Thursday, December 30, 2010

WW II Aircraft Carrier Action

Thanks to Bill Neely for this incredible YouTube video link:

This is 16mm color (not "colorized") footage, that you may not have seen, of carrier action in the Pacific. There wasn't much color shot in the '40s - extremely expensive then, with a complicated and exacting development process. Enjoy...

Click on:

Friday, December 24, 2010

DC-3 over Tonga

This is absolutely the most excellent aviation picture of the year. It includes romance, adventure, beauty and all of those intangibles that go with aviation. I remember similar scenery, from a C-133 at 2,500' doing VFR over the Fiji islands and from a C-130, enroute to Belau (Palau). This was a carefully staged photo, for which the link is

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Coming Home

Thanks to Andrew Fleming, Sandy Sandstrom & Rick Spencer for the following link to a YouTube video of an Angel Flight arrival @ Dover AFB:

Click on: The Angel Flight

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Winter 2010, List & Book II

I. James Madison by Jack N. Rakove

II. The Law by Frederic Bastiat

If we were to take the greatest economists from all ages and judge them on the basis of their theoretical rigor, their influence on economic education, and their impact in support of the free-market economy, then Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) would be at the top of the list.

Through the years, I have read this seventy-six-page gem several times and never tire of it. I am suggesting it because much of the same situation exists in America today as in France in 1848, when they were faced with the seductive fallacies that rapidly turned them into a Socialist country. Presently, our American politicians constantly bombard their constituents with the same sophistic promises of Socialism, as were the French, screaming that by following their reckless reasoning they can provide a land of utopia.

Sadly, America’s unfunded liabilities of $200T are a result of these Socialist/Progressive fallacies of a ‘free lunch’ whereby the political elite who have made the laws have now legally turned to the forceful taking of its citizen’s privately earned property to finance their own personal devices. Bastiat calls this ‘lawful plunder’, but today we call it ‘wealth redistribution’ or ‘national fairness’. The Law examines how our body of basic law is thus diverted from its true purpose of preventing injustice to that of legally aiding and abetting the national plunder of an individual’s wealth and liberty.

The Law further suggests that by diverting these basic rules from their original purpose, such that they may now violate property rather than protecting it, everyone will ultimately want to participate either to prevent him or herself from being plundered or engage in it. The individual citizen is now faced with law and morality at odds, and what is legal is legitimate. This perversion of the law becomes the weapon for every kind of greed; and, the law itself becomes guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish. Sound familiar?

The Law was Bastiat’s last book, written while in ill health, and has become a classic moral defense of liberty and limited government; it is a message of immutable principal that is both timely and brilliant. To read The Law in light of today’s constant mantra, “…that more government is better government”, strikes a frightening chord of reality about today’s political rhetoric. It could happen here!

Richard Spencer

39th ATS, DAFB, 1962-1962

Book Reviews to Come:

III. Present at the Creation by Dean Acheson

IV. Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

V. The Math Book by Clifford A. Pickover

VI. Before the Dawn by Shimazaki Toson and translated by W.E. Naff

VII. Leviathan by Hobbes

VIII. The Berlin Airlift

IX. Sacred Fire

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Different Christmas Poem

Thanks to Ted Feindt for this link to a great YouTube video (turn up the sound):

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rick Spencer Back in Action!

Hello C-133 crewmembers. I must apologize for falling behind my personal commitment to post a book review once a month that somehow ties into our USAF service no matter how tenuous the tie may be. . But, I, as you, have been very busy with the summer as that is when the kids and grandkids visit, perfecting my golf swing is a high priority, and the daylight hours take away from my time for reading and writing. Our beautiful Delaware Fall has entered it last days as it is now dark at about 5 PM, too cold for golf, the kids are gone, and I begin with my winter reading as a bear takes to his den. So, I thought that I would try something different and share my winter reading list with you in the event you find them of interest for your winter hibernation as well.

As you can tell from my past reviews, I like to write about the wisdom of history as it traces our nation’s rich intellectual legacy largely garnered through the invaluable lessons of Western thought that, in turn, lead us to insights about the three hundred years of Capitalism that has shaped our country and provided us with a very rich personal and national life. I would say, a life beyond our wildest dreams; one desired by all others; one to be protected for our progeny from future financial or villainous calamity.

But, mostly, I like to read about the every day American who stepped forth upon the world stage to represent us in times of great national or international peril with their unsuspected innate abilities to seize the moment and rescue the day regardless of its great personal danger. That singular aspect, some call it the essence of American Exceptionalism, has been the history of America and fosters ordinary citizen desire to protect our freedom and our Republic. Those moments of national danger also teach us much about the risks and rewards of being a superpower. C-133 crewmembers were an important part of such history during the latter part of the 20th century and we celebrated many of the events that involved us during our recent reunion.

So, I follow now with my winter 2010-2011 reading list that I shall take into my den, shut out the cold and darkness, and feast upon America’s past as it has been molded into greatness through the profundity of its leaders imbued with western thought. Enjoy!

I. James Madison by Jack N. Rakove:

Some months ago I read that James Madison, our fourth President, was the most profound of our Founders and that piqued my interest, as Hamilton has always been my favorite. So, I immediately called upon one of my college professor friends, who is a historian of merit, and asked him who has published the most readable biography of Madison that would suit C-133 crew members. He immediately suggested Rakove's as meeting my request.

Rakove notes that even though Madison’s contemporaries of the time excelled him in many ways, Madison’s reputation was as “…the most original, creative, and penetrating political thinker of his generation in creating the extended national republic of the United States”. He had many partners but few equals and played a key role in every significant development of our Nation during his career that spanned four decades. The author cites him as the author of the Constitution, and of the Bill of Rights, and Author of The Federalist.

To his last days, Madison was fascinated with the rights of majorities to rule and the dangers in allowing them to do so. That led him to constantly study the proper balance between the Union and its member states. Madison thusly anticipated the expanded protection of individual and minority rights by the federal Government that took place during the 20th century; and, Rakove considers that a potent legacy for a statesman born 260 years ago. The tyranny of the majority is a question we still debate and was significant in our just completed national elections.

I finished this very enjoyable biography a few weeks ago and do agree that Madison was a most profound thinker during the creation of the American Republic, and maybe the most profound. I believe you will as well.

Click on the following link to order the book online for $1.00 + Shipping:

James Madison and the Creation of The American Republic by Jack Rakove

Friday, November 12, 2010

Art of the American Soldier

Thanks to Rick Spencer for the following website. Click on the red, underlined hot link to go to the Intro video, then click on Online Gallery to scan through the art in chronological order.

"Presenting paintings and drawings created by American soldiers--many of them capturing scenes of combat witnessed firsthand--this groundbreaking exhibition depicts the human dimension of war in ways no photograph or newsreel ever could. Art of the American Soldier is the first major exhibition curated exclusively from the Army's unparalleled collection, offering visitors rare and intimate views of the soldier experience through a powerful, never-before-seen collection of artwork dating from World War I to the present day."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Grey Eagles & P-51s

Thanks to Marty Lavin for bringing us back to this very special video. If you haven't seen it, you should. If you have, it's worth a re-run. Click on the link, then on the little box with the arrow in the lower right corner to enlarge it to full-screen, then on the "x" to eliminate the video control bar, sit back and "go with it." When it's finished, press your Escape key to get out of it.

Here's the intro:

Filmmaker and P-51 Mustang Pilot Chris Woods has put together a wonderful film that captures the emotional reunion between a humble WWII Mustang ace (Jim Brooks) and the historic plane he thought he'd never see again.

Inspired by the flood of memories triggered by this unimaginable encounter with a long lost friend, the 88-year old pilot finally breaks his silence, sharing his stories and experiences of war with the grandchildren who never thought they'd hear them.

Wood's interviews with Brooks, his grandchildren, and other airmen who were touched by the Mustang's role in history are cut together to create a compelling narrative that is framed in stunning high-definition photography.

Click on:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Honoring Fallen Vets

If you haven't seen this CBS video, you should!

Click on:

Incredible dedication! 38 years!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

JetBlue Landing

Amazing landing with a "transverse" nose wheel!! Thanks to Bill Neely for the following video:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Curse of the Cargomaster Feedback

Thank you for the following Comments:

The article was quite interesting and informative and one part in particular caught my attention; the testing at Edwards. It prompted this question.

Is there anybody out there who was at Wright-Patterson during the investigation of the C-133 when all 42 aicraft were grounded? There was an extensive inspection, and testing going on at the same time with two A models, 56-2000 & 56-2008 at Wright-Pat. Just curious?

Robert Houston

Thanks for the articles. I made one flight as a reservist several years after I separated from active duty. A major problem with the props had been fixed and the old birds were making some trips to Vietnam without maintenance delays. A lot of the tension that existed when we were in the 1st Squadron had disappeared. This was before the crash due to the structural failure.

Marion Johnson

I was asked by Gen Wallace to fly an airplane to Warner Robbins to have the plane dismantled and inspected by some of the best aeronautical minds in the U.S. This was done and then Gen. Wallace asked that I go as the FE, retrieve the aircraft, micro preflight the airplane and bring it home when ready. I spent two days inspecting the aircraft and then we flew it home. The first flight at home was with Gen Wallace on board. It is only fair that we give credit to Gen. Wallace as he is the one who insisted we fly our own aircraft to and from on all missions, no more staging C-133’s. He was, in every sense, the aircrewman’s general.

Sandy Sandstrom

My name is Art Szmuriga. I was a C-133 Pilot in the 1st MAS at Dover from July '68 through Jan '70. I went through the 2nd pilot, 1st pilot and AC upgrades before being sent to Cam Ranh Bay (Click on Air Base for history) to fly C-7A Caribous.

I read your letter to Mr. Sotham with great interest. I remember that when I graduated from Moody in June '68, I was extremely happy to get to Dover and accepted the C-133 mission with joy since we would go world wide, no staging, etc. I didn't know about many of the crashes, etc, and we didn't talk about them much at Dover. By the time I started flying the C-133, most of the problems were corrected. I have pleasant memories of flying the C-133 even though I had a few in-flight emergencies that turned out okay.

I would like you to check and confirm the date of the B model that disintegrated over Nebraska. Your letter gave a date of Feb 6, 1967. Please check this for correctness. I was at Dover when this happened and I seem to recall that it may have happened in 1969, but I'm not sure. Since I was at Dover from June '68 through Jan '70, it was in that time frame, rather than 1967. I also recall that they grounded the fleet and put the "belly bands" on after that crash.

If I am incorrect, please accept my apologies for not remembering correctly. If I am correct, you can go from there.

Thank You,

Art Szmuriga
Matthews, NC

NOTE: Art gets the "prize" for catching an inadvertant typo. It was 1969, and our blog post has been corrected.

I really found this interesting, I was on the way back to Dover when the one went in off Kadena, and we heard about it right after we got back.

I was deadheading back to Dover and was originally scheduled to catch the one that blew up over Nebraska, it was due to quick stop Travis about midnight, but I found out just a little earlier that there was one coming through at 0300 and elected to spend another couple hours in bed with my future wife and catch it. As we were through flying that one, we were hauled into Ops and almost locked up in a secure room. We could have no contact with the outside. After what seemed like hours, we were told what happened , taken right back to the plane and launched for Dover. I always had a theory, knowing that some loads I had helped haul out of Nam and found out later had been booby trapped, figured that this one had been, and it worked.

The reason I was deadheading, I'd been through the training on the RC-121 for Korat, and my shipment date was delayed several months, and had taken a short leave, gone back to McClellan to refresh before going to the Batcats.

James Mitchell

Monday, September 27, 2010

Curse of the Cargomaster Update 2

Lou Martin also wrote a fascinating, multi-page letter about his 133 experiences to the author of the article, Curse of the Cargomaster. It's too long to show in its entirety on a blog post, but below are a few beginning and ending paragraphs. I will also forward the entire letter to our current e-mail list, so those interested can access the whole thing. Any questions or comments should be sent directly to Lou at his e-mail address:

September 2, 2010

Mr. John Sotham
Air & Space Smithsonian
MRC 573 P.O. Box 37012
Washington, D.C. 20013

Dear Mr. Sotham,

Having logged 4,700 hours of pilot time in the C-133 I found your article, The Curse of the Cargomaster, in the September 2010 issue of the Air & Space Magazine very interesting and well done. However, I would like to add a few personal anecdotes regarding my experiences when flying the legendary C-133.
I reported into the 39 MAS in July 1964 and after completing ground school I made my first flight in a C-133 on August 17, 1964 and by mid September was flying missions, mostly to Europe, as a second pilot (the lowest ranking for new copilots). My first impression of the Cargomaster was that it was noisy, vibrated constantly, had a nearly uninhabitable cold uncomfortable cargo compartment and that the aircraft commanders I flew with appeared irritable and somewhat apprehensive regarding the reliability of the aircraft. They seemed ready to abort whenever they experienced a strange sound or a momentary disruption of RPM (burble) in one of the propellers. However, I had flown problematic aircraft in the past so I just carried on, enjoyed the return trips to Europe and the Christmas shopping in the well-stocked military BXs.

On November 7, 1964, when in crew-rest in the Azores Islands we heard of the fatal crash of a C-133 shortly after taking off from Goose Bay, Labrador. My aircraft commander told me that this was the sixth fatal crash of a C-133 with the cause of each listed as “Undetermined.” The flight back to Dover was void of the usual cockpit chatter.

On January 10, 1965, we learned of another C-133 crashing into the Pacific Ocean soon after a night takeoff from Wake Island. This was the seventh unexplained fatal crash of a Cargomaster that had claimed the lives of 50 crewmembers. Compounding the mysterious crashes was that in each accident there were no radio reports from the pilots indicating an impending emergency. Disregarding the fact that the C-133 was becoming more important in supporting airlift requirements for the expanding war in Vietnam, the Air Force grounded the remaining 42 aircraft. This grounding order was accompanied with the following statement, “C-133 Cargomasters will not be allowed to resume flying until a cause factor for past accidents is found and corrective actions are taken to prevent similar loss of aircraft and crew.”
The aircraft was extremely noisy, the tips of the 18 foot diameter propellers spinning at supersonic speed caused a vibration so severe that it could cause bodily discomfort and frequent maintenance problems, the cargo compartment was so cold and noisy that it was not suitable for carrying passengers and rendered the two bunks in the forward cargo compartment unusable and its “Jack-in-the-box” reputation for in-flight malfunctions kept the crew members ever alert for another Douglas Cargomaster surprise.

Unfortunately, the Air force and other aviation related organizations have not recognized the tremendous job the Cargomaster and it crews performed. A few years ago, the official Air Force Magazine published an account of the aircraft flown during the War in Vietnam. I was disappointed and surprised that the C-133 was not included. (I wrote a complaint letter to the editor but received no response.) In addition, I was recently reviewing books in a Barnes & Noble bookstore and came across a large book titled: The Air War in Vietnam. The book was loaded with large color pictures of every aircraft utilized, except the C-133. It was not even listed in the extensive index section. I am pleased that you bestowed long overdue recognition to the C-133 in your article.

Following the ditching accident on April 30, 1967 the C-133s enjoyed nearly three years without an accident and flight crews from both Dover, AFB and Travis AFB were becoming adjusted to the frequent Douglas in-flight surprises and providing critical worldwide airlift support in a creditable manner. However, on February 6, 1969 this record was tragically shattered. A C-133 crashed in Nebraska killing all five crewmembers following a nighttime in-flight breakup from 25,000 feet. The fuselage just forward of the wing constant section had separated from the rest of the aircraft due to a antique crack in the metal skin and suddenly, like a crack in an eggshell. Propagated around the entire fuselage. Seemingly, the metal skin had weakened through thousands of hours of vibration from the sonic boom pulsations from propeller tips rotating at super sonic speeds. (This was the ninth fatal accident of a C-133).

The accident must have been an unbelievable catastrophic experience for the crew as one second they were sitting in a well-lighted warm cockpit and a second later, they were in complete darkness, with no engine sounds and a sensation of falling to earth five miles below. It is estimated that the severed cockpit section took two to three minutes before crashing. All five crewmembers were found still strapped in their seats.

This accident was especially painful for me as the aircraft commander was Major Bill Tabor. We had been assigned to the same C-119 squadron in Germany during the 1950s and a few weeks before the accident he was on an overnight at Dover AFB. We shared several beers in the Officers’ Club while discussing what we were going to do after retirement. Following this accident, all C-133s were inspected for fatigue cracks and to prevent a similar accident 16 steel straps were wound around the forward section of the fuselage. From a distance, these straps took on the appearance of duct tape and the common mantra among crewmembers was; “Now the generals want us to fly aircraft held together with duct tape.”
Your article for further reading recommends Cal Taylor’s outstanding book Remembering An Unsung Giant. I would also, in an unassuming manner recommend my book Close Encounters with the Pilot’s Grim Reaper. I devote an extensive chapter on flying the C-133 from a flight crew’s viewpoint along with many exciting encounters in this memorable aircraft.


Lt.Col. Lou Martin (ret.) USAF

AND the following further update: A reply from John Sotham to Lou Martin....

Lt Col Martin,

Thanks very much for the letter--the magazine staff forwarded it to me
and I really enjoyed reading it. I sure wish I had known about you when
I was writing the story!

Thanks again for your interest in Air & Space, and mostly for your
service to our country.

John Sotham

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Curse of the Cargomaster Update

Our Crew Colleague, Lou Martin, offers the following commentary regarding the ditching of C-133B, S/N 59-0534 off Okinawa in April, 1967:

I was the pilot investigator for the ditching accident on April 30, 1967. The ten members of the accident board quickly determined that the reason the propellers were stuck in fixed pitch was due to a rupture of the electrical power in the main junction box, due to the inherent vibrations of the aircraft.

When voting on the primary cause, I was shocked as nine members had stated “Pilot Error” with just myself voting “Material Failure.” The contention taken by the board was that if the pilot had not descended to 2,500 feet the engines would not have flamed out. I pointed out that unless Kadena could have raised the airport to 6,000 feet he was going to have to descend in attempting to land.

After more votes we were unanimous in listing the primary cause as “Material Failure.” We now had to come up with a recommendation to prevent similar accidents. I recommended the feasibility of establishing an “Estimated Engine Flameout Procedure” (EEFA), which was met with sarcasm as the board members thought it would be ridiculous to suggest such a maneuver. However, it was coordinated with Headquarters 22nd Air Force and sent to Edwards Air Force Base. The procedure developed by test pilots is outlined on pages 71, 72 and 319 in Cal Taylor’s book Remembering an Unsung Giant and on page 389 in my book, Close Encounters with a Pilot’s Grim Reaper, ACs were required to perform three EEFA approaches until all aircraft were modified. The recommendation, initially scoffed at, was recognized as a significant proposal by the board president and General Graham, commander 21st Air Force wrote, “Please convey my appreciation to Colonel Martin for his outstanding performance during the ditching investigation. His idea of establishing an EEFA was accepted and developed through flight testing and may be significant in averting another accident of this type.”


Ref: Click on the following link (in red) to go to the Aviation Safety Network "Accident Description" for the Flight Safety Foundation.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The "good old days" in the B-36

Thanks to Chet Baffa for the following, with his comment: "...this-makes the C133 seem like a piece of cake!!"

Aircraft Commander 1st Lt. Oliver Hildebrandt, Pilot 1st Lt. Walter Ross, and Co-pilot Captain Wilbur Evans, and a crew of thirteen took off from Carswell AFB in B-36B, 44-92035 of the 26th Bomb Squadron of the 7th Bomb Wing at 5:05 A.M. on November 22,1950. The planned 30-hour training mission consisted of air-to-air gunnery, bombing, simulated radar bombing, and navigational training.

Immediately after take-off, the #4 alternator would not stay in parallel with the other three alternators, so it was taken off-line and de-excited three minutes into the flight. About one minute after the #4 alternator was shut down, flames 8 to 12 feet long erupted from around the air plug of the number-one engine. The left scanner reported the flames to the pilot. Six minutes after take-off, the flight engineer shut down the number-one engine, feathered its propeller, and expended one of its Methyl bromide fire extinguishing bottles.

The mission continued on the power of the remaining five engines. 44-92035 cruised to the gunnery range on Matagorda Island at an altitude of 5,000 feet. It arrived at 7:00 A.M. and the gunners began practicing. Radar Observer S/Sgt. Ray Earl manned the tail turret. The charger for the right gun burned out, so he expended just half of his ammunition. Then the APG-3 radar for the tail turret started acting up, so S/Sgt. Earl secured the set.

Aircraft Commander 1st Lt. Oliver Hildebrandt noted that the vibration from firing the 20mm cannons increased significantly during the fourth gunnery pass. Immediately afterward, radar operator Captain James Yeingst notified Hildebrandt that the APQ-24 radar set blew up and was smoking. Vibration from the firing of the guns was causing shorting between the internal components of the radar. Then the liaison transmitter failed as well.

The cannons in the left forward upper turret and the left rear upper turret stopped firing. The gunners attempted to retract the gun turrets, but the failed turrets would not retract. Gunner S/Sgt. Fred Boyd entered the turret bay, but other problems began to take precedence over the stuck turrets. Boyd was called out of the bay before he could manually crank the turret down.

At 7:31 A.M. the number-three engine suffered an internal failure. The torque pressure fell to zero. The manifold pressure dropped to atmospheric pressure. The fuel flow dropped off, and the flight engineer could not stabilize the engine speed. The pilot shut down the number-three engine and feathered its propeller. The B-36B had only one operating engine on the left wing, so the pilot aborted the remainder of the training mission and set course for Kelly Air Force Base.

Flight engineer Captain Samuel Baker retarded the spark, set the mixture controls to "normal", and set the engine RPMs to 2,500 to increase the power from the remaining engines. Unknown to Captain Baker, the vibration from the guns had disabled the electrical systems controlling the spark settings and fuel mixture. He immediately discovered that the turbo control knobs no longer affected the manifold pressure.

The B-36B could not maintain its airspeed on the power of the four remaining engines. It descended about 1,000 feet and its airspeed bled off to 135 miles per hour. The pilot called for more power. The flight engineer attempted to increase engine speed to 2,650 RPM and enrich the fuel mixture, but got no response from the engines except for severe backfiring. The fuel mixture indicators for all of the engines indicated lean.
The second flight engineer, M/Sgt. Edward Farcas, checked the electrical fuse panel. Although the fuses appeared to be intact, he replaced the master turbo fuse and all of the individual turbo fuses. He noticed that the turbo-amplifiers and mixture amplifiers were all cooler than normal. He climbed into the bomb bay to check the aircraft power panels and fuses, but could not find any problem there.

Kelly Air Force Base had a cloud overcast at just 300 feet and the visibility was restricted to two miles. The weather at Bergstrom Air Force Base not as bad, with scattered clouds at 1,000 feet, broken clouds at 2,000 feet and 10 miles visibility. Carswell Air Force Base was clear with 10 miles visibility, but it was 155 miles farther away than Bergstrom. Air traffic control cleared all airspace below 4,000 feet ahead of the crippled B-36B. Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt was flying on instruments in thick clouds.

The poor weather at Kelly Air Force Base convinced Hildebrandt to change course from Kelly to Carswell Air Force Base, passing by Bergstrom Air Force Base on the way in case the airplane could not make it to Carswell. Bombardier Captain Robert Nelson made two attempts to salvo the 1,500 pounds of practice bombs in the rear bomb bay, but the bomb bay doors would not open by automatic or manual control, or emergency procedure.

There was no way to dump fuel to reduce the weight of the B-36B. The flight engineers resorted to holding down the switches used to prime the fuel system in an attempt to increase fuel flow to the engines. M/Sgt. Edward Farcas held down the prime switches for the number-two and number-four engines while Captain Baker held down the prime switch for the number-five engine and operated the flight engineer's panel. The configuration of the switches did not allow them to prime the number-five engine and the number-six engine at the same time.

The high power demand coupled with the lean fuel mixture made the cylinder head temperatures of the engines climb to 295 degrees C. Flight engineer Baker jockeyed the throttles, decreasing the throttle setting of the engine with the highest cylinder head temperature until another engine grew even hotter. The high temperature caused the gasoline/air mixture in the cylinders to detonate before the pistons reached top dead center, diminishing power and damaging the engines.

Despite the critical situation with the engines, Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt decided to continue past Bergstrom Air Force Base to Carswell. Bergstrom was overcast and its runway was only 6,000 feet long. Carswell offered a much longer runway. By the time the B-36B reached Cleburne , the backfiring on all engines increased in violence. The number-2, number-5, and number-6 engines were running at 70% power and the number-4 engine was producing only 20% power. The airspeed had dropped off to 130 miles per hour.

Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt attempted to restart the number-one engine, the one that had spouted flames on take-off, but fuel was not getting to its induction system. He tried to restart the number-three engine, but could not unfeather the propeller on that engine. As the bomber passed to the west of Cleburne , the right scanner reported dense white smoke, oil, and metal particles coming from the number-five engine.

After a short while the number-five engine lost power, and Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt feathered the propeller on that engine while still twenty-one miles from Carswell Air Force Base. The B-36B could not stay airborne on the power of the three remaining failing engines. It was flying at just 125 miles per hour, seven miles per hour above the stall speed, losing both altitude and airspeed. Howard McCullough and W. Boeten were flying Civil Aeronautics Authority DC-3 N342 near Cleburne . They were notified by Meacham Tower to be on the lookout for 44-92035. They spotted it about five miles south of Cleburne . They observed that the number-one and number-three propellers were feathered and the number-five engine was on fire. They turned to follow the descending bomber. Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt ordered the crew to bail out of the stricken bomber.

Bombardier Captain Robert Nelson had bailed out of airplanes on two previous occasions. He had crash landed twice and ditched once. He was the first man to bail out from the forward crew compartment. He suffered contusions of his lower spine when he landed.

Radar Operator Captain James Yeingst responded to stress with laughter and jokes. He was a bit giddy before the bailout. He was the second man to exit from the forward crew compartment. His parachute streamed after he pulled the rip cord. He passed Captain Nelson going down. Captain Yeingst's parachute mushroomed open just before he hit the ground, but he suffered fatal injuries.

Co-pilot Captain Wilbur Evans was the third man to exit from the forward crew compartment. He had bailed out of airplanes twice before and crash landed several times during WW-II. This time he broke both bones in his lower right leg when he landed.

Navigator Captain Horace Stewart had previously tried to get off flying status because he felt that the B-36 was too dangerous. It is reported that during the hour before bailout, he was tense, nervous, and chain-smoking. He was the fourth man to bail out from the forward crew compartment. He pulled his rip cord right as he exited the forward escape hatch on the left side of the fuselage. His parachute opened and pulled him toward the number three propeller. His head hit the downward pointing blade of the propeller, killing him instantly.

Radio Operator Cpl. Paul Myers followed Captain Stewart out the escape hatch. Myers landed with minor injuries. Flight Engineer M/Sgt. Edward Farcas jumped head first through the exit hatch of the forward crew compartment right after Cpl. Myers. His parachute did not open when he pulled the rip cord. He pulled the parachute out of its pack with his hands and landed with only minor injuries.

Radar Mechanic Robert Gianerakis and Flight Engineer Captain Samuel Baker were the next to escape from the forward compartment. Both landed with only minor injuries. Radio Operator Sgt. Armando Villareal bailed out after Captain Baker. Villareal did not trust his parachute to open, so he pulled the rip cord while he was still in the forward crew compartment. He held his parachute in his arms as he jumped feet first through the escape hatch. Despite his unorthodox method of escape, he landed with only minor injuries.

Pilot 1st Lt. Walter Ross was the next to last to leave the forward compartment. He landed with only minor injuries. Gunner S/Sgt. Andrew Byrne and Radar Observer S/Sgt. Ray Earl were the first two crew members to bail out of the rear crew compartment. Both landed with only minor injuries. Gunner Cpl. Calvin Martin was the third man to exit the rear crew compartment. He was swinging under his parachute as he hit the ground. He broke his right ankle as he landed. He fell backward onto a rock, fracturing his third lumbar vertebra and compressing his tailbone.
Gunner S/Sgt. Ronald Williams followed Cpl. Martin out the rear escape hatch. He landed with only minor injuries. Gunner S/Sgt. Fred Boyd was the last man to exit the rear crew compartment. He called to Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt over the intercom to let him know that everyone had escaped from the aft compartment. When he turned back to the exit hatch, it had fallen shut. He had to open the hatch again to make his escape. He broke the fibula of his left leg when he landed farther to the north than the other crew members.

After S/Sgt. Boyd reported that all other crew members had bailed out of the rear compartment, Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt set the autopilot and jumped clear when the bomber was less than 1,000 feet above the ground. He and nine other crew members escaped from the B-36B with only minor injuries. When McCullough and Boeten in DC-3, N342 saw the parachutes of the escaping crew members, they announced the bail-out on the emergency frequency of 121.25 megacycles.

Each report of Emergency Parachute Jump indicates that the incident occurred 20 miles south southeast of Carswell Air Force Base. The descent of the B-36B was witnessed by Mr. Buck Bell and his wife, who lived about 5 to 7 miles southwest of Crowley , Texas . Mr. Bell saw the crew members parachuting from the bomber, but did not see it hit the ground about one mile north of his house. Mr. James Bandy and his wife were on the road to Cleburne about 4 miles from their house on Route 1 near Joshua when they spotted the B-36B trailing smoke, flying in a nose-high attitude. They saw it hit the ground in a level attitude, raising a cloud of dust.

The B-36B descended straight ahead in a nose-high attitude for a mile after Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt bailed out. It stalled, pitched nose down, and impacted in a terraced field on Less Armstrong's Dairy, 14 miles south of Carswell Air Force Base, 2 miles west of the South leg FTW range, and six miles west of Crowley at 9:50 in the morning. The forward crew compartment separated and folded underneath the rest of the fuselage. The tail section broke off, and the rear crew compartment came away from the mid-fuselage as the wreckage slid 850 feet along the ground and twisted to the right.

The rear sections of the airplane remained largely intact. The elevation at the crash site was approximately 700 feet. Mr. W. Doggett witnessed the bail-out and crash from his home on Route 1 near Joshua. The B-36B impacted about 2-1/2 miles north of his house. He drove to the crash site in his pickup truck and helped the surviving crew members to regroup.

Four minutes after the crash, McCullough and Boeten in DC-3, N342 reported that two Navy aircraft were circling the wreckage. The wreckage smoldered for about eight minutes before a fire broke out in the number-six engine. The 15,000 gallons of remaining fuel consumed the forward fuselage and wings. The civilians and crew members were driven away from the crash site by exploding ammunition and the knowledge of the presence of 1,500 pounds of bombs aboard the airplane.

Read this the next time you think you're having a bad day

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Remarkable New Russian Fighter

I don't know the source of the following text, so can't vouch for it. But the video is "remarkable!"

The red smoke coming from the wingtips is only there to demonstrate to spectators on the ground the direction the plane is actually moving through the air. Normally the smoke wouldn't be there. When the smoke is streaming behind, the airplane is moving fast forward etc. When the airplane is engulfed in smoke, it means the airplane is almost stopped in mid-air.

The maneuverability of this plane is incredible. This plane would be nearly impossible to defeat in a dogfight. Russia may now have the #1 fighter plane in the world...

It is the SU-30MK with Vectored Thrust and Canards.

As you watch this airplane, look at the canards moving along side of, and just below the canopy rail. The "canards" are the small wings forward of the main wings.

The smoke and contrails provide a sense of the actual flight path, sometimes in reverse direction. This video is of an in-flight demonstration flown by the Russian's 30MK fighter aircraft. The fighter can stall from high speed, stopping forward motion in seconds. (full stall). Then it demonstrates an ability to descend tail first without causing a compressor stall. It can also recover from a flat spin in less than a minute.

These maneuvering capabilities don't exist in any other aircraft in the world today. This aircraft is of concern to U.S and NATO planners. We don't know which nations will soon be flying the SU-30MK, hopefully China isn't one of them.. Friends worked with advanced aircraft flight control systems and concepts for many years as an extension of stability control and means of control.

Canards and vectored thrust were among many concepts examined to extend our fighter aircraft performance. Neither our current or next generation aircraft now poised for funding & production can in any way match the performance of this Russian aircraft.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Curse of the Cargomaster

Here is the link to John Sotham's article in Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine. Pretty good, I thought. My only quibble was with a photo caption that said the high wing/low cargo deck layout came from the C-130. More a case of parallel development. The C-82, C-119 and C-123 already had that.

Thank you, Cal......!!

Be sure to click on the Photo Gallery in the article!!


UPDATE 08/28/10: HOORAY for the Commentaters!! THANK YOU, Carl, Brad, Ron, Cal, Rick, Duane, Bill A, Larry, Ralph, Jack S, Tom T, John U, and Terry W, for leaving your comments on the above story in the Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine! Great stories! HOW ABOUT SOME MORE???

Those of you who did read the article, it's worth it to go back and read the Comments added. It really personalizes the original story! Then leave your own Comment!

UPDATE 09/01/10: YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!! 12 more comments have been added to the article (now totals 26)!! THANK YOU, Mark M, Ray H, Ken D, Dave N, Bob C, Robert H, James A, Don T, Dick Q, Don S, Phil K, and John L!!

You're all enhancing the original story with your personal perspectives! Let's keep it rolling!

By the way, our Chief Idea-man, Rick Spencer, suggested I order a couple hard copies of this issue of the magazine, for Travis and Dover Museum Archives (so I have), AND publish the procedure, so you could order one for yourself if you wish. Here it is:

Back issues are $7.00 each, postpaid. To order, please make your check or money order (in U.S. dollars) payable to the Smithsonian Institution and send your request to:

Air & Space Magazine, 420 Lexington Ave., Suite 2335, New York, NY, 10170, ATTN: Back Issues or call 212-916-1300. For specific questions, please contact James Babcock at

"The Curse of the Cargomaster" article is in the September, 2010, issue.


Crew Members,

I just called and ordered copies of the Smithsonian Magazine; and, if you order now, then you only pay $4.99 with free shipping as that is the price of a current issue.

Cheers, Rick

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August Book of the Month

A Conflict of Visions

by Thomas Sowell

Basic Books, 2007

New York, NY 10016


Many of our citizens lament the present lack of serious discussion in the political world that seems only to revolve about partisan venom, character assassinations, and juvenile discourse. They are prone to think such activities are something new to the country; and, that our problems could be solved if only this chattering mob resorted to civil language it would lead to compromise. However, in thinking so, they sorely misread our political history.

Early Political Discussion

Our country’s early political discourse among the populace, the politicians, and the overly partisan newspapers used such highly charged and venomous language that it led to beatings, duels, and the most outrageous of personal attacks. Much to the chagrin of Washington it began during his first term with Jefferson and Madison squaring off against Hamilton leading to the first political parties: Republicans and Federalists divided by their stands on States rights vs. Federal rights. Even so, and different from today, their arguments were motivated by early attempts to construct a framework of governance for a fledgling democratic country that lacked precedent, not necessarily adding to the political power of a party.

Upon assuming the actual governing of our Republic, the Founding Fathers thus left behind them the impeccable manners they had used in dispensing wisdom among themselves to now expressing their beliefs with an unusually savage verbal vehemence. While coming face to face with the realities of their nascent political world, their divisive use of abusive language greatly surpassed that of today’s as it was enhanced by the gloriously richness of the 18th century style of written communication. After all, they were revolutionaries with high energy and with even higher personal philosophical goals that often clashed when practical policy implementation was confronted. It has been thus ever since, and it will be thus as long as we are a democracy. How can it be otherwise? . Compromise is the acceptance of less by each side and is usually twice as costly to those who pay the bill. It also exposes the two sides to political danger or disgrace, so gridlock becomes less painful and less costly. In turn, that may be more productive.

The Two Visions

In order for one to better understand this never ending struggle of political ideas one need only to read A Conflict of Visions, by Thomas Sowell. Here the story of the two controversial and opposing visions of governing that revolves around generations of ethical and ideological political disputes is told. Dr. Sowell has written a classic with remarkable insight by framing the discussion as a ‘constrained’ or an ‘unconstrained’ vision of the people who are to be governed by those who govern. His arguments are persuasively outlined, clearly detailed, and fundamentally appropriate in today’s political environment. These visions have troublesome communications, as there are few commonalities, so participants tend to talk past one another. There is little or no room for compromise.

Dr. Sowell uses the human nature of man, such as man’s ultimate potential and ultimate limitations, as the framework for his analysis. The dynamism of a capitalistic democracy that is ever changing, that embraces free speech, and that is governed as a republic suggests a forced end to the controversy by one side or the other to be the end of our personal liberties. Despotism would rise as the victor.

This basic conflict about governance has been the fuel for the best of mankind and the worst; and, it is at the forefront of our democratic world that struggles to govern mainly through political parties. However, the folly of the argument for our country lies in the fact that the Constitution is largely one of a constrained view of the people to be governed. There should be no argument as our Founders’ goal was to construct a governance system that allowed man his individual freedom to be all that he can be. As you will see, that is far different than the unconstrained view of Progressives.

The Unconstrained Vision

The tradition inherent to the unconstrained view is the conviction that immoral or foolish choices explain the evils of the world and that wiser social policies are the solution to create a more humane society. In other words, the social engineering that seems to come naturally to academics, journalists, and Progressive politicians as they deem themselves wiser then the individual to make decisions about how one should live. They believe that a larger, centrally controlled apparatus is better for the individual than the individual is for himself. It is always found in fascism, communism, and socialism. In fact, it is the central theme for each of these and the end result has always been a disaster for those subjected to it, and seldom bloodless. It is the false promise of a utopia failed.

The present administration has ushered into our society some of the most radical social changes the country has ever experienced while acting within their unconstrained view of those they govern. Progressives have been largely guided by concepts that revolve around intentions and using words such as sincerity, commitment, and dedication all leading to the social justice they desire, usually the controlled conduct of our personal and economic lives. They create social contrivances through their artificial logic without regard to the unpleasant side effects that deceptive reasoning always produces. Their unconstrained view of governing largely rejects the doctrine of American exceptionalism and its values of self-reliance. It thusly rejects one’s own private stock of reasoning for guidance to his life’s concerns. They are viewed as the Liberals/Progressives among us.

The Constrained Vision

Turning to this vision, and as Sowell points out, those favoring the constrained vision put little faith in those deliberately designed social processes touted by the unconstrained vision since there is so little faith that any set of decision-makers could cope with the enormous complexities of designing an appropriate system of morality or politics for governance. In fact, the constrained vision does not envision any man-made social contrivance that would encompass the values and be more worthy than those that have historically evolved with their systemic order and without a deliberate design.

The constrained vision sees freedom as finite and that government power is accumulated at the expense of private freedom. Hayek, Smith, Hamilton, Burke, and our Founders were proponents of the constrained vision of governance for those to be governed and thus it became the basis for our Constitution. Those who value free trade, limited government, rational decision-making, are Constitutionalists, and believe that the bigger the government, the less free the society, make-up the present day body of citizens favoring a constrained view of governance. They are viewed as the Conservatives among us.

The Disease of Progressivism

As opposed to the unconstrained view, the constrained view accepts its citizen’s own private stock of reasoning as appropriate guidance for life’s concerns. That was the basis for our revolution, for our Constitution, and for our nation’s guidance until the Progressive era began at the turn of the 20th century. However, Europe has long been infected with ‘the disease of progressivism’ in the form of socialism but is now running from it, just as we seem to be embracing it. Central planning has never been the American way and it remains to be seen if out citizenry accepts it as a way of life.

The Conflict of Visions

The embittered politics engendered by these visions has reigned unabated and presently pervades all branches of our government. As Sowell states, “These are not merely differences of visions, but conflicts of vision.” That is why there is little compromise and may never be. Sowell opines that the moral impulse driving each vision cannot be jettisoned for the sake of winning, without making the victory meaningless. The acceptance of the best paradigm for the governing to govern has always been a fight to the finish, and a mean fight it is. But, in the long run of history, that may be in the best interest of the governed if they are engaged as well.

For those readers wanting a better understanding of the political conflict raging among us and between our two party system, I know of no better writing than A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggle, by Thomas Sowell. Your effort will be well rewarded and your mind may be set more at ease, or it may not! Enjoy.

Richard Spencer

39th ATS, Dover AFB,


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Reunion Survey Results


Our survey request went out to 160 active e-mail addresses on our list, and 72 of you completed the questionnaire!

Here are the final results in answer to question #1: If you attended the Reunion in Dover on 7-8 May 2010, rate your satisfaction with the Reunion in general. 7 of the 72 who responded did not attend. 90.5% of those who did, said they were "Very Satisfied." 8% said they were "Satisfied."

We had one unidentifiable respondent who checked "Very Dissatisfied" (entered on 6/28 @ 9:28 am). While I'm reporting it as checked, I am suspicious that the boxes checked were not intended. Every item rating was checked "Very Dissatisfied," but all of the comments entered on that form were positive - none negative?! For example, under the question about the Souvenir Cap, the rating was checked "Very Dissatisfied," but the comment entered was "Nice touch."

On the questionnaire, you will remember we listed 24 different features of the Reunion of the three main segments, Friday Event, Saturday Event, and Reunion Follow-up. I will publish details of your responses, including Additional Comments volunteered in the near future.....stay tuned!

Results on other questions follow:

6. At this point, what is your interest level in coming to another reunion?

75% Strong Interest
23% Mild Interest
2% No Interest

7. On the Next Reunion issue, it's been proposed that considering our advancing seniority, we plan in terms of alternating years with "mini" and "maxi" reunions, as long as someone will organize them, e.g. in 2011, have a low key, one night dinner, mostly for local people near Dover, then in 2012, another full-blown weekend like 2010. What do you think?

63% Great Idea!
17% Don't care....
1% Bad idea.
19% For better idea, see below...(all comments you submitted for this item)

1 Make sure to announce low key dates for those of us who might make the effort to attend from outside the KDOV area.

2 There were a lot of people there that I did not know.

3 Not necessarily better, but perhaps a little less often, despite our aging population.

4 How about scheduling the Reunion annually with the stipulation that if "X" number of paid reservations are not received by "Y" date a "low key" version will be held with a cut off of "Z" number of registrants.

5 Doesn't matter to me. If I'm able I plan to attend them all regardless.

6 Great idea, however will try to attend the mini.

7 I'll probably attend whatever happens.

8 Continue having low key dinners but with a similar format.

9 I would enjoy just the Friday night "crew meetings" every year or two. They are easier to plan and more laid back.

10 Mini reunions for areas of the country, i.e Dover, Florida. etc.

11 Having them too often will lose impact

12 Sure, Lets go for it.

8. Some have requested that reunion attendees in photos on our publicly accessible blog be identified...

1% I would object to my name appearing with my photo on the blog.

0% I object to my photo appearing on the blog, even without my name.

99% I have no problem with any of that, enjoy the photos, and favor photos with names (SEE PREVIOUS PHOTO ALBUMS PUBLISHED NOW SHOWING NAMES IDENTIFIED)

If you have any questions or comments on these results, please enter Comments below on the blog, or e-mail them to me at rehanson342@me. com