Category Archives: Human Interest


EV 1928 – 2012

I have lost a good friend, a fellow pilot, a UFO and a bodhran player.  A UFO? And what’s a bodhran player, pray tell?  I will explain but first a word or two about Ev.

Ev was a seven-time Connecticut state cycling champion; and a national undefeated 200-mile record holder.  He served honorably in the U.S. Army’s First Cavalry Division, infantry, on the front lines in the Korean conflict, and was awarded two Purple Hearts.  He loved cycling and dancing but flying was his passion.

Ev knew Charles Lindbergh and the family personally very well and authored two books comprising the complete history of the Spirit of St. Louis from its conception to its place in the Smithsonian.  Ev wrote three books and was the pre-eminent authority on classic Ryan airplanes.  He was proud of his flights in the rare 1936 Ryan ST, the only survivor of five that were built.  A model of the Ryan hangs from the ceiling in his kitchen.

Ev performed as “Solo the Flying Clown” in air shows around the northeast.  His was the first flying clown comedy act at the world famous Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in New York.  He flew several of Rhinebeck’s early aircraft.  For one summer, Ev performed as a wing-walker atop the wing of a 1941 Stearman PT-17 biplane.

A UFO in this case is a United Flying Octogenarian, a member of an international society of pilots who are, or were, active licensed pilots at the age of 80 or older.  I believe his last flight as pilot in command was one I flew with him earlier this year in his 1953 Cessna 170B.  Now about the bodhram.  It’s a celtic tympanic instrument.  I hope you enjoy the video.  Do go full screen.


Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed annually in the United States on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. (Southern ladies organizations and southern schoolchildren had decorated Confederate graves in Richmond and other cities during the Civil War, but each region had its own date.  By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.

Let John Wayne tell you the story of the origin of the bugle tune TAPS.


Every pilot knows the name Bob Hoover.  He is a master at the controls of any airplane from fighter jet to a single engine prop personal bug smasher.  Bob is famous for his trick of pouring a cup of tea with one hand while putting the plane through a complete roll without spilling a drop.

Years ago piston and turbine aircraft had the same size fuel hoses and a young line boy accidentally filled Bob Hoover’s piston engine aircraft with jet fuel. The engine will run for a while but then it will die.

In Bob’s case, there was enough clean fuel in the lines to taxi out, depart and climb to about 100 feet when the jet fuel caused his engines to quit. The airport (Brown Field outside San Diego) is surrounded with mountains which are probably the worst emergency landing locations imaginable. Bob drew on his skills and landed uphill, stalling right at touchdown, and pilot and passengers emerged unhurt.

Later, Bob returned to the airport and found the extremely red-faced line boy. He looked at him and said “Tomorrow I’ll be back to fly and I’ll need fuel added to my aircraft. And when I do, I only want one person to do it. And that person is you.”

Bob knew that, of all the line men at Brown Field, only one was guaranteed to have learned the seriousness of putting the right fuel in an aircraft.  He also knew how to treat and train a young line boy.  And that’s uncommon wisdom.


My recent travels included a stop at Pearl Harbor.  I had been there before, many years ago.  This time  it seemed different; there was an added dimension.  I saw Servicemen in uniform off-base.  It is not Pearl Harbor that has changed, it’s everywhere else.  Before Vietnam a soldier on leave wore his uniform in public with pride and respect.  Today a uniform engenders both scorn and respect from various disparate members of the public.  We have lost something when our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen are seen as controversial figures when in uniform.

God and the Soldier, we adore,
In time of danger, not before.
The danger passed and all things righted,
God is forgotten and the Soldier slighted.

~Rudyard Kipling

One of the many highlights of the trip was a luncheon at the Sam Snead restaurant at the Navy-Marine Club House in Honolulu.  It was a monthly affair of pilots who call themselves UFO’s because they are members of a select group known as the United Flying Octogenarians – having flown as pilot in command of an aircraft after achieving the age of 80.  There were 14 of us at the table.  The pilot sitting at my right was one of the two declared Republican primary contenders for the U.S. Senate, John Carroll.  He said “You know, everyone I know at this table is a Republican”.  John has been responsible for much of the environmental reform on the Islands.  I live in the Northeast.  Some things are different in Hawaii.


One of the many things I love about my native New England is all the stone walls.  Get off the beaten path; take a walk in the woods.  Bring your imagination and a walking stick.  It matters not where you go; soon you will come to a stone wall.  It may run straight and true or it may meander awkwardly to and fro.  Chances are many of the stones have tumbled a bit from where they were originally laid.  The summer sun and the winter snow have had their way with the rocks during the two hundred years or more they have been standing there patiently defining a property line or offering support for a barn or home that’s no longer anywhere in sight.

Find a fallen tree that’s just right.  Sit; have a snack and let your imagination run.  You have been walking for two hours in the woods without seeing a building or even a new mown field.  It’s plain to see no one lives here.  No one ever did.  Ah, but yes someone did!  That tree you are sitting on is just the right height because it fell across a row of stones.  The line goes down the hill and then it turns to the right.  Someone put those stones there.  Big stones, small stones, tan stones and black rocks turned green by the elements. Mixed in you find a few samples of red granite sitting here and there just to pique your interest.

Either side of the wall there are trees, big and small, short and tall, mostly deciduous hardwood trees on land that was original covered only with soft conifers.  The hardwood trees are a clue; the stone wall is the proof; you are a welcome trespasser on sacred ground.  Not holy ground, but land prepared by horse and hand and hard labor to make a home.  Sacred ground because of the love and lives that once lived and toiled here.

It’s time to sit quietly on your fallen tree and listen to your imagination as you munch a snack.  The young couple had a 9 year old work horse, 2 cats and a dog named Digger.  There were more chickens than an ordinary person could count and a big wooden bucket filled with pickling salt in the root cellar.  One spring they planted orange seeds they had dried just for fun.  There were pumpkin and some squash seeds too.  No orange tree ever showed a leaf but some of the pumpkin grew, and the squash and zucchini, oh my!  Most of it was shared with Caleb’s sow down the road, so much grew that year.

It was David and Mary who cleared the land.  After Digger came Digger Too.  Digger’s job had been to play in the mud while his masters worked the garden soil.  Digger Too’s job was to provide love and companionship for his now aging couple and to chase an occasional squirrel of course.  David went first.  The men usually did in those days.  He was 3 score and 4.  That’s two more than the time assigned to man.  Life had been hard but it was good.  With David gone, Mary did the best she could.

Caleb came up when there was something she couldn’t handle, which wasn’t very often.  The horse was long gone but Mary liked to sit in the kitchen and look out at that old barn; it held so many memories.  It filled her soul with thoughts of youth and times of shared love and chores.  One late October day Caleb heard Mary say the doors wouldn’t hang like that if David were still around.  The very next morning Caleb came with his son and they put new hinges on those doors.  It was just 2 days after Thanksgiving when they found Mary.  Her head was bowed; her breath was gone.  But she was erect in the kitchen chair where she had been looking for the last time at those barn doors.  That was 1749.

I stood up poked around where I thought the old barn might have been.  I shuffled some leaves with a boot and sure enough, I picked up one half of an old rusty hinge.  I laid it back exactly as I found it, picked up my pack and walked on, a little more reverently then when I had walked in.

by Bob B


Not in America of course, in Morocco and it only applies if you rape a minor.  Otherwise the rapist may be subject to punishment.  Amina Filali was raped when she was 15 years old.

Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code allows for the “kidnapper” of a minor to marry his victim to escape prosecution, and it has been used to justify a traditional practice of making a rapist marry his victim to preserve the honor of the woman’s family.

“Amina, 16, was triply violated, by her rapist, by tradition and by Article 475 of the Moroccan law,” tweeted activist Abadila Maaelaynine

Amina is dead.  She committed suicide by taking rat poison.  Considering the circumstances it is understandable.  As a female and a minor she had no more rights under Moroccan law than a spider on a wall.  As a rape victim she was the equivalent of a criminal and an utter disgrace to her family.

Westerners who argue that diversity is a virtue in its own right need to be more discerning.  Some cultures are better than others and anyone who denies that does so at their peril.  Just ask the citizens of Malmo, Sweden.  Diversity is not a virtue, it’s just a difference.

Diversity has added a beautiful dimension to the American culture.  From Cellist Yo Yo Ma on the cello to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the court we have benefitted from the melding of races and colors into our culture.  And let’s not forget, America’s favorite food is pizza.  But to blindly seek diversity for diversity’s sake as our institutions of higher learning and elites of the land do is simply stupid, stupid.


1969 - 2012

“I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I’ve lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I’ve gained hundreds, thousands—who knows?—of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night.”   Andrew Breitbart

A hero is someone who is willing to sacrifice something that is important to them, like friends, in order to do what is right.  Andrew Breitbart was a hero and he enjoyed every minute of it.  He died unexpectedly early this morning of natural causes.  He will be sorely missed by many.


Home is where the heart is, so someone once said.  I left the place of my birth and early childhood at the age of 12 when my parents returned to Connecticut from whence they came.  But a piece of me stayed in Maine; and Penobscot bay on the coast of Maine will always be home to me.

Perhaps you have noticed the airplane is gone from the banner on this blog.  It is also gone from my life.  “Two Papa Zulu” has a new home smack in the geographic middle of America in a town named Lee’s Summit. What you now see in its place is a sunset on Penobscot Bay.  I took the picture this past August but the scene hasn’t changed in the 80 years since my birth.

When Two Papa Zulu flew away on New Years Eve my thoughts turned to two seagulls named Tony and Jo. They were my pets for a year.  I raised them from chicks, fed them oatmeal from the cupboard and clams I dug up on our shore when the tide was out.

I also taught them to fly. My parents always disputed that. When their fluff turned to feathers I walked them to a rock and pushed them gently off.  One bird took her lessons well and flew a little further each time.  The other joker simply plopped to the foot of the rock.  That was Tony and he never learned to fly, not an inch.  That is until that day when my parents and I walked the pair down to the shore.  As soon as Jo saw the opening in the woods she took off.  Tony continued walking with us until we all stopped and stood at the edge of the cliff.

By now Jo had flown out of sight.  Then suddenly, with a squawk, a squat and a leap Tony was in the air. He flew along the shoreline and was quickly also out of sight.  I guess my parents were right.  It wasn’t me who taught them how to fly.  In a few minutes they were both back from their flight and we all walked up the hill through the woods and back to the house.  Two days later, once again we made the same walk to the shore.  We knew Tony and Jo wouldn’t be walking back with us this time, and they didn’t.  But it wasn’t the last time we were together.

My mother and I would occasionally walk down to the shore late in the day and stand on a rocky outcrop called Dyers Point.  As each flock of gulls flew back to their nests after a day of foraging, we would call out for Tony and Jo.  If they were in the flock, the two would peel out and land at our feet.  Mom always brought a bowl of oatmeal which they quickly gobbled up.  Then after much chirping and bobbing of heads, off they would go to their own island home somewhere on the bay.

A true story from the life of a young  boy growing up in Maine.