Category Archives: AVIATION NEWS

Aviation News of Interest

2nd Largest Air Force – – – In Arizona’s Famous Boneyard

When your Webmaster lived in Arizona for 20 years, first in Tucson, and later in Phoenix, I often saw and/or visited the world famous aircraft “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, but more often, its equally well known Non-Profit Pima Air and Space Museum at the Southern border of that large air base.  The museum has a wind-fall of retired war planes literally sitting in its own backyard.  The following official United States Air Force video (9:25 long) tells the interesting story of both the famous “boneyard” – – – and of its neighboring museum.

The U.S. Navy formerly maintained its own Boneyard, but up to the West of Phoenix, Arizona, at Litchfield Park.  However they closed that in the early 1960’s, and consolidated the Defense Department’s storage needs with the much larger – and drier – Tucson Davis-Monthan facility.

Hopefully, you might find this video story about the “Boneyard” interesting, and certainly informative.  The video is a fascinating insight into our own history.

For a separate yet spectacular 360 degree view of this huge airplane boneyard, visit our previous movingly (it is in motion!) graphic post of three years ago, right here.

[Although about four years old, you might still enjoy it at full-screen mode on your computer]

Local EAA 1570 Chapter Elects New Officers for 2020 +

Chapter 1570 Founder & President, John Keithly

Long time FASF member and Founding President of Chapter 1570 of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), John Keithly, (at left) decided to retire from the helm of this relatively new yet top-performing EAA unit. 

The chapter is located at the Doña Ana County International Jetport (KDNA) in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, and meets at least once each month, at 11:00 AM, on the second Saturday at the War Eagles Air Museum (WEAM) at the Jetport.

Although a relatively new chapter among almost 1,000  chapters across the globe, the 1570 has already set some notable records:  At their first promotional visit of the Ford Tri-Motor 1920’s Airliner, for instance, the new chapter set an all-time high number of rides, even compared to major cities across the U.S.  The FASF had a post with videos of this event in April two years ago, right here.

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is an international organization of aviation enthusiasts based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, United States. Since its inception it has grown internationally with over 200,000 members, and hosts the largest aviation gathering of its kind in the world, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

Any photos in this post may be seen in full-size and high resolution by simply clicking on them.

At yesterday’s meeting, an election was held for the new officers for the coming year.  Here are the results:

  • New President:      Rick King
  • Vice President:       John Signorino
  • Secretary:               Andy Werner
  • Treasurer:               Jorge Vielledent
  • Asst. Treasurer:     Bob Dockendorf
  • Young Eagles Dir:  Tomás Peralta
  • Scholarship Dir:     Melissa Keithly
  • Membership Dr:    Laura Ditlevson
  • Newsletter Editor: Kathleen Whelen

Before hearing from the guest speaker at the meeting, Melissa Keithly made an announcement about the progress of the EAA Chapter’s new Scholarship recipient flight students:

Name of Scholarship Student      Original Grant        Spent to date            Balance Remaining

  • Jesse Tsougas                           $          3,000                       (2,914-)                                 –
  • Laura Ditlevson                                 10,000                      (6,930-)                                3,070
  • Caleb Molinar                                       3,000                       (2,472-)                                –
  • Sergio Olague                                       4,000                       (3,851-)                                  149
  • Ava Moreno                                         10,000                    (10,098-)                                   (98)
  • Robert Lopez Valazquez                  10,000                      (8,734- )                               1,266

Melissa reported that a total of $40,000 had already been granted for student Flight Training Scholarships. After sharing the above Scholarship Award Students’ financial status report with the members, she then announced that Robert Lopez (below 2 photos) had already soloed, and had also completed his solo cross-country flight.

L to R at rear: Melissa Keithly gives Robert Lopez he souvenir SOLO T-SHIRT.

L to R: Roberto displays his newly achieved SOLO T_SHIRT to the members at Scholarship Director, Melissa Keithly smiles with satisfaction..

After the election for new officers was held and various reports made, as that of Ms. Keithly’s Scholarship Program, the speaker for the day, Terence Mike” Epp was introduced by President Keithly, who described Mike’s colorful work history and explained that Mike had done some important work on both of John’s airplanes, as his official A & P (FAA Certified Airframe and Powerplant technician).

         Long time FASF member, Bob Dockendorf (WEAM Executive Director), Mike Perez,, and Mike Epp.

Asst. Treasurer, at rear and standing, Bob Dockendorf, reports on the Chapter’s Financial Status.  In foreground, L to R are chapter member, Elissa Huggins, and guest speaker, A&P Mike Epp.  In background are (L to R): Melissa Keithly and Mary Dockendorf.  Bob also announced the details of the upcoming “A SALUTE TO VETERANS” Charity fund-raising extravaganza entitled “RADIO STARS OF THE 40’S / “ON the AIR” featuring Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Red Skelton and Jimmy Durante, presented by some exceptionally talented professional impersonators.  Tickets for the event are limited to only 300 guests and the price per seat is $75.

L to R: A & P, Elliot Werner and John Orton (FASF Advisor – both are International Jet Port Advisory Board members),  wait for the meeting to begin.

Among the Announcements made during the meeting, Daniel Barcena (at center rear) described the upcoming Fabens’ Airport Aviation and Automobile Event he created and his promoting for Breast Cancer Awareness, this coming October 26th and 27th.  Daniel and his fiance, Aurora Vargas, a cancer survivor, flew in to the meeting in his Van’s Experimental airplane.  As usual, several other members also flew themselves into the Jetport for the meeting.

Long time FASF member and Chapter VP, John Signorino (above), reported on the Chapter’s Fly Outs and other events.

John Keithly announces his retirement as President and opens the floor for nominations, as the election takes place.

                                 President Keithly introducing guest speaker, Terrence “Mike” Epp.

Mr. Epp opens his colorful talk about his some 40 years of flying experience from his first solo in his father’s Piper Tri – Pacer to more current times as both an A&P specialist and as a transport and DEA Contractor pilot.  Mike was also Private Investigator , wildlife photographer, and novelist – to mention what seem like just a few of his talents and unusual life experiences.

                 Mike Epp concludes his entertaining presentation on his aviation exploits and other adventures.

 

FASF/Daedalians Award Top Leadership Trophy to Lt. “Fogs”

Once again, the Order of Daedalians, Flight 24, of El Paso, Texas, attended the graduation of the 311th Fighter Squadron’s newly qualified F-16 Viper pilots.  The Squadron is stationed at Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo, NM.  As usual, the Daedalians were privileged to make an award to the student chosen to be the most outstanding leader among the graduates.

All photos below may be seen full-size and in high resolution by simply clicking on them.

F-16 Vipers in close formation

L to R: Former Fighter Pilot, Colonel Bob Pitt and S/Sergeant Emily Killingbeck spoke at length during the social hour preceding the ceremonies.  The sergeant is from Sacramento, CA.

Making the presentation at this ceremony was FASF President, Ric Lambart.  The honored recipient of the award this time was Idahoan, Lt. William “Fogs” Jaundalderis, who will leave shortly for Kunsan Air Base, in the Republic of South Korea.

The event was opened by Senior Master Sergeant, Chris Calhoun (below left) , who sang for the graduates and their some 400 guests, his exceptionally well-performed version of the national anthem.  The event was held in one of the Squadron’s F-16 hangars at the base.

 

L to R: Senior Master Sergeant, Chris Calhoun, opening ceremonial singer, converses with Sergeant Emily Killingbeck.

Long retired Vietnam Fighter pilot, Colonel Bob Pitt, and Sergeant Killingbeck discussed life in the modern Air Force.

L to R: Chief Master Sergeant Sarah Esparza and her husband, Pete, chat with two guests from Alamogordo.  Chief Master Sergeant Esparza is the highest ranking non-commissioned officer at Holloman Air Force Base.

L to R: Col. Bob Pitt, Col. “Knuckles” Campo, Commander of the 49th Wing, and Daedalian Flight Captain, Col. Mario Campos.

L to R: Sergeant Killingbeck, one of the 311th Instructor’s wives and the 49th Wing Flight Surgeon

Graduates pose as a group by their squadron Commander, Lt. Colonel Shulman’s, Viper.  NOTE:  The 4th and 5th pilots from the left above are the only 2 female aviators in this class.

Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper of the South Carolina Air Guard flies into action with a full load of armament.

At Left, Ric Lambart gives brief history of Daedalian Flight 24 and of its origins at Holloman Air Force Base in 1969. Photo by Colonel Mario Campos.

L to R: Ric Lambart congratulated winner of the Daedalian Leadership Trophy, Lt. William “Fogs” Jaundalderis.  Photo by Colonel Mario Campos.

L to R: FASF member and Daedalian, Colonel Miles “Cowboy” Crowell, presented coveted “River Rat Wingman” award to Lt. Tyler Rico. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Recipient of the Top Gun Award for Air to Ground Skill was Lt. Aimee Fiedler (at right above), one of the only two women in the class.  She will soon be stationed in the Republic of South Korea.

Center, above: The other female Fighter Pilot graduate at the ceremony was Lt. Mary “Torch” Nicklas, who will be stationed in Italy.  Nicklas is displaying her new graduate’s diploma.

L to R above: All Daedalians and FASF members, Miles Cowboy” Crowell, Ric Lambart, Leadership Awardee, Will “Fogs” Jaundalderis, Daedalian Flight Captain, Colonel Mario Campos, and Colonel Bob Pitt.  Lt. Jaundalderis is a new FASF member.

Rio Grande Aviation Council Holds its Quarterly Fall Meeting

President Wes Baker of the 555 Chapter of the EAA, at Las Cruces International Airport, arrives in his Vintage Cessna 140 for the meeting.

This past weekend, the RGAC (Rio Grande Aviation Council) held its Fall quarterly meeting at the WEAM (War Eagles Air Museum) at the Doña Ana County International Jetport in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.

In the words of one of the RGAC’s original two founders, Bob Dockendorf,This newly formed organization is designed and purposed to improve and enhance communication between the many diverse groups that are involved in the regional  aviation community.

Thirteen (13) representatives of the some twenty odd member aviation industry concerned organizations attended.  The two group photos below show those representatives who were able to attend this past Saturday.

All this post’s photos can be seen in hi-resolution and full size by simply clicking on them!

The RGAC’s governing member organizations include the following:

  1. Amigo Air Sho
  2. Cielo Dorado HO Association
  3. Civil Air Patrol – Squadron 215 – El Paso
  4. Civil Air Patrol – Squadron 24 – Las Cruces
  5. Dust Devil Flying Club
  6. EAA Chapter 1570 – Santa Teresa, NM
  7. EAA Chapter 555 – Las Cruces, NM
  8. El Paso Aviation Association
  9. El Paso Remote Control Association
  10. First Aero Squadron Foundation
  11. Horizon City Remote Control Flyers
  12. Las Cruces Aviators Flying Club
  13. Mesilla Valley Model Airplane Club
  14. Ninety-Nines – El Paso Chapter
  15. Order of Daedalians – Flight 24 – El Paso
  16. Quiet Birdmen
  17. USAF Academy Association
  18. USAF JROTC, Las Cruces HS, NM
  19. USAF ROTC Det. 505, UTEP
  20. USAF ROTC Detachment 505 NMSU
  21. War Eagles Air Museum (WEAM)

L to R seated: Tania Privette, and WEAM Director and one of the RCAC founders, Bob Dockendorf, and EAA’s John Signorino work on meeting’s details.

Other profit-oriented or governmental organizations involved in local area aviation such as the Airfield Managers of KDNA (Dona Ana Jetport); LRU (Las Cruces International Airport); El Paso International Airport; Fabens Airport (Texas); The Commanders of Army Aviation’s Biggs Field and Holloman Air Force Base; Director of the UTEP Aero Apace Department; Managers of the Tenants at the New Mexico International Space Port and the Director of NMSU’s Physical Sciences Lab, along with the Elephant Butte Irrigation District . . . are engaged as members of the non-voting class of associate membership in the Council.

The actual governing of the Council is primarily determined by the non-profit educational aviation consumer oriented groups active in the region.

L to R front row: John Signoriino, Tania Privette, Ric Lambart – Back Row: Tracy Short, Aurora Navarro, Daniel  Barcena, Mike LeGendre, Col. Mario Campos, Wes Baker, Eric Gensheimer, Todd Pasont, Bob Dockendorf, and Juan Brito.

Below, the group of representatives also gathered by the “Women in Aviation Display inside the WEAM main hangar (see below photo).

L to R: Ric Lambart, Aurora Navarro, Daniel Barcena, Tracy Short, Tania Privette, Mike LeGendre, John Signorino, Col. Mario Campos, Eric Gensheimer, Todd Pasont, Juan Brito, Wes Baker, and Bob Dockendorf – we don’t know the helmeted manikin’s name.

 

 

 

NASA’s All-Electric Experimental X-Plane is Ready for Testing

NASA has just announced that its new X-57 “Maxwell” all electric powered test plane is ready for testing.  This will be the first time this all electric aircraft will be tested by the Space Agency.

NASA’s X-57 All Electric Powered Test Ship

With the arrival of the X-57 Maxwell at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) in California the Space Agency can begin ground testing, which will the be followed by actual flight testing.  Edwards is also where virtually all new USAF aircraft are given their first testing routines.

NASA’s X-57 Maxwell, the agency’s first all-electric X-plane and first crewed X-planed in two decades, is delivered to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California in its Mod II configuration. The first of three primary modifications for the project, Mod II involves testing of the aircraft’s cruise electric propulsion system. Delivery to NASA from prime contractor Empirical Systems Aerospace of San Luis Obispo, California, marks a major milestone for the project, at which point the vehicle is reintegrated for ground tests, to be followed by taxi tests, and eventually, flight tests. X-57’s goal is to further advance the design and airworthiness process for distributed electric propulsion technology for general aviation aircraft, which can provide multiple benefits to efficiency, emissions, and noise.

This all-electric X-57 is just one of a number of modified vehicles that will not only help NASA researchers test electric propulsion systems for aircraft, but will also help them set up standards, design practices and certification plans alongside industry for forthcoming electric aerial transportation options, including the growing industry springing up around electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft for short-distance transportation.

Computer created model depicted in flight.

The above photos are courtesy of NASA

Long Time FASF Member, Col. Bob Pitt, Shares Vietnam Story

           Colonel Bob Pitt

Colonel, Bob Pitt (Left), of El Paso, TX, a former Daedalian Flight 24 Captain, and a long time FASF member, recounted his harrowing experience being wounded, while flying a USAF 101 ‘Voodoo” fighter  (below) over North Vietnam, to the monthly meeting of the group.

Bob was on a mission with a fellow pilot over North Vietnam, when his jet suddenly took a direct hit to one of its two engines from a Viet Cong 85 mm anti-aircraft battery.  He and his wing man had been flying down “on the deck” – and fast – to help avoid SAM (Surface to Air) missile sites.  But, just as they flew out over a large valley, the Vietcong opened up with small arms and anti-aircraft fire.

Some of the explosion’s shrapnel wounded him in his left shoulder.  Without warning, the future Air Force Colonel’s life was precariously hanging in the balance.  The date was exactly 54 years ago this coming Saturday, the 5th of October. It was 1969 at the height of the Viet Nam conflict.

                F-101 McDonnell Supersonic ‘Voodoo’

His fellow team member,  his Operations Officer, Major Tony Weissgarber, continued on to the target after getting the go-ahead from flight leader, Pitt.  In the meantime, Bob had several quick decisions to make:  Should he eject and bail out of his burning fighter right then and there, or try to limp back to the South to the nearest U.S. Air Base?  Could he even make it that far, since his fuel was leaking rapidly from one of his ruptured tanks?  At least he had managed to extinguish the fire from the bad engine.

He quickly decided to head back to the East in order to get out over the ocean, where he hoped the friendly U.S,. Navy was ubiquitously available to rescue a freshly downed flier – just in case.

                Colonel Mario Campos, Flight 24 Captain, Introduces the Lunch’s presenter, Col. Bob Pitt.

Bob Pitt reads from one of the publications that published the story about his harrowing encounter over North Vietnam in 1969.

If he crashed or had to eject over the jungles below, he’d at best have to register at the “Hanoi Hilton,” where he’d heard . . . “the accommodations were much less than satisfactory,” so the ocean it was.  He called for help from the nearest air tanker, but, since they were restricted from flying over North Vietnam, he didn’t have much hope of getting his much needed fuel from his too rapidly diminishing supply.

Luckily, he took no more hits as he wheeled about and headed out to sea.  Once over the water, he was surprised to see a KC-135 Aerial Refueling Tanker headed his way.

Meantime, he was constantly scanning the horizon for any incoming North Vietnamese Russian Migs, to which he’d be a sitting duck, since his Voodoo was already seriously crippled.

He was simply no longer able to defend himself from any air-to-air attackers.  He maneuvered the damaged jet to a close-up refueling position behind the Tanker, but could not raise he refueling probe to connect to the big Boeing tanker’s fuel boom.  He also discovered that his utility hydraulic system was one of the vital systems destroyed by the anti-aircraft strike.  That hydraulic system was needed to work the Voodoo’s refueling probe – and also other important mechanisms on board.

View of the McDonnell RF-101C cockpit that Pitt was flying on this harrowing mission

He banked towards to nearest Air Base, concerned that he’d wasted some of his vital fuel load maneuvering to get re-fueled by the tanker.  He managed to contact DaNang Air Base, whom he advised of his emergency status.

They cleared the field for him in to come on board.  He noticed his fuel indicator read “empty” as he lined up to land.  Bob came in with extra speed, not sure of how much his normal stall speed had been increased by the damage inflicted on the 101.  He touched down perfectly, deployed his Drogue Chute to help him slow down, but suddenly noticed that he had no steering, since the defunct utility hydraulic system also powered his nose-wheel steering.

A stiff cross-wind condition forced his nose to the left, and he helplessly careened off the runway, across the turf, and headed directly towards a base radar (‘GCA’) shack.  He yelled to the tower to have any personnel vacate his new “target” immediately.  The big crash threw him wildly about and stirred up a huge cloud of dust.  As the dust cleared he looked up to see one of the base firemen looking down at him in his silver helmeted fire suit.  “I’m OK,” reported Bob.  There’s no fuel left to burn!

Two days later, patched up from his wound, and ready to fly, he was quickly airborne on his next mission.  For this harrowing experience, Pitt was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross), and for his wounds and damaged back (from the crash into the building), the Purple Heart.

Less than a year later, again flying the Voodoo, but this time out of Okinawa island, he lost both his engines shortly after take-off in a giant explosion.  Still low over the Pacific Ocean, he had no choice but to eject.  His chute opened almost simultaneously with his striking the water.  Two lost Voodoo jets, but not their hardy fighter pilot, Bob Pitt.

L to R: Colonels Bob Pitt and Mario Campos take questions after Pitt’s talk.

The Fascinating History of Lockheed’s Famous “Skunk Works”

From an unexpected source comes this following video, a long one (53+ minutes) compared to most we post, but more than worth the entertainingly intelligent and richly educational perspective provided by the speaker, Mr. Nickolas Means . . . software engineer par excellence.

Nick has had a lifelong love affair with anything and everything aviation related, and has a special fascination for some of the worst airplane accidents and tragedies – which he studies just to learn what the humans directing the events leading up to those accidents did right – – – and did wrong.  His focus on these otherwise morbid events is a strategic one:  He sets out to explore and better understand the Cockpit Dynamics of the flight crews in these tragedies.

Mr. Means sets about colorfully describing the history of some of the First Aero’s most famous flying machines (The U-2 and SR-71), but with the prime focus on the creative team of geniuses at Lockheed who invented them.  The below video is much akin to the TED series of educational and enlightening lessons we’ve so often enjoyed.  In fact, aside from its longer duration, this presentation by Nickolas could easily be one given to the huge international following of the entire TED series.

Long before Agile and Lean became computer programming buzzwords, a scrappy group of aerospace engineers led by Kelly Johnson at Lockheed’s Skunk Works, were using similar practices to produce some of the most amazing aircraft ever built. The famous U-2Dragon Lady” spy plane, the SR-71 “Blackbird,” and the F-117A Stealth Fighter are among the incredible planes the engineers at Skunk Works produced under impossibly tight deadlines and exceptionally limited budgets – – – and let’s not forget to mention their latest brilliant fighting machines, the twin engined F-22 Raptor . . . (below at left)

F-22 Raptors in Flight.

and,  and most recently, the single engine F-35 Lightning II, pictured at right:

Formation of two F-35 Lightning II’s

What can we learn from the stories of these amazing planes and the engineers who built them?

Let’s go back to our roots and let the original Skunk Works experts teach us about building awesome stuff together.  Chief Skunk Works Engineer, Kelly Johnson, steadfastly held to certain governing principles in his management style, one of which was his belief that the best things can be accomplished by a “small group of good people.”  Consequently, his team was notably small, but lean and meanly intelligent – – – and their budgets were notoriously small and deadlines alarmingly short.  But their results were astoundingly brilliant – – – and successful.

While his counterparts elsewhere at Lockheed usually had large groups of employees and equally large budgets, this was rarely the case with Kelly’s Team.  Lockheed’s other projects, even those which produced the final designs out of their Skunk Works, had the latest in engineering technology deeply integrated into their operations, whereas Kelly’s team refused to use the latest CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) equipment, relying, instead, on good old-fashioned pencil and paper drafting techniques. The comparatively simpler use of paper and pencil better fulfilled the extreme need for flexibility that Kelly required of his team.

Kelly’s Skunk workers were always minimalists in how they created, and drawings of their designs were notably simple rather than complex, as were – and needed to be – the final drawings used for actual production of the Skunk Works designs.

Even Kelly’s successor as CEO at the Skunk Works, Ben Rich, continued the high-creativity “think-outside-the-box” spirit of his predecessor, which resulted in the same predictably brilliant results as those achieved by the team under its original chief.  The Skunk Works’ success makes it a model enterprise for the study of management styles and of the excellence that can be achieved when teamwork and worker independence are paramount management principles.

It was Kelly’s outstanding methods of management that eventually carried over into the cockpits of modern Airliner cockpits, where Crew Resource Management* techniques have been applied to bring about the same sort of excellent flight safety results as did this same ideology of team work lead to such astoundingly brilliant results at the Skunk Works.

ABOUT the presenter: Nickolas Means: Nick hails from Austin, TX, the Taco Capital of the World.

When he’s not busy eating tacos, he’s the VP of Engineering at Muve Health, working with an incredibly talented team of developers to change how healthcare is delivered and paid for in the US. He’s a huge believer that software development is mostly human interaction and that empathy is the key to building great software.  He is also an enthusiastic promoter and believer in the new Airline Pilot training scheme called Crew (or Cockpit) Resource Management.*

*Crew resource management or cockpit resource management (CRM) is a set of training procedures for use in environments where human error can have devastating effects. Used primarily for improving air safety, CRM focuses on interpersonal communication, leadership, and decision making in the cockpit.