I have a few side jobs that I do to make a little extra money now and then, start revolutions, overthrow governments, deflower virgins, rescue damsels, after putting them in distress of course and flying small planes around the world. You know, the usual stuff. One of my all time favorite jobs is being a member of the Flying Elvi skydiving demonstration team. What the heck is a Flying Elvi you ask? Why it’s a bunch of old guys dressed up as the King of Rock and Roll jumping out of an airplane, crashing into a parking lot at some random Indian casino and then putting on a super awesome lip-sync show. That’s what a Flying Elvi is. Stand by for the video.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The first hurricane hunter flight 70 years ago this week was made on a bet — that the plane flying into the eye of a storm would be ripped apart in violent winds.
And all the daredevil pilot stood to win was a highball whiskey cocktail. He also faced a reprimand from senior officers.
Determined to prove a point, Army Air Corps Lt. Col. Joseph Duckworth ignored the perils and aimed the small AT-6 “Texan” trainer into a storm about to hit Galveston, Texas, on July 27, 1943. His navigator, Lt. Ralph O’Hair, would later describe the flight as “being tossed about like a stick in a dog’s mouth.” […]
The AT-6 Texan was used as a trainer during and after World War II. In 1943 to counteract joking by Allied pilots at an instrument flying school that the trainer was “frail,” Col. Joseph Duckworth flew into a Category I hurricane to prove its worth.
This morning, as I might have mentioned, was much taken up with the attempt to fashion a perfect spreadsheet to capture several thousand flight hours, landings and and instrument approaches. Dreary work up front made filling in the blanks a little less tedious on the back end. But I started at around 0645 this morning and by 1500 – having worked through lunch without realizing it – I was only up to April, 1985.
This is going to take a little while.
Log books contain a great deal of data, and when it comes to manipulating data there is nothing to improve upon automated systems. I have signed to “Certify a Correct Record” whatever it was Yeoman Apprentice Wishes E. Were-Ellswear calculated more often than I should have done. It appears that “error carried forward” did not entirely vanish upon graduation from college.
But there’s something about a physical logbook, sitting on your desk. You will have so many times looked at it over the course of a career. Scrutinizing its pages as though they contained some hidden mystery – legends of experience, competence, potential. You will have watched it grow with a quiet but increasing pride. Watch it spill over from first one book, to two. Eventually four for me, three of them wrapped in a naugahide binder, my last one loose. Plus the civilian log book, but I’ve barely scratched the surface of that one.
Twenty-odd years. Over four thousand hours. Black ink for day flights, red ink for night. Green for combat. […]
Yours truly exiting the Caravan and making memory’s by filming a tandem student. Oh and by the way, we were over a big hole in the clouds so so regulations were busted, I swear, really. And you couldn’t prove it anyway.
A good pilot/skydiver friend of mine, who I’ll call Geno because that’s his name, OK nickname but let’s not split hairs, had a scary story about one night one the flight deck of a destroyer many years ago. That particular dark and stormy night somewhere in the south Pacific Geno had flight deck duty when the call came in that a helicopter was coming in to land. Geno ran up to the landing platform and was knew right away that that recovery was going to be hairy. Geno’s job that night was to dash under the helicopter as soon as it touched down and attach a tie down chain to one of the landing gear mounts, or something. The deck was pitching and rolling violently and the pilot was having a difficult time but eventually managed to slam the helicopter onto the deck. As soon as the wheels made contact Geno dove under the belly of the helicopter and successfully secured his chain. As he was rolling out from under the helicopter the deck rolled hard and the helicopter came off the deck because the sailor on the the other side hadn’t yet secured his tie down chain. Now I’m sure you you can imagine how well a helicopter flies with one of it’s wheels tied to a pitching flight deck but I’m pretty sure you can’t imagine how scary it would be to be lying on your back on that landing platform watching the show and wondering just what part of the helicopter is going to hit you when it crashes. As the pilot tried desperately to control his aircraft Geno rolled back under the wildly swinging helicopter and against SOP hit the quick release on the chain setting it free. As the helicopter shot into the air it’s tail wheel took out part of some sort of railing off to one side of the landing platform and flew away with it dangling from it’s tail. Geno told me that when the helicopter came back for another attempt at landing the mood on he landing platform was just a little bit tense.
Here is the real story about the “Liberty Belle” incident in Aurora IL. A very compelling “must read” account from the people who were there, instead of the media hype that saturated this story from the beginning.
This is a letter posted by Ray Fowler, The Liberty Foundation, Chief Pilot and after reading it, you will have a much better idea of what took place.
First, let me start off by sincerely thanking everyone for the outpouring of support that we are receiving. I am sorry that I have not yet had the opportunity to return the many phone calls, text or e-mails that I am receiving offering to help. Again, thank you for all of the kind words that we are receiving and for incredible offers to help emotionally, financially and/or with the recovery process. I hope this statement will help fill in a few details that everyone is wondering about that led to the loss of our “Liberty Belle”.
When they started using turbine engines in skydiving aircraft the jumpers rejoiced. No longer were they crammed into old DC-3’s and tiny Cessna’s and forced to endure a long slow clime to altitude. Turbine aircraft like out Cessna Super Caravan can haul 19 jumpers up to 13,000 feet in under 12 minutes. But turbine engines have their own set of problems, one of which being getting them started. Turbine engines need a lot of battery power to get them started safely, if your battery is too low the turbine blades wont be turning fast enough when the fuel ignites in the combustion chamber and when that happens the temperature can climb so high that the pilot will be forced to shut down the engine to prevent trashing a VERY expensive engine. This is know as a hot start. To prevent this most skydiving operations use a start cart to help boost battery power during starts. A start cart is usually a number of batteries hooked together in series to provide ample voltage/amperage? and re-charged after each use with a battery charger. Using a start cart is a great way to prevent damage to the ships internal battery caused by multiple starts a day. It is, on the other hand, a big pain in the ass when it breaks, especially when there’s no reason for it. Every year the dropzone in Texas that we lease our plane from sends up a start cart and every year the cart they send up is a piece of crap. And every year it breaks and every we overhaul it. And every year the cycle repeats. So the start cart broke this morning and our expert start cart technician, me, determined that the problem this time was the charger. Maybe it would help if they didn’t use a charger built sometime in the 1950’s to power their Million and a half dollar aircraft.