09.12.2011 Uncategorized No Comments


Speaking Eagle and retired Col. Randall Larsen, USAF, is the CEO of the WMD Center (wmdcenter.org) and the author of “Our Own Worst Enemy” (Grand Central, 2007).  He wrote this piece for the Washington Post.


“As we pause to reflect upon the unspeakable horrors we witnessed 10 years ago and the incredible courage of the first responders at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and of the passengers and crew of United Flight 93, I cannot help but think back to 1994, when I first began to study homeland security.”

See the full article:  http://www.fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2011/092011/09112011/648570/printer_friendly

09.06.2011 Uncategorized No Comments

Largest US Flag To Fly Under a Skydiver Over Ground Zero NYC on 9/11/11

Ten Team Fastrax Skydivers to Jump and Fly Ten US Flags in Tribute to 9/11

Largest Flag is 7,800 Square Feet

From skydiver David Hart: www.teamfastrax.org

Middletown, Ohio – 2 September 2011

On 9/11/11 at 10:00am, Ten Skydivers from Middletown, Ohio based Team Fastrax will exit an airplane over Ground Zero and then deploy and fly Ten US flags to honor the courage of the people who acted in the face of their own peril, the police and firemen/women who lost their lives and participated in evacuations of the two buildings, and the courage of the people on flight 93 in PA and the Pentagon. The tribute also honors the service men and women who have and still are fighting to protect and preserve our freedom. Some of the jumpers will carry special mementos from 9/11 survivors on the skydive. Team Fastrax paid a very similar tribute on 9/11/08 and jumped with seven US Flags over Ground Zero.







The Skydivers are from Team Fastrax Professional Skydiving Team, based in Middletown, Ohio. Since the inception of Team Fastrax in 2001, the team has performed nearly 1,000 exhibition skydives at every entertainment venue imaginable. Team Fastrax has performed as far away as Moscow, Russia and Normandy, France; the team has jumped over Ground Zero New York City into high restricted airspace, balloon festivals, air shows, NASCAR, Indy Car, symphony performances, golf courses, amusement parks, mall parking lots, tennis courts, Red Bull Air Races, and Veteran support events.

However, the team is most proud of its support of events paying tribute to the United States of America and our men and women serving their country in uniform. The tribute is sponsored by Cincinnati based pre-employment background screening company Jim Boeddeker, CEO of Selection.com said “It is an honor to support such tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of men and women.”

Photos and Video of 9/11/08 Tribute: http://normankent.com/nkp/2008/09/16/september-11th-memorial-in-new-york/


09.01.2011 Uncategorized No Comments

Armstrong relives historic Moon landing

by Amy Coopes:   http://www.mysinchew.com/node/62889from

SYDNEY, August 29, 2011 (AFP) – It’s more than 40 years since Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon, but his memories of the historic flight remain as undimmed as his passion for further exploration of space.

08.19.2011 Uncategorized No Comments

Shuttle returning Home for good

Forwarded to Howard Putnam by Dick Tabery, retired VP of Maintenance and Engineering, UAL.





08.16.2011 Uncategorized 20 Comments

Only pilot who landed a KC-135 after two engines ripped off in combat writes his story

Lt. Colonel (Ret) Kevin Sweeney is the only person to have ever landed a KC-135, the military version of the Boeing 707 after the two engines on his left wing were ripped off in flight during a night combat mission in Desert Storm.

General Charles Horner, top commander of Allied Air Forces during the Gulf War,  recently honored Lt. Col. Sweeney on the 20th anniversary of the eventful date and said “I consider that the finest piece of airmanship to have occurred during the entire Gulf War.”


By Kevin Sweeney

We were scheduled to do a double turn on night combat missions in Desert Storm with the first take off time at dusk, 17:24 local time. All was going as planned on the KC135 aircraft with me as Captain and my 3 crew members.  As we were flying up to the scheduled refueling area we hit a little turbulence which was no cause for concern.  But a split second later our aircraft went from a smooth, stable flight to totally out of control.  The nose of the airplane gyrated from 15 degrees nose up to 15 degrees nose down. We were violently rolling wing tip to wing tip in a Dutch roll, which is a vicious unplanned rocking maneuver rolling wing tip to wing tip at over 90 degrees of bank with roll rates in excess of 85 degrees per second.

We were dropping out of the sky like a rock – a heavy rock, we were crashing! We were in severe oscillations and rolls and I remember thinking, “I can’t let this airplane roll inverted since the airplane might be unrecoverable if we roll inverted.”  The maximum roll rate for a KC-135 airplane is 45 degrees per second and we were exceeding that by at least a factor of two.  I remembered my emergency procedures simulator training – I grabbed the speed lever brake and pulled it full up.

It worked!! As we were beginning to regain control of the aircraft the fire warning lights lit up in the cockpit for both engines on the left wing.  I could feel in the stick she was too heavy to fly.  I lowered the nose over to try and gain airspeed while at the same time asking the other pilot to begin dumping fuel.  I used the interphone to ask Steve Stucky, the boom operator, to scan the left wings to see how bad the fires were.  Very quickly he radios back 6 words I will never forget, “They aren’t on fire, they’re gone!” Our 4-engine aircraft was reduced to 2 engines.

We were at maximum weight, barely under control, over hostile territory, at night, and two engines were gone…. “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday,” my navigator began to squawk electronically on the transponder. One of my crewmembers soon asked me, “Are we were going to have to bail out?”  To which I responded to the most important question of my life, ‘No stick with me, we’ll be fine.’

After a harrowing hour and fifteen minute flight back to the nearest acceptable landing field we started to get into position to make a landing attempt.  One of the primary requirements was to get the landing gear down and because of our lack of hydraulic pressure the landing gear would have to be lowered manually.

I asked my boom operator, Steve Stucky, how long it would take to manually lower the landing gear which was his job.  Steve said, “7 minutes.”  I said, ‘Steve we don’t have 7 minutes, we only have 3 or 4 minutes, can you do it?’  My hero, Steve Stucky, said, “Yes Sir, I will get them down,” and Steve got them down.

Impeccable execution under such extreme circumstances enabled our crew to land the mortally injured aircraft. It is a compelling story illustrating how you and your team can overcome any obstacle.

Then came the best thing I ever accomplished in my Air Force career.  Upon a successful landing the Air Force wanted to award the three officer members of the aircrew the renowned Distinguished Flying Cross and to the boom operator, the non-officer, Steve Stucky, an Air Medal – a wonderful medal, but not the legendary Distinguished Flying Cross.

In unison, without hesitation, and unbeknownst to the lowest ranking member of the aircrew, the three officers refused the Distinguished Flying Cross.  We put together a 35 page document and personally met with a four star General.  It took a year, but on the same day, on the same stage, and at the same time all four members of the team, the aircrew received the medal they earned and deserved, the United States Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross.

One of our engines after it landed in the desert in Saudi Arabia. I think it was beyond repair. I have a couple of pieces of it as a personal memento.

This flight inspired me to write my first book, Pressure Cooker Confidence:  How to Lead When the Heat is On

See an interview with Kevin Sweeney at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFCMrhuKuGk

08.04.2011 Uncategorized No Comments

History of the Bell 47

Arguably one of the most recognizable helicopters in the world, the famed Bell 47 has been seen by millions as they’ve taken to the air and the airwaves over the years.

Bell-47 Take Off

Shown at the opening of the TV series MASH, the Bell 47’s trademark bubble cockpit became the signature look of helicopters in the 1950s and early 1960s.


07.29.2011 Uncategorized No Comments

Shuttle Atlantis and the End of an Era

By Bob McCafferty,  bobmcmedia@comcast.net

“We got lucky,” admitted Shuttle Atlantis Launch Director, Mike Leinbach.

So did all of us fortunate enough to be there, Friday, July 8th for the last second “Go,” less than one minute before the launch window closed. Nearly a million of us whooping and hollering or speechless like a bunch of nine-year olds from the 60s, when Shepard, Glenn and the other Original Seven Astronauts intoxicated our dreams of possibilities.

It rained the day before launch. Weather predictions for launch probability had remained at just 30 percent for a week.

Undaunted by having been there for the launch of Discovery in November (scrubbed by equipment problems till March), we hit the road from Orlando at 5:45 for the 11:28 a.m. launch of Atlantis.

Even slogging through stop and go traffic, it took just 90 minutes to check in at the guard station and find a parking spot across the street from the 500 foot-plus high Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where rockets and Shuttle are mated. Within an hour the road was closed for a couple of dozen minutes as the van carrying the four astronauts, Commander, Christopher Ferguson, Pilot, Douglas Hurley, Flight Engineer, Rex Walheim and Loadmaster Sandra Magnus rolled by us for the final mission.

Our view site was a large parking lot between the VAB and the Media site (it helps to have a friend at Lockheed!). We’re five miles out, still the closest anyone is allowed.

The bed of a pickup truck proved the best vantage point and platform for photos. A Boeing structural engineer with his camera soon joined me—waiting, waiting, as the seconds ticked by, then abruptly–a ‘hold,’ at T-minus 31 seconds!

“Maybe an abort,” said my Boeing companion. But just over two minutes later, with redundant computers back in agreement, the countdown resumed—5-4-3-2-1—and just 58 seconds before the launch window closed for 24 hours—liftoff!

You see the steam billowing up from the vast pool of cooling water beneath the Shuttle launch complex first, as the three main engines fire in millisecond sequence, followed in 6.6 seconds by the roar of the twin booster rockets. A split second later the thunderous but distant roar reaches us as millions of pounds of thrust lift Shuttle, crew, cargo and engines to 100 mph by the time it all clears the launch tower…Arcing up and out over the Atlantic Ocean, the spent boosters fall away, then it slowly rolls over on top of the main fuel tank for better communications with a satellite.

Rising on a “A pillar of fire…” remains the best description ever written as it roars up, disappearing into the low ceiling of clouds, gone from view in seconds.  Lucky?

Maybe. Within three hours of launch, tired, hungry, and sitting in the bar at the Orlando Airport hoisting a beer and a bite to toast Atlantis’ success and say a prayer for the Astronauts safety, wife Dee and I watched a rainstorm drench the hotel and Orlando.


Maybe. But surely proof of the ancient adage, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

To the eternal gratitude of all of us “lucky” enough to have been there for the end of NASA’s 30-year Shuttle program.

Bob and Dee McCafferty at the final space shuttle launch

Bob McCafferty covered the role of Sacramento’s Aerojet and McDonnell-Douglas in NASA’s Apollo Moon landings for television news. Later, he was a participant in and wrote for publications of two NASA/Ames medical studies, simulated weightlessness in 1983 and motion sickness in 1988. The latter was his first in 15 years of writing for Air & Space/Smithsonian. When Challenger went down in January 1986, he had the application papers on his desk for the Journalist in Space Program, which was canceled.

07.25.2011 Uncategorized No Comments

Homeland Security’s Randall Larsen speaks to CBS about new concerns raised over domestic terrorism

Published on Jul 25, 2011 by

Homeland Security’s Randall Larsen speaks to Chris Wragge about new concerns raised over domestic terrorism in the U.S. after the attacks in Norway, a country considered to be one of the safest in the world.

Randall Larsen garnered national recognition as an expert in homeland security following 9/11. Throughout his exemplary career, Larsen has identified and mastered the skills necessary for superlative leadership.  He is a founder of Speaking Eagles.



07.12.2011 Uncategorized No Comments

Confessions of a Claustrophobic Fighter Pilot

How courage, focus, and wingmen can help you tackle your fears

By Ralph “Waldo”  Waldman, MBA, CSP

Three years into my eleven year Air Force flying career, my life changed when I almost died during a scuba diving trip in the Caribbean. Thirty feet under the water and exhausted from excessive use of my arms to swim, I inhaled a full lungful of water and had the most intense panic attack of my life. I literally thought I was going to die.

A week later, I found myself back in the cockpit on a training mission in bad weather. Unable to see the ground or the sky, I felt closed in. My mask tightened, my pulse quickened, and I suddenly had difficulty breathing. I became lightheaded and anxious and the panicky feeling I experienced a week ago reared its ugly head again. I screamed to myself, “Get me out of this plane!”

Within seconds, I transformed myself from a confident, fearless jet pilot to a doubtful claustrophobe. For the next eight years of my flying career I had to carry around that that huge secret. Despite that fact that my skills never suffered, if my fellow pilots found out, there was a chance I could have my wings taken away.

Every training and combat mission I flew, I had claustrophobia as my companion, waiting to attack me and spin me out of control. But I fought it. On four hour training missions over the Sea of Japan and six hour night combat missions over Iraq in the cramped cockpit of the F-16, I fought it. And I won.

I never aborted any combat mission and always mustered the courage to do my job and execute the mission. It wasn’t easy. There were times when the panic was so great that when I landed, I would walk into the squadron with my wings in my hand ready to quit. But I never did. I didn’t let my fear take over me.

So how did I do it?

  1. Mental Rehearsal: I envisioned having panic attacks in simulated flights while on the ground. Rather than fight it, I “befriended my fear.” I got used to the feeling in my mind and prepared to cope with the fear by shifting my focus.
  2. I focused on the mission: Regardless of my fear of having a panic attack, I had a job to do. It was my responsibility to live up to my commitment as a fighter pilot and soldier. If everyone quit when fear or challenge struck, nothing would get done. I had to earn my wings.
  3. I focused on my wingmen: No fighter pilot flies solo. We have wingmen who help us deal with emergencies and change. When I focused on my wingmen who were there to support me and who also needed me as well, it gave me more courage.
  4. I focused on what I loved: On every mission, I carried a set of silver angel wings that re-affirmed my faith in God. And I also carried a picture of my niece and nephew. They needed me to get back home. They gave meaning to my mission. Love is greater than fear.

I never quit on any combat mission. However, I did quit a ferry flight I was supposed to fly from Spain to the U.S. Seven hours over the Atlantic Ocean was simply too much for me to handle. I reached the limit of my courage and I aborted. I thought my wingmen would mock me for quitting, but they didn’t.

What I learned from my experiences is that by stepping outside of my comfort zone, focusing on the mission, and pushing the limits of my courage, I could do almost anything. By facing my fear and not letting it strangle me, I was able to take action, do my job, and plant the seeds to a future of amazing opportunities and personal growth.

But it also taught me that my ego was powerful than I realized. I learned that it’s ok to quit when all else fails. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to beat every fear, overcome every challenge, or fly every mission.

And neither do you.





07.12.2011 Videos No Comments

CBS 60 Minutes piece on Stand Down organization