Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Former 49er great Russ Francis still flying high



Former NFL tight end Russ Francis has accomplished quite a bit in his life thus far. But all he ever wanted to do was fly.

He’s done just that. And his football career empowered him to soar even higher.

Francis won a Super Bowl with Joe Montana and the 49ers after the 1984 season. Before that, he made three Pro Bowl teams as a New England Patriot. Niners coach Bill Walsh convinced Francis to end a promising career in broadcasting — the tight end had retired early to pursue off-the-field interests. Namely, he had a passion for skydiving, surfing, motorcycles and aviation.

His Bay Area ties remain strong. Although he lives in Wyoming, Francis regularly attends 49ers alumni weekend. He was in town during Week 2 of the NFL season to serve as co-host on “The Point After” with Mark IbaƱez on KTVU Channel 2, and the “Mercedes Benz Sports Report,” a 49ers pregame show on the same station. He also found time to galavant around the Bay Area with Petaluma memorabilia maven and agent Rob Hemphill.

While his love of flight prompted his early retirement, it was also the reason Francis, 65, chose to play professional football in the first place.

“I wasn’t really thinking clearly because I had an addiction,” Francis said, intentionally misleading his audience. “The decision for going into football, a lot of it had to do with being able to pay for that addiction. That addiction was an addiction for airplanes.

“I thought ‘I’ve got to play football because they paid me enough money.’ So I really did play football so I could fly.”

Francis’ affinity for flight grew from an early infatuation with birds.

“When I was younger I used to draw birds,” Francis said. “Taking off, with their wings coming back and pushing, creating thrust, and then rotating up for lift. And when they come in they rotate the other way to stall, to tiptoe in. I was fascinated by that.”

His boyhood wonder was still intact when he attended the University of Oregon, where he was an accomplished decathlete and baseball player before taking up football. Francis walked 8 miles from the center of campus to the Eugene Airport. He knew there was a flight school there, and he walked right in.

“Guys are in there smoking cigars, grey-haired guys,” Francis recalled. “I said I don’t have any money. And they said ‘you don’t need any money. We’ll take you up.’ ”

Francis was in the air for the first time on a Monday. On Friday of that week, he took his first solo flight.

The school’s owner, Milt Ruburg, took a liking to the then 21-year-old athlete. He co-signed on Francis’ first airplane purchase. Francis needed a larger aircraft to fit his 6-foot, 6-inch frame.

When Ruburg passed away, Francis kept the school going.

“The name of the company is McKenzie Flying service. Same name — I stole it, in honor of Milt,” Francis said.

His love for being in the air led to a passion for skydiving. Francis has more than 3,000 jumps under his belt.

“It’s like being a bird,” Francis said, emanating the satisfaction of a dream fulfilled.

Francis was selected in the first round of the NFL draft — a dream for many young athletes — in 1975, although he played just one full season of college football. His career with the Patriots included two playoff games to go with his Pro Bowl selections. He was regarded by some as the best tight end in the game when he retired for the first time at age 28.

By the time Francis announced he was leaving football on legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell’s “SportsBeat” show, the two had fostered a relationship while appearing on ABC Sports’ “Superstars” competition together. Cosell had seen enough to find Francis a spot at the network.

Francis called college football games with another broadcasting legend, Keith Jackson. He was also slated to work the 1984 Olympics, and Francis was in line for the coveted “Monday Night Football” job.

In fact, when Walsh recruited Francis, it was after the retired tight end had interviewed him at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii — the state in which Francis was raised. Walsh opened his pitch with the notion of a Super Bowl win. His 49ers had won the NFL title the year before. Francis said no. That didn’t interest him. Walsh took it a step further.

“He (Walsh) said, ‘You’ll never get a chance in your life to work with people who are as dedicated to getting better every day as these players are. Since you’re not interested in Super Bowl wins, how about being the best there is in the league, or the world, at your job? Who can say that?’

“I thought about it and said, damn, he’s right. These guys are the best at what they do. I handed over the Monday Night Football gig and the ’84 Olympics,” said Francis, a member of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. Francis played six seasons in San Francisco. He had five catches for 60 yards in the team’s Super Bowl XIX win.

He would fly to practice in a 1941 Stearman biplane. “I’d love to wave at the fans coming across the San Mateo Bridge. I’d get right down on the water in that flat section and the section that goes up. I’d go up with them. And they’re all stuck in traffic bumper to bumper,” Francis said.

The 49ers fans would wave back. Raiders fans gave Francis a less friendly hand gesture.

Francis may have been destined to fly, but he was also meant to play football — despite the fact he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1974 and barely missed making the Olympic track team while at Oregon. He even dabbled in pro wrestling. His father, Ed Francis, was a wrestling promoter in Hawaii.

But at 6 feet, 6 inches and 245 pounds with a 4.5-second time in the 40-yard dash, he was an early prototype of the modern NFL tight end. Francis was dubbed “All-World” by Cosell in his first season that saw him make the NFL All-Rookie Team. More recently, he was listed on the Pac-12 All-Century squad.

And Francis still loves the 49ers. He’s excited about quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who has also been a Patriot and 49er, and defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, an Oregon alum. He has affection for the team’s fans, too.

“The fans were so knowledgeable. They knew what our plays were called,” Francis said. He told a story about a Hawaiian family that had seats near the player entrance at Candlestick. They have similar seats at Levi’s Stadium. The family asked Francis to flash them the Hawaiian “shaka” hand gesture during an alumni weekend. In what must have been an exciting moment for the family, Francis gladly obliged.

“Well,” said Francis, “it was a thrill for me.” It seems Francis’ entire life has been thrilling.

He is currently exhilarated about the 49ers’ 2018 season and his television appearances on KTVU. Also, there’s the prospect of doing business at Hemphill’s National Sports Memorabilia storefront at the Petaluma Premium Outlets during the holidays. Francis loves to visit the Bay Area, a place he still enjoys.

Francis was born to fly. He didn’t hesitate to chase his boyhood dreams, and his two main passions — aviation and football — went hand in hand.

“It was my therapy,” Francis said of flying. “And it really, truly worked.”

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.petaluma360.com

Bell 206: Accident occurred September 10, 2018 in Bartica, Guyana

NTSB Identification: ERA18WA248
14 CFR Non-U.S., Commercial
Accident occurred Monday, September 10, 2018 in Bartica, Guyana
Aircraft: BELL 206, registration:
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

The government of Guyana has notified the NTSB of an accident involving a BELL 206 helicopter that occurred on September 10, 2018. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the government of Guyana's investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13.

All investigative information will be released by the government of Guyana.

Taylorcraft F21A, N2006L and Beech M35 Bonanza, N882R: Incident occurred September 15, 2018 at Birchwood Airport (PABV), Alaska

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska

N2006L while taxiing to parking struck N882R


https://registry.faa.gov/N2006L


Date: 15-SEP-18

Time: 20:15:00Z
Regis#: N2006L
Aircraft Make: TAYLORCRAFT
Aircraft Model: F 21A
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: UNKNOWN
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
Operation: 91
City: BIRCHWOOD
State: ALASKA

Parked N882R was struck by taxiing N2006L


https://registry.faa.gov/N882R 


Date: 15-SEP-18
Time: 20:15:00Z
Regis#: N882R
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: M35
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: UNKNOWN
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: STANDING (STD)
Operation: 91
City: BIRCHWOOD
State: ALASKA

Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, N824JT: Incident occurred September 18, 2018 in St. Mary's, Alaska

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska

Gear collapsed during off airport landing.

https://registry.faa.gov/N824JT

Date: 18-SEP-18
Time: 22:45:00Z
Regis#: N824JT
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA 18 150
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
City: ST MARYS
State: ALASKA

Sikorsky SH-3H (S-61), N611CK: Incident occurred September 17, 2018 at Pollard Flat, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Sacramento, California

Main rotor struck a tree during firefighting operations, landed without incident.

Croman Corporation

https://registry.faa.gov/N611CK

Date: 17-SEP-18
Time: 22:15:00Z
Regis#: N611CK
Aircraft Make:
Aircraft Model:
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: FIREFIGHTING
Flight Phase: MANEUVERING (MNV)
Operation: 91
City: POLLARD FLATS
State: CALIFORNIA

Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, N701SP: Incident occurred September 18, 2018 - San Diego, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Diego, California

Landed and struck a sign.

Scandinavian Aviation Academy Inc

https://registry.faa.gov/N701SP

Date: 18-SEP-18
Time: 17:55:00Z
Regis#: N701SP
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172S
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
City: SAN DIEGO
State: CALIFORNIA

Mooney M20C, N7172V: Incident occurred September 18, 2018 at Palm Beach International Airport (KPBI), West Palm Beach, Florida

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; South Florida

Landed gear up.

https://registry.faa.gov/N7172V

Date: 18-SEP-18
Time: 17:50:00Z
Regis#: N7172V
Aircraft Make:
Aircraft Model:
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
City: WEST PALM BEACH
State: FLORIDA

Robinson R44, registered to and operated by Novictor Aviation, N632NV: Accident occurred September 18, 2018 in Wahiawa, Hawaii

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Honolulu, Hawaii

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

https://registry.faa.gov/N632NV

Location: Honolulu, HI
Accident Number: WPR18LA269
Date & Time: 09/18/2018, 0915 HST
Registration: N632NV
Aircraft: Robinson R44
Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On September 18, 2018, about 0915 Hawaiian standard time, a R44 helicopter, N632NV, was substantially damaged during a precautionary landing near Wahiawa, Hawaii. The pilot and two passengers were not injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Novictor Aviation under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 air tour flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Honolulu International Airport, Honolulu, Hawaii at 0845 and was destined for Weed Airport, Weed, California.

The pilot reported that during cruise flight, at about 2,200 ft above ground level (agl), the engine oil light illuminated red. He immediately lowered the collective and started a precautionary landing. A few seconds after the descent, he noted minor fluctuations in engine RPM; however, the allowable limits were never exceeded. It appeared that shortly after, the RPM stabilized. At about 700-800 ft agl, the engine oversped, and the pilot received a low rotor rpm warning. He continued the descent and impacted terrain with some forward speed. The helicopter slid about 40 ft, the left skid broke off, the helicopter rotated about 90 degrees and the main rotor blade struck the tailboom.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Robinson
Registration: N632NV
Model/Series: R44 Undesignated
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: United Helicopter Leasing LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:
Destination: 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None
Latitude, Longitude:

Cessna 180C, N334SC: Incident occurred September 18, 2018 at Magic Valley Regional Airport (KTWF), Twin Falls County, Idaho

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Boise, Idaho

Ran over taxiway light.

https://registry.faa.gov/N334SC

Date: 18-SEP-18
Time: 15:11:00Z
Regis#: N334SC
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 180C
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: NONE
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
Operation: 91
City: TWIN FALLS
State: IDAHO

Cessna 172R Skyhawk, N65641: Incidents occurred September 18, 2018 and September 16, 2016 at Blue Grass Airport (KLEX), Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Louisville, Kentucky

September 18, 2018:  Blew a tire on landing.


Lexington Flying Club Inc


https://registry.faa.gov/N65641


Date: 18-SEP-18

Time: 23:25:00Z
Regis#: N65641
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172R
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
City: LEXINGTON
State: KENTUCKY

September 16, 2016: Aircraft on landing went off the runway into the grass.


Date: 16-SEP-16

Time: 18:41:00Z
Regis#: N65641
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: LEXINGTON
State: Kentucky

British Aerospace BAe-125-700A, registered to and operated by the Aviation Leasing Group Inc, N109BG: Accident occurred September 18, 2018 at Santa Fe Regional Airport (KSAF), New Mexico

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Albuquerque, New Mexico

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


https://registry.faa.gov/N109bg

Location: Santa Fe, NM
Accident Number: WPR18LA270
Date & Time: 09/18/2018, 1010 MDT
Registration: N109BG
Aircraft: Hawker Siddeley HS125
Injuries: 4 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled 

On September 18, 2018, about 1010 mountain daylight time, a Hawker Siddeley HS125-700A, N109BG, veered to the right during landing roll at the Santa Fe Municipal Airport (SAF), Santa Fe, New Mexico. The pilot subsequently tried to correct to the runway centerline; however, the airplane came to rest in the grass adjacent to the runway. The pilot and four passengers were not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by the Aviation Leasing Group Inc., under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as an on-demand air taxi flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight originated at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Los Angeles, California, with a destination of SAF.

The pilot reported that during the landing roll, he attempted to use the nose wheel tiller to steer the airplane on the ground; however, the tiller was locked and the pilot was unable to twist te tiller counterclockwise. The pilot was able to lift the nose wheel off the runway to regain control and the airplane came to rest in the nearby grassy area.

The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Hawker Siddeley
Registration: N109BG
Model/Series: HS125 700A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Aviation Leasing Group Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:  / ,
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:
Destination: 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 3 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 4 None
Latitude, Longitude: 

Cessna 172R Skyhawk, N159FS: Incident occurred September 17, 2018 at Greenville Downtown Airport (KGMU), Greenville County, South Carolina

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; South Carolina

Veered off the centerline and hit a runway light.

Flight School of Greenville LLC

https://registry.faa.gov/N159FS

Date: 17-SEP-18
Time: 22:36:00Z
Regis#: N159FS
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172R
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
City: GREENVILLE
State: SOUTH CAROLINA