William Donald Hightower Sr. as 17 year old flying student at Reid’s Hillview Airport 1945

Those who knew and flew with my dad during his 60 + year flying career should especially appreciate this article from over 70 years ago.

Flying Taught Here In From 8 To 12 Hours (San Jose News 1945)

(from personally scanned newspaper clipping)

Flying instruction is now available to civilians at Orcutt’s Flight Service at Reid’s Hillview Air Field, East of San Jose. Don and Harold Orcutt, operators of the Service, report that it takes less than a dozen hours of instruction to learn to solo and costs a little over $100. Shown above, left to right, are Don Orcutt and Bill Hightower, student pilot; Harold Orcutt Jr., in the cockpit, and Harold Orcutt Sr., spinning the propeller on the plane in the foreground. — San Jose News photo.


It takes only 8 to 12 hours to learn to fly.

Some 30 flying students are now receiving flying instructions at Orcutt’s Flight Service School, Reid’s Hillview Air Field, on the east side of San Jose, and most will be ready to solo after less than a dozen hours of instruction, according to Harold Orcutt, who with his brother, Don, operates the Flight Service.

Planes used in the war training program — Aeroncas, Ryans and Fairchilds — are used in instructing students at the field, Orcutt said, and the school is operated in accord with the wartime ruling against pleasure flights.


The school has two instructors, Miss Florence Emig, daughter of Sheriff William J. Emig, and Don Orcutt. Miss Emig, former member of the San Jose State College Flying Club, taught flying at the Reno Flying School, Nev., and was graduated from the Ferry Command School, Air Transport Service, in Texas last December.

Don Orcutt was a civilian flying instructor at Thunderbird Army Air Field, Ariz., for over two years before coming to San Jose last March to open the first civilian flying school since the Army stopped civilian aviation on the Coast shortly after Pearl Harbor.

There are seven planes available at the school, with from 65 to 175 horsepower, Harold Orcutt said. He served in the AAF over four years in the 1920’s as a parachute rigger and station meteorologist. After leaving the Air Corps, and up until a year ago, he operated a string of “juke” boxes in this area.

Flat earth geometry compared to actual San Jose CA 400 meter running track

How a flat earth 400 m running track would layout over actual San Jose CA Lynbrook High track

Here are two 400 meter track traces laid out over the Lynbrook High School track in San Jose, CA, one according to spherical earth surface geometry, and the other according to flat circular disk earth geometry, which is shifted slightly to the west (i.e. left) to make it easier to distinguish between the two for comparison purposes.

It is worth pointing out that there are two ways to compare spherical to flat geometry that should be distinguished to avoid confusion. Two blog posts ago where I first introduced walking a track and taking GPS data where I did this at Prospect High School, I showed how the actual GPS trace coincided accurately with the real map of the track and I will further note here that 5.58 km/12 = 465 m/lap is reasonably close to what would be expected for the 8th lane based on a quick web search for that information which gave 454 m/lap. And if you keep the trace the same but instead calculate how far that trace would have gone on a flat earth interpretation, you get almost 10% higher 6.01 km/12 = 501 m/lap. So to emphasize, this is keeping the trace the same and calculating the higher distance you would get with the flat earth geometry interpretation.

Instead in what I am illustrating in this blog post I am figuring out what the trace would need to be according to flat earth geometry in order to give the same distance as the actual track (spherical earth interpretation which is 400 m for lane 1). This is the reason why in this case, the flat earth trace shows up as smaller compared to the actual trace. So here we keep the distance travelled the same and get different traces for flat versus spherical, whereas in the previous case cited of 2 blog posts back of Prospect High School, the traces are kept the same so you then get different distances for flat versus spherical.

The Excel file with these traces is documented here.

SimSphFltLynbrookTrackLapVis      Excel file

SimSphFltLynbrookTrackLapVis      Excel file

This illustrates how the distortion between flat and spherical geometry although not nearly as extreme as that shown in the previous blog post for Santiago Chile, is nevertheless significant and obvious to the eye here at the northern latitude of San Jose, CA.