Posted in Aviation Education, Aviation History, Bellomy-Lawson, Book Review, Classic Airliners, Freight Dogs, History, Miami International Airport, Old Airliners, Propliners, Southern Air Transport, Tramp Frieghters, Uncategorized

Book Review: Sky Truck

(Originally published at Monday October 15, 2012) © M.D. Ely 2012

Book Title: Sky Truck

Author: Stephen Piercey

Published: 1984 by Osprey Publishing Limited, London

I’ve had this book in my library for over 25 years now. I’ve read and looked at the pictures over and over again and never wrote a review so here it is. This book, though the one I have is paperback, is more of the coffee table variety of picture books. It is a great book of photographs. Sadly, by now most of the aircraft that grace its pages are long since gone either to a museum or the scrapper’s guillotine.

Stephen Piercey himself is gone. On May 20, 1984 shortly before this book was published, he was killed along with another Flight International employee when their Aztec was involved in a mid-air collision. It is evident that Stephen had a great deal of passion for his subject.

The book has a lot of pictures of airplanes at Corrosion Corner but it also has them from elsewhere in the world. Stephen was so enthusiastic about his subject that he traveled the world into some very remote regions to photograph and document them. If he had lived longer than his 27 years I suspect that we would have an much larger inventory of photos and that some of these airplanes would still be flying.

This is a book to just sit back and relax while leafing through its pages and letting the images themselves write the story. The story is of a romantic often difficult life that these old propliners lived. How much has been lost to us without them?

I give the book 5 stars.

Posted in Air America, Aviation Education, Aviation History, Book Review, CIA, History, Laos, Secret War, Southern Air Transport, The Ravens, Tramp Frieghters, Uncategorized, Vietnam War

Book Review: Honor Denied

(Originally published at Saturday September 1, 2012) © M.D. Ely 2012

This review has been posted on a few bookseller sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble as it appears here.  

Book Title: Honor Denied

Author: Allen Cates

This is a well-balanced narrative from a new perspective I’ve read other books about Air America and this one, though the eyes of someone who has been there, opens yet another dimension to the story. Allen Cate’s research and wanting to get the story right has created a much more balanced picture. While there is a certain amount of prejudice in his writing, he clearly points out where and why. I’ve spoken with many a Vietnam Veteran and find many have views that are characteristic of those he perceived in those military personnel he encountered in Vietnam and Laos. But I have also had conversations with many of those who flew SOG missions who share his views. The truth is we many never know the whole truth but I now have a more multi-facetted view.  

Thank you, Allen Cates, for writing this book.


Posted in Aviation History, Book Review, Drug Smuggling, History, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Cowboy Mafia

(Originally published at Wednesday January 4, 2012) © M.D. Ely 2012

Book Title: The Cowboy Mafia

Author: Roy Graham 

Cowboy Mafia first published in 2000 isn’t very good read though it could have been and if re-written it could still be.  

The Author, Roy Graham obviously self-published it since there is no publishing company listed anywhere inside or out. The cover art was copyrighted by JR Graham so I’m going out on a wing here and say that’s a Roy Graham pseudonym.  

I’m doing research on the drug smuggling industry as it relates to Corrosion Corner so I got the book through Amazon (Barnes & Noble online offers it too). I read its forward and it sounded like a good amount of information could be gleaned from the pages. There is a story here but it is very poorly presented.  

I went back to Amazon’s site and read the 35 reviews to see if anyone had the same reaction I did. To my surprise I found 17 of them to be five stars. When I read those reviews I saw a pattern develop and I recalled the old marketing technique from the past about writing you own reviews and back cover endorsements under various pseudonyms. Sorry to say, in this case the ploy was very obvious.  

Upon looking at the one, two & three star ratings I could see my evaluation had hit the mark. Most were very eloquent in there encouragement of the author but pointed out the many flaws they found. However, more than a few were very direct. Review titles include “Can You Say Run-on Sentence?”, “Great Story-Horrible Writing!”, “Incredibly Idiotic”, “Lost in Space” and “needed a proof reader”.  

My own comments would echo those and as I said above, it still could be a good story. Authors are often a fickle lot who don’t take critique well. Pilots, who often have big egos are the same. Most of us are Type-A personalities. But I even question some of Roy’s qualifications though I am sure he is a pilot.  

In his personal assessment of his own background as a pilot he made a glaring error in the first three pages of the book by calling a T-41 a jet. It isn’t. It’s a Cessna 172 (145 HP version) and it was often used by civilian instructors to give U.S. Air Force pilots their initial flight training. However, the aircraft he describes is a T-37 and I’d have to research further but I don’t think civilian instructors taught in the U. S. Air Force’s T-37s.  

I personally don’t like his depiction of these guys as having some sort of moral code. He comes very close to idolizing them and almost painting them as victims.  

Finally, the font for the typesetting appears to be a basic word pad or basic word processor font. There are no changes throughout the book except the foreword. It was obviously written using a different word processing program. Parts of the foreword were used many times in the “positive” reviews I saw on Amazon.  

I’ll do a bit more reading and see if there are jewels-in-the-rough here but I wouldn’t recommend it as a good read.


Posted in Aviation Education, Aviation History, Book Review, History, Old Airliners, Propliners, Uncategorized

Book Overview : From Props to Jets

(Originally published at Sunday February 20, 2011) © M.D. Ely 2011

From Props to Jets – Commercial Aviation’s Transition to the Jet Age 1952 – 1962 Authors: Jon Proctor, Mike Machat and Craig Kodera ISBN 978-1-58007-146-8 © 2010 Specialty Press, North Branch, MN

Old propliners or jetliners, I love them all. I love the Golden Age of Aviation when life was a lot more simple and you saw the adventure in air travel. Today, most air travel is only drudgery due to the TSA and its supposed fight against terrorism. I think all of that is politically motivated as a form of control over the populations ability to move about. But then that’s my opinion. Pushing that aside, I wanted to review a book about the historical changes that took place in air travel during the transition period between propliners and jetliners. I’ve started with this book. I went to the Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society’s 1940 Air Terminal Museum at Hobby Airport to pick up some airplane toys for our grand-kids. While I was there I perused the selection of books they have on sale and found the above titled book. It is a coffee table book much like others I have, lots of pictures of old airliners. I think on of the main reasons if was offered for sale in the bookstore was because it had a picture of the 1940 Air Terminal in it from back in the 1950’s. Either way, it was an appropriate book to be offered for sale there.

I think the book does a good job of introducing the reader to the period and the aircraft of that period. It isn’t and in-depth study because there is just so much you can put in a 160 page hard cover book. It’s worth a look at.

Chapter Titles

One: Setting the State (1946 – 1950)

Two: The Jet Age Begins, Or Does It? (1949 – 1952)

Three: Pistons Forever! ( 1952 – 1954)

Four: Promise of Things to Come (1954 – 1956)

Five: Coast-to-Coast in Only Eight Hours (1953 – 1956)

Six: Zenith of the Propliners (1956 – 1958)

Seven: Changing of the Guard (1958 – 1960)

Eight: Coast-to-Coast in Only Five Hours (1959 – 1961)

Nine: Stage Two: The Fanjets (1961 – 1962)

Epilogue: What Has Happened Since

Special Salute to the Boeing 707

I hope you enjoy your reading…

Posted in Air America, Aviation History, CIA, History, Secret War, Southern Air Transport, The Ravens, Uncategorized, Vietnam War

Air America

© M.D. Ely 2009  

I have been researching many things to continue writing my novel, which is now in its third year of really serious work. I remembered reading the book Air America by Christopher Robbins back in the late ’80s. I remember it took me three or four months to read and digest it. I am now trying to re-read it as a piece of my research. This time, I’m doing it a little faster but I still have to take time to research each locations, each person referenced in it and so on. Along with my other research and the help of a number of people I’ve come in contact with over the past thirty plus years, my understanding of the airline, the CIA culture and a lot of other related issues has grown. Mr. Robbins also wrote a book on the Ravens, the Forward Air Controllers that were in Laos during the Secret War there.

CIA proprietary companies come and go, contractors come and go, but they all have the same qualities in common. And those that fly for them do so for many reasons, often not for the money because you could make a lot more of that by following other less risky avenues. What many of these pilot and handlers are doing is find some sense of still serving their country, no matter what anyone else perceives and keeping the adventure alive in their lives. They can be used for good and evil and tricked like anyone else at times.




Posted in Air America, Aviation History, Bellomy-Lawson, Bryson's Irish Pub, CIA, Freight Dogs, History, Miami International Airport, Southern Air Transport, Uncategorized

Jimmy Bryson’s Irish Pub

(Revision of the post originally published at January 24, 2009) © M.D. Ely 2009

In coversations with people who worked at Corrosion Corner or frequented the area, the subject of Bryson’s always seems to surface. Bryson’s has been there for 61 years. I have had one pilot tell me that it was at another location and that this was the location of the 600 Lounge but as far as I can find, that club was at 600 east 36th street. That’s closer to Miami Beach. Bryson’s remains at its original location, 3790 Curtiss Parkway, just north of where “The Corner” was along 36th Street. I also found references to The Pilot Lounge as a local watering hole for the pilots, mechanics and others that worked among the derillics of The Corner. I have to do more research on the subject.


Posted in Air America, Aviation History, Bellomy-Lawson, CIA, History, Miami International Airport, Southern Air Transport, Uncategorized

Researching The Past

(Post originally published at January 18, 2009) © M.D. Ely 2009

As I have begun researching Corrosion Corner, I have come across many places of interest. Several of the people I work with either worked in the Corner or flew airliners in and out of Miami International airport during the time the corner was chock full of old airplanes. So as I get into some of their stories, they tell me about all the “hang-outs” that the airline pilots, the flight attendants, the mechanics and such, visited. Johny Bryson’s Irish Pub was one such place. Bryson’s still exists though after I have told many of those around me where it is they say that was the old location of the 407 club. So I have more digging to do. But I am slowly compiling bunch of stories from many a person who lived the life of the corner rats and the adventures they had while doing so.