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Hanger Tails(Tales) ~ Flying/Aviation

Stryder50

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So the purpose here is general discussion of flying and aviation.

At first I was thinking of making it for mostly Civil/private pilot related topics, but figure we should include military and commercial as well. Mostly want to focus on aircraft types, especially flown, and even more on experiences with "hands on" the stick, feet on the rudder pedals, etc. But interesting experiences while along for the ride can be included, and other interesting episodes and events of aviation history as well.

Mainly looking to discuss things related to traveling in the "wild blue yonder".

So the bird is chocked and tied down and it's time to grab a cuppa, or shot, or brew in the hanger lounge and spin some tales of tails ....
 
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Stryder50

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Before getting into my own limited personal experiences, I'm going to lead off this piece I came across today. It's an interesting perspective of one close to flying, but not quite bit by the "flying bug".
....

Flight Plan​

Learning to live with a pilot.
By Ann Patchett
July 26, 2021
...
The three of us were in a 1957 de Havilland Beaver, floating in the middle of a crater lake in the southwest quadrant of Alaska. The pilot was recounting the toll that the Vietnam War had taken on him, while, over in the right seat, my boyfriend, Karl, listened. Thanks to proximity, I was listening as well, though chances are they’d forgotten I was there. Outside, water sloshed against the pontoons, rocking the plane gently from side to side. No one had asked this man to tell his story in a long time, but Karl had asked, and so the pilot put the plane down on the lake, turned off the ignition, and began.

Karl and I were spending a week fishing at a fly-out lodge outside Iliamna, by which I mean nowhere near Iliamna but closer to Iliamna than to anywhere else. Each morning, we and the dozen or so other guests gathered up our neoprene waders and were divided into groups of three or four or five. Along with thermoses and sandwiches and tackle boxes and a guide, we were loaded into a string of warhorse floatplanes bobbing at the dock. The pilots who flew for the lodge struck me as men who would have had a hard time finding work elsewhere. ...
...
Despite the significant majesty of the place, wading around in a river for eight hours wasn’t my idea of a good time. Bears prevented me from wandering off. Rain prevented me from reading on the shore. Mosquitoes prevented everything else.

So when, on the fifth day, Karl suggested that we skip the fishing and pay extra to spend the day flying instead, I was in. Flying was what he’d come for, anyway: the early-morning flight out to the fish and the afternoon flight back to the lodge. Karl liked talking to the pilots—who put him in the right seat and let him wear the headset—and they liked talking to him, because he was a doctor, and free medical advice is hard to come by. Karl and I were less than a year into our relationship when we went to Alaska, and I didn’t yet fully understand the centrality of airplanes in his life. After Alaska, I got it.

When the talk of war was done, the pilot asked Karl if he’d ever flown a Beaver, if he’d had the experience of taking off from the water and landing on the water. Karl said no, he had not. Even though Karl had been flying since he was a boy, at forty-seven he still didn’t have his pilot’s license. He was honest about this—he was honest about everything, which should not be confused with being thoughtful about everything.

“You have to tip the nose up when you land,” the pilot said. “That’s the mistake people make. It’s hard to get the depth perception because of the glare, so you wind up hitting with the nose. Then you flip. You want to try?” He was so grateful to Karl, and this was the only gift he had to give. The day was bright with puffs of cloud and low winds. Karl and his new friend put on their headsets.

I was no stranger to the single-engine. My stepfather Mike had rented planes when I was growing up, and, with my mother, flew to some of the medical conferences where he gave lectures. Sometimes I was in the back with the luggage. My mother had taken enough flying lessons to know how to land, should she be called on to do so. When we moved to a farm outside Nashville, Mike bought a tiny red helicopter, which he flew for years.

After a demonstration—up, around, down again—the pilot turned over the controls. This was not Lake Michigan. Getting up to speed required circling, but you had to take off straight toward a fixed point on the horizon and into the wind. Karl took off toward the shore, and then we lifted off the lake, flew past the mountains, through the clouds, around the blue sky, back through the clouds and past the mountains, then nose up, plane down, smack into the lake. The pilot was right; it was hard to see it coming. I reminded myself to relax my jaw. The pilot offered Karl some pointers, some praise. There was a quick discussion of how the landing could be improved, and then we were off again, a tighter circle, greater speed, straight up, lake-mountain-cloud-blue-cloud-mountain-lake, the nose up as we came down. The jolt was harder this time—I felt it in my spine—but before I could fully register my relief we were up again: a carnival ride for which no one bothered to take the tickets.

I wasn’t prone to airsickness or seasickness, but the combination of air and water in rapid succession was something new. I turned away from the window to contemplate the floor, stamped metal rusted at the edges, like a service elevator in a hospital. I stared at it while Karl took off, turned above the lake, then dropped back down onto the surface. Repetition was the key to learning. The only thing on hand to throw up in were the pilot’s waders, which seemed better (better?) than throwing up on the stamped-metal floor. I held down my breakfast through sheer force of will. I was angry at both men—especially the one I was sharing a bed with back at the lodge—for not caring about how seriously unpleasant this might be for someone who did not live to fly. But, despite the rage and the nausea pulsing in the back of my throat, I wasn’t afraid. Considering that about half of all small-craft accidents occur during either takeoff or landing; considering that taking off and landing was all we were doing; considering that the plane was rusted and the pilot had struggled with the aftereffects of Agent Orange and my boyfriend had never landed a plane on water before; considering that this lake was somewhere far from Iliamna and no one knew we were there in the first place; considering that if the plane flipped, as it had been established these planes could do, I would probably not be able to swim through the freezing water in my sack of neoprene (which I had stupidly worn against the cold), and that, if I did make it to the shore, my chances of surviving whatever came next were probably zero—I should have been afraid.

But Karl and I were together, and he was the person slamming the plane onto the lake, so I was not.

“Karl flies?” people ask me. “Have you ever flown with him?”

I fly with him all the time, and when we’re together in the plane I’m never concerned, not about black clouds or lightning, not about turbulence that could knock the fillings from your teeth. The times I’m afraid are the times when I’m not in the plane, and by “afraid” I mean an emotion closer to terror. Take, for example (there are so many examples), the time Karl flew a Cessna to Kingston, Ontario, to look at a boat, and on the way home had to land on an airstrip somewhere in Ohio because the weather was so bad. The tiny airport office was locked, and he stood under the wing of the plane to call and let me know he’d be late. He called again two hours later, from Bowling Green, Kentucky, to say that he had landed a second time because the transponder was out, which meant that the plane couldn’t be tracked. The weather was still bad.
....
Maybe this story starts with Lindbergh, who flew to Paris when Karl’s father, Frank, was ten. Frank was one of a whole country of children, an entire world of children, who could now look up and imagine themselves in the sky. Frank became an oral surgeon. He married Jo, and they had three children, Karl, Nancy, and Michael. Frank started taking flying lessons in a Tri-Pacer, with Karl in the back seat. A few weeks after Michael was born, Frank bought his first plane, a 1946 Ercoupe. He asked the family’s minister to come to the house after dinner, when Karl and Nancy were in bed. Jo was in her pajamas, the new baby in her lap. The minister sat on the couch between them while Frank told his wife that he’d bought a plane.

The Ercoupe was big enough for two small people. Frank let Karl fly it when they were together because the plane was so easy—tricycle landing, no rudder pedals, and it steered like a car. Not only had Frank bought a plane without telling his wife; he let their eight-year-old son fly it.

Meridian, Mississippi, where Karl grew up, has its own page in aviation history. In 1935, the Key brothers, Fred and Al, who had developed a method of aerial refuelling in which they connected to a second plane midair, set the world record for endurance flying by circling the town in a Curtiss Robin for twenty-seven days without landing. The flight was a stunt to save their local airfield, and it worked: the airfield, later named Key Field, wasn’t closed. After the Second World War, Fred and Al opened Key Brothers Flying Service. When Karl was ten, Fred gave him a job after school sweeping out hangars, cleaning spark plugs, and, eventually, driving the fuel truck out to gas up the planes. He was always hanging around the airfield anyway. When someone needed a ride to New Orleans to pick up a plane, Karl would go along with Fred to fly co-pilot on the way home.

“Co-pilot?” I asked. “And you were what, twelve?” Tales grow tall in Mississippi, a by-product of the humidity and heat. Was it possible that a twelve-year-old was flying planes? I have learned to ask the same questions multiple times.

“All you had to do was keep the altitude steady. Most of the planes only went eighty-five or ninety miles an hour.” The joke was that “I.F.R.” didn’t stand for “instrument flight rules” but for “I fly railroads.” Karl said that if he flew over the track for the Southerner it would take him straight back to Meridian.

This gave Fred Key a chance to eat his sandwich.

Around the time when Karl started flying right seat with Fred Key, he rode his bike to the airfield early one summer Saturday morning. There was a Piper Super Cub near the hangar that hadn’t been there the day before. The Cubs were all the same; the people around Key Field used to say you could get it in yellow or you couldn’t get it. But this Cub was white with red stripes, which should have been a tipoff. Super Cubs didn’t have ignition keys. All that was required to start one was the turn of a switch and the push of a button. Karl left his bike in the grass alongside the runway, untied the wings and the tail, pulled off the chocks. The cockpit smelled new. He turned the switch and pushed the button. He had never soloed before, and this seemed like the day to do it.

“It wasn’t like I was flying to Mexico,” Karl said, after I pointed out that this had been a stupendously bad idea. “I taxied out, took off, made one turn around the pattern. The whole thing took ten minutes, and I probably wasn’t more than six hundred feet off the ground. It would have been fine, except that the engine quit.”

The engine quit?

“I had to land it in the field. I came down maybe twenty feet short of the runway.”

Over time, you come to know the seminal stories of the person you live with. I knew this story, and, when I pressed hard against it, Karl came up with every detail he could remember: It was muddy. He pushed the plane back to where it had been. It wasn’t heavy; there was a handle on the side, and he leaned against the fuselage to direct it. It was still early, and there was no one else at the airfield. He washed the plane and tied it down, replaced the chocks, then rode his bicycle home to tell his father what he’d done. It was Mr. Tony’s plane, and Frank sent Karl to Mr. Tony to apologize. Mr. Tony listened, and then asked Karl if he’d switched the gas tank when the engine quit. No horror, no recrimination, just “Did you switch the gas tank?” The Piper Cub had a single tank, but this was a Super Cub. Mr. Tony’s Super Cub had two tanks, and you had to switch them over manually. Sixty years after the fact, Karl pulled up diagrams of a Piper Cub and a Super Cub on his phone to show me where the tanks were placed. I didn’t care where the tanks were placed.

“What were you thinking?” I asked him.


“About what?”

“About taking a plane, about flying by yourself, about the engine quitting. What did you think when the engine quit?”

“Those planes can glide a long way.”

We stared at each other—one person who flew planes, one person who believed that there was an emotional narrative to flying planes. The two lines did not intersect. “You weren’t scared?”

Karl thought about it. “It was a long time ago.”

“I know.”

“Well, then, not that I remember.”

After Karl borrowed Mr. Tony’s plane, his father let him solo in the Ercoupe, maybe so that he would get over any bad associations he had about soloing, or maybe because the kid had already proved that he could do it in someone else’s plane, so why not?


I wondered what I’d say were I pressed to remember how I felt the first time I drove a car by myself, or the first time a car I was driving ran out of gas. If there were actual feelings associated with those events, I had no access to them, because it was just a car.

Which was how Karl felt about planes.
...

It's a long article and I've shared excerpts from about the first half, but hopefully get the picture ...
 

Ridgerunner

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First and foremost I am not an aviator... No license to fly, no mechanic's license... There is a perfectly good reason, to much math involved... I have a deep respect for folks that manufacture, operate any A/C and be able to wrench on any A/C is an amazing skill... That being said, I have been around a few A/C in my 67 years...

My first experience flying was when I was (guesstimation) 7 or 8 years old... 1961/1962 :dunno:... My father had a friend from his work that had a pilots license... My Dad was a freight Conductor and this gentleman was a Locomotive Engineer... It was a Sunday afternoon In a very small farming community in mid-central Illinois and somethin was afoot... Apparently this was all pre-arranged without my knowledge... Any who Dad said "Charlie", (my name is not really Charlie, but that is what he always called me, said lets go for a walk... We lived on the edge of this (100 to150 pop.) town next the the last house in town... About a 1/4 of a mile away from the last house there was a lane, Tractor-path back to a old double-sided corncrib about another 1/4 of a mile off the road...
1627798902237.png


Well guess where we went? The next thing I knew there was a plane landing on the lane in-between the soybean crop... Well we all walked back to the house and the adults had coffee (always had coffee) and I was running around like a stripped ass ape with excitement... I was going to get to go flying... To be honest I remember more about the lead into the flight than I do the flight... I don't remember being afraid, and I do remember pulling back on the yoke and pressing on the rudders with permission of coarse... I had a difficult time going to sleep that night...

Great OP Stryder50

I have a couple of more life experiences regarding Aviation but I will post at a later time...

Your turn westwall

Gotta have some A&P tall tales... gallantwarrior
 
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Ridgerunner

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Citabria driver here.

Real pilots fly taildraggers.

Well Shirley there are some hair raising tales you can regale us with...
 

westwall

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I have many, mostly true! A quick one, we were flying a Pilatus Turbo Porter up onto the Tasman Glacier. We dropped the students off, and were headed back the airport for a bite to eat while they did their work.

We had taken off and passed through 1500 feet agl when we hit a down draft, I was looking at a mountaineers cabin that was 1000 feet below us, when, the next thing I knew, we were level with it!

Thank the engineers who designed her but that Porter used all 1500 horsepower to drag our asses back up and out of the cirque.

We had a few lagers that night!
 
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Stryder50

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Citabria driver here.

Real pilots fly taildraggers.
Supposedly one needs to get certified in that now-a-days. As with anything else.
 
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Stryder50

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You have always needed an endorsement and currency for taildraggers.
Which is interesting when considering about half the history of aviation is made with taildraggers.
 
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Stryder50

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15 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Airline Pilots​

They may not have told you everything when you went into the cockpit to have wings pinned to your shirt. So, here’s a few interesting facts about working in the sky.

 
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Stryder50

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Unfortunately, with the border closed to "nonessentials", I wasn't able to attend this year. However, being less than a dozen miles SouthWest of there, did get to see some of the action from a distance and some of the aircraft in transit.

The Abbotsford International Airshow is excited to present SkyDrive August 6, 7 & 8, 2021. SkyDrive is a drive-in air show experience – attendees will each get a 20′ x 20′ dedicated space to park and set up their own viewing area beside the vehicle with lawn chairs, blankets, umbrellas, etc. Bring your own snacks and non-alcoholic refreshments to enjoy during the show! Onsite washrooms will be available.
...
 

westwall

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Unfortunately, with the border closed to "nonessentials", I wasn't able to attend this year. However, being less than a dozen miles SouthWest of there, did get to see some of the action from a distance and some of the aircraft in transit.

The Abbotsford International Airshow is excited to present SkyDrive August 6, 7 & 8, 2021. SkyDrive is a drive-in air show experience – attendees will each get a 20′ x 20′ dedicated space to park and set up their own viewing area beside the vehicle with lawn chairs, blankets, umbrellas, etc. Bring your own snacks and non-alcoholic refreshments to enjoy during the show! Onsite washrooms will be available.
...



We are already ramping up for the Air Races. I am heading down to Stead in a few minutes to get the avionics shed ready.
 

Ridgerunner

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Background...
The year is 1984 and I was hired on with a Airline Service Company @ HNL International as a Ramp Rat... My first experience with Commercial Aviation and large body a/c... At the time the Co. had contracts with Qantas, Ward Air (Canadian), and a couple of small Charter Airlines and any business we could drum up... Primarily Boeing A/C ranging from 707's to 747's and a smithereens of Lockheed L-1011's and McDonnell Douglas DC-10's...

Meat of the story...
A year and a half goes by and I am now a Ramp Supervisor with one foot planted firmly on the ground and the other one going around in circles...
:uhoh3: We have grown considerably in the year and a half and and 99% of the A/C we handled were turn-arounds... This particular morning we had 5 A/C's being prepared for departure... Everyone knows that the key to a successful operation is communication and cross utilization of your manpower... At this point in time I am going to call bullshit... Murphy was alive and well and was spotted on gate 18 that morning by several people...
The Company I worked for was tight with the folks at Qantas and we also handled any RAAF flights that was in town for war games or transiting between Oz and the mainland... The RAAF Flight was a 707... It was just a departure as it had came in 2 days earlier and became a RON... Normally there would have been just 4 A/C, with 2 supervisors and 4 5-man ground crews... The RAAF was a Bonus... I told the other supervisor that I would handle my A/C and the RAAF Flight... One piece of equipment that we were responsible for was left on the gate and had to be moved... We had to use our Stair truck to access the rear PAX door on the A/C... We had a nice Stair Truck... Good paint job, truck was in good shape... Stairs were covered with a fiberglass shroud... A&P's were screaming to get the &$@#&% Truck out of the way... An on time departure was going to be had... I parked my Van and ran to the stair truck and lifted the hydraulic stabilizers and backed the truck up away from the A/C... All of a sudden my radio goes off with what I perceived as a panicked supervisor with a baggage question... My radio was in the holster and I was driving the truck and trying to reach for the radio and the next thing I know is :ack-1: part of the rear stabilizer from the A/C is crashing into the hood of the truck...
Epilogue
Needless to say boys and girls I was devastated... Humiliated... All I could think of, and I swear this is true is I was going to end up frying hamburgers... Not that frying hamburgers is less than honorable, it just wasn't what I wanted to be doing at that time...
They didn't fire me...
Gave me two (2) weeks off with pay...
I came back to work and 3 weeks later they made me the Manager of Ramp Operations...
Life is strange...

This is a picture of the stair truck before the time I tried to start a war with the Country of Australia... That's me standing behind the stair truck@ our handling of the British Airways Concorde...
1628898359796.jpeg


Tell us a tall tale gallantwarrior ...
 
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