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Thread: Marriage and the airplane builder

  1. #1
    Bob Collins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Woodbury, Minnesota, United States

    Marriage and the airplane builder

    For a long time, I've wanted to write an article about homebuilding and marriage.

    There are at least three types of marriages surrounding homebuilding.

    * The fully engaged spouse who really is into the project.

    * The spouse who is supportive of the project but doesn't want to participate. He/she has their own thing going and makes clear the project isn't hers/his, it's yours.

    * The divorced spouse. It probably didn't collapse because someone decided to build an airplane, but it probably didn't help.

    There are plenty of examples of the first and I've enjoyed talking to them over the years and will probably circle back if I go ahead with this research.

    I need only walk into the next room to meet the second kind. And they're pretty easy to find.

    So I'm not too worried about providing their perspective and tips for keeping a marriage intact during an airplane build.

    The third is the hardest to find, at least in terms of getting everyone to talk to a writer and be open about a failed marriage and an airplane project. And I'm not really interested in grinding marital axes. I want to find people who lost a marriage, who would've liked to have it have succeeded, and are introspective about things.

    So I don't really know if this will get anywhere but it's worth putting out there. If you are in the THIRD group, and you'd be willing to talk about the strain a project put on a marriage, what you would/wouldn't do differently etc., please contact me at

    I think an article of this magnitude and research would be very helpful for married people considering building an airplane.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Bob Collins
    St. Paul, MN.

  2. #2
    Jim Heffelfinger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Sacramento, California, United States
    Excellent thesis. We all look forward to the article . I am with the 2nd group. With added anxiety on potential loss of life. Based on priority projects ahead and the expected slippage - I am good finishing my plane project in my 90s.

  3. #3
    I am in the 3rd group and actually a widower since 2015. The actual tin bending and pound to fit paint to match was done by others in Building 60 and 61 with assemblies from Torrance and El Segundo with other assemblies from the original headquarters on Clover field in Santa Monica. Until my story jumps to Saint Louis for the actual building. I met my wife at the apartment of some bachelor co-workers. The place was called "Flintstones" and had an image of Freddy and his dinosaur power shovel and was on Signal Hill with oil well pumps in it's back yard up the hill. The front two story part had been occupied by vandals who totally trashed it except the manager's office. My coworkers rented one of two bigger multi room suites on the hill to the North.

    She was there talking with the best known to me of my coworkers and another young woman was with her. She was a daughter of the apartment manager as I found out later when I actually made contact with her moving boxes out of her Sprite sports car into her parents apartment. The aviation aspect was in one of the boxes. Her parents had owned some small manufacturing plants on old airfields in Lubbock, Childress and Amarillo in the Texas panhandle. The companies were called "Texas Bronco" and the product and sales effort was for a much larger sculptured horse on springs and a tall or short steel tube stand to allow bucking and rearing up, in the present case made of cast aluminum and in another time of fibreglass. They were sold mostly to individuals or to motels and restaurants on US Route 66. I saw one of the half sculptures that day in an open box and later pictures of a rig on a trailer pulled by her parents car and ridden by her younger sister as a demonstrator. She was a high school graduate. This was in 1966.

    Ten years later after I had taught her to ride a motorcycle and taken her into the Mojave Desert with Colonel Russ Schleeh USAF (ret'd) and his girl friend who rode a Honda 90 trail bike she wanted to also go to one of the "Top Gun" graduation parties held at the Miramar officer's club. With all the anti-war activity I could see value in assuring the junior officers soon to deploy to Viet Nam that they could come back to Long Beach and not be shunned or harrassed. My wife never liked to be alone and always had one of her girl friends come over when ever I left town to market products to the USAF and NAVY. I asked the XO if she could come to a party and bring a friend as a designated driver from Long Beach to San Diego and back?? The friend was the daughter of a sales manager for the Lincoln-Mercury on the traffic circle. She later was hired by McDonnell-Douglas as the visitor control girl for Commercial and Military.

    What airplane did we make? The FA-18 "Hornet. Did I ever touch metal on this aircraft? No. Did I ever make drawings of it? No. The F-111B which Grumman was going to build for the Navy to maintain jointness with the USAF F-111A built by General Dynamics was cancelled and a quick turnaround to another contract sponsored by the COMFAIR Miramar was awarded to Grumman to build what became the F-14 "Tomcat". The Chairman of McDonnell James McDonnell cried foul at the timing and refused to do business with the NAVY. We at Long Beach had just merged in 1969 with McDonnell and I was ordered to quietly support the A-4 and TA-4 Adversary activities of VF-101 and VF-96 at Miramar. As a tight link I was given the opportunity to attend the first "Top Gun" class of the now official Navy Fighter Weapons School as a civilian. My mount was an IBM-375-85 and a CDC-6500. CUBIC had won the ACMR contract to instrument NAVY fighters with pods and telemetry ground stations in the nearby mountains powered by novel solar power. McDonnell had lost that one too.

    My greeting as I entered the ward room at "Fightertown" was "The Northrup guy fell at Boom Trenchard's Flare Path and hit his head and died. Northrup had a close relationship in town with the school and was showing them a design they called the P-530 "Cobra." I was somewhat familiar with this work based on a new hire at Douglas, a Foreign USAF pilot from Indonesia whose family owned Bauxite mines. The school painted up some A4E's like Russians and called them "Mongoose."

  4. #4
    BusyLittleShop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Sacramento California
    We are good at attaching ourselves onto our beloved flying machines
    but most fail to understand the power we have on a relationship...

    The right glance, the right touch, the right word, these are the
    little things that boost a relationship daily...

    In addition most couples don't know the answers to 3 simple
    questions... we tend to over complicate our relationships due to a
    lack of understanding... Most of what we know of relationships is by
    trail and error and hit an miss... which can be brutal... Imagine
    learning to fly just by trial and error and hit and miss???

    1) What is the most important thing to a women???

    2) What is the most important thing to a man???

    3) What is every thing we need to know about sex???

  5. #5
    This then sets up another competition that has first to see the "Light Weight Fighter" come out of another unhappy USAF part of the McNamara joint doctrine, the A-7D. Two forks of development will have to mature, 2000 n-mi unrefueled range which was real in the A-6 and supersonic which was a bit spurious and in conflict until the swing wing and augmented turbofans were seen in Soviet designs more than one generation. So after my mentor on company trips was grounded by his wife and I had been part of a winning proposal for a USAF version of a commercial transport and I was taken off the team and my report repressed for surfacing a "learning curve" for USAF Navigator Training different than LTV, the A-7 contractor had just produced for the NAVY, I was more than grounded in 1968. The Douglas Washington Office Director had been an Vought A-7 "Cutlass" pilot as well as another member of that office was the NAVY representative and a former Vought F-7 Cutlass pilot.

    They had been told in no uncertain terms to never bring another A-4 "Skyhawk" growth design in while the press of production resulted in The A-4F and International sales kept the line going. But we were at my wife, who once Captain "Zeke" Cormier USN ret'd had left in disgust at the C-9 "COD" for carrier based Navy Fleet Logistics Support, made her my go to pickup courier to get my proposal to the new FED/EX to catch me in Washington for next day delivery.

    She did that and also once picked up a personal sheet of 4 feet by 8 feet 0.80" 4130 chrome/moly steel at Jorgensen Steel while pregnant with my second child and leading my first in a 1967 Chevrolet C-10 pickup with a wood floored 8 foot box and wide-ratio truck 4-speed. She could play tennis better than I but left the rackets my father and mother had given me out on the back porch in the rain. Then she bought herself a super sized rocket with expanded "sweet spot". Billy Jean King was local and this really was her carrot that expired with the ERA. My soon to be friend from Northrup had a Mercury "Cougar" with a wet lease and my wife completely missed the Dan Gurney Cougar connection even as Jerry Grant brought his girl friend out in the desert to shoot an AR-15 along with his 500 cc Triumph and a Montessa "Scorpion" for her.

    She wanted to sell meat for Young's market to a NAVY chief on an aircraft carrier in San Diego with the networking of her travel agent friend and Princess Lines as well El Cajon and her other friend and a NAVY chief across the street from the house (we) bought in 1971. I had made the mistake of paying off her sports car with 60 days arears and a cosignature by the future mayor of Long Beach's wife. I had paid off the PL & PD insurance that never had even a deposit. I had paid off two department store credit cards. A leased BMW 530i to replace a Toyota 5-speed Corolla she had backed into a city truck was not wanted. She wanted a Honda Accord (now!). After she applied for separation she bought a Honda Civic with the key jammed so the starter spun up and centrifuged. I found out about the long through bolts!

    Patty Wagstaff and Betty Skelton and other women pilots were my view of their skills. Her words were, "I'm disappointed that I am not where I expected to be..." Where I was looking at the Scientific Data Systems (SDS) SIGMA 5/7 that CUBIC now had for the ACMR she was looking at HUGHES who her fellow grocery checker she was supporting for stealing panty hose at RALPH's employed the woman's husband, and the Retail Clerks International wouldn't support. Yeah! that Hughes who won the AGILE missile contract defeating the QUICKTURN and GE Chapparal team I had helped. We had a neighbor teenager whose dad also worked at Hughes but at a lower level. My wife hired him as a housekeeper while also hiring the girl across the street as a baby sitter and yes, I ended up with my name forged on a hospital admission form at an out-of-the-way hospital in Orange county.

    Ross Perot much later created EDS in Plano Texas and folks here in Texas don't recognize my wife or children if I mention them. Hughes and GM and Contemplatives spirited me away to make an indulgence with the ROTA, ( not the NAVY base in Spain.)

  6. #6
    Is there really any substance to "Phantom II?" Flew from Rochester NY to NYC to apply for a job in the PanAm Building not seeing the Seagram's building nearby. Bronfman was the Chairman of Grumman at the time. XEROX bought out SDS in LA. I had watched Xerox grow in Webster NY from my grand parents home in East Williamson, where I left from to fly to NYC after the phase change in 1978. I really did make a good effort to support women engineers but only math aids appeared. Lady Tom Cat pilots seemed to have less luck with safe ejections from Tom cats after catapulting from carriers or was it just the loud phone calls I had overheard to and from Alamagordo on the zero-zero ESCAPAC -II seat that biased my view before the seat went into full production.

    Rosie was not a rivetter at Douglas in my era, she was a computer operator who I spoke to on the telephone at the IBM 2250 Vector graphics terminal to get her to identify and mount a 9 track 1600 bpi tape to record the latest demo or development of what eventually chose the FA-18 as a Supersonic strike fighter over the HIPAAS subsonic designs, some with after burners. Rosie was saucy. One of the occupants at my first apartment in Long Beach was studying to be a computer operator and wanted to join me in my upstairs one bedroom when her lease ran out. Saucy, not Risque Rosie, a more alliterative form used by a Latvian coed I met in Freshman orientation at U of M. I had met a Latvian teenager at Glacier National Park when I was 15. Easily identified by the button on the end of the nose. Now the closest thing to a wife I have is the widow of a Sabrejet and Lockheed test pilot. She is 13 years my senior. She is a regional artist and has met the Japanese princess.

  7. #7
    Name:  structure 010.jpg
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Size:  69.9 KB I was always looking around. My children came to the DC-10 open house before it rolled out. My wife didn't.

    She drove my former roommate around and handed him off to the brother of one of her girl friends to buy a house when I got him a tour and an interview with Douglas Laboratory and he stayed with us long enough for my wife to snoop on his letters to his mother with such gems as "I bought a motorcycle and ride Dale to work every day." I asked her to stop snooping. I had to get a special junk BSA double seat to rig to my Ducati Scrambler so I could ride him to work until he moved out and had his cars moved to his house. One of my other college roomates also lived with us for a time in 1965 and we got in trouble with my wife as she could only cook Noodles Romanoff out of the box. We made a cherry pie and fussed and fussed to get just the right upper crust flour and water and shortening so it had to be put on the pie with a cutoff top of a pizza box to avoid drooping while locating it. He moved out to work for Los Amigos hospital as a machinist making set ups for electronics the doctors made for protheses.

    After a person standing in line in Southfield was stabbed just ahead of him he joined the USAF. He married a 15 year-old-girl which was legal in California. I dropped in on him in 1983 after he was working at the Pentagon in Minuteman Control. When I got an apartment at 4321 Georgia dead center in the diamond of old L'Enfante DC he said he could not go there.

  8. #8
    My wife was very conscious of her face. She worked for at May Co in Lakewood, California at the Revlon counter when I met her. She deeply resented the A-line wool frocks and Bass Weejun loafers she had to wear. Her friend was a buyer at Bullocks and insisted and that is what led to the two small credit cards. Platinum Plus and ULTIMA II needed L'Aire d'a'temp perfume to liven them up. Here is a sort of casual go with Brittany Spears as the mockup. Name:  britney cube22.jpg
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  9. #9
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Size:  26.7 KB This is the hook. A damsel will be back in a moment for the last box for her parents. The father will be making layouts of his dream factory on a drafting board in a room the last time you see him. On the way back from Amarillo to Long Beach on Continental Airlines the stewardess will constantly be checking to see her seat belt was fastened. (she never wore one in a car.)
    Last edited by 2ndsegment; 12-06-2020 at 04:22 PM. Reason: wrong file

  10. #10
    robert l's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Heath Springs, S.C.
    My wife finally decided it was safe to fly with me today, she had a great time, taking pictures and circling friends houses. This may be a double edge sword, like when I got a motorcycle in 2003 and she decided to go for a ride with me. After that, she wanted to go all the time, it's all good though.
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