Las Vegas Airlines

They went out of business……..good.

LV Airlines was my first A&P job.  In fact, while I was testing, I also swept the hangar and filled oil bottles.

Me at work.  the hammer is a joke.

LVA took tourists out to see the Grand Canyon. First the aerial tour and then a landing at Grand Canyon Airport to be bussed over to see the Big Ditch. I actually took the flight and got paid to do it. The door on PA-31 N77LV kept popping open in flight. Usually drawing concern for the tourist sitting next to the door. We kept shimming and shimming the door and it checked good on the ground but still popped open in flight.

Lo and behold, I was sitting next to it when it popped open. Yes, other passengers were aboard. Over the screaming, I carefully measured how far it moved. About an inch. That done, I closed the door and the screaming stopped. The passengers got to fly a different aircraft home, but lucky me got to fly 77 back to Vegas with the crew. Once again, it popped open. More measurements. Since we were alone the pilots tried different altitudes. Different speeds and maneuvering. It turned out that it popped in right hand turns. Made sense to me.

It was determined that the whole needed to be replaced. Management said that was too expensive, so they sold it an bought another. N45LV.

We were doing a 50 Hour inspection on 45 one night and found a crack on the left engine block. Starting at the bottom seam heading up between the number one and number three cylinders. Management said wipe it down and keep flying it. 50 Hours later, the crack had propagated further up the casing. I and three other AP’s had a heart to heart with management. What the crack meant. What it meant to the FAA. What it meant to us. What it meant to the poor bastards climbing into that airplane.
They decided to put an engine on order but keep flying the airplane.

I quit. My license meant more to me than that job. I tried to get another, the LV general aviation business is close and cliquish. Once they knew I had worked for LVA, they wouldn’t hire me. All of them.

I went to work for Radio Shack.

Two months into my Radio Shack career, 45 crashed taking off from Grand Canyon Airport. Engine failure on takeoff.


August 17, 1983: Las Vegas Airlines- Crashed into Canyon Wall, N88LV

May 20, 1987: Las Vegas Airlines Crashes on Take Off, N22LV

They kept 22 on the brochure and postcard.

September 23, 2003- North Las Vegas Runway Collision

I think that last one finally sank LVA.

I can’t find the report on 45.  If you do, leave it in the comments.




Secret Mojave Aero Club

What we did in our spare time at George AFB.


Larry Sharp, Jeff Hofer, Pat Huey and Jay Lillie.  They let me tag along because I was the JEEP.  Jeff was my Trainer. Pat taught me how to fly and Larry was my best man.

We would roam the Mojave Desert with Warriors and Arrows.

Pat was working mid-shift and was trying to build his hours towards the instructor license.  On Sundays, he’d pick me up and we’d go flying.  Anywhere.  Some where along the line he’d give me the airplane and nap.  On day, I asked to teach me how to land if I had to.  He did.  We were , no….I was doing touch and goes on Rabbit Dry Lake.  We were in a Piper Arrow.  On one pass, I put it down and throttled up for the touch and go.  The plane felt “loose”.  Pat had retracted the landing gear on me.  When I noticed, he looked over and said, “This is what we call low level in Nebraska”. I yanked the stick back and said, “This is what we call max climb in California”.



Most of the time Pat would fly and I would navigate.  On one trip I was totally lost and he knew  it.

“Where are we, Walt?”

“Hell if I know.”

“Where do you think we are?”

“We’re supposed to over General Fox airfield.  A 5000 ft strip with no services. But were not.”

Pat asked me what the altitude restriction was and a said 4000 feet.

“Taking her down”

At 4000 he asked me what I saw.  There were nine SR-71’s parked on the ramp.  It was their depot repair site.


Pat and Larry in front of a Hawker Hunter.
Pat and Larry in front of a Hawker Hunter.
You figure out what’s happening in this picture.

mojave-warrior mojave-warrior-02


Dick Rutan offered us jobs if we put in eight years in the Air Force. Damn.  Didn’t take the offer.





The guys that owned these Vampires and Meteors would take them up on the weekends and  bang around the pattern for fun.  Great hobby.



F-80 F-86-Mojave
All those F-80’s and F-86’s were owned by Flight Systems Inc.  They designed avionics.  they would use the jets to test them.


F-104RB-001 F-104RB-002 F-104RB-003


Greenamyer’s ground crew were sitting in front of the hangar munching KFC.  They were getting “Red Baron” ready for an altitude record flight.  Good chicken.

Pat took this pic on the day of the attempt.

I had weekend duty or some other bullshit that made me miss this trip.  Darryl dumped her in the desert on the attempt so these were the last pictures of the “Red Baron”


That’s Larry up there in the orange(?) jacket checking out a F-4 “Wizard” at Edwards AFB airshow. A Wizard is an ex-Thunderbird.  They’re modified for the T-Birds.  Note the lack of a gun sight. On a regular F-4 the kick steps were hinged at the top. On wizards they were hinged at the bottom so T-Birds wouldn’t scuff their boots.