ARPS – early astronaut training

July 14th, 2019

In late 1961, we were ready to screen applicants for our first class at the space school, and because they would be the first bunch, the screening process was particularly thorough. We wanted only the very best pilots, and our first couple of classes consisted of experienced military test pilots, who had graduated from Edwards’ test pilot school, and whose abilities and academic background were demonstrably outstanding. Our space course was six months of intensive classroom work and flight training. My staff at Edwards culled the applications, pulled out the most promising student candidates, conducted preliminary checks of their records, and forwarded their recommendations to a selection committee at the Pentagon, which carefully reviewed the background of each applicant, conducted personal interviews, sought evaluations from their superiors and further winnowed the list.

I was a member of the final selection committee and after several months of interviewing and tough deciding, we published our list of the first eleven students. Actually, we had twenty-six names in order of preference, but we didn’t publish our list that way: we just named eleven guys alphabetically as the members of our first class, and listed the first three or four alternates, in case any of them dropped out.

The quality of those selected was such that they added tremendously to the prestige of our new school which was our intention all along. I was thrilled with the choices. But when our list was published, I received a phone call from the Chief of Staff’s office asking whether any of the first eleven were black pilots. I said no. Only one black pilot had applied for the course and he was number twenty-six on the list. I was informed that the White House wanted a black pilot in the space course.

The Chief of Staff was General Curtis LeMay, probably the most controversial personality in the Air Force since his days as the tough, cigar-chewing head of SAC. I knew him pretty well. I remember briefing him at SAC headquarters after I had tested the MiG 15 on Okinawa, and he was very interested in the MiG’s directional instability while climbing “Yeager how bad is that snaking motion?” he asked. I t old him: “Well, sir, just about right to hit a B-36 wingtip to wingtip if you were shooting at him.” My answer really tickled him, and he told it all around. And during my tour in Germany, he sent for me while I was in Spain, to show me off a little during a hunting trip with Franco. General LeMay wasn’t what I would call a smoothie. He was blunt, you didn’t have to read between the lines dealing with him.

He got on the phone and said: “Bobby Kennedy wants a colored in space. Get one into your course.” I said, “Well, General, it’s gonna be difficult. We have one applicant, a captain named Dwight, who came out number twenty-six. We already published our list with the fifteen who made it, and it’s going to be embarrassing to republish the list with Dwight’s name on it because now everyone knows who the first fifteen are.” He said, “Okay, I’ll just tell them they’re too late for this first class.” But a 150-millimeter shell came ripping in from the White House and LeMay was told: “By God, you will have a black pilot in that program – now!” He called me back “Do what you have to do, Yeager, get that colored guy in.” I said, “Okay, General but what I think we ought to do is take at least fifteen students in the first class, instead of eleven and make him number fifteen. Give me a little more money and I can handle this many in the school.”

He arrived and we brought Dwight in. Ed Dwight was an average pilot with an average academic background. He wasn’t a bad pilot, but he wasn’t exceptionally talented either. Flying with a good bunch in a squadron, he would probably get by. But he just couldn’t compete in the space course against the best of the crop of experienced military test pilots. In those days, there were still comparatively few black pilots in the Air Force, but Dwight sure as hell didn’t represent the top of the talent pool. I had flown with outstanding pilots like Emmett Hatch and Eddie Lavelle, but unfortunately (black) guys of their quality didn’t apply for the course. Dwight did. So determined was the Kennedy Administration to have a black pilot in the program, they also lowered the standards for height. Dwight was shorter than the required 5’4”. So, we brought him in, set up a special tutoring program to get him through the academics because , as I recall, he lacked the engineering academics that all the other students had.

Hell, I felt for Dwight, remembering my own academic problems in test pilots school. It’s really a rough situation and he didn’t have a Jack Ridley working with him – a genius in explaining the most complicated problems in understandable language. He worked hard, and so did his tutors, but he just couldn’t hack it. And he didn’t keep up in flying. I worked with him on that and so did other instructors, but our students were flying at levels of proficiency that were really beyond his experience. The only prejudice against Dwight was a conviction shared by all the instructors that he was not qualified to be in the school.

So, we had a problem. General LeMay had asked me to keep him informed about Dwight’s progress and knew what was happening at Edwards. About halfway through the course, I flew to Washington to attend an Air Force banquet and was seated next to General LeMay. He asked me if there was any improvement with Dwight. I said: “No, sir. We’re having a lot of trouble trying keep him from getting so far behind the others that it will be hopeless. He’s just not hacking it.” The General grunted. Then, he looked me in the eye and said, “Chuck, if you want to wash out Dwight, I’ll back you all the way.” I about fell out of my chair.

But it didn’t come to that. Dwight hung on and squeezed through. He got his diploma qualifying him to be the nation’s first black astronaut, but NASA did not select him and a few powerful supporters in Washington demanded to know why. The finger of blame was pointed at the school and I was hauled on the carpet to answer charges of racism raised by Dwight and some of his friends.

All hell broke loose. A few black congressmen announced they would launch an investigation of the incident and the Air Force counselor, their chief lawyer, flew to Edwards from the Pentagon to personally take charge of the case. Man, I was hot. I told that lawyer, “You do have a case of discrimination here. The White House discriminated by forcing us to take an unqualified guy. And we would have discriminated by passing him because he was black.” Maybe “discrimination” was the wrong word, but I made my point.  Anyway, the decision was made to fly in a group of black civil rights attorneys and a few congressmen and show them Dwight’s school records.

I met with them. I said, “I’m the Commandant of the school, but the truth is, I lack the education to qualify as a NASA astronaut. It so happens I couldn’t care less. But if I did care a lot, there isn’t a damn thing I could do about it because the  regulations say I must have a college degree. Captain Dwight may care a lot about getting a diploma from this school, but the fact is he lacks the academic background and the flying skill to do it. Anyone with his grades deserved to be washed out, or it would be discrimination in reverse. Now, here are his complete school records from day one. Let’s review them page by page.”

The group had no idea he was receiving special tutoring and was shocked to see his poor grades. They were satisfied that prejudice was in no way involved in this case. But that wasn’t quite the end of it. I was so damned mad, I told the Air Force lawyer: “Hey, I want to file some charges of my own. I’m a full colonel and he’s a captain. I want to charge him with insubordination. If he brought charges against me and couldn’t make them stick, I want that guy court-martialed.” I was told, no way, the Air Force would not allow that to happen because they had taken enough heat over this matter already.

I was disgusted. I knew damn well that Dwight had taken a cheap shot against my West Virginia accent to save face. If I had been born in Philadelphia or New York, he wouldn’t have tried. He was prejudiced against me thinking anyone from my part of the world was a redneck bigot. Many Southern whites who are honest will admit having problems about race in a general sense, but I didn’t have to be the type who thought of all blacks as niggers to flunk Ed Dwight. And what really hurt was the guy called into question not only my professional integrity, but also my most basic loyalty to the Air Force which had allowed me, an undereducated country boy to climb as high as my talents would take me. Ignoring the fact that I was a raw kid often made fun of as a hillbilly, they gave me a chance to crawl into a cockpit of an expensive airplane and prove that I had what it took to fly that thing. I knew prejudice. I ran up against officers who looked down their noses at my ways and accent and pegged me as a damned down-home squirrel chaser. But damn it, the Air Force as an institution never let me down for an instant. In spite of where I came from or what I lacked, they trained me and gave me every opportunity to prove myself. Nowadays it has become  fashionable for some companies to advertise themselves as “equal opportunity employer”. The Air Force practiced that with me right from the start, and I would never deny to anyone else the chance to prove his worth, no matter what or who he is. There never were black pilots or white pilots in the Air Force. There were only pilots who knew how to fly and pilots who didn’t.

 

  1. GCYI

From Yeager, An Autobiography pp 342-346. Published 1984

In His Own Words: Emmett Hatch, black pilot, in Chuck Yeager’s Squadron 1950’s

July 12th, 2019

In his own words from Yeager, An Autobiography pp 290-297:

“The Air Force had only been integrated seven or eight years by the time I became a fighter pilot. I came up through the ranks as an enlisted man, the same as Chuck Yeager, but it wasn’t easy for me as a black man. There were racial incidents along the way with no shortage of rednecks eager to shoot me down. Only a handful of black pilots were scattered around the world in those days, and I knew I couldn’t afford to make any serious mistakes, but I was young, full of piss and vinegar, and when Chuck Yeager became my squadron commander in Germany, he stood between me and guys ready to jump me. Chuck just wouldn’t tolerate that kind of crap. It is true he grew up in West Virginia where there are some definite racial attitudes, but there is also a camaraderie among those who know what it’s like to be down and out. Without a doubt, he saved my neck on several occasions. Serving with him became a highlight of my life. ”

Our squadron of Sabre jets was part of a three squadron lighter-bomber wing stationed at Hahn which in 1955 was a brand-new fighter base up on the “Houndsback” two thousand feet above the Mosel River, about thirty miles from Wiesbaden. Europe has the worst flying weather in the world, and Hahn had the worst weather in all of Europe. Heavy fog and rain were continuous and only God knew why the Air Force decided to build a base up there. We lost a few pilots in the fog, while learning to be extremely proficient bac-weather pilots.

We couldn’t believe that the famous Chuck Yeager was heading our way. We knew of course, that he had broken the sound barrier and was a great test pilot. In fact, just before he came to us, he had been back in Washington to receive the Harmon Trophy at the White House for his flight in the X-1A. But fighter pilots aren’t impressed by anything but dogfighting , which was about all we did. Anytime we took off, we knew guys were sitting upstairs waiting to jump our ass. So, there was a helluva line of eager young pilots anxious to jump our new squadron commander and see what he was made of. Testing Yeager turned out to be a massacre. He waxed everybody, and with such ease that it was shameful. The word got around that he was somebody very special.

In those days we flew the F model of the Sabre, which was slow. The Canadian fighter jocks in Europe loved to dogfight us in their own lighter, more maneuverable Mark V Sabres. They were merciless and there wasn’t much we could do about it. But Yeager took those guys on every chance he got. He flew the F like the rest of us, but he waxed those Canadians every time. We flew at maybe 90 percent of capability. Yeager flew at 101 percent. It was incredible to fly behind him in a traffic pattern because he flew with such precision. And he trained us by having us take turns flying his wing., which is really like flying his airplane because we emulated all his turns and maneuvers to keep up. For example, if he went into a tight diving turn, we went right with him even though we may not have done that before. I flew his wing when a couple of Canadian jocks bounced us. Chuck radioed to me, “Hold on,” and did a tight pull up, simultaneously hitting his speed brakes. The Canadians zipped past us and we ended up waxing their tails. I was impressed.

Another time I flew his wing and socked in as tight as I could, thinking that was what a good wingman should do. Chuck told me to move my control stick from side to side. I saw that my airplane barely reacted. At the speed we were moving, the controls were very sluggish, and if anything happened I wouldn’t have the quickness to avoid colliding with him. That’s how he delivered the message that I was flying too close.

Flying with him we flew at our maximum ability because that’s how he flew. We would get up in the clouds and instead of flying around them, we’d maneuver in and out. You really do some complicated flying when you start playing with clouds. They have holes and unusual shapes that create tricky maneuvers – good training for aerial combat. Instead of taking a straight thirty-minute flight somewhere, we’d go down on the deck below 1000 feet. We could get there either way, a relaxed cruise or skimming over trees and barns. The hard way we learned something; Yeager wouldn’t let us get there the easy way.

We used to make bets on how close to the end of the runway his wheels would touch down on landing. actually go out with a measuring tape. He was always a foot or two right at the end of the runway, a perfect landing every time, even in near zero visibility.

My nickname in the squadron was “Jock” because I had played college basketball. We were flying air-to-ground gunnery in France, and after I made my pass at the target, Chuck radioed, “Well, Jock, how did you do?” I told him I thought I scored about forty percent. He said, “I beat you.” I said, “I’ll bet you on that.” So, when we landed I called the range officer to get our scores. I got forty percent. That SOB got eighty percent. I put down the phone and crawled off the base. Later, he told me, “God Jock, that was really great. I could actually see the bullets hitting the target.” I said “What!” He replied “The vortex from the shells, I saw them.”

We were coming back from gunnery in North Africa when he came on the radio” “Hey, you guys look at that tanker burning down there.” We said, “What are you talking about?” We flew for another ten minutes and looked down. Sure enough, there was a ship on fire. We couldn’t imagine how he could see so much better than the rest of us and wondered if he had binoculars stashed away in his cockpit.

Chuck came to us as a captain and rather quickly was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. We were a good squadron and he fit right in. He operated with a twinkle in his eye, as easygoing and friendly as any squadron leader we had ever encountered: his rank was there because he wore it on his collar, but he lived to fly like the rest of us and probably flew more than the other squadron commanders in the wing. He was right in the middle of our beer busts, parties, and poker games. Being a squadron commander was all any young fighter pilots ever hoped to become in this world and we just hero worshipped the guy. We busted our assed to please him and earn his respect. If he sent for one of us and asked a lot of questions, we knew damn well we had done something wrong and were in trouble. He would listen to an explanation and say: “You’re full of shit!” And, God, to get that from him was worse than a slap in the face and having  your epaulets ripped off. I don’t recall him ever chewing anyone out. He didn’t have to. Everyone, including all the enlisted men in the ground crews, took real pride being in Yeager’s squadron.

We were living with a legend and we knew it even then. We read everything we could find about him and learned he was a World War II combat ace. We’d sit with him in the officers’ club prime him with beers and get him to talk about airplanes and flying, soaking up every damned word. Try as we might, we couldn’t get him to talk about his exploits but there was nothing about aviation that he didn’t know. Whatever he really thought about our individual flying skills he kept to himself. Nobody ever heard him say, “I don’t think you can hack this.”  His attitude was, “Here’s what we’re gonna do, and you’ll do it just fine.” He made us think we could all fly with his capabilities , which was absolutely crazy. For example, he made his personal mark in the squadron by ordering us to wear red scarves and deciding that we would fly in a diamond formation. Air Force regulations demanded that all squadrons fly in a stacked formation, but Chuck just shrugged. He said, “The acrobatic teams fly a diamond and we’re as good as they are.” We Became “The Red Diamonds.”

One day an Air Force inspector was checking out the armament switches on one of our airplanes when suddenly all six fifty-caliber machine guns began firing over the woods toward a German village. Fortunately, no civilians were hurt, but there were investigations, and the result was that special safety pins were inserted in the trigger mechanisms that kept them from firing. Each pin had a big red tag attached to it, and we could barely fly with all the crap on our control sticks. We bitched and moaned about it, then, lo and behold, those pins began disappearing. We’d climb in the cockpit and report them missing. Colonel Yeager finally called us together and said, “Hey, you guys, leave those pins alone. Regulations are regulations.” But they kept disappearing until not one airplane in the squadron had a safety pin left. In fact, we almost forgot they ever existed.

One day, months later, Chuck asked someone to fetch something from his locker. There were all those missing pins, stockpiled in our squadron commander’s locker. He was the one who removed them all. Chuck was a free-wheeler, and the Air Force bureaucracy drove him nuts. He knew we had to live within the system and could not fight it head on and win. But damn, he knew how to resist.

Col Fred Ascani commanded the entire wing. He was tough and strict, a real terror to work for. Ascani had been General Boyd’s deputy so Chuck knew him well. Even so, Ascani had bugaboos, and if anyone violated his rules, he lowered the boom. His biggest bugaboo was accidents. When he took over the wing, the accident rate was atrocious, so he staked his career on a zero-accident rate. Wreck and airplane and he’d wreck you. We flew into Pisa, Italy, one day and a guy in squadron snapped the nose wheel off his Sabre while landing. Chuck called the squadron maintenance officer and gave him a list of parts that would be needed to bolt a fixed nose gear on the airplane, and they arrived on a C-47, while Chuck pounded out the air intake with a sledgehammer. The repairs took nearly a day. Then Chuck flew that airplane back to Germany with the nose wheel down and bolted, a really tricky piece of flying. It was rolled into the back of a dark hangar, quickly repaired and never reported.

But then I crashed.

I was flying alone, coming down to refuel outside of Paris on a beautiful Sunday morning. I was feeling real good and began doing rolls coming down. But my control stick stuck and I couldn’t stop rolling. I got down to 1,400 feet , more afraid of Colonel Ascani than of dying. Finally, I ejected. I was so low that I did only two swings in my chute before I landed in a tree.

Ascani went out of his mind. He roared in on Chuck: “What in hell was Hatch doing? Why was he rolling that airplane?”

Chuck said, “Hell, Colonel, he was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing. He was doing a clearing roll.”

“A what?”

Chuck said, “That’s right. Anytime we are descending, we do a roll to make sure we aren’t letting down on top of another airplane. It’s a safety precaution. All my people do it.”

Chuck saved my precious ass. I had no business doing those rolls, and I could’ve been court-martialed, my career ruined. Ascani just said, “Yeah, well, I suppose…” That was the end of it.

There’s nothing better on this earth than to be part of a fighter squadron. You really are close and sharing. By the time my three-year tour came to an end. I was one of the old heads, an element leader, one of the guys Chuck counted on. I extended my tour for another year. Four of us senior guys did that. Chuck was gone a lot of the time, and he needed us. He was the Air Force’s showpiece in Europe, and they were always sending him off somewhere on special assignment. Ascani was not pleased, but there was nothing he could do about it. The British or French would request him through the State Department, asking that he be allowed to help evaluate on of their new aircraft. The guy was a real celebrity and he was constantly traveling all over Europe to air shows and conferences. Wherever he went he was always  bumping into somebody he knew – pilots, sportsmen, princes, name it. He would meet a person only once and remember him twenty years later – everything about him, too.; I’ve seen him do it. He’d be requested to hunt pheasants in Portugal with some dignitary. General Le May, the head of SAC, flew into Spain and sent for Chuck to show him off to the Spanish air force brass. Then the two of them went partridge hunting with Franco. I never saw Chuck hunt, but he once went out with General Gross, vice commander of the Twelfth Air Force, hunting German roebuck deer, which are no bigger than dogs. Gross took one or two shots and missed, but Chuck bagged that deer at six hundred yards. The general couldn’t believe it. He said, “God almighty, Chuck how in hell…”

The guy was unbelievable. Because of him our wing won all the USAF European gunnery meets. Ascani loved him for that. He has high man in air-to-air and air-to-ground every time. The other contestants shook in their boots having to confront Yeager. One gunnery mission he flew, they were firing two guns and one of his guns jammed. So, using one gun he scored 85 percent – some unheard-of thing like that – and he won anyway. The Air Force maintained a huge gunnery facility at Wheelus in Tripoli and we went down there for a month at a time, living in tents out on the desert, flying and shooting night and day. One time he flew in a day after we arrived and I sat upstairs waiting for him. As soon as I saw his Sabre, I bounced him. I came in right on his tail and then took off with full power before he could react. I said, “Welcome to Tripoli, Colonel Yeager.” He laughed. “Goddam, Jock, if I catch you, I’ll whip the black off of you.” Those would be fighting words from anyone else. From him, I just said, “Well, Colonel, you’ll have to catch me first.’”

c. GCYI

The Opportunity to Help – Recalling the Wise Words of Roy Clark

June 25th, 2019

I was in a large chain store today.  An elderly lady asked if I worked there as I was reaching down to get something. I smiled and said no. She smiled, said Oh and looked around.

Then I thought about it, turned back and said, But I may be able to help – what do you need? Lucky me – it was something very simple.

She had been there the day before to get something for her husband. She thought she had found it in that aisle but hadn’t had enough money to pay for it. She showed me the list and pointed to the one in particular.

I found it fairly quickly and was grateful she had given me the opportunity to help her.

As I think about it today, I realized she never thanked me. She was so focused and stressed and frankly after I found it for her, I moved on to find what I needed.

I had lived the wise words of our good friend Roy Clark – don’t wait for a thank you, you don’t need it.

He’s right.

c. GCYI

George A. D’Angelo – Obituary – Official

August 26th, 2018

George A. D'Angelo & his daughter VictoriaGeorge A. D’Angelo, Esq. and daughter Victoria circa 1993

George A. D’Angelo, Esq., age 91, of Bryn Mawr, PA, died on April 16, 2018. Cause of death unknown.

You may not have known him personally, but you might have noticed a very elegant man dashing to or from his Center City Philadelphia law office, lunch or civic, charitable or cultural meetings or events. He was often described as a true gentleman.

You could tell the seasons by his attire. In summer, he wore his characteristic straw boater and summer three-piece suit which was often a seersucker suit. Like clockwork, on September 15 each year, he switched to his black bowler and darker three-piece pinstripe suit. On a lovely summer evening, you might have noticed him driving his 1949 Cadillac convertible, stopping by Two Street to enjoy an outdoor Mummers concert or swinging by Downey’s for a bite or dining at the Four Seasons or the Philadelphia Club where he often had lunch with friends.

Dad in London

George A. D’Angelo, Esq. in London 1974 to attend a friend’s daughter’s formal wedding.

Born in Philadelphia on December 7, 1926 to Dominic and Lillian D’Angelo, he graduated from Central High School in 1944. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in 1947 and his law degree (JD) from its Law School in 1950 where he graduated in the top five of his class.

He joined Truscott & Erisman, and then formed D’Angelo & Eurell.

He was an Adjunct Professor at Temple University Law School (1954-1969), teaching both professional responsibility and the practice of law. His classes were always oversubscribed which he attributed to his being the only Republican professor there.

His philanthropic interests were mostly in the arts and education in Philadelphia and New York As President of the Philadelphia Art Alliance (1975-1981), he brought in many innovative shows. He remained active as a member of its Board and even as Emeritus he regularly participated in meetings until his retirement. He also recognized the value of education and supported a number of scholarships.

He was honored to have served as President of the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia, as Treasurer of the Lawyers Club of Philadelphia, on the Vestry of the Church of St. Asaph’s, and on the Boards of Promesa Foundation, New York, City Innovation, New York, and Hayes Manor Retirement Community, Philadelphia.

He was a member of the Order of the Coif, Pennsylvania 50, Pennsylvania Bar Association, American Bar Association, Philadelphia Bar Association, Philadelphia Club, The Athenaeum, Merion Cricket Club, English-Speaking Union, Doubles (New York), Rittenhouse Club, Philobiblon Club, and a friend of the American Philosophical Society.

He loved to travel, speaking often of how it broadened one’s horizons and perspectives, and of the joy of meeting interesting people from different countries and cultures around the world. Part of his work recently took him to a number of countries in Africa, as part of efforts working with various African agencies to promote tourism and the expansion of investment in Africa. He enjoyed reading, particularly biographies and history, and the theater. He especially enjoyed musicals, notably Gilbert & Sullivan, and was a great ballroom dancer.

He also was an avid sailor and made sure his kids knew how to sail.

George A. D'Angelo, his kids

George A. D’Angelo, father, with his four children circa 1964

He is predeceased by his wife, Antonia Billett D’Angelo (1928-1986) who had a Masters in Psychiatric Social Work and was world-renown in the field for the prevention and treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse, with a particular focus on women’s issues. They met in English Class on her first day at the University of Pennsylvania.

He is survived by his four children, in order of appearance; Marc Scott D’Angelo, Christopher Scott D’Angelo, David Steven D’Angelo, and Victoria Scott Yeager and his longtime companion, Brenda Barak.

Memorial will be held October 21, 2018 at 1:30pm at St. Asaph’s Church: 27 Conshohocken State Rd Bala Cynwyd, PA:  Please do not send flowers – Donations may be made to the General Chuck Yeager Foundation PO Box 1507; Penn Valley, CA 95946.

c. GCYI

Dad – Part II

June 3rd, 2018

Dad and I often reminisced about when his kids, including me, were little.

After church, he would go to the best Jewish deli and get bagels, bialies, lox, cream cheese, and the best French light donuts. Everyone else liked chocolate icing. I liked vanilla icing so never had to fight for mine (probably learned to like it from birth in preemptory self-defense).

Afterwards, we’d go for a drive to some historic place in downtown Philadelphia. I remember Society Hill with the houses from pre-American Revolution and the Swedish church and cemetery.

On the way home, we’d stop and feed the horses in Fairmount Park some sugar. That was fun.

We often drove in his 1949 Cadillac convertible. When we were very young – we all fit in the back seat, while Mom and he looked elegant in their individual styles of dress. We were dressed well too, I would be in pretty dress, white socks, Mary Janes and white gloves. My brothers wore suits and ties and hats, all looking good.

We went to plays and musicals often. Afterwards, he would take us to the ice cream parlor down on I think 2nd street. We’d get home late. I would be asleep so Dad would carry me from the car to my room for Mom to help me change into pajamas. I remember his strong arms picking me up as I, half asleep, felt safe and loved.

In Fairmount Park, until it became unsafe, Dad would take us sledding. I’d ride on his back and almost go flying when we went over the one huge bump at the bottom. What fun we had.

I’m lucky I got many chances, and took them, to thank Dad for all he did for and with us.

While he worked hard, he always came home for dinner. He would ask each of us about our day. Mom would always burn the rolls. On Sundays we would go out to dinner.

At first it was Horn & Hardart’s – https://philly.curbed.com/2012/6/25/10358406/philly-horn-hardart-reminiscences

They had those old-fashioned (now) cubbyholes with glass on them. One would select what one wanted, put a nickel in, open the door. Very simple. Very nutritional. No fat.

Then when they went out of business, we went to IHOP.

I never remember my brothers or me ever misbehaving in a restaurant. If we were tired, we were allowed to rest our head on the back of the chair and go to sleep.

 

 

 

Documentary Notes

June 3rd, 2018

Every time we return to this area in France, we learn something new from General Chuck Yeager’s adventures (to say the least) when he was shot down near Grignols, southeast of Bordeaux.

This time we learned that the couple where GCY and many others were hidden during the war, was imprisoned shortly after D-Day. Someone, a neighbor, “friend”; had turned them in. It was like that during the war. Danger existed also from the enemy within

The husband, father of Josette, was sent to Dachau for a year. He returned a changed man. The wife, mother of Josette, was sent to a prison in Toulouse for six months.

Josette had a Sunday luncheon recently while we were visiting and gathering more information to film. Unbeknownst to us, she had planned a ceremony to unveil a plaque commemorating her parents and that GCY had been hidden there one night on his way to the Pyrenees to escape the Nazis.

The video is here: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6jxsm0

In the video, she makes the point of saying that the family never knew what happened to all these people they hid. Several of them were hidden for as much as a month while the parents taught them how to make bombs to undermine the Nazis.

She was saying her family did not know what happened after they helped these men like GCY. I responded in French (on the video), “(After), he broke the sound barrier.” This is the reason for the laughter.

It was a lovely unexpected day bringing the two families closer together.

c. GCYI

Chaque fois que nous revenons dans cette région en France, nous apprenons quelque chose de nouveau des aventures du Général Chuck Yeager (pour dire le moins) quand il a été abattu près de Grignols, au sud-est de Bordeaux.

Cette fois, nous avons appris que le couple où GCY et beaucoup d’autres étaient cachés pendant la guerre, a été emprisonné peu de temps après le jour J. Quelqu’un, un voisin, “ami”; les avait fait rentrer. C’était comme ça pendant la guerre. Le danger existait aussi de l’ennemi au sein de

Le mari, père de Josette, a été envoyé à Dachau pour un an. Il a retourné un homme changé. L’épouse, mère de Josette, a été envoyée dans une prison de Toulouse pendant six mois.

Josette a récemment pris un déjeuner le dimanche pendant que nous rendions visite et rassemblions plus d’informations pour filmer. À notre insu, elle avait prévu une cérémonie pour dévoiler une plaque commémorant ses parents et que GCY avait été caché là une nuit sur son chemin vers les Pyrénées pour échapper aux nazis.

La vidéo est ici: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6jxsm0

Dans la vidéo, elle insiste sur le fait que la famille n’a jamais su ce qui est arrivé à toutes ces personnes qu’elle a cachées. Plusieurs d’entre eux ont été cachés pendant un mois, tandis que les parents leur ont appris à fabriquer des bombes pour saper les nazis.

Elle disait que sa famille ne savait pas ce qui s’était passé après avoir aidé ces hommes comme GCY. J’ai répondu en français (sur la vidéo), “(après), il a cassé le mur du son.” C’est la raison du rire.

Ce fut une belle journée inattendue qui rapprochait les deux familles.

c. GCYI

Chuck Yeager Remembers the Flying Wing: YB 49

May 5th, 2018

Good friend of Chuck Yeager, Russ Schleeh, had been a bomber pilot in World War II. Tall, lanky, after the war, he became at various times the Chief Test Pilot for the Bomber Wing and then the Chief Pilot for the Fighter Wing. Unusual.

Chuck told a story at lunch one time about Russ test flying the YB-49, a flying wing. Russ landed, broke his back, saved his co-pilot’s life and tried to block the fire department from putting out the fire: Let it burn! Let the sumbit– burn!

Chuck continued the story at one of the luncheons with a group of pilots and engineers: “Russ ended up in a full body cast except for a couple of spots. Pancho said: I bet he’s thirsty and horny. She put on a big coat, stuffed the pockets with whiskey and brought her best ‘girl’.  Then snuck them both into Russ in his hospital room. She left the whiskey and the girl – I don’t remember her name –”

Russ, 50 years later, “Julie. Her name was Julie, ” said with a look of sheer ecstasy in remembering.

 

George A. D’Angelo Obit I

May 3rd, 2018

George A. D'Angelo & his daughter VictoriaGeorge A. D’Angelo, Esq. and daughter Victoria circa 1993

George A. D’Angelo, Esq., age 91, of Bryn Mawr, PA, died on April 16, 2018. Cause of death unknown.

You may not have known him personally, but you might have noticed a very elegant man dashing to or from his Center City Philadelphia law office, lunch or civic, charitable or cultural meetings or events. He was often described as a true gentleman.

You could tell the seasons by his attire. In summer, he wore his characteristic straw boater and summer three-piece suit which was often a seersucker suit. Like clockwork, on September 15 each year, he switched to his black bowler and darker three-piece pinstripe suit. On a lovely summer evening, you might have noticed him driving his 1949 Cadillac convertible, stopping by Two Street to enjoy an outdoor Mummers concert or swinging by Downey’s for a bite or dining at the Four Seasons or the Philadelphia Club where he often had lunch with friends.

Dad in London

George A. D’Angelo, Esq. in London 1974 to attend a friend’s daughter’s formal wedding.

Born in Philadelphia on December 7, 1926 to Dominic and Lillian D’Angelo, he graduated from Central High School in 1944. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in 1947 and his law degree (JD) from its Law School in 1950 where he graduated in the top five of his class.

He joined Truscott & Erisman, and then formed D’Angelo & Eurell.

He was an Adjunct Professor at Temple University Law School (1954-1969), teaching both professional responsibility and the practice of law. His classes were always oversubscribed which he attributed to his being the only Republican professor there.

His philanthropic interests were mostly in the arts and education in Philadelphia and New York As President of the Philadelphia Art Alliance (1975-1981), he brought in many innovative shows. He remained active as a member of its Board and even as Emeritus he regularly participated in meetings until his retirement. He also recognized the value of education and supported a number of scholarships.

He was honored to have served as President of the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia, as Treasurer of the Lawyers Club of Philadelphia, on the Vestry of the Church of St. Asaph’s, and on the Boards of Promesa Foundation, New York, City Innovation, New York, and Hayes Manor Retirement Community, Philadelphia.

He was a member of the Order of the Coif, Pennsylvania 50, Pennsylvania Bar Association, American Bar Association, Philadelphia Bar Association, Philadelphia Club, The Athenaeum, Merion Cricket Club, English-Speaking Union, Doubles (New York), Rittenhouse Club, Philobiblon Club, and a friend of the American Philosophical Society.

He loved to travel, speaking often of how it broadened one’s horizons and perspectives, and of the joy of meeting interesting people from different countries and cultures around the world. Part of his work recently took him to a number of countries in Africa, as part of efforts working with various African agencies to promote tourism and the expansion of investment in Africa. He enjoyed reading, particularly biographies and history, and the theater. He especially enjoyed musicals, notably Gilbert & Sullivan, and was a great ballroom dancer.

He also was an avid sailor and made sure his kids knew how to sail.

George A. D'Angelo, his kids

George A. D’Angelo, father, with his four children circa 1964

He is predeceased by his wife, Antonia Billett D’Angelo (1928-1986) who had a Masters in Psychiatric Social Work and was world-renown in the field for the prevention and treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse, with a particular focus on women’s issues. They met in English Class on her first day at the University of Pennsylvania.

He is survived by his four children, in order of appearance; Marc Scott D’Angelo, Christopher Scott D’Angelo, David Steven D’Angelo, and Victoria Scott Yeager and his longtime companion, Brenda Barak.

Burial will be private. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Please do not send flowers – a charity or two will be named at a future date.

c. GCYI

 

Barbara Bush

April 17th, 2018

From General Chuck Yeager:

I campaigned with President George H.W. Bush (’41) in 1988. Got to know the Bushes a bit.

My plane into DC for an event was late. A reporter asked if she could interview me. She was pregnant, about to pop. I said in your condition, out here waiting, I’ll giveyou all day.

She did a nice article that landed on the 2nd page of the big newspaper.

Vice President Bush invited me to his office. He asked how I got such good coverage.

One stop, Daddy Bush, (as President Bush was affectionately known) said he always takes a 30 minute nap at 5pm. So we went to the suite – there were two single beds. He lay down on one and told me to lie down on the other one, take a nap.

This was the Vice President. I slept with one eye open. I chose not to do what we did during  the war with someone who snored. You kiss him on the lips. He’ll stay up all night staring at you….while you can get some sleep.

I’d speak first and get a big ovation – my books had come out a couple years before and had been wildly popular. VP Bush would come out…not the same reaction. Daddy Bush said, “Yeager, you’re a tough act to follow!”

At the Inaugural Parade, I was the head of it but FL Barbara Bush got her secret service to come get me, it was freezing outside, and have me sit next to her and the heater. Forever grateful.

She was very gracious.

After Glennis, my first wife, died, I got a call. “Chuck! This is Barbara.”

I said, “Who?”

“Barbara Bush, the First Lady. Don’t you know who I am?

I replied, “Yes, ma’am. But you weren’t first lady then.”

She talked with me for a very long time, over an hour. Very comforting.

I never forgot that.

Much later, we were at a baseball game together in Houston. The Bushes then invited Victoria and me to lunch.

After Barbara challenged Victoria on various topics and Victoria answered truthfully but artfully dodging taking Barbara head-on, it came time to order dessert. Daddy Bush asked Victoria if she would like some. He didn’t expect her answer:

She replied her family joke, “It’s the only reason I came.”

Daddy Bush, used to society types who were always watching their figures so never had  dessert, was taken aback but amused.

He offered ice cream. To Victoria’s relief, Barbara said she wanted to hear the list. She wanted the last one – coconut cake with ice cream. Victoria was again relieved – that’s what she wanted.

After lunch, Barbara wanted photos together – a great chronicler. While posing together, Victoria thanked Barbara for ordering that particular dessert, it was great. Barbara noted:  “You didn’t eat much of it!”

Victoria replied, “I haven’t mastered that talking and chewing thing…”

And Barbara offered her  great wisdom. “And don’t ever. You’ll get fat.”

Victoria never forgot that. And has yet to master that talking and chewing thing…

c. GCYI

 

From Chuck Yeager shot down over France

March 7th, 2018

March 4, 1944 1st daylight raid over Berlin. Weather was stinkin’. Only 2 P-51s guarding a box of bombers. They hit their targes. I shot down my first enemy aircraft (a/c). Woo hoo.

I was out of ammo returning home. I espied the stragglers of the bombers in formation heading home. I called ahead. “Can I form up with you, I’m out of ammo and could sure use some protection.”

“Yes.”

“Don’t let your trigger guys shoot me down.” You see, P-51s looked somewhat like German aircraft. Me -109, FW 190.

I formed up. We got home safe.

March 5, 1944: This time we headed to Bordeaux – to bomb a factory. Weather was still stinkin’. We could not see the target so we headed east for a target of opportunity. I was tail-end Charlie, called out bandits at 6:00 and turned into them. Three of them and I did a head on pass.

They won.

I didn’t have to climb out of my a/c – it was falling apart all around me. I stepped off. And free fell for 25,000′.

At around 6000′, I pulled the chute. It…..

opened.

As I floated down, I headed for the forest, grabbed a sapling and rode it to the ground. Just like West Virginia.

I gathered the parachute up, couch-walked in the woods a few miles – had to get away from where I came down in case anyone saw me – and hid.

Ain’t a German in the world can catch a West Virginian in the woods.

As I sat and assessed my situation, I noticed I was wounded, so I opened my survival kit, got out the sulfa powder and put it on my wounds – groin area, hands.

I slept a little.

March 6, 1944: In the morning, I heard a rhythmic banging. I crawled to where I could see – it was a woodsman chopping wood.

We played charades – he didn’t speak English, I didn’t speak French. Told me to wait right there- he would be back.

I moved off 20 yards, repositioned with protection from and a good view of where I had met the woodsman.

He returned with 2 men, whispering: American, where are you?

I sussed them out – they were unarmed and not menacing so I presented myself.

They took me to a Russian lady who spoke English. She ran a sort of hotel.

Her first words: Has America run out of men already that they have to send boys?

When I didn’t respond, she said, Are you married?

Me: No.

RL: “Aha! You are wearing a ring!” as she pointed at my right hand.

I looked; then explained: that’s my high school ring.

RL: That’s your wedding ring finger.

Mr: In America, we were the wedding ring on the left hand.

I guess I pass – not a German trying to infiltrate the Maquis. They give me civilian clothes and hide me in the barn. Some Germans poked in the hay, but I was about as far back as one could get. Just hoping they’d miss. Glad now of the lack of food and being skinny – they can tease me about being skinny all they want – maybe the pitchfork will go either side of me and I’ll have the last laugh.

They told me to rest up – that night they were taking me to another hide-out.

Good – this one was dicey. But the Germans had already been so probably wouldn’t be back….

March 6, 1944 evening: dark

We ride off on bicycles: make it as far as Castaljaloux where they put me in a house for the rest of the night and the next day.