Halloween Moment!


I took my 2YO Grandson to our local airport today for lunch and to watch the planes. I was very pleasantly surprised to see and hear a Texan in the pattern and pointed it out to him.

Upon turning to final the Texan chose to perform a high speed pass down the runway in order to announce his arrival. Damn near brought tears to my eyes as it reminded me of an old friend, Bill Dodds, a NJ aviator and airshow legend who passed away in 1997 while taking a nap under the wing of his beloved Texan in between airshows in NY.

As the plane eventually landed and rolled out I had a momentary and spooky flashback that I actually WAS seeing Bill in his old SNJ-5 “Six of Diamonds” go by. As it turned out it was “Six of Diamonds” but it wasn’t Bill at the helm but rather Kurt Holstein, her present owner.

Kurt is a true gentleman and was extremely courteous in allowing the restaurant patrons who came out to view his beautiful ride full access to clamber on, over and even in it. He even took the time to talk to an old man who was there and patiently listened to him reminisce about his 12 hours in a Texan. :wink:

He was kind enough to take photos of folks sitting in the cockpit, including my grandson.

Bill Dodds was renowned locally for taking folks for a ride in “Six of Diamonds” when he wasn’t flying her in airshows, to the point that she’s probably had more people in her than Coonts’s “Cannibal Queen” which presently flies out of PNE taking tourists aloft. Kurt, the present owner of “Six of Diamonds”, mentioned that he had received his first ride in her compliments of Bill and when he heard the plane was on the market a few years ago he felt compelled to buy her.


Heart warming story James… Sounds like the day couldn’t have been more perfect. :wink:


Nice story. They’re going to have to rename the airport The Flying M. :stuck_out_tongue:


I think it’s stories like this that are one of the reasons we’re all in aviation … When you go out to your local airport, you’re going to meet people you may have never met before, but there’s a language we all speak, from those of us who are flying for a living to those of us who fly for fun, to those of us who wish we could fly, we all know what it is that draws us to flying.

Very cool that it turned out to be the same T-6, and even better your grandson was there to see it. It seems most people who own (especially more unusual) aircraft are eager to show off their toys. That again, is what flying is all about!


Didn’t he also fly in Reno at some point?


Bill? Oh heck yes! He flew for years as the solo ship of the Four of Diamonds formation team (Jerry Walbrun, Chuck Kruger, Bill Dodds and Dan Dameo) which eventually became the Six of Diamonds team (Jerry Walbrun, Chuck Kruger, Bill Dodds, Dan Dameo, Dan Caldarale and Jim Beasley, Sr.). Eventually the team added Jim Shipley, Jim Beasley, Jr. and Reese Dill.

Ultimately the team switched aircraft, dropped a few members due to age, infirmities and deaths, and became a four ship Mustang formation aerobatic team called the Four Horsemen. The team members were Jim Beasley, Jr., Dan Calderale, Vlado Lenoch, and Ed Shipley. Today the team flies a two ship routine. Jim Beasley, Jr. or Lee Lauderback flies lead, Ed Shipley flies wing.

I had the pleasure of meeting many of these folks back in the days when we held an annual airshow at the museum and I was fighting the learning curve to earn my stripes as an Air Boss.

Just so you all don’t get the idea that the whole family doesn’t support aviation, my younger daughter was busy taking a one-way Twotter ride yesterday:

Looking a mite hesitant:

Lookout below!!:

Please note the perfect form!:

Back on Terra Firma:


I thought the name sounded familiar. He was in the pits next to Eddie Van Fossin (Miss TNT) the year I got to hang out in the pits with Georgia Mae and Jeannie, Too (Wiley Sanders P-51s), next to Strega. The whole crew that year was really good to a kid (it was 1988) who would jump from pit to pit to get a good look.

Bad side is that me going from pit to pit cost me because Tiger Destafini grabbed me (he knew who I was) and made me help wipe down Strega.