Truth.

"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within."

Ariel Durant

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Cold and windy. A good day for a trip down Memory Lane.




These photos are of a T-28 at a museum out west.  VT-6 was the squadron I flew the T-28 in, and it's a virtual certainty that if I dig my old log books out I flew this aircraft.

VT-6 was one of two T-28 Trojan squadrons out of Milton Florida. The base was called NAS Whiting.

I don't know if they are still flying, or even if Whiting is still an active base. I was there in the mid seventies.






My youngest brother came down to visit me. He was stationed at the Combat Engineer School at Camp Geiger, North Carolina.  I think this was around 1976.


This is a friend of mine, a fellow named John Cowan. He went on to fly CH-46 helicopters. I lost touch with him. Wish I hadn't but you move around a lot in the service and it happens.




After VT-6,  I went to HT -8 and flew the Sea Ranger helicopter. On a hot day, you could hardly get it off the ground. A few years ago, I saw the modern version of the helicopter. It had massive engines and four blades, and the pilot said he could lift an elephant with it if he had to. 






This is just about the only picture I have of my time in VT-5, at NAS Saufley. The field is long gone, I heard it was converted into subsidized low income housing. The T-34 B is long gone too, though I got to fly it pretty frequently throughout my Marine Corps time, because it was at most air stations as a "hack." That means an aircraft you can just fly when you wanted to for fun.




From there I went on to the Bell UH-1 Iroquois , which is what I stayed with.  I wanted to be a fighter pilot but it didn't work out that way.  Everybody wanted to be a fighter pilot, but somebody had to fly tankers, helicopters, FAC aircraft, etc.  Like the song says " you don't always get what you want."


Another old VT-6 aircraft, and this one I am sure I flew.  It hangs from the ceiling of the U.S Naval Aviation Museum  in Pensacola, Florida now.


Here's a T-34B Mentor at Saufley mid 1970's.


Part of the VT-5 flight line at Saufley. As I recall, the other T-34 squadron based there was VT-2.



There weren't any digital cameras back then. I hauled my personal possessions around from Asia to Europe, and in the process some of the pictures got damaged and a lot of them got lost. But still, here's a slightly beat up photo of a T-34 one early morning.




Part of the flight line at VT-6.



Florida was hot, and the big bubble canopy on the T-28 turned the aircraft into a sauna. We kept the canopy open on the ground as much as we could, but in the air it had to be closed. Military aircraft smell like oil, exhaust, fuel, leather, sweat, hot canvas and a lot of other exotic aromas which make a distinctive smell when they are heated up around 90 degrees.


I liked the T-28 best of all the aircraft I flew.  I was just born too late. The right time for me to have been flying was 1941-1945.  This was as close as I ever got.



Well,  Flying was great and I enjoyed it.  Counting both military and civilian flying, I started in November 1973 when I got my civilian license through a Navy program at the college. I finished up around 1994, when I couldn't get a medical certificate anymore.  Good times, but everything ends eventually.





The T-28 was used all over the free world as a fighter bomber.  The USAF secretly operated them, along with A1 Skyraiders, in Laos and Cambodia during the Viet Nam War.  Drury's book is the only one I have ever found that dealt with flying the T-28 in combat, and it's a hard book to find. It's really good reading, though.





There are lots of videos on YouTube of the T-28 because it's popular at Air Shows. I like this one and it's short.

A Little Music:




This song below really captures the anger in America that predicated the outcome of the Presidential election. It's a lot older than this time period, but Americans have been furious over the way things are in this country for at least the last 8 years and by my thinking a lot longer.  There's just one vulgar line in the song, no bad language but it's a bit coarse.


24 comments:

  1. One of my few regrets is my lack of a pilot's license. There were a couple guys in the firehouse with planes and I'd go up with them now and then. Almost got into it myself but then I got married and there wasn't the time nor the money. Can't be in all the places doing all the things, I guess.

    Of course, I ain't dead yet.

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    1. I was lucky. One of the many, many benefits I got from being in the Marines was my pilot's license. The Navy picked up the tab for my college education, and at the same time they gave me a job (the reserves), and paid me, and on top of all that they put me through the flight indoctrination program (FIP), they paid for all my training to get a private pilots license while I was still at UNM. I sure enjoyed flying, and back then, you could use the Viet Nam era G.I. bill to work on a commercial license, so I did a lot of flying up and down the east coast when I was stationed in the states, cost me not a dime.

      I could never have afforded a private license even back in the 1970's, and today I'm sure it costs and arm and a leg. Like you say, you just can't do everything you want to. We don't live long enough.

      I wanted to be a blue water sailor, and I went to classes at the Marina at Lejuene and got a license for 30 foot boats, but I was always getting deployed and having to drop out of the series, so I never got trained for real off shore sailing.

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  2. A wonderful informative personal post. Thanks.

    My sister's cat are all wild. They do their job but have been looking at my Koi too closely lately. Not good for the cats nor the Koi.

    Have a blessed week.

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    1. Can the cats dip the Koi out of their pond? I had some Koi once but they were so big no cat could have gotten them.

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  3. Great pics of your old flying days. Now in my seventies, I get out my old log book once in a while and remember some of the flights that taught me good lessons, especially "get home itis" and thunderstorms- they just don't mix!
    There is still no sound better than hitting the starter, watching the prop start to turn, and the engine cough and snort and finally catch and settle down! I'm too old to fly now, but the memories never die!

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    1. I agree 100 %. I really enjoyed it, but it's been a long time now. I had one thunderstorm epic fail, largely based on poor headwork and "gethomeitis." I proved the old adage that you can't fly over them, and trying to fly under them is unwise.

      When I got down on the ground at some little one runway podunk field in the woods, there were a lot of guys who had come in before me. It looked like a fly in. A big twin came in with the engine spinner covers just rippled from hail.

      Taking off at dawn on a cold, clear day! Nothing like it. Or flying at night, with a big moon and the stars all out there.

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  4. I didn't know you also flew choppers. How much of a change was that for you after flying planes? --Troy

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    1. I wound up in Hueys. It wasn't really what I wanted, but it was what the Marine Corps wanted. I can't complain. Flying a helicopter is nothing like flying a fixed wing aircraft. Much more work....

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  5. NAS Whiting Field is still active as a training facility, according to their webpage.

    Everything has a webpage these days. I sometimes wonder if my dog has gone and got a webpage.

    There is something organic about a piston engine airplane, almost like being on horseback. The planes breath, flex, have to be treated gently but sometimes just need a swift kick or hit to settle down. And the planes know it.

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    1. I wanted to fly F4F Wilcats, or F6F Hellcats, or the F8F Bear cat but they were all museum pieces before I got out of college. The T-28 was THE THING though, it was just like them except for the tricycle gear. It had that look, and a big radial engine, a fighter canopy, a stick, the whole shooting match. It was, as they say today "sweet."

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    2. It's kinda like that Volkswagon commercial where the turbo Rabbit goes 'vrooooooooooooom' and the hybrid goes 'wooooooooo'. Prop planes, especially big radial birds.

      I've been fortunate enough to hear A1 Skyraiders, P-47s, C-47s and a variety of rotary engine bombers.

      I am envious of you. Green, didn't-get-to-go-to-the-prom green with envy for your fortunate chance of actually flying the T-28.

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  6. must be really cool to see that plane hanging in the ceiling at the museum. i probably saw it when i was there last....fire is at 2700 acres and they decided to stop managing and start fighting it as it was coming close to homes. we could see it last night, burning two mountain tops at once. fs says 150 men, and i have been hearing the heavy lift chopper dumping water on it all day. kinda makes you wonder what it would be without the forest service and firefighters around....the fast movers are back, flying nap of the earth dog fights. back in the day we said "sin loi, victor charlie" when they went by. now we just say "get some". i can't speak for everybody, but us grunts sure were happy to see or even hear you guys up there no matter what kind of airframe it was. that sound meant somebody was out there looking out for us, our connection to the cavalry. thanks.

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    1. I always had a lot of empathy for the infantry, but it takes a really special kind of person to do that. In my Basic School class, the aviator types all had aviation guarantees, so I wasn't involved in the scrimmage for 03 appointments. But the most gungho, the smartest, the most motivated, and the ones with enlisted experience usually got the 03 infantry military occupational specialty. Status wise, that was the top of the line in the Marine Corps. Then it went down hill from there, with artillery, armor, etc being next. Bottom of the ladder was supply, motor t, or any support MOS.

      I hope they get that fire out around you. It takes a long time to acquire the possessions of a lifetime, and about 10 minutes to lose them with bad luck. Insurance can give you some money but they can't replace what you spent a lifetime putting together.

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    2. Riverrider, I'm not sure of your branch of service. If it was Marines, you probably already know most of what I wrote if not all of it. I wasn't trying to teach granny to suck eggs.

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  7. I so love to hear the Yankee Lady fly close to my house when they are flying people around in it. We are close enough to their preferred flight path and sometimes they come flying by a couple times throughout the day. We here locally are pretty proud of her. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yankee_Lady

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    1. There aren't many B-17's flying around today, and the B17G is probably the model that people think of when they think of that old aircraft. I would like to see the Yankee Lady. We did have a B-17 fly here once for an open house, but I was not feeling to hot and missed going out to the airfield.

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  8. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    Great post!

    I like reading about old aircraft. The T-34's are the ones that flew near Padre Island and for a while there, dropping out of the sky quit frequently. I know of two that went down near a friends house. One landed gear up in a swamp, no one hurt and the other nosed dived into a shed in a neighborhood. Pilot and trainee pilot killed instantly. I just remembered the third and it was perfect 'gear up' landing on a beach near a coastal estuary, no one hurt. Best gear up landing I ever heard of. Pilot killed the engine right before touch down, not damaging the prop and sliding to a stop on a flat, salt water estuary beach. Now the skies are littered with those new fancy turboprops buzzing around with student pilots. I hear they have air conditioning and other creature comforts.

    Best bull crap yet!

    check this out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7LMRGD9FG4

    I hope Trump pulls us out of A NATO. The EU member nations are 'bat guano crazy' If NATO was disbanded. I would like to see if the EU nations keep poking a bear with a stick. I'm begining to think that 'Gen. Jack T. Ripper' is in charge of the EU and the EU is paranoid about the 'Purity of their precious bodily fluids'

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    1. I lost the canopy on a T-34B over the pine forests of Alabama practicing aerobatics. You're supposed to mark it on your knee map if you lose part of the aircraft, but I wasn't that sure of where I was and they never found it. You went out over the training area, and it was easy to just head for the water and fly back along the coast line til you saw the base of I didn't fuss much about exactly where I was. The T-34B was a little underpowered and if you didn't pay attention you could stall and spin. No big deal if you were up high, but unhealthy at low altitudes.

      I can't see what we need NATO for. The contingents NATO countries sent to Iraq and Afghanistan were good troops but the coordination required was more effort than it was worth. Lots of the national contingents had restrictions placed on their operations so that they were really no use at all.

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  9. Harry,

    Would you ever try going back to flying choppers if you had an opportunity? Love your pictures of the T-28

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    1. Too old now Sandy. I don't know what advances they have made but in my time flying a helicopter took good leg muscles, and I'm not sure I could keep on the pedals for a long time now. Also, I don't want to be responsible for anything or anyone outside my family at this point in my life.

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  10. What a fantastic trip down memory lane, thanks for having us along for the ride! Some fantastic photos there and amazing memories of magnificent machines. It's funny you mention about the aircraft having a smell, On the biker circuit there is a similar thing and certain companies have been trying to replicate it as cologne! I can only imagine the lunatic hipsters that would buy such a thing, It will never match the real scent of a man that has spent the week in denim and leather riding through wind and rain with the occasional couple of hours under the bike with a spanner between a party or three. the combination of fuel,oil, leather and hard work is probably similar to your aircrafts, I wonder when someone will try to cash in and sell that too!

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    1. There are odd nuances to just about everything we do, I guess. But those things help us remember the past and they give those memories a certain spice they would otherwise not have.

      I'm surprised, now that you mention it, that some outfit hasn't tried to market a product that way. It would make a change from skinny 18 year old models prancing around in long swirling silks!

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  11. Dan is former USAF so we used to go to a lot of air shows and museums. Not so much anymore, but he can still identify anything flying overhead by sound alone. About all I can tell is whether it's a plane or a chopper.

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    1. I can't help going out of the house and looking if I hear a helicopter, but I rarely see them because you can only see the sky if you stand in the meadow. If I hear radial engines, I run out there to look.

      We don't travel much anymore so I haven't been to an air show in a long time.

      Like your husband, I've got it in the blood and I'll be interested in aircraft as long as I live, but I don't do anything with them actively anymore.

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