Thanksgiving: What I am Thankful for….

The “Holiday Season” is upon us and the first of those holidays is Thanksgiving.  It is a time for families to gather for a meal and to have “family” time.  Also as the name suggests, it is a time to give thanks.

I feel compelled to use this venue to publish and express my thanks.  I have a list of things that I am thankful for, and I will enumerate them at this time!

1.  I am very thankful for the parents that I was most fortunate to have, Archie Wilson Hammack and Ola Mae Hammack. They came from very poor and humble beginnings in Oklahoma.  Because of those poor and humble beginnings, they provided a very grounded and loving upbringing to their five children.

2.  I am very thankful that my best friend and wife, Karen came back into my life after a 16 year haitus!  Or as she says, a long 16 year trip!  You are and will be forever the love of my life!

3.  I am very thankful for all of my children and grandchildren, they are a joy.  They are, after all, a precious gift and my legacy for all to see!

4.  The one thing that I have learned in my almost 59 years is that, again, life is a journey not a guided tour!  Your life is just what you make of it.  Live it to its fullest!   I have learned to give forgiveness and to love deeper.   Better yet, live every day like you are dying!

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Take time this Thanksgiving Day to tell your loved ones just what they mean to you, how much you love and care for them! You will make their day!


November 25, 1973

scan0010 by captleon51.
(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)
November 25, 1973 was a nice fall Sunday afternoon in Mesa, Arizona.  Little did I know that it also was the day that would forever change my life!
Prior to that day I was 2Lt. Boyd Leon Hammack, USAF, son of Archie and Ola Mae Hammack, going through Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training at Williams AFB, AZ.  But by dinner time, I was Leon Hammack the brand new father of an infant boy named Jason Christopher Hammack! My life was undergoing a dramatic shift!
At almost 23 years old I really didn’t know the far reaching ramifications of this special day.  I did not know all the nuiances of fatherhood and what the future would be for me!  After all, I had just graduated from California State University, Fresno in June and had only been in the Air Force for a total of three months.  The grind and stress of learning to fly jets in the USAF paled in comparison to what would lie ahead for me a parent!
Looking back on the last 36 years, it was quite a journey!  Throughout those 36 years there were joys and there were heartaches, there were good times and bad times.  Watching your son trying to manipulate the maze of life can be very trying, difficult, and very tumultuous for both parent and child!
Even though there were times I was not sure I was going to live through it all, we both did!
November 25, 1973, the beginning of the rest of my life!
Happy 36th Birthday, Jason!
PS A note to both of my sons:
I know that I was lacking in some areas of fatherhood, but I truly did the best that I could.  I love both of you from the bottom of my heart!  After all, you are my legacy!

A Grand And Glorious Morning To You!

Waterway by captleon51.
(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)
Once again, ALOHA, from the Hilton Waikoloa Village in Kona, Hawaii!  Home of Mona Loa, the volcanoes, its lava fields, and our 50th state to the Union (circa 1959).
I have just returned from my breakfast scavenge hunt.  I decided to head on over to the Big Island Breakfast at Water’s Edge.  The resort serves a morning breakfast buffet daily from 6:30 am til 1 pm.  My only other choice was to walk about a mile down to the Queen’s Place, a small shopping area for some rather yucky fast food’s attempt at breakfast!  Since I do a lot of fast food normally, it was time for a change!
Let me tell you about my breakfast adventure.  I didn’t bother to get into the shower and get cleaned up before breakfast, I reserve that ordeal for later this morning before I have to jump on the airport van and fly that big beast back to the mainland!  So I put on my island attire, shorts, T-shirt (this time not a NASCAR shirt), and tennis shoes, drug a comb through what is left of my aging hair, and off I go to breakfast.
The walk along the man-made waterway with all the flora and fauna made the stroll very pleasant.  As I got to the walkway that leads to the Big Island Breakfast at Water’s Edge, I stopped to look at the menu.  It was just the buffet this morning…...$26.00!
I thought that I needed my glasses prescription tweaked or something!  I blinked, stared, and rubbed my eyes thinking that would make my vision better.  Again I looked at the menu…………….. it still read $26.00!  What is an is an airline captain supposed to do?????  I mean, after all, our reputation of being a tight ass is definitely in major jeopardy here folks!!
I was at a crossroads in financial layover plans!  I needed help, but to my dismay, there was none to be had.  I thought about “my lifelines” like calling a friend, calling my financial advisor, and calling AAA,( I thought about calling Karen first, but I knew she would say just spend the money)!  But then I just took a deep breath and tried to view the big picture!  I was hungry.  I did have $26.00 in my pocket.  Finally, there is the restuarant!  Now my analytical brain went into “rationale mode”.
It was a tedious and tiring process.  My brain was fighting with itself!  WOW!  Have you ever had that happen to you?  It only lasted about five minutes, but I was spent!
The results of that  “brain fight”, I lost $26.00, had a great breakfast, and now I need a nap!!

Aloha From Kona!

Cool beachside  by captleon51.
(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)
Once again I am “Island Hopping”!  It has been a couple of months since I have had an island trip, so this trip to Kona is somewhat refreshing.  I forgot just how nice the islands can be this time of year.  No rain, no snow, no thunderstorms, just Sun and a mild tradewind to make you feel relaxed.
After a few days off and going to the NASCAR races last weekend in Phoenix, it is good to put on my uniform, climb into the cockpit, and be back at work……………..NOT!!!  (I couldn’t resist a little “April Fool’s” gag in November!!!)  An old wise Captain once told me, “there is no trip as good as a day off son and don’t forget that”.  He was so prophetic, it is the truth sports fans!
To some this job seems to be so cool and the benefits so great, but after 29 years as an airline pilot plus 6 years in the US Air Force flying C-141’s, the “honeymoon” ended many years and 2 bankruptcies ago!
Oh well, I guess I digressed.  Anyway, I am hoping that I can stay awake long enough to see the beautiful Hawaiian sunset this evening.  It might be very difficult, since I had to get up at 3:45AM AZ time.  It is now 5:00pm Hawaiian time and I have been awake for 16 hours!  Ah yes the glamour of aviation!
I keep forgetting that “I am living the dream”!!!!!!!

Sprint Cup at Phoenix

It’s 1 hour prior to race time this fine Sunday afternoon at PIR. As I make my way over to my seat it is a “sea of humanity” waddling towards the grandstands!

The foot traffic was wall to wall once inside the facilities. The race track is paying tribute to all military veterans, since Weds. was Veteran’s Day. There is a swearing in ceremony for those individuals who were joining the different branches of the U. S. Armed Forces today!

God bless our youth who bear the brunt of our continous fight for freedom. Freedom caries with it “the ultimate price”!

Anyway it is a beautiful day in Phoenix! Now it is time for me to get to my seat, put on my scanner gear, buckle in and pull those belts tight one more time!!

Let’s go racin’ boys!!

P.S. To all my friends and family, who like myself served in the military, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service to the USA!

Excuse me while I’M WORKING ON MY REDNECK!
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Phoenix Nationwide

It is about 30 minutes to the drop of the Green Flag for the Phoenix Nationwide race. The pre-race festivities are wrapping up with the driver introductions.

The fans are filing into their seats with great anticipation for an exciting 200 mile race! Kyle Busch could wrap up his first Nationwide Series championship with a good finish at the end of the race.

The bright colors of the race fan’s fashion correct ensemble is a stark contrast in driver loyalities. There are M&M’s logos for Kyle Busch, there are GameStop stuff for Joey Logano/Denny Hamlin, Chevy logos, Toyota, and Ford logos! It is a truly “win on Sunday, selll on Monday”!!
The national anthem is over, the flyby has happenend, give ’em THE COMMAND TO CRANK THE. ENGINES!
Let’s go racing boys!
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It is Saturday afternoon at Phoenix Int’l Raceway and the Nationwide cars have finished qualifying.
The Sprint Cup cars are now scheduled to get on the track for their qualifying session. Unfortunately the heavens have opened up and the rain is coming down! But the rain showers have now ceased, they were short lived!
Today the Natiowide Series takes to the track at Phoenix Int’l Raceway for the Able Body Labor 200.
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