Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Navy Colors VII - Centennial Celebration in person

EA-6B 160609, VAQ-129, based at NAS Whidbey Island. Paint sheme represents the colors carried by carrier based aircraft during the Battle of Midway.

F-18C 164673, VFC-12, based at NAS Oceana.

T-6B 166064, TAW-5, based at NAS Whiting Field.

T-39N 165532, VT-86, based at NAS Pensacola.

T-34C 164172, TAW-5, based at NAS Whiting Field

T-34C 164169, TAW-5, based at NAS Whiting Field. Paint scheme represents US Coast Guard aicraft in the 1930s.

T-45C 163656, TW-2, based at NAS Kingsville.

F-18A+ 162866, VFA-204, based at NAS New Orleans. Paint scheme representes US Navy Reserve aircraft of the early 1950s.

I had the pleasure of photographing several of the specially painted Centennial of Naval Aviation aircraft at a recent airshow at NAS Ft. Worth. Very cool ...

Although very glad to get these, I was disappointed by the turnout of CONA aurcraft. Of the 24 or so specially painted birds out there, only 8 showed up. This one of the Navy sanctioned official Centennial events for the year - I would have thought we'd have gotten more of the aircraft in attendance.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Outlaw's Last Flight

Good Friend Outlaw13 recently took his last flight in the US Army. Outlaw has been in the Army for 23 years, flying Hueys and Apaches. He has spent about 6 of those years deployed overseas. 4 deployments of a year or longer to combat zones (3 times in Iraq, one in an 'undeclared war') and a year spent in Korea on the front lines of the Cold War.

His last flight was at home, in the bright sun on a beautiful Central Texas afternoon. He and his gunner gave me my own private airshow on a small hilltop just south of the airfield complex at Ft. Hood. This was only the second time I had seen him fly - the first was watching him blow over a string of porta-potties while landing a Huey (completely accidental, I can almost assure you).

As I stood on the hilltop with one of his fellow pilots, I was awed by the aircraft and what he did with it. I have seen hundreds of Outlaw's pictures of Apaches in action, but until you see one up (very) close flying around pointing its gun at you, you just do not have an appreciation for what it brings to the table in conflict. Jim, the pilot who was on the groud with me, remarked that it was the first time he had seen the Apache from that perspective, he now saw why the good guys on the ground were so happy when the Apaches showed up to support them, and why the bad guys crapped themselves and ran away.

Upon landing, the base fire trucks gave him the traditional Crossed Sabers tribute with their water cannons as he taxied back in. They then hosed him down as he walked back to the hangar, where a group of his peers then doused him with warm champagne and a Corona. Traditional fanfare for the last flight of a long time aviator in military service.

I have been priviledged to know Outlaw since before he put on the green uniform. I am proud to call him friend. I am convinced that our country has been safer with him in the cockpit than it would have been without him. Likewise, I am convinced his fellow soldiers have been safer with him looking after them.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Hero Passes ...

Franklin E. Pauli passed away on March 31, at the age of 83. Frank served in the US Navy in WWII, and with the Army in Korea and Vietnam. He retired in 1970 after 26 years of service. His awards were 3 Bronze Stars and 12 Air Medals accumulated during his tours in Vietnam. He served as a flight acceptance pilot assigned to Bell Helicopter in Hurst, TX.

After retirement from the service, Frank joined American Airlines, where he spent 25 years as a flight instructor. Chances are very good he crossed paths with my father while there!

God speed, Frank ...