Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Profile 88: JUST STARTED—The A-4C as flown by Paul Galanti



Here's the scene:   A door-to-door peddler entices a gullible couple to buy a "24-piece set" of plastic storage containers by dangling a ridiculous boat (of all things) as an enticement.

Here.  Watch.

The clip is from Napoleon Dynamite; it's one of those "Love it or hate it" movies.  But, there's no mistaking the scene's slash at the vacuous values that manifest themselves in our culture.   Especially when the needy bride points at the kitschy thing and breathes to her timid husband, "Ah'want that!"

Hold that thought for a moment.

Have a look at the pencil-sketch at the very top of this post.  It's an A-4C Skyhawk that was shot down during a mission over North Vietnam on June 17, 1966.  Her pilot, Paul Galanti, would become a POW for just shy of seven years.  

Over the next few posts, we'll go back to that moment and the years of abuse that followed.  We'll find out how Paul made it through the torture, the pain, the longing...and re-enter Civilization and continue to prosper.

But.

This story is more than just another POW story.  It's a story of what every man wants

Hold that thought for just one more moment.

True story:  a buddy of mine was telling me about "the conversation" he had with his son regarding girls.  Not about girls as objects but girls as companions.  Friends.  Spouses.  His son was being tempted to choose unwisely based on base-desires and the self-inflicted humiliation that comes from being "lonely."  Or horny.  It doesn't matter.  His son was aiming low and the dad knew the horror that could come of it.

"But da-ad.  I want a girlfriend!" the young punk complained.

"No son.  You don't want a girlfriend.  You want..."  and the father struggled to find the words that would describe the complicated, hard-fought and deep-seated wisdom that comes from a guy like...

...Paul Galanti.

Take one more look at the pencil sketch, ok?   That A-4C Skyhawk will soon transform herself from graphite scratches to full-color perfection.  We're going into North Vietnam with all the guns and gore but we're going to come out with something truly worth the declaration, "I want that."

It won't be easy, it won't be cheap.

But it will be worth it.

Profile 87: IN PROGRESS—The RB-47H as flown by Freeman "Bruce" Olmstead


"That is such an old story...

"It's news to me!" I thought.

...and if you use Google, it's all over the internet...

"Yeah, if you’re looking for it but again, ‘News to me!’.”

...and it was all told in the book."

"Book?!  What book!?"

And thus began my conversation with the pilot.  Ok, hold that thought for a moment...

Knowledge isn’t passed via placenta.  All those things your grandpa knew about business?  About playing poker?  Or grandma's cure for a cold?   If it wasn’t written down or passed on through familial legacy, they’re *POOF!*  dissolved into the ether of time; like food that's never eaten, money never invested or time wasted.

But, to actually use said knowledge, another thing is necessary:  Faith.  Not necessarily faith in a religious sense, but more about the faith that using knowledge will some how, some way, pay off in a profitable fashion.  And THAT, is we call "Wisdom."

Ok, have a look above.  It’s the pencil sketch of my latest work, the RB-47H flown by “Bruce” Olmstead.    On one hand, it’s a gorgeous example of the Aeronautical Engineer’s art; if she looks familiar it’s because Boeing nailed jet-design back in 1947 when she first flew.  Squint and you can see 75% of any commercial airliner flying today.  The B-47 was more than a mere pioneer, she mothered a generation!

However, you’re also looking at a warplane that does not exist.  On one hand, the B-47 was handily replaced by the legendary B-52.  It stands to reason that, once improved, why keep the rest?  But on the other hand, the specific airplane I’m drawing was obliterated by a fiery impact into the Barents Sea on July 1, 1960.  6 men went down, 2 came back.

“Went down?”  you ask.

"Sorry," I reply.  "I meant Shot down."

“By whom?” you wonder.  “In 1960, we weren’t at war with anyone and the Cold War was just that, Cold."”

"The Russians,", I answer.  "And the Cold War had some definite hot spots!"






I’d like you to meet Freeman “Bruce” Olmstead.  He was the co-pilot of this particular RB-47 that, back in 1960, was a big deal.  Such a big deal that even today, the man himself seemed tired to tell the story one more time.   Funny though, considering that the majority of readers hear are under 50, I bet this is the first time you'll have heard about it.

Bruce is right.  It's an old story.  And he's also right that a bit of Google'ing will give you the facts & figures of the moment.  As for the book, it's out there, too.  But for me, this story is more than dredging up the past.  It's about realizing that the study of History is not just about "names, places & dates."  It's about having the faith that keeping said History alive will give us the wisdom to handle whatever comes at us in the future.

So what are we going to learn from this story that's new?   Well, I guess you're going to have to have a little faith in that and follow this story.

Oh.  Bruce has weighed in a detail or two that have caused me to re-think his RB-47 from the pencil-sketch.  See below.