Stop and Go’s – Practice Flying

November 6th, 2014

I hadn’t flown in about a month so needed to practice take-offs and landings. General Yeager said he would rate my landings.

Gulp. :-)

As I taxied out, I listened to AWOS – 250 degrees, 6 knots – and headed to runway 3-2.

As I took the position, I heard someone calling approach in the opposite direction. I called, You do realize I am taking off. Do you see me?

Plane: Just doing approach, no problem we see you.

Me: Oh. I see you. So you’re not landing.

Plane: No.

I waited for him to pass a bit more overhead and took off, vaguely wondering what landing challenges I might have. I had gotten into a habit of flaring too high and letting it settle into the right height. Not a good method.

I had finally made myself get lower and was doing well Oct 10.

Then Oct 12, former, recent, bad habit – the wind was 15-20 right down the runway and it caused regression.

General Yeager shook his end good-naturedly after we had taxied in. “Why do you do that?”

I shook my head. I didn’t keep up my speed. Dumb. Distracted by the big headwind instead of just flying.

Today, I flew by myself. First landing, I made myself go lower. I landed on two wheels, bounced and then landed…and landed…and landed. I was fully conscious of each movement and was never feeling on the edge. The bounces were not porpoising or problematic. It was almost enough of a bounce though to add a little power.

The second landing wasn’t bad – three pointer – but then a gust of wind pushed my left wing up, headed me left. I put in left aileron, held control, and it was fine.

I taxied back to the middle line stopped.

After I checked the trim and the cockpit, I took off again.

I sorted out my pattern, came in at a nice slow speed, flared well, three point landing by kissing the ground and staying down. Stopped in time to turn off at the first turn-off.

General Yeager asked me how I did. He was really asking how I felt I did. I said First two not so good, last one just right.

He said, “Your second one was a good three-pointer.”

Me: Until the gust got me.

General Yeager smiled. We both knew – I corrected, what’s my worry?




1947: Recording the Shock Wave on the X-1

October 13th, 2014

Ridley put holes in the horizontal stabilizer and connected them to a recorder. Each flight he could see what the shock wave was doing.


Broken Ribs Before Breaking the Sound Barrier

October 13th, 2014

Last night, after eating dinner at Pancho’s Glennis and I decided to go riding. Glennis suggested a race back to the corral.

As I got very close, in the lead, I saw someone had closed the gate.

My horse and I pulled about 3 g’s trying to avoid the fence. Well…. my horse pulled 3, I flew over the fence and cracked a couple of ribs.

We didn’t want to go to the base doc – they’d ground me.
So the next day, we go to the local vet. He patches me up and says, “Don’t do nothin’ strenuous.”

I go to Ridley and tell him, “We got a problem.”

Ridley contemplates this, went into the hangar, found a broom. and sawed off the end. We practiced me sitting in the X-1 and closing the door with the broomstick with my left hand.

It works on the ground.

Tomorrow is the big day. Let’s hope it works tomorrow in flight.


Capt Yeager meets Howard Hughes

September 13th, 2014

General Yeager’s says: I read this today: Sept 13, 1935 – Aviator Howard Hughes, Jr., of Houston, set a new airspeed record of 352 mph with his H-1 airplane (Winged Bullet). 

I met Howard Hughes after I broke the sound barrier. He wanted to know more about it to design more airplanes. I liked him; interesting guy.

Some say he was crazy. He wasn’t.

At Edwards, the press would ask for a comment or interview re a black program. We’d decline. So the media would make up all sorts of nonsense to try to get us to speak to them and rebut the nonsense.

The bait didn’t work for us at Edwards.

Or for Howard apparently.


It Has a Handbook Doesn’t It? F-100 and Crossfield

September 8th, 2014

I had flown the F-100 a lot and had delivered one to Scott Crossfield to fly. I asked him if he wanted me to check him out.

No, it has a handbook, doesn’t it? said Crossfield arrogantly.

Me: Be my guest.

And I walked out.

A few days later, Paul Bickle, Assistant Chief of the Flight Test Engineering Laboratory at the time and said, “Come on over here a minute.”

I asked: Why?

Bickle: Just come.

I went over there and saw the F-100′s nose sticking through the hangar wall.

He had taken out two other F-100s. What a mess.

He had lost his hydraulics, so no brakes, went right up the ramp, into the hangar and the hangar stopped him after his nose poked through.


General Yeager Fixes his Gun on the F-100

September 5th, 2014

I got a call from one of my men in my squadron (“D”) in the 1950′s. He was telling me some stories:

D: One night I heard a big bang about 11 o’clock at night. I wondered what the heck it was and went out to see. You were banging on the F-100′s guns.

Me: Yeah, I thought: the maintenance guys are gonna kill me. I was making the group tighter.

D: And you won the gunnery meet.

Me: Yeah.

D: I had a gun mis-function – jammed. I was hittin’ the rag. I still had some I could shoot  so I asked that they put 10 on one side and 10 on the other. With 20 in one gun and none in the other, you know!, the plane would yawl. They disqualified my shoot because I didn’t put them all in one gun. I thought that was a bad deal.

D: Another time, both of us had been up to the Cuddyback. Driving the jeep and I was in the passenger seat. We had stopped at the four corners, you know if you turned one way it took you to Edwards, and I asked you – what would you like to do when you got out of the Air Force.

You said: I’d like to have an automobile garage where I took cars with problems, put them in an assembly line and whatever was wrong when they went in, I’d fix them right up so they came out right on the other end.

Gen Yeager: I still like to work on cars but they’re so damned complicated now you can’t do anything.

D: When you went to Russia, Jackie gave you some perfume to give to Glennis and Glennis would have them in the house so she gave them to my wife. My wife still has them – they’re still sitting up on the shelf.

D: Remember Lavin?

Yeager: Yeah he was going to intercept us so we flew on the deck and he flew right by us. Heh heh.

D: Afterwards, all us guys are laying around on the grass laughing like heck.

D: I remember you (Yeager) used to have us over to your house – like a squadron party. Your favorite thing to do was to make ice cream and we had fresh ice cream. And fresh pizza. Those were the days.


Stories of Shipley School – For An Occasion

August 26th, 2014

I recently have been exchanging stories about our girls school experiences with my classmates – they had similar but distinct experiences. And I’m learning about how great some of them were – and I never knew those aspects of their characters. Till now. Fascinating.

Here are some of my stories from then:

Miss Watson in 5th and 6th grade I believe, taught Bible. The usual stories. I remember Miss Watson – mostly because my father remembers her from Father’s Day – she wore very red lipstick. It seemed odd: she had never worn it otherwise. How funny! Was she trying to snag a husband – was there a divorced father then in the class?

Each summer, in lower school, (4th through 7th) we had a reading list and we had to memorize a certain Bible passage to be ready to recite on the 1st day of class.

Well, this will surprise no one. I couldn’t remember which passage we were supposed to learn for 7th grade and couldn’t get a hold of anyone. We used to go to the shore for the summer, never saw any classmates in the summer.

I thought I remembered. I showed it to Mom, and she said doubtfully, “Are you sure?”

I was sure.

So I memorized it. Well, fortunately for 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Allen, a tough middle-aged woman, – with the dog that peed on Priscilla’s bookbag – I wasn’t first.

A few went before me and it wasn’t what I had memorized.

(I think it was our 7th grade teacher. If it had been Miss Watson – she would have fainted. Or maybe she would have surprised us.

What I had memorized was about fornication. I had NO IDEA what it meant at the time. And Mom didn’t say, nor did I look it up. . .

I think I had heard the joke:

Knock Knock

Who’s there?


Fornication who?

For an occasion like this…

I didn’t get it.

But that was not unusual for me. They used to joke: “Don’t tell an Englishman a joke on Saturday night, he’ll burst out laughing in church in Sunday.” Well that was my reputation with my family, too.

After much deliberation, it was determined I hadn’t tried to pull a fast one on everyone. How would I know it was a bad word – it was in the Bible.

Would that I were that clever and brave. It did provide some amusement amid the monotony. The school said I could skate re reciting it in front of the class thankyouverymuch – and could just write it down from memory. But DON’T show it to anyone else. (Of course without punishment – for truly an innocent mistake – it became hilarious).

I remember also that with Mrs. Allen, we had all recited the same poem. She liked my recitation because I put meaning into the words. (Can you imagine listening to the same regurgitated poem 20 odd times?)

It was The Listeners by Walter de la Mare: (still a favorite of mine as I just reconnected with it)

‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,
   Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
   Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
   Above the Traveller’s head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
    IS THERE ANYBODY THERE?’ he said.  (Victoria’s emphasis added).

I think I just woke Mrs. Allen up. 

Here’s the whole poem:

The Listeners


‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,
   Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
   Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
   Above the Traveller’s head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
   ‘Is there anybody there?’ he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
   No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
   Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
   That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
   To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
   That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
   By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
   Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
   ’Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
   Louder, and lifted his head:—
‘Tell them I came, and no one answered,
   That I kept my word,’ he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
   Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
   From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
   And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
   When the plunging hoofs were gone.
At least I memorized the right poem.
Shipley teachers would have been apoplectic if I had “remembered” some poem about “for an occasion…..”

F-16 Pilot talks about General Chuck Yeager –

August 23rd, 2014

General Yeager and I were passengers – the pilot was driving us back from the F-16 after the flight.

Gen Yeager had been his IP essentially although of course the pilot was experienced..

I asked the pilot – how was the flight?

He said: Great! Actually, I learned a lot. I was handling the stick when Gen Yeager said, Why are you moving the stick so much? I said: I don’t know. I was just taught to do it that way.

(I thought – wow, that’s a secure pilot who doesn’t try to bravado his way around).

Pilot continued: Gen Yeager said: Here son, let me show you something.

He took the stick and never moved it. We flew incredibly smoothly, hardly knew we were turning.

We had been at Edwards visiting. Senator, but then Governor, Manchin had come out to take a tour while Gen Yeager was there. We had gone on the flight line.

There’s nothing like watching the prep for flight in an F-15 or 16 especially when General Chuck Yeager is flying.

Or driving nearby or ahead of the planes. Then waiting on the “run-up” area.




A Skit re U.S. President – by Victoria Yeager age 14-15

August 23rd, 2014

At Shipley School, in 9th or 10th grade, we had a semester of creative writing essentially. We could write what we want – perhaps it was once a week- from free prose, to poems, to skits, to haikus – it was up to us.

I found some of those which I had written. Below is a skit I had written age 14 or 15.

The scene is a news conference with the President of the U.S.

Every time the Pres. finishes a statement all the reporters shout, “Mr. President” so that he will recognize one of them.

Mr. Pres. (points to one of the reporters): Yes?

Reporter: What do you think of all the illegal campaign funds?

Pres: Well, I certainly do not think that illegal campaigns can be fun.

Rep: No, sir but what do you proposed to do about them?

Pre: I can not possibly take them if that’s what you’re suggesting! (Off to the head of the conference) Who is this insolent boy? Has the IRS reviewed him yet?

Reporter: I’m terribly sorry sir, I didn’t mean…What I meant was –

Pres.: Well, why didn’t you say what you mean in the first place?

Rep: UH! Sorry sir…

Pres.: God on! (said patiently)

Rep: I’ve forgotten…. (Searches paper for his question. Flustered).

Pres.: I certainly don’t remember. (Looks around for another reporter).

All reporters are asking for his recognition.

Reporter: (frustrated but trying not to be overwhelmed) Mr. President?

(President nods).

Reporter: My question was what do you propose to do about the Senators and Congressmen who have received monies which are illegal?

President: Who received your niece? And that’s illegal? Just what kind of business is your niece in that it is illegal? (To the head of the conference): Take down the name of this man! And get the name and address of his sister; I think I better handle this personally. (Looks around for another reporter as the first one slowly shows defeat).

Second reporter: Sir, how do you feel about the situation in Angola?

Pres.: It certainly is situated pretty far South. Don’t a lot of birds go there for the winter? I see a lot have stayed for spring and summer instead of going back to their native Russia.

Rep, 2nd: Uh, sir, how do you feel about sending troops there?

Pres.: Groups? Groups of what? What is there to do in Angola with all that fighting? The groups would probably not be able to see anything: the tourist traps would be closed during the fighting season.

Rep., 2nd: Troops, sir, not groups.

Pres.: Troupes of strolling players perhaps? What are you crazy? (To the head of the conference) Who is this boy? Our troupes would be shot at and killed if we sent them there.

Rep., 2nd: Sir, I mean armies.

Pres.: What about armies?

2nd Rep: Send them to Angola?

Pres.: Where does she reside?

2nd Rep.: Who reside, Sir?

Pres.: Angola, Angie. Whatever her name is? Wait is she the niece of that last fellow? In that case, where does she live? She is probably expensive, too…. (Keeps talking as the reporters slowly all have temper tantrums or crying fits).


Victoria’s Cooking is an Adventure – Alaskan Wild Salmon

August 21st, 2014

We recently returned from helicopter fishing in Alaska. We fly out over rivers. Look down. If we see fish, we land and catch fish. If we don’t see fish, we move to the next spot or next river. The flying is great, scenery is spectacular, the fishing relaxing and fun. The last day we saw a gigantic base of a rainbow – it almost looked like a pyramid. Truly the widest rainbow I have ever seen. Photos rarely depict rainbows well – the magnificence of color and the magnitude. So this photo is just a hint of the experience:


Sometimes I cook the wild salmon we catch in Alaska.

I have a special recipe which unfortunately makes people think I can cook. But I cook my grandmother’s way: a little of this, a little of that…..

Hers always worked.

Mine – uh….sometimes.

Last time, even my father said he wouldn’t ever have salmon unless I cooked it, he liked it so much.

The challenge came when he said that to my cousin while at my cousin’s house awaiting dinner.

My cousin, who fortunately has a sense of humor, laughed and said he hadn’t gotten the memo. He was serving salmon in about 10 minutes.

What was not lost on anyone was that I had cooked dinner – shocker – and that it had been that good – BIG shocker.

One time I tried Chuck Yeager’s Grandma’s Award Winning butterscotch pah recipe. I didn’t have one ingredient so went online to find what gourmet chefs would consider a viable alternative. In this case, they were wrong.

After I finished, I tasted it….

And threw it over the porch for the deer. The next morning, it was gone. Not a morsel was left.

The next afternoon, I tried again.

Finished. Tasted. Over the porch for the deer. The next morning, it was gone – not a morsel was left.

The third time was the charm. It actually tasted great!

I went outside to survey the scenery. There was the deer, a little plumper, looking alarmed, in a panic, as it looked up at me as if to say: “AHHHHHHH. I need my fix. Where’s my butterscotch PAH!!!!?”

In our house, when I cook dinner, we always have a back-up plan or four – cereal, popcorn, diet frozen dinner, or local restaurant.