formerly "The View From Up Here"

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

Be sure to read your weekly Liberty Gazette newspaper, free to Liberty area residents!

March 24, 2020 Soviet Space Race

The Liberty Gazette
March 24, 2020
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

By the early 1970s, the space race against the Soviets was winding down in favor of a more cooperative approach. Now over half a century later, we can see the changing trends in their science magazines, where they wrote about their fantasies of life in outer space. Turns out, as polarized as we were, we weren’t alone in our dream worlds, at least not then. While the U.S. still dreams, Russia seems to have lost their excitement. Writer Winnie Lee explored the topic in the March 13, 2020 issue of Atlas Obscura and came up with some interesting observations.

Engineer and scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky published papers about intelligent life beyond Earth. Extraterrestrial beings, entire civilizations of them, he believed, had the power to influence the organization of matter and the course of natural processes. His fellow Russians celebrated his aspirations, cheering him on to find the road to cosmic intelligence and connect man with space.

Technology for the Youth (Tekhnikamolodezhi in Russian) was a magazine the Soviets launched in 1933. Russian cosmonauts supposedly wrote in an “open letter” in a 1962 issue declaring that, “each of us going to the launch believes deeply that his labor (precisely labor!) makes the Soviet science and the Soviet man even more powerful and brings closer that wonderful future—the communist future to which all humanity will arrive.” This was their “cultural revolution” and they didn’t see any reason to limit it to life on earth. They craved the idea of living in space and meeting alien life forms.

Illustrations such as UFOs and other futuristic machines graced the covers with Soviet purpose: to advance communism. Illustrators let their imaginations travel to extremes, designing thought which the government directed. The fields of defense and space exploration were probably the only places relatively safe for nonconformists, such as artists. In every other aspect of communist life, uniformity was demanded, the individual and creativity to be squelched. But the galaxy of the unknown offered artists precious freedom and security found nowhere else. The freedom to explore alternate worlds and parallel realities gave them a break, even if momentarily, from their harsh lives.

Designers found ways to keep the KGB off their backs by advancing the acceptable cause of communism, touching many aspects of life such as cosmic-style architecture. Houses and public spaces were built to look like flying saucers and satellites. Beginning in kindergarten, children’s classrooms were decorated with galaxies. Their playgrounds were filled with rockets and spaceships. And everywhere, one could find posters touting, “Communists pave the way to the stars,” and “Science and Communism are inseparable.”

But the average Alexander wasn’t so much sold on becoming a cosmonaut. What this push for space did for the Russian general public was to open the doors to the world of fantasy. Books and movies about meeting alien civilizations became the craze. State-run movie houses enjoyed sell-out crowds when they showed futuristic and science fiction films.

By the time Americans put a man on the moon, when both Americans and Soviets had conducted space flights, the fantasizing fizzled, and Russian magazine covers changed. Replacing the dazzling and colorful and sometimes whimsical art were black and white photos. Articles changed from science fiction storytelling to matter-of-fact reporting. Once-swelled anticipation flat-lined. Soviet space exploration became ordinary news. The chase was more exciting than the capture.

Today, their interest in space seems less romanticized, focusing on the problems of overpopulation, waste recycling, alternative energy and ecology. On the Roskosmos website (the Russian state space corporation) is an invitation for youth to join the cosmonaut program. No artists are beckoned, and there’s no hype or social media. Just a quiet statement.

There are plenty of brilliant people who happen to be Russian. But we feel fortunate to have been born in the United States of America, the home of commercial space enterprises such as Boeing, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic, where individuals are encouraged, and space exploration is anything but boring.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

March 17, 2020 Lloyd Haynes' STEM Project

The Liberty Gazette
March 17, 2020
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: According to the U.S. Dept. of Education, only 16% of high school students are interested in a career in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM), and have proven a proficiency in mathematics. 57% of high school freshmen who declare an interest in a STEM-related field lose interest before they graduate high school. By 2018, the need for workers in STEM-related jobs reached 8.65 million. Those are the sad stats, but let’s take a look at the good that’s happened behind the scenes.

Tracing back to 1957, the “Sputnik Era,” it was the launch of the Russian satellite into space that put the U.S. on the competitive path to technology and innovation. American spirit and ingenuity kicked in when Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy challenged us to step up and become leaders in these areas.

NASA and the space program were born in 1958, and later the first American stepped on the moon.

The 1970s and ‘80s saw incredible growth in STEM projects, encouraging further investment in education. Remember the dawn of the cell phone, the artificial heart, and the first personal computer? By the 1990s, that push for education was paying off, with curriculum standards and guidelines for K-12.

In the early 2000s, we knew the need was dire for U.S. students to increase their proficiency in STEM disciplines. So the federal government upped investment in STEM to add 100,000 new STEM teachers over a twelve-year period.

Linda: But before the cell phone and the PC, on October 27, 1972, a man who counted his blessings determined to pass this kind of knowledge on through aviation. That night, in “Lift, Thrust and Drag,” Episode 7 of Season 4 of “Room 222” (a TV series), the main actor, played by Samuel Lloyd Haynes, reversed a student’s attitude toward school by instilling an interest in aviation. Haynes played high school history teacher, Pete Dixon, in the Emmy-award winning series.

In the show, as in real life, Haynes was a commercial-rated multi-engine pilot. He was also black, which broke the stereotypes of the day. Haynes had served in the U.S. Marines from 1952 to 1964 and during the Korean War. Then he became the public affairs officer for the Naval Reserve with the rank of Commander.

Haynes was a natural pick to play the teacher in “Room 222”. He was into STEM before STEM was a thing and developed a program to encourage and train minorities in aviation.

“How could I turn my love for flying into an educational project that would encourage minority kids or potential dropouts in the many opportunities available in aviation?” Haynes asked. He knew it would have to be something “fun, yet realistic; motivating an inner fire causing their thinking to soar.” He answered his question by creating Education Through Aviation (ETA), which received Congressional honor. Through the program, he incorporated aeronautics to make a stimulating learning atmosphere for children, sharing his passion for flight.

The world could use more homeroom teachers like that.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

March 10, 2020 Plans Go Viral

The Liberty Gazette
March 10, 2020
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: Changing plans has gone viral! And not in the cute-puppy-video sense – in the worst sense! COVID-19 has wreaked havoc beyond the Great Wall of China!

Late last year, we had mixed feelings about the late-notice contract trip offered to Mike over the holidays. These side jobs bring the joys of extra vacation money – or more avgas for the Elyminator – but they often occur at the most inopportune times. Therefore, our first-world problem at the end of December was no splurging on a jaunt to anywhere, since Mike was commanding a jet across the U.S. for some businessmen.

To comfort my lonely gypsy soul, I busied myself with plans for the spring. Aha! Rome! And Sicily! I even called our State Farm agent for tips on visiting his ancestral land. Victor and Donna were there just a few years ago, which is considerably more recent than my sister’s high school trip to Italy in the late 1970s. At that time, the mafia had so much control that visiting Sicily was too dangerous. How I looked forward to planning this trip to a place only recently safely accessible to those outside the mobster network!

We compared our work calendars, our social commitments, our writing schedule, and the plans we were making for trips in the Elyminator, and nailed down the best dates – while school is still in session – from April 22 to May 4. We bought our airline tickets to Rome, searched Airbnb for places to stay and off-the-beaten-path “experiences” and made several reservations.

As word leaked out of China about the virus, we weren’t worried. But when Italy became the third country to have a so-called “lock-down,” with reportedly over 50,000 people quarantined, we had to think hard about the risk of going. This could all be fine by the end of April. But then again, who knows?

Mike: Some travelers have been forced to cancel plans long in the making. One couple we heard about had saved for years and booked an around-the-world cruise which has now been cancelled. If this virus goes dormant in the summer and re-emerges in autumn, at their age, they may not have another chance.

Airlines are suffering, too. One of the largest airlines has parked several long-range airplanes until this crisis is over. This is already a boom-or-bust industry, and COVID-19 is having a dramatic effect on it. Also, travel and tourism here and abroad are taking a hard hit. That equates to a lot of people who will be financially affected by this situation.

While we may not be able to recoup all we spent for reservations, we were not there when the lock-down occurred, and we have time to make other plans. Some are not so lucky. So, as disappointed as we are, our hearts go out to those who have come into contact with the virus. We may moan a bit about postponing our trip, but we can plan for a later date and we still have our health.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

March 3, 2020 Raffles and Scholarships

The Liberty Gazette
March 3, 2020
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

On the Alaska Airmen website (alaskaairmen.org), one may find a multitude of happy faces. Not just because the photos were taken in the Last Frontier, but because this group is one that raffles airplanes and gives scholarships. Navigate to the Raffle tab and you’ll see winners over the last twenty years whose $60 ticket won them an airplane worth tens of thousands of dollars. Then punch in to the Scholarships tab to see smiling young adults looking forward to bright futures. While you’re there, be sure to click on About to see a snapshot of their very cool headquarters, located on a tiny island in Anchorage. Then it will all make sense that their address is Floatplane Drive.

Back to the Lower 48, the Puget Sound Flyers, a nonprofit flying club, makes it their mission “to render aid to young people who were fortunate enough to have survived cancer, and, through their hard work, recovered and persevered, despite financial hardships imposed on them and their families by the cost of care and family commitment,” (pugetsoundflyers.org). The Puget Sound Flyers offer scholarships for post-secondary education to assist as many young cancer survivors as possible pursue their passion—whatever it may be. They, too, raffle off airplanes to support their mission.

Going east from Puget Sound to Topeka, Kansas, a city with significant aviation history, the American Flight Museum will raffle a 1976 Citabria, an aerobatic airplane similar to the one Charlie Grabein used to fly here in Liberty. Tickets are $50 and you have until 1:00 p.m. June 1 to buy one of the 4,000 chances for sale. All proceeds go to support the museum, aeronautical education, and aviation programs. You are hereby forewarned, however, that if you visit their website to see the Citabria (americanflightmuseum.com), you’ll practically slobber over their photos of vintage aircraft. Next thing you know, you’ll be heading north to visit in person. We don’t blame you!

Closer to home is Ranger Airfield, in Ranger, Texas, “Accepting aviators since 1911.” The folks there host a weekend-long camp-out fly-in every October (it’s one of our favorite fly-ins, by the way). They also raffle one airplane a year. This year, one holder of a $50 ticket will win a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub. But hurry, they’ve almost sold out! And talk about pictures. Hoo-boy! One could linger long on that site—rangerairfield.org. Jared Calvert was only about 20 or so when he founded the Ranger Airfield Foundation to preserve the airfield and it’s rich Texas history.

The East Central Ohio Pilots Association combines raffle and scholarship for some sweet deals. If your $50 ticket doesn’t win the sparkling clean 1967 Cessna 150 this year, you could win a $2,500 scholarship for flight training. All proceeds from raffle ticket sales support their Safety and Education Foundation which has awarded over $40,000 in flight scholarships. Find out more on ecopapilot.com.

With a little luck, anyone can turn a few bills into a world of adventure.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

February 25, 2020 Operation Haylift

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

The small town of Ely, Nevada has a newspaper called The Ely Times. Occasionally, we read it, just for fun. Last week, writer Dennis Cassinelli retold a story. significant to his audience, of a situation that occurred over seven decades ago: a snowstorm of unrelenting and historical proportions. A snowstorm to end all snowstorms—except that obviously it didn’t. But it is still on record as one of the worst they’ve had.

Here, we deal with floods and droughts, gale–force winds, and extreme heat and humidity. The little bit of snow we get the winters after hurricanes doesn’t qualify as blizzard experience. Not to someone from Ely, Nevada. But it brings thoughts of the time of Harvey, when citizens pulled together to save Liberty from becoming part of an enlarged Trinity River Bottom. This story from back in January and February of 1949 is kind of like that.

Livestock were stranded, scattered throughout remote areas of Ely and Elko. And they were getting hungry. Ranchers and government officials made a plan. The U.S. Air Force had C-82 “Packet” cargo planes they could fly from their base in Tacoma, Washington, down to Sacramento to pick up hay bales and deliver hay by air.

The first day’s work succeeded, with several C-82s making multiple trips, dropping a total of 75 tons of hay to hungry cattle and sheep.

Local ranchers familiar with the area rode along to help find stranded animals. In the back of the airplanes, harnessed crew members stood near the open bay door and tossed out bales. And boy did those cows and bulls and sheep devour the food before the airplanes came back around for a second swoop.

Just as the Liberty Municipal Airport has been a critical part of saving lives and property during Harvey and other natural disasters, the Ely Airport became the base of rescue operations locally. It was their own local airport where ranchers climbed in with Air Force crew members and directed them to cold and starving animals. It was their own local airport where the airplanes fueled up to make dozens of flights over rough terrain in sub-zero temperatures, when there was no other way to feed livestock.

And in an emergency, who pays for these things to happen? During that arctic freeze, the Ely National Bank funded the operation without even asking if ranchers could pay them back for it. One of the bank executives, Gordon Lathrop, is quoted as having said, “The ranchers will pay us back when they can, if not this year, perhaps next year. I know them all.”

In the end, pilots of “Operation Haylift” flew 28 aircraft 270,000 miles, dropping 2,000 tons of hay to over 300,000 head of livestock in Ely and surrounding areas.

And that’s the goodness you find in small towns. Like James Poitevent at the dam, looking like Mel Gibson in the middle of the firefight in “We Were Soldiers,” raising up a mighty army to face down Harvey’s attack.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

February 18, 2020 Willa and Bessie

The Liberty Gazette
February 18, 2020
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: I was interviewed last week by Texas Monthly for an article about Bessie Coleman. We had written about Bessie in this column during Black History month in 2008. The first black woman in the world to earn a pilot certificate, Bessie had to first learn French, and then move to Paris (France, not Texas), to find someone who would teach her to fly. To this day, Bessie is an incredibly huge inspiration to many people. She was smart and she was unstoppable.

She had become an air show pilot and used her fame to speak out against segregation and the many injustices prevalent that held back women and anyone of color from opportunity. She spoke at churches and schools and everywhere she was welcome. Her grand plan was to open a flight school for blacks because there was nowhere in the U.S. they could go to learn to fly.

But Bessie died tragically in an aircraft accident before she could live out her dream. It would be another 12 years before this country would award a pilot certificate to the first black woman who learned to fly in the United States.

Willa Brown had a few more things in common with Bessie Coleman. She felt strongly about those same injustices, and she and her husband, Cornelius Coffey, wanted to make sure there would be a place people of color could learn to fly. Cornelius was also a pilot – in fact, he was her flight instructor – and a mechanic. Together, they founded the Cornelius Coffey School of Aeronautics, the first private flight training academy in the country which was owned and operated by black Americans. Willa herself trained hundreds of pilots, many of whom became Tuskegee Airmen.

She also lobbied the government for integration of black pilots in the U.S. Army Air Corp (predecessor to the U.S. Air Force) and in the Civilian Pilot Training Program (which provided a pool of civilian pilots during national emergencies). Like Bessie, she fought to see these opportunities open to all Americans.

These are the kind of people who inspire me. They probably had doors slammed in their faces more times than we could count. But they didn’t give up or give in to the ignorance. Instead, they set an example of what it means to be American. To work hard, to earn your way, and to innovate.

From picking cotton to being the star of the air shows, “Queen Bess” demonstrated how it’s done. A stellar life ended too soon, I think of how much more she would have accomplished. Her impact isn’t limited to opportunities for women and those with darker skin tones. She raised the mentality of an entire industry. And when the torch was passed to Willa Brown to continue Bessie’s dream, not just an entire industry has benefited, but the whole world.

Here’s to those who have faced adversity and didn’t back down. May your extraordinary lives always shine a light for us all.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

February 11, 2020 SkyBilly

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

Some may claim to be a hillbilly. But only one can be SkyBilly. He was the proverbial “kid at the airport fence.” He loved aerobatics and formed his own airshow company, “Great American Flying Circus.” If you saw the movies, Fandango, or Bodyguard, you saw Bill Warren’s work.

One day skydiver Kirby Mills was in Bill’s DeHavilland Chipmunk with him for an airshow routine. Kirby was to jump out with the American flag unfurling while the national anthem played, and Bill would fly circles around him with “smoke on”—a fairly common and lovely act to watch.

Now, we must mention that the magneto switches on this Chipmunk were located on a panel between the two tandem seats. These must be on for the engine to run.

Bill flew from the rear seat. Kirby sat up front with an old parachute on his back and a reserve chute on his belly.

The Chipmunk has a lever you must squeeze pretty hard to release a detent, allowing the canopy to open all the way. Otherwise it stops only midway, in case you just want fresh air. Bill explained this to Kirby, and that he must wait for the sliding canopy to be opened all the way before jumping.

Off they go. Bill’s concentrating on cues from air show controllers, and Kirby’s eager to make his jump. He asks, “Is it time yet?” Bill answers, “Just wait a second.”

They drone around a bit longer, Bill listening to the air boss through his headset, Kirby double-triple checking everything attached to him. “Is it time yet?”

“Almost. I’ll let you know,” Bill replies.

Bill turns to the direction called “jump run” to set up for the location, speed, and altitude where Kirby will exit the airplane. He says, “Kirby, I’m on jump run. It’ll take about two minutes.” Anxious Kirby is ready. He unbuckles his seat belt. He’s spring-loaded to the ready position. Half a mile from the exit point, Bill reaches, squeezes the lever, and starts pulling the canopy back. Kirby sees it and figures, That’s my cue! I’m outta here! and leaps out of his seat. This so shocks Bill that he lets go of the release, which causes the pin to drop, holding the canopy in place. Now Kirby is wedged halfway in, halfway out and can’t move either way. Practically over their point, Bill’s adrenaline kicks in as he squeezes hard and opens the canopy the rest of the way, which causes Kirby to fall back in Bill’s lap. In the fall, Kirby’s butt bumps those magneto switches, turning the engine off.

Bill has Kirby in his lap, he’s “dead stick” (no engine power), and he’s on jump run. Very coolly, he rolls the Chipmunk inverted, and there goes Kirby. He then rolls the airplane right side up, turns on the mags, starts the engine, and encircles Kirby in smoke. Just like it was planned. And no one on the ground was any the wiser.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

February 4, 2010 Aerial Search and Rescue

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

Mike: The Civil Air Patrol and Texas EquuSearch are well known for their participation in aerial search of missing persons. Often, they use grid patterns to comb an area where it may be especially hard to find a person. Mountainous terrain, forests, and large bodies of water are examples of tough areas to conduct a hunt. The CAP calls their pattern “The Swiss-Army Knife of Search grids.” Their fleet of 560 single-engine airplanes carries pilots and observers trained in aerial search. Their conventional grid system was developed in the early 1960s by CAP members in Washington state, and it was soon adopted nationwide.

A grid is a coordinated system of boxes based on latitude and longitude. The basic premise is to divide the U.S. into 15-minute by 15-minute quadrangle grids. These grids are then numerically labeled sequentially on an aeronautical sectional chart. The order of numbering is from the top left to the top right, down one row, and so on. Each 15-minute grid is approximately 225 square statute miles. When especially difficult terrain is involved, the grid sections can be subdivided into four smaller sections.

These methods hadn’t been thought up yet when, on December 3, 1926, a couple had an argument about the husband’s desire to spend the weekend without his wife. Four months earlier, the man had broken the news to her that he wanted a divorce. And that there was another woman. In December, the distraught wife left their home and wasn’t seen again for eleven days. Her disappearance caused quite a stir. More than 1,000 police officers and 15,000 volunteers are reported to have joined in the search for her. One of them was Dorothy Sayers, author of the Peter Wimsey mystery series. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the character Sherlock Holmes, jumped in to help. He was a believer in spiritualists, such as psychic mediums, and gave the missing lady’s glove to a psychic in the hopes it would lead them to her.

Linda: This was also the event that brought out airplanes to be used, reportedly for the first time in the world, for search operations. Several airplanes, in fact. They flew over the British landscape, without a sophisticated search pattern, but earnestly looking for clues.

The missing lady, Agatha Christie, was finally found but claimed to have no memory of those eleven days. Some believe she entered a “fugue state” of mind, a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by reversible amnesia for one’s personal identity. It tends to happen from severe stress.

On the upside, she later met a fine gentleman who treated her much better. That leaves about the only nice thing I can say about Archibald Christie being that his cold, cold heart ended up opening the doors for aircraft to be used in search and rescue. I’m sure that wasn’t his intended result, but thankfully, from that time on, airplanes have been used when the need arises for the special vantage point which only they can bring.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

January 28, 2020 Elys go to the Theater

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

Linda: A notorious medieval Scottish ancestor of mine left tremendous material for a dramatic tale to be told. In fact, about halfway back in time between him and me, another ancestor wrote a couple of lengthy novels about the trouble the old baron had gotten into. The stories are full of intrigue, no matter whose side you believe.

When I first heard of the baron’s reputation and activities, I planned on writing a novel. But life happens, and I put my notes away for a couple of decades. When I took them out again, I thought, hey, this is so dramatic, it should be a play!

After returning from my research trip to Scotland last year, I enrolled in a playwright course in Houston. I’m now taking my second course and learning lots. We had been frequenting Main Street Theater in Houston. They do a lot of Shakespeare, as well as smart, new plays. That’s how I discovered Guy Roberts.

Guy is originally from Houston, but he now lives in Prague, Czech Republic. He is the founder and CEO of the Prague Shakespeare Company and one of the foremost living experts on Shakespeare. He’s given TedTalks on Shakespeare and can recite any of the bard’s plays backward and forward, in his sleep. We’ve seen a few of his productions when he’s brought them back to Main Street Theater. So as I began converting my partially-written novel into a play, I thought of Guy. That’s when I started dreaming what I thought was the impossible dream.  If there was one person in the world who I would want to read my play and give me feedback, it would be Guy Roberts.

During my first playwright course, I asked the instructor, Elizabeth Keel, an accomplished playwright and director in her own right, if she knew Mr. Roberts. I was elated to find out that of course she does! About the time the playwright masterclass began, a promotional post card arrived in our mailbox from Main Street Theater. “See Guy Roberts as Hamlet, in January!”

Elizabeth introduced us by email, we bought tickets to Hamlet, and after the show, we joined Guy and his assistant director at an English pub down the street.

“Yes!” he said. “Send it, I’ll read it.” Then he asked all kinds of questions about the play, and when he seemed satisfied with my answers, and provided a few tips, he leaned forward and said, “But you two are pilots, right?” Yep.

“Why don’t you write a play about what it’s like flying up there, in the front of the airplane? We don’t know anything about what it’s like. I’d really like to see a play like that. In fact, I might produce it. That’s your next project, after this one is finished!” He looked and Mike and me, and he was serious. So, it looks like there may be a stage in the future of Ely Air Lines.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

January 21, 2010 Curtis and Jim

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

Mike: Our friend Curtis Laird thought of another story from his days in Vietnam. Actually, he’s thought of more than one, but we can only fit in one at a time.

Curtis: Back in November of 1966, I had a small detachment of UH-1D helos with crews at a place called Phan Rang. Our mission was to provide support to a Korean regiment, which was in turn providing outer security for the construction of the Phan Rang air base.

One morning, as we were preparing to launch for our missions, a young Air Force dog handler walked up and asked if he could fly as my gunner on some of the missions. He stated that he was current on the M-60 machine gun, which was our primary armament.

When time permitted, my crew and I took the Airman out over the South China Sea and checked his gunnery skills. Everything went well, so we started working him in on some of our missions. This gave me the opportunity to give my crew members a day off. I kept my fingers crossed that Army headquarters would not find out about this.

A few days later, an Air Force captain stopped by and asked if he could fly as my co-pilot someday. I said, “Sure, why not?” I already had an Airman flying with me, one more wouldn’t hurt.

So, on this particular day, half of my four-man crew were Air Force personnel. This was about the time that Army headquarters found out about it. Needless to say, I was reminded of my careless and negligent manner in which I was flying and operating my aircraft.

Now, we fast-forward 45 years to 2011. I received an email from an individual asking if I was the officer who let him fly as gunner on occasion. I immediately replied that I was the guilty party. We have been in touch ever since.

One more fast-forward. In October 2019, the gunner notified me that he and his wife would be flying down from New York to visit with me and my family. They arrived on November 7. It had been 53 years to the month since I had seen Jim, and we both agreed that we had gotten a little older.

Jim has done well since our Vietnam days. He got his college degree, started a business in the aviation industry, and wrote a book, titled, “The Sky is Not the Limit.” And, he has a wonderful family.

Linda: What winding paths our lives take. Who would have thought how the lives of a young Air Force dog handler and an Army helicopter pilot would end up 45 years later?

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com