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WhiteKnuckle

Aviation Heroes

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Do you have an aviation hero?  For me it has to be Chuck Yeager, immortalised in the film "The Right Stuff".

 

I should also mention my grandfather but that's another story.  Here's a photo of him.  Can anyone tell me where this was taken?

 

sG26V.jpg

 

 

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Chuck Yager is a nut. Meet him in person and you find out what kind of man he is.

 

My step grandpa is my hero. He wrote about his time in WWII and being shot down and spending time in camp.

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My step grandpa is my hero. He wrote about his time in WWII and being shot down and spending time in camp.

 

I'm assuming that was Germany?  My grandpa was also shot down flying a Lancaster over Holland and spent the rest of the war in prison camps.  I think many of those guys were a little bit nuts back then but understandable given what they had to go through.

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Captain Piche and FO Dejager of Air Transat 236, gliding a fuel starved A330 for over 60 miles and landing it on the azores is nothing short of remarkable. They hold the world record for the longest glide in a passenger airliner.

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My answer's in my avatar and my sig.

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Captain Piche and FO Dejager of Air Transat 236, gliding a fuel starved A330 for over 60 miles and landing it on the azores is nothing short of remarkable. They hold the world record for the longest glide in a passenger airliner.

 

Yes I remember that incident.  That's one big glider!

 

Singapore?

 

Nope, further south, keep guessing.

 

My answer's in my avatar and my sig.

 

Yes of course, I recall my mum reading me "The Little Prince" as a child.

Another question, can anyone tell from the photo what rank he was?  I don't actually know.

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Another question, can anyone tell from the photo what rank he was?  I don't actually know.

 

He was a Captain during the 1940 invasion of France, as noted in Flight to Arras (Pilote de Guerre).  Just before his disappearance in 1944, he was promoted to Commandant (USAAF equivalent rank: Major), according to the Wikipedia entry.  Stacy Schiff's biography (which is excellent, by the way), confirms this.

 

The quote in my sig is from Flight to Arras, by the way.  Paula was his Tyrolean governess when he was about three - he says he doesn't really remember her, but he addresses the image of her that he's built up in his mind during the low-level photography run over Arras.  It's quite a passage - quite a book, actually - my favorite Saint-Ex. 

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I'm assuming that was Germany?  My grandpa was also shot down flying a Lancaster over Holland and spent the rest of the war in prison camps.  I think many of those guys were a little bit nuts back then but understandable given what they had to go through.

He was flying from Africa to Italy at the time of being shot down. He wrote a memoir of the time and I really need to scan it and put it on the web.

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He was a Captain during the 1940 invasion of France, as noted in Flight to Arras (Pilote de Guerre).  Just before his disappearance in 1944, he was promoted to Commandant (USAAF equivalent rank: Major), according to the Wikipedia entry.  Stacy Schiff's biography (which is excellent, by the way), confirms this.

 

The quote in my sig is from Flight to Arras, by the way.  Paula was his Tyrolean governess when he was about three - he says he doesn't really remember her, but he addresses the image of her that he's built up in his mind during the low-level photography run over Arras.  It's quite a passage - quite a book, actually - my favorite Saint-Ex. 

 

Ah sorry I meant my grandfather's rank from the photo at the top.  I should get "The Little Prince" for my kids.

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Working on the rank for you. Based on your location I'm assuming he was RAAF.

 

Actually he was RAF although was the Commandant at RAAF Point Cook from '53 to '55 which is literally about 2 miles from where I have lived after migrating to Australia in 1998.  Tabs later became Air Vice Marshal but not sure of his rank when the photo was taken in 1958.

 

Thomas Alford Boyd Parselle (aka Tabs) was a Wing Commander flying Lancasters during WWII and was shot out of the air during a night mission over Holland. The story of his escape and evasion is quite interesting although he was eventually captured and spent the remainder of the war in various prison camps. Tabs and the bombardier were the only survivors of a crew of eight, as they were carrying an extra Canadian instructor officer at the time. It remains unknown whether Tabs or the officer were at the flight controls when they were shot down. 

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Ah sorry I meant my grandfather's rank from the photo at the top.

 

Ah, apologies.  From the position of your post I thought it referred to my quote, so I assumed... which... you know how that works.... B)

 

Good that Anthony is on the case for you.

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It was Air Vice Marshall.

 

Excellent, thanks!

 

Here's an earlier photo which I'm guessing is just after the war.  What rank would this be do you think?

 

GZEWw.jpg

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Charles Lindbergh ranks pretty high on my list of aviation heroes. Frankly, he must have been nuts, too. 

He flew an overloaded airplane with negligible navigation systems (by today's standards) across a foggy ocean with nothing but a couple of sandwiches to eat, hadn't been sleeping the night before and had to stay awake for 33 hours on his solo flight; fell asleep a couple of times, nearly ditched in the ocean, still managed to find the course, and thus survived an attempt that I think 24 people had died trying before him. 

 

Speaking of it, I think the most overrated flying pioneer is Amelia Earhart. If it hadn't been for her tragic loss, she probably would have been forgotten by now, like so many pioneers who set records at their time that soon fell and were superseded by even more records. 

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I believe that would be Wing Commander.

 

Yes, that makes sense.  Here's I believe his leather flight helmet which is in the possession of a Dutch fellow who's father witnessed the crash close to Neerbosch, Netherlands. Lancaster Bomber W-5001 / EM-J shot down on 26 May 1943 at 02:27 AM hrs.

 

Hzo1G.jpg

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I thought about this question some more last night, and I have come to the conclusion that probably the greatest aviation heroes have been the tens of thousands of young pilots who have fought in wars, particularly World War II. In the later years of the war, many of them were sent up into the sky as cannon fodder (particularly on the German side) with nothing more than 40 hours of flight training and often in an inferior airplane. Many of them were in their early twenties (or even late teens), and their missions included flying over flak defended targets where you could be taken out by a shell anytime, and not even the best flying skill would help you to avoid it. That alone was Russian Roulette in the air. Add to this the brutality of an air battle between hundreds or even thousands of bombers and fighters, and the huge number of losses, deaths and injuries...the stress must have been simply inbearable.

 

People like Tim's grandpa certainly were heroes of aviation--unfortunately, unsung heroes in most cases.

Let's remember that many of these pilots started out like us flight enthusiasts today -- just 70 years earlier. If computers and flight simming would have been invented back them, many of them would have been on a forum like this.

For many of us on the forum, the only thing that separates them from us is the fact that there is no large-scale war going on right now.

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Or how about these guys?  Photo by me - Weymouth Carnival August 2013.

 

xWTv9.jpg

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Eric Brown springs to mind - in particular how he took to the skies in the DH108 after Geoffrey De Havilland Junior had been killed flying the same type. He went up and re-created the flight that killed De Havilland Junior in an attempt to ascertain the cause.

 

Another one that also springs to mind is Erich Hartmann. As the Soviets approached he was ordered to retreat to the West and surrender to the Allies. He refused the order and said he would share the fate of his men in JG52. After capture by the Soviets they attempted to convict him of war crimes, which he refused to sign a confession for. He even went so far as punching one of his interrogators when they tried to force him to sign a confession under duress. After his time in a Soviet gulag he returned to West Germany and became a general in the new Luftwaffe and was an outspoken critic of the F-104, believing it to be a dangerous aircraft not fit for purpose.

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Hi.

 

The late Bob Jones in the left seat doing what he liked best with Tony Maitland. You could never hope to meet nicer chaps...

 

 

 

 

... and the people who keep this sinister creature flying...

 

 

 

 

... and these guys because they save a lot of children from becoming orphans.

 

 

 

 

 

D

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Now if we talk about "best pilots who have ever lived", the list is different. Consider Bob Hoover, who is able to do stuff with airplanes that seems unreal. 


Eric Brown springs to mind - in particular how he took to the skies in the DH108 after Geoffrey De Havilland Junior had been killed flying the same type. He went up and re-created the flight that killed De Havilland Junior in an attempt to ascertain the cause.

 

Another one that also springs to mind is Erich Hartmann. As the Soviets approached he was ordered to retreat to the West and surrender to the Allies. He refused the order and said he would share the fate of his men in JG52. After capture by the Soviets they attempted to convict him of war crimes, which he refused to sign a confession for. He even went so far as punching one of his interrogators when they tried to force him to sign a confession under duress. After his time in a Soviet gulag he returned to West Germany and became a general in the new Luftwaffe and was an outspoken critic of the F-104, believing it to be a dangerous aircraft not fit for purpose.

 

Interesting stories, thanks for the pointer to these amazing gentlemen! 

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Cpt. Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III and Cpt. Peter Burkill gets my votes :)

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