I got a chance to enjoy a couple of days with aviation friends on a 200,000 acres ranch in west Texas.  The premise of the weekend event is to hunt Quail, which I don’t think I could actually do because they’re so cute!  They always win anyway!  The shots I’ve mainly observed over the years mostly involve alcohol so it’s mostly about having fun, camaraderie, and telling stories!  I did actually fire a gun this time and hit a cactus but neglected to clean it and bring it back as proof of my hunting prowess!

Kind of says it all!

It’s somewhat difficult to get to the Ranch as there are no airports anywhere near by with airline service so everyone flies there in private airplanes.   This was my third event and the first year I got a ride out in a twin-Beech.   Past notables included Tex Hill, highest-scoring Flying Tiger Ace, and Dick Cole, who was Jimmy Doolittle’s copilot.  It’s always right after the Living Legends event in Beverly Hills, CA so I catch a ride the best way I can.  This year I had the opportunity to fly out from Dallas with Southwest Airlines legend Herb Kelleher and several others in a Lear 55.

Kermit with Herb Kelleher - "Cashew Class!"

It’s great to mingle with other successful and passionate people and learn from their successes as well as share what I’m doing.  I’m a firm believer in networking and the “butterfly effect” so it will be interesting to see where all this goes!


Kermit and Dick Jackson with the Sikorsky S-39

Dick Jackson’s 1930 Sikorsky S-39 in now on display at Fantasy of Flight, at least through the Sun ‘n Fun Splash-In, which takes place at Fantasy of Flight.  Dick brought the airplane down before the cold weather up north set in.  It is a gorgeous restoration that encompasses 40 years of Dick’s life and about 40,000 hours of work!  If you can come the day of the Splash-In on April 15th, 2010, you should be able to see it flying!


I was honored this year to be presented the Freedom of Flight Award at the 7th Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards Banquet last January.  I have been part of this illustrious group of 70 “Legends” for four years now which is made up of Celebrities in “Aviation” as well as “Celebrities” in Aviation.  It’s a unique group of people gathered around their love and passion for flight.

Award recipients this year included other aviation notables as well as Hollywood stars Kurt Russell and Tom Cruise.  Great friend, airshow pilot, and Heli-ski partner Sean Tucker MC’d the event and, after a few comments, introduced the famous Bob Hoover to present me with my Award.

Kermit, Bob Hoover and Teresa at the Living Legends of Aviation Awards

I got a chance to deliver an acceptance speech and got a lot of great comments from people afterwards.  My mother, sister, and wife Teresa flew out to the Beverly Hills event to support me and take in the sights.  This was Teresa’s Legends event but I don’t think it will be her last!

Check out this Youtube clip to see some of the highlights and people that attended.  Teresa and I get a few frames!  http://www.tomkatcrazy.com/living-legends-of-aviation-tom-cruise-john-travolta-kurt-russell/


On January 1st, 2010 I made the announcement that Fantasy of Flight will build a reproduction of the Benoist flying boat which made the first ever commercial flight on January 1st, 1914.  It was a two person aircraft that pilot Tony Jannus flew from St. Petersburg across the Bay to Tampa.  The flight was flown at between 15 and 50 feet and took twenty-three minutes.  After some fanfare, he flew back!  Prior to the flight there was an auction and the Mayor of St. Petersburg bid $400 for the honor of being the first ever commercial passenger.  The later normal fare was $5 and, in the first year of operation, they made about 1200 successful flights!

While several other reenactments have been made over the years with different airplanes, our intent is to build an airplane as accurate as possible, including using a six-cylinder Roberts 2-cycle engine, which we intend to build as well!  Since Fantasy of Flight is all about pushing boundaries, this was a great opportunity for myself and the Aircraft Department to push ours!

Kermit and Tony Jannus in Benoist replica at St. Pete Museum

75 hp Roberts 2-Cycle Engine

Currently, we are doing research on the aircraft and engine and hope to begin construction sometime next year.  We hope to have the airplane ready for test-flights by the summer of 2013. Fortunately, we have a lake on site where we can safely begin testing and tweaking.  I thought it was interesting the original flight was covered on the front page of the St. Pete Times and our announcement was as well . . . 96 years later!


Look Ma! No Steering!

We had a great Roar n’ Soar event in November with boats, model airplanes, cars, and airplanes participating.  I was supposed to fly fly five airplanes during the day beginning with a talk about each one but it was a bit on the windy side.  When I went to fly the Duck, I decided it was too windy and got caught not being about to turn it around on the runway and the above picture was the result.

Most of the side area on the Duck is behind the main wheels so it is not happy unless it’s headed into the wind.  Kind of like a weather vane.  Even though the brakes are good, when I added power, the tail came up and I found myself briefly kissing the hull on the ground!

Would you believe I was taking a bow?


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