My life with airplanes

Published 11:32 am Wednesday, May 1, 2024

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I started learnng to fly airplanes with Oscar Meyer at Hendersonville, flying an Aeronca 7AC “Champion” solo before school restarted in the fall. I joined the Air Force after graduation from Tryon High School; they hauled me around in Douglas C-47s (military version of the famous DC-3).

I went to school on the reinstated G.I. Bill to become an aeronautical engineer. I went to work at Convair San Diego in Wind Tunnel Model Design. I took my model of the F-106 ejector to the test facility at Dangerfield, Texas, where I got to fly his Super Cub with one of their engineers. He taught me how to do a loop, so I had to try that in our Taylorcraft BC-12D when I got back.

I had married Fran during school, and she talked me into getting children from the Edna Gladney home in Fort Worth. Convair had become LTV Aerospace and we were living in Dallas. I bought a Piper-PA-12 Super Cruiser, which I really enjoyed flying. I gave many friends their first airplane ride.

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LTV sent me to Seattle to work on the Boeing 747. We stayed with friend Hal Whidden. We came back to Dallas to complete the design. Upon completion, we went back to Seattle to work on the Boeing Supersonic Transport.

Hal and I bought a Luscombe Silvaire which I greatly enjoyed flying. When the SST was canceled, we found ourselves back in Dallas with nothing to do. My boss, noting that I am from North Carolina, asked me if I’d like to go to Virginia to work for NASA. We moved to Hampton, where I soon bought a Piper PA-20 Pacer.

Both of our kids finished High School there. Son Thomas went into the Air Force and daughter Sharon started at Virginia Tech. She did not like it and transferred to East Carolina. Upon her graduation, she started an Interior Design business in Virginia Beach and soon married Keith Koontz.

My two big design projects were a Meteoroid Technology Satellite and Vortex Flaps for the NASA F-106B. The Meteoroid Satellite was put on an LTV Scout rocket and launched from Wallops Island. Fran and I observed that one.

I have lots of photos of the F-106B with my flaps installed. No NASA engineer would work on the design because there would be men in the airplane. No problem for me!     

Now we don’t have an airplane, but I sandbag other people’s birds when invited. They usually let me fly after we get airborne. We are all members of the Western North Carolina Air Museum in Hendersonville. I also edit and publish their monthly newsletter.

While in the Air Force, I got rides in both the T-33 and the T-28. I remember that the T-33 was still accelerating as we climbed to cruise altitude. I enjoyed both the climb and dive angles of 60 degrees. The T-33 was the trainer version of the first jet fighter, the P-80. 

I asked my pilot to do a roll in the T-28, but he abandoned it when all his maps came up in the canopy around his head! The T-28 was a high-performance advanced trainer, so I enjoyed that ride as well. I also got a hop in a B-25—so noisy behind the wing that I did not hear much for some three days! 

Now that my pilot license is not current, I’m glad that my fellow flyers offer me opportunities to fly. I just guide their birds along, no loops or spins anymore. By the way, Fran soloed a Champ, so she’d be able to get our bird down safely if something happened to me. And she never got a driver license!

Garland would like to hear from you at 828-859-7041 or garlandgoodwi,