Thursday, November 29, 2012

Aviation Community Provides Aerial Salute to Veteran at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery

By Carmelo Turdo
The greater St. Louis area aviation community came together this week to provide an aerial salute to a U.S. Naval Aviator and career commercial pilot laid to rest Wednesday at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.  Mr. Robert E. Bittner, originally from Hamilton Township, New Jersey, passed away November 20 at the age of 91.  He and his twin brother Thomas soloed in 1937 at the age of 16, both eventually serving as civilians in the Atlantic Ferry Command and Robert as a U.S. Naval Aviator and pilot instructor in Olathe, KS.  Mr. Bittner flew for Penn Central Airlines, Capital Airlines and United Airlines until 1973.  He continued to fly and instruct in a Piper Cub and Waco UPF-7.  His son, Tom, is a recently retired commercial pilot, current in the Gulfstream family of executive aircraft.  

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery Site
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetry was established in 1866 on what was then the largest military post in the U.S., founded in 1826.  The ceremony site for the aerial salute was the eastern-most 80ft. flag pole nearest the Mississippi River, in south St. Louis County.  The flight from St. Louis Downtown Airport in nearby Cahokia, IL would be a short hop across the river and northward over the cemetery. 

Mike Rohlmann, Paul Cornelius, Jack Taylor, Joe Wapelhorst
The crews for the fly-over were: Lead (CJ-6A) - Paul Conelius, pilot, and Carmelo Turdo, Photographer; Left Wing (T-34) - Joe Wapelhorst, pilot and Mike Rohlmann, Communications; Right Wing (Bonanza) - Jack Taylor, pilot. Using the call sign "Honor Flight," the three-ship formation would coordinate its timing over the ceremony site with a ground observer.  The pilots were briefed by Bill Rohland, member of EAA Chapter 64 based at the airport, at Ideal Aviation FBO.  The flight plan called for the formation to approach at 130kts at 1500 feet msl for a Right Wing break over the flag pole.  Takeoff was to be at 11:35am for a time on site of 11:50am, following the 21 gun salute.

The Aero Experience was privileged to ride along with Paul Conelius in the lead Nanchang CJ-6A, one of two owned by a partnership at the airport.  After the preflight, which included heating the engine externally, Paul gave a briefing on the safety harness and canopy operation as he secured me into the rear seat.  The aircraft were lined up for takeoff on time, and all three joined in formation as we headed south, crossing the Mississippi River. 




...and the return flight...

From the feedback received, the formation was right on time over the ceremony site, directly following the 21-gun salute.  Family and observers warmly received the aerial salute, which was proudly flown by the crews and sponsored in part by Ideal Aviation, EAA Chapter 64 and The Aero Experience.   

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012: Aerial Tour In a Bell 47G

By Fred Harl
A great way to see the "big picture" of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is from a ride in the EAA's Bell 47G over the Airport.  For a reasonable price, and after waiting in a fairly short line, one can get a commanding view of the thousands of aircraft participating in "The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration."  Of course from the air you can get just a fleeting glimpse of the immense expanse of planes, campers, cars and wandering plane nuts.  If offered again next year, it is highly recommended.

Here is some of what I saw on my flight:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012: Overview and Highlights

By Fred Harl
It's now time to relive those thrilling days of summer, the hot, hot summer, when I joined hundreds of thousands of my closest friends at EAA's AirVenture Oshkosh 2012.  With camera in hand, I ventured out into the vast array of aircraft, vendors and just plane nuts to take in "The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration."  Over the next month or so, I will bring my AirVenture 2012 Aero Experience to you and preview 2013 in great expectation of next year's event. 

To get things going, here is a sweeping survey of what I saw last July.  Future posts will focus on specific aircraft and areas of interest.  Here goes...

...and much more to come soon!