2020 TO DATE:
2020, BASED ON THE LATEST NTSB REPORT (BELOW), WITH ONLY 2 ACCIDENTS REPORTED SO FAR INVOLVING FATALITIES, AND THE LATEST LOCAL NEWS REPORTS, IS STARTING TO LOOK, SAFETY WISE, LIKE 2019. IRONICALLY, BOTH NTSB-REPORTED FATALITIES WERE PASSENGERS IN THE AIRCRAFT, ALTHOUGH THE ONE PASSENGER IN THE HELICOPTER CRASH WAS A CERTIFIED PILOT, BUT NOT ARIZONA-BASED. WE DID, HOWEVER, LOSE AN ARIZONA-BASED PILOT AND HIS FAMILY IN A FATAL CRASH UP IN NEVADA IN LATE APRIL. I BELIEVE THERE WERE ANOTHER 1 OR 2 ACCIDENTS, BUT THEY ARE NOT YET SHOWING UP ON THE NTSB’S SITE.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to spread here in Arizona, we can only hope that over the next several months it will start to trend downward and then we can start to ramp up our flying. Keep your fingers crossed! But as a result of the stay-at-home philosophy, a lot of us will end up in the “Rusty Pilots Club;” therefore, we will all need to be extra careful getting back into the swing of things. In the upcoming months, I see a real opportunity for many of you to get into the “WINGS” program. Get in touch with your local friendly flight instructor, learn about the “WINGS” program, and take the appropriate online courses to meet the “WINGS” program knowledge requirements. Then schedule an hour or two of flight time with your favorite flight instructor, complete a phase of “WINGS,” and become proficient the right way while completing a BFR at the same time. All the while, you are helping to ensure that our safety record stays at the current level. Remember, your safety is no accident!! And while you are at it, don’t forget about safe distancing, even though I know it is hard (duh!) to keep 6 feet between you and your instructor, your buddy, or your wife in the right seat! USE A MASK and open up all the air vents to get max ventilation. COVID-19 is a sneaky, rat-bastard virus that does not care about who you are, how old you are, or where you live. It is out to get us all, and we need to remember that. We need to take the appropriate safety measures to avoid getting it and/or spreading it until the scientists come up with the vaccine to beat it. Don’t be scared of it, don’t hide from it, don’t let it dominate your life; just adapt, take the proper precautions, and go on with your life.
Enjoy Staying safe–
Going flying, escaping into the beautiful wild blue yonder, is a great way to enjoy quarantine. But if you take your wife or a friend with you, don’t forget masks, wipe down your controls, avionics knobs, door handles, seat buckles, etc., and be sure to clean all of your headsets.
Thank you, Sun Oil...
It has always been a puzzle why the German Luftwaffe kept on using 87 octane aviation gasoline, while the Americans and British used 100 octane gasoline in their Spitfire fighters and we Americans used 130 octane in our P-51 and other fighters. By pure chance I discovered the reason! (This is from a 2014 declassified article by the British Society of Chemists.)
It seems that both the German and British aircraft used 87 octane gasoline in the first two years of the war. While that was fairly satisfactory in the German Daimler-Benz V-12 engine, it was marginal in the British Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engine installed in British aircraft. The low octane gas fouled the spark-plugs, caused valves to stick, and created frequent engine repair problems.
Then came America’s Lend-Lease Program and American aircraft began to enter British service in great numbers. If British engines hated 87 octane gasoline, American (General Motors-built) Allison 1710 engines loathed and despised it. Something had to be done!
Along came an American named Tim Palucka, a chemist for Sun Oil in their South East Texas Refinery. Never heard of him? Small wonder! Very few people have. He took a French formula for enhancing the octane of gasoline, and invented the "Cracking Tower." The oil companies began producing 100 octane aviation gasoline. This discovery led to great joy among our English cousins and great distress among the Germans. Of course, the matter had to be kept secret. If the Germans found out that it was a French invention, they would simply copy the original French patents.
A Spitfire fueled with 100 octane gasoline was 34 miles per hour faster at 10,000 feet. The need to replace engines went from every 500 hours of operation to every 1000 hours, which reduced the cost of British aircraft by 300 Pounds Sterling, and even more when considering the big 4 engine bombers. 300 Pounds Sterling was a LOT of money back in the 1940’s!
Meanwhile, the Germans couldn't believe it when Spitfires that could not catch them a year ago started outrunning them and shooting their ME-109’s and FW-190’s right out of the sky.
The American Allison engines improved remarkably with 100 octane gasoline, but did much better when 130 octane gasoline came along in 1944. The 130 octane gasoline also improved the radial engine bombers we produced. (Try to imagine a B-29 with 4 turbo-supercharged 3,000 HP engines flying at 30,000 ft on 87 octane gas!!)
So, if any of you have ever wondered what they were doing in that little old 3 story white brick building in front of the Sun Oil Refinery on Old Highway 90 in the middle of Texas, that was it. They were re-inventing gasoline. The Germans and Japanese never snapped to the fact that we had re-invented gasoline. Neither did our "friends" the Russians.
100,000 Americans died in the skies over Europe. Lord only knows what that number would have been without "Super-Gasoline." And it all was invented by a non-descript little old chemist in his little old white cinderblock building/laboratory just a few miles west of Beaumont, Texas. We never knew a thing about it.
Aviation History’s Ironic Twists….
Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. He certainly wasn't famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder. Capone had a lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie." He was his lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time. To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block. Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocities that went on around him.
Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son whom he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn't give his son; he couldn't pass on a good name or a good example.
One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. He wanted to rectify the wrongs he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al "Scarface" Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob. He knew that the cost would be great, but he testified anyway.
Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago street. But in Eddie’s eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine. The poem read:
"The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own.
Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still."
STORY NUMBER TWO
World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare.
He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.
One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tanks. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and still get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the carrier. As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft speeding their way toward the American fleet. The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.
Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes, his wing-mounted 50-caliber machine guns blazing. He charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane after another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly.
Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft. This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of WWII and the first naval aviator to win the Medal of Honor.
A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His hometown would not allow the memory of this WWII hero to fade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man. So, the next time you find yourself at Chicago O'Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch O’Hare’s memorial, i.e. his statue and his Medal of Honor. It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.
SO WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?
Butch O'Hare was "Easy Eddie's” Son!!!