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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Old charts show interesting view of the past

What's Up?
by LeRoy Cook

With a few exceptions, it was a good flying week, with lots of wide-open skies and favorable winds. Pilots took advantage of the opportunity and made some long-delayed trips, and quite a few transient airplanes came through.

We observed a big Beech King Air 300 corporate turboprop touching down briefly on Sunday, which could have been an FAA “flight check” airplane doing the periodic inspection runs for the instrument approach procedures. Those have to be tested for accuracy and freedom from new obstructions every so often. We saw a Piper Cherokee and a Cessna Skyhawk come in, probably on training missions, and a Beech Bonanza A36 was in. A Cessna Skylane stopped on Sunday, and Designated Pilot Examiner David Bradley came by on Thursday.

Butler flyers were Alvin Griffin, off to Bowie, Texas in the Beech Bonanza N35, Roy Conley, up in his Grumman Tr2, and Brandt Hall, flying his Genesis homebuilt. The SkyDive KC Beech King Air got in about a half-day of jump runs over the weekend, thwarted by low ceilings and rain showers the rest of the time. The pilot of a Piper Cherokee 235B had to seek refuge here while enroute to Iowa last week, when his engine “swallowed a valve.” Fortunately, he was within range for a precautionary landing. Repairs are underway, so he’ll hopefully be gone by the time you read this.

We were cleaning out some old storage from the early days of Robertson Aviation last week, and we ran across some aeronautical charts from the 1955-1958 era. They provide a real time capsule window into flying in those times. The old low-frequency radio ranges were still in use, designated Red, Blue, Green and Amber routes, but they were being overlaid with numbered VOR routes, many still in use today. Airports were sparse, and a lot of them were just grass strips. During those Cold War days, this area was covered by an ADIZ (air defense identification zone), in which air traffic had to be on a flight plan or be subject to interception by the military. And we think we have airspace restrictions today!

Our weekly question in the previous column was about the original purpose of the pointed spire atop the Empire State Building in New York City. No, it wasn’t a hand-hold for King Kong’s movie scene; it was designed to be a mooring mast for dirigibles, when conceived in the 1930s. It was never used as such, and I don’t know how passengers were supposed to get on and off anyway. For next week, we want to know what was the largest size of gun that was ever mounted in an airplane during wartime. You can send your answer to kochhaus1@gmail.com.