The 2011 Trip
Part 51 – Blackbird – Lear Jet and Joan's chair

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Darn it, we failed to mention one of the more important parts in yesterdays report at the air museum. We were unable to find any former radio operators that knew anything about the radio equipment in the various aircraft. One former member showed me the location of the radio station in a B17 from the ground looking up into her bomb bay. No one was allowed in any of the aircraft and those with whom we spoke stated there was not likely any radio equipment in any of them. Most of the aircraft had been used for many things after their military service. One former B17 crew member said they had been flying around the East Coast prior to going to England during the war. He said when they got to England their radio operators were still able to contact the East Coast stations.

The Grasshopper on display was painted all red for some unknown reason. We felt they were all khaki. The one thing we do know is that the Grasshopper was fitted with radiotelegraph but they found it too cumbersome so removed it. They replaced those radio stations with the very high frequency radiotelephone stations fitted in their Jeeps. The Grasshopper carried a pilot and an observer/radio operator in the back seat.

It was a most interesting day and we should have had this included in that days report.


This is Lockheed's SR-71 Blackbird at the museum that was in service from 1966 until 1998. The Blackbird replaced the U2. We worked the U2 over the Yukon and probably were the last to talk to it before it entered Soviet Territory. They were coming and going like a bat out of hell but were so far up we had great range with them. They sounded as though they were using throat microphones. A microphone strapped to their throat rather than the hand held or boom variety. We worked them on an ultra high frequency around 260 megahertz.

Today was another beautiful warm sunny day. We were a bit lazy and it took us awhile to get our day going. We went to the Apache Junction RV store and managed a deal on a good lawn chair for Joan. We then came back to the grocery store and restocked our larder. After that Joan drove her new chair out in the sun while I sat and talked to her in my old chair. Her new chair has working brakes that did not work on the one we took back. There is nothing worse than bad brakes on a nice chair. One would likely get hurt if they fell to sleep in one with bad brakes.


We would like to go back to this photo with the Grasshopper in it that we used in yesterday's report. There is a wealth of history in this photo. The red aircraft on the left is the Beech 18 CF-BKN and the grey aircraft behind it is a Lockheed 10E. That is an aircraft identical to the one that Amelia Earhart disappeared in. That girl did well to get as far as she did with the little she knew about what she was doing. Do not take my word for it. Study it up and form your own opinion.

The white aircraft on the right with red trim is a Learjet. George Weiderholt brought one into Yellowknife in 1966 when he was flying for Executive Jets out of Columbus, Ohio. He had some people on board for a tour of the mines around Yellowknife. He came into the radio room and asked if we wanted to go for a ride. He took us up to 41,000 feet above Great Slave Lake. What a view and what a ride. It was magnificent! One of those clear sunny spring days in the north forty five years ago that seems like forty five minutes ago.

The Lear Jet was designed and built by Bill Lear. Bill was the guy who made the first car radios and apparently received so much money for each car radio built from his patents. Like he said no one told him parts that small would not work. Bill was quite a guy and also designed and built the 8-track tape players. Remember them? Someone mentioned to Bill that no one could stand in his jets. Bill simply said no one could stand in a Cadillac car.


This is today's sunset. We simply stood on the patio at the door of the trailer and took it over Paula and Augie's trailer. They have terrific sunsets out here.

We made it to the dumpster and back with my knee brace on. My knee is feeling the effects of all the walking yesterday. The mail box held our bill for electricity, sewer, water and trash collection. We still have to pay it even though we carry it up every evening.

It was a beautiful clear moonlight evening. A great evening for walking and another great day is history.

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