U.S. Navy Super Hornet Tragedy

By Aviation Contributor Bill Paisley


The Super Hornet we lost in Key West yesterday and the loss of the pilot and weapons systems officer is weighing heavy on me today. I don't know how many times I've been down there to Key West for a weapons detachment or an air combat det - 4 or 5 times, perhaps a half dozen, doing the exact same thing these aviators were doing. Probably everyone who has strapped on a fighter or an aggressor aircraft has spent time there. The flying is fantastic, the liberty is great, the views incredible, the colors breathtaking, the memories last your lifetime.

This tragic crash, though, is a reminder of that job we did then and still do today. A "routine" hop, heading out for some high-G air combat, the exhilaration of learning how to fight that jet, to fly it to the absolute edge of its envelope. "Knock it off, knock it off" is the radio call used to end the dogfight, perhaps followed with a "We're bingo...RTB." meaning, in that typical naval aviation radio jargon, you are almost out of fuel so its time to go home..."return to base."

Something happened on that flight. We won't know all the details until the Navy Mishap Board finishes its investigation, but the early reports are that at some point the jet had to shut down one of its two engines and was making a single-engine approach back to the naval air station at Boca Chica field in Key West. A single-engine approach is not always a huge emergency - we train for those occasions often and most times you put the jet back on deck without much of a problem.

A mile from the runway, though, a mere mile from relative safety and landing and climbing out of that jet and shaking hands with your pilot and saying "Helluva job, dude!", something happened. All we know is that the aircrew ejected, pulling the handles on those rocket seats that have saved thousands of lives over the years. But not this time. I never had to pull those handles, but you always think about the old saying..."There but by the grace of God go I."

We've all done that countless times...single-engine approaches. You are keyed up, attentive to every detail in that cockpit and around that jet, ready for anything. Even then, though, as evidenced by this heartbreaking event, you can still come up short.

Its been almost 30 years since I was down there, doing this, climbing into that big jet and loving every second of those hops. I remember my wife and daughter back home in Virginia Beach, we'd talk at night, share our days and plans and what went on and talk about those projects around the house that we'd get to when I got home. No different than what was going on today. We've been there. "Thoughts and prayers" are mocked by some today around this country, but I'd ask you to pass some on to those back home who have suffered the most heartbreaking loss.

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky.
Be with them always in the air,
In darkening storms or sunlight fair;
Oh, hear us when we lift our prayer,
For those in peril in the air.

The Tuskegee Airman at the Atlanta Warbird Weekend.


Hangardeck Podcast - September 15, 2017

Press Release:  CAF

The Original Tuskegee Airmen veterans will share their fascinating experiences and stories at the Atlanta Warbird Weekend (AWW) “Dinner with the Tuskegee Airmen,” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 at the 57th Fighter Group restaurant, Dekalb-Peachtree Airport. This is a rare event to hear first-hand about WWII from some of the dwindling number of heroes who flew the aircraft and experienced the battles. Five fighter pilots plan to attend, including Col. Charles E. McGee, LT. Col. Robert J. “Bob” Friend, Lt. Col. Harold H. “Buick” Brown, Lt. Col. Harry T. Stewart, Jr., and Lt. Col. James H. Harvey, III. They all earned their wings at Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama in 1943 and 1944. For tickets, go to http://atlantawarbirdweekend.com/dinner.htm.

AWW is adding a new feature this year, an outdoor movie night for families on Friday, Oct. 6. Enjoy the projection of an aviation documentary right on the airport ramp. the documentary, "In Their Own Words: The Tuskegee Airmen," will be featured along with a question-and-answer session with original Tuskegee Airmen. Gates open at 6 pm, with a pre-show presentation beginning at 6:30 pm. The 45-minute show will begin at 8 pm.

“In Their Own Words: The Tuskegee Airmen,” tells the exciting and heroic story of America's first black fighter group from the beginning of their journey. This exclusive documentary event features a panel discussion with Tuskegee Airman George Hardy, granddaughter of Alfred Anderson (Chief Flight Instructor of the Tuskegee Airmen) Christina Anderson, Producer Bryan Williams, and Director Denton Adkinson. Watch as the Airmen recall being part of the beginning stages of the civil rights movement, and what it was like to see their contributions make changes that continue to resonate today. The projection will take place in the unique setting of the Epps Aviation ramp at Dekalb-Peachtree Airport. A $5 cash donation is requested. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs; no seating will be provided. Refreshments and popcorn will be available for purchase.

About Atlanta Warbird Weekend

The Atlanta Warbird Weekend (AWW) is an annual event now in its fourth year, dedicated to the remembrance and celebration of the men, women and machines of The Greatest Generation. In metro Atlanta, there are significant historical resources and AWW is the catalyst to bring together the organizations, aircraft and people that keep this history alive and engage families and businesses that want to keep this spirit alive. Our goal is to elevate awareness of historical organizations in Metro Atlanta, raise funds to “Keep ‘em Flying”, and promote the sponsors and the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport - who make the event possible. For more information visit www.atlantawarbirdweekend.com

About the CAF Dixie Wing Warbird Museum The CAF Dixie Wing, based in Peachtree City, Ga., was founded in 1987. One of largest units of the Commemorative Air Force, the unit maintains and flies seven WWII aircraft including a P-51 Mustang, FG-1D Corsair and rare types such as the SBD Dauntless dive bomber and P-63A Kingcobra. The Dixie Wing organizes two large events a year; WWII Heritage Days and the Atlanta Warbird Weekend. The unit, composed of 300 volunteers, is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. For more information visit www.dixiewing.org

Look for the Hangardeck Podcast on site at this event.

Hangardeck Podcast new advertiser: Aviators Hot Line.

The Hangardeck Podcast is in a cross-promotion agreement with Aviators Hot Line.

About our new friends:

Aviators Hot Line – Bringing Buyers and Sellers together for over 30 years!

Aviators Hot Line has been and continues to be the trusted monthly source the aviation industry has relied upon to help in the buying and selling of single, twin engine piston aircraft, and parts and services. Published monthly, in print and digital format, Aviators Hot Line is distributed monthly to subscribers, qualifying FBOs and aircraft owners worldwide. Aviators Hot Line is positioned to become your true marketing solution provider with multimedia choices.

Aviators Hot Line® is published by Heartland Communications Group, Inc. of Fort Dodge, Iowa. Heartland has been bringing buyers and sellers together by developing creative marketing solutions for its customers for over 50 years. Founded in 1966 as a family owned business and publisher of Contractors Hot Line, Heartland has become a leading communication, e-commerce, advertising, marketing and publishing company. Today Heartland serves customers worldwide in four industries; Agriculture, Construction, Industrial and Aviation with over 20 publications and internet services.

Stay tuned for some great aviation stuff from Aviators Hot Line.

The Hangardeck Podcast at Leonardtown High School

by Pitchlock Pete

Today I was invited to Leonardtown High School to introduce Podcasting techniques to Juniors and Seniors at the School Media Center.  I was hosted by Ms. Brenda Hager and Mr. Michael Denny and both are enthusiastic and energetic Teachers that lead the Global Diplomacy Class.  The students are tasked with creating a podcast on specific topics approved by the Teachers.

My day was full discussing software and hardware for the beginner to advanced podcaster.  I had such a great time letting the students try out the gear and watching the excitement on their faces the first time they heard themselves on the condenser mic.  This was such a fun time and I am so happy to help teens explore the world of podcasting.  I look forward listening to their podcasts after they are done. 

U.S. Navy E-2 Aircraft Almost Crashes from Arresting Gear Malfunction.

by Pitchlock Pete

September 2, 2016 - What an amazing story that does not get enough attention in Aviation News.  We often talk about the mishaps but never the Near Mishaps and the amazing aviators that overcome challenges to keep their crew and aircraft airborne.  Through this amazing circumstance this amazing US Navy Officer and Pilot relies on his training to recover from a near survivable situation. a must watch.

Video Contributed by Daily Military Defense & Archive

On 19 march 2016, a US Navy E-2C tried to land on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) aircraft carrier but due to technical failure on the arresting gear, the Grumman E-2 Hawkeye failed to stop and rushed to the sea. Fortunately the crew of the E-2C were well trained and managed to recover the plane.

Jeremiah O’Keefe, WWII Ace, Dies at 93

Jeremiah Joseph ""Jerry"" O'Keefe, III, 93, of Biloxi, MS died August 23, 2016. Mr. O'Keefe was born in Ocean Springs, MS in 1923 and was schooled at St. Alphonsus Elementary School and later Sacred Heart Academy in Biloxi.

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Jerry enlisted, hoping to become a pilot. He received his wings from the U.S. Marines in May, 1943. In 1944, before leaving for his assignment with the Pacific Fleet, he married his childhood sweetheart, Annette Saxon, and started what would be a family of thirteen children.

During combat, Jerry earned the status of 'ace' fighter pilot and was later awarded the US Navy Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, Gold Star and, in 2015, the Congressional Gold Medal for American Aces.   Jeremiah J. O’Keefe, shot down seven Japanese pilots in one week in World War II.

The Hangardeck Podcast at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum.

By Pitchlock Pete

The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum officially opened the doors to the new Museum facility outside of the Gate to Naval Air Station Patuxent River.  The Museum facility has a 20,000 square-foot exhibit hall and theater and is a landmark state of the art facility in Southern Maryland. 

The Museum focuses on the heritage of naval aviation’s research, development, test and evaluation for the U.S. Navy.  The building roof-line takes on a very familiar shape of an aircraft and the local St. Mary's County community is very proud of this addition.

As the Museum grows from opening in 1978, the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum now proudly boasts three buildings and includes the adjacent flight line of 14 unique U.S. Navy aircraft that are one-of-a-kind aircraft that are rich with Test and Evaluation History at NAS PAX River.

The Hangardeck Podcast would like to announce the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum is now a proud sponsor of The Hangardeck Podcast!  We recently met with the Museum President, Mr. George Hill and Manager, Mr. Dan Bramos, and set the wheels in motion to produce The Hangardeck Podcast show monthly from the Museum Theater.  Stay tuned as our first Patuxent River Naval Air Museum show is in the works.  Look for the official Press Release from the Museum and The Hangardeck Podcast team soon.






Experience the Military Aviation Museum.

By "Fast Eddie" Simila

May 31, 2016

Standing on the side of a grass airstrip.  Heart pounding.  I can’t believe I’m seeing this. Here he comes. A small dot right now.  He’s in a turn toward the approach end of the field.  He’s dropping altitude.  He’s going to pass by nice and low.  Blossoming now, getting bigger.   I can hear the engine now.  Before I can think another thought, he’s flying past us, humming and screeching at low altitude down the strip.  I can smell the exhaust.  I hear the whine, rumble and whirr of the engine passing by at nearly 300 knots. 

I feel its vibration in the air.  I am involuntarily jumping up and down with both fists raised and pumping, and I’m screaming “AWESOME!”  I feel like a child and I don’t care.  I can’t wipe the smile off my face.  Am I crying or laughing?  I think maybe both.  I glance at the closest person I see.  I don’t know them, and they don’t know me.  We share a friendly nod and beaming smiles, and in that instant, we become old acquaintances.  We’re feeling and sharing the same exact thing.     

It’s been a week since that experience at the Warbirds Over the Beach Airshow in Virginia Beach, and I’ve been trying to come up with the best way to describe what exactly that “thing” is that I shared with a complete stranger that made us instantaneously old chums.  THE HANGARDECK PODCAST had the privilege of setting up our mobile studio at the Military Aviation Museum for their annual airshow.  We had access to its gracious founder Mr. Gerald Yagen and his remarkable staff and volunteers.  The aircraft that found me in such a child-like state as portrayed above was a Messerschmitt BF-109G, conducting its first ever flight in North America—an event characterized by Mr. Yagen’s staff and volunteers as “our Kitty Hawk.”  A truly amazing event indeed.  But I want to talk about that “thing.” That feeling.  That feeling and connection that I’ve felt before on rare occasions.  Yes, the aircraft of the Military Aviation Museum are absolutely incredible, with their wonderful restorations and true-to-life livery.  Pure gems and aesthetic marvels, machines to be gawked over by all of us aviation and military history geeks.  But there is something grander here, something that can be felt and experienced even by someone who doesn’t know a Messerschmitt from a mallard.

“No, they’re the rock stars.  The men and women flying and maintaining and supporting our current military, doing what they do every day.  They’re the rock stars.” -Pappy

So what is it, this “thing,” this “feeling?”  Several years ago, during my twilight tour as a Naval Reservist, I served as a Naval Historian for the Navy History and Heritage Command at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.  Helping out the Archives Branch one day, a mate and I were going through a collection of papers belonging to Admiral Ernest J. King, the Chief of Naval Operations during WW II.  A colorful character was King, a man described by President Roosevelt as someone who “shaves with a blow torch every morning.”  This was a collection of about 20 boxes of documents that had never been catalogued or viewed before and was in need of proper preservation.  Out of one box we pulled a handwritten letter from late 1942, addressed to “Ern” and signed simply “Doug.”    The letter still had sharp edges and crisp folds, apparently unmolested and handled sparingly over the many years.  It contained information about upcoming meetings with Roosevelt and Churchill, and moved on to small talk of family and mutual friends.  “Doug,” it soon became apparent to us, was General Douglas MacArthur. 

We shared knowing smiles as acknowledgment that we felt the same thing, the same “electricity,”  what I can only describe as an electrical current, the source of which is the energy of a person poured into something long ago, but living on.  A life-force.  The fame of General MacArthur had little to do with the feeling.  It was a connection not with a distant and unreachable famous general, a two dimensional black and white image from my sixth grade history text.  Rather a true connection to the real man.  A man, a father, a husband, a brother, just like me.  One who poured his soul into an undertaking with such passion that you can feel that energy across time by simply handling a letter he wrote.  The same type of current can connect one with the anonymous fallen, who bled and sweat with all their might on the hallowed ground of Gettysburg, or Antietam.

That is precisely the “thing” I felt alongside the runway in Virginia Beach during the historic flight of the BF-109G.  It is this living current from the past that Jerry Yagen and the Military Aviation Museum have so beautifully captured with their collection of aircraft.  They have bottled it and preserved it as a gift for all of us.  Visit the museum.  You can touch the aircraft if you’d like, and when you do, you’ll feel it.  You’ll feel the current and energy from the riveter who helped assemble the machine long ago, the maintenance crew that stroked it with TLC to keep it airborne despite its many ailments and beckoned it to bring the crew back home safely, the crew that coaxed it and flew it and gave it the name of a sweetheart from back home, the friendly soldier on the ground that praised its presence above, and the enemy on the ground that loathed and feared it.  You’ll hear their voices, all of them collectively.  You’ll know their dreams, love, fear, passion.  Their energy.  Everything they did and the energy they expended long ago that made us who we are today.

During the course of the Warbirds Over the Beach Airshow weekend, we had the pleasure of conducting an entertaining interview with one of the museum’s warbird pilots, John “Pappy” Mazza.  After Pappy regaled the audience with stories of the grace of the Spitfire and the power of the P-40 Warhawk, we commented to him and his son John Jr. (“Hollywood,” also a warbird pilot), “You know, you guys are rock stars!” 

Pappy quickly corrected us, and with a nod in the direction of the Oceana Naval Air Station and the sound of a few F/A-18 Hornets flying in the distance, he remarked, “No, they’re the rock stars.  The men and women flying and maintaining and supporting our current military, doing what they do every day.  They’re the rock stars.”  Perfect.  There it is, full circle.  “Everything they did and the energy they expended long ago that made us who we are today”-- it lives on.   It lives in the warbirds of the Military Aviation Museum, and it lives in the cockpits of the brave men and women flying and fighting for our freedom this very day.

 “Everything they did and the energy they expended long ago that made us who we are today” - Fast Eddie





P-47 Crashes into the Hudson River

New York — Police divers raised the wreckage Saturday of a vintage World War II plane that crashed into the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey, killing the pilot.

The P-47 Thunderbolt crashed Friday during a promotion for the American Airpower Museum, which is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the P-47 this weekend.

Scuba divers recovered the body of the pilot, 56-year-old William Gordon, of Key West, Florida, about three hours after the crash.

Gordon was a veteran air show pilot with more than 25 years of experience, according to promotional material for a Key West air show last month. The website for the April 2-3 air show says Gordon was an "aerobatic competency evaluator" who certified performers to perform low-level aerobatics.

The New York Daily News reported that Gordon was originally from upstate Copake, in Columbia County, and "had spent years as the Chief Pilot of the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome and had recently flown in a show near his new home in Key West, Florida."

Carla Nager told the New York Daily News that she was standing on her terrace at an apartment complex in Edgewater, N.J., with her husband when she heard “a sputtering” that sounded like an engine stalling.

“It wasn’t a nose dive, but he was descending rapidly,” Nager said. “He just came down, and boom, he was gone.”

The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft, which went down near the George Washington Bridge around 7:30 p.m., was among three planes that had departed from Republic Airport in Farmingdale, on Long Island, just east of New York City. The other two aircraft returned to the airport and landed safely.

Museum spokesman Gary Lewi said the plane was kept at the museum and was taking part in an air show at nearby Jones Beach this weekend.

The Hangardeck Podcast team's heartfelt condolences go to the friends and family of Pilot William Gordon.

Antonov AN-225 lands in Australia.

May 15, 2016

About 20,000 Australians came out to watch the world’s biggest jet, the Antonov AN-225, land in Perth.  The Cold War, Soviet-designed cargo plane fought crosswinds while touching down on Sunday morning.

The Ukrainian Antonov An-225, also the heaviest plane in the world, measures over 275 ft from nose to tail and 290 ft from wing tip to wing tip.  It can carry twice as much as the Boeing 747 freighter.

 The plane’s top speed is 528 miles per hour and it’s so big it can comfortably accommodate a space shuttle on its roof.  This is what is was originally designed to do for the former Soviet Union.  An amazing site for any aviation enthusiast. 


Warbirds over the Beach 2016

May 10, 2016

It's been over a week since The Hangardeck Podcast announced its invitation to the Warbirds over the Beach 2016 event.  We have been planning and putting together one great weekend of great shows.

The Hangardeck team is setting up shop at the airshow with multiple tents and we are going to do the show with a live audience.  Our plan is simple, have fun and bring some first hand experiences of pilots, aircrew and maintainers as they show off these historic aircraft.   

Depending on the Hotspot activity, we might just bring some content live with our You Tube live feed software.  Stay Tuned and Comments are on so fire away on questions for the team.


The Hangardeck Podcast moves it's website to Squarespace.

May 8, 2016

I've been working on moving our website in the last week or so to a Squarespace account vice the current WordPress account.  Although an easy transition transferring the URL to Squarespace, I am still working through the RSS feeds to our multiple sponsors.  All the Podcasts are available in the Podcast Menu selection and can be listened to at any time.

I've found that developing with Squarespace is much cleaner and allows all the same functionality to Code as the WordPress account provided.  This is all in preparation to the upcoming On-site Warbirds over the Beach 2016 upcoming weekend.  Check the new website out at www.thehangardeck.com

Another nice feature that boggled me with the WordPress account is that I have turned all comments ON with a click of the mouse.  That's right, our audience can make comments on any Blog at any time.  Which includes all of the Podcast Episodes.  I encourage all of your feedback on all the Content we have provided. 

Taking this experiment to the next level.  Thanks to all my close friends and family supporting me on this adventure.