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Hero Worship - By Thomas B. Haines

Posted by: Kelley Welf

Tagged in: Lovell , Lindbergh , Hero , Haines , Cernan , Astronaut , Armstrong , AOPA , Anniversary , aerospace

Kelley Welf

AOPA Pilot Magazine

July 2012 Volume 55 / Number 7

Waypoints

Hero worship

By Thomas B. Haines

We swapped Bonanza-owner stories in the back seat of the Lincoln Town Car, just as any two pilots might when they meet on a ramp somewhere. But I was pinching myself as Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong described his decision to move from a Bonanza to a Cessna 310, which he only recently sold and is now planning his next airplane purchase. I was happy to have him lead the conversation as I sat nearly speechless in awe of one of my childhood idols. I credit Armstrong and other Apollo astronauts with fostering my interest in aerospace that ultimately led me to a local airport at age 15 for an introductory flight. Weeks later I was in ground school and the following summer I soloed at age 16, later earning my private pilot certificate at age 17.

I remember sitting cross-legged in my pajamas as an 8-year-old on the steamy July 1969 night staring at our black-and-white TV as Armstrong stepped out of the Eagle lunar lander and onto the moon’s surface. My family and 600 million other people around the world watched that moment, one that would propel Armstrong onto the world stage in a way not seen since Charles Lindbergh made the first solo, nonstop crossing of the Atlantic 42 years earlier.

In fact, it was Lindbergh who caused our paths to cross on May 18, 2012, as we motored up Madison Avenue in New York City. Armstrong and I were both there to attend a dinner celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation.

Minutes earlier, I had exited a hotel on Park Avenue, planning to walk the nine blocks to the famed Explorers Club to attend the dinner. Instead I ran into John Petersen, a well-known futurist and Lindbergh board member. Petersen was tasked with escorting Armstrong and two of the other speakers, astronauts Gene Cernan and Jim Lovell, to the dinner. Two Town Cars were arranged for the short trip. Petersen asked if I would accompany Armstrong while he rode with the other two. Stunned, I almost turned him down. After all, what would I say in awe of the notoriously shy Armstrong?

But about then, the three space pioneers appeared in the doorway. We stood on the sidewalk gabbing about aviation and discovering, as pilots do everywhere, how many people we all know in common. All three astronauts, despite all being some 80 years old (Cernan is the youngest at 78), are still active GA pilots and AOPA members. Lovell loves the AOPA FlyQ Flight Planner, as it turns out. Both he and Cernan fly Cessna 421s.

As the door in the Lincoln closed, my fear of “what to say” returned for a moment. But I then brought out the question that I’ve found works as a conversation starter with any pilot. “So, what are you flying these days?”
One of Armstrong’s first GA airplanes was a Bonanza. Discovering our common thread, he opened up about his flying, relating what a joy it still is for him to fly his own airplane—left unsaid: Even after flying to the moon!

All too quickly, the driver pulled up to the Explorers Club and I hustled out to attempt to fend off paparazzi intent on snapping photos of the media-wary astronaut. Armstrong, however, had other ideas, and got right in the photographer’s face, telling him to be more respectful, and then blew by him into the club. He may be 81, but you wouldn’t know it to see him in action.

Later I had the chance to do a video interview with Cernan and Lovell, who shared their passion for GA flying and opined about the current U.S. manned space flight policy. Wallflowers, they are not! You can watch the video on AOPA Live.

My thanks to the Lindbergh Foundation for the chance to attend the dinner and meet three of my heroes. Learn more about the foundation at www.lindberghfoundation.org.

E-mail the author at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; follow on Twitter: tomhaines29.


Speaking of Heroes

Posted by: Kelley Welf

Kelley Welf

By Mitch Jackson, Staff Vice President, FedEx Corp. | 6/21/12

"I think we're going to the moon because it's in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It's by the nature of his deep inner soul… we're required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream." Neil Armstrong

"There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened. To be successful, you need to be a person who makes things happen." James Lovell

"We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace, and hope for all mankind." Eugene Cernan

A few weeks ago, I received a wonderful reminder of the importance of intrepid endeavors and the humanistic value they can bring.

Read more


Special thanks to Kate Hotchkiss Taylor for contacting us and sharing the link to her article about the Lindberghs in North Haven as they prepared for their historic trip. 

Below is an excerpt from her article:

"An hour and a half before they took off, you could have walked across the Thoroughfare on the rowboats," wrote Ellen Pratt (1906 - 2000) of the day Anne Morrow and Charles Augustus Lindbergh left North Haven on what became the Great Circle Route to the Orient.

That was July 30th, 1931, described by Pratt as “a perfectly beautiful day.” Aviator hero Colonel Lindbergh and his pilot-navigator-radio operator wife Anne had just spent a respite at her family’s summer home surrounded by friends and relatives. The trip originated in Washington, D.C. The flight officially started in New York. For Anne and her fellow islanders, the true beginning of this startling journey was firmly anchored in the Fox Island Thoroughfare between two islands.

Read the rest of this enjoyable story here:  http://www.maineislandliving.net/history/north-haven-to-china

 

 


It was 84 years ago today, that Charles Lindbergh took his first flight in the Spirit of St. LouisLindbergh with Ryan Reps.  "This morning I'm going to test the Spirit of St. Louis," Lindbergh wrote in his book The Spirit of St. Louis.  "It's the 28th day of April ... What a beautiful machine it is, resting there on the field in front of the hangar, trim and slender, gleaming in its silver coat!  All our ideas, all our calculations, all our hopes lie there before me, waiting to undergo the acid test of flight.  For me, it seems to contain the whole future of aviation.  When such planes can be built, there's no limitation to the air."

The Spirit was built by 35 employees of Ryan Airlines, Inc., in San Diego, California.  It took just 60 days.


This was a question on the minds of Mrs. Stamper’s 8th grade class from Hanover, Mass.  The class had read a non-fiction excerpt called "Flying" by Reeve Lindbergh.  As a follow-up, Mrs. Stamper showed the film "Spirit of St. Louis" with Jimmy Stewart.  The students wanted to know:


Charles Lindbergh in Helmet“...if Charles Lindbergh did wear cotton balls in his ears for his true solo flight. "  Mrs. Stamper explained that the students "noticed it immediately and questioned it because in the excerpt by Reeve she notes that her father discouraged the use of cotton balls as it took away from the "true" experience.”

 

Initially, I was inclined to agree with the 8th graders, but upon referring to the biography, “Lindbergh” written by A. Scott Berg (pg. 115 paperback), he states, “At 7:51 a.m., Lindbergh buckled his safety belt, stuffed each ear with a wad of cotton, strapped on his wool-lined helmet, and pulled his goggles down over his eyes.”  However, Lindbergh does not mention the cotton in his book “The Spirit of St. Louis” (pg. 175 paperback).  He writes: “I buckle my safety belt, pull goggles down over my eyes, turn to the men at the blocks, and nod.”

 

So, I asked Lindbergh’s youngest daughter, Reeve, (who is the honorary chairman of the Lindbergh Foundation, by the way) what she thought about this question.  Here’s what she said:

 

I think Scott Berg is probably right, because he researched the book (his biography of my father)  meticulously for eight years before he wrote it. If he says that my father put cotton balls in his ears for the *Spirit* flight, I strongly suspect that he (Scott) found a reliable source for that information.

Gee, I wish I'd known this when I was flying with my father! He *definitely* did not like us to use cotton balls when we were flying with him. (Probably because we couldn't hear his instructions from the front cockpit). But I also know that the *Spirit* was much, much noisier than any airplane I ever flew in with him when I was a child, because I've flown in the *Spirit* replica. Yikes!
Maybe my father felt that modern (1950's era) small planes were so much less noisy than the ones he flew in the early days that cotton balls were unnecessary, even though he had used them himself in the pioneering aviation era.
That's my best guess.


Reeve

 


The answer to last week’s trivia question is:  8 hours.

Over the course of two months, Lindbergh obtained about 8 hours of flying instruction in the "Tourabout" with I.O. Biffle (Biff) who was his only instructor.  There was no ground school connected to the flying course he obtained at Nebraska Aircraft Corporation.  Instead, he worked around the factory to learn the ins and outs of airplanes.

Most of Lindbergh’s instructional flying was done in the early morning or late evening due to the strong mid-day winds in Nebraska.  Although Biff declared Lindbergh ready to solo after 8 hours of flight time, Lindbergh could not pay the bond, which the company required, in case he wrecked the plane, which was to be sold.  Lindbergh spent the next few months Barnstorming, then returned to Lincoln where he obtained two more hours of instruction in another plane.  But, he had not soloed before he purchased his “Jenny,” a fact that no one on the field in Americus, Georgia, knew.  He also had not been in a plane for six months before his first attempt. 

“The first solo flight is one of the events in a pilot’s life which forever remains impressed upon his memory.  It is the culmination of difficult hours of instruction, hard weeks of training and often years of anticipation.  To be absolutely alone for the first time in the cockpit of a plane, hundreds of feet above the ground is an experience never to be forgotten.“ Lindbergh wrote in his book, We.

 

What are your memories or experiences from your first solo flight?

 


Thanks to those of you who ventured a guess in last week’s trivia question, “Does anyone know what plane Lindbergh learned to fly on?”

The answer is:  the Lincoln Standard “Tourabout.”

Many of you answered the “Curtiss Jenny.”  This was the first airplane Lindbergh owned, and he made his first solo flight in this plane, but he did not learn to fly in this aircraft.

Charles Lindbergh and Harlan GurneyOn April, 1, 1922, Lindbergh arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he enrolled as  flying student with the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation.  There, Lindbergh received not only his first flight as a passenger in an airplane, but also his first instruction in flying in the company’s training plane — a Lincoln Standard, “Tourabout” bi-plane. Otto Timm was the pilot of Lindbergh’s first flight on April 9, 1922.  Harlan “Bud” Gurney, also receiving his first flight that day, joined Lindbergh on the flight.  A few days later, under the instruction of Ira O. Biffle, Lindbergh received his first instruction in the same plane.

At right:  Lindbergh poses with friend Harlan "Bud" Gurney.

Let's make this the trivia question for this week: 

Can anyone guess how many hours of flight time Lindbergh had in the “Tourabout” before going solo?

Comment here, on Twitter or Facebook.  I look forward to hearing from you!


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