneous interview, with no particular plan for his recollections, other than to save them for posterity. We lost Hoover in 2016. In celebration of his extraordinary life and contribution to flying, I hope fans both old and new will enjoy reading this never-released interview.

You’ve been able to do almost unnatural things in airplanes, maneuvers that seem to defy the laws of physics. When you look at your talent, whether it’s God-given or training or whatever it is, where do you think it comes from? What sets you apart from everybody else?

BH: Sheer luck.

I knew you’d say that, but if you had to analyze it. What has given you not only ability, but longevity?

BH: I’ve thought about things. The "what ifs." I think ahead about what if this goes wrong, what if that goes wrong. I’ve already thought it out, so I know what to do. And I could tell you stories by the hour of situations I’ve walked away from, yet didn’t have to think in the moment about what to do, because I just did what I’d already thought of.

Take the greats like yourself, or Duane Cole, or Art Scholl for instance, another great pilot. Would you say it’s inborn, or can it be learned? Can you take someone up one time and determine if they’re going to be able to ever cut it as an airshow pilot?

BH: Art Scholl was the worst I’d ever seen when he first got into aerobatic flying! He was on the U.S. Aerobatic Team and I was team captain. And before we went over to Moscow, Russia, for the world championships I remember thinking this is ridiculous having him on this team. He’s no more qualified than the man on the moon!

Charlie Hilliard worked out with him for about a month or so. And he dressed him up to the point that he was fairly decent when we got to Russia.

In the aviation of today, who or what do you think is being overlooked or forgotten?

BH: Right now, I can go to an Air Force base, and if someone mentions General Jimmy Doolittle, you can see there are young officers wondering, “Who the heck is that?”

What would you want young people to know about aviation through Bob Hoover’s eyes?

BH: That’s a tough question. I’ve expressed this very few times in my life. I think it’s the way some young people are trying to "find" themselves today. I get so sick of some young fellow 35 years of age, who’s still trying to find himself. I’ve got a driver, because I like to be able to have a drink, and not drink and drive. I always hire a driver. And this fellow is a delightful person, and he’s a bit older, but I can’t motivate him.

But you can’t motivate somebody else. That has to come from within the person, in wanting to achieve, to be successful, in whatever it is. People ask, "Bob, can’t you give me some hints?" and I say get the best education you can, then go in the military and you’ll get the best flying in all the world. And they’ll say, “Well, I can’t pass a physical for that.” I say well alright, then you go get your master’s and a Ph.D. And don’t get it in history. Get it some field that will give you an opportunity to get ahead in life, and then you can make so much money you can buy whatever airplane you want to fly.

I really feel it’s a pity that people can’t find themselves. Hell, I knew where I wanted to go the day I was 16 years of age, and I never lost sight of it. I just kept the blinders on.

I was lucky at 16 to start flying, and it also provided a vector for my life. But if not for my first flight instructor, Lt. Colonel Robert McDaniel, I would have never gone back for a second lesson. Who was the most particular influential flight instructor for you?

BH: I’m a rarity. Nobody could teach me. I got sick every time I got in an airplane because of airsickness, so I kept at it until I could get over it. I was sick, swallowing it over and over, but was so motivated I would not let that stop me. I was determined in my mindset. And I conquered unusual attitudes, one step at a time, until I could handle that without becoming ill.

There was no one I could get aerobatic instruction from, no one knew anything about aerobatics in my town (Nashville, Tennessee). So, I tried things myself. I’d think, I wonder if I could do this, I wonder if I could try that, and then incrementally kept stretching it to not get sick. Even to this day, if you were to ask me to go out and ride with you, offer you some suggestions, and I’m sitting in the back…watch out!

Pilots must always be asking you for flying tips.

BH: I’ve told a lot of people how to do certain things, only to have it come back in my face because he goes out and kills himself. He doesn’t do the things I told him when he asked the questions. The earth’s awful solid and it’s going to be solid forever. So, if you want to do something, you do it up high. And then you learn it, and do it so well, you know you’re safe when you come down low.

In your iconic Shrike Commander airshow performances, how did you keep the G loading low during the routines?

BH: The Shrike had a 4.3 positive G load limit. When Rockwell asked me to fly the Shrike, I thought if I could get my routine down to 2.5 G, I could still hit a gust load and keep it under 4 G, and get this plane the recognition it deserves.

The rule of thumbs, is if you have less weight you can pull a little more G without damaging the structure. The first time I went out to play with it, I did 3.5 G. Then I started working and got it down to 3 G for the first show. We started selling airplanes just like that. We had maybe 100 on the ground, and were building one a month. We sold them all within probably five months of my first demonstration. We had a three-year backlog of orders! And, we kept raising the price, without having to change a thing. The company went from a $13 million a year loss to a very profitable situation.

Were there problems with regular owner-pilots wanting to go up and impress their buddies by pretending they were Bob Hoover?

BH: The biggest fear of my life. And it happened, and they’re not with us anymore. That’s very unfortunate. There’s no way you can keep people from sticking their nose into something they don’t understand. People called me from all over the world asking if I’d tell them what airspeed I enter such-and-such a maneuver at, and I’d say “I’m very sorry, it’s just something you’ll have to figure out for yourself.”

One time I did it—shared every bit of information I had with a fellow—about P–40s. Then I watched him kill himself in one. And I decided I would never do that again.

Do you think when pilots try to mimic you the reason they crash is that they exceed the design limits of the airplane, or because they mess up the maneuver and hit the ground?

BH: Leo Loudenslager (seven-time U.S. aerobatic champion, died in a 1997 motorcycle crash). Leo was as fine a pilot as I’ve ever known. He had a narrator that would dedicate his flight performances to me. Leo came to Reno one year, a teenager really. We talked. I helped motivate him—I advised him to get his ratings first—and he went on and became a world champion. He also asked for advice, even when he was at the top. He solicited my input, asking, “If you have any criticism, I’m open to it, I want to know.”

So, I said, “Leo, I don’t like your routine. The reason being you don’t have a large enough margin for safety. One hiccup, you’re going to hit the ground. And those fans out there you’re doing it for? They’ll forget about you tomorrow. They don’t know how close you’re coming to killing yourself, but I do. Are you here to have fun and entertain people, or kill yourself?”

How do you manage a healthy respect for the ground, or let’s just call it what it is, fear. Do you think the mismanagement of fear causes good pilots to crash?

BH: Absolutely. It’s the reason I’m alive today. I’m just like anybody else. I get scared when I know all hell is breaking loose around me, or I’m on fire, but I have conditioned myself to react with “What are you going to do to get out of this?” That has saved my life a lot of times because I could respond without having to think.

So, you never allow yourself to become a passenger to your own fear?

BH: I keep that glide speed until it stops. I’m on the controls. I don’t give up.

What first got you interested in flying?

BH: My family and other people talking about Charles Lindbergh’s accomplishments. That tweaked my interest because it was such a big thing in history. I built model airplanes and would run outside if I heard an airplane flying over because you didn’t hear very many back then.

When did you meet Lindbergh?

There was a project for an airplane that could fly even further than the SR–71. It was the XB–70 Valkyrie. Lindbergh visualized a supersonic transport. Size-wise, the Valkyrie was being designed as a heavy bomber, but we figured out you could put in 35 first class seats. In talking with Lindbergh, we said it wouldn’t be practical. And we were correct. Boeing wanted to build it initially, and North American bid on it because we were going to build some parts of the structure for Boeing. But Lindbergh was so fascinated by those things.

Did you ever personally get to know the notoriously reclusive Charles Lindbergh?

BH: We became very good friends. He’d come out to visit me under an assumed name. He kept up to date on things. I’d take him to my home, but he didn’t drink. You’d never know it, because he’d sit there at the bar with me and you’d never know he wasn’t having as much fun as you were. Lindbergh was very shy, very introverted. He didn’t want to be known.

I helped bring him back out of obscurity with the help of astronaut Wally Schirra and others, who helped convince him. We wanted to give him an honorary award. I was the president of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. It’s a very prestigious organization with members like Neil Armstrong. I got Chuck Yeager into it when he wasn’t qualified. Got him into an experimental airplane so that he would be qualified, as he’d not joined beforehand, and the rule was you couldn’t get in if you weren’t flying something experimental.

Lindbergh told me he wanted to accept the award, but said he wouldn’t allow any photographs, and wouldn’t sign any autographs. He wanted to be taken into the ceremony the back way, with security, because he didn’t want to be bothered with people wanting to talk with him. By this time, we were on a first-name basis and he wanted me to call him Slim, which I did until his later years.

I said, “Slim, no one’s going to recognize you because when the Apollo 11 crew comes back from the moon, they’re going to be given an award on the same stage that I want you to receive your award. Nobody will recognize you anywhere, anytime. When I’m sitting with you now, nobody knows who you are.” I’d bring him into the North American company and nobody knew who he was!

So, Wally Schirra was on my board. He wrote Lindbergh a terrible letter! He said, “Bob has offered you the opportunity of a lifetime. Here’s an opportunity for you to be honored by people who have all risked their life in being a test pilot. This is your last opportunity, you’ll never get another chance. And I should think this is one thing that would be important to you.”

Then, Lindbergh called and asked if I could promise him there would be no photos. I said “I can’t promise you that, but I’ll try to protect you as much as I can.” He said, “Okay, but can you get me in the back door so I won’t have to talk to anybody?” I said, “Slim, you could waltz in through the front door of that Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel and nobody will know who you are! Everybody’s looking for the astronauts!”

I told him: Walk through the front door and I’ll be standing there waiting for you. And I had in my suite Bob Hope, Conrad Hilton and his son Baron, the Apollo 11 crew, and a whole bunch of movie people—the big names!

Quite the cocktail party!

BH: But Lindbergh didn’t want to go in there. He wanted to have me listen to him give his speech. So, I took him into the bedroom which was right off the suite—I had the presidential suite—where all the people were gathered, having cocktails.

What did you think of his speech?

BH: It was the most boring thing I ever heard in my life! When he finished, all I said was, “Boy that was just great, they’re going to love it!” Hell, nobody cared what he said. It was the fact that he, Lindbergh, was there.

How did it go?

BH: Well, he let me take him in to meet the people I just mentioned. Bob Hope had his own personal photographer who tried to take a picture but I ran over and jumped in front of him.

Do you think his behavior was a reaction not so much to his aviator fame, but instead to his terrible personal tragedy?

BH: Oh, it was the kidnapping yes. He told me that’s what the problem was. The last letter I ever got from Lindbergh was him writing to thank me. He wrote, "I think I’m writing you from a house of ill repute in Hong Kong. My reservations got lost and this lady said she’d give me a place to sleep—now I’m scared to go out the door!"

After his death, his wife Anne Morrow informed me I would be receiving the Lindbergh Award. She and her daughter were to make the presentation, so I told them about that letter and sent them a copy. I said I’d like to have Wally Schirra, if appropriate from your viewpoint, read it at the presentation. I told her, “Slim says so many nice things about me that I can’t read the letter, it wouldn’t be appropriate. And it wouldn’t really be appropriate for you to read it, but it would be great for everyone to hear Wally read it.”

Everyone says Wally Schirra has a great sense of humor.

BH: He’s so wonderful in that respect. He read Lindbergh’s letter, and it was fascinating.

You’ve flown so many different planes throughout your career. If you had to pick two or three that were special, you know, like the way a couple of women over a lifetime can capture a man’s heart, which planes would it be? When you look back, which ones did you love?

BH: Did you ever fall in love and not like them (laughter)? Well, the F–86 is the one that stands out the most in my mind, the Sabrejet was it. I was in on the early testing; the spin tests and the dive tests. I’ve done that on a lot of different airplanes but the reason I choose the F–86 is because it was docile. Not in its early days. It killed a few people, but by the time we got it cleaned up we had a sweetheart—the most docile, nicest handling airplane you’ve ever sat in. The creature comfort was terrible, but the flying qualities were…perfection.

Have you ever had an accident during a show?

BH: Oh yes, sure! In the big Hanover, Germany, show I had to land a Sabreliner on one wheel as I couldn’t get the other one down. There was light rain. After touchdown I couldn’t hold it up on one wheel all the way down the runway. The wing started dragging and we departed the runway. Wiped it out. But I was back in another airplane 30 minutes later!

Do you know some of the early test pilots and NASA astronauts?

BH: All close personal friends of mine. Close to every one of them, flown with all of them.
Frank Borman?

BH: Top-notch dedicated American gentleman.

Neil Armstrong?

BH: Ditto.

Chuck Yeager?

BH: Well, he’s a real hero in my book. I knew him intimately. In his book, he wrote a lot about us, our togetherness. I was selected to fly the [Bell] X–1 before him! Of all the people I’ve ever known—you could not have done better than Chuck—the best aviator I’ve ever flown with, that’s a true statement. The feelings run deep, so does the admiration. I can assure you the success of that program (the X–1) could not have been any better accomplished than it was with Chuck at the controls. He’s the best aviator I’ve ever flown with. Great friendship, great admiration.

Would you say Chuck Yeager personifies ‘The Right Stuff?’

BH: He sure does, he sure does.

If someday, when you meet our maker, he says, “Bob, we’re going to make an exception. We’re going to let you go back to earth and live for one week.” How would you spend that time?

BH: That’s a very difficult question because when they take me to the undertaker, that poor guy is going to have a hell of a time getting the smile off of my face. I’m 50 lifetimes ahead of any other man who ever lived. I’ve had more fun and met more interesting people than you would ever believe. For many years I wore that business suit while performing. A black tie, a black suit, a white shirt, and people would ask why do you always dress like that?

Because you’re ready for the undertaker?

BH: No, not only the undertaker, but when I get out of the airplane I’m ready for the cocktail party! And then I’m going to save the undertaker all that trouble of trying to take care of me. Isn’t that a good philosophy?

Cockpit to Cocktail Party: The Bob Hoover Story. Could be a damn good book title!

And on that concluding note, a lot of laughter.

***
In 2002, I’m sure I expressed gratitude to Bob Hoover for taking the time to grant this interview. I’d like to say it again: Thank you Bob, it was a privilege.


MTF...P2  Wink
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#45
From the inestimable Centaurus on the UP:-





For those who understand – no more need be said.

For those who followed after – the tale is legend, grounded in truth.

For those we lost – there are no words to express our gratitude and debts.

God speed, safe home and Thank you. Lest we ever forget.
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#46
For the BizJet aviators Wink

Via Aviation Week:

Cold, Dark And Lonely: Lessons Learned From My Flights
May 22, 2018 Ross Detwiler Business & Commercial Aviation


This article appears in the June 2018 issue of Business & Commercial Aviation with the title “Cold, Dark and Lonely.”


There are airline pilots who make far northern or even transpolar flights on a regular basis. Business aviators become familiar with the requirements for these flights, but we seldom do it often enough for it to be considered routine. To me, the title of this piece fits my impressions of that type of flying. What follows are flights to and across cold, dark and lonely regions from my career.


The Early Days


“Holy cow. It’s snowing like heck in Anchorage.”
“Not supposed to snow there until tomorrow night.”
“Well, they didn’t get the memo. It’s down to half a mile in moderate snow.”

[Image: POLARALASKA_iStock-sarkophoto.jpg]iStock/Sarkophoto

It was late February 1979, and we were at the 4-hr. point out of Tokyo’s Narita International Airport on our first Asian trip in the Gulfstream II. On the way to Japan, we’d taken our time, going out of San Francisco and through Hawaii and Wake Island. But on the way home we planned to return through Anchorage with a two-day stopover. The G-II was not the plane for Far East and North Pacific operations. It just didn’t have the range. Even on the later leg down to Westchester County Airport, White Plains, New York, we would have to divert to Green Bay, Wisconsin, due to insufficient fuel.


We had considered this possibility of bad weather and had planned on using Cold Bay Airport in the Aleutians as a divert, but hoped we wouldn’t have to go there.


But we did.


The Customs man came out in the middle of the night, after short notice, his face nearly invisible in a giant parka. He gave us permission to proceed and we put a full load of fuel on, just in case, and then went on to Anchorage with Fairbanks, as often was to be the case, a stand-up alternate.


Finally, the G-IVs


We moved through G-IIIs and G-IVs and the Alaskan operations became more and more commonplace. The G-IV was, in my opinion, the first business jet that could operate reasonably through Alaska en route to/from Asia. We tried to leave out of Anchorage in the afternoon, whenever possible. That way Japan was still awake and the long Anchorage-Osaka leg was not necessary en route to Hong Kong and points farther south. We did more and more Asian operations, eventually even flying a Taipei-to-Anchorage leg in eight and a half hours. We spent the night reminiscing for about 2 hr. with a G-II out of Narita, also heading for Alaska. We planned on landing with more fuel than him and it felt good.


In a Heavy


Another long, high-latitude flight occurred when I took off from corporate operations, having been called for a year of active duty flying C-5 Galaxies for the U.S. Air Force. In October 1990, still in the “Shield” phase of Desert Shield/Storm, my crew and I were at the operations window in Rhein-Main (Frankfurt) for a return to the U.S. We’d been out for nearly two weeks and, in that time, completed three or four “downrange” trips from Rhein-Main and Ramstein in Germany and Torrejon Air Base in Madrid. All had gone to the big cargo terminal at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. This was our return leg to stateside.


“Here’s a flight plan. Looks like you men are headed to Travis.”


“Travis, as in Sacramento, California, Travis?”


“Yup.”


We took the flight plan and starting pulling out charts that we’d always known were in the bags but never thought we’d use. In about half an hour we converted the computer flight plan to visual legs on the charts and were ready.

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In the airlift command, the pilots went into base operations and did the flight plan while the flight engineers and loadmasters saw to cargo and preflight requirements at the plane. We were a tight crew, having been through a lot of flying in the previous month, and were still getting along just fine. In fact, we’d picked up a photographer and writer for Airman Magazine. Everybody liked both of them and they seemed to enjoy our company. They had stayed with us on a promise of being able to return with the crew to Dover AFB in Delaware.


The photographer was talking to one of the engineers when our 308,000-lb. fuel load came to the airplane from the command post.


“I don’t know where we’re going, Mikee, but it sure isn’t Dover.”


Our new best friends abandoned us and we set about our task. With 20,000 lb. of empty cargo pallets and nearly a full fuel load, we rolled weighing “just a Cadillac over 700,000 lb.” After a couple of turns and vectors to get up and on the way, we were cleared direct to Stornoway in northern Scotland. From there, the routing took us up over Iceland, Sondrestrom Air Base in Greenland, over Iqaluit, think Frobisher Bay, over the middle of Hudson Bay, the town of Churchill, into the plains of Canada, and down over Montana toward Sacramento. During most of the long night just the lead engineer and I were up front. I took the last 4 hr. off to be alert for the landing. There were plenty of good alternates around the Sacramento area, but the fuel gauge was a concern as fog was scheduled to develop at Travis in the early morning time frame. We landed at 1 a.m. to just enough crew support to park the airplane and wound up, unfed, at the bachelor officers’ quarters at oh dark thirty. That turned out to be a flight of just short of 13 hr. At Mach 0.77.


Almost Routine


In the early 1990s, our corporation flew executives to Europe routinely and Asia about four times a year. That progressed to where, at the turn of the new century, we were doing Asia at least four times a month. The GIV flights through Anchorage normally had plenty of fuel — although our first Beijing-to-Anchorage flight again seemed cold, dark and lonely as we overheaded Harbin, China, and flew on to Khabarovsk in Russia. Northwest of that city was a huge rectangular area of very bright lights in the middle of the frozen wasteland. Inviting, it was not.


From Khabarovsk we headed over the Sea of Okhotsk to Magadan, Russia, on past the then-closed Russian interceptor bases in the Anadyr area and in over Nome, Alaska. I remember thinking how far north you are when crossing the Bering Strait, the Nome rotating beacon in your windshield seems so inviting. I had read a story about a sailing ship that had been frozen into the ice just north of Barrow, Alaska, and drifted in the ice pack all winter until the ship’s crew walked over the ice to Wrangel Island, up north of our course line. What an adventure that must have been as the brave
captain left his crew and walked across the ice to the mainland for help.


There were good times for the crews that got to layover in Anchorage (probably still are), and there were also lessons to be learned.


We used to enjoy going to a Cajun restaurant called The Double Musky in the town of Girdwood, about 40 min. south of Anchorage. When dining there, the irrefutable climate feature is the copious amount of rain that falls in the area’s woods. The moisture makes for a rainforest-like condition along the eastern shoreline of the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet.


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That high moisture content when combined with very low temperatures can produce some interesting-looking airplanes as a moist fog rolls in and freezes to objects around which it flows. I’ve seen street signposts double their normal circumference due to adhering frost. Fortunately, in our company, we were usually on the ground just long enough to change crews, refuel and depart.


Back North in the Big Plane


Around 1997, on a weekend Air Guard trip to Alaska, we were ordered to carry cargo for the C-130 outfit based at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Being typical Guard troops, there was good-natured kidding about the size of the Galaxy as compared to the more agile, smaller “combat capable” Herc. This continued right up until the briefing began and we were almost loaded.
Although they helped our guys, the host unit’s members wanted to make sure that its ships got off first and therefore reached the destination before the “renta truck” (but much faster) C-5. We were finally taxiing onto Runway 36. The two C-130s had long disappeared and the pilots were beating their steeds mercilessly trying to get to Fallon Naval Air Base outside of Reno, Nevada, ahead of us.
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Flying over Anchorage, Alaska, in winter at sunrise iStock Photo/Ondrej Kubicek


That morning, I noticed that an old DC-6 had rolled ahead of us and actually left a wispy contrail down the entire length of the runway. The Douglas’ hot exhaust had hit that cold clear air and the water in the exhaust had frozen forming an instant cloud — a ground contrail, if you will. I knew that we put a lot more air out the back of the four TF-39s than that old recip and asked tower if they were sure they weren’t going to need the runway for a few minutes after our takeoff.


The response: “We’re familiar with the problem, Polo. You’re cleared for takeoff.”


We took off to the north and commenced a left turn to the south, heading for Reno. Looking back at the airport from a high downwind position, the entire runway and taxi area east of the runway were under a huge stationary ground contrail. A beautiful sight to see as it’s happening but horrifying to see if you’re next to try to land on that runway. Fortunately, in Anchorage landings are generally made on the parallel northeast/southwest runways, not the single north/south. Oh, and we passed the first Herc about an hour out and the second near Seattle.


Nonstop


Shortly after the turn of the century, our company merged with another huge corporation and then our expanded flight department was routinely flying all over the world. The company then purchased two [url=http://awin.aviationweek.com/OrganizationProfiles.aspx?orgId=41340]Bombardier Global Express aircraft, whose Mach 0.85 speed made the run from Narita to Anchorage much quicker than previously possible in the G-IVs. With that change of equipment, our crews figured they’d fly fast to Anchorage, refuel, and head quickly to New York. But there was one problem. Our boss reminded us that the company invested in the Globals to fly home nonstop from Tokyo, nonstop from home to the Middle East or one stop eastbound to Singapore, all regular business calls for the corporation.


Getting a max weight early Global from Narita to White Plains was a bit nerve-wracking. A lesson learned was that immediately out of Japan, the temperatures were normal and there was usually a good push. But about an hour out, the temperatures would start up, sometimes as high as ISA+30C and the wind would stop. We hit those warm temperatures when the plane was very heavy. I did that trip a number of times with flight times ranging from 11+20 when we were able to fly at Mach 0.82 to 12+35 at the slower Mach 0.80 cruise. That was 12+ hr. of considering options.


Over the Top


The biggest far north challenge I can remember was when the chairman was scheduled to be in Tokyo for a conference and wanted to be in London immediately after that gathering. We had used just about the whole department, getting two Globals and two Falcon 900EXs to Tokyo. Our flight to London was planned out of Japan and over Russia (12+15) and the weather in England looked like a holdover from the heavy fog days of the 1970s. We would land short in Scandinavia, if we had to, and then proceed to England. As always seemed the case, this would all start with a 0100 takeoff out of Tokyo’s Haneda International.


We’d just started using that airport and for the previous launch it seemed we taxied for half an hour before getting to the departure runway. I didn’t like the looks of our plan at all.


Option 2, which I did like, was to leave Tokyo, fly at Mach 0.85 to Fairbanks, pick up the extra captain and flight attendant who had flown the Falcon 900 to Fairbanks two days earlier, then fly to London, a 7+20 flight that would get us into the area with a lot of fuel.


We landed in Fairbanks and were ready to start the refuel, feeling good about our plan. They signaled that chocks were in, the fuel truck was rounding off his turn in front of the right wing and I released the brakes and reached down to shut off the engines.
Then the call: “You’re rolling.”
“What. . . . ?!” Stomp on the brakes and startle the folks; luckily all had “remained seated.”
No harm done. Turned out that the chocks, which were huge chucks of knotted rope specifically used to prevent slippage on the ice, had slipped. Fortunately, brakes and the rope were enough to hold the plane.
We left Fairbanks about 3 p.m., the early December sun already falling out of sight. I remember thinking as we crossed Prudhoe Bay pointed north in the dark that this was the real thing when it comes to transpolar flight.


We would be as far as 79 north at one point in the flight and I’d read up on how to change the Honeywells to track true courses at those latitudes as all the charts in that area were referenced to true north. We expected them to go to “heading fail” and cause us to switch them to true course. We need not have worried. The Honeywell FMSes did go to “heading fail” but then changed themselves to true at precisely the required latitude, about 72 north as I recall. They would change themselves back to magnetic as we came south over Greenland. Make my night, Honeywell.


We continued for about 2 hr. and again, cold, dark and lonely were the only words to describe our environs. At the very north edge of Canada, seeing an airport beacon at the tiny outpost of Eureka brought us into the FMS to check out the facilities. There were actually people this far north. I remember later seeing a television show in which a Canadian bushflight operation overnighted at Eureka and spent much of the next day heating the engines.


We proceeded to cross from Canada into Greenland and again, having once thought I was at the top of the world at Thule Air Base, I marveled to see it nearly 200 mi. south of our course.


Greenland was interesting in that, making position reports every 10 deg. of longitude kept one busy as the meridians at the high north latitudes are only about 15 min. apart. I retired to the rear and the extra captain sat in for a couple of hours as we came down over Greenland, then Iceland and headed for northern Scotland. When I came back to the flight deck, both the guys were smiling and pointed to the latest Stansted sequence, which showed 7,000 meters visibility with conditions improving.


“Who loves ya, baby?” Sure made it easier having two other highly qualified captains helping.


To say that flying in and out of airports as well equipped as Anchorage and Fairbanks makes one an Alaskan pilot would be a stretch. There are too many bush pilots who would laugh themselves silly over such a comment. Nevertheless, there are certain characteristics and conditions with which you become familiar when flying different routes.


Extreme cold must be planned for and accommodated. As I said, we were fortunate to never have our equipment on the ground for more than about an hour. But even that can result in a need to deice, especially under the conditions I’ve previously mentioned.


You will almost always, especially in a business aviation operation, wind up spending time in the dark of night. That’s because the folks in the back want to finish a business day before they go to/from Asia. That can wind up being a very short night eastbound and a very long night westbound. I remember one December waking up to breakfast in Anchorage, having the sun come up about 11 a.m. It went down around mid-afternoon and 12 hr. later, we got on the plane out of New York to fly to Shanghai. That was an additional 9 hr. in the dark, landing in the dark, getting to the hotel in the dark and sleeping in the dark for the next 4 or 5 hr. You need headlights for eyes to operate north.
With all the cold often around you on the ground, the temperatures at altitude over the north Pacific were always very warm, just when the eastbound plane was at its en route heaviest. This required close attention for the first 4 to 5 hours of a 12-hr. flight if you were to make the trip nonstop to New York.


Those were the days. These days I consider Oxford, Connecticut, to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in a Baron about the longest I want to fly.



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Courtesy Aviation Daily off twitter, my avgeek aviation pic of the week nomination... Wink


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Oh yes and our dimwit miniscule has been led to believe, by nefarious sources, that General Aviation is in serious decline in the US of A - right and pigs might fly... Dodgy 
  

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