Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Set your calendar for *this* November 10, Avenger Field, Sweetwater Texas

Veteran’s Day Celebration- Run for the WASP

Third Annual Benefit 5K Run and 1.3 Mile Walk

November 10, 2012

1:00 PM

$25 per person/$20 for pre-registered students and military personnel

$25 on the day of the race for any runner or walker not pre-registered

Register by clicking on “Run for the WASP” button on top right of page, print registration page and mail with entry fee to:

National WASP WWII Museum
P.O. Box 456
Sweetwater, TX 79556

Ten different age groups will be given awards

The Museum will be open to the public. Admission is free.

Enjoy this 5K course running or walking 1.3 miles through the Sweetwater TSTC campus from the Museum and circling the 1943 WASP Wishing Well on the school campus. Special guests will include a WASP and a Dyess Air Force Pilot, who will be available for autographs and pictures. The race kickoff will include a fly-over by the PT-19 airplane housed at the museum.

TSTC will provide water, snacks, and US flags marking the course. Please feel free to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at the museum after the race.

Participants have included children, babies in strollers, dogs on leashes, school groups, and others. We look forward to having you join us also for this special Veterans Day Celebration.

Set your calendar for next May 25

I'm a few days late on this and for that I apologize. SWEETWATER
The annual WASP Homecoming will be Saturday (May 25, 2012) at the National WASP World War II Museum, 210 Avenger Field.

Events begin at 9 a.m. and include an honor parade, a car and motorcycle show and free airplane rides for kids ages 8 to 17. Former WASP pilots will be available for photos and autographs. Contact the museum at 325-235-0099 for more information.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day 2012: Putting a Face to the Sacrifices of So Many

From HuffPo Politics Blog: Memorial Day 2012: Putting a Face to the Sacrifices of So Many
As we once again observe Memorial Day we remember and honor the more than one million American men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in all our wars, including more than 6,400 from our two most recent wars -- and counting.

We remember and pay tribute to the patriots who died long ago on battlefields near to home with familiar, sacred names such as Valley Forge and Gettysburg.

We remember the troops who gave their lives on battlefields and foreign shores thousands of miles away such as Meuse-Argonne and the Beaches of Normandy.

Fresher in our memories and in our hearts are the men and women who have fallen on battlefields with names like Inchon, Khe Sanh, Tora Bora, Fallujah and Kandahar.

The sheer magnitude of the sacrifices we are commemorating overwhelms the mind and overburdens the heart. Presidents traditionally honor all these men and women on behalf of a grateful nation at the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery where more than 260,000 of our fallen troops rest. They oftentimes single out a few of these heroes for special praise.

I would like to single out the following patriots from my hometown and elsewhere whom I have had the honor of personally knowing or knowing about.

Three of my U.S. Air Force Officer Candidate School's classmates who gave their lives while serving our country during the Cold War and the Vietnam War. They are Capt. Earl L. Boggs, Capt. Albert N. Meier and Capt. James F. Ray. Capt. Ray died on June 5, 1969, when the Strategic Air Command RC-135 aircraft he was navigating disappeared and crashed after taking off from Shemya at the tip of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. His body and those of the other 18 crewmembers were never recovered. Ray was only 32.

Maj. Bill Davidson, the husband of Austin, Texas, resident and former WASP (Women Air Force Service Pilots) Millie Dalrymple, who gave his life during World War II when the B-17 he was piloting on the return from a bombing raid on a German ball bearing factory was shot down by German fighters over the North Sea in February 1943.

Also Millie's brother, Lt. James M. Inks, a World War II B-24 navigator from Llano, Texas, who had to bail out when his aircraft was hit during a bombing raid on the critical Ploesti oil installations in Romania. After spending nearly a year evading the Germans by joining the anti-communist "Chetniks," Inks was finally liberated and continued to serve his country as an Air Force troop carrier pilot flying 92 combat missions in Korea during that war. Lt. Col. Inks passed away in 2001.

Sgt. Allen W. Hancock Sr. , the father of disabled Vietnam War veteran and Austin resident Allen Hancock, was taken prisoner by the Japanese while serving in the Philippines during World War II, was forced to march in the tortuous "Bataan Death March" and spent an equally tortuous 44 months in Japanese prisoner of war camps. His son's eyes still moisten when he tells that his father weighed a mere 64 pounds upon his release at the end of the war. Sgt. Hancock continued to serve his country in the Civil Service at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio. He died July 9, 2000.

Friend and next-door neighbor, Marine Lieutenant Colonel Earl Charles "Charlie" Rodenberg, a highly decorated and courageous Marine aviator who passed away a year ago after a long and valiant struggle with cancer. "Charlie" served his country with distinction for 24 years including as a life-saving "MEDEVAC" helicopter pilot in Vietnam and as a combat Naval Aviator during Operation Desert Storm.

As our country becomes embroiled in new and lengthy wars and as we continue to wage a protracted war on terrorism, it is becoming customary to, on Memorial Day, also remember those who are presently in harm's way in posts and battlefields around the world, especially our troops getting shot at in Afghanistan and those who risk their lives on dangerous and critical missions as did those magnificent Navy SEALs in Pakistan.

The President and others have used this day to also thank and pay tribute to America's veterans, especially our most recent ones from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

But lest we forget America's oldest war veterans: Our World War II veterans who are leaving us at the unrelenting rate of roughly 1,000 each day.

I want to pay my respect and gratitude to the approximately two million of these wonderful men and women who are still with us. Especially to the beautiful 92-year-old lady I mentioned above, Lt. Millie Inks Dalrymple, Congressional Gold Medal recipient, who as one of the first, trailblazing WASP during World War II contributed so much to America's war effort and to the cause of women in military aviation.

Finally, to my good Austin friend, 92-year-old French-American Maj. John Tschirhart, who flew 35 combat missions as a B-17 bombardier over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II.

I salute and honor them, along with all our heroes from all our wars.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ghana’s Female Pilots Are Ready for Takeoff

From Voice of America: Ghana’s Female Pilots Are Ready for Takeoff
Patricia Mawuli was nineteen years old and had just finished high school when she saw an airplane for the first time.

As she was collecting wood in a field outside of her uncle’s house in a rural area of Ghana, Mawuli heard loud noises that she said scared her at first.

“I saw these airplanes flying overhead, but because I was very close to the airfields, I thought the airplanes were chasing me,” she recalled years later.

But Mawuli said her fear did not last long. Before long, she started “to chase them -- to see what they were up to.”

I told them I could prove them wrong, because women can do things, and even do it much better than men sometimes.” Patricia Mawuli, Ghanaian pilot

She followed the airplanes to find out where they were landing. And once she arrived, she asked what she could do to work near the planes.

They told her she could clear wood from the area. She gladly accepted – but all along her sights were set higher.

“They didn’t have any plans for training girls,” she said. “Well I told them I could prove them wrong, because women can do things and even do it much better than men sometimes.”

Eventually, Jonathan Porter, an engineer and pilot at the airfield, trained and taught Mawuli to fly. Two years ago, on her 21st birthday, she became the country’s first licensed woman pilot – and that only marked the beginning of her journey.

Mawuli then helped found the AvTech Academy, short for the Aviation and Technology Academy Ghana, which trains young women how to fly, build and maintain light aircraft.

People forget,” she said “it’s only two percent of the world’s aircraft that are airliners,” she said. “The rest of the 98 percent are private planes and ultralights.” That means, Mawuli explained, there are real opportunities in the aviation industry for the young women taught at AvTech.

This is the academy’s second year, and there are three students. Four women are enrolled for next fall, added Mawuli. The school focuses on training young women from rural areas, who might not otherwise have the opportunity for advanced schooling. Mawuli puts most of her own salary from piloting and engineering back into the academy.

She said she wants to see young women pushed to achieve their potential. “I told myself, well if I have done this, there are many more women out there,” who might want to do the same. “And yet how many don’t have enough money to send them to continue their education.”

She said working at the academy has been a privilege. “In the world these days, not many girls go into engineering. And to be able to see these young and enthusiastic ladies, who are looking to learn more about engines, it’s a bit more encouraging – there’s hope for the future.”

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Female Pilot Kicks Passenger Off Plane For Sexist Remarks

From Huffington Post: Female Pilot Kicks Passenger Off Plane For Sexist Remarks
SAO PAULO -- A Brazilian airline says one of its female pilots tossed a passenger off a flight because he was making sexist comments about women flying planes.

Trip Airlines says in a Tuesday statement the pilot ejected the man before takeoff as he made loud, sexist comments upon learning the pilot was a woman. The jet continued on to the state of Goias after a one-hour delay.

The passenger involved in Friday's incident has not been identified. He was met by police at the plane and escorted out of the Belo Horizonte airport. Police at the airport have not responded to calls and it isn't known if the man has been charged with anything.

Trip says it won't tolerate disparaging remarks made about any of the 1,400 women working for the airline.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

RIch Archbold: Senior plans next birthday feat

From Contra Costa Times: Rich Archbold: Senior plans next birthday feat
Don't tell Mary Thoits she can't do something.

The next thing you know she will just turn around and do it.

Like when her older brother told her that girls shouldn't drive cars. So Thoits, just 16, said the heck with cars; she instead rode her bike to the airport in Grand Rapids, Mich., took flying lessons and started flying planes.

Or, just a few years later, when she was 85 and had a crazy idea to jump out of a plane over Lake Elsinore to celebrate her birthday. Friends questioned her sanity. But she did it anyway and loved it.

But that's just Thoits, now 88, living life with gusto and inspiring others to do just the same - although maybe not jumping out of planes as an octogenarian.

Her philosophy is that you shouldn't stop learning as you grow older.

"Your mind doesn't age," she said. "You should say, `How old would I be if my mind didn't know how old I was?"'

As director of the popular Senior Studies Program at Long Beach City College for more than 30 years, Thoits has enriched the lives of thousands of older citizens.

She teaches a world affairs class with aplomb and humor. Last week she had seniors pass a ball among themselves like a hot potato while Lucy Daggett, the LBCC tour director and professional singer, sang. When Daggett stopped singing, whoever had the ball had to imagine that she was an Iranian and discuss global issues from an Iranian point of view.

Thoits also likes to dress up in costumes to bring history to life. Some of her favorite characters include Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross; Edith Wilson, wife of President Woodrow Wilson; and the Pope.

"I'm just a ham," she says with an impish grin. "But the students get more out of the class."

Thoits is now embarking on perhaps her most ambitious project in many years at LBCC. She wants to create a program in which seniors and baby boomers can improve the health of their brains to fight memory loss and improve reaction time, such as when driving a car.

"Our society has been concentrating too much on our bodies, on outward appearances," Thoits said. "It's important to be physically fit, but it's just as important, maybe more so, to work on our minds. That's what we are as people. Studies show that we don't fully use the power in our brain. My vision is to develop programs that develop that brain power."

Thoits has been working with consultant Lorraine Wicks, former director of the Senior Education Center in North Orange County, to see what would work best for LBCC. Thoits said one program conducted by Wicks elsewhere produced some remarkable changes in the lives of seniors, including improved reaction time while driving, better information retention, more confidence in using electronic gadgets and a more positive outlook on life.

Like everything else, these programs cost money. Thoits is working with a task force to focus on specific classes with costs to determine the feasibility of moving forward. She hopes to start the program by early fall.

"People are worried about losing their memory. Comedians make fun of older people and their driving. But this is not a joke," Thoits said. "In this age of information overload, I think there are ways to stimulate the brain other than sitting in front of a TV. We need a balance in our lives."

Thoits is a believer in the science of meditation and has given a class in "Four Ways to Stay Out of a Straitjacket: Exercise, Humor, Visualization and Meditation."

"Meditation is a way to quiet the mind and search for answers as to why we're on Earth," she said.

Thoits started her search during World War II when she joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS), flying military aircraft to the East Coast for transport overseas.

In the early 1940s she went to DePauw University in Indiana and majored in art.

"The professor said I couldn't draw, but I could write, so I switched my major to English literature," she said. "I spent some time then in Durham University in northern England where I had an epiphany. I had been sort of a rebel and wasn't focused on education. At Durham a professor wrote on one of my papers that I should stop just parroting back what I thought he wanted to hear and that I should start thinking for myself. That was a great discovery."

Thoits also spent some time at the Sorbonne before working 13 years in Germany and two in Korea organizing social events for military personnel. Lured by the ocean and education, she earned a master's degree in public administration from Cal State Long Beach.

She was looking for a job and accidentally ran into Beverly O'Neill, then dean of student affairs at LBCC, who asked Thoits to take over the moribund Senior Center that held passive events such as card-playing and bingo.

"There's nothing wrong with cards and bingo," Thoits said. "But I discovered that many of the seniors wanted to do more with their time."

She said the Senior Center aims all of its programs at developing learning by stimulating curiosity through classes, seminars, tours, music and art.

"Curiosity keeps you young," she said.

When she was approaching her 85th birthday, Thoits had another epiphany: "A lot of people start worrying too much as they get older. I wanted to start making memories for myself, but I also wanted to let people know that if I could do these things, they could too and make a difference in their lives."

So was born the parachute jumping three years ago. At 86, Thoits went parasailing over San Diego ("A little too passive," she said, laughing); at 87, she flew a Cessna over Catalina Island and landed it at Long Beach Airport ("I hadn't landed a plane in 50 years. Lord, help us," she said. "The landing was a little hard, but I did it); at 88, she did some crewing on a dragon boat.

She turns 89 on June 3 and hasn't decided what to do yet. "I just want to make it memorable," she said.

Thoits perhaps is looking beyond 89 a little to next year when she turns 90. That should be a doozy of a birthday. If you have any ideas for Thoits on her birthday celebrations or her brain development plans, you can reach her at the LBCC Pacific Coast Campus, 1305 E. Pacific Coast Highway, 562-938-3407, or email

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

PR: Synergy Aircraft Project Launches Funding Drive on

Press Release

Synergy home page:

Synergy Aircraft on Facebook (all regular updates):

Grassroots support prompts new guidelines at trendy crowd-funding site.

Kalispell, MT, May 16, 2012: Since its unveiling last year, John McGinnis' award-winning1 Synergy aircraft project has garnered a lot of critical attention for its advanced aerodynamics, but its sexy looks and prototype flyby videos certainly don't hurt the pitch: major fuel savings and a modern passenger experience.

Looking something like a futuristic cross between a sailplane and a fighter jet, the boldly different five-seat aircraft promises a quieter, more comfortable ride, along with greater performance and efficiency. Curb appeal aside, there's an old quip among aviators; their response to the technical question of what really makes an airplane fly: “money.”

A fan himself, McGinnis prepared a project submission and was met with a terse “not the best fit for Kickstarter, as it does not fit our creative arts focus.” In response, several followers formed Friends of Synergy, a direct-to-project funding drive modeled on the Kickstarter rewards, which quickly raised over $5000. Others began typing emails and blog entries.

“We're not sure what happened,” McGinnis said, “but just after we gave up hope, we got an email from Kickstarter’s Callan Lamb: “I wanted to reach out and let you know that we've reconsidered your project submission.”

McGinnis said, “We're ecstatic that Kickstarter will now help. Though this Synergy Kickstarter project's initial goal of $65,000 is just ‘life support’ for the engine and landing gear installation phase of a much larger completion effort, we’re happy to receive this opportunity at this crucial time.” Many timely projects receive an outpouring of enthusiasm from backers, which is part of the appeal of the crowdfunding model, McGinnis said.

The Synergy Project bears a resemblance to other breakthrough efforts of modern memory, like the Gossamer Condor and Gossamer Albatross projects of Dr. Paul MacCready in the 70s, and the Rutan Voyager project in the 80's, which were accomplished almost entirely through volunteer efforts.

A credentialed lineup of test pilots, engineers and scientists, including thousands who follow the kit aircraft movement, are likewise following the project closely, many lending their time and expertise to the project at no charge. Several have traveled to Montana to help out personally, as the regular updates that appear on the project Facebook page have shown.

McGinnis and his growing team are much more confident in the aeronautical work than in the mood swings of the economy. Fickle or not, the project is counting on a major response from their resurrected Kickstarter campaign. “I think this could be huge,” McGinnis says. “Ordinary people get it.”

International Women's Air & Space Museum Remembers Life Trustee Evelyn Bryan Johnson!

I am subscribed to the International Women's Air & Space Museum newsletter, and received this today. Thought I'd share it here:

IWASM would like to express our deepest condolences to the family of Evelyn Bryan Johnson. An IWASM member since 1991, Evelyn was truly an amazing person and an inspiration to all she met. Never giving up and never giving in, she logged over 57,000 flight hours (making her the highest-time female pilot), administered thousands of checkrides and managed an airport for decades. She has received numerous awards and accolades for her flying contributions. Evelyn passed away May 10th at age 102. Known as "Mama Bird," she touched a lot of lives and all were better because of her. We valued her committment, her enthusiasm and her knowledge and she will be missed. Evelyn Bryan Johnson will be buried at Jefferson Memorial Gardens in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

This is her biography from Wikipedia:
Evelyn Bryan Johnson (November 4, 1909 – May 10, 2012), nicknamed “Mama Bird”, was the female pilot with the most number of flying hours in the world. She was a Colonel in the Civil Air Patrol and a founding member of the Morristown, TN Civil Air Patrol squadron.

Johnson was born Evelyn Stone in Corbin, Kentucky. She was a graduate of Tennessee Wesleyan College. As a young woman she taught school in Etowah, Tennessee. Later she attended the University of Tennessee.

She married Wyatt Jennings "W.J." Bryan and learned to fly in 1944, while he was serving in the Army Air Corps and the couple was living in Jefferson City, Tennessee.[3] She logged 57,635.4 flying hours, and was the oldest flight instructor in the world. She trained more pilots and gave more FAA exams than any other pilot. She was named in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the most flying hours of any woman and the most of any living person.[4] Johnson was an inductee of the Women in Aviation Pioneers Hall of Fame, the Tennessee and Kentucky aviation halls of fame and others. She was awarded a bronze Carnegie Medal for rescuing a helicopter pilot after he crashed.

She became manager of the Moore-Murrell Airport in Morristown, Tennessee, in 1953. Although she stopped flying at the age of 96, as of 2010, at age 101, she continued to serve as airport manager.

Evelyn’s first husband, W. J. Bryan, died on November 11, 1963. In 1965 she married Morgan Johnson, who died in 1977.

On July 21, 2007, Johnson was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio. alongside astronaut Sally Ride and adventurer Steve Fossett, among others. The induction was her sixth such honor.

Johnson was in a car accident on September 10, 2006, after which one of her legs had to be amputated.

Johnson's scrapbooks, memorabilia, and other papers from the period 1930 to 2002 are housed in the Archives of Appalachia at East Tennessee State University.

On May 10, 2012, Johnson died at the age of 102.

1. ^ a b "Aviation legend Evelyn Bryan Johnson dies at 102". Knoxville News Sentinel. May 11, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
2. ^ Ericka Mellon (July 29, 2004), "Aeronautics program makes spirits soar", Knoxville News Sentinel,
3. ^ Joe Godfrey (September 29, 1999). "Evelyn Bryan Johnson". AVweb.
4. ^ a b c Ham, Abby (November 24, 2010), Your Stories: Mama Bird Evelyn Johnson, Knoxville, Tennessee: WBIR-TV,
5. ^ a b Johnson, Brianne, Finding Aid for Evelyn Bryan Johnson Papers, 1930-2002,
6. ^ National Aviation Hall of Fame biography for Evelyn Johnson

Pilot won top-flight status for WASP

From JSOnline: Pilot won top-flight status for WASP
Aviation pioneer Bernice "Bee" Falk Haydu, 91, of New Jersey was part of the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II. She helped spearhead the effort for women to achieve veteran status in 1977. We caught up with her before she gave a speech to the women's organization Professional Dimensions at the Wisconsin Club.

Q. Did anyone ever tell you that a woman couldn't fly and what was your response?

A. No one ever told me that . . . I was one of the fortunate ones, although some of the women had been told that.

Q. Why did you join the WASP and how great a leap was that in your life?

A. I was a secretary because I was a Depression kid and I had a brother who was 11 months older. When it came college time, there just wasn't enough money for me. So I was very sad about that and decided to stop feeling sorry for (myself) after being in the working world for five years, and decided to take night courses (in aviation).

Q. What did you like about flying?

A. I liked being up there and looking down and the freedom and all your cares go away. It's a free feeling.

Q. What was your greatest accomplishment in the WASP?

A. I can't say that I had a great accomplishment in the WASP other than doing my duties. I like to think that what I did in 1977 was an accomplishment. I was the president of the organization (Order of Fifinella) and it was at that time that we were fighting for the recognition that had been promised us when we signed to become a WASP. We were told we would be taken into the Army Air Corps and we were unceremoniously disbanded Dec. 20, 1944. And as the president, I helped to organize, with the help of Bruce Arnold (General Hap Arnold's son), the battle of Washington, D.C. And we were finally recognized as veterans of World War II, which, as I said, we had been promised.

Q. When the WASP disbanded in 1944, you had to pay your way home. How did you get back into aviation?

A. We knew ahead of time that we were going to be disbanded. I wrote to many different organizations, flight schools, to try to get some kind of a job even with the airlines and heard no said in so many different ways. (I) decided that if I was going to stay in aviation, I would have to do something on my own. So I went back home in New Jersey, got my instructor's rating, I did freelance ferrying of aircraft around the country, then I started a ferrying business . . . bringing aircraft into the New York metropolitan area. That led to my getting a Cessna dealership and that led to my becoming part owner of a flight school. And in between there somewhere I met my husband (Joe) and we got married. He had been a pilot. We flew for our own pleasure after that . . . My husband and I stopped flying in our late '70s.

Q. When you speak to children, young boys, young girls, what is it that you try to tell them?

A. I try to tell them to persevere in anything that they really want to do, provided it's not robbing a bank. They have to expect that there are going to be pitfalls and there are going to be times when they're discouraged, but just hang in there and you'll succeed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sweetwater's WASP Museum opposes its proposed neighbor: a county jail

From Reporter News: Sweetwater's WASP Museum opposes its proposed neighbor: a county jail
The National Women Airforce Service Pilots Museum sits on a pristine piece of land on the western edge of Sweetwater.

The museum is a simple metal hangar surrounded by plenty of flat, open spaces, with billowing grass and minor brush. Except for a nearby VFW post, the WASP occupies its own little world, celebrating the wartime efforts of an all-female organization of pilots that operated from 1942 to 1944.

But would a new county jail and sheriff's office across the street upset this pleasant image? That's the conversation currently unfolding between WASP Museum leaders and members of the Nolan County government.

Everyone involved agrees a new jail is needed. The current model, a 54-bed unit that occupies the second floor of the Nolan County Courthouse, is antiquated. It's been there since the courthouse's construction in 1977. It lacks adequate facilities for female inmates, as well as properly equipped isolation cells.

As a result, the jail has had to ship out inmates to other county jails and still foot the bill for their stays. Moreover, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards has been hounding Nolan County to upgrade its facilities for years now, saying the current model couldn't pass its inspections.

Sharron Davis, director of the WASP Museum, respects the urgency and importance of the matter. But her complaint is that of all the land surrounding Sweetwater, why did county commissioners have to choose the real estate right next to one of the city's top historic and cultural sites for a new jail?

"A jail would detract from the story of American greatness that we're telling," Davis said. "This is a beautiful venue, with wide open West Texas skies. ... That all would be diminished somewhat by a new law enforcement facility, no matter how nice."

WASP directors weren't consulted about the proposed site, but Nolan County Judge Tim Fambrough and County Commissioner Terry Willman say that's because they never imagined the location would be contentious.

"We never saw any possibility of harm to the museum," Fambrough said. "We've lived with (the jail) here at the courthouse for 35 years."

Willman says he has discussed the matter at length with Davis since then.

"I showed her some of the plans, what the facade would look like," Willman said. "It's not going to be like the prisons you see on TV, with razor wire and guys outside lifting weights. It's a county jail — the inmates are going to be inside all the time."

While Nolan County considered alternative sites, none of them quite matched the convenience of the plot of land located on Avenger Field Road. The same qualities that have made the WASP's location such a nice place apply here, too: easy access to Interstate 20 and downtown Sweetwater, a flat and clear topography, and nearby electricity and sewage lines. Other sites would require costly utility upgrades and other less than convenient sacrifices.

Fambrough expects the topic to come up for discussion at upcoming County Commissioners meetings, perhaps as early as this morning's 9 a.m. session. Like Willman, he's amenable to talking the matter through with the WASP — he's served on the museum's board, in fact.

The new jail, which will feature an expanded 96 beds, currently is in the design phase, meaning there's theoretically still a chance to change its location. Price estimates on the facility's cost range up to $11 million.

All of this back-and-forth comes just before groundbreaking for the WASP Museum's expansion project. An official ceremony May 26 will unveil plans to add an entire building to the museum's existing hangar, including a theater, additional displays and a museum store.

The new building will be climate controlled, allowing for more sensitive historical items to go up on display.

Davis said the museum is seeking to raise $4 million to fund the project, with a goal to complete construction by the end of 2013.

Funded through private donations (including several by former WASP members), the museum features a glimpse into a little-known unit of civilian women who flew military aircraft during World War II amid a near crippling shortage of male pilots. Sweetwater's Avenger Field was a training site for WASP pilots.

To learn about the museum and the women it celebrates, visit

Friday, May 11, 2012

World War II Kittyhawk fighter found in Sahara, shedding light on pilot's fate

From MSNBC World News: World War II Kittyhawk fighter found in Sahara, shedding light on pilot's fate
A remarkably well-preserved fighter plane that crashed in the Sahara Desert during World War II has been found 70 years later, shedding new light on the pilot's struggle to survive.

The American-made Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk was discovered by a Polish oil worker, Jakub Perka, who was exploring the desert in Egypt, The Telegraph newspaper reported. It was about 200 miles from the nearest town.

It is believed that the pilot, Dennis Copping, 24, ran into trouble while flying in 1942, but still managed to land the plane on the sands, the paper said.

Military historian Andy Saunders said that the British flight sergeant "must have survived the crash" because a photograph of the plane showed a parachute had been put up on the side of the plane, apparently as a form of shelter, The Telegraph reported.

"The radio and batteries were out of the plane and it looks like he tried to get it working. If he died at the side of the plane his remains would have been found," Saunders added. "Once he had crashed there, nobody was going to come and get him. It is more likely he tried to walk out of the desert, but ended up walking to his death. It is too hideous to contemplate."

He said the discovery was "the aviation equivalent of Tutankhamun's Tomb."

Air enthusiasts excited
The Vintage Wings of Canada website speculated that the plane had a mechanical problem, ran out of fuel or that the pilot simply got lost.

The website said there seemed to be a growing consensus that the plane's serial number was ET 574, based on what could be made out from photographs. If this is confirmed, the website said it was possible that Canadian flying ace James "Stocky" Edwards had previously flown the fighter.

The plane's cockpit is in remarkable though dusty condition.

"To say we, at Vintage Wings, are excited by this find in an understatement," the website said.

It expressed concern the plane had been "seriously vandalized -- a travesty the whole aviation world seems unable to stop."

Michael Creane, of the Royal Air Force Museum in London, U.K., told NBC News that it was "incredible" the plane had not been submerged by the shifting sands of the desert.

He said they were "hell bent" on bringing the aircraft to the museum, although he said there were "lots of hoops to jump through."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Vernice Armour Comes to Caspar

From Vernice Armour Comes to Caspar

Vernice Armour, 38, is America's first African American female combat pilot and a former captain with the U.S. Marines. She served two tours in Iraq, earning an Air Medal with a star for valor and 13 Strike Flight awards, a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, a Navy Presidential Unit Citation and other awards. She flew an AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter. She will be the keynote speaker at the Promoting Our Women Warriors Of Wyoming event on May 19 in Casper. The Casper Star-Tribune recently caught up with her by telephone from her home in Stafford, Va. Casper Star Tribune: Where did you grow up? Armour: She was born in Chicago, but lived in California until she was in the fourth grade, where she learned to love and ride horses. Her family then moved to Memphis, Tenn. "California has always been a special place for me," she said. "I'd go out all day with my friends and just discover. We were looking for places that people hadn't been yet. I still remember that feeling of adventure and discovery. And I think it has definitely had a huge part to do with my sense of spirit and adventure and discovery and creating those breakthroughs now as an adult. There are still so many places and so many things in our lives that we have yet to do. That sheer childlike excitement of doing it is alive and well." CST: Did you always want to fly? Armour: "I did not. I wanted to be a police officer that rode a horse downtown -- mounted patrol," she said. She attended Middle Tennessee State University on student loans and Pell Grants, joining the women's ROTC rifle team to earn a free trip to Mardi Gras. She figured the military would be a great foundation for her police career and joined the Army Reserves. "The next year, I was doing ROTC training, leadership school. It was career day and I saw a black woman in a flight suit. I said, ‘Wow. That is cool,'" she said. "I still went on to become a police officer. And I rode a steel horse downtown. But I never forgot about that woman in that flight suit. "So after a couple of years on the force, I didn't want any what ifs. I said, 'I could always be a cop. I won't always have the opportunity to be a combat pilot.'" At 25, she left the Tempe, Ariz., Police Department and joined the Marines. She went from cop to combat pilot in three years. CST: What was it like to be the only woman in your flight classes? Armour: In 1991, Congress repealed the law that banned women from flying combat, and in 1993, the Marine Corps opened pilot positions to women. In 1999, when Armour was training, she was the only woman in her classes. "I have three brothers. I played the trombone section. I was in the Army (Reserve). I was a motorcycle cop. You know, everywhere I went I was pretty much one of the only women. To me it wasn't any different than just being in another place where I just had to make sure I pulled my weight and did the best that I could do," she said. "I like doing things that excite me and that I feel are adventurous and fun. The things that I felt were adventurous and fun just happened to not have a whole lot of women doing them. Blazing the trail became a byproduct of me just wanting to live an adventurous, juicy, breakthrough life." CST: What do you hope women veterans take from your talk in Casper? Armour: "That they can have the juicy, exciting, adventurous life -- full of meaning and fulfillment -- that they've always dreamed of. And they can accomplish it with bravery, courage and power.

Bob Hoover headlines Lindbergh Foundation’s anniversary celebration

From General Aviation news: Bob Hoover headlines Lindbergh Foundation’s anniversary celebration

The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation confirmed today that legendary airshow performer and test pilot Bob Hoover will join speakers Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, and Gene Cernan for the foundation’s 35th anniversary gala at The Explorers Club on May 18. In addition, author Reeve Lindbergh, youngest daughter of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, will also participate in the program.

“I am certain everyone in attendance will be delighted to hear the captivating stories of how famed test pilot Bob Hoover, as a young man, met Charles Lindbergh and engaged with him throughout their careers in aviation,” said Lindbergh Foundation Chairman and CEO Larry Williams. “Reeve Lindbergh will add her own personal recollections to the evening, including the importance of the Lindbergh Foundation’s work in carrying on the vision of her parents. I can’t think of a more compelling roster of speakers to help us celebrate our anniversary, and to encourage us to remember the significance of the contributions made by the Lindberghs to our lives today, 85 years after that historic flight.”

Bob Hoover has flown over 300 types of aircraft and flight tested or flown nearly every type of fighter aircraft, and is also the holder of several aviation records. He has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Soldiers Medal, Air Medal and Purple Heart. He is the only person to serve two terms as president of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and was captain of the United States Aerobatic Team in the 1966 International Competition in Moscow.

“Bob Hoover has been a hero and mentor to me as well as the entire airshow industry for decades, saving countless lives,” noted Lindbergh Foundation Board member Sean Tucker. “He is a true aviation legend and is very honored to share the stage with these famous Apollo astronauts to celebrate the legacy of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.”

Reeve Lindbergh is the honorary chairman of the Lindbergh Foundation and the youngest of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s children. Since 2004, she has been recognized as Honorary Chairman of the Lindbergh Foundation following her years as its president, and as a member of the board of directors since the foundation’s formation in 1977. In this work, she leads efforts to further her parents’ vision for improving the quality of life through balance between nature and technology. Reeve is the author of numerous books for children and adults. Her other volunteer activities include various community organizations concerned with children, the arts, and support for handicapped individuals.

Lindbergh Foundation board and staff are continuing preparations to welcome astronauts Jim Lovell, Eugene Cernan, and Neil Armstrong to The Explorers Club for the anniversary. Following a reception and dinner for about 100 guests, Lovell, who served on the foundation’s first board, will share his recollections of the vision for the foundation; Cernan will reflect on receiving the Lindbergh Spirit Award in 2007, and Armstrong will offer his perspective on the Lindbergh Foundation, and his recollections of working with Jimmy Doolittle, who served with him as national co-chair of the fundraising effort that endowed the Lindbergh Foundation.

The Lindbergh Foundation celebration continues on Saturday, May 19, with a special anniversary program at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, a supporter of the Lindbergh Foundation and home to a remarkable and unique collection of rare aviation and space exhibits. Following a panel discussion with some Lindbergh Foundation Board members, the Cradle will dedicate a plaque commemorating Lindbergh’s departure from nearby Roosevelt Field, with an anniversary cake noting the 85th anniversary of that flight, as well as the Cradle’s 10th birthday, and the 35th for the Lindbergh Foundation.

For more information:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Aviation History: COD grad uses art to teach about Tuskegee Airmen

From DHHerald: COD grad uses art to teach about Tuskegee Airmen
Jacqueline Withers was an art student at College of DuPage when a friend asked if she had ever thought of making the Tuskegee Airmen a theme of one of her exhibits. Unfamiliar with the history of America's first black military pilots, Withers rented a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen and went to the library to do more research.

She was stunned at their bravery, the obstacles they overcame to become fighter pilots during World War II, and the racism they still faced when they returned.

“It was a part of black history that was not taught,” Withers said. “I wondered, ‘How many people don't know this about these guys.'”

Withers decided to help change that by starting the Tuskegee Airmen Mural Project. Then living in Westmont, she called schools and asked to work with students to paint the history of the black Americans who graduated from Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. Two of those murals still hang in Westmont Junior High School and Downers Grove South High School.

Withers made it her personal goal to paint a Tuskegee Airmen mural in every state.

But she didn't stop with painting. Withers, who moved to Colorado in 2006, started the Take Flight Leadership Aviation/Bessie Coleman Fly Girl Chapter in Denver to encourage disadvantaged young people to follow their dreams, pursue careers in aviation and become leaders.

She recently brought five young women to Chicago to observe the 80th anniversary of the Bessie Coleman Flyover, honoring the first African-American woman to earn an international pilot's license. Coleman, who had moved to Chicago from Texas, died in a plane accident in 1926, but had dreamed of establishing an aviation school.

One of the young women who attended the flyover, Coraima Chavez, 16, said she wanted to fly for several years when she joined Take Flight Aviation Leadership last summer. Since then, she has attended ground school, gone up in the air with pilots and worked with others to help build a biplane.

She hopes to earn her pilot's license this summer.

“It has basically helped me think about my dream and how to achieve my dream to become a pilot,” she said. “It helped me become more confident in myself.”

Last fall, Chavez's essay on the Tuskegee Airmen made her one of the three winners in a national contest sponsored by Southwest Airlines. She said being involved in the flight program also has motivated her to get better grades.

“She (Withers) is the one who got me where I am today,” she said. Achieving dreams

Young people in the Take Flight Leadership Aviation/Bessie Coleman Fly Girl Chapter in Denver are required to maintain high grades and receive mentoring. They take training provided by the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles program and are eligible to test for a pilot's license at age 14.

“You can get your pilot's license before your driver's license,” Withers noted.

Participants as young as 9 may start in the program and pursue dreams other than becoming pilots, she said. She encourages them to become leaders and gives award for accomplishments such as serving as speakers at events. One won an EEA scholarship to attend aviation training in Oshkosh, Wis., this summer and a national Tuskegee Airmen art contest.

Withers estimates she has reached 25,000 young people through painting murals in schools and the Take Flight Aviation Leadership/Bessie Coleman Fly Girl Chapter.

“I've been able to reach the souls of children,” she said.

She received the National Youth Day 2010 Hero of the Year award from the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. for her work and has met some of the original Tuskegee Airmen,

“My whole life opened up,” Withers said. “You read about history, but (when you meet the airmen) you see history.”

Since graduating from COD, Withers has earned a bachelor's degree from the Art Institute of Colorado, a master's degree in management and is working on a doctorate in organizational leadership. She works as a freelance artist and motivational speaker.

Withers said she realized while attending an event in which she had a prominent role that she was no longer the girl in the background she had been while growing up in a family of 12 children in Chicago.

“I wish my dad were here to see that,” she said. “My dad was my biggest person who inspired me. (He said), ‘You can do anything you want to do if you apply yourself.'”

Teacher and mentor

Withers also has received continuing support from Jennifer Hereth, an art professor at COD who seeks to instill in her students a sense of social consciousness. Withers had done art work, but not painted until Hereth encouraged her to take up the brush.

“If she sees your potential, she helps you bring it out,” Withers said. “I never thought I would be painting walls, murals. I wouldn't have if it hadn't been for her.”

Hereth said she recognized that Withers was a highly motivated artist with a personal vision. She encouraged her to use her art to put out a message from her heart.

“I am in awe of where she has taken that social consciousness,” Hereth said. “She has taken that step many artists dream of.”

Hereth has been able to channel financial support for Withers' work with youth through IArtists, a group of Chicago area artists who encourage art and social change.

Withers said funding is always a challenge. So far, she has painted Tuskegee Airmen murals in six states.

“The problem is getting to every state,” she said.

One challenge Withers has not taken up is learning to fly herself.

“The kids always tease me, ‘Miss Jacqueline, when are you going to learn to fly?'” she said. “I haven't had time.”

Learn more about Jacqueline Withers and her Tuskegee Airmen murals at and

Aviation News: Russian plane missing in Indonesia

From Russian plane missing in Indonesia
Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- A Russian passenger airliner went missing Wednesday after it disappeared from radar screens over a mountainous region of Indonesia.

The Sukhoi Superjet 100, Russia's newest civilian airliner, was carrying 42 passengers and eight Russian crew members, said Sunaryo, an official with Sukhoi's Indonesian agent, Trimarga Rekatama.

However, the number was in dispute. The Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency said only 37 of the 42 invited passengers were on board. Russian state-run news agencies reported 44 people were on the plane.

The plane was on its second demonstration flight Wednesday when it lost contact with air controllers at Jakarta's Halim Perdanakusuma Airport.

"The first demonstration flight in the morning went smoothly," said Sunaryo, who uses only one name. "There were no problems."

On the second flight, the plane began making its descent but vanished from radar screens at 6,200 feet in a mountainous area.

The plane lost contact with air traffic controllers at 2:12 p.m., 21 minutes after taking off, said Marsda Daryatmo, head of the search and rescue agency. Two helicopters were immediately sent out to search for the plane but had to return to their bases due to strong winds and unpredictable weather.

Ground teams were continuing to search. The air search will resume at daylight, depending on the weather, Daryatmo said.

The plane was flying over Mount Salak, a volcano south of Jakarta, and was presumed to have crashed.

The Sukhoi jet arrived in Jakarta as part of a demonstration tour of six Asian countries. It had been to Myanmar, Pakistan and Kazakhstan, and was due to visit Laos and Vietnam after Indonesia, said the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Sukhoi manufactures military aircraft and is known especially for its fighter jets. Its civilian aircraft is narrow-bodied with a dual-class cabin that can transport 100 passengers over regional routes. It flew its maiden flight in 2008.

In March, a Superjet 100 operated by Russia's Aeroflot Airlines was forced to abandon its flight to Astrakhan, Russia, and return to Moscow because of problems with the undercarriage, according to RIA Novosti.

A similar defect in another Aeroflot-operated Superjet 100 plane had to be fixed in Minsk in December.

Russia's state-run United Aircraft Corp. said the defect did not affect passenger safety.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Thunderbirds Zoom into Town! (May 5th and 6th)

From WLTX (from May 2): The Thunderbirds Zoom into Town!
Sumter, SC (WLTX) -- There was rumbling over the skies of Sumter on Wednesday as Shaw Air Force Base prepares for the Shaw Air Expo this weekend.

You could hear the jets before you could see them as the Thunderbirds zoomed into town.

Since 1967 the Thunderbirds have been the official US Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron. Major Caroline Jensen is among the team.

"Every time I fly I still feel like I'm extremely lucky to do this," said Jensen.

The Thunderbirds travel all over the world representing the US Air Force.

"The flight panel has a flag of every country that the Thunderbirds have visited," explained Jensen as she pointed to a multitude of flags painted on the side of her jet. "Last year we had the honor of adding the flag of Finland to our flight panel."

"I remember the first time I got in an F-16," Jensen remembers, "it felt very small. It felt a little bit, like, claustrophobic and cramped in there. But once you start up the engine and start flying it, the airplane almost just disappears."

As a 1998 Air Force Academy graduate, Jensen has plenty of experience as a pilot. She has flown in Korea and has hundreds of combat hours over Iraq; however, many are still impressed to see a woman in her position.

"I am the 4th female pilot to fly for the team. The first female pilot came to the team in 2006. The squadron had their first woman Thunderbird though back in 1974. I'm still surprised when people are surprised to see me because obviously I've been doing it my whole career."

Although she understands that being a female pilot is inspiring to others.

"When I meet little girls I think it's great to see that spark in their eye! But it's just as important for me to see the little boys too so that the younger generation is aware that anyone is capable of doing anything."

Flying never gets old to her and neither does the reason why she loves her job.

"There's nearly 700,000 men and women who serve in the Air Force and it's really a great experience to get to represent them. We live in a great country and we have a great air force and I love to help put that on display."

The Shaw Air Expo will be open to the public May 5 - 6, 2012.

During the Shaw Air Expo one of the Thunderbirds jets will have the name of Army Spc. Abraham Wheeler painted on the side as part of their Fallen Heroes program. He's was a Columbia soldier who died from an IED attack in Afghanistan in 2009

Play honors flying ace Jackie Cochran

This may be a good play - but what a rotten title - Jinxed. Sounds kind of whiny. Why not The Stars at Noon. Or Amelia and Jackie: The Pilot's Story. Something that is somehow evocative of aviation!

From Play honors flying ace Jackie Cochran
Two months before the 75th anniversary of Amelia Earhart's disappearance, a Rancho Mirage company is helping to launch a play about how the aviatrix's final journey impacted desert icon Jackie Cochran.

Titled “Jinxed,” the play will get a staged reading Saturday by the Script2Stage2Screen performing arts arm of the Unitarian Universalist Church at the Indian Wells Theater at Cal State San Bernardino's Palm Desert campus.

New York playwright Stacey Luftig said she titled her play “Jinxed” after reading in Doris Rich's 2007 biography, “Jackie Cochran: Pilot in the Fastest Lane,” that Cochran felt jinxed while competing with Earhart for recognition as America's greatest female pilot.

“She was in race after race and something would always go wrong,” Luftig said in an interview at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rancho Mirage. “It wasn't until a few weeks after Amelia's disappearance that Jackie started making world records.

“It was kind of like a passing of the torch and I started thinking, why did her jinx lift then?”

Cochran, who died in Indio in 1980 at age 74, met Earhart at a party in 1935. Shortly after Earhart's disappearance, Luftig said Cochran began setting aviation records. A year later, she won her first of five Harmon trophies as the outstanding female pilot.

She's buried in the Coachella Valley Public Cemetery and the Thermal airport is named after her.

Luftig, who has had plays and operettas produced across the nation, hadn't heard of Cochran before attending a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts retreat in 1999.

The poet Enid Shomer was compiling a book of poems about Cochran, titled “Stars At Noon,” and Luftig was so moved, she and Shomer began adapting them into monologues at the next year's retreat.

When that didn't work, she began researching a play on Cochran.

The first draft, completed in 2003, was 130 pages long with 30 characters.

“When I started to research Jackie, I felt there was enough material for a mini-series,” she said. “This is a woman who met Orville and Wilbur Wright and was also involved in setting up an astronaut training program for women (while) the first astronaut program for men was happening. She was involved in aviation for the bulk of the 20th century. She was a test pilot. She was a champion of aviation medicine. This is a woman who ended up with more speed, distance and altitude records than anyone — male or female. It's extraordinary.”

This will be the play's fourth reading. It was a 2011 O'Neill Playwright's Conference finalist and audience favorite at the Dayton Playhouse FutureFest last October. Burt Peachy of Script2Stage2Screen read Luftig's manuscript at the Great Plains Theatre Conference in Omaha last summer. The veteran director had met Cochran in 1955 and made a deal to do a reading of the play in the desert.

Darci Daniels will read the Cochran part and Bonnie Gilgallon will play Earhart. Luftig said she'd like to find a regional theater company to produce the script's first full-length performance.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Queen of the skies: High-flying Kate, 25, becomes one of Britain's youngest female airline pilots

From Daily Mail: Queen of the skies: High-flying Kate, 25, becomes one of Britain's youngest female airline pilots
A woman who fell in love with planes as a nine-year-old child when she was invited to sit in a cockpit has become one of Britain's youngest women pilots aged just 25.

Kate Moran's achievements in a male-dominated industry prove she's got substance and style.

Having graduated in Aviation Technology from the University of Leeds, Kate has carved out a career in an industry where fewer than five per cent of pilots are women.

Kate, a pilot for Devon-based airline Flybe, said: 'As far back as I can remember, I have always been interested in flying.

'The turning point was when I was able to sit with the pilots in the flight deck. I was nine years old and the captain asked if I wanted to sit there while the plane landed.'

From that moment on, Kate was single-minded in her pursuit to become a pilot choosing science and mathematics over the arts - 'any subject geared towards a career in flying'.

After graduating from university, Kate struggled to find a job in the midst of the recession. But she successfully applied to Flight Training Europe (FTE) and attended an aviation school in Spain where she also secured a position on the Flybe mentoring programme.

She spent 14 months at flight school getting 800 hours of ground school under her belt and taking on 14 subjects including flight navigation, radio navigation, principals of flight and meteorology.

In order to continuing training, every candidate has to get a pass mark of at least 90 per cent in each exam - something Kate achieved.

At FTE Kate gained her Commercial Pilot's Licence enabling her to fly a small four-seater, single-engine aircraft.

She then moved on to a six-seater twin engine aircraft and then a Q400.

Potential pilots must also gain their instrument rating, to enhance their skills and proficiency to a higher, safer level.

Kate said: 'You need to know the mechanics and principals around how the aircraft works - I know more about my aircraft than my car.'

She recalled: 'The first time I got control of a Q400 was at Preswick when I had to do six take offs and landings.

'The aircraft was empty of passengers and I had to fly it from Edinburgh to Preswick I did the landings and then we flew back. It's an amazing feeling.'

Recently the Mancunian, who moved to Exeter, Devon, after getting a job with Flybe, realised a long-held dream of flying into her home city airport.

'I had this ambition to fly there and I finally got to do that.' she said.

'I'm getting paid to do my hobby - how many people can say that? There has never been a time when I have wanted to do anything else.'

It's an expensive hobby.

Kate is starting her career with £80,000 worth of debt accumulated from paying for the 14-month intensive live-in course at the Spanish flight school and a pilot loan.

She said: 'I guess that money could have been put towards a house and I will to paying it off over a long period. 'However it is all worth it in the end as it setting me up for a lifelong career, so the positives far outweigh the negatives.' As a newly qualified pilot, most of Kate's salary will be eaten up paying for rent and paying off the loan - most loans are payable within seven years. Fortunately, she can expect to be a captain on a Q400 or a first officer on a jet within three years boosting her salary As with any profession, salaries increase with experience. Figures from October 2011 show that a direct entry captain for Flybe can earn up to £82,000 compared to £81,509 with Easyjet and £65,000 with Emirates. The high debt and comparatively low starting salaries mean it's not a career for the not-quite sure. Kate said: 'I've got the aviation bug. It's a lot of hard work training to become a pilot but it's so rewarding in the end.'