Page 1





- Neal Henderson


- James Baldwin





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

18 SW Fla Luncheon




1 Contrails 170



HISTORIAN James Lindley


PHOTOGRAPHERS Dick Carl 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



11 MSP Summer Cruise



28 29 30 1 Contrails 171

?? SEA Summer Picnic


Albuquerque Reunion Future Reunions 1 Albuquerque: Sept. 28-30, 2009 Rapid City: Sept. 24-26, 2010 Omaha: Sept. 25-27, 2011 ?? Seattle Summer Picnic







Contents 24




14 The DICK BROWN Root Cellar

James Baldwin



Seattle Christmas Party NWA - The War Years







56 Membership Application




President’s Report: Gary PISEL Greetings! ON THE ROAD AGAIN, well not really—it is ON THE SEA. Gary's reminder to get this letter into him caught Barbara and I in-between the two series of locks on the Panama Canal. We and several others (22 total) are having a great cruise. Along with us are the Olivas, the Bredahls, the DeShons, the Sovereigns, the Confers and the Lelands, along with some other friends. Weather has been on our side with no rain so far. Well I hope you all have signed up for the ABQ Reunion before Jan. 1st so you could possibly win the balloon ride. The drawing for that will take place in MSP on the summer cruise. That will give you time to plan ahead and take some friends along (for a charge) with you. Even if you missed the Jan. 1st deadline, PLEASE sign up and plan to attend. Let's see if we can make this one bigger than Reno or Montana. The Delta merger or buy out is said and done. Things seem to be meshing without much controversy. The new pass system is working well, as told to me by those that have used it. At least there is no “R” now. RNPA still has life and will continue to live as long as YOU and others make it so. Please encourage others to join up and attend the functions. As those of you that have attended a Reunion know, it is a great time. Do you have grandchildren that are attending college or about to? Be sure to have them contact Tom Schellinger for an application for a scholarship. Deadline is June 1st, I believe. Awards will be given in ABQ. Thank you once again for placing confidence in myself and my Board of Directors to guide RNPA for another 2 years. Somewhere at sea.

Trea$urer’$ Report: Dino OLIVA As you have no doubt noticed from above, Dino is cruising—presumably well beyond the Panama Canal and out of email range. I have simply revisited the same things he said last year, because the same things apply. Please, if you haven’t paid your dues DO IT NOW and lessen his considerable workload. -Editor Thanks to all of you that have responded so promptly. Sorting and posting your renewals is time consuming, but I would rather do it over a short period of time as opposed to dragging it out over several months. When you read this, if you have not already done so, please remit your dues. Doing so will save me a considerable amount of the time and grief of removing you from membership and mailing of dues delinquency notices as well as saving you the $5 penalty for late payment renewal. If for some reason you do not want to continue your membership please notify me. My e-mail is or my telephone is 941 349-4960.  Once again, thanks for your promptness.



ditor’s Notes: Gary FERGUSON ABOUT THE COVER I just couldn’t help it—those little logos flying west made the big time. I know many of you have seen the actual cover of Air Line Pilot in color, but I thought those that haven’t might get a kick out of seeing the image that has generated so much cash for the scholarship fund featured for all ALPA pilots to see. Air Line Pilot was good enough to include a link to my email for those who may have wished to purchase the image. Sorry, that second printing run deadline of February 1st won’t help you if you missed the first chance. The good news is that it has generated some comments such as, “Gee, I didn’t know there was a retired pilots’ organization. How do I apply?” Which tends to highlight the reality that RNPA is not very good at self-promotion. Not that we haven’t wracked our brains trying to figure out how to get the word out. The best return on investment still seems to be word of mouth. If you have friends that have recently retired, or still working for that matter, be sure to mention that RNPA is very much alive and kicking. OUR FEATURE ARTICLE For those of us who sometimes creak and groan getting out of the La-Z-Boy, or whose idea of exertion is a brisk game of doubles tennis or even running a marathon, this Bud’s for you. While putting together Neal Henderson’s report on Ironman Florida I was initially just focussing on moving text and photos to fit. When I then read through everything in detail it finally sank in what an amazing achievement he has accomplished. Try wrapping your mind around this: Swim 2.4 miles, Bike for 112 miles, and then run a 26.2 mile marathon... all in the same day and at the age of 75 years young! I will understand if you think this is fiction. THANKS ARE DUE Fran DeVoll has retired again, this time as the Contrails staff photographer for most of the activities in the Seattle area. Fran has been helping first Dick Schlader and then myself with those photos for many years. Thanks Fran, your efforts have been greatly appreciated.

SHORT STORY CONTEST WINNER(S) The winner is Bill Barrott’s “The Joy of Passriding,” mostly because of comments the Judging Panel (well OK, that’s me) heard from readers. A really close second place would have to go to Rich Conrad’s “Revelation” just because it was so classy. I also heard a couple nice comments about Dave Leighton’s piece. Actually, all five who contributed are winners, since they all get next year’s dues paid. That may not seem like much, until you consider that not even RNPA officers get a pass on dues. So why would I spend RNPA’s money with such wild abandon? Hopefully to stimulate more of you to contribute to Contrails. Do it for the satisfaction and the fame, even if you won’t get your dues paid. Remember... About, by and for YOU! CAPTION CONTEST (Back cover) While the image on the back cover isn’t really a cartoon, it is deserving of a caption á la the New Yorker magazine’s monthly cartoon caption contest. This guy is intent on making a statement. Good for him! Too bad I can’t show you the original photo in full color because his briefs are actually pink. I swear. Send me your captions and I’ll print them next issue. I’M STILL BEGGING I have not been overwhelmed with stories for the new “Grinding Out Memories” feature. I must confess to some disappointment that I can’t get much interest in submitting some of those wonderful “airline stories” that we all enjoyed so much while still on the line. AND FINALLY... I can’t help wondering if Judge Prudence Carter Beatty (see the last item on page 12) might not be able to develop a little better judicial perspective on the relationship of pay to expertise in light of the recent US Airways Flight 1549 ditching. Miracle? Hardly. A job really well done? Exactly! And really—don’t you wish the (old) Secretary of the Treasury were half as competent? Whatchabeenupto? RNPA CONTRAILS FEBRUARY 2009


Milt Eitreim

Barbara Ike Dear Gary, We are enjoying our gift subscription to your newsletter, kindlygiven to us by Fred Rakunas. A suggestion: especially in the obituaries, we never see a mention of which airline the pilot originally flew for. It would help us if the older, smaller airline(s) were mentioned, as we can’t always recognize names and hometowns alone. It’s a shame to omit that part of a man’s career and therefore his identity. Thanks for your attention on this. Barbara Ike, Co-Editor Clear & Sixty The Newsletter for Republic Airlines Retirees Dear Barbara, Happy to hear you’re enjoying Contrails. I think you’re making some assumptions that even one of our deceased members was ever anything but original Northwest. We have a few RNPA members that began their careers with other than Northwest, but not nearly enough! Of those few, none have died. RNPA has existed since 1970. It has never been our policy to exclude any Northwest pilot—or associate either, for that matter—from membership. We would welcome any pilot from NWA to join our organization. Perhaps in light of the recent merger our “tribal” affinities will lessen to the point where we’re all just Northwest. As Fred and his brother Larry can attest, we all just enjoy swapping


tales and ever-dimming memories with our brother pilots whatever their original uniforms looked like. As to your original question: Our Obituary Editor, Vic Britt, attempts to contact the family of any of our members who have Flown West to elicit factual biographical information. If the family wishes to include that he or she originally flew with another airline, he will certainly include that. -Editor

James Baldwin Gary, I was delighted to see the November Contrails arrive and was overwhelmed with your description and placing my story in the “Feature” section. Thank you for your kind consideration. I was impressed with the great stories everyone contributed and am attaching another short story I wrote for you to see. For sure your encouragement will inspire me to write a little more and please make note I will not be disappointed or upset if some or all are not published. There are a lot of stories out there experienced by a lot of guys and a good cross section makes for the best reading. I for one certainly enjoy it. I’m sure the content and quality are due to your hard work and it shows well. Thank you. Since I’m a new guy I am sending my 2009 RNPA membership dues to Dino in case I don’t get a statement as he warned. I’ll be thrilled if I can add to this publication.  Thank you again Gary, James Baldwin


Sent my dues to Dino and also to Lowell. Thanks to all you workers. Spent a good winter in Sun Lakes AZ and had a fun summer in MN. Mosquitos must not have known we were there. We really enjoy attending the grandkids baseball, football and Lacrosse—brings back happy memories of my younger days. Mary had knee replacement in January 2008 and is doing very well. We took a cruise out of NYC in September to Nova Scotia and a few stops on the way back—good trip. Stayed in NYC for a few more days to see sights and a play. I never did like downtown NYC and I still don’t, guess I’m still a cowboy. Was sad to hear of the passing of Bill Wren, he was a great fellow. I met him when I was in Spokane and he was in Portland. His favorite saying was, “Can you give us schedule?” Milt (1 step slower to 1st base) Eitreim

Dave Albrecht Dino: RNPA dues in the mail. Also a check to Lowell Stafford for the Retirees. A great big ‘God Bless’ to the finest bunch of folks ever assembled... The Flyers of NWA! Dave Albrecht

Frode Jespersen I retired from the FAA in 1987 and shortly thereafter joined RNPA as an affiliate member. This is, without doubt, one of the finest publications that I have ever seen. It is nice to see the pictures of the pilots that I worked with for about 20 years or so. You were some of the finest pilots that I ever encountered and you were all professionals of the highest degree. I enjoyed the time the FAA assigned me to NWA. Dick Brown’s experience with the B-26 brought back some memories to me. I too flew the B-26, although not in combat. My time was limited to transition training in Dodge City, Kansas. At that time, I had an experience with the B-26, which you are free to publish if you wish: In 1944, shortly after graduating from flying school at Turner Field, Albany, Ga., I was assigned to transition training in the B-26 at Dodge City, Kansas. In advanced training we had flown the B-25, so we were a little unnerved when we were assigned to the B-26, as we had heard all the stories, a plane a day in Tampa Bay, flying prostitute, can’t go around on single engine, etc. After a few hours, we began to like flying the B-26, and it didn’t take long for all of us in the class to be checked out as first pilots. Just prior to completing our training, I was assigned a formation training mission. As I remember, there were four ships in the formation and after about an hour or maybe two, we changed seats. We detached ourselves from the formation, made the necessary change, which put me in the left seat and made me PIC, then rejoined the formation. Shortly thereafter, the plane on our left called and said we had oil streaming out of our left engine. A quick check of the gauges revealed that the oil pressure

for the left engine was rapidly approaching zero. We shut the engine down, feathered it, and informed the leader that we would have to return to Dodge City. I suppose our altitude was 4 or 5 thousand as we turned for home base. With METO power we were unable to maintain altitude and realized that we probably couldn’t make Dodge City. Shortly thereafter, we noticed a airport ahead of us that appeared to have long enough runways to accommodate a B-26, so we made a decision to land there. This turned out to be Garden City, Kansas which, as I remember, was either a basic or advanced training base. We had no radio contact with the field, so we lined up for a final approach to the north runway. A short distance out, we put the gear down and extended full flaps. Much to our surprise, just about that time a AT-6 turned in front of us, also on final.

Because we had no radio contact, we could not warn him or talk to the tower, so we applied full power on the right engine, got the gear and flaps up and proceeded with our go around. By this time we had passed the AT-6 and had sunk to about 3 or 4 hundred feet. After passing the field, we started a slow turn to the right trying to get back on final approach to the north runway. I suppose we were around 200 feet and after a few minutes we spotted the end of the northwest runway. I hurriedly called for gear down and flaps, and about that time we landed, rather firmly, as I remember. All in all, it was quite an experience and I remember thinking I was extremely glad that (1) the B-26 could fly on one engine and (2) that Kansas was flat. Frode C. Jespersen



An elderly gent was invited to his old friend’s home for dinner one evening. He was impressed by the way his buddy preceded every request to his wife with endearing terms: Honey, My Love, Darling, Sweetheart, Pumpkin, etc. The couple had been married almost 70 years and clearly they were still very much in love. While the wife was in the kitchen, the man leaned over and said to his host, “I think it’s wonderful that, after all these years, you still call your wife those loving pet names.” The old man hung his head. “I have to tell you the truth,” he said, “I forgot her name about 10 years ago.”

Nick Modders Greetings all, The RNPA dues notice instructed “not to lay this notice aside as you will probably forget it.” How did he know? There must be a RNPA corporate memory as I had put it aside for the last couple of years and been way late. This year we are getting ahead and staying there. 2008 was nicely busy. Got the last daughter married off. Took a couple of trips to California and a great party. The party was great because the parents were not allowed to participate in the planning, just the paying. A couple of trips to California (northern half) were dedicated to reunions and celebrations associated with the Douglas C-133 Cargomas-


ter. First a squadron reunion in May where it was announced that the last flyable C-133 (based in Anchorage) would arrive at the Travis AFB museum on August 31, 2008. Amazingly, it did! The arrival “reunion” was a great party bringing persons I hadn’t seen in 40 years. Search for “C-133” on and see pictures of the landing and arrival “hose down” at Travis. Did a little railroading with the Minnesota Transportation Museum. We had a good year at both our Osceola, Wisconsin train ride and at the roundhouse museum in St. Paul. Check us out at Had some fun with our two fire trucks. Squirted some water, ap-


peared in several parades, helped with the Burnsville Fire Muster and gave a lot of kids rides, complete with lights and sirens. I’m still enjoying participating in Civil Air Patrol. Had a good flying year with some instructing given and continuing to amaze myself that I can still do a holding pattern under the hood. ( I do hear voices when attempting these things. One voice sounds a lot like Al Gitzen. Guess it is post traumatic effects from years in the Transydyne. Thanks to all of the RNPA staff members who keep the association running and “Contrails” coming to us on a regular basis. Nick Modders

Skip Foster Hi Dino et al, Kind of a cool start to the New Year here in Las Vegas but the snow in the valley is gone, just some stuff up around the 4500 foot level. We’re planning on going to Bob Shaw’s memorial service in Seattle on January 8th, and sharing some good stories and memories with Bob’s family and friends. Kathy and I will be doing a lot of traveling in 2009: New Zealand and Australia next month with a cruise from Auckland to Sydney, then up to the Great Barrier Reef for a week, and back to Las Vegas in early March. We fly to Hilton Head in April in hopes that eventually one or two of the golf lessons will finally take hold and create some muscle memory and consistency. We’ll drive to Wisconsin in May to spend most of the Summer at our cottage there until early Fall. We’ll do some trips to Newport Beach, CA and plan on attending the RNPA convention in September with maybe a side trip to Santa Fe as well. I received an e-mail last month from the son of one of the guys I went to USAF pilot training with, Bill Grothe. Bill was killed in an F-4 in 1967 when his son, Will, was just two (2) weeks old. He wanted some information about his Dad, so I was able to send him some of our previous reunion books and pictures from the class. Bill and I were with the same instructor for the T-38 portion of training as was Dick Myers who later became the Chairman of the JCS from 2001-2005. I e-mailed Dick with the news and he made a call to Will that day! I also sent Will the RNPA article that I wrote for our 40th class reunion in 2006, and he was very appreciative of the story and was going to make copies for his Mom and other family members. I hope to meet him this sum-

Wes Schierman

mer when I get to Wisconsin since he lives in Palatine, IL, not too far away from our place in Wisconsin. I’m still flying the old 210, mostly VFR over the Grand Canyon when we get visitors, haven’t had much luck selling it in this market. Hope all you folks at RNPA are well and enjoying life in 2009. Thanks again for all of your hard work for the rest of us “drones” and we’ll see you in ABQ! Skip Foster

Jack Ingersoll It was 21 years ago that they pulled me off of my last flight, kicking and screaming “I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go.” I have almost gotten over looking up at airplanes as they fly by, but not quite. My connection with the industry now is volunteering about three days a month at the NWA History Center. As a past equipment service man, mechanic, flight engineer and pilot, as well as sort of a history buff of my home town airline, I can swap stories with the best. Stop by someday and pick up on the nostalgia. I still live in the MSP area where I was born and raised. Some of my friends go back before kindergarten. Jack Ingersoll

Hi Gary, Dues are in the mail to Dino. Thanks for the great job on the Contrails! Not too much new to report. Time flies by. Enjoy better health than I should expect, & in general, life is good. Stay busy with some travel, spending some time with children & grandchildren, & weather permitting, still flying a fair amount with the Blackjacks. Unfortunately we’re doing more “missing-man” flybys for fellow pilots & veterans who have “flown west”, than we would like. Time is taking it’s toll! Big news item must be that we now have another airline pilot in the family. My younger daughter was bitten by the “flying bug,” so gave up her “dream job” as a flight dispatcher for Alaska, & is now flying as a F/O for Mesa Airlines. So far she loves it, other than being on reserve where she doesn’t get as much flying as she’d like. For her it’s a great adventure! Ahhh, to be young again! Happy New Year to you & all! Wes Schierman

Dan Stack Hi Dino, Gary, Gary and all, Bitter-sweet—the arrival of the latest ALPA “AirLine Pilot” in today’s mail. Also arriving was our annual dues notice as well. In lieu of actual Contrails across Gary’s sunset photo we have the NWA logos that trace who we are— and were. Nice that ALPA gave us all the chance to “join up”—tracing our history thru the logos. Hope to see some of you at Bonita Springs in March as well as at the June river cruise. Where is that mysterious girl from last year? Cheers, Dan Stack



Larry Dorau Dino, As they say, “The check is in the mail.”  Once again thanks for all of your efforts on our behalf.   Marcy and I are doing well. She is still the veterinarian in Star Prairie here in NW Wisconsin. We spend as much time as we can at our cabin in Cornucopia, Wisconsin on Superior’s south shore but our main residence is in Star Prairie along the Apple River. Looking forward to this year’s National [Reunion] and another trip on the St. Croix RNPA river cruise in June.   Take Care,   Larry Dorau

Mike Young Thanks for all the work you guys put into this magazine. Great perusing. Not much going on. Did go to the DLI (I think of it as the DUI) golf tournament over in Yakima. Had a great time and saw some old faces I haven’t seen in a long time. Good time was had by all. Still love boating up in Alaska and golfing in the desert. Mike Young

Jim and Edna were both patients in a mental hospital. One day while they were walking past the hospital swimming pool, Jim suddenly jumped into the deep end. He sank to the bottom of the pool and stayed there. Edna promptly jumped in to save him. She swam to the bottom and pulled Jim out. When the director of Nursing became aware of Edna’s heroic act, he considered her to be mentally stable. When she went to tell Edna the news she said, “Edna, I have good news and bad news. The good news is you’re being discharged; since you were able to rationally respond to a crisis by jumping in and saving the life of another patient, I have concluded that your act displays sound mindedness. The bad news is that Jim, the patient you saved, hung himself in his bathroom with the belt to his robe right after you saved him. I am sorry, but he’s dead.”

Dick Duxbury Hi Dino/RNPA folks, Sue and I are enjoying our snowbird life style with Minnesota in summer and Tucson in winter. We don’t own a snow shovel nor a lawn mower. I enjoyed the cover of the latest ALPA magazine. Nice job Gary, and I also have one for my office— but not sure I’ll put it up. Although the Delta merger likely looks good on paper or a business plan, it’s still hard for me to accept the end of Northwest. Even the new NWA ALPA leadership will now be Delta. Likewise the ALPA committees will be merged. I have been impressed by our CEO Richard Anderson -we all wish him and our merged company the best of luck. It was somewhat reassuring at the last RNPA convention to learn that our retirement funding seems generally OK. If it looks anything like my somewhat trashed IRA, it does give one pause (not to mention our reduced house value). Hard to predict the economy for the next two years. Our best to all of RNPA, Sue and Dick Duxbury

Edna replied, “He didn’t hang himself, I put him there to dry. How soon can I go home?”

Planning on the SW Florida Luncheon? Better hurry!

There may not be enough room for everyone. (Just kidding. The sign-up has been slow and Schlader is getting nervous.)

Get with it! The order form is on page 55. 10


Dave Lundin Dino You wanted to know what’s been happening. This is probably more than you need or want, but… 2008 has been a very full year. It was pretty normal until we had a mishap, while driving to the Rotary District Conference at Arrow-Wood, in Alexandria, MN. This was April in MN. There was driving rain and 30-40 knot winds. The temperature was dropping as we drove NW on I-94. In the process of passing a semi we were sucked into the trucks drive wheels, first front and then back resulting in a spinout into the median ditch, facing the road we had just left. Then it started to snow. It was scary but no air bags deployed and we stayed upright, thanks to the wetness of the sod. The car was sort-ofdrivable, but the repairs were almost $6000. It’s been a long time since I’ve had such an adrenalin rush. In May I was on a tour of Greece led by a prof. from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, (from whom I have taken several seminars) and an Orthodox Priest (formerly from Minneapolis). We had a fantastic Greek guide. We visited locations mentioned in the writings of the Apostle Paul. It was very interesting, but the pace was challenging. I was home for 2 nights before we left for Seattle for a family cruise to Alaska. We were 18 in our group. Five generation ranging in age from 7 months (great-granddaughter) to 95 years (Angie’s mother). It was a great bonding experience as well as an interesting trip. We had 10 days at home before we left for the Rotary International Convention in Los Angeles. We stayed out there for a few extra days to visit with friends. We were home most of July, but I missed Oshkosh for only the second time since I retired in ’91. That was

Gary Thompson

so I could participate in a visioning/ relation building trip to Malawi, Africa with a dozen Lutherans from NW Wisconsin, whose congregations are paired with congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malawi. We drove 1000+ km of which about 1/2 was on dust choking; bone rattling dirt roads at 10-20 kmh. The people are a happy bunch, but dirt poor. Probably like Christians were 2000 years ago. We did get to spend a few hours in a couple of National Parks and see elephants, hippos crocodiles and the like, in their natural habitat. Very eye opening trip, in many ways. The toughest part of the trip was getting there and back. South African Air flies the A-340. Near as I could tell, they are the same as the A330, with 2 more engines. When I got home, I had nearly a month off before it was time to head to Hartford for the RNPA event. As usual, we had a great time. I just wish we could convince more of our membership to take advantage of the preplanned tours and great fellowship. Tomorrow I check with an eye DR. in Stillwater about removing another cataract. Thanks to all our officers for all they do and for this wonderful magazine. Today the sun was shining. For the most part we have our health. The checks keep coming. Life is good. Happy New Year Dave and Angie Lundin

Hi Gary— Please pass on to Dino and the rest how much you good people are appreciated for all you do to keep us up on what is happening. We are presently in MN, yuk,. Will be leaving for AZ early Sunday the 11th. Hurray. Eight grand kids, one playing basketball, five hockey, & two just watching. Time on the golf course and just hanging out will be very welcome. Chandler, AZ is the place, Sun Bird is the community & (480) 802-1298 is the phone number for any one of our people who might want to call. Again Thanks for all you do. Hope to see you in ABQ. Gary Thompson.

Doug Wood Doug Wood has spent the winter of 2008 shoveling snow. Record snowfalls have been recorded in the Post Falls/North Idaho region. If it ever  melts, he plans to spend his time driving his classic 1936 Buick Special convertible to car shows, playing Senior Masters Softball, playing tennis with the Top of the Hill Gang, entertaining his 9 grandchildren, and maintaining his home on an acre of Spokane river frontage. What he misses most of all about flying is the great time he had with his crew members. He and wife Sheila plan to spend some time in the early spring in Honolulu.



Famous Quotes Regarding The Airline Business Once you get hooked on the airline business, it’s worse than dope. -Ed Acker, while Chairman of Air Florida These days no one can make money on the goddamn airline business. The economics represent sheer hell. -C. R. Smith, President of American Airlines. A recession is when you have to tighten your belt; depression is when you have no belt to tighten. When you’ve lost your trousers—you’re in the airline business. -Sir Adam Thomson If the Wright brothers were alive today Wilbur would have to fire Orville to reduce costs. -Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines, ‘ USA Today,’ 8 June 1994. This is a nasty, rotten business. -Robert L. Crandall, CEO & President of American Airlines. The thing I miss about Air Force One is they don’t lose my luggage. -President George Bush Sr. You (explicative) academic eggheads! You don’t know shit. You can’t deregulate this industry. You’re going to wreck it. You don’t know a goddamn thing! -Robert L. Crandall, CEO American Airlines, addressing a Senate lawyer prior to airline deregulation, 1977. No one expects Braniff to go broke. No major U.S. carrier ever has. -The Wall Street Journal, 30 July 1980. If we went into the funeral business, people would stop dying. -Martin R. Shugrue, Vice-chairman Pan Am. Ladies and gentleman, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress. -Captain Eric Moody, British Airways, passenger PA after flying through volcanic ash in a B-747.



Think and act big and grow smaller, or think and act small and grow bigger. -Herb Kelleher The greatest sin of airline management of the last 22 years is to say, ‘It’s all labor’s fault.’ -Donald Carty, Chairman and CEO American Airlines, 12 August, 2002. That place runs on Herb Kelleher’s bullshit. -Robert W. Baker, VP American Airlines, regarding Southwest Airlines. There are only two reasons to sit in the back row of an airplane: Either you have diarrhea, or you’re anxious to meet people who do. -Henry Kissinger There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror. -Orson Welles, interview to celebrate his 70th birthday, ‘The Times,’ 6 May 1985. Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo. -Vice President Albert Gore. I mean, they get paid an awful lot of money. The only good thing about them is they can’t work after they’re 60. -Judge Prudence Carter Beatty, New York Southern District Bankruptcy Court, regarding Delta Air Lines pilots. Reported in The Wall Street Journal, 18 November 2005. Submitted by Bill Waechter


t happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean. Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier. Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now. Everybody’s gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts—and his bucket of shrimp. Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier. Shortly, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds. As he does, if you listen closely, you can hear him say with a smile, “Thank you. Thank you.” In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed doesn’t leave. He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and place. Invariably, one of the gulls lands on his sea-bleached, weatherbeaten hat—an old military hat he’s been wearing for years. When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs, and then they, too, fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end of the beach and on home. If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water, Ed might seem like “a funny old duck,” as my dad used to say. Or, “A guy that’s a sandwich shy of a picnic,” as my kids might say. To onlookers, he’s just another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp. To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very empty. They can seem altogether unimportant —maybe even a lot of nonsense. Old folks often do strange things, at least in the

eyes of Boomers and Busters. Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in Florida. That’s too bad. They’d do well to know him better. His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero back in World War II. On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, he and his seven-member crew went down. Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft. Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun. They fought sharks. Most of all, they fought hunger. By the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water. They were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were. They needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple devotional service and prayed for a miracle. They tried to nap. Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose. Time dragged. All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft. Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap. It was a seagull! Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning his next move. With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he managed to grab it and wring its neck . He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made a meal—a very slight meal for eight strong men—of it. Then they used the intestines for bait. With it, they caught fish, which gave them food and more bait—and the cycle continued. With that simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea until they were found and rescued after 24 days at sea. Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot the sacrifice of that first lifesaving seagull. And he never stopped saying, “Thank you.” That’s why almost every Friday night he would walk to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude.

Feeding Seagulls

(Max Lucado, In The Eye of the Storm, pp.221, 225-226) (Contributed by Gary Pisel) RNPA CONTRAILS FEBRUARY 2009


The Root Cellar

Contributing Columnist Bob Root

THINGS AMERICAN Yeah, I know. I wrote in this space awhile back that politics would not be a subject here. Well, I lied. That election we had back in November really upset me. I mean, come on! Somebody needs to investigate. No, not that election. I’m upset about the one in Minnesota. Something devious went on there. No, not that election in Minnesota. I guess someone is still counting votes on that one as I write. Perhaps the count continues as you read this. I’m talking here about the one in Scott County where the stay-at-home dad ran against the police detective for the position of county commissioner. Regular readers may (or not) recall that, in an issue last year, Old Bob took a sabbatical and The Root Cellar featured a story about a guy having difficulties dealing with IKEA Annie. The column was written by daughter Beth and featured her husband, the police detective, dealing on the phone with IKEA Annie. That, of course, establishes the guy as my son-in-law. Here is some perspective about this guy. Awhile back, Chris (I call him Sipowitz) presented himself in front of me on our screen porch (and one knee) and asked permission to marry my daughter. Now, face it, one has to admire a man some 40 years old who asks permission of a father to marry the daughter who herself is approaching 40 and has a daughter of her own from a previous marriage. The knee thing was a bit much, but I knew right away this guy had some class. So, this past summer, now several years into the marriage, Chris came upon information that a Scott County commissioner he admired was retiring. After careful consideration, he decided to seek the position being vacated. This time the decision was made without consulting Old Bob. I prefer to think that was only a temporary lapse in memory. Whatever, one has to admire a man who takes his citizenship so seriously that he seeks political office because he really wants to be of service to the county in which he lives. Turns out two others filed the necessary papers to become candidates for the vacated position. This prompted a primary election and Chris began shaking hands about mid-summer. When the primary was over, Chris had garnered more votes than the other two, much to the surprise of Old Bob, who immediately determined that this meant “we” would win the election. One candidate was eliminated. The other, a gentleman by the name of Tom Wolf, had tried, and failed, to get himself elected a county commissioner three times! Old Bob was sure this would be too easy. After the primary, the campaign began in earnest. Signs were commissioned, made and erected. Oh—and removed. Seems they were erected in spots not approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles, or Highways or Rights-of-Ways or something. Located in a county warehouse, they were re-erected in places suitable to road officials. Chris began walking the county, shaking hands. Family members, friends and even a few intelligent citizens began stuffing envelopes and otherwise contributing to the campaign. While most of Minnesota was watching television ads featuring Coleman attacking Franken or Franken attacking Coleman, our boy was wearing out shoes and losing 20 pounds trying to meet and impress every voter in his district. Old Bob participated. He stuck a big sign in his yard, even though his yard was nowhere near

the contested district. He stuffed an envelope or two and, at one point, gritted mightily upon his remaining molars and donated five bucks for postage, all the while knowing there was no need because the son-inlaw was a shoe-in to win the election. The candidate would come around with some great entertainment. For example, early on he knocked on a door which was opened by the homeowner: “Hi, I’m Chris Olson and I’m running for county commissioner. I’d appreciate your vote.” “What’s your position on abortion?” Another: “I’m seventy six years old and I ain’t never voted in my life. Don’t see no reason to start now.” Another: (After a 10-minute conversation with an octogenarian which included a beverage inside the home.) “Nice chatting with you Mr. Wolf. You’ve got my vote.” There was even a debate. Just like on TV. Our guy won hands down. I know even though I was in Arizona. (First hand report from the daughter.) There were endorsements. A former police chief, who had initially hired the detective years ago. The current police chief. A former Scott County Sheriff who, incidentally, looks exactly like one of our pilots—probably because he is his brother. Some prominent citizens, AND the guy who was retiring from the position being sought. Here is an analogy. (Pulitzer Prize winners often use the analogy in their writings.) If you were a copilot for 14 years and were running for captain and every captain you ever flew with endorsed you, the chief pilot and his or her predecessor endorsed you, all your passengers wrote letters praising you and even the FAA inspector from your last check ride came out in your favor, you would rightfully expect to be voted in as captain. Piece of cake, right? Wrong. We lost. Despite the worn-out shoes. Regardless the 20 pounds. Never-mind the stuffed envelopes, Old Bob’s five bucks and the endorsements. WE LOST! Now I know how that old baseball player, The Mighty Casey, felt. (No, not Stengel.) You probably won’t be surprised that it feels awful. I also know how we lost., which is why I am so upset. Seems like our last mailing, which was aimed at some 9000 voters in the district, ended up instead in Bloomington, Minnesota, which is not even located in Scott County. So, how could that possibly happen? Who was responsible? Where was the error? We

need an investigation. This case calls for a good detective. NEW SUBJECT. (Things you need to know but may not.) I have now been doing this long enough that I get letters. For example: Dear Old Bob, I heard a rumor the other day that congress changed the way we veterans should honor the playing of the National Anthem when we are present. What is the new way? From G. I. Joe Old Bob says: The rumor is understandable, but false. The facts are a bit complicated. There are actually two sections of the U.S. code pertaining to the anthem and the flag. One, (Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 9) was modified awhile back to allow veterans to give the military salute, even though they are in civilian clothing, when the flag is raised, lowered, or passes in a parade. However, congress, in it’s wisdom, failed to amend Title 36 Subtitle 1, Para. 301 which specifies proper etiquette during a rendition of the national anthem. That calls for the right hand over the heart (facing the U.S. flag) unless one is in military uniform. If there is no flag present, one should face the music, which is something a lot of us have been doing for quite some time. (Information from Peter Ansoff, USA Flag Site Admin.) Dear Old Bob, What is the purpose of those little arm straps football players wear? The specific location on the arm seems to have no bearing. From Howie, Terry and Jimmy Old Bob says: You have not been paying enough attention to detail. Next time you watch a National Football League game, make note of the fact that those little arm straps the players wear have LOGOS on them. You probably know that professional golfers get paid to advertise products and services on their hats and shirts. Millionaire football players must wear the team uniform and helmet, leaving little space for advertising. So they invented little arm straps. College players, of course, are not allowed to earn any money for room, board, books, tuition and performanceenhancing supplements. They wear the little straps simply as practice for when they turn pro. (O.K., so I lied again. It’s called poetic license. The real answer is I don’t know and neither does anyone else.)  RNPA CONTRAILS FEBRUARY 2009


Jam to Lamb M

y natural environment is the suburbs where I have spent my entire life on the outskirts of big cities. The only contact I had with rural life growing up was when I tagged along with Mother in the 1940s as she bought eggs and chicken straight from the farmer. Or, I would accompany Dad to Field Dog Field Trials in the country where he tested his Champion English pointers, which he raised, against others in the field. We never had relatives who lived on a farm where I would spend summer vacations, nor was there any talk around our house of memories of growing up on the farm. My frame of reference was of a more urban bent. I would, along with my friends, take the train to the Loop in Chicago to be part of the audience for the radio broadcast of Don McNeal’s Breakfast Club; or celebrate a birthday lunch with friends at the Palmer House Hotel. After moving to Minneapolis, my friends and I would hop a streetcar after school for shopping at Dayton’s. So when my daughter handed me a brochure for a woman’s lambing camp on the outskirts of Big Tim-



ber, Montana it was totally beyond my realm of experience. To my credit, while growing up I had helped my Dad birth and care for his pointer puppies, but stock animals were a stretch. A profound curiosity about farm or ranch life had always resided in the back of my head and I sometimes imagined myself on a ranch riding horses across the range. But birthing lambs, that was an entirely different concept for me. Jam to Lamb was run by a woman sheep rancher, Pachy Burns, on her Blue Pines Ranch outside of Big Timber, Montana. My daughter Peggy had recently spent time with Pachy and her husband, Rasch Burns on his cattle ranch in Big Timber. Peggy had been in the process of doing research for an article on the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park when her housemate, Lindsey, Rasch’s daughter, suggested she include a rancher’s perspective on the topic to balance out the environmentalist’s view. Rasch’s ranch was not far from Yellowstone Park and he had encountered problems with wolves attacking his cattle. He had strong opinions on the wolf situation.

Thus, it was arranged for Peggy to visit the Burns in where Sandy’s pocket food truly came in handy, for we Montana. While there, Pachy introduced Peggy to were still hard at work at the wee small hour of 2 A.M. her lambing camp hoping to recruit my daughter to with no dinner break. Finally around 2:30 we all went the experience. As a student at Harvard’s Kennedy up to the cook house where we were served, what else, School at the time Peggy’s schedule made that impos- a lamb hot dish. Over dinner, we were informed that sible, and instead, she brought the brochure home to we would set a watch for the remainder of the night me. I was intrigued. to check the outdoor pens for lambs that might have Rather off-handedly at a dinner party I mentioned been born and were in danger of freezing to death in the camp to a friend, Sandy Schinke. Without missing the sub-freezing mountain temperatures. Sandy and I a beat, she was ready to go thinking the idea a hoot, each took our turn at monitoring the sheep. and so, we signed up for five days in Montana. The next day we again did our duty in the lambUpon our arrival at Blue Pines Ranch, we were ing shack swabbing umbilicals, branding new lambs, greeted by a sixteen year old girl who was Pachy’s and cleaning jugs. We were treated to a new expeassistant for this year’s Lambing season. Our greeter, rience when our sixteen year old girl had to skin a whose name has escaped my memory at this time, lamb which had died. The skin of the deceased lamb was being home schooled by her mother and this was put over another new born lamb as a jacket. This was to be a part of her learning experience. She was lamb’s mother had for some reason rejected it and a very capable, talented, and useful addition to run- the jacket was to encourage the ewe which had lost ning the lambing camp. We were shown to the bunk her own lamb to accept the smell of the orphan lamb house, which we were to have to ourselves for the first and adopt it as her own. We worked without break two days and told to change into work clothes, bring except for lunch as the newborn lambs kept coming. warm jackets and gloves and meet in the lambing The Basque sheep herder, a gruff man with a hot temshack. This was about 3:30 in the afternoon. Fortu- per towards the animals, would bring the ewes, which nately, Sandy is never caught without food so as we were showing signs of being close to delivery, in from left our quarters, she stuffed her pockets with granola the fields and put them in the pens outside the lambbars and nuts and we heading to the lambing shack. ing shack where they could be monitored through the It was here we met Pachy for the first time. Dressed birth process. in Carhartt overalls and a flannel shirt she greeted us Dinner came earlier that night. And, by the way, with a warm friendly smile. She was a congenial, self- the only shower was some ten miles away at the home sufficient and resourceful woman. But the demands of a friend of Pachy’s. After dinner, Sandy and I were of the sheep left little time for pleasantries. Immedi- driven there for our first chance at a shower in two ately we were put to work, with minimum instruction. Our first tasks were to swab the umbilical cord of the new born lambs with iodine and spray brand each one with paint after which we would record the numbers beside each ewe’s number in the book. Many ewes had two lambs, some three. After that, we were instructed to clean out the “jugs”, the pens where each ewe and her lamb resided for the first twelve to twenty-four hours after birth. This entailed cleaning out hay soiled with urine and afterbirth. The new lambs were coming fast and furiously and that first night we assisted with the introduction of twenty-four new Baby in a lambskin jacket being adopted by the ewe lambs into the world. Here was RNPA CONTRAILS FEBRUARY 2009


Me putting a jacket on a baby

Photographer and her pinhole camera



days. We were told we were fortunate for usually you went three or four days before you gained the privilege of a shower. Clean from our showers, we still had to take our turn on watch for middle of the night births. Catching the ewes and their young ones was a feat I was unprepared for, and I quickly learned why the Sheppard carries a crook. The next day three new women arrived at Lambing Camp. One was a professional photographer from New York where she taught pin hole camera techniques at Pratt Institute. She had brought along a portfolio of her amazing photography to shop around at art galleries in the area. The others were a potter from Lewistown, Montana and her recently married daughter. Another woman, a sheep rancher from the local area, joined us that afternoon and seemed to make the whole process go much smoother. On the third day, Sandy and I graduated from cleaning jugs and were introduced to the methods of docking tails and castrating the little guys with rubber bands. This too required a swab with iodine. Sandy even had to assist with a birth from a ewe with a prolapsed uterus. Extending her arm where it never had been before. In the afternoon we loaded hay bales onto a truck and were taken out to the pastures where we bounced them off the truck for the sheep to graze on as the grass had not come in fully yet. For some reason, probably the extra help, we finished earlier that evening and after dinner were able to sit around, shoot the breeze and get to know one another better than was allowed by the cryptic conversations we carried on in the lambing shack. Plenty of interesting talk and a glass of wine or two or a beer made the evening a very convivial; only limited by having to continue monitoring the pens. The next day, exhausted, we jumped at the opportunity when Pachy needed something from town. We volunteered, and with the exhilaration of escapees, drove to town, extending our errand to the full max we could milk it for. We luxuriated in drinking a root beer float at the local drug store, browsing the store windows, and stopped to pick lilacs to decorate the wash stand in front of the cook house. Returning to camp, we volunteered to fix dinner that night and once again, we had time for some pleasant conversation. Pachy’s Jam to Lamb has drawn women from all backgrounds, including university professors, attorneys, artists, and business professionals. She has seen 70 women in a year sign up for her Jam to Lamb Camp where she hopes to educate women about the agriculture industry and the issues that are increasingly causing it to struggle for survival. In the late afternoon of our last day at camp, our young assistant started running a high fever. We were dispatched to take her to the friend’s home (the one with the shower) to rest. Pachy assured us that we would be expected and welcomed with beds to sleep in. When we arrived the guest house, where we had taken our shower two nights before,

Pachy and Rasch Burns

The next morning we opened our eyes to the most breath taking western scenery imaginable. It reminded me of the movie “A River Runs Through It.” Out the window was lush prairie grass which led right to the banks of a rambling trout stream that meandered through the property. Providing a back drop to all this the Crazy Mountains topped with snow rose but a few miles away. Our host, who we had not met the evening before, fixed us breakfast and took us on a tour of other spectacular mountain properties they owned. But then it was time to return to camp, drop off our young friend and say our goodbys. I have never worked as physically hard as I did in those five days in Montana. On returning home, the clothes I had worn had to be thrown into the trash, stained irreversibly with iodine, paint, and blood. As Pachy so aptly put it, “We don’t waste time and drinking coffee here, I work these women to exhaustion.” Spot on, I’d say, and for this I paid $35 a day. 

was full of women all chatting and taking up every bed. The main ranch house was mostly dark as we walked around trying to rouse someone so we could get our sick friend into a bed. Finally the woman rancher came out and after introductions and explanation, she took us in. She was hosting a Montana Land Conservation group in her guest house. They had come from every corner of Montana and were having their annual meeting the next day. As part of their program they would be visiting Pachy’s Blue Pines Ranch. Except for our young friend, our hostess had no beds for us in the main house, but said we were welcomed to sleep on the floor or couch, which we did, after conversing with our hostess who was nursing a glass of Scotch for about an hour. I was thrilled to find out she was a friend of Wallace Stegner, one of my favorite authors. Turns out she knew him quite well and he too had been a guest at her home although I don’t think he slept on the floor. After our hostess had gone to bed our young friend started complaining of an upset stomach. We searched the house for some carbonated drink to settle her stomach and in searching for ginger ale, we discovered the house was equipped to be self sustaining for at least a year what with all the food and Cook house (L), bunk house (C) and Pachy’s quarters liquor they had stashed away.



How to Survive an Earthquake This article appeared in my inbox many months ago. After you have read it you will probably agree that it all makes perfectly good sense, but it is contrary to what many of us have been taught. It is particularly important to those of us living in Southern California, but I think it’s important for all to understand. -Editor 
“My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world’s most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.
I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries. I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years. I have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters. Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the ‘triangle of life.’ The larger the object, the stronger, and the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the ‘triangles’ you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building. They are everywhere. The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under his desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of his bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene, unnecessary and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn’t at the time know that the children were told to hide under something. We did a scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did ‘duck and cover,’ and ten mannequins I used in my ‘triangle of life’ survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results. The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions, relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover. There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the ‘triangle of life’.”



TEN TIPS FOR EARTHQUAKE SAFETY 1) Most everyone who simply “ducks and covers” when buildings collapse are crushed to death. People who get under or in objects, like desks or cars, are crushed. 2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it. 3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs. 4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake. 5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair. 6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the doorjamb falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed! If the quake is a small quake, the door repeatedly swings shut with the force of a hammer and has been known to break the bones of the hands or cut off the fingers of the person simply clinging to the doorjamb. 7) Never go to the stairs (especially in tall buildings). The stairs have a different “moment of frequency” (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes

place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn’t collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged, even if the earthquake does not collapse the stairs, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged. 8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them, If Possible! It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked. 9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily

survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them. 10) Water!! The most needed substance you can imagine after such an event. Everyone will be searching for it. NOTE: Aftershocks are normal after an earthquake. Do not be frightened by them. They can do a lot of damage, so you need to be prepared with that thought in mind. If we have an earthquake of “7” we should expect one aftershock at “6”, 10 aftershocks at “5”, 100 aftershocks at “4”, and 1,000 aftershocks at “3”. This will all occur in a 21-day period as the earth settles. This is normal, but is where most search and rescue personnel loose their lives. The best policy is to get out and get away from structures until the 21-day period is past. People need to plan at least a 10-day period before government help arrives.

Just a little post-Christmas spirit There was this fellow who worked for the Post Office whose job it was to process all the mail that had illegible addresses. One day a letter came to his desk, addressed to God in a shaky handwriting. He thought, “Oh boy, better open this one and see what it’s all about.” So he opened it and read: “Dear God, I am an 83 year old widow living on a very small pension. Yesterday someone stole my purse. It had $100 in it, which was all the money I had until my next pension check. Next Sunday is Christmas, and I had invited two of my friends over for dinner. Without that money, I have nothing to buy food with. I have no family to turn to, and you are my only hope. Can you please help me?” The postal worker was touched, and went around showing the letter to all the others. Each of them dug into his wallet and came up with a few dollars. By the time he made the rounds, he had collected $96.00, which they put into an envelope and sent over to her. The rest of the day, all the workers felt the warm glow of the kind thing they had done. Christmas came and went. A few days later another letter came from the old lady to God. All the workers gathered around while the letter was opened. It read, “Dear God, How can I ever thank you enough for what you did for me? Because of your gift of love I was able to fix a  glorious dinner for my friends. We had a very nice day and I told my friends of your wonderful gift. By the way, there was $4 missing. I think it must have been those thieving bastards at the Post Office.”



The place for that story you always meant to write I dedicate this to JC Hanks, whose article in a previous Contrails spurred me on to try and write something. This is that something.


y story begins back in 1963. I was working for my college fraternity as a National Field Representative. My responsibilities were to travel and visit all the college campuses in America that either had a Sigma Pi chapter or one that we would have liked to have had a chapter. One day sitting on the porch at San Jose State I was asked by the chapter president what I intended to do from here on out. For some silly reason I said I was going to be an airline pilot. His response was, “You don’t have a chance. All they ever hire is military.” Well, not being very bright, I bet him $100 I would be hired by a major airline in one year from that date— March of 1967. Oh, I forgot to add I had no air time. In fact, the next day and the ensuing five days I had my first lessons at Santa Barbara Airport. After some five hours my amazing instructor taxied the 150 Cessna off the runway and, to my complete amazement, stepped out and informed me my solo was next. Which brought me to extreme fear and tears. I was instructed to taxi to the active runway and make one trip around and land somewhere near the airport—hopefully near where he was standing. I was first amazed that the tower understood my voice communications, but I feel they had heard many with the same fear in their voices. To make this somewhat shorter, Lindberg had nothing on me, as I completely circled the Santa Barbara Airport and made a safe crash landing on the active runway and managed to taxi off near my instructor and actually stop this massive aircraft without cutting him into little pieces. He was very quick on his feet. From there we proceeded back to the flight school where they proceeded to cut a triangle into my new light blue Gant shirt. This was my beginning—WOW. From there I moved on and took lessons everywhere that my job as Director of Operations took me. Many of those early lessons were in the mountains of Colorado where I learned very quickly about thin air and overloaded airplanes. But the big drawback was that the clock was ticking and the $100 bet was fast being lost due to the time element. So I made a decision to resign my position with Sigma Pi and sell everything I owned except my 1965 Pontiac Gran Prix and travel to Miami where I borrowed some $5,000 and enrolled in a flight school



Bill Horne

at Opa Locka Airport outside of Miami. It was run by a well known Eastern Pilot by the name of Tom Cooper who, for whatever reason, became a good friend and gave me latitudes I am sure he should not have, and probably wished he had not. One I remember vividly: I went to him and explained that the fraternity which I used to work for was having their national convention in Washington, DC, and that I wanted to use this convention for my cross country. For some unexplainable reason he said yes, but he only had one worn out old Cherokee 140 with bad radios that he could spare. Sounded good to me, and away I went with 160 total hours. I should add that there was a beautiful blonde lady at the end of the rainbow who had asked me to fly up to the convention and see her. She was what we called a National Sweetheart. I had met her during a chapter visit. I am sure I had better incentive than Lindberg, but that of course is a personal opinion. To complete this small aspect of this odyssey—I made it, but it had it’s highs and lows, including being escorted away from Shaw Air Force Base by some rather fast military aircraft. But they were very polite and I was allowed to continue to my destination, which I finally found. I can recall the controller telling me to fall in behind the Eastern Electra which was doing 160 knots at the time. He asked me what my speed would be on final and I quickly answered that I could do 110 knots. I think he may have fainted. He was relieved, and his counterpart asked me to call when on the ground. I thought he wanted to congratulate me. It was slightly different than that, as I am sure you have picked up on. By the way, I had a great time and I did get back in one piece. The aircraft also got back in one piece, which my friend Tom was very happy about. Following that I finished my training and then the dreaded Stanine test loomed ahead. For me it was very scary. I had interviewed NWA and they told me basically if I passed the Stanine test I would be hired. During the interview he said to go home to Miami and I would receive a letter permitting me to take the Stanine test. The airlines in those days, 1966-1969, all required the test. The dates may be wrong, but the essence of this test isn’t.

The airlines wanted a test to be in place that would help them in selecting pilots that would be successful, not so much as a pilot, but an all-round person that would be successful not only as a pilot but leading to the final position as captain. This test was brutal. It started at 7 and continued ‘til, I think, 5. There were 14 of us that took the test, and I can tell you honestly that all of us wondered what we were going to do now, as we all thought we had failed. The makeup was pretty well split between military and civilian. Luckily there was a bar around the corner to console us for that dreary day. I was told that I’d hear in a couple of weeks as to the results of the test. Well, being a “FLAP” and being low time I waited 8 weeks before finally calling NWA Personnel Office and quietly asking if they had changed their mind regarding my employment as a pilot. I can tell you this call took more courage than any approach I ever flew for NWA as captain. You can imagine the smile that came across my face as she first informed me she thought I was already in class. But after a quick search she informed me my file had been put in the wrong folder, and thankfully followed that up with a class date in late February, 1967, which I later figured out probably cost me 200 numbers. Luckily I didn’t have a clue what that meant at that time, and even now getting the job as a pilot for NWA in 1967 was far more important than the two hundred numbers I might have lost. Well, I had one more hurdle; a flight physical that was conducted by Mayo Clinic in Rochester. I also was introduced to Minnesota winters, as I flew up from Florida in January to MSP and landed in a 40mph wind with a 25 below-zero temp—and there were no jetways. There were many smiles from the stewardesses as I deplaned in my short sleeve shirt, summer slacks, no socks and topped off by my blue blazer. I took one step out and almost quit breathing. I managed to get inside the terminal, but it was 30 minutes before I could talk. Welcome to the home of NWA. Next, I boarded a NWA Electra for the 30-plus minute trip to the Mayo Clinic, and another lesson was learned. The 30 minute trip turned into one hour plus and a code 4 from the time we broke ground ‘til the chocks were in place at RST. The plane was full and some 45 minutes later there were only two people left who hadn’t reached for the little white bag in the seat back in front of us. Myself and one stewardess were the last holdouts. She gave up when I requested extra olives for the martini I was enjoying as she strolled by, which turned into a trot as she headed for the head in the rear of the aircraft. Did I also mention that our leader in the cockpit made four approaches before he felt comfortable enough to finally complete the landing. Welcome to winter flying with NWA. The next

day I completed the physical and met many NWA pilots who were also down for their physical. Some were seasoned veterans with NWA , and everyone was very nice to the rookie and assured me that I had made a great decision. I can safely say that they were 100% right. I could go on and on telling you the many unique and funny things that happened to me over the 28 years-plus, but I will reduce it down to just a few that will stand out even now after 13 years of retirement. My first captain trip, which happened to be in a 727, landed in, I think, MKE and I began to gather up my things and started to depart the airplane when the wonderful copilot said, “Sir, where are you going?” I quickly realized this was not a 747 and that we had 5 more legs to go for that day. So I smartly recovered and slid everything back into place. I wish I had a picture of the smiles on my two wonderful helpers who made sure I flew all my legs and stayed out of trouble. One 13 day trans-Pacific pattern with two HNL layovers: Our leader being already famous and well known, coupled with a wild and funny copilot with a name only a mother could answer as to why she bestowed that on him and, then, last but not least, me bringing up the rear. We had long layovers in HNL and we migrated to a jazz club called “Trappers” and there happened to be a waitress that attended to our table. She was also the physical class instructor for the hotel. Needless to say, she had very nice features, and I can recall about half way across the Pacific the next day I turned to our leader and asked, “Did we leave her a $200 tip?” All I got was a nod and a hilarious laugh from our copilot. The bad part was we had another layover in HNL and I was already out of money. I am still getting bills from that trip and I am sure if this is ever printed the other two will have no trouble remembering those 13 days. I would love to bore you with more stories, as there were many, but I started this article for a reason—it concerns the upcoming loss of our great name Northwest “Orient” Airlines, which we all know will become part of Delta Airlines in the next few months. I feel compelled to thank each and every one who served during those wonderful years between 1966 and 2000. I look back on my charmed life and can safely say that all the good things that have happened to me are due to being lucky enough to be selected as a pilot for NWA back in early 1967. I consider that an honor and a pleasure and can honestly say I have never had a job. That is because when you showed up you had three great pilots who “just did their job,” plain and simple. The name may disappear but it will never be forgotten by all the men and women who served that great lady Northwest “Orient” Airlines. Well done, Lady.  RNPA CONTRAILS FEBRUARY 2009


Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!®

Race Report Ironman Florida, 1 November 2008 Neal Henderson


y wife Carolyn says I am crazy for doing the Ironman races. She may be right. Right after each one I usually say, “Never again,” but by the next day I am ready to sign up again. I have been training fairly consistently for about a year for the Ironman Florida race and have been doing other triathlon and running races of varying distances for more than 25 years. I got started doing triathlons while flying with NWA. I was running on layovers for exercise and Jan Janssen suggested trying the new sport of triathlon. I told him I hadn’t been on a bike since I was a kid. Jan has been a biking and triathlon buddy (and coach) ever since and has competed in 11 Ironman races. He said, “No sweat.” I bought half of an old Bianchi bike in partnership with Erling Madsen and started riding. We kept the bike in the Ala Moana Hotel for a couple of years then moved it to the NWA Hotel in Narita and took turns riding it.

I was weak and slow on the bike when I started. Bob Bioren was the strongest rider, probably still is. He would push me up the hills, putting his hand on the small of my back. We called him “animal.” Bob trained to stay very fit and I always thought he must be on call to return to active duty as a Seal and he was determined to be ready. Bob Polhamus, also a triathlete, would find the best hotel swimming pools on Narita layovers. I recall running with Clint Viebrock, Ensign Dave Nelson, Jack Hudspeth (also a biker) and several other pilots while on layover at Narita. It was a good way to see the countryside up close and personal, speaking pidgin Japanese to get a drink of water. Mizu, Dozo? RNPA member John Upthegrove has run Sprint triathlons each year since he retired at age 60, four of them one summer. At age 67 he lost almost all of his sight and continued to race. His brother or his son swim and run alongside or just ahead of him giving him directions. He rides a tandem bike with them. He said in one of the first triathlons he competed in blind they were working out their method of guidance and he was following his brother on the run after the bike leg. He said he could see his brother’s shape ahead of him. Then they got separated a bit and John ran dead on into one of those bollards (posts) that keep the cars off the run paths. He said he went ass over teakettle, getting a lot of road rash and bashed in the crotch. He got up, shook it off and finished. At the finish they took him to the medical tent for repairs. This year at age 70 he was the second oldest entrant (and blind) in the SeaFair Triathlon. I have competed in Ironman Europe, in Germany, Ironman Brazil, Ironman Australia, and Ironman New Zealand but until Ironman Florida I did not get the first place required to qualify in my age division to go to the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. I did the shorter (1/2 distances) Ironman Boise 70.3 on 1 June 2008 that served as a training checkup and I got a first there but the shorter distance race does not qualify for the Hawaii Championship race and that is my goal. I was fortunate on November 1st to win first place in my age division (75-79) at

1. The Hayflick limit is the number of times a cell will divide before it stops due to the telomere reaching a critical length. It was discovered by Leonard Hayflick in 1965, at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), when Hayflick demonstrated that normal human cells in a cell culture divide about 52 times in 20% oxygen (i.e. practically normal air) or 70 times in 3% oxygen (which is the same as human internal conditions). It then enters a senescence phase (refuting the contention by Alexis Carrel that normal cells are immortal). Eachmitosis shortens the telomere appendix on the DNA of the cell, thus ticking back an “inner clock” for each subsequent copy of the cell. Note: I would like to see a test to see how many Hayflicks I have left and predict my death date. I am assuming that it is unlikely that an approved (and affordable) Hayflick extension will be found soon.



Ironman Florida qualifying me for the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on 10 October 2009. As time goes by I have had many Hayflick1 events and slowed down, but so has my competition. Since most triathlon races have age divisions of 20-24, 25-29 on up to mine—75-79 and occasionally even 80-84, age is reckoned with.


t 0530 I got out of bed just before the alarm went off. I had not been sound asleep anyway in anticipation of getting ready for the race. In fact I could not sleep the previous night either. I was hoping that lack of sleep wouldn’t affect my race. I hit the head and washed my face. I put on street clothes and went out into the night and got body marked. After some granola, a banana, and a bottle of InfiniT I got my wetsuit on and walked a short distance to the swim start. The race (for age groupers like me) would start at 0700 with sunup. The weather was ideal – about 52 at race start, 74 predicted high at 1400, and wind NE at about 8 to 10 knots. The sand was cold on my feet and I made a note to wear ‘throw away socks’ next time. I was shivering some so I went back to the boardwalk where it was warmer. I had prepared for a hot race by wearing extra clothes the previous month, even when training, to get acclimatized and now it was cooler than normal. I helped a guy zip up his wet suit that seemed about two sizes too small. Two other guys came over to help and finally got it zipped. It was so tight I wondered how he could breathe. The race had 2270 people listed for a mass start. I self seeded in the very back, lined up with the buoys, figuring that 2 minutes was no loss in the big scheme of things. Barney Rice, 35, drowned during the swim portion of the race in 2006 and Dorothy BarnettGriffin, 43, collapsed and died during the swim portion of the race in 2007 and I wanted to avoid the crush if practicable. There was the countdown and the canon for the start and I followed the last people into the water. What I had not counted on was the wave of swimmers coming from further down the beach to my right. When I was approaching the second buoy I felt like a sardine in a net—there were people around me, on top of me under me, and banging me on the head. RNPA CONTRAILS FEBRUARY 2009


I had my goggles knocked off but the strap was under my swim cap and so I could easily clear them and get under way again. After rounding the first corner buoy I found some feet to draft on and cleared the main crush. In retrospect I think next time I will seed myself further forward since it looks like you cannot avoid the initial pack anyway. My race plan was to conserve energy and swim, bike, and run slower and easier than I had trained. The swim was a rectangular loop with one side the beach, so that two loops included a run on the beach to the second loop. Coming out of the second loop and onto the beach the “strippers” were waiting and quickly pulled off my De Soto wetsuit. While training in my wetsuit just before leaving, one of the straps failed. De Soto loaned me a wetsuit for the race while mine was being repaired. Great service. I grabbed my swim to bike bag at the transition and put on my bike gear. It took way too long and I had a very slow transition. On my bike now and feeling good that the swim did not go too badly I was cold and wanted to push hard for awhile to warm up but



stuck to the plan and held the watts to about 110. The perceived effort seemed way too easy but my SRM watts and pulse were in the ballpark for what I planned. The first 50 miles of the bike had some headwind but the road was smooth and I was making good time (for me) and watts and pulse were looking good. At the mid point aid station I refilled my Camelbak (worn in front under my shirt for aerodynamics and easy access—I look like the Alien is about to launch out of my chest) with 2 liters of InfiniT, stretched, and was on my way again. After turning the corner past the aid station I picked up a nice tailwind. The roads were very smooth, with a few exceptions, and on my Cervélo P3C I was running Michelin ProRace3 clinchers, latex inner tubes, on Zipp 808’s, for a ride requiring almost minimum watts for a given speed. My aerobar position is good for about 1.5 mph better (at the same watts) than sitting up but I cannot stay there for the entire ride, so I would stay down as much as I could going into the wind, sitting up to stretch every now and then. I stopped one more time to hit the head, stretch, and drink some water. While the InfiniT provides the carbos and electrolytes to keep me going after a few hours I get tired of it and really want something else to eat or drink, but I know it will get me to the finish line so I keep slugging it down. At the bike to run transition I kept my bike shorts on as they are comfortable to run in and I planned a quick transition. Contrary to conventional wisdom I was trying two new things for the run (run–walk for me). I was going to wear “compression socks” that come up to my knee, and drink InfiniT concentrate and get water to wash it down at the aid stations. The compression socks were so tight I could not get them on my sweaty (shaved) legs. One of the volunteers helped and between us we got them on but it must have wasted 7 or 8 minutes. Now I figure that this is a maneuver to practice while training and maybe use some Vaseline on my ankles. The compression socks turned out to be a good choice though as I had no cramps and my legs felt good the whole time. The InfiniT in concentrate form has a different taste and texture than when normally mixed and was easy to get down. I had a couple of bananas and cookies for variety on the run, I started getting a blister but I stopped and tightened my sock and it went away until the very end of the run. I finished first in my age group to qualify for Kona and the next day I paid my entry fee and registered for the Ford Ironman Championship Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii, on 10 October 2009. I wore 2XU tights to sleep in and for the next 4 days and have had a speedy recovery. I feel great!! Cheers, Neal

The sport of triathlon was born in Southern California, where events involving swimming, cycling, running or  other sports  were run by athletic clubs celebrating summer exercise. The idea for the original Ironman Triathlon arose during the awards ceremony for the 1977 Oahu Perimeter Relay (a running race for 5-person teams). Among the participants were numerous representatives of both the Mid-Pacific Road Runners and the Waikiki Swim Club, whose members had long been debating which athletes were more fit, runners or swimmers. Ironman Triathlon was the first major competition to extend the distance to an extreme endurance event. The first Ironman Triathlon was held on February 18, 1978 in Honolulu, Hawaii, repeated in 1979 and 1980. On this occasion,  U.S. Navy  Commander John Collins pointed out that a recent article in  Sports Illustrated magazine had declared that Eddy Merckx, the great Belgian cyclist, had the highest recorded “oxygen uptake” of any athlete ever measured, so perhaps cyclists were more fit than anyone. CDR Collins and his wife had taken part in the triathlons staged in 1974 and 1975 by the San Diego Track Club in and around Mission Bay, California, as well as the 1975 Optimist Sports Fiesta Triathlon in Coronado, California. A number of the other military athletes in attendance were also familiar with the San Diego races, so they understood the concept when CDR Collins suggested that the debate should be settled through a race combining the three existing longdistance competitions already on the island: the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 mi./3.86 km), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 miles; originally a two-day event) and the Honolulu Marathon (26.219 mi./42.195 km). Until that point, no one present had ever done the bike race; CDR Collins calculated that, by shaving 3 miles off the course and riding counter-clockwise around the island, the bike leg could start at the finish of the Waikiki Rough Water and end at the Aloha Tower, the traditional start of the Honolulu Marathon. Prior to racing, each athlete received three sheets of paper listing a few rules and a course description. Handwritten on the last page was this exhortation: “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life,” now a registered trademark. With a nod to a local runner who was notorious for his demanding workouts, Collins said, “Whoever finishes first, we’ll call him the Iron Man.” Each of the racers had their own support crew to supply water, food and encouragement during the event. Of the fifteen men to start off in the early morning on  February 18,  1978, twelve completed the race. Gordon Haller was the first to earn the title Ironman by completing the course, with

a time of 11 hours, 46 minutes, and 58 seconds. With no further marketing efforts, the race gathered as many as 50 athletes in 1979. The race, however, was postponed a day because of bad weather conditions and only fifteen competitors started off the race Sunday morning. San Diego’s Tom Warren won in 11 hours, 15 minutes, and 56 seconds. Lyn Lemaire, a championship cyclist from Boston, placed sixth overall and became the first “Ironwoman.” Collins planned on changing the race into a relay event to draw more participants, but Sports Illustrated’s journalist Barry McDermott, in the area to cover a golf tournament, discovered the race and wrote a ten page account of it. During the following year, hundreds of curious participants contacted Collins. In 1981 the competition was moved to the less urbanized Big Island by Valerie Silk and in 1982 Silk moved the race date from February to October; as a result of this change there were two Ironman Triathlon events in 1982. A milestone in the marketing of the legend and history of the race happened in February 1982. Julie Moss, a college student competing to gather research for her exercise physiology thesis, moved toward the finish line in first place. As she came nearer to the finish line, severe fatigue and dehydration set in, falling yards away from the finish line. Although Kathleen McCartney passed her for the women’s title, Moss nevertheless crawled to the finish line. Her performance was broadcast worldwide and created the Ironman mantra that just finishing is a victory. The sport of triathlon was added as an Olympic sport at the  2000 Summer Olympics  in Sydney as a shorter distance race (1.5 km swim, 40 km cycle, 10 km run or 0.93-mile swim, 24.85-mile cycle, 6.2-mile run). The original Ironman is held in conditions which are uniquely punishing for endurance racing: the Hawaii water is warm enough that helpfully buoyant wetsuits are not allowed; though the cycling hills have only moderate gradients they are normally crossed by strong and gusting winds; and the marathon leg of the race is usually extremely hot. Other races under the WTC aegis have their own difficulties, characteristic of their setting and season. Anyone completing one of these races within the time limit, so long as it is the prescribed distance, is entitled to call him/herself an Ironman (the term being gender-neutral). At one time there was no cut-off time, then a 15 hour time limit—for these events the normal time limit is now 17 hours. Some iron distance races (not sanctioned by the WTC corporation, but using the same standard distances) have different cut-off times.





Ironman Hawaii The Ironman World Triathlon Championship or Ironman Triathlon is an annual triathlon race, made famous by its grueling length, race conditions, and sports television coverage. Held every fall in the US city of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, the race encompasses three endurance events: a 2.4 mile (3.86 km) ocean  swim  in Kailua-Kona Bay, a 112 mile (180 km)  bike  ride across the Hawaiian lava desert to Hawi and back, and a marathon (26.2 mile, 42.2 km) along the coast of the Big Island (from Keauhou to Keahole Point to Kailua-Kona); finishing on Ali’i Drive. The current ironman course record was set in 1996 by Luc Van Lierde (Belgium), whose winning time was 8 hrs 4 mins 8 sec. The most recent Ironman World Triathlon Championship took place on October 11, 2008. Qualifying events for the Hawaii Ironman take place annually around the world, in places such as Australia, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, the Canary Islands, South Africa and Europe. The Ironman Triathlon logo is a trademark of the World Triathlon Corporation. The WTC has also registered the trademark “Ironman Triathlon” for its athletic competitions, and the trademark “Ironman” for a line of clothing, athletic equipment, and souvenirs, and licensed the name to Timex for their line of Timex Ironman wristwatches. Organizations may also refer to their triathlons generically as a “Full Distance Triathlon” to designate a triathlon of a similar distance.   About the Ironman Series Since it began as a challenge between a group of Navy Seals, the Ironman has grown to become one of the most recognized endurance events in the world. Originally a combination of the Waikiki Rough Water swim, the Around Oahu Bike Race and the Honolulu Marathon, the Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run. The Ironman qualifying series includes 21 events throughout the world that qualify athletes for the Ford Ironman World Championship held every October in Kona, Hawaii. The Ironman format remains unchanged, and the Hawaiian Ironman is still regarded as the most honored and prestigious triathlon event to win worldwide. Many could consider this to be the most arduous and demanding competitive sporting event. For the 25th anniversary on  October 18,  2003, nearly 1500 athletes were enlisted, most of which had to go through qualification competitions (although some were admitted through the lottery). Although thousands of athletes worldwide compete at an Ironman event each year, the vast majority aim simply to just finish the course if they are first timers, or set a PR (personal record) time if they’ve raced this distance before. Only very talented athletes realistically compete for a spot in Hawaii, and just finishing an Ironman race is often the highlight of many triathletes’ career. Athletes with disabilities now compete in the event in the physically challenged category, and are required to meet the same cutoff times as able bodied competitors. Australian John McLean was the first physically challenged athlete to complete the event. People completing such an event are agreed to be recognized as “Ironmen”: the plural “Ironmans” refers to multiples of “Ironman” as a short form of “Ironman Triathlon”. In the triathlon community an Ironman is someone who has completed a race of the appropriate distance, whether or not it falls under the aegis of WTC.



Just Another Day By James Baldwin


he open expanse of the Bering Sea stretches before us, its distant region covered in a bedspread of white cotton. The sky above is a solid plate of blue. The sun streams through the front windows as they forge a path for the aluminum tube that contains the 403 travelers following behind. A cacophony of sounds betray any notion that our capacious airframe slides effortlessly as it pushes aside what’s left of the atmosphere at nearly 86 per cent of the speed of sound. The ride is smooth. I rub my eyes, grinding away the reluctance of being awakened by the crew we are relieving. They have taken us from our near gross weight takeoff in Detroit, up through Canada and out into Alaska. As the second group of pilots replaces the first, we are more than six hours into our non-stop trip to Narita, Japan, the remote location of the airport serving the greater Tokyo area. The aestival view below is of the city of Nome, Alaska. It looks like specks of pepper on a table of salt and passes quickly beneath us as I point the nose of the airplane towards the Kamchatka Peninsula. Today the wind forecast has convinced the planners that a northerly route might help us ameliorate the effect of Mother Nature as she blows a frigid, unseen gale towards us at speeds approaching 150 miles per hour. We will be entering Russian airspace in less than two hours, proceeding on a path over silent parts of the earth that will never have to worry about zoning law. There is only time for a meal, a glance at the Wall Street Journal and a little discussion before the volcanic chain of Kamchatka appears off the nose. The myriad details resolve as we speed toward the jagged coastline. Placid lakes come into view as the mazy rivers they feed spill into the sea with alluvial fans of silt plainly visible from these revealing heights. It is a view held by only a few, and seen only by those among the throngs in back who bother to lift



their window shades and marvel at what lies below. These are the box seats to the game Mother Nature and Father Time play without notice in parts of the world where man hasn’t yet spoiled what our Creator has fashioned. It is a spectacular site. As we approach, the smallest of the peaks, poking above the scattered cotton balls of moisture, emits just a whisper of smoke, as if to remind us of what lurks below, or to perhaps memorialize the eerily similar flight path of the Korean Airlines 747 shot down in September of 1983. Unlike their most likely innocent effort to follow the correct path, our navigation today is dead accurate, almost taken for granted and looks easy, but is the subject of verification at every one of the imaginary locations in the sky we call waypoints. Initially conceived as a required navigation reference, the imaginary points are now used to compare the fuel onboard to the amount the flight plan says we should have. We watch it carefully, well aware of the consequence of inattention. Communication with the Ruskie controller downstairs is difficult, their equipment mired somewhere between the age of socialism and their agonizing struggle to achieve an approximation of democracy. It may continue to be difficult to communicate at this rate; something was lost in translation. We won’t linger here for long though—our fuel burn is higher than planned and the crew will have to decide how to turn this trend around. With an airplane that consumes one gallon of kerosene every second, it doesn’t take long to get behind on the fuel budget. Spendthrifts, or the inattentive, don’t usually require an arrival with only fumes to convert them into the fuel misers we have all become. Not much chance to shorten our already great circle routing; the answer to our problem, after examining wind gradients, is the economy a higher altitude

promises. Over the next few hours we will burn less fuel in the more rarefied air, allowing a more comfortable reserve at the conclusion of our flight. Unlikely, but who really knows if the weather might force us to go somewhere else? Luckily for us, our company’s almost prescient meteorologists are always monitoring the vagaries of the world’s weather and pass along to us the briefings we have grown to trust. It always makes me wonder why they aren’t the ones on TV. Altitude changes so routine in the domestic U.S. are not the norm here, but the air traffic controller in Petropavlovsk allows that 11,600 meters is available if we are able. Despite the performance limitations of our still heavily fuel laden 747, we calculate the higher altitude is attainable and confirm the assent to climb. As the throttle levers automatically advance it reminds me of an elegant matriarch gathering her petticoat to climb the steps to the second floor of the mansion. It doesn’t take long for this lady to climb the airy steps; the airplane almost leaps to its new perch, shouting out her ability to defy gravity and annoy physics. She is a consistently able performer. As we make our way across the vast, polished snow covered mosaic below, I expect to see hirsute beasts of some description, our visibility so great, but at seven miles above the earth, nothing smaller than an automobile is easily spotted. I still try. Contrails now visible below at 9600 meters belong to a fellow traveler who, though unseen by us visually, is required to share the same flight path and altitudes. We listen on the radio and learn he is one of the competition, yet during these times of flight, we are all a band of brothers. Our climb allowed him better economy as well and less angst as he battles the same atmospheric conditions we do. Wall Street might object but the words here are unspoken. The whitecaps on the Sea of Okhotsk finally disappear as the craggy, vertical edges of Hokkaido become welcomely visible. We slide our way down the Japanese archipelago and for no good reason, these days, I feel relief as we exit the formerly hostile airspace of a country I will never fully trust. If Ronnie was still here he might agree with that historically based bias. I suspect it will take only time for the Kremlin to prove that point once again. Hokkaido disappears as quickly as the larger Japanese land mass of Honshu appears, diminutive in a global sense yet so productive. Looking down over the green lush unpopulated northern region, it is amusing to relate it to the hustle and bustle of the typical Japanese city. As similar in appearance and manner as we find the Ameri-

can worker, he is no equal to the automaton like approach so prevalent in Japanese society. It is easy to go there and feel comfortable; we know what to expect, everywhere. We have had a good flight. We have planned well and laughed and looked nonchalant while doing it. We have communicated with the company and they know exactly when we will touch down, how each passenger will connect, how many wheel chairs are required and what our fuel state is likely to be. The airplane will only sit still for two hours as a swarm of uniformed, vetted, busy workers clean, replenish and inspect every inch of her as she is made ready to once again load 403 souls onboard and depart for points south, near the equator. We’ll get our chance tomorrow, but tonight, this ship waits for no one. The descent has been choreographed many times but is still calculated to a resolution of less than a mile. We will begin the process of arrival in just a few minutes. At our groundspeed of over eight miles per minute it won’t be long before the four Pratts are reined back to flight idle and the nose of the airplane arcs downward. Our speed will not decrease as we watch an actual demonstration of potential energy carry us to our destination some 130 nautical miles away. It is a delicate balancing act involving air traffic control restrictions, parallel traffic competing for the same asphalt and the variables governed by the laws of physics. Unspoken reputations depend on correctly blending these with the experience gained in the countless times it has either been done or observed as others performed. Don’t believe for a minute the other guys aren’t watching. They are. Even though it has been over 12 hours in the air we seem to gain newfound energies in anticipation of this portion of the flight. It is best we do—this is where weather, fuel, fatigue, traffic congestion, and for some, a sudden awareness, can begin to form the first link in the chain of an incident or accident lurking for those naive enough to believe it can’t happen. It all looks so simple and even though we already know it all and have seen it all, privately, we don’t and we haven’t. We’ll keep practicing until we get it perfect. I may have come close a few times but only close. One day, maybe one day I’ll… In the end, our conservation and attentiveness turn out to be a good thing; the weather upon arrival is rainy with limited visibility. It is congested and all of the heavy machinery needs the renowned singular runway, 34L/16R the Narita rice farmers are famous for. That story is interesting and unique but will have to wait for another day. The hand flown approach is textbook, the actual touchdown and turnoff flawless enough to evoke later compliments from the cabin crew. It might be just another day at work, but each one is truly different and almost all of them full of the challenge I still love.  RNPA CONTRAILS FEBRUARY 2009



Peterson g u o D & a r a b Bar 32


Barbara & Gary Pisel

John Upthegrove, Gus Diem

ris Mary Gauthier, Will Har Photos: Doug Peterson

Myron Bredahl, Dave Pethia, Chuck Carlson RNPA CONTRAILS FEBRUARY 2009


Skip Eglet, Curt Bryan

Moon Mullins, Pam Beckman, Stew Schroder

Montie and Rae Leffel

Rae Leffel, Kathy Eglet

Katie & Dave Pethia, Eileen Halverson

Joyce & Mike Tovey, Mavis Stears



Dick Migas, Will Harris

Nancy Boone, Alice McCabe

Andrea & Dave Schneebeck

Barbara Peterson, Curt & Sandy Bryan

Bob & Ruth Mary Fuller

Mavis & Larry Stears, Joanne Aitken RNPA CONTRAILS FEBRUARY 2009


NanSea & Charlie Welsh, Gayla Bredahl

Joe Kimm, Sterling Bentsen, Bob Fuller

Gary Pisel, Bud Cheney, Erling Madsen

Joe Kimm, Sandy Schmidt

Kathy & Wayne Stark

John Grimm, Mary Gauthier, Mel Suggett



Bev & Jim Palmer

Abby Lanman, Francine Elliot, Bev Skuja

Charlene Tierney, Cheryl Olsen, Lary Muto

Marge & Dick Haddon

Howie & Joen Parks, Linda & Dave Rolczynski

Irene Kochendorfer, Sterling & Nadine Bentsen, Dick Migas RNPA CONTRAILS FEBRUARY 2009


Ed & Carolyn Kartic

Mary & Rodger Sorensen

Curt & Sandy Bryan

Jack & Alayne Hudspeth

Phil & Phyllis Miller

Harry & Geraldine Bedrossian



Barbara Pisel, Gayla Bredahl

Alice McCabe, Ed Javorski

Holly & Dave Nelson

Mike Ristow

John & Linda Schell



Wes & Faye Schierman, Ken Kelm

Marv & Ruth Peterson

Cy Cole

Chuck & B. J. Paine

Skip & Kathy Eglet

Denny Swanson, Myron Bredahl



Jean Wilson, Charlie Schnars

Wes & Faye Schierman

Art Chetlain & Donna Pauly-Chetlain

Eileen Halverson, Bob Osgood

Andy & Gladys Anderson




Hotel Albuquerque

We will be staying at the Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town. 800.237.2133 Old town is a very unique area of shops and restaurants. It Mention that you are with RNPA. follows the traditional Spanish pattern of a central plaza (zocalo) The rate is $125 +taxes per night. and church surrrounded by homes and businesses. Many of the Free parking historic homes have been renovated into shops and restaurants. Romantic hidden patios, winding brick paths, gardens and balconies await your discovery. Shopping too! Indian art, turquoise, silver and gold jewelry, blankets and furniture.

Not far from the hotel you have the opportunity to ride the Sandia Tram to Sandia Peak, on the eastern edge of Albuquerque. This tram, at 2.7 miles, is the longest in the world. It rises from the floor of the valley, 5,000 feet up to the observation deck at 10,378 feet. The view from the deck offers an 11,000 square mile panoramic of the Rio Grande Valley and the Land of Enchantment.


There are several. Among the favorites: The Holocaust Museum, the Petroglyph National Monument, the Turquoise Museum, the Unser Racing Museum, the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and the University of New Mexico.



Restaurants abound in Albuquerque, with food from worldrenowned chefs. The New Mexico flavor of dishes will satisfy your palate for fine food. The variety of dishes will amaze you. Just to the north are the artist colonies of Taos and Santa Fe, where dining is also a pleasure.


Albuquerque is the home of the International Balloon Fiesta, which begins the weekend after our reunion (Oct. 4-12). If you plan ahead you can reserve your same room for the entire period, at normal rates. They normally have 400 to 600 balloons participating.



Our Day 2 tour will take us to the oldest continously inhabited community of Acoma, and discover 1000 years of Acoma art, culture and history at the Sky City Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum. You will be able to purchase pottery directly from the potter. Lunch will be at the Sky City Casino. A visit to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is also on the schedule.


Early sign up, before Jan. 1st, gets you a chance at a balloon ride during the reunion. The chance card for the ride will be drawn before September and the winner notified. It also gets you two (2) chance cards towards either a free room or a free reunion fee. Sign up before June 1st gets you one (1) chance card for the free room or the free reunion fee. Sign up after that and you’ll get to watch someone else win!


Free RV parking on site, but no camping. American RV Park, just west of town, is the highest rated in the area: 800.282.8885

Send $165 per person ($190 after June 1st) to: Terry Confer 9670 E Little Further Way Gold Canyon AZ 85218 NAME _________________________________________ Brie Stuffed Chicken  Salmon  NAME _________________________________________ Brie Stuffed Chicken  Salmon  CONTACT: Phone or email ___________________________



From NWA “PASSAGES” comes:

The History of Northwest Airlines — The War Years As the 1930s receded into history, the nation breathed a sigh of relief. It had struggled through the worst economic slump in its history and recovery was well under way. During the summer of 1940, while campaigning in Boston, Roosevelt told an anxious America he would use every means at his disposal to keep American boys out of foreign war, but events in the months ahead would make that impossible. In Europe, the German war machine had rolled across the lowlands, occupied France, and began the “Battle of Britain.” America sent the Allies defense materials as fast as they could be produced, but the United States was resolute; it would not be drawn into the war. All that changed on December 7, 1941! ★ ★ ★ Expansion! That was the goal of Northwest Airlines as it entered the 1940s. The company had grown and prospered, but six years had passed since the airline had received any major route awards. The groundwork was being laid for an important new route proposal to be submitted to the Civil Aeronautics Board which would make Northwest a transcontinental carrier—a goal it had sought for nearly a decade. In the winter of 1940, the CAB heard Northwest’s application to serve New York City from Chicago, but on March 8, the application was denied. Believing “...the extension of our operations to New York City is a proper and necessary development of the air transportation system of the United States. On July 25, 1942 we filed a new application with


the board for a more direct route,” The airline’s primary military NWA’s president, Croil Hunter told activity was a bomber modification the shareholders in 1941. “Our new center which it set up at Holman application requests a route between Field in St. Paul. Minneapolis and New York City via With U.S. industrial mass proMilwaukee and Windsor, Canada.” duction methods, American bombIn the north, Alaska was Amer- ers, such as the B-24 Liberators, ica’s last frontier. With its seemingly rolled off the assembly lines in vast unlimited natural resources and in- numbers. But the theaters of operacomparable beauty, it was even more tions and the missions of the aircraft important to the U. S. from a strate- would vary widely, according to spegic military standpoint. cific needs. Recognizing Alaska’s imporTherefore, in February, 1942, tance to national defense, Northwest representatives of the U.S. Army and submitted an application in Febru- the British War Mission called upon ary, 1941 to serve Fairbanks via Far- NWA to set up a bomber modificago, Regina, Edmonton, Whitehorse, tion activity, and just two days later, and other intermediate points. British pilots flew in two B-25s to “A route over this territory would Holman Field for work on fuel, radio be of great advantage to the United and navigation systems. States and Canada, particularly in The first job for the airline was to the matter of national defense,” Mr. build maintenance facilities quickly Hunter said. His words were pro- which would provide protection for foundly prophetic. mechanics who had to work in MinBefore any action could be tak- nesota’s winter. Wooden and canvas en on NWA’s route application, the nose hangars provided an expediJapanese struck at Pearl Harbor and ent, if not a permanent solution, and the United States was at war. For the heavy wooden planking was laid on next four years, Northwest Airlines the snow-covered ground so that was to be a vital part of the war effort heavy equipment and parts could be as it was called upon to participate moved. Overhead lights were strung in several highly important defense for night work and the airline was projects. While Northwest maintained a limited civilian airline activity, it established and operated a group of defense projects under contract to the government. Its number of employees grew from 828 in 1941 to over 10,000 just three An Army crew member waves as his B-24 “Liberator” departs the St. Paul bomber modification center for war duty. years later.


ready when the B-24s began arriving in large numbers by early spring. While mechanics worked on the aircraft, rapid progress was made on two large permanent hangars which, by winter, would afford more protection and comfort for the company’s engineering and maintenance personnel who worked around the clock outfitting aircraft for battle in Europe, the Pacific, the frozen north and deserts of Africa. During its peak, the “mod” center in St. Paul employed more that 5,000 NWA men and women, and before the operation shut down, near the end of the war, over 3,500 bombers had been equipped for battle. Some of the planes performed spectacularly soon after they left St. Paul. Among the first to catch the headlines was a Liberator which returned to England following a bombing run over the German naval base at Kiel. The post-mission inspection revealed unusually heavy damage, including a huge gap in its tail and another in its wing. Flak had knocked off one of the plane’s tires; all twelve of the aircraft’s propeller blades had been hit at least once. The ship had 300 major holes (more than one inch in diameter) and 2,000 minor holes. It soon became known as the most shot up airplane in the European theater. Other B-24s participated in the first raid on the oil fields at Ploesti, Rumania; other St. Paul-modified B-24s helped clear the beaches at Normandy. Two NWA-equipped aircraft were rigged with special photo equipment and flew missions over the Japanese naval installation at Truk. Those photo reconnaissance flights paved the way for later bombing raids which sunk 19 Japanese ships and put the Truk military facilities out of operation. In 1943, Northwest Airlines established another bomber modifica-

tion center at Vandalia, Ohio. This facility was open for only 10 months and was established to provide accelerated service testing and modification for U.S. Army aircraft and gliders. With its earlier experience in cold For its outstanding efforts in support of the war effort, weather flying, North- Northwest Airlines was presented the coveted “E” west Airlines became award at ceremonies at the St. Paul “mod” center. Many of the center employees are shown above. the natural choice of the Army to conduct research on aircraft icing. Special made efforts to establish a commerinstruments were fitted into aircraft cial route through Canada to Alaska, which Northwest pilots flew into it was ordered to send pilots and conditions every other pilot sought staff to Edmonton to direct the orto avoid—conditions which caused ganization of the new line, soon to aircraft ice. be known as the “Northern Region Another wartime project includ- Operation.” ed a research study involving radio Much of the wilderness was wild static cause when aircraft were flown and uncharted, yet within a few short through moisture, dust storms and weeks, Northwest made it one of the dry snow, blocking out communica- strongest and most active air routes tions and navigation signals. in the world. U.S. troops, strengthAt Billings, NWA trained more ened by the increased flow of war than 700 Army airmen of the Air material, began to push the Japanese Transport Command in all phases of back to their homeland. As Amerioperating large transport aircraft. can G.I.s moved westward across But one of Northwest’s most the chain of islands, their supply line significant undertakings during the moved with them. Planes piloted by war—particularly from the stand- NWA captains who had been pulled point of shaping the future of North- off the airline’s commercial routes, west—was the establishment of a were in the air night and day. Crews military cargo route through Cana- catnapped while aircraft were serda to Alaska and along the Aleutian viced and loaded, then they took off Island. again with defense material for the The Japanese, in early 1942, had troops at the front. gained a foothold in the Aleutians Under conditions of severe cold with large troop compliments on an unbelievable hardships, Northboth Attu and Kiska. Their pres- west Airlines operated one of the ence in the Aleutians posed a seri- most successful military support ous threat to the security of Alaska operations of the war. By the time and the entire Pacific Coast. Ameri- Northern Region operations ceased can military experts predicted that in September, 1945, NWA pilots had the next Japanese thrust toward the flown more than 21,000,000 miles U.S. would occur in Alaska and the and paved the way for a post-war exestablishment of transportation life- pansion period which extended the lines was needed urgently. company’s routes halfway around Since Northwest had already the world.  RNPA CONTRAILS FEBRUARY 2009


Minneapolis Christmas Party December 11th 46


Judy Schellinger Jack Cornforth Eileen Hallin Hal Hockett Vicki & Jim Hancock

Barbara Erlandson Dianne Laughlin Mindy & Pete Schenck

Kathy Hogan Don Wiedner Sue & Tom Ebner Margo Bertness



Andrea & Jack Casey Janet & Greg Gilles Jeanne Wiedner Keith Strandberg Darlene Conard

Carl & Nancy Simmons Bob Turner Marilyn Olson Steve Lillyblad Tim Olson

Elaine Mielke Nancy & KP Haram Ellen Stephens Kathy Zelie



Janet Post Andrea Casey Stan Kegel, Jr. Stan Kegel

Bob & Penny White Chuck & Jody Bartlett Jim & Dianne Kary

Terry Marsh Vicki Hancock Doug Wenborg Susan Marsh Pete Brown



Dorothy & Red Sutter

Seated: John & Beverly Sullivan Standing: Neil & Lorraine Potts Randy Potts

Dave & Angie Lundin Bob White Judy & Tom Schellinger



Glenn & Barbara Kelly Jerry & Gloria Pope Jim Bestul Don Chadwick

Margo Bertness Jeanne Wiedner Jane Chadwick Lynn Way Nancy Bestul Joi Kegley Kathy Hogan Sue Ebner

Carol Ann & Floyd Homstad Barbara Erlandson Kathy Atkins Jim Erlandson Dianne & Jim McLaughlin



Sam McGlone Connie Thompson Art Daniel Bob Blad Hal Hockett

Tim Olson John Thomas Terry Marsh

Carol Hegseth Patrick Watson Pete Hegseth Bev Watson



Dianne & Jim Laughlin

Ken Kreutzmann Faye & Billy Brown

I think they’re just sharing written jokes!

Photos: Phil Hallin RNPA CONTRAILS FEBRUARY 2009



ing island. One of their pilots had a high speed motor boat and took my three children water skiing. There were huge man-of-war jellyfish in the water and luckily no one fell off their skis. Jerry Fredrickson, Bill Halvorson and Don Abbott were also having fun at the picnic. The next day they flew a plane load of Cathay people and their families and my family down to Myself (L) and Cathay Kuala Lumpur, Malasia. Lorry King pilot Ronny Hardwick was Cathay’s chief pilot and was in in Kuala Lumpur. He charge of this operation. was born in Hong We flew three four-hour trainKong to a British ing trips each day. One day I resoldier father. Ronny quested takeoff clearance and was was a prisoner of the denied because of a “purple airway.” Japanese all during I asked the Cathay people what that the occupation. Our meant and they told me the Queen familes have visited of England was to depart for Boreach other’s homes neo in an hour or so. I asked conin Hong Kong and trol if I could take off and go north Minnesota. at least two hours and do air work. This was granted. On our climb north we saw the royal yacht in the by Bill Rowe harbor of Kanang. In July of 1971 I received a call from Bob Matta, DiIn the evening the parking lots would turn into resrector of Training at the time, asking me if I would go taurants. Many venders would set up tables and chairs to Hong Kong and instruct the pilots of Cathay Pacific and portable broilers. They charcoaled satayed chicken, Airlines on the B707-320, which they had bought from beef and pork on sticks. This is where we ate dinner many Northwest Airlines. I said I would if I could take part of nights. my family along. Northwest helped me get passports and While I was working, Cathay gave my family passes visas for three children and my wife, Dorothy. to fly to Singapore and Bangkok, which was a great treat We proceeded to Seattle and boarded flight 7 with for them. Ray Litzenberger as captain. Enroute to Tokyo one enWe were delayed by two days returning to Hong Kong gine was using too much oil, so Captain Litzenberger di- because of a typhoon. When we did return, the Hong verted to Anchorage. There the passengers were put on Kong harbor was a mass of wrecked boats, including the other fights to Tokyo. Captain Litzendberger was autho- Queen Elizabeth, which was laying on her side. rized to ferry the airplane to Tokyo for an engine change. The next ten days I was flying safety pilot from Hong I was informed that the cabin crew was out of duty time Kong, Taipei, Osaka and Tokyo. In 1972 and 1973 I did and we would not be allowed on board. With Captain the same one month tour for Cathay. The pilots I was Ltzenberger’s help, and the fact that I was an instructor, training were a great bunch of guys. Most were from we were allowed on board. The five of us were the only Australia, New Zealand and England. passengers on the 747. Years later, just before I retired, I had a three day layAfter spending a night in Tokyo we proceeded to over in Frankfurt. My wife and I were having dinner in a Hong Kong. I reported in to Cathay and flew their simu- restaurant in Mainz. A gentleman came over to our table lator to familiatize mysef with changed instruments. The and introduced himself. I had checked him out as a conext day we were invited to a Cathay family picnic. We pilot on the 320 when I was instructing the Cathay pilots. boarded a junk at the harbor and proceeded to an outly- He is now a 747 captain. 



SW Florida spring luncheon DIRECTIONS: Take I-75 to EXIT 123, go West on Corkscrew Road to Hwy 41 (Tamiami Trail), then South 2.6 miles to Pelican Landing/Colony entrance. Directions to the Colony Club will be given by gatehouse. Valet Parking available. RNPA CONTRAILS FEBRUARY 2009


Ed Zimdars 1908 ~ 2008 Edgar E. Zimdars, age 90, of Solana Beach, California, formerly of Bloomington, Minnesota, and a retired Northwest Airlines captain “flew west” for a final check on August 27, 2008. Ed was born on the family dairy farm in Watertown, Wisconsin July 23, 1908, the eldest of five children. He grew up on the Zimdars dairy farm, and the family took great pride in his attendance at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he was a pre-med student. As happened with many valiant men and women of his generation, the “War” interrupted his studies.



At the onset of World War II, Ed joined the Navy and was trained as a pilot. He was a quick study and could explain every intricate detail of aircraft operating systems. The Navy often held some of the better students back as instructors after they got their wings. Recognizing his expertise, Ed was reassigned (“plowed back” in Naval Aviation lingo) to the Naval Air Training Command at Pensacola, Florida, where as a pilot instructor he trained other brave, young men to fly the planes that protected our shores. After a year or so in the training command Ed was sent to Minneapolis by the Navy to fly aircraft in “icing flight tests” conducted under contract by Northwest Airlines out of hangers on the northeast end of runway 4-22 at Wold-Chamberlin Field. The Navy had a surplus of airmen by late 1944, so when Ed was released from active duty he went to Northwest’s main office to interview for an open pilot position. He needed an ID to get in the offices and did not have one with him, so he “borrowed” one from another applicant. When he tried to get in with the “borrowed” ID the receptionist slammed the door on his foot. He came back later with his own ID, got the job, and several years later the receptionist who slammed his foot in the door became his wife. He was based in Minneapolis throughout his career, where he lived until he retired from the airline. With his great love of learning, “can do” attitude, and ability to understand mechanical engineering, he built his family a home in Bloomington, Minnesota. Ed was the architect, plumber, electrician, framer, roofer, painter, landscaper, etc.-you name it, he did it! That house stood for twenty-five years and was called home by his wife and four children. Ed enjoyed 34 years of a wonderful flying career that also included numerous stints in the training department on several different airplanes where, as a pilot instructor, he shared his in depth knowledge of the craft he had grown to love. Ed ended his career as a 747 captain, flying primarily the great circle route to Asia. After he retired in 1978, Ed, and his wife, Vera moved to Solana Beach, California. Vera passed away in 2000, and Ed continued to live independently in their home until his death on August 27, 2008. The Zimdars are truly an airline family. Ed’s daughter, Kristine Zimdars Engholm, has been a Northwest flight attendant for thirty-six years, and is still flying. Ed’s son, Mark Zimdars, followed in his father’s footsteps. He recently retired as an Airbus captain for Northwest after twenty-seven years of flying. Mark, and his wife, Terri, live in Olivenhain, California, near

Ed’s home, and tend an 1100 vine winery in their own backyard, “Zimdars Backyard Vineyard.” A wine label produced this year commemorates Ed Zimdars wonderfully blessed 90 year life. Our dear father, grandpa, and friend, Ed. E. Zimdars, left us unexpectedly on August 27, 2008. Ed will be greatly missed, but he has returned to the Blue Skies, beyond any storm clouds, and over the rainbow. This time he travels on the wings of Angels.

From the Guest Book

Arthur Partridge: It was a pleasure to work with this fine professional pilot and gentleman so many years ago, at a time when those of us now old ourselves were young and impressionable. Thank you, Ed, for being a fine exemplar. Vic Britt: Ed Zimdars was a grand guy to work with on a training trip. He could roll his R’s and 3’s. I loved to be on a NW 7343 trip and hear him make 7343 last 5 or six seconds (Northwest Seventy Threeee Forty Threeee). An extremely




competent pilot and instructor he always came straight to the point, treated all he met with respect, and was a joy to be with on a training trip. I always got to fly the leg back to Minneapolis when I was the second officer instructor on his training flights. Thanks Ed, your consideration was appreciated. Gary Thompson: A very good airman and a pleasure to work with. Arthur Daniel: Ed had the greatest stories about the airline and its characters, I’m still repeating them. John & Lou Carlson: Zimdar’s Family, Knowing and flying with Ed was both a joy and an education. We also recall the great support Ed and Lillian offered

the American Heart Association through NWPW’s auspices. Dayle Yates: Ed and I worked together on B727 and B707. He was a nice, polite, man as well as a fellow pilot. It was a joy to work with him. Harry Bedrossian: Zimdars Family, I flew copilot for Ed and always enjoyed it because he was so enthusiastic about life. A wonderful guy and a good pilot. I know he lived a full life. Milt Eitreim: Ed was always a gentleman and great to work with. Bob Bartholomay: May your flight west be a peaceful one. I am lucky to have worked with you.

I have come to realize when someone you love dies the continuity of life is a difficult surprise. The birds still sing, the flowers bloom, people are in love and the one thing that skips a beat is the heart of the broken-hearted... – Mary Rethlake, NWA Flight Attendant

Ken Kanakares 1931 ~ 2008 58


Ken Kanakares, age 77, a retired Northwest Airlines pilot “flew west” for a final check from complications after heart surgery, December 19th, 2008. Ken started with Northwest as a mechanic 1957. Shortly after, he checked out as flight engineer on the DC6 and DC7. After getting his flight hours and his pilot license (mostly, at Flying Cloud Airport, Minnesota ) he checked out as second officer and copilot on the Boeing 727 and 707, and copilot on the DC10. Ken retired as a First Officer on the 747-200 in 1991. After retiring Ken and his loving wife of 58 years, Vaneta, settled in Ft. Myers. He divided his time traveling extensively in his motor home during the summers, visiting friends and relatives. Ken and Vaneta also loved tours, boating down the Amazon, Greece, Europe, Fiji Islands and Vietnam. Ken is survived by Vaneta; son Chris and daughter Denise; four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son Terry and will be sadly missed by his family and many friends.

Dale Palmer 1940 ~ 2008 Dale M. Palmer, age 68, of Apple Valley, Minnesota, a retired Northwest Airlines captain passed away peacefully and “flew west” for a final check on June 28, 2008, at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Minnesota. Dale was born on Feb. 4, 1940, in Crosby, Minnesota and was the son of the late Marvin and Inez (Nelson) Palmer. He was preceded in death by his parents, and one brother, Darryl. Dale graduated from Crosby-Ironton High School in 1958, where he played varsity football and basketball for the Crosby Rangers. He attended Brainerd Community College and joined the U.S. Navy after graduation as a Naval Aviation Cadet. He reported to the Naval Air Training Command at Pensacola, Florida in 1960, where he earned his wings as a Naval Aviator, and was commissioned as an Ensign in the United

States Navy. After receiving his wings Dale completed checkout in the Douglas AD-6 (A1-H) “Skyraider”, which could carry a larger bomb load than the four engine B-17 “Flying Fortress” of World War II. He was assigned to Attack Squadron VA-56, and in 1965 the squadron went aboard the U.S.S. Ticonderoga for a WestPac cruise off Yankee Station. Dale completed his combat tour on Yankee Station with VA-56, and flew more than 100 missions over North Vietnam. Dale was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant upon his return from Vietnam. In 1966 he left the Navy for a pilot position at Northwest Airlines, where he served until his retirement in 1982. He stayed on with NWA several years after retirement as a pilot evaluator for the hiring of new pilots. Dale was an engaging story teller and raconteur, a sportsman and an outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting and fishing. He especially loved being at his lake home on Gull Lake where his family had gathered around him every summer since 1976. Dale is survived by his loving wife, Patricia; son Dennis and daughter Lara; four grandchildren that he loved with all his heart, Anthony, Jeana, Andrew and Tyler; sister Carol and brother Dennis; and by his special “children,” Puppsie, Duffy and Fonzie, his devoted Shih Tzus.

From the Guest Book

Roy Newton: Dale was in my hire class of 1966. He was one crazy pilot just coming from Vietnam duty. He was an inspiration to us all. Dale was unforgettable and a great guy to be around. He helped all in the class and always had a laugh and positive words of encouragement. Later he helped me with my Captain check out, never complained of his loss of medical. He was a pilot’s pilot. Vic Britt: I never saw Dale Palmer without the hint of a smile that he always had on his face, soon to be replaced with an ear to ear grin. His positive attitude and “happy go lucky” demeanor was infectious, and he was a pleasure to be around. He had a distinctive low, husky chuckle that you heard when he was telling another of his many engaging stories. The time on a layover with Dale Palmer seemed to fly by. He was one of the really “good guys.”



Don Vimr 1916 ~ 2008 Donald Joseph Vimr, age 92, of West St. Paul, Minnesota, formerly of Eagan, Minnesota, and a retired Northwest Airlines captain “flew west” peacefully for a final check on Nov. 15, 2008 in a Roseville, Minnesota nursing home following a short illness. Don Vimr was born July 27, 1916 in Detroit, Michigan, to William and Laura (Larabell) Vimr. He grew up in Michigan, attending Holy Redeemer High School where he was senior class president, and the University of Detroit. He worked for Ford Motor Company as an apprentice electrician for three years. His life changed forever when he was laid off in a work slowdown and he was able to pursue his love of flying. Wayne County Flying Service hired him as a pilot, mechanic, and ground school/ flight instructor for five years. During the first part of World War II he taught military pilots to fly. That led to his joining Northwest Orient Airlines in 1943, where he first served as copilot for the Air Transport Command (ATC). The ATC contracted with the civilian airlines to ferry supplies to military personnel on the Aleutian Islands. His career as a pilot for Northwest continued for 33 years until his retirement in 1976. Don belonged to the OX5 Aviation Pioneers and the Retired Northwest Pilots Association (RNPA).



Don met his future wife, Rose Mary Myers, through their work with NWA. Rose was first a ticket agent, and then became a stewardess based out of Minneapolis, and later in her nine year career was chief stewardess, western region, based out of Seattle. She remembers the layovers they would enjoy, along with another NWA stewardess, Betsy Winn, who eventually met and married NWA engineer Al Reed. With 36 hours of free time, they would rent a car and go exploring. They used the opportunities to drive to Monticello or along the eastern coast. They visited museums, art collections, sat in on Congressional hearings, and in general, whenever their schedules would permit, they made the most of seeing as much of the U.S. as they could. Those were the good old days… Rose remembers that stewardesses were not allowed to wear any jewelry, because it was not deemed professional with their uniform. The exception was for an engagement ring. That came as mixed good fortune, since stewardesses were released from NWA when they married! Don and Rose married on Oct. 13, 1951 in Nativity Church, St. Paul, with Mgsr. Joseph P. Morrison officiating. Typical of the times, Don became the sole breadwinner, and Rose became responsible for the home front. They entertained, enjoyed lots of international travel on vacations, and raised two kids. Don plied Rose with many cookbooks, and she responded by becoming a terrific cook. He would willingly try anything she dreamed up; then the two would decide whether to keep that recipe or trash it. Don’s favorite teasing homage for a particular delicacy was that it was ‘eminently adequate.’ The two made their home first in Minneapolis, then in Eagan for 30 plus years, and finally at Westwood Ridge Senior Apartments in West St. Paul since 1990. Don was an avid reader, especially in the areas of natural health, theology, science, consumer reports, organic gardening and the outdoors. He loved his books and magazines and couldn’t bear to part with any of them! He raised tropical fish for many years, enjoyed fishing, boating and square dancing, go-cart racing when his son was a teenager and life in general. He was always interested in everyone he met, and his thirst for knowledge was unquenchable. In later years, he developed a passion for growing orchids. His green thumb was well known over the years as he managed a large vegetable garden, delighting in trying new and different varieties, and gave away much produce. During retirement at Westwood Ridge he experimented with a deer proof garden that included a vertical pipe tomato growing system to the delight of residents, many of

whom also benefited from his general handyman repair skills. He is remembered for his intellect, friendliness and serenity. His strong faith in God blessed him with inquisitiveness about religion and an anticipation to experience eternal life. Grateful for having shared his life are his wife of 57 years, Rose, West St. Paul; daughter Marianna and son, Gerry; 5 grandchildren; and sister, Marie Phelps.

From the Guest Book

Dick & Doni Jo Schlader: It wasn’t work to fly with Don Vimr; it was our pleasure, always. We extend our deepest sympathy. Bill Halverson: To the family of Don: Please accept my sincere sympathy. I remember Don for his many fine qualities, his quiet, thoughtful demeanor as well as his competence as a pilot. He will be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him. Terry Juliar: It was always a privilege to fly with Don. He was The Best, in All Respects. Vic Britt: One of my first trips as a new second

officer on the Boeing 707 in the fall of 1968 was with Don Vimr. His serious approach to the job, his carriage and demeanor, and the size of the airplane seemed to make flying on the 707 a bit more serious than the previous years flights on the Boeing 727. Flying with 727 captains was like flying with an older, and sometimes younger, brother. Flying with captains of Dom Vimr’s vintage, was like flying with your father. You were just a little bit more reserved and respectful, at least until you got the lay of the land. Avie Warren Avenson: May life be good to you and the family, Rose. A long time friend and co-worker. Arnie Calvert: Don was a real gentleman and I so enjoyed flying with him. My sympathy to you and the family, I’m sure he will be missed! Bob Bartholomay: It certainly was an honor to have worked with and known Don, he will be missed. George Handel: I had the privilege of flying many trips as Don’s copilot. Don was an absolute delight to work with, and was a first class pilot, and a first class gentleman. He shall be missed by all! second grade in Iowa for a year after college. She joined Northwest Airlines in Bloomington, Minnesota, as a flight attendant in 1974 so she could travel the world. She was pleasant to be around, always had a ready smile, and was compassionate almost to a fault. She could always find something good to say about everyone. You had to really work at it to have a frown on your face when you were around Suzy. She was awarded the Daedalian Trophy, the most prestigious award in civil aviation, for the safe evacuation of 385 passengers after an emergency landing in Tokyo in which an engine caught fire during a typhoon on September 19, 1991. Suzy also received flight attendant of the Quarter Award three different times. Suzy is survived by her husband of 25 years, retired NWA captain Bruce Armstrong; parents, George and Marilyn Peters; three sisters and four brothers; stepchildren, Aaron and Grant; and her four adoring grandchildren, Asa, Samson, Marana and Amos.

Suzy Armstrong 1951 ~ 2008 Susan Peters Armstrong, age 57, of Punta Gorda, Florida, passed away on Monday, Dec. 1, 2008. Suzy was born in Boulder, Colorado on April 12, 1951, and moved to Punta Gorda, Florida in 1999. Suzy graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education and psychology and a Master of Arts degree in education, and taught



lots while they were being trained. His family went to Greece with him and they were based in Athens. They enjoyed touring Greece on Dave’s days off. David was a family man who touched many lives throughout his 67 years. He was a strong, wise, and dependable man who spent his last years building and enjoying his family’s home at Lake Roosevelt - a place for his family to gather together and make memories beyond his years. He traveled the world with his wife, family, and friends and enjoyed nothing more than drinking Corona’s on the beaches of Mexico. He spent his time playing tennis, boating, snowmobiling, and listening to his favorite talk radio personalities. Dave’s family and friends will miss him tremendously, but are thankful for all the wonderful memories they were able to share with him. Survived by his wife of 48 years, Pamela; his four children Elizabeth, Stephen, Scott, and Spencer; eleven (almost twelve) grandchildren; brother Stan and sister Betty.

From the Guest Book

Dave Sawyer 1941 ~ 2008 David E. Sawyer, age 67, of Maple Valley, Washington, and a retired Northwest Airlines captain “flew west” on October 13, 2008 surrounded by his family, after a long and courageous battle with prostate cancer. David was born on January 15, 1941 in Seattle, Washington, and graduated from Kent Meridian High School in 1959 with a football scholarship to San Jose State University. He earned his 1st degree black belt in Judo at the age of 15, and was the alternate to the 1962 Olympics (he continued to a 4th degree black belt). He received his Bachelor’s degree in Business Adminitration from San Jose State University. After graduation, Dave and Pam returned to Seattle where he was hired by Boeing in an office job tracking materials. He started taking flight lessons after work, and shortly after getting his ratings, he was hired by Northwest Airlines in October 1966 as a commercial airline pilot. He retired in as a B747-400 captain after 35 years of service. During his career Dave flew the B707, B727, DC10, B747, & B747-400. When Northwest Airlines sold B707720’s to Olympic Airlines, Dave volunteered for temporary duty in Athens, Greece flying with Olympic pi-



Mike Buckley: Dave was one of my best friends. Our friendship started over 40 years ago as new pilots based in SEA. We flew the same aircraft through our airline careers and spent time together in Greece (along with many Drambuie’s). We walked picket lines together, our families dug clam’s together on San Juan Island, we water skied together, but mostly we had fun playing jokes and needling each other. Many Tokyo layovers were spent trading war stories and telling lies over dinner. It was hard for me to trick or pull a fast one on him because, most likely, he had already done it himself. Dave was always a fighter and with the support of his family, through no choice of his own, he took on the fight of his life and lost the battle. I have comfort knowing he is now pain free and on a new journey. I loved him like a brother, as well as a true and trusted friend. Until we meet again, my best friend, may you always have blue skies and following tail winds. Dick Dodge: I first met Dave in 1968 when I flew a six day MAC trip to SE Asia with he and his father-inlaw John Thompson, Sr. Our MAC trip had a three day layover at Kadena, Okinawa, where we hit the ground running. We did everything from deep sea fishing to playing extended games of Gin Rummy at the pool of the Officers club. Later I flew many trips on the B-727 with Dave when he was a Captain and I was a F/O. He was top drawer as was his father-in-law. He ran a relaxed but very professional ship and was a great guy to fly with. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Membership Application and Change of Address Form


CHANGE: This is a change of address or status only





REGULAR (NR) $35 Limited to pilots no longer on NWA pilot payroll




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EMAIL* (See note)

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PAYMENT MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO: “RNPA” AND MAIL TO: Retired NWA Pilots’ Assn. Dino Oliva 3701 Bayou Louise Lane Sarasota FL 34242-1105







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Contrails 169  

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

Contrails 169  

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