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2nd Careers - Productive Retirements:

PUBLISHED BOOKS by Former Air Traffic Controllers

Cassidy, Thomas - (Washington ARTCC)

Author Tom Cassidy wrote this book about ZDC and is available on, Barnes and Noble and Apple.

Smith, Thomas A. 'Tommy' - (Houston ARTCC)


Any young seventeen year old boy would delight in being the captain of his all state high school baseball team and taking the sixty-five mile trip from Havana to Miami in a luxurious yacht to play in the international tournament playoffs. However, in the case of Gabriel Valdez, the trip also had a somewhat added significance. He was smuggling half a million U. S. dollars to an officer of the Bank of Miami International under the watchful eyes of Fidel Castro's G-2 security goons.

This is the story of how a successful Cuban businessman outsmarted Fidel Castro to give his son a legacy of freedom.

Follow the life of Gabriel as he progresses through life and accomplishes goals far exceeding those his father could only dream of. As a 'rite of passage', Gabriel learns how an act of revenge can have the same effect on the mind as a soothing balm has on an open wound.

Click below to purchase today!

Book Price

Author Tommy Smith is available for book signings on
request at bookstores and events

Contact Gunfighter Publishing at:

Phone: (281) 731-7777

PO BOX 2472 CONROE,TX 77305

McClaren, David - (Chicago ARTCC)

Lockheed T-33 F-89 Scorpion

NOTE: Some of Dave's books may be out of print, but check your local used bookstores, garage sales or Independent bookstores on the Internet. Others can be purchased at or Barnes and Noble Online.

1. Black Widow: The Story of the Northrop P-61 (VIP Publishers, 1993) - Still available via Historic Aviation and Zenith Books ctalogs.
2. Lockheed P-80/F-80 - Shooting Star : Shooting Star : A Photo Chronicle
by David R. McLaren
3. Beware the Thunderbolt! : The 56th Fighter Group in World War II
by David R. McLaren
4. Republic F-84 : Thunderjet, Thunderstreak, & Thunderflash : A Photo Chronicle
(Schiffer Military/Aviation History) by David R. McLaren
5. Lockheed T-33 : A Photo Chronicle
(Schiffer Military/Aviation History) by David McLaren
6. Lockheed : F-94 Starfire : A Photo Chronicle
by Marty J. Isham, David R. McLaren
7. Double Menace P-82 Twin Mustang
by David McLaren
8. Northrop F-89 Scorpion: A Photo Chronicle
by Marty J. Isham, David R. McLaren
9. Mustangs over Korea : The North American F-51 at War 1950-1953 (Schiffer Military History) by David R. McLaren
10. P-51H
11. Sabres Over Korea (Documenting all the classic jet air battles)
- Should be available by Christmas sales time, 2001.

12. (In progress) A history of the Air Defense Command, a history of the early Air National Guard 1946-1950, and the Douglas B-26 Invader in Korea.

Lockheed T-33 : A Photo Chronicle
(Schiffer Military/Aviation History)
by David McLaren

Lockheed T-33

Editorial Reviews
Book Description:

The T-33 jet trainer was derived from the Lockheed F-80C Shooting Star, the USAF's first operational jet fighter, in 1948. In the fifty years since its introduction the T-33 has trained more jet pilots than any other training type. In addition to this role, it has served, and continues to serve, as an attack fighter the AT-33 and as a reconnaissance aircraft the RT-33 in several foreign air forces. It was also a testbed in many development programs including tests on ejection seats and missile guidance systems, and continues yet today in various military and civilian roles., over 360 b/w and color photos, 8 1/2" x 11".

Very good history of a great plane!
A worthy addition to the authors books on other early American jets....the F-84, F-89 and F-94. The T-33 was the standard training jet for the west throughout the 50s and early 60s. In fact, it was developed from the first successful American jet fighter. Lockheed made thousands and they saw use everywhere from Europe to Asia...the list is nearly endless. The fact that it was developed from the P-80 and the "T-Bird" is still in use over 55 years later tells you Lockheed got it right the first time.

The book does an excellent job of going into the development, history and service of the plane. There are also good chapeters on foreign use and the civilian warbirds that fly today. A few more shots of the hundreds of static examples would have been fun though.

(Reviewer: John Boyle from Texas, USA)

Republic F-84 : Thunderjet, Thunderstreak, & Thunderflash: A Photo Chronicle
(Schiffer Military/Aviation History)
by David R. McLaren

Editorial Reviews
Book Description:
The Republic Aviation Corporation F-84 series, the Thunderjet, Thunderstreak, and Thunderflash was
the United States Air Forces' first Post World War II jet fighter. As a somewhat sad result of this, it has been ignored by most aviation historians and aficionados. It was not the Air Forces' first operational jet fighter, as that honor went to the Lockheed F-80 which was created during World War II. And it did not receive the glory of the North American Aviation F-86, which followed it in sequence and was more photogenic, faster, and more involved in the glory of aerial combat. Nevertheless, the F-84 performed its unheralded role in a true yeoman fashion. It, and its pilots and groundcrews, fought the air-to-mud role as a fighter bomber in Korea. It served as an interceptor, and in photo reconnaissance. It was the first jet fighter to be operationally capable of air refueling, and it was the first to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon. 4300 of the straight-wing F-84s were built, along with 2713 of the swept-wing F-84Fs, and 715 of the reconnaissance RF-84Fs. Almost 8000 unrecognized fighters, of which half of those produced served as a deterrent to enemy forces during the Cold War while being flown by friendly foreign countries., over 450 b/w and color photographs, 8 1/2" x 11"

Review #1:

If your a F-84 fan this book is for you!
This is a solid informational and fact filled book on the F-84. I am a recent fan of the F-84 due to the release of the 1/48 tamiya kit. I wanted to learn more about this amazing jet of the fifties. This book shows all the foriegn users as well as a listing of all the USAF squadrons and groups. It also has a generous portion of color photos of operational aircraft,foriegn aircrat, and even gate guards. If your are going to build a model of the E,F,or G model F-84 this is the book. It also has good information on the FICON program. The pages are thick and sturdy. This book is definetly a premier book in my collection. A very good buy for the amount of information contained therein.

(Reviewer: from Luke AFB, AZ)

Northrop F-89 Scorpion: A Photo Chronicle
(by Marty J. Isham, David R. McLaren)

Northrop F-89 Scorpion

Mustangs over Korea : The North
American F-51 at War 1950-1953

(Schiffer Military History)
by David R. McLaren

Editorial Reviews
Book Description:
Mustangs Over Korea is a documentary history of one of the most famous fighters ever built during a historically almost unrecognized war. Flown by four air forces in support of the United Nations, the F-51 Mustang dropped more napalm and fired more rockets than any other aircraft during that conflict and in the process suffered the highest number of losses. Told is the story of the bravery of the fighter-bomber pilots in the serious air-to-mud war against horrendous anti-aircraft fire, and also the first swirling air battles against the vaunted MiG-15., over 180 color and b/w photographs, 8 1/2" x 11"

Review #1:

A Fine Tribute

David McLaren's "Mustangs Over Korea" is thoroughly researched and presented with astonishing detail. The topic is at once chivalrous, romantic, and tragically farcical. The United States was caught unprepared as it reacted to the opening of Korean War hostilities in 1950. For instance, the scaled-down, post-World War II U.S. Air Force had no choice but to scrounge together obsolescent, prop-driven Mustang fighters to provide the initial air combat support to resist the communist invasion of South Korea. The dire need for pilots was largely met by calling up reservists-veterans of WWII who were asked to interrupt career and family pursuits back in the states. Gruesome combat conditions ensured that separation from home for many of these young men would be permanent.

The primary audience for this book will be veterans of the Korean War who were in some way involved in F-51 Mustang operations. "Mustangs Over Korea" is usually anecdotal in approach, since so much of the text depends on recollections of the aging combatants. Military unit records, which seem to excel in documenting casualties, are also a key source for this book. Accordingly, much of the text chronicles pilot losses. The reader can gain a great deal of gritty insight from the anecdotes and the appendices, but additional analysis is sometimes wanted. A notable exception is McLaren's intriguing analysis of the apparent strategies of the (opposing) North Korean Air Force.

(Reviewer: from Catonsville, MD USA)

Review #2:

A fine acount of the Mustang in the forgotten war

This is one of the best historical books I have come across . The Korean War is at best only little known , but the author went to all ends to make this a top class reference work . Also included are some photographs that you will not find anywhere else and a fine appendix that covers pilots and aircraft from all the countries involved in the conflict .

(Reviewer: from Pretoria , South Africa)

"Squawk 7700" is an aviation autobiography by Peter M. Buffington, professional airline pilot.

 More Information on these two
 books and to purchase, visit:

      (Kindle Edition)

"Clear Left" is about pilots in heaven, pilots in bad situations and pilots in layover bars.


Search these titles on

Dulin, Mike
Great Website:  "We test the programs for You..."

The Oldest Software Review Site:

Leupold, Dick and Dee

Dick and Dee Leupold at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, 2001
Annual Sturgis, SD Motorcyle Rally! - 2001


New Website:

Featured in Missouri Publication: "Rural Missouri"
(Published by The Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.)
(Used with permission from Bob McEowen, Field editor and Web administrator)

Guy McConnell - Retired Air Traffic Controller A Master of Metal
Guy McConnell uses ancient techniques and
some modern tools to make mysterious Damascus
-- by Jeff Joiner

Guy McConnell is not your stereotypical burly blacksmith. He's a small, unassuming man, but his reputation in Missouri for producing beautiful pattern-welded Damascus knives and tools is large and spreading.

McConnell likes a challenge and after retiring from a career as an air traffic controller he needed a hobby. He refinished furniture for a while, but he came across a new pastime that allowed him to combine his love of history with a craft. That was nearly 20 years ago and in that time McConnell has fine-tuned his skill as a blacksmith until today his work forging Damascus steel approaches fine art.

"I like to do things that not very many other people can do," says100-year-old power hammer used to weld hot metal!McConnell, who works daily in his small shop a few yards from his home near La Plata, in north-central Missouri. "I basically do this the same way they did it 2,000 years ago, only I use some power tools."

Damascus is an ancient technique for making steel for swords. European, Japanese and Middle Eastern bladesmiths all developed the technique to make a stronger yet flexible blade by combining metals with different properties. The process also created beautiful blades with a distinctive pattern embedded within the steel.

When McConnell decided to learn Damascus knifemaking nearly two decades ago there was virtually no one around to teach him. The original techniques died out in Europe and the Middle East in the 13th century and were not rediscovered until the 1960s and '70s when American artist-blacksmiths again learned the techniques of the old bladesmiths and began forging replicas of historic knives and swords from Damascus steel.

"Unfortunately, when I wanted to learn, there was no place to learn. IAfter polishing, the piece is dipped in an acid bath which etches the metal surface.simply had to go to the shop and work at it," McConnell says. "I read what little there was to read about it and then just started doing it. I watched what went wrong and what went right until I worked it out."

Today, McConnell is eager to teach others his craft and has participated as a master in the University of Missouri Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program where he was paired with an apprentice. He's also taught others who have sought him out because of his reputation.

One student is a Louisville, Ky., surgeon who spent a week with him pounding metal. "It was something to completely get away from what he was doing. I've had several people come and do it as a break from whatever they were doing," says McConnell. "I had an attorney come down and he has no intention of doing this, maybe ever again. It was something of a vacation."

Whatever the motivation, McConnell is happy to share his skills. Making Damascus is a time-consuming, physically demanding skill that tolerates few mistakes.

The Damascus pattern results from welding together different types of steel of different hardness or combining steel with another metal like nickel and then etching the surface with an acid. Beginning with seven alternating layers of two types of steel, McConnell begins welding them together in a coal forge.

"I prefer coal over gas," he says, though he also uses a propane-fired gas forge. "It's probably nostalgia. It's dirtier and smells bad and I can control the heat of my metal better in a coal forge than in the gas."

He begins by heating the stacked layers of metal and hammers them into one piece, thus welding them together. Then he begins a process of reheating and folding the steel over and over until the seven original layers become 14, then 28, 56 and so on.

He must constantly cut, forge and draw the piece out by hammering it Honing an edge on a blade after hours of working in the process of creating a maintain the size and rough shape of the item being made. McConnell says he likes the look of 220 folded layers, though he's created blades with as many as 12,480 layers and Japanese bladesmiths have created swords with millions of layers.

"I don't like too many layers because they're so thin, so fine that you can't see anything. I think 220 makes a pretty nice pattern."

Once the desired number of layers is reached, McConnell works to cut, grind and hammer the piece into the shape of whatever he's making — knife blades, saw blades, the head of an engraver's
hammer. Once the shape is roughed out the metal is hardened by heating and quenching, or dipping it in a light oil. Finally it's tempered by slowly heating the metal to 400 degrees over about two hours in an oven.

Now McConnell begins the least favorite part of the job for him, the tedious process of finishing the item by repeatedly sanding it with finer and finer sanding wheels. The cutting edge is sharpened and the piece is given a fine polish.

The final step is soaking the metal in a bath of acid. The acid eats away the softer metal revealing the many layers hidden there.

Last he adds handles to knives and hilts to swords of bone, antler, metal or exotic woods. One of his favorite woods is Osage orange.

Though McConnell has made many kinds of mostly historic knives and swords,he did not begin working as a blacksmith to only make edged weapons and hunting knives. His real passion is tools.

McConnell collects 19th century hand tools and he makes Damascus replicas of those same tools. He's currently working on a personal collection of Damascus hand tools including a pair of calipers, a back saw, a draw knife, a small hatchet, a carpenter's square and a small hand plane, the most difficult piece he's ever made.

Though he uses each tool once to make sure it works, clearly these tools are not for everyday use. When finished making the tools, McConnell plans to build a tool chest with matching Damascus metal hardware.

McConnell says he's not aware of any Damascus blacksmiths who make collector's tools rather than the more common knives and swords.

Though there's not much of a market for his tools in Missouri McConnell's hand-made Damascus steel plane. (individual tools sell for hundreds of dollars and swords and some knives sell for thousands) there is a market in larger cities, mostly in the East. "I'm constantly amazed that people want to buy what I make," says McConnell who insists he's as busy as he wants to be.

Making historic knives, swords and hand tools fits nicely with McConnell's love of history, particularly American Colonial history.

Along with making Damascus, he also forges his own rifle and pistol barrels and attends historic rendezvous and reenactments to study and explore the past. It's there that he sells many of his Damascus items to collectors and fellow history buffs.

His love of history, and reliving the past, also fuels his desire to teach others his blacksmithing skills so that they'll never disappear as did the skills of ancient makers of Damascus steel.
For information about McConnell's tools and knives write him at
22997 Fox Road, La Plata, MO, 63549; or call (660) 332-7354.






Last revised: May 06, 2013

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