Archive for Aviation

Remembering Wake Island…

“When we got up, a wind of between 20 and 25 miles was blowing from the north. We got the machine out early and put up the signal for the men at the station.”  Orville Wright’s Diary, December 17, 1903

That was the day of the Wright brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk. I was born the same day (December 17) thirty-four years later, and in 1960 the Chance-Vought Aerospace Company gave me a pin for flying one of their F8 Crusaders 1000 mph. It seems impossible that time could collapse so dramatically in 57 years. read more

Dinner Companions…

James Salter is one of my favorite writers. We had a lot of interests in common–both fighter pilots, skiers, climbers, Francophiles, and food lovers. He wrote elegantly about all of them – The Hunters, Downhill RacerSolo FacesA Sport and a PastimeLife is Meals — and I grieved when he died at age 90 in 2015 .

Yesterday, M and I decided to keep his Life is Meals, a book he wrote with his wife Kay,on our coffee table. Subtitled A Food Lover’s Book of Days, it presents a short entry, maybe a story, an historical anecdote, or a recipe for each day of the year. Today’s entry (June 23rd) is entitled “Dinner Companions” and begins “Epicurus, Montaigne and many others offer the same advice; choose the companions first. Certain people will be better with certain others. read more

The Surface of Things…

As a writer, I’m trying to avoid the three Big topics of the day:

  • Black Lives Matter
  • Covid-19
  • Donald Trump

These are this week’s low hanging fruit. Unless I have something personal to add, I think they’re better left to professionals working those beats while I limit my perspective to the surface of things – at least for today.

The events of the past few months have impacted the way we live our lives. We see the world differently because of the invisible threat. We’re aware that it’s inherently dangerous and unpredictable. The fallout from it has taken me places I thought I’d never go and given me permission to navel gaze as never before. read more

No Smell, No Taste…

Granny

My restless brain is in overdrive search now that I have all this time and nowhere to go, so when I heard that one of the symptoms of Covid-19 was the loss of smell and taste, I free associated back to a bar of the same name (No Smell No Taste) in the West African country of Liberia. As Jerry Jeff Walker said about going to jail “I wasn’t there on a research project.” No Smell No Taste was a shanty bar, part wood, part corrugated tin, dirt floor on the road from the airport at Roberts Field to the capital, Monrovia. Big fun. Heineken beer preserved and fortified with formaldehyde (not unlike Trump’s injection of disinfectant) and a favored watering spot for Pan Am crew members. But, that’s another story. read more

Where’s My Alan Mullaly?

Seattle’s horse left the barn in 1997 when Boeing acquired its sickly competitor McDonnell Douglas. Little did anyone suspect that a company on life support could hijack the culture of its acquiring giant and precipitate a corporate tailspin that would drive the company into financial bailout territory.

The public could be forgiven for believing Boeing’s problem is the 737 MAX safety issue compounded by the Covid-19 crisis. The truth is more complex and the problems, including those related to the 737 MAX, derive from a cultural change that began with the McDonnell Douglas merger.  read more