Ep.90 Hangout With Clouds (Fred - Pilot)
5:27AM Apr 4, 2020
Good day everyone you're listening to time for your hobby. And this is Episode 90 hanging out with clouds. I'm your host Alex and today I have the honor to have Fred as my guest on the show how you doing today?
I'm doing terrific.
That's always good. And you're my 90th episode, which is pretty cool. It's kind of surreal to realize like, oh, no just casually went to 90. And, you know, let's just feel this high. And being a pilot is the perfect hi for this podcast episode for the 98th episode. I'm making weird analogies and segues right now. But anyways, Today my guest is Fred and before we jump into the topic, Who are you? If you don't mind me asking?
Well, I am a Producer Director, I have had my own production company for 35 years. And I'm semi retired now. And I'm happy to say that I'm actually signing a contract tomorrow to executive producer to develop a new series for a network, which I can't talk about. But I can talk about a lot of the things that I've done and one of the most fun things that I've done is to pursue my hobby, which became a part of my business. And that is as a pilot, and I've always wanted to be I had a written goal to do a bunch of things. And at this point, I've done all but one of them and if I get that contract signed tomorrow, which we will I get to pursue my last one which is a develop that new network, musical variety television show, but in the meantime, the flying has been a passion since I was a little boy my, my uncle had a company airplane. And this is when I was like, oh, maybe seven, eight years old. And he let me sit in the cockpit. And that was it. I was I was always excited about airplanes. I think every little kid is, but that was really the spark in I used to get my dad to take me out to the airport and watch the airplanes come and go. And then when I finally got into business, I started using the aircraft to fly and started taking lessons and then I learned to fly so that I could commute to Disneyland when I was a musician there from San Diego, and beat that traffic on the freeway, going back and forth. And then as I became a producer and director, I'd fly to Burbank all the time to go into the studios to do my directing and such. And then after renting airplanes for a number of years, I had Two or three emergencies with that were really caused by maintenance issues. And I vowed to get to the point where I can actually have my own airplane. And I don't have to worry, I'm going to have to maintain it to a much higher standard, and you won't have four or five people flying, it'll just be for me. I always know what the maintenance levels are, and I will maintain it. And if I don't have enough money to maintain it, I'll sell it. So I ended up through the years with a total of four different airplanes. But I use them both for business and for pleasure. And it was just so much fun. And I think the coolest thing is when you learn to fly and and start to have a reason to fly, other than just getting up in the air that it fulfills that. Well, we say we justify it, but we really rationalize why we want to fly
I had a lot of a lot of fun doing that. So I ended up uploading a lot of single engine airplanes, but I've also flown mostly, as soon as I could I got into twins and one two reasons for that when I was a student pilot, and let me explain that you know, when you're a student pilot you soloed but you can't go flying without an okay by your instructor. And I was doing solo work where I was doing touching goes at an airport where we just take off and you fly the pattern, you come in, and you touch down on the runway and then immediately add power and take off again and go around and you're just practicing that approach in the in the landing touchdown Park. And you don't want to have to stop and taxi all the way back and take off again. So you come down, you touch the wheels down, okay, you got the landing made, add power, and take off again, while I was on that it's called the downwind when you're parallel to the runway. Coming down around to make your final approach that when you make your turn into before final approach, it's called your base leg. And then you turn final I was on the downwind and you're pretty high. And you're taught that you know, you want to be high enough that if you lost an engine, you could glide to a landing, because all airplanes glide, they are all gliders. They just come down a little more steeply than a regular glider does. But they still they can all land gliding. So I was throttling back as you do on the downwind, you're slowing down, and I pulled the throttle back and the whole throttle came out in my hand. The linkage to the engine had let loose. So now the engine is in idle, so you're not going to get any more power to and you would normally need power to make your turns and you carry some power all the way around. And now I'm a glider. So at that point, I called the tower and I said I've lost my engine, I need to make a shorter video. approach, which means I'm not going to fly out, turn the normal traffic pattern come in. I'm, I'm going to start angling for that runway right now because I'm coming down. And, and then I said student pilot. And so I didn't even declare an actual emergency that the tower did for me. But by the time anybody would get a firetruck out, their eyes would be already on the ground. Because it's just literally probably a minute and a half before I'm going to be on the ground. So I flew it in and I made a short approach and I landed just fine. And the engine is still running. So I'm idling and it's barely moving taxiing wise because you normally have to add some power to taxi but I taxied off the runway and such and then shut down and the people who own the airplane where I was renting, said a tug out and pulled me in. So I had that happen. And then after I was certified and flying all the time, I was over in Las Vegas. I had actually gone to a meeting over there and I was coming back. And this is the early days, just as I was coming out of McCarran airport, out over the mountain coming south towards San Diego, the engine on this plane and this was a six passenger single engine plane in the engine, quit, boom, and I was on my climb out. And I was just right over this mountain and I looked down and I'm looking for a word where I'm going to glide to the land as a single you're always thinking that where do I land? And I was over very hostile terrain where the rocks were about as big as houses. Oh, no, this is not going to eat well. So and I and I just been handed off by the tower, la center for radar following, which always did because it's just safer. If something happens they at least know where where to go send the rescue people and I called called the center and they said, Roger, you're below our radar. coverage. And so I would not quite high enough to be in their radar coverage yet. And I would have been in a few minutes climbing but now I am descending, I'm gliding. So I'm going through emergency procedures and you change the fuel tank over you turn on the fuel pumps, you start going through things and trying to restart the agent get it going again, nothing's really working. And then there's an it was the time that was back back in the day. There was a jet coming out it was a 707 from Western Airlines was flying out and they come on the frequency and they said to one whiskey would got you insight. And they they circled over they diverted from their flight path and circled over me so they could direct as rescue people to find me on the ground, which was kind of cool, but I'm still going to hit a rock somewhere that this is not this is not going to end well. Anyway, I went through all the procedures twice and then the interest started. And it was just fine. And I climbed on up and went on my way, and got back to San Diego. And they put it in the shop and everything. They couldn't find anything wrong with it. And the best and they never did. They never did. They had a couple of possible explanations, but nobody ever found anything wrong with it. And I went, this is not good. I think I want to fly planes with two inches. So I learned how to fly twins. And over the years, all these years of flying and 4600 hours in the logbook. I had a couple of and they were rented still airplanes. I had two of them either quit or go partial power in one engine quit on me coming out of Santa Monica, where I've been doing some editing in a local edit place up there. And I was right over LA x and boom it this one engine just quit declared emergency and when you lose an engine you land The next available airport period you don't mess around with it, but they fly on one engine just fine. You just have to know how to fly that way and you learn it part of your certification. So I declared the word to see landed at LAX and no problems landed single engine, then taxi back in and they found out that one of the mag Nino's had blown up because it was old and had not been maintenanced. So I'm thinking I need to buy it airplane.
So I did I bought a used airplane and then took it to the shop and had him go through absolutely top to bottom and everything was you know, just in mint condition. And I flew that for a lot of years and went a lot of places is so much fun. And the coolest thing about flying whether in a single art or twin is when you get up in the morning, and after you get your instrument rating you're allowed to fly in the clouds and you get a clearance up through the overcast and it's sunrise Eyes and you're just coming through the cloud tops. And I think a lot of people have seen this in an airliner, when you come up through the clouds, and you're just skimming the tops of the clouds. That is so beautiful. All of a sudden you're in the sunshine. That is the coolest feeling. And believe me the best views in the pointy end of the airplane. Pilots Oh, it's it's breathtaking. And the the exhilaration that you feel, being in control of this airplane and being able to go places and the freedom that makes you feel is just amazing. There's no red lights, there's
no green lights in the air. You just go. And then did you ever do a time lapse? Let's say we'll have a little camera and just record.
Not really. The only time I did that kind of thing was we one of the big jobs we had was to do an IMAX film for American Airlines. They were my client for 35 years for all their biggest work. And we got this IMAX film and we loaded up an IMAX camera in the nose of this Learjet and we did a whole lot of flying on that. And I was got qualified to fly as the CO pilot in the Lear jet, which is that the layers require two pilots. So and I was flying with some of the best captains who do air to air work in the world. One of them was clay Lacy, that's how I first was flying with the most. And clay. If you looked at if you want to look up, play Lacy and go on imbd to look at all the films he's been in and found for all my god, it's it's the biggest feature films ever made in aviation. But flying with clay was so much fun. We got to do a lot of really cool things in the Learjet and flying that layer. What a rocket ship That is so much fun to fly. So I got to do the call pilot you do get to fly some other stuff and I got to do some takeoffs and landings. But when we were doing close formations on other airplanes with this air to air work, you want somebody who's really really experienced at the tight formation flying and that's all the captain I did all on the fly with those captains and then I'd be directing the film shooting. And then when we were done with the film shooting, then I would fly usually to the next day nation or whatever and sometimes I'd land sometimes they would land it depends on the situation but I got to get quite a bit of stick time as well. But with the actual flying formation was all the captain's work and I made sure we had the fluid about four different captains who I totally trusted, and because you're getting real close to other airplanes, and and you've got to know who's flying the airplane to it's dangerous if it knows You're with really good people.
Yeah, so the pictures you sent me and the planes are extremely close and well for some people like oh, it's not that close but when it comes to actual planes flying beside each other that's really close and yeah, I can imagine it's nerve racking if you're just seeing that from a different perspective and actually for you, do you remember your feeling the first time you flew? Not like just being a passenger in a plane but being the pilot, what was your feeling? Oh, it was
elation and and some nerves. But I had flown as a passenger in private aircraft before that, and got a little bit of stick time sitting in the right seat. But when it's I was sitting in the left seat with an instructor and starting to learn to fly. It was terrific. And I had a really good guy. I was in my early 20s. And the guy that I started flying with was a he had been a crash investigator for the early NTSB. He was also an airline pilot and had been a fighter pilot in the war and in Korean War. And he was just really really thorough with me but I also got my first airline client Western Airlines at the time. And I was learning to fly and and I had these meetings at La x. So it just made sense I'd hire my instructor would rent the airplane would fly to LA x in a twin and I had six hours of total time as a pilot as a student pilot and applying the twin instrument conditions into Li x. And that's what that's a lot of my early early experience flying was in complex airplanes with this instructor. And then when I did my actual just practice flying it was with in a single engine airplanes with the instructor. So I was immersed in complex flying from day one and learn how to fly in and out of La acts as a student pilot with my instructor. So I had a real good background. And he just they taught me all sorts of stuff that you usually don't get till you're in more advanced phase and then we would go back. And when we did just lessons, we'd be in the single and he put me through the standard teaching that they put you through. But I didn't get my my private license till I was way into the game. I was, gosh, I think I had about 5040 or 50 hours before I soloed which is a long, long time, or he would usually come closer to that. But that was okay, because I was getting all that experience and it really did pay off for me later. It's so much fun. Oh my god, it's just so much fun.
And speaking about all those hours of experience, where was the first place you you flew solo or with a co pilot, but it was your first place you flew after you got your license?
No, I don't don't remember exactly, but it was probably to LA because I started flying regularly. Even as a student pilot. I was before I got my final license, I had clearance to do a whole bunch of my trips at night, from my gunnery field in San Diego to Fullerton airport, which is the closest little airport to Disneyland. And I would go up there and then I had I had a band at the time. And we were when I was still starting my fledgling production company, but I was playing in a rock band we at one point open for Stevie Wonder but mostly we're playing a lot of Disneyland main stages and other gigs in the LA and San Diego area. But I used to, because we were regular at Disneyland I'd fly from San Diego, up to Fullerton and then take a cab over to the park and do the job and then fly back at night. So that was the first solo work. And actually pre license. I couldn't take any passengers but I could do that trip with my instructors, Clarence and good weather,
man, it must have been so amazing. And so like, it must have been like a out of body experience like you had to be there to be focused. But I mean, it must have been surreal just to be doing that.
Yeah, well, I think the the memory I have the first time that was really both acute attention and a bit of anxiety was the first time I flew an instrument approach to minimums solo. Now you've I've done a lot of instrument work with my instructor pilot with me. But you have to fly it and did a lot of the practice where you put the hood on so you can't look outside. And I did some actual instrument flying where you're in the clouds. But this was the first time solo and it was going into Santa Barbara. And they were down to minimum so you're flying what's called in iOS, which is the Instrument Landing System, and you're following, it's it gives you a glide slope and it gives you a bearing right to the airport. So you fly the two needles down. And it's kind of like playing a video game, but you're looking at it. But you're you have to learn to scan like five instruments at once. And, you know, you have to control your speed, your attitude, your altitude, your rate of descent, all that kind of stuff to stay on the glide path. Anyway, you come down and you actually on an iOS, you normally break out at 200 feet above the ground, that's pretty low. And then you have to see the airport landing area clear enough to land. So the first time I did that, you're coming right down to it and you're getting down to 400 feet 300 feet, and you still don't see the runway, and then 200 feet, and boom, there it is. And you have you know, and you're going to touchdown it at 200 feet, you're probably going to touchdown in In the next 1520 seconds, that's how you know how low you are. So that can kind of get the hair on the back of your neck going a little bit. But the first time it was great then after that it got more and more routine and then you just follow your procedures and and practice it. You practice frequently. And it's no big deal.
It became second second nature for you, it just it's a part of your body to six cents. And actually, did you ever teach anybody else how to fly a plane or just not necessarily teach or just show in like your uncle did for you?
Yes, I did. I would show kids a matter of fact, there's one of the most well known instructors in the world with a flight school and everything is john king, john and Martha King, the king schools, and they do DVDs and they do it as the teaching of the all the ground school work. But the kings are just huge in the business and he's was also based at the same airport. So when my kids were Going to school we would do airport day for the kids coming out. And I had my twin at the time. And he had a private jet. And he would bring the jet over and not get the twin there and would take the kids through and show them all about airplanes and everything. This is elementary school kids and let them sit in the cockpits and all that. But john had the greatest thing that he would do with these kids. And these are mostly like sixth graders, and occasionally he was seventh graders in middle school, but he would ask them, tell me what makes an airplane fly. And now the kids knowing that they're coming to the airport, had done some science, and they would talk about the Bernoulli principle and, and all this kind of stuff. And no matter what they said, john would say no, that's not what makes airplanes fly. And they just went on and on. And of course they're giving him the scientific reasons airplanes flying and he finally says no kids. It's money that makes airplane flies a whole lot. Have it?
That's a good answer.
It's a bit of an expensive hobby. And I only was able to indulge in it in the level I did because it was a time machine. For me, it enabled me to start my production company and have jobs, like the Western Airlines account was my first big job and be able to still have the band and play at Disneyland and still be home and be able to do that commuting. And it's much more efficient with your time and I could get to where I could leave the office. And I had a for example, a recording session in LA and I'm directing talent for a filmer video that I'm working on. For the voiceover work, and I would fly to LA and go into the studio, do the session and come home and be home in time to either continue to work in the afternoon. Or I could actually fly up there and have a three o'clock session be done at four and in LA Be home in San Diego at dinner by 530. Wow.
The practicalities of having an airplane I should probably start saving my money for one of those and then get at least over 50 hours. I know you said it's an overkill for amount of time. But you know, what if if it gets me the exact same experiences you it's worth it. Oh, you're talking about film production? How do you tie in your being a pilot and flying with your film production? It was a one that came before the other one or they just came at the same time? He said, Yes, I want to combine these two together. They're both my passions.
It was well let me go back a little bit further. In seventh grade. We had a teacher who gave us sort of a rudimentary aptitude test and it's what do you want to be when you grow up? This is what it was really all about. And a lot of kids would have whatever it was that they had in their brains, you know, the the firemen, the policeman, the astronaut, all that kind of stuff, but I wanted to be an audio engineer. I wanted to be professional musician. I was already playing trumpet. I wanted to be a television director, and I wanted to be a pilot. And by in high school, I started recording for a company that did High School bands and made records for them. Maybe, you know, like CDs are today, but at that time it was records and they actually made records. We go out and record these schools and I met the guy who was doing that. And I ended up being an engineer recording for him. And then later, when I was transitioning out in college, I started working for an AV company that did sound and we did the big rock concerts and I mixed sound for the Moody Blues, Creedence Clearwater, three dogs, I can't eat on and on and on. So I was I became a professional audio engineer for live mixes while I was still in college, and then I also directed my first television show through a Junior Achievement program a commercial show on the air Live when I was 18, so I was following that path. And then when I got my 20s and started, the band was really going well that was paying for college with all the music, but I was also starting the production company right after I got out of college. And that's when I wanted to get into the flying because it was a means it was a way to commute. And it was really triggered by both Western Airlines becoming a client in the Disney gigs and just the time savings of going back and forth to LA and I didn't want to live up there. So that was the how it all started. And then I found that as a pilot, it was so much easier to work and talk to people in the aviation industry. So I ended up getting and I was became a well known and good producer, director of these videos. Falcon jet hired me through the years I did work for Lear jet. I did work for Cessna. And then I did work for American Airlines. I did some work for United at one point just a little bit. I did work for us air with America's permission. But the being in being a pilot and being able to work with the airlines, I was able to combine filmmaking with my aviation. And that was really terrific. And I got to do a whole lot of things that other people might not have been able to do. For example, when we did the, we did a video for American and they, they was all about telling the left hand what the right hand was doing. between departments they everybody was doing their own thing and wasn't caring about the others and they were friction between all the departments, for example, the the pilots, versus the flight attendants versus the reservations department, all the maintenance, the people who are The airports, they all weren't working together. So they wanted this video and they're having a major thrush thrust through the entire company to get this message out, we got to work together, we're We are a team. So they said to open this meeting, we want this really cool video and they gave me a million dollars to do it. We would have been doing a lot of work for a long time. So there was a lot of trust there and they said we need to do this. And I one of the ways I they kept saying the pilots never come together for a meeting, we can run this video at all these other meetings, because everybody has a group meetings, but not the pilots. They only come in when they're doing recurrent training and they're you know two or three of them at a time you know, have a large group to do this with so and they don't want to watch a video anyway don't care about a company video, you know, whatever. How are you going to get them to watch it? So I said let's put some planes some airliners, a flight for information and do some real spectacular aerial photography. Every single pilot Want to see that? And they said, Oh, you know, that sounds pretty dangerous and data data. And I said you've seen all the other work I've done air to air shooting your airliners and such it says all yeah, it was major legs. So you think that'll work? I said, I know it'll work. That's awesome. They said we're going to talk to the go talk to the chief pilot. If you can talk him into it, we'll do it. So it over told the chief pilot and he was kind of excited and then he and he asked me he says is that you're on the ramp over at DFW? I said yeah, how'd you know he says I'm the chief pilot. I know everything. And so immediately I had good reputation and credentials because a I was a pilot B I was flying at that point. A jet prop nine passenger airplane is my personal plane. And he had seen all my my other work including IMAX work for the idea of film for their two films for their car Smith Museum, the American Analyze museum. So he said, Yeah, let's I like it. And he says, Oh, where are you going to do this? And how? And I said, Well, I've already talked to operations, the operations people knew me. And with will probably fly it somewhere, probably Chicago. And he says, well, who's going to fly the lair? And I said, we'll play Lacey. And that's the name I gave you earlier. And clay is, I mean, he is in the hall of fame of all of the major aviation organizations. He is known. And it was and it was Say no more. And he says, who's who's flying right seat and I said, Oh, I am and I'm directing, just like I have on all these other shoots, because sounds good to me. And then I said, I need to, we need to pick some pilots who have formation experience, not just line pilots, but guys who are you know, weekend warriors, probably in the reserves are still flying fighter jets in formation. Because that formation skill, something that you just can't let sit there for 20 years and then come back to it and do something complex like we're going to do. So we talked about that and got it all set up with these pilots who were experienced in formation, and we're still doing formation work. So we got it all set, and then we flew it out of Chicago. And it was terrific. The last second, we had a Boeing triple 7767757 and 737. at the last minute, the 767 had a mechanical, there was not the one that we had, it was flying fine. But it was what do they call their spare airplanes because they have so many flights going they have to keep them spares so they don't have to cancel a trip that one has some mechanical so they bring another airplane and they fly it late, but they still fly it so they took our player airplane to fill the slot that another airplane couldn't fly. But so we had three airplanes, but it didn't matter, we we still went up and flew this spectacular footage. And when it was all said and done, we actually had to put up a separate website and make a whole new production for the pilots to order copies of the videos to give to their families and such they all wanted it. They heard about it. We didn't have to do anything. I mean, you talk about a network where the word gets out better than than any commercial on TV better than all the political commercials combined. The word of mouth. Yes. So it was just such as success. And every pilot not only watched it but bought bought extra copies to give to their friends of the Flying stuff. So and it was because of my aviation background that I was able to combine the filming and the aviation and I gotta tell you being able To take two of your passions and do it in a way that one pays for the other, and you get to combine them in your art. Holy crap, it doesn't get any better than that.
I completely agree with you. Before starting a podcast, I used to be a music producer as well. And I love everything to do with audio editing and fixing. I'm self taught and and I ended up doing the intro to my own podcasts. And I just love doing that stuff. And you're absolutely right. When you combine two passions together, it just makes it amazing. And you sound like a person that can relate to anybody, like the ability to just use your technical skills from learning how to fly and just translate that into your directing skills and your film production skills to sell it to other people and also having the word of mouth just like hey, this is what I do and like, Oh my god, I can trust them. You know what, I want more copies. I want to I want to work with this guy. I want to I want to be friends with Fred. We're friends now. Right, Fred?
Absolutely. It was. It was really funny in the early one of the early jobs we did was for Cessna aircraft. And they were introducing the citation jet which is now the biggest selling small jet in the world. But it right at the beginning we wanted they wanted me to do air to air work on it, and we would already had done some air air to air work with a Learjet. They said no, no, we can't use a Lear jet. We're Cessna. We're coming up with a actually a competitor to the Lear jet is what we're introducing. So we can't shoot from a Learjet for this because some people will. I don't know they just said can't do it that way. As it was you never got to see the Lear jet. They said no, no, no, we just can't do principal I ended up with by just on the principle of it. So I go, okay, you I mean, they're the client. I'm not gonna argue with him. So we ended up shooting air to air on the citation jet. And we actually had two of them. From a Old World War Two bomber, a b 25 Mitchell bomber and this had been converted For film work, and it had a nose setup for a camera in a tail setup where they actually opened up the back of the tail and they had a mount there the cameras on and then the camera guys right behind them out and you're looking out not through glass or anything right out into the air and camera guys got a harness on and all that but it's just a really good aircraft for that then they had a sidemount with a bubble window to shoot through. And that that was okay. The nose was through Plexiglas on the front and that was okay, but the backward was a great shot. And we actually took it over and went through the Grand Canyon with these jets got some terrific footage. And then on the way back, the captain calls me on because we're all on headsets he calls me up says hey Fred, you ever fly have a 25 and I said no. And I have flown up in my plane to to do this. This assignment. So you know as a pilot, it says come on up, and I Get up there and he puts me in the left seat captain's seat. And I flew the thing from the Grand Canyon back to over to john Wayne Airport. And then of course when we got into the LA area he came back and then he flew it in landed it, but I got to fly this Mitchell for about an hour. Holy My God, it was so amazing. And I just kept thinking about these pilots going into World War Two and getting shot at and everything. And this thing drives like if you it would be like coming out of in a Learjet, you're in a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. And then you're in this thing, and you're in a Mack truck without power steering. on believable Speaking of which,
is there a plane that you would really love to fly, but just haven't had the chance to fly it yet? Uh,
yeah, some of the new corporate jets would be really, really fun to fly. And I've never flown a real fighter jet which would which would be a lot of hoops too, I have had the opportunity to fly some airliners, which is interesting, because the simulators that they use are so real that if you go into one and set it up right and really are going to fly, you're not just in there playing. And these are multimillion dollar simulators with that you can get airsick and they're they're that real. But I actually did some serious flying in them within with the instructor and everything and flying the left seat and had to hand fly instrument approaches to minimums in an MD 11. In a lesson I got to apply the triple seven, not the triple seven, the 767. And I also early in the early days got to fly a 727. And those are actually in in my logbook as real flying. And one of them a friend of ours was with FedEx. And he was a senior captain and he got me in the FedEx simulators. And this was an MD 11. And I gotta tell you, they took me up to Alaska, and they put you out on final approach. And here you go, land landed. And they set it up so that you know, you don't have to go through ground school and know all the setups, you know how much degree of flaps and this kind of thing. But we're on final approach, you put the gear down and set the flaps to what they said to set it to, and I'm flying in and actually did a pretty decent landing, they set up and they stopped the simulator and they boom, they pop you back out there. Again, it says, All right, smart assets. Let's see you do it with with, uh, with the weather. So now you're gonna have to fly an instrument approach without the autopilot down to minimums and land it. So I did it. I was, you know, if you can fly, you can apply. You got to learn all the systems and the speeds and everything. But they were helping me with that. But just talking me through it, but I used I actually flew the airplane and I again landed okay. And they said then my friend gets in there and he says alright make it hard for him because they're trying to make me crash.
We that's what good friends do right?
That's what good friends do. Sure. And these guys just saying, This is not this you're a private pilot, you're not supposed to be able to do this. So they gave me a quartering tail wind at the maximum component that you'd be legal to land in. Then they put it into a snowstorm a driving snowstorm with a slick runway and minimum visibility or your write down literally at the minimums. The the airplanes allowed, you're allowed to fly in for an iOS so at 200 feet, and an MD 11 at 130 knots. You're moving and you know, it's it's kind of hairy, and I am actually starting to sweat on this approach. It's that real And he gets down and I landed it. And I bounced it pretty good. But I landed it without breaking it. And he went after it says, Alright, we're buying the beers tonight. That was, that was a lot of fun. But they actually put it in the logbook that's awesome for the film at the car Smith Museum, one of the things that I was allowed to put in it, which I wrote into the script, and it's one of the greatest I was working with a marketing guys who are really good. And then main, my main guy eventually became executive vice president of the company. But I also got to know the President and the chairman. And they, they trusted me. So I talked him into the lobby to put into this film that all these kids that everybody else was going to see. And this is all in IMAX. A an emergency scene. Now I shot it in a simulator not in the real airplane, but it's so real, you can't tell and I put these two pilots through their paces is unbelievably in a DC tan now as an MD 11, three engine, and on final approach, they lose an engine. And then they lose a second engine. And they have to fly it. And this these failures are as real as it gets in the real airplane. So they're going through the procedures and the cameras rolling over their shoulders and you see the whole thing. And then they get all the way to the ground and touchdown. Now imagine you're doing a really a film for an airline, and they're showing this really hairy urgency. You would think that well, PR would never let you do it. But But PR didn't have a say in this one. But when I was explaining to him, he says why now we can't really show that I said, well wait a minute, because it gets on the one it gets onto the runway, and they're starting to roll out. And the guy's saying to flight attendants standby for ground evacuation. And then all of a sudden, it all comes to a stop. Then the simulator instructor leans in and says, Well, that was pretty good guys. Now, let's make it hard. And the copilot turns around and says, make it hard. And the captain says, Oh, yeah, they could make it a lot worse. So you see that it's a trading thing. And then the narration, you know, kind of talks about and then you have a wide shot of that whole simulator building with about 10 of these big simulators moving and everything. So you get the idea, and it's actually promoting safety. So it was in there, but it was a it's a real tense scene in the movie. And it was so successful. That movie ran for seven years. Wow. Before they called me and said, Let's do another one. So yeah, a lot of fun. That's awesome, man.
I love how passionate you are about this. That's awesome. I want to go so in so much details, but I'm sure some people are wondering now. If they're at this point in the episode, what are some misconceptions about People who are pilots,
ah, there aren't very many of them. Most of the rumors are true.
Pilots come in a lot of varieties and a lot of different temperaments. And I've met some pilots that I wouldn't fly with. And I think what you want to look for is somebody who is really safety conscious. And somebody who doesn't think they know at all. You never stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day you become dangerous. And really competent. pilots are always just having awareness and you have checklists that you run. And you don't want to ever get to where you, oh, I don't need the checklist. I know all of that. But if you've got any other things on your mind, it's so easy to look at the instruments and think everything's fine. And actually, because you've done it so many times, just look past it and expect it to be right. So your mind thinks that's right. And you don't even catch it. You have to be more meticulous than that. And you have to be real careful to not let the repetition get you overconfident and miss things and that that can happen. But I would say that pilots are a breed of passionate people who are combining both the love of flying but most of all, a passion for safe and somebody said once this is really a good one is take off our optional landings are mandatory. And if you stop and think about that, there's there's times when you just don't go The weather is wrong there it's just doesn't feel right. One of the things in my when I was just before I soloed I remember this flight for absolute. I was we were is a fairly warm day so we're taxing out to the runway It's a small single engine, Piper Cherokee two seater, or four seater, but just two of us and the door is cracked. for ventilation. There's no air conditioning until we get right out to the runway. Then just before we go the instructor on the door, it's on his site, he pulls it shot, and then we get to take off clearance. And he gave it got to take off plants. He closes the door. And as I start going, I hear this pump, clunk, clunk, clunk, sound. And the faster we're going, I hear this clunk, clunk, getting louder. And I said, I'm aborting the takeoff and he says, No, no, no, there's a plane behind us. You got to get going. And I and I said no, and I pulled the throttles back and aborted. It called the tower and said, we're boarding our takeoff. The guy behind us had to go around, and we taxied back. And as we're taxing off the runway, I said, What the hell was that sound? And he said, It was me. I had my seatbelt hanging out the door. To start flapping what you got going you pass the test, he wanted to see that under the pressure to take off. And even when he said Go go go, there's another airplane behind us from my instructor giving me an instruction that I didn't want to do because I was piloting command. And I want you to take off with that sound went on. And he said, You passed. So that was really interesting, but it's all about there's a lot about judgment and safety. And if you look at the crash that just happened up in LA, was bought Kobe Bryant, those nine people who perished in that helicopter crash. There was it's a thing called get to itis you've got, you know, a lot of people weren't flying in that conditions, and he flew into deteriorating visual conditions and ended up with a crash and the NTSB will come out with a final on it, but it seems apparent to all of the pilots that I've talked to and some pilots who are Helicopter guys that I've flown with in the air who fly that area all the time. said yeah, he made made a fatal error and then tried to correct it too late, but we'll see what it comes out. But that kind of accident can happen the Kennedy accident where he lost control of the airplane and crashed. He was warned not to go into those flying conditions at night. He didn't have his instrument rating. He was not that experienced of a pilot and the corporate pilot for the Kennedy clan had told him don't fly tonight. I'll take you guys over but he would he pressed on anyway. And it's that that kind of mindset that oh, I can do it, I can do it. That can get you into trouble. So that's what you got to really as a pilot, try to control and it's called risk management is very, very important. It to say safe,
I completely agree with you. I because I used to be a captain on a boat and it might be Also say bring out the boat bring out these, because I used to do tours, but it was a storm coming along or I see a lightning storm. He said, yeah, go out and I'm like, it's a middle boat, I am not going out. Because if it gets struck by lightning, it can injure seriously injure a lot of people. And it's exactly what you're saying. So, no, no, I completely understand. And it's unfortunate that it does happen to some people and there's passengers on these planes or helicopters that do end up being injured or seriously injured or killed due to some pilot that decides to do something when this shouldn't have been done. But once again, this is one bad apple. I'm not saying they're always bad, but there's one in like, 1000 kind of thing.
Well, it's mistakes and every we're human beings we make mistakes. But fortunately, most of them in aviation are caught and corrected before anything really bad happens. And in most accidents, the crash investigators will tell you that there was a fatal chain. This wasn't noticed In maintenance, then this happened then this happened. And while they were dealing with this mechanical problem, they made the mistake of not paying attention to something else and ended up crashing. So there's but there's usually not one mistake, but two, three mistakes or more in a row. That that lead to anything. Maybe on a lighter note, though, do you know what? The definition of a good landing is? Good landing great landing. A definition
is one that
everybody is getting out of their seat and go going off board. I don't know.
A good landing is anything you could walk away from a great landing is when the aircraft remains reusable.
Make sense? No. If only NASA You know, I think NASA is starting to get along with that with their spaceships. Yeah, yeah,
they the reusable is a big thing. So yeah, it It's so much fun though I got to tell anybody who really is interested in flying you out to your local flight school. And they'll have an introductory flight where they'll put you in the left seat. You fly with an instructor. They'll talk to you through a lot of things upfront, the basic things, and then they'll actually let you do some of the flying and they'll show you the ropes and you probably would fly around the place for half an hour, 30 minutes 3040 minutes and come back. But it gives you that whole feeling and the first time that you touch the either the stick or the wheel, and you pull back and you start to lift off the ground. The exhilaration and the fun of that is amazing. You feel like at one with the plane. Yes. And I don't know if you can use this but I'd like to play just a short piece of music for you that was done for galaxy jet. It's a song that we we put together And if you think about this was this place and picture these jets flying along through the clouds and making these landings and just all this dramatic aviation footage that goes with it. Here's a piece of the song
done by me. I'm not sponsored by anybody. I don't have to owe anything to anybody. This is a free podcast. So yeah, by all means plate
if we could see
if we could touch the face
would we choose to
to be more than just don't
touch the face
could do so much and make the world a brighter place.
Touch the face of tomorrow was such a perfect song original song that my friend Stan beard wrote. And he did a lot of the scores for a lot of my videos and my feature film. But the whole point of it is to capture the spirit of flying, at the same time tell a story about a new aircraft that's coming out. And it is forward thinking and it's the future of business aviation. And that's what they hired me to do is to make this video that would go to prospective owners and chief pilots. So therefore, it's got to have some really cool flying stuff, but it's got to have all the facts and such in it as well. So we did a lot of this fly and told some of the facts with just really nice little graphics underneath. So it's just the music is so important. And you as a music producer will understand this more than most. If you ever see any part of a production before the music's and you go, yeah. And once they put the music in, it all comes together and the music is the part that adds to picture and touches the heart. And that's what we did with this particular piece.
You're absolutely right. And music ties everything together. Have you ever seen let's say a horror movie, and they just take out the music, it's just not as scary for the music just adds so much more to it and it's a perfect combination. And now for you What was your biggest challenge when you first started flying?
I think the one of the biggest challenges was as you get into more complex airplanes, you have to have all of your skills really refined as you step up to each new airplane because things happen faster. The stepping up from the single engine to the twins. they they they fly faster, you make your approaches a little bit faster. And then to go from the twin to my turboprop. Well the turboprop that I bought was a Mitsubishi m u two and it's it's known as a very fast it's kind of a slick airplane a little bit like a jet in that control, it's moving a lot faster and it's a much more complex airplane. So you really need to stay on top of it. And learning to have all of your resources in your brain functioning. Thinking not two miles in front of the your aircraft but thinking 20 miles 30 miles ahead 50 miles ahead on just say 100 miles ahead. If you're on a jet, on descent, you have to your planning has to be way earlier and your responses to things need to be more automatic. When I was selling my twin Cessna and moving up to this Mitsubishi, the insurance company wouldn't even insure The airplane or me in it, until I had 2000 hours of multi engine pilot and command time, I had to have that much that much experience before they would even let me get into the airplane. And even then the requirement was to do a full ground school and flying school for 10 days. And then after that I had to have a mentor pilot, which is like an instructor pilot, fly with me for the next 40 hours. In order to be solo in that airplane, you had to do all of that. And then you had to go back for recurrent training once every year. And that was because it's a very complicated airplane. And I didn't feel real comfortable about flying it by myself with emergencies and such until Oh, about halfway through that mentor period, because we flew all around the country for about eight days and did the 40 hours in eight days. I got to tell you that the instructor was constantly putting me through emergency scenarios. And they put me under the hood. So it's just like I'm in instrument conditions and they fail an engine, or just you name it in difficult approaches. And we did fly in some actual weather and such as Intel, he was really comfortable that I could handle stuff. And there was a lot to learn because it's a very different kind of airplane, the the Mewtwo but it was exhilarating to to be able to feel like you're mastering something new. And I think anybody in any skill set when you go through it, whether you're a music musician, raising your skills, and playing in, you know, you know, a bigger or more professional organization, or you're an engineer and suddenly you're, you're doing major work. You have to step it up if you're an actor and suddenly you're in a feature film with with some real serious ours, you've got to up your game. And all of these skill sets are part of it. And that's part of the thrill of it is getting better and learning new things. And then of course, just being able to go places that nobody else can go be able to do something that most people can't do. That's very cool.
No, I don't know if this would be a good question, but it sounds like you know, I might as well ask him, What is your current challenge today? Because based off of what you said, it sounds like you kind of do have challenges, but you know how to conquer them. So it doesn't sound like you have any challenges at all.
Well, you always have challenges. And as I've gotten older, I've sold my airplanes. And now I rent when I want to I'm back to renting. But I'm very careful about where I rent when I do want to fly. But the the challenge I face now is there's something I haven't done and I got into the production business at the beginning, wanting to produce and direct musical variety. And by the time I Got going in the business, that genre had pretty well died. So I got to do a lot of other things. And I had a different path. But I always wanted to do that. And I am now under contract to finish the development and to take it through the pilot. And if it gets picked up, which is a big F in this business, direct the first the pilot and the first four shows and to stay on as creative executive producer of a new musical variety show, which is going to be presented to the network's I can't really talk about it beyond that, but I'm really excited because it's the one last Biggie on my bucket list that I haven't done yet. Well, I'm
knocking on wood right now for you wishing you the best of luck. And this episode's coming out in a few months, so maybe by then it will be out and if it is we could share that link in the description so people can go check it out.
Absolutely. And if there's one other thing I'd like to just mention is As I wrote a book about how I was able to, mostly outside of Hollywood, create a really successful and wild multimillion dollar production company before I was 30. And keep it going for 40 years. And it's called advocate for the audience. And it uses a really has a lot of examples of both the aviation side and the music side. And how that all works in production and how I was able to open doors. And it's a lot of business side, but it's it's all told in true stories about how to build your brand, grow, grow your business, whatever it might be, and how to use your hobby, and your passion to in enhance your business, which is what I did with aviation and production.
You know what this is the perfect segue for my next question. Do you have any websites or links that you would like to share projects at this point, I want to share everything that you want to present As you want people to come support you follow you see your magnificent work, support all your hobbies, all your passions.
Yes, I have a website. It's really easy. Fred fr Ed at Fred Ashman a sh ma n COMM And that's in the book is on there and a lot of the things we've done is on there and then at some point we'll talk about my other hobby, which is really hobby and that is model trains. And I have the the large G scale you know what h2o is, well, these are like way, way bigger than h o h engines, probably somewhere between a foot and a half in two feet long. And I have a 2000 square foot building at our home up in Minnesota a second home, and I have a huge trade layout in there that I grew up a couple times a year. We're next door to my daughter and son in law and Little grandkids who love to come over and run trains with me. And I've built that up. And that's, that's my other hobby. And is there a connection between the trains and the planes? No.
You're a man of many interests.
Yeah. You know, you just follow where you can I, at one time I had boats but and I had my own 60 footer for about five years. And then we sold that so I could get an airplane.
Because you had planes. You had trained Toy Trains or model trains. You had a boat. The last question is did you have a submarine and a spaceship? Just to complete the set? No, but I dreamed about them. Have you ever been in the submarine?
Ah, yes, but not one that went under? Well, I went in the one in Hawaii. It was a real submarine and went down pretty, pretty deep. And went all around. It was one of those tourists ones that was that was pretty interesting. And of course we they every now and then they'd have a submarine open. here in town here in San Diego but not not for real no
mo Do you know you? You've been in one like I've been in one like that a tourist one. It's still going under the sea, which is pretty cool. It's kind of Yeah, very cool. Sure you see some fish you probably don't see the same things while you're flying the plane but it's a different experience yet very similar.
Well, I the only time I've seen a flying flesh fish was out in Catalina, so but
you probably don't see that in the plane.
Not your your hope.
Then it became a submarine.
Yeah, we did have one shoot with a Learjet where I was doing one of the IMAX films. And we went off the coast up by Monterey. And we literally flew over the rocks. And the I think it's the 18th hole at Pebble Beach. Just we were offshore so we were legal, but we were at 20 feet in a Learjet doing about 170 knots and it goes flying by it. Just Stuff like that is so very cool
actually speaking of which, have you ever flown or flew in a plane that once I land on the water,
I have flown in one I never got a seaplane rating or anything because I never had the opportunity or the need to to learn that. But I took when they used to have flying boats out to Catalina in the way in the early days, I flew in one of those and that that's that's a bit of a rush. And I just never had that desire because that's really tricky. Stopping can be quite dangerous, but a lot of people do it very, very well very safely. But that's that's a different skill set that I never got into. One of the things that we did do though one time is I had a plane one of the planes I was renting and coming back from LA and I had my cousin with me he had never been to an edit session in LA. So he got to go and we're on our way back and it Was dusk and we're coming back to Montgomery field in San Diego and it was a twin engine Piper Aztec and we get getting ready to land I put the gear down and I get to green and no green for the nose gear. Well this airplane it had a little bit of history of that somebody had reported that that had happened to them too and it was the sets which would stick and wouldn't come down when when the gear came down. So I I flew around, and I cycled the gear a few times I didn't you know, make the approach and I just got a holding pattern talking to the tower and then it still I still couldn't get a green light. So I put the gear down and I said like a low flyby and the tower had a big spotlight there and I said like a low flyby and have you take a look at it, see what you can see. So I flew by the tower and the guy says it's down but it's definitely not locked. Well. He didn't know what it looked like locked or not locked, but he was being careful. So declared an emergency then we're flying around a little bit and all of a sudden my cousin says, Oh look, look at all the fire trucks down there and I said, Yeah, that's for us.
He goes, Oh,
I said it's okay. I'd be more worried if it was a one of the side landing gear you know, their main gear but the nose gear if it collapses after landing will be fine. But here's how you you know, here's how to open the door to briefed him on all that stuff. And then I came in for the landing. And it was really interesting. There's a great big chain link fence for between the frontage road in the airport there and the airport. They had regular fire trucks from the fire department but they didn't really have a serious crash truck. So Miramar Naval Air Station and sent their crash truck down because I'm circling for a while before this happened. But the Miramar crash truck wasn't on site yet. So as I was coming in and I cross the fence, the Miramar Crash truck was out on the frontage road. And in order to be right behind me on the runway, he turned and drove right through an eight foot chain link fence. Wow. And in order in order to be on the runway behind me Just in case, and I didn't know anything about this anything until later, and actually, I didn't declare an emergency the tower did for me, which is interesting because of the paperwork involved. So I landed, and then the green light was still off landing gear held perfectly fine, everything was fine. And then I'm taxiing in, in the green light popped on but the tower said You okay? And I said, Hey, everything's fine. And because I came across the fence, I shut the engines down and did all of that and landed rolled out started up the engines and taxi go away. They never even asked me to fill out any paperwork. And I don't know, I don't know who paid for the chain link fence but I was so impressed that they would do that just to be right there in case they needed case they were needed. And that just goes to show that communication is definitely key and the sound like a very efficient operation. Oh, yeah, that the the ATC and the people who run the towers and such a lot of them are also pilots. But they're all really good. They're all so professional. And that's one of the things about aviation community. Everybody's looking out for everybody else, so that you can catch a mistake or you can you communicate these kinds of things and pilots have a great deal of autonomy and control. But it's really good to when you're coordinating and of course with with traffic and heavy traffic areas, you really rely on the controllers for air traffic separation, which is their primary job, but you as a pilot are always the one who's in the final say responsible for the safe operation of the airplane. If you declare an emergency, you can, you can, as part of the regulation, you can deviate from any of the normal rules, you can do whatever you feel is necessary to operate safely. So it's a great bunch of responsibility that is shared by all pilots. But we still have so much respect for the air traffic community. The controllers are so good.
I love I love that aspect of just everybody's helping each other out and also that you're saying that you are the one the pilots so you have the final say, because you have the feel of the plane, you know what it's going through. So you can say, you know what, no, I can make it or I can make it have to go this way I have to do this, which is always a good thing. Now for the last question is a question I'm not prepared for but I have what 90 episodes so I'm gonna keep up the streak. Do you have any questions for me about flying?
Have you ever flown as a pilot,
I have Have not flown as a pilot, but I remember as a kid I used to go to an aviation camp a lot. And I just loved it My friend and I just loved planes and just going in them. And I remember there's two summers, we at the end of this week, as all summer cancer camps are, you get to fly in a plane and one week for one year was an open cockpit like it was just open. And I had such a great time in that one. And the other one was just an enclosed one. So a hardtop? That one it was a little more nervous. I don't know why, but it just, I love it was just a different experience. Have you ever flown a plane with this open cover?
open cockpit? Yeah, I did. I did one ride along in one of those. I, I loved it, it was a lot of fun. Here's the other thing that I would tell you that you really ought to do. You really ought to go out to one of the local flight schools and do their introductory flight where you actually get on the controls. Now. You may hate me for this later because I I guarantee you, you're going to get addicted. It's It is so cool. It is the most wonderful feeling of freedom and control. And, you know, you always dream What is it like to just fly and liftoff? It's one thing to ride. It's another thing to literally make it happen and you turn the wheel in it, and you bank and turn and move. You go up, you go down. It is amazing. You just got to try it. Got to try it.
I know this is above like comparison. But is it like the feeling when you're a kid and your father and mother lets go over the bike and you're finally running it by yourself? You're like, I'm actually doing it. I don't know how I'm doing. I'm doing it. This is it.
It is exactly that feeling on steroids.
Okay, well, in that case, I have a friend, a family friend who's a pilot. I might ask him his advice. He's and I'm in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, so winter might be a little more tricky for somebody learning how to fly I would imagine summer will probably be the best school Like you said, slick truck path might be a little trickier.
Absolutely, I just highly recommend it to everyone.
Okay, so I'm gonna reach out to my family friend and see if he can give me some pointers. So yeah, there you have it another body with a hobby. Thank you so much, Fred for coming on, and just telling me so much information and just teaching me all about flying and being a pilot and the actual thrill of it. And it just sounds like you were so passionate. You have many hobbies, and you sounds like you're passionate about every single one of them. But I really got like tied into your stories about being a pilot and I got started, how you grew up with it, how you taught other kids, and I like that analogy that taking off as an option. Blending is not like I'm not sorry, not not I butchered that. I mean, what was it again, it was something along the lines that
takeoffs are optional. landings are mandatory.
That's it. That's it. And I feel like that's an analogy you could use on multiple levels, but that's so cool. So yeah, but once again, thank you So much, Fred.
You're very welcome. And I look forward to listening to the podcast when you have it out there.
Well, I'm definitely going to share it and speaking about sharing. For people who want to learn more about Fred, you can go check out the link into the trip in the description below, learn more about him, support him, follow him, Do everything you need to do, because Fred is a lovely person is so enthusiastic, so passionate, and I'm sure he will love to get in contact with you. If you have any questions about pilots and flying, right, Fred? Right.
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. They can email me at Fred at Fred Ashman calm,
perfect. I'll add that in there as well. And if you'd like to get in contact with me or have any questions or even want to be on my podcast, you can send me an email at Tom for your firstname.lastname@example.org and of course, if you like this podcast and want to show some support, reviews are always good. And I never say no to reviews. And of course, most of selling merchandise things with a little time for your hobby logo on things you don't need. But you know, it's there, because it's the internet you could sell anything. So one Just jump in the bandwagon. And yes, so thank you again, friend. I keep saying thank you, but it was just honestly, thank you
so much. You're very welcome. It was my pleasure. Absolutely.
So Until the next episode, make some time for your hobby. Take care.