Call for submissions

I need your aviation stories. The anthology will be titled SkyWriting: Essays on the Art and Craft of Aviation. See my website for submission guidelines, and send your flying tales for inclusion. Proceeds benefit Angel Flight, the service that flies kids for medical treatment. Deadline for issue #1 is March 30th, so scribble your story, and send it along. Thank you.

Ooooops… All runways look alike

Originally posted at The Sky Behind Me blog January 14th 2014.


Oooops… Recently (and once again) a commercial airliner landed at the wrong airport. Southwest flight #4013 from Chicago enroute to Branson Missouri landed at a nearby college airstrip instead. This is reminiscent of a cockpit mistake in a similar incident many years ago in Columbus Ohio, my home town. In that episode, a Trans World Airlines 707 landed at Ohio State University’s Don Scott Field, fifteen miles northwest of Port Columbus, the plane’s scheduled destination. Why does this continue to happen? What can prevent it? Here’s one reason it happens, and one way to lower the possibilities.

More after the Jump…

Tailwinds, fair skies, Captain Jack Gallagher

An aviation hero dies. John E. ‘Captain Jack’ Gallagher ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth November 27th according to his family. Captain Jack did more for aviation, specifically rotary-wing aviation than most men half his age. Here’s part of the obituary for Captain Jack in the New York Times Sunday edition, December 8th 2013.   “He was principle engineer for the Air Force P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter and started the first scheduled helicopter service in New York (New York Airways) in 1949. Established the helicopter logistic and maintenance systems for then President John F. Kennedy White House called HMX1. He holds the first commercial helicopter pilot’s license.”   I’d heard of … More after the Jump…

Just a fun story from Vietnam (yes, there were a few)

 FNG meets Lady Hooker

 As much tension, tragedy and mayhem as the war provided it gave a group of crude, vulgar young pilots a fair amount of fun, too. The officer’s club was the hub of our hormonally driven behavior. It was where we drank ourselves silly, releasing the tension and bravado endemic to twenty-year old males, in or out of a war zone. The club was our sanctuary, watering hole, mailroom, our hello and goodbye spot where, as the saying goes, everybody knew my name. But before I could fully partake of the blandishments the club offered I had to pass in front of my fellow pilots. I had to get the secret handshake, to undergo the inevitable ritual without which Kearsley would have been right: I’d always be a new guy. The protocol involved an encounter with a lady named Hooker. (It’s not what you think.)

More after the Jump…

Remember Those who Served both Today and all through the Year

The following is an excerpt from The Sky Behind Me: A Memoir of Flying & Life. Taken from chapter 14, this piece is dedicated to my fellow veterans, of Vietnam and all wars Americans have been involved in through the years. For non-veteran readers, please keep in mind that returning GIs want nothing more than to be welcomed home, that politics and ideology play no part in that welcome. When I returned from Vietnam all those years ago I was expecting hostility, judgement, interrogation and doubt concerning my effort in that conflict, and my behavior in the war zone. Imagine my pleasant surprise when the following event took place instead. … More after the Jump…

Book Review–SPOKE, by ‘Coleman’


In the sixties ‘wheel of life’ folk song The Great Mandala, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary sings these lines: “Take your place on the great Mandala— As it moves through your brief moment of time— Win or lose now, you must choose now— And if you lose you’re only losing your life.” With this book, Coleman brings those words full circle, so to speak, delivering a rendition of his own life that, though marked by hardship and judgement, turns always toward a better day. Here’s the story of a man who took his place on that great wheel, and did not lose his life but gained a richer, better one. Even the title of the work evokes the turning wheel metaphor, in addition to other meanings.

More after the Jump…