Category Archives: AVIATION NEWS

Aviation News of Interest


The famous Ford Trimotor is again providing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for the public to experience – first hand – the excitement of stepping back in a time machine to a period long before jet airliners or computers, let alone cell phones, some 89 years ago, in the vintage airliner created by the Ford Motor Car Company – which was busily concurrently making its latest Model A automobiles.  The below video is only 5:22 in length, excluding the short clip’s credits.

Several years ago, when the Ford Trimotor last visited Santa Teresa Jet Port adjacent to El Paso, Texas, all-time records were broken in the number of riders taken aloft.  This weekend’s attendance is already approaching some 200 riders.  If tomorrow’s weather is favorable, the number should easily exceed that count.

Local El Pasoan, Steve Lambrick, who flies as a Jet Captain for a major U.S. airline and is one of the small handful of pilots qualified to fly the famous antique airliner, is also an active member of the local EAA Chapter 1570.  Fortunately, he was able to arrange getting  selected to Captain the Trimotor for his fellow New Mexicans – – – and Texans.  Steve also keeps a second a home in San Francisco, more convenient for his airline work.

Captain Lambrick explained, during a break between flights, that there are numerous challenges the pilot faces when flying this vintage plane.  He described how the airliner takes an almost inordinate amount of physical strength to just manipulate the controls, particularly the rudders, which are critically needed, if one is to accomplish smooth turns, which are a necessity, if the passengers are to go home happy with their vintage flight experience.

If you read this in time, keep in mind that reservations are not necessary in order to experience this exciting adventure, but you may have to wait a while longer for the chance to board.  However, the wait itself can be interesting, because it’s possible to visit the adjacent War Eagles Air Museum, which maintains a comfortable temperature when the thermometer peaks outside.  The Museum is packed with a fascinating and large collection of, primarily, Wold War II vintage war planes.

Ticket prices are; Adults – $70, Children up to 17 – $50; and the walk up or no reservation prices are only five dollars more.  Rides will be given Sunday between 9:00 AM and 5 PM.

More information may be obtained by going to FLYTHEFORD.ORG and reservations are made by calling 1-877-952-5395.

RAID DAY 2017 – Rebirth of U.S. Civil Aviation Celebrated

NOTE: To see photos below in full resolution, simply click on them.  Cabalgata Photo by F Waitl

2017 Event Presenters: (L to R above): Dr. Robert Bouilly; Chief Ranger, John Read; Ric Lambart; and Florian Waitl.  Above photo courtesy of Karen Stewart.

Cabalgata Parade’s Horsemen and Women Pass the CHS* Depot Museum on their way to downtown Columbus, NM

Scene in downtown Columbus as the crowds begin to arrive for the start of the Raid Day festivities

Yesterday, Saturday, the 11th of March 2017 was celebrated in Columbus, NM in memory of the both the tragic raid on the small town back on March 9, 1916, and of the U.S. Military response that caused Columbus to be forever marked as the birthplace of American Air Power.

The town is overwhelmed each year about this time by thousands of visitors  Some come to get better educated about the history of what transpired there over a century ago, and others simply attend in order to enjoy the festive activities planned as part of the celebration by local entrepreneur, Norma Gomez, who is one of the pillars of this small village only 3 miles North of the Mexican Border town of Palomas, the town’s sister city.  Norma organized and leads the town’s Chamber of Commerce. One of the biggest crowd drawing aspects of the occasion is the highly touted international Cabalgata, an exercise in which hundreds of local and distant American horsemen and women come to the village and, correspondingly, hundreds of Mexican Vaqueros and horse-riding enthusiasts come up from deep into our neighbor to the South to join reins in bi-national friendship.

The Community usually celebrates the event on two different days: The first is a special memorial Service held only on the precise day of the actual raid on the town, or on the 9th of each March, but the town also again celebrates the event on the nearest weekend, so that those who are working or still in school are able to also attend in memory of the tragic raid.  The Columbus celebratory event is known at RAID DAY and regularly involves the great Cabalgata as one of the day’s highlights, an event that celebrates the good will between the two nations, something that did not exist to the same degree a century ago.

While townspeople and visitors convene in the Center of the village to take part in the annual celebration of RAID DAY, at the adjacent New Mexico State Park named after the Mexican rebel, Pancho Villa, who led the deadly raid over a century ago, many others assemble to hear selected speakers present various historical aspects and details about the legendary event of 1916.

This year there were three main presenters at the Pancho Villa State Park:

Dr. Robert Bouilly, just Retired U.S.  Army Historian

1st came Dr. Robert Bouilly (at left), recently retired Historian at the El Paso, Texas, Fort Bliss Army Sergeant Majors’ Academy.  Dr. Bouilly provided a pictorial history of the Army Camp at Columbus, later known as Camp Furlong, from 1908 (8 years before the infamous RAID) to 1924, the year in which the Camp was closed, permanently.  Coupled with his colorfully styled delivery, Dr. Bouilly’s numerous archival photographs from the period helped bring the historic military garrison back to life for his audience.  The former Army Historian presented his program in one of the actual Army buildings that still remains intact from the period he described, over a hundred years ago.

Dr. Bouilly has been a frequent source of new historical findings for the FASF and has been one of its most helpful advisors on historical matters relating to the First Aero Squadron’s operations both in Columbus and Mexico.  His personal library on the First Aero Squadron’s place in American and World History is most likely one of the most comprehensive to be found anywhere.

2nd came Ric Lambart, (at right) of the First Aero Squadron Foundation, who presented a Power Point Show that included not only archival photographs, but also videos. These graphics were used to help the audience understand his assertion that, while the launching of the Army’s Jenny Biplanes in response to the Villa raid marked the beginning of American Air Power, it was the result of the Army’s First Aero Squadron’s cumulative endeavor at Columbus, by 1917, that helped post WWI America experience a rebirth of its basically dead civil aviation industry.

While Europe had sped rapidly by American Aviation competency after the Wright Brothers’ historic 1st heavier-than-air flight, in respect to both military and civilian aviation status, not many years after the “War to End All Wars,” America once again managed to move ahead of its European competitors.  Lambart contended that it was what the First Aero Squadron at Columbus had accomplished in perfecting its fabled “Jenny” biplane before it entered the Great War, that essentially laid the fertile groundwork for the post-war civilian aviation boom that regained U.S. industry leadership – a position which the United States has been able to maintain to this day.

3rd (at left) came Florian Waitl, a native of Germany and former U.S. Naval Officer, who resides in Kansas City, Missouri. Florian is a military historian and analyst for the U.S. Army at Ft. Leavenworth, KS.  He regularly supports the Army and, specifically, the Command and General Staff College at the Fort, through the development and conduct of various “Staff Rides” on battlefields around the world. His private company, Human Dimension Leadership Consulting (HDLC), specializes in providing leadership development training not only to military clients but also to the civilian industry such as business leaders and CEO’s.

Mr. Waitl led an interactive and lively discussion with the assembled Pancho Villa State Park guests. His discussion topic was supported by a PowerPoint presentation that took a closer look at the manifold lessons in leadership that arose as the result of Pancho Villa’s Raid on Columbus and the subsequent “Punitive Expedition” into Mexico by General “Black Jack” Pershing a century ago.  He shared a great deal of his extensive knowledge about the many lessons learned on the battlefield in respect to leadership development and organizational improvements.  He also informed the audience about the dynamics and benefits of the field or virtual “staff rides” his company offers. Dr. Bouilly regularly conducted such “staff rides” into and around the Columbus area with his Sergeants Major Academy students from Fort Bliss, TX. The town’s residents and visitors will continue to see these staff rides being conducted around Columbus and the adjacent old Camp Furlong grounds.

L to R: John Read, long time FASF member and historical consultant, also the Chief Ranger for the New Mexico Pancho Villa Park in Columbus, discussing the Saturday presentation with Dr. Robert Bouilly, Retired U.S. Army Historian.

Opening Title Page of FASF Power Point Presentation for March 11th 2017

* CHS = Columbus Historical Society

A 1st! Top Leadership Award Goes to Female Fighter Pilot

Remember:  For  high  or full  resolution  on  any  of  the  below photos simply click on them . . . and then click your back button on browser to return to the original news post’s page.

F-16 Fighting Falcon Takes Off With After Burner Ablaze

USAF Thunderbird Exhibition Team Flies Their Fighting Falcon’s Over Manhattan

F-16 in Flight with Weapons Mounted and at the Ready

Another View of Falcon with Weapons Mounted Under And on its Wing Tips

Ric Lambart Presents Gen. Nichols’ Leadership Award To 1st Lt. Claire Bieber – Photo by Sgt. Amanda Junk, USAF**

Three active FASF members, also members of the local Order of the Daedalians (A fraternity of U.S. Military Pilots), Flight 24 of El Paso, TX, attended the graduation ceremonies for the latest class of new F-16 “Viper”¹ Fighter Pilots at nearby Holloman Air Force, Alamogordo, NM., this past weekend.  Ric Lambart was privileged to be the presenter of the General Nichols‘ Leadership Award to one of the 311th Fighter Squadron’s Top graduates.  When he did so, he was pleasantly surprised that the award was made to the only female in the class of 18 flying officers, 1st Lieutenant Claire Bieber.  Lt. Bieber went to the United States Air Force Academy on an athletic scholarship for Volleyball.  After graduation from the AF Academy, Lt. Bieber obtained her USAF Pilot’s wings and then went on to advanced jet training training at Holloman.  Lt. Bieber’s only sibling, an older sister, Kelly, also attended the Air Force Academy on an athletic scholarship, but in Soccer.  She also became an Air Force jet pilot and is stationed in Alaska, where she is Aircraft Commander of a large AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) aircraft.  Although neither of the girls’ parents are pilots, their grandfather was a B-24 “Liberator” pilot during WWII.  Lt. Bieber’s new assignment is in South Korea.  The Graduation Ceremony Banquet had close to 500 guests.

L to R: Colonel James Keen, Commander of the 54th Fighter Group and former Thunderbird Exhibition Pilot; 1st Lt. Claire Bieber; and Lt. Col. Michael Driscoll, Commander of the 311th Fighter Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, NM – Photo courtesy of the USAF, Sergeant Amanda Junk photojournalist for Public Affairs Office of the 49th Air Wing

Ric Lambart describes how different the USAF is today compared to when he was flying, when no women pilots were allowed.  He related how thrilled and proud he and the other Daedalians were that one of the new generation USAF female pilots had just won the coveted General Frank A. Nichols Leadership Award – a true – and impressive – 1st!

L to R: Bronson Callahan and proud father, Roger Nichols, who is both an active FASF member and the current Flight Commander of the El Paso, TX Daedalian Flight 24.  While this photo is by the FASF photographer,  Bronson took most of the other non-Air Force photos.

L to R: FASF & Daedalian Members, Ric Lambart, Roger Nichols, and Colonel Bob Pitt, with Winner, Lt. Claire Bieber

L to R: Roger Nichols; 311th Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Driscoll; Ric Lambart;  & Colonel Bob Pitt

L to R: Roger Nichols, Kelly Bieber, USAF AWACS* Pilot, her sister and Awardee, Claire Bieber and Ric Lambart

USAF AWACS Aircraft similar to one of which Kellly Bieber is the Aircraft Commander

*  An E-3 “AWACS” (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft  Similar to one of which Kelly Bieber is the Aircraft Commander – Official U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John K. McDowell.

** Sgt. Amanda Junk’s other photographs of the Graduation Ceremony and Banquet held March 4th can be found right here on the HAFB Facebook Page.

¹ The “F-16 Fighting Falcon” is also well known by other nicknames besides the “Fighting Falcon.”  Other popular nicknames are: “VIPER“; “ELECTRIC JET“; “SWEET SIXTEEN“; and the “LAWN DART,” the latter name having a somewhat derogatory implication, the result of the earliest experimental versions having had so many technical problems and accidents.  However, it is now generally agreed that this multi-role supersonic fighter is about the most maneuverable air superiority jet fighters ever put into production.  The F-16 was first put into service by the U.S. in 1978, but has been continuously improved to the present day.  The USAF expects this fourth generation fighter to remain on active duty until 2025. 

The official name of this fighter is “Fighting Falcon” and the name was the result of a world-wide USAF “Name the Plane” contest held in the late 1970’s, when Technical Sergeant Joseph Kurdell of McGill AFB, FL. won with the name, “Fighting Falcon.” The winning name occurred to him as the result of his fond memories of attending many Air Force Academy sports events when he’d been stationed near there years earlier.  The Air Force Academy’s official Team Mascot/Logo is the “Fighting Falcon.”


Sooo – You Thought You Knew All About the P-51 Mustang?

North American Aviation P-51 Mustang in Flight

North American Aviation P-51D Mustang in Flight – Click on this photo to see 2:17 Slocum high resolution video on site

The story that follows this write-up is thanks to FASF Aviation News Scout, former Air National Guard Member and Phoenix, AZ distinguished architect, Mike Mangino.

Sooo – you thought you knew most everything there is to know about the famous and much distinguished Army Air Corps’ P-51 Mustang, its top WWII fighter aircraft?  Well, read on and be surprised at what you might learn about this beautifully classic, yet lethal weapon.


Early Mustang MKI, with US Markings, being test flown near Inglewood CA NAA Plant in 1942, before delivery to the RAF

After the war ended and during the Korean conflict, it became known the F-51, in its final version.  Of course, the “P” for the early version stood for Pursuit, and the later “F” stood simply for Fighter.


Later P-51A (U.S. model) Mustang during test flight near the North American Aviation plant in Inglewood, California

Did you know that is was the fastest propeller driven fighter during the war – that its top speed approached 500 mph?

Last Mustang Model, the P-51H, seen in flight

Last Mustang Model, the P-51H, configured with two seats, seen in flight – note the full view bubble canopy

P-51A, "Miss Pea Ridge" in Flight

P-51A, “Miss Pea Ridge” in Flight

Almost Spiritual Depiction of Mustang Above the Pacific and Clouds, the Pilot with Open Canopy to Savor the Airman's Majestic View from on High

Almost Spiritual Depiction of Mustang Above the Pacific and Clouds, the Pilot with His Canopy Open to Savor the Unique View that so Inspires the Airman to Continue Soaring on High


P-51A Mustang fighters, with different propellers, Parked Side by Side on Ramp at NAA Plant in Inglewood, CA in 1943

Well, there’s even more to this fabled and beautifully designed propeller driven war machine than many of us even suspected.  While most of us know that it played a vital role in helping the  Allies win WWII in Europe, it wasn’t even designed for the American Air Forces!

In truth, it was designed by a naturalized German American designer, who was employed by North American Aviation (NAA) in Los Angeles, CA – way back in the late 1930’s – and it was designed for the British – – – not the United States Army Air Corps, a branch of the service which mistakenly believed its bomber fleet was so advanced that it needed no fighter protection – none!

Well, this story is about that terrible miscalculation on the part of the top Army Aviation leadership, a mistake so serious that it literally cost us thousands of lives – of bomber crews who didn’t stand a chance against the Nazi’s high performance ME-109s and Focke Wulf (FW) 190 fighters, which picked off the unprotected U.S. bombers like sitting ducks.

The following article sheds a new light of the fabled and much loved North American “Mustang,” as it was affectionately known by its pilots and crews – both its British and later American crews.  The pages of this FASF website have devoted much space, both pictorial and video, to this great WWII fighting machine and, of course most of you visitors have your own personal experiences with the Mustang – having possibly even flown it, or at least seen it perform its magic in the skies over the crowds of American Airshows or maybe even at the popular Reno Air Races, in which its presence is always a certainty.

You’ll discover in the following story how our own highly touted Allison liquid-cooled V-12 engine, which was originally the designed power plant for the Mustang, was just not adequate for the air superiority fighter’s challenging role.  You’ll learn how the English Rolls Royce Merlin V-12 had to be the replacement power plant for the troubled American Allison.  You’ll see how that big change gave the Mustang utterly amazing new performance excellence, and how that same Merlin engine, which was already powering the great British Spitfires, too, actually made the Mustang much faster than the Spitfire.

Did you know that our highly decorated and famous Air Corps General, Hap Arnold, actually believed that drop tanks for the P-51 were unneeded?

This story is a remarkably insightful – an outstanding job resulting from painstaking and brilliant historical research.  We think you’ll agree that this piece reports on the real – and more complete history of the Mustang.  In fact, this piece ends up rewriting – significantly correcting – the official (propagandized) version of the colorful history of not just this remarkable airplane, but of how the war, particularly the costly bombing campaigns were actually fought over the European Continent.  By reading this revisionist Mustang history, a piece from carefully reconstructed U.S. Air Service records, you’ll learn many new aspects of the Mustang’s true roll in the history of our victory over the Axis powers.  We’d venture that you will come away with a new and deeper understanding – and likely even more respect for this fighting machine’s actual role in our European victory.

Without further ado, here’s the insightful and possibly even shocking, yet true story, about this highly acclaimed WWII Fighter.  Its widely respected authors are James Perry Stevenson and Pierre Sprey. Click on the red underscored text above to see the full story.

James Perry Stevenson is the former editor of the Topgun Journal and the author of The $5 Billion Misunderstanding and The Pentagon Paradox.

Pierre M. Sprey is a co-designer of the F-16 fighter jet, was technical director of the U.S. Air Force’s A-10 concept design team, served as weapons analyst for the Office of the Secretary of Defense for 15 years and has been an active member of the military reform underground for the last 35 years.

20 – P-51 Mustangs take-off! HUGE formation of unique humming Merlin V12 power plants fill the air!

By the way, do any of you know how many P and F-51s are still flying?  Your webmaster suspects there may be more of these vintage fighters airworthy and operational today than any other single model of a WWII airplane.  Please make a comment on site if you know the answer!

This Year Marks the 25th Anniversary of EAA’s Young Eagles

FASF Member Melissa Keithly, wife of EAA Chapter 1570 President, John Keithly, signing in Parents and Young Eagles

FASF Member Melissa Keithly (2nd from Right), wife of EAA Chapter 1570 President, John Keithly, registering Young Eagles and Parents for their Flight Experience.


Young Eagles Emblem/Logo

Young Eagles Emblem/Logo







Melissa Keithly explains program to parent

                           Melissa thoroughly explains the details of the Young Eagle’s program to parents

NOTE:  All photos in this story can be seen in full high resolution by merely clicking anywhere on their surface, but you’ll need to click your browser back to return to the article.  Photos thanks to EAA Chapter 1570.

The YOUNG EAGLES project was started in 1992 by the Experimental Aircraft Association (“EAA“). The EAA is based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, but has almost 1,000 chapters world-wide.

Back in 1992, the EAA saw the need for a steady stream of new pilots for both civilian as well as for military aviation.  Even in the early 90’s, the supply of pilots was beginning to fall short of demand, so the EAA came up with the novel idea of aggressively introducing more young people to the adventure, challenges and rewards of becoming an aviator.

They would do this through a new organization to be called the “YOUNG EAGLES.”

This year the EAA will celebrate of the 25th anniversary of this highly successful program.

If you have children or grandchildren between the ages of 8 and 17 (or even know of someone else who does), you might want to encourage them to enjoy the thrill of flying in a plane they can actually help fly – which is just what is in store for them if they participate with the Young Eagles.

Your webmaster has personally witnessed the excitement of this program in action and marveled at the broad smiles and enthusiasm on the young people’s faces, when they come down after their initial flights.  These new Young Eagles obviously realize how lucky they are to have parents willing to provide them with this unusual – and inspiring – first-hand aviation experience.

Keep in mind that the Young Eagles flight experience is gratis.  There is no charge for these flights.  The EAA Volunteer members supply their airplanes without cost to the participants or their parents.

To learn the details of this program, just check the EAA headquarters’ website right here to find the chapter closest to you, and then contact that nearby chapter to find out when they will be holding their next Young Eagles adventure.  Again, member pilots in each chapter of the EAA contribute both their own airplanes and their time to help introduce the children to the excitement of flying in a small General Aviation (“GA”) airplane.  Many Boy and Girl Scout Troops around the country actively encourage their Scouts to take part in this aviation experience, but no scouting affiliation is required to sign-up for the Young Eagle familiarization flights.

The two nearest chapters to the FASF Headquarters here in Columbus, NM, are the outstanding and highly accomplished EAA 555 Chapter in Las Cruces, NM, which can be contacted at 575.520.0451, where FASF member, Wes Baker, is the President.  One of the oldest members of Chapter 555 is the well known astronaut, Frank Borman.  Chapter 555 is a member of the FASF, and some of its members are among the FASF’s most active volunteers.  The EAA’s International Chapters Manager is a long time chapter 555 member – Brett Hahn.  Brett is also active member of the FASF.

One of the EAA’s newest chapters, number 1570, is located adjacent to El Paso, TX, in Santa Teresa, NM, at the Dona Ana County Jetport.  The 1570 President is John Keithly.  The best phone number for the Santa Teresa Chapter is 575.589.0269, which is the phone for the Red Arrow Flight Training Academy, an active member in both the FASF and EAA Chapter 1570.

Here are some photos taken at the most recent Chapter 1570 Young Eagles event.  Again, as with EAA Chapter 555, many of the 1570 chapter members are also active members in the FASF.

Volunteers Bob Dockendorf, Executive Director of the War Eagles Museum (in background) on the far right, and Deb Rothschild, Rotary Wing and Fixed Wing Flight Instructor, seen at far left, getting ready for the Young Eagles event.

Volunteers Bob Dockendorf, Executive Director of the WAR EAGLES AIR MUSEUM (in background) on the far right, and Deb Rothschild, Rotary Wing and Fixed Wing Flight Instructor, seen at far left, waiting for the Young Eagles event to begin.

Melissa's husband, John Keithly, president of EAA Chapter 1570, explains the flight plan to Young Eagle

Melissa’s husband, John Keithly, president of Chapter 1570, explains headset use and the flight plan to Young Eagle

FASF Advisor, Colonel John Orton, signs up a Young Eagle for his first flight.

FASF Advisor, Colonel John Orton, signs up a Young Eagle for his first flight.

Colonel Orton and Young Eagle

                                            Colonel Orton and another of his Young Eagle inductees

Colonel Orton explains flight plan and cockpit layout to next student.

                            Colonel Orton explains flight plan and cockpit layout to a female Young Eagle

John and his teen-aged Young Eagle give thumbs up after successful flight

                               John and his teen-aged Young Eagle give thumbs up after successful flight

After each flight the EAA Pilot carefully debriefs each Young Eagle and answers their questions

After each flight the EAA Pilot carefully debriefs each Young Eagle and answers their numerous questions

The Colonel explains some flight data on his plane's iPad

The Colonel shows his Young Eagle how pilots can use hand-held electronic accessories such as his iPad or an android device, to calculate many useful flight parameters, such as ground speed and arrival times . . .

Of course, the final step in each Young Eagle's flight experience is the documentation, including both a new Pilot's Logbook and a Flight Completion Certificate

The final step in each Young Eagle’s flight experience is its documentation, including both a new Pilot’s Logbook and a Flight Completion Certificate.

Melissa Keithly is kept busy with new registrants

                  Melissa Keithly continues to sign up more new Young Eagle Flight registrants

Boy Scout Troop members listen to their Pre-Flight briefing by one of the Chapter 1570 Volunteers. They are learning the important parts of the airplane.

Several Boy Scout Troop members listen to their Pre-Flight briefing by one of the Chapter 1570 Volunteers. They are learning the important parts of the airplane and have the opportunity to learn by asking questions of the Volunteer pilots.

Colonel Orton walks his next Young Eagle and his sister out to their flight.

Colonel Orton walks his next Young Eagle (and his older sister) out to the young man’s first flight.  In the background is part of the WAR EAGLES AIR MUSEUM, which is an active business supporter of the FASF and home to EAA Chapter 1570.

Colonel Orton explains to this Young Eagle how the headset works.

                                        Colonel Orton explains to this Young Eagle how the headset works.

Colonel Orton makes sure his Young Eagle student is comfortable and his seat belt properly secured.

           Colonel Orton makes sure his Young Eagle student is comfortable and his seat belt properly secured.

Both Young Eagle and the Colonel are clearly ready for the upcoming flight adventure.

Both Young Eagle and the Colonel are clearly ready for the upcoming flight adventure.

Chapter 1570 President, John Keithly explaining his airplane and its parts to his next Young Eagle student.

Chapter 1570 President, John Keithly, explains his airplane and its parts’ functions to his next Young Eagle student.

Chapter 1570 President and FASF member, John Keithly, indicates he and his student Young Eagle are ready to fly.

Chapter 1570 President and FASF member, John Keithly, indicates he and his student Young Eagle are ready to fly.

Colonel Orton and his Young Eagle taxi out to take off (in the oreground). John Keithly and his student are seen in the backgound also taxiing out for take off.

Colonel Orton and his Young Eagle taxi out to take off (in the foreground), while John Keithly and his student are seen to the upper right in the background, also taxiing out for take off.

Colonel Orton filling out his Young Eagle's Pilot Logbook after their flight.

                 Colonel Orton filling out his Young Eagle’s Pilot Logbook and Flight Certificate after their flight.

John Keithly defriefs his Young Eagle after their flight and gives him his souvenier Logbook.

      John Keithly (right) debriefs his Young Eagle student after their flight and gives him his souvenir Pilot’s Logbook.

Colonel Orton discusses the event's success with Flight Instructor volunteer Deb Rothschild (R).

                  Colonel Orton (L) discusses the event’s success with Flight Instructor volunteer Deb Rothschild (R).

From L to R: EAA members and volunteers; Mike McNamee (in whose hangar they are all standing); Judge Alex Gonzalez; Bob Dockendorf; and Roger Nichols getting read for post event celebratory luncheon.

From L to R: EAA members and Young Eagle Pilot and Program volunteers; Mike McNamee (in whose hangar they are all standing); Judge Alex Gonzalez; Bob Dockendorf; and Daedalian Flight Captain and former USAF Pilot, Roger Nichols, pose in readiness for post event celebratory luncheon.


     Short (2:26) trailer of full film “The Swamp Ghost” . . . David C. Tallichet’s* recovery of the B-17

High above recently captured Rabaul, New Britain, and piloting a fully loaded B-17E Flying Fortress, Capt. Frederick “Fred” C. Eaton, Jr. had just spotted his target – a 10,000-ton enemy freighter. As he lined up to unleash his payload, the bomb bay doors malfunctioned. The crew worked feverishly to open the doors as he circled for a second attempt. Japanese anti-aircraft batteries zeroed in on the lone bomber’s altitude and unleashed a hellish barrage, damaging the wings. This second time the young Captain once again carefully lined up their course and once again got the Japanese ship accurately targeted in their Norten bomb sight’s cross hairs. This time, thanks to the crew’s technical skills, the doors opened and the bombs fell toward their target. But, as if on cue, Japanese fighters swooped in, guns blazing. Eaton and his crew were in a fight for their lives.

The aerial battle raged, bullets and cannon shells riddling the Flying Fortress as it ran for cover. In the skirmish, tail gunner John Hall claimed an enemy aircraft while waist gunners William Schwartz and Russell Crawford added two more claims to the tally. In the aftermath, Eaton believed the port wing was severely bleeding fuel from an un-exploded flak round. Knowing he wouldn’t reach the safety of the refueling field at Port Moresby, New Guinea, he flew as far southwest as the fumes could carry them. Salvation revealed itself just as the crew determined the stricken bomber couldn’t climb over the towering Owen Stanley mountains — as an isolated swamp in the foothills of the New Guinea mountain crept into their range. Eaton skillfully glided the heavy aircraft into the swamp water for a wheels-up landing. The B-17 slewed sideways and settled in the deep kunai grass without even breaking up. Despite the running battle and the crash landing, there were zero casualties. Six weeks and dozens of malaria-infested miles later, Eaton and crew finally reached safety. The heroic crew was assigned another B-17 and continued to successfully fly for the rest of the war.

Captain Frederick "Fred" C. Eaton, Jr. Swamp Ghost Flight Log

Captain Frederick “Fred” C. Eaton, Jr.                                      The Swamp Ghost Flight Log

For more than seven decades, that lucky Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress, serial 41-2446, lay intact and virtually undisturbed, all but forgotten. In 1972 it was spotted by a Royal Australian Air Force helicopter and the local press dubbed it the “Swamp Ghost.” It is not the historical name of the bomber, but it is the name history has chosen.

Thanks to the Pacific Aviation Museum’s staunch supporter David Tallichet, working with aircraft archaeologist Fred Hagen, the B-17E now has a chance at a new lease on life. Now housed at Museum’s Pearl Harbor site, Swamp Ghost is arguably the world’s only intact and un-retired World War II-era B-17E bomber, a one-of-a-kind example of an aircraft that played an indispensable role in winning WWII. And it is the only B-17 in the world that still bears its battle scars.

B-17 Dropping its payload over Germany in WWII

B-17 Dropping its payload over Germany in WWII

One of most famous B-17 damage photos from WWII where its tail miraculously stay put . . .

One of most famous B-17 damage photos from WWII where its tail miraculously stay put . . .

That almost completey severed B-17 tail - still flying

That above almost completely severed B-17 tail ship – still able to fly

B-17 with major flak hit over Germany in 1944

B-17 with major flak hit over Germany in 1944

B-17G after raid on Cologne Germany WWII

B-17G after raid on Cologne Germany WWII

request-for-funding-picture  The above story is a modified version of the one told by the makers of the Swamp Ghost Film.

The iconic B-17 was widely revered during WWII for its many amazing survival stories.  While many were lost in battle, a few besides the “Swamp Ghost” survived their bombing runs with unbelievably severe damage, yet somehow still managed to return home to their bases, thereby carrying their crews back to home turf safety – – – to continue their successful missions to destroy the enemy, whether in the European-African theater or that of the Pacific, as was the case of the Swamp Ghost’s crew.

* David C. Tallichet, Jr. – From one of his obituaries

Founder of Specialty Restaurants Corporation

Born on December 20. 1922 and passed away on October 31, 2007.

Tallichet was born in Dallas, Texas, to David Compton Tallichet Sr. and Margaret Tallichet. After completing high school, he studied at the University of the South, University of Texas, and Southern Methodist University. With America’s entry into the Second World War, David signed up for military service. Pursuing his love for aviation, David joined the United States Army Air Force and was accepted for flight school where he successfully completed advanced flight training and was assigned to training on the four-engine Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber.

He was then assigned to a crew and they flew a B-17 from the United States to Britain. Once in Britain, he and his crew became part of the 350th Bombardment Squadron, 100th Bomb Group, based at Thorpe Abbot. From this location, David and his crew flew 23 combat missions before the collapse of Germany and V-E Day. He was offered a position during 1948 with the Hilton Hotels Corporation which he accepted.

During 1955, David took the position of General Manager of the Lafayette Hotel which was located in Long Beach, California, and owned by Conrad Hilton. This would lead to a further career move that saw David and two partners obtain a lease with the Port of Long Beach and the opening of The Reef Restaurant during 1958. The opening of the Reef Restaurant was a pivotal point for David’s Specialty Restaurants Corporation which would go on to encompass over 100 successful restaurants located across the nation.

Tallichet is generally credited with being one of the industry’s true theme-restaurant pioneers; with such ventures as the Sunbird, Pieces of Eight, Shanghai Red’s, Ports O’ Call, Proud Bird, Castaway, 94th Aero Squadron, Crawdaddy’s, Baby Does Matchless Mine.

In the late 1960s David decided to begin collecting and restoring WWII aircraft to flying condition. He soon would develop the world’s largest collection of privately-owned flying WWII aircraft. He was often called upon to provide historic aircraft for films. He was able to fly his B-17 across the Atlantic to Britain to take part in 1990’s Memphis Belle. This past July, David took his Flying Fortress to an airshow in Michigan where he was honored as the last WWII combat pilot still flying one of these very rare aircraft. David Tallichet is survived and loved by his wife Carol Margaret Tallichet of Orange, California; daughter Catherine Ann of Jackson Hole, Wyoming; sons William Robert (Wife Jasmin: children Ashley and Catherine) of San Pedro, California; John David (Wife Karen: children Bryan and Lauren) of Newport Beach, California; and James Lee of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.


EAA's own restored WWII Flying Fortress Bomber, "The Aluminum Overcast" captured in Flight.

EAA’s own laboriously restored WWII Flying Fortress Bomber, “The Aluminum Overcast,” captured in Flight.

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) of Oshkosh, WI sends their restored Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Bomber around the U.S. to both inspire Americans to explore the great adventure of flying, but also to help them more fully appreciate their own unique history, particularly the years of WWII, during which we fought for our very survival as a nation.

The Flying Fortress is almost surprisingly not a large airplane, but its reputation helped make it seem much larger than it really was (is!).  It is the American bomber that played a huge role in helping to turn the tide against the Axis powers in Europe, by “softening up” the Germans (and the Italians) for the D Day invasion.  Its upgraded and much larger Boeing version, the B29 Super Fortress, is the aircraft which delivered the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan, finally ending the war in the Pacific.

Although a legendary airplane in the European theater, it was also a major player in the Pacific against the Imperial Japanese forces, as well.  We are posting an interesting story about a Japanese downed B-17 right here on this website, in addition to this video.  We’ve also already posted other B-17 stories in these pages over the years.  The Flying Fortress became famous after the war, also, when it was the featured flying machine in such highly popular Hollywood films as “12 O’Clock High,” “Fortress”, “Memphis Belle,” and “Flying Fortress.”

The famous and highly acclaimed Memphis Belle in flight – 2:00 Minutes in length

Memphis Belle takes WWII B-17 Air Force Crew Member Bill Yepes aloft – 70 years later: 6 Min. long

The EAA Chapters 555 of Las Cruces, and 1570, of Santa Teresa NM, were both honored to be able to work with the International EAA in helping introduce this historic Air Corps aircraft to the people of their respective and neighboring communities during January 2017.  While the local weather did anything but cooperate at both locations, the display and exhibition project was still quite successful, with many hundreds of visitors attending, and some even going aloft in the bomber at both events.  The FASF has a number of active members in both the EAA Chapters, and some both volunteered their time to help this B-17 exhibition and/or made sure to attend the events at both locations.

Here is a quickly spliced together video recording of the final day of the display, held at the Santa Teresa, NM Jet Port.  It is 24 minutes long, which is admittedly too long, but your webmaster is only beginning to get the gist of video editing, so expect a much briefer version of this longer video shortly.

A number of active FASF members either attended or volunteered to help make the exhibition and flight a success:  Tomas Peralta, who owns and manages the RED ARROW FLIGHT ACADEMY at Santa Teresa, directed the entire B-17 exposition, and two of his instructor pilots, Jim Foster and Debbie Rothschild, were very active in making the program a success.  RED ARROW is a proud business sponsor of the FASF. Also pitching in were FASF Business members Bob Dockendorf and George Guerra, who keep the great War Eagles Air Museum alive and well.

When the shorter video is posted here soon, we may also have some video footage of the actual flying experiences and views taken by some of our members, who shot their own in flight video.

Also actively volunteering in this “Aluminum Overcast” operation at the Jet Port were other members of the FASF, as well:  Col. John Orton (long time FASF Board Member and Advisor) was a key volunteer, and FASF activist member, John Read (Chief Park Ranger at the Columbus, NM Pancho Villa State Park), his wife, Ellie, and John’s Mother, also made the journey to take part in the Flying Fortress adventure.

13 Minute video of B-17G public demonstration event held at Sta. Teresa Jet Port January 22

Make sure and visit the companion post, THE SWAMP GHOST, which is about a recovered B-17, one shot down over New Guinea in the South Pacific during WWII, that was recently returned to the U.S. and is now undergoing its own restoration.

Here are some interesting facts about this famous American Flying Fortress Plane:

  • First built by Boeing in 1935 – as the most advanced heavy bomber of its day
  • Most used for carpet bombing during daylight over Europe (23,000 B17 Airmen lost)
  • 12,731 Fortress’ made by Boeing, Douglas, and Vega (Lockheed) during WWII
  • 1/3 of those were lost during WWII (4,750!)
  • The Fortress was U.S. bomber most flown by the WASP (Women Air Service Pilots)
  • Cruised at 150 MPH and had top speed of 287 MPH
  • At full load (9,600 lbs), it had a range of 2,000 miles
  • Powered by four Curtiss-Wright R-182-Whirlwind Engines of 1,200 HP each
  • The Memphis Belle and her crew flew all over the U.S. during War to sell Bonds
  • B-17C model used by the Royal Air Force of GB in first combat in April 1942
  • Early models had many problems and the British were not happy with it
  • The most improvement came with the model B-17E, which had the iconic big tail
  • Had a crew of 10 and had 10 50 Caliber Machine Guns – 13 machine guns in all
  • Carried 19,000 lbs of bombs in its Bomb Bay
  • Was equipped with the famous and highly secret Norden Precision bombsight
  • Its landing gear was the ‘old fashioned’ tail wheeled configuration
  • It was not pressurized, causing many crew member fatalities from anoxia
  • It’s ability to continue flying after massive air frame damage made it an icon