Santa Claus, himself a pilot, fattens an aviator’s heart!
Len Morgan’s DC-3 is packed with illustrations and incredible anecdotes about my beloved Gooney Bird.
Len filled pages with richly humorous anecdotes of his first training flights in an airplane that confounds pilots even while merely rolling on the ground.
Other stories include the DC-3, built for 24 passengers, that loaded 74 refugees out of China. Another tale told of a C-47 (wartime DC-3) riddled by enemy fire. It ditched into the sea, pilot hauling back on the yoke to flare onto the waves. BOOM-SPLASH! The airplane bounced back into the air, and the pilot realized that he had gained a few more minutes of flight. They flew like that, skipping the battered airplane across the waves, until they got to land.
Another DC-3’s damaged wing was replaced with the only available spare – and flew – flew! –with a DC-2 wing on one side and a DC-3 wing on the other. Forever known as the DC-2-and-a-half.
In the back half of the book, Morgan even sneaked in the entire Pilot’s Operating Handbook.
Morgan flew the golden age of early Douglas transports. When satellites were Sputniks and pilots navigated via aural radio ranges – blind approaches in snow and fog, listening intently as static poured into their headsets, following faint bread crumbs of Morse code to the unseen runway.
I found this book in the 1980s in a used book bin in Manila. It made me fall in love with the DC-3. I bought, built and collected DC-3 scale models. I lost the book a decade later. Another ten years passed, the internet was invented, I found a pristine copy on Amazon.com, and Christmas is merrier this year!
Winged Samurai, by historian Henry Sakaida, is a companion volume to Sakai’s autobiography, Samurai!. Loaded with rare photos — Sakai’s fellow pilots in the Tainan Kokutai, the airfields at Lae, actual aerial dogfights, the American pilots who flew against him.
Sakai was the highest-scoring Japanese fighter pilot to survive World War II. Veteran of dogfights over China, the Philippines, Dutch East Indies and the South Pacific, he was wounded grievously in the right eye and brain by .30cal machine gun bullets, then flew his Zero fighter hundreds of miles back to base. He fought in many more dogfights after that, blind in one eye.
Sakaida’s well-researched volume is a genuine treasure from a time that today’s generation of Airbus drivers have never known.
Other goodies! Rust in Peace is a lavishly illustrated volume of World War II battle sites and artefacts across the Pacific, some of them very close to home.
The foam plugs will keep birds from nesting inside our airplane’s engine bay.
Replacement instrument panel switches comply with Cessna’s service bulletins. My landing light switch recently shorted and turned red hot. Interestingly, the oil line to the oil pressure gauge is just above the switch, behind the instrument panel.
The Service Manual for the Cessna 152 is a must for the aircraft owner. The Wild Geese, about mercenaries in the Congo, became a movie in the 1980s, starring Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Roger Moore, Hardy Kruger, and a DC-3 Dakota, which is really why I loved the novel and the movie.
My niece Nichole found Leonardo Da Vinci’s flying machine on the sidewalk, discarded by someone cleaning house. Balsa parts, replicas of hand-drawn renaissance-era building diagrams on parchment paper.
Why would anyone throw any of this stuff away?
Posted from San Francisco, 4 December, 2010.
Next: Robin Olds, Fighter Pilot