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

Answer:

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.

 

c. GCYI

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 aiaa.org

 

2) Email a proposal (2 pages maximum, MS Word or pdf format) to aiaa.k12stemteachergrants@gmail.com

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.”

c. GCYI

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!

c. GCYI

 

 

 

 

World War II Fighter Pilot Withdraws From Combat

August 27th, 2016

We were walking from backstage to the exit in a long large hallway after a great speech by General Yeager to a very receptive, large, filled to capacity audience at the Museum of Flight.

I was surprised and glad no one had realized this would be our exit route. Except one guy. He was walking towards us…. a little warily.

As he approached, Chuck clearly knew him and greeted him warmly. The fellow was relieved. He was about Chuck’s age. They chatted about various things after which the fellow left, clearly lighter than when he approached.

Chuck then told me the story:

During World War II, 1944, this fellow, a member of Chuck Yeager’s squadron, had come back from his second mission and flat out said he couldn’t hack it.

Admitting this was sacrilege. Many pilots were scared but didn’t admit it even to themselves. And certainly no one said they wanted to go home before their 60 missions were up. Almost all the pilots shunned this guy – afraid his fear would rub off and overwhelm them or that they would be tainted with the same brush or….

Except one.

Captain Chuck Yeager.

He appreciated that this guy was brave to admit his fear, his shortcomings – and risk being shunned or even court-martialed. But to do otherwise, to continue to go on sorties, could get others in his formation or group killed.

And Chuck was not afraid to stand up and say this.

See this guy didn’t want to unenlist or run away. He wanted to contribute but as an instructor. Clearly he had been good enough to be selected as a fighter pilot. He just couldn’t hack real combat. So that’s what he did – he returned stateside and became an instructor pilot.

And that was the guy who had warily walked towards us wondering if Chuck would look at him in shame.

And that was the guy who, after talking to Chuck 60 years later, was light on his feet when he walked away.

c. GCYI

Wid or Widout – Philly Cheese Steaks

August 22nd, 2016

My upbringing was fairly well-rounded in some ways. Some of my favorite memories with my Dad are Sundays.

He’d go to church, my three older brothers and I to Sunday school. As my brothers got older, they became choir boys. In name only. :-)

Mom would  stay home – communing in much needed peace and quiet.

Often after church, we would stop at Hymie’s, a Jewish deli, get bagels and bialies with lox, capers, and cream cheese, and French style donuts and bring them home to eat with Mom.  With three older brothers, fortunately everyone else liked chocolate and I liked vanilla.

After lunch, Dad would take us for drive.

Sometimes, instead of stopping at the deli, we’d pick up Mom and go to Pat’s for a cheese steak downtown Philly. They were delicious in the 60’s.

And then for the historic drive where we would go see the historic Swedish church or the liberty bell (before they moved it) or Independence Hall or Betsy Ross’ house.

Having extolled its virtues and filled with great memories, I took General  Yeager to the historic Pat’s a few years ago to try a true Philly cheese steak. It had probably been 20 years or more since I had last been to Pat’s which claim to have originated the cheese steak, been around for over 80 years, and call themselves the King of Steaks.

Lots of places serve “Philly cheesesteaks” but none like Pat’s, as I remembered them. Many others serve them with peppers. Not Pat’s. I suppose you could get them, but they weren’t the regular fare.

With excited anticipation of finally a great Philly cheese steak and sharing some of the best of my childhood with Gen  Yeager, I got in line and asked for two cheese steaks.

Server barked, “Wid or widout?”

I was stumped but my Phili language did come back: “Wid or widout what?”

It was such a conveyor belt he didn’t have time for me – just barked, “Next!”

I stepped back and watched, determined to get a cheesesteak.

They now take the roll, put the cheese on the roll, slap the thinly sliced steak on there hoping the hot steak will melt the cheese enough. “Wid or widout” meant onions.

I practiced mentally and then got in line again.

This time I was ready.

“Wid or widout?”

“Wid,” I said.

“”What?” he replied. Guess I lost my Philly accent abilities

“Wid”

“Wid what?”

“Onions.”

“Wid!” he yelled.

“Whiz?”

Oops I missed this one.

l”Whiz what?” (Was “whiz” the new “wid”?)

I winced as I was afraid I’d be kicked out of line again. It was getting embarrassing. But fortunately the line had abated and he had more time for me. Or just took pity.

“Cheese whiz?”

Ewww. “No, thank you.”

“No whiz!” he yelled.

I got and paid for the cheese steaks. General Yeager and I sat down at a table.

As I unwrapped them, the grease from our cheese steaks started pouring off the table. They weren’t too awful but they weren’t like what we had in the ’60’s.

I have never been to Gino’s, the big rival across the street, and rather wished we had gotten  one cheese steak from Gino’s and  one from Pat’s so we could intelligently join the debate as to which was better. (Gino’s looked pretty greasy, too, though.)

With all that grease, Gen Yeager was not impressed.

We then went to see the Swedish church. Still there. Unchanged. Historic. Beautiful. No “whiz”.

I’m going to ask the Boys, (the older brothers/family I choose) as in Joe Bonsall and Richard Sterban. They’ll know the best place to get a great Philly cheese steak.

And I’ll try again with General Yeager

It’s a Philly thing.

c. GCYI

 

Story for our book “So You THINK You Want to be Famous…..”

July 30th, 2016

I answered the phone today: “Hello?”

Caller: I’d like to speak to Chuck Yeager

Me: What’s it regarding?

Caller: My girlfriend.

Me: In what regard?

Caller: She’s a flatearththeorist.

Me: She’s a what?

Caller: She believes the flatearththeory.

Me: She believes in what?

Caller: Flat earth theory.

Me: So…

Caller: Chuck has got to tell me how to handle this.  I gotta get her to see she’s wrong.

Me: Take her to the library. Show her globes, books. Take  her outside – show her the night sky.

Caller: I guess I can but she believes everything she reads on the internet.

Me: Then show her the round earth websites.

Caller: What am I going to do? I gotta nip this in the bud!

Me: How old is she?

Caller: 42. She won’t change! Chuck’s gotta help me! What should I do?

Me: Get a new girlfriend.

Caller: Can I speak to Chuck – I need his help.

Me: No, that’s not something he does.

Caller: Oh. Uh. Okay.

Hangs up.

 

c. GCYI