Thursday, May 23, 2013

Flying High with Helicopters

The eighth anniversary of hurricane Katrina is fast approaching.

My wife and I have many memories and stories about how the weather changed our lives. In several ways, Katrina was as significant for me as the JFK assassination. Kennedy’s death didn’t cause me to move away from my home state.

Katrina did.

One of the nightmarish memories of the storm involves events that occurred in the aftermath.

The levee system in New Orleans failed. In addition to storm refugees and evacuees, now flood victims were arriving in Baton Rouge. Not too far from our home.  The basketball arena on campus at LSU became a huge triage facility.  

The “whop-whop” sound of helicopters constantly arriving at Tiger Stadium was a daily reminder of the tragedy that changed thousands of lives. Our house was close enough to the flight path that we could easily hear the airborne deliveries.

More than once, I looked toward where the sound seemed to be coming from, only to discover they were behind me.
It reminded me of the opening scene from the movie M*A*S*H.

Fast forward to the 1:06 mark.

My near obsession with helicopters recently joined forces with my 19th childhood (who needs only two?) and I started building plastic models again.  Hadn’t tried that in over forty years.

Last summer, I got back into flying radio controlled aircraft. I’d flown airplanes while in college and this time it’s, you guessed it, helicopters. I spent as much time repairing them after crashes as I did with them in the air. So I purchased several pieces of equipment to help.  The lighted magnifying glass and the “extra hands” with alligator clips proved handy for both hobbies.

Here are a few photos of my first model in 40 years, a Bell H-13H. Once I get the decals on, it will be a “M*A*S*H” replica. I can hear the music now.

If you have the right tools, any job is easy!

Just getting started: frame and skids.

Motor on the frame.

 Frame with cockpit interior. I was impressed with the detail.
Notice you can see the foot pedals.

 Almost done. Just needs decals.

Next up, a B-24 Liberator. It played a significant role in every theatre of World War II and I'll be writing a blog soon on a book about it. The book is The Wild Blue - The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany by Stephen E. Ambrose. Watch for it soon.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Just who are those guys in the Presidents Club?

The Eight Sentences:
“We got no secrets,” commented Reverend Pritchett.
Pointe continued, “The facts I’ve discovered may not be secrets in this room, but I suspect that they aren’t commonly known in your community. I’ll give you a few examples. 
Three of the eight men, I’m including Louie, whose real name I know, have concealed carry permits. Five of you have had run-ins with the IRS and one is still paying them off. You all know each other’s marital and employment status. I know your military histories and which of you have been checked out by the FBI. 
I also know that the most dangerous man in the room, except for myself and Louie, who has a sawed off shotgun behind the bar, is not the youngest member of your group.”

The Back Story:
        Gerald Pointe is in charge of security for billionaire Julian Thibaut who is about to visit the Louisville Tavern in a few days. In the snippet above, he shares with the regulars of the tavern(aka the "Presidents Club"), a portion of what he's learned about them.

News items:
       1. My first novel, The Tourist Killer, is now available on Barnes & Noble so you can read it with your NOOK.
      2. Starting Saturday, May 4, The Presidents Club increases in frequency. Three chapters a week will be presented on Sat, Sun, & Wed.

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