Lone Star Aero Club - 1996 Meetings

• January 25, 1996 - Because of the New Year holiday, and difficulty in securing a new meeting place, the January and February meetings were "combined" on this date. Our guest speaker was
Bob "Panda" Pandis, Customer Requirements Representative for Northrop Grumman's B-2 Division. Bob is a former U.S. Navy pilot, having flown the A-6 Intruder, A-4 Skyhawk, and F/A-18 Hornet. He is also rated in the Boeing 737 and is currently a LCDR in the Naval Reserves at NAS Miramar, California. Bob gave an unclassified multi-media presentation on the B-2 aircraft's features, performance, payload, and low-observables capabilities, and handed out a big stack of B-2 photos for everyone. The question-and- answer session was quite interesting, with Bob walking a fine line with respect to what he could and could not say about the B-2 program.

• March 7, 1996 -
Robert J. "Bob" Gilliland, retired chief test pilot for Lockheed's Skunk Works, was this month's guest. Mr. Gilliland flew all three of Lockheed's trio of Mach 3 aircraft, the A-12, YF-12, and was the first to fly the SR-71 Blackbird. Mr. Gilliland told us some of the stories from his days as a test pilot, and with a very unique point of view. He also signed a poster of the SR-71 which will be raffled off to a lucky attendee at a future meeting.

• April 4, 1996 - Space Shuttle Commander
Robert L. "Hoot" Gibson was this month's speaker. "Hoot" Gibson has flown into space five times aboard the Space Shuttle and accumulated over 36 days in orbit. He also commanded the Shuttle Atlantis on Mission STS-71 during which the Space Shuttle first docked with the Russian Mir Space Station. "Hoot" Gibson was a U.S. Navy fighter pilot in Viet Nam, a "Topgun" (Naval Fighter Weapons School) graduate, an instructor pilot in F-14 Tomcats (VF-124), a graduate of the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School (USNTPS), and has set several world aircraft records for class. "Hoot" showed slides taken during Shuttle missions, and shared his experiences with the group, including an extensive question and answer session.

• May 2, 1996 -
Dr. John Paul Stapp, at one time literally the fastest man on earth, gave a rare presentation on the physiological aspects of man's never-ending quest of travelling (and surviving) at higher and higher speeds. It was Dr. Stapp who rode the infamous rocket-powered sleds at Muroc Air Base (later Edwards AFB) in the late 1940s to explore man's ability to withstand extreme acceleration and decelleration. In one test, Dr. Stapp decellerated from 632 MPH to a complete stop in 1.4 seconds over a distance of 890 feet, enduring a force of 48 Gs. Dr. Stapp was also instrumental in the manned balloon altitude attempts (Project Manhigh) in the 1950s. Dr. Stapp's research led to the viability of ejection seats in high-speed aircraft, and the use of seat belts, air bags and padded dashboards in automobiles. During the meeting, Dr. Stapp also confirmed something that few people know - he was the person responsible for the term "Murphy's Law". My favorite quote from the evening was: "The definition of a bureaucrat is one who sticks to his guns even after shooting himself in the foot..." To learn more about Dr. Stapp, I highly recommend the book "The Pre- Astronauts" by Craig Ryan.

• June 6, 1996 - A
Panel Discussion group covering the trials and flight test tribulations of the world's first supersonic bomber, the Convair B-58 Hustler. The panel included Charlie Harrison, flight test engineer; Harry Hillaker, aircraft design engineer; O.D. Lively, test pilot; J.D. McEachern, flight test engineer; Bill Plumlee, production; Val Prahl, flight test engineer; and Robert Gray Sowers, USAF operations. On a sad note, one of our members, Grover "Ted" Tate passed away during mid-May. He was an old and close friend to many in the group. His work in the aircraft industry goes back to the Martin B-26 and he served as a flight test engineer on everything from B-24s and B-36s all the way through the B-58 and F-111 programs. May you always fly with the eagles, Ted.

• July 11, 1996 -
Dick Atkins gave a presentation on a highly secretive and little- known WWII air combat units - Scouting Force pilots were mostly ex-bomber pilots transferred to fly fighter escorts over Germany from September 1944 to the end of the war.

• August 1, 1996 -
Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan piloted the Rutan Voyager non- stop and non-refueled around the world in December 1986. Jeana gave a presentation on the project, and answered many questions from the group. Oh, she also said that, since they landed at the same airport from which they took off (nine days and almost 25,000 miles earlier), the flight was ruled a local flight only, not even a cross-country!!!

• September, 1996 -
Jay Miller and Ted Black showed us slides from their collections, including Ted's shots from an E.A.A. Oshkosh event a few years back.

• October 3, 1996 -
Wally Scott, a competition soaring pilot (in his Schleicher ASW-20 sailplane), was our scheduled speaker, but I seem to remember the presentation was by another person on the history of sport skydiving. I'll have to do some more research on this one...

• November 7, 1996 - We toured the
Texas Airplane Factory at Meacham Airport in Fort Worth, Texas to view Herb Tischler's Messerschmidt Me 262 Schwalbe production line. The Luftwaffe's Me 262 was the world's first operational jet fighter, and it was the fighter of greatest tactical concern to the Allied Forces during the last half year of WWII. Texas Airplane Factory is building five exact reproductions of the original aircraft with the exception of the engines and avionics (and a few other changes required to meet FAA regulations). Texas Airplane Factory has obtained an original Me 262 two-seater, on loan from the U.S. Navy to use as a pattern for these flying reproductions. The original aircraft was considerably deteriorated from being on outdoor display at Willow Grove NAS outside Philadelphia, PA, for many years. In exchange for the loan, Texas Airplane Factory has agreed to restore the original airplane for (non-flying) display purposes. For the flying reproductions, the original Jumo 004 turbojets have been replaced with GE J85s (currently used in Northrop T-38 Talons, among others). The J85 weighs only 20% as much as the Jumo it replaces, and produces approximately 1000 lbs. more thrust than the Jumo.

• December 5, 1996 -
Bill Plumlee arranged a tour of the Convair B-36 restoration as well as the General Dynamics A-12 Avenger full-scale mockup at the Lockheed Martin facility (Air Force Plant #4) in Fort Worth, Texas. Other aircraft on display included a Convair B-24, Vultee BT-13 and a Lockheed T-33.