LUCK & TIMING
Web site: www. glennklein.com
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Aviation connected events in the author's life have shaped his strong opinion
that Life for each of us is the result of the events that have come about during
our individual lives. Many of the author's flying experiences could have
resulted in great injury or even death had they happened at the wrong place or
at the wrong time.
Airplane characteristics, weather, and equipment peculiarities often were
serious contributors to less than satisfactory flights. Success or failure with
daily events sometimes has less to do with smartly using our brain.
Certainly any existing pilot, student pilot, or someone who is interested in
aviation will enjoy reading about how pilots in their light airplanes went about
doing things during the Great Depression years, through World War II, and
up until recent time. A discussion about airports, prominent aviation persons
that the author has known, weather conditions, and various airplanes that the
author has flown are included. Flying equipment and flying methods have
greatly changed over the years.
During World War II Glenn and his brother bought the surplus Ryan PT-22
pictured below. It had been used as a primary trainer for many World War II
pilots. This airplane was a joy to fly because it was made for performing
aerobatics, which the author and his brother Ken often practiced.
The author learned how to fly during World War II and first flew solo in
February of 1945 when he was seventeen years old. His great interest in
airplanes has been apparent since the age of five when he began making and
flying model airplanes. After serving in the Army Air Force he earned his
Commercial Pilot License and Flight Instructor rating through the benefits he
received under the G.I. Bill of Rights. His Instrument Rating was paid for out
of pocket. Hi Seaplane Rating was earned at Fairbanks Alaska.
The author and his brother Ken restored and recovered the small two-place
orange & yellow 1941 model Aeronca Chief, also pictured below. The author
flew this airplane from San Francisco to Fairbanks Alaska in 1951, a trip that
required four days and forty hours of flying time. He became a Bush Pilot for
Fairbanks Air Service where he trained pilots and flew people and cargo to
small Alaskan villages.
1941 Aeronca Chief Ryan PT-22
BOOK REVIEW Wayman Dunlap, Ed. of Pacific Flyer aviation newspaper.
Of course there were no radios to worry about, no complicated navigation
instruments. weather forecasting in those days wasn't quite as complex as it is
today. This is the meat of the story. What it was like to fly around the country
in a variety of simple airplanes such as Cubs, Aeroncas, Ercoupes, when the
best you could hope for was a tailwind (he seldom got one, he said) and clear
skies. Just getting the airplane to start was an accomplishment, as most had to
be hand-propped....no starters were installed.
He had his share of turbulence, bad weather, uncertain instruments, periods of
being lost, and some true aviation adventures. He does a yeoman's job of
bringing the reader along with him. Like most of us, he has some vivid
memories and some not quite so clear, but he is in his 80's now although you
would never know it from talking to him. We asked him his motivation in
writing the book. "The short version would be, that I came to realize that I
had experienced many events that could have seriously hurt me, and most of
the events have been connected to airplanes or aviation in some way, "he said.
We asked him if he thought today's students with access to GPS navigation,
real time weather, and much more reliable electric start airplanes are better or
worse pilots than those of his early days. "Today's pilots are good at doing
what they have to be good at now, but I do not think they are better."
"However, I would call the flying of years ago to be truly flying the airplane."
"Today's pilots are more jugglers of gauges, radios, and indicators to be
managed, so that they indicate what flying is suppose to be," was his answer.
We can sympathize, particularly when planning a cross country flight in a J-3
Cub or an Ercoupe. He did not have VOR's, GPS's or radios, but he did have
good sectional charts. He learned to navigate by landmarks, what he saw on
the ground and on his chart, watching which way the cows were standing (cows
always stand upwind), and watching how the smoke was blowing. The
compass was more of a trend indicator than a true navigation device in those
Luck & Timing will give you a true appreciation of what it was like to aviate
when there were very few rules, but a lot more airports. Pilots were thought of
as heroes. In some ways they truly were, and this one hero's story is of
surviving everything that primitive flying could throw at him.