Warbirds Online

Hangar Tales

May 31, 2008 7:05 am

These stories happened to me or my close friends. I have been active in Warbirds since I was 13. While other kids were playing video games and such, I was working on a B-17 and Me-109 ( HA-1112).
My best friend was Carl Schmieder, he was a board member of Warbird of America, T-6 Lead at Oshkosh, a ICAS ACE, and help start the FAST program. He also helped me to get my A&P, and private pilots certs. I was flying formation before I had my pilots license. Carl dies in the crash of his T-6 in Jan 99.

– Matt Gunsch

How not to get your fighter pilot name

By Matt T. Gunsch

Bob ( last name withheld to protect the guilty) is from ( Classified to protect the easily embarrassed ) where he is a ( need to know basis ) and T-6 owner, but some time before he owned a T-6 Bob came to Deer valley airport and Carl Schmieder, as a very low time pilot with less than 100 hrs, all in Cessna’s, with the desire to fly the T-6 Texan, a WWII era advance training plane.

Bob was doing well with learning to fly the T-6, doing take off s, landings, stalls and learning the personality of the T-6. We did all we could to help him with his confidence when during a session of landings and take offs, four of us took it upon ourselves to be judges of his landings. After each landing Bob, with Carl in the backseat, would taxi back to the end of the runway for another takeoff, as he came near where we were standing on the ramp, we would hold up numbered cards to show what we thought of his last landing. He is the only person I have ever known to get a negative score from the judges,

Carl was going out one morning to practice is solo ship acro show and invited Bob along to see what a T-6 could do. After a good breakfast at the airport restaurant, Carl, Bob, Eric Forbes and myself went to the hanger to get the T-6 preflight ed and ready to go. Eric and I did the pre-flight while Carl went over the routine with Bob, telling him what to expect. As I was helping Bob strap into the backseat I made it a point to show him where the airsickness bag was, just in case. As I did with all those I strapped into that seat, the last thing I told them before I closed the canopy was, I don’t clean up backseat if they can’t handle it. Eric and I watched them taxi out and take off and then we went back into the work hanger until we would hear the sound of the Pratt & Whitney coming back.

After about 30 minutes we heard the sound of the T-6 coming into the pattern and Eric and I went out the back door to watch the break. Over the years we learned to judge how a flight went by how aggressive the break was, in this mornings case, it was a old lady break, slow and gentle. Carl taxied up to the hanger and Eric and I pushed the 6 back into the hanger before they even had a chance to get out. Carl got out of the plane and Bob just kind of sat there. We noticed that he was not his normal color and seemed to be a little dazed. I climbed up to help him get un strapped and found out the reason for the color change, Bob had made a amazing discovery during that flight, in that he found he could fit his entire breakfast, complete with coffee, into his shirt pocket. Bob later said he could not get to the airsick bag in time and remembered what I had told him, so he used what was the most readily available place, his pocket. Bob slowly got out and went to the restroom to clean up while Carl found a T-shirt for Bob to wear.
When Bob got back to the ready room Carl gave him the shirt and then the four of us debriefed the flight. At the end of the de-brief Carl pointed out that this was a very special flight, and was in fact, THE flight that defines what a fighter pilot was to be called for the rest of his life, and from now on, Some are know as Hunter, Sharpshooter, or other names that sound like they belong in the cockpit of a fighter, after today, Bob ( last name withheld to protect the guilty and easily embarrassed )would be known to us as “CHUCKER”.

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