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.