BKlott

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BKlott last won the day on July 18

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About BKlott

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    Lives Here
  • Birthday 01/18/1957

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    Male
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    FA40
  • Reg #
    N5479R
  • Model
    C172M

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  1. I lived a good portion of my life in the South Bay Area in California and then we moved to West Central Florida in 1984. There are some noticeable differences that stand out between the two places. From a flying perspective, the scenery was more interesting and varied in California. I can remember departing from Torrance on days when the LA Basin was smoggy, flying up to the San Fernando Valley where it was crystal clear, seeing snow capped mountains in one direction, brown desert in another, then flying around the Palos Verdes Peninsula with the Pacific Ocean below and Catalina Island off in the distance while returning to Torrance. I could accomplish that with one hour in a Piper Tomahawk. You are just not going to replicate that experience here in Florida. Another difference I noticed was that there were fewer airplanes at the airports and fewer airports within driving distance. From our homes in Santa Monica, Rolling Hills Estates and Torrance, we could easily drive (and did, while shopping for Dad’s Mooney)to the following airports: Van Nuys, Whiteman, Santa Monica, Hawthorne, Torrance, Compton, Long Beach, Meadowlark (now gone), El Monte, Fullerton, Orange County (now John Wayne), Cable, Brackett, Riverside, Chino, Corona, Burbank, etc. You get the picture. You’re not going to have that same opportunity in Florida. Weather is another item. We have something in a Florida that you do not have in California, humidity. You enjoy a much more comfortable dry climate. While our temperatures this week have been in the low to mid 90s, our “feels like temperatures” have been around 106, thanks to the humidity. In some places you can experience the four seasons. In Florida, we have two; more Summer and less Summer. The discomfort caused by high humidity detracts from what could otherwise be a very nice living environment. Don’t get me wrong, there are days in the Fall and Winter months where the temperatures and humidity moderates. Those are fabulously wonderful days. Unfortunately, there are far too few of them to make up for the rest of the year, in my opinion. Some years, it seems, you can count those days using the fingers on one hand. Get used to staying indoors, enjoying the A/C or taking frequent showers to remain clean and dry. As a general comment, there seems to be fewer things to do and experience in Florida, compared to California. Housing costs are lower in Florida. You will be able to acquire more home for less cost here, than you can in California. That is a benefit of living here but I believe that would also be true in many areas in the East and Mid-west. Good luck and best wishes for your retirement. I’ve been retired a few years now and if I had known it would be this much fun, I would have done it forty years sooner!
  2. Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I hope that your cross country adventures will be as memorable as mine.
  3. Congratulations on your new airplane!
  4. Friday, July 31, 1970 13th leg. Amarillo, TX (TDW) to Winslow, AZ (INW). We got up early, again, this time with an actual wake-up call and headed back to Tradewinds Airport. The plan was to parallel I-40 heading West towards Winslow, our very first stop on this trip. We covered the 503 mile distance in 3 hours and 15 minutes. I asked Dad if we could spend the night? This was partially because I was tired but mostly because I didn’t want this grand adventure to end. Dad said “no”, that we needed to get home. 14th leg. Winslow, AZ (INW) to Torrance, CA. (TOA). It was hot in Winslow and Dad was concerned about takeoff performance. He did something on this takeoff that I never saw him do before. After getting some speed on the roll, he reached for the flap lever and gave her a couple of pumps of flap. Instead of launching the plane into ground effect, it caused the Mooney to start skipping down the runway. Three heart pounding skips later, we were airborne and climbing slowly away. The 442 miles back home to Torrance went by in 3 hours and 10 minutes. We had covered some 945 miles on this last day in 6 hours and 25 minutes of flying. This brought our total return trip to 2,543 miles in 19 hours and 10 minutes. Our first family flying vacation was over. Dad had finally realized his boyhood dream of flying his own airplane across the country. Epilogue Not long after returning home, Dad received a letter from his old flying buddy, “Reds” Honaker. “Reds” had enclosed a newspaper clipping of an airplane accident. Richard “Rip” Davis, the nice man who shared his plate of fries with me at the Bridgeport Airport Cafe, had been killed. It was the first time in my life that I would know someone who had been killed in an airplane accident. It would not be the last. Charlie Hillard would go on to become the first American to win the World Aerobatic Championship in 1972. He would also join up with Gene Soucy and Tom Poberezny to form first “The Red Devils” and later “The Eagles” aerobatic teams. Sadly, he would lose his life in a freak accident following a performance at the Sun-n-fun Fly-in in 1996. Following this trip, Dad would fly his Mooney just eighteen more times, including day trips to both Palm Springs and Santa Barbara. Then, with Mom facing surgery and uncertainty about when or if she would be able to return to work, coupled with a slowdown in orders at the factory where Dad worked and facing the possibility of layoffs, Dad decided to sell his Mooney. Then, in a mean twist of fate, shortly after the Mooney was sold, orders picked back up at the factory and Mom was able to return to work. Dad didn’t need to sell the Mooney after all, but it was too late, zero six Uniform was gone. I would not see the Mooney again for another twelve years. I was a Student Pilot, 26 years old, and I took a drive up to Hawthorne Airport on a whim. There, sitting across the runway, was Dad’s old Mooney. It had the same paint scheme but the colors had all faded and some of the striping had worn away. I was shocked by it’s appearance. Then I remembered the first weekend that we had owned it back at Torrance. We washed the Mooney from top to bottom and then Dad climbed underneath it to clean every bit of grease and grime off the belly. I thought of Dad, lying on his back on the ramp at Torrance Airport, cleaning his shiny airplane with great pride and the tears began to flow. It was one of the saddest moments of my life. In 1984 I moved East with my family and not long after that, the Mooney did too. Somehow I managed to locate the new owner and sent him a letter. He actually replied and sent me this picture: The Mooney had been re-painted and was all spruced up again! It was a happy day for me and Dad liked it too, but the Mooney wasn’t done with us yet. On July 8, 2010, Dad and I decided to fly down to Sebring for Lunch. Dad was at the controls of our Skyhawk. He landed on Sebring’s long North-South runway and as he made the first turnoff I noticed a Mooney parked on the ramp with a familiar registration number. I pointed and said “Dad, you’re going to want to park right next to that Mooney” and he did. We had a nice visit with the current owner who caught us up on all that had happened to it since Dad sold the plane in 1971. The interior Dad had put in was gone, as was the Mark 12 with the Mooney faceplate and the Bendix ADF. Forty years to the month of that special summer vacation, Dad, his old Mooney and me were together again. To this day it remains one of my favorite memories. My Dad with our Skyhawk.
  5. Thursday, July 30, 1970 10th leg. BluefIeld, WV (BLF) to Nashville, TN (BNA) Our wind up “wake-up call” worked well and we got an early start today. Charlie Hillard elected to sleep in and Dad wanted to make tracks so we headed off to the airport. As usual, there were no airport signs and we promptly got lost. An older man was sweeping up outside of a Post Office building. Dad stopped and told me to ask him for directions to the field. The grouch replied “there’s another town down the road about six miles, go ask them”. No kidding, that is what he said. Without any assistance Dad still managed to find the airport and the place was deserted when we arrived. The big hangar’s door was left unlocked, so we pushed it open. There sat the Mooney blocked in by a big twin. I think it was a Queen Air. Dad eyeballed the situation for a minute or two, got out the tow bar and started maneuvering the Mooney back and forth. We managed to just sneak it out without hitting a thing. We closed up the hangar and took off, heading West. This leg would need to be shorter as we hadn’t refueled after the 45 minute hop from Charleston. We covered the 313 miles to Nashville in just 2 hours 35 minutes. No memories of Nashville Municipal Airport remain. 11th leg. Nashville, TN (BNA) to Tulsa, OK (TUL) This was a 513 mile, 3 hour and 45 minute hop. The longest of our journey so far and I have absolutely no recollection of it. Maybe I was sound asleep or maybe those images have just been lost in the strange eddies of my memory. The weather was good and we were making time. 12th leg. Tulsa, OK (TUL) to Amarillo, TX (TDW). Flying Southwest to the Texas panhandle we landed at Tradewinds Airport on the South side of Amarillo. This last hop covered 340 miles in 2 hours and 30 minutes, bringing our total for the day to 1,166 miles in 8 hours and 50 minutes of flying time. It was our second longest day of flying on this flying vacation. California was now within reach with just two more hops needed to get home. I remember that the airport seemed to be on the outskirts of the city. We drove North from the field and then hopped on I-40 heading East. We stayed at the Howard Johnson’s as it had a restaurant as part of their facility. Made it real convenient for us. After forgetting most of what happened today, I do remember exactly what we ate for dinner that night. Hojo’s Dinner Special was meat loaf, mashed potatoes and corn. Dad and I both ordered the Special and we both cleaned our plates.
  6. GeeBee, I’m wondering what Class of Medical you hold or are you on BasicMed? This letter was sent to your AME, correct? May just be another good reason (as if “another” is needed) to be on BasicMed.
  7. For the loyal who have followed along and Paul Harvey fans as well, I will now proceed with “the rest of the story”. Wednesday, July 29, 1970 8th leg. Philadelphia, PA. (PHL) to Charleston, WV (CRW). Over the past weekend we attended Dad’s family reunion, held at the picnic grounds at Boyertown, PA. We also managed an evening visit with his favorite flying buddy, “Reds” Honaker and his wife, Peggy. Now it was getting time to head home to California. In one of those behind closed door, sneaky meetings that parents are so good at conducting in order to keep their kids in the dark, it was decided that Mom would be staying in Philadelphia a few days longer and return on an airliner over the weekend. This would make up for the visiting time that she lost due to the weather delays flying to Philly. This also saved Dad from having a mad scramble to resupply the Mooney with motion sickness bags. But taking the airlines would cause Mom to “sacrifice” the adventure of the flying trip back to California with Dad and me. I’m not quite sure if the tears that she shed that morning were “tears of sadness” in seeing us leave or “tears of joy” that she would not have to spend any more time in the back seat of Dad’s Mooney. Dad and I left for Atlantic Aviation at Philly International in the face of a gray, overcast sky with low ceilings. The weather had been typically crummy during our stay and did not look like it was going to improve anytime soon. Dad was going to file IFR and fly in Actual Instrument conditions for the very first time. I remember clearly that we were held idling in the run-up area for what seemed like a fairly long time. Then we were finally released and cleared for takeoff. We were in the soup pretty quick while being vectored around before breaking out on top. Trouble was, we kept running into more clouds that kept pushing us higher. We eventually were cruising at 12,000 feet with no oxygen on board. My head was feeling kind of funny. As we broke out in the clear we saw two things: the next wall of clouds, which was even higher than we were flying at, and a big hole in the undercast, which went all the way to the ground. It was at that very moment that the Air Traffic Controller advised Dad that we were running out of radar coverage and he would need to resume normal position reporting. Dad decided this would be the ideal time to cancel IFR and head back down through the hole. It can be very difficult to make position reports when your precise location is less than clear. Dad found his way to Charleston, West Virginia, covering the 355 statute miles from Philadelphia in 3 hours and 10 minutes. 9th leg. Charleston, WV (CRW) to BluefIeld, WV (BLF) I have absolutely no recollection of Charleston at all. I do remember that we took off heading Southwest but quickly ran into a fast moving front which actually caused us to fly Southeast, instead. Mercer County Airport in BluefIeld, WV became our port in this storm. We covered the 77 mile distance from Charleston in just 45 minutes, only to realize that we were now farther East when we were heading West. A number of other pilots had dropped in before us to avoid the approaching weather, so we had plenty of company. Dad asked the FBO to put the Mooney in their big Community Hangar, which they did, just before the skies darkened, the storm hit and the wind really began to blow. That is when a voice crackled in over the Unicom. Someone else was going to attempt a landing in these wicked conditions. It was none other than Charlie Hillard, the 1967 National Aerobatic Champion, flying in his Spinks Akromaster! Everybody crowded by the FBO’s window, which faced the runway, wanting to watch this landing. The Akromaster was not known for being a “forgiving” airplane and these were extremely challenging conditions. Obviously, all the Pilots there would treat this moment with the reverence it deserved. As the Akromaster came in we all started counting, bounces, that is ... One...Two...Three...uh oh...Four....Five...well, after Six, my view was blocked. I can’t say for certain how many bounces there actually were. Charlie Hillard got it down, safe and sound. That is all that mattered. Since Dad got the last Rental Car available, we offered to give Mr. Hillard a ride into town. That was an adventure all it’s own. The directions we were given were something like: “go down the road and make the third left, then turn right at the second stoplight”. This worked great getting us into town but was absolutely worthless when we were trying to get back to the airport the next morning. When we arrived at the hotel, there were just two rooms left. I’ll never forget what happened when Dad asked the old guy at the front desk if we could have a “wake-up call”. Without saying a word, the old grump bent down behind his counter and came up with a wind-up alarm clock and placed it on the counter.
  8. Here is an analogy that I think may help you understand the difference between operating a simulator on a PC and actual flying. You may discuss it with your buddies, read books and watch movies about sex but until you have actually done it, you won’t really understand what it is all about.
  9. Tuesday, July 21, 1970 Seventh leg. Dayton, OH (DAY) to Philadelphia, PA (PHL). We took off heading East in bright sunny skies determined to make it into Philly today. Dad had even promised Mom to file IFR, if he needed to, in order to get us there. It wasn’t necessary. I have just two distinct memories of this leg. First, the brick smoke stacks of the chocolate factory in Hershey and how bright and green that part of Pennsylvania appeared. Second, the stinky smell of the air from the oil refineries as we landed in hazy Philadelphia. We parked the Mooney at Atlantic Aviation where Dad had been a part-time Flight Instructor and Charter Pilot in the 1950s and early 1960s. He had instructed Varner Paulsen, the Program Director for WIP Radio in Philadelphia, for a radio program called Flying Lessons. They recorded each lesson using a reel to reel tape recorder and then played the recording on the air, a far cry from the YouTube videos we get to enjoy today. We covered the 476 mile leg into Philly in just 3 hours and 5 minutes, bringing our total for the trip up to 2,447 miles in 19 hours and 5 minutes of flying time. The weather and backtracking had clearly impacted our results. Dad and I had planned to fly the Mooney to all the airports that he used to fly at in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We were going to look for his old flying buddies and the Cub he had purchased new in 1946, NC70728, to see if we could find it. Unfortunately, the weather was uncharacteristically crummy and we got tied up with commitments to friends, family and relatives. The two days that we lost due to enroute weather didn’t help matters either. The Mooney would not move again until it was time to head back to California on Wednesday, July 29th. Dad did manage to sneak off with me for one half of one day. He drove me to where Almonesson Airport was in New Jersey. This is where he kept his Cub back in 1946. It was now a shopping center. Then he drove me to Pitman Airport to see if his friend Ralph Jones, “Jonesy”, who ran the FBO there and previously at Almonesson, was still around. He wasn’t. Two airport visits and not much luck. Last, we drove over to Bridgeport Airport and there we hit paydirt. Sitting in an open hangar was a Piper Cub with N70728 painted on it’s side. It was no longer yellow with a shiny black stripe like Dad remembered, but now a faded white with dull red registration numbers. Where the back seat should have been there was a plywood box that made it look like the plane was being used as a duster of some sorts. Then we spotted one of Dad’s old buddies, Richard “Rip” Davis. After greetings, we all went over to the Airport Cafe and had lunch together. I ordered my usual hamburger and a coke, so I was happy eating, while Dad and “Rip” got caught up. “Rip” told me to help myself with his plate of French fries. That was awfully nice of him and I had no trouble helping myself either. When we were done eating lunch, Dad and I walked back over to the hangar to see his old Cub, one last time. Dad was never very openly sentimental about such things but he did spend some time just staring at the first airplane that he owned when he was still young and single. I can only imagine what he was thinking about in those moments from the stories that he had told me. Maybe he was thinking about the time he had flown his Cub to the Reading Air Show. On his was back to Almonesson he was passed by a yellow and black Culver V, which made him feel like he was “parked”. Or maybe he remembered taking delivery of his Cub, the very first time that he saw her. As they pulled her from the hangar, the mechanic polished the cowling so it would look perfect for it’s new owner, him. Whatever he was thinking in those special few moments, I knew it meant a lot to him. I am glad that I got to be there to see it. Dad with NC70728 in 1946 at Almonesson Airport, NJ.
  10. Monday, July 20, 1970 Sixth leg. Lawrenceville, IL (LWV) to Dayton, OH (DAY) Third day of our vacation and back in the Mooney heading Northeast towards Philadelphia. Once again we caught up with the weather that had been hindering our progress since Sunday. We got as far as Dayton, Ohio before we had to stop. There we sat and waited. We only covered 197 miles today in 2 hours of flying. We were still some 476 miles from Philadelphia but the weather wouldn’t cooperate. I’ve often wondered why Dad didn’t file IFR to continue along the route. He was rated and current but the Mooney was not very well equipped for the job. Certainly not by today’s standards. We had the Mooney faceplate version of the Narco Mark 12 Nav/com, one VOR head and a Bendix ADF T12-B, a coffee grinder ADF at that. There was no such thing as GPS, LORAN or magenta lines. Nationwide radar coverage did not yet exist which created challenges for single Pilot IFR operations. Out of radar coverage, pilots were required to make position reports to ATC at various points along the airways. Part of this requirement was to provide an accurate estimate of the time that you will reach the next reporting point. Of course, this time estimate needed to be converted to Greenwich Mean Time or Zulu Time as it was commonly called. Without a DME providing accurate groundspeed and distance information, the pilot had some calculating to do with his E6b computer. All this while flying an airplane. Additionally, Dad obtained his Instrument Rating in a Navion, back in the days of the Low Frequency Range approaches, which were largely no longer in use. He did go to Flight Safety for up to date training on the new approaches and procedures, as well as getting current for the trip. However, he had no “actual” instrument time. I think that is why he was hesitant to file and preferred to fly VFR. Anxious to get home to visit her family and friends, Mom was becoming less enamored with our flying vacation and the Mooney in particular. As she sat on the FBO’s sofa, staring out of the large picture window that framed the Mooney parked outside, her demeanor was that of complete and utter disgust. Dad confided in me when he said “I don’t know what she is thinking”. She is thinking either “I can’t believe that I have to climb back in that thing again” or “I wish it would just blow up or something”. I was having a great time and remember thinking that the Mooney looked awfully pretty sitting out there.
  11. Sunday, July 19, 1970 Fourth leg. Tulsa, OK. (TUL) to Rolla, MO. (VIH). Waking up from my longest day of flying, knowing that we were about to start it all again, was a bit more difficult than even I expected. Mom, who is no Louise Thaden, was even less enthusiastic than she had been at the start of our trip. The flight had progressed right on schedule so far and we were looking forward to reaching Philadelphia in time for dinner. Unfortunately for us, the weather had other ideas. The plan for this leg was to fly from Tulsa to Parks Air College in Cahokia (East St. Louis, IL) to top off our tanks before proceeding East. As we approached the Mississippi River, which defines the State Line between Missouri and Illinois, the sky turned purple and ugly, right down to the ground. There was thunderstorm activity evident by lightning strikes and Parks was obscured in the downpours. We had no choice but to turn back and find somewhere to set down and wait out the weather. Rolla National Airport was Dad’s choice. Two long runways with good wind coverage and a town nearby made it an attractive option. While the Mooney got topped off, we sat and waited for the weather to clear from St. Louis. As a couple of hours passed by it became evident that we were not going to reach Philadelphia today. We were only 263 miles from Tulsa and we covered that distance, along with backtracking from near St. Louis, in just 2 hours and 35 minutes. But the time was ticking by. A call to Flight Service informed Dad that the weather front had moved east and that we could reach St. Louis VFR with no difficulty. We might even be able to get a little further East if we wanted to push on. Fifth leg. Rolla, MO. (VIH) to Lawrenceville, IL. (LWV) Eager to start making up time, we climbed back into the Mooney and took off into the clear, sunny skies. This time, as we approached Parks, the weather looked great so Dad decided to keep going to see how far we could get. After enjoying the sight of downtown St. Louis and the Arch, Mom decided to take a nap. She was fast asleep in the back seat. Proceeding East across Illinois, we started to catch back up to the front which had hindered our progress earlier today. The clear sky became overcast and started turning gray. Dad had to start descending to stay out of the clouds. My assignment was to look in the AOPA Airport Directory to find an airport with a nearby hotel that would provide transportation to and from the airport. In those days, the publication contained that info which was a big help in planning cross country flights. I gave Dad a couple of options, one of which was Lawrenceville-Vincennes Airport. There was a VOR right on the field so we headed in their direction. As we got closer, the ceiling got darker and lower and lower. We were down to about 1,000 feet AGL when the rain started and we still hadn’t spotted the field. It was at this moment that Louise Thaden chose to wake up from her nap. Mom, surprised by the change from sunny skies to being in the rain, grabbed the back of my seat and gave it a good pull as she sat up to take in what was happening. I got yanked back and startled, my arms flew up in the air and Dad turned to see Mom with a terrified, eyes popping out of her head, look on her face. Fortunately, Dad spotted the airport and we landed the Mooney in the rain. The Line Crew at the FBO was great. Dad asked for a hangar over the radio and the Line Crew directed us to an enclosed hangar which you could taxi right into one side and out the other (if you opened the doors). Dad pulled the Mooney in, shut down and we climbed out of the cabin without getting wet. You’ve probably heard that no good deed goes unpunished, right? The owner of the FBO instructs the Line Crew to take the van and drive us into town to get a room for the night. We pile into the van with our luggage and the Line Boy starts up the van. He promptly proceeded to back up directly into the Owner’s brand new car. CRUNCH! He took us into town as directed but he wasn’t there the next day when we returned. We often have wondered if he lost his job that day. We covered the 229 miles from Rolla to Lawrenceville in 2 hours and 20 minutes, bringing our total for the day to 492 miles in 4 hours and 55 minutes of flying time. Not a very impressive result all due to the weather. Tomorrow we should reach Philadelphia, or will we?
  12. Saturday, July 18, 1970. First leg. Torrance, CA. (TOA) to Winslow, AZ. (INW) We got up early and piled into our green 1966 Pontiac LeMans and headed down Hawthorne Blvd to Torrance Airport. Unexpected was the solid gray overcast which blanketed the Los Angeles basin. It was high enough that we could at least get started. We made a right downwind departure from Torrance, heading East. When Dad contacted Flight Service to activate our VFR Flight Plan, he learned there were Pilot Reports of a good sized hole further on. Two other planes were ahead of us heading in that direction so we followed them. As we approached the area of lightness, the first plane pulled up and disappeared. Then the second plane did the same thing. We did too. It wasn’t a huge break in the overcast but it was big enough. We were on our way. Our first stop was Winslow, Arizona, long before it achieved fame in the song by Glen Frey and the Eagles. Winslow was about 442 statute miles straight line distance from Torrance. Of course there was no GPS or magenta lines to follow in those days. We were navigating by VORs along the Victor Airways. Our actual flying distance was farther. Dad handled the flying while I watched for traffic and learned about folding, unfolding and refolding Sectional Charts. While we were busy up front, Mom was busy in the back seat as well. This is where the brilliance of my Dad’s preflight planning really shined. Dad had skillfully obtained and strategically placed a supply of motion sickness bags in the pockets behind the front seats. Mom was vigorously putting these bags to work. We were in serious jeopardy of running out of bags before we even arrived at Winslow. This reminded me of an old black and white photo that I saw in one of my parents old photo albums. It is a picture of a Navion with the canopy slid open. Sitting on the wing is a bucket with a rag hanging over it’s side. On the back of the photo Dad wrote these words: “Ruth’s first plane ride. Note the bucket and rags.” We managed to make it to Winslow in 3 hours and 10 minutes of flying time without a bag crisis, although I do think some additional contributions had been made to previously used bags. Because of the time zone change, the fact that Mom could use a break and there was a restaurant on the field, Dad thought it would be a good idea to take a lunch break while the Mooney was getting topped off. The best part of our lunch at Winslow was the pretty blonde waitress, who had her hair in a pony-tail, that waited on us. Being a thirteen year old twerp who lived some four hundred miles away, I knew my chances of ever seeing her again were pretty slim. Seven years later I would meet another pretty blonde and that one, I married. The second one was worth waiting for. Second leg. Winslow, AZ (INW) to Tucumcari, NM (TCC) Between Winslow and Tucumcari we had to dodge some isolated rain showers along the way. I remember thinking that even though the altimeter showed that we were flying higher than I had ever been before, the ground didn’t seem that far away. After barfing her guts out on the first leg, Mom had settled down and we covered the 402 statute mile distance in just 2 hours and 45 minutes of flying time. I think my memories of this leg must have been obscured by a blonde cloud. Third leg. Tucumcari, NM (TCC) to Tulsa, Ok (TUL) Our final leg for this first day of flying was a 438 mile run up to Tulsa, Oklahoma. We covered this distance in 3 hours and 10 minutes of flying time, bringing our first day total to 9 hours and 5 minutes while covering a distance in excess of 1,282 statute miles. Tulsa was a busy International Airport. We parked the Mooney next to some big brick buildings and hangars. I am guessing that the FBO was probably Tulsair. It was sunny, breezy and loud. What was making it so loud was the 747 that was practicing takeoffs and landings. Boeing had a factory there and we had never even seen a 747 before that. We were awestruck by how big it was and how slow it would appear to fly. It was an amazing sight back then. Aside from the deficit of motion sickness bags in the Mooney, our first day of flying was a great success. We were halfway across the country in just one day. Reaching Philadelphia should be a cinch tomorrow but the weather had other plans for us.
  13. If someone were to ask you “what were you doing fifty years ago today?”, most of us would probably have a hard time answering that question. Unless it happened to be the day you got married or the day one of your kids was born. Sometimes other events become so meaningful in our lives that they too, stand out, as special moments, even turning points that forever change our life experience. I knew that the 50th Anniversary of one such event was approaching but I needed to look into my Dad’s logbook to confirm the date. That date is tomorrow, Saturday July 18, 1970. It was the day that my Mom, Dad and I climbed aboard Dad’s 1964 C model Mooney, N7106U to not only begin our summer vacation, our first family flying vacation, but to be part of Dad realizing his boyhood dream of one day flying across the country in his very own airplane. This was only the second time since my Dad’s passing that I have looked in his logbooks and I was not prepared for the flood of emotion that would follow. You need to understand that this was more than just a vacation flight. It was more than a trip from California back home to Pennsylvania to attend a family reunion. It was the culmination of nearly four years of constant searching for the right airplane to make his dreams come true. It was also going to be the opportunity for Dad and me to find some of his flying buddies from the 1940s and 1950s and to see if we could find his 1946 J-3 that he ordered brand new from the factory in 1946. And, to make it even more challenging, we had to do all this in just two weeks time, because that is all the vacation time that Dad had. So over the next two weeks, I would like to invite all of you to climb aboard 06U and ride along with my family as we relive that special event from my childhood, just as it occurred so very long ago. I promise there will be adventure, an accident, a pretty girl and a celebrity along the way. Like all true stories there will be some tears and death as well.
  14. I was pretty young at the time and was used to flying with my Dad in Cessna 150s and Cherokee 140s. The 195 was bigger and had some different, unique characteristics that bothered me. One item was the shock mounted instrument panel. Once the engine started, which involved large amounts of smoke billowing past the windows, the panel seemed to vibrate excessively. I don’t know how you could read those instruments. Of course the whole airplane was wobbling on the spring landing gear once the engine started. It never did seem to want to sit still. Another feature that concerned me was the built-in control lock feature on the yoke. I remember that you pushed that forward to engage the control lock. I was afraid that, while we were flying, the yoke could be pushed far enough forward that the lock would engage and we would up in a screaming power dive straight towards the ground. Then there was the maintenance feature that allowed the engine to swing out from the firewall at an angle, providing access to the rear of the engine. I used to worry about the bolt(s) that held the engine in place. What if it failed? The engine would pivot to the left and we would be stuck flying in an uncontrollable left turn until we crashed. Then there was a miss in the engine. It had the 300 hp Jacobs in it. I think when they turned on the distributor (?) the engine ran kind of funny. Instead of a constant hummmmmmmmmmmmmmm sound, it would be more like a hummmmmm.....mmmmmmmmmmm....mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...mmmmmmmmmmmmmm type of sound. It would sound like it would quit running for a fraction of a second and then resume running again. Finally, this particular 195 had a problem with it’s door latch. Dad had bought into this partnership and the other partners didn’t want to spend any money on the airplane. Replacing the coffee grinder radios with crystal sets or fixing the door latch were just not priorities in their minds. So it didn’t happen. On my second ride in the plane, the door flew open at altitude and I was sitting in the back seat, since Mom was up front with Dad. Scared me to death, cause I believed this thing was trying to kill me anyway. Dad managed to get the door closed and I refused to get in the airplane after that. I was probably ten at the time. He got out of the partnership and bought his Mooney a few years later. We were both much happier then. Sadly, maybe a year or two after Dad got out of the partnership, the 195 was totaled during a loss of control accident on landing at Brackett Airport in California. The last we saw it, it was sitting on a trailer at Torrance Airport with a crinkled fuselage and wings. P.S. I’ve found that now that I am a bit older (63), I’ve become much more comfortable around Cessna 195s at fly-ins. That is, as long as they are tied down, nobody is in them (especially me) and the door is closed. They seem to be fairly harmless like that.