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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More Aviation History!


Last night I attended the "Launching the Jet Age First-hand memories of the first U.S. jetliner" at Seattle's Town Hall Center.  I returned home, drunk with fatigue from the week's events, and rolled into bed with the intent to write about the event this morning.

Brien Wygle, Joe Sutter, & Peter Morton

Who was on the panel?

Joe Sutter--- the "Father of the 747"--- Joe was also the legendary engineer on the Boeing 707! He shared stories of how instrumental Boeing was in establishing our current FARs. Boeing made the planes... they made the rules.

Brien Wygle --- Test pilot for Boeing, on the 707 and many more. He told us how the 707-80 prototype was very restrictive with speed and flaps. 1958--- Brien had flown the 707-80 to LA for a quick demo with Howard Hughes.  Howard loved to fly, but he had a little problem with speed control on the Boeing because of the other planes he'd been flying. The 707 had a more pitch up attitude. On, what turned out to be, their final demo approach, Howard's speed got a little fast and a center flap left the plane and landed on a car in the parking lot. Unfortunately that car was owned by the FAA, and Brien was charged with Reckless Flying. This was the only reason he didn't receive the award for 50 years without an accident. Last night Brien confirmed--- "It was reckless to fly with Howard."

Peter Morton --- B707 engineer, (retired) Vice President at Boeing, trustee at the Museum of Flight, Board member at the Seattle Girls' School, and one of our pilots at our December 5th Fly it Forward event, spoke of what it was like to teach the first 707 pilots "how to fly jets."

Paula Clark, Brien, Joe, and Peter
Paula Clark --- Stewardess for Pan Am, who later retired with United, shared stories of the good old days in the cabin.  Bright and funny, this woman had the audience laughing. You, too, can hear her stories. All you have to do is take a tour of the Seattle Museum of Flight! Yes, she is working as a tour guide at our local museum.

We viewed excellent footage with Tex Johnston. Click Here to see a video of his famous barrel roll.
Why didn't Bill Allen, at Boeing, fire him? Word is--- they'd had so much positive response from customers, they didn't want to turn this into a negative event. They also had an 18 million dollar insurance policy on the only pilot who could fly the plane--- Tex.

This event was in honor of Sam Howe Verhovek's recently published book--- Jet Age, The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the WorldI also had the opportunity to meet Sam's son who we all hope will become a pilot and join us on this aviation journey.

Thank you Peter for inviting me to this extraordinary event!

I too have a bit of history with the B707--- this plane continues to touch my life.  I was so close to getting a type rating in the 707 when I'd gone down to Guyana to put their B757 into service. I'd negotiated this as part of my compensation.  I would fly their plane and earn my rating. Just before I got there, they'd sold it.  And the connections continue...

My husband was at the Sea Fair races (Gold Cup) the year Tex rolled his plane and he got to watch it first hand. Tex was also friends with Jack Sallee, owner and operator of Coastal Airways, and Braniff captain, who lived in Sequim. Jack was a good friend of mine whom I loved working with at both Costal and Braniff. One day Jack brought Tex to Seattle and we had lunch together at Longacres Race track. Tex told me that he took a shower with his boots on, after he rolled the plane. A character in the history of Aviation.

The legends live on.... and hopefully we'll hear more about one of them this Friday. A man who keeps giving back to his community.

Enjoy the journey!

~ Karlene


  1. The B707 ... one of the main reasons why I am addicted to flying ;-)

  2. I'm learning more about aviation than I ever dreamed possible from your blog Karlene. I love it!

  3. I think there is a story and a plane behind every pilot. Thanks Patrick! So--- it's Boeing's fault we met. I must send them a thank you letter!

  4. Thank you Heather. And when I get checked out in a little plane again, I'll fly down and take you for a ride!

  5. In my plane we put a number into the NDB to indicate who was flying it last since we don't much use the NDB for anything else these days. One of my fellow pilots dials in 757 since she teaches 757; another dials in 747 since he works 747, and I dial in 707 since I actually work on in-service 707's, the USAF AWACS! Yes, we are still upgrading those amazing planes, and they are keeping America safe every day!

  6. Thank you so much for the comment Austin! I didn't know you currently work on the 707. That is really great. So much history all around us. See you tomorrow.


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