Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dinner Party…and Other Visitors

Taking a short break from blogging about our busy September 2015 trips to Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina, this posting focuses on guests and dining at our home in East Tennessee…

Half of our little wine tasting group was scattered around the country when it was our turn to play host in January.  So Laurie and I decided to up the ante a bit and just have a dinner party with lots of wine on the side… From left to right are Dick and his wife Susan, Irv and his wife Martha and my better half, Laurie. 

As you can see we just had a “light dinner”!  We always overfeed so I always end up with a lot of lunch and sometimes even dinner leftovers!

We had started out our little soiree with mixed nuts, M&M’s, shrimp with cocktail sauce, Boursin cheese and crackers.  Susan brought the shrimp plate and a terrific salad with broccoli, cauliflower, bacon, raisins and onions with a nice homemade salad dressing.  Laurie breaded a pile of chicken breasts and thighs with Italian breadcrumbs and other spices and then baked them.  They were accompanied by 2 bowls of seasoned roasted red potatoes, gravy and a big basket of crusty dinner and rosemary sea salt rolls with butter.  

Martha is our “go to” dessert queen!  She certainly didn’t let us down.  The photo above is is a slice of her raspberry freezer pie with a graham cracker crust.  It was amazingly good and it was a great way to top off an evening of food, wine and conversation!  

We have had other visitors in recent days… These local whitetail deer stopped by to trim Laurie’s drift rose bushes in the front yard.  One of the does is keeping an eye on Laurie’s photo taking efforts.

Then they decided to help us with our pruning up close to the house.  One worked on this Loropetalum bush and the other spent her time trimming up our ‘monkey grass’.

One of our 4-legged dinner guests looked back to see if she and her fellow diners were still welcome.  Most of our plantings have never been hurt by our local deer population, except for the hostas which take a beating every year but keep on coming back to serve as a nice brunch when needed.  We do enjoy our most frequent locals…deer and wild turkey alike.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a bite to eat!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Vietnam “Experience” at Patriot’s Point SC

I never served in Vietnam but I know many former members of the military who did...and who suffered from it or still suffer from their serving in this most thankless American conflict.

This exhibit is a new addition for visitors to explore while visiting Patriot’s Point many points of interest.  I guess that this vignette of life for our troops in Vietnam is an ‘experience’ for visitors…but to those who served in combat in Southeast Asia this was a tragic war with no positive outcome.  Worse yet, our veterans of this war were reviled by many and their service and needs were ignored by most citizens as well as by our government when they returned. 

In the last few years, Vietnam Veterans have finally received some respect and heartfelt thanks for all of their sacrifices.  The first thing that visitors see as they approach the Vietnam Experience is this memorial with the dog tags for the 895 South Carolinians who died in the War.  We thought that this simple memorial was very moving and meaningful.

For a list of those South Carolinians who died during the Vietnam War, you can go to

Also on display near the main display at the Vietnam Experience is this, the most ubiquitous aircraft from that war.  The Bell HU-1M “Huey” served in a plethora of roles, from medevac to gunship.  A total of 7,023 Huey’s saw action during the war with 3,305 of them being destroyed.  1,705 Huey pilots and 1,103 other crew members died in war.

Staff members for Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum realized that this Huey (UH-1C 66-15005) had served in the Vietnam War and that during that time, a veteran had been killed in action aboard the aircraft.  The fallen hero was Kenneth M. Plavcan, a gunner in the 116th Assault Helicopter Company, 3rd Gun Platoon (“Stingers”).  This display is dedicated to his memory and his service…

This is a rare surviving US Navy Mark 1 Patrol Boat River (PBR) The Navy used small craft such as this in their efforts to control the rivers and estuaries throughout the Mekong Delta.  At the height of their use, about 250 were in service during the Vietnam War.

With a fiberglass hull and a water jet drive, these boats could reach speeds of about 30 mph and they were very maneuverable.  In addition to individual small arms, these boats had a twin 50 caliber machine gun forward and a single 50 aft.  Later versions also were equipped with a 40mm Mk. 19 grenade launcher.  They were not armored and relied on speed to escape nasty situations…


·       James Elliott Williams was a sailor of the United States Navy during the 1950s and 1960s.  He was the most highly decorated enlisted man in the history of the United States Navy, among which is a Medal of Honor.  This “Brown Water Navy exhibit” is dedicated to him.  The US Navy Destroyer, USS James E. Williams was also named in his honor.  To learn more about Chief Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Williams and his success with his Patrol Boats against the Viet Cong in the Mekong Delta, go to:

The overall concept or goal of the Vietnam Experience is to use state-of-the art technology and artifacts to give visitors the ‘feel’ of what it was like to live and work in a US Navy Advanced Tactical Support Base (Brown Water Navy) and a US Marine Corps Artillery Firebase during the Tet Offensive and the Battle of Khe Sahn in 1968.
The “base” includes vehicles, aircraft, an observation watchtower, barracks, mess hall, medical facility, command center, storage, ammunition dump, different bunkers, sound effects, etc.

This is one of the bunkers on the 2.5 acre Vietnam Experience base. 
Photos of the interior of the buildings just didn’t come out well.  While it’s hard to imagine the mud, insects, misery, as well as death and injury, one of the huts/bunkers featured a combined video and sound production complete with explosions, ground shaking, etc., in an attempt to give visitors the feeling of what it would have been like at the base during a major assault.  It was not a good feeling…and it did get our attention!

Visitors could climb up into the observation tower and ‘fire’ the 50 caliber machine gun at imaginary enemy forces.  For my taste, that position/duty station is a little exposed from the waist up!  The observer would be the best and most obvious target during an attack.  Those sandbags just wouldn’t do the trick…at least in my mind!

This Kaiser Jeep M725 is on display in the combined Naval/Marine base.  It’s a version of the basic Kaiser Jeep 715 model.  Between 1967 and 1969, over 33,000 trucks mostly small ones like this were produced for the military.  This ambulance could carry up to 5 stretchers…

The Battle of Khe Sahn was a long and bloody struggle.  It lasted from January 21 through July 9, 1968!  During this long battle, the Khe Sahn Combat Base and the hilltop outposts around it were surrounded and under constant North Vietnamese ground, artillery, mortar, and rocket attacks.  A total of 274 Americans were killed in this battle and another 2,541 were wounded. (Given the intensity of the battle, it’s a wonder that many more of our soldiers weren’t killed) Khe Sahn was eventually relieved by additional forces and then we withdrew from the area.  Thousands of North Vietnamese and American allied soldiers were also killed in this struggle…

This is another Bell UH-1 “Huey”.  This one is set up in MEDEVAC mode.  Typically, the crew consisted of 2 pilots, a medic and a crew chief.  Thanks to helicopters like this one, the average time to get a wounded soldier to medical support was about 35 minutes…

MEDVAC helicopters were kept very busy during the war with brave crews risking their lives over and over again to rescue wounded US and allied military personnel.  A total of 58,307 American military personnel were killed in action in this war with another 303,644 wounded.


·       All wars are tragic and Vietnam was no exception.  The war started with the French fighting the Vietnamese Nationalists back in 1955.  The war ended with America’s withdrawal in 1975…20 years of fighting.  Estimated war dead, civilian and military from both sides of the USA’s portion of the conflict have been estimated to be as high as 3,806,000! 

This gun emplacement would have been pretty standard.  The weapon is a M101 A1 Howitzer.  These standard light towed cannons/howitzers saw plenty of service beginning in World War II on through Vietnam.  The cannon fires a 105 mm that sends a 33 pound projectile up to 8 miles…


·       It is estimated that the USA and the South Vietnamese Army fired over 7,000,000 tons (or 14,000,000,000 pounds) of artillery shells at the enemy during the war!

This is an M-42 “Duster”.  This tracked self-propelled unit was developed for the Korean War and it was equipped as a mobile anti-aircraft platform.  Since the aerial threat never materialized in Vietnam, these vehicles were used on ground support missions.  The enemy referred to them as “Fire Dragons”.
About 3,700 M-42 Dusters were built.  

The "Duster" had a crew of 6 and weighs 49,500 lbs. fully loaded.  Maximum speed is 45 mph with a range of 100 miles.  The primary armament consists of fully automatic twin 40 mm M2A1 Bofors cannon that can shoot 240 rounds per minute… Due to minimal air threats, most often the M42 provided ‘on point’ security, convoy escort or perimeter defense as shown in this exhibit.

The Boeing Vertol tandem rotor CH-46 Sea Knight medium assault transport helicopter was introduced to the US Marine Corp in 1964.  In addition to troop or cargo transport, it was also used as a MEDEVAC unit.  In that role, it could transport 15 wounded and 2 medical corpsmen.  As a troop transport, it could carry 24 fully equipped soldiers…

A total of 524 CH-46 helicopters were built.  At least 100 of them were lost in action in Vietnam.  They conducted 200,000 missions and carried roughly 500,000 troops during the war.  These helicopters were not retired from the US Marine Corp until late 2014.


·       Raymond Michael Clausen Jr. was a United States Marine who received the Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam in January 1970. On a mission to rescue Marines trapped in a minefield and under attack by enemy, under heavy enemy fire Clausen repeatedly left the shelter of the Sea Knight, carrying out one dead and eleven wounded Marines…making six trips through the minefield until every Marine was extracted.

This Sikorsky UH-34D “Seahorse” helicopter is also on display within the base camp.  Originally developed as an anti-submarine helicopter for the US Navy, the “Seahorse” first flew in 1954.  During the early part of the Vietnam War, US Marines frequently used this aircraft for combat assault and other duties.  It could transport 18 fully equipped troops or 8 stretchers.  In other configurations, this helicopter was also named the “Choctaw”.

A total of 2,108 variations of the UH-34 were built over a 17 year period.  This was the last piston-engined helicopter to be operated by the Marine Corps.  This helicopter served with 25 different country’s armed forces around the world…on every continent.

The Vietnam Experience is a different type of memorial than the usual, that’s for sure.  It’s an attempt to give civilians a sense of what it was like for our military personnel during the Vietnam War.  It’s too clean and too pristine to truly represent the hell that that conflict was for our troops.  It does give one the feel of what a base might look like and what living there was like.  Of course, it’s missing the jungle, dampness, bugs and mud...not to mention the danger.
For us the key experience was watching the film, feeling the explosions and hearing the voices in the bunker with other visitors.  Scary stuff!  No matter how one feels about the politics and the outcome of the Vietnam War, our warriors deserve our thanks and gratitude! 

·       A total of 257 Medals of Honor were awarded to members of the United States Military Services based on service during the Vietnam War…about 162 of them posthumously.  In addition, over 1,000 Distinguished Services Crosses were awarded…400 posthumously.

For more on Patriot’s Point and its exhibits, you can go to  We’d highly recommend a visit to see the ships, planes and the Vietnam Experience!

That’s about it for now.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, February 5, 2016

Breakfast in Mount Pleasant SC!

We finally made it to one restaurant that I had on my ‘hot’ list for our visit to the Charleston South Carolina area… Even so, it’s one that I didn’t come up with on my own.  Our breakfast destination this morning had been highly recommended to us by Big Dude via an earlier posting on his blog site:

So…across the bridge to Mount Pleasant from Charleston we went!

This is Page’s Okra Grill in Mount Pleasant South Carolina.  It is an attractive restaurant and it’s quite expansive too with both indoor and outdoor seating.  We opted to eat indoors… There is also an outdoor bar and it had some early morning customers!

The Okra Grill was established in 2006 and it is definitely a family operation.  The head chef is Ashleigh Page and she works alongside her sister Courtney who’s the GM as well as their father, a brother and an aunt. 

On an average weekday, with a kitchen crew of 8 or 9 including 4 line chefs, this restaurant will serve breakfast to 1,000 guests!  We were glad that we aren’t early risers and, although the restaurant was still busy, we were seated right away.

Page’s Okra Grill serves breakfast from 6:30 AM to 11 AM Monday through Friday, until Noon on Saturday, and from 8 AM to 2 PM on Sunday.  Lunch and dinner are also on the menu from Monday through Saturday.

One of our entrees was the 2 Egg Breakfast with scrambled eggs, cheese and bacon accompanied by a side of Pimento Cheese Grits. ($9.00) It was very good and the grits were great!

No, I didn’t make a mistake.  This is the Pancake Breakfast.  It comes with 3 made from scratch buttermilk pancakes served with 2 eggs any style and your choice of Applewood smoked bacon, ham steak, sausage patties, or smoked links. ($9.50 with cheese in the scramble) With these big fluffy pancakes, this breakfast could keep someone going all day!  Another winner!

For some reason, either we didn’t take a photo of Laurie’s breakfast or it didn’t come out… She had the standard 2 Egg Breakfast with bacon, and home fries. ($7.00)

Note: We do prefer crispy hash browns vs. home fries but that isn’t an option at Page’s.  Their home fries are better than average... 

I went with something totally different for my breakfast!  I ordered one of Page’s Low Country Special Breakfasts.  This is the Fried Flounder and Eggs. ($9.00) Two lightly fried flounder fillets were served with 2 eggs easy-over plus I went with the home fries. It was a great breakfast!

Lest I forget, our breakfasts were accompanied by this basket of toast and biscuits. (Very nice biscuits they are too!)

Once again after reviewing the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus from Page’s Okra Grill, my only complaint is that there isn’t anything like it anywhere here in East Tennessee!  If lunch and dinner at Page’s is comparable to the quality of breakfast, this place could “own” the Knoxville metropolitan marketplace…

Thanks to Big Dude for the heads up recommendation!  We would highly recommend Page’s Okra Grill to anyone traveling to the Charleston area.  This restaurant is located at 302 Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant South Carolina.  Phone: 843-881-3333.  Web Site:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for breakfast!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Naval Aircraft on Display – Patriot’s Point SC

The variety of military exhibits at Patriot’s Point South Carolina is wide ranging.  The focus is mid-20th century American history and besides the USS Yorktown, the USS Laffey and the USS Clamagore, there are 4 other primary exhibits or attractions.  There is an Apollo 8 Mission Exhibit, the Vietnam Experience and the impressive Medal of Honor Exhibit. (Those stories and our hero’s accomplishments are a bit mind-blowing)

In addition there are the historic Naval Aircraft…

There are 9 different aircraft on display on the huge hangar deck of the USS Yorktown.  Other displays include the Apollo 8 Exhibit, anti-aircraft weapons, battle photos, etc.

The Grumman F9F–6 “Cougar” began flying from aircraft carriers in 1952.  It was an updated version of the earlier F9F “Panther”.  The “Cougar” replaced the “Panther's” straight wing with a more modern swept wing.  There were several variants to this aircraft.  This model is a F9F–8T.

A total of 1,392 of these aircraft were built.  They were introduced into service too late for the Korean War and the only combat they ever saw was when 4 “Cougars” served as fast-Forward Air Control aircraft during the Viet Nam War.  Their top speed was 704 miles per hour.  More than 20 variations of the “Cougar” are on display across the USA…with one additional aircraft on display in Argentina.

On to some real combat work horses!  The Douglas A -1/AD “Skyraider” first joined the US Navy and Marines in 1946, too late for service in World War II.  A total of 3,180 “Skyraiders” were built before production ceased in 1957.  This attack aircraft served the Navy and Marines in the Korean War, with 101 of them being shot down.  In Vietnam, the US Air Force also flew these planes.  Between the 3 military services, the US lost 266 “Skyraiders” during this war.

·       Although the “Skyraider” isn’t a fighter plane, during the Vietnam War, they did manage to shoot down 2 MiG-17 fighter jets despite the fact that their top speed was only 322 miles per hour.

·       Vietnam inherited most of these planes as the USA phased them out of service to be replaced by jet aircraft.  Great Britain, Sweden and Great Britain also purchased a number of these planes.

·       Some “Skyraiders” eventually found homes with 3rd world air forces.  The last of these aircraft was retired in 1985 by the Gabonese Air Force.

The Grumman F6F “Hellcat” was the primary fighter plane for the US Navy during World War II.  This aircraft was best known for its role as a rugged, well-designed carrier fighter which was able to help secure air superiority over the Pacific Theater.  The quality of the “Hellcat’s” basic simple, straightforward design was proven by the fact that the “Hellcat” was the least modified fighter of the war.  A total of 12,200 of these planes were built in just over two years!


·       The “Hellcat” was credited with destroying 5,223 enemy aircraft during World War II, more than any other naval aircraft.  They had a top speed of 291 miles per hour…

·       The US Navy’s all time ‘ace’, Captain David McCampbell, flew the “Hellcat”, shooting down a total of 34 Japanese aircraft.

To me as a non-pilot, the Vought F4U “Corsair” has always been one of my favorite aircraft.  It just looks sleek and ready to go…like a fine race car!  I never had enough patience to build very many model airplanes but I did have a model “Corsair” for several years…

From delivery of the first prototype to the U.S. Navy in 1940, to final delivery in 1953 to the French military, 12,571 F4U “Corsairs” were manufactured by Vought in 16 separate models.  This was the longest production run of any piston-engine fighter in U.S. history.

·       Due to some issues with carrier landings, most of the “Corsairs” in the USA were flown by land based Marine pilots.  However, British, French, and New Zealand air forces also used this aircraft.  The Royal Navy actually solved the carrier landing issue. 

·       The “Corsair” continued on to significantly contribute to our efforts in the Korean War.  It had a top speed of 417 miles per hour.

The Grumman TBF/TBM “Avenger” was a torpedo bomber developed initially for the United States Navy and Marine Corps.  Eventually it was used by several air and naval aviation services around the world.

The “Avenger” entered U.S. service in 1942, and first saw action during the Battle of Midway. Despite the loss of 5 of the 6 “Avengers” on its combat debut, it survived to become one of the outstanding torpedo bombers of World War II.  Greatly modified after the war, it remained in use until the 1960s.


·       A total of 9,839 “Avengers” were built.  In addition to the USA, they served in the Royal Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

·       In June 1943, George H. W. Bush was commissioned as the youngest naval aviator at the time.  While flying his “Avenger” from a carrier in the Pacific, he was shot down on September 2, 1944 over the island of Chichi Jima.  He managed to release his payload and hit the radio tower target before being forced to bail out over water.  Both of his crew mates died.  He later received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

·       Actor Paul Newman was a rear gunner on an “Avenger” during World War II.

I didn’t know much about this aircraft although I had heard of it… The Douglas SBD “Dauntless” was a naval scout plane and dive bomber that was manufactured by Douglas Aircraft from 1940 through 1944.  The SBD ("Scout Bomber Douglas") was the United States Navy's main carrier-borne scout plane and dive bomber from mid-1940 through mid-1944.  The “Dauntless” was also flown by the United States Marine Corp, both from land air bases and aircraft carriers.  5,936 of these aircraft were built.


·       The “Dauntless” is best remembered as the bomber that delivered the fatal blows to the Japanese aircraft carriers at the Battle of Midway in June 1942.

·       This aircraft had relatively heavy armament—with two forward-firing .50 in M2 Browning machine guns and either one or two rear flexible-mount .30 cal. AN/M2 machine guns.  Because of this, they were effective against the lightly-built Japanese fighters, and many pilots and gunners took aggressive attitudes when they were attacked.  One pilot—Stanley "Swede" Vejtasa—was attacked by 3 A6M2 Zero fighters.  He shot 2 of them down and cut off the wing of the third in a head-on pass with his wingtip!  Yikes!

I should note that the Hanger Deck also features a B-25B “Mitchell” Bomber.  However, it was very hard to photograph as it’s mounted up in the air against the ceiling … You may remember that the B-25 first gained fame as the bomber used in the 18 April 1942 ‘Doolittle Raid’.  Taking off from the carrier USS Hornet, 16 B-25Bs led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle attacked mainland Japan, only 4 months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

From the Hanger Deck, we moved up onto the Fight Deck… That’s where relatively ‘newer’ naval aircraft are displayed.  While these more modern planes are amazing, I really do prefer the piston driven variety. 

The Grumman E-1B “Tracer” was the first purpose built airborne early warning aircraft used by the United States Navy.  They were introduced in 1958 and they were retired in 1977.  Only 88 were built.  Four others are preserved in museums across the United States.

The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F/A-18 “Hornet” is a twin-engine supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multi-role combat jet, designed as both a fighter and attack aircraft.  It was first introduced in 1984 and variations of this aircraft are still in service with the US Navy and Marine Corps as well as the Air Forces of Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland. 


·       Over 1,500 F/A-18 “Hornets” have been built to date.  They have a top speed of Mach 1.8 or 1,190 miles per hour.

·       The US Navy's Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron switched to the F/A-18 “Hornet” in 1986.  To qualify as a Blue Angels pilot, aviators must have 1,400 hours of flight time as well as an aircraft carrier certification.

The SH-3 “Sea King” (S-61) is a twin-engined anti-submarine warfare helicopter designed and built by Sikorsky Aircraft.  It was the world's first amphibious helicopter.  The US Navy began using the “Sea King” in 1961 and they finally retired them from service in 2006. 

The “Sea King” has also been popular in civil service and with foreign military customers.  As of 2015, many remain in service in nations around the world.  The “Sea King” has been built under license by Agusta in Italy, Mitsubishi in Japan, and by Westland in the United Kingdom. 


·       Several “Sea Kings”, operated by the United States Marine Corps's HMX-1 unit, are used as the official helicopters of the President of the United States.  In this role, the call sign 'Marine One' is used by the helicopter that is occupied by the President.

The Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 “Corsair II” was a carrier-capable subsonic light attack aircraft that was introduced to replace the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk.  This plane entered service with the US Navy during the Vietnam War.  It was later adopted by the US Air Force, including the Air National Guard, to replace the Douglas A-1 “Skyraider”, North American F-100 “Super Sabre” and Republic F-105 “Thunderchief”.

A total of 1,569 “Corsair II’s” were built with the first aircraft being introduced into the navy in 1967.  The last active aircraft was retired from the Air National Guard in 1993.  This attack aircraft served in both the Portuguese and Grecian Air Forces…

This is one ‘older’ plane that had grabbed my attention when I was younger…maybe because it was ‘different’.   The Douglas A-3 “Skywarrior” was designed as a strategic bomber for the US Navy.  It also was among the longest serving carrier-based aircraft in history.  It entered service in the mid-1950s and wasn’t retired until 1991.  

Throughout its service, the “Skywarrior” was the heaviest operational aircraft to operate from aircraft carriers, earning its nickname "The Whale."  This planes primary function for much of its later service life was as an electronic warfare platform, tactical air reconnaissance platform, and as a high capacity aerial refueling tanker.


·       A total of 282 “Skywarriors” were built.  Fully loaded, one of these aircraft could weight over 40 tons at takeoff.
·       “Skywarriors” remained in service long enough to participate in the first Gulf War in 1991.

The Vought F-8U “Crusader” was a single-engine, supersonic, carrier-based air superiority jet aircraft built by Vought for the US Navy and Marine Corps, as well as for the French Navy.  The first F-8 prototype was ready for flight in February 1955.  The F-8 served principally in the Vietnam War.

Introduced into active service in 1957, the last “Crusader” was retired by the United States in 1987 although France didn’t retire theirs until 2000.  1,219 of these planes were built and they could reach speeds of 1,225 miles per hour.


·       The “Crusader” was the last American fighter with guns as the primary weapon.  This earned it the title "The Last of the Gunfighters".

·       The RF-8 “Crusader” was a photo-reconnaissance development of the original aircraft and it operated longer in U.S. service than any of the fighter versions.  RF-8s played a crucial role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, providing essential low-level photographs impossible to acquire by other means at that time…

The Grumman S-2 “Tracker” was the first purpose-built, single airframe anti-submarine warfare aircraft to enter service with the U.S. Navy.  It was introduced in 1952 and was in service until the mid-1970s.  The “Tracker is closely related to the “Tracer” as previously shown… 1,185 “Trackers” were built by Grumman.  Many other countries operated this aircraft as part of their naval program and at least 3 navies still have them in service.


·       You may have seen 1 of these aircraft on television during California’s firefighting season.  By 2005 all of CAL FIRE’s air tanker fleet of “Trackers” had been converted to S-2T air tankers with turbo-prop engines.

The good news is that if you’re still with me, you may be happy to know that this is the next to last photo that I included in this posting.  I only have solid photos of 9 of the 12 aircraft that are exhibited on the flight deck…

This is the Grumman F-14 “Tomcat”.  It is a supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft.  The F-14 was the first of the American teen-series fighters, which were designed based on the experience of air combat against MiG fighters during the Vietnam War.  The “Tomcat” first deployment in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard USS Enterprise, serving as the navy’s primary maritime air superiority fighter, fleet defense interceptor and tactical aerial reconnaissance platform. 

A total of 712 “Tomcats” were built between 1969 and 1991.  This aircraft could reach speeds of 1,544 miles per hour or Mach 2.34!  The F-14s were retired from the U.S. Navy’s active fleet in 2006.


·       One of the foreign purchasers of these aircraft was the Shah of Iran.  As of November 2015, Iranian F-14's were known to be flying escort for Russian Tu-95 bombers on airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (ISIS)

I’ll end this posting with this work horse for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corp. The Douglas A-4 “Skyhawk” is a single seat carrier-capable attack aircraft developed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps.  It was introduced into service in 1956 and it wasn’t retired by the navy until 2003.  The A-4's were well loved by their crews for being tough and agile. These attributes, along with their low purchase and operating cost as well as easy maintenance certainly contributed to their popularity and length of service.

·       In addition to the United States, at least 3 other nations have used A-4 “Skyhawks” in combat…Argentina, Israel and Kuwait.  Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil also purchased this aircraft.

·       A total of 2,960 A-4 “Skyhawks” were built.  Argentina and Brazil both still fly modified A-4's…60 years after this aircraft was first introduced!

That’s about it for now… But think about all of the brave aviators who have flown these historic aircraft in battle…and all of those who died on our behalf!  This display of aircraft on the USS Yorktown is really designed to honor them… I can’t even imagine the bravery it took to fly an “Avenger” Torpedo Bomber low above the Pacific Ocean, attacking a Japanese aircraft carrier or battleship, with the enemy blazing away at you…mind boggling!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to view the aircraft!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave