Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Shot Across the “Bow”

This is a tried and true method of getting someone's attention and even their compliance. Still used today, recusant mariners are warned with a ball of exploding iron across their Bow, their front, their Bridge, that place where the brain lives, to heave to and take head. Usually it is one belligerent against a non-belligerent in order to make a point.

But it does not always happen at Sea.

Could this be? Northrop Grumman has raised the stakes in the coming Tanker competition against Boeing for the USAF next generation Tanker by release of a statement to the USAF complaining that the competition is unfair. UNFAIR.

Right out of the box. Unfair.

Their complaint is that during the big protest of the last episode of the Tanker Wars, the USAF released to Boeing the pricing data used by Northrop Grumman for costing out the KC-45 aircraft, which they intend to re-bid. Both the US Department of Defense and the USAF responded that the data "are now inaccurate, outdated and not germane to this source-selection strategy". In a comment from the Boeing team they state that they gained no insight into pricing as they usually just pull a number out of their ass anyway.

In the last go around as I remember complaining bitterly about this, the USAF released the amount of money they had on hand for this effort and simply wanted 179 aircraft for that number. Both companies simply divided 179 into the total money the Air Force had and that was their bid. You see, the first rule of Military Procurement is use up all the money available first, then ask for more. Just ask Lockheed. Tried and proven time and again.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Hat Tip to: Alert 5

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Navy Airdale – COM SHAW

I am not sure what they call it today, back in WWII it was called 'scrounging' or 'procuring' but for some odd reason in my time it was "COMSHAW". On top of that, I have no idea what it meant but, I do know what it was and became quite adapt at doing it.

Now just for all you legal beagles out there, I have been out of the Navy for some 27 years so any statute of limitations has long since expired, even if in these pages I admit to felony larceny, it was too long to go calling the FBI or the Waste, Fraud and Abuse hotline. That said,

On both the ship's that I served long periods of time on (I actually spent time on 5 different aircraft carriers, three of these were short stays for REFTRA (Refresher Training) or CQ (Carrier Qualifications) lasting anywhere from 10 days to 3-weeks) there was this underground economy if you will. It was actually more of an underground supply system. If you needed something that was either hard to come by or unusual for your job specialty well you needed to work this underground system to get what you wanted. Sometimes you wanted something 'special' and you had to 'barter' for it. And man oh man, there was a whole lot of horse trading going on in a 5800 man crew of an floating supply depot, er ah, Aircraft Carrier.

Let us confess, er, ah get into some details. It's good for the soul.

We kept in our shop a couple of cruise boxes (these are steel boxes that are maybe half the size of a coffin) packed with all manner of items that were common issue for us Airdale's. D-cell batteries for example, I was allowed to go down to the ships battery locker and draw a box (12 each) of D-cell batteries. As long as I had my green jersey on I could draw that box once a day or even more often if I went when they changed people in the locker, you know for meals. Ships Company crew members were not allowed or at the least there were strict limits on Ships Company but not on us Air Wing guys. Same for coveralls, masking tape and spray paint. Another item were boots, I was allowed to draw flight boots if I desired or the steel toed flight deck boot every month. Some of us were allowed to draw boots worn by the folks that handled Liquid Oxygen (LOX); they had no laces but simple elastic bands that held the otherwise normal looking boot on your feet. These were gold on the ship. And in our shop, we would send guys down to draw them as soon as they were eligible (there was a minimum schedule) and we kept in those cruise boxes a wide variety of sizes of these boots and other clothing items. Coveralls, flightsuits, flying gloves and unmarked foul weather jackets were kept on hand for trading purposes.

We once needed welding done in the shop, there were items 'procured' by other means that we needed to get nailed down before the rightful owner showed up and demanded them back and since ownership is 9/10 of the law, welding them in your shop pretty much makes them yours. So, off we went to find a Hull Tech to come up to the shop and 'estimate' the job, you know because we were filling out the proper forms that were necessary for an official request for such services. Of course once we got him in the shop and well, one look at the goody locker and we had that gear not only welded in place but he got the paint touched up just right as well. You couldn't tell that stuff was not installed when they built the ship. And it did not cost much either, couple of cans of spray paint, several coveralls and a pair of them LOX Boots. No need for paper work, done in a matter of a few hours.

We used to fix Microwave ovens in our shop. They were pretty easy actually; most of the times some numbnutted sailor would put something with metal in it and zap out the SCR (Silicon Controlled Rectifier) in the circulator. We would trade stuff to get the SCR's out of our Intermediate Maintenance Shops, then trade the working microwave for something we needed or wanted, like that nice frosty juice machine that kept 3 gallons of water ice cold, we would add Kool-Aid mix or lemonade mix to it and have the best juice around.

We were allowed to draw Coffee out of the supply system too, and the minimum size draw was a 20 pound can. We had coffee out the wazoo which was semi-legal tender all around the ship. There were a lot of little coffee mess' around the ship and most were not sanctioned and not allowed to draw coffee grounds. We were kings always holding 100 pounds of grounds on the ready for barter.

Another non-traditional procurement method was what you might call, the 'Vulture'. There are these huge store rooms on the ship and sometimes to get at some high value item they have to pretty much empty the hold. They would carefully stack the stuff out in the Hanger Bay and until they got to what they needed. Of course all of us scavengers roamed around this fringe of the carefully stacked and racked material. Reading off labels and you found something you may want, well then you needed a distraction to get away with the stuff. You had to get their attention focused on something else while a compatriot made off with the goods.

Once I noticed something that was too valuable not to make an attempt at getting my hands on but it was too heavy for me alone and even with 4 of us hauling it out we would be too obvious and would soon get busted. So, I went up to my shop and pulled out a blank form 1348. This was the official requisition form used by the Navy. It was a multi-part form that was the size of an IBM punch card. I threw some numbers in it; scribbled notations randomly around, added some initials and then carried the card down to this stack of gear that was out on the hanger floor. I brought several guys from the shop and as soon as I got there I started looking at the tags on this roll that I wanted, pretending to find what I needed I stood up and waved to one of the guys working there. As he approached I pointed to the roll and told my guys that this was the one we needed. I then made a big show of signing the 1348 and tore off my copy. I gave it to the sailor telling him that he needed to make sure to turn that RecForm in to his supervisor or there would be hell to pay. We walked off with a roll of rubber matting that was 12' wide by 50' long. No one said a word. We used that rubber matting to make covers for all of the deck space we were responsible for on inspection day, the shop, a small store room and 4 passageways two of them that led to the flight deck. These covers made Field Day a breeze since all we had to do was roll up the cover and dust, clean the edge a little and there we were, ready for inspection. All thanks to creative acquisition.

I soon got into the practice of carrying around a 1348 form with random numbers on it just in case I found something I useful. Nothing says ownership like a supply form and if you had one on your person you could get away with pretty much anything.

My best was finding out that one of the cooks that worked in the Bakery was in need of barter material in order to play cards. You see, there were huge poker and pinochle tournaments that ran almost constantly around the ship. But, you could get in big trouble if you played for money so most of the guys played with barter material. This baker went nuts when we introduced him to our store house of goodies. I negotiated daily delivery of fresh baked pastries every morning around 5:00 am, enough for the entire shop and then some. As long as he was losing in the tournament we were in sweet rolls, Danish, hot turnovers and cinnamon buns. It was great.

Like I said earlier, the statue of limitations on all this is long past. But the memories will last forever.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

If it wasn't True it would be Funny

I visit several Blogs every day and several carry the "Day by Day" Cartoon series. These are really good in their comentary of the political scene. It is sharp and poignant and worth tracking down on a daily basis.

Here is today's Cartoon and it is a hoot.

If it was not possible it would not be funny, but I do see it happening with this administration that is so hung up on "The One".

How long is it before we start getting statues erected in all the town squares, when do we get the large bill boards with "The One's" vissiage plastered on them along our roadways with some kind of inspiring slogan, you know to get us through the day?

When does the FCC mandate the weekly PresBO show like is done down there in Hugo Chavas Land? I am figuring there won't be a Republican response message there either.

All this while our children are fighting for their lives in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the latter requiring "The One's" undivide attention right now but no, he has to get his ass on Letterman for a whloe hour, he has to rush off to win the Olympics for his "home" town of Chicago.

Oh, what have we got ourselves into.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ba’-chu’ Ku Nah-kan: Wolf with Fire in his Eyes

It was 1968. I was in the 7th grade.

The NASA Apollo program was all the rage, Star Trek (the original series) was still on TV and it was in color though only some of us were really into the show.

The national news was all about, Vietnam especially word about the Tet offensive which was in full swing and was not yet won by our forces (but it would be in the end). Walter Cronkite was still trusted to bring us unambiguous reports about this 'conflict' which is what it was referred to, mainly because a Democrat got us into it. Although at the time this nuance was lost on me.

RFK and Martin Luther King were still alive.

My 7th grade social studies class was given an assignment that required each of us to pick a country and do a detailed report on it. This report was to be comprehensive and to include a discussion on its people and customs, its history and its location, the form of its government and political leaning. We were to include pictures and news articles; it was to be my first real term paper.

I did my research; I was kind of a geek back then, may still be one. I sent a letter to the embassy of the country I chose asking for data and information. The pictures and maps I received were a treasure trove and added a lot of content to my report. I handed it in with pride knowing it would be one of the better reports.

I was not to be disappointed. Well except for waking up one morning and finding out that the USSR had invaded the country I had chosen to do my report on.


This one event would spark my exploration toward a political philosophy and one person would cement me in the position I hold today, and will for the rest of my life.

Even listening to the eloquent RFK and Martin Luther King would not drive me into their party. Neither would the many riots that spread across the county that year. Large and small cities were hit with students in one place, radical racists in another, political activists in yet another. It was anti-war here and there and in many it was racial injustice. The country burned.

All the great songs from some of the best crop of musicians ever to find their voice, even Walter Cronkite who turned into a war puss, or LBJ himself declining to run (an honorable thing to do I might add) could turn me towards the Left.

Even the death of a beloved uncle who died in that mess that became Vietnam.

It was the fact that only Republicans (they weren't yet called conservatives or liberals back then) decried the invasion and occupation as wrong. Only Republicans pushed for retaliation, only Republicans warned of the growing menace that was Communism. Barry Goldwater was very vocal in his assessment in what the Soviets were up to but his attention was really on China. They were helping the fight in Vietnam. Nixon came along who talked strongly about this Communist expansion and the Nation followed him at election. I do think most of those voting for him were doing so mainly to end the war. A promise he would keep but not until his re-election 4-years later.

The rhetoric from the Left back then was all about getting out of Vietnam, similar to the rants about getting out of Iraq that we heard just a few months ago (or so it seems). They all talked about getting out of the War business, moving back to Earth. Mother Earth. That was big in those days. Everything had something to do with the Earth. Like today's "Green".

Republicans were having nothing to do with this, they pushed back against this movement and the first time I can remember anyone talking about the "Constitution". What was this document and how it was interpreted divided the two political philosophies in the country? That was my next project and I learned much about the founding of this country. Well, at least the 'white' country as my Mother would say. She would use the Indian word for white however, masking her sarcasm only slightly.

Discussion at home around the kitchen table over coffee (no one drank alcohol in my home) was all about what was owed and to whom. How the Democrats were the party of the 'hand-out' and the Republicans were the party of the 'hand-up'. All of the women were Democrats, my two brothers and I argued for the Republicans even though only one of us could actually vote (my older brother) and he had the draft notice as a reward for that privilege.

I wondered why the division between male and female. What appealed to Women and feeble men that they were almost always Dem's and Manly men were Republicans?

That summer I spent with my Grandmother up on the Jicarilla Apache reservation chopping wood for her long winter (the little town was at 8,000 feet elevation and snow came early and stayed a long time). She lived alone and cooked and heated her small home with wood. While there I was alone with my thoughts as virtually no one else spoke English, not even my Grandmother. Well actually, she spoke broken English, sprinkled with Spanish words to make up for the words she could not remember in English. I did not speak the dialect spoken on the reservation and nor did I speak Spanish; well actually I speak a broken Spanish sprinkled with English words to make up for the words I cannot remember in Spanish. At night I read and listened to news on the radio, KOMA out of Oklahoma City. Grandmother would listen too. And she would read as well.

Near the end of that summer over many dinners, she started to ask me about my feelings towards the war and the riots in the cities, the student demonstrations. And she asked about how I felt about the Government. Its role in my life and our lives in total.

Now, this was a Woman who was a directly named party in the law suit against the United States to win the Native Americans of her Tribe their citizenship. She would further fight to get the right to Vote for them as well in yet another law suit. She was a completely self taught individual, having never attended a single day of school. This was not an option for young Native American women. Especially one that was brought up as a Prisoner, a POW if you will of our country. Her status on birth was that, brought up by adoptive parents on Fort Sill Oklahoma, it was a huge prison back then for 'hostile' natives.

But she could read and write in three languages (for the most part). And she could fight, it was in her blood after all, being an Apache. But she asked for nothing of her Government after those few basic rights conveyed to all people born here, except for the return of Her son's remains from the jungle in south east Asia.

Our talks were remarkable; she knew more about the constitution and our government than I had learned since the invasion of that small country in Europe. That included everything I could dig up in the World Book Encyclopedia set we had at home and had brought up with me. The most remarkable item was that she was the most Republican person I would come to know. They would call her a conservative today if she were alive. But she knew full well that any government involvement meant complications in your life. Best to keep it at arm's length, in a choke hold if at all possible.

When I returned just before school started it was like the City I lived in had completely changed. Hippies were everywhere; there were communes up on the desert where no humans had lived before. Women quit wearing bra's (not a bad thing all told) and they were some of the most vocal against the war. I now saw things in left and right, what would later become liberal and conservative in a decade or two. I would always align with the right, next to my Grandmother.

And that is my make up today. Communism equals totalitarianism, suppression of the individual's rights, Communes and Collectives, the Gulags, exile to Siberia, Central Planning and of course the State. It means big government.

Nothing good can come of it, no nation so conceived has ever lasted, even the USSR failed, China will eventually. And so will we as we transition to that very form of governance.

That was the summer I would be given my Indian name, my Apache moniker as it were, given by the elder woman of your clan. It was also the last summer of mandatory wood chopping activity for me; I would go willingly thereafter until I left for the Navy.

The summer of my countries discontent gave me a political bent and a legacy.

Thank You Carmen.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

ISR Fast

Defense Tech has a short article online today regarding the MC-12W Liberty series of ISR aircraft (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) which has now flown over 300 combat missions over Iraq. The big news was the short turnaround it took to field the aircraft.

From the time of the first order until it was flying its first combat mission was a mere 8 months.

This is touted as a great deal and trust me folks, it really is. Usually it takes a year or two just to package the RFP from which you use to place the order to industry, then the responses have to be judged by a panel of technologist, program managers and financial or contract specialists. The winner is notified and then the government has to wait out a "protest period" a fixed amount of time for losing bidders to complain and maybe cut themselves in a piece of the action. After all of that the work can start.

8 months is fast even for modifying an existing aircraft for a specific mission, but it is by no means a record.

One of the last projects I worked in the S-3 community was installing an ISR Pod onto that aircraft. I was asked in late January to study the possibility of integrating the existing LANTIRN Pod system onto the S-3. These POD's were excess from the retiring F-14 program. The POD's themselves had plenty of life left in them and were quite a good upgrade for the old War Hoover.

We had an existing IR capability (an old FLIR or Forward Looking InfraRed system) but it was a 1st generation system and only marginally usable over land. Worked great over the ocean where the temperature differential helped make up for its age. But, as you know all of the fighting in Iraq was over land.

The addition of the LANTIRN pod would give us a 3ard generation EO/IR capability and with the S-3's long loiter time it made perfect sense to marry the two. Heck, we could even shoot laser guided missiles using this system as it also had a laser target designator in it. What fun would that be.

So, in late January I make the trip to Jacksonville to test fit equipment and "spit ball" with aircrew about the best place for the controls. Real estate was an issue and it always degraded into what could we live without.

By early February I had two competing designs, one that was elegant and gave up nothing in capability but required a lot of secondary engineering. We would have to split up a control box and mount parts of it in three locations. The other design was a quick and dirty install which required only minor modifications to the new equipment however it meant losing some capability.

I'm not the one that makes the decisions on what goes in, I just figure a way to do the job. And in the middle of the month of February I was told to stop the study phase and to focus my attention on the Quick and Dirty design - ONLY. We needed a real good plan for installation and we needed it now.

The request for manned ISR was going unanswered for the most part and my little part of the Navy wanted to step up to the plate.

At the beginning of March we did just that. Announcing a plan to integrate the LANTIRN pod into the S-3 system and not only that, we would install a video downlink capability so that troops on the ground with an L-band receiver could see the exact video we would have in the aircraft.

And to make things interesting, we would have a flying example in 90 days or less. A tall order especially because we had to borrow an aircraft for that first prototype. And we had to borrow a ground crew to take care of the Jet while we were using it.

As the Engineer for the project I was involved in every aspect of the modification and installation. From deciding on the diameter of holes to drill for a mount to what messages on our Navigation Bus we needed to capture to force the system to initialize. From numbering each wire to getting labels made for control panels and writing the operators manual and generating the data set required for the flight clearance. As a small team I saw it all and did a ton of work to cover the holes in our team. I had a lot of help.

It was a harried project, lots of nail biting and hair pulling. There were personnel conflicts and issues with one contractor or another and we had people coming out of the woodwork that simply wanted a piece of the money that a new project usually has. We had little money for this project and in fact worked out a "Barter and Exchange" agreement to get some of the work done. Yes, you read that right, barter and exchange. A modern kind of Persian Bazaar atmosphere surrounded the Project Office.

But in the end we had that first prototype flying in just 87 days and on day 122 it was over Basra Iraq calling in counter-battery fire for the British troops that were taking mortar fire from insurgents. The War Hoover was finally dealing in death.

This is that first prototype returning from a Combat Mission over Iraq. The LANTIRN POD is the long green tube at the bottom of the weapons pylon.

From the start of the study phase to that first combat flight was just over 6-months. We would modify many more aircraft and improve on the design as well. We were even the launch platform for an improved LANTIRN pod (the "ER" version) that included a 4th generation IR ball and an integral TV system as well.

This is a VS-31 LANTIRN equipped aircraft returning to the USS George Washington. That was my old squadron. (USN Photo)

Now that is a feat!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tanker Wars

A KC-135R with its flying boom fully extended. These are the latest versions of an aircraft that was first entered service in 1957. 428 of them continue to fly for the USAF today. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

Are you ready to Rumble!!

I can hear that now being shouted in the halls at Wright-Patterson AFB where the Air Force will sort through and attempt to award yet another contract to replace their big wing tanker aircraft. 13 of these aircraft will be retired this year and between them they have an average service age of over 51 years. The remaining 415 have flown on average for almost 46 years.

A replacement for the aging KC-135 R's that are being flown extensivelyin the support of combat operations over the skies of South West Asia and the Middle East but also, all along the way from CONUS east and west coasts in the massive Air Bridge that is flown by the many cargo aircraft hauling gear and equipment into Europe and into the war zone.

A Boeing B-52D (S/N 56-0582) is refueled by a Boeing KC-135A (S/N 55-3127) cira 1960. My guess is both of these aircraft are still in service. (U.S. Air Force photo)

I hope the Third time will be the charm. This program has been clouded in such a dark cloud you would think it was the Navy trying to steal this program away from the Air Force. This mission is vital to both services. You cannot have a strategic force with global reach without these tankers.

But, and there is a huge one here, what about buying American? Northrup-Grumman will be submitting a proposal that includes their partner Airbus Industries. Airbus will be the supplier of the airframe and tanker boom assembly while Northrup-Grumman will provide "integration" services. Who knows that that means, I think it is a simple cover to allow Airbus to have an outlet for their product here in the USA under an American Corporations name. Believe me, there is virtually no equipment that requires 'integration' save maybe secure radio capabilities. This aside, how does one reconcile bringing to this country something built in a foreign country that is so vital to our superiority of the air?

It begs questioning and you have to wonder if anyone at the Pentagon level has really thought this through. No one has published a rationale for letting this foreign based design into our military complex. Now I appreciate the position the Air Force and the Pentagon are screwed into, we have only one wide body airframe builder left in the United States. How can you have a competition with only one manufacturer? Well, you can't and thus they have left the door open for Airbus, because they don't trust Boeing to bend them over the nearest barrel.

This problem is not germane to wide body airframe manufacture; there has been a lot of consolidation in all of the technology sectors that provide material and equipment to the US military. This includes ship building especially in the very large hull arena where only a single builder of America's large Aircraft Carriers is available and the Navy is at its mercy for CVN's. And not just for building them, overhaul of all CVN's is conducted at this same facility and it is all very expensive.

This failing, in my opinion is a direct result of the business schools here in the US. We have too many professors teaching 'business' who have never run a business themselves or have had any real practical experience in the business community. At the same time, there has been within Academia a huge push to sell MBA degrees. They have mutated the business schools to the point where they actually graduate people with a Bachelors Degree in MBA Studies. Yes, think about that a moment. Here is someone whose only degree is the study for another degree, and we are unleashing these people into management positions of our largest companies. Let's face it, if you are a small business owner you would not put someone in charge of you company whose only experience in business came out of a book. Yet, that is what has happened across the country to the large corporations.

The result, we have managers who only understand how to build a company by acquisition. Buying and selling companies. This is why you get a CEO of GM capitulating to the Union's to the point where future benefit outlays cripple the company, they don't actually understand the business, just the business model which is usually only a three or four year plan.

Thus, the shrinkage of the overall industrial base and the risk to both national interest and stability.

So, when the two proposals come to the Air Force, there will be fighting, look for the cries of 'Buy America' and the finger pointing at both manufacturer at their large out of country labor force and supply pool. Both aircraft will have large foreign content and both will have to fly Flag.

I just don't know which one would be best for America.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Colors of the Flight Deck – Blue and Purple

In a continuing series on my humble electronic home, I want to introduce you to the many and varied colors of shirts worn on the Flight Deck of your typical Aircraft Carrier. The color is significant in what the people are doing and even within the color there are differences.
Explained herein Today's lesson: The Blue and Purple Shirts.
The Blue Shirts, like the Yellow Shirts are Aviation Boatswains Mates (H) and are members of the ships company assigned to the Air Gang (V1 division usually) and work with the Yellow Shirts when aircraft are moved by tractor. It is the Blue Shirt that pulls the chocks and chains off the aircraft and act as spotters during the move. They ensure the aircraft under tow does not hit anything while it is being moved. At the completion of the move, they reinstall the chocks and chains and move on to the next aircraft move.
A Blue at the wheel of a tow tractor during respot of a War Hoover. (USN Photo)

After sufficient training Blue Shirts move to being tractor drivers and eventually, they move up to and become Yellow Shirts. You find Blue Shirts on the Hanger Deck as well (V3 division), assisting in the move and spotting of aircraft down there is even more perilous than up on the flight deck because of the closeness, the tight confined space. Blue Shirts are also tasked with the operation of the large aircraft Elevators which move aircraft from the flight deck down and into the hanger.

A pair of Blue's have pulled the chains off this Marine AH-1 Cobra, it is typical when launching any helo to show the crew that their chains have been removed. Thus the one holding them up, inventory. (USN Photo)

Blues tinkering with the Chains on this V-22. (USN Photo)

A pair of Blues waiting for their next assignment. Note the wheel chock. (USN Photo)

The Purple Shirts or 'Grapes' are also Aviation Boatswains Mates but of the 'F' variety for Fuels. These men and women haul large and heavy hoses to each aircraft and pump them full of gas. This is done almost as soon as the engines are shut down after a flight.

A 'Grape' in their natural pose,

bent with the weight of the fuel hose. (USN Photo)

The fuel hoses are rolled up on large reels that are stationed every 100 feet around the edge of the flight deck. From each of these stations the Grapes control pumps down inside the ship that will pressurize each fuel hose forcing the JP5 fuel into the aircraft. Usually each aircraft is topped off with gas and in only a few instances are the Grapes called upon to 'de-fuel' an aircraft, bringing it down to a specific fuel load.

This is a long run out of hose here. (USN Photo)

The Blue and the Purple, vital personnel in the mix, the salad of the flight deck.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fun with Micky D

Well McDonalds has a new sandwich out, an Angus Beef 1/3 pounder.

Actually, it may not be new but it has been many years since I was last in a Micky Dee's. I used to work in one back in High School. It was a great place to work actually; I learned a lot about breaking a big task down into its constituent parts and then compartmentalize those tasks in an efficient manner to replicate many times the process of building the item. What they call today the "Lean Process". Micky Dee had them beat by 30 years easily.

Back in my day Micky Dee's made only four sandwiches: The Quarter Pounder, the Big Mac, the regular and that Fish thing they sell. I was there when they introduced the egg McMuffin, I actually watched the Micky Dee engineer's came in to modify the equipment in order to toast the muffins. And yes, they did have an actual group that went around the country modifying equipment. It was an eye opener.

I used to make a fifth sandwich, it was a Big Mac but I did not use the regular burger meat, I used two Quarter Pound burgers in there instead. The meat overflowed the roll and having two of them in there, well it was a sloppy meal. We had to buy our own food at this franchise, they did not give it to us like in some places, you had to actually clock out and go around and get in line like any customer. So, I would cook this sandwich and put it up on the counter and then head on around to buy it. Peoople would see it there, waiting for wrapping or while I was trying to eat the thing and they would ask where I got it and many would actually go up and try and buy one. I was finally asked to make it and wrap it out of public view.

Like I said, it was good experience for a 16/17 year old male that had his own car. Then you add Becky, and Barbra, the two Debra's and Shelly. There were more, this place was staffed mainly with high school aged girls, there was a high ratio. More importantly, a high school other than the one I went too. Another kid named Pete and I both went to West Mesa and this store was in Valley High Territory. There was a lot of friendly wagering between us. And I do mean Friendly!

Can you say, "target rich enviornment"! Closing the store on Firday and Saturday nights was, well lets just say it was fun.

Anyway there is this promo for this sandwich, you get a coke glass with every meal you buy (collect all 4), so I may actually go buy one and take a taste of this Angus Beef thing.

This got me interested in my old employer and I found the following: From an article named "Where the Buffalo Roam" over at "Weathersealed", here is the link in case you want the whole story. It is a fun read!.

Here is an exerpt:

So I set out to determine the farthest point from a Micky Dee's – in the lower 48 states, at least. This endeavor required information, and the nice folks at AggData were kind enough to provide it to me: a complete list of all 13,000 –or-so U.S. restaurants, in CSV format, geolocated for maximum convenience. From there, a bit of software engineering gymnastics, and …..

Behold a visualization of the contiguous United States, colored by distance to the nearest domestic McDonald's!

Between the tiny Dakotan hamlets of Meadow and Glad Valley lies the McFarthest Spot: 107 miles distance from the nearest McDonald's, as the crow flies and 145 miles by car!

In my day, there were only 5 Micky Dee's in all of New Mexico. Those Engineers have been really busy!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Congress and Taxes

Anyone who stops by here regular knows I have a thing for tax cheating congressmen who chair the House Way's and Means Committee.

Here is a funny slant:

Hat Tip to the good folks at Patterico's Pontifications.

BT: Jimmy T sends

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Declawing the Eagle

The political left is famous for wanting to pound the spears and swords of this great country into plowshares through the policy of disarmament and appeasement. Prior to WWII there was a huge movement that prevented our government from direct action in Europe in hopes that the National Socialist Government in Germany (led by Hitler) would keep its hands off eastern Europe including Poland. Joseph Kennedy Sr., the patriarch of the Kennedy family who was ambassador to Great Brittan (the United Kingdom), supported Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement with Germany. This support was so great that Joseph Kennedy Sr. was eventually recalled back home where he resigned his appointment.

This philosophy is alive and well in today's Democrat party and especially in the poisoned fringe left.

Today PresBO will be chairing a UN Security Council meeting and my guess is that he will be opening the US barn door and giving all the global thugs the run of the place.

First, in his zest to make the US liked by 'new' Europe he has initiated a new policy banning so called 'harsh interrogation' techniques on the basis that they were a form of torture. He is also embarked on closing down the safest place to keep captured terrorists, that being the holding facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba or GITMO. Again, he and the left feel this facility is a smear on the U.S. and we have to close it to make us 'liked' by the hemorrhoids around the world.

PresBO has also moved to further de-claw the US by terminating the Eastern European missile program that was designed to provide us with an early warning of a Russian launch against the eastern block countries of Europe who only too recently were forced members of the USSR, or even against the mainland US. Even though this defensive program was advertised as necessary to curtail an attack by the Islamic Republic of Iran, everyone except "all the president's men and Hillary too" knew this was just a cover story; the real threat there was Russia. Thereby pissing off the 'old' Europe which in the hearts and minds of the left, do not count.

There is now talk that our massive stockpile of nuclear weapons will be trimmed down substantially and who could argue with that. Well, except why would you give something like this up for nothing? Good will? Why would you not wheel and deal and get something with them? Well, I don't know but neither does PresBO.

I see us heading down the same kind of road we were on the 1938 except we have no one arguing to build up our defense industry. No one calling for preparing the country for war, and it is just around the corner.

Look at where we are with so many unsavory countries who have trying to master Nuke tech: Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Syria. Would you trust any of these countries with something like a Nuke? I wouldn't, no way.

But, not the PresBO. He truly thinks he can sweet talk them out of these ambitions, and to make it really competitive for himself, he will do it from a position of weakness. Weakness that he has directed.

You and I and all our children are the wager. PresBO is the one rolling the dice.

God save us all, or most of us.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Navy Airdale - Ground Pounder Stroy #4: Running from it All

I was running forward as fast as possible. Note that I said 'possible', stripped down I was sure I could actually go much faster. But, I was laden down with so much gear it made running nearly impossible. I was not the only one running; right in my shadow was Randy, my charge, my junior, someone I was training. Orders were for him to stay no more than one arm's length away from me and he was doing a good job. He too was carrying a ton of stuff as well and if either of us went over the side we would drown for sure.

We both had butt pack tool belts on us, each weighing in around 20 pounds. The tool kit purposely assembled and contained all the wenches, speed-wrench, screwdrivers, ratchet and many sockets plus an allen wrench set and a nut driver set, a pick or scribe, an inspection mirror, some q-tips or "swab, cotton tip, wood shaft" and a small plastic bottle of isopropyl alcohol. There was more, but it was supposed to contain the tools that would cover 80 to 90 percent of the work we would encounter during a typical day working the roof. All contained in a canvas bag, the thick web belt also carried a flash light and a small pocket for the TL29 wireman's knife.

We also carried two other canvas bags, one of these was the bag with our Tape Transport Cartridge. This loaded the S-3 Viking mission computer with software that we used for troubleshooting the avionics package. Another bag carried the code guns used for the secure radio encryption device (KY-28/58) and the IFF mode IV Challenge/Response code. These needed coding almost every flight, so we carried them.

These last bags were held on long sashes that criss-crossed our torso's. They rendered our float coats useless because you would have to jettison the bags before you could attempt to inflate the float coat. No one expected to survive falling overboard, we called all this gear "drown proofing". The butt pack tool belt would most likely drag you down all the while you were working to pull off the bags with the TTC and code guns. By the time you were free to pull the lanyard that would inflate the float coat you would be pretty deep. No one knew how deep you could be and the float coat inflate. Since it was all "low bidder" stuff no one expected to surface using the two small cylinders of CO2 that were in the coat alone. Most everyone was hoping Davy Jones himself would boost you back to the surface, or King Neptune. I was hoping for friendly dolphins or porpoise, whichever one it is that we don't eat.

Running with all this gear was as problematic as swimming, bounding all around and such. And it was running that we were doing right then. We weren't the only ones running. There were maybe 10 or 12 others heading forward out of the fantail area too. I did not stop to ask why everyone was running, when I saw the first Red Shirt go sprinting forward I joined him calling after Randy to keep up.

You see, the majority of Red Shirts on the flight deck are Ordnance men, or AO's. You know the bomb handlers, the loaders of all things that go boom. When you see them running anywhere you generally try and keep up with them.

When we got forward of the Island structure I turned and got behind a tow tractor that was parked forward of the E-2C Hawkeye in what we called "The Hummer Hole", it was an area right in front of the island. I knelt down behind the tractor and waited. I need to catch my breath and I was waiting for an explosion. Randy tucked in beside me and we sat there huffing and puffing. I looked back aft towards were the aircraft we were going to work on was parked. Back there in the pack of aircraft parked on the fantail, that was where the problem was that had spooked all the AO's. I saw noting initially.

"Clear the fantail, clear the fantail. I want all personnel to clear the fantail." It was the booming voice of the Air Boss shouting from his high perch in PRIFLY. No one came forward, it seems word of mouth or the sound of many hoofs running away had served to clear the deck ahead of the Air Boss's warning.

While I was surveying the fantail area I saw it, the thing everyone was running from. It was an A-7E Corsair II that was loose. It was not chained down nor was the brake set, either having failed or like the brake system on the S-3 had to be pumped with hydraulics' fluid. The pressure that held the brakes came from a pressurized system that slowly over time, bled off. Back then you had to pump the brakes manually with a crank handle.

Nothing anyone wanted to do in the hot sun of the Caribbean. And it was a lovely day too, warm and haze free. It was a beautiful day up there right up until the AO's hauled ass.

This is an A-7 Corsair II from CAG-17 I beleive (VA-27). Back in the day my Air Wing (CVW-7) carried two A-7 Squadrons, VA-12 and VA-66. (USN Photo)

I watched the A-7 roll to the starboard side of the ship as we rolled with the ocean. It would then roll backwards towards the port side when the ship rolled the other way. The problem with the AO's was not simply that the A-7 was loose on the deck, it was that they had been loading it with live ordnance. From where I was I could see two MER Racks with 6, 500 pound bombs on two of the pylons on the left wing. I figured the same on the other side. And these were the olive colored ones with the double yellow bands on them. The good stuff.

The A-7 rolled back to starboard and then to port. When it hit the scupper on the starboard side the plane would stop easy, but when it rolled back to the port the aircraft would actually pitch up on its main landing gear, the nose coming up off the ground. On each rotation the aircraft worked its way slowly forward and after each hit on the port side the nose came higher and higher off the ground.

Soon it would fall over on its back into the catwalk just forward of the LSO platform. Or, it would come into contact with the S-3 Randy and I were supposed to be working. This would not do.

I stood up stripping off the TTC and Gun bags, leaving them on the tractor and I started aft, Randy came with me but I admonished him to stay back. I went back to the first of the arresting gear cables and scanned the area. There were chocks and chains laying where the aircraft had originally been parked, further aft of where the plane was at now. While the AO's were loading the aircraft they had stripped off the chains and the chock to give them room to work. That was normal, they just did not re-chock and chain the one side before they went to load the other side. I guess none of the Red Shirts thought the plane would roll away on them.

I found my own set of chocks on a trailer where there was maybe another 10 or 15 sets. I had done this before and I knew what it would take to stop the plane from rolling. A couple of Yellow Shirts joined me, one calling "first dibs". I let him go out there first.

When the plane was about halfway across the deck, doing about 4 mph he tossed the chocks at the main landing gear. They bounced off and out. The other Yellow shirt did the same. No joy either. I waited knowing I wanted the jet to stop fully and before it started back go in then. Problem was that when it was against the port scupper you would not be able to use the chocks as the wheel would be backed up against the metal of the scupper. I was going to wait for the aircraft to cross and attempt to pinch the chocks in before it could start its roll back to the port side. This gave me the landing gear unencumbered, I just had to wait for it to cross and stop.

The Yellow Shirts would have none of that though. There were now a half dozen of them all trying different ways to chock the loose Corsair. I shook my head in despair as Randy came up and stood next to me. He too had a set of chocks in his hands and that big ole Wisconsin smile. I don't know what they fed them up there but he was always quick to see the lighter side of things.

"This is like pitching shoes only without the dirt." He said, referring to horseshoes. That's what it looked like too, the way the Yellow Shirts were simply taking shots at the wheel as the planed rolled by. They were yelling at each other like it was a contest and someone was taking score.

"You want to go out and do this?" I asked Randy, even though I knew he was game for anything. "Sure, what's the plan?" he replied.

I showed him how to pull the pin on the chock and ratchet it all the way out to max wide open. I then told him when he struck it to the deck, pin it and lean into the long arm going to starboard, which would keep it from being pulled free or dragged as the plane rolled back. I told him he would take the near side and I would cross to the far side and pin the opposite wheel. We would hit the plane at the same time and wait for others to follow up with chains. Then someone could board the jet and pump up the brakes, all would be well.

We stepped out, I waved off the Yellow Shirts, they had brought out a tractor that they were discussing ramming into the aircraft and pinning it back with that.

"Stand back, we got it!" I yelled. Randy and I stepped out passed the gaggle of Yellow Shirts and I pointed to a spot where I wanted Randy to stand, he went there and waited, I trotted aft to be on the other side as the aircraft rolled by. It pitched up on its main wheels, the nose was maybe 4 feet off the ground before it started back, it actually bounced several times as it rolled back to the starboard side.

When the plane hit the starboard scupper I moved in.

"Now Randy, Hit it now, hit it!" I yelled. We both scrambled under the wings and into the gear. Before the Corsair could start back across the flight deck we were both pinning it with chocks. I could hear the gaggle of Yellow Shirts clapping and yelling.

"Chains, Chains, get some Chains." I yelled. Randy yelled at them too. They stood there.

Then the Air Boss spoke up, his booming voice scattering the Yellow Shirts like a flock of dove.

"Get that aircraft chained down. NOW" He screamed. Soon there were Blue and Brown shirts throwing chains onto the jet. I lay on the chock until I saw three sets of chains on my side and I then stood up and walked away. I joined Randy behind the A-7. No damage, no boom.

And no AO's were around either; there were no Red Shirts in sight except for the Crash Crew. I guess they knew someone's head was going to roll and none of them wanted to be even accused of being part of this. Big chickens.

Randy and I returned to the tractor where we had left our gear, we suited up and were going to go back to work when a Fly 2 Yellow Shirt came up to us. He said the Air Boss wanted us up in PRI FLY immediately, he pointed up to the glassed in area 10 floors above the flight deck.

Now, I had worked for a long time on the Flight Deck and the only time us "little people" were called to PRI FLY was for an ass chewing or a demotion, usually both. It was not a place for me.

I told the Yellow Shirt we'd go right up. Randy and I walked to the Island and went into the big door where the ladder started that went up the 9 or 10 flights up to where the Air Boss lived. Once we went into the Island the Yellow Shirt stopped following us, we were on our own. I asked Randy if he felt like coffee, he looked at me odd.

"Look, they eat people like you and me up there and they don't even choke on the bones. They don't give out stripes up there, they take them. Now, I'd rather go get a coffee and let things settle down before we come back up here. They will have their hands full eating AO's anyway." I said. He agreed, however reluctantly.

Instead of going up the ladder I took us around and through a short passageway and through the ATO shop, a couple of guys sorting packages gave us looks as we crossed the space and then we went out on the far side of the Island and then down into the catwalk and off the flight deck. We returned to the shop and I told Randy not to say anything.

Sometime later I was called down to the Ready Room. There was a small crowd around the one TV that carried the flight deck video. It was bolted into the overhead and they were all staring up at it. They were reviewing the incident with the A-7. The crowd parted when I arrived and I was asked to come forward and watch the video. I was asked if I recognized the two men that finally chocked the A-7. It was plain as day the two had great big VS-31 on their float coats but you could not see their faces and our helmets were almost identical with any other squadron maintenance crew up there. I shook my head no and turned to leave.

"You sure?" it was my Division Officer. "Yes sir, I'm sure I can not make an identification." I replied. "We think it was you up there." He said and actually touched to glass on the TV putting his finger on me as I moved to the far side of the aircraft. "And we think this one is AT3 Randy." He was smiling at me, knowing I was caught.

I thought about this but for just a splilt second or two.

"No, we always have the TTC and Code Gun bags on us, you should be able to see the two sashes criss-cross the torso's or at the very least the bags hanging on them under the float coat, but we don't wear them inside. Too bulky that way. No, that's a different pair, not AT3 Randy and me." I replied.

I stared at the DIV-O, I had not sold him but he was not going to make a scene. I heard someone else say that I was right, the AT's always have that 'stuff' on over the float coasts. He nodded slightly and I turned to leave but he followed me out of the Ready Room and out into the passageway.

"Petty Officer Taylor, a moment please." He said. I stopped in the passageway and waited. In a whispered voice he said "The Air Boss wants to hand out an Atta-Boy over what happened up there. I know that was you but I can't figure out for the life of me why you are avoiding recognition."

"This is the Navy sir; no good deed ever goes unpunished." I said, He did not understand, it was a culture all of us Roof Rats lived in.

" Look," I said, " I have to work with all those guys that were tossing chocks around like horseshoes, I can't have them getting their ass's chewed for being dim wits and me and Randy getting the pat on the back. It's a small crew up there, they know it was us so, the next time I need something, like a plane moved, or an elevator run they will give me gas, tie it up over night or the next cycle. This way, well they know I passed on the friendly meet and greet with the Air Boss and they give me what I want when I want it. You can help Petty Officer Randy out if you want, take him off the watch bill next time we are in port. Endorse his Eval's or something. "

His mood changed, and he nodded his head. "I never looked at it that way. I'll say something discreetly to the XO and he can break the news top side. They'll never believe this, but. You have been around long enough to know what you are doing." We both nodded, I waited there a moment.

"Well, good night Petty Officer Taylor." And he returned to the Ready Room. I went back to the shop.

The next few weeks Randy and I were golden.

Whenever we needed even something minor from the Air Gang we got it. We even had other shops calling over and asking us to ask them for elevator runs or to pull an aircraft out of TOW (tail over water). Randy understood the first time we went for help and later when we pulled a port-o-call at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. He found it unusual that he had all 5-days off duty free. No questions asked.

I pulled shore patrol on the first and last day. It was nice just the same.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

The Harvest of Hot Steel

The USMC is pressing forward with arming their KC-130J tanker aircraft with recent test flights of a kit known as the "Harvest Hawk". This kit adds an ISR and targeting capability mounted on one wing with a set of Hellfire missiles mounted on the other. This gives them some teeth along with persistent ISR.

The kit when installed does not affect the aircrafts ability to carry out its primary tanker mission. The ISR ball is installed in the after section of the massive pod/faring on the left wing. This pod carries one of the two refueling hose and drogue assemblies and the EO/IR gear is installed into this pod. A Targeting Sight System is installed into the cargo compartment of the aircraft. The carriage rack for the Hellfire missiles are mounted on the right wing.
I have circled the ISR Ball. This is a USMC Photo of a VX-20 Test aircraft. VX-20 flies out of NAS Patuxent River Maryland and is the home of Developmental Testing for the US Navy and USMC for a variety of aircraft including the P-3, P-8, E-2, E-8 and the KC-130's.

Plans are to 12 of the C-130J's the marines fly after flight testing is complete which should happen quickly. The Marine Corps Times reports that a prototype aircraft will be flying overhead in Afghanistan in November. This is a very smart thing to do; the KC-130's the Marines fly are busy in the sky's over the AF hauling equipment and personnel within that large country. They also provide fuel to the many Marine CH-53 and Army AH-47 helicopters. I am sure they will pass gas to the V-22 once it gets into the fight as well.

Boring holes in the sky will be a lot less boring with this Harvest Hawk kit and future plans call for the addition of a 30mm Bushmaster cannon in addition to the Hellfire kit. That is some serious teeth that I am sure the Marines are dying to try out on the scene in the AF.

Bully for them. I'd pack some of them MOAB BLU-82's on each aircraft too, you know just for fun in making big holes in the earth.

Read more here.

Killing Tango's should not be constrained.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Amok Time

So, I was on one of the sites I visit on a daily basis, Exile in Portales, and my Blog Buddy there used a word that was mostly foreign to me. I was able to understand or infer the meaning by context alone. However, I was interested in more and off I went to hunt down the word origin. Now the word itself is not important (it was 'ecdysiasts'), it was the destination.

When I mine words for some odd reason I always go here first:

My tutor is Marina:

And some 90 minutes later, I still don't know the meaning of the word ecdysiasts, and I am now way off my morning schedule which imperils my entire day. Also, I have no idea what it was I was looking and no idea why it took 90 minutes. Well except, she is hot even with glasses on!!!

And that's how it is on the internet. Time is kind of bent here, it is drawn out of you and suddenly you notice you don't have any more. And for what? I mean I thought I was learning about words but the only one that comes to mind is, 'Hot' as in Marina.

Yeah, I know. I am a pig.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Catch-n-Release And Catch Again

I complained in an earlier posting about the Catch-n-Release that this Administration has been engaged in with the terrorists detainee's at GITMO. Some of those released well, have turned up once again in the fight against the United States. Here is another example:


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | A terrorism suspect recently detained in Pakistan is the same Swedish national once held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, police said Monday. He and others in his group were reportedly trying to join al Qaeda in the country's lawless tribal areas.

The rest of the story here:

Oh yeah, great program we got going there. I don't get it, when they are released are they not put under at least a house arrest? I would have thought they would be put into yet another prison just in a different country? I guess the jokes on me because this makes no sense, letting the go so they can just come back on us.

Why don't we make them all happy and simply put them on a nice converted prison barge (like one of those super oil tankers convert the tanks into holding cells), tell no one we have them and put that thing to sea. Stay out beyond the 200 mile limit, service it at sea and fly new terrorists out there when we catch them. And if the thing fills up or they get unruly, well just open the flood gates, flush them all out, let the marine life have them.

Doing our part for the environment.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Colors of the Flight Deck - Red

In a continuing series on my humble electronic home, I want to introduce you to the many and varied colors of shirts worn on the Flight Deck of your typical Aircraft Carrier. The color is significant in what the people are doing and even within the color there are differences.

Explained herein Today's lesson: The Red Shirt.

(Click on all photos for the large format.)

Oh the lovable Red Shirt. There are actually two different people that wear the Red Shirts on the Flight Deck.

The first of these is the Crash and Salvage crew members. These Guys are trained to pull trapped crewmen from inside wrecked aircraft. The first responders of this cadre wear those shinny silvery suits to protect them from flame but after the fire is out, the rest of them are in plane Red. They poke around checking for loose ordnance, liquid oxygen containers and leaking fuel. While one would think they do the actual fire fighting there are not enough of them to put out most fires. So, these guys act as the first response while the rest of the flight deck crew bring in the 2" hose lines that will put out or control a conflagration.

C+S Crew on a TAU (Twin Agent Unit). (USN Photo)

We really do call them that, conflagration; because a fire on the flight deck can get out of control very fast. There is no small amount of fuel, ordnance, liquid oxygen and hydraulic fluid in the modern jet aircraft, having even one spilling this stuff out is a big deal, but to do it while breaking up in and among other aircraft similarly armed and fueled leads you right to a conflagration. That is why we send these guys in first; they throw down foam fire suppressant as quickly as possible hoping to control things until the hose crews arrive. They are sometimes sacrificed in this process. That other may live and fight on.

Here is why, the ready ordie stack. (USN Photo)
And this is by no means a lot of ordnance. (USN Photo)

The other members that wear the Red Shirt are our Ordnance Men, the many AO's that come from both Ship's Company and the Air Wing (individual Squadrons). These guys are almost always the muscular one's who frequently load aircraft the old fashion way, with a hernia bar. This is long steel rod that is screwed into the front and back of a bomb and then two; three or four of them grab the bar and lift it straight up onto the pylon.

Somtimes they don't use the Hernia Bar, they just stuff it onto the pylon. Like here. (USN Photo).

Now, my squadron had AO's as well. We carried a variety of armaments from torpedo's to Zuni rockets. Mostly the VS AO took care of the sonobuoy package that each of our aircraft carried. Every squadron had AO's and some of the Attack squadrons they were the most numerous rating in the command.
Arming a Sidwinder. (USN Photo)

Iron diplomacy x1000 pounds. (USN Photo)

One could argue the sanity of anyone who would intentionally want to mess around all day with explosives however we lose very few of these guys so, they must be doing something right.

A 'Gunner' oversees the Arming of an F-14 prior to Launch. (USN Photo)

The AO community has a kind of a cult following, and you rarely hear of anyone cross-rating, that is changing from any other rate to AO. They are of nearly a single mind and are the butt of many a Joke told within the Naval Air community. But their loyalty to the Rate is legion. You often see this acronym in their spaces: IYAOYAS. Don't bother asking them what it means because you get chided on not knowing.

So there you have the famous Red Shirt.
Now I can tell you a story about them.
BT: Jimmy T sends.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The X-15: Revisited

X-15 #2 in flight under rocket power. (Photo by NASA)

Fifty years ago today the rocket jet known as the X-15 was first flown. Carried up to a launch altitude of feet by a specially modified B-52 aircraft, the X-15 with test pilot Scott Crossfield onboard was jettisoned and then history was made.

Actually, a lot of history would be made by this aircraft. Flown by 12 different pilots, some Air Force (6), some Navy (1) and some would be plain ole civilian (5, one of them none other than Neil Armstrong) these men and the many other men and women that worked on the ground to prepare and document the 199 flight tests contributed to the expansion of our knowledge of aeronautics and space travel.

With these three aircraft one of which was lost (the crash killing Major Michael J. Adams, USAF), NACA and its follow on agency, NASA made it possible for the Space Shuttle to exist some 20 years later. Items such as Reaction Control Thrusters and Thermal Protection were mastered using these aircraft.

In its day they flew to a record 354,000 foot altitude which held until 2004 when that was broken by the third flight of "Spaceship One" by the Burt Rutan's organization, Scaled Composites. The Air Force gave out their famed Astronaut Wings to X-15 pilots, a rare treat even today. The max speed achieved during the X-15 program was mach 6.7 or 4,519 mph. That is fast.

Only a footnote in today's politically charged times however, the 10 years of the X-15 flying test program marked the 'high water' this countries Research, Development and Engineering activity. Contributions in this field continue today but not at the pace it did back in the early 60's.

X-15 immediately after release from the NB-52B 'Mothership'. (USAF photo)

Oh, I was born a few years too late to join in the fun!!
Go here for more: Aero-News Network
Both of the above pictures were stolen from Wikipedia, original source was NACA/NASA or the USAF.
BT: Jimmy T sends.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Carter Years

Remember the Carter Years? Oh I remember them.

Remember the gas lines? What was it called, rationing? Odd day, even day, the last digit on your license plate had to match for you to get gas. Then you had to wait in a long line. There were fights and stations actually ran out of gas. It really sucked if you had waited 3 or 4 hours, inching your car up the line just for them to run out and close. All that time wasted. I helped push some poor woman in line that ran out of gas waiting to fill up.

Remember high inflation? Though it started under Ford, nothing the Democrat Carter did seemed to work. I can remember it hitting a whopping 18%. That means if you wanted something that was worth $20 bucks, you better bring near $22.00. The rate for commodities was worse; I watched as bread went from 16 cents a loaf to almost $1.00. Gas at the pump went from 35 cents a gallon to 90 cents. And then Carter started adding taxes to make us more "independent" and gas went up over a $1.00, it has never returned below that level.

Remember how weak the dollar was back then? On my first trip to the med in 1976 we could trade one US dollar for 1600 Italian lire. On my last in 1979, it was 1 for 600, and it wasn't because things were that much better in Italy. It was just that bad in the U.S. of A. A lot of the weakness in the dollar was directly attributed to how the FED played with the lending rate. On a day to day basis they would dry up the money supply or change what they charged for overnight lending going from as little as 3% to 13% in one day. This wreaked havoc with banks and other lending intuitions, including those companies that floated credit cards. I remember credit card lending rates rose up to the mid-20% range, they too have not come back down.

Remember the jobless rate? I remember them claiming credit for new job creation for all them Job's when they started the DOE. Most of them having been in the DOD up till then, but the Carter Administration took it as a job creation.

Remember how Carter gutted the military: cancelling an aircraft carrier, cancelling the B-1 bomber program. He wanted to reduce the size of the entire military to "reflect the realities after Vietnam". We were a 'peace time' nation and he wanted a military to reflect that. I remember all the "swords into plowshares" discussion which was the first time I had heard that phrase or a variation thereof.

And then the Iran hostage affair. The actual invasion of a U.S. sovereign territory. And he did virtually nothing. We could have ended before it started all of our problems with Islamic fanaticism if he had even one ball, or a single vertebrae supporting his spine. But, No, he did nothing. And how many have paid for that since.

Now this very old ass-hat is trotted out in front of a camera to ply some deranged agenda and he obliges; if you oppose PresBO's health care agenda, you are a Racist.

He knows this because well, he is a Southerner and a Democrat you know. Those guys can spot racists a mile away.

Why hell, they invented racism down there in the South. Let's see, the KKK was founded by a Democrat Southerner that was not pleased with having lost the Civil War. Jim Crowe laws were all instituted by Southern States controlled by Democrat legislatures and Democrat Governors. And segregation was mainly, if not only a Southern thing.

So, you see, Southerners are uniquely qualified to detect racism. And Jimmy the good for nothing Peanut Farmer is seeing it all around our country now.

I have never figured out why the Blacks and Hispanic's in this country gravitate to this party. With its history of using minorities to simply get votes, they have oppressed minorities and kept them under the jack-boot for too long. I heard today something especially telling. The quote was from David Horiwitz and he said: "The progressive liberal democrats have always used black people as their human shields in politics." He is so right.

Makes me sick. Is there not an island we can send all these tired old used up Politicians too! Oh yeah, that's right we have terrorists down there in Gitmo.

Maybe we could swap with them!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Separation of Powers

How much electric do you think we could get out of Thomas Jefferson's grave right now, given he has to be spinning pretty fast down there! One of the hallmarks of the writing of the US Constitution by Jefferson is the establishment of the Separation of Powers between the three branches of our government. Today there is so much nepotism between the three branches that you can hardly tell where one starts and ends.

There was also the implied adversarial relationship between the three branches that would almost guarantee the checks and balances that Jefferson desired and felt was crucial to the long term existence of the Republic. This has failed too and now our country is close to ruin, politically speaking of course.

Today, the Congress trespasses all over the Constitution. Take this Health Care Reform initiative that has consumed political debate over that last couple of months, well most of the debate. All the arguing about racism kind of intrudes on true health care discussion. But when you look into the House Bill (HR3200) and compare it to past Bills one of the stark differences is that there is very little preamble. It is here that usually Congress embeds their Constitutional authority (references to Article 1 and sections therein) for the measure contained herein. Not in HR3200. They give a short abstract of the Bill and then a Table of Contents. Nowhere in the Bill do they cite where they draw their authority for drafting this bill. In every other Bill that I have read there is usually more pages of these legal disclaimers and declarations to the Constitution than there is in narrative of the Bill itself.

How much of this Bill could survive a constitutional challenge? With members on the Supreme Court like Ginsberg and Sotomayer I would guess much of it would be passed along since both are noted for their policy making from the bench. And this is where the current separation of powers fails us, with the blending of lawmaking with judicial activism there is no check or balance. There is no honest broker here to keep the Congress in check.

The Administration is the source of the activists that are put onto the Supreme Court. There is a premeditated quid pro quo that goes on between the Administration and the Leaders of the Congress to get federal appointments to the high bench. In turn these new appointee's uphold and craft the unconstitutional laws into policy. Chipping away at a base element of the foundation of this country.

Being a Constitutional Lawyer no one knows this better than the PresBO and that is why he is hell bent to get his agenda passed into law, any kind of law before the people actually wake up and takes the congress back. With even a place holder Bill on the books the PresBO can push his socialist agenda but he needs the law first. Once passed he is assured of a pass from the Supremes.

Ben Franklin was asked what he gave us after the constitutional convention. His response: "we have given you a Republic, if you can keep it."

I wonder how much longer we can hold on.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hillary As a Weapon

Ok, its the Onion but still it is so funny to think this way!!

U.S. Condemned For Pre-Emptive Use Of Hillary Clinton Against Pakistan

BT: JimmyT Sends.