Friday, May 30, 2008

No Aviation Heroes?

Many airports have a historical "Something Field" name in addition to their official "Something County Regional Airport" name, with the field being named after a local aviation here, sometimes simply the original farmer who first built an airplane or allowed visiting pilots to land in his hayfield. Almost every airport has an Airport Road and I've seen many airport vicinity streets named after Cessna, Piper and de Havilland. There are lots of little roads around airports and you can pick up a bit of local history by seeing who the town chooses to honour. And then there's the place I landed last night. I didn't tell you where it was, so you could use their naming scheme to deduce it. The following is a list of names of roads found in the vicinity of one international airport.

  • Airport Way
  • Air Cargo Drive
  • Terminal Drive
  • Airport Lane
  • Old Airport Road
  • Airport 2nd St
  • Airport Ave B
  • Airport Ct
  • Air Tower Drive

Don't they have anyone they want to honour? Does anyone want to have a go at identifying the airport?

As I type this, I'm listening to what appears to be a war movie on the hotel TV. Something about a squadron escorting an airplane carrying an atom bomb. It's not clear whether it's the Enola Gay, or some alternate history. The words that just got my attention were, "She's stalled! She can pull up, she will pull up, she's too good of a pilot not to."

I have no idea how or what aircraft this pilot stalled, but pulling up is not the way a good pilot recovers from a stall.

I wonder what the movie was. It appeared to be about an all-female military squadron of pilots and mechanics, stationed on a tropical jungle island, wrestling with the ethical issues of providing assistance to the guy with the bomb.


Hamish said...

To most of my non-aviation friends, "stalling" just means your engine quit or spluttered :-).

Anyway, I have no idea where you are, but I find it endearing that "my" airport has an Earhart Road, a Doolittle Drive, and an Alan Shepard Way (along with the generic airport names like Sikorsky and Boeing) — and that all these people were either local or had local connections.

Anonymous said...


Yes, it does look like they ran out of honourees around the airport...

...that is: after "Shirley" and the "Hush House", whatever that might be????



Anonymous said...

The key to watching almost any aviation movie is "willing suspension of disbelief" otherwise you end just staring at the screen in bemusement.

Anonymous said...

Great Falls Montana.

The only location in the USA with a Air Tower Drive.

(Thanks google maps)

Anonymous said...

The plethora of BRAACC'ed US military airfields (BRAACC: Base Re-alignment And Closure Commission) yield airfields with last names people out of the service my not recognize such as LeMay, Eaker, Dolittle, White, Chaffee, Mitchell, etc.
I love when an airfield outgrows it's designator. Our big one locally still reprsents "Municipal Field", but that facility was renamed and the original left about twelve miles to the south when the big shots moved it onto a flood plain north of town.

Frank Ch. Eigler said...

The "she" in "she's stalled" and "she'll pull up" could well be referring to the airplane, not the pilot. An airplane's recovery from a post-stall dive could well be construed as pulling up.

Anonymous said...

"The "she" in "she's stalled" and "she'll pull up" could well be referring to the airplane, not the pilot."

"..... she's too good of a pilot not to."; is rather unlikely to be referring to the airplane

Yellowbird said...

I suffered through the same movie a few weeks ago. It was called Warbirds, and was produced and broadcast by the Sci Fi Channel.

The plot involved a crew of WASPs (Women Air Force Service Pilots) ferrying B-29s to the Pacific in 1945. They are tasked to fly a B-29 carrying top secret cargo (the atomic bomb) from Pearl Harbor to Tinian, but are forced down on an uncharted island somewhere in the Pacific. The rest of the movie related their attempts to survive on the island and hopefully repair their bomber and fly it out, all complicated by character conflicts and the unique environment of the island.

This is where it gets stupid. The character conflicts are predictably driven by the differences between the female flight crew, who want to fly back to safety, and the men accompanying the bomb, who want to continue the mission at all costs. On top of that, the island is occupied by Japanese troops, and, get ready for this… flying dinosaurs.

The movie's prologue relates how the Japanese troops entered a cave and disturbed a nest of long-dormant dinosaur eggs, which promptly hatched, producing flocks of flying dinos that started munching on the Japanese troops.

The movie was awful in every way. The acting was lame, the characters were an implausible combination of stereotypes and anachronisms, and the whole thing seems to have been made without any but the weakest understanding of airplanes, dinosaurs or military history. The effects were low-budget: the airplanes and dinosaurs were computer generated, and the airplanes were so cheaply done that they would have looked embarrassing if seen in MS Flight Simulator. The dinosaurs had pterodactyl-ish bodies with generic dinosaur heads - the effects crew were apparently to hard pressed to even look in a grade school textbook to see what typical fling dinosaurs might have really looked like. Cheap as they were, they were capable dinosaurs, being able to fly high and fast enough to intercept a B-29 and peck out two engines.

The female pilot was pretty impressive as well, not only could she break a stall by pulling up, but she could safely land a B-29 at night, on an uncharted island, with tow engines on fire, and finding, without any effort, a spot of land sufficient to serve as a runway for both landing and takeoff. The rest of the crew, navigator and flight engineer included, were apparently proficient pilots as well, for they were able to hop in the Japanese Zero fighters based on the island, and without any familiarization, take to the air to conduct combat air patrol against the dinosaurs.

The surviving crew somehow repaired the B-29 and flew it to safty, to the consternation of the dinosaurs. As for the dinosaurs, they were blown up by the bomb, which fell from the bomber (accidentally or deliberately, I don't remember) as the crew were escaping.

The movie's only redeeming value was that most of the cast were eaten by the dinosaurs. On wishes that the producers had suffered the same fate

Colin said...

Zeros were built with an aluminum skin we have yet to duplicate. It was MORE delicate than doped canvas. You can easily step through it on the wing, but it is damn light.

To get into a Zero you have to know where the lever is to open the little pockets on the fuselage that work as foot and hand holds, climb up them, into the cockpit and then you release the spring that hides them again.

So the comment about the other crew members jumping into the Zeros made me laugh.