Air Force Blues with Austin "Farva" May

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In the words of today’s guest, “You’re not truly sh*t hot until there’s a comic about you.”
This week, we talk to Austin “Farva” May, the author of the relatively new web comic “Air Force Blues.” Air Force Blues directs a finely-tuned wit at the US Air Force and fighter pilots in particular. We caught up with Farva at his home during a recent evening to talk about the Air Force, flying, and comics.
May was an airborne surveillance technician on the Boeing E-3 Sentry for four years. The E-3 is a a military airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft that provides surveillance, command, control and communications in all weather conditions.

Click here for interview audio.

Additional information:

Air Force Blues website:

Farva’s AWACker MySpace page:

Wikipedia entry:

USAF Recruiting:

AWACker at Chairforce:

CAPblog’s entry about


Looking for show notes? They’re below. This is a regular blog entry.

Got 1.9 on Thursday. First time up since March 8 and the last time before that was in September of 2006. Hell of a way to train for an instrument rating, eh? FWIW, I got four landings on the March 8 flight and greased every one of them. Didn’t hurt to have the wind at a dead calm, but I still greased four.

Thursday was ragged MVFR/IFR. New instructor is an older guy in semiretirement who flew air cav in Viet Nam. He’s a lot more patient than you’d expect. Got shear of +10/-10 and 30 degrees of uncommanded bank at about 800 AGL on departure just into the wispy part of the bottoms. Still picking seat cusion out of my ass. Instructor just sat there copying clearance changes and keeping a semi-interested eye on the guages from the right seat. Cast iron SOB, that guy. I think we’re going to get along just fine.

The March session was beautiful VFR and we got eight approaches in at KFNT. Not so this week. Didn’t file until we actually went to go fly. Ceilings came down like a Bonanza full of doctors and then we had to wait for Lockheed to locate its head and extract it from its ass in order to file. I hope these guys get the FSS consolidation done soon. To Lockheed’s credit, the guy to whom I actually did speak bent over backwards to be helpful. He was from Knoxville or wherever that was not southeast Michigan and he had to struggle a little with the local navaids (you must know where the hell SVM (Salem VORTAC – 114.3) is in order to be helpful to a pilot flying GA in southeast Michigan).

Got vectors to the KFNT VOR 36 ( with the published miss to KATTY, vectors to the ILS 9, then returned to KPTK and shot the ILS 9R. Got all of the approaches within PTS standards. F*CKING happy about that. Woo-hoo! I was afraid that I was going to be shedding rust all over the flight path, but I flew competently. Only genuine screw-up was finding the poutbound course to KATTY. I’m used to having overshot the threshold (and therefore, at FNT, overshot the VOR so I’m north of the 097 radial outbound course to KATTY), so I did my right turn, added some south, and started feeloing around for the 097 radial. Like an idoit, it failed to register that I had gone missed a half mile from the threshold and that the outbound 097 course was to my north. Instructor got it a moment before approach (very politely) inquired why I was heading for Selfridge. Got cleared direct to KATTY and all was well.

Howling NE winds at 30 up there, which made the hold ugly. Plus, you identify KATTY with an intersection off of PSI, which is something like 25+ miles away, making for some ambiguity about where the heck KATTY really is along the 097. I think the donut of the VOR is a half mile across at that distance. That should work in my favor for the checkride, but I suspect that I’ll meed my biggest challenge on the checkride over KATTY (if I can f*cking find KATTY in the first place).
More later!

Airspeed – Civil Air Patrol with Midway Six

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It’s time once again to talk about the Civil Air Patrol, the auxiliary of the United States Air Force and one of the best volunteer opportunities in the country. As many of you know, I’m a CAP captain and the legal officer of the Oakland Composite Squadron (GLR-MI-238) and I also handle recruiting and public affairs duties.
For this episode, we invited Midway Six, a Civil Air Patrol Captain and publisher of CAPblog, to join us to talk Civil air Patrol for part of a pleasant spring evening.
E-mail us at or leave voicemail at 206-339-8697 any time – day or night. You can also contact me directly at 248-470-7944.

CAP Contacts
Telephone: 800-FLY-2338


Oakland Composite Squadron (GLR-MI-238) (My squadron!)

Airspeed – Ballistic Recovery Parachutes with BRS CEO Larry Williams

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Long-time listeners to Airspeed will recall the episode we did last February about whole-airplane ballistic recovery parachutes and about Ballistic Recovery Systems, Inc., better known to some as BRS Parachutes.

I’m a fan of the whole idea of ballistic recovery chutes. They provide an out in those relatively rare cases where no amount of diligence, skill, or luck will prevent you and your aircraft from having an unplanned interface with the planet. I’m talking about a control surface malfunction, loss of certain instruments in IMC, midair collisions, and engine failures where you’re too low, over unlandable terrain, or flying at night.

Recent deployments in both a Cirrus SR22 and a German ultralight that produced the company’s 200th and 201st saves – as well as the popularity of the systems in new light sport aircraft – warrant revisiting the company and its products.

BRS was founded in 1980 and is based in South St. Paul, Minnesota. The company develops and commercializes whole-aircraft emergency recovery parachute systems for use primarily with general aviation and recreational aircraft.

BRS parachute systems are designed to safely lower the entire aircraft and its occupants to the ground in the event of an in-air emergency. The parachute system is designed for in-air emergencies that include mid-air collisions, structure failure, engine failure, pilot incapacitation, and unstable meteorological conditions, among other things. BRS is the largest manufacturer of whole-aircraft recovery systems in the world. Since inception, the company has delivered more than 23,000 systems that have been installed on general aviation aircraft (including more than 2,800 on FAA-certified aircraft).

As I disclosed the last time I covered BRS, I continue to own a small amount of the company’s stock and have held it since 2001. I try to let you guys know every time that I have anything that approaches a conflict of interest, so there it is. Take it for what it’s worth. I look at it as putting a little bit of my retirement fund where my mouth is.

We talked to Larry Williams, who is the chief executive officer, president, chief operating officer, and a director of BRS. Prior to joining BRS in 2000, he was vice president of business development at AmSafe Aviation in Phoenix, Arizona, the world’s largest manufacturer of aviation restraint systems. Prior to that and since 1995, he was group president at Rural/Metro Corporation, a Scottsdale, Arizona -based services company that engages in mobile health services, including emergency and non-emergency fire and ambulatory services. From 1985 to 1995, he was executive director of the Emergency Response Training Academy, a firm specializing in training of airport emergency response personnel.

Let’s go to the interview.

[Interview audio.]

E-mail us at or leave voicemail at 206-339-8697 any time – day or night.

BRS contact information:

Ballistic Recovery Systems, Inc.
300 Airport Road
South Saint Paul MN 55075-3551
Phone: 651.457.7491
Fax: 651.457.8651

Associated Press: Bigger Planes Need Bigger Parachutes –