History of Aviation
Captain Jack Chandler. Jack (Jim’s father):
Was a B17 instructor during WWll. He joined the army aircorp on a Wednesday and Pearl Harbor was bombed the following Sunday. Basic
training started in Bakersfield, CA in the BT13 and AT6, his instructor for advanced training was the actor
Jimmy Stewart. After being promoted to Captain and one of the original 200 instructors in the B17, he was
transferred to Langley Airfield where he participated in the research and development for the Norden Bombsight
that was instrumental for bombing enemy targets. After the war, Jack continued his flying through business
aviation with a new 1957 Cessna 310, 1960 Cessna 310D and the Baron B55. By 1967 Jack, along with other corporate
executives within his company were required to give up flying the company airplanes and forced to ride in the back
of their 1967 King Air A90. Jack continued to fly with his son Jim for pleasure for several years.
Lt. Colonial Jim Johnson
Jim Johnson, nephew to Jack, joined the army at 17 to be an aviator. Jim fought in
World War ll, Korea and had two tours in Vietnam (65 & 67). Jim’s aviation experience was varied starting with
the L19 (Bird Dog), Cessna Blue Canoe, de Havilland Caribou and then on to the rotary aircraft to include the
Bell H-13 Sioux and Bell UH-1 Iroquois (Huey). Jim retired after more than 25 years of military service in
Fort Rucker Alabama.
Jim Johnson’s brother and Jack’s nephew.
I did work on the A-12 and the SR-71, but it was pretty much as a detail analyst (number cruncher). I held one of the lead design positions on the C-5, S-3, L-1011, F-22, and served on independent evaluation boards for the F-117 and F-35.
My position at Lockheed was Mass Properties (weight, balance, inertia) Manager. I was responsible for prediction, control, and validation for all Lockheed operations in California Lockheed.
Rockwell won the contract to design, build, and service the space shuttle orbiter. The system that they designed to perform the weight and balance checks required jacking the vehicle with a load cell in between. The pre-flight W&B was done in the environmentally controlled Orbiter Processing Facility at the Cape. Since the orbiter would land at Edwards and no sheltered facility would be available, the jacking system would be dangerous in the gusting desert winds. Since our L-1011 plant in Palmdale was close to Edwards, NASA asked my boss if we could suggest anything. I had taken Lockheed out of the weigh-by-jacks method many years before because of the accuracy and vehicle safety limitations inherent. We were using portable platforms to W&B the L-1011’s. I said we could weigh it outside if they could provide 115V power and a stable, level surface. I wasn’t worried about inaccuracy from wind gusts because the Orbiter was a flying brick and wouldn’t respond to them very much plus we could electronically dampen the fluctuations on the weighing readouts. After it landed, they towed it into position and we weighed it without incident.
I was in my office when I got a phone call. My secretary said it was someone from NASA named Slayton. I said. “Deke Slayton?” It was. Deke had taken over as manager of the Enterprise program at Edwards. He told me that the preflight W&B by Rockwell didn’t match the flight data and was probably in error. He said our post-flight data matched what they got with corrected initial data. He asked if I would be interested in a contract to weigh the vehicles and recommend a viable system to them. That was above my pay grade, so I called my boss. We went immediately to see The Man. He said that Corporate had been trying to get a toehold in the Space Center business and said go for it. We tested our equipment against the Edwards equipment and Rockwell’s. Our equipment closely agreed with Edwards and Rockwell’s equipment was embarrassing. So, from 1981 through 1983, we transported our equipment from California to the Cape performing pre-flight and post-flight W&B. I assigned myself to lead the weighing team. (It’s nice to be the boss.) Lockheed outfitted us in clearly identified clothing. The W&B was the last operation performed before roll out. The orbiter was towed off our scales and directly to the VAB (assembly building). Since there was always TV coverage of the pre-flight orbiter roll outs, Lockheed had us use jump suits and caps with Lockheed prominently displayed. Our equipment performed flawlessly and I was approached with a potential Cape job. I demurred. Rockets are fun but basically, it’s all propulsion, sensors, and guidance. Aircraft conceptual design, followed by conversion to cost-effective production design, is more challenging to design engineers.
As for all the glass on the instrument panel, remember you’re dealing with analog technology. They didn’t have anything better. Realistically too, their mission profiles were simple: Get off the ground, refuel, go like hell as high as you can, turn on the cameras, turn off the cameras, land.
Jim started flying in 1970 earning his private license at 18. His sole purpose to obtaining
his license was to impress the girls in high school (it worked). With the urging of Jack and cousin Jim, he
continued obtaining his ratings and with 400 hours total time, started his first corporate job in November 1974
in Bluefield, West Virginia, flying with longtime family friend, Joe Sasser. His first corporate aircraft was
the King Air 200, serial number BB9. During the next several years Jim moved from West Virginia, South Carolina,
Alabama and back to Tennessee while adding 5 type ratings to his certificate. Next it was to Eastern Airlines
where he left flying as First Officer on the DC9, his favorite airplane to date. After Eastern closed its doors
in January 1991, Jim was once again in the corporate aviation environment. He retired in May 2013 after 13 years
as Vice President of Flight Operations for a fortune 300 company. Type Ratings – CE500, N265, LRJet, DA50, HS125
Ben’s first flying lesson was at the age of ten in 1995. By the time he was 19 he added his
instrument and multi-engine ratings to his certificate. With high hopes of having an airline career, his
timing was just not right due to the downsizing of the major airlines. However, he now works in the automotive
industry and is the proud owner of a Cessna 182.
Paige, Ben’s sister, is just starting her aviation adventure. Her first lesson was in 2005 and
she now has 10 hours in her log book.
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