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The Daedalian Story

 

When war broke out in Europe in 1914, the airplane was hardly more than a dangerous plaything employed at fairs and circuses. Its potential was regarded lightly, when not contemptuously dismissed. Yet, in less than three years, it had gained such a measure of military respectability on the fighting front that when the United States entered the war, the Allies requested the United States furnish 5,000 combat pilots on the Western Front by early spring of 1918!

This was a gigantic order. In military aviation, the United States had lagged far behind. Only 40 military pilots had been trained in this country and 11 of those had been killed. Twenty-eight airplanes had been purchased by the government of which 16 had been wrecked. In the recent Mexican operations, the entire equipment of the Air Unit of the Army, which consisted of the 1st Aero Squadron, had been almost completely demolished. From this meager nucleus of military airmen, 5,000 pilots had to be trained in one year.

The call for volunteers went out, for then as now, no one would be required to fly against his will. From all walks of life and all parts of the country, some 40,000 young men answered our country’s call for pilots. By the time the Armistice was signed, some 11,000 had received their wings in the Army and another 2,000 in the Navy and Marine Corps. All were motivated by a patriotic desire to serve their country in its hour of need.

After the Armistice, many attempts were made to form organizations to solidify the bonds of aerial comradeship that had been molded in crisis during World War I. Several groups were formed by those whose foundations were purely social and retrospective gradually faded into obscurity. In 1921, while speaking to World War I pilots who had just flown for him to sink the Ostfriesland off the Virginia coast, Gen. Billy Mitchell urged the creation of an organization that would honor the World War I military pilots as the first to fly their country’s airplanes in time of war.

Concurrently, in the military establishments, small groups of officers informally discussed the formation of similar organizations, but seldom were any sizable number stationed in the same locality to take action. At some of the larger bases, organizations were established, but they soon expired. This mass demise was due not to any erosion of friendship but rather to the inevitable transfers which overwhelmed organizational unity. Additionally, for the military pilots dedicated to building a military air arm of the future, it was not enough to gather together for the principle of reliving the past.

In 1932, new impetus was given to the idea of establishing a formal organization of World War I military pilots. War clouds had begun to gather in Asia and Europe as nations began their retreat from powerful aggressors. The fear that apparently guided their decision seemed to penetrate our own national psychology. What was needed was some sort of standard, some solid reason that would remind us all and proclaim to the world that in the United States there was unity, patriotism, courage, and the spirit of self-sacrifice that placed service to the nation above personal safety. There was also in this country, in the form of our growing air power, the means to preserve the freedoms which our forebears had established.

In 1933, a representative group of World War I military pilots stationed at Maxwell Field, Alabama, consolidated these ideas which had long been forming. The result was that on 26 March 1934, there was formally instituted the Order of Daedalians composed of those commissioned officers who, no later than the Armistice of 1918, held ratings as pilots of heavier-than-air powered aircraft. These World War I military pilots, in the preamble to the constitution of the Order, stated as their purpose: “…to perpetuate the spirit of patriotism and love of country … and the high ideals of self-sacrifice which placed service to the nation above personal safety and position, and to further cement the ties of comradeship which bound us together at that critical hour of our nation’s need…”

Since, according to legend, Daedalus was the first person to accomplish heavier-than-air flight, it was considered the name “Order of Daedalians” was both fitting and proper for an organization composed of those who were the first to fly their country’s airplanes in time of war.

Charles D’Olive: Ten Fun Facts

                         

  1. He was the last WWI aviator to be declared an ace in 1963, his final victory being credited to him following a records correction.
  2. He entered the Aviation Section of the Army Signal Corps in 1917 as a private, quickly becoming a sergeant when ground school began. There were no barracks and no uniforms. 4th School Squadron Cadets received pay of $100 per month to finance boarding in Memphis, Tennessee where they used the bowl of the half-mile racetrack at the fairgrounds as a landing field. The Squadron had a total of three Jennies at the time, which were disassembled and transported by freight train to Ashburn Field, Chicago when the squadron was relocated. Cadets commissioned as lieutenants the day they soloed.                                           
  3. He was roommates with Quentin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt’s youngest son, while the two attended gunnery school together in Arcachon.
  4. He was both the first in the 93rd Aero Squadron to score a victory on 12 September 1918, shooting down a Fokker D.VII near Vieville-en-Haye. The 93rd continues its legacy today as the 93rd Bomb Squadron, part of Air Force Reserve Command operating out of Louisiana.
  5. On 18 October 1918, the day he scored his fifth and final victory shooting down a German plane, he himself was also shot down.
  6. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross “for extraordinary heroism in action near St. Benoit, France, September 13, 1918, First Lieutenant D’Olive, in conjunction with another American pilot, engaged and fought five enemy planes. Outnumbered and fighting against tremendous odds, he shot down three enemy planes and outfought the entire enemy formation.”
  7. He joined the Daedalians in 1964, after being introduced to the organization by Howard Johnson at a formal dining out given by the 170th Fighter Group of the Montana Air National Guard. He had been invited to address a group of Montana’s surviving WWI pilots being honored at the event. Eddie Rickenbacker, fellow ace and good friend, was one of his references.
  8. Following the war, he became a business executive in Iowa. He remained active in several WWI aviation organizations and encouraged and mentored a number of young pilots throughout his life.
  9. The Air Force Reserve Command Historian Office commissioned a painting in 2016 of his September 1918 three-victory flight. It was unveiled at the National Museum of the United States Air Force on 1 October 2016.
  10. His definition of a hero, shared at a Daedalian event in 1971 was “dumb enough to get in a jam, lucky enough to shoot himself out while someone was watching.”

             

 

Operation Christmas Drop: Daedalians Give Back

In addition to the great work done by our Foundation, Daedalians around the country give back throughout the year through outreach, partnerships, and charitable activities. Among the most noteworthy of these efforts is Harley H. Pope Flight #48’s participation in Operation Christmas Drop (OCD) to the remote islands in the Pacific.

2021 marked the second consecutive year Flight #48 has participated in OCD. The Flight donated $2,000, which supported 8 bundles. This contribution was second overall in total OCD donations, behind a large corporate donation. Col. Kevin “Kmart” Martin, USAF and Daedalian Member #10,020 and current 374th Operations Group Commander, along with Flight #48’s Captain, Col. Joe Fitzpatrick, USAF (Ret.) have been the driving force behind the Daedalians effort the past two years.

Col. Martin is “very proud of all the participants of the 70th Operation Christmas Drop.  This year included the USAF, Japan Air Self Defense Force, and for the first time the Republic of Korea Air Force!  We also hosted several other international observers from seven nations.  Most of our USAF coordination and participation revolved around the 36th Airlift Squadron and the package of maintenance and riggers to support their operations.”

OCD celebrated its 70th anniversary this year. The effort brings food, clothing, tools, fishing supplies, and Christmas gifts to residents of the remote outer islands of the Federated States of Micronesia. Largely isolated and with limited modern comforts, OCD provides a vital lifeline to necessities for the islanders and is a much-anticipated annual event. In addition to being one of the largest humanitarian efforts of its kind, it provides flight training opportunities to participating nations.

In addition to direct donations in support of OCD from the Flight, Flight Captain Col. Fitzpatrick arranged a briefing on Operation Christmas Drop (OCD) for the Flight’s September meeting. Presented via Zoom by Col. Martin, 374th Operations Group Commander, along with this year’s OCD Mission Commander, Capt. Alex Randall, the Flight was brought up to speed on OCD’s history and this year’s operational plan. Involvement with OCD has facilitated connection with the Flight and active-duty Daedalians.

Col. Fitzpatrick had learned about OCD while active-duty and stationed at Yokota AB, Japan in the late 70s. However, he didn’t have a chance to participate during his military career. He summed up the unique opportunity to give back “I can’t think of a better way to make an impact to the Federated States of Micronesia islanders but to make monetary donations toward bundles.”

Col. Martin thanks his fellow Daedalians “Again, I was very impressed by the awesome charity from my fellow Daedalians who continue to serve whether in or out of the cockpit!  This was my third and final OCD as the 374 AEG Commander, which has been an absolute highlight of my career.” The Daedalian boxes were dropped by the 36th Squadron, commanded by Lt. Col. Steve Massie, USAF to the islanders of Micronesia. We applaud the Flight, all Daedalian donors, and all personnel and volunteers involved with OCD in another successful effort.

Passing the Baton Across Generations

LTC Arthur Trujillo and CWO Jess Findley looking at the hole ripped in their UH-1 Helicopter after a flight into Tran Dai, RVN in April of 1971

Lt. Col. Paul “Truman” Trujillo, USAF (Ret.) had wanted to join the military for as long as he could remember. Inspired by his dad, LTC Arthur Trujillo, USA (Ret.), a Huey pilot who also served as a Green Beret, an attraction to military service was present from an early age. Sons Lt. Zach Trujillo, USAF and Cadet Jacob Trujillo also shared an innate desire to be part of something greater than themselves and have followed family tradition, with careers beginning at the United States Air Force Academy.

Originally, Lt. Col. Trujillo had a desire to go Army by pursuing an appointment at West Point and a career in Special Forces. According to Truman, “God works in mysterious ways,” as his father, LTC Trujillo had advised him to go Air Force and ultimately, he received an appointment to the Air Force Academy instead. With his vision disqualifying him from an aviation rating, the plan was to get a biochemistry degree and go to medical school.

As fate would have it, a friend advised Truman to go see a retired optometrist who was trying some new exercises with bifocals and notecards with small letters to get up to 20/70 vision. Going into the flight physical senior year, Lt. Col. Trujillo didn’t have a great feeling about his chances, but he squeaked by at 20/70 and after a little stink eye from the female doc, heard “you’re pilot qualified, get out of here.”

With that magical phrase, the desire to be a pilot was planted. He would go on to earn one of the limited 250 slots available to members of his class following the Gulf War drawdown and ultimately go on to fly C-130s.

After graduation, Lt. Col. Trujillo went to pilot training in the T-37 at Reese AFB. As the number one guy coming out of the T-37, he had the choice to go T-38s and pursue a career flying fighters or opt for the T-1 and end up flying heavies. After some conversations with fighter pilots, Truman made the last second decision to go with the T-1. With a cutback in pilots coming through the T-1 program, rather than wait one to three years to fly, Lt. Col. Trujillo opted to become an instructor pilot in the T-37 at Reese AFB with a C-130 follow-on.

Lt. Col. Trujillo’s first student as a FAIP was a Captain who struggled in the aircraft. After nearly stalling the aircraft three times, Truman had to hook the student and fail him, and unfortunately, that Captain ended up washing out. Following the incident, a sickle mysteriously appeared behind Truman’s desk.

Reflecting on his career in the Herc, he stated “It’s not a pretty aircraft or a fast aircraft, but it always took care of me.”

Lt. Trujillo would end up following in his father’s footsteps. From an early age, Zach idolized his grandfather LTC Arthur Trujillo and his stories of flying the Huey. A five-letter varsity athlete with a desire to get in on the action and be out front, he started applying to USAFA as a junior in high school. He received an appointment, and after Lasik helped him overcome the same vision issue that Lt. Col. Trujillo experienced, medically qualified for a pilot slot. In his senior year at the Academy, he was the 3rd Group commander which helped him get into the highly competitive ENJJPT. Following ENJJPT, he also became a FAIP and loved his experience at PIT and will go on to fly fighters.

Cadet Jacob Trujillo, the youngest of the family, idolized his brother Zach and explored several options in his keen desire to serve. Now a freshman cadet at USAFA, his goal is to serve as a Combat Rescue Officer. The family business is in good hands as the baton has been passed across three generations. Both Lt. Col. Paul Trujillo and his son Lt. Zach Trujillo are Daedalians, tying their family and aviation history together in a unique and living way.

Summer Vacation in an L-39

What do pilots and Peter Pan have in common? They are forever young in their mind’s eye. Thirty years after retiring from the Air Force, I decided it was time to get checked out in another jet.

Hanging out with fellow aviators in the Red Star Pilots Association – they own and fly Soviet block and Chinese aircraft – I met several who have Aero Voldochody L-39 aircraft. The L-39 is a sleek looking subsonic trainer used by the now Russian Air Force, as well as many others.

The company I work for requires me to maintain instrument currency in manned aircraft and provides a monthly reimbursement for doing that. In addition, they provide grants for advanced training. My boss urged me to take advantage of these opportunities.

After a little research, I determined the company would cover a significant portion of the cost to get a type rating in the L-39. I was off to the Jet Warbird Training Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico for my summer “vacation”.

One of my current flying buddies who had previously owned an L-39 recommended this flight school run by Larry Salganek. In addition to the L-39, Larry also provides training in an L-29, a T-33, a Fouga and a MiG-15. The L-39 is the classiest of the group in my opinion.

I checked in on a Wednesday morning for some ground school and my first flight, consisting of a little aircraft handling and normal patterns. After lunch, it was another ground school session and my second flight, with more air work and simulated flameout patterns all the way to a touch and go.

The “syllabus” was very targeted to prepare me for an airline transport pilot level type rating in the L-39. Thursday, more ground school and two more flights, to include instrument approaches and practicing all the maneuvers for the check ride. Each flight lasted an hour.

The L-39, like many Russian aircraft, is typically rugged, reliable and simple to fly and operate. The electrical, pressurization and hydraulic systems are straight forward. The checklists for normal operations (start, taxi, takeoff, climb, cruise, descent, landing and shutdown) all fit on a single page. Emergency procedures are longer, but uncomplicated and logical.

Friday morning, a different instructor gave me a phase check. This was a mock check ride to give me the necessary endorsement for the real check ride that I got Friday afternoon with the FAA designated examiner.

The only reasons I was able to do such an accelerated course were my training and experience flying in the Air Force, and the fact that I still fly regularly. It was a great bucket list experience.

About the Author: Rich Martindell flew F-4s in Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States with 232 combat missions, 52 of which were in North Vietnam. He also flew F-15s at Luke AFB, AZ and Bitburg AB, Germany. Rich currently flys MQ-9 Reapers worldwide as a contract pilot for the military. Rich belongs to both Flight 13 in San Diego and Flight 56 at Edwards AFB.

A Conversation with 1stLt Paige McFarland

Interview Conducted by Taylor E. Watson on 13 September 2021

1stLt Joe McFarland, USMC; 1stLt Paige McFarland, USMC; and CAPT Mike Denkler, USN (Ret)

Our most recent Daedalian Top Grad, 1stLt Paige McFarland, USMC earned her Wings of Gold as a Naval Aviator 10 Sep 2021 at NAS Whiting Field, FL, making the Commodore’s List with Distinction and finishing first in her class. 1stLt McFarland will report to Camp Pendleton, CA and fly the AH-1Z Cobra.

At left in photo is her husband, 1stLt Joe McFarland, who is also stationed at Camp Pendleton & flying the Cobra. Joe graduated #1 in his winging class 15 Jan 2021 anad also won the Daedalian Top Grad Award!!! (A Daedalian Rep could not present the award due to Covid). This has to be the first husband & wife team to win our Award; very special.

  1. What inspired you to become a military aviator?

As a kid, I always knew I wanted to be an astronaut. Going into college, I was looking around for scholarship opportunities and received an ROTC scholarship at FSU. My freshman year I didn’t have much direction for my career.

My sophomore year, during CORTRAMID, we spent one week with each community: aviation, subs, SWO, and Marines. I already knew I was going to join the Marines, but during aviation week I got to fly in a T-34 and had a blast. As soon as I got back to my unit, I turned in my aviation packet and got a guaranteed flying slot.

2. How did you and your husband meet?

We both went to FSU but met at his commissioning. The Platoon Leaders Course (PLC) leadership encouraged us to go and support those who were graduating. We officially met at the event, got to talking, and realized we both wanted to fly jets and it went from there. We both ended up flying helos and are super pumped.

3. How as spouses, do you help each other in your aviation careers?

A lot of support and understanding. My husband went ahead of me through training, and he’s been able to provide answers to lots of questions and support. I get to run ideas by him about how I’m going to approach things, and it’s tremendously helpful. When he was going through training, we were able to live together, I did dinners and was able to help him with studying and things like that. The mutual understanding we have is really valuable.

4. What advice would you have for anyone aspiring to be a military aviator?

Work hard. Study a lot. Never give up. Flight school took a long time. There was a lot of wait time and I was actually medically down halfway through the program. You have to have that determination and motivation within yourself to keep going all the way to the end.

5. Who is one of your aviation heroes?

Amelia Earhart, as she is the most well-known female aviator and as I was growing up she was who I looked to as the ideal female aviator. Later on, my commander at TBS was a female Cobra pilot who was 5’1” and weighed nothing but did everything. As I’ve progressed, she’s become my idol and mentor and someone I really look up to and aspire to be like.

6. What are you most excited about for your future career?

I’m mostly just excited to get out to the fleet and do my part. I’m ready to get out there and get after and support our Marines on the ground flying Cobras.

7. Why did you join the Daedalians?

When I was presented with the award and got my wings, I realized it was a neat organization. It’s a small, select group of elite, committed people. And my husband is in it, too, which is pretty cool.

Extreme Search

by Col. William J. Moran, Jr., USAF (Ret.), Daedalian Member #9091


Civil Air Patrol C-182T NAV III

The Call

Under the National Search and Rescue (SAR) Plan, the United States Air Force provides resources for over-land SAR.  Those resources are Civil Air Patrol (CAP) personnel and 550 high wing Cessna aircraft stationed across the country flown by CAP volunteers. 

Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) called me at 2100 hours local on Sunday, 15 February 2015 because New Hampshire Fish and Game (F&G) was requesting New Hampshire CAP search and rescue assets under the Memorandum of Understanding between AFRCC and NH F&G.  A 32-year-old female hiker was missing in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains.


Search Area, Presidential Range, New Hampshire

As the on-call incident commander (IC), I agreed we could provide air assets but not ground assets. As I looked out my window toward snow- covered Mt. Washington forty miles north of my house, I already knew we did not have ground assets qualified to enter such weather. A Nor’easter had barreled through, and Sunday was one of those hundred-plus days a year when the winds would exceed hurricane strength at the top of the White Mountains. 

I called my contact at NH F&G, with whom I had built a good relationship when I was New Hampshire CAP wing commander. He said to call at 0900 hours Monday morning, and he would then make the decision to fly. NH F&G’s first call is always to the New Hampshire Army National Guard UH-60 helicopters out of Concord, NH. For pickup, they are the best – but very expensive – asset. However, they do not have emergency locator beacon directional finder equipment. As such, for search purposes CAP is the most economical, at less than $150/hour.

My CAP unit was the closest airport to the search area. I arranged for another IC to take over while I lined up a crew for Monday morning. At takeoff time we had one set of coordinates somewhere in the vicinity of Star Lake – really a small pond – in the saddle between Mt. Madison (5,367ft) and Mt. Adams (5,774ft), approximately four miles north of Mt. Washington.

At an elevation of 6,288 feet, Mt. Washington is the highest mountain in the northeast, situated in the Presidential Range and White Mountain National Forest. Roughly 75% of the storms that trek through the United States pass over the Presidential Range. The Mt. Washington Observatory, located atop the mountain, has been recording weather observations since 1870 and the highest wind ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere, two hundred thirty-one miles per hour, was observed in 1934. The Mount Washington Observatory routinely publishes an Aviation Meteorological Aerodrome Report (METAR) using KMWN as the identifier. In the northeast, most local aviators look at this report before flying.

Background

Search and Rescue (SAR) instruments are flown on low earth polar orbiting (LEO), medium earth orbiting (MEO) and geostationary earth orbiting (GEO) satellites provided by the U.S., Russian Federation, India and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). These instruments are capable of detecting signals coming from the Earth’s surface transmitted by emergency beacons.

More than 695,000 406 MHz emergency distress beacons are registered with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The different types of distress beacons are the Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT) for aircraft, Personal Locator Beacons (PLB) for personal use, and Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) for boats. Of these registered beacons, 293,000 are PLBs including 20,000 registered in 2020 alone.  I call the new PLBs aviation technology in the hiker’s backpack.

406MHz emergency distress beacons send a data burst to the SAR satellites (SARSAT) which includes the owner’s registration data.  If equipped, some beacons transmit a 406 MHz data burst signal that includes encoded GPS coordinates. Some environmental factors such as orientation, cover and physical obstructions can prevent beacons from receiving a GPS satellite fix.  A five-watt 406 data burst can be detected and processed by geostationary satellites (GEOS), by low earth orbit satellite (LEOS) using a Doppler-shift locating technique, and medium earth orbit satellites (MEOS, using a method similar to triangulation).  Although all 406 MHz beacons must be registered with the NOAA every two years, many are not registered.

An activated beacon’s data/coordinates are received through NOAA’s Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) and automatically forwarded to AFRCC. The United States Air Force is responsible for coordinating inland SAR in the United States. USAF defers to local state agencies but provides CAP resources for ground and air search.  Most CAP aircraft have emergency beacon directional finding equipment.

In New Hampshire, NH F&G is responsible, by law, for missing persons. Through the AFRCC and NH F&G Memorandum of Understanding, New Hampshire Fish and Game can request CAP air assets that are specifically equipped to track and find all emergency locator beacons.

406 MHz beacons also transmit a low-power 121.5 MHz signal intended for close-range locating/homing.  Current CAP directional finder equipment, RT600, can receive all 18 406 MHz frequencies/channels as well as the low-power 121.5 MHz signal.

These direction-finding signals should not be confused with satellite messaging systems such as the Delorme in Reach, SPOT and SPIDER, which drop GPS bread-crumb trails through two-way satellite text messaging. These commercial products are not tied into the SARSAT system, nor do they transmit direction finding signals.

PLB Function

When a PLB unit is activated, the GPS receiver turns on, searches to find satellites to develop coordinates, and incorporates the coordinates into the 406 MHz signal data burst transmission. As soon as the GPS receiver acquires valid positioning data, the red flashing light is replaced by a green flashing light once every three seconds. The same GPS data is sent with each 406 MHz signal for the next thirty minutes.

After thirty minutes the internal GPS starts up again and repeats the process of finding the coordinates to incorporate into the next data burst. If the internal GPS cannot update coordinates, it will use the previous position for the next four hours. The green LED stops blinking and the red LED flashes every three seconds until new GPS data is obtained.

Signal Accuracy vs. Reliability

Reliability of the PLB signal depends upon the proper deployment of the beacon and its location, such as terrain and obstructions, in reference to the satellite. Beacon location and orientation may cause signal propagation and degrade both reliability and accuracy. The GEOS in this area is located over the equator at seventy-five degrees longitude, and likely cannot see a beacon on the north side of a ridge.

The 406 MHz beacon system considers the Doppler-shift signal – a change in frequency due to the Doppler effect – received by LEOS to be more reliable and the primary signal, mostly because many PLBs are not equipped with GPS and do not transmit an encoded data-burst.

When a GPS beacon is properly deployed, with a good line of sight to both the GPS and GEOS/LEOS satellites, the position is considered to be highly accurate.

Mt. Madison Weather

The winds Sunday night at the observatory gusted over one hundred forty MPH and the temperature with wind chill was minus eighty-eight degrees (F). At 0500 hours on Monday our NH F&G contact called and requested NH CAP assistance as part of the search.  When my crew arrived at the Laconia Municipal Airport (KLCI) hangar Monday morning, the temperature with wind chill was still well below zero at the airfield elevation of five hundred forty-five feet mean sea level. After shoveling out the snow drift in front of the hangar doors, a hair dryer was needed to thaw a fuel sump. The winds were gusting out of the west. Luckily, the runway is orientated to the west. As we taxied to the runway, the airfield looked like a frozen tundra with blowing snow. We already knew the KMWN METAR was reporting winds out of the northwest at one hundred MPH, gusting to one hundred ten.

To determine how high we would climb I added half the elevation of Mt. Washington (three thousand feet) to the Mount Madison elevation (five thousand three hundred sixty-seven ft) and then I added another one thousand feet for a risk buffer (or for “good luck”).

The best altitude for a directional finder search is one thousand feet above the ground. There is no way to fly this at six thousand four hundred feet, with a six thousand three-hundred-foot mountain to the south and a five thousand seven-hundred-foot mountain directly west, and winds over hurricane strength.  We would conduct our search at ten thousand five hundred feet.

Missing Person

The thirty-two-year-old female hiker started her journey Sunday morning. She intended to traverse several mountain peaks along the Appalachian Trail: Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Washington, and then descend down the Mt. Washington Cog Railroad. Post Nor’easter winds were already gusting near hurricane strength when she set off.

At approximately 1500 hours on Sunday the hiker activated the 406 MHz Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) she carried in her pack.  Her husband said if she activated her PLB, she was in real trouble.  At that time the Observatory temperature was -17F with a sustained eighty-four MPH wind.

The Search

Once airborne, we loaded the initial coordinates into the GPS and followed them north some forty miles. We then picked up the 406 MHz signal on our directional finder which was in agreement with our northerly heading. Shortly thereafter, we picked up a very strong 121.5 MHz homing signal on our secondary very high frequency radio. We put that homing signal frequency into the directional finder and tracked it to near Mt. Madison.

Our groundspeed varied from thirty to two hundred thirty knots as we performed airborne direction finding (DF) on the 121.5 homing signal. We lost one thousand five hundred feet in downdrafts and climbed three thousand feet in the updrafts as we tracked the beacon from different headings. Altitude above the ground and winds made homing in on the beacon very difficult. A one-thousand-foot horizontal error in our estimate of the hiker’s location could have meant a two-thousand-foot vertical difference.

As it turned out, our estimate of the hiker’s location was south of where she was located. Her PLB was inside her backpack and due to antenna orientation, this caused signal propagation errors. We started the record mode of our iPad ForeFlight aviation app and recorded all our tracks.

We overflew her location four times but because of limited ground visibility we could not see her location. Below us, a major ground blizzard was raging. An NH F&G conservation officer – who is also a CAP pilot – heard us from the ground but could not see us. After noon on Monday, a SAR team found the hiker.  She died from exposure and hypothermia, near the trail.

Snow-covered Presidential Range on The Day of the Search

Understanding Data

Over the twenty-one hours of the search and rescue mission, AFRCC received thirty-five coordinate fixes. Eight GPS fixes were in one location and four more were three hundred feet away from that location. Fifteen Doppler-shift fixes were scattered over the Presidential Mountain range. The average error of the GPS fixes was one thousand four hundred feet, and eleven thousand six hundred feet for the Doppler fixes, while the composite – coordinates combined – fix error averaged five thousand seven hundred feet.

A lack of reliable information and data caused much consternation for NH F&G. They had previously completed a summer search very quickly with one single coordinate from a commercial satellite messaging service, Spotify Technology SA.  For this search there were many coordinates across a rugged mountain range. Brutal weather in the mountains only served to complicate matters.

During a search like this, NH F&G operates their own deployed command center, usually in a nearby fire station and CAP is not a partner in this arrangement. Neither CAP nor NH F&G understood the coordinate labeling that came with the Keyhole Markup Language Zipped (KMZ) files provided by AFRCC. AFRCC uses KMZ files output from Google Earth to transfer NOAA search and rescue information to incident command staff. You must have Google Earth on your computer to open KMZ files.

The KMZ files contained distress beacon coordinates, indicated by place markers on Google Earth. GPS coordinates are preceded by an “E” (indicating an Encoded GPS embedded in signal) and received by GEO-geo-stationary satellites (GEOS) and LEOS. GPS coordinates do not list a probability as they are thought to be one hundred percent correct; this is not always the case. Because they sit in a geostationary location over the earth’s surface, the GEOS are NOT capable of determining a beacon location without an encoded GPS coordinate.

406 MHz signal coordinates derived by LEOS are preceded by an “A” or “B” label, indicating that the coordinates were derived from Doppler frequency shift analysis with 1-3 NM accuracy.  Because LEOS equipped to receive beacon signals are in a non-stationary orbit, initial detection time is around 45 minutes but may take up to 2 hours. Doppler shift coordinates are broken down by “A” or “B” labels indicating which side of the satellite’s path was used in the measurement.  The “A” position is not necessarily more accurate, and a second LEOS pass is required to resolve ambiguity.

A and B coordinates should include a stated probability based upon many factors. Doppler-shift derived coordinates are also called Satellite Solution.  A “C” preceding a fix number indicates the coordinates are a composite of “A “or “B” or multiple fixes, but not necessarily more accurate. Signals and therefore reported positions are subject to errors such as satellite azimuth, terrain reflection, signal propagation, obstacles and operator error (no clear view of sky). NIL labels indicate data is invalid. Medium Earth Orbit satellites (MEOS) coordinates will be labeled with a “D”.  ALL satellites can record, and report GPS encoded coordinates.

Conclusion

This search was conducted under extreme conditions but not so unusual for a New Hampshire winter day post-Nor’easter.  Also, not so unusual was the response from both ground and air SAR responders.  The book, Where You’ll Find Me, Risk, Decisions, and the last Climb of Kate Matrosova by Ty Gagne, goes into great detail about the hiker’s preparations, decisions and path till she succumbed to the horrific weather.  He also goes into great detail about the SAR responders’ efforts to climb the mountain and search under the most dreadful winter conditions.  It is a testament to the dedication of those who lay their lives on the line so that others might live.

Bill Moran is a retired USAF colonel and former New Hampshire CAP wing commander. During his USAF career, he was an aircraft commander in the B-52G, F/FB-111, and B-1A/B.

Lt Bruce Determann and Capt Bruce Neff were crewmembers on this mission and provided excellent aircrew coordination.

Matter of Experience

by Col. Harry C. “Steve” Stevenson, Daedalian Life Member #3122

Air Force CT-39 1960 model

Many years ago in the land of Tactical Air Command, I was a major and “staff puke” on the TAC staff at Langley. Because of five years non-rated duty, I was way behind my peers in flying time. Thus, the TAC rated assignments folks allowed that I should fly the “Teeny Tiny Airlines” T-39 Sabreliner from the MAC detachment as an attached pilot.  I was duly checked out in the T-39 at Scott AFB, and mostly on weekends I would fly the VIP lifts around the east coast.

After flying as a co-pilot for a year, I upgraded to aircraft commander (AC). For the next seven months I hauled Army, Marine, Air Force generals and Congressmen around the eastern United States to airbases and the major civilian airports (ATL, DAL, BOS, ORD, RDU, MCO, JFK, etc.).

One sunny day, our airlift mission started from Langley to Andrews to pick up and fly an Air Force Reserve IG team from Andrews to Montgomery, Alabama’s Dannelly Field to “no-notice” inspect the F-4 Air National Guard unit.  It was a beautiful day with clear skies the entire flight.

My co-pilot that day was a new second lieutenant, arriving straight from UPT to Scott AFB for T-39 checkout, and to the Langley MAC detachment. As my co-pilot, he did a good job at Langley, the leg to Andrews and down to Montgomery.  This was only his second line mission.

A divert from our filed destination (Eglin AFB) to Montgomery’s Dannelly Field was requested in-flight by the IG team (sneaky bastards).  My co-pilot was uncomfortable as he had never made a divert, even for weather.

“Can do easy, in clear such weather.”

We landed at Dannelly, dropped the IG team on the red carpet at the FBO and went to park and refuel. Thirty minutes later, I finished paying for the fuel, talked to MAC Airlift Mission Center and returned to the Sabreliner.

“Let’s saddle up. Start ’em up while I strap in.  MAC changed our destination to Maxwell AFB.”

He looked at me in amazement: “Aren’t we going to file a new flight plan and get a weather update?”

“Stop the checklist, unstrap and come with me.”

We opened the passenger door, stood on the top step.

“Do you see a cloud in the sky?  Have we seen one in the last 500 miles?”

“No, sir”

“Look over there, to the north, just above the tree line.  See what could be a control tower?’

“Yes, sir.”

“That is Maxwell Field, our destination.  Any questions?”

“No, sir”

We closed up, started, taxied, and took off on a VFR clearance to Maxwell.  I even let my co-pilot fly his first ever VFR mission leg.

A Renaissance Man Who Always Pushed the Envelope: Col. Norman Phillips, USAF (Ret.)

By Peter D. Lennon, Federal Gov’t (Ret.), Granite Flight #53

Norm Phillips as Cold War 22d Fighter Squadron Commander seated in blue uniform in middle of 1st row (“An American Solo” documentary film by Jay MacNamee & Bob
     Bear, Star Island Films, 2017)

Col. Norman Phillips, USAF (Ret.), Granite State Flight #53’s last World War II veteran, flew west earlier this Summer.  A courageous fighter pilot who rejected the “hero” label in World War II and also flew combat missions during the Vietnam War, he was just five months shy of his 100th birthday at the time of his death.  

Colonel Phillips truly was a renaissance man.  After a noteworthy Air Force career, he became an instructor in sculpture for nineteen years at the University of Massachusetts, a published novelist, and the host of a local New Hampshire authors’ group known as the “Writers of the Round Table.” 

Norm’s obituary on Seacoast Online recounted that he was a man of exceptional vigor, curiosity, and talent, and that he did what he wanted to do every day of his life, packing several lifetimes into one. 

Norm flew numerous combat missions in the heavily armed and ruggedly survivable Republic P-47 “Thunderbolt” fighter bomber, one of the Army Air Corps primary aircraft during WW II.  Over Vietnam, he flew dozens of missions in the supersonic Republic F-105 “Thunderchief” strike bomber.   

During the Cold War, Norm commanded the “Red Hot Fighters” 22d Fighter Squadron at Bitburg Air Base, Germany.  As a major, he led his squadron to win Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards as it flew the F-86 “Sabre” and the F-100 “Super Sabre.” 

Insignia for the “Red Hot Fighters” 22d Fighter Squadron (US Air Force Historical Research Agency)

Colonel Phillips’ unique story, spirit, and character were best captured in an article in the local newspaper to mark Veterans Day in 2016 and his 95th birthday later that month: 

Stratham vet is 95 years of the ‘right stuff’ 

By Hadley Barndollar     Seacoastonline.com/Exeter (NH) News-Letter  
 Posted Nov 10, 2016, at 4:26 PM Updated Nov 11, 2016, at 11:14 AM  

STRATHAM — The United States of America is 240 years old, and Norman Phillips has been around for nearly 95 of them. He takes pride in that. 

Phillips, who turns the big 9-5 at the end of November, is a World War II and Vietnam War veteran turned sculptor and writer. He and his wife have lived in Exeter and Stratham for 24 years now. 

In World War II Germany, Phillips led a strafing attack which destroyed 29 airplanes. He received the Silver Star for that. But Phillips said it was nothing heroic. 

“I was just like a high school kid that saw a bunch of airplanes and said, ‘Let’s bust them up!’” he laughed. “It was just youthful exuberance. It was nothing heroic.” 

Phillips said he doesn’t believe in heroes or the phrase “the Greatest Generation.” 

“We’re no different than anybody else,” he said. 

Phillips was born in Ware, Massachusetts in 1921 where he was raised by illiterate Polish grandparents. He didn’t know his father and only saw his mother on Christmas and in the summertime. As a child he was a rebel. He laughs that he loved to steal apples and stole his first car at age 14. He often skipped school. In the seventh grade, Phillips went to live with his mother in Queens, which ended in a hitchhike back to Ware. Phillips has always done what he’s wanted, something he ascribes to a “true inner attitude.” 

A high school principal, Bob Fox, made a deal with Phillips that if he started coming to school, he could enter senior year on time. Phillips said that was the beginning of a lot for him, as he was able to enlist in the Air Force because he had a high school diploma. 

Phillips became a fighter pilot, flying the P-47 Thunderbolt. He started World War II in Italy, just south of Rome, about a week after the Germans had left. He then moved to Corsica, where they invaded southern France. Phillips said his fighter unit was the first flying unit in Germany. 

On the last day of the war in 1945, Phillips’ unit was flying over Hitler’s “Eagle Nest.” He was leading a 12-ship formation that was ready to roll over and dive bomb a concentration of troops on the ground. It was then the pilot received word that the war was over. Phillips said they dropped their bombs safely in Lake Constance and “got drunk as hell that night.” 

During the Vietnam War, Phillips’ F-105 was shot out of the sky in Laos on Memorial Day 1968, or as Phillips put it, “I got my butt blown out of the sky.” 

The way Phillips describes that day could be straight out of an Ernest Hemingway story. 

“The air was as smooth as vanilla ice cream, the sun was setting and the rolling hills of Laos were like a dream velvet carpet,” he said. 

Suddenly, he was hit by five or six roman candles (explosives). Phillips described the ordeal, watching his plane headed for the jungle before he ejected himself. He went crashing through the trees where he suffered some broken bones. Not long after, a medic came down on a cable from a helicopter but couldn’t find Phillips through the trees. 

“He was a young man with a camouflaged face,” he said. “I took out my 38 and fired two rounds up to the nose of the helicopter.” Ultimately, the rescue plan proved successful and Phillips came to know his rescuer as Thomas Newman, who ended up teaching at an air rescue school in San Antonio after the war. 

A full-retired colonel and wounded vet by 1969, Phillips went to the University of Massachusetts Amherst to study art, where he received his BA and MFA. 

“I wanted to be an art teacher,” he said. “I had this illusion that with my leadership skills, I could teach art in the ghetto and make people better.” But the more Phillips got involved in the program, the faculty took a liking to him and encouraged him to apply for a staff assistant position to the chairman, for which he was chosen. 

Phillips went on to teach art at the college level for 19 years, where he specialized in sculpting with bronze and steel. 

Phillips met his second wife Mary in 1977 at UMass, to whom he is still married. They have one son together. 

Today, Phillips said he “gets a lot of fun out of living.” Much of that fun he finds in writing composition. 

“When I retired from the university, a lot of people talked to me and said, ‘You outta write a book.’ One day there was an ad in the Exeter paper for a woman running a free memoir program that was eight sessions.” Phillips signed up for the program and the rest is history. 

“What I read on the paper that came out of my head, I didn’t think it was there,” he said. “It’s such a magical process.” 

Now, Phillips hosts “Writers of the Round Table” every Tuesday at his dining room table, where a small group gathers to exercise their creative sides and write from prompts. 

“For two hours we never stray from the subject,” he said. “Every Tuesday, it’s all raw stuff coming out of people. We’re starting a fire of getting people to get in contact with their inner selves.” 

Perhaps his pride and joy, Phillips published a book in 2012 titled “Throw a Nickel on the Grass,” which chronicles his life from boyhood transforming into “a steely-eyed, decorated fighter pilot.” The close to 400-page book is a detailed account of his experiences at war and the men he fought alongside. The book also showcases Phillips’ spirit, which is described as an “independence and insatiable curiosity.” 

The book is dedicated to Newman, the man who saved him in Laos.  

When asked about the recent election cycle, he said he believes people will continue to live the way they’ve been living despite the election outcome. 

“There’s enough people up there to balance all the evil that’s done,” he said. “I’m quite an optimistic person but I’m not a daydreamer. I know people are crooked and politicians lie behind their resume. I would love to talk to Hillary and Donald and say, ‘What are you really talking about, don’t BS me.’” 

Referring to a local politician who knocked on his door the other day, Phillips said he has a knack for seeing beyond people’s façade, their resume. 

“Fundamentally, most people are good people,” he said. “I think I’ve learned to pick out the losers and I always tell them who they are.” 

Phillips and his wife own a home in Prince Edward Island where they spend nine to ten weeks a year. Phillips has homemade photo books, visual narrations of their time on PEI’s stunning beaches. 

“There’s nothing to do there and people are nice, what else do you need?” he laughed. 

Phillips will celebrate his 95th birthday at the end of November with a cocktail party. Phillips likes martinis because “they don’t taste that great but you only need one.” The paper invitation shows Phillips riding a motor scooter and says, “What next?” 

What is next for Phillips, the highly decorated war veteran with a dry sense of humor and meticulous memory? 

“I’m going to be toes up,” he said, pointing to the sky. “My flying friends are waiting for me up there. They have a spot in the flying formation for me.” 

On the last page of his book, Phillips talks about his flying “fraternity.” 

“Each one of these officers, along with some I haven’t mentioned, exemplify the spirit, skill and guts it takes to be a member of the fighter pilot fraternity,” he wrote. “They were all my brothers, and they had the “right stuff.”″ 

It seems that Phillips has been doing the right stuff for 95 years. 

Norm was a Daedalian for twenty-four years and always could be counted on to enliven Granite State Flight #53 gatherings.   He will be long-remembered and deeply missed.    

He is survived by his wife, Mary North Phillips, of Portsmouth, NH, his five adult children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his first wife, Leona.  

Norm Phillips (Courtesy Photo and Fosters.com/Seacoastonline.com)

History & Heritage: Planophere Celebrates its 150th Anniversary

By Dr. Dick Hallion, Daedalian Honorary Member #50043

Thursday August 18, 2021 marks the 150th Anniversary of the first flight of a rubber-band-powered model airplane, a milestone in aviation, indeed world, history.

Called a “Planophore,” it was first flown in front of numerous witnesses in the Tuileries gardens in Paris on Friday, 18 August 1871 by the son of a French Navy admiral, Alphonse Pénaud. 

It had a long 20-inch dowel body, an elegant 18-inch wing, and small tail surfaces. Twisted rubber cords running from the nose of the dowel to a bearing at the rear spun a large pusher propeller. 

That day, Pénaud wound the prop through two hundred forty revolutions, held the model at head-height, and let it go. It subsequently flew forty meters (approximately 131 feet), in eleven seconds.

Pénaud’s flight demonstrated that a full-size powered airplane could fly, something many so-called experts doubted, provided that it had a powerful-enough engine and some method of control for the pilot. 

Those challenges were elegantly solved by the Wright Brothers with their Kitty Hawk Flyer, flown four times on December 17, 1903. Coincidentally, on its first flight, it covered one hundred twenty-six feet in twelve seconds, virtually the same distance and duration the Planophore achieved in the Tuileries gardens.

The rubber-band-powered model airplane inspired millions of young people who became the aviators and engineers who gave us the aerospace world of today.  It all started with Alphonse Pénaud one hundred fifty years ago.