Wayne Newton, Crazy Turbulence, and some pretty funny diversion humor
Bill Curry is a pilot’s pilot, a gentleman, and one damn funny story teller.
Bill knew when he was 8-years of age that he wanted to fly. He soloed at 16, earned a Private, Commercial, Instrument, Multiengine and was an instructor at 21. He was re-assigned at Clark Air Base in the Philippines to run, manage and give flight instruction as his full-time military job. He leveraged that experience to get hired at Air Midwest in Wichita flying twin turboprops. He later achieved his dream job flying for Midway Airlines on the mighty DC-9, rising to a Captain.
In typical Bill humor…Here are three stories sharing the lighter side of a career in aviation.
Story 1: My Scary Encounter With Clear Air Turbulence
This event happened sometime in the 1970’s when I flew for Air Midwest.
I was the First Officer on this trip and we had departed Denver Stapleton at night headed southeastward to Lamar, Colorado, located in the southeast corner of Colorado and it was about a 45-minute flight to Lamar. The night was crystal clear, no moon, and it was smooth as glass to the point that you’d never know you were even moving. I’m guessing we were about 50-miles northwest of Lamar and we were cleared to start our descent. We had talked with our people at Lamar and it was clear and there was no wind at all.
During the descent, everything was fine until we got about 35-miles northwest of the airport and out of nowhere we got a sudden but brief very strong jolt of turbulence and went back to smooth. About 40-seconds later ALL HELL broke loose. Until this night, I had NEVER experienced anything even close to what we went through. Like I said, it was crystal clear and the turbulence was so violent that it emptied the seat backs and side pockets and was so violent that we could barely read the instruments plus it was IMPOSSIBLE to even talk to Denver Center.
We were already secured in our shoulder harnesses, but when this hit, I was trying to get my shoulder harness even tighter and I was also pushing up on the cockpit ceiling with my right hand to keep myself in my seat. The Captain shouted, “Get on the throttles, get on the throttles!!” He had both hands on the controls and the airspeed was fluctuating violently from way up around 240 Knots down to as low as 140 Knots. In turbulence like that you fly ATTITUDE not ALTITUDE to prevent overstressing the aircraft. We were trying not to exceed the red line on the airspeed and trying to not stall the airplane either!!! This lasted roughly 2 to 3 ½ minutes and then it stopped instantly!!! You’d honestly have to experience this yourself to believe it, and it was the loosest feeling in the world. A lot of the time the instruments were a blur with all the violence!! If someone had been sitting in their seat without a seatbelt on, they would have either been killed or had broken bones!!!! Just the sound of the props that were changing pitch due to the violent surges in gusts was scary!
Denver Center KNEW we had a problem because they kept trying to call us and as soon as it ended, I called Denver Center and told them what happened. I have no memory of what our altitude was when this ended. We also elected to NOT land at Lamar but to continue on eastward to Garden City, Kansas, because if we had gotten back into this turbulence at a lower altitude on the approach into Lamar, we’d be dead!!! This was definitely a case of CAT (Clear Air Turbulence).
Well, Boy’s and girl’s, did this REALLY SCARE the HELL out of Mr. Bill and the Captain?????? Does a bear sh*t in the woods??? HELL YES IT SCARED THE HELL OUT OF US!!!! I never experienced this kind of turbulence ever again.
Next up: Wayne Newton In Omaha
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