The Trackmen Archives
THE BLUE GOOSE
The Blue Goose was an airplane (DC-3) which the University of Florida own to transport its athletes to sport venues. It received its name "The Blue Goose" because it flew like a goose. Up and Down, Up and Down. It gave one a nausea, dizzy-like, vomiting motion sickness. The pilots were usually drunk. This was before motion sickness medicine. One of the most remembered pilots was "Captain Jack". Here are a few of the athletes stories.....enjoy!!!
This web page was inspired by Donne Hale.
Photograph Copyright Beaufort Brown All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted.
Yes. The Blue Goose blew an engine(on fire) while we were playing cards 6 across. Someone in the card game said "hey,the engine's on fire!" We all responded "who's bet is it,I'll take 3,keep dealing". We were totally unconscious about things around us on those trips!Ha! The manifold pressure was also screwed up in those engines. When the "Goose "reached a certain altitude the engines would freeze and the plane started dropping until it reached a warmer altitude to start up again. Carnes decided to fly us commercial after that scary ride,to and from DES Moines. Remember the Penn Relays flight into Philly and we almost hit a smaller plane?
This plane was our mode of transportation for athletic events.On the trip to Drake we had an emergency stop in Tallahassee due to fire in the engine.FSU of all places. Everyone arrived late but injury.
This flight marked the end of Blue Goose era which dated back to Wright Bros. All participates did well
I Remember my first ride on The Blue Goose. 1980 Freshman year: We were going to the Penn Relays. I remember arriving at the plane site, not the airport and this drunk old guy with a young helper came out of the plane....Captain Jack!!. When I saw him I jumped. I remember telling myself "Oh My Goodness, my life is in this man's hand". The coaches and the team loaded into the plane, like it was nothing to it, so I followed. I heard the guys joking about "The Blue Goose"on the way to the site. When we started flying I remember it felt like we were riding air pockets. It was so bumpy and I remember I kept quiet and began praying. The team veterans were laughing was if it was a carnival ride. They looked at me and laughed harder. It seemed like it never reached a smooth flying altitude. I remember Doc Luckie going into the pilot cabin. Nothing happen on that flight. We reached Philadelphia. This was before Dramamine. Now the dungeon we stay in at the University of Pennsylvania is another story.
As Coach Carnes once said as we were flying along with the propellers making that god awful sound….”It sure beats being in a station wagon driving through the back roads of the south!” There was also the time the basketball team had to make an emergency landing and the PR guy can’t remember his first name, Tobin made a statement about thank god there weren’t any women aboard or there would have been… and he got fired. How about the fight over the trophy after winning the first SEC Championship and a window broke and a few guys thought they were going to get sucked out a window. The card games, Tonk in the back of the plane, the pail they called a toilet and the real name Captain Jack called her,( he hated the blue goose) “The Hoppin Gator!” he used to land on aircraft carriers, so what better man at the helm of the Goose! We picked up the Tennessee Cross Country team when we went to Penn State. We landed in the airport past midnight, which was closed and there were three station wagons with the keys waiting for both teams. No check in, we just got in the cars and drove away. In the 1974 XC championships, the Goose could not land in Bloomington on Sunday because of fog, and the top five guys drove in a Dodge Dart from Louisville. Now that wasn’t a lot of fun. The football team never flew on the goose, they have no idea of what they missed! Then there was the scene before we got to the plane in the bus in front of the hotel in Monroe, when there were some bed spreads missing… In the end the plane was bought by drug dealers who flew her to smuggle from central and south America.
Coach David "Dave DJ" F. Johnston
I remember when Doc was left on the runway in Gainesville when we were taking off to go to the Nationals or SEC... Jimmy left on time no matter who was dragging "A** or sleeping in....
but of course he/jimmy had secretly made sure someone would grab Doc by the neck and get him on a plane to the meet... hehee
my first Air Plane flight EVER was on the Goose.. FTC and Florida athletes to the Houston Astro Dome for a meet, the plane was "over-full" I sat on the flip down set in the back on the baggage door....
I have a good one. In March or April of 1979 we flew to the LSU for a meet, and when we left Gainesville the weather was rough, which wasn’t good because in the Goose you felt everything any way.
For the first 30 minutes of the flight, the plane would drop about 20’ in altitude, striking fear into everyone. Well--as anyone who knows me will attest—I’m really strange, so instead of being scared I laughed, and I mean, a lot. At first, a couple other guys on the team laughed with me--I think just to be polite-- but after awhile, I was the only one laughing. However, after Dock and one or two other guys threw up into a bucket, I quit laughing.
Dr. Liston "LinBo" Bochette III
It was a spring meet called the LSU Invitational.; the time of year that there is a crispness and light fragrance in the early morning air. The fateful few all met at the Gainesville airport to find the Blue Goose perched on the side runway awaiting us. Who knows how we all got there, much less how we were on time. But ,somehow the entire team made it. Thank goodness Wesley Mayo was with us as he was the only one who would help load and unload pole vaulting poles. Due to weight restrictions we were traveling on light provisions. A cargo hold full of shot putts, discuses, and other equipment altered the aerodynamics of that old DC - 3.
Coach Benson counted heads so I guess we had everyone we needed before Captain Jack stumbled aboard and gave us a few quick orders. If I recall they were fairly simply: "Sit down. shut up, and behave" (Not unlike the commercial carriers today). The flight over was uneventful. Doc keep asking to take the controls and Captain Jack held is famous hand horn out the window and blew it at passing aircraft. We stayed above the tree line for the most part. The team mostly sleep except for John Rodgers who was always studying. He was the lone academian on the team and probably the one who graduated without taking a "Yon Hall" Prep course during his four year stint.
Once on the ground we got a good whiff on Bayou blossoms and a glimpse of the glamorous Tigerette scenery. Both were thrilling. However, more than that was the impressive athletic facilities we ran into. A group of us decided to take a walking tour around campus to see what we could find. This was in the days before the O'Connell Center or even the Florida Field became the Swamp. It was obvious to us that LSU had the bucks to build the best sports stadiums in the Southeastern Conference. Our stroll by the student center did not happen without a brief harassing on the Bengal Tiger they held in a large cage. We did the same when we went to Auburn to their "War Eagle". Fair is fair! Were it not for the steel bars we would have been "Tiger Bait".
I can't recall the hotel but I am sure that it was a dive. On the track team budget we were lucky to measure up to a Motel Six. John Stewart may have been my roommate... and come to think of it we may have squeezed another couple guys in the room to save money. Someday the photos will prove all this true.
The meet was a one day event. The track was decked out in yellow and purple pageantry. There were more volunteers there than I had ever seen at a track meet. Maybe that is how they got around the admission fee. For my part I was entered in multiple events.all happening at the same time. As good Gators do my teammates would stall the officials for me as I changed shoes and hustled between locations. A jump here, a throw there, and even a hurdle race I believe. I was all day hustling between events. My great fear was that Coach Benson would have me run a leg on the B-grade 4 x 400 relay before the pole vault was over.....which I think he did.
Regardless of the carnival going on the Gators were racking up quite an impressive demonstration of athletic prowness. It seems that we were making the best of the trip and actually one guys success was fueling the next. For my part , I came home with several of the commemorative T-shirts they gave out as awards for top finishes. The most memorable were beating my friend and Cajun rival Mark Rosandich in the pole vault and pulling the throw of my life out of the Javelin with the help of Randy Reagor. Randy threw well that day also. We still owe it to one another to celebrate. The other events I competed in were OK but with the likes of Joe Green, Jim Pringle, and Doc Luckie beside me it was a formidable task to remain competitive. At that point in my young track career I was experience my finest hour. Fortunately, it did not end in Louisiana that weekend.
For some reason (probably economics) we flew back at night. That saved on hotel costs I guess. Correct me if my memory fails me but some of us didn't even get to bathe before rushing back to the Blue Goose for the victors flight back to our beloved blue and orange "homeland". What we found out was that the rush to depart was caused by the rapid advance of a tropical thunderstorm. With little more said we made it back alive. There were moments when more than one of us doubted we would. The Blue Goose was frail but not without reserve. By the time we hit the Alabama line the night skies cleared and we sailed into Hogtown a happy but beleaguered troop.
That is the short version of what we did that particular spring weekend in 1979. At least it is what I remember. Surely the topic deserves more detail than the above allows. Perhaps, another witness may wish to add a few ideas or even correct my misconceptions. Thirty years have passed but the scent of a good time with great friends has not faded one bit.
Cap Jack let me sit in the co pilot seat for a while on the way to Penn relays 1976 Brooks told him "Get Steve out of there ,I know how he drives a car. The noise in that plane you could not sleep...In my extensive air travel history only a Russian "Airfloat" plane was louder ! good times
James "Jim Pringle
I have many Blue Goose stories and many have already been posted here I was part of. This sticks out in my mind. We took the Goose to the Penn Relays one year, my hometown so I was very excited. The Normal stuff happens like getting poles onboard, Discus, Shot puts ect...... About 2 Hours into the flight Captain Jack said we will have a head wind all the way to Philly. The trip was going to take us a little longer. I did not mind at the time, The DC-3 was one of the safest planes flying at the time. So I looked out the window of the Plane from about 6,000 feet up. I could not believe what I saw. A Dam Car on the interstate below was passing us! I said to myself this is going to be a long flight. 11 hours later we in Philly. I told a buddy "Shyt" we could have drove here faster.
Leaving GV in the blue goose captain Jack asked me to fly the plane 4 him while he use the rest room. After 45 minutes of flying the plane I looked back to the rear and noticed Jack playing cards with the athletes. I then called Jack an advised that I saw sparks and flames coming out of the right engine. Jack told me not to worry he will fix it when he get to Penn. He told me that I can continue to fly the goose just keep my eyes on the gauges. I flew another hour until he took over.
C. Diane Poole (women)
I remember the Blue Goose. The women's team never got to fly in that plane. For the most part we drove in a rented van to meets. My father was a pilot and ran the airport in Bartow, Fl. He had a plane just like the Blue Goose. When I was younger, I used to run up and down the aisle pretending I was a stewardess. It was a LOUD plane, but that never bothered me.
During my tenure on the track team, between 1970 and 1974 we had several trips on " THE BLUE GOOSE". After driving to track events in high school, it was "big stuff" when you could take the school plane to an event, even if it was "THE BLUE GOOSE".
There was one trip of several that I remember, not sure of the particulars at the time, but we just finished a track meet and was flying home. In those day, we would get something to eat before going home. That day, we almost knew that it was going to be a rough ride home. We often joked about who would get sick on the plane. Almost all trips, there was someone who was very quiet, because they didn't like flying. We all tried to be tough, but that day, it seemed that everyone after eating "lost their meal" on the way back. That was a very quiet trip home.
It became more of a joy, when you could take a commercial flight to a track meet.
Ricky A. McIntosh
A lot of people didn't know this but my Brother-In-law, Jerry Frost is the nephew to Captain Jack. Captain Jack's first name was Pete, so everyone in the family called him Uncle Pete. During most meets, when I finished competing, I would clean up and get back into my Leisure Suit, (you can stop laughing now) and would go into the stands and watch the rest of the meet with Uncle Pete / Captain Jack. If I had a bad meet, Captain Jack would give me coaching advise, like "you should have throw the Javelin further" or "the shot putt looked really heavy today for you" things like that. In 1976 at the Penn Relays, I finally got the school record in the javelin and we were boarding the Blue Goose, when Will Freeman told me he wanted to fly the plane. I was in too good of a mood to think he was serious, but non the less kept an eye on Will. Will and I sat next to each other, I always took the window and Will sat in the isle seat. Will kept talking about fly the goose, so finally I told him, that ain't happening. Out weighting Will by over 220 pounds, I thought I was clear with Will about my demand. About an hour or two into the flight, I drifted off to sleep. Those propellers on the goose and the God awful noise they made, for some reason would knock me out. Shortly there after, I looked up and here comes Captain Jack out of the cock pit. I leaned over to Will to ask him who was the co-pilot for this trip. One problem, NO Will! I jumped up and Grabbed Captain Jack and asked him, if Will Freeman was flying the plane and Captain Jack told me no, Otto was. In pure relief, I said, great, who's Otto? Captain Jack said Otto Pilot, my heart sank. I go running up to the cock pit and there's Will Freeman with a head set on (who he was talking to is still a mystery to me) and both hands on the wheel. I turned around and just looked at Captain Jack, not saying a word I returned to my seat. Thirty minutes later Captain Jack went back to the cock pit and happy go lucky Will comes bouncing back to his seat. He sat down and started to tell me about his accomplishment and I just put my hand up and say NOT A WORD, I don't want to hear about it. It was a pretty quiet flight the rest of the way back to Gainesville.
By Tom Doerr
UF Track & Field 1973-1976
We all have fond memories and some scary tales about the Blue Goose and Captain Jack. Do any of you remember the seating and cargo arraignments?
Captain Jack “artfully” oversaw the loading of track & field athletes and equipment. The throwers had to sit in the front rows right behind the cockpit. Sprinters and hurdlers would sit in the middle seats and the distance runners would have to sit in the back. Heaviest up front and the lightest in the back—an aerodynamic balancing act only Captain Jack understood.
Jack stored the heavy equipment up front, right behind the cockpit and just in front of the throwers. He placed the lighter equipment in a small storage space in that rear of the plane.
Once that was settled, Jack would walk toward the cockpit yelling, “Get ‘em Gators!”
We were all soon to learn why Jack packed us so carefully.
In the middle section of the Goose, a section of seats faced each other divided by a stow-able table. These tables were always the scene of some serious card games. Laughter and an occasional scream were always a part of winning and losing. Most of the time, the games started before the Goose got off the ground.
The joyful Harold Smith was always one of the card playing ringleaders. Harold wore a ring on every finger and thumb. My memory recalls leaving Philadelphia after the Penn Relays. Vince Carter believes it was leaving Athens. Regardless, Captain Jack was trying to get off the ground and beat a strong storm that was approaching. As we hurried to board, we could see the coming storm off in the distance. It didn’t look good.
When Jack revved the engines, the Goose always shook and rattled. Plus, there was always the occasional engine backfire—nothing more than you would expect hear from a plane built when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the President of the United States.
As Jack revved the engines, the plexiglas window beside Harold began to rattle furiously. It was an irritating sound. Jack let the brakes loose and we started racing down the runway and the window rattling intensified as the Goose was shaking and rattling. Harold, irritated by the rattling, slapped his hand on the noisy window. The window shattered—more than likely from violently hitting one of Harold’s many rings. Wind started howling through the cabin along with the shrieking sounds of shock from about 20 post-puberty Gator Athletes.
Some of us are better flyers than others. So without naming names, more than a few Gators did the logical thing in plane that has to carefully balance its load and is in the act of take off. Off came the seat belts and a mad dash to the back of the plane. A logical move by stepping out of the back door now that we are a few hundred feet above the runway.
Yes, the back of the plane.
Suddenly, the Goose sounded and felt as if it was struggling to climb. It may have even made a few jerking movements. Were we going to go down?
What seemed like forever, but was probably only a few seconds, some of us realized what was happening and started yelling for the terrified and seat-less Gators to move toward the front of the plane. They probably could not hear us over the noise.
A moment later, Jack comes running out of the cockpit screaming, “Get back to your seats!”
Who was flying the plane? Oh yes, there was a co-pilot.
Eventually, the reluctant fliers returned to their seats. The Goose took a quick and turn and made an emergency landing. The window was temporarily repaired with—what else? Gaffer’s tape! Of course the repair kit of champions.
We resumed our flight which was largely uneventful back to Gainesville.
The Blue Goose by Eamonn O’Keeffe 1968 -1973
The Blue Goose was a DC-3 used by The University of Florida Athletic Department for flying some teams to meets. It was a converted C-47 WWII transport, like most post war C-47 were. Also known as the Dakota it was the mainstay of many airlines throughout the world and is still used today 75 years after it was first introduced in 1936. Over 16,000 were built and in 1998 there were still over 400 still flying. Not bad by any standards.
I actually liked the Blue Goose, not because of its smooth comfortable ride but because it had character, as had its pilot Captain Jack Frost. Yes, it had it quirks and not a few mishaps but it was one of the safest planes around to fly in. I was on board one day over the Gulf of Mexico on the way to Mobile Alabama when flames started emanating from the port engine. I was facing toward the back of the plane in that section where 2 sets of seats faced each other with a table in the middle. We were playing cards I think when Joe Schiller suddenly went very pale and stuttered “the engines on fire” as he pointed out the window. I looked out and saw smoke and an increasing frequency of flames skirting across the engine fuselage and said knowingly in what I‘d hoped was a disarming tone “Oh don’t worry Joe, the DC-3 is one of the safest plane you can fly in; it can fly on 1 engine and, even with no engine, it can glide for a long time because of it’s wide wingspan” (I’d been an aircraft enthusiast since my early teens and was proudly showing off my knowledge). However I felt that Joe wasn’t at all comforted by my words of wisdom, it was after all his very first flight in a plane of any kind. So I got up and rambled up to Jack and told him the news about the engine spitting flames. Of course he knew already, had activated the inbuilt fire extinguisher and had tethered the engine. So we turned around and flew back towards Tallahassee where Jack landed the Blue Goose like a feather. I can’t ever remember a softer landing. We were greeted by fire engines and tenders but Jack just parked it at a distance from the terminal for safety reasons and we all got off and made our way to the terminal.
On another occasion there was a severe tropical storm brewing and we were stranded for a while. When we eventually got into the air I remember leaning across Jack in the cockpit to peer out the cockpit window as he pointed out two voluminous black clouds up ahead that spelled trouble. But Jack was a very experienced pilot and he proceeded to tell me how he was going to steer the Goose into a gap between the clouds to avoid the squall which would have made for a very bumpy ride indeed.
Someone once told me that the Goose was given to the Athletic Dept. by a Texas Millionaire. In fact he had also offered them a Convair 440 that was more modern with a pressurised cabin, a nose wheel instead of a tail wheel so that everyone could at least stand up straight when one was on the ground. However it was also more expensive to run so the Athletic Dept. turned it down. A wise decision I always felt. While the Convair may have been more comfortable and faster I would never have felt the same level of safety as I did on the Blue Goose. It certainly had it’s moments but it always got you to where you were going in one piece; minus your dinner maybe but safely on the ground. So do not disrespect the ugly one, The Blue Goose (as Bill Cosby once said, but that’s another story). By the way I always thought the Blue Goose was so called because it was painted Blue (Duck egg blue) and flew slowly like a goose.
I’ve attached 2 photos I took (probably in 1971, though I ‘m not certain) from in front and behind the Blue Goose. It shows some of the team unloading the Pole vault poles from a car (was it a Chevy or a Pontiac) before loading them on the plane. I know that on commercial flights Scott Hurley had to take the poles out of their tubular casing and bend them into the cargo hold because they were too long to fit normally. The pictures are too distant to make out the faces but maybe someone might recognise themselves or someone else. I hope it bring back some good memories.
FLORIDA TRACK 1963 & 1964
One of my favorite sayings is “Well that’s enough about me, let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?” In order to tell this story, I have to tell you a little about me. I graduated from the University of Florida in 1964 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. In addition to engineering, I majored in track in 1963 and 1964 after transferring from Kansas State. Percy Beard was the Track Coach and 1964 was his last year. I thought it was my last year at UF, but things are constantly changing. There was a chance I was going to be drafted for Vietnam if I did not find a job with a military deferment. My father had been a Sargeant in the United States Air Force and I grew up on Air Force bases all over the United States. I knew enough about the Armed Forces to know that I did not want to be drafted. Boeing was making the Minuteman Missile and I got a job as a Flight Test Engineer at Cape Canaveral working for Boeing and the Air Force on the Minuteman. The Minuteman is an intercontinental ballistic missile that carries three hydrogen bombs. It can reach almost any place in the world in about thirty minutes after launch.
After two years at Boeing I was too old for the draft and I decided to go to North American Aviation where I was a launch engineer on the 2nd stage of the rocket to the moon, the Saturn V. I Know you are asking “what does this have to do with the Blue Goose?” I getting there, just give me a little time. While working at North American Aviation, one of the technicians in my group was trying to get on with the airlines as a pilot. He had a flight instructor’s rating and told me he would teach me to fly if I would pay for the rental on the airplane. I was interested and I told him “Let’s do it”. I was on my way to becoming a pilot. As we got closer to the moon landing, it became obvious that almost all of the 25,000 engineers working on the moon project would be laid off as soon as the rocket landed on the moon. I started looking for another job at about the same time as every other engineer in the United States. I started looking at a career change. Just to be on the safe side, I got my commercial pilot’s license while I was at the Cape. In September, 1968, I moved back to Gainesville with my wife and daughter and started law school.
By the time track season came around it was spring 1969. I talked to Coach Carnes and he told me I could help as a student assistant with the middle distance runners. Roy Benson and I divided up the runners and started coaching. At some point Coach Carnes found out I had a pilot’s license and the Athletic department sent me out to the Gainesville airport to get my multi engine aircraft rating to go with the commercial pilot’s license I already had. It took about three weeks and I had the rating. I was never sure who owned the airplanes I flew but there was always one available from various alumni who would loan their airplane to the University Athletic Association. When they needed a pilot, I would do the flying. Most of the time the alumni supplied the Pilot and he flew the airplane.
I flew the cross country team all over the south in 1969. I attended every football game the Gators played that year, either flying the cross country team to a meet or flying recruits to the football game. If we did not have tickets for the game, we stood on the sidelines. It was a blast. Ben Vaughn was one of the first black athletes at the University of Florida and he was on the cross country team. He single handedly desegregated several airport rest rooms throughout the South. There were no “colored” rest rooms in most small southern airports where I would stop for fuel and we would be on our way before the KKK even knew we had been in town. I never let the truth get in the way of a good story so Benny if you read this and remember it differently, remember this is my story.
Coach Carnes was always interested in faster travel and comfort for his athletes. He never complained about my flying or the cost except on one trip to Johnson City, Tennessee. (Steve Spurrier’s hometown). There was a high school senior that was running about 46.5 for the 440. We got up there at great expense as we had to rent a plane. When we got to Tennessee, Coach Carnes found out this potential college recruit had a lower score on his SAT than he had for his time for the quarter mile. Of course he went to Tennessee and graduated (probably with honors) but we could not recruit him with such a low Sat. When we got back to the airport for the flight home, weather had moved into the area. Coach Carnes and I had to get a room for the night which was an extra expense we had not counted into the trip. Coach Carnes told me we had exhausted his recruiting budget on this one trip.
During the indoor season we took a trip to Louisville for an indoor two mile race. I had gotten a small four seat airplane with a single engine for the trip. I had flown three runners of the two mile relay team up there. To say the weather was horrible did not begin to describe it. I was a Florida boy who had never flown in ice and snow. As soon as we took off from Louisville the windshield iced over and I had to return to the airport and land by opening the small vent side window and looking out that side. The rest of the glass was iced over. The runway was covered with snow and became invisible. (That is similar to what happens to me after six beers.) The landing was accomplished by looking out the side window, finding the airport and keeping the airplane between the airport runway lights. After about two tries at heading south , I finally turned west toward the Mississippi River. That was way off our projected flight path to Gainesville, but kept us out of the bad weather and we were headed home. We got down to Pensacola about 2 am and everyone was asleep in the plane except me. I had finally caught up with the bad weather. This was the front I had flown in that morning at Louisville. I got an instrument clearance in the air from the Navy at Pensacola and started to climb to the altitude they assigned me. I did not have an instrument rating at that time but I told the Navy controller I did.
While we were climbing I suddenly lost the directional gyro which started spinning. When I looked at the vertical speed indicator, it was broken also as it showed a steep desent towards the ground. Just when I thought it could not get any worse, I noticed that the compass was spinning. . That meant the earth’s magnetic field was collapsing. That was when I realized that the instruments were correct and we had a pilot problem. My instructor, Jim Sharp, had always told me “If you have a problem, believe the gauges and not your body.” I am convinced he saved our lives that night.
I stopped the turn, the vacuum pump problem was solved and the earth’s magnetic field started working again. I broke out of the clouds over Crestview, Florida and I advised the Navy controller that my intentions were to fly on home to Gainesville in the clear night sky that lay ahead. I remember John Parker and Benny Vaughn with me in the airplane and I marveled at how they could sleep the entire time while I was doing my best at trying to kill everyone in the airplane.
I only got to fly the Blue Goose twice. Because of the size of the plane it required a co- pilot. I could fly as a co-pilot because of my multi engine rating and commercial license, but I could not be the pilot in command. I cannot remember if Coach Carnes was on either of the trips I flew but I assume he was. That trip must have been uneventful as I have no independent recollection of it. The Blue Goose was based somewhere in South Florida and the pilot would bring the plane up empty and solo. The passengers and the co-pilot, me, would get on the plane in Gainesville and head to where ever the next track meet was scheduled. I only flew her twice and my logbook is devoid of entries as I was never sure how legal those flights were.
My second trip I have never forgotten. The track team had gone to an invitational track meet at the University of South Carolina. This was before they joined the SEC. When then meet was over, we left Colombia, South Carolina for Gainesville around 8:30 p.m. The flight took about an hour and a half. We arrived in Gainesville about 10 p.m. and the pilot asked me if we could fly over the campus on the way into the airport. This was before Gainesville had a tower or air traffic control at night so it was no problem. It was a crystal clear night with a full moon. We went over the stadium at one thousand feet from the west to the east and it was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. The whole campus was illuminated in moonlight and it was spectacular! I guess being a Gator contributed to the experience, but I have never forgotten what it looked like that night.
The Blue Goose crashed on a drug run in Mexico about ten years later and pictures of her sitting on the desert floor with no visible landing gear were in several aviation magazines. I tried to get one of the pictures for this article but was not successful. I cannot remember whether or not an autopilot was installed but I have to assume she had one. Most of the old DC-3’s were last manufactured in the late 1940’s and the Lear autopilot installed in the early 1950’s. I mention this only because one of the track runners of that time said he flew the plane without a pilot or a copilot on one of the trips. I do not doubt that it is true, but it would be illegal and my experience with the pilot, who I was told also owned the airplane, was always very good. I considered him safe and experienced. If the Goose was used, I would take the overflow passengers in a rental aircraft. As I recall, the two times I flew the Blue Goose was when they could not get another co-pilot. I was the man in those cases. Those were the days my friends. I am sorry they had to end.