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Johnny Bulla: 'Little left rudder, easy on the throttle, flaps ... three-point landing.'

On this day in 1945, PGA Tour pro and pilot Johnny Bulla bought a passenger airplane and began ferrying his fellow pros around the PGA circuit. Bulla's plane was a Douglas C-47, being retired from wartime service, and Bulla converted it into a DC-3 and it became the taxi cab to the pros. Ben Hogan was one of his first buddies to be a passenger, and sometimes served as co-pilot.

Bulla (b. 1914, d. 2003) was a solid tour pro in the '30s and '40s, despite a swing that was right-handed despite his natural left-handedness. So perhaps he was a mirror image of Phil Mickelson, a natural righty who swings lefty - and who also flies his own plane between tour stops. Either way, the left seat of an aircraft was a natural for both of them ...

Bulla was long and strong but never much of a winner. He earned more as a pilot than he did as a pro golfer ... he only won one PGA Tour event but finished in the Top 10 of majors 12 times, most agonisingly having held the clubhouse lead in the '39 British Open at St Andrews only to have Dick Burton nip him at the last.

During World War II Bulla was a passenger pilot, ferrying passengers between Atlanta and Chicago for Eastern Airways. After his golf career, Bulla founded Arizona Airways, the precursor to today's low-cost Southwest Airlines and America West ... and of course he was also a forerunner of today's mega-rich pros who pilot their own aircraft, including Mickelson, Greg Norman, and Arnold Palmer.

And speaking of high flight, today in 1972 was the last day that humankind landed on the Moon when Apollo 17, the 11th manned space mission in NASA's programme, touched down. The mission, commanded by Eugene A. Cerman, brought back some killer pics ... but don't hold your breath ... the next planned manned Moon landing is not until 2019, when Orion 17 is due to touch down.

Since it's a Tuesday, we promise you lots of useless information to bring with you as armament to your local pub quiz. That said, here's some, in bullet-point format:
  • Today in 1282, Llywelyn the Last the last native Prince of Wales, was killed at Cilmeri, near Builth Wells, south Wales. He was the last prince of an independent Wales before its conquest by King Edward I of England. If you know his name in Welsh, Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf (Llywelyn, Our Last Leader), extra bonus points.
  • Today in 1886, the Woolwich-based football team Dial Square beat Eastern Wanderers 6-0. In case you didn't know, Dial Square were one of the clubs that would ultimately be folded into Arsenal FC. Again, another bonus point.
  • And, today in 1975, an Icelandic gunboat opened fire on unarmed British fishery vessels in the North Atlantic, firing one of the most memorable salvoes of the short-lived "Cod War."
  • Oh yeah, and today in 1941, Germany and Italy declared war on the US. Not like it would do them much good. Declarations, schmeclarations ...
That said, it's tulgan kunum menen!, as they say in Kyrgyzstan, to actress Teri Garr (63), whose turn as sexy scientist helper Inga in Young Frankenstein still gives us unhealthy obsessions (maybe it had something to do with the line "roll in ze hay"); to Gulag survivor and esteemed author Alexander Solzhenitsyn (89); and somebody called Gary Dourdan (41) who is supposedly famous for being on a show called CSI or something. If you watch it, you need to find something else to do. Like spend more time on this website. That's an order. A direct one.

And musical birthdays go out to Brenda Lee (only 63!), whose country ballad I'm Sorry was a global hit in the '60s; to sappy singer-songwriter David Gates (67) of Bread, whose most memorable line was Baby I'm A Want You ...; and to former Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx (49), and enuffffff saiddddd aboutttt that.

It also would have been a birthday for the illustrious French composer Hector Berlioz (b. 1803, d. 1869), and we'd tell you something funny about that, but, quite frankly, we know sod all about him (golf journalists, you know). 'Til tomorrow ...

Sunday, May 02, 2010 11:14:41 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
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