15 July, 2008

Profile 20 - BLACK DEATH flown by Bruce Porter

"Black Death" is one of my favorite illustrations because I got the lighting and metal texture right. It's also a favorite because of the nose art - a bottle of Schenley's whisky.

Bruce proofed the art and pronounced it good when compared to photographs of his plane. Thankfully, the actual nose art was rather crude (and thereby easy to duplicate). There aren't many bottles of Schenley's around to use as a reference!

The story behind the nose art was told with a chuckle - when first presented with the airplane above, a red heart and the name, "Millie Lou" was painted on the cowl. Bruce was looking to make a "tough guy" impression on his new ground crew and ordered that the love-sick scrawl be immediately painted over with something "...that sounded a lot meaner."  On the spot, he ordered "Black Death" and "a bottle of Schenley's!"  

Of all the fighter pilots I've interviewed, Bruce is the only one who comes close to the brawling, hard-drinking image and even then, he seemed to play it for laughs. Still, he was clearly thrilled that fortune had honored him with the title of "ace fighter pilot."

Me: So, what does any fighter pilot need to be successful?

Well...let’s see...first of all, above average intelligence, man!  And, I think another thing too is following directions...paying attention...and then utmost is to be alert and know where you are. When you fly head on in a dogfight, you’ve got a closure rate of...600 miles per hour and you’ve got to be thinking...whereever you go.

I’m still jumpy...my wife comes in the room and I still jump...I guess it’s combat. You never get it out of your system.

If you’ve got self-discipline...and survive, you go out and can do things in life. It’s like eating habits...you don’t see fat fighter pilots.

I would put all the fighter pilots in the top 5% of whatever in the world...maybe not in math (laughs)...but in grasping things.