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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

#Blogformation: "Stranger Than Fiction"!

#blog #avgeeks #aviation
True airplane tales that are
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Flash News:
Several of your "Blogging in Formation" Team is now on the TOP 100 Leaderboard for
"Most Influential Aviation Bloggers" on Twitter!

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and now...
True airplane tales that are

"Mysterious Dancing Lights of Afghanistan"—see story, below!

Let’s play a game called, “Once upon a Time.”
Each question below tells two stories, one fact, one fiction.
Can you guess which is the real McCoy?

Pre-solo Ground School Level:
"Critters on a Plane" . . .

1. A cool dude fights a bunch of Reptilia Serpentes on an aircraft in flight.
2. A Boeing 737 airliner has a midair collision . . . with a fish.
Fact: 2.  In 1987, an Alaska Airlines jet on departure out of PJNU (Juneau, AK), narrowly missed colliding with a bald eagle.  Startled, the eagle dropped its freshly caught salmon—right on the windshield of said jet!

Alaska Airlines named the now-famous Boeing 737, Salmon Thirty Salmon; the "fishy tale" was even featured in Ripley's Believe it or Not!
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A great account from Airways Magazine: 
Note—the eagle was found to be at fault:

I got your Snakes on a Plane, right here!
(The m'f'n infamous line, from the m'f'n movie, Snakes on a Plane):
Warning!  F-bomb alert!

...And apparently the true sequel—Bees on a Plane!:
Corollary critter tale—another true tale, of a reported near-miss . . . with a shark!
See my post, The Life Aquatic & the Battle for Air Supremacy:

Solo Level:
Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, for fun and profit . . .
1. Skyjacker D.B. Cooper successfully robs a B-727 inflight, parachutes out the back, and lives happily ever after.
2. Financially troubled Financial Consultant Mark Schrenker fakes his death by crashing a Piper Meridian.
Fact: 2.  While D.B. Cooper's memory lives on in infamy as the world's most succesful hijacker, he most likely perished upon skydiving into a -60° rainstorm over the Oregon wilderness.
His world crashing around him, financial consultant Marcus Schrenker opted for a bailout. A bail out of his plane, that is. Attempting to fake his own death, Schrenker made an emergency distress call from his Piper Meridian, then parachuted out, leaving it to crash.  Authorities quickly caught on, and nabbed the fleeing Schrenker, who was charged with willful destruction of an aircraft and willfully communicating a false distress message.  He was sentenced to 51 months in prison and fined nearly 1 million dollars.

Solo Cross Country:
Stowing away in perfectly good landing gear, for fun and profit . . .
1. A man stows away in the landing gear of a Jumbo Jet and dies.
2. A man stows away in the landing gear of a Jumbo Jet—and survives.
The Stowaway seat—it's FREE!
Fact: A trick question: Both!
The world is filled with tales of #1, but there have only been a few known cases of #2!
Most recent: In June, 2010, a 20-year-old Romanian stowaway hid in the undercarriage of a jumbo jet and survived temperatures of -41c at 25,000ft during a free flight into Britain.  He was even . . . let go by police!


PPL (Private Pilot License):
Don't try this at home! Or the airport, or . . .
1. A father/son airport groundskeeping team decides to take a Cessna up for a joyride—without a lick of training.
2. A would-be Jet Jock straps a military JATO (Jet-Assisted Take Off) rocket to his '67 Chevy Impala, lights it off . . . and said Jockstrap vaporizes on the side of a mountain at 300 mph.
Fact: 1. While the JATO rocket car remains the most famous "Darwin Award" of all time, it has now been debunked as urban legend.  In real life, however, the father/son aerial lawn mowing team shared a similar fate.
Fatalities: 2—one father, one son.

For more info on the last two questions above, see my October, 2012 Post, Darwin Awards—Aviation Style:

Commercial Crop Duster:
"Some Ting Wong" with this picture . . .
1. Flying his whirlybird on April Fool’s Day, Alaska bush pilot Ralph Olafsen burns a bunch of tires in a dormant volcano, creating mass pandamonium.
2. TV station gets royally “Punk’d” while identifying the pilots of a crash.
(OK, unless you've been living on the dark side of the moon for the past two months, you should be able to get this one!)

Fact: 2.  While #1 really did happen, Ralph Olafsen is the fictional culprit who lights it off in my novel, The Last Bush Pilots.  His volcanic prank was inspired by one Oliver "Porky" Bickar, who's real prank ranks as one of the Top Ten April Fool's jokes of all time.

However, while reporting on the recent Asiana 214 crash in KSFO, KTVU of Oakland, CA, fell for this royal scam . . . Leaving them with some serious kim chi on their faces:

Direct Link:

Here's Colbert's take on it:

Instrument Rating:
8 pints between the bottle and the throttle . . .
1. A pilot flying drunk takes off with the gust lock installed and lives.
2. An airline pilot convicted of drunk flying and sentenced to prison, is once again flying airliners.

Fact: 2.  Flying Drunk is the autobiography of Flight Engineer Joseph Balzar, who in 1980 was fired from Northwest Airlines—along with his First Officer and Captain—for flying while intoxicated.  All three were convicted and sent to Federal prison.  Now two decades sober, author Balzar is once again a pilot at another major airline.

#1 really happened as well—but with fatal results.
Again, see my post, The Darwin Awards—Aviation Style

CFI (Certified Flight Instructor):
"Critters on a Plane," Redux . . .
1. Cap'n Aux flies three bear cubs in his Cessna 207.
2. Cap'nAux flies three "comfort pigs" in his Airbus.

Fact: 1. While I did in fact once fly a "comfort pig" named Webb from Charlotte (no, really!), it was only one bovine. However, I did escort three orphaned bear cubs in Alaska, which inspired another tall tale, that of "the orphaned three," in my novel, The Last Bush Pilots.
Link: Amazon Book Link

ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot License):
The coolest pilot of them all!
1. A girl born with no arms becomes a licensed pilot.
2. Emmy Award winning actor Peter Dinklage—a dwarf—becomes a licensed pilot.

Fact: 1. To the best of my knowledge, Peter Dinklage—the Emmy-winning breakout star of HBO's Game of Thrones—is not a licensed pilot.  But if he was, he'd be one of the world's coolest!

Jessica Cox, however, is the world's first licensed airline pilot with no arms!
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The coolest pilot—EVER!!!
A licensed Recreational pilot and Tae Kwon Do black belt,
Jessica is Cap'n Aux's greatest pilot-hero ever—
(Excuse the tacky pun, but I have a feeling Jessica would laugh!)

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Some day I hope to meet Jessica, who lives just down the block in Tucson, Arizona, and blog to you all about it!

Jessica's story:

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And that, my friends, is stranger—and way, way cooler—than fiction! 
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My brother Allen sent me this link, about the "mysterious dancing lights of Afghanistan"
an incredible and touching story!

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Oh, and PS. . .
What happened to the near miss with that shark, you ask?
Sadly, it ended in tragedy. 

Fatality: one flying shark!
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Check out our Blog Formation Team, all this week!

Hotlinks to sites:
Saturday, August 3: Av8rDan's Excellent Aviation Adventure - Dan Pimentel
Sunday, August 4: 11 Insane But True Aviation facts - Andrew Hartley
Monday, August 5: Knight of the Air - Brent Owens
Tuesday, August 6: Truth is Stranger Than Fiction - Karlene Petitt 
Wednesday, August 7: Adventures of Cap’n Aux - Eric Auxier
Thursday, August 8: House of Rapp - Ron Rapp
Flying Wednesday, August 14 @ 11 am
The Best Office View—Part 3:

The GoPro Version!
Flying Wednesday, August 21
Cap'n Aux's "There I Wuz!"

This Episode: "The Case of the Missing NOTAM"
Originally published as "Listen Up!" in Plane & Pilot Magazine!

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  1. Eric,
    What a fun read! Very creative and interesting. I love how you showed that some were triumphant and some were utter defeated. My favorite was Jessica Cox, of course. What an amazing person!

    1. Thanks, Brent!

      It was truly a riot putting this post together, doing the research and finding all these amazing stories.

      And yes, of course I had to save the best for last—Jessica! What an incredible inspiration! I daresay she ranks up there with that very courageous Muslim girl who defied the Taliban and recently spoke at the UN!

      Our chosen profession is simply the best, ain't it?!?! :D

  2. Eric, Jessica was my favorite too. She is such an inspiration.
    For the rest...these are all too funny, and prove that truth is stranger than fiction. Asiana names are classic, and the drunk flying airline pilot... I didn't realize he wrote a book. Interesting! Thanks for a great post!

    1. It's funny, Karlene, you can almost guess the TRUE answer by going with the one that's MORE UNBELIEVEABLE! If you or I tried to write any of these stories into our novels...NO ONE WOULD BELIEVE IT!, LOL!

  3. Ditto on Jessica. How can you not be awed by her attitude and determination? I wonder how many people she's inspired, just in the aviation world alone?

    1. Yes, Ron, truly an inspiring gal! I just can't get enough of her story! I can't wait for her documentary, "Right Footed" to come out.

      Right now she's soliciting help going through and transcribing the reams of footage they have. I'd love to volunteer...if I had a smidgen of time!

  4. Fun read. First...I can't believe there's a 24% survival rate for wheel well free ride attempts! That's amazing! Second...thanks for cutting off the "drunk pilot" picture to omit the emblem on his hat:) His new employer has a history of giving people like him a second chance. Third...I absolutely love the story on Jessica. What an inspiring story.

    Thanks for a great post!


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