Airspeed Alfresco – Inaugurating the Patio for the 2009 Season

This is a regular blog post. Looking for show notes or links to ahow audio? Please check out the other posts.

So I’ve finally had the opportunity to set up the studio in one of my favorite authoring spaces, namely my patio. It’s in the low 70s and sunny and it’s the perfect circumstances to categorize, edit, assemble, write, and think. Which is what I intend to do, along with a whole boatload of work from the office (three hours already billed today, so I’m taking a little break here and I feel good about that).

I have a lot to do. I have the seaplane rating audio to categorize and edit. I have pictures and video of that, as well, that I need to figure out how best to present. I have loads of audio and video from recent acro training that I need to marry up and then cut for release. And all of this is to say nothing of the great material from the T-6A Texan II ride (as well as the voiceovers that I need to write and record for that).

(By the way, thanks, Uncontrolled Airspace, for the kind shout-outs in Episode 135. I’ll try to not disappoint your listeners that hop over here for a taste!)

I’m still on a high from the Randolph AFB trip. Here’s a shot of Jo Hunter and Will Hawkins in the conference room that we used for the preflight briefing and as a staging area. One of the few pictures I think we have of Jo. She’s a wizard behind the lens but seems to avoid the other end of the lens for the most part.

One of the central resources of any incarnation of Firebase Airspeed (and especially in 94F San Antonio) is the beverage station. The hotel was very nice in almost all respects, but no fridge. So we loaded up the sink with ice and brushed out teeth using the bath tub. Got to get your priorities right!

Back to herding electrons. Look for really good stuff in the feed soon!

More Shots from the T-6A Texan II Flight

Check out the Airspeed episode Firebase Airspeed: T-6A Style right here:

The crazy-talented photographer and fellow aviation enthusiast Jo Hunter of Futurshox was a part of the coverage crew at the recent T-6A Texan II sortie at Randolph AFB and she made her Airspeed debut that night on the episode Firebase Airspeed T-6A Style, along with Will Hawkins of Wilco Films and A Pilot’s Story.

Jo shot stills, assisted with video, and contributed her distinctive Texas drawl (listen to the episode for details) to the proceedings.

Jo has posted several shots from the coverage at her site, and in a blog entry at Please be sure to check it out!

The lead shot of this blog entry is one of my favorites. After the flight, will shot some commentary from me for a Scheyden ad next to the aircraft. Glad I got a haircut the day I left for Randolph. I had developed a pretty good rooster tail in the helmet, but a little water and it looked like hair again for the shoot. And there’s nothing like a zoom bag, gee suit, helmet, and oxygen mask to make stuff like that just not matter.

Here’s a shot of the aircraft taxiing in. Maj Jarrett Edge in front and yours truly in back.

Just after takeoff. You can see the video camera pretty clearly in this one. I remain very indebted to the 559th and AETC generally for the accommodations that they made to allow this coverage. The in-flight video came out very well and we’re all pretty excited about it. I recognize that the jet teams have gee- and systems- based reasons for not flying better-resolution cameras, but I’m not complaining a bit about the Thunderbirds ride, but the video from this flight is orders of magnitude better than any I’ve seen from a jet team flight.

And the T-6A is such a wonderful-looking (to say nothing of performing) aircraft, I think the footage is actually more exciting than the jet team footage I’ve seen.

Will is hard at work editing and I’m going to be providing music and voiceovers to put together the video episode. I’ll also be doing a comprehensive audio episode of the whole thing and I’m hard at work writing and editing for that.

Are there luckier people on the planet? Three days of hanging out with perfectly resonant folks who love what you love for all of the right reasons. Having access to beautiful airplanes that turn mere pilots into the best-trained aviators in the world. Meeting and talking to the people at the top of their games who train the trainers. And now having a little breathing space to take that raw material and use it to tell a story to a loyal and enthusiastic audience.

I can’t thank Will, Jo, the US Air Force, and many others enough. Look for a great couple of episodes (probably a couple in audio and one in video) soon!

Airspeed Video Teaser

So Will Hawkins of Wilco Films and A Pilot’s Story has begun to create a monster.  Namely me.  Will gave me a quick tutorial on Final Cut last night and I’ve now had a chance to integrate some of the video I’ve been shooting into a teaser for future Airspeed episodes.  The first will likely be the coverage of the T-6A Texan II ride at Randolph AFB last week.  But I’ll also try to load in bits of video from other experiences this summer and try to do at least a couple of bits of aerobatic video.
Stay tuned as Airspeed just gets better and better!

More Frame Grabs from the T-6A Texan II Flight

This is a regular blog post. Check out the other posts for show notes and links to show audio and video.

I’m just now getting a chance to look at the video from the T-6A Texan II ride and start parsing out the pieces that are going to be the most useful. It’s also a great way to remember the flight and make sure that I get all of my impressions down so that I can incorporate them into the episodes. I thought I’d post a few frame grabs so that you could see what I’m working with.

The day was fairly overcast, which means that we’re going to have to pump up the color a little in places. That said, we have a lot of great sequences of flying by – and through – big ragged cumulus clouds, and those are going to be great once we make the clouds pop a little better.

Here’s a shot of the strap-in process just after we turned on the camera. The camera is mounted on one of the vertical structures above the front ejection seat and the horizontal stabilization bar of the canopy just barely clears it coming down. I mounted the camera and Maj Edge turned it on and hit the REC button just before strapping himself in. Here, the LtCol is helping me complete my own strap-in. I’m carrying the audio recorder in my shoulder pocket and I have a condenser tie-clip mic (sans tie clip) dangling behind my ear to capture the intercom and ATC sound. I was pretty worried about the audio because I’d never tried doing it this way before, but it ended up working very well. You need to adjust the audio levels once you’re taxiing to make sure that you have it right, but it worked very well.

A nice shot of me and the Texas countryside as the aircraft went vertical in a maneuver. It’s a little gray and shadowy, but Will is working on that in post. Want to talk superpowers? Will can change the weather in post and actually use those clouds to his advantage!

Just before touchdown on Runway 14R at Randolph AFB. It’s hard to see much up front for landing and I’m craning a little to get an idea of Maj Edge’s sight picture.

A lot to chew on over the next few weeks. I need to write the backing music, hit the studio to record it, and get the mix in process. I wrote a lot on the flights on the way home last night from San Antonio and there’s much more yet to write. And then there’s the triage of w3hat I’ve written to get the whole thing down to the core story. I feel a little like Quincy Jones sitting down with a whole bunch of stupendous material and trying to figure out how best to tell the story. My favorite problem!

Happy Holidays – Capt Force Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other posts.

If the story as told to me by the EAA is true, in the early 1920s, engineer William B. Stout sent out a number of letters to wealthy potential investors asking $1,000 from each. In his letter, he said, in relevant part, “For your one thousand dollars you will get one definite promise: You will never get your money back.”

By all accounts I can find, Stout kept his promise.

Stout’s project and passion? On a beautiful August day this year, I took the controls of one of only 199 units that this particular dream produced. But what a unit! It was a 1929 Ford TriMotor, a silver, corrugated, and cantankerous, but awe-inspiring, harbinger of the golden age of aviation. Because of Stout’s dream and the loving labors of countless people from then to now, I added 0.3 hours dual received in the Tin Goose to my logbook.

Several months ago, I found out that friends, independent filmmakers, and fellow pilots Will Hawkins and Rico Sharqawi had decided to make a documentary film about aviation. It’s called A Pilot’s Story. Will noticed that, no matter the circumstances of the individual pilot or aviation enthusiast, some magical core part of each of their stories was always the same. As a labor of love, Will and Rico have set out to capture the essence of what it is to become, and be, a pilot. Although Will and Rico’s appeal for donations to help pay for the project was a lot less dramatic than Stout’s, the core idea was the same. This is a labor of love and we might get to watch a really spectacular movie about people and aircraft (and so much more) if the project gets finished.

So, as is my practice, in lieu of fruit baskets, nut trays, and other indicia of the season, I have elected to contribute to a worthy cause. Earlier this week, I made a contribution in your collective honor to the making of A Pilot’s Story.

Though I am certainly no captain of industry, I share at least one thing with Stout’s investors. I don’t expect to get my money back. I don’t want it back. Neither does anyone else I know who has donated. We have traded our funds, time, and talents to the universe, confident in the knowledge that the universe (and, in non-trivial part, Will and Rico) will deliver a film that will be an artifact of our hopes and aspirations that will tell a story that defies conventional storytelling. I hope that you get to see it when it comes out in late 2009 or early 2010.

If you’re interested, you can see the newly-mixed trailer for the film at

I hope that you’ll regard this gesture as appropriate to a season that is, after all, about a very similar kind of wonderment and joy. Thanks for the opportunity to work, play, fly, and/or laugh with you this year. It’s been a privilege and I hope that you’ll receive this note with the appreciation that I continue to have for each of you and for our professional and personal relationships.

Happy holidays, everyone!