04.23.2012 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Cox Takes Reporters on Supersonic Flights

Speaking Eagle Danny Cox Reports on His Supersonic Flights

by Danny Cox www.dannycox.com

For ten years I flew a first line fighter for the Air Force. It was the F-101 Voodoo with a top speed of 1200 MPH, almost twice the speed of sound. You could break a lot of windows in a hurry with it.

A friend  who was a talk show host on the local NBC station asked me what our biggest unresolved problem was in the squadron. I quickly said, “Sonic booms!”

He said, “What are you doing about it?” to which I replied, “Nothing. We’re trying to learn to live with it.”

At that moment, I decided that in addition to my flying duties, I would build a PR program for the squadron by working the media for stories, arranging tours plus giving supersonic rides to select members of the media. I started speaking to service clubs, church groups, schools and corporations and my speech title was “Better Boomed than Bombed.”  They called me “The Sonic Boom Salesman.”

Captain Cox heading for 50,000 feet

 When I contacted Bob Grimm, head of the Columbus, Ohio United Press International bureau, he asked,  “What does it feel like to fly supersonic?” It’s a question I’ve answered hundreds of times. My answer was, “How would you like to find out?” He jumped at the chance. So I contacted headquarters and received permission to take Mr. Grimm “upstairs.”

Two weeks later he met me at the squadron. We put him through a two-hour safety briefing with one very important final point. When people find out that I took a number of reporters from local radio, TV and newspapers for flights 50,000 feet above terra firma and over 1,000 MPH, I always am asked, “How many of them became air sick?”

My answer: “Not a single one of them.”

So for the final point in the pre-flight briefing, I would explain that I have never had any of the previous news people, several of whom he knew, get sick while on a flight like this one.

“Here is a plastic bag in case you do. Put it in your right thigh pocket. If you need it, I’ll remind you of where it is.        “Finally you’ll notice it’s a clear plastic bag. If you use it, you’ll also notice there is no place to store it. So just hold it in your lap till we land.”

Grimm did not need to use it, and the following was his take on what’s it’s like to fly supersonic.

UPI Editor’s Note:  What actually goes on up in the sky when you hear sonic booms created by Air Force fighters flying supersonic?  Robert Grimm of UPI’s Columbus bureau tells what happens and why it is necessary. This is his report.





Captain Cox, front of cockpit, with reporter Bob Grimm behind




Story by Robert Grimm

There I was upside down, 50,000 feet above earth and flying faster than the speed of sound.  Ever since I first heard of airplanes breaking the sound barrier back in the post-war years, I wondered what it would be like.  I found out on a hazy August day during a ride in an Air Force jet fighter out of Lockbourne Air Force Base, south of Columbus.

My reaction can be summed up in one word—nothing.  There is absolutely no sensation when the F101 Voodoo, a long-range interceptor, goes faster than 762 miles per hour, the normal speed of sound. In fact, the only way I knew it was when the pilot, Capt. Danny Cox of the 87th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of Lockbourne AFB, told me over the intercom.

Cox, from Marion, Illinois, wanted to emphasize that Air Force pilots get no special kick out of creating sonic booms that seem a noisy and unnecessary nuisance to people on the ground. The sonic boom is unavoidable as long as the world situation requires the Air Force to stay alert for enemy attack.

“We can’t just read about how to do high-speed intercepts,” Cox said. “It takes a high state of preparedness and practice, and that’s why we have practice missions.”

It was overcast the day I was scheduled to go up in the Voodoo, one of the most potent weapons in the Air Defense Command of the Air Force. But Cox assured me a little adverse weather would not bother the 87th FIS, which was commanded by Lt. Col. William H. Champion.

I arrived about two hours before takeoff time to be outfitted in an orange flying suit, a parachute and helmet. There were instructions on how to use the chute and what to do in case we had to eject. I tried to remember, but thank goodness we didn’t have to use them. The canopy came down with a “whoosh” and the cockpit of the needle-nosed Voodoo was automatically pressurized. With an oxygen mask and all that equipment on, I felt like I was masquerading as a man from Mars.

Cox received his takeoff instructions from the tower and within seconds we were hurtling down a runway at 200 miles per hour. The afterburners accelerated the Voodoo into the sky and before I knew it we were 35,000 feet above the earth with nothing but the sun shining on the dense cloud cover below us. The flight was routed to Charleston, West Virginia, west to Cincinnati and then north to Columbus. It was just north of Cincinnati that we went supersonic and probably created a few cuss words from people on the ground.

“We’re now going to go supersonic,” Cox said. “When I light the afterburners, you’ll think we really have a tiger in our tank.”

The kick from the afterburners was about like being rear-ended in a car. There was a feeling of power as the Voodoo drinks about 2,000 gallons of fuel for a one-hour maximum performance mission. I noticed the altimeter jiggled and then settled down as we broke through the sound barrier. Cox did a slow roll, which was steady and without hardly any sensation except that I could see clouds above me and the blue sky below.

I learned later we went faster than 1,000 MPH before Cox sent the Voodoo plunging 10,000 feet and braked down our speed to come back out of the supersonic state. My ears started cracking and hurting as the landing instructions began coming over the earphones from Lockbourne. Cox told me to hold my nose and blow, forcing air into my middle ear. It worked.

The landing was so smooth, I hardly knew when we touched down at 200 MPH. I actually realized I was back with other mere earthlings after the plane taxied and stopped and ground crewmen lifted ladders to the side of the plane.

The ride that went over 50,000 feet and more than a thousand miles per hour was over. It all lasted less than an hour.




04.09.2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Famous Aviator Hoover Celebrates 90th with Texas-sized Birthday Party

Friends and family of Bob Hoover hosted a ninetieth birthday party for the famed aviator in Fredericksburg, Texas. Here, Hoover is welcomed by astronauts Eugene Cernan (left) and Neil Armstrong (right).

By Thomas B. Haines, AOPA

Aviation icon and World War II hero R.A. “Bob” Hoover celebrated his belated ninetieth birthday March 26 to 28 in a Texas-sized party surrounded by friends from across the country. The celebration, coordinated by Bill Fanning of the Pilot Insurance Center, was the sort of party any military aviator would be proud of, regardless of what decade they may have first flown.


04.03.2012 Uncategorized No Comments

One Speaking Eagle’s Visit to the USS Stennis


Speaking Eagle Founder Howard Putnam shares his thoughts on his overnight stay on the USS Stennis:

“The Reno Air Races board of directors spent a night on the John C. Stennis, named after the former Mississippi Senator and commissioned in 1995. The ship was 90-100 miles off the coast of San Diego doing training exercises. They flew us out from North Island in a COD (Carrier On-board Delivery) twin turbo prop aircraft.

The carrier landing and then the catapult takeoff the following day were a great experience. We were allowed on deck for several hours to watch the operation up close. Our bunks were right under the catapult and about every 30 seconds “we got bounced.” They finally ceased operations for the night at 0100.

The crew numbered 6,000 and the average age on the flight deck was 19-20. They work 18 hours a day and this Discovery Channel video shows what it’s like to be a part of this amazing ship.”
03.19.2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Former UA Director Takes Tour of Boeing 787

    Photos & story by Alan Wayne, former regional director of governmental and public affairs for United who was based in Los Angeles and  responsible for representing United in nine Western states.                   




I was invited as a member of the Board of Directors of the Aero Club to tour the Boeing 787 at LGB recently. It is a very impressive aircraft with an expansive interior, huge windows and overhead bins, and of course many technological advancements.







It was parked nose-to-nose facing Boeing’s C-17 cargo jet, the last aircraft under production in Southern California. I retired in late 2006 as Regional Director of Governmental and Public Affairs for United based in Los Angeles and responsible for representing United and the industry in nine Western states. 

03.09.2012 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Speaking Eagle Danny Cox Describes “Not Quite Normal” Supersonic Flight

It Started Out to be A Normal Supersonic Mission, But Then…
Danny Cox,  http://www.dannycox.com/index.html






One of the founders of Speaking Eagles, Danny Cox, flew a fighter just like the one shown. The “back seater” is taking the photos.

It was one of those breath-taking mornings. The blue desert sky was cloudless. The rugged 9,000-foot mountains thirty miles away were snow capped.

My radar observer and I were walking out to the flight line with our parachutes on our backs and our crash helmets in hand. We were assigned to fly the F-101 B Voodoo with the tail number #274.

We had just been briefed to fly a supersonic simulated intercept mission on a U-2 “spy plane” flying at 60,000 feet (12 miles up).

Although I had flown Voodoos hundreds of times I couldn’t help but be impressed as I approached this big, powerful, sleek fighter.  It was seventy feet long, weighed 22.5 tons (combined weight of nine full size cars), two engines with a combined horsepower of 79,000 (total horsepower of thirty-three Indy 500 race cars) and held 2,000 gallons of fuel, which would last us about an hour on a mission like this one.

It was capable of carrying two heat-seeking missiles and two nuclear warhead rockets (1.5 kilotons of nuclear power in each of the two).  Of course we were unarmed on this practice mission. The most impressive attributes of this fighter were its speed and performance. When it set the world speed record of 1,200 MPH it broke the old record by over 200 MPH. At 1200 MPH you were making twenty miles per minute or a mile every three seconds! It could cover the length of seven football fields in 1 second.

The “time to climb” performance was also unbelievable. You could take off at sea level and be level at 35,000 feet in one minute and thirty-two seconds.

My radar observer (R. O.) and I had been cleared for take-off. I lined up on the runway. We made sure we were sitting up straight in the ejection seat. If you were slouched the brutal acceleration from the afterburners lighting hurt…like being rear-ended in your car. I pushed the throttles up and lit the burners. BOOM! BOOM! This seventy foot long fighter now has seventy feet of flame shooting out of each engine’s tail pipe. It’s quite a ride. Little did I realize that this would be my most memorable flight in the thousands I flew.

Level at 45,000 feet (pilot lingo = 45 Angels) and we almost immediately go supersonic. We find the U-2 target on our radar and “lock on” to it. The computer instantly gives the attack display and tells us he’s still about four miles above us. I start the pull up to place the “bouncing dot” in the center of the attack display.

Less than ten seconds later our fighter, #274, went into a violent tumble, wing-over-wing, not nose-over-tail as I had been told a “pitch up” would do. A “pitch up” was a bad flight characteristic that some high performance fighters had because of a very high horizontal stabilizer with the wings at a lower level by fifteen feet.

It seemed we were rolling faster and faster. What I was seeing with a tumbling horizon, it was as though there was a picture of the horizon then taped it to the blades of an electric fan and hit the “ON” switch.

I knew this was the ninth pitch up the Air Force had had. Only three crews had survived. Odds were not that good.

The negative G’s we were experiencing were extremely uncomfortable. All of my blood was being forced into my head and eyes plus all the dirt and grit off the cockpit floor were stuck up against the canopy from those G’s.

I took a quick deep breath, said the Test Pilot’s Prayer (i.e. “Okay God get this thing back on the ground and I’ll taxi it in for you,”) neutralized the controls and deployed the drag chute. It worked!

We had lost over 30,000 feet in the tumble. Fortunately we were at 56,000 feet when it started. The only damage done to the airplane was the drag chute door was bent and the canopy had to be replaced because my helmet had beaten it up during the tumble. Unfortunately my head was inside my helmet while it was doing that damage.

The 274 Danny Cox flew that fateful day

The consensus of opinion was what saved us was neutralizing the controls and deploying the drag chute. Those things are effective in any kind of a crisis…neutralize the controls and pop the drag chute. In other words relax and take a deep breath.

Over the years I’ve wondered whatever happened to #274. Was it sent to another base when this one was closed? Did it crash somewhere? Was it sent to a scrap depot to be “sliced and diced?”

Then a fellow speaker and retired Air Force Colonel “Chevy” Chevallard sent me the pictures of the still beautiful #274 that’s being readied for permanent display at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Someday I hope to get there to see it one more time. I’ll walk over to it, pat the left side of the fuselage, just below the cockpit where its “heart” is and say, “Thanks! You were a major part of my most memorable flight out of over 2,000 flights in fighters. Keep standing proud. You deserve all of the attention you’ll be getting from the passers by.  So long, old pal!”

03.07.2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Tebow, Speaking Eagles Sanborn, Putnam are Featured Keynotes at SEU Leadership Forum

Led by speakers who are among the most well-known leaders in America, Southeastern University’s National Leadership Forum offers the opportunity to learn from some of our nation’s most prominent leadership experts.

Through an innovative and up-close-and-personal approach to teaching servant leadership, the Forum inspires and motivates academic, business, and church communities.


02.28.2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Speaking Eagle Poynter To Be Inducted To Skydiving Hall of Fame

Fredericksburg, VA…Six more sport parachutists will be inducted into the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Eloy, Arizona the weekend of November 9, 2012. Parachute enthusiasts from around the world will attend.

Those being inducted are Carl Boenish, CA (posthumous); Bob Buquor, CA (posthumous); Claude Gillard, Australia; Craig Girard, AZ & Dubai; Dan Poynter, CA; and Muriel Simbro, CA/Hank Simbro, CA (posthumous).

“This award is a confirmation, not a goal,” said Poynter. “Skydiving is my first love and parachutes occupied the majority of my life.”

Read more at http://www.skydivingmuseum.org/

Dan Poynter at the North Pole


02.26.2012 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Flying Tigers in Burma from 1942 Life Magazine

Photographs for LIFE by George Rodger
March, 1942 Life Magazine
One shining hope has emerged from three catastrophic months of war. That is the American Volunteer Group of fighter pilots, the so-called “Flying Tigers” of Burma and southeast China who paint the jaws of a shark on their Curtiss P-40’s. Outnumbered often ten to one, they have so far shot down about 300 Japanese planes, killed perhaps 800 Japanese airmen.


02.20.2012 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Soviets Had Big Plans For This Enormous Nuclear Equipped Ekranoplane

by Robert Johnson

In the thick of the Cold War, the Soviet Union built an immense vessel to carry their troops across the seas and into Western Europe.

Equipped with nuclear warheads and able to blast across the sea at 340 mph, the Lun-class Ekranoplane; part plane, part boat, and part hovercraft — is a Ground Effect Vehicle (GEV).



02.04.2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Former Southwest CEO, Speaking Eagles Founder Speaks At Naval Academy

Tells Attendees ‘Turbulence Is Inevitable, But Misery Is Optional’

Howard Putnam, former CEO of Southwest and Braniff Airlines, presented his views on leadership January 31, as the keynote speaker for the second day of the Naval Academy Leadership Conference. “Attitude starts at the top,” said Putnam to an audience of students and faculty from both military and civilian universities. “Make your vision clear, and if you say your people are important, you better mean it.”

Howard Putnam Howard Putnam