zinc, magnesium, etc. Two different metals in an acid
solution make a battery and act much like intergranial
corrosion. The result is destruction of the alloy’s strength
because it’s now as strong as a screen.
Bertran Copp, EAA 16427
Lost Aviation Moments—and How to Prevent Them
In the October 2008 issue’s Flight Advisor column
(“Hapless to Hero”), readers were shown how allegedly
heroic experiences may have been more the result
of “fortune favoring the foolish,” as bad beginnings
were turned into satisfactory outcomes. Not very long
ago, my wife, Joann, and I were beneficiaries of a
similar run of good luck in a more mundane situation
that was, nevertheless, highly enriching for us.
It has been more than 50 years since I last piloted
an aircraft (long enough ago that taildragger experience
was the norm, rather than the exception), but that has
not diminished my fascination with the field of light
aviation. Thus, while visiting a nephew who lives in
the vicinity of College Park, Maryland, we made our
annual pilgrimage to the College Park Airport Aviation
We had intended to merely review the exhibits to see
if anything new had been added since our previous visit,
and to update our photo record of the museum and its
surroundings. And, had it not been for Joann’s eagle eye,
that is all that we would have experienced on that visit.
As it turned out, just as we were about to depart the
facility, Joann spotted a flier announcing “An Evening
With Aces,” to be held that evening at the museum. We
immediately purchased tickets.
After a hurried meal at the nearby 94th Aero Squadron
Restaurant, we returned in time for the evening’s
presentation, to listen with fascination to the combat
memories of former P-47D pilot Col. David Thwaites,
USAF, retired, and former F6F pilot Rear Adm. Edward
Feightner, USN, retired.
Remembering the frustration of learning “pylon 8s,” I
was especially impressed with Adm. Feightner’s account
of the Navy’s use of the Thach Weave tactic which,
according to his description, strongly resembled the
pylon 8, except that the maneuver was executed over a
fast-moving set of “pylons”; that is, the bomber aircraft
they were escorting to target. The admiral said that they
never lost an aircraft to enemy fighters while performing
Similarly, Col. Thwaites’ account of high-speed, low-level strafing runs in restricted valleys that could cause
one plane to fly into another’s weaponry explosions
emphasized the importance of timing and flying skill in
another demanding setting.
After their presentation, the two aviators opened up
the discussion to questions from the audience, following
which audience members were able to talk individually
with the aces while having their evening’s programs
autographed. Standing beneath a Taylorcraft Cub (J- 2),
I had the great experience of meeting and talking with a
lively 92-year-old gentleman who had soloed in a Piper
J- 3 Cub in 1940. As we swapped J- 3 solo stories in the
presence of Adm. Feightner, the admiral shared with
us his solo experience, which had been in a Ford TriMotor.
It was an enjoyable evening for those of us who had
the good fortune to be there that evening, but not such
a great experience, it turned out, for the College Park
Aviation Museum. I asked one of their representatives,
after the event, about their video recording of the event
(hoping that copies might be made available at some
time in the future), and he told me that it had been
an unfortunate botch-up, as their videographer never
arrived at the museum that evening.
What made it especially sad was the fact that Joann
and I had with us at least three cameras capable of making
an acceptable record of the evening, but had seen no
need to do so, believing that the museum would have it
covered. And, I am sure that there had been other people
in the audience with video cameras. Thus, had anyone
asked, some of us could easily have made a record of a
unique historical moment that is now lost forever.
Even if the two aces appear together again somewhere,
their audience will be different, their recollections will
vary from the April 25, 2008, event, and the questions
and answers will differ.
So, we had a great experience listening to the two
gentlemen, but we also had a learning experience that
emphasized the need, ( 1) to make a record of any such
event for posterity and, ( 2) to be ready to call upon the
audience for backup should our own media coverage
be disrupted for any reason. Chances are, someone will
have the equipment to provide emergency backup.
Kevin P. Murphy, EAA 779639