Chuck Yeager Flying Helicopter Like No Other

December 17th, 2017

When General Yeager and I visited with Dick & Pip Smith in 2004 for Dick’s 60th birthday party in Australia, he took us to various places around the east coast of Australia. It was great fun. Dick holds several records – some include 1st to fly around the world solo in a helicopter – went west to east. First to fly around the world by the North to South Pole.

We were sad to leave and the very last day before our flight, Dick took us on a helicopter tour of Sydney. How beautiful -I felt so lucky. I had been to Australia twice before but totally different types of trips.

As we were flying on the north side of Sydney, Dick said, “Chuck would you like to fly?” Chuck said yes so Dick handed him the  controls. He then told Gen Yeager that he wanted to fly over his daughter’s place which was at 7 o’clock. Gen Yeager did a sharp turn to head that direction.

Dick started hyperventilating and talking out loud to himself – probably for Gen Yeager to hear. “Gasp!….That’s quite an angle…gasp… of attack…gasp…steep…gasp…turn….uh, gasp.. I wouldn’t do that…gasp But I guess…gasp…it’s okay…gasp…it’s Chuck Yeager….”

And it was fine. We flew by Dick’s daughter’s house – we all waved and then headed home.

So many great adventures with GCY.


Chuck Yeager & M2-F1 Lifting Body

December 3rd, 2017

Chuck Yeager flew the M2-F1  Lifting Body 5 times:

Vehicle              Date               Pilot          Velocity  Altitude    Comments

M2-F1 #18 Dec 3, 1963    Yeager             240 3,650  Duration 00:01:35


M2-F1 #25 Jan 29, 1964 Yeager     240   3,650 1st flight of the day
M2-F1 #26 Jan 29, 1964 Yeager     240 3,650 2nd flight of the day
M2-F1 #27 Jan 30, 1964 Yeager     240 3,650 1st flight of the day
M2-F1 #28 Jan 30, 1964 Yeager     240 3,650 2nd flight of the day

Milt Thompson made the first seventeen flights of the M2-F1 during August, September, October, November and December of 1963 and found it a delight to fly and easy to handle in the dead-stick (unpowered glide) landings. Paul Bikle asked his old friend and commandant of the Aerospace Research Pilot school (ARPS) at Edwards Colonel Chuck Yeager to fly the M2-F1 and give his assessment of the vehicle before any other Air Force pilots were allowed to fly it. Yeager made his first flight in the M2-F1 on December 3rd, 1963 (he made a brief car towed flight to 20ft altitude during the last week of November). Yeager was a very competitive pilot and on this his first flight, expanded the flight envelope by flying the M2-F1 at faster and slower speeds during practice landing manoeuvres at altitude that had Milt Thompson.

Then Yeager dove the M2-F1 toward the lakebed at a steeper angle of descent than Milt had used, levelled out and made a greased-on landing right at the spot he said he would touch down at. Yeager exclaimed, “She handles great!” just after climbing out of the cockpit. Another NASA pilot, Bruce Peterson made his second flight that day just after Yeager. Due to the extreme colds from the high altitude, the M2-F1 had been towed to on its previous two flights, the oil in the landing gears shock absorbers had thickened dramatically. This caused the landing gear to fail on Peterson’s touch down. It would be almost two months before repairs could be effected and flight testing resume. During this time, Yeager had a terrible accident in the NF 104 and was badly burned. Nothing short of miraculous, Yeager had recovered sufficiently enough to be restored to flight status and made two flights on January 29th, 1964 along with Milt Thompson and Bruce Peterson.

Yeager asked Dale Reed for permission to roll the M2-F1 in flight, as he believed that he could make a perfect barrel roll in the little craft. Reed denied that request and Yeager never tried to roll it in his last flight in a lifting body that day. Yeager was now a fan of the lifting body concept and told Bikle that the lifting body handled well and that he would like to have a few jet-powered versions (which at that time had not been built) to use at the ARPS for training future lifting body pilots. Nothing came of this proposal, but subsequent rocket powered variants such as the M2-F2, M2-F3, Northrop’s HL-10, Martin’s X-24A & X-24B were successful and were powered by the same Reaction Motors XLR-11 motor as the X-1.

The M2-F1 is on display at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB, California.


Q: General Yeager, why are you so happy?

November 20th, 2017

Answer: I get a job I like. I make my lifestyle fit my income, not the other way around, and I live happily. That’s really the secret to life.

Reverend Robert Schuller (Crystal Cathedral): How high have you flown?

November 19th, 2017

General Yeager’s answer: I’ve flown – yeah,  I’ve been a lot closer to heaven than you have – over 118,000 ft.

Q: General Yeager, how do you bail out of an airplane without practicing?

November 19th, 2017

General Yeager’s Answer: It’s just like practicing bleeding. Man when the time comes you’re going to do it, you know. No questions

Best Memory of Flight Surgeons you’ve work with 

October 21st, 2016


Well, you never forget your first,

I was enlisting and they do a psychological test on you. Or their version of it.

The FS asked me if I smoked.

No, I replied.

He lights up a cigarette, puffs on it a few times, blows smoke my way, in more ways than one, squints his eyes and stares at me and says, “You sure?”

I stared right back. “No, Doc, and I don’t like women neither!”

“Get out of here!” he shouted.



Surprising the Oak Ridge Boys

October 21st, 2016

Classic. The Boys didn’t know we were going to show up. They expected a pilot friend – we had emailed that “Mark” would be there and sure would like to hear “It Takes A Little Rain”.

We had told him our pilot friend Mark was going to be in the audience this night and would they please sing It Takes a Little Rain. Well, it was true when we said it, we just didn’t mention he was piloting us to WV for a fundraiser for the hungry. However, Mark couldn’t stay but would be back the next day to pick us up.

We were sitting in their “dressing room”. Joe walked in first. I smiled at him, waved. He smiled back. This time his recognition time was a lot faster than at the CMOF last year = one could see it race across his face and the realization if you’re here, then the – and he turned and saw the General. Pure joy. (Both on Joe’s and the General’s part) I loved that!

And in turn each walked in and did each’s version of a double-take. I wonder if Duane “knows’ me and just is never surprised that we turn up anywhere. Richard was next wearing his gorgeous blazer that Donna picked out and then William Lee dressed as mountain man. Each in turn was thrilled.

I said we were passing by on our way to West Virginia….and couldn’t just pass by!

DK, as always very thoughtful, had staked out a place for us in the wings. Before the Oaks came on, he introduced the greatest pilot in the world and a hero among heroes – General Chuck Yeager. The audience was thrilled and gave him a standing ovation.

General Yeager said a few words which delighted the crowd, the Boys came out, greeted Gen Yeager and we went back to the wings to enjoy the show.

I was enjoying the chair they had placed on the side for me – it was a throne and very comfortable. DK also placed a speaker right in front of us. I was wary thinking it would be too loud but it was perfect. In fact, it was the best musically because I could pick out individual instruments, including voices, more easily that I had missed before.

Richard was his terrific self – The stage is huge and so he seemed so far away but his voice wasn’t especially with that special speaker.

William Lee led a song new to me – just beautiful. I so enjoy the tableaux the boys do – even from the side.

I marveled at the talent and experience that caused Roger to nonchalantly lean over and adjust something on the board below regarding the sound of his guitar.

Each time we see them, the Boys and the Band seem to be having more and more fun. Jeff, who used to play from out in the wings, was now moving around to different spots. I teased him during intermission. It looked like he was checking out each musician like a school marm.

Scotty has his arms placed nonchalantly as though he’s almost too poised, too cool to get down.

Rex, well he showed he could dance well and all the way back from the front of the stage to his perch stage right.

Dave, the drummer, waved just before he took the stage.

And Ron. Well Ron has great style on the keyboard.

The Boys sang several of our favorite songs and towards the end of the 1st half of the show, Joe Bonsall was talking about attending the CMOF ceremony last Sunday. Gen Yeager had tweeted, How time flies. Last year you were the new guys, now you’re the old heads.

Joe stated he couldn’t find the Boys bronze heads. A member said everyone is equal after the 1st year so there is no order.

Joe found the foreheads and just under the foreheads were their names and just under the names – (Wait why would the names be just under the foreheads and thus across their eyes, I wondered) – was a date and then a – (dash)…We all laughed while I was still pondering the foreheads issue. I thought I have to go back there and inspect that. Then I did a little mental spellcheck and had an aha laugh, FOUR heads. Phew! Forestalled a permanent brain tilt.

I noticed something else – Joe is a switch tapper – or did I notice this before? Gen Y pointed out Joe’s new shoes so I started watching – and he heel taps either foot. I studied this for a while and could find no apparent rhyme or reason either as to which foot.

I also noticed – all of the shoes – needed re-heeling. If any of them get backaches, that’s why – the heels are worn. All that fun tapping.

GCY asked me, I wonder if they’re going to play It Takes a Little Rain.

Me: Oh I think so.

Not long after, Joe told of our surprise that we showed up instead of our friend “Mark”.

Joe continued: We’re playing It Takes A Little Rain tonight because…well… the General ordered us to. And when the General orders you….

As soon as Duane got to It Takes-

General Yeager said, Yes!

A little rain…..

I don’t know how they do it. Each time is different and better than the last. How is that possible? Duane added some riff, WL added some clapping, a little different tonight – as it always is because, well…they all feel it, it’s personal. When Duane finished, he wiped his eyes, General Yeager wiped his eyes… I blinked mine back. Richard, Joe, and Duane turned away immediately.


  1. GCYI


AIAA Stem Teacher Grants – How to Obtain One

October 5th, 2016

AIAA STEM Teacher Grants – $500 grant competition open to elementary and secondary school teachers to augment funding for procuring materials and supplies for enhancing STEM education.

Here is all you have to do to qualify:

1) Join AIAA as an Educator Associate (it’s free) at


2) Email a proposal (2 pages maximum, MS Word or pdf format) to

Your proposal must include the following 9 elements:

  1. Summary of the objective and expected outcome of your STEM student learning project
  2. Summary of how you will use the funds to benefit the project
  3. Detailed budget for spending the $500 award
  4. Grade level of students to be included in project; K-2, 3-6, 7-8 or 9-12
  5. Number of students who will participate in project
  6. Amount of funds received from other source(s). Proposals identifying additional funding will be given priority.
  7. School principal name and confirmation that school principal supports the project
  8. Complete address of your school
  9. Your name, email, phone number and confirmation that you have joined AIAA as an Educator Associate

Proposals must be received by October 28, 2016

Gen Yeager: I Can Hear A Gnat Fart Louder Than That!

October 2nd, 2016

One year, to shake it up a little, General Yeager decided the fly the P-51 for the Edwards AFB Air Show. The person who was supposed to do the sonic boom didn’t show so the Commander, a General, decided he would do it in his F-15

General Yeager pulled him aside – they were friends of sorts – and told him it was a perfect day to see the shockwave which causes the sonic boom and the best way to assure this is to punch it to at least 1.4.

Having  never done an air show or considered the audience seeing a shockwave, he responded with attitude: “You don’t have to tell me – I know how to do it.”

Be my guest.

Well, since the P-51 hadn’t shown up either, General Yeager and I were sitting in the VIP area with CA State Senator/US Congressman Pete Knight and his wife, wonderful people, when the Commander flew by.

We heard a very soft Pffft. We all looked around. Was that the “sonic boom” to open the air show?

General Yeager, more experienced than the rest of us of course, recognized the situation, and created levity exclaiming,

“Hell! I can hear a gnat fart louder than that!”

The Commander’s wife laughed and said, “His job security for after retirement just went down the tubes,” meaning he won’t be asked to come back to open the air show again.

Needless to say, no one saw the shockwaves.

Later, the Commander was disappointed of course and a little embarrassed.

Much later, at dinner, the Commander said his people heard it in the housing area and said it was loud.

I replied, “They work for you. Of course they did. Duty.”


Don’t Worry the Good Lord Won’t Let That Happen – a rousing evening with the Oak Ridge Boys

September 4th, 2016

What a great concert tonight. The Oak Ridge Boys enthralled a crowd of 2000 in Lincoln, California’s outdoor venue.

We got to sit on stage in the “wings”.  Darrick Kinslow introduced the show but 1st he introduced the greatest pilot of all time, American hero, General Chuck Yeager whereupon General Yeager came out.

It is something to see a crowd of 2000 people jump to their feet and cheer. General Yeager responded: “Nice to see such a large group of people I don’t have to pay for. “

The crowd laughed and cheered even more loudly if that was possible.

“I’m happy to be here – the Boys and I go back a long way. Thanks!”

The first three songs were rousing, clapping, dancing tunes. The Oak Ridge Boys were singing and dancing and the Might Oaks Band playing, dancing and all, including the audience. were thoroughly enjoying themselves. The stage was shaking and vibrating. General Yeager looked at me with a mock worried look that we were going to fall through. It sure felt like it.

I told General Yeager, “Don’t worry the Good Lord won’t let that happen.”

This was a reference to a story when he was little. At the big white church in Myra, West Virginia where Charles, as he was known as a child, Yeager was born, and which is one of only 2 buildings left, and the only one still in use; they had a come to Jesus foot stomping prayer meetin’. The floor was a-shakin’ and a-rattlin’. One of the stompers dropped his watch. Little Charles Yeager, ever observant, shook his mother’s skirt and pointed. He also was scared they would stomp right through to the basement. His mother replied, “Don’t worry, Son. The good Lord won’t let that watch get broken and he won’t let the floor fall through.”

We enjoyed the parallel

I realized yet something new tonight – or more I think I’m able to finally describe it. When Duane Allen sings, his voice rather lingers after he’s finished. I particularly notice this when he sings such phrases as “Raven hair”. Interesting and so smooth.

William Lee sang a song new to us – about love, no regrets. So melodic and soothing. All was right in the world for those moments. It was a bit chilly so General Yeager and I got close to keep warm. The song helped, gave us more reason to stay close.

I went to get some water and came back to a lovely scene – Darrick Kinslow sitting with General Yeager watching the Boys. Two ol’ friends. Nice. I came over and DK started to jump up to give me the chair. I declined and eventually just sat on the floor. I’ve always liked sitting on the floor for some reason. Someone might give me a comfy chair and I will sit on the floor in front of it using the part close to the floor as a back rest. And here I was very much at home. And instead of tapping my feet I was tapping my knees or moving them up and down to the beat.

Something else I noticed tonight, maybe again, is that the Boys have great rhythm. What I mean is, they feel all the beats, the syncopated beats, etc. My three older brothers from birth are all decent to good dancers. Two feel a rhythm, the third counts while he’s dancing. He can count to the music so it works. What didn’t work growing up was he would tell me I was out of beat with the music – because he didn’t feel the syncopated part. I ignored him but he kept interrupting my peace so I just plainly told him I didn’t care; I was enjoying myself, not dancing for viewers, so leave me alone.

I noticed that when Duane was slapping his leg to the beat, he often did a double or syncopated beat. Yay. And Joe did the same with his heel tapping (he’s a heel tapper more than a toe tapper :-) As am I, since my feet don’t bend enough for the usual toe tapping.

General Yeager mentioned a couple of times that Joe was in the finest form the General has ever seen him.

And Richard, so perfect in his deep notes, was beautifully dressed. Now if I had seen his coat and his shirt, I would not have had the wonderful fashion sense to put those together but they were perfect and interesting. Richard credited Donna, his wife. I might have to ask her to take me shopping…. I think last time we chatted in person, she was looking me up and down as a lost cause :-)

Gen Yeager also commented on Duane’s brightly multi-colored shirt. Duane replied, “So you can see me, General.” I might have to use that line – giving credit of course.

Rex, Jeff, and Roger did their synchronized guitar in one of my favorite songs (especially for dancing) “Love Song” which always brings a smile.

Dave was clearly having a good time and leading into the songs on drums. Scotty was his usual cool, calm, and collected self on the other side of the stage.

Of course, the highlight was our favorite song. “It wasn’t on the play list, ” said Joe, “but the General is here and it’s his favorite song…. So now it is (on the playlist).”

The Boys, with Ronnie on piano, nailed it tonight as they do every time we hear them. Tonight, with 2000 people in the audience spellbound and two on stage in the “wings” ….” It Takes a Little Rain” was magical.

Another great evening with the Boys.

Thank you, Boys!