By STAN KASPRZYK

FlightLog Archive


Memorial Day Flyby - May 2018

Justin - Since you asked me to keep your Nanchang exercised, here's what's been happening while you're away flying all over the word:

For the last couple of years, Roger Collins has coordinated a Memorial Day flyby at the Tahoma National Cemetery, a few miles from my home in Covington, WA. In 2017, I flew with Dave Desmon in his Navion, but in 2018, I was invited to fly as #4 in the planned four-ship, flying your Nanchang CJ-6. Since you were out-of-town, I invited Walt Cannon to fly in my backseat, since Walt had helped out in my Warrior interior upgrade and had also helped to clear a previous Nanchang hydraulic lock with his excellent aircraft background.

Walt Cannon and I met at your hangar about 9:45AM, just after I flew up in the Warrior from Renton. The ceiling was 2000' (MVFR), but scattered out by the flyby timeframe. We were finishing our pre-flight, when Dave Desmon stopped by, suggesting we formate with his Navion down to Bremerton for the 4-ship briefing. I accepted, and after Dave left, I told Walt I wanted to pull the prop through early, since I usually do it as soon as I open the hangar doors. Touching the prop - fully hydraulic locked - solid!

Walt and I walked over to Dave's hangar, saying there's no way we could make the Bremerton brief in time, but I said we were going to meet them when we could. Dave came by the hangar, and helped Walt and me open the cowl the easy way, saving a ton of time. We quickly drained the locked plug, and Walt used your air compressor to clean and prep for re-insertion. After finding all your tools quickly, we re-installed the plug and cowl, and actually started 5 minutes before Dave was able to. Josephine cranked on the second blade for all three flights!

Our first flight was from Paine to Bremerton, joining up after a 10-sec trail departure and flying on Dave's wing to Bremerton, with a 500' pass and pull-up with Dave's smoke on. Dan Shoemaker took great photos from Dave's backseat.

Roger Collins, flying his T-28 and Smokey Johnson, flying Roger's T-6, were slightly behind schedule, so we quickly briefed the 4-ship and positioned the 93-year-old veteran Major (ret.) Bob Meyer in Smokey's backseat. Bob was taken prisoner north of Diekirch, Luxembourg by the Nazis on December 19th 1944, the first day of the Battle of the Bulge. He subsequently 'escaped' from a POW camp in Northern Germany in May 1945 when his guards fled the oncoming Russians. Bob went on to get his commission in the Air Force after the war and served on active duty as a meteorologist during the Korean War. He retired in the Air Force Reserve after 20+ years in service. His wife is buried at Tahoma Cemetery in a plot next to his final resting place. Bob is turning 94 in September 2018.

Josephine cranked right up, and we completed a 4-ship formation departure past Fox Island, south of Tacoma Narrows, then south of SeaTac to Crest/Norm Grier for two awesome passes on the National Cemetery, with Dave pulling up for a Missing Man on the second pass. Roger and Smokey then headed back to Bremerton, while I joined with Dave for a return to Paine. While checking the Nanchang fuel gauges bouncing around, and since we were right next to my home field of Renton, I said bye to Dave and I pitched out and landed at Renton for fuel. Josephine started perfectly again, and we made a quick return to Paine.

I thought our hydraulic lock was the issue of the day, but found out that Smokey's T-6 had radio issues all day, plus electrical issues that were fixed after they diverted to Tacoma Narrows. Roger's T-28 caused the diversion, due to a chip light that came on indicating engine issues. Roger's T-28 ended up stuck at KTIW for maintenance, and Smokey was able to get the T-6 back to Bremerton NORDO on Dave Desmon's wing.

Still, a great day, and Walt and I had an absolute blast. Other than the HYD lock, Josephine was awesome, starting perfectly, with good temps all day, and great air pressures. She performed well in our four-ship salute to our Veterans on Memorial Day. She's fully fueled and ready for her next adventure!

Epilog

After Roger Collins, Smokey Johnson and Bob Meyer diverted to Tacoma Narrows, Dave Desmon and Dan Shoemaker flew there to offer assistance in the Navion. While enjoying lunch at the Hub Restaurant on the field, an anonymous diner at the restaurant picked up the tab for all, in appreciation of Memorial Day! A fine gesture to cap off a great day of flying.