05.30.2011 Uncategorized No Comments

Around the World in Two Days

In 1873, Jules Verne wrote about Phileas Fogg, his valet Passepartout, and their trip Around the World in Eighty Days.

In 2011, Dan Poynter roughly followed the same route and circumnavigate the globe in 2 days. And Dan made the trip on regularly-scheduled commercial airliners.

The trip began in Los Angeles (LAX) on Tuesday, May 17, fly to Washington (IAD), Dubai (DXB), Singapore (SIN), Taipei (TPE), and ended in Los Angeles (LAX) on Thursday, May 19.

Twelve time zones were covered on United Airlines in 19 hours and the next twelve were on Singapore Air and EVA Air.

Dan Poynter loves to fly. He has circumnavigated the globe 20 times, flies more than 6,000 miles each week, toured 52 countries so far, and skydived into the North Pole.

The world will shrink by 78 days.



05.28.2011 Uncategorized No Comments

A Cool Aviation Event in Memphis

From Don Hutson


This past Saturday evening I had the pleasure of emceeing a unique event entitled “Wei Around the World Gala”. Wei Chen is featured on the cover of BizJet Advisor’s China Report and is becoming a media sensation in China and was a real hit here in Memphis!
My friend, Wei Chen, a sharp Memphis entrepreneur of Chinese descent, wanted a good send-off for his around the world trip in a single engine aircraft. If he makes it he will be the first Chinese to complete this accomplishment, and China helped him make the Gala special by sending over some 50+ dancers and entertainers for the event! They have also assured him Chinese airspace clearance as needed and much good P. R. at each stop.

There were some 400 attendees on hand for this special Gala which was a fund-raiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We had live auction items, heart-warming stories of kids’ lives being saved, and a terrific tribute to our citizen who will spread Memphis good will throughout the world.

Wei Chen departed last Sunday, May 21st  for his first stop and P. R. event in Washington D. C. He and his co-pilot lifted off in his Socata TBM-700 turbo a couple of hours late as they waited for thunder storms to pass through. The Socata is manufactured in France by a 100 year old company that prides itself in producing exceptional aircraft. He bought it two months ago in preparation for the trip. I have been concerned about the volcano eruptions disrupting his itinerary, but I called to get an updated weather report today (he had to layover in Canada) and the forecast is for the volcanic clutter to be clear of his route of flight by the time he gets to Iceland. Wei is a 500 hour pilot, so he doesn’t need any unexpected challenges on this trip. He has a high time, internationally experienced co-pilot in the right seat, which got him insured and more peace of mind for the endeavor!
Wei will make some 40 stops and be gone 70 days on his trek around the world. The Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper has given him great coverage over the past few weeks and I’m sure he will spread our Southern Good Will throughout the world. Let’s all wish him luck!

Don Hutson

More about Wei Chen’s trip click here: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/may/04/memphis-businessman-wei-chen-

Chinese Aviation History Event in Memphis, TN!


05.28.2011 Uncategorized No Comments

Aviator Amanda Franklin succumbs to injuries

From Speaking Eagle Mark Sanborn:

Amanda Franklin passed away yesterday after battling burns sustained in an emergency landing over two months ago. She was a wing walker married to husband Kyle and as many know part of legendary air show family. I met Kyle and Amanda at ICAS in December of 2009. They were an enthusiastic couple in love with each other, flying and life.

From examiner.com

Kyle is dealing with massive medical bills and many in the air show community are stepping up to help.

Kyle Franklin, of Franklin’s Flying Circus and Airshow, announced last night that his wife and team partner, Amanda, passed away at 10:10 pm Friday night. Amanda had been hospitalized at the Brooke Army Medical Center since the March 12th accident where the airplane she was wing-walking crashed and caught fire after an engine failure. Amanda suffered third degree burns to over 70% of her body along with multiple bone fractures. Kyle was also hospitalized and released March 28th to receive outpatient care and still faces a long rehabilitation. They have been performing their wing-walking act since the summer of 2009.

Through the difficult time, Kyle kept fans and friends updated with daily notes on the team’s Facebook Page. On May 26th, Kyle made a post about having just made the difficult decision to remove Amanda from life-support and provide ‘comfort care.’ Doctor’s had informed Kyle and the family that they did not believe that Amanda would survive the two weeks until her next skin graft surgery. Amanda was suffering from multiple infections of her burn injuries which were not responding to the antibiotic treatment, near complete failure of her kidneys and her liver was beginning to fail as well.

In the May 26th note, Kyle stated, ‘I made the hardest decision of my life today and put her on Comfort Care. They have taken her off most everything with the exception of the ventilator, sedation meds and pain meds. They placed her in a more comfortable position and are doing everything to make her as comfortable as possible… Amanda my love, I love you with all my heart, soul and everything I am. Our life together here was supposed to be seventy years not seven, but I look forward to seeing you in my dreams every night my love.’

On May 27th, Kyle posted the update following update to the team’s fans, ‘It is with a broken heart that I tell you that my beautiful girl Amanda passed away at 10:10 central time this evening. Beside her was her adoring husband Kyle, her mother Jeanie, her brother Matt, her sister-in-law Michelle and her devoted mother-in-law Audean.’

Kyle and Amanda had been friends since childhood and were dating when both their fathers, Jimmy Franklin and Bobby Younkin, were killed during a 2005 air show. On July 10, 2005, while performing at the Saskatchewan Centennial Air Show in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, their planes were involved in a fatal mid-air collision. Kyle and Amanda were married a few months later, in October of 2005.

Two funds have been established to support the Franklin’s with their mounting medical bills. To donate to the Franklins’ funds, you may do so via the Moonlight Fund, a nonprofit that provides assistance 24/7 to burn survivors and their family members in their time of need, by specifying the Kyle & Amanda Franklin Fund; or through the International Council of Air Shows Foundation, by specifying the Kyle & Amanda Fund during the donation process.

The Chairman of Air Fiesta, David Hughston, stated that a scheduled June 4 fundraiser for the Franklins will go ahead as planned. The fundraiser will be at the Commemorative Air Force RGV Wing headquarters at the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport. Air Fiesta was the air show during which the Franklin’s tragic accident occurred.

The fundraiser will have a silent auction of over 50 items, live music, family activities. Some of the items in the silent auction range from appliances to fishing trips and even weekend getaways to South Padre Island. A mobile blood bank will also be on handfor anyone who wishes to donate blood in Amanda’s name.

The fundraiser will be from 3 to 9 p.m. and will have a $10 admission charge for everyone over the age of 12.

Even if not attending, tax-deductible donations can be made to AIR FIESTA, P.O. Box 8190, Brownsville, TX 78526. For more information visit www.AirFiesta.org or Air Fiesta’s Facebook page.

Continue reading on Examiner.com Amanda Franklin succumbs to injuries suffered in March air show crash – National General Aviation | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/general-aviation-in-national/amanda-franklin-succumbs-to-injuries-suffered-march-air-show-crash#ixzz1NfZgU38f

Continue reading on Examiner.com Amanda Franklin succumbs to injuries suffered in March air show crash – National General Aviation | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/general-aviation-in-national/amanda-franklin-succumbs-to-injuries-suffered-march-air-show-crash#ixzz1NfZJPRAf

05.27.2011 Uncategorized No Comments

Flying the JATO-Assist Cobra

Not many folks are likely to have flown a “JATO-Assisted” helicopter. I did, just one time.

JATO stands for jet fuel assisted takeoff. The most famous demonstration of this system is the Blue Angels C-130, known as Fat Albert.



It works great on airplanes, such as the C-130, for reducing the length of takeoff rolls or providing steep climb outs, but who ever heard of putting JATO on a helicopter?

In April 1969, I was flying a combat mission in the Republic of South Vietnam as an aircraft commander in an AH-1G Huey Cobra gunship. I was the wingman in a two-ship formation. An infantry company from the 101st Airborne Division was in a nasty firefight with an unknown-sized enemy unit.

Because the American unit was trapped in a tight valley, we had to confine our rocket and machine guns passes down that valley—making our flight path highly predictable (bad idea, but no other options available). On each run down that valley, I was firing 3-4 pairs of 2.75 inch folding-fin aerial rockets (FFARs) from my inboard rocket pods. (These rockets had 17-pound warheads, which made them the equivalent of a 105 howitzer round.)

As I pushed the nose over to begin our fourth pass, my copilot was firing the mini-gun (in the turret) in response to tracers coming from half way up the mountain slope on our right. I armed the outboard pods and was flying at near redline airspeed (190 knots) and suddenly found myself pinned to the right side of the cockpit. Out of my peripheral vision I could see an enormous fireball on the right side of my Cobra. I then experienced one of those rare moments when everything seems to slow down. What seemed like a long time actually occurred in about 2-3 seconds, or less:

• I realized my right outboard XM-19 rocket pod (loaded with 13 2.75 inch FFARs was engulfed in a fireball
• I reached for the pod eject switch on the enter console between my knees
• I actually thought about switching to “outboard only” (we flew in the “both position” (inboard and outboard)
• I decided to dump all four pods, and in one motion lifted the cover and flipped the switch
• Instantaneously, the Cobra went from what seemed like a 30 degree crab left from the forward track of the helicopter back to proper alignment

My mission was over, and I returned home without further incident. Since the bad guys were known to use unexploded 2.75 FFAR as land mines, the infantry unit eventually recovered all four pods. One had a large bullet hole in the side and was extensively damaged by the fire.

Apparently, the bullet had jammed a rocket in the tube just as it was launched (or perhaps, it ignited the rocket motor and also caused the jam). Either way, I had one or more rockets—a JATO-assist—on the starboard side of my Cobra. The stress on the tail boom from redline airspeed with the nose 30 degrees off of the relative wind must have been incredible. Thanks to the folks at Bell Helicopter, I made it back to Camp Eagle—still shaking, but happy to have survived a short flight in a JATO-assisted Cobra. I was still too young to buy a can of beer, but do recall drinking a few (perhaps many) that night.

Lessons learned:

• Don’t put JATO-assist on a helicopter
• If you do, make sure it is on both sides, it is very uncomfortable when it is just on one side

Randy Larsen
Dragon 31D
4/77 Aerial Rocket Artillery
101st Airborne Division


05.05.2011 Uncategorized No Comments

When Laura Bush asks….

What do Bill Cosby, Colin Powell, former First Lady Laura Bush and Howard Putnam have in common?  Howard Putnam comments on his recent experience with some of the Get Motivated speakers.

In March 2011, I was asked by the Get Motivated seminar company based in Tampa, Fl, to be one of their ten speakers at all day events in San Diego (15,000 attendees) and Portland, Or (20,000). If those events went well, which they did, then we would be invited to do more. We contracted for several more.

I have been speaking for twenty two years to corporate and association conferences, but never to audiences of this size. It is a fantastic experience. In Portland I followed Bill Cosby to the platform. That was a challenge, but he does his thing and I do mine on leadership, Southwest Airlines and ethics. We each have twenty minutes on stage. The venues are all big sports stadiums like the Rose Garden in Portland and the ScottTrade Arena in St. Louis. The stage is out in the middle of the arena, so you walk around and have a 360 degree audience, amidst hi tech screens, etc. The audiences are so positive and responsive. It renews your faith in the American dream of success and free enterprise.

The well known speakers are: General Colin Powell, First Lady Laura Bush, Mayor Rudy Guiliani, Steve Forbes, Bill Cosby, Coach Lou Holtz, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw and the list goes on. So I am honored to be a small part of this team of accomplished Americans.

In St. Louis, I was scheduled to speak at 3:40pm and follow Gen. Powell. Their schedule was running forty minutes behind schedule. I was getting ready to go on when the Get Motivated folks said they had a problem. Mrs. Bush was scheduled to be at another event and would I mind letting her speak before me to keep her on schedule. Of course, I agreed to switch, even though (with the thunderstorms) I might miss my Southwest flight to Chicago. Note: I did make it with a few minutes to spare that evening.

How many opportunities do you have in life to accommodate “A First Lady?” She was very gracious and came over and shook my hand backstage and thanked me profusely. She also said she had flown Southwest Airlines from Dallas to St. Louis the night before. She travels with an assistant and several secret service agents and flies commercial most of the time. On stage she told the audience of over 15,000 she had arrived the evening before on Southwest Airlines. It received a great round of applause.
Congratulations to this humble lady who flies commercial airlines. That is classy.

So what is the moral of the story here? As an Iowa farm boy I would have never dreamed I would be the CEO of two airlines, Southwest and Braniff. I would never have dreamed I would be speaking and sharing experiences to help others. And, how many opportunities in life do you get to visit in a hallway back stage with a first lady?

Howard Putnam
Former CEO Southwest and Braniff International
Co-Founder SpeakingEagles.com

02.07.2011 Commentary No Comments

Reagan at 100: He Ended the Cold War on Our Terms

Who can forget what Ronald Reagan accomplished in his Presidency, particularly in restoring our faith in America, and in ourselves. Truly it was “Morning in America” again. The images—his standing in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, demanding, “Mr. Gorbachev….tear down this Wall!”; his stirring address to the British parliament in 1982 when he charged the West to take a determined stand against international communism; his constant appeals to us to help create that “Shining City on the Hill”.

The “Greatness of Ronald Reagan”! That is a comment we hear more often these days, as we recoil from the constant internecine warfare that passes for governance in Washington, as we mourn the passing of an America filled with optimism and hope, and as we lament the absence of leaders with a clear vision of the future.

His critics learned well that their impressions of him were far off the mark. He was derided in Europe as well as the U.S. as an aging cowboy not capable of dealing with the challenges of the times—averting nuclear war, rejuvenating the sagging American economy, restoring our confidence, and rebuilding a devastated military. They found out that Reagan was not only up to the task, he was an adroit negotiator and trusted confidant of our major Allies.

When Reagan met with the new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, in Geneva in 1985, many doubted that he was prepared for this Summit. After all, “Gorby” was the dynamic, young and globally popular new Soviet leader who took over the USSR after years of decrepit rule by aging and sick Communist kingpins. Not to worry—Reagan took charge of the Summit discussions from the outset, never swerving from his commitment to reach an arms agreement that was fair and equitable, but one that also was verifiable (“Trust, but Verify”, he often told Gorbachev!).

The President also refused to budge from his commitment to building a strategic defense against a missile attack (SDI), reflecting his deep felt desire to shift away from a dependence on the threat of the mutual annihilation of each others’ populations as the basis of our “security”.

Reagan had a special relationship with Pope John Paul II, a partnership that accelerated, if not caused, the fall of Communism in East Europe. The two agreed to support the Solidarity trade union opposition in Poland, through extensive economic and military assistance. Interestingly, in this effort the Pope and the President found allies in the Socialist International and the AFL-CIO! The repressive Communist government ultimately fell, and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa became Poland’s President. That was the first rupture in the Communist monolith.

Reagan led a strong NATO alliance in firmly opposing Soviet aggression and global expansion. He had key allies in British Prime Minister (PM) Margaret Thatcher, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and Canadian PM Brian Mulroney. And, when it came to taking a strong stance against the USSR, he was also supported by Socialists such as French President Francois Mitterrand and Italian PM Bettino Craxi.

By standing strong on conviction, by rallying our Allies, and by restoring the American economy, our military forces, and our confidence, Reagan witnessed the realization of his major foreign policy goals. Within a year of his leaving office the Berlin Wall did indeed come down. The two Germanys were reunited and a united Germany joined the NATO Alliance. Finally, in 1991, the Soviet Union itself collapsed, to use the Marxian phrase, “on the ash heap of history”.

In his final address from the Oval Office, the President returned to the theme of the Shining City on the Hill he wanted us to strive for. “My friends”, he said, “We made the City freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad at all”.

Yes, Mr. President, we agree, “Not bad….not bad at all”. Happy 100th Birthday!

–      Tyrus W. Cobb

(Dr. Ty Cobb served as Special Assistant to President Reagan and as Director of Soviet and European Affairs at the National Security Council from 1983-89.)


As we near President Reagan’s 100th birthday, please listen to his final remarks from the Oval Office, especially from minute 3:45 on. I often quote the President’s comments about how he always envisioned America as that “Shining City on the Hill”, and how he strove to achieve that vision in his 8-year term. Better to hear that from the President himself.

Click here: Opinion: Reagan’s Farewell Message Resonates Today

01.18.2011 In the News No Comments

Pentagon Shifting Strategy on Bioterror Defense

Jenna Lee asks Col. Randall Larsen, a former director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, about how realistic a bioterror attack is on the U.S. — Can the U.S. respond to this kind of attack?

01.07.2011 Uncategorized No Comments

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