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.


Chuck Yeager: My Uncle Richard was One of my Heroes

August 13th, 2014

Uncle Richard was close in age to my brother Roy and me. He was one of my heroes. Uncle Richard was Mom’s brother and enlisted about the same time I did.

I knew Uncle Richard had died in World War II and was recently thinking about him and the wonderful childhood with him.  Here’s a photo of him as a kid:

My other brother found this information on him for me:

Service; U.S. Army, 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Div.
Died:  Tuesday, April 17th 1945
Buried at:  Netherlands American Cemetery
Plot:  P Row 4  Grave: 14
Awards:  Silver Star,  Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Brave. So close to the end of the war. I hope we can find the citations.

Meeting John Travolta (with Chuck Yeager) at Kittyhawk, NC on December 17, 2003, 100th Anniversary of Powered Flight

August 10th, 2014

I first interacted with John Travolta (JT) on Urban Cowboy while I was in my last year at university- long story how I became a day player which ended up on the cutting room floor. He was eyeing me but clearly he wasn’t the pilot for me.

Because I thought my gaydar was working, I was surprised that he later wooed and married Kelly Preston. Very romantic I heard – flew her to Paris, etc. At the time, I thought – would be dreamy if someone with whom I was in love flew me to Paris.

Many years later, I met John Travolta. Chuck Yeager and I were at Kittyhawk, North Carolina on December 17, 2003,  for the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight. It was a big, big event.

We had squeezed into the VIP lounge waiting for the re-enactment of the 1st flight with a copy of the Wright Flyer, which cost a ridiculous $1 million to make.

It was raining. Hard. When it would lighten up, we would go on the roof to see some fly-bys – then back inside.

The Secretary of the Air Force was inside and wanted to leave. Many, many Air Force Generals, colonels, and other personnel were there and unhappy they would miss the day.

Well, he wasn’t my boss, so I went up to the Secretary and said, “Hello, I wanted to meet you. I’m a newlywed, married to General Chuck Yeager.

The Secretary barely pleasantly responded: “Nice to meet you.”

Me: “Sir, we’re enjoying your company today.”

He replied, “Thank you.”

I continued: “And we’d really enjoy it for another 35 minutes.” He wasn’t dumb – he understood my point – the re-enactment was set to occur in the next 20-30 minutes.

He looked at me, slitted his eyes and replied,  ”The problem is, I broke a tooth and I’m hungry.” Ah. That’s explains his “barely pleasantly” response to my greeting.

I looked at his girth – as Gen Yeager and I say about ourselves – we could live on baby fat for a week. He, maybe two. He looked at me defying me to say anything.

I said, “Oh, that must be miserable. I happen to have two aspirin and a Slimfast I often have for lunch. I’d be willing to give you. That shouldn’t hurt your tooth.  I can eat the salad.”

And smiled.

He wasn’t used to people speaking up like this but his eyes smiled briefly and he said, “I’ll think about it.”

I replied, “Please take your time.”

That wasn’t lost of him either. This time the corners of his mouth twitched. I decided not to push it any more – frankly I didn’t have much more in my arsenal.

Oh right. I did. That’s when I pulled out the big gun – never know if it is a big gun or not actually but I tried it: “Have you met General Yeager yet?”

He hadn’t and would like to. So I found General Yeager one group over and introduced them.

In any case….the Secretary stayed. Much to the delight of the generals.

I spoke to one general who later became the Chief of Staff and then was fired. I was impressed with his language, or, rather, his vocabulary, or lack thereof – every other word was sh–. And how evil Saddam Hussein was. I loved his clarity, in spite of my amazement at his expression of it.

They tried to start the motor on the Wright Flyer. It wouldn’t start. They tried again. It wouldn’t start.

One time they started it and it was enough of a push down the tracks, but the pilot over rotated and it never saw air. (Over rotating is when you pull up too quickly which can cause the airplane to lose any possible lift).

BIG let down.

We learned later that they never bothered to make sure they had a back up motor. A $1 million plane and no extra parts. Poor planning.

We also learned later that rather than a glider pilot, they had gotten two airline pilots not used to the light stuff. The coach for it also was not a glider pilot. GCY remarked to the pilot who had won the coin toss, he (the coach) is a real SOB. The pilot diplomatically said, “He hasn’t changed.”

Well said. Fairly diplomatic. And funny!

General Yeager later described the scenario re the motor not starting accurately: “Look at the pilot’s face. Every time they go to start the motor, he’s saying ‘Oh, sh–!’ Every time it wouldn’t start, you could see the pilot’s face: big sigh of relief.”

After the big let down, the Secretary of Defense left with his entourage.

One very impressive general, General Eberhardt, remained. We had eaten lunch with him – only empty table and I appreciated his intelligent answers to my questions.

At this point, it was pouring. President Bush was expected to be onstage soon. Onstage was covered. The audience chairs were not. General Eberhardt still went outside in the rain in December (somewhat chilly) to honor his Commander in Chief.

General Yeager and I had debated whether we were required to do so. I kept saying: “You’re almost 81, I don’t think it’s expected. We could catch pneumonia.”

When General Yeager saw General Eberhardt out there, he decided that was the right thing to do, so we went outside. They supplied us with blankets which helped. A little.

President Bush arrived in Marine One. He got up on stage and gave a nice speech mentioning of the 100 pilots being honored, only Chuck Yeager. Wow. What an honor. Sure glad we did go outside. (Thank you, General Eberhardt!)

The President then left before we could get to him to say hello – they weren’t letting anyone backstage then. After he left, we saw his plane fly by and dip its wing. That is always cool to me.

We were requested on stage for the next part of the presentation. We made our way there and waited for the rain to abate.

The first person we saw was John Travolta. The very first thing he said to his hero Chuck Yeager at their very first meeting was: “Did you know Quantas has the best accident record?”

At that time, JT had a very lucrative deal with Quantas in which he endorsed them. I supposed part of this deal was he had to greet everyone with that line.

We waited for JT to say something more as we had nothing to follow up on that. Neither did he.

I teased him: “We’re not in public, John. You can be you.”

He looked puzzled. I explained: “The first and only thing you have to say to your hero is….a commercial?”

He looked more puzzled but Chuck, ever practical, jumped in: “What’s the schedule? What’s going on?”

John said: “I think we’re just waiting for it to stop raining.”

We waited for word on when we might start. And chatted a little.

I asked John if he would take some First Day Covers (FDCs) in his plane for his fly by over the Kittyhawk monument and mail them back to me. First Day Covers are envelopes with stamps on the first day the stamp comes out. The idea is you get them postmarked on that day. So on December 17, 2003; the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight. a stamp with the Wright flyer had come out. I had gotten these envelopes with this stamp postmarked for that day in Kittyhawk, NC and some for also December 12, 2003, at Edwards AFB, CA, the 50th anniversary of Chuck Yeager exceeding MACH 2.

John asked where they were. I assured him they were in my car on the way to his plane. “Okay,” he said.

I turned and saw a B-2 through the clouds. Very strange to see such a large plane and hear….absolutely nothing.

I mentioned it was there. Everyone turned and no one else (but Chuck and me) saw it – it had dipped behind a cloud. John said I was imagining things. Eventually he ate his words – it was almost above us and very large. And very quiet.

John turned to me impressed, “GOOD EYES!”

I also used to have 20-7 vision as a kid.

Someone called the show – too much rain so they got John T to get in his limo to get to his plane. He told me to follow closely to pick up the FDCs. I told GCY I’d meet him at the VIP lounge after I gave John the FDCs.

Well. Follow closely. Not.

John got in the limo but before I could follow about 30-40 very pretty boys were trying to climb in ahead of me. Of course some got left behind. Rather than fight through or pull rank, I espied the escort police SUV in front, ran to it, opened the door and asked if I could ride with the deputy.

He was stunned. “Don’t you want to ride with John Travolta?” Everyone knew I was supposed to.

“Sure!….But I don’t want to fight all those very pretty boys to do so.”

I gained some serious respect from the policeman who raised his eyebrows in surprise. He couldn’t believe it but was impressed.

We stopped at my car, picked up the boxes, and drove on to the helicopter that was going to fly JT to his plane.

I watched to make sure the boxes got on. I was very appreciative of the favor re flying the FDCs over the monument in Kittyhawk.  I starting contemplating – just a personal study on human behavior –  if John had even noticed I had not gotten in the limo or worried if I had been crushed or about my safety, or cared?

Just then, JT turned, smiled at me and waved goodbye. I smiled and waved back. Small gestures; big results. Nice.

I returned to the VIP lounge, collected Chuck. Some guy yelled out: “Chuck was worried you had run off with John Travolta.”  

I replied: “Let’s not project!”

That stumped the guy. Chuck laughed.

Meanwhile, JT did a fly by in his 707 and dipped a wing. Not the same as the President of the United States, the Commander in Chief doing it, but still pretty cool.

We got to our car and drove out. We passed by the three helicopters that were supposed to have taken the Secretary and all the generals, colonels, etc. But they hadn’t left. We learned later that that helicopter transporting the Secretary had broken down and the other two didn’t want to leave ahead of the Secretary. I asked why they didn’t just but the Secretary in one that worked and have two leave. No answer.

It took awhile to get the FDCs back – JT’s male friend asked me if I wanted JT to sign them all. It had never occurred to me to ask that. And now I understood the delay. I thanked them for this kind suggestion and said no, I was very fortunate to have another pilot to sign them for me; Chuck Yeager

And we have been way beyond Paris together. 


Chuck Yeager-ism: Fly Your Airplane: Make Your Airplane Go Where you Want it to

August 9th, 2014

When I was getting lessons from a CFI – needed “official” hours from a licensed civilian flight instructor – I never got any crosswind training. I got lots of verbal instruction but we never found good crosswinds on which to practice.

The verbal instructions – had me skiddish.

One CFI said, “Do you realize you just landed with a crosswind? I sat back and you didn’t seem concerned so I let you just do it.”

Well, oddly that the CFI called attention to it, gave me verbal instruction, and defined it, made me skiddish.

On one wheel?


Could flip?


Could ground loop?


And by the way: What is a ground loop?

A BIG flip? (It’s when your plane swings around so it’s going in the opposite direction – sometimes catching a wing tip or prop.


So if there was any crosswind, I didn’t fly.

Finally, I got the word from Chuck Yeager.

“Just fly your airplane.”


“Make your airplane go where you want it to.”

I threw away the mechanical verbal instructions from the CFI’s – if the wind picks up your wing from the left put in left aileron. Well that takes to long to think through, act, and be safe.

Chuck Yeager’s wisdom is for those who know how to do coordinated turns, and have the basics.

I just started flying my airplane, making it go where I wanted it to, and today, I was doing landings in 40 degree, 12 kt crosswinds. And frankly, I didn’t really consciously notice.

I just flew my airplane, made it go where I wanted, landed and…oh.

I’m here.

And then took off again.

I kept it straight for landing and before now, was afraid I might not know what to do if I landed on one wheel. Well, it happened and I just “flew my airplane” and naturally put the wheel down.