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The "A" Laws

Milo,

I had my pilots license in my pocket before I finished high school.

Right out of high school I went to Miami to see the air show in 1950 and never returned.

I bought an Aeronca 7-AC champion and flew it all over south Florida 'till my money ran out.

I was coming back from Tampa over the Caloosahatchee river bridge at night when my compass leaked all the fluid out over my leg. I remembered my path from Miami was straight over that bridge so I flew directly over the bridge going back and noticed where the shadows of all the cockpit reinforcing bars were and I simply kept all those moon shadows in the same spot and flew back that way toward Miami.

When the sun came up, I flew toward the sun.

Came right into Tamiami airport that way with about 15 minutes of gas in the tank when I landed.

It had a wooden prop and someone showed me where the wood looked darker so I asked Avex for some varnish and instead got old shellac that I painted all over the prop.

Came back a few days later and took off and at about 500 feet of altitude all these spots were coming all over the windshield. I had to go full throttle just to stay at the same altitude and whenever I turned I would lose altitude and the cylinder heat indicator was in the red.

I had to turn to come back and there were big pine trees surrounding the airport back then. I was so low that I lost sight of the asphalt runway but then saw some black through the trees and headed the plane for that. Many of these tree tops, by this time, were above me and I had to avoid these.

I just made it. The propeller looked like it was painted with krinkle paint. I guess I was one lucky kid that my money ran out separating me from that airplane.

I joined the army and went to Germany for three years. There I worked on and flew a few times - when the officers were gone - Stinson L-5s and Cessna L-19s

I had three years of German in high school and made enough on the black market in Germany to buy a Piper PA-12 super cruiser when I got out.

This I flew from New Jersey back to Florida where I went through Embry Riddle to get my aircraft mechanic's license.

I had only 20/200 vision in my right eye. A government inspector flew with me and got me a commercial waiver but I knew no airline would ever hire me with one eye that bad so I went the route of airline maintenance.

The first airline I worked with for about three years was Riddle Airlines. I saw John Paul Riddle guide Arthur Vining Davis - in his 90s then - around the wet spots one day. Davis dropped two million into Riddle Airlines and lost most of it.

I worked for the non skeds and then got into National while I started a surplus store in Hialeah, Florida. I came into work one day and the DC-6 that we had worked on for over a month and had almost finished overhauling was burned to a crisp.

One of the cleaners had spilled some solvent on an electrical multiple outlet box. They should have just left it alone. But then they pulled the plugs out of the box and the sparks set the wet carpet on fire. Even then if they had told someone, the a/c might have been saved but they tried to stomp the fire out themselves. By the time people were alerted the magnesium flooring had caught fire and that was all she wrote. You can't put a magnesium fire out.

While at National I started a better store on the circle in Miami Springs. National was laying off sheet metal workers so I talked to the union rep and got myself laid off as a sheet metal worker. The store and National together was a bit much. Eventually they called the metal men and me back but I never went back.

I sold the store and then went to the Congo with Aerovias Panama where I was Inspector of their flotilla of C-46s and DC-4s. I liked the Congo.

I had a friend who was in Germany and when we lost the UN contract I visited my friend who was trying to convince this young gal to come back to the states with him. She was going to come and then she wasn't and then she was but finally mutter and grossmutter were all crying one day and she said a final NO to my friend. So my friend and I roamed around going to Switzerland and Italy and after about a year we came back to the states on the Hanseatic.

I think I spent about two months myself in Ireland and England back then too leaving my junk with my friend in Germany with his shatsi.

You had to stay out of the states 18 months then to avoid paying US taxes. And this I most certainly did.

After that I came back to Miami and got on with Pan Am.

I was at my best on the line. We had a good line radio shop at Pan Am. Bob Thiebert and Oscar Buschbom ran it.

Oscar just died a month ago. He knew the radio end of it while Bob was an old timer at Pan Am and knew the political side and that combination really worked beautifully.

But then came deregulation and Pan Am came unglued.

I worked for a year as electrician at the Miami Herald and then got into Eastern Airlines Lockeed 1011 Service center.

If ever you go to Miami, Milo, take the Miami Herald tour. Their presses can print a one ton roll of news print in 20 minutes and they have 64 of them.

They start printing the comics for the Sunday paper on Wednesday. Getting the Sunday paper out on Saturday night is one incredible event. When I was there 35 trucks could be loaded automatically on one side of the building and about 50 on the other side manually. As soon as one truck was loaded another would pull in and this continued all Saturday night. They put several million papers out - each one weighing a pound a piece - every Saturday night.

The lockheed L-1011 airliner was a disaster. The RB 2-11 engine in it bankrupted Rolls-Royce. That airplane plus that engine helped send Eastern into bankruptcy too.

I loved Miami and the aviation scene, Milo. I sold parts and things and had rental property there and it was a good life. I was talking to my cousin the other day about it and he said, "It was country when we first went there."

It sure was.

He and his brother came there a bit after me. We are all here in Tennessee now.

Fitz



Milo,

You asked about the Miami airlines but the most incredible year I had in Miami was working for the Miami Herald. That was like going to the moon. It was the most modern newspaper plant in the world at that time. Dade County had to make one of the bridge openings wider than normal width so the paper barge could get to the Herald building which was on the waterfront. They wanted their one ton news print rolls coming from Canada by various routes so union strikes would not cut off their paper supply.

The five story Herald building was designed with absolutely everything needed. Even the air supply to various sections could be controlled. I hated going into the lithographers section on the fourth floor because they were the last union holdouts and the same lead fumes were re-circulated and there was hardly any air conditioning. I was told the entire press room was like this too until the pressmen voted the union out. Immediately after that vote millions were spent cleaning up the air in the press room with gigantic vacuum cleaners and then the air there was as good as in any office. Before that, I was told, there was a constant blue haze down in the first floor press room.

A flush rail system was built right into the cement basement floor so these one ton rolls of newsprint could be shuttled easily by one person from the supply to each of the 64 high speed printing behemoths. Each had a spider holding three one ton rolls. Lasers would watch until a bit less than a quarter inch was left on a roll. A thyratron would fire and BANG, a new roll with a Christmas tree shaped glue swath painted on it would slam into the rolling roll almost emptied while a knife blade cut the old roll loose. The spider then lowered the old roll to the bottom position so it could be reloaded with a new one ton roll.

Not even a fraction of a second was lost switching rolls.

Conveyor belts took all these individual papers to the fifth floor.

I don't know how he did it but a guy would be watching all this from the fifth floor and he would pull out a newspaper and throw it into a box. It would always contain that glued page that was hard to read. They didn't sell those. You could pick up one of those free as you left work every day.

The electric motors for these behemoths were DC because speed control was essential. There were always problems. If a stacker or a baler or an insert machine went down then the system automatically detected this and the presses were slowed down to account for this.

Like I said previously, the Sunday comics were printed on Wednesday. They were stored on pallets and then The Sunday weekly was printed on Thursday and the TV section printed on Friday. All this stuff took up considerable space and by Saturday afternoon you had forklifts moving through narrow paths between high stacked pallets of all this stuff that had to be inserted into the Sunday paper which was the epitome of the Knight-Ritter Publishing creation.

When an insert machine would break down or a baler or a stacker jam, someone would blow a police whistle and twenty winos would rush in and do by hand what the machine normally did.

Herald people would then clear out the paper mess and repair the machine and the winos would go back to their bench and wait for the next whistle.

Monsanto had invented a plastic that they though would replace the lead being used to print with. They had invested millions into equipment in the Herald building to test this out. But the ink would not adhere to the fast spinning plastic like it would to the lead and Monsanto gave up on the project.

When I was there all the old copper wire was being stripped from this now quiet Monsanto project.

Every year the Miami Herald employees were given a free alcoholic Christmas sendoff with the proceeds of old copper wire that was sold to the Miami scrap metal people.

It looked like a banner Christmas party with all this Monsanto copper wire.

But there was too much of it.

Well that problem was solved by this black dude in our electrical department.

There was segregation in those days but the Herald had this token black in the electrical department. The rednecks weren't going to teach him anything because they didn't want him to know anything. I taught him because he taught me the layout and political system in the company. I felt sorry for him about what happened next.

He was being given a pat on the back by everyone in charge for feeding all this copper wire into the lead choppers. They chopped it into tiny bits and this way it could be easily stored into a small space in these forty gallon, metal rimmed, round, cardboard barrels.

All the heavy drinking rednecks were coming in to look at all these heavy barrels of copper wire which meant a lot of alcohol. There was even talk of taking extra bottles back with them if there was too much whisky. Top brass thought that would be preferable to having them all drunk at the Herald building.

But not to worry, their problem was solved.

When the time came to sell the wire, none of the Miami metal dealers would touch it.

They had to burn the insulation off and these tiny bits would drop into the grate holes of the burner units.

There was no joy in mudville. The mighty Christmas party was out.

One mad redneck came into the electrical shop one day and confronted my black friend.

He said, "I got one of them new color television sets and they showed the Grinch that stole Christmas as being green."

Then he continued, "But I know that the god damned son of a bitch is really black."

And he slammed the door and left.

Fitz




Last night (Nov 11, 2003) on Public TV, NOVA had this story of this guy who spent over $100, 000 building an exact replica of the Wright Brothers model B airplane.

The model B was the first model with wheels. The earlier ones had skids.

The earlier ones had counter rotating propellers. They accomplished this by twisting the chain through bamboo tubes. This caused several accidents and later they abandoned the counter rotating propeller idea. When I see the movie again I'll watch how the two people started it then I'll know if the B model still had counter rotating props or not.

This airline pilot learned too late that he did not know how to fly a Wright B model and he made an uncoordinated turn and lost it in a slip.

He was used to flying faster airplanes.

In a fast airplane you can generate considerable centrifugal force making a tight turn.

This means you can bank (tilt your wing over) MORE in a fast airplane making a turn.

In a perfectly coordinated turn, you do NOT want to SKID to the outside of the circle and you do NOT want to SLIP to the inside of the circle.

What this guy didn't realize was that the Wright B model could not fly anywhere near the speed of modern airplanes and therefore could NOT generate anywhere near the centrifugal force that he was used to keeping him from slipping toward the inside of the circle.

If you tilt the plane's wings to turn then gravity pulls the plane down sideways.

BUT

The centrifugal force - if you do it right - exactly counters gravity and you - like the birds - make a perfect turn where you neither slip down nor skid outwards.

This guy completely forgot about not having much centrifugal force in this slow, underpowered, early airplane and he made too tight a turn and let his $100, 000+ Wright B Flyer slip into the trees.

Not only that but he knew he was slipping too - he said it slipped away from him - because he would be feeling the wind blowing at him, during the slip, on the side of his face instead of coming from the front like it would in a perfectly coordinated turn.

I would have thought that someone in the NOVA crowd would have told what had happened to him. But neither he nor the NOVA crowd completely understood what happened when making the film.

I bet they do by now though:

Now that it has gotten aired and knowledgeable people have phoned in.

Fitz



Well Norm,

I once met Eastern air Line's president Borman and talked to him.

Borman constantly used one sentence at Eastern, "What are you doing?"

I heard him using it many times.

He asked me that one day and I never answered him, Norm.

I was carrying a ladder and I set it up and then went up on it and put in a light bulb while he watched me from below.

I figured he was going to ask me why I didn't answer him when I got finished because he just stood there below.

But I had learned a few minutes before that a person with him had got caught trying to bring a pistol aboard the plane in a suitcase and Borman had them put it in cargo. The FBI was supposed to have been notified.

Before Borman could say anything more to me, as I came down the ladder, I looked at Borman - he's a short guy - and I said, "I understand one of your friends just tried to bring a gun on the plane."

He just stared at me for a few seconds and said, "I've got a lot of friends."

And zoom he was gone in a flash.

Fitz



Norm,

One day I saw Mrs Mulvaney, who was president of the Miami Springs Ladies Club that year.

She was with the group at the airport terminal so I got them all aboard one of our vehicles and gave them a ramp tour at night and i purposely went behind a 727 and let it rock the van and fill it full of fumes.

One old lady kept saying, "I'm going to write to my son and tell him about this."

A woman friend who lived next to Mrs Mulvaney said that ramp trip was a topic of conversation in the Springs Ladies Club for years.


Fitz







Milo,

Did it take you an additional two years to obtain the spinor or twistor of the electron?

Long after Newton had shown what light really was, Goethe published a book explaining how the eye put out feelers.

It does take a while for the entire scientific community to understand the importance of these things.

Very few even believe the surroundings have anything at all to do with it.

It's hard to make people think.

At Pan Am one day I immediately saw the radio shop and instrument shop together were compounding the error - making it worse - on the Gertz, a unit that checked ALL the other instruments.

I talked to my friend in the radio shop and the other person in the instrument shop and neither believed that such a thing would even be possible.

Nothing was done.

I saw these two together talking and thought that finally they might have both seen what was going on so I went over to them and they were both talking about how to get the most mileage out of a set of tires.

So I waited for a lull in the conversation and I asked the radio shop man, "When the Gertz is supposed to be indicating north or zero but it is really giving an electrical indication of a tenth of a degree west of north then what do you write on the Gertz correction chart?"

He immediately gave the answer to which the instrument shop guy said "WHAT?"

Then they started to argue about what the words error and correction meant and I walked away because I now knew it would finally be corrected.

Fitz



Over 4 Decades of Daniel P. Fitzpatrick's Books, Papers and Thoughts

 






The "A" Laws




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