My Kind of Flying

My Aviation History Outside of Airshows

 

"Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

Dorothy Gale played by Judy Garland, Wizard of Oz - 1939

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Rolling the Super Decathlon

I was flying in formation with a camera plane when I rolled my Super Decathlon to the inverted position. This shot was taken just as I started to roll inverted.

AT-6D (Texan) 1972

This WWII advanced trainer was used by many cadets on their way to our battles in WWII. The Pratt and Whitney R-1340 600 Horsepower engine and 9' 2" propeller makes this plane a true classic. Photo by Curtis Guillet.

Vindicator Being Tested

This photo was taken at Lake Hawkins near Tyler, Texas. My safety divers were there to help should the unexpected have happened. Luckily the test was nearly flawless.

Stearman PT-17

I purchased this plane in 1970. It was formally a WWII primary trainer. I was 19 in this photo taken at Magnolia, Arkansas.

5 Vindicator at Home

My submarine The Vindicator is located at home for a day or two as we have a party celebrating a successful test.

Downtown Airshow Photo

Barry Guillet, Marion Cole, Chris Wank, and Gary Boucher

Steve and I Testing Sub

I was happy that the first dive was successful. You don't count dives. You count surfaces!

My Plane

I still love flying airshows!

Vindicator at Full Power

This photo was taken at Lake Hawkins during the first set of dives. Vindicator was at full power on the surface.

Downtown Airshow

Marion Cole, Barry Guillet, Gary Boucher, and Wyche Coleman, Sr. from Coushatta

Decathlon Row

Photo from an airshow in Carthage, Texas in the mid 1980s.

WHEELMA Returning to Lab

WHEELMA (Wheeled Hybrid Electronically Engineered Linear Motion Apparatus)

Flying at Barksdale

This photo taken by a professional photographer as I flew over him just feet above the ground. A very nice photo!

Rock N Roll!

Ready to Rock N Roll! WHEELMA can most easily turn in this position. She can also take steps with her front set of wheels raised.

Natchitoches Airshow

This show in 1985 featured a number of aerobatic acts and also a bevy of beauties who rode down the flight line with the performers after their performance.

Gary and Marion

I flew for years with Marion Cole at many airshows. This is one of my favorite photos of the two of us taken at Springhill, Louisiana during a donated airshow.

Jenelle My Daughter

Jenelle was about 7 when she posed for photos with my first Decathlon. She has grown a bit now and lives in New York City.

Knife Edge Flight

Plane to plane photo of me doing a knife edge maneuver. As long as the speed holds up, one can fly a Decathlon on its side.

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One Man's Unique Journey through the World of Aviation

My Aviation

I do not claim to be a great pilot.  I certainly have not accomplished something that no one else has achieved.  I am not pretending to have flown the highest performance planes, or to have executed the most difficult or precise aerobatics.  So why would I write about myself in regard to my aviation past?  The reason is to afford the reader a glimpse into a young man’s desire to push his personal boundaries, to follow a dream, and to achieve what is of great personal value.  My aviation past is far from ordinary, and offers a look into a realm that few have experienced and even fewer truly understand.

My early aviation life was something of a perfect storm—ability and opportunity merging to form one of the most exciting, but dangerous of all youthful scenarios.  I am currently writing more of my aviation past in hopes that those who come later will both appreciate my experiences and avoid the pitfalls of a youth plagued by many a bad decision.  Although I am not ready to release my full story, I will share some of my early days as excerpts from a possible future book.

My good fortune in meeting Marion F. Cole led me into one of the most fulfilling eras of my life, my airshow experiences.  Frequently traveling with Marion and his brother Duane of aerobatic fame, I will cherish many great and unforgettable experiences.  I often think back on those days with great friends and wonderful experiences—truly the fulfillment of a dream.  

Recently, I was thinking of the fact that I have long craved a oneness with my machines no matter what those vehicles happen to be.  The feeling of having an airplane or an automobile be a complete extension of one’s own self has always fascinated me.  Although I am an engineer and have taught instrumentation at the college level many times, I care nothing for instrument flying.  Although I respect those whose desire is to fly the best equipped modern planes with the newest gadgets, I simply want the basics from aviation.  I want the unique unity that comes from being a part of the machine—to feel and experience the sensation of flight through every bodily perception possible.

No matter what I accomplish in my life, I do believe the one thing I would love for people to say about me would be to simply state, “He's a good stick and rudder man.”  Through the basic aircraft controls, I receive everything I want from my aviation.  It is not surprising that my favorite music is early jazz, the music of the 20s and 30s played many times by musicians who couldn’t read a note of music, but experience a unity with their instrument that expresses their feelings as no formal penned work can.

Flying to me can be one of the most exciting and exhilarating experiences one can enjoy.  I often tell people that there are different levels to flying.  When you learn to fly, it is exciting to enter this new world of three-dimensional freedom.  Different people gravitate to distinct areas of flying, but few would argue that it is an exciting thing to learn.  Add the realm of aerobatics to one’s skill list and a totally new dimension opens to that individual.  Being able to take a plane through its paces is more than exciting and perhaps often the end goal to many.  However, there is more—much more.

The excitement of doing skilled aerobatics at near ground altitudes is beyond my words to express.  There are few experiences a person can have (not going to start listing those here) that can top the feelings of low level airshow-type flying.  I remember many times my mentor and teacher Marion Cole telling me to stop flying so low.  “The crowd can’t see you down there!” he would say.  I hope the reader will check out my video section where I have GoPro camera videos of some of my low level practice sessions.  Read excerpts from my book…

 

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

Thomas Jefferson

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