Checkpoints          September 2013              Jeff Chappell

The Lost Files: A huge apology to Mike McClendon, as I somehow overlooked this war story several months ago: I haven't contributed to any of our checkpoints news, basically because I never thought I had anything worth sharing. Well, now I do.

After 42 years of flying and over 11,000 hours in everything from general aviation to gliders to helicopters to transports and fighters, including experimental test on active duty, I nearly met my Maker on 21 Aug 2012. Brian Jones ('73) and I were taking off when our Thorp T-18 experienced an engine rollback at 100' over the end of a short east Texas runway with nothing but trees in front of us. We did as we had been taught: maintained aircraft control, ran the emergency checklist and prayed. About 6 seconds after the rollback I flew the aircraft into the shortest, softest trees I could find. After the crash, we egressed the aircraft and moved away for fear of fire. It took a chopper about on hour to locate us in the woods (no fire), and then sheriffs and EMT personnel came crashing through the woods to our rescue. I was careflighted to East Texas Medical Center where they put my face back together. I had about a dozen broken bones in my face, jaw, eye orbs, and some missing teeth. My jaws were wired together for about 2 months. Brian came out better with a broken eye orb and some bruises. Miraculously, our brains, eyes, balance, limbs are all 100%. I was released 4 days later and am making very fast progress back to normal (or at least what was normal for me). I have learned a great deal about love–love of my family and friends, and the love of God–during this humbling experience. I am grateful to be alive and have a whole new perspective on life. (Photos 1-4 Below)

Seems to me that’s at least three classmates who are aircraft accident survivors, John Sims and Randy Barrett being the other two. Anyone else belong to that exclusive club?

Wayne WIllis reported the loss of Larry Fariss’ home in the Black Forest fire. He and Michele had about two hours to gather what valuables they could. We all wish you a good recovery, Larry–thank goodness for USAA!

On a happier note, Mark Volcheff reported on the first annual Class of 75 Graduation Day Reunion social held at Arnold Hall in Hap's Place. Nearly 50 classmates and spouses attended. Most were from the greater Colorado Springs–Denver area, but Spence Roberts came all the way from Memphis! We haven't aged a bit. Mark your calendars now for next year!

John Brooks: 75 Baking Alive in Phoenix! I was in Ohio on business in April, and had the opportunity to spend the weekend with Eric and Tawnie Hoganson in Dayton. We visited the Air Force Museum and the Wright Brothers memorial nearby. It was great to catch up and touch airplanes! Eric looked right at home in the F-16 mock-up (his favorite ride after the B-1), and I gave the Wright Flyer sim a go.

A synopsis of the Doeppner doings: Susie and I live in Palm City FL where we have been for over 15 years. Our three daughters are all educated, married, and employed. We have four grandchildren. I’m still flying for Sikorsky Aircraft and will spend most of this summer in Colorado doing high altitude testing. Susie and I will spend a week in Germany this summer with our daughter Sarah, researching my father’s ancestry in preparation for a book. Go to www.tomandmarjorie.com to follow along.

Dave White: There I was, standing around at O'Hare, hoping to get a jumpseat ride home after a long flight from Narita. I see some guy walk by and think, "He looks familiar." He turns around, comes back, and asks if I'm Dave White. Well, he's got me dead to rights, so I can't deny it, but I realize why he looks familiar: It's Dave McDaniel and his wife Libby! We had a few minutes to visit before he had to run for his flight to Rome. Tough life some of us have, hobnobbing with the international jet set, and it was good to catch up with a fellow Troll!

John Kearns submitted this Proud Dad photo of Capt Ben Kearns, C-17 Lewis-McChord; John, Delta B767 SLC; and 2Lt Jake Kearns, C-17 Travis.

Charlie Buck was in San Antonio recently and got together with Tom and Gail Finn: We didn't do anything really interesting or significant–too old for that. At least I am; Tom is so much younger. We did talk trash about all the rest of you guys. Even though Tomas still claims to be a technophobe he has a cell phone and says he checks his email every couple of weeks, so he might actually see this and tell the truth about what happened.

The Time of Your Life: Fred Weems retired from AA. Got my first AF retirement check at 60, then found out that an old friend from my days at Upper Heyford had recently committed suicide. Made an on the spot decision that life is too short to be spending so much time at work, so I bailed out. I've been very happy ever since. I'm composing the music for a new ballet. I get to work with dancers and choreographers and all kinds of weird characters. Kind of reminds me of the wing staff: Lots of pretty people trying to look important. My recording studio is called Music for Warthogs, a reflection ofthe decade I spent flying the A-10. I kinda miss getting shot at. I'd go back to that in aheartbeat if they'd take me. My wife of 37 years is enjoying her work as an ER physician. I am enjoying her rather large income. Life is good.

Mark “Crocodile” Holmes spent three weeks in Australia with four buddies from his motorcycle club HawgsDawgs, started twenty years ago and now has over a hundred members from all over the States and two from Australia and England. I made it to Sydney, Melbourne and Ayers Rock, Uluru to the Aboriginals who see it as the center of their universe. A place of exceptional beauty, the Outback doesn't get its due. Amazing landscape, prices were ridiculous, the flies ever present but the views were worth it all.

Small World: YHS has run into several classmates in various situations lately, including Dave and Sally Young in NYC, Duke Duhachek in ANC, and Ray Lynn in MSP. It’s always fun to see classmates; even if we do not have time to socialize, the five-minute elevator or jetway conversations always remind me of Who We Are: Best Alive!


Mike McClendon's Mishap


Checkpoints Extra


Mark Holmes: Hey, Jeff! Hope all's well in your neck of the woods. Just checking in and seeing how things are going.

My birthday's coming up here in a week, big 60 and looking forward to it...going back to FL to see my mom for seven days and visit. She's 93 (or four, CRS these days) and doing well, still driving and walking without so much as a cane, amazes me. She takes after my dad who got his black belt in Taekwondo at the ripe age of 83 so hope they've passed on the good genes. Dad passed a couple years ago now and she gets regular visits from us kids and grandkids ever few weeks to keep in touch and keep her company.

Recent news here...for my 60th I decided to treat myself to some airtime...While the last time I flew a plane was more than a few years back when I was flying a bizjet for Billionaire down here in SD, and miss being off the ground. I'd taken up hang gliding years ago while I was still in and had a bad wreck that, I won't yet say ended, but postponed taking it back up. I was learning it when the sport was young, wing surfaces were single and not double and they were considerably more primitive than they are today.

I've recently gotten into free fall both indoors and outdoors, and working on getting a license for that but found something that had been a dream since I was about 13 yo after watching an episode of Lost in Space and saw them flying around in Jetpacks. A company called Jetpack America recently set up shop here in SD and when I saw a film of them flying, it was a no-brainer to go and check it out and last friday I had my first foray with it and have to say it was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had. Flying without wings, high over the bay with control, learning how to maneuver, hover and do turns and spins was one incredible feeling. I asked the trainers how I did on the learning curve and they said I was in the top ten percent as I got up right away and had it down pretty damn quick. It was a lot like riding a motorcycle, which helped as far as control inputs in steering and handgrip throttle. I watched a couple training videos on youtube before I went and that helped a lot as well....and within a few minutes I was zipping by their photography boats, running on water (a real kick) and they had a hard time getting me to come back in. The funniest moment was when I was in so much joy about doing something I've waited so long for, I took my hands off the controls (part of the training to show you the stability) but did it too far. I was hovering about twenty feet in the air, pumped my fists, and forgot the kill switch attached to my right wrist was shorter than my raised hands and in a fleeting moment, thought 'oh %@$#' and dropped like a stone in a Roadrunner/Wiley Coyote cartoon. LOL....

Not sad to say, I'm hooked and signed up for continuing training to learn superman flyoffs from the beach instead of taking off in the water, tight turns and eventually backflips and more. I've signed up for future flights after I get back from mom's. I'll be doing more until it's too cool in the water late fall but hopefully by then I'll be taking off from dry land and landing there as well and won't have to worry about it.

I've included a couple pics I think our brothers would get a kick out of...and want to pass the word to everyone it's not tough, and I think a lot of the guys would love it.

Other than that, life's good, health good enough not to complain and hope whatever this feeling is at 60 goes on for a long time, God willing. I'm definitely blessed with good friends and Academy bros that made all the difference.

Have a great Labor Day weekend and give my love to the family, Jeff. Hope to see you at our reunion, which at this point is starting to feel like it's coming like a freight train...didn't we just get back from the last one? ;)

All the best, and Best Alive. To Infinity and Beyond!


September Album

     

 

1. Bill & Barbara Caskey. (July 2013)

2. J.D. Barrowclough (Right) rock climbing. (Cyndi Farley, July 2013)

3. J. D. Barrowclough & Casey Chase: Victory! (Cyndi Farley, July 2013)

4. Rodolfo Saavedra Ferrère at Pueblo Garzón, Uruguay. (Lucía Saavedra Ferrère, July 2013)

 

5. Bruce Fritzsche & Annette celebrating their hike to the top of Pike's Peak. (Bruce Fritzsche)

6. Bruce, Debbie & Greg Linster at Breckenridge, Colorado. (Sherry Giordano, July 2013)

7. Dan Burkett: That pic is from the Spartan Sprint, about a 5K with multiple (15?) obstacles. Fail an obstacle, do 30 burpees. It was the coldest day ever near Malibu, Ca. Snowed that morning on the course in Calabasas. The obstacle in the picture was known as the Arctic Enema. I hadn't shivered so much since survival swimming when an A on the GR meant 60 minutes in the Natatorium with hands and feet tied.

8. León Smith-Harrison, Stephanie Williams & Chaviess Smith-Harrison. (July 2013)

 

9. Walt Burns, Jack Barton, friend Odie & Joe May celebrating Jack's son Joe Barton's wedding at the Eglin AFB Officer's Club.(Nancy Deming-May, August 2013)

10. Randy Mason (far right) rafting on the Arkansas River, Colorado. (Zita Mason, August 2013)

11. Dave Wallace: This epistle is probably beyond Checkpoints deadline, but I owe you (Jeff Chappell) photos anyway. Proof that you will find '75ers anywhere, I literally ran into Steve Duresky at the Fort Walton airport in August. He was getting off the plane he'd come home on as Jan and I were about to board the same jet enroute back to Idaho. (August 2013)

12. Max Della Pia & Jim Marshall (Kelly Marshall Vannoy, September 2013)

 

13. Bob Hickcox in the process of upgrading his home computer system to a new TRS80. (Jackie Henry, September 2013)

14. Dave & Sally Young at Balanced Rock, Garden of the Gods. (Lani Care Young, September 2013

15. Jim Hartney: Patriots Sprint Tri with my girls...besides looking good they done good. (September 2013)

16. Oleh Stefaniuk and daughter Kristina. (Veronika Nemeth Stefaniuk, September 2013)

 

17-20. Dave Wallace: You (Jeff Chappell) and Bill Davis allowed me to talk you into visiting us in Boise, and attached are photos to prove it. Of course, you'd come north to witness the USAFA-BSU game, and you and I were photographed with fellow Treasure Valley '75 Classmate Ted Thompson. (September 2013)

20. Jeff Chappell: Nancy and Ted Thompson and Theresa and me at the Boise State game this year (Ted works for Embry-Riddle at Mountain Home AFB). (September 2013)

   
 

21. Kevin and Dorothy Smith, also at the USAFA-BSU game. (September 2013)  

22. Steve Else & Chantal Fourgeaud at Le Café de L'Espérance, Bouliac, France. (Shani Else, September 2013)


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