Testimony of Pilot (13): Chapter Two – Final Reflection on “harnessing the sky”

Testimony of Pilot# 13

This second chapter takes its characterization as “harnessing the sky.” Remembering the sky trajectories from Kill Devil Hill to Paris to the Battles of Britain and Midway, to transcontinental airlines and to the edge of the atmosphere and eventually the Moon provide superb “this is no s…t” stories of so many great men and women. They were not only brave risk takers and great “sticks” but extraordinary engineers using aircraft as their data sources and computers in a continual effort to stretch the envelop of flight. Here to complete Chapter Two ARE reflections on three of the greatest with most significant impact on harnessing the sky. TINS

Special thanks to Fritz Trapnell and Dana Tibbitts – son and granddaughter of Admiral Trapnell – authors of Trap’s biography Harnessing the Sky!!!

Masters of the Sky


The Aviators

By Winston Groom

THE LIVES OF RICKENBACKER, LINDBERGH, AND DOOLITTLE give weight to the question: where do we find such men? Continue reading

Posted in Testimony of Pilot -Series | Tagged | Comments Off

Testimony of Pilot (12): So, Where Does the Sky End?

Testimony of Pilot# 12

The whole history of the space program is part of moving on and making life better for people on Earth. I want to carry on their work on through the Shuttle, the Station, and the space exploration initiative. I think that’s the way I see it now, and that’s the way I will continue to feel, throughout this flight and, and even afterwards. Eileen Collins


Space Shuttle Endeavor comes to Los Angeles to retire to museum life.

James Tiberius Kirk, Where Are You?

Update and Re-post of Rememberedsky’s fourth offering on 21 September 2012

Ask any pilot, why or how they got into flying and you’ll find multiple answers, many will overlap but some will be unique, but all will be a personal thing long remembered. Continue reading

Posted in Testimony of Pilot -Series | Comments Off

Testimony of Pilot (11): Cockpits – Situational Awareness in the the Arena

Testimony of Pilot# 11

An airplane is just a bunch of sticks and wires and cloth, a tool for learning about the sky and about what kind of person I am, when I fly.  An airplane stands for freedom, for joy, for the power to understand, and to demonstrate that understanding.  Those things aren’t destructible.

Nothing by Chance, Richard Bach


SPAD XIII  cockpit (c. 1918) as flown by Eddie Rickenbacker in the 94th AERO Squadron and the F-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter “glass” cockpit (2018)

Once I determined to make Trap’s story of the F4U  Corsair development and test the centerpiece of Chapter Two, it wasn’t hard to pick other aviators and their stories with similar experiences in the advancement of aviation – problem was who to leave out. Three in particular were difficult to exclude (Rickenbacker, Doolittle,Yeager).

But in the parsing of stories I found some intriguing pictures of the cockpits of the aircraft used to push the ole envelop. So here in keeping with Chapter One’s pictures as stories here is an offering of history via the cockpit. TINS: Continue reading

Posted in Testimony of Pilot -Series | Comments Off

Testimony of Pilot (10): Eileen Collins – Return to Flight

Testimony of Pilot# 10

In 1990, Eileen Collins was only the second woman to graduate as a test pilot and be selected as a NASA astronaut. She became the first woman to pilot a space shuttle mission during the Discovery’s rendezvous with Mir space station in 1995 and became the first female commander of a US spacecraft on Space Shuttle Columbia on STS-93.


Her fourth and final mission was to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) as commander of Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-114 which heralded the “return to flight” of the Space Shuttle after the Columbia disaster. Discovery launched on July 26 and spent almost 14 days in orbit. During this mission, Astronaut Eileen Collins became the first person to fly the Space Shuttle through a 360 degree pitch maneuver so astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) could check the belly of the Shuttle and make sure there was no threat from debris related damage on reentry.

The thoughts of Eileen Collins related to the Space Shuttle return to flight seem most appropriate as testimony in the Chapter entitled Harnessing the Sky. TINS

Selected Comments of Eileen Collins, STS-114 Discovery Mission Commander


From NASA Interviews and Speeches

Continue reading

Posted in Testimony of Pilot -Series | Comments Off

Testimony of Pilot (9): Bob Hoover – the Best There Ever Was

Testimony of Pilot #9

the greatest pilot I ever saw.- Chuck Yeager

Hoover’s “the finest acrobatic pilot we’ve seen in our lifetime”  -Astronaut Wally Schirra

greatest stick-and-rudder man who ever lived – Jimmy Doolittle

Aero Commander

Diversity of experience over their careers is certainly a characteristic of the aviators featured in this second offering of “harnessing the sky” stories within the testimony series. Bob Hoover taught himself aerobatics as a teenager, as a fighter pilot shot down a FW-190, served as a prisoner of war with aviators from various countries/services, escaped and stole a German fighter, as an Air Corps test pilot, among other missions was back-up pilot and chase for Chuck Yeager’s supersonic run in the Bell X-1, developed bombing techniques for the F-86, taught them in Korea while flying combat missions as a civilian, went to US Navy Test Pilot School, carrier qualified and did multiple carrier oriented tests, tested the F-100, and by demonstration convinced the Air Force it was the right plane for the Thunderbirds. Then he got famous. His airshow performances in the P-51 and Shrike Commander made him a household name.

If aviators like Yeager. Schirra and Doolittle consider him the “best” then his testimony just might have some value. TINS

Cockpit to Cocktail Party: The Bob Hoover Story


Interview with Bob Hoover (2002)

By Kathleen Bangs (re-posted with her permission)

It was a lucky break. In 2002, across the wide expanse of a Florida trade show conference hall, I recognized an unmistakable aviation icon. A lanky figure, under his signature Panama hat, moving as a swarm of fans buzzed around him. It was Bob Hoover. Continue reading

Posted in Testimony of Pilot -Series | Comments Off

Testimony of Pilot (8) Neil Armstrong – Research Pilot

Testimony of Pilot# 8

I thought the attractions of being an astronaut were actually, not so much the Moon, but flying in a completely new medium.

Armstrong ETP

The pictures above do not represent the common perspective  of Neil Armstrong the astronaut and first man to step on the moon. Rather using our characterization of harnessing the sky, they and this post provides a testimony of pilot  – Korean War Navy fighter pilot and a NACA/NASA research pilot – related to exploring  the hypersonic flight regime existing above Mach 5 and the study of the possibilities of flying a winged vehicle outside the sensible atmosphere – the region where aerodynamic control surfaces will function. TINS

Trouble At the Edge of Space

First Man –
The Life of Neil Armstrong
The Authorized Biography

by James R. Hansen

“. . . I always felt that ‘form follows function,’ that engineering would decide the best way to go. I thought the attractions of being an astronaut were actually, not so much the Moon, but flying in a completely new medium.” This is not to say that Armstrong did not continue to prefer a winged pathway into space, via trans-atmospheric vehicles like the X-15 and X-20 Dyna-Soar. Even after the first suborbital Mercury flights in 1961, Armstrong thought “we were far more involved in spaceflight research than the Mercury people. “I always felt that the risks we had in the space side of the program were probably less than we had back in flying at Edwards or the general flight-test community. The reason is that we were exploring the frontiers, we were out at the edges of the flight envelope all the time, testing limits. That isn’t to say that we didn’t expect risks in the space program. But we felt pretty comfortable because we had so much technical backup and we didn’t go nearly as close to the limits as much as we did back in the old flight-test days.”

A significantly higher rate of fatalities in the world of flight test supports Armstrong’s contention. Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews, People, Testimony of Pilot -Series | Comments Off

Testimony of Pilot (7): Frederick Trapnell – Test Pilot at War

Testimony of Pilot #7

Aeroplane testing . . . demands for satisfactory results the highest training. It occupies no special place by virtue of this—it merely comes into line with the rest of engineering. Now, one can learn to fly in a month . . . but an engineer’s training requires years. It is evidently necessary, therefore, that engineers—men with scientific training and trained to observe accurately, to criticize fairly, to think logically—should become pilots, in order that the development of aeroplanes may proceed at the rate at which it must proceed if we are to hold that place in the air to which we lay claim—the highest. 
CAPTAIN William S. Farren, British Royal Aircraft Factory, 1917


1) 1933, Trap in F9C Sparrowhawk testing the trapeze recovery system on the airship USS Macon; 2) jet testing; 3) book cover; 4) April 1943, first naval aviator to fly a jet – the Bell P-59A Airacomet at Muroc

This second chapter takes its characterization as “harnessing the sky.”  Below are excerpts from the book of that title telling the story of the test pilot who led naval aviation out of bi-planes to the airwings that won the war in the Pacific, and along the way became the US Navy’s first jet pilot, then founding the Navy Test Pilot School. With way too many critical stories for a complete picture of Trap, specific focus here is on his crucial role in the design and testing of the F4U Corsair of WWII and Korean War fame. TINS

Making the F4U Corsair a Combat Star

Harnessing the Sky:
Frederick “Trap” Trapnell, the U.S. Navy’s Aviation Pioneer, 1923-1952

by Frederic M. Trapnell Jr. and Dana Trapnell Tibbitts

Since when were Navy test pilots redesigning their aircraft? Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews, People, Testimony of Pilot -Series | Tagged , | Comments Off

Testimony of Pilot (6): Charles Lindbergh – THE Flight

Testimony of Pilot #6

An experienced aviator through his own eyes seeing and telling another aviator’s story of a dark and stormy night over the ocean most certainly more than qualifies for a “this is no s…t” testimony. With more night flying and night carrier landings than I ever needed, the selection from Dan Hampton’s THE Flight really strikes home and is spot on for this series.


THE Flight Chapter Six – Excerpts

by Dan Hampton

… THE LAST GATE is closing behind me. I’ve reached the point where real navigation must begin.

… as Slim stares out at the lonely black Atlantic, New York seems another world: chatting with the mechanics in the drafty hangar, eating a hot meal, writing letters. Right now it’s after 8 P.M. back in New York and there are folks dressed for dinner, or off to see a Broadway show, as he had done the night before takeoff. Others would be visiting with family, as he had the prior week. Arriving from Detroit, Lindbergh’s mother, Evangeline, had spent May 14 on Long Island, then left, satisfied that her son knew what he was doing. How strange was the fate that had put him here. Now he was alone in this frail cotton-and-steel cocoon over a dark ocean while millions of others around the world were warm and safe. People were doing all those mundane tasks that constitute most of life, and are so seldom appreciated unless one realizes it can all be lost. In his case, very quickly. Would anyone remember him? His whole life summed up in a few lines of newsprint to be read, then forgotten.

Shifting and stretching, Slim checks the gauges again. Continue reading

Posted in Testimony of Pilot -Series | Tagged | Comments Off

Testimony of Pilot: Chapter One – Of Dragons and Ghosts

Testimony of Pilot #5

And like no other sculpture in the history of art,  the dead engine and dead airframe come to life at the touch of a human hand,  and join their life with the pilot’s own. When you believe in something as true as the sky you’re bound to find a few friends.
Richard Bach


Corsair II Dusk Delivery by Peter Chilelli

With the four previous articles this concludes the first chapter of a new series for Remembered SkyTestimony of Pilot is intended as anthology of TINS, memorable quotes, and story-telling art.

Dedicated to Max – Navy flyer, Champ, great husband/father/grandfather, unforgettable friend, and
the best story teller ever

Everyone at one time or another stumbles across something or someone that sends their mind cascading back in time to people and events that have shaped their lives. Aviators in particular are notorious for that instantaneous hands in the air “and their I was, flat on my back, running out of airspeed, altitude and gas… but here’s what I did…” – airshow time at the bar. Late 1999 I experienced that moment when daughter Tracey – made in Hong Kong 1972 in the midst of the war over Vietnam – announced she was bringing home for Christmas 1999 an F-14 Tomcat type naval aviator. The result was really my first effort at story telling by actually  writing – The Ghosts of Christmas Past…Fly Navy, the BEST Always Have. Continue reading

Posted in Testimony of Pilot - RS published eralier, Testimony of Pilot -Series | Comments Off

Testimony of Pilot: Sightings – American Dragons

Testimony of Pilot #4

Sometimes no matter whether the words of a Hemingway or any author, no matter how skilled, the complete essence of story  just can’t be captured  as well as on the artist canvas. Sometimes the event itself precludes the photograph, or  in combat aviation particularly, I think the dynamics sometimes prevent  complete recall of the pilot in sufficient detail. But with only minor information the imagination and talent of the artist can bring that story to life or indeed stand by itself as the telling. Peter Chilelli used that talent to recreate my memories of that first Alpha Strike and THE SAM near the Than Hoa Bridge in early May 1972.


He has now graciously volunteered use of his art for the Testimony of Pilot seriesWhere story and his art are in sync his work will be a major aspect of this series. Below are several examples of Peter’s aviation art as the story. His work can be found at Fine Art America.

The aviation storytelling of Peter Chilelli

“I am a dragon.  America the beautiful, like you will never know”

Continue reading

Posted in Testimony of Pilot -Series | Tagged | Comments Off