Thursday, December 30, 2010

Time for some Space

As anyone who frequents here knows I am an Aviation Buff. Well, having worked in the field for most of my life maybe “Buff” maybe an understatement. I also feel that going into space to be the natural next step in aviation.

I love the Space program and support most of what they do; I don’t think NASA should be involved in all the Climate stuff which is better left to NOAA and the NWS.

That being said, here is a link to a terrific series of pictures shot by Astronaut Douglas H. Wheelock who was recently the commander of the International Space Station (ISS). He took these photo’s while living and working in the ISS, they are incredible.

After that first batch, go here for More!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

According to USAF personnel the exact cause of the first combat loss of a CV-22 Osprey may never be known. Right now the AIB or Accident Investigating Board for the crash is leaning on blaming the pilot for the crash however, one of the investigators seems to feel the aircraft itself has some blame as well if not completely. See Story here.

Be it power loss or Pilot Error (the usual when a crash cannot be explained) there are mixed opinions on the exact cause which may never be found largely because the aircraft went down in a combat zone and had to be destroyed after everyone was pulled out of the aircraft (16 wounded and 4 KIA including the pilot at the controls).

Now normally that would be the end of the story but, the question of the engine problem kept cropping up especially since the stock V-22 comes equipped with an extensive in-flight monitoring system designed to store away not just engine operating parameters but also flight control inputs and many other environmental and flight characteristics that would easily clear up this conflict. Designed to fit in the handy “crash proof” container. So, where is this magical black box? Was it not retrieved along with the Crypto gear and other high value and classified avionics from the aircraft carcass prior to it being intentionally destroyed?

Yeah, well actually it was left behind.

In this story from Defense Tech they relate the story of how the box was seen but left on the ground with the aircraft wreckage because it was not on the master list of items to retrieve prior to aircraft destruction. Left behind and it had all the answers or at least more clues. Destroyed or stolen either way it was not brought out of the field.

Quoting from here (emphasis added):

Several rescue and salvage crews failed to grab the critical device because the incident recorder was not among the items listed for recovery at the crash site, according to Harvel. This was apparently due to a translation problem between U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force manuals for the V-22.

AFSOC inherited instructional manuals — called “Dash-1s” — for the CV-22 from the Marine Corps’ MV-22B units. It was necessary to translate the manuals from Marine piloting and maintenance jargon to USAF terminology, but the translators made a few mistakes, Harvel says.

“Somehow in that translation there was nothing in [the AFSOC manual] that showed this aircraft had a FIR,” he says.

“They had absolutely no idea.”

As a result, he adds, the FIR “was never on the list to get that off the airplane” after a crash.

Ok then, it seems like there is a problem here with not having Translators available to the USAF to clean-up their manuals. Now, where does one go to get a Marine Translator? Well, maybe the Navy has them since they seem to have Marines on some of their ships, maybe the White House has them to spare also since they fly the President around in a Marine Helicopter. It seems to me that finding a Marine Translator would have been easier than say, a Klingon Translator.

And let us ask some other more poignant questions, if not more sincere. How many years has the USAF been flying the CV-22? I did some digging and found that the first production CV-22 was delivered to the USAF at Edwards AFB in September 2005. This particular aircraft was a version of the MV-22B that the Marines use but equipped with RADAR and IR equipment that the Marines do not use. The AFSOC received its first production fully combat ready aircraft in March of 2006. So the USAF had 5 years to get this “translation” done and the AFSOC had more than 4-years to figure out all that specialized Marine jargon and find the USAF equivalent terminology.

What a shame.

Now back to some snark. In the world of the US Military the Marines are labeled as the most serious organized killing machine in the world however, no one and I mean NO ONE in the US Military family claims them as the smartest. Not by a long shot. In fact I would guess that the USAF would claim being the smartest because they get all the latest gear and have found a way to keep from actually getting dirty during war time. So the USAF would claim to be the smartest. Yet, they can’t figure out Marine jargon? And they have had 4 to 5 years to carry those nasty dirty Marine manuals over to the nearest Navy base and ask them for some help with the Translation. / Snark off.

If people had not died and the fact that the AIB is willing to impune the reputation of the Pilot that died in this incident this would be laughable. But the whole AFSOC should be ashamed for not catching this and more importantly, using “translation” of a brother service’s jargon as the excuse. Especially since there are several Standards and Specifications that detail the use of acronyms and abbreviations used in the development of military documentation.

Back home here in the swamp, we live with a Marine and being a former Squid I know how to translate so that my wife and the mother of said Marine has a way to communicate without too many hand signals. I am available to the USAF to assist them in any further “translations” that they may need. Just saying.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

First Flight - Powered by Wright

First Flight – Powered by Wright: Today, 17 December back in 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully flew a heavier than air vehicle powered by an engine. The two brothers operated a bicycle business in Dayton Ohio and were both skilled machinists. Their life hobby of kite flying led them to a Kitty Hawk North Carolina beach with a hand built man-sized kite or glider that would evolve into the powered Wright Flyer.

From their workshop in Dayton their in-house Engineer custom built the engine that would be used in the Wright Flyer because engines of the day did not have the power to weight ratio required for “heavier-than-air” flight. They used spruce wood in the construction of the vehicle for strength and its workability. They would have to “sweat” parts into shape. This is a process of using forms and steam to press the wood into shapes other than straight. They also crafted their own geared sprockets to transfer the power from the motor to the two propellers that would push the vehicle. The wings were covered in “Pride of the West” muslin that was mostly used in women’s undergarments.

Their observations of their kite and glider flying led them to question some fundamental precepts of aeronautics such as they were back in 1903. The two men constructed miniature airfoils representing wings and propellers (more than 200 in fact) and tested them in a hand build Wind Tunnel.
Picture Above: This is a replica of the wind tunnel that the Wright Brothers built and used to test airfoil designs. Their precise calculations and measurements led to new understanding of lift and airfoil shapes and to control of those shapes during flight. Picture from the Virgina Air and Space Muesum in Hampton Virgina.

Doing so, they re-wrote the book on lift and their new designs were vastly superior to others of the day. This led to successful flights of a manned glider and eventually the Wright Flyer.

Picture to right: This is the 1902 Wright Glider with Wilbur suspended in the middle of the frame. They used a crude trapase contraption to "warp" the wings and shift the balance of weight or Center of Gravity to manuver the aircraft. This glider was produced directly from the research conducted by the Brothers using their wind tunnel. It proved the design and the men moved towards adding power to the airframe. Picture taken from Wikipedia, source unknown.

Moreover, their analysis led them directly to discovery of control mechanisms to be used while airborne for the turning of the aircraft, control of assent and of course decent as well. These were important touches; many others were flirting at the time with flight in heavier-than-air machines. But it was the Wright Brothers who pioneered controlled flight in a heavier-than-air machine.

Both men were self taught in both business and aeronautics, neither attended college nor did either have official credit for finishing High School. They would operate several aviation business building aircraft and a Flying School. One of those early students was a fledgling pilot by the name of Henry “Hap” Arnold who would rise to the rank of 5-star General in the U.S. Army commanding the Army Air Corps during World War II and who would eventually be the first head of the U.S. Air Force.
Picture Above: First flight at Kitty Hawk with Orville at the controls. That is Wilbur running along side. This first flight was a mere 120 feet and lasted 12 seconds. The Brothers would fly three more times that day before a wind gust destroyed the aircraft. Library of Congress Photo orginally taken by John T. Daniels (US Coast Guard).

Their original companies survive today as part of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation which is still producing cutting edge avionics and aerospace products. Humble men they were, neither ever married and today are celebrated as pioneers of a remarkable industry.

Ride in any aircraft today except for a Hot Air Balloon and you are a direct beneficiary of the hard work of the Wright Brothers.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tanker Wars/KC-X Winner - Airbus?

In todays Tanker Wars update we have this breaking news - Airbus is the apparent winner of at least the technical side of the competition. Here is the Story. The upshot here is that Airbus scored many points on the larger size aircraft they proposed than Boeing did with their KC-767 Next Gen tanker proposal.

The competition now goes down to cost and my thoughts are that Boeing doesn't stand a chance. Despite the A330 being a much larger aircraft to build and correspondingly higher costs to build, Airbus will still out bid Boeing. Remember folks, Airbus is NOT in this competition to build aircraft or to make a profit, the partner governments which fund Airbus simply want to keep people working building aircraft in Europe. Even though Airbus claims they will spend huge money building a "post" production facility in the USA, it will only be a token effort in the end because they really only want to keep europeans employed with this effort.

Boeing on the other hand has to make a profit and they can not compete against a business model that does not.

Plain and simply, our air borne war fighters will be taking gas from an aircraft built by socialists!!

Its really too bad that the US defense industrial complex could not defend itself from a hostile takeover of this magnatude. What next, will the next Air Force 1 be an Airbus?

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A lot of the reason that my posts here have tapered down to near once a week is that I have been traveling a lot over to Europe. It seems like every other week I am on my way to either the Czech Republic or to Norway for a week or so then I return.

So, having logged more than 70,000 miles since July (all in coach/economy) I have some recent experience going through the security apparatuses on both sides of the Atlantic.

First off there is a huge difference between what we are put through here in the US and what they do to you in Europe. Even though the rules regarding “Probable cause” and “Search and Seizures” are radically different the two sides of the pond they seem more sensitive in Europe than here in the US. And that goes for Germany too, by the way.

Also, they don’t make you take off your shoes over there, only here in the US. Now what burns me is that the shoe bomber originated over in Europe so you would think that we (the US) would make people originating over there and flying into the US have their shoes checked? At least I would given the “attack” came from the Easter side of the Atlantic.

Same with the underwear bomber.

Another thing, they do not automatically pat you down, if you go through the magnetometer and it alarms you can expect to get the hands on inspection. And yes they do the random “secondary” inspection where you are taken into a room and they swab your carry-on and parts of your cloths. I have had that done to me.

By and large, when you see armed men (and I mean the kind with Automatic Weapons on slings) standing around out on the front curb, hanging out in the lobby and wondering around the terminal you maybe think about your situation. Do they profile, I am sure they do but they are not hung up on being Politically Correct like we are here and doing that is does not have the negative connotations like it does here in the US.

Now, I believe there are a couple of things that we should do to get away from the TSA handling all of the traveling public like we are guilty or we are criminals first.

First, Profile. Yeah put everyone through the metal detector and then pull out the most obvious people for the strip search and bore scope procedure. And I mean that, put a camera up their ass and then cat scan them. If they survive the radiation with nothing to hide, than they can enjoy the privilege of flying in this country.

Second, seal off the Borders. This is huge sore point but we need to keep everyone out of this country that does not want to come in through an official entry point. And yes, we should have millions and millions of Mexican’s in this country as long as they are willing to let us know who they are. We need them here but not as an illegal. I say give them a kind of Social Security Number and vest them in our society legally. Not as citizens but as temporary workers. Throw into jail any Company Owner that hires people under the table, and I don’t mean one of those country club jails, throw them in with the wretched folk and that will be the last time they hire illegal’s.

Make the ugliest war on our enemies as we possibly can. Ignore the Geneva Convention, ignore the UN and especially ignore the PC crowd on the left and wage war so ugly and nasty that no one wants to mess with us. This whole problem with Islamic Extremists comes from the limp noodle Jimmy Carter response to the invasion of sovereign US Territory back in 1979. Had he simply nuked that place or invaded with a “Take No Prisoners” orders than I really do think these asshats would be bugging someone else. The way we fight them today is viewed by them as weakness, they taunt us with our restraint and we lose fine Men and Woman trying to placate the weasels on the left that think we might actually “offend” someone when we make war. I say bring back napalm , flame throwers and tactical nukes and kill as many of them as possible in the most inhumane way and they will leave us alone.

I am just saying.

Here is by far the best parity of the current TSA boondoggle.

Well I am off, I have in the next three weeks round trips to Orlando the Czech Republic and New Mexico and only one of those trips am I really looking forward to.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Aviation News Roundup

Here is some news from the Aviation world that is not makeing too big a splash on the MSM.

Boeing 787 Troubles:
This latest in the long line of commercial haulers from Boeing was well on its way to certification and delivery to an actual paying customer however, all flight testing of the 6 test aircraft was suspended recently after a fire in the #2 test aircraft. This aircraft was on approach to land at an airport in Laredo, TX when the fire broke out in the aft electronics bay. The resulting load shedding to the redundant load center on the other side of the aircraft left the cockpit with a single flight instrument to land the aircraft. The pilot at the controls at the time of the fire: an FAA Test Pilot.

The reported source of the fire as a power distribution panel which are not like the power panels in my beloved S-3. These are highley specialized panels that are as much a computer with embedded programming on them as they are a circuit relay. The modern trend in aircraft is to be more reliant on electrical flight controls (Fly-by-Wire) instead of hydrolics or steel cables. So, there is a lot of dependance on the electricity generated onboard.

The fire was fierce enough to get insulation in the avionics bay to ignight and molten metal dripped onto the inside surface of the composite outter skin of the aircraft. That may comprimse the integreity of that material and a study of the damage is underway. The 787 structure is made mostly of composite materials so this may be one of those failures that derive a lot of knowledge from.

Airbus A380 Troubles
Airbus is also at witts end with an incident that occured late last month. A Quantas Airlines A380 experienced what is called an "uncontained engine failure". In plain speak this is an engine failure where part of the motor is ejected from the motor housing and into the aircraft. The wing in this case. The part went up through the bottom of the wing and severed hydrolic lines and electrical cables before exiting out of the top of the wing. Oh yeah, and a fuel line as well. They were very lucky that the path of that part did not include the fuel tank itself. And that is what makes an "uncontained" failure a big thing as opposed to say a simple engine failure where the parts stay inside the motor housing.

Here is a picture of the damage on the top of the wing, this is where the parts have exited the wing.
Picture stolen from some where on the internet, I forget now. Sorry.

That's a pretty ugly exit wound there folks. That discoloration in the hole on the right is a liquid leaking out that is significantly cooler than the wing itself. Like fuel. More pictures here from Airbus (they are ugly).

All operators of the A380 grounded their aircraft pending the results of the investigation which centered on an oil leak. Many of the operators have commenced to removing the Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines which on inspection indicated an oil leak of some kind.

This was the second time in a very short period of time where a Rolls Royce motor has had this kind of failure (the uncontained type), the first being a test engine for the Boeing 787, a Trent 1000 motor. This engine was on a test stand when the failure occured. The 787 is offered with two different motors which operators can select so Boeing is not in a pickle over the problems over at Rolls Royce. Similarly Airbus sells the A380 with a different motor but customers decide which motor they want and they usually pick one from a manufacturer with whom they already have motors in other aircraft.

Eclipse back on its Feet
Eclipse 500 taken from the Eclipse website.

Good news from my home town, Albuquerque. Eclipse Aerospace took over ownership of the former Eclipse Aviation which went into bankruptcy. The new company has focused on getting a support and logistics train up and running for the 260 odd aircraft delivered before Eclipse went under. In a program they call "Total Eclipse" which the primary goal is to buy back aircraft, re-furbish them to a single production standard and then resell them.

They are doing gang busters in this effort having completed more than 50 aircraft and now there is talk of possibly opening the production line and building new aircraft. What a good deal that would be.

And that's not all, they have gained certification from the FAA for Flight into known Iceing conditions and for flight above 40,000 feet. These are big.

In a perfect world these guys get back to going strong and they can open the production line again. Whis is a wonderful concept for an aircraft and represents a fundemental change in building aircraft. Me things the previous owners bite off more than they could chew.

In other Eclipse news Sikorsky Aircraft recently bought an equity stake in Eclipse Aerospace giving Eclipse a much needed infusion of funding and major corporate stability. What is in the deal for Sikorsky? Who knows, maybe they want to make a tilt rotor version of the Eclipse 500 aircraft. Works for me.

USMC to "Harvest" more Bad Guys

The USMC deployed the first and only KC-130J aircraft with the "Harvest Hawk" modification installed. This modification gives this particular aircraft some teeth that your normal refueling aircraft does not have. The Harvest Hawk modification includes a 4th generation EO/IR Ball that gives them a great picture day and night of activity on the ground and a laser capability as well (for range finding and target desigination). The teeth in the system is the addition of 4 Hellfire missiles mounted on the outboard wing pylon and 10 each Griffen GPS guided Air to Surface missiles. The Griffen is a smaller sized missile than the Hellfire and uses the GPS to home in on a position. I knew nothing about them so I did a little digging, here is something on them. These are mounted on the Cargo Bay ramp allowing for the system to be removed in a case where the aircraft is needed for purley cargo purposes. A neat trick.

The Misguided Children have done what they do best: adapt, improvise, overcome and then kill the enmey.

China C919 to Compete with Boeing and Airbus

Huge air show over in China of all places, the Zhuahai Air show 2010. One of the exhibitors is Comac, the Chinese National Aircraft builder, the Airbus of China and just like Airbus they are owned by the government. Their big news, they are going into production on C919 single asile passenger aircraft. They announced that they have advanced orders for over a 100 aircraft and will deliver their first "revenue" aircraft in 2016. The aircraft will carry between 150 and 190 passengers and is designed to compete with the Boeing 737's and the Airbus A320's.

Picutre of a C919 full scale mock-up as displayed at Zhuahai 2010. Picture taken from

Comes with a pretty nifty glass cockpit and a Heads Up Display. This is interesting on two points, the first is that it is another government sponsered enterprise competing with Airbus. Like Airbus making a profit is secondary in their business planning. This is another massive Jobs program and more importantly it is their graduation onto the world stage of techonology. No longer do they only mass manufacture toys and trinkets. They are capable of making passenger aircraft all on their own.

Picture shows the C919 cockpit with HUD's and a line of Glass Flat Panels that seems to go on forever. Two of them in fact. The engine monitoring system are in flat planes also. Picture taken from

This brings up the second point, that is how much of this knowledge they learned at the hands of Boeing. Yes, Boeing had a huge hand in teaching the Chinese how to build that aircraft. Oh, they did not start out duplicating whole aircraft, but Boeing went to China many decades ago to get small parts manufactured for them in exchange for the many national airlines purchasing Boeing product. This over the years morphed into bigger and bigger parts. Whole sub assemblies of aircraft are now built there and the Chinese have turned all this gained knowledge into well, the C919.

I mentinoned in a post back last year that Boeing should have been spending all that money and energy to develop alternate suppliers in Mexico. It would have resulted in lower transportation costs and more importantly, they would not be using that knowledge against them. Oh well. Live and learn I say.

I'll have more Aviation news soon, there is a starteling Tanker Wars update coming.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

USMC Anniversary - Every Family needs to have at least one

Today the US Marine Corps celebrate the day they were established. A proud day for our country and for the many families with a Marine in midst.
Ours especially:

SN2 in this picture in the way back.

We were visiting family in Albuquerque during the Balloon Fiesta.

That is his "big" sister standing next to him. They were both in awe of the goings on.

Later we would know him as the fierce defense man and sometime center man on his Ice Hockey teams.

He skated for two teams, he was the Captain of his high school team and he skated for the PA Predators, a local Club Team.

But we were proudest of him while he served as a US Marine.

Here he is in Afghanistan displaying the whimsical humor that we know and love.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion of the 5th Marines which were deployed into Helmand province. SN2's Company was assigned to the Nawa District and the men quickly built themselves a Combat Outpost from which to patrol.

The Navy CB's came in and built the perimeter using the now famous HESCO barriers which are basically huge sandbags.
But the Marines of Charlie Company were not totally satisfied with their new digs and commenced to improve.

Here you can see them digging a shelter out of the desert. By hand.

Well, they had a lot of spare time. It's the Marine way.

Here he is patrolling in Nawa, SN2 was trained as a Mortarman and even when in the COP was responsible for the mortar squad in camp. These squads provide support to the foot patrols from inside the COP. So, he was busy no matter on Patrol or in camp.
SN2 would experience things that one only experiences while in the military. The close fellowship that comes with living with men in the dirt, taking fire from a common enemy and yes, eating things you would not have before.
Like Melons.
Growing up we could not get this kid to eat melons of any kind.
Who knew all you had to do was shoot at him and he would eat them with relish.

Like flying in strange aircraft. Here he is in an MV-22. the most famous plastic aircraft in the military inventory.
His Company wtihin the Battalion was the Air Assault Company so he got to ride in most every helocopter the Marines and Army flew. The CH-46, CH-53, H-1 Huey and MV-22 in the Marine inventory and the H-60 and the HH-47 Chinook. He did say that the H-60 Blackhawks were a much best ride of all, even over the V-22.

Here he is in an MV-22, they are being flown out of their COP and out to the huge Camp Leatherneck and eventually for their flight out of the AOR and back to the states.

Here we are with My Father in Albuquerque back in June of this year.
SN2 returned from Afghanistan and later left the Marines. A relief to his Mother and to me too, to be honest. But his time in the Corps will haunt him like my days in the Navy haunt me. Though no one shot at me during my 9 years in the Navy, I did have many a brush with death on the Flight Deck. And of course the impressions and experience you carry with you no matter what you wear.

And here he is back at home in the Swamp. He has a civilian job now and he is playing Ice Hockey again, in an adult league.
Good to have him home. Happy B-Day Marine.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Ivy Mike Day

Happy Ivy Mike Day – or welcome to the Thermonuclear Age Day! October 31st (November 1st locally across the international date line) 1952 was the day the United States exploded the first fusion device.

The actual “Mike” shot was part of the two tests code named “Ivy” test series; the other shot was called “King”. The “King” shot was notable for two reasons, the first being it was a very large fission explosion (500 kiloton yield) in fact it was the largest nuclear detonation to date and the other notable was that an Air Force Pilot was lost when his aircraft ran out of fuel while it was surveying the mushroom cloud.

But the “Mike” shot was used to confirm that a fission reaction could be used to trigger a much more devastating explosion using fusion material. The actual “weapon” was actually a huge building that housed all the apparatus needed for the fusion fuel which was cryogenic deuterium. The primary was a tried and proved TX-5 boosted fission bomb. The two fuels were separated by a rod of plutonium used as a spark plug to ignite the super cooled deuterium.

The mushroom cloud climbs to the heavens. Picture courtesy of the

The resulting explosion vaporized the test island creating a crater more than a mile wide and over 150 feet deep. The Mushroom cloud would grow to a height of more than 25 miles and a crown width of more than 100 miles. Radioactive coral debris fell on ships more than 35 miles away and the remaining Islands that made up the Enewetak Atoll were highly radioactive as well. The explosion was sensed by seismographs all the way in Berkley California where the “Father” of the “Super” as it was called, monitored the test. That being the famed nuclear physicist Edward Teller.

The photo's at left (from the book "Dark Sun, The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb" by Richard Rhodes) shows the damage to the Enewetak Atoll. The island of Elugelab is shown before and after the shot.

The yield of the Ivy Mike shot was 10.4 Mega Tons. This was 1000 times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Japan. It is important to state again that this device was not a weapon; it really was more of a test of a concept than anything. In fact the planned “King” shot was designed as a backup for fusion weapons in case they did not work. In reality the “Super” would be proven and three years later the Air Force would be hauling around a 41,000 pound H-bomb in their B-36 Peacemaker aircraft. The new aircraft was huge in order to carry the huge weapon.

More importantly however and as an aside to weapons development is that the fusion device proved that man could create the same energy created by the Sun. This opened the door to the promise and hope of fusion energy. If only man could contain that reaction and convert it to pure energy is the hope.

An auspicious occasion indeed.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stray Voltage - #3

October Moon
I am packing today a shipment off to the Czech Republic for my next trip over there next week. Something like 300 network patch cables, DVI video lines and serial cables along with video and LAN switches that we need for the prototype installation. We get to hook everything up next week and then in following weeks we will go back and do software installation and testing (debug). I will fly there at least 4 more times before the end of the year.
Of course all that flying has triggered Airline reward levels, I went to Silver on one and I am now Gold level on another. I do try to stay on one more than the other but I do most of the domestic legs on one airline (Delta by the way) and the international flights on the other (US Air). I am hoping for an upgrade but I never hold my breath. The 8+ hour flights in Economy are pure hell.


I will be out of town for Election Day so I vote today. I have to take a half day off work and motor to the far end of the County I live in, find parking in what is one of the highest crime areas in our County and then walk over to and into the County Courthouse. The voter services counter therein assures me I can cast an absentee ballot.
I am generally against absentee voting or mail in voting but when you have to present yourself in person to an “Election Official” (not a Party Hack) I feel better that my vote will actually be counted and not stolen in some way. Like not checking ID's.
Having once run for elected office, I have waited for the tally of votes that are conducted by people who are involved sometimes not because of their desire to do good things for their community but for Party reasons. The great idea of fair elections in this country is a myth. There are so many ways to steel an election. Mail in Ballots and absentee voting are ripe for corporation as is the registration process. Run for elected office sometime and you will see every pitfall in the process.


Boy did they step into a large cow pile! Now, to be fair I am one that does listen to a lot of NPR programming. I am a fan of the both Morning Edition and All Things Considered and the Click and Clack show (officially known as Car Talk) and a Home Gardening show that is produced locally on the Philly NPR station (WHYY). Another locally produced show that I like is Fresh Air with Terry Gross. No one interviews better than Terry, no one is prepared for the subject in a segment like Terry and she has a nice voice too. Never seen her nor do I care to.
I do have a problem with NPR.
It leans way left folks, way left. I am not against that because knowing it allows me to filter it out. But, taking our tax money to operate is a different matter. If their programming was so popular it could and should stand on its own in the free marketplace.
By taking public money they have a responsibility to be middle of the road, nether left or right. And this is where the Bullshit hits the fan, the CEO of NPR when she made her public statement on the Firing of Juan Williams stated that journalistic standards had been violated. Well then, why are they not out firing more people? There are plenty of examples of NPR Commentators, Reporters and Analysis violating the most basic of journalistic ethos’s. Just the Facts! But no, they only wanted Juan out because he was on Fox News.
I do hope the threats of defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are not simply rhetoric thrown out in the heat of the moment, the whole idea of Publicly Funded TV and Radio needs to be aired out and debated. At the very least the minimum “journalistic standards” that are a joke right now at NPR and PBS can be established which gives the FCC something real to regulate for a change.

Dumping on the Volt

That would be the Chevrolet Volt. This is the Obama mandated People-Mobile, the “Green” Car. Where do I start! The reviews I have read all pan the car as having very little utility. It is a 2-person vehicle even though there are 4-doors it has only a little more room than the Toyota Prius which is the front runner in the class although more for Lefty-Prestige more than anything. It will cost somewhere around $40,000 bucks which is a small fortune. The Federal Government has a tax credit that you get if you buy one to the tune of $7,000 bucks which reduces the original ownership costs down into the range where it competes with the Nissan Leaf which will debut this year as well.
Originally the Volt was to be an all electric with the onboard gas engine was to be used to re-charge the battery. The projected MPG for the Volt in this configuration was to be 240 miles. Which would have been great.
But, let’s not dance the streets too soon. It seems the gas engine will be linked to the drive wheels and be used not just to charge the battery but also as secondary dirve for the car itself. And the MPG in this configuration? A whopping 37mpg!!
Yeah that’s right, my Daughters 2005 Chevy Malibu gets better mileage than that.
This is a crying shame, all the emphasis on “Green”, going electric and not using evil Gasoline. But what do you expect from a Government Owned and operated corporation. Just remember if you buy one of these things that what you got was built by a corporation and works who think this is “close enough for government work”.

Enemies List

Yeah our President has one. PresBO does not mince words when he complains about people who oppose his proposals for “Change” to our country. They are his enemies, plain and simple. And here recently he has tried to enlist Hispanics into that mindset as well. In comments he made on Univision, which is a Spanish language TV network, PressBO actually told Hispanics to punish their “enemies” and reward their “friends” with their votes on the 2nd of November.

Funny how he can call fellow Americans “enemies” but not call the Taliban or al Quida.

Rewriting History in Real Time

That is what PresBO has been trying to do and now Nancy Pelosi (Wicked Witch of the West) trying to do. In recent coments Nancy has made she claims that the "ditch" was so deep that they have had to "save and create" so many more jobs to make up for what was lost during the past Administration. Too bad we have proof, the job loss started when she took over running things in the House.

Graph stolen from John Lott's Website (called John Lott's website).

Too bad for us this woman will keep her job in congress. She as much as PresBO are responsible for the huge turn Left this country has taken.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tribute to the passing of a Giant of a Man, Captain Tony Schneider

A friend back in Albuquerque called to tell me about the passing of a true hero who had a profound impact on my life. Here is the obit as it ran in the Albuquerque Journal:

SCHNEIDER -- Tony Schneider, 92, passed away October 16, 2010. Those who wish to express condolences may do so at: Tony's care has been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services 7601 Wyoming Blvd, NE Albuquerque, NM 87109 (505) 821-0010

Plain and simple it hides a huge Man and true hero, recalled to active duty in God’s own Navy.

Let me explain. I knew him as Captain TF Schneider, Naval Science Instructor. For three years he was one of two men in my High School Junior ROTC program that were Naval Science Instructors. The one was a crusty Senior Chief that came out of Submarines (SSBN’s). He was our “Military” instructor and taught us infantry drill, marching and standing in formation. We actually carried old rifles (1903 Springfield’s with lead poured down the bore) which today would make todays Public School Administrators crap their pants. But the Senior Chief was good for a cup of coffee and great modern sea stories.

That's me in the middle of the top row, circa 1973.

The real “Naval Science” was taught by the Captain. An unassuming man who preached to us Naval History, Sea Power and seamanship of all things, way out in the desert west of Albuquerque. But preach he did, three days a week we took his lectures; the other two day’s were given up to the Senior Chief. We saw everyone of the Victory at Sea movies, the good Captain had lectures designed around each episode. He was a former Naval Aviator and the oldest sea story we ever got out of him went all the way back to the day Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. He was assigned to the USS Enterprise and flew his first combat air patrol on that day, searching for the Japanese fleet.

This is the Captain as I remember him, always the teacher, always the role model. Couldn't have asked for better.

After graduation I was one of the many that joined the Navy right out of High School. I was more than prepared thanks to both the Captain and the Senior Chief. After maybe 4 or 5 weeks into Basic training I was sent off to take the Basic Test Battery to determine what kind of school or job specialty I was to get as I was at that point in time undesignated. Once the scores came back I was sent again to see the Career Councilor to pick that Rating and to fill out my “Dream sheet” as it’s called. This is the list of preferred duty stations.

I had high test scores and was told I could go into any job the Navy had. So, I did some figuring. I wanted aviation; I wanted to work on the flight deck of an Aircraft Carrier. But deep in my mind the gears were turning. I remembered the lessons taught by that unassuming Captain. The Big lesson he taught was of how in two consecutive World War’s, the Free world had been brought to its knees because of Submarines.

But, deeper inside was a more subtle lesson, that Anti-Submarine Warfare (or ASW) had turned back the Submarine menace and allowed not just the Naval Forces free reign on the oceans but the commercial shipping which in both war’s allowed beleaguered nations to continue the Fight.

It was also the lack of any ASW that gave our Navy’s submarines free reign in the Pacific. A force that represented only 2% of the entire Navy accounted for 55% of Japan’s maritime losses (from “Silent Victory” by Clay Blair, Jr.). An astonishing figure that was allowed because Japan fielded only a token ASW force.

So it was ASW for me and in Naval Aviation there were only two ratings that were supposed to be devoted to ASW, AX and AW. The first of these is the Electronics Technician that specialized in ASW equipment, the latter is Operator of ASW equipment, he flies in the aircraft. The former worked the Flight Deck.

I filled out the various paper work requesting the AX as first priority and AW as the second. Of course the Career Councilor laughed at me saying that both schools took months to get into, the waiting list was 6-months long. He prepared me for the Aviation Boatswain’s Mate job which would have been ok since it would have gotten me to a flight deck.

But luck was with me and I was sent from Boot Camp to “A” School to learn Aviation Electronics and to further specialize in ASW equipments. I was assigned to VS-31 and their mission was Anti Submarine Warfare. Carrier based ASW.

There were other lessons learned in those steel portable buildings that were used for the NJROTC program at my high school. Lessons like getting the job done at all costs, watching out for you shipmate and that we were all serving in the finest Naval Force the world had ever seen.

All from this unassuming Captain. And who was he really?

Well, from Wikipedia (yes he has a Wikipedia entry) he was Dive Bomber Pilot (the Douglass Dauntless SBD) who flew from not just the Enterprise but also from the USS Yorktown, the USS Lexington and from Henderson Field on the Island of Guadalcanal. He was shot down once, ran another aircraft out of fuel looking for the enemy during the fighting at Midway Island and participated in the sinking of the largest battleship ever built, the Japanese Battleship Yamato. He supported the invasions of not just Guadalcanal but also, the defense of Wake Island, the invasion of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He also flew combat mission to the main Island of Japan and was there for the surrender as Commanding Officer of Bombing Squadron 9.

This unassuming Man was awarded the Navy Cross twice and the Distinguished Flying Cross three times.

And somehow ended up in Albuquerque teaching High School Naval Science, how lucky were we!

Fair Winds and Following Sea’s Captain Schneider. You had a profound influence on my life, one I am sure you are only now becoming aware of. I missed my chance back in the summer to reconnect with you and I will regret that forever, or until we meet again in that great Ready Room of the Heavens. Rest in Peace.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Boeing versus Airbus - I Rant

It’s no secret around here that I do not like EADS/Airbus (not necessarily their products) and most especially in their competition with Boeing for the future of Big Wing Tankers in the USAF (known as the KC-X program).

I have been doing some reading more and more lately on the posturing between the two companies both trying to use the press and various public meetings (Associations and Conferences) to game the KC-X in their direction. It is understandable given the shear amount of money at stake.

For many years I would not book a flight on an Airline that had Airbus products in their inventory. I did not want to take the risk of wanting to get home and riding on an Airbus aircraft. Now this was not an irrational fear, it was based on how aircraft are certified in the US versus Europe and in the general philosophy in who or what runs the cockpit and what actually fly’s the aircraft. But, with all the consolidation that has occurred in the Airline business the fleets have not become mixed (except for Southwest but they don’t fly to Europe). These issues are not why I am not an Airbus advocate in regards to the KC-X program. They are more personal and subject of another post.

But what is it that really gets me going about this? Why do I have such animosity towards Airbus? Well, it’s because they are over here competing against US companies using our system against those very companies and all the while shielded by virtue of how they are organized and their business motives in the first place.

Let me try to explain.

Boeing is a “for profit” business. At the end of the day, they have to turn a profit. They owe that money back to grow the company, to expand their capabilities, conduct R&D and build new and upgrade their existing facilities (I am sure they are getting that Green Agenda shoved up their Ass too). And they also have to post a dividend to their investors. If they don’t do these things, especially this last item, they go out of business.

They are first and foremost a business proposition whose first rule is to make more money than it takes them to operate.

EADS/Airbus on the other hand is not such a company. Their first priority as pushed by their ownership is Jobs. That’s right, Jobs. You see, EADS/Airbus is what we call here a GSE – Government Sponsored Enterprise. As such the partner governments participate simply to put people to work. They actually negotiate in which country parts of the aircraft are built to keep folks in work or when they expand they negotiate a pro-rated share between themselves.

You see the “Investors” in EADS/Airbus are governments that do not care if the company itself makes a profit. In fact when the company is losing money on a project the governments all get together and decide on how to split the bill to make up the loss.

In the long and twisted development of the Airbus A380 the world’s largest commercial passenger aircraft, the company either miss-managed the program or vastly underestimated the complexity of building an aircraft of this dimension (most likely IMHO). To the tune of $3-Billion Dollars (which increased the per aircraft price by 25%). That is a huge number by any standards. But, the governments which all share in the EADS/Airbus consortium coughed up that overrun in order to keep the Job’s created by building that huge aircraft.

And that is not the only case, the A340 was heavily subsidized and so was the A330 aircraft which is the offering that EADS has in the KC-X competition (to the tune of $5 Billion on that airframe alone). More recently, their new Military Airlifter the A400M is also way over budget and getting extra influx of overrun money. And Here!

And that’s not all folks. As part of it’s overhead expense that Boeing has to deal with is the cost of Health Care and Retirement or Pension payouts which EADS/Airbus does not have on its ledger. You see, in all 4 of the countries in the Airbus consortium the government provides both the Health Care and the Pension for the employees of the Airbus company.

How is this fair to Boeing, to the USAF or even to the USA?

Oh many will say that Boeing gets plenty of subsidies in the way of US Military contracts or offsets in local and state income taxes. But these are stalking horse arguments. While the parent company holds domain over the entire company, the Commercial and Military parts are operated as separate cost centers. Each has to perform on its own independent of the other. So, the Commercial Airplane Company gets no benefit by the Military side winning contracts. As for the deferral of taxes at the local and state level, I can’t see how that would amount to enough to even argue about especially since most of this is granted as Tax Credits which come out on a year to year basis AT THE END OF THE EACH YEAR. Not a lump sum payout as is enjoyed by EADS/Airbus.

No it’s not fair by any measure.

My personal feelings are that the US Government should not allow competition between US manufacturers and offerings from the EADS/Airbus consortium unless they are penalized for these disparities or at the very least; the US Company is given a leg up in some way.

Not sure how this will play out in the KC-X program however the USAF is in that most unenviable position of being between a very big Rock and an even bigger Hard Place. Almost no room to get it right. Read more Here it is a Report by the Lexington Institute on the impact Airbus has on the US Aircraft manufacturing business.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend in West (by God) Virginia

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

Well, between trips to the Czech Republic and Norway I do get time for domestic activity. A couple of weekends ago the Good Mrs Taylor and I ventured down to West (by God) Virginia to help move the Daughter from Marlington to Elkins. Her year with AmeriCorps doing work with the US Forest Service is over and she is doing a second year with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It's good experience for her but they pay really sucks, but the tuition benefit really helps.

Anyway, after we filled the two cars with her "stuff" we attended the annual "Autumn Harvest Festival and Road Kill Cook-off". Now, Marlington is a quaint little town tucked up in the Black Mountain range at the heart of Pocahontas County in the Monongahela National Forest. It is beautiful country populated with friendly salt of the earth people. I am glad my Daughter got to spend a year in such a fine place, the experience of living in a small American village will make a huge difference in her life, she just does not know it yet.

On to the Pictures!!

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

This is downtown Marlington during the great festival itself. I read that there were more than 18,000 people here for the day including one of the candidates for Governor who showed up on a motorcycle and glad handed folks. I was in line for some road kill when he arrived, being in the opposite party as he I gave him no mind.

There were many vendors there hawking everything from pastries, taco's, paintings, antiques and even tie dyed shirts.

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

Also Quilts, lots of quilts. I am guessing this is what the women folk around these parts do in their spare time based on the huge variety of quilts that were for sale. They were all works of art and I am sure took a lot of time to produce.

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

Wood products a plenty too from bird houses with and without the NASCAR paint to slap wood furniture. Lots of wood stuff. I am guessing that while the women are Quilting the men are in the shops working with their Wood!!

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

And since we are in West (by God) Virginia you have to have something that shoots!! Here we have mashmallow shooters, just for the kids since the grownups here about are all carrying the kids should too!!

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

Now on to the food, the Road Kill. Now this stuff was given out in very small sample size cups. You paid on price (I think it was just $12.00 an adult) and you could visit and sample any of the stands that had Road Kill. You received tickets too that you used to "vote" for the best beast chow.

This place got into the theme they presented even the cooks and handy-men dishing the chow were dressed up for the part, very classy.

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off
From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off
From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

This place was offering a wild Boar Stew and the stock was prepared with sassafras root, here is proof!!

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off
From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

The pancake at this place was really good but the venison sausage was tasteless.

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

All in all the Road Kill was interesting. Besides the Venison and Boar there was some Bear, Frog Legs and some Pheasant (although by the time we got in line they had shifted over to handing out plain ole chicken). After the Eats were done we loaded up into the two cars and headed out
of town towards Elkins which lies less than 90 miles north of Marlington. Now, usually a ride that short would take no more than 2-hours but Amanda had other plans!!

Here you can see Amanda briefing the Ole Man on our route. She had a Fores Service map that was to die for. I had one of the free DOT maps handed out at the road side rest. Can you say Map Envy!!

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

Here are a couple of shots from on top of the Black Mountains. In the one picture I am pretty certain you can see Virginia way out there in the distance.

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off
From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

This is the Ranger Station that Amanda worked out of for most of her year down here.

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

While driving up Rte. 92 we happened upon this huge metal object out there in the woods.

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

Upon closer inspection, yeah its the very large radio telescope at Green Bank. More on this place in a future post. It is an immence structure all built on a wheeled track that allows them to not only aim the telescope in elevation but also in azmiuth as well. And when I say huge, the dish is 100 meters by 110 meters (that's 330 feet by 360 feet).

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

The Good Wife got a kick out of the little Alien sign, they do lease out time on this beast to SETI and that is what they are all about.

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

Windmills were all the rage as well. These were really close to the road which ran on the top of the ridge line in the mountian complex north of Elkins.

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off
We saw these on our drive north back to PA.

You can see another stand accross the valley.

From Autumn Harvest and Road Kill Cook-Off

All in all a nice weekend. I love the moto that they used for the state, "the Wild and Wonderful" and both are true.

BT: Jimmy T sends.