JP-8 (Jet Fuel)…and why it means so much

Yes, I made it!  The Grand Canyon is simply too wonderful to describe.  More as the days go on.

Jim Roper ’68 responded to my line about sprinkle a little JP-8 on my grave.  Jim’s not only a fine fighter pilot and great friend, he’s also some kind of writer.  I could never have summed it up like this…


"The last gathering of Wabash alum that I attended in 2005 in Washington DC was a baseball game featuring the brand new Nationals versus the Cardinals. My son announced his peanut allergy in the second inning when he emptied his stomach contents in a sudden, explosive spray. (I was later assured no Wabash folks were hit.) Greg Castanias recalled being at that event, and he passed me a story of being on the receiving end of a similar blast at a rock concert he really didn’t want to attend anyway. Thus originated my recall of the many times I was puked on.

 In 1972 my third assignment in the Air Force was as an Instructor Pilot in Selma, Alabama, flying the T-37—we called it the Tweet—a small but noisy jet trainer. Air sickness was fairly common among new students, but they had to first remove the oxygen mask covering their mouths. The communications cord ran up the left side of the mask, so the only side set up to break free quickly was on the right. Releasing that bayonet clip was automatically accompanied by a turn of the head—to the right.  And sitting to the right of the T-37 student pilot was his instructor. I’d estimate that ninety-five percent of barfing students expressed major spillage on the left shoulder of his instructor.

Now for the picture. It’s July in Alabama (partly cloudy, hot and humid, 95 degrees). The ramp holds a hundred airplanes, a third of them screaming at any one time—really shrieking at idle power.  When one pair of Tweet engines fade, two new ones spin up to take their places in the chorus. Three or four instructors with their students walk to or from their assigned jets.  Instructors with pre-solo students show the tell-tale damp left shoulder on the maize cotton flight suit. A large dark circle for sure, sometimes dotted with chunks. Hours of perspiration appear as salt rings around the armpits and in an oval on the back of the uniform. Boots that sparkled at six a. m., now bleed white salt from a long day of ceaseless activity. But they smile. They all smile. A bad day flying is better that most folks’ good days.

Above and through it all is the smell of partially digested jet fuel—JP-8 we called it. That aroma—some would call toxic—was universal for Air Force pilots, even in cold climes with jets of all sizes. Real bullets in the air or just a training syllabus, JP-8 was there. High noon or pre-dawn, it was a comfortable smell for pilots. It told us we were exactly where we wanted to be, about to strap on a monstrous bird of prey and do things mere mortals could only imagine. A symbol of a dream realized.

Across twenty or more of my best years, burnt JP-8 swirls through that love affair with the sky. Remembering new cockpits and sweet returns to an old one all bring back that magic aroma. Ain’t nothin’ like it on this earth!"

Amen!  Grunge


Grunge Report To Be "Off The Air"

The Grunge Report will be off the air next week.  The Grunge will be hiking down into the Grand Canyon and, hopefully, back out again.  So, to you faithful 9 readers (yes, we are up 2!), look for something after Thanksgiving week.

I am making the trip with alumnus Dudley Burgess ’64 (leading the way), his sons, my son (Chris ’94), Tim Oliver ’89, and some soon-to-be friends.  Should be a great time!!!

In the meantime, there are several other Wabash Blogs you will enjoy – just click here.

The answers to those questions…

Yes, I have been working out more.  Yes, I am ready!   Yes, the will is updated.  If this is the last sortie – I get down and can’t get back! – bury me at Arlington.  In lieu of flowers please make a gift to the American Cancer Society, the March of Dimes, or the Smile Train.

And sprinkle a little JP-8 on my grave – I miss that aroma! (Ropes – Jim Roper ’68 – can explain!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Three Ways To Listen Tomorrow

There isn’t a video stream for the Illinois Wesleyan game tomorrow but you can listen on the internet through three different audio streams.

Wabash Broadcast – click here to listen to Brent Harris do the game.  (Preferred Option!)

WJBC.Com is the IWU professional broadcast done by a local Illinois radio station.

WESN.ORG is the IWU student radio station. 

Photo:  Bad news – that’s Tommy Mambourg is a DePauw defender sandwich.  Good news – he’s in the end zone!

Tim Haffner '82 Named Volunteer of the Year


Tim Haffner ’82, a partner with the law firm of Baker and Daniels in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has been named Volunteer of the Year by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.


This award honors individuals who work with the Chamber for the betterment of the business community, according to Kevin Brinegar, President of the Indiana Chamber. Haffner was one of three individuals who received the 2009 award.


Haffner, a native of Fort Wayne, helped start the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, an organization that markets a 10-county region and teams with local development groups to attract new business to the area.  Tim is also past chairman and board of director with the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce. In addition, he has served on the board of directors for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Goodwill Industries and United Way of Allen County. 


Congrats Tim, well done!


Getting Ready for Illinois Wesleyan

About 5:20 PM…yes it gets dark early now!

Under the lights of Hollett Stadium (temporary lights, that is), the Little Giants are preparing for the Saturday match up with the Illinois Wesleyan Titans.

We’re hoping for a good-sized game day crowd from Indiana and Illinois  as Bloomington, IL is "just up the road a bit."

Hope you’ll be there cheering on the Little Giants!

For tailgate information and directions to their campus, click here.

What A Great Sound

Sometimes this blogging thing is hard…real hard.  But on days like today, it’s fairly easy.

For example, the photo above.  Taken yesterday.  Beta pledge on the back porch of the Beta house. Ringing the Bell.  I’ll bet he remembers this past weekend, including today, for the rest of his life.

And that’s the easy part because all of you, our 9 faithful readers, know exactly what this means to every member of the Wabash community , not just to the students and alumni.


Bonus – bet I know where a bunch of those footballs went…

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