Keep Your Eyes to the Florida Skies

Welcome to the Florida Mystery Writers Blog Hop and Sandy Parks‘ True Airspeed.

“Florida is a giant bug light for crazy people.” ~Phyllis Smallman, Sleuthfest 2014

It’s no surprise to any author living in Florida that some of the craziest stories we write are actually inspired by true events in our Sunshine State. Join us in exploring a different side of Florida than the travel bureau promotes with our first Blog Hop sponsored by Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. READ Sandy’s blog about flying in Florida, comment, share your favorite stories, ENTER the contest to WIN a Kindle Paperwhite, and CLICK the links below to read another member’s view of crazy Florida.

Since I write stories full of action-adventure, mystery, and a quirky band of characters who legally steal big airplanes for a living, I chose to write about Florida from the perspective of people who fly in our skies. What do pilots and their passengers encounter living in this swampy, beach-lined, and lightning capital of the US, that they might not in other states? I asked that very question of two pilots at the Sun-N-Fun airshow last week.

T-6 Warbird

T-6 Warbird

Thom Richard, who races P-51 Precious Metal in the Reno Air Races and lives in Kissimmee, had a definitely unique Florida tale. He was flying his T-6 Warbird (similar to the one pictured above) to Marco Island at night. When he approached the airport, he was asked to do a low flyby down the runway. For anyone who flies a unique aircraft, this is not an unusual request. Aviation fans love to watch and hear the powerful (and loud) warbird aircraft. But this was at night, in the dark, when no one would be able to see much. He did as directed and executed a low flyby and came back and landed. After he taxied in, he was curious as to why they requested the flyby. Simple. It was the best way to get the twelve-foot saltwater crocodile off the runway! We have more than gators in Florida.

Thom Richard, Reno Air Race pilot of P-51 Precious Metal.

Thom Richard, Reno Air Race pilot of P-51 Precious Metal, at Sun-N-Fun 2014.

Florida Crocs and Gators can be found in the most unexpected places...like runways.

Florida Crocs and Gators can be found in the most unexpected places…like runways. (Nile croc photo from Wiki Commons/Leigh Bedford. Gator photo by Will Parks.)

Chuck Gardner works at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Texas, but has many hours in the Florida skies. He flies warbirds like the Stearman biplane (shown below), the T-6, or the famous P-51 Mustang. His favorite time for flying in Florida is March in an open cockpit. That time of year a low level flight over central Florida orchards brings the sweet sweet smell of orange blossoms wafting (rather blowing) into the cockpit. Sure hope he doesn’t have allergies.

Orangeblossomcollage

Stearman Biplane with the open cockpit makes a great way to smell the orange blossoms in Florida.

On the other hand, Chuck had a number of things were not so great about flying in Florida. There are the afternoon thunderstorms that are accompanied by lightning…lots of lightning. A few years ago a small tornado blew through the Sun-N-Fun airshow at Lakeland, overturning aircraft and tents. No injuries, but a lot of damage and shook-up fans. Mother nature has other very small, very annoying ways to cause problems flying in Florida that every driver here will understand…Love Bugs. Those two little black bugs that are stuck together and airborne. The front end of a car can turn black with bugs stuck to them, and so can the propellors and leading edges of an aircraft. Yuck. BIG, beautiful birds are another claim to fame for the state of Florida. Contact with one in the air or on the ground can cause quite a bit of damage to an aircraft. Chuck said frequently when taxiing out to fly, he has to rev his engines to clear stubborn Sandhill Cranes who refuse to move off the runway.

The Sandhill Crane can be curious and rather fearless, when it comes to cars and planes.

The Sandhill Crane can be curious and rather fearless, when it comes to cars and planes.

Last but not least, since I write about extreme characters who steal/repossess airplanes for a living (REPOSSESSED and coming soon OUTFOXED), I thought I’d mention that there are several people in Florida who have recently become well-known for a reality TV show on Discovery Channel called Airplane Repo. One of the stars is Mike Kennedy who lives in Orlando. He’d make a great character in a novel. Another is Ken Cage of IRG, who has part of his business, International Recovery & Remarketing Group, at the Orlando Executive Airport. It’s a strange world out there, folks, so pay your bills and they won’t take your airplane back.

Airplane Repo star Mike Kennedy and wife (center), Sandy (rt), Test pilot hubby Scott on left.

At 2014 Reno Air Races we ran into Airplane Repo star Mike Kennedy and wife (center), Sandy (rt), Test pilot hubby Scott (lt).

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ll come back sometime to read other blog posts on aviation, travel locations, or simply to check out some of the fun photography and crazy stories.

Enter Now to Win a Kindle Paperwhite

Now for the good stuff. As part of this blog hop with other mystery/thriller/suspense writers, we are giving away a Kindle Paperwhite. Just click on the following link and follow the directions to sign up.

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

No purchase is necessary. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. By submitting your entry, you agree to be entered into the participating authors’ email newsletter list. Your information will not be shared with anyone else, and you may unsubscribe at any time. Winner will be notified by email. Authors are not responsible for transmission failures, computer glitches or lost, late, damaged or returned email. Winner agrees for their name to be used in conjunction with the contest on FMWA and authors’ social media sites. U.S. Residents only due to postage constraints.

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To continue on this BLOG HOP, VISIT other Florida Mystery Writers, read they Florida stories, and WIN more prizes:

Victoria Allman, Gator Bites, http://www.victoriaallman.com/blog <http://www.victoriaallman.com/blog>
Miriam Auerbach, Bonkers in Boca, http://www.miriamauerbach.com/bonkers-in-boca <http://www.miriamauerbach.com/bonkers-in-boca>
Gregg E. Brickman, Crazy South Florida—How it got to be home, http://www.GreggEBrickman.com/blog.html
Diane Capri, Fishnado!, http://www.dianecapri.com/blog
Nancy J. Cohen, Characters Too Weird to Be True, http://nancyjcohen.wordpress.com
Joan Lipinsky Cochran, The Million Dollar Squatter: Crazy in the Land of Coconuts and Bagels, http://www.joanlipinskycochran.com/blog.htm?post=952677 <http://www.joanlipinskycochran.com/blog.htm?post=952677>
jd daniels He Did What? http://www.live-from-jd.com <http://www.live-from-jd.com/>
Joy Wallace Dickinson, “In Florida, It’s Great to Be a Cracker”, http://www.FindingJoyinFlorida.com
Dallas Gorhman, http://www.DallasGorham.com
Linda Gordon Hengerer Crazy Treasure on the Treasure Coast, http://footballfoodandfiction.blogspot.com/ <http://footballfoodandfiction.blogspot.com/>
Vicki Landis, Eavesdropping 101, http://www.victorialandis.com <http://www.victorialandis.com/>
Sandy Parks, Keep your eyes to the Florida skies, http://www.sandyparks.wordpress.com <http://www.sandyparks.wordpress.com>
Neil Plakcy, Moscow on the Intracoastal http://www.mahubooks.blogspot.com/
Johnny Ray Utilizing Google Plus Air to Facilitate Author Interviews, http://www.sirjohn.us
Joanna Campbell Slan, Honey, You’ll Never Guess What Rolled Up in the Surf http://www.joannaslan.blogspot.com <http://joannaslan.blogspot.com/

 

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A Little “Diversion” on Trip to Peru

Overseas flights tend to be long, tiring, and for hubby and me, who seemed to be frowned upon by the Trim Gods, frequented by electrical problems that cause delays or diversions in the airliner’s flight plan. To prove my point, look back in the blog archives for a story about a fuel dump from last year’s trip to Morocco (Morocco Part One: Fuel Dump, and Flight to Morocco Part II).

Plane we took to Peru.

Plane Boeing 767 we took to Peru.

Headed to Peru and halfway to Lima on an evening flight, the Captain popped on the cabin lights and announced they had a little electrical problem and would be diverting to Guayaquil, Ecuador. While, I’m usually up for visiting new countries, we’d visited Ecuador a few years ago on a trip to Quito and the Galapagos Islands (Blogs: Exotic Wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, and Galapagos (Giant) Tortoise). As travelers we have learned to be flexible and “go with the flow,” and lauded ourselves for planning in extra time at the beginning of our trip just for such an occurrence. Considering these delays have happened more than once, it’s not a bad piece of advice if you can afford the time.

Welcome to Guayaquil sign in Ecuador airport.

Welcome to Guayaquil sign in Ecuador airport.

Once on the ground, the Captain filled us in on the circumstances. The aircraft had a battery problem. The good news…maintenance would look into it. The bad news…maintenance had to get a copy of the battery (what they believed was causing the problem) manual. Ah, the joys of contract maintenance.

Pilot hubby guessed that it would probably mean a plane change, which considering our destination, posed a logistics challenge. There were no other B767s in Guayaquil. The plan…another flight from the airline would be arriving on a planned flight from Miami to Guayaquil in a few hours. Once unloaded, that plane would then take us to Lima.

The positive outcome? This time we didn’t land to fire trucks and ambulances, and the little cafe in the Guayaquil airport had coffees, tasty banana bread, and beer.

The little coffee, sweets and beer cafe in Guayaquil Airport.

The little coffee, sweets, and beer cafe in Guayaquil Airport stayed open late in the evening.

Eventually we made it to Lima, our connection picked us up (in the wee morning hours), and upon arriving at our delightful, boutique hotel, discovered cookies and champagne waiting in our room. Ate the cookies and saved the alcohol for the next night when we celebrated hubby’s birthday.

Bohemian little boutique hotel in Barranco (Lima), Peru. Loved all the little touches and wonderful art in the restored old summer home.

Hotel B, a bohemian little boutique hotel in Barranco (Lima), Peru. Loved all the little touches and wonderful art in the restored old summer home. Note champagne bottle at end of bed. Sweet little cookies were on the small desk. Security all over Lima and in this high-end area was high. Even though this neighborhood was a safe one and the Spanish embassy was across the street, a doorman had a key and unlocked the front door for arrivals and departure in the evenings. Absolutely wonderful  place if you’re one to avoid big hotels.

The Case of the Mysterious Biplane

My husband has a new hobby– uncovering the family history. A few weeks ago a distant cousin came up with a photo of two relatives standing in front of a biplane. We knew their names and that they were from the Atlanta area. The young gentleman held a stylish straw hat with the ribbon band popular in the late twenties and early thirties.

The Mysterious Biplane Family Photo

The Mysterious Biplane Family Photo

Being a family full of pilots, we had to discover something about the plane behind them. So I posted it on Facebook, friends started passing it around (thanks to you all), and the guesses started coming in. Each time someone proposed a possible plane (Sopwith Camel (supposedly offered in jest), Travel Air, Waco, Stearman), I spent time on-line looking it up. However, biplanes are a true weakness in our household repertoire and I failed to get any kind of match.

This weekend I attended a 99s meeting (women pilot’s organization). While there I mentioned to Bobbi Lasher about the biplane mystery. Without a second thought, she said send it her way. So I did, expecting another wait and round of guessing. Never underestimate a 99. She sent the photo out to over 170 aviation friends and information started coming in almost immediately. Would these new guesses to the plane’s identity match up with the facts concerning the young couple?

Dick Peiffer, from the Melbourne Area Pilots Association, in particular mentioned taking a close-up look at the aircraft and seeing lettering on it beside the couple. He was pretty sure it said “MAIL.” I took the photo and did my best to enhance that area. Below is the photo showing my efforts where the writing and symbol on the side can now be seen more clearly. But still, I wasn’t sure of the plane’s identity.

Photo enhanced picture after Dick Peiffer suggested he could read something on the aircraft.

Photo enhanced picture after Dick Peiffer suggested he could read MAIL on the aircraft.

AldermanSymblCrop2

Close-up of symbol and writing on side of aircraft.

Wayne Eleazer, an Air Force Lt. Col who retired after 25 years of active duty, came in with the first identification. Here’s what he had to say:

“My first thought was that it was a Pitcairn, since they have characteristic sleek and small rear fuselages and hefty fronts. And looking in the Juptner book (Reference: U.S. Civil Aircraft Series, by Joseph Juptner, Vol 1, P.228) at Pitcairns, I found that there is an “airfoil” symbol visible below the cockpit of one of the pictures of a Mailwing. The Juptner book has a couple of pieces on the Mailwing, one for each of ATC number assigned each version. That seemed to confirm it.”

This upclose look at the Pitcairn Mailwing symbol from Wikipedeia and attributed to Photographer FlugKerl2, 25 July 2011, is from a PA-7s Mailwing. This one appears to be sport configuration with Mail paint scheme.

This up close look at the Pitcairn Mailwing symbol from Wikipedeia and attributed to Photographer FlugKerl2, 25 July 2011, is from a PA-7 Mailwing. This one appears to be sport configuration with Mail paint scheme.

“The aircraft appears to be a Pitcairn Super Sport Mailwing, PA-6, which was the Mailwing mail carrying aircraft modified for passenger use. Normally that big hole in front of the cockpit would be for carrying mail or in the case of the Super Sport, a covered compartment for up to two passengers. The type certificate ATC #92 for the PA-6 was issued in December of 1928 and the revised type certificate for the Super Sport was issued in April of 1929.”

Wayne also mentioned he thought the aircraft may have been modified for airshow use. I’m guessing his reasoning came from the tall pole-like object seen sticking up behind the cockpit. [Update: Wayne later checked with his radio expert friends, who believe the tall object/pole is an antenna.] To help see the Pitcairn symbol being discussed, I added the detailing in yellow to highlight the areas from two photos above.

Overlay indicating the writing and Pitcairn symbol on aircraft.

Overlay indicating the writing and Pitcairn symbol on aircraft.

Aviation friend and pilot Bill Weiler also sent a long list of resources to check out which I’ll post at the end of the blog and he had this to say about the family photo:

“Absolutely a Pitcairn, but not totally sure of the exact model. A few confirming details are the logo markings, though faded on the subject aircraft, the elevator control wire location coming up from below, the shape of the pilot’s cockpit cut out, the windscreen, the longeron locations coming from the tail to the turtle deck behind the pilot, the bell crank location on the full span aileron, and the length and shape of the forward cockpit appears it’s a modified mail plane rather than a sport version. My guess is it’s an early PA-6 or very late PA-5 because of the lack of an engine cowling and the apparent extended fuselage.”

“Here’s a good PA-5 picture.”

“They claimed the PA-7 was the first 3 passenger, but it looks like when they created the cut out from the mail plane version there was enough room for 2 – and I’m sure no one worried about seat belts and gross weight. It does not appear to have a front windscreen like this PA-7 does.”

***So with all this good information about it being a Pitcairn, does it fit the family scenario?***

Remember back at the beginning I mentioned we believe the photo was taken in the Atlanta area? Would there have been any Pitcairn Mailwing aircraft in the region? My answer comes from Wikipedia so take it as you will. It all starts with FLORIDA AIRWAYS that Eddie Rickenbacker helped start in Florida in 1923. The airline flew to Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami. Florida Airways was the first to carry Commercial Air Mail (CAM) and eventually expanded the mail route to Atalanta in 1926. There could even be the initials C.A.M. under the word MAIL in the family photo, but it is impossible to see it.

Yea! Now we have an Atlanta connection. However, the planes they were flying were Stout 2AT’s like those pictured below.

This photo is of Ford's Stout 2AT's now in the Florida Photographic Collection

This photo is of Ford’s Stout 2AT’s (from the Florida Photographic Collection). Taken June 1926.

To expand the routes and stay in business, the airline needed to fly to Cuba. Pan American Airways beat them to exclusive rights. This was the demise of Florida Airways which was bought out by Harold Pitcairn (later to become Eastern Airlines). Pitcairn had the mail contract between New York City and Atlanta, Georgia flying the Pitcairn Mailwing biplane. Again this fits with the family being in Atlanta. Pitcairn was bought out in 1929 by the company that eventually became Eastern Airlines. That would place our photo likely before 1929 (before the logo would have picked up Eastern Air Transport and be painted on the Mailwing). This photo of a Pitcairn PA-5 in the Air and Space Museum shows that newer logo.

Pitcairn PA-5 Mailwing in Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C. Photo by Parks 2015

Pitcairn PA-5 Mailwing in Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C. Photo by Parks 2015

Close-up of PA-5 in Air and Space Museum.

Close-up of PA-5 in Air and Space Museum.

I certainly learned something about Florida’s involvement in the early air mail service along with tying in part of my hubby’s extended family history. Thanks to everyone who pitched in with information and links. If you’re interested in seeing more photos of Mailwings or further extending your knowledge, here’s a list of additional links.

Thanks for stopping by.

Some more good links from Bill Weiler:

Wikipedia Pitcairn_Aircraft

Aerofiles

Pitcairn-PA-6-Super-Mailwing-pictures

Elizabeth Pitcairn USplane PA-7

Airminded Photos and Specs

Wikipedia Pitcairn Mailwing

Interesting that Steve McQueen owned a PA-8.

What’s in Your Favorite Pilot bar?

I’ve been in my share of aviation bars through the years from the Pancho Barnes room frequented by seasoned test pilots to the ones hosting pilots working toward their first set of wings. I’ve seen some interesting things. Photographed a good number of items, too. Some are typical things people might find in any bar, others are distinctly unique to those who enjoy the flying profession. Of course, because of the nature of aviation types versus the delicate nature of those who might be viewing this blog, I had to pick and chose photos.

Bits and pieces of aircraft give the right flavor and for an Air Force bar are pretty much essential. This can be a wing, prop, vertical stabilizer, an ejection seat (yes, I’ve seen one), a piece from a totaled aircraft (however it got that way), or perhaps landing gear.

Propeller above entry to crud table area.

Propeller above entry to crud table area.

T-1 Landing gear

T-1 Landing gear

Other basics usually include a bell found in most bars. Necessary in case someone commits a faux pas and is buying the bar a round. Also a variety of wood bar surfaces can be found from a full-fledged bar, to a wood surface where nicknames are carved and the tops scorched, to a bar table top similar to this table covered in resin, or a simple oak whiskey barrel for the smaller more private setting.

Standard "bar" bell

Standard “bar” bell

Temporary Emerald Knight's bar.

Temporary Emerald Knight’s bar.

Carved names and scorching on bar top.

Carved names and scorching on bar top.

Treasurers trapped in resin

Treasurers trapped in resin

In home pilot bar

In home pilot bar, whiskey barrel.

Now every bar needs a little action, so a Crud table is mandatory. The rules and variations for Crud will be discussed at another time (and at some places said game has been curtailed to reduce injuries (really?)). For more atmosphere, throw in some stain glass, a popcorn machine, a dart board, and hang a few decorations.

Crud game table

Crud game table

Squadron Stained Glass

Squadron Stained Glass

Snoopy from soda cans hanging at the Sedona Arizona Airport bar.

Snoopy from soda cans hanging at the Sedona Arizona Airport bar.

7-Up Biplane, Sedona, Arizona

7-Up Biplane, Sedona, Arizona

One thing I haven’t mentioned, which is quite common, is the beer mug (filled with beer, of course). Below are two typical mugs and a standard squadron mug rack. Some places have a little more creative display using things at hand…baseball bats, practice weapon, fire axe, electronics rack, handcuffs….

Close-up of pilot mugs in training squadron

Close-up of pilot mugs in training squadron

Typical wall mug rack in training squadron.

Typical wall mug rack in training squadron.

Creative Mug. Take a close look at how it's made.

Creative Mug rack. Take a close look at how it’s made.

A pilot needs something appropriate to wear, in particular if they are military. For a civilian pilot, almost anything goes (shoes and shirt usually required, unless in some exotic location and then you are a lucky pilot indeed). For military pilots, the appropriate attire is a flight suit, but once in a while formal attire is necessary. A savvy pilot can make a few adjustments of uniform to fit both ceremony and later bar visit. Simply remove the sleeves of mess dress shirt, keep the cuffs and attach them to new sleeves from material of your choice. This is easily hidden beneath your mess dress jacket.

Mess Dress shirt with "women's shoe" motiff.

Mess Dress shirt with “women’s shoe” motif.

And every party or visit to a bar is more fun with friends, family, or fellow pilots. So invite your buds and head to the bar. Below is a photo of a famous local watering hole for test pilots back in the seventies and eighties. The Pancho Barnes room at the Edwards Air Force Base Officer Club (name and layout since changed). Take a close look at some of the things in the background.

Test Pilot Class 83A in Pancho Barnes Room, Edwards AFB, California

Test Pilot Class 83A in Pancho Barnes Room, Edwards AFB, California

Over time as people find this blog post, I hope that to add items they have photographed (with photo credit) in aviation bars. All I ask is to keep it “clean.” Comment or contact me, and I’ll add your photos or you can send me a link to photos and I’ll be glad to add that. Thanks for stopping by. Remember 8 hours from throttle to bottle!

Fly safe.

CAP Assists at TICO Warbird Airshow March 22-24

CAPtail

Tail CAP plane

Civil Air Patrol members from the Florida wing converged at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida to assist with the TICO Warbird 2013 Airshow. The three day airshow was dedicated to all veterans of the military services with a special recognition of the 70th anniversary of the Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress “Memphis Belle.”

Valiant Air Command, a non-profit organization dedicated to research and warbird restoration, sponsored the show to share the story of these aircraft and their crews who gave their lives to protect this country. To serve that purpose year round, they have a museum opened seven days a week which has been recently certified by the USAF National Museum. The Command’s signature aircraft is the Tico Belle (seen below), a workhorse in several wars starting with World War II. The aircraft is fully restored and available for rides.

Valiant Air Command's C-47 "Tico Belle."

Valiant Air Command’s C-47 “Tico Belle.”

Civil Air Patrol members came from Orlando, TICO, Seminole, UCF FL-242, Central Florida, Patrick, Osceola, and Palm Bay Squadrons, and Deland and Merritt Island Flights. They directed traffic, helped with parking, manned cordoned areas for safety and security, assisted with helicopter rides, worked the main gates, sold tickets, and manned a CAP booth and aircraft display.

CAP assisting the "Sky Soldiers, Army Aviation Heritage Foundation as they gave rides on the UH-1H Iroquiois "Huey", an Army aviation troop transport.

CAP assisting the “Sky Soldiers” Army Aviation Heritage Foundation as they gave rides on the UH-1H Iroquois “Huey”, an Army aviation troop transport.

The photos on this blog were taken by Sandy Parks of the Friday crew. Some of those photographed were busy executing their jobs and unavailable to give out their names. If you recognize anyone not identified, please leave a comment and the information will be updated. Not pictured, but much appreciated is CAP organizer Capt. Sue Martin.

Cadet Feliciano UCF FL-242 and Cadet Martin selling tickets at Gate 2.

Cadet Feliciano, UCF FL-242 Squadron, and Cadet Martin selling tickets at Gate 2.

Hannah Clarke, Merritt Island Flight, directing traffic to parking area.

Alex Cabera UCF FL 242 Squadron directed traffic in Gate 2.

Alex Cabera, UCF FL-242 Squadron, directed traffic into Gate 2.

Clarkeface
Hannah Clarke, Merritt Island Flight.

Two CAP members selling tickets at Gate 2.

Two CAP members selling tickets at Gate 2.

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress at TICO Warbird 2013 Airshow.

Boeing B-17G “Chuckie” Flying Fortress at TICO Warbird 2013 Airshow. Aircraft is from Military Aviation Museum, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

John McMillen, TICO squadron, on traffic duty.

John McMillen, TICO Squadron, on traffic duty.

Chris Bernhardt, Seminole Squadron, parking vehicles.

Chris Bernhardt, Seminole Squadron, parking vehicles.

Chris Bernhardt, Seminole squadron, learning the art of tight parking.

Chris Bernhardt, Seminole Squadron, learning the art of tight parking.

Kenny Palacio, UCF FL-242, directing traffic.

Kenny Palacio, UCF FL-242, directing traffic.

North American B-25 "Mitchell" bomber. A medium bomber named in honor of Genral Billy Mitchell and used in the 1942 Doolittle Raid.
North American B-25 “Mitchell” bomber. A medium bomber named in honor of General Billy Mitchell and used in the 1942 Doolittle Raid.
Joshua Martin, Deland flight, securing pilot's gate.

Joshua Martin, Deland Flight, securing pilot’s gate near pilot tent.

Fransbergen

Luvke Fransbergen, Seminole Squadron, working the parking area.

Cole Frank, Orlando Squadron, working the VIP parking area.

Cole Frank, Orlando Squadron, working the VIP parking area near private aircraft parking.

Silvio Bohuszewicz, TICO squadron, securing the VIP and flight line area.

Silvio Bohuszewicz, TICO squadron, securing the VIP and flight line area.

CAP plane parked at information tent

CAP plane parked at information tent

Thomas Wolf, TICO Squadron, showing the cockpit to an airshow visitor.

Manning the CAP information tent Lt. Theresa Stalnaker, Seminole Squadron and Maj Tony Wood, Patrick AFB Squadron.

Manning the CAP information tent Lt. Theresa Stalnaker, Seminole Squadron and Maj Tony Wood, Patrick Squadron.

Ian Spirduso, Central Florida Squadron, and Andrew Briggs, Palm Bay squadron, worked at Gate 1.

Ian Spirduso, Central Florida Squadron, and Andrew Briggs, Palm Bay squadron, worked at Gate 1.

Nicholas Bersoux, Palm Bay squadron, worked Gate 1.

Nicholas Bersoux, Palm Bay squadron, worked Gate 1.

USAF Thunderbirds F-16s performed after duties were complete for most CAP.

USAF Thunderbirds F-16s performed after duties were complete for most CAP.

Joshua Martin and Capt. Tac Kong of Deland Flight.

Joshua Martin and Capt. Tac Kong of Deland Flight.

With duty done, time to watch the Thunderbirds perform.

With duty done, time to watch the Thunderbirds perform.

Lt. Col. Richardson
Lt. Col. Richardson

Maj M.M. Wieser manned the CAP information tent.

Maj M.M. Wieser, Osceola Squadron, manned the CAP information tent.

HueyPose

CAP assisting the Huey crew. If spaces were available the CAP workers caught a ride. Briggs, Capt Scott Brown TICO Squadron, Stalnaker, Bohuszewicz.

Christian Jones, TICO Squadron, preparing to head to his post.

Christian Jones, TICO Squadron, preparing to head to his post.

End of day wrap-up of work day.

End of day wrap-up.

Civil Air Patrol worked together with the Valiant Air Command to help make the Airshow days run smoothly. The Tico Belle tail seen through the CAP aircraft strut.

Civil Air Patrol worked together with the Valiant Air Command to help make the Airshow days run smoothly. The VAC “Tico Belle” tail seen through the CAP aircraft strut.

Fly It Forward 2013

Fun, inspiring, and educational best describes the 2013 Fly It Forward day on Saturday, March 9. Women aviators and supporters of space and aviation gathered at Arthur Dunn Air Park in celebration of 50 years of Women in Space. Private pilots brought their aircraft and provided free first flights to women and girls. Of course, I hauled my camera along and had a chance to snap photos of faces full of expectation, zeal, and triumph.

Mom and daughter team, Amy and Cheyene Dokos, take their first flight in N1822H

Mom and daughter team, Amy and Cheyene Dokos, take their first flight in N1822H piloted by Elisabeth Wuethrich from N. Palm Beach county.

Barbara Ganson, an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University and former NASA employee, planned the day with support from the Gulfstream, GoldCoast, and Spaceport Ninety-Nines, Inc (women’s aviation chapters) and various other organizations.

Florida Spaceport 99 Mary Anne Demmer

Florida Spaceport 99 Mary Anne Demmer

Florida GoldCoast 99s prepare certificates for all the flight participants.

Florida GoldCoast 99s prepare certificates for all the flight participants.

A large contingent of Florida Atlantic University women in engineering, belonging to Alpha Omega Epsilon Sorority, joined the fun. Some missed out on the photo as they were in flight for the shot. Three gals in the photo mentioned their majors, which show the diversity and depth of interests in this group of women; Caitlin Miller- Mechanical Engineering, Isabella Pinos- Ocean Engineering, and Heidi Levine- Computer Science.

Florida Atlantic University Alpha Omega Epsilon Sorority

Florida Atlantic University Alpha Omega Epsilon Sorority

The Civil Air Patrol marshaled aircraft and manned key positions to assist with the day.

CAP Captain Sue Martin (Civil Air Potrol) is manning the gate to the flightline. Sue became involved with the CAP when her son became interested in flying. The CAP also will be volunteering at the TICO Warbird Airshow coming up March 22-24, 2013. Behind Sue is Heidi and her daughters, Angelica and Samantha Jaksetic awaiting their first flight.

CAP Captain Sue Martin (Civil Air Patrol) is manning the gate to the flightline. Sue became involved with the CAP when her son became interested in flying. The CAP also will be volunteering at the TICO Warbird Airshow coming up March 22-24, 2013. Behind Sue is Heidi and her daughters, Angelica and Samantha Jaksetic awaiting their first flight.

Group getting ready to go up with Pilot Wuethrich. Note CAP in background helping marshal aircraft.

Group getting ready to go up with Pilot Wuethrich. Note CAP in background helping marshal aircraft.

NASA sent a contingent to interact with the girls at the event, and several commercial and private aviation pilots chatted with attendees, as did representatives for the EAA (Oshkosh)/Young Eagles program. There were other organizations that I missed, and would love to mention, so please let me know and I’ll add you to this blog.

First Officer Terry Ryan flies for Southwest Airlines

First Officer Terry Ryan flies for Southwest Airlines

American Airline Captain Kimberly Lowe

American Airline Captain Kimberly Lowe

Louisa King flies Boeing 737 charter for Miami Air International

Louisa King flies Boeing 737 charter for Miami Air International

Ruth Jacobs set the record for the fastest time flying around the world in a single-engine airplane, landing on all 7 continents.

Ruth Jacobs set the record for the fastest time flying around the world in a single-engine airplane, landing on all 7 continents.

Fun photo of Ruth and Louisa together

Fun photo of Ruth and Louisa together

Elisabeth Wuethrichan, engineer from Switzerland, came to pilot for the event with her hubby who is also a pilot.

Elisabeth Wuethrich, an engineer from Switzerland, came to pilot for the event with her hubby who is also a pilot.

99Pilots

Left to right: Florida Gold Coast 99s
Ursala Davidson
Kimberly Lowe
Tamra Sheffman (N37TJ is her aircraft)
Elisabeth Wuethrich

The efforts of these volunteers came to fruition with the participant’s smiles and often joy at surviving their flights. Congrats to all gals who braved their first flights and even bigger thanks to those who took the effort to give their daughters and family members this wonderful experience. The following three photos show daughters Angelica and Samantha climbing out of the aircraft, soon followed by mom Heidi who gave them both an excited hug. Heidi, a graduate of Embry Riddle and former safety engineer at Kennedy Space Center, wanted to introduce her daughters to the world of aviation. Great job mom!

Big smiles as Angelica Jaksetic climbs out of an aircraft. This delightful photo was picked up by the international organization Women Of Aviation Week and put in a front page story on their website http://www.womenofaviationweek.org. Five thousand women and girls received discovery flights at over seventy airports this year.

Samantha Jaksetic climbing out of aircraft after flight.
Followed by sister Samantha Jaksetic. Pilot Tom Powers, owner of the Bonanza aircraft.
Mom Heidi gives her daughters a congratulatory hug after the ride of their lives.

Mom Heidi gives her daughters a congratulatory hug.

I snapped a few photos of the planes flying for the event. One I missed, but wanted to mention to show the variety, was a powered glider. A King Air belonging to the local jump school also dropped jumpers for the crowd to watch.

A Piper Cherokee carrying a mom and daughter. Let me know if anyone can identify them. I'd appreciate it.

A Piper Cherokee carrying a mom and daughter. Let me know if anyone can identify them. I’d appreciate it.

King Air jump Plane located at Arthur Dunn Air Park

King Air 200 (retired from the Army) jump plane located at Arthur Dunn Air Park

Cub used for Fly It Forward flights.

Cub used for Fly It Forward flights.

Awaiting the next passengers on Women of Aviation Day 2014

Awaiting the next passengers on Women of Aviation Day 2014

I can’t wait to see what happens next year on Women of Aviation Day.

If anyone has information to add, please drop me a line. You can contact me through my website (see the page at the beginning of this blog).

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Sandy has a monthly drawing taken from those who comment on her blogs. The one for March 2013 is on. Comment and your name will go into a drawing for a free ebook of Repossessed by Sandy Parks or one of author Julie Moffett’s Lexi series. Once in a while I may even have something special to win. Your choice. You’ll have a month after names are pulled to check back and see if you are a winner. Good luck and  hope to hear from you.

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Girls Fly Too- Graduation from Air Force Pilot Training

Today’s blog honors two occasions…my niece’s graduation from pilot training and Women in Aviation week. If you’ve spent any time on my website or reading through earlier blogs, you already know that aviation is a household word and a lifestyle in my family. Thus when someone gets a pilot’s license of any kind, it’s a big deal.

New Wings on the name tag

New Wings on the name tag

So in January, the family headed down to the rousing town of Del Rio, Texas. Once we left San Antonio, half of our cell phones went on hiatus in the great expanses of Texas lacking in cell towers (or really much populace at all save for perhaps a few prairie dogs). The perfect place to put a base with pilots learning to fly. Onward we pressed in the face of adversity, forewarned by my brother to be wary of speed traps. Imagine our surprise later when we passed the car with his family temporarily parked aside the road and my brother speaking to the nice gentleman whose car flashed colored lights. My brother must have smiled nice, because the man in blue gave him a warning and sent him on his way.

We had no doubts when we closed upon our destination as a buzz of aircraft swarmed the airfield. Opposite patterns ran to parallel runways, one which catered to T-38 jets and the other to T-6 turboprops. The entrance to the base took us past a line of aircraft on static display. We later discovered my father had flown a good number of them. Thus, as we traditionally do, we gathered all the military folks, put them in flight suits (some suits had shrunk since retirement) and did a photo shoot in front of the T(trainer)-28, a plane my dad had flown in his pilot training days.

Grandfather (KC-135), Dad (FB-111), Graduate, Uncle (Test Pilot)

Grandfather (KC-135), Dad (FB-111), Graduate, Uncle (Test Pilot)

To give you an idea of how proud my brother is of his daughter, just take a look at this close-up of the two. Kinda says it all.

Father and Daughter

Father and Daughter

Later, after formal ceremonies inside where awards were presented, all the students went out to the flight line, where their chosen “rated” Air Force officer officially pinned on their wings. My niece chose her dad and they pinned them on in front of the T-1, a trainer for those pilots going on to fly heavy aircraft. She is thrilled to be going to C(cargo)-17s.

Father pinning official flight wings on his daughter in front of her aircraft

Father pinning official flight wings on his daughter in front of her aircraft

The first plane my niece flew in training was the T-6 Texan II turbo-prop built by Raytheon Aircraft as a military trainer. The second half of Undergraduate Pilot Training brought a switch to the T-1, built by Raytheon and Hawker Beechcraft, with handling characteristics mimicking heavier aircraft.

T-6 Texan II

T-6 Texan II

T-1

T-1

A photo of the women in the family was taken in front of the T-6 and included Grandma, Aunt (that’s me), and my niece’s mom. We may not have been the military pilots in the family, but we all gave her encouragement through the years that she could achieve the dream of being a pilot.

Aunt, Graduate, Grandmother, Mom

Aunt, Graduate, Grandmother, Mom

The next photo is of my niece in front of the T-6 with her shiny new wings visible above the chest pocket of her uniform jacket. After all the stress and effort to get to this point, I can guarantee she has a lot of pride in those wings.

2Lt. Moffett in front of the T-6 Texan II

2Lt. Moffett in front of the T-6 Texan II

Of course, I had to have my special moment for a photo. I couldn’t be prouder and am glad my niece had an opportunity to fly for the Air Force that when I was her age wasn’t open to me. Thankfully times have changed.

Aunt and Niece

Aunt and Niece

Any time family gets together to celebrate there are always presents or food. Since we were on the road for this celebration, we ate out and brought gifts. Tradition has it that pilots build a “me” collection of plaques, patches, photos, and models as they go through their careers. This T-1 model of her first aircraft is a great way to start.

Niece with T-1 Model

Niece with T-1 Model

After all the ceremonies and photos, it’s dinnertime. For the military, it means official mess dress (cummerbund and all). But once they hit the bar, dinner changes to party time and the jackets come off. Just to show you formality doesn’t come without some sense of humor, I took a shot of the  pilots’ party shirts not visible when their  jackets are on. My niece altered these shirts for herself and a few friends (her mom helped to get them done in time). Those are shoes on her shirt. Every girl needs a pair or two to party, and these are a lot hotter than suede flight boots.

Congrats new Air Force pilot 2Lt. Moffett.

Party (Mess Dress) Shirts

Party (Mess Dress) Shirts