A Notable Barrel Roll!


By Lorene (Foreman) Branson - BHS Class of 1949


From the September 2007 Senior Bulldogs News



The article by Robert 'Bob' E. Champieux in the June Senior Bulldogs News was so interesting I read it to my husband Carl Branson (who is not a BHS graduate, but worked as an aerodynamics Engineer at Lockheed in the 50's and is a private pilot). Hearing the names Tony LeVier and Fish Salmon recalled this famous story; I am sure many ex-Lockheed employees are acquainted with this, but for those of you who are not, here is the famous story:


When Lockheed (Burbank) moved their flight test facility to Palmdale, they purchased a Beech Bonanza aircraft to ferry their pilots back and forth. One time when Tony and Fish were returning from Palmdale in the Bonanza, they got a little close behind a Lockheed Constellation that was landing. At 50 feet off the runway the trailing vortex from the Connie flipped the Bonanza completely upside down. Fish Salmon was flying the Bonanza and, being an aerobatic pilot, he did not hesitate to roll the airplane in the direction the vortex had thrown him, completing a perfect barrel roll just as the wheels touched the runway.


Tony LeVier told this story himself and claims that if he had been flying they both would be dead men. Only Fish Salmon, experienced as an aerobatic pilot, saved their lives.


Needless to say, it was the talk of Lockheed for MANY years.



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