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EDITOR Gary Ferguson 1664 Paloma Street Pasadena CA 91104 H (626) 529-5323 C (323) 351-9231

21 Seattle Summer Picnic

11 12 13 Hartford RNPA Reunion




11 SEA Base F/A Retirement & Reunion Party

1 Contrails 168

CONTRIBUTING COLUMNISTS Bob Root Sue Duxbury PHOTOGRAPHERS Dick Carl Fran DeVoll Phil Hallin REPORTERS Each Member! The newsletter RNPA Contrails is published quarterly in February, May, August and November by the Retired Northwest Airlines Pilots’ Association, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to maintain the friendships and associations of the members, to promote their general welfare, and assist those active pilots who are approaching retirement with the problems relating thereto. Membership is $35 annually for Regular Members (NWA pilots, active or retired) and $25 for Affiliate Members. ADDRESS CHANGES: Dino Oliva 3701 Bayou Louise Lane Sarasota FL 34242





7 MSP Christmas Party 11 SEA Christmas Party

Dues bill will arrive early this month.


18 1 Contrails 169

18 SW Fla Luncheon


1 Contrails 170



Feature article by Ron Murdock

Propellers on the North Pacific





Bill Barrott on










PILOTS: ALIKE OR NOT? by Dave Leighton


16 The

Root Cellar



from Pete Schenck


Tom Adams sends

When Airplanes Were Made of Wood


and Pilots of Steel


Membership Application





President’s Report: Gary PISEL

Greetings All, As you read this, we will be ending our tour of the Maritimes. This took us from Maine to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador and Prince Edward Island. Heading now for Hartford and the RNPA Reunion. The upcoming Reunion in Hartford is now closed for registration. It is time for you to be thinking of the future sites and plan for Albuquerque. This will take place September ’09. We have a special early sign up bonus for ABQ. If you sign up before Jan 1, 09 you are eligible for a drawing for a balloon ride. The winner will be announced on the summer cruise, so they may plan for the ride during our gathering in Albuquerque. We also have Rapid City, ’10; and Omaha, ’11 on the agenda and looking at other sites. They are building a new airport in Branson, so that may be a future site. If you have any suggestions or ideas, let us know. With the impending merger of Northwest and Delta the Board of Directors are looking at the future of RNPA. We will have retired Northwest pilots for some time, even though they may have retired under the Delta name. Loyalties are stronger than mergers. We plan to function as an organization for some time. Our Reunions will be much more meaningful, as we renew old acquaintances and make new friends. It is important that you support the efforts of RNPA in this endeavor. Delta has their convention in the spring of the year, each year at Atlanta. They have satellite chapters throughout the country and one in Frankfurt, Germany. Their membership is some 4,000 members. As a retired employee, you will be classified as 3B on the pass list, no R. However you will still ride behind the active employees. But as you know, if the flight is full, what different does it make. As we go thru this difficult transition it behooves each of you to read Contrails, the emails from RNPA and official papers to squelch rumors and falsehoods.

Trea$urer’$ Report: Dino OLIVA Karen and I are on our annual summer adventure, this time to the Maritimes of Canada. Any correspondence sent to me either via snail mail or email will remain dormant until our return home in mid to late August. Unfortunately, 49 members were removed this past quarter for non-payment of dues. If you received this newsletter then you are paid up to date and no action is required until you receive your annual dues notice in late December. Several new members this year sent in their applications on old outdated forms with the incorrect dues amount. The dues amount for this year [and next] is $35 for members and $25 for affiliate members (non pilots). If you sent in the incorrect amount the balance owed will be included on your next years’ dues notice.



ditor’s Notes: Gary FERGUSON

IT’S A SAD, SAD, SAD TIME WORLD I suppose some might say that my images on both the front and back covers are premature. But it sounds to me that by the time the November issue is published it will have been a done deal. I suppose, too, that the active Northwest Airlines employees are thinking of this merger primarily as it relates to their future. That’s probably not how the average reader of Contrails perceives it—to most of us it’s all about the past. The memories. The friendships. Our working lives committed to a single company. In this issue Bob Root writes about the need for a grieving process. He may be right, but I’m not at all sure that I couldn’t find more to grieve about in this increasingly demented world we live in than the loss of an airline brand. But it is nevertheless very sad, and in that Bob and I are in agreement. We participated, whether we individually had anything to do with it or not, in pioneering flight and meteorological procedures that have become a world standard. I didn’t have anything to do with creating or implementing all that, nor did most of you. But some of you did! I was quietly proud that I could provide a smooth ride while the other “brands” were whimpering about how rough it was. And, is it possible to overemphasize the importance of Standard Operating Procedures Amplified? Or standardized cockpit instrumentation? Dealing with jet upset? It won’t be too much longer before no one will have any idea who Soderlind, Sowa and the other innovators were. Face it, most of the current work force probably doesn’t know much about them either. Now that’s sad. But it’s also a pretty impressive legacy to leave behind. I didn’t realize this until just a minute ago: I hired on at Northwest at the exact midpoint of its (presumed) existence—1967. Those of us working there during “The Golden Years” owe a substantial debt to those who pioneered during the first 41 years of that time frame. By the time I came along, we no longer had to endure aircraft breaking up in flight; we had weather radar, precision nav aids and a fully matured industry. Best of all, we had some great guys to work with. I wonder how Joe Kimm, to single out just one who was there almost from the birth to the death of Northwest, feels. I imagine he’s sad, too. He has a right to be.

SOME GOOD STUFF From the pen of Ron Murdock, well maybe the keyboard, comes a retrospective about flying the Pacific with the DC-7. I know for sure that Paul Ludwig will enjoy this one, as I’m sure the rest of you will. It’s a dandy. Sue Duxbury travels down to Webster, Minnesota to interview Julie Clark. If you have always wondered about Julie and her accomplishments, your questions will more than likely be answered here. I MAY HAVE STRUCK THE RIGHT CHORD In the past, some of my requests for participatory contributions on your part have met with rather anemic responses. Don’t misunderstand. I don’t mean the contributions were anemic, I mean that there wasn’t always the volume I was hoping for. It turns out that more than a couple of you actually like to put words onto paper—or word processors. The response to the Short Story Contest has been encouraging. Inside are submissions from Bill Barrott, Dave Leighton, Pete Schenck and Tom Adams. Good stuff. I am aware of a couple more entries that I am expecting for next issue. Since I didn’t state a deadline, I am extending the contest through the November issue, hoping that several more of you will be encouraged to submit your stories. Details can be found on page 44. THANK YOU I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you, on behalf of myself and the staff, for all the kind compliments we hear. It’s what keeps us working to crank out this magazine every 90 days—hoping to make each one a little better. But, as I have said many times before, this is about you, by you and for you—meaning it doesn’t get done without your contributions. Keep ’em coming! THE MAILBAG IS EMPTY! the email “good manners” cops say that when you send something in all caps it’s the equivalent of yelling. so that’s what i’m doing now—yelling that THE MAILBAG IS EMPTY. Hint, hint. Whatchabeenupto?



Al Sovereign

Loren DeShon Gary, Just a little note regarding the May issue and Lee Carver. Lee Carver (not a pilot) submitted a letter asking for help locating a previous owner of a Corvette that he owns. I might have passed over his letter, except for the reference to a “split window” coupe. I was that previous owner. Sold the car to a Midway pilot in 1972. Lee and I have been in contact and he is very happy to get more details regarding the history of the car. Interestingly, his letter appeared immediately after mine in the May issue.  Loren DeShon

Milt Eitreim Got your plea for some letters, so guess I can do that. We are back in MN for the summer and will see some “old” buddies on the river cruise in June. Mary got a new knee in January so she is still sore but moving pretty good I think. We will go on a short cruise in September out of NYC to Halifax and points in that direction. Played some golf and bridge with Charlie Sivertson this past winter; see Bob Loveridge down in AZ. Also Gary Thompson. Thanks to all you guys who keep RNPA going. Milt Eitreim

“K.P.” Haram

Got Stories? Good morning, Gary: I am writing a book about NWA in the 1950’s with the Boeing Stratocruiser as the centerpiece. I am looking for stories to add to my own. In particular, NWA Stratocruiser stories from both crew and passenger perspectives. Please contact or call 612-865-KERR (5377) with your stories. Don’t worry about the writing.  I can do that for you. I just want to hear your tales so we can preserve them for posterity. I worked for NWA between 1956 and 1960 as a cabin attendant. Please check out my web site and blog here: Thanks for your consideration, Anne Kerr


Hi Gary, Al and Ina here in Decatur, IN in the midst of all the thunder storms and tornadoes. What fun! I think I’d rather watch them on TV. We have a new weather radio to keep us alerted, and it also keeps us awake as the alarm goes off every night. (Thunder storms don’t happen until after midnight it seems.) Anyhow, we’re on our way to the East Coast to meet up with our exalted President, the one and only Gary Pisel, in Boston where we will eventually head toward the Maritimes for 33 days. It should be fun. Other than that we’re not doing anything. Before we left Cottonwood Ina entered some of her artwork in the local county fair and won six ribbons. I’m so proud of her. That will encourage her to do more, I’m sure. Blue side up,   Al Sovereign

John Scholl Hi Dino, You and the RNPA crew really give us our money’s worth with the Contrails publication. Thank you very much. Here is my ’08 dues. Hope to see you in March. We as a pilot group owe you & crew many more thanks for all the effort donated to RNPA. It’s a lot of work. Thanks, John Scholl


Dino and all the others that make RNPA work: I wish to thank you all for the work and dedication you all put into RNPA, what a great bunch! Thankfully not much new to report with Nancy and I this last year. The best was we had another healthy year. I did reach the ripe old age of 80 this year, what a blessing. We still call Minnesota home. Our roots are too deep here to change at this late date. We do spend February & March in Fountain Hills, Arizona. That helps to shorten our long, hard winters. We enjoy our RNPA Christmas party and summer boat cruise. A great chance to see some of the great people that I had the privilege to work with. “K.P.” Haram

Bill Waechter Hi Gary, What a thrill to see Rick Adams’ letter to the editor in May 2008 edition. I was overcome with a flood of emotion. Long ago and far away I was engaged in the Vietnam War as a young helicopter pilot (June 1966). The Navy maintained a detachment aboard the largest aircraft carrier on station of a small fleet of armed and armored rescue helicopters (H-3). They were designed to fly over North Vietnam, through very unfriendly mountainous terrain and rescue downed airmen. We were briefed daily about the Air Force and Navy bombing runs (alpha strikes) usually clustered around the populated Hanoi, Haiphong and Vinh areas—big cities with many factories and bridges. In addition, Haiphong was the major port of Vietnam receiving Chinese and Russian freighters daily. Rick Adams was shot down [2nd time] with his F-8 Crusader on a mountain top very close to Hanoi. The problem was how to get there. We (copilot,two gunners, and one medic) flew a circuitous route. No shortage of anti-aircraft guns in N. Vietnam in 1966. We flew north until we felt we could safely penetrate the coastline near the Chinese border. We were especially vulnerable due to our slow speed. One aircraft

(A-4) was orbiting the crash site giving us directions, running low on fuel. Seven aircraft (F-8 and F-4) were looking for the 17 jets (Mig17 and 19) launched from Kep Airfield, near Hanoi, to search for us. It was cat and mouse. We were accompanied by two A-1 Skyraiders. We were busy dodging AA fire (37, 85, and 100mm), we altered our heading constantly to avoid. You could actually see those big shells fly through the air. Two things burned in my memory to this day. First, the green light (active fire radar) went on, followed by this telephone pole with fire coming out (SAM-1 missle) coming up at us. We out manuevered it twice. It had the capability of turning back at us. Second, on arriving at the rescue scene we saw this surrealistic picture of Adams’ F-8 sticking out of the mountain with smoke coming out of the tailpipe. THE MOUNTAIN WAS SMOKING A CIGAR! Can you imagine how dense the foliage was to catch and hold that airplane! Rick had ejected at the last second—his parachute was draped over the jungle canopy. Our rescue cable was designed to penetrate the jungle. After several minutes we located the spot and retrieved Rick safely to our craft. Our hovering was very unstable due to the altitude and max power required, over-temping both engines. My crewmen performed heroically, returning fire to gun sights on the ground. The barrels of the three machine guns would get red hot and have to be exchanged very gingerly with gloves on. I could hear them yelling “ouch” (or something like that ) each time they touched.

The next 30 minutes was filled with more AA during our dash (130 KTS) to the coast. Two 37 mm tracer shells crossed in front of us, I can still see them. The closest ship with a doctor was the beautiful USS Chicago, a brief check up, then on to Ricks home the USS Oriskany. Our home at that time was the USS Constellation (we changed aircraft carriers every 3 or 4 weeks). The Navy sent Adams home, later to fly for the Blue Angels. We were awarded Navy commendations (Silver Star, and Distinguished Flying Crosses to my copilot and crewmen)... and a week off at Subic Bay in the Phillipine Islands. You can imagine how wonderfull and peacefull good old Northwest Airlines seemed to me, until my first (BRAC) strike. But that’s another story. Gary, I have some pix of me when I was 27 On the ship. [Above] I’m still waiting to hear from Rick. He visited China a couple weeks ago. Regards, Bill Waechter



Paul Jachman Dino, Flight 19 roared off to TKO over my house this afternoon prompting me to finally sit down and communicate with the group. Whether it’s 19 westbound for the next 12 hours or 20 inbound for the final two minutes of its crossing, that sight and sound always causes me to look up. It’s an affliction I’ve had since early childhood when P-51’s from the local ANG unit flew over my house in Peoria, Illinois.  Now there’s a sight and sound to etch a thrill on a young boy’s mind!  Some things always remain. Obviously, I continue to live in Minneapolis fairly close to the airport, so can still legitimately complain about cold weather and high taxes. But no noise complaints from this guy, it’s always been sweet music. Now that sweet music may be altered just slightly if and when the red tail changes color here in the near future.  However, I will always quietly wish that 747 a safe crossing when she roars over the house no

matter who is at the controls. They may take away the red tail but they can never take away good memories of the past. In the meantime, Dick Bihler and I continue the attempt to keep two 58 year old Navions airworthy out of Flying Cloud Airport. We’re currently 50% successful, with the other 50% at Van Nuys, California, and an engine change.  We hope to have both running together by summer. There may even be some formation flying in the mill provided I can have the lower threshold of my pacemaker set up a bit to compensate for closure rate, wing tip clearance, and a youthful exuberance that left many years ago. We look forward to the experience and hope old dormant skills find their way to stick and rudder, this time around just purely for enjoyment. Contrails is pure enjoyment also, and my thanks to all who contribute time and talent. A good summer to all. Paul Jachman

Russ Born Hi Dino! We got your note, but it was timed with our realization that we’d not received a dues notice and as a result, we were intending to mail off a check this week anyway. We will pay the full amount, including the reinstatement fee.   Thank you for this opportunity to thank you and all those involved with managing RNPA and for all that goes into publishing the first class newsletter that we are read from cover to cover as soon as it arrives.  Being an airline brat, it is enjoyable keeping tabs on how well many of your (and my Dad’s) fellow retirees are doing and conversely, is also sad to read about the passing of those who were the backbone of Northwest Airlines for so many years.   Our check for $25.00 will be mailed this coming week. Thanks again! Russ & Jeni Born Red Lodge, MT (Son & Daughter-in-law of Cap tain Harold Born)

For those of you not electronically “connected,” I will need to explain this. There are several online sites with many thousands of aircraft photos taken by “planespotters.” Most are exterior shots of planes, but there are many like this one as well. Don’t ask me how the photographer got into the cockpit in 2006. The circled remark is not typical on these sites, and even more humorous because it’s not. -Ed.



Pete Schenck

Rich Conrad Dear Gary, Dino; Thanks for a great magazine. Last daughter out of college and got a place in Palm Desert with the windfall. We moved down in November, planning to go back and forth to Bellevue a few times during the winter. The only time I went back was to put our house up for sale. Obviously we adapted well, playing tennis and or golf nearly every day. Being from the northwest it took some time getting used to the sun being out every single day. We muddled through. I stay in pretty good shape, mostly the exercise bike. I still run occasionally but it seems that a mile is a lot farther than it used to be. It must be inflation. Playing tennis and golf takes up most of my time these days. I still enjoy singles but doubles is the game of choice down here. The good news is my doubles game is improving.  Golf has been a little more frustrating (I may not be alone here). The one thing I’ve noticed is that  the courses seem to be getting longer. It’s probably inflation again. I could say that I’m doing something constructive but I don’t need to, I don’t want to, and no one can make me, I’m retired. Seriously, I did write a novel a few years back but I just can’t make myself do what it takes to get it published so I go play golf on inflated golf courses. Some day! Anyway we are having a great time in the Desert. I would highly recommend the life style. Rich Conrad

Wednesday, June 27, 2007 To All RNPA Members & Friends; What a thrill to receive a copy of Contrails (May 2007) from Phil Hallin. I ran into Phil the other day at a local marina. He, as well as other pilot friends had mentioned I shouldjoin RNPA. It’s a thrill to see a former NWA flight dispatcher can do that! Count me in! I guess its time to introduce myself to those who may not remember me (or have tried to forget). After being diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2003, I threw a pity party for myself and cried for three solid months. After one particularly hard cry, I decided that was stupid and instead of picturing myself dying, I’m going to really start living! So we started spending more time on our sailboat in the Virgin Islands. I started telling people how important their friendship has been to me and then with the diagnosis of thyroid cancer, I bought another sailboat in the Virgin Islands. With malignant melanoma, my wife and I took an incredible cruise through the eastern Mediterranean. With squamous cell we went looking for a cabin in northern Minnesota but ended up with a wonderful home on the shores of take Superior in northern Wisconsin! I honestly tried commuting but

Jerry Pope

leaving this home was more than I could bear and within a week we had listed our home in Minnesota. My June scan for metastatic cancer came up showing me as stable and with that good news, I turned in my retirement notification. I wanted to send it in via ACARS but that wasn’t possible. And so here we sit in Herbster, Wisconsin enjoying life to the fullest. I spent six months in school to get my EMT license and 60 hours of training to become a fire fighter. Yes this retirement thing is wonderful! In May of 2008 I’ll be sailing the monohull sailboat up to Bayfield, Wisconsin. It means 60 days at sea but heck, it sounds like an opportunity of a lifetime. (I may also cheat and do it the easy way; by truck from Annapolis.) We’re also taking road trips to alI parts of the country as well as a cruise later this year through the Panama Canal. Thank you for the opportunity to reconnect with some wonderful friends and professionals I have met in my 32 years with Northwest Airlines. Sincerely, Pete Schenck Not sure where this letter has been for the last year, but it came into my possession this June (2008). Sorry Pete. -Ed.

Elaine Mielke

Dear Dino, Thanks for keeping this thing going. My wife and I are both happy to be members and enjoy the reunions. Yours truly, Jerry Pope

Hi Dino, Thanks to those who sent the additional Contrails issues for our children that had Bob’s obituary in. They very much appreciated them. I also want to thank everyone for the prayers and support during the last two years. Our lives certainly are different, but Bob’s legacy and wonderful memories will always be with us. Elaine Mielke




If you are travelin soon, consider Lutran Air, the no-frills airline. You’re all in da same boat on Lutran Air, where flyin is a upliftin experience. Dair is no first class on any Lutran Air flight.

• Meals are potluck. Rows 1 tru 6, bring rolls; 7 tru 15, bring a salad; 16 tru  21, a hot dish; and 22 tru 30, a dessert. • Basses and tenors please sit in da rear of da aircraft. • Everyone is responsible for his or her own baggage. • All fares are by free will offering, and da plane will not land til da budget is met. • Pay attention to your flight attendant, who vill acquaint you wit da safety system aboard your Lutran Air flight.   “Okay den, listen up; I’m only gonna say dis vonce: In da event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, I am frankly gonna be real surprised and so vill Captain Olson, because ve fly right around two tousand feet, so loss of cabin pressure would probably mean da Second Coming or someting of dat nature, and I wouldn’t bodder with doze liddle masks on da rubber tubes - you’re gonna have bigger tings to worry about den dat.  Just stuff doze back up in dair liddle holes.  Probably da masks fell out because of turbulence which, to be honest wit you, we’re gonna have quite a bit of at two tousand feet - sorta like driving across a plowed field, but after a while you get used to it. “In da event of a water landing, I’d say forget it.  Start saying da Lord’s Prayer and just hope you get to da part about forgive us our sins as we forgive dose who sin against us, which some people say trespass against us, vich isn’t right, but vat can you do? “Da use of cell phones on da plane is strictly forbidden, not because day may confuse da plane’s navigation system, which is by da pants all da way.  No, it’s because cell phones are a pain in da wazoo, and if God had meant you to use a cell phone, He wudda put your mout on da side of your head. “We start lunch right about noon and its buffet style wit da coffeepot up front. “Den we’ll have da hymn sing; hymnals are in da seat pockets in front of you. Don’t take yours wit you when you go or I am gonna be real upset and I am  not kiddin! “Right now I’ll say Grace: “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest and let deze gifts to us be blessed. Fadder, Son, and Holy Ghost, May we land in Dulut or pretty close. AMEN!”



Larry Weidkamp Hello Dino, Sorry for the hassle of your having to send out reminder notices. I probably ought to set up an automatic deduction account with my bank like almost every other bill as a convenience when having a “snowbird’’ home. Apparently the first reminder was lost in PO heaven (or hell) when it was sent to our summer address in the Seattle area. Anyway, I am enclosing $70 to cover 2008 and 2009 including “fines’’ in case it should happen to fall through the cracks again next year. We are at the above address from October till May 1st then back to the Seattle area (Hansville, on the Kitsap Peninsula). For three seasons now we have enjoyed great fall and winter golf weather and spending considerable time exploring in this beautiful spot —St. George, Utah. We are only one-and-a-half hours away from Las Vegas, so we also manage to take in some great shows and other events when they arrive in Sin City. Having a time share there is a great convenience as well. I can’t seem to get Linda into golf, but she’s keeping busy constantly in our over-55 community, including some Polynesian dance performances. We both miss all our NWA friends. Unfortunately, the summer seems to be full with mandatory things to do like fishing in Puget Sound while Linda launches into a whole ’nother variety of activities in the Seattle area. If she has her way (as soon as I’m too old for fishing) she’d like to move down here full time. So, let it be an open invitation to any or all to drop in either in Hansville, or St. George. Best regards, Larry and Linda Weidkamp

Bob Lowenthal

Hi Gary, Here is a photo of me doing my first aircraft walk-around. This was December 1939 when I was seventeen... months. When I saw this giant amphibious airliner, a Sikorsky S-36, sitting on the ramp which lead down to the water, I knew this was the job for me. It had the three things that I enjoyed most in the world, girls, airplanes, and, of course, girls. It could fly from Dinner Key on the bayfront in Miami to Havana, nonstop!! An International flight! It would also often land in Key West, depending on passenger traffic. As you can see, the girls had to carry me a lot. That never changed. When the war began, my brother and I wanted to enlist right away.  It seems I never got what I wanted right away, but guess what ... eventually my dreams did come true.  Bob Lowenthal

It’s me in the Army Uniform. Notice the DC-3 badge on the cap. 30 years later, I got a DC-3 type rating and ATR at Jack Volkel’s FBA and fog abatement service at Renton field in Seattle. I always felt that a real airline pilot should have a DC-3 type rating. The little sailor is my younger brother Larry.

Chuck Nichols Dear Dino, We’ve been in Florida since January 10 and are going back North the 1st week of May. Things are different this year because Roz got a recluse spider bite on January 17th and was in Cleveland Clinic for a week. A nurse comes here every day to care for her leg. I still get my golfing in 2 - 3 times a week. Thanks for all you are doing for RNPA. Sincerely, Chuck Nichols RNPA CONTRAILS AUGUST 2008


Dot Thrall Hi:

As some of you may know, Lyle had a stroke on Feb. 3rd. We were just going to watch the Super Bowl when he collapsed. We were in Yuma, AZ in our RV at the time. He had to be flown to Phoenix for treatment. After 10 days there, we stretcher vaned him back to Yuma and he was in rehab there for a month. All the time we were trying to work out getting him back home to WA and the RV as well. Two sons-inlaw drove us home and we got Lyle into rehab at St Joseph’s in Tacoma. As of now, they are saying he is doing really well and will be discharged about April 15th and then be an outpatient. So that the RNPA police do not come after us, I am enclosing the dues. Sorry to be late but we were a bit tied up with other stuff. Thanks for extending the due date. So many guys have emailed us and he has enjoyed reading them all. Hope to see some of you at the Gig Harbor breakfasts before too very long. Dot Thrall

Doug Trembly Dino, Thank you for the tremendous job you and the other volunteers do to keep the RNPA at such a high level. Doug Trembly

Chuck Miller Dino, I don’t remember ever getting my renewal notice, however here is my check for this year’s dues. Thanks for doing this. I always enjoy reading the magazine. Chuck Miller


Gary McGahuey Dino, My wife and I are enjoying our nearly eight years of retirement here in The Villages, Florida. Sometimes we think we’re too busy, what with golf, softball, Mahjong (whatever that is!) and all our other retirement activities. We finally got around to visiting “down under” on a cruise on the new Canard ship, the Queen Victoria, presently on it’s first world cruise. We took the LAX-SNY segment, a 26-day cruise. Our first time to New Zealand and Australia was great. Keep up the good work with RNPA. I share my RNPA newsletter with my pilot neighbors. They’re retired Navy and Marine pilots. Gary McGahuey

Charlie Huffaker Dino, Thanks for all your work and all the other people who put the Contrails together. Charlie Huffaker

Tom Klemens Dino, Items of possible interest: I have been living in Arizona last four months—will return soon to Seattle. Greatly looking forward to summer trip—hiking in Glacier National Park with spouse and John and Pat Hanson. John flew the 747 out of Anchorage for NWA. He was born in Great Falls, as was I, and we attended the same schools, grade and high school. Regards, Tom Klemens PS. I take credit for encouraging him to hire on to NWA.


Helen Frank RNPA Staff, I am enclosing our check for dues and penalty. I am not able to put my hands on the stub at this time. Gene and I have just experienced the worst event a parent could imagine, as we lost our oldest daughter, Sue, age 48, after a six month struggle with stomach cancer. We have been in Minnesota during her illness and were able to give assistance to our two grandsons and her husband. We expect things will gradually get better for us and we hope to be able to resume our time with friends. Our health has been good and we cherish the opportunities to enjoy retirement. We do realize we were involved in the airline at the very best time. Our son at Delta reminds us of this often. We want to thank all the officers of RNPA for their work to make the organization what it is. Every issue of Contrails that Gary Ferguson puts out is as professional as it could be. Bob Root can describe events in a very interesting way. Phil Hallin must sleep with his camera, as he never misses a shot. We hope to see many of you again soon. Helen (& Gene) Frank

Ardis Edwards Dear Dino and All, Just a note to thank you for everything! My love, Paul (My Mississippi Southern Gentleman), is in Heaven with our first son, Kevin. Our five other children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren keep me busy. As the last remaining charter member in our church, Our Savior Lutheran, I am church historian, and very involved with other duties. I am blessed to be included in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World of Women and several others. (“All” glory goes to God!) Am also involved in several other civic duties. So very blessed to have lived in our home here in Mission San Jose, California for now 45 years. Our children are not too far away from me. As a former teacher in this area—also blessed with a wealth of “good friends.” Agnes Carter and I have enjoyed doing some of the retired pilots conventions. Thanks again! Love, Ardis Edwards

Bev Skuja Dear Dino & Karen, It was great seeing you in Reno. Wasn’t that a neat convention [reunion] this time? Ivars & I loved having the chance to catch up with everyone—some of whom we hadn’t seen in years. We also had great fun exploring parts of Eastern Oregon on our way down to Reno, as well as parts of Northern Nevada on our way back. I’d just like to say “Thank You” to everyone at RNPA who do such a super job helping all of us to stay in touch. You are all very special people. Warm Regards, Bev Skuja

Al Teasley

Fred Joseph

Hi Dino, Please delete my Minnesota address from RNPA’s directory, as Jean and I have been full time residents of Florida since 1989 and don’t foresee moving any time soon. We’re both keeping busy with various projects. Jean is rehabbing from a broken left arm. Always watch your step! I’ve taken on the job of being president of our townhouse association, and it’s a thankless job with home insurance tripling since 2004. Also, the other owners want to be chiefs and not indians. On a different note, I’ve always liked to tell the story of numbers. I was one of 75 students at Murray Universitly of Kentucky to go to STL-NAS to try to join the Naval Aviation Cadet program. Three of us qualified and joined. All of us got our wings (two in helos, and myself in fixed wing). Out of my class of 60—36D&C at Pensacola NAS in 1953—40 started flying (20 dropouts swimming or academics). Of the 40, 10 were killed operationally in the next few years (peacetime losses). Of the 30 left, three of us, Luther Peterson, Bill Helfrich and myself, went to work for NWA and all retired from NWA. I started as a copilot on the DC-4 at age 24 (Feb. 1958, SSN 429), and retired at age 55 as captain on 747. My starting pay was $350/mo and I retired at a good multiple of that. I’ve always been healthy and believe if you smoke an occasional cigar you’re healthier than if you don’t smoke at all. (Statistics prove it.) We’ve always enjoyed the RNPA conventions, boat rides, luncheons and fellowship gatherings. Our thanks to all for unpaid work. Regards, Al & Jean Teasley

Dino, Sorry this dues check is so late! The really great February Contrails just arrived and reminded me to get money in the mail. Dave Rembolt was a friend of mine back in the ’60s—I am very saddened to learn of his passing. Do you know the nature of his illness? Sincerely, Fred Joseph (

Eileen Halvorson Hi D & K, Saw the picture of you, Dino, picking up your mail in Contrails and now see why you leave home on long vacations! Hope you both are doing great. Thank you for all your contributions to RNPA. It’s a great group and I have enjoyed the PDX & Reno conventions along with the SEA events. Hugs, Eileen Halvorson PS. We’re trying to beat out the Minnesotans this winter with snow here in the NW mountains. It’s endless, which will be good for the coming summer.

John Wood Hi Dino, Thank you so much for always doing this for all of us. Everything okay here. Food’s staying down and still maintaining 98.6. We’re trying to keep something set aside for Schlader’s bail money now that he’s a “Harley rider.” I switched to an Apple computer like Gary F. suggested. I still get smoke out of it, but not as badly as my last PC. Happy Trails, John & Barb Wood



Shigeaki Morita

Gene Summerfeld

Dear Captain Oliva, Enclosed please find a check in the amount of $25.00 for the 2008 AF dues. I do enjoy RNPA Contrails very much. It is nice to see all the pictures of my good old friends and to read news about them. Sincerely, Shigeaki Morita

Test for Dementia

Below are four (4 ) questions and a bonus question. You have to answer them instantly. You can’t take your time—answer all of them immediately. OK? Let’s find out just where you really are... Ready? GO! 1st Question: You are participating in a race. You overtake the second person. What position are you in? Answer: If you answered that you are first, then you are absolutely wrong! If you overtake the second person and you take his place, you are second! Try not to screw up next time. Now answer the second question, but don’t take as much time as you took for the first question, OK ? 2nd Question: If you overtake the last person, then you are...? Answer: If you answered that you are second to last, then you are wrong again. Tell me, how can you overtake the LAST Person ? You’re not very good at this, are you? 3rd Question: Very tricky arithmetic! Note: This must be done in your head only. Do NOT use paper and pencil or a calculator. Try it: Take 1000 and add 40 to it. Now add another 1000. Now add 30. Add another 1000. Now add 20. Now add another 1000. Now add 10. What is the total? Answer: Did you get 5000? The correct answer is actually 4100. If you don’t believe it, check it with a calculator! Today is definitely not your day, is it? Maybe you’ll get the last question right... Maybe. 4th Question: Mary’s father has five daughters: 1. Nana, 2. Nene, 3. Nini, 4. Nono. What is the name of the fifth daughter? Answer: Did you say Nunu? NO! Of course it isn’t. Her name is Mary. Read the question again! Okay, now the bonus round: A mute person goes into a shop and wants to buy a toothbrush. By imitating the action of brushing his teeth he successfully expresses himself to the shopkeeper and the purchase is done. Next, a blind man comes into the shop who wants to buy a pair of sunglasses; how does HE indicate what he wants? He just has to open his mouth and ask... It’s really very simple... Like! you! Contributed by Al Lind



Dino, Somewhere lost in the USPS world is my annual dues statement. Heeding your call to get my dues in on time I have enclosed my check for 2008. RNPA Contrails is alwaays a good read and I enjoy following what my felow retirees are doing. I have a scheduling problem when planning to attend the various get-togethers. The MSP Christmas Party is scheduled when we (Joan and I) are in Bradenton. The S. W. Florida Spring Lucheon is usually during Spring Break when our grandchildren from Minnesota are visiting with us in Bradenton! Such a dilemma! Last summer’s MSP cruise was held as we drove to Oregon for church meetings. We will attend these events when we can however. I found the section on volunteering (Nov. 2007) interesting. I work with Habitat for Humanity in Manatee County, Florida, and the Twin Cities affliliate of Habitat when I’m in Minnesota for the summer. This is a great organization where I have met many great people with different backgrounds. I worked on several of the NWA Habitat builds in the past and am happy that NWA is going to continue sponsoring a home. One of the joys that many of us retirees have experienced is having a son or daughter follow us in our chosen career. I recently had the opportunity to jupseat with my son Paul from Punta Gorda, Florida to Columbus Ohio. Paul had ridden with me on my last flight from NRT to DTW nine years ago. It was a really neat experience to see the next generation in action! Thanks to all for your work “volunteering” for RNPA. Gene Summerfeld

Britain is Repossessing the U.S.A.

A Message from John Cleese To The citizens of the United States of America: In light of your failure to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy). Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect: You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. 1. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. 2. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘favour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix -ize will be replaced by the suffix -ise. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’). 3. Using the same 27 words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as US English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘u’ and the elimination of -ize. You will relearn your original national anthem, God Save The Queen. 4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday. 5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun. 6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public. 7. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. 8. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts,

and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour. 9. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline)-roughly $6/US gallon. Get used to it. 10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar. 11. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. New Zealand beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. 12. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie McDowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater. 13. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every 20 seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies). Don’t try Rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us. 14. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of the Americas (and OK, Japan). Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries. 15. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad. 16. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776). 17. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; strawberries in season. God save the Queen. Only He can. John Cleese RNPA CONTRAILS AUGUST 2008


The Root Cellar

Contributing Columnist Bob Root

Red Tails in the Sunset Suppose you’ve heard the one about the red tail soon to be another thing of the past. Yeah, so have I. Makes me feel, well, sad. My purpose in this space has never been to educate, intimidate or demonstrate. You won’t be told here for whom to vote or where or how to pray. It is possible that, at some unforeseen moment in the future, I may suggest that certain areas and/or people be “nuked,” but that is only because I was trained years ago by the U. S. Navy. I am mostly here for fun. Having said that, I must admit wrestling with the notion that a real columnist would find it mandatory to write about the demise of his/her company. (How else would he get that Pulitzer?) Until now, such a column had no appeal for me. After all, we’ve already heard from Garrison Keillor and Roy Erickson. I was not asked to express my opinion before congress with Messrs. Anderson and Steenland. My views were not requested for a recent pro/con article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. My editor had not suggested the topic to me and our dog seemed uninterested in my thoughts. Then, on a cool and breezy Minnesota morning awhile back I opened the daily mail and was motivated to write about the passing of Northwest Airlines. Somewhere in my foggy childhood memory is a radio and: “Northwest Orient .....

g o nn n g G G G G ..... Airlines.”

The youngster in South Dakota or Wyoming, upon hearing that jingle, would try to conjure up visions of oriental places which might have a gong. He wasn’t very good at the conjuring, but the memory remains. Later, as a Navy pilot, he found himself flying from an Aleutian island named Adak for several months. Occasionally, usually the result of horrible weather, the aircraft would find its way to Anchorage. In Anchorage, one could spot a silver, white and blue 707 with a bright red tail belonging to Northwest Orient Airlines. I always assumed it was making a fuel stop on the way to Tokyo. More than once, I had the thought: “If I ever get out of the Navy, that’s what I want to do.” Someone (surely not Yogi) once said: “Careful what you wish for.” While contemplating whether or not to write this column, I first thought about company names which have disappeared over time. One could begin with airlines—too easy. Those of us who lived for years in Minnesota might remember White. (Lost pensions.) Control Data. Midwest Federal (remember the weather ball?) When I was a very young boy in Denver, my mother used to go to “Monkey Wards.” And who would ever have thought that the only thing left of Dayton’s would be Target? We may now add Northwest to the list. Makes me feel, well, sad. For some reason my next thought was one of Virginia Nelson, check-in lady supreme and one of the most remarkable people I have had the privilege to know. Once I began thinking about people, I couldn’t stop: Don Abbott and Bob Mielke; an ops agent at National named Bill; a mechanic in Cleveland named Henry, who could fix anything while keeping you in stitches as he worked; several flight attendants who should have been in Hollywood; Captain Pepsi (Dave Berg) who knew the location of every Pepsi machine in America and could compete with another guy named Randy Briese (sp?) for the best memory I have encountered. And on and on and on; wonderful, talented, friendly and hard-working people employed by Northwest. Still, I had no desire to write. My mind switched to the future. In short, my thoughts encompassed the fact that the person one communicates with in the future regarding pensions, insurance, passes or other subjects related to retirees will not have much in common with for-

mer Northwest people. Will it matter? It occurred to me that former Republic employees, now retired Northwest, could probably answer that question, a thought which led me to contemplate the grieving process. When Republic became a part of Northwest, I found myself in a group of 30 pilots, some from both companies, who spent the better part of a year studying methods to improve the way pilots get along with one another in cockpits. We had a psychologist guru who stressed how important it would be for Republic people to have time to grieve over the loss of their company. I have already written, twice, that all this makes me sad. So, I know that I will need a chance to grieve. As I mentioned, the catalyst which finally pushed me into this column arrived in the mail. Suddenly, there it was, right along with the latest electric bill and credit card solicitation. It was one of those catalog-type flyers (no pun intended) from an outfit called nwa World Gear. (How, pray tell, will my editor handle the lower case/upper case problem there?) So here’s the deal. The red tail will, like MacArthur, “fade away.” My information is that, in 1948, the red tail became reality “to make downed planes easier to find.” It is perhaps of some comfort to us to know there is no longer such a need. Smarter folks than I think it is better if Northwest becomes part of Delta. I guess it is going to happen. At the risk of sounding like some disgruntled old retired guy taking a swipe at the other side, I suspect that by now Delta’s pilots have learned the difference between Shanwick and Shannon, something several of them did not know when they first began flying Pan Am’s European routes. When it happens, I will grieve. Maybe you will too. I promised not to tell you how to vote or pray. I will tell you how to grieve, if you are so inclined. Simply apply a theory espoused by football coach Lou Holtz in a recent book. He called it WIN, which represents “What’s Important Now.” What’s important now is that you find your nwa World Gear brochure and call or do the “dot com” thing. In a writing class awhile back I was told that if one

does not write memoirs, it is as if things never happened. I’m not sure about that. Even though I have not written about them, I have and will retain some vivid memories: A landing in Fargo with Don Wiedner on a dark and stormy night when the snow blowing sideways across the runway made us think of Siberia; eight hours in Ohare’s penalty box during a blizzard in a fully loaded 747 bound for Japan, unable to depart and no operable jet way to deplane; a ferry flight in the world’s largest airliner (at the time) with only a copilot for company (eerie); a two a.m. search with a helpful simulator tech for my lost wedding ring in the simulator bilges and on and on and on. I have determined the memory of Northwest can be extended with the purchase of a few items from nwa World Gear. That way, once the red tail is gone, I will be sipping my morning coffee from a black and white mug with nwa (and that funky little arrow) on it. And when it rains on me in the Arizona desert I will be able to pull out of my golf bag my logoemblazoned, 100% polyester, interior storm flap, waterproof seams, soft shell jacket to protect myself from water. If I choose, I can sleep in a t-shirt that says “Northwest Airlines, since 1926.” And even though the red tail will be gone, one can purchase a red shirt for $41.99. It is suggested here that the daily use of these items will help one grieve until the need to do so is past. It is further suggested that the use of these items will extend the memory of Northwest, perhaps even of the gong. Then, of course, when my year-old grandson is my current age, he may find an unbroken coffee mug with that funky arrow on it and say: “What the hell is that?” I am not the only long-term Northwest employee in our home. My wife cared for and entertained passengers for some thirty years. We have not been inclined to wear Northwest stuff as a part of our attire. However, she seemed to like my idea. Before she was finished, we had ordered nearly $300 worth of nwa World Gear to help with the grieving. Northwest will live on in our home. Bob Root -June, 2008 RNPA CONTRAILS AUGUST 2008


Julie Clark

Julie purchased her T-34 in 1977, sight unseen, through a government surplus auction with $18,000 of borrowed money. To claim the airplane she had to travel to Anchorage, Alaska and fly it back to her home in San Carlos, California, 2,900 miles. The flight, which she flew solo, made her keenly aware of the work that lay ahead of her to make her new possession airworthy. The T-34, a former military trainer, had most recently been used as a Civil Air Patrol aircraft and its interior had never been updated since it came off the production line in 1956. The exterior as well was in great need of cleaning, American flags, patriotic music, red white and blue polishing and a new paint job. On the flight to Califorsmoke trails curling from the wing tips of her airplane nia the battery blew, tearing a and a grand finale of fireworks; all are part of the gaping hole in the side of the beautifully choreographed show Captain Julie Clark, airplane and spewing battery NWA Retired, puts on before millions of spectators in acid through the cockpit and more than twenty air shows each year. onto the pilot herself. Immediately upon returning to California, Julie set to the task of restoring the airplane, doing much of the work herself. Work on the er schedule starts in March stretching into No- airplane, however, had to be attended to between her vember as she crisscrosses the United States and flights as an airline pilot with what was then Golden Canada in her gleaming blue and silver T-34A Mentor. West Airlines. The restoration of the T-34 took four The fuselage of highly polished aluminum is painted years and upon completion was renewed to better in the blue and white style of Air Force One, an adap- than mint condition, both on the interior and the extation created by Julie herself. Its wings and tail bear- terior. The T-34 requires, according to Julie, continuing the Chevron logo of her corporate sponsor. ous maintenance.

H 18



t was during the process of regular continuing care that I met Julie for the first time, arriving at her summer home on a Monday morning. Her 1978 prefabricated home sits adjacent to the grass landing strip of Sky Harbor Air Park in Webster, Minnesota. (Identifier 1MN8) Julie was in her hangar where she and two friends had spent the previous four days polishing the T-34. Gary McMahon from Toronto is the steady and faithful man in Julie’s life; and Scott Wood of Maryland, who makes his living restoring historic airplanes for the Paul Garber Center of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, was there to lend his professional expertise to the task. Both had arrived the previous Thursday in the midst of a Midwest summer storm and for four days the three worked tirelessly polishing the aluminum skin of the T-34 to a high, gleaming gloss. Julie’s primary home, a ranch house on Cameron Air Park (Identifier O61), California, is high up in the foothills above Sacramento Valley. It is from her summer home in Minnesota that she bases herself and her two airplanes during the air show season. Besides her T-34, Julie owns a T-28 Trojan, another Navy Trainer, which she uses for static displays and formation flying at air shows. Julie purchased her home in Minnesota in 1988, in order to base her air show career close to her Northwest Airlines base. The house faces south

over a vast expanse of green grass which is the Air Park landing strip. Nothing separates Julie’s front lawn from the grass that makes up the 2800 foot grass runway. Upon returning home from an air show weekend, Julie passes over the airfield with a roll to announce to her neighbors she is home. The attached hangar dominates the entire structure, taking up more than half the footprint of the building. A grove of lush green trees line the east boundary of her property and a number of bird feeders are positioned around the yard to attract a variety of birds, including hummingbirds that come to a feeder attached to the front picture window. The interior walls of her home chronicle the history of her careers both as an airline pilot and an air show performer. The comfortable furnishings are interspersed with charming antiques that have been carefully found and purchased by Julie. Unimaginable tragedy defined Julie’s teen years. She and her two sisters were orphaned in their teen years by the sudden death of their mother, followed a year later by the murder of her father, her hero, at the controls of an airliner. The adversity which she had to deal with as an aftermath of these events instilled in Julie an impressive ability to excel in the endeavors she took on and left her with an extraordinary high measure of self reliance, as the title of her biography states: “Nothing Stood in Her Way.”




determination kept Julie seeking one certificate or rating after another. In order to enhance her experience and flight time, Julie took a variety of flying jobs such as with an agricultural company, Agri-Till, in which she flew farm equipment between farmers and a repair facility. Another job was to fly babies with severe medical conditions from Valley Children’s Hospital in the Western Sierras to other medical centers capable of handling their individual problems. In 197475, for eighteen months, Julie was a contractor instructor for the United States Navy at Lemoore Naval Station, flying the T-34 with navy pilots who needed to maintain their proficiency. Her husband of the time, Rick Ames, a Naval Aviator who flew the A7 Corsair, supported and encouraged Julie in her Navy flying as well as in her progression as an aviator. He too is a retired Northwest Airlines pilot. In search of an airline job, Julie bumped up against the gender wall, applying to thirty airlines for a position as an air crew member. Of the initial thirty airlines, four offered her an interview. In 1977, after agreeing to cut her hair to appease the chief pilot, Julie was hired by Golden West Airlines. On landing that job Julie remarked, “I thought I had died and went to heaven.” Just short of a year with Golden West, an invitation to interview with Hughes Airwest came along and Julie was compelled to accept the offer. The reclusive Howard Hughes had purchased Pacific Airlines, the airline for which her father had flown, as

t the time of her father’s death, Julie had already submitted an application to study in a foreign land as part of the Experiment in International Living. With the encouragement of relatives and friends who were helping the teen cope with the loss of her parents, Julie spent ten months in Chile, cutting her year short to return for her older sister’s wedding. She credits the experience of living in Chile for instilling in her a profound patriotism, as she became acutely aware of the freedom she had in this country. It is my belief that her abiding love of her country was already a quality which was imbedded within her even before her time in Chile. After graduating from high school Julie attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where she majored in Spanish. It was while in Santa Barbara that Julie gave in to her inner desire to fly. That desire had been with her since childhood when she would accompany her father, an airline pilot, on flights. During her childhood she read voraciously on aviation, particularly military aviation. When at Santa Barbara, Julie used her college book money to take flying lessons and, when that was not enough, to pay for the lessons she joined a professional water skiing team to earn additional money. After leaving Santa Barbara, Julie had many jobs. She taught school for awhile and was a flight attendant for TWA, all the while still holding on to the dream of flying. Persistence and



well as Bonanza and West Coast Airlines in 1970 and joined them under the names of Hughes Airwest. Not only was Julie flying for the same airline her father had, she was also flying the F-27, the sister ship to the one in which her father had lost his life. Julie was the second woman to be hired by Hughes Airwest. She however was the one to remain with the airline. A series of mergers eventually brought Julie to the cockpit of a Northwest Airlines aircraft. After twenty-seven years of flying for the airlines, Julie retired from Northwest as a captain in 2003. She could now turn her full attention to her other career as an air show performer. By 1980 the restoration of the T-34 had been completed and Julie teamed with two other T-34 drivers and flew as Colonel Julie Clark Ames, a member of the then Confederate Air Force Falcons. As the lure of performing at air shows captivated her, Julie started up her own operation, American Aerobatics, Inc. in 1980. She employs a ground crew of two who drive her Dodge Ram Truck and 40 foot trailer which serves as headquarters at air shows. Back in California she has a part time assistant who tends to the administrative details while Julie is traveling the air show circuit. From 1980 until 2003 Julie juggled the demands of both careers, always confident in the path she had chosen. It was as though flying was programmed in her DNA. Over the years Julie has won many awards and honors. In 2002 she was inducted into the Pioneer Hall of Fame, Women in Aviation International. She was also named on the list of 40 Living Legends in Aviation which includes only two women. In 2007 Julie was named by the California Senate as Woman of the Year.

vertical, the engine would quit. Even with these limitations, Julie, as an extremely skilled pilot, is able to put on a show that is breathtaking and moving. Her careful choreography and smooth execution, presented to the stirring music of “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood, makes for a graceful aerial ballet that engages her audiences and awes them with an appreciation of the skill, artistry and patriotism of this remarkable, extremely personable woman. 


ust as flying is an ingrained part of who Julie is, patriotism is also an intrinsic characteristic. That can be seen in her airplane, her flight suits and in her carefully choreographed aerial ballet. Julie’s airplane bares the name “Free Spirit.” It comes not from the woman who flies it, but rather for “The spirit of freedom of the United States of America.” It is true that to the crowds who turn their eyes skyward during her performance it would appear that Julie Clark is a free spirit, but the reality is that she is a disciplined, careful person with a great capacity to pay attention to all the many details so important to the safety of flight and performance. The T-34 is a demanding aircraft for flying aerobatics, requiring a heavy hand on the controls. It does not have an inverted fuel or oil system so the fuel tanks must always be full, otherwise, when Julie goes RNPA CONTRAILS AUGUST 2008


Propellers on the North Pacific By Ron Murdock




adly, the business pages report that an airline which began with a small mail contract in 1926, and for eighty-two years thereafter operated with one identity, one logo, is soon to be buried deep within the papers of just another financial transaction. I hope a few fragments of Northwest (Orient) history sprinkled with a tad of tattle-tale telling might be of interest. Please overlook any errors relating to technicalities and/or procedures that have been either mislaid somewhere in my gray cells, intermingled with furloughs best forgotten, and lastly, for preaching to what is left of the choir.

Most will already know that following WWII Northwest Airlines was awarded the first American route into the Orient via Japan. A few short years later, Mao’s Red Army chased our DC-4’s out of China. Following the Korean Conflict in the early 1950’s, in which NWA began it’s first and continuing military charters to that country, the general interest in what was then the politically correct label of ‘Orient’ was at best meager. Made-in-Japan imprints were a decade away from becoming acceptable. Northwest (newly) Orient Airlines was the only American player in the game. The Pacific routes were pioneered with the unpressurized, low and slow flying DC-4’s. With the arrival of the more powerfully supercharged and pressurized DC-6 and 7C’s, the DC-4’s became domesticated. Trans-pacific flying in the prejet era was vastly different. No radar help existed except for a few random GCA approaches, mostly military. The only VOR Omni Range, and that without the extravagance of DME, was on Oshima Island. The only precision Instrument Landing System west of Alaska was at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Almost everything else was ADF/NDB, including Hong Kong’s infamous CC circling approach. Many pilots were required to remain current in the DC-4, 6, 7C and Lockheed Electra, a lot of numbers to remember with merely a smattering of standardization. Transistors, computers, and even four function calculators were rumors, and the giant leap to a basic flight director was in its trial stage. Near revolutionary pilotage techniques, as well as the mysteries of the tropopause, jet streams and mountain waves, were about to be deciphered by the twin geniuses of Captain Paul Soderlind and meteorologist Dan Sowa.




he Seattle base, by virtue of it’s nearness to the great circle routes, performed what was considered the “international” flight operations. One daily (DC-7C) passenger flight originated in New York and, after stops in Chicago and Seattle and usually Anchorage, Alaska, proceeded to Tokyo’s Haneda airport via either Shemya or Cold Bay, Alaska. From Tokyo, the flights continued southerly on a variable basis to various stops or crew change destinations: Okinawa, Manila, Seoul, or Taipei. Additionally, a bi-weekly DC-6 cargo flight departed from Seattle which mimicked the passenger flight’s routes. Those two flights were the sum total of true flying to the Orient. The remainder of designated international flying consisted of one daily passenger DC-6 round trip to HNL and what became daily round trips from Seattle to Anchorage that varied between DC-6Bs and 7Cs. Serving a seniority sentence of six to eight years was the anticipated wait before expecting a peek at the “mystic Orient.” But overnight, the purchase of five DC-8s with ensuing training created a new ball game. In December of 1959, with a year-and-a-half seniority I was astonished to be called up for a Tokyo cargo flight via Shemya for the first of what would become almost nine hundred trans-pacs over the next thirty plus years. Flight crews were briefed by NWA’s Seattle or Tokyo based flight dispatchers and meteorologists. Each flight’s “minimal time path” route, calculated from the meager information gleaned from US weather bureau’s barometric and temperature charts, was displayed on a taped-together, hand-drawn depiction of the combined route and projected isobar/isotherm positions. Winds aloft were estimated calculations; actual reports were few. At Shemya and Cold Bay the same flight plan information was received by teletype, deciphered, and charted by the crew. Pre-flight procedures included individual assignment of HF frequencies by overseas ARINC. A typical “ten and forty” assignment translated into: at ten past an hour send a conventional position report prepared by the navigator, and at forty past, a terse report of “operation normal,” i.e. we’re likely still on course. Once enroute, our professional navigators compared the prepared chart prognostications with their radio altimeter calculations thusly enabling them to divine mystical suggestions for compass heading. Navigation was truly an art, burdened as it was by the eternally weak loran signals on the North Pacific. When conditions permitted, supplemental star



With most maps of observations and primitive weather this scale, cartograradar’s offset images of the USSR’s phers’ pens obscure Kurile Islands were helpful. Because HF radio contacts left a lot to be de- and “enlarge” the sired, and little or no other traffic ex- smaller islands. This map is composed isted, sometime searching for winds and lack of turbulence or icing was... of several Google Maps screenshots well... not exactly what ATC would photostiched have condoned. Pages could be filled together. Shemya with navigational anecdotes, some is so small as to be probably even true! almost invisible just Avoidance of USSR territory was always of primary concern. The Rus- below where the dot is. -Ed. sians were quite unfriendly during the Cold War, and occasionally ran what was hoped to be practice warning intercepts on our flights. That practice continued well into the 747 era, to which many of us can attest, and ultimately resulted in an off-course Korean Airliner being needlessly shot down. In-flight duties of both the co-pilot and flight engineer involved monitoring carburetor heat during endless hours of IFR, listening to the scratchy HF (no SELCAL) radio with one ear, which usually accomplished nothing but contributing to future hearing loss, and monitoring fuel usage. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been in the un-pressurized DC-4s, down in the continuous wind, rain, and icing. The ancient tales of very low altitudes flown in order to avoid head winds generated by abnormal low pressure systems and to use the salt spray as a de-icing aid became quite believable. The Seven’s fuel systems were more standardized, as I recall, but on different models of the DC-6Bs the fuel tank configurations varied. In order to squeeze every drop of fuel from an emptying tank, the method commonly employed required total focus upon all the fuel pressure gauges. Any fluctuation signaled the rapid actuation of the proper transfer lever. Inattention or hesitation would wake up the passengers and really P-O the cabin crew. Because we were limited to a scheduled 12 hours on duty, by strange strokes of coincidence many seasonal trans-pacs were scheduled for 11:59. I recall one DC-7 departure from Seattle wherein after several unsuccessful approaches at Cold Bay, we headed back to Anchorage, re-fueled, and with a better forecast, were dispatched (legally) to Cold Bay and after a few more tries made it in. It was the longest time I had ever been in an airplane prior to the arrival of 747 double crew routes. (Flight segment times of the props were basically twice that of the current jets.)


I nt



ti o







e li







Shemya, Alaska

The main refueling and crew change point was on the flat and featureless four-and-a-half-mile long island of Shemya, located near the end of Alaska”s chain of Aleutians islands. In addition to the NWA operation, the island housed a permanent contingent of military personnel who serviced a gigantic “secret” missile early warning radar of that “Cold War” era. The 10,006 foot long runway led from the water”s edge to a group of WWII buildings leased by NWA. Efficient, friendly, Philippine employees staffed the worn structures referred to by most ex-military folks as “splintervilles.” Adequate cafeteria style meals and snacks were available, and individual motel-2 military-like rooms were the standard. Cockpit and cabin crews from the daily passenger flight only suffered overnight layovers. The cargo guys enjoyed three-and-a-halfers and prayed the next bi-weekly flight wouldn’t somehow overfly due to weather… particularly before the contractual establishment of trip hour duty rigs. An aviation axiom states that fog and steadily high winds are not co-existent. Shemya disproved that to be inconsistency consistently. Landings were enabled by the Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) Radar owned and operated by NWA. A magician by the name of Pete Watts was expert at routinely talking down our flights through that unique combination of perennial sea fog or rain and strong crosswinds. Many afternoons Pete gathered entire crews in his room for “debriefings”. We neophytes absorbed a magnitude of information about flying the line in general, and the Orient in particular. As well as the latest gossip. He rarely forgot to add his admonition to, “Always remember at landing minimums, with

S ND A L IS 500 statute miles

your slow ground speeds, the runway would rarely appear directly in the windshield… don’t forget to factor in the big crab angle!” The sole occupations on Shemya were beachcombing for WWII memorabilia, seal watching, sleeping, reading, or poker. Depending upon how many crews were crossing paths, there were sometimes two card games in progress, the big boys and the rest of us. Some nights a few NWA ground employees, crew members, and military gamblers gathered in an old hangar where, upon a billiard table, enormous heaps of cash exchanged hands during a very loud and quick three-dice game credited to be of Philippine origination. Lastly, softball competitions between the military and NWA-based personnel included posted local rules which forbade the military team from using their radar to track fly balls in the fog.

Cold Bay

Sited near the termination of the volcanic Aleutian peninsula, Cold Bay is much closer to Anchorage, and in the summer months, benefits from more acceptable flying conditions than Shemya. Layover provisions were much the same as Shemya. Catchand-release river fishing provided seasonal entertainment, with the caveat to avoid disputes should a very tall and furry bully become interested in your catch. And never, never go out at night and complain about noisy vandals playing catch with the garbage cans.

Tokyo Layovers

NWA originally acquired a large estate placed within the nooks and crannies of suburban Shibuya. The property, rumored to have been the home of a RNPA CONTRAILS AUGUST 2008


member of Japanese royalty, was intended primarily for use by Tokyo-based functionaries and some crews. A walled enclosure surrounded several buildings: a large mansion, referred to as the Staff House, containing kitchen/dining room, many bedrooms, other functional areas including a barber shop, and during warm weather, a roof-top lounge. Scattered about the property were additional building annexes and a swimming pool. The passenger (DC-7) crews normally laid-over at the Staff House, while the DC-6 cargo guys might be spread around the Ginza’s downtown area’s hotels. The exchange rate was 360-400 yen to the dollar, which doesn’t tell the whole story, because everything was generally much, much less costly. A lowly paid co-pilot might get a hair-cut followed by a traditional Japanese hot bath and massage, some great sukiyaki, and still have change from a twenty dollar bill. Tokyo’s many suburbs, including Yokohama and Kyoto, all very accessible by train, were delightfully crowded, but still overflowing with the atmosphere of old Nippon. The arrival of the Olympic Games in 1964 changed Japan overnight and forever.


I think it would be safe to say that at each and every other layover point, Okinawa, Seoul, Taipei, and Manila, hotels were limited to one or two choices. Generally, the poorer countries of the Philippines and Korea had the worst hotels, but were also the most interesting. The Manila Hotel was still a work in progress after its use as the Japanese wartime Headquarters, and barely resembled the present beautiful edifice. Yellow fever, typhoid, and tetanus shots were required to fly the Orient, but, dysentery was still a concern. Care had to be taken on where and what one ate. A very unpleasant couple of weeks followed by a sojourn in the Tacoma General Hospital demonstrated to me the efficacy of being more selective about uncooked food.

Recollections of The DC-7C

It’s tempting to overlook that aviation in the nineteen fifties and early sixties in general wasn’t so organized, so relatively tranquil. Enroute and approach radar control was still uncommon. It would have prevented two major airline mid-airs that each killed 128 passengers. In 1956, operating with the permissible flight rules of “VFR on Top” United and TWA collided at 21,000 feet directly over the Grand Canyon. In 1960 a second mid-air collision (same airlines) spread wreckage and fatalities over portions of



Brooklyn and Newark. That tragedy was attributed to an improper entry into a holding pattern. Airline accidents plagued the whole industry, and during a short period of years Northwest had it’s share of misfortunes. Added to the list of airline losses were two Lockheed Electras, destroyed by design or maintenance oversights, a B-720B that encountered the “jet upset” phenomenon, and one DC-4 lost in the Rocky Mountains. And three DC-7C’s.


veryone has a tale or two about the Seven. After time in the DC-fours and sixes, one’s first taste of the power, sound, and acceleration of the Seven were eye openers. Previous single-engine military encounters with the Pratt and Whitney 3350 engine had little bearing on the airline version of the 7C. Douglas complicated the already complex power plant with the addition of a Power Recovery Turbine, a device intended to recover lost horsepower from the exhaust gases. It was the source of many problems; if a PRT disintegrated, fire and other unpleasant happenings could result. During climbouts in the hours of darkness, especially through dense clouds, the Seven’s rich mixtures generated a bon-fire-like exhaust that could be alarming to passengers and cabin crew alike. A tale in an earlier issue of Contrails described how a stewardess brought it to the attention of the cockpit that an engine was on fire. They assured her it was just a normal idiosyncrasy of the Seven’s engines to emit a bright exhaust. She replied to the effect: “All the way back to the tail?” My roommate at the time reported an almost identical experience. Neither of those fires activated warning systems (except for the cabin crew) but were successfully extinguished. The losses of our three Sevens were all attributed to engine and/or propeller related malfunctions. The first took place approaching Manila. A “runaway” propeller produced an uncontrollable fire, threatening the wing structure, and ditching became unavoidable. A classic ditching in a dark and tropical rainstorm resulted in one fatality… a heart attack. The second Seven disappeared without forewarning in the general area of Sitka, Alaska. The official consensus for the mysterious disappearance was another runaway prop that detached and destroyed either structure, another engine, or controls. Keep in mind that it was prior to our hijack/nutcase period of aviation. Again, near Sitka, the third loss was identical: a propeller that would not feather and, in light of past events, ditching was elected. Another text book ditch-

ing was performed in daylight and reputedly most of the passengers didn’t even get wet. The last two issues of interest commonly encountered with the Seven were hot temperature take-offs and icing, both of which can best be illustrated by personal observations.


The trans-pacs as well as other Tokyo-south trip segments were usually heavily loaded. (I know, nothing’s changed.) Initiating any takeoff in excess of a prescribed engine cylinder head temperature (CHT) was taboo. Should a CHT become excessive, an engine or engines could begin to detonate and lose power, as displayed on the Seven’s BMEP (Brake Mean Effective Pressure) gauges. The procedure developed was... approaching takeoff sequence… engines would be run up to ±2000 RPM (numbers arguable), the mixtures quickly leaned to 1000 RPM, producing a lot of air and not much heat. When the rapidly cooling CHTs were acceptable, we would go. I quite vividly recall one such hot, humid takeoff over Haneda’s Tokyo Bay. We squeaked off, gear coming up over the approach lights, and a couple of the BMEPs gauges twitched, indicating a possible precursor to detonating. One engine-fixated crew member, focused on engine health, reactively began to squeeze off a bit of power and we began to sink toward the light stanchions. We managed to fire-wall the throttles without blowing anything up and resumed normality. One of those recalled aviation seconds of non-boredom.


The Seven’s air intakes were equipped with internal screens designed to prevent ice and other undesirable objects from congesting the airflow to the fuel-injected engine’s mechanisms. Cockpit activated individual spring-loaded switches enabled alcohol to be sprayed upon the screens so as to melt any ice. Right? One southward bound summer day near Kagoshima, tooling happily along at a nice and cool cruise altitude somewhere in the high teens, we entered a stratus layer that enthroned the mother of slushy ice. I feel it necessary to mention here that ATC control, on HF frequencies, was necessarily limited by atmospheric noise, language barrier, and in the event of abnormal requests, to a large degree, imaginary. The engines began to alternately falter in spite of applications of heated air, alcohol, and flowery language to the ATC controller who repeatedly ac-

knowledged our need for a lower altitude with a cheerful but obvious lack of understanding or hope we would go away. A propeller would start to wind up and needless to say the solution to recent disappearance theories were lurking in three minds. As it developed, the Captain unveiled an unknown, to me, technique. When an engine began to sound truly unhealthy, he would promptly cycle its mixture control off and on, the engine would back-fire and thereby blow the ice off the screen. For a time the cockpit was reminiscent of that before-mentioned three dice game... air, alcohol, backfire, alcohol, scream at ATC, repeat. I recall The Very Cool Captain’s words to the effect: “Don’t worry about getting a clearance, we’re going down with or without it.” A product of strict IFR rules, I finally comprehended the comfort provided by the scarcity of traffic. Few Asian carriers other than Cathay Pacific and Quantas were yet to be born. Thankfully we broke out into CAVU conditions. Though it seemed much longer, the incident likely lasted for only a few minutes of that aviation’s extreme un-boredom, and not long enough to damage any seat cushions. Many agree that those few DC-Six and Seven years on the North Pacific were the most memorable hours of our airline careers. We were privileged to sit beside, be enthralled by, and learn from several remarkable pioneers of flight, veterans of Canada’s wild and wooly northern region, and those magnificent joie de vivre combat survivors of WWII.

Thirty years later

Dragging my bags and butt through JFK customs after a long 747 journey, a passenger grumbled to me about arriving (a dozen or so minutes) late. I offered to show her a dog-eared schedule illustrating that when I began with the airline, the same trip would have taken us a day-and-a-half. But I could guarantee that it would have been a lot more interesting, more akin to an adventure. Author’s footnote: Perhaps the only airline flying that rivaled those few but remarkable years, were the military passenger and cargo charters that began in1964, became as many as four a day, and continued to the end of the Vietnam War. At one point in time, the Military Air Charter Service informally approached Northwest Airlines to consider the eventuality that if China entered the war, the military would be very busy, and by virtue of its extensive experience in the Far East, NWA likely would oversee the entire civilian MAC operation. RNPA CONTRAILS AUGUST 2008




Bill Barrott


[ ... and how to enjoy the theater of the TSA]

The more I talk with other retired Northwest pilots the more I find they are buying full fare tickets when they fly. That would be my dream, but every time I check the price of a full fare ticket I realize that I can’t afford it. Then I finally realized why.


ack in the eighties when you were all buying Microsoft for twelve cents a share I was keeping my ex-wife in the lifestyle she was accustomed to. Of course after recovery from that I started buying a hot new stock called Enron. When that went south I tried Bear Stearns and Northwest Airlines. I seem to have used the Kamikaze investment theory... everything turned into an attack of Zeros! I’m afraid I will be pass riding until I become a daisy root inspector. So for you lucky ones who no longer pass ride let me fill you in on what’s new. First you have to do the RADAR thing. This is a web based computer thing that Northwest now trusts retirees to use. First your ID is your clock number except the “0” is an “A”. The reason for this is homeland security, TSA, and CIA. Sorry I can’t say any more, just do it! Next you need a PIN number. This can be from 0 to 100 characters but no @#$%^&*! This PIN must be changed every 90 days. I have now committed to memory my name, my address, my birth date, my SSN, and my



wedding anniversary. My C:\ [“C” Drive, for the electronically challenged, -Ed.] is full, and now I’m supposed to remember a PIN that changes every 90 days? Good luck! If you don’t remember your PIN then it asks you a lot of strange questions like, “What was the name of the first prison your eldest son went to?” or, “What is Monica Lewinski’s ex boyfriend’s wife’s first name?” Anyway, if you’re lucky enough to get into RADAR the rest is easy. You can check flights, loads, and list—and you get a six letter locator code. This is known as a paperless ticket. Next you go to the airport at least twelve hours before your flight and put your credit card into a Northwest ATM. If you pass the quiz you get a printed boarding pass. You then take this paperless piece of paper and go to security. Security lines vary from one to ten hours. We were lucky last time going SEA-DTW because the wait was only three hours. Security is run by law enforcement professionals known as the TSA, and over forty per cent of them speak English. When we got near the head of the line someone was hollering, “Take off your shoes, take off your coats, take off your belts.” So I’m thinking, like wow, I haven’t been to a party like this since the Elizabeth Carteret in 1968. Next I put my change into a cereal bowl and walked through “the machine.” Then all hell broke loose. Bells and whistles were blowing and everyone was running around. Some guy in fatigues came out from behind a curtain with an M-16. It looked like Arnold Schwarzeneger but I couldn’t be sure because he had on Tom Cruise’s sun glasses. He was staring down the barrel which was one foot from my head. Some guy, obviously in charge, told me to move over to a screening area and step on some foot prints painted on the floor. They were a size sixteen and I’m a ten so they didn’t fit very well. Then he picked up an electronic thing and I immediately fell down into the prenatal position and screamed, “Don’t tase me bro!” Then he told me it was a scanner which detected objects on my body. As he moved it up and down my body it played a tune which sounded like, “When the Saints go Marchin’ In.” Then it screamed just over my right pocket. He said, “Slowly remove whatever is in that pocket.” I slowly reached into the pocket as I heard Arnold release the safety on the M-16. To my surprise I found a quarter and slowly pulled it out.

Arnold clicked the safety back on again and went back behind the curtain. Mr. TSA told me that I had violated a number of regulations and was now on a red watch list and if it happened again I would be put in an orange jumpsuit and put in an airplane to Gitmo, and then I would be waterboarded for a month before I could talk to an attorney. I asked him if he would really send someone to Gitmo because they had a quarter in their pocket and he said that he sent a guy to Gitmo two days before with only a dime in his pocket! So far so good! We have eight hours before departure and with a little luck we’ll make it! Next we took the escalator down about ten stories to the train to the plane. Back up ten stories and we went to our gate S-10. There were two agents at the podium and they were talking and laughing, obviously with nothing to do, so I took a chance and approached and asked how the latest numbers looked. His response was, “Can’t you see I’m busy!” Then he checked and I knew I owed him. As the info came on the screen he smiled and then broke out into hysterical laughter. He hit his buddy on the shoulder and said, “Look at this, it’s over by fifty, and they are thirty-one and thirty-two on the standby list and they want to know how it looks!” Now they were both laughing and one guy hit his knee with his hand and fell on the floor laughing. Suddenly he stopped laughing, got up, and in a very professional way said, “Take a seat, we’ll let you know.” So I’m encouraged and we sit down. Boarding took forever and then the agent started calling out names which I assumed were non-“R” pass riders. Finally one minute before departure he calls, “Barrott, party of two.” I put away my rabbit’s foot and jumped up in joy. As I approach the podium he says, “I got you the last two seats.” By this time we’ve bonded, so I hug him and tell him that the Omaha steaks will be delivered by Christmas. We know it’s late so we run down the jetway only to see that the jetway is already pulled back about four feet from the airplane. I’m just about to say, “What the ??,” and the agent says, “Pass riders, right?” I say, “Yes.” She says, “Shut up and jump!” Joyce went first. She still holds the Marion High broad jump record from 1982, so I know she will have no problem. I take a short run and almost made it but my foot slipped off of the edge of the door opening and I scraped all the skin off my right shin from the



ankle to the knee before I reached for a handle and manage to pull myself aboard. I’m on all fours trying to get up and I notice this structure ahead of me when WOMP the agent closed the door and hit me in the butt. Now I’m spread eagle and bleeding and as I am once again trying to get up I see the structure again. The structure is about 6-4 and 240. Her name is Rockee and she is a former champion lady mud wrestler. Rockee is multi-tasking by chewing bubble gum and filing her nails at the same time. Rockee is the purser on today’s flight. In between bubbles Rockee says, “You havin’ a problem?” I quickly say, “No” and struggle up and proceed down the aisle leaving a pool of blood behind me. As I proceed through first class everyone is looking at me as if to say, “You’ve got your nerve getting here late and delaying our flight.” I’m tempted to give them the finger but realize that this is strictly forbidden in the pass rider code of ethics. Joyce was in the front of coach and quickly found her seat. Mine was 823B, so I knew it was toward the back—and a middle seat. I still have my roller bag which is too big for under the seat so, I need a bin and they’re all closed. As I struggle down the aisle I’m opening bins and they are all full, of course. The pain in my leg is bad now and I’m losing vision. There is a trail of blood down the aisle. After opening about thirty bins I finally find one with some room in it and see a coat laying in it which I carefully fold in half to make room for my roller bag. As I’m lifting my bag up I hear, “Don’t mess up my coat!” By this time my humor level is extremely low. I turn around and it’s Boris Yeltsin. He’s about six foot twelve.I figure I can punch him out before he gets his seat belt off, so I snarl, “Oh, I’m sorry sir, I didn’t realize this was your personal bin. But what a great idea, I think I’ll get one myself next time they go on sale” Then I continued down the aisle with great difficulty dragging my now useless leg behind me. There is not a seat to be seen anywhere. As I get twenty rows away, I see one empty middle seat and it has to be mine. But wait! Alert! Alert! There is a beautiful twenty-something goddess of beauty in the seat next to mine. All of a sudden my leg stops bleeding, the pain goes away and I’m skipping



down the aisle. And now for the rest of the story! As I get three rows away Ms. America turns out to be Mrs. America with an infant in her arms. Great, so now I have to listen to some kid screaming all the way to Detroit. She offered to get up and let me get into the middle seat but I figured it was easier to suck it up and squeeze in ahead of her and the baby. Unfortunately, I hit the kid in the head with my butt and it started screaming. I sat down and apologized, agreeing to go on a diet so my butt wasn’t so big. I put in my earplugs and started to read the paper. I had two sections of the Seattle Times and three sections of USA Yesterday. I picked them up in the terminal waiting area after some of the passengers boarded. It’s a pilot thing. I haven’t bought a newspaper in over twenty years. Soon Orv and Will cranked up the fan-jets and we were taxiing out and off we go. I push my earplugs in further because I know what’s coming. However, to my shock and amazement my seatmate pulled out a beautiful P-51 from the hangar and began feeding the kid and all was quiet. Trying to read the paper and pretending not to watch the feeding was a pleasant challenge. Life is good! In cruise, with the P-51 back in the hangar I thought I should make some small talk, so I asked her where she was from, etc. She replied in one breath, “I’m from Tacoma and I’m going to Grand Rapids to show our new son who is six weeks old to my parents and this is their first grandchild and unfortunately my husband couldn’t get the time off of work so we’re going alone.” I replied that, “It will be a wonderful visit for everyone, and that their son was beautiful and he sure eats a lot.” Why, oh why I said that, I will never know! So now I’m embarrassed, she’s embarrassed and feels a need to explain to me that her pediatrician told her that when flying that if she breast fed in the climb and descent that it would relieve the pressure on the baby’s ears and be much better for him. To which I replied, “Wow, now you tell me, and all these years I’ve been chewing gum!” She complained to Rockee and after Rockee explained a few things to me I was taken off the airplane on a stretcher by the paramedics in Detroit. I sure hope pass riding is easier on Delta. 

End of an era?

Maybe, maybe not Photography: Andy Sunderland



Dear Mr. Editor, You know what? I had, like, a really good time. It was really stormy, you know, all the night before and was, like, still raining in the morning. But the sun came out, like, about the time we went aboard (he said they were called broken clouds) and it turned out to be a perfect day. Those friends of his aren’t, like, Spring chickens, but they sure had a good time, and they really treated me, you know, nice. He said they had, like, a record turnout of 229. Like, it’s no wonder. Those people really know how to, you know, enjoy each other’s company. I still don’t know, like, how old he is. He might, like, be only 59, but I don’t think so. But he never did take that nap he had planned. We just, like, shopped in Stillwater (he bought me some really cute earrings) and then went to dinner at the Lowell Inn. Nice! He did ask if I would like to go again next year. That’s OK, we’ll both, like, be a year older. Your “Ad” Girl Editor’s note: I think, Dear Reader, that we’ve been scammed. There is no evidence that this woman was even on the cruise. It may be that she was there, but has been using a photo of someone else all along.



 Tom Schellinger, Terry Marsh, Jim Hancock  Vicki Hancock, Mindy Schenck, Shirley Graff, Linda Wortman

 Keith Finneseth, Ed Johnson, Bob Root

Photos: Gary Ferguson, Phil Hallin



Kathy Williams,  Linda Slewinski, Carolyn Olson, Connie Thompson, Marty Ginzel

, Chuck Hinz,  Jo Anne Aitken Chuck Carlson

 Jean Bergman, Lenice & Larry Daudt, Ken Bergman

 Ann Roberts, Betty Cornforth, Elaine Mielke, Dee Dolny, Nancy Haram

 Jim Driver, Hal Hockett, Al Teasley, Dennis Bertness RNPA CONTRAILS AUGUST 2008


Dick Schlader, Floyd Homstad 

 Bob L. Johnson selling the popular “Voices From the Sky” from the NWA History Centre Ron Marston, Rita Ward, Denise Marston, Wayne Ward

 Tim Mannion, Pete Campbell, Bob Lund 36


 Connie Thompson, Mary Jane Dittberner, Dianne Anselmo, Julie McNamee

 Patrick & Kathy Sinclair, Lorraine Potts, Becky Potts

 K. P. Haram, Ray Dolny, Jack Cornforth  Gary Thompson, Terry Marsh, Pastor Bob White

 Der Boatenfuhrer Kleinsteuber drawing for  door prizes - bottles of wine and free pass travel. RNPA CONTRAILS AUGUST 2008


Denise Marston awarding free pass travel courtesy of NWA 

 Elaine Mielke, Tom Schellinger, Rita Ward Jerry Wortman, Gary Ferguson 

Pete Johnson, Kathy Neary, Larry & Lenice  Daudt, Arlen Anderson, Janet & Craig Gillies

 Bill Waterbury, Chuck Hagen 38


 Lowell Williams, Nick Modders, Vic Kleinsteuber, Tom Roberts, Tim Mannion

 Donna PaulyChetlain, Connie Thompson, Art Chetlain, Judy Summers, Ranae Wolle, Dee Hald

 Tom Ebner, Ned Stephens, Tim Mannion, Tom Roberts, Nick Modders RNPA CONTRAILS AUGUST 2008


Downtown Stillwater

Lois & Dick Haglund, Kathy Palmen, Verna Finneseth 

 Janet Gillies, Janet Lillyblad



ď ° Dianne & John Syverson, Calvin & Arlene Dahl

More of the Northwest Family RNPA CONTRAILS AUGUST 2008




Dave Leighton


Readers may think this more opinion than fiction, but I’m sure the author has told more than one lie. It’s fiction! - Ed.

ome years back, in company of friends, doubtless influenced by “several” glasses of wine, wishing to “elevate” the conversation, my beloved (and philosophic) bride of 39 years cheerfully chirped, “Get ‘um out of their uniforms, all pilots are alike.”

Giggles followed. Wisely ignoring obvious “suggestive” implications, and disinclined to address primordial folkways at National Airlines (circa the mid ’60s), nonetheless over time I was forced to reflect whether there was merit to my bride’s “philosophic” appraisal. Are we, or are we not, in the “broader” sense— “out of our uniforms”—alike? Reading and reflecting on our various articles and letters from our peers, seems to me to provide some persuasive insights. Certainly we were notably shaped by our common experiences: Dark blue pajamas, picket signs, “one-and-a-half star” hotels, the ubiquitous “pilot block,” our shared copy of the “big picture” and that arcane necessity of “staying off ridge lines.” And, admittedly, one may marvel at the pictures from various luncheons and reunions, folks forever out of uniform, lined up (like ducks?) in a row. Gray haired fellows, notably lacking tattoos or piercings, drinks in their hands, sagging jowls, merry grins, accompanied by much younger women. Still one wonders; all alike?



As a flawed and slothful man with few virtues, other than ones useful in alienating my few remaining friends, I am impressed—sometimes humbled— by what my peers undertake in the “fullness” of their years. (Along with forwarding emails, forever searching for their glasses and growing hair mostly in the wrong places.) Leaping to mind are those several retired pilots, who in the finest tradition of Sir Francis Chichester, sail the world in strange, quite tiny boats. Magnificently indifferent to wind and wave, dragons and pirates, even falling off the world, these aging Thor Heyerdahls blithely email tidings from somewhere south of Pango Pango, cheerfully noting trivial difficulties with typhoons and tsunamis, coral reefs and custom inspectors. Joyously sailing into the sunset—as per the end of otherwise forgettable epic movies. Envious, I think to myself, Wow! Such verve, such energy, such seamanship! Where do they find these men, and those plucky ladies who share the adventure? Shucks, as a provincial Minnetonka boy, who regards gas prices, city folks—and certainly the lake

patrol—as serious impediments to happy boating, I’m not only impressed, I find this post-retirement pastime downright “Homeric.” Mildly depressed, I was consoled by one of our own: He cheerfully noted, “Dave, did we not, in our youth, sail the ocean blue for months at a time? Did we not acquit ourselves formidably, dutifully experiencing those wind and waves, like, forever? Solemnly swearing “never again” to venture on any boat, unless it had girls and alcohol aboard, or was safely docked by cocktail hour? Thus comforted, I felt myself... “less diminished.” Certainly a more reasonable pastime: Consider those fellows who gaily travel the country in giant RVs, consuming prodigious amounts of gasoline, while enduring sagebrush and scenic strip malls, Bubba trailers and bad coffee. Like Boers trekking, they inspan and outspan daily—connecting up, pumping out and trundling along—cheerfully meeting interesting, often bizarre, people. Again, they have my admiration; for their energy, their spirit of adventure, their sheer “mobility.” And on a positive note, they are happily able to be “hooked up” by cocktail hour. My aforementioned (philosophic) bride and I did rent an RV one winter for several months. It was interesting, even perversely rewarding. Thrashing down highway 35W in a blizzard, desperate to escape the winter, the bureaucrats, the taxes and the awful newspaper. When cornering, closets poured forth their contents and the dog would fall off the couch. Sometimes the refrigerator emptied. We experienced the joys of removing low branches, scrunching in the shower, sleeping in Walmart parking lots and schmoozing with rednecks in Belle Glade, FL. Strangely, the dog loved it! And in spite of friends’ mean-spirited predictions, we were not “divorced by Kansas”... because we didn’t “go through” Kansas. Ultimately in a blissful moment of marital harmony we agreed we were not “RV persons.” Our teeth were too good, we didn’t like soap operas and frankly could not find an 1800 square foot RV with a hot tub. Unsurprisingly, some guys zestfully continue to “hunt.” Honorable undertaking. No doubt beating the bushes while imbibing fresh air is “a good thing,” and we all know deep down, that the flocks and herds “need thinning.” But heck, dragging the bloody beast eight miles to your car? You need an epic freezer (to go along with your big gun), also to butcher the beast and, ultimately, even eat the darn thing.

Or slyly, when cleaning out the freezer, gift “the sausage” to unsuspecting vegan “friends.” Never at a loss, my (philosophic) bride pragmatically noted, “There is Costco.” Years ago I tried “hunting.” The indignant enemy shot back, and I subsequently lost my enthusiasm. In my favor, geese flee in terror as I stride across my lawn, assault-firing my trusty Red Ryder—necessarily protecting my home and hearth from goose goo, enjoying testosterone laden moments, satisfying my vestigial hunting instinct while notably adding adventure to cocktail hour. Also seemingly popular, but perplexing to me, some retired pilots and their ladies actually like to— gasp—“travel.” Yes, seriously. It seems they enjoy “flying,” as in “airliner.” Not unlike Ruthie, or the Explorer Channel, issuing travel reports and news from bizarre locations—an “agate hunt” in Angola, a barge in Bulgaria, a cross-dressing cabaret in Casablanca. Or refusing to recognize the demise of the ancient tradition of “pass riding,” they abuse themselves simply visiting friends—good folks incountry, who they could have simply emailed, or used some of their weekend minutes. Freely, I admit to being a “homer,” and regard unnecessary travel as I would a melanoma. I shudder at the idea of passage through airports. My new bionic hip arouses in the TSA folks tight smiles, humorless bureaucratic groping, grim Neo-Nazi passions. Certainly my time stuffed in 33B seems akin to the 4th circle of hell. Yeah, the very thought gives me “the willies.” To her lifelong dismay, I rarely even take my (philosophic) bride downtown, confining travels to my daily hobble to the mailbox and occasional excursions, rarely east of 494. Perversely, I limit myself to growing veggies, chopping great divots, nervously eying my lilliputian 401, while trying not to mutter and drool too much. On a happier note: There remain those intrepid peers who build, fly, fix, restore—and, amazingly, buy gas for—various small flying machines; the type and capabilities, naturally, I know nothing about. I have the highest regard for those who do this, but I don’t fly anymore. Aside from the dangers of falling out of open cockpits, and possibly those fattening “fly in” breakfasts, I was traumatized in my youth flying small propeller airplanes: screamed at, swore at and viciously struck by rightfully enraged instructors. Churlishly, I refuse to miss or revisit RNPA CONTRAILS AUGUST 2008


“those good old days,” other than the regular embellishment and requisite false modesty. As another of our own piously noted, “Sure I miss the people, but don’t even look up when they fly over.” And there are many more interesting and admirable undertakings of our retired peers—other diverse activities guys amazingly find the energy for— who enthusiastically run small airlines, triathlons, even trains. Some are finding time to build mysterious items, farm, ranch, coach, volunteer and do charity work. (All between “doctor’s appointments” and dreadful internet jokes.) Again, I can’t help being intrigued and certainly impressed by such energy, effort—even expertise— once more deeming myself lacking. Often wondering, yes, you guessed it, if they have time for cocktail hour? And finally there is another ominous retired pilot pastime; that of “writing.” Admittedly, I’m cheerfully medieval, perhaps on a good day, retro. Indeed, viewing the cartoon section as educational, indignant editorials humorous, internet “insights” as inflicted punishment. Truthfully, a pilot writing, especially when using more than two syllable words, should rightly be viewed with suspicion—analogous to that mythical “doctor in the Bonanza.” In fairness, in spite of this affliction, some do indeed, gamely produce our rather polished, interest-

ing and well-regarded Contrails magazine. But most pilots I knew way back, although wonderfully “good sticks,” and great fun at, yep, cocktail hour, had difficulty doing enlisted evaluations, and frankly struggled writing a letter to their moms. Happily, most confine themselves to straightaway technical stuff, like say, “Phugoid Damping Revisited”—or perhaps a 500-page treatise on “Nuances of the Wankel Engine.” But some, like a particularly likable fellow with a pixie sense of humor, whose name will not be mentioned (except to suggest it sounds like part of a tree), write humorous anecdotal stuff. Hey, no problem, I happily read his offerings— confident that this jolly fellow, familiar with the dangers of such self abuse, practices writing mostly late at night, only in the privacy of his home, and yeah, washing his hands compulsively afterward. Indeed, I’m sure he writes a redoubtable “Christmas Letter,” which naturally he will not send to me. Whatever. Everyone appears to enjoy their enthusiasms, great and small, and I marvel at them. Certainly it seems no matter how we may view those varied actions and passions of our retired peers, or our own small undertakings, we arguably do hear quite different “drummers” drumming. Thus, after due and serious reflection, with absolutely no “tongue in cheek,” I’ve righteously concluded: “No, my (philosophic) dear, get them out of their uniforms, pilots are most certainly not alike.” 

The Short Story Contest Continues Any writers out there?

Fame and fortune awaits. Well, maybe not as famous as Mark Twain, but an estimated 3500 readers are sure to at least read the first paragraph or two. As to the fortune... not so much. The response so far has been encouraging. I intend to continue the contest until the end of the year, with a slight change in the rules. There’s still time to win the prize! The rules are simple: Fiction, any subject. 2500 words or less. Open to all RNPA members and their immediate family. Any stories published in the August and November issues will be judged by a panel of three and the winner awarded a year’s free membership in RNPA. (Not open to the staff members of Contrails or their families, which is a shame, since the Editor’s daughter is a talented writer. Besides that, it would be too easy for Bob Root, don’t you think?) Email entries preferred, but any format will do. The Editor’s contact info is on the inside front cover.




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ing a “vent cover.” When sailing hard on a port tack the water came in instead of leaving. The water stopped flowing and the bilge dried. For a thirty minute period there, I forgot about the kidney stones. Another call to the Coast Guard revealed the helicopter was enroute.  Again, another sinking feeling, but that “sinking feeling” was now only emotional.  The problem on Dad’s Dream had been resolved.  S H O R T S T O R Y by Now the only task was to get me CONTEST Pete Schenck off the boat. E N T R Y The Coast Guard had given us specific inn May 6th, about 200nm northeast of The structions and we were Turks & Caicos, at 2:45 in the afternoon, soon in the process of kidney stones started to move around my remaining securing sails, the bimini kidney. I had pain meds with me and promptly took top, and any loose items one. That held me reasonably comfortable, but I also on deck. During the preparation a small bird flew knew that if the stone blocked my ureter, I’d be dead through the rigging, saw us, and flew onto the boat within 10-12 hours. landing on the deck.  Seconds later it flew right to We called the Coast Guard on the satellite phone, me, landing on the top strap of my life vest. It just sat and after they consulted with their flight surgeon the there for a while and then flew on to each member of decision was made to remove me from Dad’s Dream the crew. Rusty was able to get the bird to drink some as soon as a helicopter could be dispatched. Suddenly water but not much more. Rusty also said it looked a the thought of leaving Dad’s Dream in the Atlantic “little fuzzy” and in no time, that was the baby birds Ocean hurt more than the kidney stones. I went be- name. Soon the bird flew into the grill cover and low deck to rest before my evacuation. remained there until we knew we had to secure the I was resting below when one of our crewmem- bird now as well. “Little Fuzzy” was secured in the aft bers, Lora, went below to check on me and she discov- head.  (I’ve read Little Fuzzy never made it through ered about 6 inches of water floating the floorboards the night, but it added a lot to our voyage.) all over the place. The source of the leak was not imSoon the helicopter lights appeared over the homediately detected and for some reason the automat- rizon and I knew it would soon be time for me to ic bilge pump wasn’t pumping the water overboard.  leave. Leaving the crew behind was hard enough for Rusty, the captain of the vessel was very resourceful me, but leaving Dad’s Dream was almost more than I and soon the location of the plugged line was discov- could bear, because of the connection to my dad. ered and resolved.  Not wanting to make eye contact with any of my In due time, Steve and Scott found a potential crewmembers (I didn’t want them to see the tears), I source of the water and placed a plug in the hole. looked at the ocean and saw four dolphins circling It’s interesting that the hole was actually a hole built the boat in a counter-clockwise direction.  All the into the boat to take water out of the boat but lack- while the pilots were giving us instructions as to what





we were to do as well as what they were going to be doing. When it was time for them to lower the swimmer into the water, the dolphins left. Soon, Dave, the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer was at the stern of Dad’s Dream telling me it was time to “get wet.” I jumped into the water and as I hit the water, all I could hear was Jeff Prebost from the TV reality show “Survivor” saying, “The first Survivor voted off the island…” As Dad’s Dream motored away, Dave towed me toward the helicopter’s basket.  The prop wash from the rotor was unbelievable and turning my head to either side only forced saltwater into my mouth.  Soon I was loaded into a steel basket (probably XXL) and lifted 50 feet into the helicopter.  Not being able to hear a thing, the cable operator pointed to where I was to go and sit. The basket was detached and a bare cable sent down to pick up my rescue swimmer.  Once Dave was onboard the helicopter I was given warm blankets and a headset with intercom capability. After answering a few questions and talking about sailing and other things, I finally had to ask, “Where am I going?” “Provo,” came the word from the helicopter’s First Officer. Oh, well that tells me a lot.  “Can I assume that’s in the Bahamas?” I ask. “No, it’s in The Turks & Caicos.” Wow, I thought. I’ve always heard so much about the Turks & Caicos but know so very little. I stopped asking stupid questions and shifted back to talking about sailing, sailboats, and the First Officer’s retirement plans.  An hour and twenty minutes later, we started flying over lights and ultimately the closed airport. “Closed,” I thought? How am I going to get to the hospital? How do I clear Customs? Soon I heard the pilots spot the ambulance and when the wheels touched land we were about 100 feet from it.  I was walked to the waiting ambulance, shook hands with my rescue swimmer and entered a nice warm cabin with wheels. We left a security gate and drove the two miles or less to the “hospital.” There was only time to get my name, address and insurance information before we were backing up to the “emergency room” entrance. (Let me digress; there are no hospitals in The Turks & Caicos, only clinics, and very poor clinics at that. There is also only one surgeon in the island nation and he readily admitted, over the phone, that a blocked ureter surgery was beyond his capability with the tools he had available.) Anyway, the ER Nurse asked the medical technician where his patient was and I raised my hand.  She gasped, “You’re walking?” Good observation… then

she said, “And you’re all wet!” A second very good observation. I told her I was swimming in the Atlantic and suddenly everyone was just laughing as I explained what was going on. Taking off my wet clothes, they had the hospital staff wash and dry my clothes and shoes while they decided what they could do for me. The truth of the matter is, there was nothing they could do, but that took four hours to discover. I did pass two stones at the clinic but at 1:00 AM all they could do for me is arrange a bed in an employee rest area. I was up at 5:00 AM, dressed in dry clothes and ready to head for the airport. One of the hospital employees gave me a ride to an airport that I knew nothing about. I entered the main lobby and saw a long line leading to the American Airlines ticket counter.  I figured that was a good sign. While standing in line, I was a little uncomfortable asking the couple ahead of me but I had to ask, “Where is this flight going?” Boy, talk about feeling stupid. Fortunately they were a wonderful couple and understood my situation. Finally getting to the ticket counter I explained to the agent my situation and I got the next to last seat on the plane (Business Class). Once through security I met up with the couple again and they shared a pre-packaged container of muffins with me. It was only then that I realized that my two bowls of cereal at 11:45 AM the previous day was all I had had to eat. That muffin was wonderful and actually filled my shrinking stomach (in my dreams). Clearing customs into Miami was easy and the agent very understanding even admitting it was the first time he had ever run into that situation. I admitted to him I didn’t even know what country the Turks & Caicos was controlled by. I’ll have to look that up some time. I went to the Northwest Airlines ticket counter and also got the next to last seat on the next flight to Minneapolis. Even though it was a three and a half hour wait, I was going to be home less than 24 hours after being plucked from the Atlantic Ocean… or so I thought. The flight was delayed two hours and so by the time I saw Mindy again at the Minneapolis airport, it was just over 26 hours water to “home.” Mindy and I had a nice drive home. I just wasn’t feeling exactly right physically or emotionally. I knew I left a crew behind that had to cover all of my watches somehow as well as a 40 foot fiberglass sailboat called, Dad’s Dream.  Pete told me that this wasn’t intended for the contest because it is not fiction. I told him, fiction or not, it is deserving enough to “bend” the rules. -Ed. RNPA CONTRAILS AUGUST 2008




Tom Adams

When Airplanes Were Made of Wood

and Pilots of Steel

by Anymouse “My Name is Anymouse. I’m sure the vast majority of you do not know who I am. For many decades I used to write episodes that were of events mailed to me. Some Naval Aviator would invariably do some stupid thing in one of Uncle Sam’s high priced—to him—toys, and almost get himself killed. (“Him,” because in that day there were no ladies flying in the military.) The event was documented and sent to me anonymously so I could publish it with the ‘doer’ receiving no reprisals. I have retired from the Naval services and have been following the IAC [International Aerobatic Club] through the years. I can see a few reasons I might come out of retirement. On occasion, I hear stories of things that have happened in the IAC over the past years. Because they are not documented, they must come under the headings of a myth, a fairytale, or history.” This episode: a myth, a fairytale or history? A fairytale starts with, “Once upon a time”, a myth starts, “Once long, long ago in a land far, far away,” and history begins with,” Listen up ya’ll, this ain’t no bull.” Well, this is history, so, “Listen up y’all, this ain’t no bull.” Back in the “old days” of aerobatics, before starters, Loran, GPS, header tanks, spring gear, locking tail wheels and canopies (when airplanes were made of wood and pilots of steel) we had a hero trying to get home from the US Nationals. This young stalwart was trying to get to south Florida from Sherman, TX



in a single day. His ride was a 180hp, fabric-covered biplane that cruised at 130 mph. Taking off at the crack of 0900, with a horrible hangover, he heads into some “really bad stuff,” as the Weather briefer said when he checked an hour before. After four one-hour and thirty-five minute legs, with a forty five minute turn around for fuel at each stop, our hero finds himself just over the craggy trees in the Louisiana swamps. Due to the 300-foot ceiling and accompanying mist, he was just barely over those craggy trees. Realizing that being here was not such a good idea and that he should be comfortably on the

ground, he starts looking through the mist for a safe haven. In the Louisiana swampland there really is no such thing. Suddenly beneath his wood and fabriccovered wing, a two-lane blacktop highway, deep in the 100 foot trees, flashes into view. Dragging the road, seeing the wires off to the side about 20 ft (all country roads have wires, by the way) and no road signs to speak of, he makes his decision. Yup! He can slip between the trees and have a straight, two-lane road on which to land. This should work out. Just keep the wing down, the nose high, and that will help seeing to line up. Should not be a problem. How would most modern-day aerobats handle this? Our modern day plastic-plane flying pilot would have more than likely been bellied up to a bar drinking either a cold beer or a decaf, low-fat, sweetn-low latte, depending on which coast he’s from. You see, our hero did not have the Weather Channel in those days. Any way, back to the story. Once he had drug the road, our boy sets up for a speed-stabilized, 85-mph straight-in, in a strong left slip. With the tendrils of mist and cloud starting to spiral up between the trees our Lochinvar eases the plane between the trees, backs off on the speed to 80 mph, straightens out the slip and flares to a touchdown. With the road only two lanes, he was unable to see both sides clearly so he lands in the right half, which allowed him to keep straight by looking at the left shoulder of the road. Slowing as rapidly as possible, he comes to a stop adjacent to a dirt access road leading to a clearing behind the forest. Taxiing into the clearing he sees it is loaded with heavy yellow ’dozers and earth-moving equipment. Bumping over the rough ground, the little airplane is positioned behind the trees so it can’t be seen from the road. After shut down, and with the air no longer moving around the fuselage, the mist and moisture starts to bead up on the windshield. Heck! He thinks to himself, that wasn’t much worse than some of the places I had to fly the spray plane out of. A thought keeps running through his mind, though, as he unbuckles. This is SO DUMB, why didn’t I Just land at that strip I passed by 30 miles back? Now his thoughts are about bed and beer. A look at the four-year-old sectional shows a small town just three miles down the road to the southeast and a large town twenty miles up the road to the northwest. A no-brainer. He will head southeast. Within ten minutes this rickety, rusty, dented, 1955 ford pickup comes along and stops to offer a ride. The driver was dressed in bib overalls, cowboy shirt with the sleeves cut off, boondocker boots, a grease-and-green “John

There I was!... “Anymouse” explained Legend has it that the name Anymouse started out as a simple typo; someone somewhere didn’t know how to spell “anonymous” and didn’t have a dictionary. Whatever the origins, by the time the Naval Safety Center began publishing the Weekly Aviation Safety Bulletin in the early ‘50s, Anymouse was already recounting his hairy tales. His column served as a fertile breeding ground for the hair-raising “There I was!” stories to follow. In WASB 2-54, a column from W.E. Scarborough, the command’s officer-in-charge, reported, for the three month period ending 31 December 1952, 90 ANYMOUSE reports were received from pilots who had unusual experiences in flight… (These reports) proved valuable in preventing aircraft accidents, improving operating procedures, and aiding in improvement in design of aircraft. The article urged readers to send in their own stories, in order to share the lessons learned. In mid-1954, the bulletin ran an item in “Anymouse” headlined “There I Was!…” As used by hangar flyers and taletellers around the fleet, however, the phrase didn’t necessarily start a story that was true. Although many feature articles through the years would contain elements of humor, Anymouse wasn’t interested in malarkey, practical jokes or hot air. He was a serious fellow at heart. The column was intended as an alternative to existing hazard-alert and mishap-report systems. According to a 1956 study issued by the Naval Safety Center, Anymouse was “originally intended as a means of encouraging flight personnel to make voluntary and anonymous reports of near-accidents and incidents which they might not report through established channels and formal reporting systems… Any aviator desiring to report a situation merely takes a form and envelope from one of the attractive suggestiontype boxes available in all operating units,” the report continued. “Anonymity is the heart of the system.” No official directive established or continued Anymouse. This lack of marching orders is unusual and a testimony to Anymouse’s effectiveness and popularity. Naval aviators took an altruistic interest in keeping their fellow aviators from learning the hard way. The job of flying was difficult and dangerous enough without everyone making the same mistakes. At any rate, the yarns poured in, from pilots who had been at all sorts of altitudes. – Editor



Deer” hat, five day growth of beard and lastly a cheek full of Beechnut chewing tobacco. The driver, Holm-Winn Robinson, just about has a heart attack when he’s told where our boy wants to be let off. “Heck far feller, doncha know air ain’t no white folks a livin’ air?” “Well, that’s where I want off,” our boy tells him. After dropping his rider off at the smallest and only hotel in the town, Holm-Winn drives off shaking his head and muttering to himself as his Ford does major damage to the clean air in the small town. The name of the hotel was simply, “HOTEL,” and had not seen a paint brush in ages, so this had to be the place. The look on the grizzled old man’s face behind the counter was one of shock when he heard the white man say he wanted a room for the night. “We doan hardly catah ta no white folk, but iffin youens be aneedin’ a bed, I’m spossen ita be awright.” Room 201 was smaller than a prison cell, had one single bed, a closet, a dresser and the worlds smallest TV sitting on top of it. The wall behind the bed had a cheaply framed picture of Jesus praying and the previous wall paper, old newsprint, could be seen beneath a curled piece of the latest blue patterned application. There was one light hanging on the cord in the middle of the room. The bathroom and shower was at the end of the hall. Going back down to the desk our pal was informed there were no restaurants and the only thing he could get for supper was in the little store/gas station across the road. After visiting the establishment our hero heads back to his room with a bologna sandwich, a bag of chips and four Buds. Munching on the sandwich and chips while sucking up the beer, he watches the last of a ballgame. The next morning, Sunday, the desk clerk offers to give our stranded pilot a ride out to the highway department storage area where the little airplane was hidden behind a road grader. After putting his gear in the turtle deck and pushing the little plane out to the opening by the road, he asks the clerk if he would give him a ride up and down the road a mile or so to let him look for wires. The man agrees, but as they are driving down the road looking he says, “They ain’t nuff money in Louisiana ta make me git up inna air in one of dim machines, AN, youens axe me, I’m thinking you be PLUM crazy.” Once back at the plane our pal is doing a walk around and hears the sound of a large V-8 engine coming down the road at high rpm and high speed. The 1960 Ford, loaded with a bunch of drunken farm kids, breezes by. Shortly after passing the little



red flying machine, the driver gets on the brakes and squeals to a stop. At a fast rate he backs up and pulls into the side road next to the plane. Now our hero wonders how he is going to handle a bunch of redneck farm kids, as they stumble and fall out of the old Ford. “Hot darn,” one 17-year-old says, “I ain’t never seed nuthin’ like ‘at.” They all start weaving around the plane, so the pilot figures the best thing to do is explain the machine to them and enlist them to watch for traffic—having them be part of the team. “Harley,” the oldest boy says, “Bring Cooter over here, he dang sure gotta see iss here thang.” “Caint Joe-Henry, Cooter’s a loosin’ his supper,” Harley calls back. Once they agree to help, he hops in, straps in and starts up the plane. Just like instructed, the two older boys stand by the road holding up a thumb each indicating there was no traffic. Once the temps are up, our boy taxis on the road, does a quick mag check, lines up on the right side of the road and slowly applies full power. As speed builds he raises the tail so he can see ahead and holds the aircraft on the ground until way past normal lift off speed then smartly raises the nose so he can be above the narrow road and trees on each side as fast as possible. Once in the air and his speed built up high enough he turns around for a pass and a climbing roll over the crowd waving in the opening by the road. I wonder where our modern acro pilot would be this fine Sunday morning. More than likely, he would be just getting up at that Sherman, TX motel quite happy he used common sense and didn’t have more than one glass of white wine last night. The thought of flying home with a hangover, as well as in crummy weather should be unimaginable. Well, anyway, after three more fuel stops and blessed with a tail wind, our pilot, lands at “home plate,” puts his acro bird in the hangar and drives in to town. When he gets home to his girlfriend she reads him the riot act for not letting her know where and how he was. He said he couldn’t understand what the fuss was about. “Hells bells,” he said, ”I didn’t even call my wife.” This story is about an almost terminal case of GET HOMEITIS. This bit of history actually happened in a fashion fairly close to this story, and in a time when they made airplanes out of wood and pilots of steel. But In those days, as well as our modern time… dumb is still dumb! Fly Safe, Anymouse

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1935 WHERE DO WE FIND MEN LIKE THESE PASSENGERS ESCAPE DEATH WHEN PILOT DROPS PLANE ON A NELSON CANADA FARM FIELD IN PITCH DARKNESS FRANK JUDD, HERO PILOT SUGGESTS NELSON PROVIDE AN AIRPORT AND LIGHT OR SIGN ON A ROOF TO AID LOST PILOTS Captain Judd used the headlights of cars on the roads near Nelson to find a landing site. When the big American airliner, Northwest Airlines number 68, was circling Nelson Wednesday night, 100 miles north of course, the proper course being 100 miles south of the line, and, on its last gallon of gas was hunting with landing lights for a place to land with safety to seven souls and to a $70,000 machine, citizens in all parts of Nelson were watching, many of them in the open, and wishing that something could be done to help the stranger find its objective. In an interview afforded The Daily News, Pilot Frank C. Judd, whose hand guided the lost and strayed silver bird to a happy landing for the human cargo was concerned, involving only minimum damage to the big aircraft, Thursday morning before leaving for Spokane, discussed this phase, and mentioned some of the expedients that could be made use of to assist strange fliers needing emergency direction. He did this in response to the suggestion that this aircraft was the first aircraft lost this far north near Nelson.

Resting on its fuselage with propellers bent and motors dug into the ground, with its right wing over a fence which it had mowed down for several feet, the Northwest Airlines Inc. plane NC14907 of Spokane is shown above as it appeared after its crash in the darkness on the Moore ranch property near Nelson. Submitted by James Lindley compiled from articles in the Nelson Daily News 1935 From the scrapbook of Cecil DuRose VP Western Region NWA




NEW AIRCRAFT LOST ON HOP FROM L. A. TO NEVADA FIELD Los Angeles, 1938 — The sheriff ’s office reports a new 13 passenger airliner being flown to St. Paul, Minnesota with stops in Nevada with nine persons on board is missing between Los Angles and Las Vegas. On board the ill fated aircraft was the Vice President of Northwest Airlines Fred Whittmore. The plane left Union Air Terminal at 1:40 PM and failed to report into Las Vegas its first scheduled stop. The weather in Mint Canyon along the route was foggy, with broken clouds from 2000 to 6000 feet which is the altitude the aircraft was to be flying. The weather in Las Vegas was clear. Lockheed officials theorize the pilot, Sid Willey a Lockheed test pilot, may have descended below the clouds to check his position when the mishap occurred. This resulted in the craft hitting a mountain in or near Mint Canyon. Northwest Captain and Vice President Fred Whittmore has been instrumental in the securing of the US mail contract for Northwest Airlines as well as instrumental in the pioneering of the northern route between Billings, Montana through the Rocky Mountains to Spokane and Seattle. A Mint Canyon farmer found the wreckage of the plane twenty miles north of Saugas, California. All aboard were lost in the mishap.

Captain Fred Whittmore

Compiled and edited from a family scrapbook compiled by Cecil DuRose, VP Western Region, NWA Submitted by James Lindley RNPA CONTRAILS AUGUST 2008


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She also had a close association with famed aviatrix, Jacqueline Cochran and flew Cochran’s Beechcraft airplanes.

Edith Finholt 1916 ~ 2008 Edith Finholt, age 91, extraordinary wife, mother, and pioneer aviator flew West for a final check peacefully at her Prior lake home, on April 14, 2008. Dedicated to her family throughout her amazing life journey, Edith was known for her passion for flight, and a deep, abiding appreciation of nature. Born on November 6, 1916 to John and Myra Campbell in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Edith was preceded in death by her beloved husband Ted Finholt, a retired Northwest Airlines Captain who passed away 12 years ago to the day.

Though women were not allowed to fly as a captain or co-pilot for commercial airlines, this did not prevent her from being an active pilot and delivering airmail for the US government. She also delivered Piper Cub airplanes to buyers, and starred in many aviation events including air shows. Edith was highly regarded in the aviation world and in 1941 was asked to become executive secretary for the Minnesota Aeronautics Commission. During this time, she met and fell madly in love with a dashing young pilot, Ted Finholt, whom she later married. As a result, she happily hung up her wings to devote herself to him and their children. Edith and Ted had a wonderful and fulfilling life together, raising their children, enjoying their home, pets, and their many travel adventures. Their relationship was truly inspiring and Edith’s positive attitude and zest for life is her legacy.

Edith graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School in 1934 and was accepted as the only woman student at the aviation ground school in Wahpeton, North Dakota. She attended flight school in Minneapolis and worked as a secretary and mechanic for Shorty DePonti, who headed his own aviation school at what is now known as the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. Edith flew DePonti’s airplanes and logged enough hours to earn her limited commercial license in 1936. She earned her full commercial license in 1939 and became only the 18th woman to achieve this historic accomplishment, and the first woman in the Midwest. Edith was a charter member of the Minnesota Ninety-Nines, an International organization of women pilots founded in 1929 by Emilia Earhart.



Chuck Doyle 1916 ~ 2008 Charles P. “Chuck” Doyle, Sr., age 91, of Apple Valley, Minnesota, a retired Northwest Airlines captain “flew west” for a final check on April 25, 2008. A Minnesota Aviation pioneer and Northwest Airlines pilot for 34 years, Chuck was known for his daredevil acrobatic stunts, skywriting, banner towing, and his work as a flight instructor. Chuck flew Northwest transports in Alaska during WWII and after the war bought, sold, restored and raced vintage aircraft. A longtime QB, he was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 1992, the OX-5 Hall of Fame in 1996, and the Warbird Hall of Fame in 2003. “Chuck” Doyle was born on May 26, 1916 in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, and he was destined to be a pilot and stuntman. Impressed with Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 solo flight to Europe, Doyle talked his father into taking him to the Minneapolis Airport where he got a ride in a Navy trainer. In his teens, Doyle owned a Harley Davidson motorcycle and cut classes at Washburn High School to ride to the airport and hang out.



In the summer after his junior year, he offered to trade the motorcycle for flying lessons, but instead was given work helping to rebuild airplanes. He soloed in an airplane that summer and borrowed money to purchase his own Travel Air biplane. During the 1933 Fall homecoming football game at Washburn High School, Doyle buzzed the field and was promptly dismissed from school. He would finally graduate from Washburn in a colorful 2002 ceremony! At the airport, Doyle earned a living working on airplanes, selling tickets for barnstormers, and performing daredevil stunts. In 1935, Doyle made his first parachute jump at the Minnesota State Fair and towed his first aerial banner for Griffith Shoe Polish. He had learned the fine art of skywriting from local veterans and rigged his plane to fulfill local Pepsi Cola assignments. In addition to the flying, Doyle took part in other thrill show events at fairs and celebrations across the country, performing such stunts as driving his motorcycle through burning board walls, head-on

auto crashes, crashing airplanes through ‘houses’ built within fairgrounds, and climbing from his speeding motorcycle to an airplane by means of a rope ladder hung from the airplane. He used his motorcycle and ramps to jump over cars long before Evel Knievel was born. Despite the spectacular lifestyle, Doyle was never injured. During WWII, Doyle worked briefly for Northwestern Aeronautical Corporation in St. Paul, building gliders that were used by the Army to land troops behind enemy lines. In 1942, despite having no college education, he was hired by Northwest Airlines in January of 1942 as a training instructor and taught at Rochester, Minnesota. When Northwest was contracted by the Army Air Transport Command, he was assigned to fly Northwest transports in Alaska, making flights as far out as the Aleutian Islands. Following the war, Doyle bought war surplus aircraft, flying, restoring and racing them at Reno, Nevada. Many of his airplanes found their way into museums, including three in the Air Force Museum at Dayton, Ohio, and a Curtiss

Pusher aircraft that hangs in the MSP Airport’s Lindbergh terminal. Doyle’s airline career with Northwest continued until his retirement at age 60 in 1976 after 34 years, but his flying career wasn’t over. From his home airstrip in Apple Valley, Doyle continued to sky-write and tow banners. The airstrip’s signboard heralded “UFOs Welcome.” He owned and flew dozens of aircraft and had his hand in many Minnesota aviation projects, including the publishing of a Minnesota aviation history book. When the City of Apple Valley condemned his property for highway right-of-way, Doyle moved his planes to Fleming Field, South St. Paul, Minnesota. He knew everybody in aviation and lived flying and restoring airplanes every day of his life. Both Chuck Jr. and Brian were taught to fly by their father and are pilots and continue the family’s tradition for the love of aviation. Shannon would fly only with her Father but respects her brothers' love for flying. Survived by children, Chuck Jr. (Jody), Brian (Lisa) and Shannon Leer; grandchildren, Ryan and Courtney Leer and Nathan and Nicole Doyle.

• From the Guest Book • Arthur Partridge; I was privileged to go through my initial copilot qualification on the 727 with Chuck while he was getting his first jet type rating, and flew his right seat many times. An excellent pilot and a true gentleman, he was an example to all who worked with him. His fellow pilots and the whole community will miss him as much as his family. Godspeed! Ray Dolny; When I was watching Chuck perform at the fairgrounds, sky writing, or towing banners, little did I realize that someday I would be flying co-pilot for him on his favorite trip (MSP-FAR-GFK-YWG). Chuck was one of a kind, fun to fly with and endless stories. He knew everyone between MSP and YWG. He will be missed but the legend will live on. Milt Eitreim; Chuck was a joy to fly with. A farmer would flash his yard light when we passed over on the way to Winnipeg. Francis Orr; I have a great regret that I did not know Chuck personally. However, in any grouping of NWA pilots, it was almost a certainty that his name would come up. He lived a good life, fulfilled his dreams and left his mark upon us. A man could ask for no more. Dick Duxbury; It was an honor and just a lot of fun to have known Chuck. Lunches on Saturday were exciting and full of information. Brad Pickens; Chuck’s passing is a loss for everyone who loves aviation. His dreams are still shared by many, but his experiences are shared by few. Mike Seay; Only a few pilots had the gift and passion for flying that Chuck had. It was a joy, honor and privilege to fly (B-727, Dec., 1971) with this legendary airman and gentleman. God rest his soul! Ken Finney Sr.; A NWA Pilot for 33 years I lived not far down the road from the Doyles in Apple Valley for 18 years, and visited with Chuck a few times over those years. What an amazing guy. And all that knew Chuck knew what “Doyle Blue” was. I enjoyed the limited time I spent with him when we visited. Now, after 91+ years he is finally gone and at peace. It has been an honor to know this famous man. As the family goes on and grieves, I wish all of you peace and recovery back to normal. I also hope as you let him go you find comfort knowing he is now in God’s hands. Terry Marsh; What a loss! I’ve known Chuck Doyle most of my life. I can remember Chuck and my father discussing airplanes and old times over 60 years ago. I also remember those unforgettable conversations with Chuck, Randy Sohn and Forest Lovley at QB’s or Broadway Pizza. Chuck Doyle was a legend and I’m proud to have known him. Keith Maxwell; Chuck was a friend and fellow NWA Pilot. A tremendous asset to aviation, especially Minnesota. He was also a friend of my late father Ken Maxwell of Maxwell Aircraft who had great respect for Chuck and was in the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame with Chuck. He will be missed . Carol Grewing; My heartfelt condolences to you as you process the loss of your loved one. In my 39 years as a stewardess/flight attendant with NWA, my path crossed many times with your father. He was a wonderful man. I’m sure your memories will bring you great comfort. His spirit will always be with you. May you feel his arms around you and be comforted. God bless you all.



Fred Raiche; It seems like only “yesterday” that I was a part of Chuck’s crew flying “Chuck’s Route” (MSP-FAR-GFK-YWG) in the “Electra” (L-188). Chuck knew that route well (farm lights, hay bales, etc). Those will be “Forever Memories” of “The Good Old Days”. Chuck was “one of a kind,” and now missed and remembered by all. I am proud to have been one of Chuck’s many copilots. Ken Barroll; Thanks for the memories Chuck! You were a great friend and wonderful aviator! Wishing you CAVU! Terry Love; Chuck was a great pilot, a great man, and an avid aviation enthusiast. He was a hero to me, and lots of other people who ever met him. He had a vast number of stories—and all of them were true! Well, most of them, anyway. His aviation connections go all the way back to Charles Lindberg. He said that he quit counting his flight hours when they went over 33,000. The people that he knew make up a “Who’s Who” of aviation from Wiley Post to Donald Nyrop, past President of Northwest Airlines. His favorite flying airplane was the Curtiss P-40E, of which he owned a few. He does not have any “one” single contribution to aviation— but many. He will be mourned by his family, his friends, and aviation people all over the world. The passing of a legend! Richard “Dick” Falen; P-51 Mustangs, Severskys, big-engined Stearmans (I’ll never forget the huge chrome prop coming toward me as I nervously held the lead pole for a banner), customized early Corvette, motorcycles... heady stuff for a teenager in the sixties who so wanted a flying career. A true aviation legend, mentor, and gentleman, who always had time to sit down with the lowest man in the pecking order at Southport, the gasboy… me, and share stories of a different time in aviation. You will be missed. Larry K. Daudt; Chuck, Bryan, and Shannon your dad was an inspiration to me, my friend and my mentor. He had my respect and admiration, and I will miss him. May God rest his soul. John Clark; Words cannot do justice to Chuck Doyle. My memories go back to the 1960s at Southport Airport in Apple Valley where I saw a black P-51. It was Chuck’s, and from that point on I had to know this man. He was instrumental in the lives of many people in aviation in Minnesota. I can still see that Stearman skywriting in the blue sky over the Twin Cities and the banners flying over the Met Stadium. Thanks Chuck, for the use of your field for my first flight with my radio controlled plane. I’m still into that hobby and he will be remembered with many fond memories. God bless you Chuck P. Doyle. Mike Farley; I was sorry to hear of Chuck passing. I have many childhood memories of playing around on his property. The hours of bike riding and football on his runway, and not to mention his playground of toys were memorable. When chuck saw you on his property, he would wave and say Hi and never tell you to leave. Richard Anderson; We moved to the neighborhood in the valley off the end of Chuck’s runway in 1977. The high point of every spring was the first time Chuck took off in his bi-plane every year. It was a treat to see him and his planes flying around the neighborhood. The kids had a blast getting to sit in the plane from time to time. It was a sad, sad day when Chuck took off from his airport for the last time. Many of the neighbors gathered to watch and there were a lot of tears. Chuck may have flown off in the sunset for the last time, but his memory will live on for us close neighbors of his international airport for a long time. Stan Ross; It was a great joy to share the thrill of flight with one of Minnesota’s aviation legends… to fly-ins and air-shows around the state and a few times to even share his Gator/Limo at Oshkosh. I remember the first time I was treated to the “Wall of Fame” highlights at his South St. Paul hangar and treasure the memory of the twinkle in his eye as he taught my sweetheart “The Why Dance.” His charm and brilliant smile will last long for all who knew him. Chuck was a good friend and inspiration to many flyers. Fond wishes for the “Blue Skies” that we know will soon be painted turquoise. Farewell, and thanks for the memories. Terry Cook; I met Chuck in 1975 when I started on the Apple Valley Police Department. He was hard to miss because everything (including a car) was painted “Doyle” teal. Over the years I spent many hours talking with him about aviation, collector cars, and stunt shows (my father and uncle were performers about the same time as Chuck). Chuck and sons Chuck and Brian became my friends. What a character! (I say with affection.) It was sad to see his airstrip go (Doyle International Airways), and worse to hear he has left us… with many wonderful memories, and three great kids. Off he goes, into the wild blue yonder. Annie Miebs; Oh, how I loved Mr. Doyle! Shannon, Brian and Chuck Jr., I’m so sorry to hear about your father’s passing. He was such a sweet guy and always treated my family with warm hugs, his huge grin and calling my mother and myself “honeybunch.” My grandparents lived in Alaska, so he told me to call him Grandpa Doyle. He even came to “Grandparents Day” with me at Highland Elementary when I was little. He had such a big heart and I am a better person for knowing him. He will surely be missed but never forgotten. I can still hear his Stearman, waking me up on Saturday mornings from his Apple Valley airport! Love to you all. Tom Goodwill; Chuck was always an inspiration to me, from the day I first met him at Fleming Field in 1974, working on the B-25J “I See No Problem,” to the P-35 Seversky, the P-40s, his P-51s, his encouragement to do well in A+P school, his blue Stearman, and the P-51C “Tuskegee Airmen” which Chuck was a big part of. I last saw him when I checked the tires for him on the “Chuck Wagon.” So long my friend. Dave Weiman; It was a pleasure to finally meet Chuck about 10 years ago, after admiring his skywriting over the Minnesota State Fairgrounds as a child in the 1950s. Chuck was one of the people who inspired me to pursue a career in aviation. He brought the magic of flight to me and to many others. He will be missed! (Editor/Publisher Midwest Flyer Magazine.)

Courtney Leer; My grandfather was a true inspiration to me. I loved him and will miss him dearly. Thank you for all your entries. They are a great help for this very hard time. •



Phil Schacht 1936 ~ 2008 Elmer P. (Phil) Schacht, age 71, a retired Northwest Airlines Captain of Spruce Creek Fly In, Daytona Beach, Florida and Minneapolis, Minnesota, flew west for a final check on March 1, 2008. An excellent pilot whose first rule was “Fly Safe,” Phil lost his life in an aviation accident in which he was an innocent bystander. Phil and his partner Bill Hess flying an RV4 landed #1 in a flight of four RV’s and taxied off the runway onto a stub while waiting for other members of the flight to land.  A tricycle gear “Velocity” aircraft, not in Phil’s flight, landed between the #3 and #4 RV’s of Phil’s flight, and after touchdown veered off the runway onto the grass. When the “Velocity” tried to go-around the nose wheel apparently dug in the grass causing a wingtip to hit the ground.  The rear engine, delta winged aircraft cart-wheeled out of control, and continuing to cartwheel struck the cockpit area of Phil’s RV4, which was either stopped on the taxiway or slowly taxing to the ramp. The resulting collision killed Phil Schacht and Bill Hess instantly. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, September 9, 1936 and raised in Chicago, Illinois, he attended Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology from 1955 to 1957. In 1959 Phil entered the Air Force and reached the rank of Captain by the time of his discharge in 1966. During active duty service Phil was stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona, and at RAF Alconbury, England,

as a Navigator Instructor flying the F-4C&D, and the RB-66. Phil took flight training in England and earned most of his ratings there.  He was hired by Northwest airlines in 1967 and served as Second Officer for 2 years, First Officer for 13 years, and Captain for 15 years. During Phil’s career he flew the Boeing 707, 727, 747-100/-200 & -400, and the DC-10, and flew them well. Some who met Phil got no deeper than the outside layer which many of us present to the world. Phil Schacht ran deep, and most of the intellect, character, compassion, love of practical jokes, capacity for love and how to be a friend that he possessed in great quantities, lay below the surface. You had to spend time and travails with Phil before seeing the core of his being. He loved Northwest Airlines, aerobatics, gliders, competitions, instructing, mentoring young people, and just hanging out with those who love airplanes. His family was always foremost, and in front of all came his wife Sue Schacht. Phil’s youngest student and biggest fan was his granddaughter, Murphy Duder, 4, of Minneapolis. Sue Schacht said Murphy “had a love of airplanes.” “It was unexplainable but before she could talk, the toddler would point out airplanes,” she recalled. Murphy had mastered the “slow turn” and had her own log book where her grandfather’s lessons were recorded.  “They had a very special relationship,” Sue Schacht said.      Phil was not comfortable talking about what he had done or promoting his contributions, and did not seek recognition for his efforts.  Selfless and self effacing, Phil did not seek leadership positions and preferred to not be seen as “in charge.”  When there was a job to do, Phil always showed up with a plan and the materials and tools needed to get it done. Phil’s wife Sue said it best; “Phil was an outstanding man, who did not want to stand out.” His passion for aerobatics and aerobatic competitions, and his labors in support of International Aerobatic Club Chapters in Minnesota and Florida, and the instruction, coaching, encouragement and mentoring of over 50 new Eagle Sport Aviation Club members, largely from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to the sport of aerobatic competition, remains an inspiration to those who saw Phil in action. Phil mentored young people at Youth Initiative



Mentoring Academies (YIMA) of St. Paul, Minnesota for over ten years, and volunteered as a Flight and Ground school instructor. For his commitment to the Programs of the YIMA Aviation Academy, Phil received several honorary awards: Honorary Mentor Award, Mentor of the Year Award, Special Recognition of Services, and Certificate of Appreciation. These Awards were presented by YIMA Executive Director Mamie Lanford Singleton, and by Congresswoman Betty McCollum

and Senators Norm Coleman and the late Senator Paul Wellstone. YIMA Executive Director Singleton says that Phil was the most dedicated, committed, and consistent volunteer that she ever met. These traits are needed to mentor at risk youth in today’s world. Each August for seven years, Phil gave glider instruction and rides to the YIMA participants at Stanton Airfield in Northfield, Minnesota. Glider instruction and rides at Stanton for YIMA this year will be held in Memory of Phil.

• From the Guest Book • Ron Vandervort: So long Phil! You were as a bountiful spring; a constant flow of clear, clean life enhancing energy, always there for those of us fortunate to pass by. It was our blessing to have known you! My condolences go to your family.   Dick Smith: Eve and I attended Phil Schacht’s funeral in New Smyrna Beach, and the memorial service in Spruce Creek Fly In, Daytona Beach, Florida on March 7th. The great number of Phil’s friends who were there to support Sue and their family was indeed a tribute to the love, respect and gratitude they felt for this amazing man. A dozen or more homebuilt airplanes did fly-bys in the “missing man” formation. Those who knew of his dedication to the Minnesota Soaring Club have the same sense of loss as his friends in Spruce Creek. He gave of himself and his incredible talents for many years without expectation of recognition or credit. Phil and his biggest fan, granddaughter Murphy Duder Honored with our Lifetime Achievement Award, Phil will be missed and long remembered.  Dan & Debbie Smith: All who attended Phil’s service at Fleming Field were appreciative that Sue and the Schacht family allowed the event to take place. It was difficult to watch them endure another memorial service for our benefit. Debbie and I joined Minnesota Soaring Club in 1997, and Phil made glider pilots of us. With no previous aviation training and 40 years of feet on the Earth, we were a challenge for any instructor. Phil took us under his wing and with dedication, knowledge and selfless commitment to our pursuit, soon had us soloed and on our way. Debbie has said many times, “Because of Phil, we fly today.” Phil was humble and gracious in offering his services to all at the soaring club. Phil cut me loose and “forced” me to fly solo. I begged Phil to fly dual; “Just one more time, I’ll pretend you’re not onboard, no talking to each other.” His reply was simply, “Smith, you’re wasting my time, go fly.” Some people know exactly the thing to say at the right moment, and Phil knew for me. Phil personified humility. Debbie and I crossed Phil’s path, hence our great fortune. We shall always remember.  Dave Fitzgerald: Over my flying career I have learned from and liked many people. There was also a rare person that I admired. Phil Schacht was a person I liked and admired, and a person I wanted to imitate. I was at ease to ask him questions, and he would take the time to explain until I understood. I always left with more knowledge after talking to Phil. The biggest lesson that I learned from Phil was the best way to lead. I never heard him boast about his flying skills or experience. He simply did what needed



to be done, and was a person we all followed and admired. Phil taught by example how to be a good Captain and a good teacher (good leader). Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Phil, you are my role model. I will miss you... Brian Utley, Minnesota Soaring Club: We learned of Phil’s untimely passing with deep sorrow. Phil joined the Minnesota Soaring Club in 1977 and was a valuable contributor to the club in many roles.  In 2006 Phil became only the sixth member recognized with an MSC Lifetime Achievement award. Phil served long periods as the primary MSC instructor, towing, instructing, and other chores in a full day at Stanton. Phil made 2,445 flights helping others enjoy soaring and 1646 instructional flights.  Unassuming, he made early morning flights to introduce a pilot to aerobatics, looking a little silly as he taped his eyeglasses to his nose in preparation. In the mid 1980s Phil helped the club maintain its mission through very difficult times. A great cook, he liked music, told good jokes and mentored the younger generation. He cared deeply about young people, and will be missed. We wish him God speed on his final flight.  Pat Anderson: It is tough to think that Phil is gone: I thought he would last forever. He kept telling me he was 71 but I didn’t believe him. He was in better shape than me. He had more energy, worked harder and flew better than me. I really looked up to Phil. He is a guy that had many bumps in the road of life but you would never know it. Phil had a hell of a resume but you would never know it because he never talked about it. He was always just a regular guy. But, he wasn’t. Phil helped everyone he met. And, he had a life-long passion for flying. He helped with aerobatic contests, glider towing and every other aspect of aviation. He has taught more people to fly that I can count: most for free.                                                                                     Carolina Lenz-Anderson: I have learned from Phil and I have been so inspired by him since I met him. I had always admired how positive he always was and how humble. Phil was very honest and was always trying to help other people. It was such a pleasure to watch him enjoy teaching other people to fly. He was the type of person that always had kind words when you most needed them. I really appreciate the fact that Phil believed in me and helped me achieve my goals and become a Pitts instructor. My thoughts go out to Sue and his family. All of us that knew him and had the opportunity to learn from him will keep him in our heart and remember him forever. I know he can still fly through a limitless sky. Mikhael de Britto Ponso: My dear friend, my mentor who taught me everything I know about aerobatics. I will miss your wise thinking (creating ways to fix things), your young energy (running around at contests and at Pierson Field more than all of us together), your extensive knowledge (anything we asked it seemed you would know or have experienced somehow), your goofiness (leaving me a phone message saying that you have been using your socks at night or counting potatoes during rolls), your too nice comments (saying my landing in the Pitts was good when I was sure I was going off the runway), your aerobatics accuracy (showing me maneuvers I could only dream to perfect like you do), like you do…I say do because you are alive in each one of us and you will be here until I meet you again soaring and dancing with your new wings, your angels wings. With love, Ponso. Mike Kovalcik: I met Phil some time ago, but recently got to know him better as he trained me to become a Pitts aerobatic instructor. Phil had a deep passion for aviation and life, and gave much to our aerobatic club and the aerobatic community. I learned much flying with Phil, and became more inspired about aviation because of him. A great pilot that served our country and had a wonderful career in the airline industry, he was someone I looked up to as a great aviator and a great person. Phil will be missed and will be in our thoughts and prayers. Larry Fletcher: So many times when you peel away the layers of a person’s life, you find things that aren’t pretty. But with Phil, who was so quiet about his own life, the opposite was true. The more you knew about him, the more you were impressed. Air Force veteran, 747 captain, volunteer for an aviation program for underprivileged kids, war bird and sailplane pilot, and a mentor and instructor for an untold number of budding aerobatic pilots. Friend. If you got to know Phil, you were his buddy. He was kind, incredibly energetic, and always sported a smile on his face. He reveled in practical and stupid jokes. His quiet service to the aerobatic community and his students was immeasurable.  Steve Richter: It’s still hard to believe. Phil traveled to Minnesota each summer to mentor in a program that greatly benefited from his presence. Our local program provides free flight lessons and ground school to youth of the Twin Cities area and was going through difficult times, losing an instructor and short on funds, but Phil was there to help. He volunteered to teach, increased our knowledge of aviation, and found a ground school instructor. Phil worked with the insurance details of a local flight school so he could instruct in their aircraft, saving the program money. Phil organized an annual day at Stanton, where the youth of our program received glider instruction. Phil was a humble man with a passion for mentoring a new generation of aviators and I am glad I got to know him. His efforts helped the Youth Initiative Aviation Academy accomplish its goals, and his presence will be sorely missed. Marilyn Niccum: On the eve of Phil Schacht’s funeral, I feel a need to be with the ones who knew and loved him best. I started writing something about him every day of this week, but with no ending. Cute titles like “Noone can Phil his Boots,” have left me empty for completing the rest of the story. It impossible to express what Phil has meant to me. A little nonchalant, he was also a little bit ADD. Always a step ahead, it was impossible to keep up with him naturally, and really hard to keep up with him if you



tried. Phil’s return from Florida each year signaled the beginning of another flying season in Minnesota. Phil was a word for fun, friendship and flying. Countless people affected by Phil’s life thank Sue for sharing him. God bless and comfort us all. John Klatt: He was always the perfect sport in competition and was never concerned with where he finished and just enjoyed the flying and being around aerobatics. He was always the first guy at the contests and the last to leave making sure all was picked up from the event. He will be missed by all!!! Ben Glattstein: Dear Phil, I have always been amazed by your all-around vigor and enthusiasm. Your passion for aerobatics has inspired me greatly and many others also. Your devotion to our club has been to the benefit of more people than know it, but those who know have immense appreciation and gratitude. I considered it an honor to have flown with you. Your good spirit is engraved in my aerobatic experience and your legend will live for many years to come. Dave Becker: I met Phil through the Youth Initiative Mentoring Academies (YIMA) in St Paul, MN. Phil was always willing to help the all kids who needed help. He provided leadership and set goals for the YIMA, and organized glider rides at Stanton field for the kids each year, always a great success. We all will miss Phil’s inspiration and leadership for the YIMA group. Sarah Anderson, St. Paul: Losing Phil is hard. Phil was the most active glider instructor in our club 20 years ago when I was learning to fly “ab initio.”  I have vivid memories of those times and flights, as well as being with him for my first exposures to soaring contests and glider aerobatics. Full of energy and always seeming to be on the way to doing something, he was generous with his time and attention. He’d fly with students—even me—in the afternoon to teach thermalling, leaving his own sailplane on the ground. I still hear from time to time on landing a voice from the back seat chanting; “Hold it off, hold it off, hold it off.” Godspeed, Phil. John Grones: Phil exhibited qualities of humility and integrity coupled with extreme competence. A great gentlemen and professional aviator, he unselfishly mentored the next generation of aviation professionals and showed them not only how to fly, but how to conduct themselves with dignity and grace. There could be no better role model for the young pilots who were fortunate enough to know Phil. Phil’s loss is a great tragedy for our community and our profession. I feel honored to have known Phil and will miss him greatly. Ron Odell: I first flew with Phil when he taught with the French Connection School at Flagler County Airport. He taught me how to count during the maneuvers & fly in the box. Several years later I flew with him again in N260AB. He let me fly from the back seat and demonstrated advanced spins. Always polite, professional, and an excellent teacher, he remained calm even when my flying was a little crazy. Phil, I will miss flying with you. Dan Pichelman: There are no good words to say at a time like this. Since 1995 I’ve seen Phil several times each year at aerobatic contests. He had twice the energy and enthusiasm of people half his age, loved to fly, and never had a bad word for anyone. I’ll never forget his old yellow truck! To those who knew him, you’re not alone. He had many friends and admirers. There are more words to be said. Someone else will have to say them, I can’t write more now. Stephen Nesser: Some rare men by the largess of their spirit and the generosity of their hearts leave a trail of transformed and enriched lives.  Phil Schacht was such a man. My first word was “airpwane” and as a child I always looked skyward, but flying eluded me until middle age. Phil was my primary flight instructor and he loved flying. He made flying magical, his passion was contagious, and his belief in me made me a better pilot. He encouraged me as I became a flight instructor, and in time I stood beside him as a peer and friend... for all the remaining years I will hear Phil whispering, “Watch your airspeed... a little more left rudder... that’s it!” Dan Payne: The first time I met Phil his overalls were dirty and his hands greasy, as I found when I shook his hand. I didn’t mind because it told me his passion for aviation exceeded the average Joe’s. He was an aviator, a mechanic, and a friend from the first handshake. We shared a love for biplanes and all aspects of aviation. Friends and family can rest assured Phil is still with us. I know because if I look out on my wingtip Phil is right there with me. Phil may have flown west, but he will never be forgotten. Our lives have breathed easier because he was here. Vic Britt: The news of Phil’s untimely death came from out of the blue, and was the biggest hit I have taken in a long time. I got my first open cockpit bi-plane ride from Phil about twenty years ago. I thought then, and still do, that it was the most exciting first airplane ride I ever had. Nothing in my previous experience compared with hanging upside down in an airplane for the first time with nothing but air above my head. For a moment, it took my breath away. I spent two glorious days in January just hanging out and flying the Eagle Sport Club Pitts S2B with Phil. Now Phil is gone. As I reflect on the difference he made for those who knew him, I begin to realize what we have truly lost with his passing. Gliders, bi-planes and aerobatic contests aren’t going to be as much fun as they were when Phil Schacht was around.  Loren Smith, Larry Fletcher and Carolina Lenz-Anderson assisted with Phil’s obituary. See Phil as his family knew him on John Klatt’s website: •



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Contrails 167  

The quarterly publication of the Retired Northwest Airlines Pilots' Association.

Contrails 167  

The quarterly publication of the Retired Northwest Airlines Pilots' Association.