We’d been up all night, a common event in the lives of freight pilots, the nomads of the dark. The trek started the evening before, launching from some city in the midwest, making a stop here or there to pick up more of the precious overnight cargo before making the longer stop in the hub city, Memphis, Tennessee, to disgorge the huge cans of packages and letters carried in the hollow fuselage of our DC-10. While we were on the ground in Memphis the hundreds of thousands of pounds of freight from hundreds of airplanes went through the famous FedEx package sort system and was reloaded into freight cans and placed back on the aircraft headed to the same part of the world as the addressees on the packages. Most of the United States was slumbering away while all this took place, but the activity around the “Hub” was such that Memphis International Airport was one of the busiest airports in the world at night, all due to the single resident cargo carrier we worked for. We even had a fond nickname for the place: Planet Memphis. The place is in its own little orbit at night. Continue reading
Author Archives: Busbob
There are people in this world that get to do fun things for a living. Like flying fast jets.
I never put fast cars in the same category but along comes this video.
This guy, Chris Harris, has gone beyond fun. Don’t know what to call it. Chris gets to go test drive a beast, 700 hp and more, and his video report is just too good. Go to full screen, turn up the volume, and wait for the good stuff at about 7:45 when he turns off all the automatic traction control.
He punches it in 4th gear at 86 in a full drift right hand turn and…comes out of the turn at 106.
Dang. The guy left me grinning.
Once in a while a photographer is privileged to take a portrait and get it just right. The lighting is good, the subject is posed and relaxed, the camera is ready, the settings are where they should be, and with a push of the shutter button a portrait is captured.
The goal of a portrait well done is to capture the essence of the subject, what he or she is all about will reveal itself to the viewer instantly. In this case, the viewer will instantly know what he is looking at: an aviator. A steely blue eyed aviator. Continue reading
We are losing our WWII vets at an ever increasing rate. My father-in-law and my father, both veterans of the war in the Pacific, have passed away in the last 5 years or so. I am reading about the history of the Battle of Okinawa, which my father-in-law participated in, and today I received an e-mail about the incredible losses suffered in the air wars over Europe and the Pacific, and the heartbreaking losses in…the United States. The U.S. lost 14 or 15,000 aircraft alone in training in the United States, and at least 22,000 operationally in the war overseas.
There were literally kids with barely 100 hours or so flying combat missions. Transitions to new fighters were quick and not like we know training today. No ground school, no transitional training, no practice solos. You start it, you fly it.
My Dad had a story about his training after leaving the U. S. that amazed me and I’d like to share it with you.
Dad’s story was about when he showed up in India to fly the Hump.
The Hump. India to China, with the highest mountains in the world in between. No radar, no nav systems, no accurate weather predictions, and unpressurized aircraft. Direct reckoning navigation, and a mistake was a one time thing. Cumulogranite clouds are unforgiving.
Dad had never flown the C-46 and the first thing he does upon arrival at his base in India is to go flying as the left seater (aircraft commander) in a C-46 with an instructor. No ground school, no exams, just get in the airplane and let’s go.
That’s what his first flight was all about.
After numerous touch and goes, engine out drills, flap malfunction practice and all that, Dad made the final landing. The instructor tells him he passed his training.
A few minutes later, Dad is standing outside the airplane with the instructor and says, “That was something. How much time do you have in this airplane?”
The guy replies, “How long was the flight?”
“About two hours,” says Dad.
The instructor says, “That makes it about…seven hours total.”
Dad gets excited. “SEVEN HOURS! And you’re an instructor?!!”
The guy looks at Dad and says, “So are you.”
And walks away.
And tells us what the options are.
OK, it may not be him but the options are real, and The Lexicans readers/commenters have covered a lot of the same bases.
“…no matter what you do it’s going to backfire in a big, big way.”
Those who read and lurk here at The Lexicans are a formidable group, with vast experience in the world and life in general.
Perhaps a bit of discussion amongst ourselves is in order concerning the goings-on in the Arab world, Syria in particular.
Yes, this is a departure from planes and things, but not so great a departure when one realizes that things that fly, missiles, bombs, helos, and airplanes, are all wrapped up in the protection of this country and projection/protection of U.S. interests abroad.
There is a dictator-in-charge who has used gas on the people of his own country.
There is an organizer-in-charge who made a statement telling the dictator-in-charge not to do that or I’ll…
The world waits for the response to come.
What do YOU think? The Brits said Nay nay to any action. Hogday, are you on board with that?
We have a skeptical Congress. The Arab world is a little nervous. Or maybe not.
What say you, readers? What should we do?
Or not do?
The Connie in this picture is PanAm NC88858 landing at Burbank Airport in 1946. There are only 3 engines, #4 engine caught on fire on climb out on a flight from the U.S. to London on June 18, 1946. The fire eventually became uncontrollable and burned through the engine mount, resulting in the entire engine leaving the airplane. The plane returned to the U.S. and landed with no problems.
Damage was such that the PanAm mechs determined they could not repair the Connie, so they applied sheet metal to where the engine “used to was” and the airplane was ferried to Burbank, a 2,450 mile trip. The picture is that Connie on arrival. The Lockheed plant was at Burbank.
Kudos to our readers, an astute group. Most of you made a correct identification immediately. The runway is 15 at Burbank, which apparently was out in the country at the time. Those hills in the background are now covered with homes that are waaay out of my price range. Marv, 15 is the long runway now, have no idea what it was in 1946.
The Connie was in production through 1958, it was a surprise to learn that by the time the Connie ceased production in Burbank Lockheed had already completed the first 20 U-2 aircraft. What a contrast.
fliterman, good to see your comment, embiggify the picture of the Connie and the third tail is there, it looks like a radio antenna on top of the fuselage. NavyDavy hit the nail on the head. Three engine ferry back to base.
Yours truly flew in and out of Burbank many times in his career and is sad to report that all the Lockheed manufacturing facilities he could see at Burbank at the beginning of his airline career disappeared by the time he retired six years ago. It’s all a parking lot now.
Somehow a parking lot in place of the facilities that gave us the Connie, the U-2, the SR-71, and the F-117 just doesn’t sit right.
My dad, rest his soul, flew the RC-121 Constellation off the East Coast for many years. The Connie was known for engine problems, at one time it was called the “Best Trimotor ever built.” Dad was on station once over the Atlantic and an engine went from good to bad to really bad in just a few minutes, then fell off. He told me it gave a new meaning to the phrase, “we lost an engine.”