Enduring Designs: Return on Aircraft Investment

By Scott Spangler on March 11th, 2019 | What do you think? »

b-52 oshReading that the US Air Force will be requesting proposals from engine makers to propel the B-52’s active-duty service through 2050 didn’t surprise me. It continues the decades-long return on aircraft investment, its ability to continue its fundamental mission efficiently and economically. Not every aircraft so endures. Consider the approaching retirement of the B-52’s much younger compatriots, the B-1 and the billion-dollar B-2, which the Air Force wants to replace with the lookalike B-21 that will probably cost several billion per copy.

Boeing produced the B-52 for a decade, from its first flight in 1952 until 1962. It entered service in February 1955. The early models in 1956 cost $14.3 million ($133.6 million in 2018 dollars) and the H-model, the recipient of decades of military makeovers, cost new in 1962 $9.28 million ($77.92 in 2019 dollars). (Imagine that, a US weapon system getting cheaper!) Most likely, Boeing built today’s 76 active B-52s in 1962. Upon their 2050 retirement (if that indeed happens), you compute the return on their investment by 88 years.

baslerThis return sparked thoughts of other enduring designs that have returned an aircraft investment well beyond their original expectations. The DC-3 certainly tops this list. Since its first flight in 1937, it has earned its keep for 82 years and counting. And it will surely continue for decades, until parts for piston-pounding radials disappear, and the Basler Turbo Conversions remanufactures the airframe as a turboprop BT-67.

twin beechThe Beechcraft Model 18 is another enduring design that first flew in 1937. Like the DC-3, most examples earning their keep today were manufactured during and after World War II. Surely, the remaining spare parts for its Pratt & Whitney R-985 radials are counting down its last days. Lacking the multipurpose special mission utility of the DC-3/BT-67, mounting new powerplants would be an investment with no meaningful return.

172A chronological peer of Boeing’s enduring design is Cessna’s 172 Skyhawk. Making its first flight it 1955, Cessna introduced it in 1956, and it continues to make new ones today. There is, perhaps, no better measure of the return on its investment than 63 years of service, and counting. And unlike the other enduring designs here mentioned, representatives from almost every year of its existence, from the first 172 on, are still flying. We pilots should be so lucky. –Scott Spangler, Editor

Malaysian Flight 370: Five Years Later

By Robert Mark on March 8th, 2019 | 1 Comment »

Md Nor Yusof, chairman of Malaysian Airline System Bhd., right, told reporters on March 25, 2014 that Flight 370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean with no survivors. The search for wreckage was suspended. (Photographer: Goh Seng Chong/Bloomberg © 2014 Bloomberg Finance LP© 2014 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP)

On March 8, 2014, a Boeing 777 with 239 people went missing on a flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. As details emerged within hours of the airplane’s last communication with air traffic control, it became clear that Malaysian Airlines 370 (MH370) was lost … literally; no one knew where the airplane went once it disappeared from radar about 40 minutes after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur.

Because the Boeing’s transponder also ceased functioning, tracking the airplane by air traffic control became impossible.

Five years after the Boeing disappeared, setting off the longest and costliest search ever undertaken for a commercial airplane, the question of what happened remains unanswered: was it hijacked, brought down by a mechanical problem or crashed by a suicidal pilot? We may never know, but away from the spotlight on the investigation, the aviation industry has been refining the technology to ensure that an airliner never vanishes again.

Over the next three years, airlines will begin plugging into a satellite-based system that will track their planes at all times, anywhere on Earth.

In 2014 it was not unusual for airlines to have little direct contact with some of their airplanes for extended periods of time, especially when they were flying over open water where traditional ground communications and radar don’t work well. To their credit, the airlines operate airplanes that are so reliable, that being out of touch for a sustained period of time has never been a real problem.

Read more … 

Enlisted Pilots: Has Their Time Come Again?

By Scott Spangler on February 25th, 2019 | 1 Comment »

With retention of active duty aviators and recruitment of qualified newcomers to fill empty cockpits a growing challenge for America’s armed forces, might it be time to reopen the flight training door to enlisted pilots who meet the physical and physiological requirements?

sgt chevronsTo be a military pilot today, applicants must be officers, which require a four-year college degree. Is that an essential requirement? Today’s officer pilots hold degrees in almost every discipline from anthropology to zoology. How does this knowledge make modern military pilot training easier?

To address its pilot shortage, in 2018, the US Air Force studied the return of enlisted pilots and appointing them warrant officers. “We have enlisted airmen in our Guard and reserve component who have private pilot’s licenses and fly for the airlines. So it’s not a matter of can they do it, or having the smarts or the capability, it’s just a matter of us, as an Air Force, deciding that that’s a route that we want to take,” said Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth O. Wright, the 18th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force in a Military.Com story.

Robert A. “Bob” Hoover sits in the cockpit of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, just one of the many aircraft he mastered during World War II. (National Archives)The pilot shortage created by World War II led Congress to authorize an enlisted pilot training program in 1941. They received the same training as officers and graduated as staff sergeant pilots. The program trained 2,567 sergeant pilots (among them were a couple you might have heard of, Bob Hoover (here in a P-38), Carroll Shelby, and Chuck Yeager). Of that number, 332 sergeants served overseas and 217 sergeants flew combat.

In 1942, the Flight Officer Act created the warrant officer rank of flight officer, which replaced the original program. Sergeant pilots elevated to this rank enjoyed the privileges of a second lieutenant. This program essentially continues in the Army today, with warrant officers being the go-to helicopter aviators. And there seems to be no reason it wouldn’t work in the other services, if they can overcome tradition with progress.

The Sea Services, the US Navy and US Marine Corps, launches its enlisted aviator program in 1916. With America’s enlistment in the Great War, in March 1917 a recruiting program sought 200 enlisted personnel specifically for aviation duty. Of that number, 33 of them completed their training in France, and a few more in Italy. Like the initial enlisted aviators, the World War I pilots flew as first or second-class petty officers. Most of them became commissioned officers.

post-2501-1278618479In October 1919, the Bureau of Navigation said, “In the future, it will be the policy of the Bureau to select a certain number of warrant officers and enlisted men for flight training and duty as pilots of large heavier-than-air craft and directional pilots of dirigibles.” The following year they were designated Naval Aviation Pilots. NAP No. 1 was Harold H. “Kiddy” Karr, Quartermaster Chief (Aviation) (NAP). Like commissioned aviators, they wore the Navy’s gold wings on their upper left chest.

During the years between the world wars, the Navy had an enlisted pilot requirement of 30 percent. The depression made this goal challenging, and the Navy asked Congress to make it 20 percent. With the depression deepening and budget cuts, the Navy trained no NAPs between 1932 and 1936. After that, the Navy met its 20-percent goal.

220px-Walsh_KAThe number of NAPs increased greatly with World War II, and the need for more officers led many of them (some estimates are up to 95 percent) received temporary officer commissions and designations as Naval Aviators, which can only be bestowed upon commissioned officers.

One downside to being an enlisted pilot was serving two masters. In addition to flying, they had to meet the responsibilities of their rank. That’s why George W. Webber, Seaman Second Class (NAP), a pilot with Scouting Squadron 3 not only flew off the carrier Lexington, he also had to work in the galley helping the ship’s cooks. That changed when the Lexington’s CO, then Captain Ernest J. King (later Fleet Admiral King, commander in chief and chief of naval operations in World War II), found out that one of his carrier pilots was mess cooking.

people_usmc_napLife was the same for the Marine NAPs. During the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1943, Marine Air Group 14 couldn’t find two of its NAPs, both of whom flew the SBD, Douglas’s Dauntless dive bomber. Sergeants Ollie Michael (left) and Rohe C. Jones had been ordered to dig latrines on New Caledonia. They were ordered back to their cockpits immediately. Michael is credited with sinking three Japanese ships in November and December 1943. Jones was killed during his third combat tour. Another Marine NAP, Ken Walsh (above), who earned his wings as a private, later received a commission and the Medal of Honor in 1943, was the fourth-ranking ace with 21 kills.

jones 1The Navy’s enlisted flight training program ended with World War II, and Congress concluded its requirement for enlisted pilots in 1948. Although the program ended, NAPs in the Navy, Marine Corps, and US Coast Guard, continued to fly for the rest of their careers. With the postwar reductions, many of them had to surrender the temporary officer commissions given to them during the conflict. The last four Marine NAPs retired on the same day, February 1, 1973. The Navy’s last NAP, Master Chief Air Traffic Controller Robert K. “NAP” Jones, retired from active duty on January 31, 1981.

Needing pilots and naval flight officer in the patrol, reconnaissance, and helicopter communities, the Navy established a chief warrant officer program in 2006, but it didn’t last long before the Navy terminated the program. How the military will resolve this ongoing problem will be interesting to watch, especially as the airlines sap its pilot ranks while the demand for those who can fly an aircraft (either in first-person or remotely) continues to increase. –Scott Spangler, Editor

Jetwhine Loses a Friend

By Robert Mark on February 18th, 2019 | 4 Comments »

 

          Dan Webb entertains Mr. Simba at                                             Camp Jetwhine.

I started Jetwhine 13 years ago amidst breaking news of an Embraer Legacy biz jet having collided in midair with GOL airlines Boeing 737 over the Brazilian jungle. A few years later my friend Scott Spangler joined and since then, we’ve worked hard to tell aviation stories in a way readers couldn’t find anywhere else.

There was another member of the team that only a few people who had ever visited Camp Jetwhine over the years came to know personally; my friend Dan Webb from the Airplane Geeks podcast knew him, as did Steve Vischer and Grant McHerron from the Plane Crazy Down Under podcast, plus a few more.

This week our unsung office mascot left us and left me wondering, “What is the Value of a Friend?” I hope you’ll indulge us this one time with a non-aviation essay. Thanks, Rob Mark

______________________________________

I lost a friend last week, a good one. It wasn’t really a surprise, yet there was that inevitable flutter up to the emergency before the last breath of course, when there was no time to think, only adrenaline coursing through my veins driving me to do something, anything … even though deep inside I knew nothing would help.

When I saw our big hound dog Simba on Friday morning, I knew the end was close.

Already diagnosed with a weak heart valve and a thyroid problem, his breathing was rapid and labored. His arthritis no longer allowed the big guy to support even is severely diminished weight; it was impossible not to grieve. Hell, I’d been grieving already for weeks.

Thirteen years ago, he was an impressive 110-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback, with big meaty paws the size of my clenched fist and a bark deep enough to frighten even the bravest salesman from our front door. The local beat cops told we didn’t need a burglar alarm.

Even as a puppy I realized he was clever and funny, if not a bit bossy at times. When he was on a leash he loved most people. He’d stop for almost anyone he thought might realize how impressive a dog he was. When they drew near, he’d lay down on his side looking hurt, which of course made people stop … even passing cars. A local cop once offered to drive us to the vet for help, until she realized all he really needed was a tummy rub. Simba knew most of the suckers in our neighborhood.

He did have a fatal flaw. I’m sure he must have been sired by goats because he was the most stubborn animal I’ve ever met. At morning walk time, even with the leash already attached, he simply refused to leave the house by the back door; only the front door would do. And 110 pounds of resistance was too much for me. If he wanted a left turn at the corner, suggesting a right was a waste of time. And if he spied a rabbit or a cat, all bets were off. I learned quickly when to let go of the leash.

But he was my friend, a guy who traveled to work with me every day and never missed a single one, until his last week on earth. We’d talk to each other at work when we had something to say, him often more than me. He needed more water, more food, another walk. I never could figure out how he knew when it was 3 o’clock each afternoon. He did have limits though. I’d run story ideas past him and he’d just cock his head with a look like, “What in the Hell are you talking about?”

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Runway Numbers and a Mobile Magnetic North Pole

By Scott Spangler on February 11th, 2019 | What do you think? »

pole-600Releasing a new World Magnetic Model (WMM) was one bit of work that didn’t get done during the partial shutdown of the U.S. Government. It finally saw the light of day on February 4. But that’s not the important part. The important part is that the position of magnetic north has moved so much they had to update the WMM a year early. If you remember your ground school lessons about runway numbers, the headline should make sense, and you know why some runway numbers will be changing.

Magnetic north doesn’t move so much as wander, as the NOAA chart above clearly shows. In stories about the early WMM update (the first time it has ever happened), the New York Times said English mathematician Henry Gellibrand discovered its movement 400 years ago, and the line in the chart starts in the year 1630. More accurately, he discovered magnetic declination (or variation), the difference between true north and magnetic north.

As reported by NOAA and the National Geographic, Sir James Clark discovered the geographic position of magnetic North Pole in northern Canada in 1831. Since then, it’s been making its way north to Siberia. The dot at the end of the dotted line is its 2019 position, and if you want to see it move with history, check out the NOAA Historical Magnetic Declination map. NOAA and the British Geological Survey developed the WMM, and scientists periodically compare its accuracy with ground and satellite magnetic data observatories. In 2018, the difference exceeded the acceptable limits, leading to the early WMM release.

AirVenture preparation includes painting temporary markings on taxiway Alpha, turning it into Runway 18 Left/36 Right.The WMM’s five-year timetable parallels the FAA’s periodic check of runway headings. Given what’s involved, logic suggests that we’ll not see wholesale runway renumbering. For one thing, the new magnetic north pole will not affect all of our takeoff and landing places. Going back to those ground school lessons, a runway designation must change when its heading is off 3 degrees or more.

Given the FAA’s runway rounding rules, this will predominately affect runways whose heading cross the 5-degree midline. If a runway’s heading changes from 254 degrees (rounded down to Runway 25) to 257 degrees, it must step up an become Runway 26. The lucky runways will have a heading that steps up or down to the 5-degree midline, because they can round up or down, meaning they employ the existing designation.

On the surface, changing a runway’s number seems simple, but it involves way more than paint and new airport signs (which in themselves are not cheap). It is a coordinated effort that involves everything from the Airport/Facility Directory to VFR and instrument charts and those for every approach to that runway. And making sure the runway designation and its magnetic heading match as required matters, if for no other reason that matching it with the cockpit compass reconfirms to pilots that they are on the right runway. – Scott Spangler, Editor

Airport Circular is Wildlife NIMBY Guide

By Scott Spangler on January 28th, 2019 | What do you think? »

critter 1Officially, the FAA is seeking comments by February 28 on its draft Advisory Circular 150/5200-33C, Hazardous Wildlife Attractants On or Near Airports. After reading the 37-page document, here’s a shorter and more concise title, Wildlife NIMBY Airport Guide.

It includes a diagram with the recommended backyard proximity (separation distances) for airports that serve piston aircraft (any airport that does not sell Jet-A) and those that serve turbines. At a piston airport, the minimum separation from any NIMBY wildlife attractant (as discussed in the AC’s second chapter) like a MSWLF (that would be a Municipal Solid Waste Landfill) is 5,000 feet. It’s double that at a turbine airport.

The AC really isn’t that much different from the one it is replacing. The draft consolidates and reorganizes its discussion of land uses on and near airports that attract wildlife and updates wildlife evaluation and mitigation procedures. (If you’re curious about the details, follow the link above and have a read.)

More importantly, it emphasizes that wildlife NIMBY is important to all airports, public or private, GA or commercial. To critters, any airport is open space, a refuge from the sprawling civilization that’s overtaken its habitat. How the airfield is or is not certified and who it serves matters not to them. But it will matter to the human in an airplane that runs into one of them.

apch birdAnother change relates to the damage a critter collision can cause. The FAA moved the table “Ranking of Hazardous Species” to AC 150/5200-32B, Reporting Wildlife Strikes. Every aviator should carry a copy of it in his or her flight bag because it not only explains when and how to make a report, it includes a report form, which is a handy way to record all of the necessary details right after the strike, assuming you’re not on the way to a hospital.

The FAA distilled the wildlife table from its database of reported strikes. There are 50 critters on the list, and all of them have at least 100 strike reports. Using these reports, the FAA derived a composite ranking based on damage (unknown, minor, substantial, destroyed), major damage (anything that affected aircraft structural strength, performance, or flight characteristics and would require major repair or component replacement), and strike’s effect on flight (aborted takeoff, engine shutdown, precautionary landing or other negative effect on flight).

snow buntingFirst on the list is the white-tailed deer, with a mean hazard level of 55 and a relative hazard score of 100. The next four-legged critter on the list is the coyote, No. 12, preceded by birds, include the snow goose, turkey vulture, Canada goose, sandhill crane, bald eagle, mallard, great blue heron, and American coot. More birds separate the coyote from the red fox, tied for No. 23 with the snow bunting (above).

The next four-legged critter is the woodchuck at No. 32. The striped skunk is last on the list. All of its damage scores are zero, but there’s no mention of the lasting aroma. With so many birds on the list, the AC kindly points out that 78 percent of bird strikes occur at 1,000 feet or lower and that 90 percent occur below 3,000 feet above the ground.

As it is with aircraft traffic, see-and-avoid also works with critters—if you know what to look for. To learn what attracts them, give this draft AC a gander. To further feed your autodidactic critter curiosity, dive into the FAA pages on Wildlife Hazard Mitigation and Wildlife Management. –Scott Spangler, Editor

The Real Reason Why Air France Stopped Flying the Concorde

By Robert Mark on January 17th, 2019 | What do you think? »

 

                 Photo by Michel Gilliand

The Real Reason Why Air France Stopped Flying the Concorde

By Rob Mark

The creation and nearly 30-year operational life of the French/Anglo Concorde, the world’s first operational supersonic airliner, is a rich history of cross-border cooperation and innovation at a time long before the personal computer revolution or the first cell phone. In fact, the origins of the first supersonic transport (SST) date back to before the election of President John F. Kennedy in 1960.

However, the end of the Concorde is indelibly etched into the memory of millions of people as a single photo of Air France flight 4590, its left delta wing ablaze, attempting to liftoff at a perilously steep angle of attack from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) on July 25, 2000. Staggering no more than a few hundred feet above the ground, flight 4590 crashed 90 seconds after it began its takeoff roll on runway 26 Right. This was the first and only fatal Concorde accident.

The Concorde ran over a piece of metal on the runway left behind by a McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 that had departed earlier from the runway 26 Right. That metal sliced though a tire on the SST sending a piece of hi-speed rubber into the wing that sliced open a fuel tank, spewing fuel that quickly ignited. At least this is the story as most of us heard it.

The Swiss Cheese Accident Analysis Model

John Hutchinson, a retired Concorde pilot in the UK tells a much more detailed version of the Concorde accident on the Podcasting on a Plane podcast. Hutchinson, a Concorde captain at British Airways from 1977 to 1992, spent an enormous amount of time analyzing the 4590 accident from the perspective of his 15-years of left-seat experience. His story explains the Air France 4590 accident was a Swiss cheese calamity that again proves most aircraft accidents result from not a single cause, but from a perfect storm of errors that eventually overwhelm a pilot or crew.

                Concorde fuel tanks by the numbers

Just a few of the issues Hutchinson uncovered include a problem with the left main landing gear long before takeoff, a crewmember who was not technically qualified to be sitting in the Concorde’s right seat, a captain who overloaded the aircraft with fuel and bags, a center of gravity that exceeded the rear limits, a runway at CDG that was under repair and a captain who pulled the airplane off the ground before it ever reached flying speed. Although the aircraft became airborne for a short few seconds, there were two additional near disasters lurking, Hutchinson said, before the airplane eventually stuck a hotel west of CDG killing 113 people.

The podcast is a fascinating update of the final flight of Air France 4590 that runs about 37-minutes. Listen to the podcast here.

Rob Mark

BTW, if you enjoyed this story, why not share it with a friend and consider subscribing … it’s free.

Note: This story was originally written for and published at Flyingmag.com

Total Coverage: The FAA Oxygen Mask Study

By Scott Spangler on January 14th, 2019 | 1 Comment »

Total Coverage: The FAA Oxygen Mask Study

o2The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 sometimes asks more questions than it answers. For example, what was behind Section 536. Oxygen Mask Design Study?

It requires the FAA to review and evaluate the design and effectiveness of commercial oxygen masks. “In conducting the study, the Administrator shall determine whether the current design of oxygen masks is adequate, and whether changes to the design could increase correct passenger usage of the masks.’

Diving into the Internet, this week’s research suggests that Section 536 was inspired by Southwest Flight 1380, where an uncontained engine failure led to the decompression of the 737’s primary people tube. Given the section’s focus on “correct passenger usage,” it seems safe to assume that this photo was an inspiration.

dixie cupGiven the Dixie-cup design of the ubiquitous commercial airline oxygen mask, which most of us have only seen in the hands of a flight attendant during the takeoff safety briefing that we’ve heard so often that we no longer pay attention to, it is easy to imagine how a real emergency could lead us to make it up in a panic. Sure, there’s a how-to pictograph on the rebreather bag, but who remembers that when panic is front of mind?

Here’s my question: what took so long? Too few actual decompression incidents, not enough Twitter photos during these events, or both?

I’m no human factors expert, but it seems logical to me that if you present a passenger, panicked or not, with a more anatomically shaped mask that makes clear where your nose and chin go, people would have at least a 50-percent chance of getting it right. And if they didn’t, feeling the breeze on their necks might give them a clue.

The FAA offers some interesting insight in Oxygen Equipment: Use in General Aviation Operations.

ga maskThe general aviation oral-nasal (mouth and nose) rebreather is a simple, inexpensive mask with an external plastic bag that inflates on exhalation. The bag mixes your exhaled air with the incoming 100-percent oxygen. According to the brochure, such masks will “supply adequate oxygen to keep the user physiologically safe up to 25,000 feet.”

The GA mask looks like the airlines’ drop-down Dixie cup, but it works differently. The Dixie cup “uses a series of one-way ports that allow a mixture of 100 percent oxygen and cabin air into the mask,” the FAA booklet says. “Exhalation is vented to the atmosphere; as a result, the bag does not inflate,“ (and I couldn’t find a reason why it’s there, either).

Finally, “this mask can be safely used at emergency altitudes up to 40,000 feet.” It didn’t say anything about keeping passengers “physiologically safe” at that altitude. But when still breathing is what really matters…

Still, the question remains, one-way valves aside, if the GA mask and Dixie cup are essentially the same, why not used the anatomically suggesting GA mask on airliners? It will be interesting to see what the FAA study has to say. Stay tuned. – Scott Spangler, Editor

What Made Herb Kelleher … Herb

By Robert Mark on January 8th, 2019 | 2 Comments »

What Made Herb Kelleher … Herb

People at Southwest Airlines knew Herb Kelleher by a number of titles during his years as president, CEO and executive chairman; founder, inspiration, chairman emeritus and of course, friend. Kelleher died Thursday at age 87.

Herb and his client/partner Rollin King incorporated Air Southwest, Inc. in 1967 to offer low-fare, intra-Texas airline service. Southwest Airlines grew into an industry giant with 58,000 employees and the largest Boeing 737 fleet in the world – 742 – operated on some 4,000 daily departures. Herb served as Southwest Airlines executive chairman from March 1978 to May 2008 and as president and CEO from September 1981 to June 2001.

From day one, Kelleher ran Southwest using a number of simple business strategies including one considered outrageous to this day, that keeping the airline’s employees happy should be the carrier’s primary focus. Happy employees, Kelleher believed, would translate into happy customers and eventually happy shareholders, a philosophy that proved to be true under his guidance. Shareholders came to appreciate that in 48 years of operation, Southwest Airlines never failed to deliver a dividend.

Kelleher focused on keeping fares low and making it clear up front to passengers that the airline didn’t offer frills along the way, except for peanuts. Southwest operated a single aircraft type, the 737, to keep maintenance and training costs in line. Another airline, Ryanair in Ireland, successfully copied the Southwest model. Kelleher and King also decided success demanded avoid operations at congested major airports like Chicago O’Hare, Boston Logan or Miami International, opting for secondary locations like Midway, Fort Lauderdale and Manchester NH.

Most of all, Kelleher was known for a personal trait normally missing from most executives in the aviation industry, a sense of humor displayed early on when Herb found a roll for himself in the airline’s early advertising. Read the rest of this entry »

Fathers, Sons and Airplanes

By Robert Mark on January 1st, 2019 | What do you think? »

Click above to listen

Fathers, Sons and Airplanes, by Micah Engber

The New Year comes twice a year for me. Of course there’s this time of year, the first day of January for the year we all know. But there’s also first day of Tishrei, the Jewish New Year called Rosh Hashanah. While there’s a joy to the Jewish New Year it’s more of a time of self-examination and repentance, a ten day process that ends with the holiday of Yom Kippur.

So I started to write this just as Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, had ended, it’d been a week of reflection since Rosh Hashanah. And while this little piece was started at the beginning of the Jewish New Year, it’s just as applicable for the secular New Year.

When I started writing this it had just turned 5779 according to the Hebrew calendar. I just couldn’t get used to it, and I’d been writing 5778 on all my checks, but eventually I got over it. The thing that I didn’t, and I won’t get over though, probably for the rest of my life, is that I miss my Dad.

Lew Engber, NCO in the Army Corp of Engineers during World War II, First Lieutenant in the Medical Corp of the US Air Force during the Korean Conflict, brilliant psychologist, terrific raconteur, bibliophile, pulp fiction, western and science fiction fan, trivia expert, a gourmet and at times gourmand, airplane geek, beer connoisseur, but most important to me right now, my father. He’s the man who taught me not so much all I know, but kind of, how to know it. He shaped my tastes, my likes and loves, probably unwittingly and unintentionally, but nonetheless, most certainly. Perhaps more importantly he taught me how to learn for myself, how to love and appreciate learning itself, and love to pass on my knowledge to others.

It’s wasn’t just the High Holy Days that had me missing my Dad, although that may have been the impetus. There’s another thing that had me thinking of him. You see it was also the time of year when The Collings Foundation makes an almost annual trip to the Jetport here in Portland, Maine, PWM. This year it was the Wings of Freedom Tour including the B‑24J Liberator, Witchcraft, the B-25 Mitchell, Tondelayo and the TF-51D Mustang, Toulouse Nuts. The B‑17G Flying Fortress, Nine of Nine was stuck in Vermont having just “gone tech”. Yea, I missed the B-17, but I was missing my Dad even more.

You see I grew up with these aircraft, well not these exact airplanes, but these types, or similar. It was talking about aircraft, ships, science fiction and other common interests that I shared with my Dad that helped make us close. You often hear about baseball bringing fathers and sons together, well for me and my Dad, it wasn’t baseball, it was aircraft and flying, among quite a few other things.

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