Old Beech 18 photos -1971

UPDATE : If you have not seen it, check out our Corvair College FaceBook page at this link: https://www.facebook.com/CorvairCollege/ . Look in the comments section of this stoy and you will see Gary Lampman posted a link telling the exact and complete history of this aircraft, which was owned and operated by Air America. The record indicates the photo, dated ‘Nov. 71’ was likely taken at Ubon in Thailand.

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Builders:

I pulled these out of an album at my parents house. They are of a rare Beech 18 conversion known as a Volpar turbo 18. During the years my family was in Thailand, this was the plane my father flew around between Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Since two of those countries were ‘neutral’, flights were always done in civilian planes like the one below.

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A Volpar is a tri gear conversion. Some of them were equipped with Garret turboprops, like the one above. The N-Number belongs to a different plane today. You can only wonder what happened to this one.

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I asked Dad if he could recognize the airport, but he couldn’t say for sure, perhaps Don Muang in Thailand. When I look at the plane I wonder how it was ferried across the Pacific, how many places it saw, what ever happened to it. All interesting middle of the night questions, likely lost to history. See note in red  above

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-ww.

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Thought for the day: The lesser of two evils

Alert: This post contains no technical information. It is provided as a stimulus for thinking only.  The reader decides if they wish to participate. No answers provided, just concepts to ponder. This particular story is the first in a short chain or related questions to consider or ignore.

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Builders:

During the Soviet purges and mass executions of the 1930s, Winston Churchill was a harsh critic of the Soviet Union, and this continued when they joined the Germans invading Poland in  September of 1939, igniting WWII.  21 months later, the Germans turned their fury on the Soviets, who now found themselves on the allied side of the war.

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Churchill, by then Prime Minister, was put in a difficult positon of now supporting the Soviets as an ally. His political opponents called him a hypocrite. After short consideration, he decided that on very rare occasions one must decide between the lesser of two evils, and defended his choice with the famous quote:

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“If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

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Above, Churchill holding an American M1928 Thompson submachine gun.

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This week in America, about 100 million voters are facing their own Winston Churchill moment.  I have no advice to offer, save this: 25 years ago I decided that I would only vote for people or ideas not against them. There is a lot less heartburn simply voting one’s conscious and ignoring all the media, polls and amateur strategy. In a normal year, such action might anger 40 or 45% of your friends, but this year affords the opportunity to anger up to 98% of them, and in doing so you can give them something they will have in common.

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In the last 25 years I have heard countless times “A vote for X is really a vote for Y”  or  “You will be throwing your vote away”.  I will politely listen, but what if a vote for X is really just a vote for X?  Perhaps you are never throwing anything away when you are acting with your conscious. In the long run, the best way to stop being served choices between two evils is to demand a choice which isn’t evil.

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Your Aviation Connection:

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Countless times in a single flying season, you will hear pilots, mechanics and builders, all frame questions in aviation as a required choice between two evils, when a clear minded  person listening will reject it as a false choice;

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You will hear pilots say: “we have to either fly VFR on top or scud run below the clouds.”  The pilot making the statement is framing it as a required choice between two evils, when it isn’t. One simply has to decide that it isn’t flying weather they are ready for.

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When you are at the airport, be alert to any proposed action which is presented as a choice between two evils, as almost invariably, there are better options, even if taking one of them hurts someone’s feelings. Keep in mind that it is your well being and life, and you don’t want to ‘throw it away’.

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-ww.

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Thought for the day: The challenge of honest evaluation

Alert: This post contains no technical information. It is provided as a stimulus for thinking only.  The reader decides if they wish to participate. No answers provided, just concepts to ponder. This particular story is the first in a short chain or related questions to consider or ignore.

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Builders:

My understanding of underground and resistance fighters doesn’t come from movies, it is from my 7th grade French class. I attended a small, tough private school that afforded our instructor a chance to share her personal experience. When she was 15 and her sister was 17, living in Paris, they ‘entertained’ German Officers and collected information. Her sister was caught and tortured to death by the Gestapo, our teacher evaded capture. She never said what happened to her family.

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As a 13 year old, I listened and quietly understood that I wasn’t made of the same kind of flesh and blood as my teacher. The story brought an honest humility that prevented any daydream that I inherently had the same courage. For a young man it was an uncomfortable awareness. As an adult, I was glad to have traded hollow bravado for a realistic understanding and appreciation of the fact some humans can control their fear better than others. I also understood one couldn’t generalize who they were by appearance or claim, just by their deeds.

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A youthful upriser defends a barricade with his Blyskawica

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Above, A Polish youth, fighting to the death against the German SS during the 63 day Warsaw Uprising in 1944. His submachine gun is a “Blyskawica” an ingenious all-Polish design made by the hundreds in advance of the uprising, right under the noses of the German occupation force. The resistance fighters killed over 8,000 German soldiers in savage fighting.

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They had hoped to liberate the city, timed just as the Soviet red army arrived. The Soviets halted and allowed the Germans to exterminate the resistance, because it eliminated most of the potential post war Polish democratic leadership, and made way for the Soviet puppet government. Churchill and the west were outraged, but powerless to force Stalin on the issue. Arguably, this is the first move of the Cold War.

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People debating  private firearm ownership today can hardly restrain themselves from trying to draw parallels to resistance to the Third Reich, and what effect it might have had. The discussion is never nuanced, and it ignores the most obvious factor, people living today are mostly marshmallows addicted to IPhones, a different species than Poles in 1943-44.

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There is an often cited American anti-gun ‘study’ which claims private gun ownership in Europe would have been meaningless, and the resistance in Warsaw only killed 20 Germans. The idea that this ‘study’ was written by some modern urban American writer, living in freedom and safety is frankly, repulsive. Everyone can have a point of view, but this is a grotesque distortion of a history which belongs to the memory of some of the most courageous people in the 20th century.   The Blyskawica shows how determined the Poles were to be armed, and crucially the number of German dead is from a notorious SS propaganda document called “The Stroop Report”, which is actually about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.   No matter how badly I wanted to win an argument, I am not going to resort to intentionally misapplying ‘data’ from Nazi SS propaganda to do it.

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Your Aviation Connection, in two parts:

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Can you accurately access your own skills? Pilots are notoriously poor judges of their own skills and abilities.  Some have sound training and judgement, but lack confidence, often because an instructor subtly sent the message the student was not trusted. The other end of the spectrum are pilots full of unwarranted self assurance, which prohibits them from honestly assessing their skills in comparison to exceptional performance. When listening to pilots this month, watch for both of these to be present. Determine that you will fall to neither extreme. Set yourself to have skills and judgement, and a realistic measure of their quantity and quality.

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Is the information presented valid and applicable? Aviation has ‘studies’ and data also, and most of them are not valid.  In the consumer world, people understand that ‘studies’ associated with products or ideas are just an extension of marketing, and they are written out of thin air to support a position, sell a product or provide you a preformed opinion. Aviation is no better, and it might actually be worse. Pilots have much larger than average egos, and they do need to be ‘right’.  They will frequently find any statistic or article that can be employed to substantiate their old wives tale. Be alert for this when looking for the answer to any honest aviation question. Be selective about information, put effort into evaluating not only its validity, but if it is even applicable to your situation.

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_ww.

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