How do I respond without creating a novel as big as "War and Peace?" Solo'ed in 1961 at Herb Baker*(see note below) airport in Millington, TN in a 7-FC Champ...(collected coke bottles at .02 each on my bicycle for flying time). (He's older than Pre-Cambrian dirt!).
As an AFROTC cadet, failed Air Force flight physical in September 1965 at Blytheville AFB, AR. (AAARRRGH!)
Graduated Memphis State University with a BS in Industrial Engineering in January 1968. Went to Lowry AFB, Colorado for technical school (Munitions Ossifer). Went to Korat RTAFB (Royal Thai Air Fore Base) in November 1968. Worked F-105 Thuds and F-4E's (Broad Belly, Bent Nose Double Ugly Trash Haulers).
Put Alaska on my 'dream sheet.'
Arrived Eielson AFB, AK in December 1969 (at -22°F). Shivered like that 'proverbial pooch attempting to pass a peach pit.' Bought a 1947 7-BCM Champ on floats in September 1971. Married 'She Who Must Be Obeyed' (SWMBO) in August 1971. (It was a busy year).
Departed Eielson or England AFB, LA in April 1976 (unaccompanied, SWMBO remained in Alaska teaching school). Bought a Mooney M-20F in June 1976. (Really nice aircraft!). Departed for Erhac, Turkey in June 1977. Took Mooney to Alaska prior. Finally got back to Eielson in June 1978.
Got passed over for Major (good maintenance officers never make Major) in July 1980. Bought a 7-GCBC Citabria the very same day! (A nice consolation prize). Departed the Air Force in November 1980. WAH! Went to work for 'da Army as a civil servant in October 1982.
Lost the Mooney due to connecting rod failure in the Alaska Range (big mountains) in August 1991 (nobody got hurt).
Bought a very derelict T-28 project in July 1992. (No prop, engine, cowling and missing lots of components). Helped Charlie Jurgens restore his T-28 project (got my A&P ticket during the employment break).
Flew my T-28 for the first time in August 1999. (Used Charlie's for flight training and to get LOA).
She Who Must Be Obeyed laid down the law and told me to 'divest' some of my five aircraft. (The Mooney hulk, a 8-GCBC 'Scout' project, a 7-GCBC 'Citabria' project, my flyable 7-GCBC, and T-28). I sold the two projects and the hulk.
Diagnosed with adnocarcinona of the esophagus in September 2000. Spent almost a month at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle. Basically told to go home and 'get my affairs in order'...
Went to University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer in Houston, TX (the proverbial second opinion). Spent eight months doing chemo, radiation ad then had an Ivor-Lewis esophagectomy. To quote my surgeon, "Boy, we gonna open you like a cheap can of tuna!"
Died on February 2001! (Four hours out of ICU). This should be the end of the story, but a group of interns "brought me back!" Spent the next eighteen months in recovery. Had bi-lateral aspiration pneumonia for nine months!
Got my Class II medical back in July 2003! (After 1,356 pounds of paperwork!).
Built my hanger in 2006. Assisting Pete Hagland restore his T-28 project on most Sundays.
- Herbert Lee Griffin (2010).
(editor's note: After this year's AirVenture, Lee and Jeff Cornett flew BUB to Texas for a stop over at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for treatment of Lee's recurring cancer. The T-28 community loves Lee not only for his T-28 expertise but his boundless sense of humor, we all wish him prayers for a speedy recovery).
*note: Herb Baker Airport is not the same Herb Baker of "Herb Baker and Ditto" fame. It's just a coincidence, but to expand the coincidence further, Herb Baker (sans Ditto) did come to Alaska in the summer of 2008 and flew BUB in the Elmendorf Air Show! We lost a diaphragm in the carburetor and were grounded. Just pulled static display during the rest of the show, stuffing several hundred kids into the cockpit!
Lee flew more than 2600 miles from North Pole, Alaska to Oshkosh, WI for 2015 EAA AirVenture.