What an evening!
The Pacific Aviation Museum (http://www.pacificaviationmuseum.org/) sold out for Gen Yeager’s (GCY) talk. The crowd was eclectic – kids to seniors.
It was also an FAA Safety talk so at least 100 people enrolled in the FAAST system – (great continuing education for pilots and anyone interested in aviation) attended. Civil Air Patrol members, National Guard members, Coast Guard, general public, veterans. The youngest I met was 8, in 3rd grade.
We had planned to go to our friend’s hangar for a little nosh before the event but traffic precluded that. And General Yeager does not like to be late if he can help it – “Hawaiian time” doesn’t compute. He just doesn’t want to ever miss his tanker – a euphemism for when he would need to refuel in the air – if you’re late, the tanker isn’t there and you’re toast – or fuel-less.
Also when General Boyd said meet at 6am, he meant wheels up in the air after take-off, so you’d best be getting there at 5am or earlier.
When I first met GCY, he’d say, we’re leaving at 8am. At 7:30am, he’d be telling me I’m late. Huh? I’d be walking out the door at 8am. It only took me a couple of times to hear “7:30″ when he said 8. I did try a couple of times – now do you mean walking out the door at 8 or 7:30am? If he said 7:30 then he’d be pacing at 7am. So I tried to say a half hour later 8:30am….and be ready at 8. But that didn’t quite work for me…
It’s okay – we’ve worked it out…;-)
But I digress.
So we met some guests, put them in our car, and got to the museum around 5:30pm, ate some supermarket sushi we had brought.
Scott, FAA, came in to welcome General Yeager and me. We thanked him for such a good job getting the word out to the FAA Safety pilots.
Ken & Tanya – he’s the Exec Director of the Museum, welcomed us again. Ken DeHoff is a war veteran pilot as well.
Admiral Hays and his wife also welcomed us. We had just seen them in Nevada at a friend’s ranch a couple months before. In fact, GCY had taken him flying. Admiral Hays is quite the war hero himself. He has received many medals – including the a few Distinguished Flying Crosses, a few Silver Stars.
The Hays are an elegant, kind , well-spoken couple. Every now and again, one can glimpse the Admiral in him – he hasn’t completely retired.
At about 6pm, I guess we should have checked the line to get in – but we checked the audience – fairly full – and had promised to start on time. So we did.
Admiral Hays introduced GCY. Two of our friends were looking for a seat in the back when I waved them to the front. They waved back. It became a comic routine, but they finally understood their seats were reserved in the front.
GCY introduced his DVD documentary. It played for about 20 seconds and as they dimmed the lights, the DVD player went off. Oops.
While the team was fixing it, Admiral Hays introduced me and I in turn introduced our guests, Dan and Frank (Hawaiian Eateries).
GCY decided to talk some more and of course as soon as he got back on stage, they got the DVD going again. Things happen. As Frank would say, a Champagne problem – meaning – it’s not a problem. To put a fine point on it: War is a problem. This was not.
The documentary played – very succinct select highlights of GCY’s life till 1997.
GCY got up and explained some of the events. Then waved me over to help with the Q&A.
The questions were good this time.
First one: What was the worst plane you flew?
Good one – we usually have – what’s your favorite which did come later.
Gen Yeager, in a room of Navy veterans, said without skipping a beat: There was this Navy plane…..
And we were off and running for quite a ride…
As someone in the audience and several emails since have said: Lots of informative stories, heartwarming stories, funny stories.
The whole program was probably about 2 hrs. We had planned to leave right afterwards (we had an early morning schedule the next day) while people were having poupous and drinks but…..we couldn’t.
While we didn’t do any autographs (takes far too much time & you can’t get all 600 people, and one sees many on ebay the next day so the purpose is lost), we did take photos and talk to many of the audience members. We stayed over an hour.
It was a special evening – everyone most appreciative that Gen Yeager would donate his time and energies for fundraising for historic Ford Island Field Control Tower at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. For more on this:
And everyone most appreciative to get photos with him as well.
Two gals involved in another book about Jackie Cochran were truly inspired by his answers to their questions about Jackie Cochran, quite a pilot in her day (happened to be female, too). She still holds some records and at one time held more records than any pilot male or female.
They took some photos with Gen Yeager – somehow takes longer when there are attractive females, we tease.
We headed out the back door – with a fine escort of our good friend and honorary Fighter Ace, Gen Cassiday, USAF (ret.) another very elegant man, Admiral Hays, and Ken DeHoff..
A very enjoyable evening for all!
c. PMN III
For more on Admiral Hays:
For more on General Cassiday: http://www.af.mil/information/bios/bio.asp?bioID=4953
For more on completion of the rebuilding of the historic Ford Island Field Control Tower at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. For more on this: http://www.pacificaviationmuseum.org/supportus/donate.html