14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time - We Are The Mighty
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14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time

Air Force legend Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager turned 93 this year, but don’t let that milestone fool you into believing that he’s too old to be tech-savvy. A couple of years ago he started to tweet about his exploits during his long flying career, which spanned more than sixty years.  Here’s an example:


 

Reading General Yeager’s tweets is like looking back at his life, and what an amazing life it’s been. Here are a few reasons why the private who rose to become a general just might be the greatest military pilot ever.

1. He enlisted to be a mechanic. Within two years, he was a pilot.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
In September 1941, 18-year-old Yeager enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an an aircraft mechanic. His eyesight and natural flying ability earned him a Flight Officer (Warrant Officer equivalent) slot at Luke Field, Arizona. By November 1943, he was in England flying P-51 Mustangs against the Nazi Luftwaffe.

2. After being shot down, he aided the French Resistance.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Yeager was shot down over France in March 1944 on his eighth air mission. He taught the Maquis (as the French Resistance was called) to make homemade bombs, a skill he learned from his dad. Yeager escaped to Spain through the Pyrenees with their help. He also helped another airman, who lost a leg, escape with him.

 

3. He fought to go back into air combat and won.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
During WWII, pilots who were helped by resistance groups during evasion couldn’t return to air combat in the same theater. The reason was that if they pilot were downed and captured, he could reveal information about the resistance. Since the Allies were already in France and the Maquis were openly fighting against the Nazis, Yeager argued there was little the he could reveal that the Nazis would learn. Eisenhower agreed and returned him to flying status.

 

4. Yeager downed five enemies in a single mission. Two of those without firing a shot.

On October 12, 1944, he flew into firing position against a Messerschmitt BF-109 when the enemy pilot panicked, broke to starboard and collided with his wingman. Both pilots bailed out.

5. He scored one of the first kills against jet aircraft.

The German ME-262 was the second jet-powered fighter aircraft. It didn’t appear in the war until mid-1944, too late to make a difference in air superiority. It was still able to take down more than 500 allied fighters, however. Not before Yeager took down two ME-262s. He finished WWII with at least 11 kills and the rank of captain.

 

6. He became a test pilot after the war.

When the Air Force became a separate service in 1947, Yeager stayed in and became a test pilot at what would become Edwards Air Force Base. He was one of the first U.S. pilots to fly a captured MiG-15 after its North Korean pilot defected to the South.

7. Yeager broke the sound barrier with two broken ribs

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Capt. Charles E. Yeager (shown standing next to the Air Force’s Bell-built X-1 supersonic research aircraft) became the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound in level flight on October 14, 1947.

This is one of Yeager’s highest achievements. After civilian pilot “Slick” Goodin demanded $150,000 to do it, Yeager broke the sound barrier in an X-1 rocket-powered plane. The night before this flight, he fell off a horse and broke two ribs. Worried the injury would get him booted from the mission, he had a civilian doctor tape him up. The injury hurt so much he couldn’t close the X-1’s hatch. His fellow pilot Jack Ridley made a device with a broom handle that allowed Yeager to operate it. His plane was named Glamorous Glennis, after his wife.

 

8. He rained on the Navy’s parade.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Chuck Yeager in the cockpit of an NF-104, December 4, 1963. (U.S. Air Force photo)

After Scott Crossfield flew at twice the speed of sound in a U.S. Navy program, he was to be dubbed “the fastest man alive” during a celebration for the 50th anniversary of flight. Yeager and Ridley launcher what they called “Operation NACA Weep,” a personal effort to beat Crossfield’s speed. They did it in time to spoil the celebration.

9. He was cool under pressure.

On December 12, 1953, Yeager reach Mach 2.44 in a Bell X-1A. He lost control of the aircraft at 80,000 feet, unable to control the aircraft’s pitch, yawn, or roll. He dropped 51,000 feet in 51 seconds before regaining control and landing the plane without any further incident.

 

10. He trained astronauts and test pilots.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Yeager was the first commandant of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School, producing astronauts and test pilots for the Air Force. Since Yeager only had a high school education, he could not be an astronaut, but he still trained to operate NASA vehicles and equipment.

11. He was the first pilot to eject in full compression gear and the story is epic.

He was flying a Lockheed NF-104 Starfighter, which is basically an F-104 attached to a rocket that would lift the plane to 140,000 feet. The pilots wore pressure suits like astronauts, training in weightlessness to work the thrusters used in space vehicles at the time. One morning, Yeager topped 104,000 feet but the air was still too thick to work the thrusters while Yeager’s 104 was still pitched up. He fell into a flat spin and started dropping back to Earth. He fell at 9,000 feet per minute in a spin. He deployed the craft’s chute to pitch the plane back down. Once he jettisoned the chute, the plane pitched back up. Since he couldn’t restart the engines and had no power, he ejected from the plane at 8,000 feet. His suit was covered in propellant and caught fire. The fire spread to the oxygen in his suit and turned the inside of his helmet into an inferno. His finger was broken, he was covered in burns, and he almost lost his left eye… but he still walked away from the crash.

 

12. He flew combat missions in the Vietnam War.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
In 1966, Yeager was a full-bird colonel in command of the 405th Fighter Wing in the Philippines. He flew 414 hours of combat time over Vietnam in 127 missions while training bomber pilots. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1969.

13. After retiring, he continued to fly as a consultant for the Air Force.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time

Yeager retired from the Air Force in 1975, and continued to work for the Air Force until 1995. President Reagan appointed him to the Rogers Commission, the body that investigated the 1986 Challenger Shuttle disaster. He continued to break light aircraft speed and endurance records. Two years after his retiring from flight, he celebrated the 50th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier by doing it again in an F-15D named Glamorous Glennis III.

 

BONUS: He made a cameo appearance in “The Right Stuff.”

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time

Look for “Fred,” a bartender at Pancho’s Place, in the 1983 film “The Right Stuff.”

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This is how researchers are trying to stop sand from killing aircraft engines

If you’ve ever seen some of the DOD videos – or photos, for that matter – from Iraq or Afghanistan, they’re often accompanied by huge clouds of dust as helicopters come in for a landing.


But here’s what you don’t see; the damage the sand and dust does on the engines of those helicopters.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter comes into land at Camp Bastion, Helmand, Afghanistan following a mission. Note the huge cloud of dust. (UK MoD photo via Wikimedia Commons)

That matters – because the engines of helicopters and jets have one naturally-occurring enemy: FOD, which stands for “foreign object debris.” According to an FAA fact sheet, FOD was responsible for the June 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde that killed 113 people.

What the fact sheet doesn’t mention is that sand and dust are also foreign objects to an engine. What they do isn’t as spectacular as what happened in Paris almost 17 years ago, but it can be just as lethal.

Worse, while regular FOD walks can handle the larger objects, you can never quite get all the sand and dust away from an air base in Afghanistan or Iraq. So, there is a need to figure out how to keep the sand and dust from damaging engine components.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
A UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter lands as U.S. Army paratroopers secure the area in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, July 23, 2012. The soldiers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team and the helicopter crew is assigned to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. The soldiers evacuated a wounded insurgent. (US Army photo)

The Department of Defense recently released a video about efforts to address this. For instance, one of the researchers in this video one component in the T-700 engine is supposed to last 6,000 hours, but sand and dust reduce that to 400 hours – 1/15 of the planned operating life.

The price tag for the component in question? $30,000. That is a minor inconvenience. When a helo goes down, things get even uglier.

So check out the new ways researchers are attacking the problem of sand-damaged engines.

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White House wants $30B defense budget increase this year to rebuild military, fight ISIS

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan March 16, President Donald J. Trump asked for a defense budget increase of $30 billion for the Defense Department in this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, to rebuild the armed forces and accelerate the campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.


14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Army Special Forces on patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The fiscal 2017 budget amendment provides $24.9 billion in base funds for urgent warfighting readiness needs and to begin a sustained effort to rebuild the armed forces, according to the president’s letter.

“The request seeks to address critical budget shortfalls in personnel, training, maintenance, equipment, munitions, modernization and infrastructure investment. It represents a critical first step in investing in a larger, more ready and more capable military force,” Trump wrote.

The request includes $5.1 billion in overseas contingency operations funds so the department can accelerate the campaign to defeat ISIS and support Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, he said, noting that the request would enable DoD to pursue a comprehensive strategy to end the threat ISIS poses to the United States.

At the Pentagon this afternoon, senior defense officials briefed reporters on the on the fiscal 2017 budget amendment. The speakers were John P. Roth, performing the duties of undersecretary of defense-comptroller, and Army Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Ierardi, director of force structure, resources and assessment on the Joint Staff.

“Our request to Congress is that they pass a full-year defense appropriations bill,” and that the bill includes the additional $30 billion, Roth said.

“We are now approaching the end of our sixth month under a continuing resolution,” he added, “one of the longest periods that we have ever been under a continuing resolution.”

The continuing resolution run for the rest of the fiscal year, Pentagon officials “would find that extremely harmful to the defense program,” Roth said.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
A U.S. Marine assigned to Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry East, loads an M203 Grenade Launcher during a live fire exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 12, 2017. Marines are evaluated in field craft and military occupational specialty tasks under the leadership and supervision of Combat Instructors in order to provide the Marine Corps basically qualified infantry Marines prepared for service in the operating forces. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. James R. Skelton)

“We are essentially kind of muddling along right now in terms of … borrowing resources against third- and fourth-quarter kinds of finances in order to keep things going,” he said. “But that game gets to be increasingly difficult as we go deeper into the fiscal year.”

Under a continuing resolution, the department has to operate under a fiscal 2016 mandate, creating a large mismatch between operations funds and procurement funds, Roth explained. The department can’t spend procurement dollars because there’s a restriction on new starts and on increasing production, he said, “but we have crying needs in terms of training, readiness, maintenance … and in the operation and maintenance account.”

The continuing resolution expires April 28, “so before then, we would want a full appropriation and, of course, a full appropriation with this additional $30 billion,” he said.

Roth said much of the money in the fiscal 2017 request is funding for operations and maintenance.

“We’re asking for additional equipment maintenance funding, additional facilities maintenance, spare parts, additional training events, peacetime flying hours, ship operations, munitions and those kinds of things,” he told reporters. “This is the essence of what keeps this department running on a day-to-day basis. It keeps us up and allows us to get ready for whatever the next challenge is.”

The officials said full support from Congress is key to improving warfighter readiness, providing the most capable modern force, and increasing the 2011 Budget Control Act funding cap for defense.

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Mattis shows his ‘no worst enemy’ side in warning to North Korea

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis warned on Sept. 3 of a “massive,” and “overwhelming” military response to North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs after a small group meeting with President Donald Trump in response to Pyongyang testing its sixth and largest-ever nuclear device.


Mattis stressed that the US has “many” military options for dealing with North Korea, but that the US does not seek the annihilation of any country.

Mattis was most likely referring to the US military’s roughly 28,000 troops located in South Korea and its massive presence in Japan and in the Pacific. At the time of Mattis’ speaking, the US does not have an increased naval or military presence in the region, though the US and South Korea did just complete a joint war-gaming exercise.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2009. Photo courtesy of US Navy.

Earlier on Sept. 3, Trump floated the idea of cutting off trade with China, North Korea’s treaty ally and main trading partner, in response to North Korea’s greatly increased provocations. “The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea,” Trump wrote in a tweet.

The Trump administration has repeatedly said that “all options” are on the table in dealing with North Korea, and stressed military might represents a part of that package.

Historically, China has agreed to UN Security Council resolutions against North Korea following nuclear tests, but despite sanctions, loopholes remain that allow Pyongyang to finance its weapons programs.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Photo from Rodong Sinmun.

The nuclear device tested by North Korea on Sept. 3 had a yield of hundreds of kilotons, meaning it was most likely a hydrogen or thermonuclear bomb, according to expert estimates and North Korea’s own statements.

The completion of an intercontinental ballistic missile and a thermonuclear warhead represent North Korea achieving its ultimate goal of building a credible deterrent against invasion and regime change. Experts assess that North Korea’s main goal in developing nuclear weapons is to secure its regime, and that it will not use the weapons offensively, unless provoked.

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Russia to unleash ‘Satan 2’ mega-nuke

Russia has unveiled images of a new super-heavy intercontinental ballistic missile that media reports claim could wipe out France, Britain or the entire state of Texas.


Dubbed the “RS-28 Sarmat” but carrying the NATO codename SS-X-30 “Satan 2,” Russia is the only country to really deploy any type of super-heavy ICBM. The intention behind those missiles was to take out American ICBMs before the National Command Authority could order a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union.

 

The first such missile Moscow had of this type was the R-36, known to NATO as the “SS-9 Scarp.” The Scarp had a range of up to 9,600 miles on land targets, and could also be used as the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, with a range of up to 24,850 miles. It carried a single nuclear warhead, but that warhead had a yield of 18 or 25 megatons, based on the version of the missile.

The next super-heavy Russian ICBM was the R-36M, known as the SS-18 “Satan.” Some versions of this missile carried the single 25 megaton warhead. Others carried up to 10 multiple independently-targeted re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs. With a range of almost 10,000 miles, this missile was bad news for whoever it targeted.

The RS-28/SS-X-30 reportedly has a shorter range (about 6,200 miles), but it has the ability to carry as many as 15 MIRVs. It can swap out the MIRVs for a single 40-megaton warhead.

That would make it the most powerful warhead on an in-service missile. The Soviet Union did detonate a 50-megaton warhead, the Tsar Bomba, in 1961 on Novaya Zemlya. The Tsar Bomba was delivered by a modified Tu-95 “Bear” bomber, but was only an experimental system.

The closest an American missile came to the punch that these Soviet or Russian super-heavy ICBMs had was with the LGM-118 Peacekeeper missile. The Reagan-era Peacekeeper (also known as the MX) had a range of 8,700 miles, and could carry up to 10 MIRVs — usually equipped with W87 warheads capable of delivering a 475-kiloton yield. The Peacekeeper was deactivated in 2005 in accordance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

The SS-X-30 is slated to enter service in 2020, replacing the SS-18.

Makes the NATO codename of “Satan 2” seem pretty appropriate, doesn’t it?

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Russia will deploy a division of troops about 50 miles from the US

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Google maps


At a recent event, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that a division of troops would be stationed in Chukotka, Russia’s far-east region, just slightly more than 50 miles from Alaska.

“There are plans to form a coastal defense division in 2018 on the Chukotka operational direction,” said Shoigu.

He said that the deployment was “to ensure control of the closed sea zones of the Kuril Islands and the Bering Strait, cover the routes of Pacific Fleet forces’ deployment in the Far Eastern and Northern sea zones, and increase the combat viability of naval strategic nuclear forces.”

Japan and Russia dispute ownership of the northern Kuril Islands, where Russia plans to deploy missile-defense batteries. The Bering Strait is the narrow waterway that separates Alaska from Russia.

Broadly, Russia has taken the lead in militarizing and exploring the Arctic region, as melting ice caps open up new shipping lanes between the East and West. In that context, the deployment of a division to the sparsely populated Chukotka region makes sense.

In the past, Russia has bemoaned NATO and US troop deployments near to its borders. How the US will respond to this deployment remains to be seen.

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It looks like there’s going to be a GWOT memorial after all

President Donald Trump signed a bill August 18 authorizing the construction of a privately funded Global War on Terrorism Memorial in Washington, DC.


In signing the “Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act” passed by the House and Senate, Trump did not designate a site but authorized a memorial somewhere on “federal land in the District of Columbia,” the White House said.

Trump also authorized the non-profit Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation to raise funds and oversee the project.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Pfc. Erik Park from San Mateo, Calif., fires his M777 155 mm howitzer at Forward Operating Base Orgun-E Sept. 3, 2011. Photo by Spc. Ken Scar.

The bill to establish the memorial was sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, an Army veteran of the Iraq War, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia.

On the House side, the bill’s sponsors were Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, and Seth Moulton, D-Massachusetts; both are Marine Corps veterans of the Iraq War.

In a statement, Ernst said “I am thrilled the President has signed into law this important legislation authorizing the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation to begin creating a place of remembrance for those who served, their loved ones, and all impacted by this war.”

Manchin said “I’m proud of the work done by my colleagues in approving the first step towards building a memorial that commemorates our sons and daughters who answered the call to fight.”

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Washington, DC National Mall. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Both Manchin and Ernst said the likely site for the memorial would be the National Mall. “This authorization is the first step in a process that will culminate with the design and construction of a Global War on Terror[ism] Memorial on the National Mall without using any federal funds,” they said.

The Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation has on its advisory board retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, the former commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, and retired Army Capt. Florent Groberg, a Medal of Honor recipient for valor in Afghanistan.

In a statement following Trump’s signing, the foundation said the bill exempted the memorial from the 10-year waiting period under the Commemorative Works Act of 1986, and authorized the foundation to oversee the fundraising, design, and construction of the memorial.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
A member of Company B, Task Force 2-28, 172nd Infantry Brigade, braces against the prop wash from a UH-60 Black Hawk while securing the landing zone in a stream bed by the small village of Derka near Combat Outpost Zerok, Sept. 20, 2011. DoD Photo by Spc. Ken Scar

“Today’s historic signing is dedicated to our three million brothers and sisters who have deployed in the Global War on Terror, especially to the ones we have lost, and those who face great obstacles since their return home,” said Andrew J. Brennan, a West Point graduate and Afghanistan veteran who started the foundation and serves as executive director.

“We’re looking forward to building a sacred place of healing and remembrance for our veterans and their families, and want to thank our partners and advocates who worked tirelessly on Capitol Hill to pass this bipartisan legislation,” he said.

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The original ‘Air Force One’ is being restored to its 1950s condition

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time


If not for a twist of fate, the 1948 VC-121A Lockheed Constellation that once transported the nation’s 34thpresident might have become a crop duster or turned into scrap metal.

The Columbine II was the first plane to fly with the call sign “Air Force One” when it carried President Dwight D. Eisenhower for the first two years of his administration. However, the aircraft would have been lost to history without the intervention of three men – one who bought the plane almost 50 years ago, the friend who helped save it from the scrap heap, and the man whose aviation company purchased it two decades later with plans to restore it to its 1950s glory.

Related: This C-130 landing on an aircraft carrier will make you rethink physics

“I didn’t want to see somebody drinking a beer and wonder if the metal from that can came from that plane,” said Karl D. Stoltzfus, whose Dynamic Aviation Company purchased the “Connie,” as Lockheed Constellations are commonly called, in 2015.

In March, Stoltzfus had the aircraft flown for the first time in 13 years, except for a brief test flight a few days earlier, to Dynamic Aviation in Bridgewater, Virginia. Lockie Christler, son of the late Mel Christler, who bought the plane from the Air Force in 1970, flew the Columbine II from Marana Regional Airport, Arizona, where it had sat since 2003, to Virginia. The almost 60-year-old plane made a stop at the Mid-America Flight Museum in Mount Pleasant, Texas, before Christler made the final four-hour flight to Bridgewater, with Stoltzfus piloting the chase plane, a Beechcraft King Air.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time

Christler gives most of the credit for the Columbine II’s restoration to his father, who died in 2005, Stoltzfus and Harry Oliver, who emphasized the importance of saving the plane and was the majority owner when it was sold.

“If it weren’t for men like my father, Harry and Karl, along with others, a lot of these airplanes wouldn’t be around,” Christler said. “Once we realized this was Eisenhower’s airplane, we couldn’t let it be scrapped.”

The plane was built as a C-121A at Burbank, California, and converted to a VC-121A-LO to carry VIPs in 1953. The Columbine II, named after the Colorado state flower by first lady Mamie Eisenhower, became the official presidential aircraft later that year. Over New Charlotte, North Carolina the following year, an Eastern Airlines flight had the same call numbers as the Columbine II, and confusion ensued when both planes shared the same airspace. Because of the incident, the “Air Force One” call sign became used for any plane the president was on board.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time

The plane, while hardly resembling the Air Force One flown by presidents from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama, included marble floors and a mahogany desk where Eisenhower wrote the “Atoms for Peace” speech he gave to the U.N. General Assembly in 1953. The Columbine II also took him to Korea, both as a president-elect and during his administration.

Related: The last original P-51 Mustang is up for sale

In 1954, the aircraft was replaced by the Columbine III, which Eisenhower used for the remainder of his presidency. The Columbine II continued in service as a VIP transport for Eisenhower’s vice president, Richard M. Nixon, and others, such as Queen Elizabeth II, before it was finally retired to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, in 1968. The Air Force stripped the aircraft and fitted it with mismatched landing gear, an error that, in an odd twist of fate, led to the aircraft being spared from destruction long enough for its historical value to be discovered by its new owners.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time

Up for auction

The Columbine II was sold to Christler as part of a package lot with four other Connies for $35,000 in a surplus auction at the Davis-Monthan AFB aircraft “boneyard.” He didn’t know one of the five planes had a presidential past and planned to make it part of his crop-dusting operation. Christler rebuilt the other four VC-121s for spraying operations, but didn’t convert the Columbine II because its starboard main gear had been replaced with the wrong part from a Lockheed 1049 Super Constellation. The incorrect landing gear, again, saved the Columbine II from being converted to a crop-duster. Instead, it was used for supplying the other four Connies with parts.

Mel Christler was considering cutting the aircraft up as scrap when Robert Mikesh of the Smithsonian Institution contacted him in 1980 and informed him that his Connie with the serial number 48-610 was a former presidential aircraft.

“The first time we saw it, we obviously didn’t realize whose plane it was,” Lockie Christler said, “but when you find out it was Eisenhower’s, now you’re stuck with it. You have a presidential plane you can’t melt up because people wouldn’t think very highly of you. So, for all of these years, it’s kind of been a liability, and it finally turned into an asset.”

Christler tried to find a buyer who could restore the Columbine II, but couldn’t find one. He was struggling to decide what to do with the plane when Oliver visited him at his Greybull, Wyoming, home in August 1989, and asked about his plans for the Columbine II. Oliver said Christler planned to send the plane to the smelter if he didn’t have a buyer by November.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
U.S. Air Force photo.

“I just said, ‘Now we can’t do that,'” Oliver said. “‘It’s a little bit of history, and it should be saved.”

At Christler’s request, Oliver drove to Tucson, Arizona, with a friend to look at the plane and saw the damage, but thought it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be repaired. The two men completed a $150,000 functional restoration of the Columbine II in 1990 and had it flown to Abilene, Kansas for Eisenhower’s centennial celebration. Afterward, they moved the Connie to Roswell and Santa Fe, New Mexico, before it was flown to Marana, where it remained under a lease agreement until it was sold to Stoltzfus in 2015.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time

Restoration

Stoltzfus, a self-proclaimed history buff, learned about the Columbine II from an article in an aviation magazine and wanted to see the plane restored to its 1950s condition so he asked one person what he should do – his then-8-year-old grandson. “I think we should buy it,” the boy told him.

Then Stoltzfus asked his twin brother Ken to check out the plane in Arizona. After hearing that there wasn’t any damage that couldn’t be overcome, he sent Dynamic Aviation mechanics to begin repairs. When he first saw the plane, it was in rough condition.

“Every hose, I mean every piece of rubber was bad,” Stoltzfus said. “There were a lot of things about the airplane that gave you reason to say this was going to be a lot of work. They hadn’t really run the engines, but you knew there was going to be a lot of trouble with them, and there was. But the good part was it didn’t have any corrosion. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have bought the airplane.”

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Karl D. Stoltzfus Sr., founder of Dynamic Aviation, bought the Columbine II at less than $1.5 million. The plane was flown to Virginia after Dynamic Aviation mechanics did significant work on the plane in Arizona in preparation for the flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Although he can’t divulge the actual price he paid, Stoltzfus said it was less than the $1.5 million listing price. Dynamic Aviation will begin a full restoration project on the Columbine II in three to six months, which Stoltzfus expects to be completed in two to three years. He has obtained drawings and documentation that he hopes will help him restore the plane to its original color codes and original manufacturer materials.

“I think the airplane can be used to educate people on the 1950s, not just about Air Force One and not just about Eisenhower,” he said. “These were generally considered to be good years in America. They weren’t perfect, but they were generally good. We got out of the Korean War, so it was a peaceful time, and it was a good time economically and was when we started to build the interstate. So it was just a good time in American history.”

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time

When it’s fully restored, Stoltzfus hopes to take the historic aircraft to air shows and display it for the public at the company’s airport in Bridgewater. In the meantime, he’s looking for anyone who might have aircraft parts or stories to share from the Connie’s era.

Oliver is grateful that somebody was interested enough in saving the plane.

“When I started this project, I was 52 years old, and I’m 77 now,” he said. “I don’t have the energy to do it anymore, and I’m just glad that somebody does. It is a piece of history, and now it’s going to be where people can see it, smell it and touch it.”

Once the silver Connie with the purple flower on its nose is restored to its Air Force One glory, it will have three men to credit for saving this piece of American history for future generations.

Even though one of the three didn’t live to see the Columbine II’s restoration, his son thinks it would have made him proud.

“Oh, he’s got a big smile on his face right now,” Christler said. “I know he’s proud that it has a great home where it’s supposed to be. It’s within a hundred miles of Washington, D.C, where it had some important flying to do.”

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8 pieces of gear grunts buy themselves before deploying

Before any service member deploys, they have to visit the supply depot on their station. Now, these supply depots issue out a bunch of items. But for the most part, they’re worn down and look like something a homeless guy would reject.


The fact is — you’re not the first guy or gal to take a nap in that sleeping bag or to load rounds into that M16 magazine. It’s been well used before you even thought about touching it.

Related: 8 things Marines like to carry other than their weapon

After seeing the state of some of this gear, service members typically think about the months of deployment time that lies ahead and remind themselves how much stuff the military doesn’t voluntarily distribute.

So check out our list of things you may want to consider buying before going wheels up.

1. Bungee Cords

Like 550 cord, these elastic straps are strong as Hell and will secure down nearly everything.

If you need to tow it, bungee cord will probably hold it. (images via Giphy)

2. Blow up sleeping pad

Traditionally, supply issues you a ratty foam mat which is like sleeping in a really cheap motel room.

Purchasing a quality air mattress can make all difference. (image via Giphy)  

3. Headlamp

Getting issued a flashlight that’s designed to clip to your uniform (which is what you’ll get) is fine if you’re okay with tripping over everything in the pitch black (because it doesn’t point to where you’re looking).

Get a red-filtered headlamp for combat zones — it could save your life. (images via Giphy)

4. Rite in the rain

Normal paper isn’t meant to repel water. You never know when you need to take notes in the field while it’s pouring down rain. “Rite in the Rain” is waterproof paper you can still jot notes on.

With a “Rite in the Rain” it doesn’t matter if it’s raining, you can still takethose unimportant notes your commanding officer thinks is critical. (images via Giphy)

5. P-Mags

The 30 round magazine that the supply guy handed out has seen better days and has a single compression spring built inside which can increase the chances of your weapon system jamming when you need it the most. The polymer version made by Magpul is much better — so good, in fact, the Marine Corps is issuing it to all Leathernecks.

P-mags are dual spring compressed, decreasing your chances of a weaponsmalfunction. (images via Giphy)

Also Read: 7 things you should know before joining the infantry

6. GPS

People get lost if they spin around one too many times, and most people simply suck at land-nav. Consider purchasing a G.P.S. that fits snuggly on your wrist.

We told you about G.P.S., but you didn’t want to listen. (image via Giphy) 

7. Cooler eye-pro

The military does issue eye protection that has frag resistant lenses, but they don’t make you look cool. Everyone buys sunglasses before a deployment that make you look tough — its an unwritten rule.

Now you look badass. Your eyes won’t be a protected, but who needs them away?(images via Giphy)Note: you still need to protect your eyes.

8. Knife/multitool

This should be self-explanatory. If you want to open up just about anything and your Judo chop won’t cut it.

His worked, but yours may not. (images via Giphy)

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This retired rear admiral caught a reporter playing Pokemon Go in a press briefing

Retired Rear Adm. John Kirby was a Navy public affairs officer for decades and now serves as the State Department’s top spokesman, so he’s been around journalists for a while and given plenty of briefings.


That may explain why he was so chill when — in the middle of reading a statement about defeating ISIS propaganda — he noticed a journalist playing Pokemon Go on a smartphone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34LAEvGfLsQ
Look, WATM isn’t one of those places that wants to take people’s joy away. Do your thing and enjoy life. If Pokemon make you happy, chase those Pokemon.

But maybe let’s don’t interrupt a briefing about the importance of defeating ISIS on the internet by playing video games — Pokemon Go or otherwise.

Unless, of course, you’ve found a way to defeat ISIS via video games. Then please forward your idea to WATM so we can spread the word.

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Here are 3 early attempts at automatic weapons

The search for an effective rapid-fire weapon, particularly in the latter 19th century, took on some innovative designs, most of them of dubious battlefield utility and rarely employed. All this changed when the U.S. Army adopted the famed Gatling gun in 1866, which could reliably fire up to 400 rounds a minute and had already proven itself in small quantities during the Civil War. John Gatling — ironically a physician — had suddenly made warfare far more deadly.


Here is a look at some early attempts at automatic weapons before Gatling turned them into the staples of warfare they are today.

1. Repeating Crossbows

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Chu Ko Nu crossbow

The Polybolos was a large repeating ballista dating back to the 3rd century B.C. It was supposedly the invention of a Greek engineer named Dionysus, who worked at the large arsenal on the island of Rhodes. Fed by a large wooden magazine holding several dozen bolts of the weapon’s cradle, it allowed its crew to crank a large windlass back and forth, allowing it to achieve a far greater rate of fire than conventional ballistics.

A replica built by the Discovery show “MythBusters” proved that it could have been a very feasible weapon, but would have suffered from severe reliability problems.

A device similar in concept called the Chu Ko Nu was in use by Chinese soldiers as early as the 4th century B.C., but it was conceived more as a rapid fire light crossbow. Holding up to 10 bolts, the soldier could rapidly crank a handle and fire every couple of seconds, an astonishing rate of fire for a weapon at the time. The bolts were light and its range was short, but it was intended for mass formations and made up for its lack of power with volume of fire. To increase lethality, its bolts were sometimes coated in poison.

2. Coffee mill gun

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Agar or ‘coffee mill’ gun

The American Civil War saw widespread experimentation in weaponry, and among the most sought was a rapid fire battlefield gun that could support the infantry. The “coffee mill,” or Agar gun, the namesake of it’s inventor Wilson Agar and mounted on a light artillery carriage, was one such attempt. Standard .58 rifle cartridges were loaded in special steel tubes and were placed in a large hopper on top of the weapon. A hand crank fed the cartridges and allowed a rate of fire of up to 120 rounds per minute. The feeding mechanism resembled an old-fashioned coffee mill, giving it its nickname. President Abraham Lincoln witnessed a demonstration and was very impressed by the weapon’s performance, and a small number were purchased by the Union Army.

Despite its impressive rate of fire, the weapon had serious disadvantages. Reloading the steel tubes was cumbersome, making keeping up the rate of fire difficult, and their loss made the weapon useless. The feed mechanism was vulnerable to jamming, and the weapon was highly prone to overheating. Its range was no greater than a standard rifled musket. Though it saw some action, its flaws, and the few number purchased ensured it played only a minor role in the war, and it was quickly replaced by the far more effective Gatling gun.

3. Mitrailleuse

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Mitrailleuse

One approach to rapid fire was the clustering of large numbers of single-shot barrels together that were fed by a single large breach, firing in sequence before being loaded in again. The Mitrailleuse, from the French word for grapeshot, was the pinnacle of this concept. The original design came from it’s Belgian inventor Captain Fafchamps in 1851, but many variants saw service in the French Army leading up to the Franco-Prussian war.

Carrying up to 50 barrels and mounted on an artillery carriage, the weapon was breech loaded using large steel blocks studded with ammunition. A small crank was then turned to manually fire each round. A skilled gunner on some types could achieve over 100 rounds a minute. The Reffye variant which was most commonly used by the French used 13mm rounds with a range of over 2,000 yards. Unlike a modern machine gun, it was used more as artillery, with all its ammunition being expended on a single point target.

By the time the Franco-Prussian war broke out, the French had slightly more than 200 Mitrailleuses in service. The Prussians, despite having few rapid fire weapons of their own, were not particularly impressed by their enemies wonder weapon. It’s inability to be targeted quickly, and it’s rapid expenditure of ammunition onto a single target, rendered it tactically inflexible and redundant to conventional artillery. The small numbers deployed also limited the weapon’s effectiveness. After losing the war, the French phased the Mitrailleuse out.

 

 

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Released Gitmo detainees implicated in terror attacks on Americans

According to the Washington Post, at least twelve detainees released from the U.S. Navy’s prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba attacked Americans in Afghanistan. The Post claims at least six are dead from these attacks. The attacks were primarily directed at U.S. military personnel, but at least one American aid worker is also dead. Many of the more than 600 detainees released since the U.S. began housing prisoners in Cuba have returned to or entered militancy — the twelve are just a portion of the total who were able to attack American citizens abroad.


14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Detainees in orange jumpsuits sit in a holding area under the watchful eyes of Military Police at Camp X-Ray at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during in-processing to the temporary detention facility on Jan. 11, 2002. The detainees will be given a basic physical exam by a doctor, to include a chest x-ray and blood samples drawn to assess their health. (DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy, U.S. Navy)

A Pentagon report from May 2009 suggested that one in seven of the 534 prisoners transferred out of the camp by that time turned (or returned) to terrorism or some other kind of radicalism. At that time, President Obama had plans to close the prison facility at Guantanamo, but strong opposition in the U.S. Senate voted 90-6 to cut the $80 million Obama needed to implement the shutdown.

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
Detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay during prayer (DoD photo)

The same Pentagon report released by the New York Times in 2009 found that fourteen percent of released Gitmo detainees return to terrorism or homegrown radicalism. By 2014, CNN found that number had grown to 17 percent. The rates of recidivism among these detainees is far, far lower than the average U.S. prisoner. In the U.S. prison system, parolees lapse back into criminal behavior at much higher rates, as high as sixty percent.

Then-FBI Director Robert S. Mueller stated that moving the prisoners to U.S. soil comes with an increased terror threat. Michele A. Flournoy, who was then-Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and is now Hillary Clinton’s presumptive nominee for Secretary of Defense, believes some of the detainees may need to end up in the United States. The closing of the prison in Cuba is likely shelved for the foreseeable future, given that no one knows what to do with the prisoners still housed there.

The 2016 report from the Director of National Intelligence estimates 17.5 percent of the total 676 released detainees since 2002 returned to the battlefield. Half of the total returning militants are now dead or in custody with foreign governments. The 2016 DNI Report does not include the numbers of Americans or American troops killed in action against former detainees.

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Listen to Reagan’s chilling speech about soldiers who scaled cliffs under heavy fire on D-Day

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time
President Ronald Reagan salutes during a ceremony commemorating the 40th anniversary of D-day, the invasion of Europe.


Seventy-one years ago on June 6, 1944, the largest seaborne invasion in history began. It was known as D-Day.

The climactic World War II battle featured waves of amphibious landings on the beaches, airborne drops behind enemy lines, and an incredible group of American Rangers who scaled cliffs at Point Du Hoc. On the 40th anniversary of D-Day, President Ronald Reagan told their story, and it’s a speech that everyone should hear.

Standing on top of that same cliff on the northern coast of France, Reagan detailed the story of the Rangers, who had to climb a rock wall as Germans fired on them with machine-guns and cut their ropes.

“When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again,” Reagan said, to an audience of world leaders and veterans of D-Day at the Ranger Monument there. “They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After 2 days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.”

Roughly four miles from Omaha Beach, where soldiers were also landing on June 6, 1944, Pointe Du Hoc was vital to the American effort, as the Germans had placed heavy artillery at the position that could rain fire down on the beaches.

“These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc,” Reagan continued, looking toward the Rangers from that campaign sitting before him. “These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.”

Now 31 years after Reagan finished his speech, and 71 years from that terrible day in World War II, his closing remarks still ring true:

“Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value [valor], and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.”

Now watch:

SEE ALSO: Medal Of Honor hero Kyle Carpenter just gave an inspiring speech that everyone  should read