Decades of ac­cu­mu­lated avi­a­tion­re­lated trea­sures


Flying - - CONTENTS - By Dick Karl

Hey, can you hand me a ball­point pen?” “You’ll like this one,” says Cathy, my wife. Sure enough, she’s right. The pen says “Kaiser Air,” com­plete with phone num­ber and Arinc fre­quency. I just love th­ese pens, worth lit­tle in terms of con­struc­tion cost, but worth a lot to me. This one is white with stylish green let­ter­ing and re­minds me im­me­di­ately of last week’s flights to the West Coast, es­pe­cially the ILS to Run­way 32 at Santa Rosa, Cal­i­for­nia (KSTS), called Charles M. SchulzSonoma County Air­port. The ap­proach fixes in­clude LUSEE and PIGPN.

I’ve swiped a lot of pens from a lot of places. I just love see­ing where I’ve been and think­ing about what I was do­ing. I have a pen that says “Jet Clean” that I got some­where while fly­ing Part 135 for JetSuite. We must have had an air­plane de­tailed by this com­pany af­ter an es­pe­cially ri­otous (for the pax) flight. I re­mem­ber smelling the re­fur­bished air­plane and see­ing the in­voice with two pens, one for each pi­lot, nes­tled on the throt­tles when we opened the air­plane up the next day.

One of my all-time fa­vorites is a pen I got at Higher Power Avi­a­tion when I got my Boe­ing 737 type rat­ing. I never got a job fly­ing that Boe­ing, but I kept the pen on the au­topi­lot con­trol panel in our Cheyenne. It said “Jet Crew” in bold let­ters. It re­minded me of my for­ays into the jet world and the re­ally ter­rific folks who taught that class.

Pens aren’t the only mem­o­ra­bilia that I hold dear. I’ve got key­chains. For the past 32 years, my car key (my cur­rent car still re­quires a key in the ig­ni­tion; it’s 14 years old) has been at­tached to a soft red rub­ber fob, re­mind­ing me of the ex­cel­lent main­te­nance pro­vided to sev­eral of my air­planes over sev­eral decades at Air­craft En­gi­neer­ing in Bar­tow, Florida. I don’t need to look at it to know their phone num­ber though. I know that by heart.

The key­chain that sits in the place of honor — the ash­tray — is one given to me by Jim Mitchell, of El­liott Jets. He sold me our Premier 1 and was kind enough to in­clude the shiny, heavy metal ob­long weight with leather in­set that says “Beechcraft” with the keys. Ever since I bought a Beech Mus­ke­teer while in the Army in 1972 I’ve wanted to get back to Beech qual­ity — and now I am.

I own my share of shirts. Many golf shirts have been given to me by air­line friends. They say “Delta” and “South­west,” among oth­ers, but my friends think I’m in bet­ter shape than I am — they are all too small. We wore golf shirts at JetSuite, and I loved be­ing in that uni­form, es­pe­cially while parad­ing through an air­line ter­mi­nal. I felt like I was an im­pos­tor, but no­body seemed to care. I haven’t worn those shirts since I re­tired though. That would feel re­ally fake.

For years, Fly­ing mag­a­zine sent me a golf shirt be­fore Oshkosh’s AirVen­ture. I love be­ing part of that pack, but I never wear those shirts ex­cept when at a Fly­ing gig. I would feel like a showoff.

Well, then, come into our house. We have a lot of air­plane stuff in here. Cathy will be the first to ad­mit that mar­ry­ing cuts down on avail­able wall space for air­plane pic­tures. Even an un­der­stand­ing part­ner is not go­ing to go with all air­planes, ev­ery­where, all the time. The pic­ture of the Con­stel­la­tion in Qan­tas col­ors is in the at­tic. Same for the East­ern Air Lines framed cap­tain’s wings. My small black-and-white photo of Janis Joplin barely made the cut — it can be seen if you know where it is and lean far enough.

But a lot of great avi­a­tion art has made it to the public spa­ces. Our foyer has a photo of Keith Richards and Ron Wood in a Navajo look­ing just like Cathy and our dog and I do in our Cheyenne. Th­ese pic­tures are side by side and have prompted guests to ask if I ever flew the Rolling Stones (no). There’s a great paint­ing of a 747, all dirt­ied-up, with huge lead­ing-edge de­vices de­ployed.

Come into my “study” to see the re­ally great stuff. I use the word study

los­sely - very lit­tle, if any, study­ing goes on in here. On one wall there are three iconic Rus­sell Mun­son pho­to­graphs. When I first met this fa­mous avi­a­tion pho­tog­ra­pher I told him how much I ad­mired the DC-3 in Amer­i­can Air­lines col­ors taken from above and the two Beech D-18 shots that glis­ten with re­flected sun on the props and the lush land­scape be­low. Not long af­ter that, signed copies ar­rived with­out com­ment in the mail.

Though I have a num­ber of re­ally nice gifts given to me when I was visit­ing var­i­ous med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions (mostly clocks, pen sets, plaques, crys­tal and the oc­ca­sional piece of fur­ni­ture) it is the avi­a­tion stuff that stirs my soul. Three hand­held ra­dios sit on my desk, ready for ac­tion. Four bot­tles of wa­ter with cool FBO names on them are there, ready to be taken to the air­plane. I bet­ter check the bat­ter­ies on those hand­helds.

Come into the dining room. Ac­cu­rate and ex­pen­sive mod­els of our Cessna 340 and Piper Cheyenne are on a cre­denza be­hind the dining room ta­ble. In the book cases you will find a DC-3 model in East­ern liv­ery, a DC-8 painted with Bran­iff’s Calder col­ors, an East­ern 727-200 in the paint scheme that was ex­tant when the air­line folded and a model of the

space shut­tle Chal­lenger, given to me by a sur­gi­cal

pa­tient who had worked on the ac­tual Chal­lenger long be­fore the ac­ci­dent.

The prize spots are in the fam­ily room. There sit three mod­els that would make any man weep. There is an ex­act replica of 454WN, the South­west 737-700 that was de­liv­ered on March 29, 2004. I was in the right seat on the take­off as we went from Boe­ing Field to Phoenix — you can see the trip and the names of the three captains who shep­herded me that day on

the name plate. They gifted me this model.

Next to it is the Cessna CJ3 in JetSuite col­ors, with that ar­rest­ing red stripe right down the mid­dle of the air­plane. This was the air­plane, and the tail num­ber, of my cap­tain­up­grade check ride. More dear friends with more pow­er­ful gifts.

And then there is this: a model in minute de­tail, down to the pitot tubes and antennas on the top of our new air­plane, 323CM.

You ask why I love th­ese things so. I’m past a point in life where I need or want any­thing. If you took me to Tif­fany’s or to Dick’s Sport­ing Goods there is noth­ing I need or want. I have been very lucky in life, and th­ese trea­sures take me into the air, and back in time, when I look at them; I’ve got more.


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