Flying the skies for better times

This year is about in the books. Were it not for turning 60 next year, I’d say: “Yeah, get it on!” But I think I will need the almost 10 months before hitting that mark to prepare. You know, I’ve been saying: “You’re getting old” for some time. Damned if it isn’t really happening now.

I ruminate over this subject, not in the cud-chewing sense, because this year wasn’t one of the best. Like other years it has had its good parts and bad ones. But these type of things usually balance out. Not so much this year. Up until 2014, for the past nine years, I have pretty well written on this blog something at least once per day on weekdays. That hasn’t been the case this year.

The reasoning is a combination of all the crap that was heaped upon my life, and death. The latter being the double whammy of losing two brothers within two months of each other. A knee injury and the workers compensation system I faced caused an extended length of time in pain waiting for surgery then physical therapy. I still have mobility issues with the knee. I went through the hassle today of attempting to locate a place to tie my shoelace because the knee doesn’t work properly. I also started a steady schedule in my part-time job that is 32 hours per week. That’s almost a real job. Combined with my duties as a regional vice president for my Union local, it actually is more than a full-time job at times.

And on and on. You don’t want to hear my tales of woe and I don’t particularly care to relive them. But this is just my way of saying I want to do more on the blog. Maybe overhaul it a bit. I haven’t added or taken away a bookmark in quite awhile. That changes today.

I am including on my list of bookmarks a link to a site called It is not a political site nor humor nor any of the categories I generally seek out for a read. GlobalAir is a reference site for the aviation world. Why do I care about that? First of all, I find this a site of great potential to search when I need information about aircraft and pilots. I am not a pilot, by the way. I once was a nervous flyer. But during one time during my full-time career as a reporter I was tasked to write about transportation. It happened to be a rich environment because one of our “neighbors” in my newspaper’s area happened to be George W. Bush.

I found myself writing many times about “TFRs,” for Temporary Flight Restrictions, which were least restricted when the President was in Washington and increased to the point that at least two general aviation airports were shut down whenever some high-powered leader came to see “W” at the Crawford ranch. I might just have enough information to write a book of potential pitfalls when a President decides to live in your town or decides to become President while he lives in your town. It’s not exactly a cakewalk.

So, a gentleman from introduced me to the site and asked if I would be interested in linking my blog to it. appears as if it has a load of useful information for me as a journalist and I can only imagine how helpful the site could be for one who’s livelihood is in aviation.

We are almost to a new year and I’m not 60 until next October. So I am getting an early start to 2015 with hopes of making it much better than the last year. I can’t say adding a link about aviation will do it, but it is is a place to take off.

Southwest 737 lands eight miles short of destination

All over the news today, the errant landing of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 at an airport near Branson, Mo.

Southwest Flight 4013 had been scheduled to land at the Branson Airport. It instead landed at the M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport — a.k.a. Clark-Tanney Co. Airport — some eight miles away and with a runway almost half of the size of the Branson facility.  The Springfield News-Leader website reported that the Southwest jet took off today without incident. The aviation website reported that the plane landed some 30 minutes later at the Tulsa International Airport in Oklahoma.

While this can be chalked up to one of those “Oops” moments — and was by some news outlets — the safe landing had the potential for disaster as the 737-700 came to rest only “a few hundred feet” from a 50-foot gravel embankment at the end of the runway, according to the News-Leader story by Thomas Gounley. The story and the initial one by Claudette Riley provided the best coverage of the incident I have seen in reading some of the Missouri, AP and network stories on the Web. Hey, trust me, I was a journalist  for some 20 years and covered several of these breaking news events that received national attention. And you can believe me because I’m always right and I never lie.

Southwest has suspended the pilots. Buses took the passengers, who spent about 75 minutes on the landed aircraft, to the Branson airport. The story today had the interesting footnote, one subtle yuk, that Southwest had to “find Branson for another five months.” The airline plans to cease flights to the airport in June.

The 2010 Census estimates say Branson has 10,520 people although the city has long been known for its many theaters catering to country music lovers and an older crowd such as Roy Clark, Glen Campbell, Andy Williams and the Oak Ridge Boys. Frontier Airlines is the other carrier currently operating out of Branson. Even with the extensive tourist trade its hard to imagine a city with 10.5 thousand folks having an airport with two major airlines serving it. Our airport here in the Beaumont-Port Arthur and Orange, Texas vicinity serves a regional population of a half-million people, however, it is only an hour-and-a-half from Houston and its two major airports. It currently has American flying to and from Dallas-Fort Worth International. United Airlines still has a bus service to George H.W. Bush International Airport in Houston back and forth to Jack Brooks Regional Airport in Nederland from its merger with Continental

Private and public entities had to put a $1.5 million revenue guarantee for American to begin flying its regional jets from Southeast Texas from its D-FW hub. American became the most recent airline over the past 40-something years in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area.

Southwest pulled out of Beaumont-Port Arthur after a little more than six months in 1979. My third airline flight, flying from what was Houston Intercontinental in 1974 to BPT, was on a turbo-prop Convair 880 that was part of the Texas International Airlines fleet. Texas International, previously Trans-Texas Airways, eventually merged with Continental.

Back and forth. Up and down. That’s the airline biz.

Othingnay ellyray

Hidy Hi and hope you had a Merry Christmas or whatever you did in the many places of the world around this time of year.

My friend, Rick, from Nacogdoches, came down and we visited for awhile. We dined at the Iron Skillet down the road, it is the restaurant at the Petro Shopping Center truck stop. Everything one orders come in an iron skillet. Well, not milk or iced tea or coffee. I do remember stopping for chicken fried steak — back when eating one was burned off a lot faster — in, I think, Fort Stockton, Texas. The creamer pitchers were shaped like cows. That was on a trip to El Paso for a state firefighters’ union convention. My union brother and fellow firefighter, Bob, likes to tell that on the return journey, he and I got a case of Texas Pride and put it in the cooler. When we ran out is where we spent the night, he says. That is not really true, as care-free as it sounds. It was actually Olympia beer. Not the smooth version we got in the Philippines via Washington, but the kind that was made by Pearl or Lone Star or whomever.

I had to work today which kind of “ucks-say.” I mean work means money. But being off one day and that’s it. Not so good. Plus, I had to visit a bunch of crowded stores. The good news is I am off for three days. Yaaah! I think I will cut off all of my phones to help ensure no one will wake me.

None of this is probably entertaining. Well, sorry. Later “udes-day.”




Going to Lafayette or parts east? Don’t let the Beaumont traffic tie you up.

Expect a tie-up on Interstate-10 nearing the Neches River bridge about 80 miles east of Houston. You see, this is actually a normal condition for those of us who live in and around Beaumont. The Neches River bridge — actually named the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge but shoulda been named the George Jones Bridge — is under renovation until who knows when. Right now it is the eastbound lane getting backed up but eventually the westbound lane will have its share. Although, the westbound side will probably get stacked on the Orange County side. Serves them right for failing to vote for George Jones.

At this moment, the eastbound lane on I-10 in Beaumont is backed up some six miles or so from the bridge. That is right before you get to the Washington Boulevard overpass. So if you are reading this while driving. STOP!!! That’s a very stupid thing to do.

A pretty good rule of thumb during construction on the EB side of the bridge is to avoid it at all costs during rush hours. Yes, we get those too. I would not even attempt to cross the bridge on Friday afternoon. During the rest of the week, you should check out this map. It gives a pretty good representation of the live traffic.

But what if you are going to gamble at Delta Downs or the Lake Charles boats? Or perhaps you are going down to Lafayette to do the Cajun twist. Perhaps you might just decide to visit a friend in New Alluns. He be in Harvey and you can find him easy because he stays by his Moms like always, dat is, if he ain’t out chootin’ some bones or maybe even some alleygator. That might not be how the New Alluns people speak, but this here blog it ain’t about etymology nor is about words. And it sho’ nuff ain’t about no double negative. Right on?

That reminds me, I was talking to this creole dude from Thibodaux or some place like that and after every sentence he be saying “right on,” right on? Man, this cat was talking about some bar fights and people bringing knives to gunfights and allus kinda s**t! Right on? Right on.
That also remind me. One of my favorite bayou boogie song was a tune called “Cajun Twist.” I hadn’t heard it in a long time but heard that dude who say “choot it” on the alligator show “Swamp People.” I think his name is Troy. He was half singing and half humming a verse while he was doing something or other. And trut’ be tole, he weren’t doing much to either half on that song. Which, I suppose is just as good as sticking to the original lyrics when you do have the vocal blessings.

So, I have given you Randy and the Rockets, doing that old Cajun Twist. And I will give you some alternate routes to Louisiana while I am at it.

There are a couple of ways to get to Louisiana without having to go through Beaumont while this $59 million bridge renovation is under way. And it’s easy to find those ways. All you need is this magical device. It’s called a map.

Everyone needs to learn how to use a map.  Have you a jumbo kinda time whether you be headed to Louisiana or Texas-ana. Have fun this weekend. Stay safe.






Super Bowl madness yields too little music, so far

Lots of sports and lots of nothing have graced the magical electronic airwaves this week from Super Bowl in New Orleans. We know almost everything about the two brothers Harbaugh coaching against each other almost to the point that I fear we will learn about each one’s success at toilet training. We know the San Francisco 49ers player, who don’t seem to be as much of a “player” as he thinks, who said we “the team” ain’t got no gays! Okay he didn’t say it exactly like that. But he is so much of a non-story that I will not bother to look up his name so excuse me if I don’t quote him verbatim.

And we’ve had Ravens perhaps Hall of Fame-to-be linebacker turned street preacher Ray Lewis accused of using a potion from deer antlers. Give me a break. This guy got a lesser charge of obstructing justice on a murder rap! It’s supposedly the last season for Ray Lewis. But we’ve heard that before from some who just can’t kill the golden goose even though he … sorry. Forgive me pastor, for being so cynical.

What we’ve not heard a lot of or a lot about is music. New Orleans is music. The vaunted Mardi Gras Carnival time is now. A few parades were shifted around to accommodate the big game. So what comes to your mind when you hear “New Orleans?” “Oh when the Saints go marching in … ” perhaps? Well, maybe you think “Katrina.” Bad vibe indeed. Let’s just say when you think of New Orleans music a song will come with it.

All large U.S. cities have songs written about them or in their title or lyrics: “New York, New York these vagabond shoes they are longing to stray … ” Or maybe a little “Chicago, Chicago that toddlin’ town … ” Even jump on down to the No. 10th largest city, “Deep within my heart lies a melody, a song of old San Antone, San Antone … ” Okay, it’s actually San Antonio, but give me some license Jack!

New Orleans is a large U.S. — not as large as before Katrina hit. Actually, U.S. Census figures show NOLA was declining in population before Katrina. The city ranked 24th in the ’90 Census but shrank to 31st in the 2000 Census. Today it is 51st in the U.S. However, rebuilding and repopulating has made the Crescent City the fastest growing large city in the U.S., according to the 2010 decennial tally.

Hey, all that stuff don’t mean a thing. Well it does to some. It means something to many to be exact. But even if New Orleans was a just a tiny photograph of itself the city would still be playing music and folks would be singing “Iko, Iko” or a jazz band would still be blasting away as some soul was carried to his final resting place. Well, providing no more Katrinas come along.

Songs remain in our minds and on our musicians fingers and hands and lips so we all hear songs about New Orleans or with a New Orleans reference like just a half-dozen of my favorites:

“New Orleans Lady,” Le Roux (Louisiana’s Le Roux)

“Battle of New Orleans,” Johnny Horton

“Hey, Hey, (Indian’s comin’)” The Wild Tchoupitoulas

“Walking to New Orleans” Fats Domino

“House of the Rising Sun” The Animals

“Louisiana 1927 (The river had busted through clear down to Plaqemines/Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline.)” Randy Newman

Well, all six songs may “technically” not about New Orleans proper but it don’ madda.

Sorry, I’m just not up to linking all the songs. If you want to hear them, you know what to do. Oh, and as for the songs about big cities. I am flying to Dallas next week but I, hopefully, won’t be flying at night and definitely will not be flying on a DC-9 at night.