In 1947, while training in SNJs flying out of Cabaniss Field, the dreaded check for emergencies and dead-stick landings came due. About halfway through the flight, while practicing stalls at altitude came the 'chopped throttle' with the instructor's notification, “You just lost your engine.” A quick survey of that part of Texas gave me a glimpse of a welcome grass field about a mile away. After a masterful glide, "S" turns to kill altitude and a right hand approach, we came over the fence at about 20 feet and lined up perfectly with the smoke coming from a nearby building. The instructor then said, “Great approach … however you would have landed DOWNWIND.”
In 1952. while attending Ohio State University (thanks to the Holloway Plan) and flying with the Reserves at NAS Columbus, there was always a need for a few extra dollars, so I signed up to be available as a ferry pilot when needed. About a month later, I was rewarded with TAD orders to fly a tired, old SNJ to Pensacola for overhaul and re-ferry a rejuvenated “J" back to Columbus. On the return trip, the March weather was causing deviations in the required VFR ferry routes north. I landed and refueled at NAS Memphis and received clearance for a VFR (barely) flight to London, Kentucky, then north to Columbus.
When I arrived near the Ohio River there was a heavily overcast sky with steady rain; the rain turned to sleet, then to snow within a short 5 miles. The horizon disappeared and all directions went white with visibility about 1/4 mile. Ice started to build up on the wings and canopy. I did a quick 180 and prayed that going back to warmer air would erase the ice. It did, but now the 40 knot west wind had me hopelessly lost. I started searching for any kind of recognizable landmark … or friendly face.
At this point. my timepiece told me the flight was over 4-1/2 hours old and my jiggling fuel gauge was down to 10 gallons. Finally, a small town with I large water tower came into view. As I dipped past the water tower to read the town name, the engine cut out. It gave one more surge then went completely silent. As you can imagine, I was frantically searching the landscape in those rolling Kentucky hills for a soft spot to belly-in.
There it was! A green patch of gentle hillside off to the right. I turned the mag switch off; held the airspeed steady at 70 knots—Right Hand Approach and Downwind. I eased the nose down into that wet sod about halfway up the hill and slid to nice soft wheels-up stop … about 100 feet from a tree studded fence line. “DE' JA' VU" The right training always pays off!!
* Aviation Midshipmen Log, summer 2000; © 2000.
(1927 – 2012)
James "Jim" R. Beloved husband of Geraldine Redden (nee Patten). Loving father of Jamie Redden of Austin, TX, Robert (Deborah) Redden of Cincinnati, OH, Bruce Redden of Las Vegas, NV, and Cinde (Jason) Nants of Pleasant Plain, OH. Devoted grandfather of Jessica and James Tyler Nants, Brooke, Michelle, and Christopher Redden. Cherished brother of Harold Redden of Fairfield,OH, Nancy Dasbach of Wilmington, NC, and Sandy Redden of Cincinnati, OH. Passed away Saturday, January 7, 2012 at the age of 84. Raised in Springdale, Ohio and graduated from Mount Healthy High School in 1945. Joined the Naval Air Corps and became a Flying Midshipmen (Class 1-47) in 1945. Graduated from the Ohio State University in 1952. Worked at General Electric in Evendale from 1952 to 1982. He enjoyed retirement, traveling with his wife and family, organizing Mount Healthy High School yearly reunions, and membership in the Flying Midshipmen. In lieu of flowers a memorial contribution may be given to the Flying Midshipmen Endowment Fund/The USS Midway Museum at www.flyingmidshipmen.org/midway.html. Visitation will be held Thursday, January 12, 2012 from 4:00-8:00 p.m. Funeral services will be held Friday, January 13, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at the Gwen Mooney Funeral Home (513-853-1035). Interment Oak Hill Cemetery. Sympathy may be expressed at www.springgrove.org.
Published in The Cincinnati Explorer on January 11, 2012.