Tag Archives: Col. Mario Campos

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.

 

 

 

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.

Lambart Briefs Daedalians on U.S.’s new Joint Strike Fighter

A F-35 Lightning II test aircraft undergoes a flight check. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

All below photos may be seen in higher resolution by simply clicking on them, and the videos all have sound and may be viewed at full screen, also.

The FASF’s Ric Lambart (at left) just briefed the El Paso, TX Daedalian Flight 24 on his 2018 visit to Edwards Air Force Base, CA Flight Test Center and about his introduction to the new Joint Strike Fighter, the Generation 5 new weapons system, the most costly ever purchased by the Pentagon. Here is a depiction of its relative costs:

  • The F-35 is not just the most expensive warplane ever, it’s the most expensive weapons program ever. But here is exactly how much a single F-35 costs.
  • A single Air Force F-35A costs a $148 million. One Marine Corps F-35B costs $251 million. A lone Navy F-35C costs a mind-boggling $337 million. Average the three models together, and a “generic” F-35 costs $178 million.
  • And, you might wonder how much it costs per hour of flight time:
  • $41,000 per hour.
  • The U.S. is the first nation to design, manufacture and fly a 5th Generation Jet Fighter.  The new F-35, the second “Gen Five” machine, will be operated by thirteen of our closest Allies. It was designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin, who coincidentally also made its WWII namesake, the P-38 Lightning.  It is produced in three (3) models, or “Variants,” as shown above.  Notwithstanding its official name, the Lightning II, many of its operational pilots have given it another nickname: The “PANTHER.”

L to R: Colonel Alan Fisher and USAF ROTC Cadet, Ammber Valverde of UTEP and NMSU, chat after the F-35 Power Point presentation. Both are FASF members.

The F-35A model, for the Air Force, the B model, for the Marines and the C Variant, for the USN.

 

 

The Marine Corps B Variant can actually take off vertically, just like a helicopter, and can also land vertically.  The below short (1:40) video show how this is done:

Here is another short (1:35) video of this USMC F-35B operating off a small WWII type special aircraft carrier, which has neither a catapult nor a slant deck as do all new generations of USN Aircraft carriers.  Those features simply are no longer needed for this new USMC F-35 Variant:

Unlike all previous fighters, the F-35 “Lightning II” (named after the high-speed prop-driven Lockheed P-38 Lightning of WWII fame) is unique, not only because of its advanced stealth features, but because it is a flying combat information center, with advanced electronics capabilities never before seen in a new fighter.

It can also fly at supersonic speed for over 170 miles without even engaging its afterburner, which is called flying at “Super Cruise.”  The F-35 was designed to work together with the only other 5th Generation fighter, the F-22 “Raptor.” The two ships will work as a team in various combat scenarios, should their help ever be needed.

While the F-22 Raptor is more maneuverable, the F-35 is designed to engage and take out enemy aircraft long before the enemy has even detected the presence of the new flying weapons system. It can carry a wide array of different missiles internally, rather than attached to its fuselage and/or wings.  This of course does a great deal to enhance its stealth capabilities.

The Lightning II is actually capable of shooting down enemy aircraft beyond the horizon.  The pilots of this futuristic weapons system can actually see in all directions; wherever they look: including directly behind and directly below the fighter.  It the pilot looks down between his or her knees, they can see right through the fuselage as though it were invisible.

A number of electronic “eyes” are built right into the ship’s fuselage, and what they “see” is projected right onto the inside of the pilot’s helmet visor – – – a first.  These futuristic helmets alone are some $400,000 each! Here is a short (1:28) video about this unique helmet:

Additionally, Inputs from both ground intel and airborne recon craft are all displayed on the F-35’s integrated glass panel touch screen display, again, unlike any of its 4th or 3rd Generation predecessors.

Much like the mysterious Area 51, the existence of which was never even recognized by the Air Force until relatively recently, Edwards Flight Test Center also presents a similar air of mystery, since access to it is so highly restricted.

While on active duty with the Air Force, this reporter often flew in the vicinity of Edwards, but was always kept at a substantial distance, because the air space around the Base was so highly restricted.  As a result, this recent visit to the facility was anticipated with no small amount of excitement.

The local Daedalian Flight 56, at Edwards, invited a number of fellow Daedalians from around the country to make this special visit, so that they might learn about the United State’s newest and most advanced airborne weapons system. The 461st Flight Test Squadron, under the command of Lt. Colonel Tucker “Cinco” Hamilton (at right), played official host to the visiting Daedalians. An AFROTC graduate, Col. Hamilton has flown 30 aircraft from a zeppelin to a MiG-15 to an A-10, and, and managed the entire $3 Billion Joint Strike Fighter Developmental Test program out of the Pentagon for all three services. Cinco started his Air Force career as an operational F-15C pilot.

 

LATE BREAKING USAF NEWS: An officer at Edwards Air Force Base in California last month became the first female test pilot to fly an F-35.  See below:

(L-R) Maj. Rachael Winiecki, the first female F-35 test pilot, and Airman 1st Class Heather Rice, her crew chief.

Maj. Rachael Winiecki, a developmental test pilot for Colonel Hamilton’s 461st Flight Test Squadron, flew her first test flight in the Air Force’s most advanced fighter jet this past Dec. 14, according to the USAF.

 

L to R: Colonel Mario Campos, Flight 24’s Commander, who operated the Power Point Show, and our top Aviation News Scout, Virgil Hemphill. Both are FASF members.

And below, is a final video (2:00 long) showing the F-35 in a number of different combat scenarios and roles as it completed its final test program:

Lambart also gave the history of how Edwards Air Force Base was named, as seen immediately below:

USAAF Captain Glen Edwards.

L to R: Ric Lambart and Laura Kelly, both Daedalians, pose in front of one of Edward’s test F-35’s . Kelly was an Army Helicopter Pilot.

An old archived photo showing some of the Base’s famous Pilots, including Chuck Yeager at the center, with his wife, Glennis, after whom he named his rocket ship.. Yeager was the fist man to break the sound barrier – all at Edwards.

“Pancho” Barnes, (center below) who owned the famous bar and resort, “The Happy Bottom Riding Club,” was one of America’s most famous female aviators in her own right.  Aside from being one of Hollywood’s best stunt pilots, she was actually the organizer of the Hollywood film industry’s first Stunt Pilot’s Union.  It was at the “Riding Club” that her good friend, Chuck Yeager managed to break some of his ribs just before becoming the first human being to break the mythically impossible Sound Barrier in the Rocket Research Ship, the X-1, which bore his beloved wife’s name, “Glamorous Glennis.”  Of course Yeager didn’t tell anyone about his broken ribs for fear of missing this extraordinary opportunity to make history.  This particular incident is an episode in 1983 smash hit movie about the early astronauts: “The Right Stuff.” Yeager is played by actor Sam Shepard.  Pancho’s Bar and Grill was the favorite hangout of all those heroic early aviators who daily risked life and limb test flying our country’s most advanced new aircraft.  The below photograph was for sale at Iconic Auctions, in 2017, at the first offer of $1,000.

L to R: Pioneer Female Pilots: Debie Stanford, Pancho Barnes and Amelia Earhart.

Immediately below, is the 2009 award-winning documentary film’s trailer about the Barnes’ Riding Club and the famed aviatrix herself. It is 2:03 long: