High times for pilot
WHITING FIELD, Fla. – A pilot instructor who has flown more hours in T-34C trainers than any other active-duty naval aviator has retired with a record that probably never will be broken.
Lt. Cmdr. Bradley Mason made his final flight Wednesday in the same Turbo Mentor that he used as a student pilot in 1983 at this base on the Florida panhandle.
That gave the 41-year-old Miami native 4,438.8 hours in T-34Cs during his 20-year Navy career.
His record is safe because the Navy is phasing out the aging Turbo Mentors and replacing them with a new plane, the T6-A Texan II. Both are single-engine turbo props used for primary flight training.
Mason said his final flight was routine but difficult.
“Actually, it wasn’t until I came around and saw the runway when I said ’Oh my God, this is the last time I’m doing this,”’ he said. “And I must say I nailed that landing.”
Mason will retire in nearby Pensacola with is wife, Becky, and their three children. He plans to look for work as a commercial pilot.
Rare bird discovered
ST. LOUIS – A one-of-a-kind bird is now making its home at the World Bird Sanctuary in suburban St. Louis.
Executive director Walter Crawford said Thursday that an albino Black Vulture — the only one known to exist and just the second ever seen — arrived about five weeks ago. The white bird with pink eyes was found in Michigan.
Wildlife officials feared the vulture could not survive in the wild. The World Bird Sanctuary, which houses about 300 birds, is recognized worldwide for its educational and rehabilitation efforts.
Crawford said the bird is now healthy and living next to another rare bird — an albino Great Horned Owl.
Experts believe the vulture is about a year old. After DNA testing determines the vulture’s sex — birds don’t have external sex organs — officials will decide whether to try to breed it, Crawford said.
“It’s a beautiful, beautiful bird,” Crawford said. “That and the owl are probably two of the prettiest ones I’ve ever seen.”
The albino appearance is the result of lack of pigment in the skin and feathers.