Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best Headline – Ever?

This says it all!

I am not by any stretch of the imagination a fan of anything New York but this really works for me. Great Job up there!

Tip-O-the-Hat to: American Digest

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Plane Spotting with Google

I was doing my daily read yesterday and saw a good post at Military Photos Network about Google Earth/Maps regarding the current picture of the Dobbins Air Reserve Base at Marietta Georgia. Seems the picture taken of the base captured the test flight of an F-22 aircraft which are built at the large Lockheed run Air Force plant on that facility.

I do this quite often, Plane Spotting using Google Earth/Maps. The art of Plane Spotting finds its origins in loose groups of people that assemble at Airports and Military bases with their cameras at hand awaiting the arrival or departure of something new or unusual. This is especially popular in England and in many countries of Europe. Not so much here except with the exception of the famous Area 51 in Nevada. I think the start of this activity was mainly with Anti-War demonstrators but grew into Aviation Enthusiasts spending time at the ends of runways in hopes of catching interesting flying apparatus.

I grew up on the West Mesa of Albuquerque and saw a lot of interesting aircraft flying in and out of the Air Force Base there, Kirtland AFB in fact. B-52's, F-111's the occasional U-2 and droves of C-130's and C-135's in their many variants. Seems the Air Force was doing interesting things and some important testing out of Kirtland and as a result I got to see these comings and goings. It has stayed with me.
During my Navy days while shore based I was always interested in what was parked out at the Transient Line (OV-10 Bronco flown by the INS/Customs service, NASA WB-57, NASA U-2, Air Force FB-111) and any time I got to go somewhere there were flying vehicles other than the ordinary Navy stuff I would go along excited. My visits to Barksdale AFB Langley AFB and Tinker AFB are ripe with aircraft that were very much different than what I saw every day in the Navy.
I continue this activity today using Google Earth/Maps. I love zooming in on that long straight line that turns into an airport and looking around the various flight lines and ramp areas. It is fascinating to view these places just to see what you find.

Here are some screen captures of my latest GE Adventure:

We start close to Home, this is the Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove (formerly the Naval Air Station Willow Grove) where we see some Air Force A-10's and C-130's, a bunch of Marine CH-53's and over on the Navy line we find some old C-9's and C-130's also.

But when you zoom in on the southeast end of the base, over by where the Pitcairn Auto Gyro factory is at we find a lonely C-1 Trader. The reason there is an air field here in this area of PA is that Auto Gyro factory. For many years in the 1930's and '40's this factory produced Auto Gyro's in fact some of the first Air Mail was flown in Auto Gyros built here at the Pitcairn facility.

Here is a close shot of what is parked on the Andrews AFB tarmac. On the left is one of them special VIP 757's used to haul Congressional delegations all around the world. Next to that on the right is what I believe is a 747, perhaps one of the two used to haul the President. There were a few of them NancyPelosi-Mobiles around the flight line here as well.

Here is an overhead shot of Langley AFB, this is a rare find: F-22's. 15 of them nestled in between all those rows of F-15's. Lovely site, this base also has several Wind Tunnels that are slightly interesting to look upon.

While we are in the Tidewater area of Virginia we might as well get a look down at the big Navy Base. I used to ride aircraft carriers out of this place so let's see what is tied up today.
Well, we have three down there. Two Nimitz class and the original and first nuclear powered Carrier the U.S.S. Enterprise, she is in the middle in this picture. The giveaway is those two fingers that stick out of the flight deck on the bow, those are called "Bridal Arrest Boom's" and were used when we used to shoot aircraft with wire bridals instead of the Nose Tow that we do now. The bottom pier in this picture is fairly new; it was under construction when I made my last sortie out of here (back in 1982) on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Pier 12 is at the top and had always been the home of the large ships that called NOB home.

In this next picture I have scrolled over to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, since I have also spent time here in dry dock on both of the carriers I was assigned. Neither trip was enjoyable by the way. You can see here submarines up on blocks getting some TLC. There was nothing in the big lock that they park the aircraft carriers when they have to go up on the wood.

But over here is the U.S.S. Wisconsin (BB-64), she looks good from up here.

Next we move on down to suburban Atlanta Georgia where we see that F-22 landing at Dobbins AFB. It is trailed by an F-16 which is harder to see but its shadow gives it away.

Another shot of that same Base, this is an area where I worked at one summer. Lockheed had the S-3 Integration lab inside that big hanger in the center with the C-5 sticking out. You can also see the 8 C-130's that were built for Libya but never delivered. They have been out there rotting away for more than 20 years. I still have a Lockheed badge to get me into this facility, I'd simply mail it to them but I get $5.00 back if I can ever get down there and turn it over to them personally.

Next we move down to Robbins AFB further south from Atlanta where we see some C-5's and C-17's hanging out. This is a big transshipment point for cargo heading to the war zones. Plenty busy down there.

Next we move down the Florida panhandle and see a little of what is going on here at Eglin AFB. In this shot you can see a C-130 landing over there on the left but in the center there are a couple of F-16's holding on the numbers for takeoff to the north or top. They look like tiny marks here but you can tell what they are in the tighter resolution.

Over here is Hulbert Field and we catch a C-130 after takeoff, climbing out. Might this be one of them Combat Talon C-130's? Can't tell as the resolution is not good enough to pick out the guns that would poke out the left side. I went here looking for those new fangled Project Liberty aircraft but there were none to be found.
Here is a picture of another place I like to hang over; it's the Nevada Test Site or NTS. It is where we used to test atomic bombs. From 1951 to 1992 the government detonated more than 1000 atomic bombs here. Some were done on the surface, some were atmospheric (tower shots or dropped by aircraft or balloon) and a large number of them were underground. This shot shows the craters from many of the shots in an area called Yucca Flats; it is one of the busier areas for atomic tests.

In this shot, which is at the north end of the Yucca Flats area is what they call the "Sedan" crater. That great big hole in the ground was caused by a 104 kiloton Operation Plowshare shot exploring of all things peaceful ways to use atomic bombs. I guess if you needed a big hole in the ground for disposal of trash or something like that, this is the bomb for you! That crater is 1280 feet wide and more than 300 feet deep. Anyway, this crater is on the National List of Historic places and gets more than 10,000 visitors a year. This place is a tourist trap!!

Just a little to the east from here, across that small mountain range is the famous Area 51. This is a wide shot, the Yucca Flats area is just to the left in this picture.

Here is a close up of the base itself, nothing interesting here, just a couple of UH-60 Blackhawk helo's and two 737 aircraft. No Alien Space craft or super top secret Air Force aircraft laying out in the sun. Dang the bad luck.

Way over here is a look down on San Diego bay and the Ballast Point Submarine base. Those little square boxes are Marine Mammal holding pens.

Here is a close up and you can actually see the shapes of various marine mammals being trained for security duties by the Navy.

These last two shots are from Alaska, this first one is at Eielson AFB and those are B-1B bombers down there. This last shot is the most interesting I've culled so far. It is just south of Eielson and a tad bit east, part of the Fort Greely complex. You can make out several F-15's and their shelters although, none of them are actually in their shelters. You can make out the taxi way's leading to what may be a runway. I have never seen so much camouflage used to hide both the aircraft and the runways as well but not the aircraft shelters. Interesting and I have a lot more questions than I do answers.

Another area that one should sweep over is the Davis-Monthan AFB outside of Tucson Arizona, also known as the Aircraft Graveyard or any of the Navy's ship storage areas (there is one up the river from Norfolk) which I find fascinating. So, out you go, happy hunting.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking for Trouble in the AF

The first Project Liberty aircraft landed at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan this last weekend (27 January) bringing a dedicated manned ISR platform to the AF AOR. Sorely needed too, I might add. The sky above the AF is populated continuously with unmanned aircraft which is a good thing but when you really need to keep track of high value targets, nothing beats having a human along in the surveillance aircraft.

Project Liberty is the crash program brought on by the Air Force to address the lack of dedicated manned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. The aircraft are modified C-12 aircraft (formerly Beachcraft/King Air-200's now built by Raytheon) that carry a crew of 4 and an assortment of intel collection equipment that includes an EO/IR ball, SATCOM and numerous raido comm's to share the data collected by the aircraft.

This is the first of an undisclosed number of aircraft to be deployed to the AF. The Air Force has ordered some 38 of these aircraft and many are already deployed to Iraq.

Great Job there Air Force.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Ditch Mitch

It's time now to do some accounting regarding the whole Senate Health Care Bill passage and most particularly the role of the Republican Leadership. That would be in the main, Mitch McConnell but also his Whip Senator Jon Kyl. Now, I blame Mitch for allowing this bill to be passed in the Senate not the Democrats only because you know as well as I do that we were going to get something out of the Democrats so it fell to Mitch as the Leader of the Minority party to do all he could to kill this bill.

If he really believed in killing the bill in the first place.

Now I say this in all seriousness simply because of several factor, chief among them is the really lackluster approach he took to lead the rest of the Republicans in fighting this legislation. I understand it was a tall order, him leading a mere 40 members of the party that needs 41 to filibuster a bill into oblivion, but I still hold him responsible. You see, I don't think he was totally into killing the bill, I think he was one of those that wanted to pile onto it, join in the dividing up of the Pork and getting for his vote some good pay back. But that was not to be, I would guess his price was simply too much even for Harry Legs Reid, no push over when it comes to handing out Other People's Money. I think Mitch was afraid of this going public and Him being revealed as yet another RINO.

I also assert that every tool available to him and the 39 other Republicans were not employed and there is even evidence that he suppressed activity that would have delayed the final vote on this bill until after the Christmas break. This was important because the time at home with angry constituents would may have helped in swinging even 1 Democrat over to voting against this bill. That's right, all Mitch had to do was get 1 stinking Dem to vote with the Minority party and this would have been over.

And he couldn't do that. Need I remind folks that while Mitch was serving as the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, a funding arm used to help elect and re-elect Republican candidates he went from 55 Republican Senators to 40. That's right, he helped lead the party into the deep crap we find them shoveling out of right now. Here is a great read on his failing on this matter.

So I say, Ditch Mitch! It's time to put him under the Bus and replace him with someone that will stand up to the Weasel that is Harry Legs Reid. Someone with a real backbone perhaps.

Ditch Mitch!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Monday, December 28, 2009


That's Bend Over America Here It Comes: the wholesale random of the country by the Democrat Majority. Health Care as envisioned by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are ready to be "married" into a single bill that will transform what we enjoyed as the best health care in the world to what will be maybe the worst. Expensive too, it will be and rationing is only a few years away. I can't wait.

The Bill passed in the Senate with more giveaways since well the last big bill passed, the Stimulus or was it the Porkulus Spending Bill? Not sure which, but they all have this in common: instead of making law they are legalizing the wholesale plunder of the U.S. Treasury.

They are lying to themselves and to the U.S. Public if they think their plans for health care reform will actually work. The effort to get the 60 votes from their own caucus revealed the Democrats for what they are: whores. They all have a dollar value for their vote and some of them had that number revealed. It was remarkable to watch.

I do think had the Republicans been allowed to participate in the process of writing this Bill they too would have been looking for plunder. It's just that they for once stood their ground and kept their hands out of the cookie jar. I am sure it was hard for some, especially the RINO's from the North East.

BT: Jimmy T sends

Goings On in the Swamp

Hello all, sorry for the lack of posts over the last 4-days or so. While the Wife and Daughter were out in the lovely wilds of Southern California with the SN2 Homecoming activity I was left home alone with the Lady, the Princess Pomeranian. Together we held the fort down.

On the great "Things-2-Do List" while having the run of the house was the addition of a new layer of insulation in our attic. The attic in our home is a large unused space; its access limits its usage. But, it needed some R-30 pink type stuffing and it was cheap in our area for some odd reason. So, whilst the majority of the family was away I hauled in and laid down 32 packages of insulation brought in 4 at a time (the capacity of the Chevy Malibu Maxx).

Before I get too far ahead here, this activity would render this space completely unusable including access to the Cable System cabling that is installed up there. Yes, the builder saw fit to but cable in the house which at the time we thought was a smart thing, however they installed it using multiple splitters mounted to the rafters in this hard to access space. Putting down this new blanket of insulation would prevent any kind of activity up their including the occasional Cable Repair guy who like to climb up there and cut off and replace connectors. I think that is part of their deal because I have escorted them up their several times and that was all they did, plus complain about the number of splitters in the way of getting good signal to the big digital TV or Cable Modem all the way down in the basement.

So, I bought a large roll of the RG-6Q cable and proceeded to run new cable from a closet in the Basement to every room in the house that has cable now (4 bed rooms, two Offices and the family room for the big TV). I also ran a main feed line from the little cable box outside the house to this little closet moving the Cable Modem, Phone Modem and the wireless router into the space.

After getting all the new cable in place I pulled all the splitters out for my collection of spare parts and laid down the new insulation. After which I went around and added new plugs to each end of the new cable in every room. I also bought a new fancy Amplifier/Splitter that could handle all the cable feeds at once.

All this activity meant no internet or home phone for a few days while all the wiring was on the move but it's all up and running. I do have some wired network cabling to clean up but they are wired runs to locations that are not used any more so I may simply eliminate them. The Wireless router has made all that Cat 5 wire strung to the bedrooms on the second floor, redundant.

I'll have pictures when I get the closet completed in case anyone else is interested in how this can be done. Today I do not have to worry about a Cable repair guy falling through the attic while willy nilly replacing plugs on the cable system.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sights from Space

NOT Google Earth, this is way better. Stunning. Gorgeous. I wish there was a direct feed from some of these Satellites. I can't pick a favorite, too many!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Catch and Release - Again

I am with those fine guy's at This Ain't Hell on this one: Just let them all Go.

The PresBO Administration transferred custody of several GITMO detainee's err, ah Terrorists in a maneuver to drive down the total number of that have to be found new homes here in CONUS. One of them transferred was Abdullahi Sudi Arale who was captured in Somali by a daring raid by US Special forces. This transfer was done not by the military but by the direction of the Department of Justice with the Department of State facilitating the move by finding someone to take the Terrorists.

Now this was one bad terrorists, we sent special operators into the wilds of Somali to pull this guy out. We held him for 2 and a half years as a terrorist. Why now? What changed? Who knows, but he went to the front of the line and was transferred out of GTMO.

The problem is that the Department of State has a kind of flexible definition of what a nation-state is and facilitated the transfer to "Officials" of Somaliland. Don't bother looking this 'government' up in the League of Nations as they really don't have a state, it's more of an idea. With the conditions on the ground there in Somali it is a wonder that anyone would want to go back or even contemplate negotiating with anyone in an official capacity. But now Billary Clinton's Department of State.

These "Officials" promptly released Abdullahi Sudi Arale free and clear. He is as we speak plotting to attack the US.

I guess when Arale was interrogated he pulled his "Get Out Of Jail Free" card that happens to have Erick Holder's direct line on it. Like the guilty New Black Panthers Arale walks free. Thank You very much Eric Holder.

Just let them all go, bring them here to SE PA and let them go, just be sure to duck or don't cry when the bullets rain in on them and you get caught in the crossfire.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tanker Wars – Part VII

More Tanker action, these guys are getting more action than Abrams in the AF!!

First we have statements from the DOD stating that changes to the Air Force Draft RFP are not out of the question and could be done in preparation of the final version. This assuages the NGS/EADS-Airbus team as they are hopeful for changes to make the competition more "fair", to them of course. A DOD representative, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be leaking this info in the first place, claimed that DOD "will make changes as is appropriate". Double speak for "in a pig's eye" we will be making changes. They also claimed that a split tanker buy was not being contemplated, meaning that no one is considering buying a few tankers from both manufacturers.

Now this: Split Tanker Buy gains momentum. Yeah, as fast as paint dry's we have this report about the growing support for a split purchase. Congressional support for this option is gaining support because well simply put it buys the most votes! You see when you are a member of Congress and you see this $179 Billion dollars you simply want to buy the most votes you can so, the best way to do that is to spread those bucks around. Left up to Congress that is what would happen. God save us.

And finally we have another group of U.S. Lawmakers that want NGS/EADS-Airbus banned from the competition altogether. The reason, the favorable ruling from the World Trade Organization that ruled Airbus has taken illegal subsides from their partner governments giving Airbus a competitive advantage over their rivals. The Air Force has steadfastly held that they will not factor into their deliberations the WTO ruling despite repeated complaints from Boeing that the base cost of the A330 airframe was under value because of these illegal subsides.

It don't get better than this, we should let the two companies fight it out the old fashion way, fist to cuff's! Winner takes all!

More to come I am sure.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Digging Out

So the big storm is over. Took a perfectly good Saturday and ruined it. Not just the shopping aspects of the lost day or the impact to commercial aviation but I am talking about a perfectly good day off spent with several turns on the snow shovel. I also had to make one trip out a drive of some 20 miles going but about 90 minutes on the return. I took the wrong vehicle and had to back down on hill and turn around and attempt the return to home base by another route. Never fun sliding about on the back roads, worse still on the bigger highway with lots of people to share the course with, some overly cautious, some willing to throw the dice and drive like there was nothing different going on out there. Several of them finding their way off the road altogether. Too bad for them.

The pictures below are from today's dig out. Started around 8:30 or so, taking about an hour or so. I don't own a snow blower so all the clearing is done the old fashion way. But this was 8 inches of powder and the ground was pretty cold so there was no freezing action and it came off easy enough.

Above: Just getting the cars dug our in case of an Alert callout! The Malibu is as far up the drive as I was able to get it upon my return last evening.

Below: The work is waiting. The drifting was pretty severe but it mostly went off to the right. Thankfully for me.

Above: The fish are in "stasis", I have the air pump running and the pump for the waterfall is still going. I'll turn that off in January when we get our single digit days.

Below:Lady needs a place to take care of business so I had to clear out a place for her. The snow is almost as deep as she is tall.

Above: A look from across the street.

Below: Ready to call it a day, just a little calcium chloride and I can move the car up and call it a day.

We have had more at once but for me, this is enough fun for this year.

BT: Jimmy T sends.


Reports from the Wife from the San Clemente area of Southern California where they have taken 'shelter' from the fine weather, while those of us stuck in SE PA enjoying the wonders of the snow shovel. She has adopted several other Marines who have no family in the vicinity, them all waiting for block leave to return to their homes. Their first big meal on US Turf was of all things sushi. No matter, that is the thing, you can get what you want not what's in the box (Menu A or B MRE). Another night a different meal with the drinks flowing the stories start to come out. Not all good, but necessary.

The Good Mrs. T did observe something unusual. These young men who have been tied at the hip to each other for the last 8 months do not seem to be in a hurry to get away from one another. In fact, she reports they have gone out of their way to re-connect with each other each day, informally mustering somewhere neutral, a coffee shop or somewhere on base. Even the married men have participated, leaving the wives and joining those men they had lived within that far away hell in Afghanistan. They check on each other during the day using cell phones and texting back and forth.

She thought it slightly odd.

I attempted an explanation, but any discussion is useless without proper foundation. This phenomenon is more akin to the study of physics than human behavior. You see there are both weak forces and strong forces at work here not unlike those inside the nucleus of an atom.

Here we have the Weak Force; the USMC, the Corps itself. Bringing together disparate men from around the country, giving them a common foundation, to a man earning the uniform and the name: United States Marine. Not unlike the TV commercial where they show the pounding out of cold steel into the form of a saber, one of the symbols of the Marine Corps. That is them, our boys, husbands, and brothers.

But it is in the fire hot crucible of the furnace where that saber takes its sharp edge. The same is true of these untested Marines but their crucible is the fire hot furnace of combat. The Strong Force between them is forged when under fire each Marine bonds to the other because well, it's Life or Death. And they all chose to live. In one case, a Marine with his leg on fire from a fragmentation grenade, is pinned down and cannot even put the flames out without risk of getting his head shot off. His buddies rally, stand to draw fire from him and lay down fire at the same time. Another rushes in and puts the fire out, tends to the badly burned leg. In another incident the young Marines are ambushed while carrying in a litter a badly injured comrade, the insurgents springing their trap just as the medivac helo was approaching to land. Their friend's salvation hinging on the speedy flight to surgeons waiting at the field hospital but for the enemy keeping that helo from landing. The Marines respond with such withering fire the trees that the enemy was using for cover caught fire and burned out the few living insurgents, the remaining having died from the hail of lead thrown at them. There would be no more ambushes of medivac flights in this part of Helmand province.

It is from this crucible the bonds form that all of us outsiders see as unusual. It will take more sushi, more rice wine, bourbon and beer and more telling of their stories. That Strong Force that right now tugs men away from their wives and families will diminish. But like the inside of the atom, it will always be there for: Once a Marine Always a Marine.

BT: Jimmy T sends.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Getting Back Credibility

From Victor Davis Hanson: Five Green Commandments

Given the disturbing news about the growing green business empire of Gore, Inc., the private jetting by grandees into Copenhagen to harangue us about our incorrect lifestyles, and the expansive estates of prominent green advocates, it seems that the movement is in need of a formal code of conduct to restore the reputation of climate-change advocacy. Here are five simple commandments that all prominent global-warming activists need to embrace after the blowback from Climategate and various disclosures about the big money involved in green advocacy:

(1) No green public advocate shall have personal business interests predicated on climate-change remedies.

(2) No green public advocate shall fly in a private jet.

(3) No green public advocate shall ride in a limousine.

(4) No green public advocate shall live in a mansion.

(5) Every green advocate shall limit transcontinental jet trips to one per year.

I agree with the above with these small amendments.

(1) This should include his immediate family and he/she should be prohibited from working as a Lobbyist or for a PAC for a minimum of 5 years after leaving the Public sector.

(2) This should be modified to state that they have to use only scheduled commercial airline service, NO private OR Government jet travel allowed. Let's call this the 'Nancy Pelosi' rule.

(3) No green public advocate shall ride in any vehicle that is not fully occupied or larger than a Standard size sedan. No SUV's bullet proof or otherwise.

(4) The energy usage of any abode a Green public advocate should occupy shall not exceed the average energy usage of the average American home.

(5) Once again this travel shall be on a scheduled commercial airline.

It's been a bone of mine that the even the High Priest of Climate Change Al Gore looses credibility because of his ostentatious life style. Jetting around to collect his prizes and living in a house that despite being "green" uses more energy per month than the average American uses in a year just makes me think, "well he can't possibly believe in this stuff living like this!" On top of all that he stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars trading CO2 credits. Is this all a scam? How can I tell if the Goracle himself stands to be enriched if only the masses lived like he preaches?

Now with the facts that are coming out of the security lapse at the CRU we see a conspiracy to deceive the public as to the real conditions of the climate. How can we believe in even a daily weather forecast coming out of the East Anglia University, home to metrology research in all of Great Brittan? The lust for continuing grant money and prestige in the scientific community led many not only at the CRU but here at the Goddard unit of NASA and the Penn State University here in Pennsylvania to lie and deceive as well. The result, we can't trust them and especially any predictions they may have for the global climate debacle.

In my Naval Aviation days as a Ground Pounder, my credibility was everything. As an 18 to 21 year old Flight Deck trouble shooter the Crews that flew in the S-3 Hoovers that I worked on depended on me not only doing the job quickly and accurately EVERY TIME but that it was done safely, their lives depended on it. Did I account for all my tools, did I collect all scraps of metal or paper that I may have generated (known as FOD), did I secure the equipment correctly so it would not flop out in flight? These were all things that were assumed when I put my thumb in the air pointed UP. The 4 men who strapped their lives into that aircraft behind my work, interpreted that little symbol as my contract with them: I have done nothing to comprise your safety, give the mission your fullest attention.

We also lived by the axiom of: "One Aw-shi* erased a life time of Atta-boys you may have collected."

The manure out of East Anglia is one huge Aw-shi* and everyone having anything to do with that needs to be outed (on both sides of the Atlantic) and replaced. If the powers that be really believed in this Climate Change is killing the earth, then this is the very first thing they have to do to rebuild the credibility of their argument. Till then, they can all pound sand.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

SN2 on US Soil

Around 2:20PM yesterday the "Boy" returned to Camp Pendleton. It took almost 2-weeks to get from Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan to San Diego but it happened. He sounded very happy and was hungry for a good ole American burger. Plenty to choose from, I recommended my fav for that part of the country: In Out Burger. They make great shakes there too.

Mother and My Daughter are there with him and no doubt will cater to his culinary needs. We are not sure when he will come home home, but it should be by the end of the year.

I don't believe in all that Santa Clause stuff, flying reindeer and magical elves but if I was to have wished anything for Christmas, well it was delivered safe and sound.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Suspending Reality for the Sake of Power

The Harry "Legs" Reid and the PresBO are saying that we have to abandon the status quo and adopt the Health Care "Reform" package because things are so dire here in the U.S., health wise. PresBO claims that private insurance premiums will rise "25, 30% or more" and that employers will start to drop coverage altogether because of rising costs. He stated no study or any kind of fact to base this rise but I suspect he is using numbers that a slightly higher than the increase in those premiums that will be forced on us all by adoption of this plan. He also claims that Medicare and Medicaid will bankrupt the U.S. and "eat up the whole budget". This I don't doubt but the Harry Legs plan does not address this either so, WTF!

The story line the Dem's are pushing are all things that regular people can get behind: Deficit neutral, will not increase the debt, lowers consumers costs and saves Medicare and Medicaid. I think it also cures rainy day.

They want the public to suspend reality for a few moments while they vote and pass this monstrosity along. Their plan to lower the costs to you and me are by providing us "generous" (that was what the PresBO called them, generous" tax credits and outright subsidies. Read that like this, 'Their plan to lower the costs to you and me are by not collecting taxes from us or by giving us money out of the treasury'. Now think about that for a moment. (Jeopardy music goes here!) If you are not collecting taxes, i.e. giving someone a "tax credit" what impact to the debt and the deficit do you think that has? If you are giving people money right out of the treasury where does that come from if the Government is already spending more than they collect? That's why it is called a 'debt'. What from the money tree?

Of course this plan is going to add to the debt and the deficit. You can't give away money or not collect money and it not impact either one! Now multiply that by say 45 million people. And this is a generous number, it was the target that stared this supposed 'crisis' in the first place. I can see that being 100 million people real fast because when someone is throwing money away like this people show up to collect it and the numbers add up very fast, we are talking hundreds of Billions of dollars in giveaways here. So who do they think they are faking out anyway?

Look I am not an award winning economist, nor am I especially trained in how the government works but this is so blatantly obvious that one has to wonder: do they (Harry and PresBO) think we are that gullible or stupid and why are they so blatantly lying to us in the end. They want this reform bill only for what they are giving away to the many 'special interests' that are helping them and for the control of You and Me. That is what they want in the end, control of almost all aspects of our lives, so they can centrally plan our lives.

I thought we beat that whole communist thing you know when the Cold War ended?

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tanker Wars – Part VI

More, more, more – I love it!!

More whining by NGS regarding the terms and conditions in the draft RFP. Their complaint now is that the Air Force wants it to be a Fixed Price contract. On the one hand I don't blame them; a Fixed Price contract puts all the budget risk on the contractor, on the other it is what is best for the Taxpayer. They have threatened (or renewed their threats) to No-Bid this competition in hopes that Congressmen sympathetic to their cause.

MoreTanker updates.

Since the Air Force is insisting on this being a Fixed Price they are simply asking for "Off the Shelf" or COTS of some kind. In most cases you take it as you see it and go; no added extras, no requirements creep and no fancy bells and whistles from what is offered. That is something hard for the Government to pass on. Our military likes its bells and whistles not the ones that Australia or Italy or Japan have installed (these are customers of the KC-30 for Airbus and two of the customers for the KC-767) so the government sets itself up for cost overruns if it can't keep its hands and feet out of the cookie jar. If they can live with what is offered, absolutely no changes to what is offered, then it is a win for the Taxpayer.

More Air Force obtuseness:

Start-up the NGS/EADS-Airbus Bitching/Moaning/Crying Machine! This little bit about how the Air Force will not (NOT) be making any substantial changes to the Draft RFP in their work up to the release of the Final RFP which is expected in January. So, all them complaints about the Draft looking like procurement for a smaller aircraft will be in the Final. Expect more crying from NGS.

Boeing thinks it can now pass the minimum fuel transfer rate through their Boom. The Boom they are bidding is being used on the KC-767 being delivered to Japan, it would only transfer 900 pounds per minute but the Air Force is demanding 1200 pounds per minute. This greater capacity is required to refuel the C-5 Galaxy aircraft which holds something like 50,000 gallons when its thirsty. So getting the gas into the C-5 is the metric and Boeing was struggling but they claim to have a fix and that their "new" flow rate meets or exceeds this so, good on them. Any more from Boeing, oh yeah.

Boeing had a meeting with Air Force officials to formally complain about the evaluation factors in the Draft RFP which they feel is "unfair". They especially are questioning the fact that there is no benefit for or value attributed to the aircraft with the better fuel-burn-to-fuel-transfer-rate which the smaller KC-767 would presumably have. Maybe it was something that the DOD left out of the RFP re-write but the only ones that really seem upset is the NGS/Airbus team. I think Boeing needed to go through the process of meeting with the Air Force and of course having something to complain about, you know keep up those appearances. Can't have this thing look likes it's in the bag for them.

EADS-Airbus can at least feel good about taking $247 million US taxpayer dollars back across the Atlantic with their win of their second LUH contract with the US Army. They are going to be building 45 more UH-72A Light helicopters for delivery in 2010. The Lakota aircraft are built in Columbus Mississippi and are used by the Army and the National Guard domestically for training, troop transport and medic-vac missions that UH-60 Blackhawks would otherwise be doing. The Lakota's free up the Blackhawks for use in the more unfriendly places of the world. This 45 aircraft order brings to 178 total UH-72's that have been ordered by the US Army of an expected 345 so EADS-Airbus is doing good here in the US. They also sold 6 of these aircraft to the US Navy Test Pilot school and expect to bid on the Army's Armed Scout helicopter competition using this same basic airframe, adding some sharp teeth to an otherwise good looking airframe.

Where-Oh-Where will all this take us, I don't know but I love the blog fodder it generates!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Thanks to: Alert 5 and the Boeing Tanker Blog

Look Out Below!

From the "It was just a matter of Time" category, the Libyan convicted murder and terrorist aka "The Lockerbie Bomber" has gone missing. Released from a life prison term in Scotland on 'humanitarian' grounds because he was supposed to die in three months of cancer that was back in August. I guess cancer did not get the job done. Well, no reflection on that great Medical Service there in Great Brittan but who did not see this coming?

My guess is he is out on a Jihad Vacation. Just following the burning wreckage and you will note his handiwork.

Is it too much to ask that convicted mass murders were given NO humanitarian consideration, they have no idea what it means anyway!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

That wasn’t so Hard Afterall

The Dreamliner flew for the first time yesterday, almost 2-years late but it flew. Video here. The test crew of 2, spent a little over 3 hours dogging weather (yeah, I think Seattle is a great place for this too) and had to cut short the overall flight by an hour. But the test regime has commenced.

The aircraft looks great, the wing sweep while flying is amazing and lends some kind of visual affect that maybe you realize that you are flying. Pretty neat I think.

Boeing expects to have 6 aircraft doing test flights over the next 9 months in order to gain an FAA Type Certification next year. First deliver to an actual cash paying customer, All Nippon Airways is scheduled for the last quarter of next year. Can't come soon enough, Boeing had the chance to bury Airbus in this concept and commercial sector but screwed that pooch. Airbus is producing its XWB A350 in a direct response to the huge market for this size of aircraft. Boeing has sold about 850 of the 787 and is fast setting up a second final assembly facility in Charleston South Carolina to keep more customers for jumping ship to the Airbus. Good on them, can't happen soon enough for me.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Dem’s Eat their Own

They will stop at nothing to get Government Control of the Health Care system and proof is this story here from the Weekly Standard Blog: "Dem's Threaten Nelson in Pursuit of 60". That is 60 votes and the Nelson here is Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson who is opposed to the current form of Obamacare as writ by Harry "Legs" Reid. Ben Nelson is against Taxpayer monies going to pay for Abortions which the Harry "Legs" bill provides.

So, how do you get Nelson to go along, well you send Rahm 'Dead Fish' Emanuel out with his kneecapping bat to deliver the message: Vote with the rest of the Democrats or loose Offutt Air Force Base. That's right, the Administration and their brain-dead supporters in the Democrat caucus will put Offutt on the BRAC list killing some 10,000 jobs in Nebraska. Of course, most of those jobs are military and those jobs would simply move, but the economic impact to the greater Omaha area.

That's how it goes, either you go along with the Democrat agenda or well, they will find a way to get your vote. Look what they did for Mary Landrieu of Louisiana; they bought her for $300 million dollars. Look how they brow beat Joe Lieberman, they even went after his wife to get him to come around, and he has.

On this issue the Democrats are really more than happy to eat their own. After some nibbling on Lieberman he is now in favor of and will most likely vote for the Obamacare bill, no word yet on Ben Nelson. My suspicion is that later today we will see a press release from the White House stating that there had been no threats or harassment of Ben Nelson and then later Ben himself will step before a microphone and announce he has seen the light and will now be voting for the Obamacare Bill, thereby saving his home state the thousands of jobs so dependent on Offutt.

That's how they do it, go along or we break out the bats. And for what? Control of the entire health care industry of this country, control of You and Me.

Hat Tip to Weasel Zippers.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Monday, December 14, 2009

General Aviation Humor

Some aviation humor today, this from AVWEB a place I visit a couple of times a week. They also do a picture of the week competition that I look forward to viewing, those come out on Thursdays. They also do a weekly ditty known as "Short Final" that is always a funny happening between ATC folks and their "Traffic", here is this weeks; it's pretty funny.

Short Final

A few years ago, I was routinely flying my Bonanza from Houston Hobby to Austin. The trip was normally very predictable, including the knowledge that radio traffic, when handed over to Austin Approach, was extremely busy and communications needed to be very efficient. On one trip, the Approach controller changed those rules and added some levity.

"Bonanza 56, turn right, heading 350. I hate to tell you this, but you're number 9 for landing, and I have to send you up to Georgetown."

Bonanza 56W
"No problem; those Boeings have a lot more passengers than I do."

"56W, what speed can you give me to the outer marker?"

Bonanza 56W:
"I can give you 150 knots."

"Great. If you can do that, I'll give you a kiss. Turn left, heading 280, and join the localizer 17L."

Bonanza 56W:
"Left to 280, join the localizer 17L, and I'll pass on the kiss."


Southwest 123:
"SW 123 checking in on the localizer 17R. And we'll pass on the kiss, too."

[Other aircraft check in and add to the laughter.]

"Hey, I'm getting my feelings hurt here! SW 123, ask one of your flight attendants if they would like the kiss."

SW 123:
"Stand by."

[After a few moments ... .]

SW 123:
"Approach, SW 123. One of our flight attendants will meet you on the ground for the kiss. His name is Kevin."

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Secret Life of Space Shuttles

There is a great article here by the magazine Air&Space regarding the long history of the Space Shuttle carrying classified cargo into space. It is a fascinating read, quite long but filled with a bunch of anecdotes from the actual participants, NASA Astronauts and Air Force personnel specifically recruited and trained to conduct classified operations in space.

I love this kind of stuff, most of this is coming out now because programs are being de-classified and the true story can now be told. This differs from the policy over at the New York Times of compromising National Security to help lose a war and thereby throw an election.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Flying Firsts

Some Aerospace news that may not be in the mainstream.

First up is the flight today of the EADS/Airbus A400M Airlifter.

This is an all new aircraft designed to compete with the Lockheed built C-130 Hercules. The A400M is assembled in Spain and includes all new engines. The 4 TP400D turboprop engines are built by Europrop International and are advertised to be the most powerful turbo shaft style engines ever put on a "Western" aircraft. They generate almost three times as much power (shp = shaft horse power) than the motors on the C-130J's.

It's a good looking aircraft and is built for short and rough airfields with a carrying capacity of 82,000 lbs of cargo (compared with the C-130J's of 44,000 lbs) in a cargo box that is close to the size of the C-17 Globemaster III (built by Boeing now but it started out as a McDonald-Douglass product) just a lot shorter than the cargo box of the Globemaster. EADS/Airbus should do well selling this in Europe and Africa, they have almost 200 sold to 8 different countries. They will sell more as their contribution to the effort in Afghanistan uses up the C-130's they are using so I can see more and more of them in the future. They will in no way reach the thousands of C-130's that have been built over more than 50 years of service.

Now this: On this last Monday Virgin Galactic and Burt Rutan's company, Scaled Composites rolled out Spaceship Two.

Spaceship Two is the center tublar cabin shown in this picture, the two outter fuselage assemblies are part of the MotherShip.

This aircraft along with its White Knight Two mother ship (carrier aircraft) is designed to carry 6 passengers and two pilots up into the near-reaches of space – suborbital. The ticket is something like 200K per (go and get them here) so it's not going to be everyday people flying anytime soon. The cabin can be re-configured for experiments and apparently NASA has talked about leasing some flight time from Virgin Galactic. One other reason I mention this, not just because of the sexy flying machines but because the flights in and out of space will originate from "Spaceport America" in New Mexico. Yes, Las Cruces New Mexico will be home to commercial passenger flights into space. Las Cruces is south and west of the famous UFO Alley and the more famous Roswell New Mexico where most of the UFO fantasy and legend in the USA originate. Neither place is far from where they found Smokey Bear!

Flight testing has already started and they expect to make their first paid flight sometime in 2011. Hurry and reserve your seat before they are all gone!

And Finally: Boeing should be throwing is hopes and dreams into the air very soon, maybe even this next Friday (the 18th) with the first flight of the vaunted B787 Dreamliner.

This is one of those hodgepodge aircraft built with parts from all over the world and brought to the final assembly area in large chucks and then put together almost like Leggo blogs. Boeing has amassed a huge air force to move these large parts from the many assembly locations and fly them "just-in-time" to one of two facilities, one in suburban Seattle Washington and the other a newly purchased facility in Charleston South Carolina. They have major "subassemblies" being built in 9 different countries and 15 different states. I saw an analysis of miles on some of these assemblies that indicate they will have something like 12,000 miles on them when an aircraft first flies.
Here is one of the DreamLifters a heavly modified 747. The tail hinges (you can see the hinge points in this picture, those two bumps near the where the fuselage necks down to the tail.
Boeing has had problems with getting it all to work; parts left out of supposed completed assemblies and fasteners that had to be replaced in gear delivered to the Boeing assembly facility. The latest problem had to do with how the wings were mated to the center wing box. That has been fixed and they are moving forward with hopes of this first flight this coming week.

This is huge deal for the commercial airline market. It pitts two different approaches by two different Heavy-Weight Manufacturers to the market share problem within the current economic climate. The issue: Is a very large aircraft carrying a whole lot of people more profitable than a medium sized aircraft moving people at a huge efficiency more profitable? It is Airbus and the A380 versus
Boeing and its 787 against each other. Time will tell but it all starts with that first flight.
BT: Jimmy T sends.

Cool Stuff


This picture is from Marines in Helmand Province Afghanistan, they are members of the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion of the 2nd MEB. To complete the photo credit the picture was taken by AP Photographer Kevin Frayer.

I love the contrast with the fading sun and of course all the gun's pointing to the heavens. I really like that my Son is not one of them!

On another note, SN2 is safely in Kyrgyzstan and awaiting the charter flight back to the U.S. along with the rest of the 1/5 Marines. That should happen sometime next week. Mother, Daughter and Father are well, happy.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Artifacts Part 1

These are things that I have laying around here from my past that are interesting and mainly speak to my days in the Navy.

My Flight Deck Cranial Helmet.

This first one is a "special" done for me by one of the Shop First Class that was a budding artist. I can't remember his name right now and I am not inclined to dig it up as he turned out to be an assHat. He once responded to my comment about getting stabbed in the back that he only put "sugar coated" knives in my back. Now, he did caricatures for many of us in the shop and in the squadron. I was known as kind of both a geek and a warmonger. I was in love with the Nuke, felt that it was not used enough (still do by the way). This helmet shows both, I was the Squadrons go-to-man for Computer repair, it was the single most complicated piece of gear in our jet and really made it possible for us to do with 4 crewman what the P-3 did with 16. I wore this helmet for quite a long time making numerous cruises onboard the USS Independence but when we first went onto the USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) these helmets were banned because of the famous "Eat Pussy" affair.

This is the helmet cover I wore after that:

Now, you want to know what the "Eat Pussy" affair was all about. Well, when we were onboard the Eike we had a lot of VIP's come aboard to you know look around the newest and most advanced ship in the Navy. One of these, not sure if it was SECNAV or SECDEF was taking a free ride in one of our S-3's which was a big deal since we had two full sets of flight controls so you could put a real pilot on and take a VIP out and actually let them fly the plane. So we saw a bunch of them, VIP's, we even had a special crew that would fly with VIP's all specially screened and good looking like. To make a good impression. Well, this one day we are launching this VIP out on a quick flight and we do our thing. The Cat Hook-up guy strolls up to hook the mighty Viking to the Catapult and here he is wearing on his helmet in great big letters "Eat Pussy". That's reflective too oh by the way, you could see it 20 feet away in the dark!
Well, this VIP gets on the radio and says something like "That's something you do see every day!" and before he returns for his obligatory arrested landing the Ship has come out with a proclamation regarding helmet markings. And we had to change them post haste. The funny thing is that the Boat thought it was one of us in the Squadron with the 'offensive' helmet and only mandated those of us in VS-31 change out, all the while the Cat Hook-up guy strode around advertising his favorite shish kabob meat (how else do you cat). Anyway, several VIP's later and he was toast too.
This is the last surviving Flight Deck Jersey I own, this is a green one. You can see how they fade in the laundry and the black stripe that meant we were members of a Squadron, not Ships Company. Of course the great big VS-31 helps with that id as well. I also wore white ones with a checkerboard on it but none of the survived. You will please note without comment on the size, no way will that fit on me today. Same for this next item:
Genuine gabardine navy pants. Original buttons too. Size, well let's just say they are way smaller than me today.

This is a "Piddle pack".

Used by male aviators that have to relieve themselves while flying. You can see the long neck and the compressed sponges to absorb and contain the uh, fluid. I kept this one, it was part of my small flight back that I kept for when I went flying (still have the flight suit but we have seen enough items that don't fit me). We actually had a storage box in the aircraft to store these. Once Females started flying in high numbers the Navy got rid of these, issuing instead these things that are by all rights and intent – adult diapers.

This is my TL-29 with belt holder.

The TL-29 was a wireman's knife and had the screwdriver blade (which is deployed) and an actual knife blade. We used these pretty much every day. They came out later with an improved version, the TL-31 but I never changed over. I was happy with the old one and carry to this day a knife on my hip; a Leatherman Serge along with a flashlight and my cell phone. Some habits you just don't shake.

Next item is a Hook Point. This is the business end of the tail hook of an S-3 Viking. The thing is huge and very heavy. They are actually removed after every 100 traps and tossed out, so they are big collector's items. Problem is they are very heavy maybe around 50 pounds. I put a slide rule in the picture for scale. You can see the abrading that occurs by the arresting wire in the maw of the hook, the braiding pattern is actually scored into the metal.

Finally, here is my Journal.

This was given to me on the evening I graduated High School by my Folks. They knew I would be leaving and that I loved to write. It was the perfect gift, it went to boot camp, Memphis and technical training, Jacksonville Florida and it survived all the many trips to sea (two different ships) and even the big move to Pennsylvania. It is more than three quarters full with my many stories, little notes, ad's I clipped from newspapers and notices that struck my fancy.

The last entry is immediately before I got married back in 1982. Nothing since.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

POS Prize

This is what comes from low expectations:

"Talking" about "Talking" is all PresBO has done in the short time between his Swearing In and his nominated for the Nobel Pease Prize and he has done little else since save: apologize for America's Exceptionalism. Well he has also gone around blaming Bush for all the ills under the sun. To award him that prize for what he might do is nauseating especially in light of the many who have actually worked to bring Pease to the world.

From his acceptance remarks in Norway:

"And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not at the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize – Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Manedla – my accomplishments are slight."

"My accomplishments are slight", slight, what a joke. If you had a scanning electron microscope you could maybe see his accomplishments. This guy's sense of his own self is extraordinary if he actually thinks that he will equal or even get into the same league as a Schweitzer. Come on here, he might because of his age be able to go around kicking America at every opportunity like his contemporary Jimmy Carter or with his considerable ability to embellish the truth he could match Al "Climategate" Gore. But he will never accomplish the great works of a Schweitzer. What a fraud.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

1201 Alarm

From the category "Near Useless but Nice to Know" we have this gem: Carpe Diem: "American Information Diet: 34 Gigabytes Per Day"

Americans in all our glory take in an estimated 34 Gigabytes a day from all sources including TV (44.85%), Recorded Music (1%), Print media (8.61%) and computer (26.97%). (Note: All these numbers are from 2008.)

The study was an aggregate of all consumption of the U.S. public (I can't even imagine trying to figure this out) and then portioned out per capita. The total number reflects some enormous number with a name that looks made up: 3.6 Zettabytes (which is defined as 10 to the 21st power bytes). The estimate is that each American spends 12 hours taking in all this "stuff": see chart below.

You know, since I was still kind of stewing over that article yesterday regarding the fact that 4 in 10 Americans do not pay taxes means they most likely are either not working or not working enough. This leaves them with all this time to take in TV and Internet (the two largest bite of the pie above). No wonder Americans are taking in so much data, 12 hours per day they are not working!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Navy Ground Pounder - My Longest Day of Work

The following are excerpts from my Journal during the Month of June 1977 while deployed aboard the USS Independence (CV-62). We were in the Mediterranean Sea conducting National Week Exercises against the USS Saratoga (CV-60) and her battle group and select NATO participants. These were Blue versus Orange Forces and we along with several Spanish and Turkish ships were the Orange Force. The Blue Force was our opposition and in general our two Battle Groups were going to fight each other. War at Sea.

These next 10 days we would work non-stop putting aircraft in the sky. This long event would become the longest single work day of my life.

Day 1

40*41'N x 11*16'E Steaming South - Somewhere between Sardinia and Naples

The war starts; we had 24 hours to get away from the anchorage at Taranto and we hauled ass all day and night. We started our first flying day under the "War rules" at 0430 with the launch of 2 of our Vikings. We had 9 events in 20 hours sending out 14 aircrafts total for the day. Not sure what they were doing out there because we were busy getting aircraft cleared off the Hanger bay. They have promised to let us join in on a couple of Alpha Strikes but we have to continue our normal work load of 2x1 sorties. So everything in our inventory has to fly.

This was the start; I was assigned to the Flight Deck from the AT Shop along with two other technicians. We would work together on any aircraft that went to the Flight Deck with the shop responsible for the aircraft staged in the Hanger. This meant that the 10 guys per shift in the shop would take care of maybe only 3 or 4 jets a day while the 3 of us on the flight deck would tackle the rest; we owned 11 aircraft on this deployment. It was an uneven playing field but no one worked the Flight Deck for free, since it was a hazardous place you only went up there if you were going to be paid extra. Flight Deck Hazardous Pay was all of $55.00 before taxes (yeah, they taxed that too) and our shop was only allowed three "skins". The ground rules were the three of us on the Roof would work our own schedule as needed, covering all the launches and recoveries. We would work any gripes on a jet that stayed on the Roof; if it was moved to the Hanger it fell to the shop to fix.

Day 2

38*39'N x 6*45'E At Sea - North of Constantine, Algeria

Another busy day, 11 events and 17 aircraft sorties. We are down to a single Hanger Queen (705 of course) but we are told it should be out for a check flight in the morning. Went to my rack for a change of clothes, did not sleep there, I have been getting short naps in the Gun Tubs.

Our sortie rate and aircraft per event is a big deal within the Air Wing. We generally have a launch event every two hours or so depending on how many total aircraft are in the "event". We do a 2x1 in that the first event of the day is a two aircraft launch, the next is a 1 aircraft event and we cycle like that all day. We send aircraft out on every event because we are used to scout ahead of the Battle Group and to search for the enemy. As soon as a launch cycle is complete we do a recovery. Once on deck we start fixing what is broke and we prep the aircraft for the next event. If it's a two aircraft event we have to scramble to get two aircraft configured for the mission set assigned. ASW aircraft are configured differently than a SSSC mission (Surface Search Surveillance and Classification) versus a Mine-EX aircraft, versus a purely bomber mission.

Day 2

40*41'N x 2*30'E At Sea - South of Barcelona, Spain

Full flight schedule today we maxed out on flights. 11 events and 21 aircraft sorties, every one of our jets flew. We will be mining tomorrow so we are busy helping with the ARMCOS systems. I guess AO's are not issued brains, they do everything by repetition. "Repeat after Me – Hand and Feet CLEAR" - don't have to tell me to get my hands and feet clear of the big heavy exploding thing! No rack time today. Note to self: powdered eggs don't go with fresh hash browns, you really need a good egg yolk to eat with fresh hash browns. Still on water hours.

I have a long and checkered history with the BB stackers. Normally not heavily tasked in our squadron but for exercise such as this one they were quite busy. The chow is always a big deal on the ship, we would only have fresh food for a few days after leaving port (week to 10 days at most) so we all got used to powder eggs. Let me tell you, with a lot of tobacco you can eat a heaping large quantity of them!

Day 3

42*55'N x 6*39'E East Bound Off Toulon, France

We did a huge Mine-EX today, twice we sent a 4-ship out to mine some harbor, I think it was over near Barcelona but where ever it was, it left a ghost town on the ship for S-3's. We had the 4 on the Mine-EX, and 4 others on missions and left us with only three jets twice today. What fun. Still no rack time, we have been sleeping in the wheel wells because of the rain. They can't seem to keep the ship out of the storms; well until it's time to land then they steam out into the sunny skies. But as soon as recovery is done we go back into the storm. Sick bastards! Cut my left hand open on a copper bonding strap, took 5 stitches to close. Shots and an order for pain med but I declined the med. They gave me extra gauze pads to use in my gloves in case of bleeding.

You can still see that nasty little that scar on my left palm and as usual, I would not take myself off the flight deck even though the Corpsman were more than happy to give me a light duty chit.

Day 4

41*09'N x 6*32'E Steaming South - West of Sardinia

We are back to a regular flight schedule. 11 events and 17 aircraft sorties. All in the open ocean we were heading east back across the Med. I heard we are winning the war games, have not yet seen "enemy" aircraft. Was back at the rack to put away mail and get fresh socks. Still wearing the same outfit for two days. Since I was in the rain so much yesterday the shirt does not stink so much so I kept it on. We are still on water hours so we won't be getting laundry. Have to stretch out what I have in the way of green shirts and pants. Sea Rats or PB+J on toast for dinner, I did the PB+J.

Fresh water was a major problem on the Indy during this cruise. She had trouble brewing fresh water so whatever she made went to operations first, what little was left allowed for showers only two hours a day. Once at 1800 hours and again at 0600 and if you were not lined up you were SOL for getting a shower. We actually had "Shower Police" whose job it was to time and make sure everyone took genuine "Navy Showers". The lack of water also meant that we had rather bad chow since it took a lot of water to make meals especially since most of the menu included a lot of dehydrated foods. Laundry was done by division and you could expect fresh cloths only once a month unless we pulled into port. Then you simply took your laundry to the nearest NATO base and washed it yourself.

Day 5

39*09'N x 11*46'E At Sea - South East of Sardinia

11 events 18 aircraft sorties. One of our jets was caught out by the Blue forces and "shot down". They were scouting around the area where we were yesterday when they were caught. The ship pointed south and took off. We got our jet back after it did penalty time in Naples. Still no rack time, I only came to the rack to journal this. My left hand is throbbing. Back to work.

The rule in this exercise was that aircraft that were "shot down" were required to go to some neutral airfield and land before they returned to their home ship. As I recall this aircraft was actually sacrificed to fool the Blue force into looking for our Battle Group in the wrong area. It worked as we were able to get below them and then reset the space we were fighting since the Blue was supposed to cover south of Sardinia and Italy while the Orange force was supposed to cover the western Med. Getting south of the Blue force allowed us to make attacks directly on their fleet, from a direction they were not expecting.

Day 6

34*45'N x 13*30'E At Sea - North of Tripoli, Libya

We are having problems now keeping enough aircraft out, the proximity to Libyan airspace means we have to keep our eyes on what is going on with their air force. They don't come out to international waters but both fighter squadrons, the E-2's and at least one Viking have to stand off and watch all the while we are still fighting the Blue force. More rain, it is very warm out so the rain feels good. I actually washed and dried a couple of tee shirts in all the rain. Almost beats laundry service. 11 events, 26 aircraft sorties.

Yeah our friend Muammar Gaddafi was throwing stuff at us while we steamed just north of the "Line of Death" as he called it. The two fighter squadrons made several air-to-air intercepts of MIG aircraft thrown at us but they never went hot or came over the ship.

Day 7

34*50'N x 17*30'E Standing off - North East of Tripoli and North West of Benghazi, Libya

We have been living in a stalled front of two day, all rain. My fingers have wrinkles they have been wet so long, gloves are soaked. I have changed socks 8 times today, before almost every launch cycle I was changing socks. We/I lost an ESM POD over the side, wind got it from me and it went OB. Sponson 8 looks like a laundry with all the cloths hanging out there drying. Still no rack time, had to change my pants though, I had that pair on for 4 straight days and I may have to toss them they are so worn. No COD service today, we are trying not to show our hand to the Blue forces by giving them the chance to follow that old slow plane back to Indy. 11 events, 22 aircraft sorties.

The easiest way to hide an aircraft carrier is to steam it into a rain storm. As I remember we hung out in this storm with our screening ships pulled close, they wanted to get as much of the Battle Group inside the storm. It must have worked because we stayed in there two nights and three full days. Losing the ESM receiver was a big deal; they were still classified back then so there was a lot of paper work. It was lost partially because we were replacing it in the wind and rain at Oh-Dark-Thirty, it was a case of dropping it or both me and the POD falling off the wing. I can remember watching it cartwheel down the flight deck and right off the fantail, antenna's flopping around on their little coax cables. We were sure it sank but they had a tin can look for it just in case. The Sponson referred to was one of those little work platforms scattered around the boat and are open to the fresh air, some of them like #8 are under cover of the flight deck. This one was used for trash disposal.

Day 8

33*55'N x 19*11'E Standing off - North of Benghazi, Libya

I was asked to go to a briefing in the Ready Room, they want to do a lot of Data Link but I fell asleep in the chair. I was asked to stand for the rest of the Brief. I apologized to the Div-O and told him I had not been to my rack for sleep since the start of the EX because of the lack of flight deck skins. That was too much for him because I guess after I left he started to draw up "Manning" charts so that we could get us some sleep, but you can't put an AE up there to work RADAR or give them Data Link to fix. They should have stripped all the spare skins before we stared the EX. Phil 'treated' us to dinner; he made a point of getting me, Lipps and Wall together for dinner. Told me about the fiasco with the Div-O and the charts he had made and that we would be doing a corrosion stand down when the EX was done. We would be exempt. He thinks only another day or two and we will win the war and stand down.

The three of us were now taking turns sleeping, usually in an aircraft that was on the schedule or down in one of the Gun Tubs. The Gun Tubs were old Anti-Aircraft batteries that were mounted around the flight deck but the guns had been removed leaving a huge space for us to hang out in. Since it was on the catwalk level you were right there on the flight deck but out of the action. Each gun tub could sleep a dozen sailors! The issue with the Flight Deck skins was a big deal. There were shops that had more than they needed and simply cycled them from person to person whether they went up to the deck or not to simply use the money. This always burned us because we had so much work but only three skins. If we had even one more skin we could have worked 12 on 12 off. But the shops sat on their skins and when ever questions were asked you would see someone who you knew did not belong up on the roof in a bright clean jersey and float coat because they were used so infrequently. They would only make an appearance up there to keep the skin. $55 bucks was a big deal back in 1977!

Day 9

35*46'E x 21*45'E Steaming South of Greece Mainland

Huge day today, large Alpha Strike they took 6 of our jets. At the same time we had three out on missions which left us with only two on the whole boat. COD came back and had almost 800 pounds of mail most of that was parts or other supply stuff, why bother. More BP+J but for dinner I had a couple of cans of the mystery meat hash in the sea rats. The biscuits in the can are pretty good especially since the boat still has real butter. Got yelled at for sleeping in a copilot seat, some Bos'n pounded on the canopy and wanted me to come out, there were 4-others in there with me so he gave up when we all piled out, like clown car only in an airplane.

Alpha strikes were great fun for the AO's, not so much for the rest of us. The S-3 has the two wing station but the two bomb bay's gave us more capacity than one realized, we could carry up to 18 MK-82 500 pounders. We were slower than the other attack aircraft but no one could hear us coming! The Sea Rations was kind of a funny thing; they would break them out if they could not cook. You would get your tray and then go down the serving line getting little cans of this or packets of that plus those little can openers. I remember fruit cocktail being a favorite and this corn beef hash that was pretty good too.

Day 10

36*14'E x 22*59'E At Anchor - Kithira, Greece

In the dead of night she came to me, to us all actually. A voice, a sweet voice of a woman, the voice of an American woman. At first I thought it was only me, but everyone around me was reacting to that voice. We were all left to fill in the image that went with that voice as she talked us through the pre-start check list. Oh what a voice. It perked us all up for the final events of this EX. We quit flying at 1200 and put into an anchorage. There will be a steel beach and swim call. I will shower and sleep. I'll eat tomorrow too tired for food.

Oh Yes the voice. We do this verbal pre-start check list prior to every launch cycle; the Air Boss reads it off a card. It's the flight deck mantra, I can recite it even today and I have not been an active member of a launch crew since 1979! But this one time, after we had all been working for so long and so hard someone played a tape of this woman reading off that check list. I am sure it was some one's wife or girl friend but it did not matter, it was wonderful to hear that check list read off in a sultry way.

Day 11

36*14'E x 22*59'E At Anchor - Kithira, Greece

I got out of bed only once in the last 18 hours to hit the head. I even slept through laundry delivery, the cloths were piled on top of me, I never heard them. Phil came by to check muster, make sure I was alive. I got up then and decided to find some chow. There were burnt sliders and tube steaks on the port side forward but fresh eggs to starboard. I had them, many actually with fresh goat milk. They must feed these goats clover or something because the milk was quite good, much better than what we got in Italy. It was very quiet on the mess decks, Lips and Wall were in a card game (naturally) but they both confirmed they had plenty of sleep. My hand is infected and the leaking puss smells bad, so I'll have to go down to medical and let them clean it out, more stitches. Rumor is we are going to do another exercise before we pull into Naples, ASW Week they are calling it. Great more crap for us.

The ship would buy fresh food where ever we went; local cuisine was always a crap shoot. We would get fresh veggies with little bugs in it or milk that was rather "unusual" so to say. Eggs were another bingo item, sometime great sometimes, yuk! A bunch of times we had rabbit and a few times it was goat. The soda (Coke mainly) was very different than what we were used to having, it was very sweet. We did leave Kithira and go right into another week long exercise that was dubbed ASW week. It would only be 6 days at work but it re-shaped my thinking on the S-3 and all its wondrous equipments for finding submarines. Up till then I had misgivings about packing all that state of the art gear into such a small plane and it working, but ASW Week 1977 would change all that. But that is a different story.

For the Record:

"Lips" is AT3 Mike Lickens from Dallas, Texas

"Wall" is AX3 George Stanley Wall from Republic, Ohio

"Phil" is AX1 Phillp Turner from some where in Idaho. One of the best supervisors you could ever want covering you and someone I learned so much from especially the people watching, his speciality.

BT: Jimmy T sends.