formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

To get your copy of "Ely Air Lines: Select Stories from 10 Years of a Weekly Column" volumes 1 and 2, visit our website at http://paperairplanepublishing.com/publications

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September 22, 2020 Repurposing

The Liberty Gazette
September 22, 2020
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: May I say, “Due to Covid19” we’re going to explore repurposing? Seems like the perfect time—nowhere to go, so we need things to do from home to keep us busy and productive. Expanding on the theme of a couple weeks ago, let’s take a look at some of the ways airplanes get repurposed. This just may give you an idea that will keep you occupied till the virus is gone.

We might as well start locally, too. Dr. Cody Abshier’s Twin Beech (with a colorful past), is being repurposed for “Tool School,” which is starting up soon. When he isn’t taking it for a spin around the block, it’s been tucked away, awaiting curious kids’ hands and minds to make it into something fun, like a fort. 

Maybe when one of those kids grows up, he or she will take what they learned in Tool School and snag a great deal on a retired airliner and turn it into a house. Or a hotel. Or a restaurant. Or a car. Or a camper. Or a boat. Or maybe an artist will get ahold of a sadly grounded plane and let it find new wings as a sculpture. All these things are possible.

The Vickers VC-10 was the last of the British-built jets. A Brit named Steve Jones, whose friends own a scrapyard, bought just one engine nacelle (that round, bullet-looking piece that hangs off the wing, or elsewhere on the plane and houses an engine) and converted it into a camper. 

In Suwon, South Korea, the second Boeing 747 ever made, but the first to be flown commercially, was converted to a restaurant. Unfortunately, the business didn’t survive long, but the same idea has worked out great in Taupo, New Zealand. 

A McDonald's restaurant there started out life as a fully functional C-47 (the military version of the Douglas DC-3, my favorite airplane). It was born in January 1943 and saw action in the Pacific theater during WWII. Life after the war brought it to Australia, where it hauled passengers for an airline for several years, then went to work for the Post Office. Coming out of a 24-year retirement in 2014, it can now fit up to 20 diners at 10 tables in the modified fuselage.

Probably one of the most famous aircraft morphological occurrences was a yacht, the conversion completed circa 1974. The 1939 Boeing 307 Stratoliner, one of only ten built, was first owned by Howard Hughes (who may or may not be buried in Houston) for his airline, TWA. The airplane changed hands a few times and was abandoned and sold at auction in 1969. Ken London’s winning bid of $62 left him enough change to chop off the wings and turn it into the luxurious floating “Cosmic Muffin.”
Cosmic Muffin

There are many more examples of creative thinking—and doing—which have given old airplane carcasses new life. So if you’re looking for a unique project, look no farther than your nearest aircraft boneyard.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

September 8, 2020 Changing Boxes

The Liberty Gazette
September 8, 2020
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: A week ago, I said goodbye to a piece of me. For over 12 years I have been teaching pilots to fly the Hawker 800XP, a twin-engine corporate jet. I teach in a simulator and a classroom, and I fly the jet for clients when they need a fill-in pilot. 

After 34 years, FlightSafety retired the Hawker simulator in its Houston Learning Center. As an instructor for FlightSafety, I have taught thousands of hours in this “box.” As an FAA authorized evaluator, I conducted between 300 and 400 tests and checks in it. I have taught in other jets but never so much time in one simulator. 

Fittingly, the last training event I performed was for Larry, a long-time customer who is celebrating 50 years of training with our company. The company’s other pilot with whom he has spent more than 25 years flying, was one of the original trainees in this very simulator back in 1986. Their training was to span four days, after which, the simulator would be dismantled. But Hurricane Laura’s impending arrival changed that. With a hard tear-down date of August 31st, the training schedule was reworked to do all simulator training in two days. The technicians were shutting down everything in hurricane preparation as the last simulator session ended.

With all that, we completed both pilots’ training with enough time left over to let them fly the approach that every pilot loves: the River Visual to Runway 19 at Ronald Reagan International in Washington, D.C. Because of restrictions around the nation’s capital since 9/11, doing this in a simulator is the closest many pilots will ever come to landing there. 

After the storm passed, I came back on Friday to fly the simulator myself one last time. I received an instrument proficiency check by my boss with another instructor as co-pilot. The yoke felt so natural nestled in my hands, and the aircraft responded as if part of me.

The check portion completed, we flew along and reminisced about people and events. Like the time the simulator collapsed while I was doing my required annual observation with an FAA inspector. When it is operating normally, it stands about ten feet tall on six stilts that push and pull the main housing,

making it feel like it’s climbing and turning. When the hydraulic system fails, the fluid generally bleeds off slowly and the simulator settles to the floor. But that time the two aft actuators lost all their fluid immediately, and the simulator crashed backwards, ending with all of us inside looking up at the ceiling—like sitting in a rocket on a launch pad. I crawled out the door at the back and stepped onto the floor. The others climbed out after me. Such memories.

I spent the last few minutes of the simulator’s last day snaking through the mountains of Colorado one more time. The technicians paced, antsy to start disassembly. Someone said I hijacked the sim. But fortunately, no one could shoot out the tires. Tomorrow, a new day, a new box.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com 

September 1, 2020 The People of Liberty versus Hurricanes

The Liberty Gazette 
September 1, 2020 
Ely Air Lines 
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Three years ago, our plans for Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia were thwarted by Hurricane Harvey’s invasion. Because we write this column the week before you read it here, we're writing as we prepare for Hurricane Laura and thinking of the great things that happened here three years ago.

Ten days of Vacation Croatia turned into four days of Vacation Rodeway Inn, Humble. Trapped on our way to the airport shortly before it closed, thinking we’d get out in the nick of time, there was no place to go but the next hotel parking lot. We had nothing to complain about. While so many lost so much in the floods, our house was untouched. That fact was due to the superheroes who saved Liberty from becoming part of an enlarged Trinity River bottom. 

Breaking from the world of aviation, we will always be thankful for those who spent days saving the levy around Travis Park, and ultimately the city. 

These are the people to whom we are grateful that we had a house to come home to when we could finally escape Humble:

Water Control and Improvement District (WCID) #5 members, James Poitevent, Skeet Raggio, and James Leonard. James Poitevent was at the levy from Sunday morning on through the week. He oversaw the entire operation like Mel Gibson in the middle of the firefight in “We Were Soldiers.” With his contacts in construction and the oilfield, he raised up a mighty army to face down Harvey’s attack. 

The other two WCID members, Walt Patterson and Victor Lemelle, held the fort in Ames, watching over ditches affecting Ames and the Liberty Municipal Airport.

Alton Fregia of Daisetta brought five tractors and numerous men who worked twelve-hour shifts. They made a formidable team.

We were in trouble, folks. Serious trouble. Had it not been for the community coming together, bringing equipment and manpower, most of the city would likely have been under water.

Arnold Smart, of Smart Oilfield Service, brought pumps, as did Curtis Hudnall of Curtis & Son Vacuum Service. Dwight Lumpkins, of Clay Mound Sporting Center, brought two pumps. Dwayne Johnson, of Johnson’s Trucking brought a track hoe and himself. John Hebert, lifetime superhero, supplied fuel for all these vehicles.

Oscar Cooper, of Cooper Electric, was there from Sunday morning on, trying to keep an ailing pump running, one of two owned by the city and the WCID.

David Chandler, of Oilfield Welding and Fabrication in Daisetta, brought his expertise and equipment, and we’d have been bad off if he hadn’t. David used a plasma cutter to cut steel plating to cover a grated hole so the water wouldn’t blow up through a drain.

Tim Killion, of Texas Armory, flew drone reconnaissance for an aerial view of water levels.
Gary Broz was the City Manager and Tom Warner was the City Engineer. They were just as dedicated to the safety of Liberty and stayed on the scene during the critical time.

Surely there were others unnamed, but no less heroic. Thanks are inadequate for what our neighbors have done to save our city. 

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com 

August 25, 2020 Humble Lemons

The Liberty Gazette
August 25, 2020
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Jeff Bloch, a/k/a Speedycop, is a Washington, D.C. police officer who, along with his wife, Jaime, and their “Gang of Outlaws,” have built 30 crazy race cars. Early in 2012, Jeff was at Hyde Field, now called Washington Executive Airport, when he noticed what appeared to be an abandoned 1956 Cessna 310. It had been robbed of its engines, fuel tanks, tail section, and “basically, everything it needed to fly,” says Jeff in his YouTube video. His plans for the airplane carcass? Direct to: 24 Hours of Lemons, or, the “Lemons Rally.” It’s supposed to be the polar opposite of the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race, which attracts expensive cars. “Lemons,” is “an irreverent endurance racing series for $500 cars,” says an article by the group, 24hoursoflemons.com

The purpose of the rally is for owners of really ugly or unappreciated cars to take them on road trips and show them off. Just for fun. They report some interesting happenings, such as a 1962 Chevy Impala that had to undergo a heart transplant during the race (an engine change). In a parking lot. And they still won. Once even a 1989 Yugo won. Having been in Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia, we have heard every Yugo joke there is. 

Long story shortened for space here, the airplane had suffered a wheels-up landing in 1965 which the NTSB reported as resulting in major damage, but it was repaired and flew again, up until 1973, when it made its final flight home to Hyde Field. It had been a good workhorse all its life and was due a fun retirement. Under Jeff’s direction, both the airplane and a Toyota Van Wagon (the donor vehicle) underwent some pretty complex procedures to remove, add, and merge body parts. And voila! A car!

The Cessna-Toyota was even street legal, and Jeff drove it to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he shocked more than a few gamblers. It was so much fun, he did it again. After the 310, he converted a boat, a camping trailer, and a Bell OH-58 amphibious helicopter into road racers. The amphib helo had paid its dues in Vietnam, and later by a U.S. drug task force. It, too, was street legal, making it a rare vehicle to have navigated in the air, on land, and at sea.
Photo courtesy caranddriver.com

Racing is still going on, despite Covid, with “Lemons Rallies” September 12-13 in Kershaw, South Carolina and Deer Trail, Colorado.

For a good laugh, I recommend their videos, which you’ll find on their website, along with information on how to register your own $500 car in a race (it doesn’t have to have been an airplane). If you’d like to see Jeff’s video on transforming a Cessna into a Lemon, search on YouTube for “Spirit of Lemons – Donor Van.” Or visit his Facebook page, full of photos and stories, including the “TrippyTippyHippyVan,” a gutted Volkswagon Van which he tipped on its side and then married it to an old VW Rabbit.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

August 18, 2020 Little Stinker

The Liberty Gazette
August 18, 2020

Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

The child knew at an early age that flying would be the thing. By age eight, this child had the parents convinced, and the house was soon filled with books on aviation. The bug caught on and the whole family took flying lessons. And the little stinker soloed an airplane for the first time at age 12. A natural pilot. The first legal solo came on the child’s 16th birthday, because that’s what the FAA says is the minimum age. There was no turning back, but there were roadblocks, because the child was a girl, and girls weren’t supposed to fly.

But she grew up to be National Aviation Hall of Famer Betty Skelton Frankman, known as “The First Lady of Firsts.” Before she passed in 2011 at the age of 85, Betty had grown from the small girl who hopped rides in Stearmans at the local airport to qualifying to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots at age 17. Unfortunately, the youngest age allowed in the WASP was eighteen and a half, and the organization disbanded before she reached that age. So, Betty went on to earn her commercial pilot certificate at age 18, and then became a flight instructor and added multi-engine ratings. Nothing stopping this woman! 

No doubt the limiting mindset of the day was a great frustration. But she never gave up. One day, her dad was planning an airshow as a fundraiser for their local Jaycees. Betty volunteered to learn aerobatics and be the show’s star performer. She learned loops and rolls in a Fairchild PT-19 and two weeks later borrowed the plane for the show.

She’d found her niche, and no one could tell her no, unlike the airlines and military. In 1946, she bought an aerobatic airplane to start her career in airshows and competition aerobatics, a Great Lakes biplane. In it, she gained her first title as International Feminine Aerobatic Champion in 1948. 

Then she discovered the sleek little Pitts. It took months of convincing to get the man-owner to sell it to her, but once she strapped that little single-seater on, she won herself two more championships, in 1949 and 1950. “Little Stinker” is now hanging upside-down from the ceiling of the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport.

Betty was the first to do a propeller-ribbon-cutting—from 10’ above the ground. Inverted. She subsequently set several land speed records and drove in a NASCAR race. Although her gender prohibited her from becoming an astronaut, she underwent the same physical and psychological tests as the original Mercury seven, who adopted her as one of their own, calling her “Seven and a half.”

She still holds more combined aircraft and automotive records than anyone in history (17) and was inducted into the International Aerobatic Hall of Fame, the International Council of Air Shows Hall of Fame, and the Corvette Hall of Fame. Each year the United States National Aerobatic Championships honors the highest placing female pilot with the “Betty Skelton First Lady of Aerobatics” award. 

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

August 11, 2020 Queen of the Skies

The Liberty Gazette
August 11, 2020 
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: The last Boeing 747 flying in passenger service has been parked in the Mojave Desert. Qantas airlines delivered it there last week after drawing a kangaroo-patterned radar track before departing Australia. The remaining 747s will continue flying only as freighters. 

The prototype of the 747 first left the ground in late 1968 and was introduced to the world by Pan American Airways in January 1970. It ushered in the wide-body jet age. The competition then was McDonnell Douglas’ DC-10 and Lockheed’s L-1011. Airbus Industries had not been formed yet. Today, as she heads into retirement, the 747 remains regal. All new aircraft designs look as if they were created on the same drawing board. They are sterile with no uniqueness. But the 747 remains instantly recognizable. 

Just watching the Queen gracefully lift into the air is a wonder, and I often playfully remarked it was just smoke and mirrors; something that big could never fly. 

The first time I saw her, I was in awe. It was night-time and the lights inside the terminal building glared off the windows. I pressed my nose against the glass and cupped my hands around the edges of my eyes to get a good look. A monstrous nose was all I could see. I was fourteen, and we were at Los Angeles International to send my older brother off on a six-week sojourn through Germany. That was before the days of metal detectors, body scanners, and stupid people blowing up airplanes and airports. Families could venture out to the gate with loved ones to see them off. For the ten-hour jaunt to Munich, my brother was flying on an old and ordinary Douglas DC-8. While we waited for his boarding call, I crept back to the only gates with enough room for such an enormous and grand plane. 

I knew someday I would fly on one, but for years it eluded me. One landed behind me at Palm Springs when I was a new pilot. Asked by the controller to expedite off the runway, I was surprised such a behemoth would be flying in there. Years later, I parked next to the UPS 747s at Ontario International Airport. The scent of pineapple would fill my nostrils as the cargo door was opened on a plane that had just arrived from Hawaii. 

My friends who fly them for Atlas Airways and Nippon Cargo adore them. Having been invited aboard several times, I’ve climbed the stairs, strolled the aisles, and shouted in the cavernous cargo compartment just to listen for an echo. But last September was when I finally got to fly on one. We took a British Airways 747 to London Heathrow on our way to Scotland, the experience now bittersweet. 

For 50 years, the Queen of the Skies delivered people to far-off lands who otherwise might not have had such an opportunity. She opened the skies making air travel more affordable. While serving the masses she did so with grace and majesty.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

August 4, 2020 Peacemaker by Choice

The Liberty Gazette
August 4, 2020
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

This is a story of family and heritage, of choices and convictions. It’s the story of Black Beaver, Christian name, Lawrence Hart.

Afraid of Beavers and Walking Woman were survivors of the massacre of the village of the great Peace Chief Black Kettle on the Washita River in Oklahoma in 1868. Three years later, their son, Peak Heart, was born. Although taken from their home and forced to live in Pennsylvania, Peak Heart (whose name was changed to John P. Hart) returned to Oklahoma and became a leader in the Cheyenne nation, and a Christian pastor. 

Chief Peak Heart married Cornstalk and through their son, Homer Hart, and his wife, Jennie, became grandparents to Black Beaver. 

Black Beaver was close to his grandfather, who taught him the Cheyenne ways. They spent many summers together, traveling, as Peak Hart was a peacemaker between tribes and missionary of the Native American Church.

Black Beaver enrolled at Bethel College, but he had always dreamed of flying. With the Navy’s aviation cadet program, he could become a jet fighter pilot when jets were new. Lt. Lawrence Hart achieved his dream as a U.S. Marine fighter pilot, but when his grandfather died, he was called out of the military to become a Peace Chief of the Cheyenne, and a Mennonite pastor.

For years, Black Beaver struggled with the pacifist beliefs of the Mennonite. But the untimely death of his college friend and missionary to Congo, with whom he had many discussions on the subject, made him realize he would rather die as a peacemaker.

What brought it all home for him was a re-enactment on the 100th anniversary of the Washita massacre in 1868 which his great-grandparents survived. The Cheyenne would participate on the condition that they could remove Cheyenne remains from the local museum and return them to the earth in traditional burial. Museum officials agreed, but no one told them the Grandsons of General Custer’s Seventh Cavalry was also participating. Thundering hooves and gunshots frightened unexpecting children. When Custer’s battle tune, “Garry Owen” was played, it stung the hearts of the unprepared Cheyenne.

When it was over, the tribe headed to the museum to claim the remains. There would be traditional ceremonial songs and dignity in the burials. Just as a small casket was brought forth, in came the Seventh Cavalry, encroaching on sacred ground. But they had come to salute, not to scare. 

By Cheyenne tradition, the blanket over the casket must be given to someone significant in attendance before burial. Someone like the governor, who was present. But the old chiefs instructed young Black Beaver, that is, Chief Lawrence Hart, to hand the blanket to the commander of the Custer Grandsons. I can imagine the lump in every throat during the exchange. The commander took the “Garry Owen” pin from his uniform and handed it to Chief Hart to accept for his people, promising the Cheyenne people they would never hear the battle song again.

While Black Beaver loved flying, he loved peacemaking more.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

July 28, 2020 Great Americans

The Liberty Gazette
July 28, 2020
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

This Saturday marks three years since the passing of a great American. A “trailblazer,” a “patriot,” and “a gift to the National Guard” were just a few of the sentiments shared by those who knew Lt. Gen. Daniel James III best. His legacy lives on, yet all who knew him would say that he would never hang his hat on the legacy he inherited. And it was a substantial one. No one could have faulted him if he had. But he didn’t. Daniel James III was his own man, they say—a command pilot and combat veteran, and later the adjutant general (TAG) for the Texas National Guard. He retired as the director of the Air National Guard, the top position there.

James was born in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1945 to Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., a fighter pilot who was the first black 4-star Air Force General. The elder General James flew 101 combat missions in Korea in P-51 Mustangs and F-80s, the first fighter jet. He also racked up 78 combat missions into North Vietnam from Thailand in F-4 Phantoms. Tuskegee certainly has its own stellar history in American aviation, where black military pilots trained.

Young James III knew early in life that the sky was calling him. After graduating from the University of Arizona, young James III logged 500 combat hours as a forward air controller and F-4 Phantom aircraft commander. He is further rightfully admired and honored for completing two active-duty tours in Southeast Asia and earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses.
Gen. Daniel James Jr. pinning a
Distinguished Flying Cross on son, Daniel James III.
Photo courtesy the National Guard, public domain.

While participating in air combat exercises at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada in the mid-70s, Daniel James III met Air National Guard pilots. This opened a new world to him, seeing that airline pilots and fighter pilots flew together for the Guard. Having worn the Air Force flight suit for so many years, this seemed like a great idea. He could stay affiliated with the Air Force and don the flight suit another 38 years.

In 1995, he was selected to lead the Texas National Guard, becoming our state’s top officer. One of the many important things he is known for is his inclusiveness among the ranks in the Guard. He encouraged the various units to include more civilian and state employees in the Guard.

James III had made a name for himself and was recognized by President George W. Bush in 2002 when he nominated him as the 11th director of the Air National Guard. This was an interesting time to take over as the leader because this was when the Guard was transitioning from a strategic reserve to an operational force, post-9/11, including combat air support in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But it was Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath that the ANG proved its value to homeland security. Amid the mess and chaos, communications down, runways flooded and damaged, and air traffic control understaffed, the Air National Guard led the way in what Lt. Gen. Daniel James III called one of their proudest moments, helping fellow Americans.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

July 21, 2020 Flight 19

The Liberty Gazette
July 21, 2020
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: In the shadow of the air traffic control tower, in a park-like setting at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, stands a monument to the fourteen US Navy fliers of Flight 19. The concrete obelisk looks like a one-piece Stonehenge topped with a three-bladed propeller. Behind it, a ship’s mast where Old Glory is raised, the stars and stripes often flapping in the breeze.

The weather-worn plaque lists the servicemen of Flight 19 lost during a normal training mission four months after WWII ended. They had taken off from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, now a public airport, on a December morning in 1945 in five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers. Their mission was supposed to be about ninety minutes long. They became disorientated, and their last radio transmissions were confusing and conveyed a sense of urgency. When they did not return, the Navy launched a search with thirteen men aboard a Martin PBM Mariner twin-engine seaplane. That too, disappeared.

These events, with unusual radio calls and no floating debris or any other sign of the lost, led to wild speculation. The mystery of Flight 19 created the myth of the Bermuda Triangle, a story that has been perpetuated by authors who embellish it more with each retelling. One thing is certain: unsolved mysteries sell a lot of books.

The three corners of the triangle are generally accepted as Bermuda, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico (but it depends on who is doing the speculating). However, not all the ships and airplanes reported lost in the “Bermuda Triangle” were between these points. Some disappeared off the coasts of California, Texas, and Ireland—but why let a little fact mess up a good story?

I’ve flown through the zone of obscurity hundreds of times, from Bermuda to Fort Lauderdale, and from Miami to San Juan. I’ve landed at dozens of Caribbean islands. Out there among the vast expanse of water merging with multiple-hued skies, colorful islands and froth-covered waves, I’ve only found unbelievable beauty and a strengthened belief in God’s incredible power.

When I flew far out at sea, well beyond sight of land, communications with air traffic control often required a high frequency (HF) radio. The very high frequency (VHF) radio we normally use to talk to controllers is limited to line-of-site, and the earth’s arc interferes with that line. By contrast, the HF radio beam bounces off the ionosphere and back down to get over the curve of the horizon. Today, satellites provide a more reliable link.

I cannot say what happened to the aircraft and men who disappeared on Flight 19, but prevailing logical theories say they ran out of fuel. Some say they ended up in south Georgia swamps, others, the Atlantic Ocean. I don’t think they fell off the face of the earth, as flat-earthers might say, or into a space void. I believe the Bermuda Triangle only exists is in the imagination. If anyone wants to claim otherwise, see if you can find me up there dispersing chemtrails.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

July 14, 2020 Girl Around The World

The Liberty Gazette
July 14, 2020
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: I happened upon a link to an early (1950’s) episode of What’s My Line? which led to all manner of fascination. Bennett Cerf, for instance. When I was a kid, we had a children’s joke book he authored. I didn’t realize he was the iconic co-founder, and the very public face of Random House publishing company. I’ve since read his autobiography. What a giant he was. But he didn’t know much about airplanes, or anything mechanical. We all have our shortcomings.

Another regular panelist on the mega-popular TV game show was Arlene Francis. Talk about charm. The lady was the very essence of charm (with a sparkle of mischievousness in those big dark eyes). I wish I’d known both Ms. Francis and Bennett Cerf.

The third regular panelist was Dorothy Kilgallen. Hers is not a household name today, but it should still be. She was a syndicated columnist, the best journalist of her time. She was about to crack the JFK assassination case when she was murdered. I believe it was the mob in cooperation with the American government, the FBI and CIA, because she had the story. She was the only person to privately interview Jack Ruby. Twice. There’s plenty of evidence to bring me to my belief, and there’s a new appeal this year for her murder case to be re-opened with new evidence. Let the truth to be known.

Unlike her co-panelists on the show, Dorothy did have a little something to do with airplanes. She wasn’t a pilot, but a passenger with some claims to firsts: the first woman to travel around the world on commercial airlines, and the first female to fly across the Pacific Ocean.

She did these things in September 1936, when she took part in a race around the world against fellow newsmen Bud Ekins of the New York World-Telegram and Leo Kieran of the New York Times. The trip took Dorothy 24 days, and she came second to Ekins (21 days). However, Ekins may not have played by the rules.

After the race, Dorothy published her book, "Girl Around The World." The following year she wrote the film script, Fly Away Baby, which was loosely based on the race. Characters Torchy and Steve (Glenda Farrell and Barton MacLane) investigate a murder/jewel theft with roots in Germany. Torchy lobbies her publisher to underwrite her participation in an around-the-world airplane race because arrogant businessman Sonny Croy will be a participant. He’s a prime suspect in the case, and she intends to chase him and prove his guilt. The trail leads to Nazi Germany. With the help of the German police, the mystery is solved—aboard the Hindenburg.

The film was released six weeks after the Hindenburg disaster, and the stock footage at the end is likely the Hindenburg. The two Pan Am Clippers, “Philippine Clipper” and “Hawaii Clipper,” met tragic ends a few years later. The DC-3 (my favorite airplane) is thought by many to be a possible Bermuda Triangle mystery. It disappeared. Like Dorothy’s file on Kennedy’s assassins.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com