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Memories of Marion Carl

You have no idea of the magnitude of my nostalgia when I finished reading Barrett Tillman’s story “The Natural” about Marion Carl in the May 2015 issue. Then–Lt. Col. Carl was my boss’ boss when I was a civilian novice flight test engineer at the Naval Air Test Center, NAS Patuxent River, Md., in 1946.

In late 1946, Carl was scheduled to fly a Lockheed P-80, modified for aircraft carrier operation, aboard USS Franklin D. Roosevelt to determine the effects (if any) of the jet exhaust on the first-of-its-kind steel flight deck and non-skid pads. At that time, the Navy did not have any suitable jet-powered aircraft; the P-80 was the only aircraft available for this purpose.

Although I was not involved in the program with the P-80, I asked Carl if I could go along with him and the others who were involved. He asked why I wanted to do this. I told him that since I was new to flight-­testing carrier-based aircraft, I thought that if I could see actual carrier operations I would be better at my job. He said that he would let me know soon. A few days later he told me I was authorized to go. When I asked him what my work assignment would be, he said, “Look, listen, learn and stay out of my way.” I spent an unforgettable two weeks on board the carrier at sea.

Such was the character of the man. He was excellent at his job—administrative and technical—and was also kindly to all, even young civilians. I will never forget him.

Martin A. Snyder
Dublin, Calif.

March Cover Art

Great cover art! Glad to see illustrations back on the covers of Aviation History. No staged photo can capture drama like the cover of the March issue by Jack Fellows. I could stare at it for hours and still not see all the details.

Dale R. Schneider
Ripon, Wis.

Dramatic Recovery

Thanks for the article on the Breguet 14 [“Winged Warhorse,” March]. Your readers might be interested to hear the story of Lieutenant Samuel P. Mandell and his observer, Lieutenant Gardiner H. Fiske. They were flying in a Breguet 14 on a practice mission, both using gun cameras, and Fiske was standing up in the rear gunner’s cockpit, shooting with his gun camera, when pilot Mandell dived to take a shot with his camera. He heard a crash from behind him—imagine his surprise to look back and see his observer clinging to the tail of his machine. According to other witnesses, Fiske came clear out of his cockpit for a distance of about 5 feet along the fuselage before landing again just ahead of the empennage. Fortunately his impact created a dent in the wood and fabric of the fuselage, enabling him to hold on until he was able to get astride the airplane and crawl forward, then dive headfirst back into his cockpit.

There’s a picture of the two of them and the dented fuselage in History of the Twentieth Aero Squadron, and a copy of Mandell’s description, accompanied by a drawing, in Volume 1 of New England Aviators 1914-1918. They were at an altitude of 2,300 feet at the time. Fiske survived the war; Mandell (cousin to my grandfather, also a World War I aviator), was shot down and died on November 5, 1918.

Jane Rice
Moultonborough, N.H.

Constitution Mystery Ship

Received the March issue today and lo and behold therein I met an old friend, the R6O-1 Constitution. I was attached to Air Transport Squadron 5 (VR-5) at Moffett Field, Calif., back in the 1950s. At that time we had the two R6Os in our squadron. I flew many flights as “flight mech” on both 163 and 164.

I am an aviation artist, and attached [above] is a painting I completed some time back titled Memories of Moffett Field. Thanks for making the Constitution a “Mystery Ship”!

Dave Paulley
Osage, Wyo.

Herk Rescue Recognition

Author John Ottley Jr. sent us this picture of his presentation to C-130 pilot Mack Secord (right) of a framed copy of his May “Briefing” item, “Herk Rescue Mission,” at a March 10 meeting of the Atlanta Kiwanis Club. Ottley says Secord was totally surprised and really delighted,” and received a standing ovation. Our apologies to John for leaving off his byline on that item, but as he graciously pointed out, Mack is a genuine hero who deserves all the credit.

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