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97-year-old WWII Naval Intelligence Officer takes first flight in a B-25J Mitchell

B-25 Mitchell - Show MeWorld War II era B-25J Mitchell lands on the runways of Bowman Field (KLOU) to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion. World War II veterans are being treated to honor flights during WWII Operation Gratitude.

The B-25J Mitchell, affectionately nicknamed “Show Me”, is best known for its role during the raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942. This raid, led by Col. Jimmy Doolittle, is often cited for boosting America’s morale after the attack on Pearl Harbor just months before.

“Show Me” flew from the Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, which is located in St. Charles County Smartt Airport (KSET), to Louisville’s own Bowman Field Airport (KLOU) specifically for the celebration. 

WWII era B-25J Mitchell, Bowman Field, June 2019

 

Twenty veterans from all branches of the military were carried five at a time in “Show Me” across the rolling hills of the Bluegrass State.

 One of those passengers, Norma Lewis, admits she spent most of the flight with her hands clenched. Not in fear, however, but exhilaration.

“The engine is like a thousand violins in my ears,” she said before pausing. “The feeling of being in the air is just… wow.” Norma smiled, recounting the flight in “Show Me”.

At 97 years-young, as she will be sure to remind you, Norma has lived an altruistic life.

In 1943, at the age of 21, she joined the Navy. She was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina as part of a mission of tracking German submarines.

After three and a half years as a Naval Intelligence Officer, Norma retired from the Navy.

She came to Louisville in the 1960s as a sign language interpreter, something she picked up around the age of 10 after having been raised by her deaf aunt and uncle in Connecticut.

In 1977, “Mass of the Air”, a televised weekly mass on local news station WHAS, began to air. Norma volunteered for the program as an interpreter and has since been with the station for 40 years. 

WWII Operation of Gratitude is presented by Honor Flight Bluegrass Chapter during the week of June 3-7 to recognize the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.

Jeff Thoke, chairman of the board of Honor Flight Bluegrass, said: “I am thankful to be able to put on such a truly special event for these veterans.”

From left: Norma Lewis, Jeff Thoke, and Ernie Micka pose
in front of the B-25J Mitchell, Bowman Field, June 2019

 

Honor Flight Bluegrass was selected as a recipient of a $75,000 grant from the Kentucky Veterans Program Trust Fund, administered by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs to fully sponsor the honor flight.

For more information, visit www.honorflightbluegrass.org

B-25J Mitchell lands at Bowman Field to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, June 2019

 

FIRST SOLO FLYING

The moment a student pilot soars into the air alone for the first time is a leap of faith – for both the student and the instructor.

The date was July 31, 1997.

It was the date of my first solo. I was 21 years old. And I was petrified.

Okay, maybe not petrified. But my palms were sweating. My heart was pounding.

Flying Solo for the first timeSee, we aviation enthusiasts like to imagine ourselves as those old pilot stereotypes:  the barnstorming stick jockeys who are afraid of nothing – who duel it out with the Red Baron, defending our homeland. Then, when our plane gets shot up, we bail out, and ride our parachute down to where we happen to land just outside our favorite diner. Just in time for breakfast, we pack up our parachute, trudge into the diner – to the awe of everyone inside – and order bacon, eggs and grits.

“Coffee’s cold again,” we would grumble. “Heck, this wasn’t even worth getting shot down for! And I don’t even eat grits!”

That wasn’t me. I put my first solo off.

I was a fair weather pilot. I was the guy who was constantly checking the winds – and if they weren’t straight down the runway, there was no way I was going alone.  What? There’s another plane in the pattern? Better wait till he’s gone. Don’t wanna go while it’s crazy up there!

ME:  And look! See that little cumulous cloud off in the distance? Looks grim! Probably means a storm’s coming!

INSTRUCTOR:  That’s a smokestack.

ME: Who cares? They both have lifting motion!

Okay, again, I exaggerate. But no matter how many touch-and-go’s I did, the thought of me taking off without my instructor in the right seat set me on edge.

But that week I decided that, come what may, I was going to do it. I was going to fly my first solo.

Part of it was a girl. The girl I liked at the time was dating someone else – but she would have found out if I chickened out, and I wasn’t about to let THAT happen.

But mostly, it was because I wanted to fly. My aviation career had hit a wall – and there was no way I was ever going to get over that wall and get my license if I wouldn’t solo an airplane.

So two days earlier, I went to see a wise old doctor to get my third-class medical. Like countless student pilots before me, I walked up to a kind receptionist who basically handed me a plastic cup, pointed to the restroom and said, “You know what to do.” 

Unlike student pilots nowadays, I walked out of the doctor’s office that day with my medical in my hand. It was a pre-9/11 world. We didn’t have to wait weeks for our paperwork.

That Thursday evening, when I walked into the Devonair Flight School on historic Bowman Field (KLOU), I had butterflies in my stomach. I told the folks there that I hoped tonight would be the night that I would solo.

“Your flight instructor called,” one of the guys said. “He said he’s sorry, but something came up and he won’t be able to make it tonight.”

At first I felt relief. I had an excuse. God obviously didn’t want me to fly today. Well, better luck next time.

But deep down, I also felt disappointment. I was ready. I had spent all day psyching myself up for this.

“I will solo you!”

The voice came from the chief pilot, a Norwegian, who had subbed in as my instructor on a couple of occasions. I’ll call him Dan.

“I dunno, Dan,” I stumbled. “I should probably wait until—“

“No!” Dan replied. “I will solo you tonight. Go pre-flight the plane.”

Dan and I went up and did a few touch and go’s in N9105, a Cessna 172 trainer. It was a hot summer evening, and Runway 6 – a 4,300 foot runway – was the active. I did the touch-and-go’s one after the other, and to my growing irritation, Dan wasn’t paying any attention. As I glided in for touchdown, he didn’t seem to even be looking out the window.

I wanted to yell, “If you’re going to sign me off to fly this thing alone, will you at least pay attention to see if I can land properly????”

(He was of course. Paying attention, I mean. I hadn’t yet caught on to that old instructor trick of feigned distraction and faking indifference during the most critical moments of flight, in order to build the confidence of the student.)

Finally, he had me taxi back to the hold short line, where he grabbed my logbook and signed it.

“You will solo now,” he said.

“What?” I said. “I don’t think so. You haven’t even been paying attention. I should probably wait for—“

“You are ready,” Dan replied. “You should solo right now.”

“I dunno Dan,” I said.

Dan sighed. Then he opened the door of the airplane, turned, and to my surprise, hit the transmit button.

“Bowman Tower, Cessna November Niner-One-Zero-Five is ready at Six.”

Then he smiled.

“Bye!”

In a moment, he shut the door and was gone.

I was shocked, half nervous, half grinning at the audacity and hilariousness of my situation. Then the controller answered back in my headset:

“Cessna November Niner-One-Zero-Five, Bowman Tower, cleared for takeoff, left turn approved.”

I had two choices at that point. I could decline the clearance and taxi back to the flight school in shame and defeat, or I could say a prayer, taxi onto the runway centerline, throttle up and come-what-may.

I chose the latter. And as soon as the wheels left  the pavement, my hours of training kicked in. On my first landing, I was dumbfounded – I had just landed an airplane by myself! By the second landing, I had a big, stupid grin on my face. On the third landing, I was Luke Skywalker tearing my X-wing through the trenches, getting ready to blow up the Death Star.

When it was over, I taxied back to the flight school in triumph. A few minutes later, I learned that my Dad had shown up at the school on an errand. He didn’t know for sure that I would be soloing that evening, but when he heard my voice crackling over the flight school’s handheld radio, he sat down on one of the airport benches to watch me land. He told me later that my wheels “kissed the ground.”

My dad passed away a few years later. That night will always be one of my favorite memories of him.

My first time - Flying SoloOvercoming my fear of soloing was a huge accomplishment for me. I would go on to make more solo flights, eventually to the practice area, then on to do several long solo cross-countries, before getting my license.

Like me, there may be lots of other students standing on the edge of the abyss, wondering whether you’re ready for your solo. Here is my advice:

  • Make sure you meet the legal requirements for soloing student pilots, outlined in 14 CFR § 61.87.
  • Trust your instructor. He or she knows what they’re doing. If they think you’re ready, you’re ready.
  • Trust yourself. You have the training and the ability, or your instructor wouldn’t have signed that logbook endorsement.
  • Fun. Take time to look out the window. Enjoy the view. Notice the seat empty seat next to you. And when you land, be sure to take plenty of pictures (but NOT UNTIL YOU LAND!)

 

Study hard. Learn the procedures. Then when you’re instructor says you’re ready, take the plunge.

If I can do it, you can do it.

How about your first Solo, tell us about it?  Help a new pilot understand it happens to all of us:) 

Commercial Pilot Check Ride Prep

Pilot Check Ride Prep

For any pilot looking to chase a career in aviation and especially those who have already passed their flight training days, we all have to experience the dreaded check ride. All the time, money and energy put into completing the requirements count on this one day-and it’s the most nerve wracking thing. If you’re like any pilot you can’t sleep the night before, you show up to your testing place early to restudy everything because you managed to forget it all that morning, and if the smallest thing goes wrong you’re discouraged. But it all becomes worth it when you shake your examiner’s hand as they pass you your new pilot certificate, and you know you earned it. So, let’s talk about some things that might help you pass your commercial check ride:

  • First things first, KNOW YOUR PLANE. Don’t test with a plane on a check ride you’re not familiar with. You should know factors like its glide capability, the systems, Vspeeds etc. This will play a part in both the oral and flight portion of the test. Consider some questions like what type of engine you have or how the electrical system operates. Glide capability comes into play on the engine out scenario and the power-off 180º.
  • Know commercial pilot limitations and where to find them in the regulations. Two questions almost every examiner will ask involve common carriage and holding out. Here’s a hint-both are illegal. You cannot use someone else's plane and charge passengers their rate along with yours. You also cannot go advertising flights for passengers after becoming a commercial pilot, such as “$200 flights round trip to the Bahamas!” with you. That gets into Part 135 operations that has different stipulations, and that you don’t have the privileges to do without a Part 135 certification. This license allows you to operate under 14 CFR 119.1 for flights such as bird chasing, aerial photography and sightseeing (NOT charter flights).
  • Another limitation as a commercial pilot is what you’re restricted to do if you do not have an instrument rating. If you’re unsure of where to find it, check out 14 CFR 61.133. Without an instrument rating, a licensed commercial pilot cannot carry passengers more than 50 nautical miles away from their departure airport. Regulations also restrict carrying passengers at night for hire.
  • Now that you can carry passengers for hire, your flight planning and flying skills should be well developed past what they were as a private pilot. After all, if you’re being paid for these operations you need to be good at them. It comes down to the small things, like turning to a new heading. Don’t throw the bank in there, but smoothly start rolling it in. In short: Make. Everything. Smooth. You want your passengers to be comfortable and feel like they’re flying with an experienced pilot. As for flight planning, use all the resources available for a safe and well-planned flight! This is especially helpful on cross countries, time building to meet testing requirements. One way to do this is finding an airport to refuel for the lowest price. The GlobalAir.com Fuel Mapping tool is perfect for this and ranks airports in a specified radius from lowest to highest fuel price.

The last tip for a commercial check ride, and any check ride for that matter, is to not test until you’re ready. Take it from a pilot with a previous failure and who has talked with other pilots, everything is on your timeline. It’s when you’ve studied and flown enough that you feel you’re truly ready for this new license that it’s time to test. Check rides are stressful and nerve wracking. It’s likely that you’ll fly worse than normal on a test day, and that’s okay because it’s your nerves.

Just remember that safety is the goal, not perfection! Take a breath, take your time, then show the examiner what you’ve been training for.  Do you have any tips that you would like to offer a student pilot you think might help?

Use Of A Registered Agent's Address On An Application For Aircraft Registration Is Not Acceptable

Many companies organized as corporations or limited liability companies routinely use a registered agent in states where the company does business. This is especially true when a company is set up under the laws of other states, such as Delaware. And a company's use of a registered agent and the agent's address is certainly acceptable in many business contexts. However, the FAA recently issued a Legal Interpretation rejecting this practice when an applicant submits an FAA Form 8050-1 Application for Aircaft Registration.Federal Aviation Administration

The FAA gave two reasons why this practice is unacceptable: (1) the registered agent’s address is not the mailing of the applicant; and (2) the registered agent’s address is not the physical address of the applicant. The FAA stated "if the applicant’s physical address is not listed on the Form 8050-1, it is our opinion that the Application for Registration is not completed in accordance with 14 C.F.R. §47.31(b)(1)." Additionally, §47.45 requires that an applicant/aircraft owner provide a physical address/location if different from a new mailing address.

Although a registered agent is permitted to sign an application for aircraft registration on behalf of the applicant/aircraft owner, the applicant must comply with §47.13 (the agent must sign as agent/attorney-in-fact and include a power of attorney signed by the applicant/aircraft owner). And even then the aircraft owner's address must be used on the application (because the application asks for the owner's address, not the address of the owner's agent).

If the FAA determines that a registered agent's address has been used, the FAA will reject the application. This will result in delays in getting the aircraft's registration transferred to the applicant/aircraft owner and in obtaining the hard-card registration certificate.

For the Love of the Mosquito Dream

A New Zealand aviator is looking for a new home for the “Wooden Wonder” -- his lovingly restored Mosquito T.43

Glyn Powell has a special talent. He has the ability to raise the dead.Glyn Powell

Not people, mind you. Aircraft.  Specifically the de Havilland Mosquito.

Introduced by the British and flown regularly by the Royal Air Force during World War II, the Mosquito had a wooden frame supporting two Merlin engines. A multi-use aircraft, the Mosquito served as a both a fighter and a bomber until it was eventually eclipsed in both design and popularity by the Supermarine Spitfire.

Though produced en masse during the war, most of the Mosquitos were eventually burned as time wore on and their wooden frames became rotten and unusable. Components were lost. Drawings were scattered. Long thought to be an unfortunate casualty of history, by the turn of the century, it was not believed that any Mosquito would ever fly again.

Until Glyn Powell took up the challenge.

An implausible ambition

Theo Botha, general manager of Mosquito Aircraft Restoration, has two words to describe Glyn Powell:  Humble and pragmatic.

“He’s exactly the kind of guy you really wouldn’t expect to want to rebuild one of the most technically complex non-jet aircraft in history in what is – what was – his garden,” Botha said.

And yet that’s exactly what happened. The New Zealand-based pilot fell in with a group of aviation enthusiasts with a shared vision: They wanted to rebuild a flyable Mosquito.

“Everyone talks about Spitfires because they’re flying,” Botha said. “You can see them. ‘What’s that?’ ‘Oh, it’s a Spitfire! It’s cool! It makes a loud noise!’ ‘Great! They won the war!’ ‘Oh, brilliant!’ But actually, the Mosquito played a very important role as well – extremely important – but because the airframes are made of wood, none of them are around. So they’re less in people’s minds. Glyn wanted to fix that.”

By 1989, most of the group had given up, but Powell had caught the vision and he wasn’t letting go. He purchased the remains of NZ2308 – a Mosquito T.43 – and began the work of restoring it. That work included securing 8,000 drawings on microfilm from the Smithsonian Institute, as well as traveling the world to examine, in detail, preserved Mosquitos. He also became a fervent collector of Mosquito parts.

“He’s not a CEO-type character – a bull-type character – where the only way to get him to do something is to set him a challenge,” Botha said. “He’s more someone who decides what he wants to do and is just gonna get on and do it. I supposed there’s no ego attached. It’s not a question of, ‘You say I can’t do it, so I will.’ It’s more a question of, ‘I’m gonna do it because it’s what I want to do.’”

“So what kind of guy is he?” Botha asks. “The kind of guy who just humbly shows you what he’s done, and the only thing you can think of to say is, ‘How can I help?’ He’s that kind of guy.”

Mosquito workshop

Restoring a flyable Mosquito is a task that would take Powell decades.

“I really don’t think they had any idea how hard it was to do,” Botha said of Powell and his team. “Because there’s almost a fractal level of detail with this. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to make an Airfix model or something like that – those little five-minute jobs that end up taking you the best part of a week. The Mosquito is that to the Nth degree.” Glyn Powell

Powell and his team were faced with the obstacle of building a flyable Mosquito from drawings that weren’t 100 percent complete, assembled from parts – many of which were missing – in a manner that was both functional and historically accurate.

“At the time this was made, they were pumping these out like a Model T Ford,” Botha said. “But what we’re talking about is making one Model T Ford from scratch in your garage, from drawings. It’s mindboggling.”

By far, one of the most difficult aspects of the aircraft’s construction is its wooden frame. Made of a combination of plywood and balsa wood, the frame would require the construction of two moulds, composed of douglas fir and cedar wood. Botha says that wasn’t an easy task at a time when – aside from the construction of high-end furniture and musical instruments – the craft of woodworking is dying. Much thanks, he said, goes to the professionals at Avspecs Ltd., a New Zealand-based vintage aircraft restoration company, for their workmanship in forming the fuselage in a manner that reflected the original design.

That said, in some rare instances, Botha says modern materials were substituted where using the originals simply wasn’t practical for the overall longevity of the aircraft.

“There are substantive differences,” he admitted. “Some materials which were used are no longer commercially available, so some materials had to be substituted in.”

“But also, more importantly, the modern adhesives are much more resistant to moisture,” he added.

The original design called for a 1940 technology organic casein or urea formaldehyde glue. In place of this, Powell and his team used a modern epoxy.

“Moisture and humidity is a Mosquito’s worst enemy,” Botha said. “If you want it to last forever, you want to control its storage environment – the humidity. And the adhesive’s ability to be resistant to moisture is very important. So epoxies are used for the adhesive.”

Botha says Powell and his team had a much more difficult time building a handful of flying Mosquitos than the Brits of the 1930s did.

“At the time this plane was built, it was a really serious industrial job,” he said. “Thousands and thousands and thousands of people at hundreds of companies working together. So when Glyn started from scratch with just the drawings of the Mosquito, and not having the mammoth industrial supply chain – to have one organization making spars, one making ailerons, etc. – to do that with a small team is unfathomably audacious.”

Part of Powell’s success, Botha said, stems from the creativity and tenacity of the people working under him.

“They live and breathe small engineering activities,” he said. “They’re humble people, and they’re not earning a fortune from this.”

“One of the key men who works there, his hobby is making fully-functional, handheld-sized petrol engines,” he said. “So he’ll make you a V-12 you can hold in your hand. He makes those at home.”

Botha said he first visited Powell’s workshop years ago on the advice of a friend – and he immediately fell in love with the Mosquito.

“It’s hard not to,” he said. “If you pick up any part – any component or subcomponent – it’s just mind-blowing, the level of detail, within the detail, within the detail. And then the craft, which stems from figuring out how to interpret the drawings through to actually fabricating parts using the appropriate techniques and really making a job of every last piece…

“These days you could, using computer-aided design, CNC-machine all these parts and do all of it a lot easier, but they’re not doing it that way,” he added. “This is craft and advanced engineering and woodwork by hand, but up to the standards of CNC machining. It’s mind-blowing.”

The Wooden Wonder

The first fully-restored, fully-functional Mosquito, KA113, thrilled audiences when it made its post-restoration maiden flight in Sept. 2012. It went on to receive the award for Grand Champion WW2 Warbird at the 2015 EAA Oshkosh Airshow.

To date, three Mosquitos have been reconstructed and are now flyable. A fourth – Powell’s original plane, NZ2308 – is in the process of being restored, as financing permits. Botha said Powell hopes to find the financing to finish the project, and a buyer to give the aircraft a good home.

“The reason Glyn started this was not because he wanted to sell one, or because he wanted to build one. He wanted to fly one,” Botha said. “And he wanted to keep the memory of this thing alive. And when he was finished flying it, his ambition was to have it sent straight back to the UK, where it could be an important part of the flying military history over there.”

Currently, Powell is working with The Mostquito Pathfinder Trust, an organization raising funds to finish the restoration project and have the aircraft sent to the UK.

Botha said that, of the available Mosquitos, this is the prize.

“This is the one that started it all,” he said. “It is constructed from the pick of the available components by the guy who was sourcing them, as his personal aircraft.”

As time passes, Botha says the value of NZ2308 only increases, given the fact that it will become increasingly difficult to find the necessary skills and components to build another Mosquito.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “The cost of restoring a Mosquito is extraordinarily high, but if you had to make new metal parts from scratch, the cost would double. So the possibility of having authentic restored mosquitos is going away. Estimates vary, but two-to-three more will be the maximum. This is going to be the most special one.”

But the biggest advantage of this particular Mosquito, according to Botha, is the dual-control system, which means the plane can be flown from either the right or left seat.

“If I can afford it, I’d buy this, and I’d have one of a very, very, very small handful of pilots take me up in it and have some very safe fun in it.”

 “I think it’s a no-brainer,” he added wistfully.

Interested parties can review the purchase details at this link https://www.globalair.com/aircraft-for-sale/Mosquito-The-Wooden-Wonder

Mosquito aircraft with crew during WWII

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