By Tom Roberts
On August 15, 2014, I had a semi-rare experience. I was afforded the opportunity to fly the U.S. Air Force F-16 flight simulator. An F-16C block 50 simulator to be exact, and the most current USAF version of the F-16 jet fighter. A friend of many of us here at Hamilton Owens airport (KCUB), Captain Matt “Nordo” Bolton, was visiting me in my hangar Thursday, the night before. He is separating from the Air Force at the end of the month and taking a new job with an Air Force reserve unit at Tyndall Air Force base near Panama City, Florida.
We were talking airplanes and things. Besides flying full-sized airplanes, we both like to fly radio control airplanes. I asked him, since he would soon be leaving Shaw AFB, would I be able to take a close up look at an F-16? The answer? “Yes.” Not only that but would the next day work? And would I like to fly the simulator? Huh, does a cat have a butt? We arranged to meet outside the front gate at Shaw, AFB, Friday morning at 0830.
My father was a career Air Force officer and pilot and was assigned to Shaw for several years. My brother, Don and I spent much of our youth at and around Shaw, about half of our high school years and all of our college years before entering the Air Force ourselves. We and our friends spent many hours at the “O” (Officer’s) club swimming pool in the summers and had many great parties on the weekends. After retiring at Shaw, my father and mother moved first to Chelmsford, Massachusetts near Boston then finally to Las Vegas, Nevada. Shaw is a lot different now. There was virtually no security when we lived there. Now even if you are active duty entering the base is a slight ordeal. I met Matt outside the gate at the visitor’s building as agreed and we headed for the front gate I had passed through so many times nearly 50 years ago. The gate now has two lanes headed in. Matt picks the right hand lane since no one seemed to be using it. It turned out that lane is the inspection lane and since we were in it, we were subject to a search. We were asked to get out of Matt’s truck and open the doors. The military police were very polite and we got to see a dog handler and his dog, a beautiful Belgian Malinois, whose name I forgot, inspect the truck. I asked the airman if he always worked with this dog and he answered proudly, “Yes. We are partners.” I have always had a warm spot in my heart for service dogs. Some of you may remember when I arranged for Johnny Mayo who spent a year in Viet Nam as a handler to speak to us about his dog, Buck. Great, but sad, story.
By Tom Roberts
This is a “tail” of twin kittens, Muffler and Sandlot.
They came to us one cold October, 2012. We later calculated that their birth date was about October 5. They were born on a farm. When they were about ten days old, their mother was killed by a dog. They may have had brothers and sisters that the dog dispatched. We do not know. The owner of the farm found the two and took them to the local animal shelter. The people at the shelter told the farmer that they were not equipped to care for such young kittens and all they could do was humanely euthanize them. Fortunately for the little girls, a person at the shelter knew a good friend of ours, Pam Hoover, who breeds, raises and sells Russian, Siberian kittens and contacted her. Pam went to the shelter and gathered up the two little kittens.
The next day, my wife, Ski, and I were out for dinner with Pam and Mike, her husband, and their family, and Pam began talking about the two kittens. Mike had mentioned them to me the day before. He said the two kittens were truly pitiful and he did not think they would make it through the coming night. They were so weak from hunger they had trouble holding their little heads up. Pam had two mother cats that had recently littered, so she hoped one of the mother cats would adopt the two poor, hungry kittens. But the two mothers were in the process of weaning their own litters and would not feed the kittens. Looking at Ski, I knew she had to go get those kittens.
Posted in Variety
Tagged cats, kittens
By Don Roberts
So I get a call from a guy who asks me (the defacto unelected social chairman and operations supervisor of the Falcon RV Squadron) if I thought there would be any interest in flying some of our RV aircraft into Atlanta Hartsfield Intl to be put on display at the Delta TOC. The TOC is what they call their Tech Ops Center. It is that huge multi-hangar complex that separates the north runways from the south runways at the east end of Hartsfield. My answer was “Sure” followed by “How many?” Are you kidding? Flying an RV or any experimental aircraft into a big airport has to be way up on the list of cool things to do for any pilot. He said he was thinking about 20! Here is the deal. Every year Delta has an appreciation day for all of their maintenance folks. They get all these tool vendors and service vendors and have a feel good love fest complete with music, games and give aways. They have a catered lunch for everyone, including guests. They feed each shift (three shifts) and reportedly serve around 8000 meals. While all this is going on, they like to have airplanes on display. Last year it was mainly antiques. This year they wanted experimentals.
I suggested he contact one of our Delta pilot/RV builder guys who happens to do FAA liaison work with Atlanta Center/Approach for DAL. In the end, they worked out arrival procedures and departure procedures for four groups of four. As you know, KATL claims to be the busiest airport in the world and to say they are was a bit of uncertainty about the project would be an understatement. Our DAL/RV/FAA guy ended up giving us a power point briefing with an FAA ATL tower supervisor in attendance. We had to be on the ground by 0730 and we could not leave until 1545 pm. The were two pretty short time windows that they held for us as long as we were on time and didn’t screw up. The tower guy reminded us several times not to blow tires on landing. I think that was excellent advice. For one of our guys, it was a truly special day. This guy is a Delta maintenance QC supervisor who built his own RV-9. He is a low time guy so we put an experienced retired UAL A-320 Capt, Wally Drage, with him. So this guy got to fly his own RV into KATL, show it off to all of his DAL mechanic friends and then he gave our group two tours of the whole complex. It was his day!