I was perusing a Los Al oriented facebook group and Lee Phillippi posted this link to a fascinating story about a legendary LAHS alum, Buddy Foote, class of 84.
Phillipi: “We shared English with Ms. Gerber. One day she allowed him to use the entire class to present a slideshow and talk about high altitude glider flying. His goal in life was to fly the A-4M Skyhawk. He could have flown for any branch but he chose the Marines because they had the plane that he wanted to fly.
It’s an interesting story that I encourage you to read.
Readers Digest version…
[He participated in an attempt to set a high altitude glider flying record] but it wasn’t a sanctioned event so the Marines didn’t provide him with a pressure suit for high altitude flying. [He reached 41,000 feet but] He suffered an aerial embolism (the bends) while trying to set the altitude record.
They grounded him due to the injury and made him a mechanic for the plane he wanted to fly. He had already been trained to fly the plane and had simulator experience but never flew the plane.
On the 4th of July 1986 around 4am he stole an A-4M Skyhawk from MCAS El Toro and took it for a 45 minute joy ride over the Pacific Ocean.”
Here’s a link to the LA Times story at the time.
It’s a pretty amazing and sad story, but definitely part of the Griffin aviation lore, which would also have to include Greg Miller — the former US national team bicyclist who was also a cycle-pilot of the Gossamer Albatross team which set records for man-powered flight and distance. Any other Los Al aviation stories out there?