Old Guys...DEBRIEF goes LIVE

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TRoosevelt 250Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer too much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

I'm no Teddy Roosevelt, but I took heart in his words when I and my Old Guys and Their Airplanes (OTGA) compatriots, John Mollison and Patrick McGowan, decided due to the pandemic proximity limitations we'd produce a LIVE Zoom interview show. Our basic idea was we would interview former military pilots (Old Guys) about their war-time exploits (in Their Airplanes) and share that live with online participants from across the country and around the world (no gray twilight here). One other caveat, in addition to OGTA asking questions the online participants had to have the ability to ask questions of the "Old Guys", as well.  We call them OGTA: DEBRIEF.

Click on white arrow to watch highlights of OGTA - Debriefs

Doing anything LIVE is exhilarating - playing sports, musical performances or public speaking - I've done them all. Live media production takes things to another level. You have multiple moving parts (host, guests, attendees) and a lot of technical manipulations and connections creating many links in a chain of which if anyone breaks at anytime can be disastrous...because it's LIVE. For my old heart, it makes for an hour of excitement that is difficult to describe. The fact that I'm writing this article is a pretty good indication I survived.

As it turned out, our "pilot" episodes involved helicopter pilots (not airplanes). However, since they were both Distinguished Flying Cross recipients, that was more than good enough. Having great guests and a good host (Mollison) can make your audience forgive any "hitches in your giddy-up".  Fortunately we had only a few.

 

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Marine Pilot Pat Owens

DEBRIEFs Episode 1 was with a Marine Vietnam War pilot, Pat Owens. Pat flew the iconic AH-1G Cobra in combat in Vietnam, participating in over 750 sorties including "Operation Tailwind" (made especially famous by CNN's discredited news piece, "Valley of Death").

Owen revealed what it was like to fly the Cobra in combat, his Marine experience and describe the circumstances behind his Distinguished Flying Cross mission during Tailwind. 

 

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Army Pilot Bruce Huffman

DEBRIEFs Episode 2 featured U.S. Army pilot, Bruce Huffman, who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic actions supplying American troops surrounded by North Vietnamese on Oct. 27, 1968.

Huffman flew the small OH-6 "Loach" helicopter — the term "Loach" is the pilots' acronym for the "Low Observation Helicopter" — that could carry two, maybe three people, used really low-level scouting and sometimes drawing fire to locate the enemy. 

Viewers checked in from across the country. One mobile viewer, Andy Lucking, logged in while traveling on a Minnesota to Michigan fishing trip. He even offered a question that was taken and answered LIVE. It's an amazing world in which we now live.

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Andy Lucking on the road with OGTA

I now have a better sense how the Wright Brothers must have felt on that first flight. It may not have been the prettiest thing in the world, but the damn thing did get off the ground...us too. 

With our initial flights, not sure I would go so far as to say we won glorious triumphs (or did we?), and for sure these experimental ventures though checkered with a few glitches, was way better then to live in the gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat. 

Can't wait for our next flight.

 

Find out more about "Debriefs" and the Distinguished Flying Cross Society here:

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