I arrived home late evening from my trip to Egypt on a Wednesday and had to wake up early the next morning and hit the ground running.  This was the day of the Sun ‘n Fun Splash-In at Fantasy of Flight and I was scheduled to pick up an important visitor on the Sun ‘n Fun ramp at 9:30am.  It was none other than Jeff Skiles, the copilot on the US Air Flight 1549 that successfully landed in the Hudson River in January of 2009.  It was billed in the media as the “Miracle on the Hudson” and all 155 people aboard survived.

We had arranged for Jeff to come over to Fantasy of Flight and speak about his experience at a special luncheon in the Orlampa Conference Center.  Since it was the day of the Splash-In, I thought it would be great to bring Jeff over in the Duck for a grand arrival on the shores of Lake Agnes.  Jeff and Sun ‘n Fun officials greeted me and, after some pictures, we both jumped in the Duck to head back to Fantasy of Flight.   Cruising over, and talking on the intercomm, I was not too surprised to learn that Jeff had never been in a Grumman Duck.  But what did surprise me was we were just about to make his first ever water landing in an airplane that could actually take-off again!

I let Jeff do the flying on the way over and he did a great job.  It’s not very easy to see out of the back (let alone the front!) and the controls are not as pilot friendly as in the front cockpit.  Anyway, after landing the Duck in the lake and getting out, I made him sign the airplane logbook stating this was his first successful landing in an airplane he didn’t have to swim away from!

Kermit

About a year ago, I was invited to join friends and family on a trip to Egypt and go down the Nile.  I didn’t go out of my way to set this up, it just unfolded before me.  I was intrigued with visiting because I had been shown I had a past life connection to the Egyptian Dynasty days.  The first time this surfaced was when having a massage over a decade ago.  I was face down, very relaxed, and all of a sudden a visual flashed in my mind’s eye of the same massage therapist working on me during the days of the Pharoahs.  I picked my head up and mentioned this whereupon her jaw dropped and she very excitedly announced, “I can’t believe it, I was just been wondering how I knew you in a past life!” This was my first indication.

Years later, while attending week-long sessions at the Monroe Institute exploring consciousness, this past life connection to Egypt came up again several times.  This will all be included in the book I’m writing of my experiences called The Journey Never Ends!

About five months before the trip I had the reading with Kevin Blackwell mentioned in an earlier blog post, which you should check out.  One of the past lives I was interested getting information on was this Egyptian connection.  Not only did Kevin nail what I already knew, he gave me additional information to the point I have a very good idea exactly who I was!  So, you can see why I was intrigued to visit.

Prior to going, I read about eight books on Egyptian history and was amazed how much they influenced later cultures and religions.  I won’t go into details here but I got some interesting information and messages while I was there.  One highlight was getting to meditate in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid, which I seem to have connections to.  Another was having an owner of a rather nice carpet store come up to me with a quizzical look saying, “I know you from somewhere!” I had never seen this guy before and told him I had never been to his shop.  He said, “No, no . . . from a past life!” People around me that I had mentioned this past life connection to Egypt previously were blown away!

I continue to tell people I’m living a fairy tale that keeps unfolding before me in the most amazing ways.  My dream is to create a place where others can self-discover themselves through entertainment, which is what Fantasy of Flight and Orlampa are all about, although we’ve not yet morphed into what we will become.  Keep an eye on our progress.

As far as my book goes, I’m pretty much done with the introduction and the first ten chapters and have been trying to find the time to finish the summary.  There is so much information, it’s like hearding a bunch of cats!  I’ve begun to let several other people read it for for editing purposes.

I’m hoping when my book finally comes out they won’t lock me up in a padded cell!  We’ll see.  I always heard if you were poor and crazy you were senile . . . but if you were well-off and crazy . . . then you were eccentric!

Kermit

I recently got a chance to stop in England and check up on the progress of one of my ongoing restoration projects.  The Tempest V is a rare WWI British fighter plane powered by an equally rare 2,400 hp Napier Sabre engine.  To my knowledge there are only two of these aircraft in existance, the other being at the RAF Museum in Hendon, England.  I also understand there are only about ten examples of the 24-cylinder sleeve-valve Napier Sabre engine in the world, with only two in private hands . . . mine!

With one of my rare Napier Sabre engines!

The fuselage is slowly undergoing restoration with attention to replacing, treating, and preserving all the aluminum and tube structures.  Wing and tail fairings have been made with only final fitting needed.  As mentioned before in earlier blog posts, the cockpit details are currently being gathered with the option of later restoring everything to airworthy condition.  Currently no systems work has been done, i.e. wiring, instruments or coolant pipes.  All airframe work to date has been done to airworthy condition.

The wings are progressing nicely with the landing gear installed and are in the process of final skinning.  Flaps, ailerons and fuel tanks are close behind.

Wing Leading Edge Fuel Tank as original

My main goal right now is to continue with the airframe work, gather everything up, and paint it for static display with one day having the option of tackling the systems and the engine.  To my knowledge, a Tempest V has not been seen flying since the early 1950′s, let alone anyone having heard a Napier Sabre engine run!

Kermit

We recently held a symposium with four WWII Women’s Air Force Service Pilots who came and spoke about their experiences.  Visitors got to listen to great stories and ask questions of how they overcame the predudice of the times in pursuit of their love for flying and helping support the war effort.  The gals help test and ferry military aircraft around the United States, which helped relieve the guys for combat duty.  Everything the guys flew, the gals did as well; including our first P-80 jet-fighter and our large B-29 Superfortress bomber, which ultimately ended the war by dropping the atomic bomb!

Taking a break during the symposium for Aircraft of the Day, I flew our North American AT-6 Texan trainer painted in WASP colors to honor them.  The aircraft markings at their training base in Sweetwater, Texas included red wings stripes, a red nose and tail, and the Disney-designed WASP mascot named “Fifinella” on the cowl.  Never one to miss an opportunity, I strapped one of the gals in the back seat and, after making a few passes for the crowd, flew off to let her do some flying of her own.  She did great!

Not only did the gals help inspire what later became the women’s movement for equal rights, they were babes as well, which still continues to show!  There is no question that when the guys came back from the war, they came back to a different type of woman!  I’ve had many opportunities over the years to get to know many of the gals and am saddened we are slowly losing them over time.  My hats are off to them for what they did, as well as their continued interest in sharing their inspiring stories.  I think it was a great trip down memory lane for everyone in attendance.

I am also excited to annouce that we have completely a long-awaited project honoring the WASP’s in a very unique way.  Women patrons visiting our center hangar restroom facilities will be surprised to find a new addition.  One wall now has a life-size famous picture of four WASP’s walking down a flightline, parachutes in hand, with a saying written backwards above them.  You initially don’t exactly know what’s going on until you stand by it, turn around and read the saying in a large mirror.  You become part of the picture, in front of the gals, and read the throught-provoking message, now correctly written.  Click on the picture above, read it backwards with a mirror, imagine yourself lifesize in front of the gals, and you will get the basic effect.

Plaque on Stall Door

To take the “facility experience” to an even greater level, each bathroom stall now has a different airplane picture and its name on the door.

Spitfire cockpit on bathroom stall door

Once seated you find yourself looking into the cockpit of one of the famous planes the WASP’s flew, which are on display!  I hope all the gals reading this will come out to Fantasy of Flight to check-out in our new immersive experiences!

Mustang cockpit from "seat" POV!

And, while everyone else will remember these gals as the WASP’s . . . to me, they will always be my “Honeybees!”

Kermit