Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association Recognizes Outstanding Service at Annual Awards Banquet

By Carmelo Turdo
(GSLFIA graphic)
The Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association (GSLFIA) recognized individuals and groups for their outstanding service and accomplishments in 2017 at their annual awards banquet held at the St. Louis-Lambert International Airport Missouri Vineyards Banquet Room on Saturday evening.  The program featured a delicious dinner and keynote speaker prior to the awards ceremony, all under the familiar archways of the Gateway City's historic airport.

Keith Mueller, GSLFIA President
Gregg Maryniak, Emcee

Keith Mueller, GSLFIA President, opened the awards banquet by welcoming all who were in attendance and introducing the emcee for the evening, Gregg Maryniak.  Maryniak is the Co-Chair of Energy and Environmental Systems and Space at Singularity University, Board member and Secretary of the X-Prize Foundation, and internationally recognized expert in energy exploration in space for various NASA programs.  He served as Director of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium at the St. Louis Science Center and was instrumental in the establishment and awarding of the 2004 Ansari X-Prize to the SpaceShip One program.  Maryniak maintains his St. Louis connection and participates regularly in local programs such as the GSLFIA awards banquet.

Citing the impact that St. Louis has had on aviation development, Maryniak harkened back to the Golden Age of Flight, including the seminal event of Charles Lindbergh's 1927 solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in the Spirit of St. Louis.  "Within just one year of Charles Lindbergh's flight, the number of pilots in America triples, the number of airplanes licensed in America quadruples, and within eighteen months of his flight, the number of people buying commercial airline tickets n the United States went up thirty-fold.  And the results in the rest of the world were similar.  The welcome that Charles Lindbergh got from the flying community in St. Louis is the reason that we are able to be on the other side of the planet in the same day today.  So it's a really special place for us to be today.  In fact, Lindbergh wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Spirit of St. Louis, in 1953, 'If it weren't for St. Louis, I'd still be barnstorming from some Midwestern pasture or piloting an Army plane for the Army Air Corps.'"  Maryniak went on to mention that St. Louis-Lambert International Airport was hosting an exhibit of historic photographs showing the development of the airport since the 1923 International Air Races.             

The evening's keynote speaker was USAF Lt. Col. (Ret.) George Andre, former military fighter pilot and test pilot for the famed Lockheed Skunk Works flying the F-104 Starfighter and the super-secret SR-71 Blackbird from 1963-1967.  He flew combat missions in Vietnam and graduated from the Air War College.  He also flew for TWA from 1967-1994, retiring yet again as a Boeing 767 international flight Captain.  In recent years, he founded the aviation consulting firm called Freebird, which sponsored his Freebird 300 aerobatic performances, and he also flew Formula One and Biplane racing.  His autobiography, Wingspan: From J3 to Mach 3, is a fascinating read.  Below are some illustrations and excerpts from Colonel Andre's presentation.

"It was a true honor to have played a small part in the development of that airplane...The Air Force flew this airplane (the SR-71 Blackbird) for about 25 years and had quite an exemplary record of gathering intelligence for the U.S. government all around the world."

"One of the most memorable moments of my life was when I went into Kelly Johnson's office and he presented me with my Mach 3 Plus membership card number 16.  This is a patch that Lockheed made up to give SR-71 people after they had exceeded three times the speed of sound.  These were once very, very rare..."

"Almost everything on this aircraft had to be invented from scratch because northing 'off-the-shelf' in aviation is workable at Mach 3 and at altitudes around 85,000 feet...The airplane carries 80,000 pounds of fuel.  The total airplane has a max gross weight of 140,000 pounds...Elevons act as elevators for pitch and they act differentially as ailerons for roll control, and we have the two rudders.  We can swap that nose out very rapidly depending on what the mission was, what you were going to find out in the way of intelligence.  It had a two-man crew, and giant J58 engines."

"This has the 'mother of all drag chutes.'  We had a three-stage drag chute - a small pilot chute that pulls out a larger extraction chute and that pulls out the main parachute which is a 40-foot diameter drag chute (it was originally 50-feet in diameter).  You would grab this T-handle and pull it back about three inches and that would deploy the drag chute.  To jettison the drag chute, you push the handle back in.  They learned that when you pull the drag chute and it deploys, the deceleration force as the drag chute inflates is such that if you're still holding on to that drag chute handle, you invariably push it back in and jettison the drag chute.  That wasn't something you wanted to do."  

"These were built around 1960 to 1963, so there's no 'glass cockpit' because 'glass cockpits' hadn't been invented yet...The checklist that the pilot carries is about two inches thick...To have something like an iPad along would be an unbelievable luxury for the crew.  How do we navigate?  There's a saying going around among Blackbird people that 'You haven't been lost until you've been lost a Mach 3.'  You're going 30 miles a minute, that's a half-mile every second.  So if you are lost and don't know where you are, you are getting 'loster and loster' every second. The astro-inertial navigation system was built by Northrop Aircraft.  It absolutely never failed - it was a good unit and it was very impressive how accurate it would be."

"The crew has to wear a pressure suit in an airplane like this because as we go above about 50,000 feet, it's an Air Force regulation and if we would have an explosive decompression at an altitude of 80,000 feet without a suite you would be a dead man right away.  This pressure suite is made by the David Clark company...These suites we wore were the same as what the Gemini astronauts were wearing in those years.  Getting suited up is quite a project." 

"The sky is very dark, and you can see some stars up there...There's a slight curvature - it is pretty impressive."

"At Lockheed, we thought we were going to get the SST program...All of us thought we were going to wind up on the SST and have that job for the rest of our lives, but we didn't.  I wound up getting an offer from TWA that I couldn't turn down, so I went to work for them."

The banquet was ready following the keynote address, and the invocation was given by Father James Sebesta, a former bush pilot who flew humanitarian missions in the wilds of Alaska.  He has been on the flight training staff at Parks College of St. Louis university since 1994.  He also participated in the Humanitarian Aviation program earlier this year at Parks College. 

Following the dinner and keynote address, GSLFIA President Keith Mueller began the awards ceremony.  The first award, New Flight Instructor of the Year (flight instructor for less than 2 years), was given to David Chilenski, Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) at Ideal Aviation at St. Louis Downtown Airport.  He received his Private Pilot Certificate in 2009, and earned his commercial and CFI rating in 2015.        

The next award, Flight Instructor of the Year, went to Dr. Paul Salmon, a Certified Rotorcraft Flight Instructor and partner in Cape Copters at Cape Girardeau, MO Regional Airport.  A rotorcraft CFI since 2005, Dr. Salmon as over 10,600 flying hours, about 10,000 of which are in rotorcraft and gyrocopters. He holds 24 world records in rotorcraft and gyrocopters, including a cross-country flight in a Magni M-22 gyrocopter from Torrance, CA to Jacksonville, FL and back in 3 days, 4 hours and 30 minutes (47.9 flying hours).       

Two high school students were present to receive their Discovery Flight Certificates: Collin Carnahan, a Junior at Lafayette High School, and Haley James, Homeschool.  The Discovery Flights are awarded to high school students nominated for their interest in pursuing an aviation career.  Local flight schools, including Ideal Aviation, Parks College of St. Louis University, Elite Aviation, St. Charles Flying Service, St. Louis Flight Training and Gateway Flight Training sponsor the Discovery Flight program in St. Louis for GSLFIA.  The students will receive a hands-on training flight that will no doubt encourage them to consider the attainment of Private Pilot and CFI Certificates.

The three Spirit of St. Louis Awards were presented by GSLFIA Vice President Richard Horowitz.  This award is given to individuals and organizations for "exemplary support, dedication and service to aviation and aviation organizations."  The award recognizes contributions that enrich the St. Louis area aviation community.  Richard Horowitz is pictured below introducing the awards and, along with GSLFIA Director Craig O'Mara, accept the awards on behalf of awardees Steve Lieber of Helicopters Incorporated at St. Louis Downtown Airport and Colonel George Andre, the keynote speaker who had to leave early for another engagement.  Helicopters Incorporated was recognized for supporting St. Louis helicopter aviation events and causes, including fundraising and scholarship programs.  Colonel Andre was recognized for his career achievements and support for the St. Louis aviation community.  

A third Spirit of St. Louis Award went to Wings of Hope, and it was accepted by the new President and CEO, Bret Heinrich, and accompanying staff.   Wings of Hope is a world-wide non-profit aviation humanitarian organization based at Spirit of St. Louis Airport.  Wings of Hope provides aviation relief services in 11 countries, often becoming the only link to medical, educational and spiritual support in outlying villages in undeveloped countries.  Wings of Hope also provides medical airlift for those in the Midwest U.S. unable to afford needed transport to specialized medical treatment centers to and from St. Louis.     

The James G. Byrnes Award, recognizing a "life-long commitment of dedication and the highest level of professionalism to the local aviation community," was awarded posthumously to the family of CFI Ken Kellogg who passed away on September 10.  Ken Kellogg's flying career spanned over sixty years, beginning in the U.S. Army in 1956 where he learned to fly fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.  He served two tours in Vietnam flying Bell UH-1 Huey helicopters, and later worked as a military and government marketing representative for Beechcraft Corporation.  He became a civilian CFI in 1994, and taught at the Scott AFB Flying Club and later at other flight schools, including Ideal Aviation and St. Louis Flight Training, both located at St. Louis Downtown Airport.  He received the 2013 GSLFIA CFI of the Year Award, among other honors during his career.  

In remembrance of CFI Ken Kellogg on his retirement from flying, August 13, 2017

Excerpt from "St. Louis Aviation Community Salutes Retiring Instructor Pilot Ken Kellogg" The Aero Experience, August 15, 2017 

Members of the St. Louis area aviation community gathered at St. Louis Downtown Airport on August 13 to salute Ken Kellogg, a favorite CFI and mentor to many aviators over the decades, to commemorate his retirement from active flying.  A large number of guests were at Ideal Aviation, where he instructed part-time, as he arrived with his family around 1pm.  Those awaiting his arrival included former students, fellow CFIs, experienced pilots and airport staff who have come to know Ken Kellogg and learn a thing or two from his vast experience and common-sense approach to flight instruction.  Always prepared, Kellogg gave a show-and-tell presentation featuring some of his early flight gear as he visited with well-wishers crowding the Ideal Aviation lobby.     

After some socializing time and refreshments, Craig O'Mara, a CFI at Ideal Aviation and Boeing 747 Captain, announced that he "needed some pointers" in flying the Cessna 172, and that flying some patterns around the airport with CFI Ken Kellogg would get him back on track.  Reluctantly going along with the gag, Kellogg accompanied O'Mara to the apron where one of Ideal Aviation's aircraft was awaiting them.  Kellogg and O'Mara flew a touch-and-go and then taxied back after the second approach under the spray of a water cannon salute provided by the St. Louis Downtown Airport Fire Department Engine No. 61.  Following the flight, Ken Kellogg was met by family and friends congratulating him on a long and meaningful aviation career.

The Aero Experience thanks the Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association for their great contributions to Midwest Aviation and for producing this excellent 2017 Annual Awards Banquet.  Congratulations to all who received recognition this year!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Midwest Airports Support Air Operations in the Heartland

By Fred Harl
The Aero Experience continues our series on Midwest airports and aviation events, and we look back at the highlights of some recent visits made this fall.  Featured in this edition are St. Louis Downtown Airport, Cahokia, IL; Farmington, MO Regional Airport; Mount Vernon, IL Outland Airport; and Sparta, IL Community Airport - Hunter Field.  Each airport contributes to the operations of general and corporate aviation and to the economic stability of their local communities.  We will continue to visit these and other Midwest airports through this year and in 2018.  The Aero Experience thanks the airport management and event volunteers for their hospitality during our visits.

St. Louis Downtown Airport: Air Methods Medical Helicopter Operations:

Farmington, MO Airport Civil and Military Aircraft Operations:

Mount Vernon Outland Airport Midwest LSA Expo:

Sparta Community Airport, IL Air Festival and Young Eagle Flights