Saturday, December 26, 2009

Oshkosh: The Spirit of Aviation

Oshkosh: The Spirit of Aviation was recently updated. As before it is narrated by actor Harrison Ford, an EAA member, pilot, and former Chairman of the EAA Young Eagles program. The 17-minute video presents an insider's look at people who share the passion for aviation as they participate in "The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thunderbolt - Operation Strangle

The above movie is a 5 part series entitled "Thunderbolt" (1947) (Part 1 of 5) featuring "Operation Strangle"
Director: William Wyler, John Sturges 

Production Company: Carl Krueger Production
Introduced by the famous actor James Stewart

Filmed in 1944 and early 1945 but edited only in 1947, this 45 minutes well preserved and almost forgotten documentary (by the great William Wyler) is about the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter bomber and its use in missions over Italy. In the prologue outstanding shots showing various placements of 1944 late model automatic color movie-cameras on board of the planes.

Operation Strangle was a series of air operations during the Italian Campaign of World War II by the United States Fifteenth and Twelfth Air Forces to interdict German supply routes in Italy north of Rome from March 24, 1943, until the fall of Rome in spring 1944. Its aim was to prevent essential supplies from reaching German forces in central Italy and compel a German withdrawal. The strategic goal of the air assault was to eliminate or greatly reduce the need for a ground assault on the region. Although the initial goal of forcing the enemy to withdraw was not achieved, the air interdiction of Operation Strangle played a major role in the success of the subsequent ground assault Operation Diadem.

Two principal interdiction lines were maintained across the narrow boot of Italy. This meant that no through trains were able to run from the Po Valley to the front line, and that south of Florence substantially all supplies had to be moved by truck. The operation employed medium bombers and fighter bombers over a 150-square-mile area from Rome to Pisa and from Pescara to Rimini.

This post is a tribute to 1st Lt William (Bill) Grubb Smith, P-47 pilot  (October 10, 1923 - August 19, 2011), actually filmed in this movie “Thunderbolt.“  He is mentioned in the second movie at time frame 8:06 as he lifted off the runway with his wingman.  Bill was a neighbor and personal friend living in the Charlotte, NC, area. He had long been considered a walking encyclopedia of WWll Aviation. Bill is also pictured in our EAA 309 B-17 Album.  In 2015 The EAA Historical Museum honored Bill by editing and publishing a video that my friend Ellie and I made into their Timeless Voices found at

Over the years I knew Bill he told us many interesting stories.  My close friend Ellie was very good at accurately recorded these - a few follow:

One favorite was about Jimmy Doolittle - "One day we watched a B-26 bomber coming in to our temporary fighter base on Tunisia.  A few of us pilots were on the flight line in case we got called for a mission. I watched a plane flying in and said to the guy standing next to me; “I’ll bet you five dollars to a roll of doughnuts that’s Jimmy Doolittle flying that plane.” The plane landed and out stepped a little short guy in a regular pilots’ uniform, with no rank to identify him. He was told by the landing officer, "Hey sir, you can't park that plane here, this area is restricted!" "You don't know who I am, do you soldier? “No Sir.” “I'm Col. Doolittle and I'm in a hurry."  When the officer scrambled to salute him, he said, "Ah, don't bother with that military crap, I just need a jeep to take me to headquarters. Get me a jeep and get someone to move this plane!" “Yes sir,” with another shaky salute. The nervous sergeant came over to Bill and the others and said, "You jerks, why didn’t you tell me that was Jimmy Doolittle in that plane?” “Well”, I said, “if you’d been watching you would have known it was Doolittle by the way he flew that bomber in." "How?" "Well, I watched him coming in and I knew it had to be Doolittle; ‘cause he was bringing that heavy bomber in just like a fighter. It’s not an easy plane to fly and nobody but Doolittle could manhandle a B-26 like that and get away with it"  "He was a short little guy, gritty, with an aura of command about him, and he sure knew how to fly that plane."

His fighter group, the 57th, was providing air support for ground troops in the PO valley of Italy in 1944. There were many peach orchards in the area. They received a request for help from the ground commander:  

"We are pinned down by Germans and can't move, can you boys help us?" We'll try, where's the fire coming from?" "Mostly from that church steeple over there." "We could see the church and my wingman and I started strafing it with our 50 caliber machine guns." (The P-47 has four guns in each wing.) "After several passes we sawed that steeple off. After that, the ground fire got so heavy we needed to leave the area.  "I said to my wingman, we've got to get out of here, it’s getting too hot!" and he replied, "My engine's down on power and not running right. I got the pedal to the metal and it just won't go." 

Bill followed his wingman back to base, landed safely and the ailing fighter was given a thorough inspection by the Crew Chief.  The engine checked out okay and finally the air intake for the turbocharger was removed. 

"About a wheelbarrow load of green limbs and peaches came rolling out of that inlet and that was the reason for the power loss." 

The pilot had flown into peach trees and sucked them up and in the process bent all four tips of his large propeller.  Bill added, “In the heat of combat a pilot’s adrenalin is so high he sometimes doesn’t really know how low he’s flying. A major cause of fighter fatalities happen when pilots forget to pull up in time and fly into the ground.”

Bill was also shot down by enemy ground fire and ditched his fighter in the ocean near the Yugoslavian coast.  He said, 

"That ocean was as smooth as glass. I loosened everything but my seatbelt so I could get out fast, then brought my plane down and flared the nose up just before I hit. I got bruised up a little bit but my May West inflated okay and I was picked up pretty soon by a British PT boat. They took me to a larger ship and treated my injuries.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Gray Eagles" P-51 Mustang Movie by Chris Woods

“Gray Eagles” shows the reunion between a humble WWII P-51 Mustang ace and the historic plane, that after 60 years, he never thought he'd see again. Inspired by the flood of memories triggered by this unimaginable encounter with a long lost friend, the 88-year old pilot Jim Brooks finally breaks his silence, sharing his stories and experiences of war with the grandchildren who never thought they'd hear them. Jim's wife was the famous Martha Tilton.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tom at the AOPA Summit

Saturday, July 11, 2009

AOPA - "General Aviation Serves America"

NATA-AOPA Charlotte Town Hall Meeting from Warren Morningstar on Vimeo.


Click for EAA SportAviation Charlotte GA Serves America article

General Aviation is facing the greatest challenges of its 100-year history! Now the two largest pilot organizations in the world have joined together to protect GA Interests, promote GAA Safety, and Grow the GA Community!

General Aviation Serves America came to Wilson Air Center, Charlotte, N.C., on July 20, 2009.

The Presidents of AOPA and NATA recently started traveling around the country, meeting with pilots, aircraft owners and operators, FBO personnel, airport managers, and others to share the General Aviation Serves America message and seek support for their ongoing outreach efforts. The event was organized by the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), the association that represents FBOs and other GA businesses. NATA is also a critical partner in our General Aviation Serves America outreach efforts.

The Charlotte event was hosted by Bob Wilson, President and Founder of Wilson Air Center at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Bob is an active member of AOPA and EAA and has been a pilot for over 30 years. Bob and his wife, Susan, recently donated and dedicated the Timeless Voices of Aviation exhibit at the EAA AirVenture Museum. Mr. Wilson sits on the NBAA Security Sub-Committee aviation boards, and meets regularly with Congressional delegations.

Some 250 people attended and Bob, well-known for his hospitality and customer service, put on a very impressive event, the largest to date. More than a dozen members of the local EAA Chapter 309 volunteered their time to help shepherd guests and provide information, and contributed a beautiful RV-7 to the aircraft display. Naturally, AOPA brought the Let’s Go Flying Sweepstakes Cirrus to be displayed alongside such diverse offerings as business jets, trainers, and turboprops of varying sizes and makes.

It was great to see so many different segments of the aviation community coming together in one place for one purpose—to help protect and promote our freedom to fly. The diversity of the audience and the aircraft, and the active involvement of members of NATA and EAA along with AOPA was a great show of strength and unity.

And at this event, many in the audience were already familiar with the campaign and its goals—great evidence that this message is being heard. They listened attentively as NATA President Jim Coyne and AOPA President and CEO Craig Fuller talked about the issues of greatest concern and the importance of spreading the General Aviation Serves America message. “We’re building momentum behind our message, now it’s up to all of us in aviation to keep it growing!” See the AOPA Charlotte Event Site and be sure to watch the video.


AirVenture 09 - AOPA summary and EAA's Web Post announcing our joining the "GA Serves America" campaign - all Videos by Warren Morningstar on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

EAA 309 Navigation Contest - August 15th



The objective of the EAA 309 Dead Reckoning Competition is to conduct a safe, fair and fun event which promotes the sport of general aviation while improving pilots' skills through flying and navigation. A number of waypoints will be assigned and the winner will be determined on (1) accuracy of the predicted time around the course and (2) accuracy of predicted fuel consumption.

The event is not a race. The event rules have been developed to assure maximum safety for all participants. They are in addition to, but do not supersede, the Federal Aviation Regulations. Every effort has been made to plan the event so that each team has a successful completion of the route. The event relies on each pilot exercising good judgment at all times. The EAA 309 Navigation Contest is open to all EAA Members.

Monday, June 8, 2009

MaxAir2Air Pictures

Since I have a hobby of aviation photography I am glad that I found Max Haynes and his splendid website MaxAir2Air Pictures, by far the best online magazine of air photo essays of aviation - with over a million visitors!

I was raised in Dayton, Ohio, The Birthplace of Aviation.  My uncle had a WWII T-6 based at Wright Field (later the Wright Patterson Air Force Base and the birthplace of the US Air Force) and as a young boy I was able to go out on the ramp with him and my Dad, watch close up the preflight and start-up, and experience  the thrill of seeing and feeling the T-6 roar into the air.  This was my first inspiration to fly!  This week  features a lovely essay/movie FLYING DREAM by Max Haynes - a title that brings back many memories.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

AOPA BLOG - "Reporting Points"

I will occasionally add a new link to my sidebar and today I wanted to feature a blog post to the AOPA Reporting Points. The particular post is titled Members Everywhere and is a very special read about EAA's Young Eagles Program and AOPA's LetsGoFlying program involving a Southwest Airline pilot interested in taking more kids for rides.

I was with a United Airlines Captain yesterday who flies out of Dulles International mostly European destinations and we were talking about how I wish I could have been at our Young Eagles event rather than photographing the wedding. He was very interested in hearing of these programs and shared with me his first inspiration to be a pilot. Our EAA 309 Young Eagles program Chairman Hal Schwab reported today that our chapter pilots flew 56 Young Eagles!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

ONE SIX RIGHT - The Romance of Flying

"One Six Right" - The Romance of Flying   Within a short period of time, this film achieved a passionate following and presence among pilots and aviation enthusiasts worldwide who see the film as being able to communicate their passion for aviation. Concurrently, the film has garnered both local and national political attention in the United States as an accurate depiction of general aviation and its important contributions to all aviation industries worldwide.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

ONE SIX RIGHT Creator's Dream

DIRECT LINK for best Quality

In Brian's own words, "I am just an ordinary guy with a passion for aviation." This link to Apple Computers and the Airport Journal's article of the June 25, 2005, premier will give you a little background on how he pursued his dream to make "One-Six Right". Little did I know that his success was first recognized on my birthday!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

SPORT PILOT - Now You Can!

… Affordable, achievable and fun. Sport Pilot is for you!
Whether you're completely new to aviation, always dreamed of flying, or have flown aircraft before, Sport Pilot is the new way to fly that is easier, more affordable, safe, and loads of FUN! Sport Pilot enables enthusiasts to learn to fly and gain access to aircraft in half the time and for half the cost of previous alternatives. So, climb aboard, take the controls, and launch new adventures in recreational aviation today!
Visit the EAA Sport Pilot & Light-Sport Aircraft magazine site and gain access to great articles such as “A Real Cross-Country in a Light-Sport Aircraft”and treat yourself to self-directed three dimensional travel and get the best of all worlds by flying a light-sport aircraft.” If you are interested in learning to fly and obtaining this new rating be sure to visit Earning My Wings: a video blog about learning to fly.
Are you wondering what kind of Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) are available out there? Our EAA Chapter in McKinney, Texas, has a great analysis of what is involved to become a Sport Pilot.

New Sport Pilot Kit named Onex from Sonex Aircraft -  announcement at AirVenture 2010:

I toured the Sonex Factory in Jan 2010 - see my Photo Album.