After the Living Legends event in Beverly Hills, I was able to hitch a ride out to Salt Lake City with aviation supporter Tracy Forrest. He let me fly his Citation Mustang out of Santa Monica to Salt Lake City where I was going to kill some time before the Quail Hunt the following weekend at my family’s ski condo.

The Mustang is a great entry level jet, very economical to fly, and has the same Garmin 1000 radios I used in the Cessna 172 I got my Instrument Rating in. The weather was great until we got close to SLC and we then went on instruments, picked up some light ice, and shot the approach. Having just got my Instrument Rating, this was a great experience for me!

Citation Mustang in the rain at SLC

I used the quiet in the mountains to catch up on my blog and never made it out to the slopes! I’ll talk about that in a later blog post. I was happy to be invited back to the Quail Hunt and headed off to Dallas/Ft. Worth five days later by airline to hook up with my ride out to the Ranch.

Last year I got to fly a Cessna Citation Jet out and back and this year was no different. Since I now had my Instrument Rating, I had all sorts of questions. And lo and behold . . . guess what supplies they picked up for me for the weekend? My current favorite rum!

Looks like the beginning of a great trip!

After the Living Legends event, I was beginning to notice a subtle pattern forming! People were going out of their way to supply me with some great tasting rum. At least . . . until my Naked in Jamaica rum comes out! (I feel the need to insert a disclaimer here – I love to drink socially with friends and don’t do this on any kind of regular basis. The only problem I have with drinking is when all they’ve got is that nasty white rum available! I won’t name the label.)

Everyone was kind enough to let me fly up front in the right seat so we headed off to pick up Dick Cole about halfway. Dick was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot on the “Thirty seconds over Tokyo” raid and the beginning of WWII in one of sixteen B-25 Bombers that launched off the deck of the aircraft carrier Hornet!

With Famous Doolittle Raider!

Two people are really responsible for Quail Hunt. John Agather organizes it and is the son of Vic Agather. Vic ran the Boeing B-29 program in WWII for America and was responsible for getting the B-29 Fifi for the CAF. Herb Kelleher is the other and is part-owner in the 200,000 acre ranch we explore in west Texas. Herb is one of the principals behind the success of Southwest Airlines. John and Herb together have created a great event to bring together aviation notables together for a weekend of fun and camaraderie.

With famous round-the-world Voyager Pilot Dick Rutan!

If you remember, last year, country music star Aaron Tippin was my roommate. He showed up late this year so I bunked in with a new fun guy named Perry out of Reno. He brought a load of guns for everyone to play with and we literally had a blast! The next picture pretty much sums up the whole trip!

Bullets - 2000 / Quail - Zero / Fun - Priceless!

Can’t wait ’till next year!

Kermit

I recently got back from the Living Legends of Aviation event in Beverly Hills.  As usual, it was a great event and it’s always fun to see old friends and meet new ones.  While I’m not big suit and tie guy, I love to get dressed up in my tux!

One of the fun things about being a Living Legend (other than the alternative), is being able to bypass the “normal” entrance and walk the red carpet for the Paparazzi!

Posing for the Paparazzi!

When I walked up to begin, I couldn’t help but notice I was following Morgan Freeman and his entourage!

Walking the Red Carpet!

For some reason, I didn’t notice as many flashes going off when I went through!  Hmmm?  Oh, well . . . so much for being famous!  :-)

With LLoA Founder Jerry Lips and Morgan

On the flip-side, you know you’ve arrived when they have your favorite drink sitting next to your table and won’t let you get to the bottom of your glass!  In the past I’ve had to walk to the bar in the back to get a drink and have to live with the white rum (I won’t name the label) they stock, which I can’t stand!  One day, my Naked in Jamaica rum with orange juice will be my drink of choice!

You know you've arrived when . . .

This year though I got put to work so, maybe that’s why they had a stash for me close-by!  Actually, I was honored to be part of the program in several ways.  First of all, as a Living Legend myself, I got to hang a medal around one of the new Legends, Jeff Plunkett.  Next, I was was included in a tribute to Cliff Robertson, who recently passed away.

Go back and look at last years LLoA blog post where I included several pics of Cliff and myself.  The tribute we all did can be seen at http://youtu.be/2k7CT6mrspE .  I’m right at the beginning, but feel free to watch the rest of the tribute by others to Cliff as well.

The coolest thing I got to do, was to present the Award to Boeing for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  It was a great opportunity to touch everyone with a bit of Fantasy of Flight philosophy and I got several great comments later.

I thought it somewhat interesting that, while I was waiting backstage before presenting the Award, I found myself following Morgan Freeman again!  There seemed to be a pattern forming!

Backstage and up next!

Friend and Film Director, Tony Bill (Movies - Flyboys and The Sting), was introducing Morgan for the Aviation Inspiration and Patriotism Award. I soon followed to introduce the Aircraft of Legend Award and present it to Michael Sinnett, who accepted in on behalf of the Boeing Dreamteam.

Presenting Award to Michael Sinnett!

The following clip of the presentation will be seen by tens of thousands of people that brought the Dreamliner into reality!  Pretty Cool!  Check it out at - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9qTxAWq6mk

All in all, it was a great event for me and everyone else.  I can’t wait until next year!

Kermit

Hard to believe but, after decades of dabbling, I FINALLY GOT MY INSTRUMENT RATING!

I studied hard for several weeks over the Holidays and took the written exam just after Christmas.  It’s probably the hardest of all FAA Written Tests and I got a 98% on it!  If you don’t pass your check-ride for the flying part within two years after passing the written, it lapses and you have to take it again.  It was the sixth time I’d passed the written exam in the last 30+ years!

With FAA Check-Pilot Chuck Brown and my Instructor Durwin Daniel

The Cessna 172 I flew was equipped with a Garmin 1000 glass panel!  Just like flying a jet but at a quarter the speed!  It was a great experience, although it was somewhat frustrating having to learn the system on the fly.  There is so much information available using it that it’s like drinking from a fire hose and, at times, felt like the panel was, “Starring back at me!”

Garmin 1000 Panel in a Cessna 172 (courtesy of Garmin website)

After the recent trip bringing the C-47 across the pond and getting stuck five days on the ground, I decided it was finally time!  There were several other reasons too.  They recently changed the type-rating requirements.

Cruising along on my Instrument Cross-Country!

In the past, I got type-ratings in the B-17, B-24, B-26, etc. with a VFR (Visual Flight Rules) limitation.  Now you HAVE to have an Instrument Rating.  Without it, I would not be able to fly the C-47 as Pilot in Command.  We also got a special waiver to fly the P-51D Cripes A’Mighty for revenue rides but, guess what?  One of the requirements is an Instrument Rating!

Plus, one day, I hope to be in a position to get a small jet for personal transportation and add another aspect of piloting to my flying career.  Currently, I’m learning all that I can about light jets and it’s still a dream . . . but it IS getting closer!

Kermit

My Sopwith Snipe has been completed, signed-off by the authorities, and recently test-flown!

All this is courtesy of Peter Jackson’s great interest and efforts building up very authentic reproductions of famous WWI aircraft.  As mentioned in a previous blog, I did a trade with Peter for the Snipe and Albatros and sent down several engines they overhauled for the projects.

Snipe being Rigged for Flight!

Since this is the first Snipe built by Gene DeMarco and The Vintage Aviator Ltd. (TVAL), it took considerably longer than my Albatros, which already had a prototype flying.  I blogged about my exploits in April flying the Albatros at the Omaka Airshow.

I chose to paint the Snipe in the colors of highly-decorated WWI Canadian Ace Billy Barker, who was the 12th highest scoring ace in WWI with 50 confirmed kills.  It represents the airplane he flew his last combat in on October 27, 1918, in which he received the Victoria Cross for his valiant efforts against enemy aircraft.

Ready to Test-Fly!

One of the cooler aspects of the restoration was that Barker and his squadron mates used to put car ornaments of the time on their airplanes to “personalize” them.  Gene and his restoration crew did some research and found the ornaments are still being made for period cars . . . by the SAME COMPANY that built them in WWI!  How cool is that?  They ordered me the one Barker used . . . a Red Devil!

Barker's personalized weapon with WWI period car hood ornament!

The Snipe uses the largest Rotary engine ever built: a British Bentley BR-2 with 230 hp!  I have seen videos of it running on a test stand and can’t wait to get it back to hear it in person.  Better yet, fly behind it!

She Flies!

As I write this, both the Snipe and the Albatros are on a ship headed to Florida.  We hope to have them assembled and flying at Fantasy of Flight and by the end of March in time for the 2012 Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In!

Kermit

Recently, I attended the National Business Aircraft Association convention in Las Vegas.  We were having a Board meeting of the Lindberg Foundation and I got the opportunity to visit with new and old friends and get a chance to check out the latest business jets and products.  I had supported the NBAA cause in the past by donating a tour of Fantasy of Flight and flight in a cool airplane for one of their charity auctions.

While there, we presented Jeppesen CEO Mark Van Tine an award for his company joining the Lindbergh Foundation Aviation Green Alliance, which supports and honors the Aviation Industry for promoting environmental challenges within their field.  True to my typical form, no one told me I was supposed to wear a suit and tie!

Presentation to Jeppesen

After checking out the goodies at the Las Vegas Convention Center, I got out to Henderson Airfield to check out the latest hardware.  While there, I couldn’t help but check out my Dream Jet – the Embraer Phenom 300!

My Dream Jet!

Now how cool is that!  One day I hope to be able to justify one, as it’s an aspect of my flying career I would love to experience.

Dreaming of my own personal transportation!

Hey, Kermit, maybe you should work on getting your Instrument Rating first!

Kermit

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