Category Archives: Airplanes

A bit of good news

Seems the F-35 has flown over Iran – undetected. Amid news that the Air Force could not maintain their projected fleet because of projected maintenance costs – and would have to cut back by a third.

 

And being 7 years behind schedule with a seemingly runaway budget.

 

It is either going to become a weapons system that will lead the industry, or a boondoggle.

Let’s hope they can rein in those problems.

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Talk about tying the record

By lex

On February 28, 2006

 

I’ve been low before. Even lower over water, where it’s hard to hit things like mountains, hilltops and trees, etc, which have a tendency to jut up suddenly out of the dirt. On the other hand, it’s also safe to say that flying low over a flat and feartureless sea comes with its own set of hazards.

Which is why this picture evokes a reaction that shares a bit of humbled awe with a healthy slice of ”those guys are fricken’ crazy.”

talkAboutTyingTheRecord

 

Fortunately, according to the accompanying email:
Photography by Frans Dely/Aviationdimension.comEarly morning anglers are treated to the spectacle of four T6 Harvard Aircraft from The Flying Lions Aerobatic Team waterskiing across the Klipdrift Dam near Johannesburg South Africa.

Aircraft from The Flying Lions Aerobatic Team waterskiing across theKlipdrift Dam near Johannesburg South Africa.Lead by Scully Levin, with wingman Arnie Meneghelli, Stewart Lithgow and Ellis Levin, this renown airshow display team rehearse a sequence for the newly launched “Aviation Action” television program on Supersport.

Meneghelli from Academy Brushware, owner of the aircraft had this to say, “What we did today I believe is a world first. It illustrates that South African airshow pilots are amongst the best in the world”.

This unusual act, approved by the South African Civil Aviation Authority CAA), and supported by Castrol Aviation, was meticulously planned and took place under the watchfull eye of divers and paramedics that were on site.

Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of briefing an aerobatic stunt (in formation!) that requires on-scene divers just sort of sounds, you know: Nuts.

Back To The Index 

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Reno Air Races 2017

Over the years, I have accrued a number of nice memories of the Reno Air Races. I’ve met “Pappy” Boyington, Bob Hoover, and seen things that can’t be seen anywhere else.

I have a print I bought from Major Boyington signed – in 1984. I read his autobiography – he had a terrible time in the Japanese concentration camp (it should go without saying) and post war, an awful time. But he pulled through. He’s at Arlington, now.

One thing has changed – well, a number of things. For one, the “Unlimiteds” have become so fast the starter plane changed from a yellow Mustang – piloted by Bob Hoover, to a T-33 jet. They have an L-39 class now – that ubiquitous Czech trainer that the wealthy have embraced. That Merlin – stock was 1,500 hp, is over 3,500 now.

If you go there a pit pass is almost mandatory – you wander among all these magnificent planes.

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Unrestricted climb

By lex, on September 28th, 2007

Date: March, 1991

Place: Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona

Ride: TF-16N

It had been a long day. A buddy and I had flown three hops that day in the two-seat Viper, alternating front and back seats. We’d were going through the TOPGUN Adversary Course, the better to qualify us as bandits when we returned home to NAS Key West. Coming to the end of the course, the scars that the TOPGUN IP’s had inflicted at the beginning of the course were beginning to fade. Your humble scribe was starting to once again feel his oats.

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Fun At The Movies         

ItsAMadMadMadMadWorld

 

During the last 6 months or so I have become a regular visitor to our theater. While I have seen some recent ones, some memorable, some forgettable (using the Internet Lexicon YMMV) – the movies I mainly  like to see are the ones that have endured over time.

Part of this appreciation came from 2 friends, one of whom is an accomplished Hollywood Screenwriter, who have both given me an appreciation for classic Hollywood.

Never thought I could find pleasure in a movie made in 1928, at the end of the silent movies, but if you can find it view Show People , staring Marion Davies.

Marion stars as a poor naïve girl from Georgia, who comes out to Hollywood seeking fame and fortune.  She becomes a star and can laugh at herself in how it changed  her. The audience laughs right along with her almost 90 years later.

Truths are timeless.

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The Best of Neptunus Lex

LexMug

Preface

I came to know Lex through his writings. A longtime admirer of his, David Foster of Chicagoboyz.net, recommended a few of his favorite posts.

After reading the very first one, I was hooked. One could say that at that moment I became a Lexican. Some of Lex’s posts made you laugh and others made you think. He had the gift of showing people what life is like to serve on a carrier.

Until I read Lex, this old Army guy thought sailors had an easy life with clean, spacious accommodations and good food.  I just wondered if they were allowed to take their golf clubs while on a cruise.

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Book Review: Vietnam To Western Airlines

Vietnam

Imagine for a moment that you are an airline Captain or First Officer who is also a Vietnam aviation veteran. You’ve leveled off at cruising altitude, the autopilot is on, and it is a dark, quiet night.

You naturally start up a conversation with your left or right seater to while away the hours.

You learn that he also flew in Vietnam, and you hear his story. Sometimes the story you are hearing is the first time it’s been told, outside of his family.

There were stories told, from veteran to veteran.

After a few of these stories, you have the idea to put them in a book “someday”, and you ask your fellow crewmen if they would put their own stories to paper for you.

The years go by and a lot of these stories are sitting in a box in your garage.

There’s others that you get from your friends who know other Western Airlines Vietnam veterans with their own stories.

Thirty-seven stories and 25 or 30 years later, the book is finally published.

I’ve just described this wonderful book, Vietnam to Western Airlines.

It was loaned to me by a friend, who also happens to be a retired Western Airlines pilot.

He had been telling me about this book for some months and naturally, since Western merged with Delta in 1986, 28 years ago, I figured that this book must have been published years ago.

It came out just last year.

Virtually all of the writers will tell you how a typical mission went from takeoff to landing. You’ll hear from a B52 pilot who was involved in a midair collision with another B52, and another B52 pilot who will tell you how a typical Arc Light mission went.

There is a story involving 2 Navy A-1 pilots searching for a downed Air Force pilot. Night was coming; they were running low on fuel but didn’t want to abandon their fellow airman. The rescue involved the use of a cigarette lighter and a co-operative carrier captain, and couldn’t have been imagined by the best Hollywood screenwriter.

You’ll land at a remote Special Forces camp – so close to the Ho Chi Minh trail you could hear the convoys at night – and ferry Montagnard tribesmen in your C-7 Caribou. You’ll wonder how the Green Berets – in the middle of nowhere, always had clean, starched and creased uniforms.

Fly with a Marine in his UH-1 “Huey” on a typical mission to help besieged Khe Sanh. He brought supplies and took out the wounded and dead – for 77 days.

He learned quickly to time his ground time to 25 seconds – loading, unloading and refueling – because the North Vietnamese mortar men could reload in 32 seconds.

Learn from an Air Force FAC (Forward Air Control) pilot flying the little Cessna O2 about how he did his work – and did you know – once they arrived in-country they went to an orientation school informally named “FAC-U”?

Who says the military has no sense of humor?

Did you know that the Navy had a squadron of OV-10 pilots – called the “Black Ponies”?

You’ll read amazing stories from these pilots and others who flew F4s, F105s, F100s, A-4s, C-130s, AC-130s , even an EC-121.

I don’t want to reveal the entire book here but give you just a sample of things I learned. There are 37 fascinating stories, and the editor said that was just a sample of the Vietnam pilots who flew for Western Air Lines.

One other thing that intrigued me – even amused me.

More than one aviator quoted from a book entitled “Tactical Aerodrome Directory, South Vietnam”

Consider it like a Jeppensens for small airports and dirt strips throughout South Vietnam. You pilots who complain about certain difficult conditions in airports here just consider the warnings this book gave on various strips.

It was life and death seriousness during the war, but funny today. Just believe me, the warnings they gave for South Vietnamese airstrips don’t exist here.

If it weren’t for Bruce Cowee capturing and editing these stories, they would have been eventually lost forever. Equal thanks  go to his friends who gave us their stories.

This book is one of the few that having finished, will stay in my library and not passed on to a friend. This one was loaned but I am getting a copy.

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