• Pappy Boyington Tale

Don't know if you are interested but I met Marion Carl at Stanley Lake, in Idaho probably 30+ years ago. I was camping there with my family as he pulled in, in an Air Stream towed by a Surburban. First Class. He had a friend with him and they were going to fish the lake. I had the Navy MWR pop up tent. He noticed my jacket was Navy with wings on it and introduced himself. I of course knew him by reputation. I invited him over for drinks after he had finished fishing for the day. The interesting part of the conversation happened when I asked him about Pappy Boyington operating out of Espiritu Santo.

It seem Pappy would get a snoot full and liked to wrestle folks and was very good at it. Marion said when that started he left the so called club. Apparently, Pappy, with this specialty, threw fellow squadron members or others, out the window of the club.

He said Pappy was competing with Major Bong for kills at the time and was to head home shortly for a Bond Sale Tour. Since he was to leave soon, he asked Carl if he could take his next combat hop. Carl agreed and it was on this flight that Boyington got shot down. Carl said he never saw Pappy again and if he did he thought he might be going out the nearest window. Jerry Dempsey

• The Japanese Zero and how we learned to fight it

In April 1942 thirty-six Zeros attacking a British naval base at Colombo,Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), were met by about sixty Royal Air Force aircraft ofmixed types, many of them obsolete. Twenty-seven of the RAF planes wentdown: fifteen Hawker Hurricanes (of Battle of Britain fame), eight FaireySwordfish, and four Fairey Fulmars. The Japanese lost one Zero. Five months after America's entry into the war, the Zero was still amystery to U.S. Navy pilots. On May 7, 1942, in the Battle of the Coral Sea,fighter pilots from our aircraft carriers Lexington and Yorktown fought theZero and didn't know what to call it. Some misidentified it as the GermanMesserschmitt 109. A few weeks later, on June 3 and 4, warplanes flew from the Japanesecarriers Ryujo and Junyo to attack the American military base at DutchHarbor in Alaska's Aleutian archipelago. Japan's attack on Alaska wasintended to draw remnants of the U.S. fleet north from Pearl Harbor, awayfrom Midway Island, where the Japanese were setting a trap. (The schemeultimately backfired when our Navy pilots sank four of Japan's first-lineaircraft carriers at Midway, giving the United States a major turning-pointvictory.) In the raid of June 4, twenty bombers blasted oil storage tanks, awarehouse, a hospital, a hangar, and a beached freighter, while elevenZeros strafed at will. Chief Petty Officer Makoto Endo led a three-planeZero section from the Ryujo, whose other pilots were Flight Petty OfficersTsuguo Shikada and Tadayoshi Koga. Koga, a small nineteen-year old, was theson of a rural carpenter. His Zero, serial number 4593, was light gray,with the imperial rising-sun insignia on its wings and fuselage. It had leftthe Mitsubishi Nagoya aircraft factory on February 19, only three and ahalf months earlier, so it was the latest design. Shortly before the bombs fell on Dutch Harbor that day, soldiers at anadjacent Army outpost had seen three Zeros shoot down a lumbering Catalinaamphibian. As the plane began to sink, most of the seven-member crewclimbed into a rubber raft and began paddling toward shore. The soldierswatched in horror as the Zeros strafed the crew until all were killed. TheZeros are believed to have been those of Endo, Shikada, and Koga. After massacring the Catalina crew, Endo led his section to Dutch Harbor,where it joined the other eight Zeros in strafing. It was then (accordingto Shikada, interviewed in 1984) that Koga's Zero was hit by ground fire. AnArmy intelligence team later reported, "Bullet holes entered the planefrom both upper and lower sides." One of the bullets severed the return oilline between the oil cooler and the engine. As the engine continued to run,it pumped oil from the broken line. A Navy photo taken during the raidshows a Zero trailing what appears to be smoke. It is probably oil, andthere is little doubt that this is Zero 4593. After the raid, as the enemy planes flew back toward their carriers, eightAmerican Curtiss Warhawk P-40s shot down four VaI (Aichi D3A) dive bombersthirty miles west of Dutch Harbor. In the swirling, minutes-long dogfight,Lt. John J. Cape shot down a plane identified as a Zero. Another Zerowas almost instantly on his tail. He climbed and rolled, trying to evade,but those were the wrong maneuvers to escape a Zero. The enemy fightereasily stayed with him, firing its two deadly 20-mm cannon and two 7.7-mmmachine guns. Cape and his plane plunged into the sea. Another Zero shotup the P-40 of Lt. Winfield McIntyre, who survived a crash landing with adead engine. Endo and Shikada accompanied Koga as he flew his oil-spewing airplane toAkutan Island, twenty-five miles away, which had been designated foremergency landings. A Japanese submarine stood nearby to pick up downedpilots. The three Zeros circled low over the green, treeless island. At alevel, grassy valley floor half a mile inland, Koga lowered his wheels andflaps and eased toward a three-point landing. As his main wheels touched,they dug in, and the Zero flipped onto its back, tossing water, grass, andgobs of mud. The valley floor was a bog, and the knee-high grass concealedwater. Endo and Shikada circled. There was no sign of life. If Koga was dead,their duty was to destroy the downed fighter. Incendiary bullets from theirmachine guns would have done the job. But Koga was a friend, and theycouldn't bring themselves to shoot. Perhaps he would recover, destroy theplane himself, and walk to the waiting submarine. Endo and Shikadaabandoned the downed fighter and returned to the Ryujo, two hundred miles tothe south. (The Ryujo was sunk two months later in the eastern Solomons byplanes from the aircraft carrier Saratoga. Endo was killed in action atRabaul on October 12, 1943, while Shikada survived the war and eventuallybecame a banker.) The wrecked Zero lay in the bog for more than a month, unseen by U.S.patrol planes and offshore ships. Akutan is often foggy, and constantAleutian winds create unpleasant turbulence over the rugged island. Mostpilots preferred to remain over water, so planes rarely flew over Akutan.However, on July 10 a U.S. Navy Catalina (PBY) amphibian returning fromovernight patrol crossed the island. A gunner named Wall called, "Hey,there's an airplane on the ground down there. It has meatballs on thewings." That meant the rising-sun insignia. The patrol plane's commander,Lt. William Thies, descended for a closer look. What he saw excited him. Back at Dutch Harbor, Thies persuaded his squadron commander to let himtake a party to the downed plane. No one then knew that it was a Zero. Ens. Robert Larson was Thies's copilot when the plane was discovered. Heremembers reaching the Zero. "We approached cautiously, walking in about afoot of water covered with grass. Koga's body, thoroughly strapped in, wasupside down in the plane, his head barely submerged in the water. "We weresurprised at the details of the airplane," Larson continues. "It was wellbuilt, with simple, unique features. Inspection plates could be opened bypushing on a black dot with a finger. A latch would open, and one couldpull the plate out. Wingtips folded by unlatching them and pushing them upby hand. The pilot had a parachute and a life raft." Koga's body wasburied nearby. In 1947 it was shifted to a cemetery on nearby Adak Island, and later, itis believed, his remains were returned to Japan . Thies had determined thatthe wrecked plane was a nearly new Zero, which suddenly gave it specialmeaning, for it was repairable. However, unlike U.S. warplanes, which haddetachable wings, the Zero's wings were integral with the fuselage. Thiscomplicated salvage and shipping. Navy crews fought the plane out of thebog. The tripod that was used to lift the engine, and later the fuselage,sank three to four feet into the mud. The Zero was too heavy to turn overwith the equipment on hand, so it was left upside down while a tractordragged it on a skid to the beach and a barge. At Dutch Harbor it wasturned over with a crane, cleaned, and crated, wings and all. When theawkward crate containing Zero 4593 arrived at North Island Naval AirStation, San Diego, a twelve-foot-high stockade was erected around it insidea hangar. Marines guarded the priceless plane while Navy crews workedaround the clock to make it airworthy. (There is no evidence the Japaneseever knew we had salvaged Koga's plane.) In mid-September Lt. Cmdr. Eddie R. Sanders studied it for a week asrepairs were completed. Forty-six years later he clearly remembered hisflights in Koga's Zero. "My log shows that I made twenty-four flights inZero 4593 from 20 September to 15 October 1942," Sanders told me. "Theseflights covered performance tests such as we do on planes undergoing Navytests. The very first flight exposed weaknesses of the Zero that our pilots couldexploit with proper tactics. "The Zero had superior maneuverability only atthe lower speeds used in dog fighting, with short turning radius andexcellent aileron control at very low speeds. However, immediately apparentwas the fact that the ailerons froze up at speeds above two hundred knots,so that rolling maneuvers at those speeds were slow and required muchforce on the control stick. It rolled to the left much easier than to theright. Also, its engine cut out under negative acceleration [as when nosinginto a dive] due to its float-type carburetor. "We now had an answer for ourpilots who were unable to escape a pursuing Zero. We told them to go into avertical power dive, using negative acceleration, if possible, to open therange quickly and gain advantageous speed while the Zero's engine wasstopped. At about two hundred knots, we instructed them to roll hard rightbefore the Zero pilot could get his sights lined up. "This recommendedtactic was radioed to the fleet after my first flight of Koga's plane, andsoon the welcome answer came back: "It works!'" Sanders said, satisfactionsounding in his voice even after nearly half a century. Thus by late September 1942 Allied pilots in the Pacific theater knew howto escape a pursuing Zero. "Was Zero 4593 a good representative of the Model 21 Zero?" I askedSanders. In other words, was the repaired airplane 100 percent? "About 98 percent," he replied. The zero was added to the U.S. Navy inventory and assigned its Mitsubishiserial number. The Japanese colors and insignia were replaced with thoseof the U.S. Navy and later the U.S. Army, which also test-flew it. The Navypitted it against the best American fighters of the time-the P-38 LockheedLightning, the P-39 Bell Airacobra, the P-51 North American Mustang, theF4F-4 Grumman Wildcat, and the F4U Chance Vought Corsair-and for each typedeveloped the most effective tactics and altitudes for engaging the Zero. In February 1945 Cmdr. Richard G. Crommelin was taxiing Zero 4593 at SanDiego Naval Air Station, where it was being used to train pilots bound forthe Pacific war zone. An SB-2C Curtiss Helldiver overran it and chopped itup from tail to cockpit. Crommelin survived, but the Zero didn't. Only afew pieces of Zero 4593 remain today. The manifold pressure gauge, theair-speed indicator, and the folding panel of the port wingtip were donatedto the Navy Museum at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard by Rear Adm. WilliamN. Leonard, who salvaged them at San Diego in 1945. In addition, two of itsmanufacturer's plates are in the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum inAnchorage, donated by Arthur Bauman, the photographer. Leonard recently told me, "The captured Zero was a treasure. To myknowledge no other captured machine has ever unlocked so many secrets at atime when the need was so great." A somewhat comparable event took place offNorth Africa in 1944-coincidentally on the same date, June 4, that Kogacrashed his Zero. A squadron commanded by Capt. Daniel V. Gallery, aboard the escortcarrier Guadalcanal, captured the German submarine U-505, boarding andsecuring the disabled vessel before the fleeing crew could scuttle it. Codebooks, charts, and operating instructions rescued from U-505 proved quitevaluable to the Allies. Captain Gallery later wrote, "Receptioncommittees which we were able to arrange as a result ... may have hadsomething to do with the sinking of nearly three hundred U-boats in the nexteleven months." By the time of U-505's capture, however, the German wareffort was already starting to crumble (D-day came only two days later),while Japan still dominated the Pacific when Koga's plane was recovered. A classic example of the Koga plane's value occurred on April 1, 1943,when Ken Walsh, a Marine flying an F4U Chance-Vought Corsair over theRussell Islands southeast of Bougainville, encountered a lone Zero. "Iturned toward him, planning a deflection shot, but before I could get onhim, he rolled, putting his plane right under my tail and within range. Ihad been told the Zero was extremely maneuverable, but if I hadn't seenhow swiftly his plane flipped onto my tail, I wouldn't have believed it,"Walsh recently recalled. "I remembered briefings that resulted from testflights of Koga's Zero on how to escape from a following Zero. With thatlone Zero on my tail I did a split S, and with its nose down and fullthrottle my Corsair picked up speed fast. I wanted at least 240 knots,preferably 260. Then, as prescribed, I rolled hard right. As I did this andcontinued my dive, tracers from the Zero zinged past my plane's belly. "Frominformation that came from Koga's Zero, I knew the Zero rolled more slowlyto the right than to the left. If I hadn't known which way to turn orroll, I'd have probably rolled to my left. If I had done that, the Zerowould likely have turned with me, locked on, and had me. I used thatmaneuver a number of times to get away from Zeros." By war's end Capt.(later Lt. Col.) Kenneth Walsh had twenty-one aerial victories (seventeenZeros, three Vais, one Pete), making him the war's fourth-ranking MarineCorps ace. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for two extremely courageousair battles he fought over the Solomon Islands in his Corsair during August1943. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1962 after more than twenty-eightyears of service. Walsh holds the Distinguished Flying Cross with six GoldStars, the Air Medal with fourteen Gold Stars, and more than a dozen othermedals and honors. How important was our acquisition of Koga's Zero? Masatake Okumiya, whosurvived more air-sea battles than any other Japanese naval officer, wasaboard the Ryujo when Koga made his last flight. He later co-authored twoclassic books, Zero and Midway. Okumiya has written that the Allies'acquisition of Koga's Zero was "no less serious" than the Japanese defeat atMidway and "did much to hasten our final defeat." If that doesn't convinceyou, ask Ken Walsh.INSIDE THE ZERO The Zero was Japan's main fighter plane throughout World War II. By war'send about 11,500 Zeros had been produced in five main variants. In March1939, when the prototype Zero was rolled out, Japan was in some ways stillso backward that the plane had to be hauled by oxcart from the Mitsubishifactory twenty-nine miles to the airfield where it flew. It represented agreat leap in technology. At the start of World War II, some countries'fighters were open cockpit, fabric-covered biplanes. A low-wing all-metalmonoplane carrier fighter, predecessor to the Zero, had been adopted by theJapanese in the mid-1930s, while the U.S. Navy's standard fighter was stilla biplane. But the world took little notice of Japan's advanced militaryaircraft, so the Zero came as a great shock to Americans at Pearl Harbor andafterward. A combination of nimbleness and simplicity gave it fightingqualities that no Allied plane could match. Lightness, simplicity, ease ofmaintenance, sensitivity to controls, and extreme maneuverability were themain elements that the designer Jiro Horikoshi built into the Zero. TheModel 21 flown by Koga weighed 5,500 pounds, including fuel, ammunition, andpilot, while U.S. fighters weighed 7,500 pounds and up. Early models had noprotective armor or self-sealing fuel tanks, although these were standardfeatures on U.S. fighters. Despite its large-diameter 940-hp radialengine, the Zero had one of the slimmest silhouettes of any World War IIfighter. The maximum speed of Koga's Zero was 326 mph at 16,000 feet, notespecially fast for a 1942 fighter. But high speed wasn't the reason forthe Zero's great combat record. Agility was. Its large ailerons gave itgreat maneuverability at low speeds. It could even outmaneuver the famedBritish Spitfire. Advanced U.S. fighters produced toward the war's end stillcouldn't turn with the Zero, but they were faster and could out climb andout dive it. Without self-sealing fuel tanks, the Zero was easily flamedwhen hit in any of its three wing and fuselage tanks or its droppable bellytank. And without protective armor, its pilot was vulnerable. In 1941 theZero's range of 1,675 nautical miles (1,930 statute miles) was one of thewonders of the aviation world. No other fighter plane had ever routinelyflown such a distance. Saburo Sakai, Japan's highest-scoring surviving WorldWar II ace, with sixty-four kills, believes that if the Zero had not beendeveloped, Japan "would not have decided to start the war." Other Japaneseauthorities echo this opinion, and the confidence it reflects was not, inthe beginning at least, misplaced. Today the Zero is one of the rarest ofall major fighter planes of World War II. Only sixteen complete andassembled examples are known to exist. Of these, only two are flyable: oneowned by Planes of Fame, in Chino, California, and the other by theConfederate Air Force, in Midland, Texas. Note: Jim Rearden, a forty-seven-year resident of Alaska, is the author offourteen books and more than five hundred magazine articles, mostly aboutAlaska. Among his books is Koga's Zero: The Fighter That Changed World WarII, which can be purchased from Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 713South Third Street West, Missoula, MT 59801.

• Lee Cameron, RIP

I can't verify that even one word of what follows is true. But it's aviation history, to be sure. Lee Cameron was one of the principals at Aerospace Products up in LA, the company that did the mods on our C-45H. He flew at Reno (probably), ditched a DC-4 (possibly) and lived to tell about it, and lots more recounted below. His sidekick got caught hauling wacky weed up from Mexico in our bird, so we had a Narc friend bring his dog since we going to be under the FAA's watchful eye, but it was clean. Looks like there were some other 'colorful characters' involved. No clue where what follows came from, looks like a forum on some Beechcraft site.


I bought Lee's AT-11 and his parts inventory.  Taigh is going to go over the plane with the proverbial "fine tooth comb".  Looking forward to finally get it home and play around with it.  We have been looking for almost 3 years for the appropriate family transportation.  I hope my patience is rewarded with a reasonable report out of Taigh's shop.

I had considered the gun turret but am afraid that my twin boys would cause too much destuction!!


congratulations, charlie.., you have bought a very unique airplane. A short story-novel could be written about this beast. FIRST OF ALL LET ME GIVE YOU A PARTIAL LIST ON SOME OF THE PEOPLE-CHARACTERS-LEGENDS who have worked on this at11. Lee Cameron, the creator of the super AT11, retired in 1946 from united airlines to make more money scrapping airliners. He loved his job flying boeing 247's DC3's DC4's internationally known colorful character. In 1979 when lee was 60 yrs young, he ditched a dc4 off the coast of florida .A book was written,an interesting tale about 3 characters, a jew, a scotsman and a pollock that survived in a life raft on a gallon of water, a bag of apples, fighting off sharks, drifting for 9 days, dehydrated and hallucinating, eventually being rescued and dumped in a mexican port, thrown in jail, and conning theirselves out on a promise of a bribe! Phil and Bud brauchler who own wauchula aircraft worked on your AT11 for 14 months to get it ferriable to california, Marine SGT. "BILL ZINK".., sounded like a FOGG HORN" flew a baron all over florida delivering blood during the evening, and worked on the AT11 by day. One of many pilot-mechanics that worked on the plane. bill now travels all over the world doing prebuys on cessna citations. "NEAL" the cfi-mechanic once had a paperwork problem returning in a friends apache from the bahamas and was thrown in jail while the ripples were ironed out! Capt. howard harding, once was an illigitimate dealer in stored obsolete airline avionics, howard currently is babysitting my plane in roosevelt utah, one hell of a talented pilot-mechanic with a scrotum the size of an asian water buffalo! He was chief pilot-mechanic for the jelly-bean airforce, a fleet of 18's, carrying tourists and freight around the hawaiian islands. howards cell in utah 435 724 0539. Cigarette smoking Air Force george, he and his dad used to go fishing with actor james arness, flying up in the sierra nevadas. Lee's most senior employee was "TOMMY", owned his own DC3 out of van nuys flying the nips to the ditch, grand canyon tours. Tommy told me his 135 insurance went from 8K to 32K in one yr so he dropped out becomimg an employee for lee. Sadly tommy passed away 5 yrs ago, worked for Lee until the day he died. He had alot of good stories being an airline capt in the 50's and 60's. Long after lee had retired from united, tommy invited lee and some friends on a chartered flight to europe in a DC6. That was the start of a long friendship. Tommy had a parkinsons problem but always had a glint in his eye and a story, kind of reminded me of my grandfather! "BIG BOBBY" was 400 to 500 pounds of aviation enthusiast, he had an eating disorder but knew alot about building old radials. I saw him consume a gallon of juice and a dozen donuts in 20 minutes. An hour later told he me he hadn't eaten anything, I referred him to a local all U can eat restaurant. Some aircraft mechanics, like pilots and painters have a bottle problem, "JAY" was an ex liquor distributor in nevada. He lived in his motorhome inviting prospective actresses to the mobile casting couch. He was Lee's Grunt willing to do anything, a real nice guy. Movie mechanics Karl Florine and Dennis Twohey, owners of beech18.com I flew them to lantana florida to help resurrect their tri-gear 18 in 2001 right after general aviation was opened after sept11th. I never file flight plans but karl did the paperwork on that trip. Another very talented pilot mechanic, can't remember his name at the moment, owned a fleet of 18's flying out of hawthorne next to lax. One of his pilots ran an 18 out of gas landing next to whisky pete's. Gas was delivered and the plane flew off without a report written on the incident. His 135 certificate was yanked. he went to work in laughlin nevada, he now is a capt. on the fly by wire stuff for the airlines. Yours truly spent 27 yrs with HONDA,I first met Lee in 89, trading my 182 for an airliner, an 18. ten yrs later, right after I broke my back in 3 places, Lee called me asking me to deliver a wing and 2 985's to florida for your AT11. I stayed with Lee for 3 yrs. I never made much money in the aviation business, but I sure met some interesting people, and flew my plane 3 times more than when I was making a decent living. Never had so much fun in my life. There are more of the motley crew, but these ones stand out. dave wilson fly-by-nite airlines   

  Re: AT-11 (davewilson)
Posted: 12:21:28 am on 1/3/2006 Modified: Never   

correction, Lee was 69 when he ditched the 4. another one of Lee's AT11 guys was a true artist and one heck of a sheet metal man, "Leonard" was an ex employee of lockheed in burbank for many yrs and was a major supplier of vitamins assisting fellow employees to stay awake for double shifts! He did the sheet metal work on the airstair door, basically building it from scratch. Leonard introduced me to his fellow highschool friend,a tough looking latino motorcycle vato..., "gang banger" also an ex con, who was a star on the movie "BUBBLE BOY" being filmed at whiteman airport. Another movie "Jag" being filmed at whiteman attracted a celeb who noticed the AT11 in the hanger.Charlies angel Jaquelin Smith used the hanger to have her make up technician primp and fuss between shoots! Karl of beech18.com took some pictures of jaquelin being embraced.., by Dennis Twohey, roadracer bob, and myself in front of the AT11.  

  Re: AT-11 (davewilson)
Posted: 11:22:21 pm on 1/3/2006 Modified: Never   

Lee's dad was an automobile manufacturer, one of many in those days. The CAMERON was mostly made of aluminum ! There is a cameron on display at an auto museum in the san fernando valley. Do you remember seeing classical historic footage of charles lindberg preparing to take off in the spirit of St. Louis on the flight to paris france. Lee Cameron was in that send off crowd helping push the plane thru the mud! believe it or not..., sky king

  Re: AT-11 (davewilson)
Posted: 8:14:27 pm on 1/7/2006 Modified: Never   

After another briefing with Lee, the correct description of the ditching incident..., nine days of floating in the gulf of mexico with a protestant, a catholic, and a jew. Paul Gunderson was one of Lee's more talented ex 135 owner-pilots that operated a fleet of 18's out of Hawthorne calif. Paul lives in bullhead city and flies a smoker out of vegas to nashville for an offshoot of delta airlines. Lee once told me of an incident with a famous aviatrix. When Lee was 16 and this lady pilot was 28, she landed at cleveland ohio, she needed a lift into town so lee gave her a ride in his car. She told him she didn't have any money so he told her she could give him a KISS! Amelia erhart obliged!  Another interesting story was Lee's entry into the 1949 BENDIX AIR RACES. Lee competed without any sponsor flying on his own nickel in his douglas invader, a huge gas guzzling Double engined pratt and whitney R2800's. He figured he could place well as his competitors in heavily sponsored p51's may have mechanical breakdowns!. The other planes would have to make fuel stops and he could do it non stop. He was wrong, most of the planes finished, including Lee. At 95 Lee said he is going to the next auction in phoenix arizona with the STARMAN Brothers to see if he can sniff out a good deal on some aviation goodies, I may go along to accompany him. Lee is completeing his book which should be printed soon, to order yours or the book about the ditching call Lee or larry at 1 800 257 9863 Sky King   

  Re: AT-11 (davewilson)
Posted: 11:20:02 pm on 1/29/2007 Modified: Never   

MR. TWIN BEECH...,  Leland H. Cameron,  decided to fly west this past saturday afternoon. Lee suffered a major stroke after having a brief bout with pneumonea. At 96 yrs young, Lee was the oldest surviving United Airlines pilot, retiring as captain on DC4s in 1947! He was still driving his ford taurus and attending the monthly retired united airline pilots meetings. Lee's latest claim to fame was that he was the only man alive who got kissed by Amelia aerhart. Lee told me when she landed in cincinatti she asked if there was a bus or a taxi into town, he offered her a lift into town. She gave him gave him a kiss? Several years ago Lee told me he had more than one stewardess pregnant at the same time.  Looking on the internet doing a search under leland cameron I found an interesting document. Dated 1947, Lee was in a court battle with the federal government. It appears that after the bendix air race in his B26, from Poncho Barnes ranch in Mojave california to cincinatti, against P51 mustangs, corsairs, spitfires, P40's, Lee performed a loop and ensuing dive narrowly missing the control tower. His licence had been suspended for 30 days, except for purposes of testing military aircraft. Lee was appealing the courts decision. Lee competed in his own B26 airplane with no sponsors, he told me he could do it non stop without refueling and thought he had a chance at winning as the others had to stop for fuel and were not as reliable! Lee's caregiver is typing up his newest autobiography soon to be released. Lee probably sold more beech 18's privately other any other privateer. Lee was a very colorful character. In 1979, at 68 yrs of age, Lee spent 9 days floating around the gulf of mexico in a life raft  after ditching a DC4 35 miles west off the coast of tampa. He also spent 18 months in Lompoc prison on a conspiracy charge. Lee proudly displayed an autographed portrait of him standing next to president Ronald Reagan. A substantial contribution to the republican party lead to his conviction being exponged? I had the pleasure of working for Lee from 1999 to 2001. He sent me all over the country in his ford truck picking up parts and many times sending me in my own beech 18 paying for hotels, meals, fuel and a small paycheck. I did more flying working for Lee than when I was making a decent living as a honda mechanic. I worked with a motley crew of characters restoring about 4 beeches,including the famous AT11 now owned by Dr. C Bogie. I have informed Wayman Dunlap, editor of the Pacific flyer newspaper of Lee's passing. Larry Stahl, lee's business partner and CLAY LACY of lacy aviation are being consulted for a story of lees life.  Lee has been cremated and a memorial service is being set up for saturday the 10th at united methodist church on tujunga blvd N hollywood. LEE, thanks for the memories, dave wilson - sky king, fly-by-nite airlines.  

  Re: AT-11 (18West)
Posted: 2:02:21 pm on 2/1/2007 Modified: Never   

Hard to believe. David AND Lee gone within 24 hrs of each. 
So many of the "old guard" gone now.
I worked for Lee back in 1962-63. My main job was stripping fabric off of surfaces so Charlie could metal skin them.
There was so much going on there then. Maybe 10 guys working full time on all the mods Lee had developed.
Anyway, thats where my love affair for the 18 began.
Lee was one of a kind and bigger then life. Talk about a salesman!
The last time I saw him was shortly before he moved away from Satsuma Street. Id stopped by to drop off a part or something and ****ed if LEE didnt start trying to sell me stuff.
I finally bought an old beat up Super Cabin seat so he'd let me outta there!  :-)   That was Lee, all the way.
Adios amigo.  Tom Leatherwood

  Re: AT-11 (Baron319)
Posted: 12:12:36 am on 2/3/2007 Modified: Never   

I thought it was a Rabbi, A Muslim Priest and a Cowboy? LOL 
With Lee gone I doubt the REAL story about the ditching will ever be known. You have a great heart Dave but your too gullible. Maybe the real story doesnt need to be known, or is too boring. The other variations are certainly more colorful and put Lee in a better light. The latest one told by Lee to Matt Jackson has Lee flying a DC6 to South America single handedly on a DEA sting operation to bust a bunch of Columbian drug lords. After, LEE think, why go home empty handed so he fills the airplane up with pot and off he goes. The DEA gets wind of it and shadows him with a C-130. Lee ditches the 6 and gets in a raft and the DEA leaves him there. Etc etc etc. Now THATS a good story! 
Truth is it was probably a Bonanza or a 206. lol                        

  Re: AT-11 (davewilson)
Posted: 3:50:32 pm on 2/6/2007 Modified: Never   

Tom, I can't quite picture Lee as a cowboy? Just spoke to Larrt Stahl, lees business partner for the past 40 yrs, probably credited with keeping Lee out of prison for so long! The funeral is planned for this sunday 230 pm at the UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, 4832 Tujunga blvd in North Hollywood between magnolia and Camarillo. The criminal attorney..., brigadere general SYKES of the van nuys condor squadron, a gaggle of at6's, is putting together a FLY BY for Lee. Larry said they're still looking for an 18 to join the formation. 

  Re: AT-11 (Baron319)
Posted: 4:30:36 pm on 2/6/2007 Modified: Never   

That was just a bad joke. Lee not a cowboy?  Depends in what context you view it. They say that cowboys made their own rules right?  Tell me he wasn't a cowboy?
I wont be able to make the memorial as it turns out. Take a recorder and record as many Lee stories as you can. It would make a hell of a book!

  Re: AT-11 (davewilson)
Posted: 7:06:59 pm on 2/6/2007 Modified: Never   

Tom, yes I guess Lee was a real cowboy, the kind of guy that would clean out his ears with a #2 flatblade screw driver. My wife grew to hate Lee, I was having the time of my life, working for Lee and aerospace products, flying and working on 18's for a few years, you just had to count your fingers after a handshake! As we both worked for the same boss, Jack Robertson Honda, I must admit you have done very well for yourself. Owning the most beautiful 18 that was previously part of the astronaut frank bormans aviation collection. Some day you will probably regret selling her.  I remember well the biggest west coast 18 reunion at paso robles hosted by you and your lovely wife tina, your truly classic hanger and the auger inn. Meeting your good friend and fellow aviator, Morgan Woodward, I looked up woodward.com and he has sure done alot of tv, Bonanza, wyatt urp, dallas, cool hand luke, now theres a real cowboy! He still has a hanger at WHP! Is he still flying his WACO, I think he is 81 now. Larry told me that Lee's latest caregiver is typing up Lee's latest autobiography. I still owe you for that emergency hatch that you gave me years ago. No JUNK in Tom Leatherwoods 18 inventory. I haven't afforded my 18 for the past 2 years, howard harding has it up in roosevelt airport utah, check out my comment on 74V at www.airnav.com  dave wilson

  Re: AT-11 (Baron319)
Posted: 12:56:57 am on 2/8/2007 Modified: Never   

Hi Dave,
Yeah, we had some fun at those fly-ins. Hom many times has there been 4 AT-11's flying formation at YOUR hangar party! We had 13 Beechs at that first one.
Sadly, Morgans thru flying himself. The Waco has been sold. He flies around with me given the chance.
Miss my Beech? Honestly I don't. There's a time for eveything and it was time to change. Im past that Warbird thing anyway. All the issues, spars, props, etc etc etc made the decision. My T-bone has ZERO issues PLUS a great autopilot! Its faster and cheaper by far.
Nice to hear from you.
Did you know I managed Jack Robertsons parts department at the motorcycle store on Tujunga? I also helped them setup the Burbank stores parts dept. This was around 1969-71 ? Jack was a real gentleman and treated me great. The first Honda Cars were coming in and the 750 4 cylinder sounded the death of their Triumph involvement.
Tom Leatherwood

  Re: AT-11 (davewilson)
Posted: 10:22:47 am on 2/14/2007 Modified: Never   

• Roger Ball

click images to enlarge

Today's personal computer flight simulators are a hair's breadth from reality with add-on weather and terrain packages. Recently I added a freeware aircraft carrier package to Microsoft Flight Simulator X, and it brought back sights and sounds (if not the smells of JP-5, oily steam, or sweat) from forty years ago.

With a couple of mouse clicks I positioned a carrier, flight deck spotted for recovery, ten miles ahead of my Navy/Grumman EA-6B. Into the break at 300 knots, the sight picture brought back a wave of memories.

One indelible memory came from the time the Air Boss called, "Keep it flying," as a stiletto Vigilante staggered into to the air, slowly rolled upside down, and disappeared in a noiseless splash.

Or the night, downwind after a bolter, when I heard a whine under my ejection seat and knew it was a hydraulic pump cavitating.Who knows how I knew that, but a calm pilot and the emergency hydraulic system got us back on deck where they threw chocks under the tires with us still in the arresting gear, and then towed us out of the wires, straight-wing, to the consternation of Flight Deck Control with a crowded deck.

Today, at the 90 rolling into the groove, I thought, yeah I've seen this picture before. Wide open ocean, tiny huge ship churning away from us. Five thousand hot, horny, hard working souls trying to make it through another deployment.

After almost 45 years (I learned in college, before joining the Navy) and 10,000+ hours of flying I figured, yeah, I can do this. Carrier ops can't be that hard. Especially when the pink bag-'o-flesh called 'me' isn't at risk.

Think again, Non-Flying Officer (as Aviation Week, who should know better, ignominiously once called Naval Flight Officers).  Hours and years don't a Naval Aviator make.

First pass was, "I know there's a ship out there somewhere. Oh, there it is. Okay, let's take 'er around and try that again."

Next pass was, "No, no, no. Two thousand feet MSL abeam will never work." The Air Boss would have had a conniption if he saw what I did to get back into a reasonable semblance of a 180.

But the picture was, oh, so familiar. "Been there, done this" kept coming to mind.

"Prowler, ball, two point six," I tell the LSO so he knows we're an EA-6B, not a similar looking Intruder, and so he knows our fuel state.

What are those red lights on the lens? Shit, I'm low, real low. Power, power, POWER. Wave off. Boards in, watch the AoA.

Over the ship at PriFly eye-level, I unaccountably hear a flight deck announcement, and am reminded that this is an almost, but not quite perfect, $30 simulator not a $30 million sim, nor a time machine.

Yellow shirts move around the flight deck, cranials and mouse ears in place. Low slung tugs, in modern white paint, move among the parked F/A-18s and E-2Ds, none of my era's yellow gear pushing A-3s, A-6s, and F-4s, reminding me this is the CV-68 Nimitz — CVA-64 USS Constellation, or Connie, has has been retired for years. My kids think it's funny that the San Diego Air and Space Museum has an A-6 with my name on the canopy rail. I think they ought to stuff me when I die, and just let fly west forever right there.

Next pass starts out badly, but miraculously turns into a trap. LSOs little black book would probably read something like BRFAPPS3: brilliant recovery from a piss poor start,  3 wire.

I wasn't so lucky on the next few tries, including one pass where I got a heart stopping look up at the flight deck after pulling off too much power.

But I did manage one OK3, at least from my perspective. Paddles probably would have though otherwise. And it wasn't dark, and the deck wasn't pitching, and I wasn't worried about dying, or worse yet, embarrassing myself.

On deck, thumb the boards in, hook up, flaps up, start the wing fold, taxi clear, yellow shirt gesturing frantically. Taxi toward the deck edge, cockpit hanging out over the water before a turn so the main mounts almost rub the steel curb that (usually) keeps you out of the catwalk. Looking down at nothing but water going by, another flash of recognition. Watch the power as we come around so we don't blow a plane captain in the water or suck someone down an intake. Shut her down, canopies open, no blast of kerosene wind, but the Air Boss is calling for the re-spot in preparation for the next launch.

Another day, another dollar. Only nine months to go, my memory recalls, and it all counts toward retirement.

"Honey, dinner's ready," my wife purrs, "You want beer or wine?" The fantasy evaporates, replaced by a dream come true.

Maybe I'd better try some FCLPs tomorrow, before I go back out to the ship?

UPDATE 1: I was being facetious when I suggested some Field Carrier Landing Practice. Turns out there is an add-on (free) FLOLS trailer that you can place anywhere. So I plunked one down at NOLF Coupeville and went around the pattern a few times. It helped! Just back from a session on the Eisenhower, amidst a bunch of CARQUAL T-45s (free and better than many payware aircraft), and did better.

UPDATE 2: If you've ever bounced at Coupeville you know the picture below isn't quite right. There should be a tiny landing area painted on the left side of the runway, and lights are way too dim. Well, vLSO (as in virtual LSO, and free) fixes all that, and adds a whole bunch more fun.

Not only will vLSO tell you if you're high or low, fast or slow, or need a little right for lineup, he'll tell you if you're wide at the 180, long in the groove, and get very perturbed if you try a 'taxi one wire' or, CAG forbid, ignore a wave off. The cut pass will show in your logbook and on the greenie board for all to see. And the package comes with a nice scenery add-on for East and West Coast NOLFs.

What's more. vLSO allows you to put a tanker in an orbit over the ship so you can go get a plug and some gas if things really aren't going well. So far I've managed to hit the basket once. And I mean hit, literally, not plug.

Sometime I'll get up the nerve to try it at night in the clag. Or in a fire-breathing F/A-18 ($45).

• Jumpin' jehosaphat

Never thought it was a good idea to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Although there are those that do. And, if you ask me, you gotta be kinda goofy to do it. (I wonder what Vmc is for a Twin Beech in this configuration?)