Fun & Dumb Things in Flying Machines

As I look back on my flying career, there were many situations that should be called “memorable.”  Some started out as what I thought was a good idea and wasn’t.  Others were just plain dumb and turned out to be really dangerous.  And then there are others that may make you smile. All of which took place during my flying career in which I flew helicopters and fixed wing airplanes. My log books show I’ve got close to 5,000 hours in 28 different airplanes and helicopters.

The same is true with my father, who was a career Air Force pilot who accumulated over 4,300 hours in 26 different types – not models – of airplanes.

And, this section will have pieces from my son’s career as a Naval Aviator. He’s the only one of the three of us who managed to fly fighters. His 1,400 hours are in  T-34Cs, T-45s and the F/A-18C/D.

Many of these stories will appear in a book called Gold and Silver Wings – Tales From Three Generations of Military Aviators – which will be published sometime in the future, after my son retires from the Navy.  The book is an anecdotal history of our collective flying careers and focuses, with two exceptions for my father, non-combat flying.

Flying, whether you are in the military or as a civilian has an element of danger.  Risk and the ability to control a machine in a three-dimensional environment draw people to become pilots.  The view from the cockpt, any time of day or night is spectacular.  One wag defined flying as “hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark raving terror” is not far from the truth.  Emergencies in airplanes are serious events because you can’t stop by the side of the road to fix them.

Flying, either as a pilot or a passenger is not for everyone.  I wanted to be a pilot since I was a little boy and the Navy was willing – assuming that I could pass the physical and mental tests – guarantee me flight training.  The Air Force back in 1963 would not.

You find some of the stories in links to the Association of Naval Aviation’s (ANA) Grandpaw Pettibone’s chapter which published them. The chapter’s web site has a site full of interesting tales from military aviation. Grandpaw Pettibone, for those who don’t know, used to write blurbs about airplane accidents in two publications – Approach and Naval Aviation News. His comments usually started with “Jumping Jeehosafats, weren’t their eyeballs connected to their brains…..” Unfortunately, the man who used to draw the illustrations passed away, but the memory of Grandpaw Pettibone’s pointed pieces, usually 100 or so words long, is embedded in all of those who read his wisdom!!!

To put each the stories in context, there is a short intro. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed putting pen to paper or in this day and age, creating ones and zeros on a laptop.

An Air Force Pilot’s Last Words

By Marc Liebman | September 21, 2020 |

My father was a career Air Force officer and in WWII, he was issued a summer and winter leather flight jacket. The winter one was fleece lined and when my…

There’s What on the Deck?

By Marc Liebman | September 21, 2020 |

This article appeared on the Association of Naval Aviation Grandpaw Pettibone chapter’s web site. This was my first flight as an helicopter aircraft commander.  Here’s the link –  

I want to fly Pipers!

By Marc Liebman | October 1, 2017 |

Back when we were living in Lock Haven, PA and working for Piper Aircraft, one of the benefits was one could rent planes from the company at ridiculously low rates.…

Tomahawk Roll

By Marc Liebman | March 2, 2017 |

No, the Tomahawk roll is not  reference to an Indian – native or Southwest Asian – type of bread. The Tomahawk was the name of a primary trainer designed by…