Jim attended the University of Kansas and enrolled in Navy ROTC. Although he was promised an assignment as a pilot, he was initially assigned as a Naval Flight Officer (back seater). He flew the EA-6B Prowler out of Whidbey Island, WA. In the EA-6B, he flew combat missions in Bosnia.
After his assignment, he finally got his slot to pilot training. As a pilot, he flew the EC-3, and electronic version of the P-3. He followed that assignment as a T-34 instructor in the Naval Training Command at Corpus Christi, TX. He flew 700 hours per year. He loved being an instructor, and decided that would be his future. He flew as an instructor for 15 years, amassing 3600 hours in the aircraft.
After the Navy, Jim worked for an aerospace engineering company in Corpus Christi and flew for the Reserves. He enjoyed the environment at the engineering company, but missed full-time flying. For a short time he flew for JetBlue Airlines, but after a short time he had to leave for a family emergency.
After JetBlue, he went to Iraq as a volunteer Individual Augmentee in the reserves. He was embedded with the army looking for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
After Iraq, he flew 10 2-month tours in Afghanistan as a contractor flying King Air aircraft. He became an instructor almost immediately.
Finally, Jim was hired by a legacy airline, where he now flies.
Jim has written his autobiography, Plans That Make God Laugh.
In Ready For Takeoff Podcast Episode 413 we discussed safe air travel during this COVID-19 pandemic. I'm not going to repeat all of the information from that podcast, but want to discuss some additional information that may be useful to you if you plan to travel by air this holiday season.
Some airlines are now administering COVID tests to passengers.
Bring your own food and drink.
Consider using a security bin bag liner Bin Bag
Bring an extra N95 mask. Use eyelash adhesive.
Avoid getting close to strangers. Choose window seat, preferably in last row.
Check out your airline's safety rating.
On your return post-Thanksgiving flight, there is an increased risk that your seat-mate will be an asymptomatic carrier. According to the Washington Post, "At the county level nationwide, the average estimated risk of running into a coronavirus-positive person at a 10-person gathering is just a hair under 40 percent. That’s a pretty high number — if you take five of next week’s Thanksgiving gatherings, you can expect that a coronavirus-positive person will be at two of them."
After flying planes around the world together for years, married couple Joe and Margrit Fahan co-piloted their last flight on August 13.
The Fahans have both been pilots for more than 30 years and have been co-pilots on a Delta Airbus A330-300 aircraft for the past six years.
The couple met while they were flying for the same commuter airline in New Jersey in the early 1980s. At the time, both Joe and Margrit were married to other spouses. Years later, when they were both single, they ran into each other again.
The Fahans got married in 1992 and had two sons, both of whom went on to become pilots.
The pilot couple met in the early '80s.
When the coronavirus pandemic impacted travel in the US earlier in the year, their once-busy flight schedule was almost entirely grounded. They flew just a handful of flights after mid-March.
"When COVID hit, everything shut down. It just really came to a screeching halt, especially international travel," Joe told Insider.
In July, the couple accepted an offer made by Delta Air Lines to retire early due to the lack of flights. Joe, 63, was nearing the required commercial airline pilot retirement age of 65, but Margrit, 60, still had a few years left in the career.
"I still might do something else. I am enjoying a little bit of time off here and there, but I'm looking for other opportunities," Margrit said.
The Fahans can look back on many years of co-piloting memories and stories.
In the video, the couple documented the experience of receiving a water salute, an aviation tradition to honor airline service in which fire hoses spray arcs of water over the plane.
Some people have asked the Fahans how they managed to work together as a married couple.
"We do get some people saying, 'I could never work with my spouse,'" Joe said. "My usual answer to them is: 'One day you're gonna be retired, and you'll have to get along with them then.'"
The couple is enjoying retirement but said they are open to future opportunities in aviation.
In 1970, the US had identified the names of over 500 American POWs who were being held by the North Vietnamese. Sources reported that these prisoners were being held in atrocious conditions and were being cruelly treated by their captors. That June, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle G. Wheeler, authorized the formation a fifteen-member planning group to address the issue. Operating under the codename Polar Circle, this group studied the possibility of conducting a night raid on a North Vietnamese POW camp and found that an attack on the camp at Son Tay was feasible and should be attempted.
Son Tay Raid Training
Two months later, Operation Ivory Coast commenced to organize, plan, and train for the mission. Overall command was given to Air Force Brigadier General LeRoy J. Manor, with Special Forces Colonel Arthur "Bull" Simons leading the raid itself. While Manor assembled a planning staff, Simons recruited 103 volunteers from the 6th and 7th Special Forces Groups. Based at Eglin Air Force Base, FL, and working under the name "Joint Contingency Task Group," Simons' men began studying models of the camp and rehearsing the attack on a full-size replica.
While Simons' men were training, the planners identified two windows, October 21 to 25 and November 21 to 25, which possessed the ideal moonlight and weather conditions for the raid. Manor and Simons also met with Admiral Fred Bardshar to set up a diversionary mission to be flown by naval aircraft. After 170 rehearsals at Eglin, Manor informed the Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird, that all was ready for the October attack window. Following a meeting at the White House with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, the raid was delayed until November.
Son Tay Raid Planning
After using the extra time for further training, JCTG moved to its forward bases in Thailand. For the raid, Simons selected 56 Green Berets from his pool of 103. These men were divided into three groups each with a different mission. The first was the 14-man assault group, "Blueboy," which was to land inside the camp compound. This would be supported by the 22-man command group, "Greenleaf," which would land outside, then blow a hole in the compound wall and support Blueboy. These were supported by the 20-man "Redwine" which was to provide security against North Vietnamese reaction forces.
Son Tay Raid Execution
The raiders were to approach the camp by air aboard helicopters with fighter cover above to deal with any North Vietnamese MiGs. All told, 29 aircraft played a direct role in the mission. Due to the impending approach of Typhoon Patsy, the mission was moved up one day to November 20. Departing their base in Thailand at 11:25 PM on November 20, the raiders had an uneventful flight to the camp as the Navy's diversionary raid had achieved its purpose. At 2:18 AM, the helicopter carrying Blueboy successfully crash landed inside the compound at Son Tay.
Racing from the helicopter, Captain Richard J. Meadows led the assault team in eliminating the guards and securing the compound. Three minutes later, Col. Simons landed with Greenleaf approximately a quarter mile from their intended LZ. After attacking a nearby North Vietnamese barracks and killing between 100 to 200, Greenleaf re-embarked and flew to the compound. In Greenleaf's absence, Redwine, led by Lieutenant Colonel Elliott P. “Bud” Sydnor, landed outside Son Tay and executed Greenleaf's mission as per the operation's contingency plans.
After conducting a thorough search of the camp, Meadows radioed "Negative Items" to the command group signaling that no POWs were present. At 2:36, the first group departed by helicopter, followed by the second nine minutes later. The raiders arrived back in Thailand at 4:28, approximately five hours after departing, having spent a total of twenty-seven minutes on the ground.
Jeff became a USAF fighter pilot flying the venerable A-10 Thunderbolt, also known as the “Warthog”. He was stationed with the 18th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Eilson AFB in Fairbanks, Alaska.
While there, he qualified as one of the youngest 4-ship flight leaders in the entire squadron. He served as an instructor and was also combat search and rescue qualified. He won numerous Top Gun awards for air-to-ground bombing and gunnery. Due to Jeff’s outgoing, personable, always smiling, eager to please personality, his squadron mates quickly gave him his callsign “Odie” aptly named after the popular cartoon Garfield’s sidekick.
Now, few people know Jeff by his first name…but simply call him “ODIE.”
After 6 years of dedicated service in the Air Force, Odie decided to fulfill another lifelong dream by becoming an airline pilot. He began his career with Delta Air Lines in 1992, where he currently flies international routes out of Atlanta, GA.
Amid his tenure as an airline pilot, Odie also flew a 1943 T-6 “Texan ” on the airshow circuit. A tragic accident took the life of his brother, as well as the life of the pilot. This significant event in Odie’s life ignited the spark that helped create what TargetLeadership is today.
Odie has three children whom he is immensely proud of, a daughter two sons.
At the Academy, she was the first woman to command basic training and the first woman Vice Wing Commander. She graduated in 1982 as a Distinguished Graduate (magna cum laude equivalent). Wilson earned a Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford and continued her education at Jesus College, earning an M.Phil. and D.Phil. in international relations by 1985.
In 1990, Oxford University Press published her book, International Law and the Use of Force by National Liberation Movements, which won the 1988 Paul Reuter Prize of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
An Air Force officer for seven years, Wilson was a negotiator and political adviser to the U.S. Air Force in the United Kingdom, and a defense planning officer for NATO in Belgium, where her work included arms control negotiations.
She is the 24th Secretary of the Air Force and in this position responsible for the matters of the Air Force Department, including the organization, training, equipping and supplying 685,000 active, guard, reserve and civilian personnel and their families. She supervises the Air Force’s yearly budget of more than $ 138 billion and leads strategy and policy development, risk management, weapons procurement, technology investments and human resources management within a global enterprise.
Wilson is an instrument rated private pilot. She is married to Jay Hone, an attorney and retired Air National Guard Colonel. They have three adult children.
Craig Pope was inspired to fly from his father's example - his father waas the pilot for his state's governor. He attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, then joined the Air National Guard, flying F-4's, then F-16s.
He's been a pilot with a legacy airline for 30 years. He was hired in 1991, starting out as a DC-8 Flight Engineer, and progressed through the fleets and seats, and now flies as a Captain on the Airbus.
Pontiff also designs challenge coins, and has created more than 50 different coins.
Elizabeth “Liz” Ruth is a research pilot at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. She flies the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a modified Boeing 747SP with the world’s largest airborne astronomical observatory.
Prior to joining Armstrong’s flight operations in 2016, Ruth was a legislative assistant for San Luis Obispo County in California from 2013 to 2015.
In Ruth’s earlier career, she was a United Airlines flight officer on the B737-300, B757, B767 and B777 aircraft. She also worked for the company as a simulator and academic instructor for the B737-300 and was on the development team for the B737-300 Fleet Computer Based Training and Advanced Qualification Training Program.
Before joining United, Ruth was an active duty pilot of the U.S. Air Force, where she served as instructor pilot, check pilot and aircraft commander for the T-38 and T-43 from 1981 to1989. She concluded her military career with the rank of captain.
Ruth earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She also earned a Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where she attended classes at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, California.
Kerry McCauley’s life of adventure started out in the Minnesota National Guard as a UH-1H “Huey” crew chief and winter survival instructor. He then moved on to becoming an international ferry pilot, professional skydiver and corporate jet pilot. His career as a ferry pilot has taken him to 60 countries, over three oceans and six continents. Kerry is frequently invited to speak about his adventures as a ferry pilot and his starring role in two seasons of the Discovery Channel’s series Dangerous Flights. He’s flown almost 50 different types of aircraft, has 9000 hours of flight time and 20,000 skydives. Kerry currently lives in Wisconsin with his wife Cathy. They own and operate a skydiving school along with their children, Claire and Connor.
Kerry McCauley has the job most pilots can only dream of: delivering small used aircraft to locations around the world. In his 30 years as an international ferry pilot, Kerry has delivered almost every kind of airplane you can name to almost every location you can think of. In his long career Kerry battled fuel system malfunctions over the Atlantic, a total electrical failure at night over the Sahara, getting lost over Africa and getting struck by lightning off the coast of Portugal. Not to mention losing his engine and having to fly dead stick in a thunderstorm. Kerry's almost insatiable, reckless quest for danger and adventure also led to putting international smuggler and bank robber on his resume. Kerry found the answer to the question "What could possibly go wrong?" time and time again. But his skill, ingenuity and a heavy dose of luck were what allowed him to survive the countless mishaps, catastrophes, close calls and a nearly fatal plane crash. While Ferry Pilot is a riveting account of one man's crazy thirst for thrills and adventure, it's also a portrait of a brave and devoted family man who lost many close friends, including his first wife, to the dangerous skies.