A Ptero Ptale
By Jack Weber, Coast Guard Aviator 139
Jack was an inveterate limerick-spinner, so it’s fitting to open this ptale with one of his favorite poems about helicopter pilots (he was an early one):
The Stump Jumper’s Lament
Beneath the spreading “rota head,” a helicopter stands,
With under-powered engine, and blades like rubber bands.
There’s an anti-torque propeller that is sticking out the tail,
Which makes it look, for all the world, like a highly pregnant quail.
Oh, how I hate DaVinci, and Sikorsky’s on my list,
For hadn’t been for both of them, this mess I would have missed.
We are the brave, we are the strong, and greatly in demand,
We are the helicopter pilots of the Purple Heart command!
Hobart Wilcox was the crewman on this Kaman K-225 at the 50th anniversary of powered flight at Kittyhawk, NC. The Coast Guard pilot was LCDR Jack Weber. They got to meet Igor Sikorsky at the event. Hobie said, “We called the helo “the flying checkstand.”
Throckmorton Philharmonic Gildersleeve, a character who had been a staple on the classic radio situation comedy Fibber McGee and Molly, The Great Gildersleeve enjoyed its greatest success in the 1940s. Actor Harold Peary played the character during its transition from the parent show into the spin-off and later in a quartet of feature films released at the height of the show’s popularity. On Fibber McGee and Molly, Peary’s Gildersleeve was a pompous windbag who became a consistent McGee nemesis. “You’re a haa-aa-aa-aard man, McGee!” became a Gildersleeve catch phrase. The character was given several conflicting first names on Fibber McGee and Molly
Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve was a Gibbon monkey who lived at Coast Guard LORAN Station Talampulan in the Philippines. Jack had been a former Surfman at Nahant Station on Cape Cod Bay before volunteering for Coast Guard Aviation soon after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He was sent to NAS Pensacola and earned his wings of gold in 1943 as an enlisted Aviation Pilot. His wartime service included flying PBY Catalina anti-submarine patrols in the Caribbean. Commissioned after the war, LT Jack Weber was assigned to Coast Guard Air Detachment Sangley Point in 1948.
Jack loved a good joke or story, and was known to pull off a gag or two when the occasion presented itself. The PBYs at Sangley point routinely re-supplied remote LORAN (Long Range Radio Aid to Navigation) at locations like Talampulan. They landed in lagoons and offloaded supplies into waiting boats for transfer to the LORAN station
USCGC Kukui Ship’s Log 1948: 1013, 8 May underway for Busuanga. Arrived Talampulan Island, Busuanga and anchored 1/2 mile east of Talampulan Island at 1511, 9 May 1948. During period at Talampulan made trip via LCM to Culion Leper Colony and also made a sounding survey of anchorage to eastward of Talampulan Island which was forwarded to the district. Delivered 75 foot pole, 400 drums of diesel fuel, reefer, cement, washing machine, dinghy CG-16427 and about 3 tons GSK stores. Constructed form and poured generator foundation, delivered and installed one 205B generator, delivered and installed two new steel water tanks, one Viking range, erected 75 foot pool and made minor carpentry repairs. Total off-loaded 150 tons. 27. 1355, 17 May departed Talampulan Island enroute Manila Bay P. I. Arrived Sangley Point, Manila Bay and anchored at 0825, 18 May in berth 340, 1/2 mile off Sangley Point. At Manila, granted liberty, obtained water, canteen supplies, 35mm movie film and quantities of gasoline and lumber for issue to Loran stations.