07.16.2015 Uncategorized No Comments

SpeakingEagle, Jessica Cox born without arms has many “unbelievable” accomplishments

I remember meeting Jessica for the first time in 2006 at the National Speakers Association convention in Orlando. It was our first ever get together of SpeakingEagles.

She told me then:  “I am going to learn to fly.”  She did……..And she has a documentary film coming out within the next year.  An amazing young woman.



07.16.2015 Uncategorized No Comments

2015 Special Olympics in LAX : UPS flying the Special Olympic Flames Cologne to Athens to USA

The below comments and photos are from UPS Captain Brett Gibbons, (B- 767 and B-757 on international routes, a former USAF pilot.

Had a good trip – something different and out of the norm. It was a big a big deal for UPS. Lots of photos and people in both Athens and Cologne. We had our Miami Chief pilot with us and he was the escort of the flame.


flames and Chief pilot

It is actually the 2015 Special Olympics in Los Angles. If you go to http://www.la2015.org It has some information about the lighting of the flame, UPS moving it, etc. The games start July 25th in LAX.

UPS is a Special Olympics sponsor.

There was no cargo on-board. Just Captain, First Officer and escort on B767. Normally, UPS contracts flights to Athens daily. This flight was just for PR.


Cologne is our major European hub. so that’s why the fight started there. The flame then went from Athens to Cologne then on to Philly. At that point it traveled by ground (UPS Vehicle) to D.C. to start its trek to LA. Three flames will leave D.C. on north, central, and southern routes and they will all meet in LA.

The flames are in 2 separate miners lamps on the aircraft. We also had 2 spares, not lit, just in case we needed them. They are mounted in a special device that is designed to be carried in aircraft seats.

UPS and flames

Many airlines have moved these before just like we did. These lamps burn kerosene and can burn for a long time – maybe 20 hrs. They have a high and low setting. On low the flame is quite small, like a match. We also had fuel with us to keep them full. Interesting, fun, once-in-a-lifetime thing.


05.08.2015 In the News No Comments

Columbine II will fly again (Super Constellation)

Randy Larsen, Col. USAF, Ret., answering my question on which Constellation is in the Wright Patterson AFB museum. Randy was in charge of the Air Force One fleet and private aircraft at Andrews AFB in the 90’s before he retired.


The Connie in the USAF museum at Wright Patterson AFB…

Is the only VC-121E ever built. It was President Dwight Eisenhower’s personal airplane between 1954 and 1961. Mrs. Eisenhower christened it Columbine III in honor of the official flower of Colorado, her adopted home state, in ceremonies on Nov. 24, 1954. Columbine III served as the presidential aircraft until President Eisenhower left office in January 1961. It remained in service transporting government officials and visiting foreign dignitaries throughout the world until it was retired to the museum in 1966.

Columbine II will fly again

Columbine II, the first presidential a/c to be called Air Force One, will be under new ownership this summer as a restoration process gets under way in Arizona. Dynamic Aviation of Bridgewater, Virginia completed its due diligence this week and decided to proceed with the purchase of the 1948 Lockheed C-121A Constellation (48-0610) used by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Owners Harry Oliver and Lockie Christler – son of the late Mel Christler, who had owned it for years – will sell the Connie to Dynamic founder Karl. D. Stoltzfus Sr. “After extensive inspection and repairs on the aircraft we are ready to accept it, and to proceed with closing in June. Many challenges remain before we can fly it to Virginia but we are now confident that it is feasible.”

Stoltzfus credits the present owners for hanging on to Columbine II through the years and investing in its preservation. “Without their dedication and their efforts to preserve it, it would most likely have been melted down long ago,” he said. Among the project’s other supporters are Mid America Flight Museum of Mt. Pleasant, Texas. The Air Force retired Columbine II in 1968 and sold it as surplus in 1970. It then sat in salvage yards in Arizona until 1990 when it was made airworthy again, then after a flying a few hours it was parked in Marana in 2003 and hasn’t moved since. Dynamic wants to make the aircraft airworthy and fly it home as a certificated aircraft rather than on a ferry permit; no completion date has been set.

07.28.2014 Uncategorized No Comments

Speaking Eagles honor Col. Frank Kurtz

Speaking Eagles honor Col. Frank Kurtz, Olympic medalist diver and the most decorated Army Air Corps pilot in World War II

by Danny Cox

Speaking Eagles has named Colonel Frank Kurtz, the most decorated Army Air Corps pilot in World War II and a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) for the National Speakers Association, as an honorary member (awarded posthumously). Known for flying the last surviving B-17 Flying Fortress, Kurtz was an Army pilot on duty in the Philippines when the Japanese drew the United States into the war. He flew the last of the 35 planes stationed in the Pacific and when the plane suffered damages in combat, Kurtz and his crew dubbed it “part swan and part goose–the Swoose.”


Standing left to right, J.C. Goldman (tg); E. J. Campbell, (n); Fred Higginbotham (b); Charles LeMonde (wg); John Garton (ttg/eng); Al Hansen (btg); Charles Myers (wg). Photo courtesy of Tom Stevenson, 772nd.


Col. Frank Kurz 

Born in Davenport, Iowa in 1911, Kurtz left home early and sold newspapers on the streets of Kansas City.  He gained much attention with his charm, spirit of adventure and drive.

As a youth he visited a swimming pool and decided to try the high diving board. The fact that he didn’t know how to swim didn’t bother him.  He took to swimming and diving quickly. The great Olympian Johnny Weissmuller, who was famous for playing Tarzan, saw Kurtz swimming and diving in a competition in Kansas City. He suggested Frank should go to Hollywood and work with the famous diving coach, Clyde Swenson.

At 15, Kurtz promptly hitchhiked to Los Angeles and met Swenson. His progress under Swenson was swift, but the Hollywood Athletic Club told him they couldn’t afford to send him to the National Diving Championships in Hawaii.

That was no problem for Kurtz. He signed on as a seaman on a tanker bound for Hawaii. He entered the competition, won second and headed back to Los Angeles as a stowaway. He graduated from high school in 1931 and then learned to fly. He set three speed records, including the record for a flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City.

Kurtz became an Olympic medalist and was the only diver up until that time to qualify for the Olympics three times. They were in 1932, 1936 and 1940 but the last one was cancelled due to the war. Grantland Rice, the legendary sports writer, called him “the greatest exhibition diver in the world.”

Just prior to World War II Kurtz joined the Army Air Force and flew the B-17. The war was looming on the horizon. He and his crew of ten were assigned to Clark Air Base on Luzon in the Philippines along with several other B-17’s. The Japanese attacked them eight hours after the Pearl Harbor attack.

The next day, his crew, while trying frantically to repair their B-17’s strafing damage, was attacked again. Eight of his tencrew members were killed. He went to each body and took something personal from each one to send to their families. He stored the items in his bunker. The next day the bunker was bombed and all personal belonging were lost.

Kurtz and his new crew did bombing raids on all the enemy held islands in the Southwest Pacific as they worked their way down to Australia.  Their B-17’s needed some serious repairs from battle damage and they “scavenged” parts from other airplanes, not necessarily B-17’s. One of his crew said “our airplane is part swan and part goose.” The Swoose!

Kurtz was in Australia when a 10-year-old boy came to him and started talking.  Frank took his “Wings” off his uniform and pinned them on the boy’s shirt. If you ever run into Rupert Murdoch, ask him if he still has Franks’ “Wings.”

His wife wired Frank to tell of their daughter’s birth and asked for a name. He said, “Call her ‘Swoosie’.”

W.L. White wrote Frank’s biography in 1943 called “Queens Die Proudly.” Frank’s wife, Margo, wrote a book, “My Rival, The Sky.”

The B-17 “The Swoose” became the second most famous airplane in World War II.  The Enola Gay is number one.  “Swoose” went first to the Smithsonian but is now on display at the Wright Patterson Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio.

In 1979, Frank joined the National Speakers Association as a full time professional speaker and earned the CSP designation. He didn’t miss a convention for the next sixteen years. In 1995 he suffered a serious head injury in a fall. He was unable to continue speaking, but put up a good fight and  “flew west” on October 31, 1996.

His daughter, Swoosie,  is a highly acclaimed actress on screen, television and stage.

I was very proud to call Frank a friend.

Danny Cox, CSP, CPAE




07.01.2014 In the News No Comments

Elite former military skydivers jump into San Diego July 1

Army vets Hart and double amputee Bowman dive into Embarcadero Marina Park North Tuesday

San Diego, CA. June 30, 2014. Two elite veterans of the U.S. Army Rangers and the Golden Knights will skydive into Embarcadero Marina Park North at noon, Tuesday, July 1, withpatriotic aerial flag displays during the National Speakers Association (NSA) Convention. The NSA has over 3,000 members worldwide and the convention is at the Hyatt Manchester in San Diego through July 2.

WHO:  Dana Bowman, a retired Sergeant First Class, Special Forces Soldier and a former member of the Army’s elite parachute team, the Golden Knights, will fly the American flag during the jump. Bowman, a double amputee, lost his legs in an accident during the annual Golden Knights training in Yuma, AZ in 1994.

David Hart, former Army Ranger, has over 4,000 jumps and will carry a large NSA flag with a red, white and blue banner. Hart has competed at the U.S. Nationals Skydiving Championship and has facilitated over a thousand first jump experiences. His Team Fastrax performs over 200 shows a year and also takes wounded warriors skydiving. The team has jumped over Lower Manhattan on the anniversary of 9/11, into NASCAR races, professional sport stadiums, airshows and even symphony performances.

WHAT: A patriotic celebration for the National Speakers Association convention sponsored by Speaking Eagles, a professional speaking group of aviators, military veterans and aviation professionals.

WHERE: Embarcadero Marina Park North, 400 Kettner Boulevard, next to the Hyatt Manchester at 1 Market Place, San Diego

WHEN: Noon, Tuesday, July 1


For more information, visit:


Team Fast Trax jumps with the U.S. flag over NYC

Team Fast Trax jumps with the U.S. flag over NYC

See video of Team Fastrax’s Flag Day Jump: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoqM7aaEIVI




Editors’ note: Scheduled skydive is weather dependent 

04.08.2014 In the News No Comments

Space Shuttle Commander shares Upset Prevention and Recovery techniques with Flying Magazine

Space Shuttle Commander shares Upset Prevention and Recovery techniques with Flying Magazine
Flying Magazine recently visited Flight Research, Inc. to explore instructing commercial pilots in Upset Prevention and Recovery techniques. Rick Searfoss, Col. USAF retired and a Space Shuttle Commander, works with Flight Research, Inc. and said part of his duties there include instructing commercial pilots in in both the MB-326 Impala and the Sabreliner.
“Our instruction also includes spins, including my favorite, tailslide entry inverted spins in the Impala,” said Searfoss. “It has been interesting for me to observe that although I’ve flown with some very talented pilots, mostly from corporate flight departments, most of them have an exclusively civilian flying background and they have rarely if ever had the chance to fly a jet near the edges of its envelope.  Its very rewarding to give them that training.”
For more information on Searfoss, visit www.astronautspeaker.com.
To see more of the Flying Magazine coverage, visit http://www.flyingmag.com/videos/featured-videos/sabreliner-youtube-finaland http://www.flyingmag.com/videos/featured-videos/upset-prevention-and-recovery-training-aermacchi-mb-326-impala.



Oldest Boeing Airliner in Flying Condition is Restored

The 1928 airplane is in Spokane , WA , and is the oldest flying Boeing in the World.

After 8 years of repair and rebuilding and 8,000 hours of toil the Boeing 40C rolled out last winter as a finished airplane. They had to wait a few weeks for the snow to melt to fly this baby. They received their Standard Airworthiness Certificate from the FAA and completed the engine pre-oil and fuel flow tests for the first of the taxi tests.



Tuskegee Airman recalls the era of the ‘Lonely Eagles’

By Gary Walker

Their story is part of the fabric of American military history, acknowledged only after persistence by historians and their admirers relentlessly pushed the United States government to recognize their achievements.

Edward Tillmon and some his fellow Tuskegee Airmen were recently honored at Venice Beach nearly 70 years after their service in World War II. Photo by Jorge M. Vargas Jr.

Their bravery during some of World War II’s most critical battles has been recognized by aviators and presidents, and some believe their actions in a time of war convinced President Harry S. Truman to desegregate the military in 1948.


08.25.2013 Uncategorized No Comments

Speaking Eagles soar at event in Philadelphia

Aviation heroes featured at Speaking Eagles’ event

At the recent National Speakers Association (NSA) convention in Philadelphia, the Speaking Eagles group featured Vice Admiral Mark Fox and retired Col. Tom Matthews.

Fox is the new Deputy Commander of Central Command in Tampa, former Commander  of  Top Gun and the Naval Air Station in Fallon, NV, and was also Commander of the 5th Fleet in Bahrain. He was the first U.S. Navy pilot to shoot down a MiG over Iraq in 1991. Tom Matthews, Col. U.S. Army Ret., led the Task Force Ranger mission in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993, and served as a consultant for the movie “Black Hawk Down.”

Former POW and retired Colonel Lee Ellis, Priscilla Fox, Howard Putnam and Vice Admiral Mark Fox at the Speaking Eagles’ event

Col. (ret.) Tom Matthews discusses the “Black Hawk Down” operation in Somalia





Speaking Eagles Rob “Waldo” Waldman and Don Hutson celebrate Waldman’s induction to the NSA Hall of Fame at the convention in Philadelphia

Hayley Brown, granddaughter of NSA member and pilot Janet Lapp, told her story to the Speaking Eagles of recovering from being nearly killed in a plane crash a year ago.

07.13.2013 Uncategorized No Comments

Medal of Honor Recipient Skydives over Washington D.C. With Team Fastrax

Professional Skydiving Team Fastrax jumps with Petry

Skydiver, professional speaker and former U.S. Army Ranger David Hart recently had the good fortune to exit an airplane at 10,000 feet  over  Washington, D.C. with U.S. Army Ranger SFC Leroy Petry attached  in tandem. Hart’s brother John shot the photos in freefall over Reagan National Airport, the Potomac River and the National Mall.

“The plane made a second pass at 6,000 feet  with Dana Bowman and other members of Team Fastrax jumping with large U.S. Flags,” said Hart. “Everyone landed in a 100 x 100 foot area of  turf in front of the National Harbor Conference Center. Following the jump the USMC Honor Guard performed for everyone. The event was hosted by the GE Veterans Support Group.”

Ranger Petry protected his Ranger unit in combat by grabbing a live grenade with his bare hand, which was blown off. Check out his new bionic right hand in the photos. When asked if he had any regrets, he said “I wish I would have grabbed the grenade with my left hand.” Petry is the only living Medal of Honor recipient still on active duty.

For more information on David Hart and Team Fastrax, visit http://blueskies175.wordpress.com/.

05.30.2013 Uncategorized No Comments

Remembering the POWs of the Vietnam War

Nixon library hosts a reunion dinner for all living former POWs of Vietnam War
ABC recently interviewed Captains Lee Ellis (in below photo), Charlie Plumb and Guy Gruter. To see the entire interview, visit http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/remembering-pows-vietnam-war-19275917.


05.26.2013 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Solar Impulse flies acros the U.S.

Speaking Eagle witnesses first flight across America

Solar Impulse has taken up yet another challenge in preparation for its 2015 round-the-world flight to cross the United States, from coast to coast, this spring. Bill Johnson, who qualified for his private pilot’s license in the early ’50s and is also the original executive director of the National Speakers Association, recently had a chance to see the solar powered, fuel-free aircraft in Phoenix, AZ.

“I was fortunate to spend an hour visiting the Solar Impulse as she did her first U.S. flight from San Francisco to New York, said Johnson. ”

“The solar power drove the four electric motors with 12k solar cells on the 747 length wings. The first stop was Phoenix for two days of public viewing while charging the solar panels with the Arizona sunlight. It continued to Dallas then on to St Louis, DC and to NYC. The one man flight took 19 hours at the astounding speed of 45 MPH. Solar Impulse left SFO at sunrise and arrived at Sky Harbor at 1 a.m. the next day. The pilot was one of the Swiss builders and I was surprised to learn the aircraft has been touring in Europe and Africa since 2009.”

“I find myself reflecting on the 1938 Aeronca Champ I bought with Pat Luby and Bob Pace while at SMU. Pace and I got our40 hours for private license in the $250 investment.”