Earthrise: My Adventures as an Apollo 14 Astronaut
Earthrise: my adventures as an Apollo 14 astronaut, Edgar Mitchell PhD, 2014, ISBN 9781613749012, 208 pp.
Edgar Mitchell, the author, is one of the few to become a space traveler and one of those rarefied few who have walked on the Moon. He tells his story not as much as an autobiography but as a trusted family uncle — a person family members go to searching for a particular understanding from a person who can easily explain things, or simply recall events for what they were without embellishment or convenient omissions of fact.
He tells a tale only few can tell and his first hand accounts of moon walks are enthralling as is his riveting description of reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, not to mention being one of the last three astronauts quarantined upon return from the Moon. A few of the of the many subjects addressed, other than obvious ones, in his smooth but exciting manner are:
- What the food was and what is was like to eat in zero gravity
- The excitement of losing the lunar landing radar and the race to get it back on-line with the seconds counting down
- The actual hiking experience and the lugging hundreds of pounds of gear on the lunar surface
- The work transferring the lunar rock samples from the lunar ascent stage to the Apollo command module
- Reading of the Extra-Terrestrial Exposure Law [CFR* Title 14 Section 1211]
The reader will learn more than NASA acronyms, as well — words such as metanoia and noetic. Mitchell makes clear his opinion regarding the existence of ESP though he has a clear rationale for his belief and makes food for thought. He is an astronaut so he is nothing if not a clear and deliberate thinker. Mitchell also briefly describes an organization he co-founded which is the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). He does not use his book as a recruiting tool but mentions his involvement with ESP and IONS in order to make for a complete story of his Apollo 14 mission experience.
Edgar Mitchell writes in a comfortable friendly way, making this book a natural for a young adult, or advanced child, as well as an easy read for the adult looking to read beyond the cold facts (as told by NASA) of this lunar mission. He has also included a rich resource section and excellent index.
* Code of Federal Regulations
As is the publishing business custom, Chicago Review Press provided a copy of this book for an objective review.
Seattle’s Museum of Flight — so much bigger since 2003
47° 31′ 07″ N / 122° 17′ 50″ W
The Museum of Flight has been greatly enhanced since we last saw it during November 2003 when there was only the large atrium — known as The Great Gallery — to explore as well as The Red Barn. We revisited the museum last month to re-explore that gallery and the barn; along with its newer aircraft as well as the newer constructions of The Personal Courage Wing and Air Park (along with the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery). This is a mega-sized facility and spending two hours to an entire day would be reasonable planning. Parking is free, adult tickets are a bit less than $20 with other lesser fees available (including a return the next day), the architecture is spectacularly — marked by curves with right angles notably absent, aircraft appear factory fresh (except a few in dioramas for context and a few in the air park, though they hardly appear abandoned), bathroom facilities of course, child friendly and a pleasant café run professionally by a catering business — on a fair day sitting on the café’s patio overlooking Boeing Field watching the aircraft come and go is an enjoyable break, as well. The entire museum is handicapped accessible, as well.
The museum’s lobby has several exhibits suspended from the ceiling (see table below) and are nearly within reach so their details are quite easy to view — as is how frail looking they seem to be (intrepid pilots required for these aircraft).
|Chanute-Herring 1896 biplane glider [reproduction]||Da Vinci Cigno (Swan) [interpretation]||Lilienthal 1893 glider [reproduction]|
|Rumpler Taube (Dove) [reproduction]||Wright 1902 glider [reproduction]|
The main building’s architecture is modern in appearance while meeting its purpose quite handily. A control tower-like structure contains the Air Traffic Control (ATC) exhibits as well as standing over the parking lot giving a good view of Boeing Field.
The Red Barn is a substantial remnant of the original Boeing factory and is in newly built condition with all the roof carpentry joinery in view. The Boeing Company history is largely displayed in this long two-story structure. A stylish pedestrian bridge protects visitors from street traffic and adverse weather when they wish to see the Air Park as well as the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery.
The Air Park has five aircraft which are either unique or historic and the area adjoins the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery housing, among a few things, the Space Shuttle Full Fuselage Trainer.
Air Park & Charles Simonyi Space Gallery
|Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde||Boeing 727-022||Boeing 737-130|
|Boeing 747-121||Boeing VC-137B Stratoliner “Air Force One”||Lockheed 1049G Super Constellation|
In the neighboring Charles Simonyi Space Gallery
|Blue Origin Charon Test Vehicle||
Space Shuttle Full Fuselage Trainer
Soyuz TMA-14 Descent Module
The Great Gallery is the main event in terms of numbers of aircraft an is essentially a soaring atrium. Aircraft are on the ground, on platforms as well as suspended so visitors can see most of them from individual angels — especially with the use of a second story platform to one side. There is also a Space Exploration room which is accessed on the lower floor.
The Great Gallery
|Aeronca C-2||Aeronca L-3B Grasshopper||Beech C-45H Expeditor|
|Bell UH-1H Iroquois “Huey”||Boeing 247D||Boeing 80A-1|
|Boeing B&W [reproduction]||Boeing Model 40B [reproduction]||Bowers Flybaby 1A|
|Bowers Flybaby prototype||Bowlus-Hawley BA-100 Baby Albatross||Canadair CL-13B Sabre Mk6 (license built F-86 Sabre)|
|Cessna CG-2 primary glider||Curtiss-Robinson Robin C-1||DG Flugzeugbau GmbH Perlan glider|
|Douglas A-4F Skyhawk||Douglas DC-3||Fairchild 24W|
|Fiesler Fi 103 “V-1 Buzz Bomb”||Granville Bros. Gee Bee Z Super Sportster||Grumman F9F-8 Cougar|
|Heath Model V Parasol||Howard DGA-15P||Insitu Aerosonde Laima|
|Insitu ScanEagle||Lamson L-106 Alcor glider||Lear Fan 2100|
|Letov LF-107 Lunak glider||Lockheed D-21B Tagboard drone||Lockheed M-21 “Blackbird”|
|Lockheed Martin RQ-3A Dark Star||Lockheed Model 10-E Electra||Lockheed NF-104 Starfighter|
|Lockheed YO-3 Quiet Star||MacCready Gossamar Albatros II||McAllister Yakima Clipper glider|
|McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II||Mikoyan Gurevich MiG 15bis “Fagot”||Mikoyan Gurevich MiG 21 PFM “Fishbed”|
|Northrop YF-5A Freedom Fighter||Piper J3C-65 Cub||Pratt-Read PR-61 glider|
|Ryan M-1||Sikorsky HH-52 Seaguard||Sorrel Cool Crow I Parasol|
|Stearman C-3B||Stearman PT-13A Kaydet||Stephens Akro|
|Stinson Model O [reproduction]||Stinson SR Reliant||Swallow Commercial|
|Taylor Aerocar III||Taylorcraft Model A||Wright 1903 Flyer [reproduction]|
The Personal Courage Wing is a two-story interpretive and emotive affair housing exhibits of World War II fighters on the lower floor as well as World War I fighters on the upper floor. Many other exhibits are present as well as aircraft displayed in settings which bring the visitor to what life was like back in those days of combat.
Personal Courage Wing
|Aviatik D.I [rare]||Caproni Ca.20 [rare]|
|Albatros D.Va [reproduction]||Curtiss J4-4D Jenny [reproduction]|
|Curtiss P-40N Warhawk||Fokker D.VII [reproduction]||Fokker D.VIII [reproduction]|
|Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker [reproduction]||Fokker E.III Eindecker [reproduction]||Goodyear FG-1D Corsair|
|Lockheed P-38 L Lightning||Bayerishe-Flugzeuwerke Bf 109E-3||Nakajima Ki 43-III-a Hayabusa “Oscar”|
|Nieuport 24bis [reproduction]||Nieuport 27 [reproduction]||Nieuport 28 C.1|
|North American P-51D Mustang||Pfalz D.XII||Republic P-47D Thunderbolt|
|Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5A||Sopwith Camel [reproduction]||Sopwith Pup [reproduction]|
|Sopwith Snipe [reproduction]||Sopwith Snipe 7F.1 [reproduction]||Sopwith Triplane [reproduction]|
|SPAD XIII [reproduction]||Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX||Yakovlev Yak 9U “Frank”|
A handful of fighter and attack aircraft stand as parade guard along the main entry road to the parking lot as well as a Boeing WB-47 Stratojet at the main entrance.
|Boeing WB-47E Stratojet||Fiat G.91 PAN||Grumman A-6E Intruder|
|Grumman F-14A Tomcat||McDonnell Douglas AV-8C Harrier||Mikoyan Gurevich MiG 17 “Fresco”|
More posts on the galleries and their exhibits will appear in during subsequent weeks since this museum is too large, thankfully, to cover in a single post.
McChord Air Museum and Heritage Hill Air Park — a Washington State gem
47° 07′ 18″ N / 122° 29′ 40″ W [McChord Air Museum]
47° 07′ 56″ N / 122° 28′ 57″ W [Heritage Hill Air Park]
This museum is a gem and absolutely should be visited when in the Seattle-Tacoma area. Two main parts comprise the facility: McChord Air Museum and Heritage Hill Air Park. McChord Air Museum is both intimate and dense with its artifacts, relics and displays. Their two largest exhibits are the B-25 Mitchell nose which is positioned just below eye level (easily viewing the bombardier’s work space) and the cockpit simulator of the Delta Dart known formerly as the F-106 Aircrew Training Device (ATD). Displays, artifacts and models abound showing the variety of history witnessed, and made, at what is now known as Joint Base Lewis-McChord (a merging of Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base). For example, the Doolittle Raider force began here when volunteers were called for a dangerous mission of no description — and the request only need to be made that single instance! There is also a charming display to this brave unit as there are many other displays ranging from NCOs to Project Firewall.
Especially rewarding are the museum staff. While it is rare to meet a docent who is not good, the two met during our visit, Randy Getz and Greg Christian, were wonderfully able to deliver a stream of information but had the experience to instead have a nicely rambling conversation. Some visitors want information and some want to tease out details — Getz and Christian can switch modes without batting and eye, making a visit rewarding as well as memorable :)
The Heritage Hill Air Park is artful and delightful — not the usual rowed arrangement of aircraft. Instead, the fifteen aircraft (some historic and some nearly rare) are arranged along a slightly rambling lawn walk with each aircraft on a custom shaped pad (the purposeful omission of easily poured right angles is harder work but much more aesthetically pleasing to the eye). All the aircraft are in mint condition and are sitting on wheel mounts, as well, so the tires do not get destroyed by the weight of the aircraft. A large picnic area and aircraft set in the middle of slightly rolling green landscape — definitely a visit worth making with water and snacks to enjoy the aircraft as well as the environment.
Visiting the McChord Air Museum and Heritage Hill Air Park is easy but go to the base visitation link to ensure entry. The visitor center is accessed from the left lane on the main gate approach and make sure to bring in ID, vehicle registration and proof of insurance — we also noticed that mobile phone use by drivers were allowed but only when hands-free. More posts are forthcoming but please enjoy these images for the present :) There are eateries on base (a Burger King sits opposite the museum) but policies regarding serving civilians on military bases often change so check first or make use of the closely neighboring towns. The museum is for children as well as adults and has restroom facilities, of course.
McChord Air Museum and Heritage Hill Air Park Aircraft
|Consolidated SA-10 Catalina||Douglas C-124C Globemaster II||Lockheed C-141B Starlifter|
|Douglas B-18A Bolo||Douglas B-23 Dragon||Douglas TC-47D Skytrain|
|Convair F-102A Delta Dagger||Convair F-106A Delta Dart||Beechcraft C-45H Expeditor|
|Fairchild C-82A Packet||Fairchild A-10A Thunderbolt II||Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star|
|North American F-86D Sabre||McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle||McDonnell CF-101F Voodoo|
Coming Soon from the Restoration Hangar
|Lockheed C-130 Hercules||Kaman HH-43 Huskie|
Watch for posts on the aircraft displays during the coming weeks!
German Aces Speak II
The German Aces Speak II: World War II through the eyes of four more of the Luftwaffe’s most important commanders, Colin D. Heaton & Anne-Marie Lewis, 2014, ISBN 9780760345900, 304 pp.
Heaton and Lewis’s sequel to The German Aces Speak is as good as the original since it compliments and reinforces but does not repeat or rehash the Luftwaffe’s perspective of World War II by four additional aces — as well as the Luftwaffe’s rebirth due to the onset of the Cold War. The four aces treated in The German Aces Speak II are: Erich Hartmann (most successful fighter ace in history), Johannes Steinhoff (high scoring ace who served in the entire war as well as remarkably after WW II), Dietrich Anton Hrabak (known for his abilities in command and leadership as well as superior career in NATO) and Günther Rall (super high scoring ace with all victories obtained in a Bf 109 and distinguished NATO career) .
- The material regarding Erich Hartmann comprise half of the book and well it should, given his wartime experiences in Russia and Romania, his post war Russian captivity of nearly a decade as well as Cold War Luftwaffe career. The reader learns that most of his front line combat was living in the field with lice as well as the incredibly gifted, brave and faithful mechanic Crew Chief Heinz “Bimmel” Mertens. His story of survival and resistance to his Russian captors until well after the end of World War II is a lesson both in endurance as well as integrity. Hartmann’s post World War II career in the Luftwaffe is also fascinating to read as is his opinion on an inadvertent penetration into East German airspace by Luftwaffe F-84s — here, again, the reader witnesses Hartmann’s integrity and the long view as opposed to being a successful bureaucrat.
- Approximately one third of the book’s pages are on Johannes Steinhoff’s experiences and insight from the Battle of Britain, the Eastern Front (i.e., Russia) as well as in North Africa. The experiences detail early victories, flying night fighters and tactics with respect to attacking bomber boxes. His discussion regarding RAF and USAAF fighters (he was able to fly captured Allied aircraft) is interesting as is his opinion on Hermann Göring’s orders regarding the German Forces defense of Sicily. Steinhoff does not polish his recollections as evidenced by his description of a poorly planned and executed fighter intercept mission with 100 Luftwaffe fighters attempting to chase down 100 Allied bombers low over Italian waters.
- Dietrich Hrabac talks of flying combat in France, the Battle of Britain, Yugoslavia as well as over Russia. His description of Luftwaffe pilots flying at the front until severely wounded or killed is gripping — describing especially his two years as Kommodore of JG 52 with a tactical situation so fluid they flew from 47 different airfields as the amorphous front was continuously reshaped.
- Günther Rall completed World War II assigned to Home Defense but only after surviving both the Eastern Front (including Romania) and the Western Front. His descriptions are also accurate as well as vivid describing, for example, dogfights against elite Russian Red Star unit Spitfires as well as intercepting 800 Allied bombers escorted by over 1000 fighters while leading his 75 fighters.
Heaton and Lewis should be commended for addressing, through the first person experiences of these pilots, aspects of World War II, as well as the Cold War, which are too often left silent. World War II in Eastern Europe (where nearly half of the war’s effort was expended) is addressed, as are the USAAF strafing of Me 262 pilots while helplessly suspended under parachutes (though there is no report of Luftwaffe pilots strafing Allied pilots in the same circumstance), as well as the Cold War Luftwaffe’s Lockheed F-104 Starfighter controversy (three of these men were and still are against the choice to purchase the F-104 but one supports that decision).
The reader will enjoy this book for its setting of historical perspective, since it is not history written by the victors, as well as the rebirth of the Luftwaffe due to Cold War necessities. German Aces Speak II is well indexed, well written, as well as remarkably clear.
As is the publishing business custom, Zenith Press and On-line Bookstore provided a copy of this book for an objective review.
The Fight in the Clouds
The Fight in the Clouds: the extraordinary combat experience of P-51 Mustang pilots during World War II, James P. Busha, 2014, ISBN 9780760345184, 256 pp.
James Busha (editor for EAA’s Warbirds of America as well as EAA’s Vintage Airplane, to name only two of his literary accomplishments) has accomplished a wonderous job in the writing of, The Fight in the Clouds. He has interviewed dozens of veterans as well as researched countless combat reports — all related to flying and fighting in the North American P-51 Mustang during World War II. Busha’s work, through the experiences of the pilots who flew the aircraft in anger, brings readers into the tight fitting Mustang cockpit — whether in a ground attack A-36 Apache (the dive bombing version of the Mustang), flying a photo recce mission in an F-5 (photo reconnaissance Mustang version) or taking a P-51 down thousands of feet in a dive to ground level on strafing runs over the landscape of Europe.
There is so much more and as a small sampling:
- Four pages succinctly describing the Mustang’s models including a coherent summary table
- Vivid descriptions of USAAF Mustangs dogfighting Russian Yaks, mistaking one another for the enemy, as the two allied forces approached each other during the final stages of the war in Europe
- Combat missions in Europe as well as over Japan are gripping and interesting in comparison
- An enlightening description from a retired Mustang pilot contrasting the significant differences between the P-51D and the P-51H models.
Get this book to feel what it is like to fly a Mustang as well as what it felt like to be a World War II combatant in North American’s defining aircraft.
As is the publishing business custom, Zenith Press and On-line Bookstore provided a copy of this book for an objective review.
Sea-Tac’s evolutionary Alexander Aircraft Eaglerock 1928
47° 26′ 25″ N / 122° 17′ 53″ W
The Eaglerock, made by the Alexander Aircraft Company, was a vast improvement and part of a wave of new designs replacing the surplus World War I aircraft. Streamlining, folding wings, more reliable engine (Curtiss OX-5 rated 90 hp) and available tailwheel (too novel for many aviators of the time). Restored by brothers Frank and Victor Hansen in honor their barnstorming father, Bernard, of the 1920s who retired after crashing during the Great Depression — Bernard Hansen survived but his Alexander Eaglerock did not. The Hansen brothers purchased this Eaglerock, which is suspended inside of the south atrium of the Main Terminal in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac), in 1977 which began their restoration project with Bill Duncan. They completed their 1928 vintage Alexander Eaglerock Combo-Wing by 1998 and donated it to Seattle’s Museum of Flight which has it on loaned to Sea-Tac. Back in the day the aircraft was quite sporty in its blue and silver scheme carrying two persons as fast as 100 mph (160kph) and as far as 395 miles (632km).
Washington ANG satays
47° 07′ 21″ N / 122° 30′ 20″ W
This aircraft exhibit lies on the grounds of the Washington Air National Guard Western Air Defense Sector Headquarters on Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma WA.