25th Feb 2013, 23:48
Couldn't find any previous thread about Danny Kaye, so here goes.
There was once the story going round that no way was he going to learn on a single, so he bought an Aztec to train on. The sceptics said . not likely. Well read on . . .. . .

“If I Can Learn to Fly, You Can Learn to Fly”
Popular Science – Jan. 1967 (pp. 77-79, 198-199)
by: Danny Kaye

TV’s famous redhead, now piloting jet planes, tells how he learned—and how he took a test with a liverwurst sandwich in his pocket

Once each week, lithe, redheaded Danny Kaye entertains millions on his CBS TV show. For many years he has been a movie star. But few of his fans know that Kaye is an accomplished pilot as well, licensed to fly multi-engine planes and holder of a coveted instrument rating that permits him to fly when the clouds close in.
Now he is in “transition” training, from propeller aircraft to jets.
Let Danny himself tell you the story of his affair with his second love, flying. His first love, of course, is show business. He talked to Popular Science’s Devon Francis between sessions in transition ground school at the Lear Jet Corp., Witchita, Kan.

This goes back (began Danny). It was 1959. I had made a movie with a fellow named Michael Kidd. We used to drive to the studio together. Now, I wasn’t altogether crazy about Mike’s driving. No, let me put it another way. It got so I wouldn’t even ride with him.
Some months after we finished the picture, I got back from a trip abroad, and somebody told me Mike had become a licensed pilot. Well, it was shattering. I couldn’t believe that anyone as inept as Mike was in a car could ever have mastered the art of flying—and it is an art, as I was to find out later.
I called Mike on the phone and said, “What is this implausible nonsense about you being a pilot?”
He said yes, he had been learning to fly, and now he was a qualified pilot.
Curiosity gets the best of all of us sometimes. I had to find out about Mike’s flying. Summoning up my courage, I remarked, “I’ll go up with you.” He picked me up and drove me to the Van Nuys (Calif.) airport. On the way I noticed there was an appreciable improvement in his driving. Could learning to fly have made such changes in his driving habits?
Now, I’d been flying as an airline passenger since 1933. My first trip was in a Ford trimotor. Somewhere in my uninformed mind I had the vague idea that if I ever flew an airplane I’d hop in and yell, “Hey, fellows, this is Danny and I’m going flying.” I’d roar down the runway in helmet and goggles, with scarf streaming out behind, and be off into the wild blue yonder.
But oh, no! Mike spent a full half-hour on what he called preflight, checking the airplane. He got on the radio to ask permission to taxi and take off. He understood all that jargon coming out of the receiver from Ground Control.
Learning the Lingo. This was the most beautiful combination of Greek, Japanese, and native Aleutian I’d ever heard in my life. It sounded like, “Roger, neeaw-whup-emup, altimeter razzmatazz, wind wheekip-peredherring.” I was impressed.
We flew. Mike was good. I was even more impressed.
Mike said, “Why don’t you put your hands on the controls?” and I think that’s when it hit me. There was a little bug, nondescript in color and not very large, that had evidently got into the cabin. It flew ‘round and ‘round, finally hit me in the back of the head, buried itself in my brain, and I had caught that marvelous disease spread by the “flying bug.”
I said, “Hey, Mike, what do you have to do to learn how to fly?”
He said, “Danny, it takes coordination, and you seem to have that in abundance anyway, so it would probably be easy for you.”
I said, “Mike, outside of that, what do you have to do to get a license?”
He casually said, “Oh, not very much, Danny. All you have to do is take some lessons and pass a simple little written exam.”
I said, “I’m sunk.”
Now, bear that point about the written exam in mind because I’m coming back to it.
I began taking lessons.
Dick Weaver, my instructor, was an ex-Navy pilot, a gruff but likable guy. He didn’t care whether you were a movie actor or a mechanic or a politician. He growled at everybody in exactly the same way. But his pupils knew they had been taught well.
“What if it stops?” At one point on my first instruction flight I said to Dick, “Hey, what if that thing stops?”
He said, “What thing?”
I said, “That thing that’s making fresh air out there.”
He said, “Oh, if this thing stops?” Whereupon he switched off the engine.
He said very calmly, “Now there’s no engine.”
I said, not quite so calmly, “I just happened to notice that. Don’t you find it excessively quiet in here?”
He said, “Not for glider pilots.”
The point he was trying to make was that even if you lose your engine, you can still glide gracefully down to a safe landing.
When we got down I was really excited. I started ground school. That’s where the written exam would come in. Oh, boy!
Mathematics, yet. The subjects were meteorology, navigation, power plants, aerodynamics, and the Federal Air Regulations. Let me tell you why I had my wind up over the forthcoming exam. When I was a kid in school I just couldn’t get mathematics. Here I am in the midst of a course that requires mathematics, and I can’t even add.
If I’ve got four sets of figures to sum up, I begin at the top and add down. Then I add from the bottom up. Then I separate the figures, two and two, add them, and take those sums and add them together, and if it comes out the same, I must be right.
If I’d been shot to the moon in a capsule I couldn’t have been on more unfamiliar ground right then. But George Budde, my ground-school instructor, was a patient kindly man who guided me beautifully through the whole course.
I spent weeks flying with Dick in the morning and studying with George in the afternoon. You learn to do eights-on-pylon, lazy eights, and chandelles. You learn to keep that black ball in the turn-and-bank indicator right in the center in turns. At first, I could hardly even keep it in the cockpit. You learn to bank without losing altitude.
That first solo! I’d had about 10 hours of instruction. One morning Dick Weaver remarked, “How about taking it around yourself?”
Whew! Here it was. I expected a long speech of do-this and do-that, and don’t-do-this and don’t-do-that. You know what he said? All he said was, as he folded the belts on the seat he had just vacated, “Hey, Redhead, don’t kill yourself!”
And let me tell you something else—the first time that I soloed an airplane, John Glenn was nothing!
But that wasn’t all there was to getting a ticket. Oh, no! The day came when I had to take that written exam.
The exam. Here I am with a liverwurst sandwich in my pocket because I know this is going to be a terror, going on for hours, and I sit down to a desk with all these questions in front of me. Here’s something strange. I can step out in front of 20,000 people to do a show, and not be nervous at all. Yet when I went to take my examination, I was as nervous as a cat.
But I had something going for me. Mike Kidd had remarked to a friend of mine, “I don’t think Danny will have the patience to do everything it takes to get a ticket.” That did it! I’d get my ticket, or else.
I got through the exam. Don’t ask me how. I left the Federal Aviation Agency office thinking, “Well, if I failed, I can study some more and take the exam over again. And after all, I just might have made it. Seventy’s a passing grade.”
Well, the grades came through. I got 90. My first reaction was that they had made a mistake. No, it was right. Ninety. I felt as if I was ready to run for Congress.
I still didn’t have my ticket, though. I had practiced with Dick Weaver in a twin-engine plane, and after I passed the exam, I bought a Piper Aztec. There was much more to learn on that than there was on a single-engine airplane. How could I remember all the extra things?
But I did get my ticket, and not in a single-engine airplane. This may interest you—one of my friends told me later that I was one of only 14 people in the whole country—at that time—who had obtained a private license and a multi-engine rating at the same time.
I’ve done everything in my flying career backward. Most people get a private license, then a commercial ticket, then a multi-engine rating, and finally an instrument rating. Not me! Oh, no!
Six years after I got my private license—in a twin-engine airplane—I qualified for single-engine.
Flying “under the hood.” A couple of years ago I thought to myself, well, why not an instrument rating? I practiced flying “under the hood” with Bob Dorn, and went up for my check ride and passed the flight test. I thought that this time the written exam would be easier. But oh, no! By some miracle, I got 90 again.
I decided to go for a commercial license. Here was that written exam again.
A few days later I’m at the home Gussie Busch (August Busch, president of the brewing company and owner of the St. Louis Cardinals) in St. Louis, and every four hours I’m on the telephone to California to see how I came out on the exam. I made 91. I could hardly believe it.
The jet that “wants to fly.” But let me do a commercial on the jet made by our company. This is such an incredible airplane—the Lear Jet. You hear all this stuff about frightening acceleration when you push forward on the throttles. Forget it. This airplane exceeds everything that you hear or expect. It’s alive. It wants to fly.
You go to level out, and you’re still climbing. The airplane is that “clean.” Do you know how I fly this airplane once I’ve got it to 41,000 feet and flying straight and level? I pull my knees up and rest my hands on them, and just use finger movements. It’s that easy. Of course, you can put it on autopilot and do crossword puzzles if you want to.
A jet flies mostly like any airplane, except that everything happens faster. In my transition training, I’ve discovered that you’re never “ahead” of your plane at the start. There’s so much to do. But you learn. You catch on to anticipating. You “lead” your airplane, just as you drive ahead of your automobile, anticipating turns and traffic, if you’re a really good driver.
I’m using jets now to get to distant points, meet with business associates, and still get home for dinner on the same day. I could never do this before.
To finish the commercial, the executive jet is one of the most effective business tools ever invented. It literally creates time.
And what’s that pitch the girl makes for sewing patterns? “If I can learn to sew, you can learn to sew.” Let me paraphrase it. “If Danny Kaye can learn to fly, you can learn to fly.”

26th Feb 2013, 02:58
Absolutely no hint of modesty there then!

26th Feb 2013, 03:22
All of a sudden, I feel like buying a karaoke box with my hard earned pilot money and call myself a famous actor, singer, dancer.

26th Feb 2013, 04:07
Here's Danny with what looks like an old Jet Commander?


26th Feb 2013, 04:30
Yeah, money can do terrible things sometimes, ask Travolta.

26th Feb 2013, 04:33

26th Feb 2013, 05:00
His first officer? An experienced instructor captain... Right... Obviously.

That is just too arrogant and childish to me.

That's like the Danny Keye diatribe above, the most stupid, arrogant, full of cliche story I have ever read from an aviation magazine.

Show business and aviation? The pioneer in jet syndrom unskilled P2F wannabes. We have the space tourists, but we have the jet tourists too.

That's not because you have $$$ millions you have to show off in any field because you can buy it. Plenty of happy float airplane owners (including some famous actors we all know here), private owners of small airplanes with great stories, no need to focus on those rich wannabees unable to fly a jet in real conditions without full and experienced assistance like handicaped people but pretending like an unsatisfied wife.

Actually those people can do whatever they want with their money, but just don't come to us full of fake glory an put yourself on the pics, hidding your "first officer" all smilling like you were recieving a cinema prize.

26th Feb 2013, 05:31
Then again there is Bruce Dickinson.

Loose rivets
26th Feb 2013, 05:54
Yes there is:


26th Feb 2013, 05:56
Here's Danny with what looks like an old Jet Commander?

Yup, a 'B' model.

Erwin Schroedinger
26th Feb 2013, 06:01
Really enjoyed Danny's account.

Many thanks to Fantome for sharing it with us. :ok:

Ascend Charlie
26th Feb 2013, 06:24
Geez, there are some grumpy old pr1cks on this forum!

I loved his story, just as I loved his shows in the 60s. Lighten up, Francis.

26th Feb 2013, 07:14
Danny Kaye was one of the film heroes of my youth as one of the most talented entertainers of his generation.

Eventually had the pleasure of meeting him when he was a passenger on a Comet 4b. When he visited the cockpit we found him an absolutely charming man, genuinely enthusiastic about aviation and the Learjet - and unassuming and modest with it.

So let's not leap to assumptions about people we know nothing about.

26th Feb 2013, 07:43
KAG, go and do some research. I think you will find your assumptions are invalid in the case of Danny Kaye. Oh, and by the way, Popular Science was not an aviation magazine.

26th Feb 2013, 10:04
Oddly I never realised Danny Kaye was a pilot. As for his account of it I'm surprised at the negative reactions. If anything he underplayed the whole thing. Kind of an 'Aw shucks, how did that happen? I'm flyin' jets' attitude. Clearly the article was tailored for the audience of the time and Danny was after all a knockabout comedian who played Walter Mitty, the current shorthand for fantasists. Which he clearly was not.


Ace Brave
26th Feb 2013, 11:31
It's OK folks, Danny Kaye wasn't French and was - therefore - useless, arrogant, and totally incapable of being a human being or able to manage his finances ............................................ according to KAG anyway. Pretty much fits in with all his other posts in PPRuNe.

26th Feb 2013, 11:37
Good point, Ace Brave, and don't forget that without the Eurozone, Danny Kaye would never have got his license. ;)

26th Feb 2013, 11:38
Personally, I enjoyed the article. I thought that it was far from "arrogant" and there was indeed some "modesty there then". In fact in my opinion it was a rather self-effacing article.

26th Feb 2013, 12:10
...... no need to focus on those rich wannabees unable to fly a jet in real conditions, without full and experienced assistance, like handicapped people, but pretending, like an unsatisfied wife.

jeese mate . .. . . great respect for where you come from, but seems there might be some hang up. Let it all hang out, please. Just between you and me. Perhaps I can help you to home in on the root of the problem.

26th Feb 2013, 12:34
Wot Wholigan said.

Another thing, I'm willing to bet not many knew Danny Kaye had a Swedish nephew.


26th Feb 2013, 13:07
the most stupid, arrogant, full of cliche story I have ever read

You should try reading your own posts then KAG.

Solid Rust Twotter
26th Feb 2013, 17:48
KAG and reality? Nah, it'll never work.:}

26th Feb 2013, 18:51
“If I Can Learn to Fly, You Can Learn to Fly”

And that's the crux. 'Flying' is not that dificult. Obviously it can get hard at times and not everyone can fly multi or jets, but it's not beyond the average person if they put their minds to it.

Unfortunately most people are put off by the cost or don't believe they are capable, but for those who haven't given it a go and you have the time and spare cash (Danny Kaye had), you might surprise yourself.

26th Feb 2013, 19:02
Don't those aren't capable eliminate themselves from the gene pool?

26th Feb 2013, 19:22
I once had a QFI whose favourite saying was:

"You won't have any problems. I could teach my grannie to fly and she's been dead 15 years."

26th Feb 2013, 19:52
Thanks for posting the article, Fantome!

I tried hard to find something arrogant in it and failed utterly. From what I remember of him in films he was rather good at laughing at himself and taking huge audiences along for the fun. Pretty difficult to do that if there's a streak of arrogance in you. For a more modern, similar actor, think Steve Martin.

26th Feb 2013, 22:47
Pretty difficult to do that if there's a streak of arrogance in you.
Some years ago the Canadian Open Golf Tournament was being held at the Royal Montreal Club. At about 11:30 on a Tuesday evening the number 2 aircraft behind us on approach was a Lear, N1AP. We overheard him call the FBO with a request for a taxi. The Lear taxiied into the FBO ramp behind us and the crew got out, installed the engine plugs and pitot covers, then trudged into the FBO lounge carrying their baggage and golf clubs. Only time in my life I ever met Arnold Palmer. Anybody imagine Tiger Woods flying his own Lear and hauling his own clubs, let alone riding in a cab? :p

27th Feb 2013, 00:44
Here's another one you never woulda thought.

Bet you can't guess who this is!!

Army Ranger Surprise

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw who they were talking about...I had no idea....wait till you see who it is. What a simple but most sincere and moving acceptance speech. Loved his recommendation for all our politicos.

Many people may have forgotten about his time in the U.S. Army. He is the son of an Air Force General, and an accomplished Golden Gloves boxer, and he graduated from Pomona College with a B.S. degree, and then became a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University.

He joined the U.S. Army at the prompting of his father. After graduating from Officer Candidate School he attended and graduated from both Army Airborne and Ranger training in the very top of each class. He was selected for U. S. Army Special Forces Training but refused so that he could attend pilot training where he earned his wings, and became an accomplished U.S. Army helicopter (gun ship) pilot, and achieved the rank of Captain.

He was about to be promoted to the rank of Major, and appointed to teach at West Point when he resigned his commission from the Army to go into music and acting. You can tell in this video that his time in the military means a lot to him. I won't give away who it is. You should just watch.

I bet you will be surprised!

Bet you can't guess who this is!!
WIllie and Kris at the AVA's! - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PU-A7eqadho#t=0s)

27th Feb 2013, 00:52
Ben I didn't have to watch the vid, I knew who it was. :ok:

27th Feb 2013, 02:07
Same here, I already knew it was "Kris" Kristofferson. Flew Hueys I do believe.

herman the crab
27th Feb 2013, 03:21
My late adopted Grandpa knew him fairly well as he was a regular visitor to his FBO. I did have a couple of pictures of them together with various aircraft but gave them to his niece after his death.


Noah Zark.
27th Feb 2013, 21:15
Does anyone know another way to get to see the above named clip, it's no longer available on Goo Choob.

28th Feb 2013, 01:33
Strange, I tried and it was first on the list. See no reason for it to have been removed in the last six hours!

28th Feb 2013, 01:47
Somehow, the video record of Kristofferson's award has, in the past day, been disappeared from the WWW.

Confounds me as to why.

Two's in
28th Feb 2013, 02:04
One measure of a pilot is his or her ability to obtain a recognized qualification to pilot a specified type of aircraft. The earlier assumption that an individual's flying qualification is is some way inferior to another because he is a public entertainment figure and not an airline emloyee is arrogant, assinine and laughable beyond all description. Enthusiasm trumps mediocrity on any given day.

28th Feb 2013, 02:35
Can anyone else here remember Danny Kaye in the Secret Life of Walter Mitty?
One of the first, or probably the first movie I can remember watching as a kid.

The scene that comes to mind is him attempting to get out of a burning fighter aircraft, in a screaming descent.. All in his dreams (nightmare) it was.

Um... lifting...
28th Feb 2013, 02:40
Things often disappear from U2be.

LiveLeak.com - Veteran Of The Year Award.

28th Feb 2013, 09:31

heated ice detector
28th Feb 2013, 09:47
i can't remember if it was the vessel with the pestle or the flagan with the dragon that was the brew that was true

28th Feb 2013, 09:53
The Princess Bride?

28th Feb 2013, 10:10
Two's in
Below the Glidepath - not correcting

Now hear this.. .. . now hear this . . .. . you have expressed the truth
in a nutshell, to coin a phrase. Tonight I shall enjoy looking back to any other bon mots that may have tripped off your fingers, from day one.

Incidentally . . if you are truly below the glidepath and not correcting
it may because you are seeing green in the vasis boxes .. . taking into account the grass in front that hasn't been cut. Not unknown at Shannon, they say.

Whenever you get the direction "FLY UP....FLY UP" and don't respond immediately, before you die you might hear. . . "STUFF UP . . STUFF UP."

Returning to the alter ego of perhaps a few here, Walter Mitty'; in the movie he is portrayed as a WW11 fighter ace. When he shoots down another German, he slides back his canopy, presses a big rubber stamp on the ink pad mounted above his panel. . . . and applies another swastika to the long line of identical symbols adorning the side of his fighter.

How did it go? . . . . . "TAPOCCATA . . ..TAPOCATTA . .. . WE'RE GOING THROUGH COMMANDER!"

Then Mrs Mitty brings him back down to earth, impatient, intolerant and totally out of touch with her husband's glorious fantasies.

As Ashleigh Brilliant had it . . . " I have abandoned my search for truth, and am now looking for a good fantasy."

28th Feb 2013, 11:17
Maybe you should stick to the Bundaberg Underproof, rather than the Overproof. :p

1st Mar 2013, 14:00
.. . .. "the answer lies, mainly in the soil . . "

. . . .. . or . .. if it doesn't, it might be in the bottle, mainly, Mr MagnusP,
or once, in multiple casks of the potent stuff, the more often than not adulterated spirituous liquor, the very economic lifeblood of the place. It all started in 1790 something, with The Rum Corps, a rum bunch of raunchy red coats, that history tells us were in control of the currency in the convict colony for a while. They didn't exactly drink their way out, Bloodnok.
"It was hell in there!"