Joe Kittinger’s Long Leap Into History
Long ago I had the opportunity to enjoy a flight in a New Standard D-25, which featured a front cockpit that was actually a “conversation pit.” Pilot In Command – Joe Kittinger. That’s right, Col. Joe Kittinger, one of my aviation heroes, was barnstorming, hopping rides at a fly-in, including the most graceful, slow-motion lazy 8s ever. Before the flight I asked him “Are you Joe Kittinger, the balloon pilot?” He smiled just a bit and said “That’s me.” At the time I did not know about his service during the Vietnam war, nor about his time as a POW. We exchanged a few sentences, in which I let him know I considered his Excelsior jumps to be acts of unbelieveable courage. He let me know he was just fulfilling his assignment, to a favorable conclusion.
RIP Col Kittinger, who undoubtedly was an inspiration for countless kids growing up in the early 60s. What an amazing life and career.
Well spoken, Paul. I had the honor and privilege of meeting, speaking, and even flying with Joe in Orlando. Aviation writer/humorist Ralph Hood was known to say “Half my lies are not true”. I suspect all of Joe’s “lies”, when it came to aviation, were actually true! I could listen to them for hours, and wish I could still. He was a great pilot, and a great man. The risks he took saved many lives, and, he would be happy to tell you, would have saved many more if more of his research and proven theories of high altitude ejection had made it through the bureaucratic channels. All of us who fly, who will fly, or have ever flown, owe gratitude to Colonel Joe Kittinger for the example he set and the flyways he paved.
The 1950s was truly an amazing time for aviation. The sheer magnitude of the leaps in technology in such a short time, I would argue will never be equaled. However, many of those amazing achievements needed guys, like Joe Kittinger, putting their life on the line to move the needle.
A true hero of aviation!
Autopilot Installs: Downtime, Rigging
I went from a no autopilot, steam gauge, hand-fly ‘aging’ 172 to a retrofit of the GFC500/G5 pair a couple years ago…and budgeted for (in between also doing the annual at the same time, having new panels cut by sixpackaero.com in washington state (as owner-produced parts) and other upgrades) at least a 4 month in-the-shop experience. This included the tear out (I kept the avionics stack of gma340, GNS430W, KN53, KY197, ETX330ES), freshening up the avionics wiring, pulling new tefzel around, etc etc etc.
Should have done it years ago (well, maybe…we’re talking new STC’d equipment and no way would I consider retrofitting an ARC autopilot…that’s just bizzare). Difference between night and day (yes, my cable tensions were off and the rigging needed a bit of attention) flying the beast now versus pre-eyewatering invoice for the work. The capability (fully coupled approaches to MAP with nav to missed hold, anyone? Altitude hold? Rate or speed climb/descent? just to name a few) of these boxes today far outstrip was systems like the KAP150 did 30 years ago.
To say I’m pleased, and the retrofit (as much as it made my checkbook whimper) added a new level of usability for the plane. Aside from the reduction in workload, the smoothness of the control (and straight lines for your flight on flightaware afterward), the increase in safety, to my mind, is worth the expense.
Just do it.
Poll: If NASA Had Let You, Would You Have Ridden Orion Around The Moon?
- At 73 years old, and having watched most of my grandkids grow up, yes. At 50 years old and wanting to experience that, no.
- NASA of 1969, I would. NASA of today, not even for free. They have missed orbit first launch, and bunch of other basic problems few talk about it, and besides they burn our money tax money out of this world. Literally! LOL. I would go with SpaceX. They are efficient and have better engineering. Bye bye NASA. Stop spending our money!
- Yes, undoubtedly, even though I would be very anxious through the lift-off and reentry sections.
- An immense waste of tax dollars.
- If I was younger, say under 60.
- No. I would have taken the hint from NASA and waited until the system was proven. Never fly the “A” model of anything.
- If SpaceX was doing it, yes. NASA, no.
- What the heck, at my age, it would definitely be a bucket list item!
- That isn’t my bag. I fly with wings, not rockets.
- I’m 70, excellent health (the “innards” of a 35 year old according to my MD…), so I’d go because if it failed, I’ve led an outstanding, wonderful life anyway.
- Sure would ride in a NASA spacecraft when Elon Musk designs and builds it.
- I wouldn’t have anything to do with such a colossal waste of public money. It’s ludicrous.
- Barring age, yes. At my age, there isn’t a diaper big enough!
- Nothing on the Moon (or Mars) is worth all that money spent on getting there.
- I’d ride the capsule, but my stomach has philosophical differences with Zero G.
- No. What a waste of resources and added atmospheric pollution, to keep the NASA behemoth busy and employed.
- If I wish to ride somewhere as a passenger, I’ll rent a horse and carriage!
- Since the life support system wasn’t completed and I like oxygen, no.
- If they let me drive.