Sunday, March 9, 2014

The DeHavilland Dove Connections

Photo of a DeHavilland Dove aircraft, with Captain Allan R Wegener, shaking hands with Captain Charles Nelson Hill, Chief Pilot for MacRobertson Miller Airlines (MMA) of Perth, Western Australia, taken in Calcutta, India, in 1953. Also in the photo are Frank Doggett, Chief Engineer for MMA and the un-named Senior Engineer for Airways India Limited.
There is a great story attached to this photo. 

Captain Allan R. Wegener was my dad.  He joined the RAAF before I was born...came home from WWII when I was five (5)... and left again when I was six (6).  He left Perth on 12 November, 1947, headed for Sweden where he intended to purchase a Junkers 52 (German war transport) and fly it back to Perth. According to the newspaper report of his departure, he hoped to contract to fly beef from cattle stations in north-west WA to freezers at ports.

Dad hopped from island to island, all the way to India.  Unfortunately he did not make it beyond India. He was forced down by bad weather and lack of fuel in East Pakistan.  The aircraft was totaled, but dad and his chief engineer survived the crash. He spent the next seven (7) years as a pilot in India..  He spent 1953 and 1954 as the private pilot for the Maharaja of Jodhpur...which he described in his memoirs as the best two years of his life. His memoirs actually read like an Indiana Jones movie script. The Maharaja had inherited about 26 aircraft after WWII and he assigned my dad the task of selling as many as possible.
Meanwhile my mother, Sylvia Elizabeth Axford Wegener, and myself were left abandoned back in Perth. Mother worked as a telephone operator (telephonist) in country towns, throughout the southwest of WA.  I lived with my grandmother Burley Conradina Louisa Wegener Dynon, in Wembley, WA.  On school holidays I would visit mother where-ever she was.  I travelled by train or plane.  When I travelled by plane it was on a DeHavilland Dove aircraft owned by MacRobertson Miller Airlines (MMA) of WA.  I loved that plane.  As a child I loved to draw aeroplanes, and the Dove was one of my favorites, because it was streamlined with in-line piston engines vs the old radials.

My mother saved all of my childish letters.  I read them all again recently, wondered who that little boy was, then melted into the memories.  The dates confirmed that my first flight to Albany, WA, in the DeHavilland Dove, was in 1953.

When I transcribed my dad's memoirs from tapes he made in the 1980s, I was amazed to find reference to him selling a DeHavilland Dove to MMA, of Perth WA.  That's all he said, but I immediately marveled about the coincidence of me flying on the very plane which my dad had flown in India and sold to MMA in Perth.  What were the odds?

Earlier this year I was contacted, out of the blue, by a relative of Captain Charles Neslon Hill of Perth, WA.  The message was that Captain Hill had spent 35 years as a pilot for MMA and may have been a good friend of my father.  Captain Hill ended his career as the Chief Pilot for MMA and travelled abroad a number of times to pick up aircraft for the Airline.  As if to prove the point, it was not long before I received the amazing photo above, which was taken in Calcutta, India, in 1953, as the DeHavilland Dove was prepared for Captain Hill to make the long flight to Perth, WA.  The caption on the back of the photo identifies the people in the photo and my dad "Wag" wishes "Nelson" a happy landing.

That beautiful DeHavilland Dove above, involves some incredible human connections and brings back some bitter-sweet childhood memories.



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Carbon Tax Kills … Businesses and Politicians

Politics in Australia can be confusing to outsiders.  For example, the Labor party is “liberal”, whereas the Liberal party is.”conservative”. Think about that. The Labor party came to power in 2007, with Kevin Rudd as the party leader.  In Australian politics the leader of the successful political party becomes the Prime Minister.  Party in-fighting between Rudd, a progressive liberal, and Julia Gillard, a communist (seriously), resulted in Julia Gillard taking over party leadership, in a coalition with the Green party.  In 2010 Gillard became Australia’s first woman Prime Minister.

The Labor party has promoted a radical agenda regarding man-caused global warming for years, yet they promised the public that they would not implement a Carbon Tax.  Labor’s coalition with the Green Party apparently pushed them over the edge.  Gillard’s government brazenly implemented a Carbon Tax.  The public outcry was so intense that it disrupted the Labor party leadership.  In a rush for damage control, Rudd displaced Gillard as party head and Prime Minister last June. A By-Election (Special Election) was forced upon the government.  The September 7, 2013, election was essentially a referendum on the Carbon Tax.

Kevin Rudd’s “liberal” political campaign strategy was to promise more give-away programs to an already socialized citizenry.

Tony Abbott, leader of the Liberal party, who is more of a centrist, simply promised that, if elected, he would abolish the Carbon Tax, which economists were claiming would bankrupt Australian businesses…and the country.  

The Labor party lost the election by the widest margin in 70 years.

Tony Abbott and the Liberal – National party coalition won.  Australia retuned to a conservative government.  Tony Abbott’s first words after being sworn in as Prime Minister included…"The carbon tax will be gone during our term… I say that since the carbon tax is costly and irrational, it will destroy all politicians who get involved in it.”

Observation:  Single issue politics can be powerful. Politicians BEWARE.

Australia’s CNNOpinion suggests that… “Gillard’s breach of her “no carbon tax” pledge has been a lesson to all political leaders”. 

And so it should.  But where is the US press coverage?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Nathan's Charming Child

Nathan Wegener...aka Nate...has a five (5) year old son whose name is Jacob Wegener...aka Jake...aka...Jakey.

Nate related the following classic father-son conversation with Jake.

"So Jakey...your name is Jake and your parents call you Jakey....right?
"Your daddy's name is Nate....right?
"So what do you think my parents called me?"
"I don't know...DORCAS?"

This perceptive child should be on somebody's "watch list" for future achievement.

Becky Wegener, the very attractive, but out-manned mother of the family, also appears to be losing the parenting game with her five (5) year old son some obscure intellectual level.

Becky reported the following conversation with Jacob.  Becky was in her kitchen.  Jake was playing with his toys in the living room.

"Jake, can you come here please...I need your help for a minute"

"Hello...this is Jacob Wegener.  I can't take your call right now, but if you will leave your name and number after the beep, I will get back to you...BEEEEP".

Jacob kept playing with his toys.  Becky was speechless.

Jakey seems to be able to talk and charm his way around any situation.

I'm really hoping to live long enough to witness this young man get a law degree at 16 and save the world at 21. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Angie's Adult Child

No...this is not about Shane Falslev...this is about Jadyn Falslev...who is 6 going on 16.

Last Thursday evening, following dinner with the Falslevs, I announced that Kathie and I had to go home, because the peas were calling...they needed the cool of the evening.  Angie and Shane suggested that we take Jadyn home to help...because..."Jadyn loves to pick peas".

So that sets the scene...6 year old Jady and 72 year old Poppa Tony picking peas together in his vegetable garden...and talking...and talking...well...Jadyn doing most of the talking.  One might expect our conversation to be generationally challenged...but...not so much.  I learned that Jady loves to water the garden for her daddy...and she is even helping a neighbor by watering their garden while they are away. She had never picked so many peas before...but apparently she just enjoys being a helper. In the middle of this fascinating experience, Jayden looked up and said..

       "I must say...your corn is looking good poppa".

I'm thinking..."WHAT?...What did she just say?" ...but I recovered quickly and thanked her politely.  I then asked... "Did grandpa Ron teach you about growing corn?"  She said "who's that?"...and I realized that Jady was a 6 year old again.  "That would be your grandpa Falslev...he knows more about corn that anyone...he grows great corn...did you know that?"  Jadyn responded..."Yeah, I know.. we just eat it."

When we were done picking peas, we walked up to the house, where Jady hesitated at the door and asked... "where's the cat?".  Being old and also took a minute to understand where this conversation was going...IE.. . Jayden is afraid of our cat.  I told her that the cat likes to be with grandma, so I supposed that the cat was in grandma's bedroom.  Then I foolishly asked...

"Would you like to go see grandma?"...
Well...what if I put the cat outside...would that be good?"
A little while later Jayden moved in close and said quietly...:
" there anyway that the cat can get in without you knowing?
"That's GOOOOD"

It's even better being a grandpa.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Eat the Butta Mate

Glenn Beck reported this morning that a 21 pound lobster was recently caught somewhere.  It is being kept alive.  It was even given a name.  And the owners can't even think about dropping him in a pot of boiling water and eating him.  On the other hand, Glenn's side-kick Stu made a classic statement:

"I don't understand that...lobster is just a delivery vehicle for butter".

That got me thinking.  There are lots of "delivery vehicles for butter".   Snails come to mind.  Why would anyone eat snails if it were not for the fact that they come floating in butter?  My dear Kathleen likes her Shrimp Scampi floating in butter...and garlic.  And Ruths Chris Steakhouse is famous, primarily because their steaks are cooked in, what else...butter. Then of course there are crabs.  Most people love crab dipped in butter, but I'm weird; I prefer them straight...or with vinegar.

And Southern cookin' came to mind.  People in the South don't mess around.  They are serious about their butter.  They even avoid the "delivery vehicle for butter" concept completely.  They eat Fried Butter.  They dip butter balls in batter, drop them in the fryer...blow on them a couple of times... and pop them in the mouth. Oooooh!  Makes me sick just thinking about it.

The No 1 "delivery vehicle for butter" in my experience has to be bread.  Think about it.  How many people do you know who slather their bread with butter? IE...they like a little bread with their butter. On the other hand, as a child in Perth, Western Australia, I hated butter...I preferred my bread plain.  OK...I was weird.  But my Mother and my Auntie Burl tolerated that idiosyncrasy. I found out how weird I was every time we visited the Knowles family (Wegener relatives) in South Perth.  Sitting around the dinner table I got serious stares and comments..."Look...Tony eats his bread plain"..."Why don't you put BUTTA on your bread?"..."Everyone puts BUTTA on their bread"..."Just eat the bloody BUTTA mate"..."You're weird".  They could never quite understand how anyone could not like butter.

For the most part, I used to put up with the comments, but one day I had a bright idea.  When the cousins started the taunting I said, "'s real simple...I'm used to plain Mum won't let me eat BUTTA at's too expensive."  That was not quite the right thing to say...Mother was horrified...and it became a serious lesson in diplomacy.  Now I looooove me BUTTA...and it shows.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Global Positioning Systems

M Russell Ballard is well known for his late-in-life adoption of technology and his encouragement of the application of technology in the Church.  He made a great statement during the April 2012 Conference:

"I think I know why Lehi was greatly astonished when he first saw the Liahona, because I remember my reaction when I first saw and witnessed a GPS unit. In my mind it was a modern-day device “of curious workmanship.” Somehow, in some way I can’t even imagine, this little device, right in my phone, can pinpoint exactly where I am and tell me exactly how to get where I want to go."

Elder Ballard continued: "For both my wife, Barbara, and me, the GPS is a blessing. For Barbara it means she doesn’t have to tell me to stop and ask for directions; and for me it means I can be right when I say, “I don’t need to ask anyone. I know exactly where I’m going.”"

I decided that I need one of those things. 

Last week I asked my good friend Gerry Wallace if he had a portable GPS unit.  He said  "Oh yes...and I love it."  Then he told me about his conversation with the salesman about the various GPS models available.  Not being all that tech savvy, he listened politely without much comprehension and finally asked..."do you have the one in which a lady talks to you and tells you things like ...turn right in 2.1 miles?"  The sales clerk assured him that they had verbal command GPS units.

Gerry responded..."That's great... that's what I need.  I've always had a lady telling me where to go, so I thought that model would probably make me feel the most comfortable." 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Non-Auspicious Date

Tuesday:  April 10, 2012

I’m sitting here looking out at the Atlantic.  It’s big.  Let’s say…immense.  And it is calm today.  No wind…no whitecaps…and we are running with the small swells.  I was ready for rough weather.  During our first night the sea was rough and we rolled and bumped our way north-eastward.  The next morning the ship’s motion was smooth, but the swells were the same height.  That was strange. It was explained that the Gulf Stream was the problem; it causes all sorts of erratic currents which, when mixed with swells, cause ships to pitch and roll excessively.

The Atlantic is also lonely, even in 2012.  We saw a two-masted sailing ship on our first day out.  The Captain announced that it was a research vessel which is always on the Atlantic.  Yesterday Kathie and I saw a whale; it was jumping and slapping the water with its flukes…putting on a real show.  And last night Kathie saw a light on the horizon.  But that’s it…there is nothing out there.

 How lonely must it have been for Columbus and his crew, who were not even certain that there was an end to their voyage.  We wondered what it must have been like for the early Saints who were crowed below decks, for weeks, in all kinds of weather conditions.  And here we are on a “pleasure” cruise, on the Atlantic.

 100 years ago today the Titanic left England from Southampton; it sank four days later.  But who’s thinking about that?  It’s time to eat!