31 May 2005

Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road

Apologies to Loudon Wainwright III.....
I'm not gonna discuss Skunks, but Armadillos!

When Ole Prairie Dog and Greybeard were going to
Primary Flight School in Mineral Wells, TX.,
(Miserable Gulch to those of us training there),
it was not abnormal to observe a dead Armadillo about every 50 feet alongside the road on a normal cross-country drive.

Later, on drives in Florida and Southern Alabama, we encountered them too.

The Armadillos' natural defense against enemies dooms them when they meet with autos. Encountering a predator, they jump straight up two or three feet, and then beat a retreat while their opponent is trying to recover from this strange behavior.

When a car passes over them on the road, the "straight up jump" is followed by a "thump" and a tumble down the road at speeds faster than they have ever gone in their lives, resulting in dead Armadillo alongside the road!

On a drive North of Birmingham last month, I was surprised to see Armadillo carcasses alongside the road! Conventional wisdom was that they wouldn't be able to withstand cold temperatures North of Southern Alabama!

A quick google check turned up this site, which I found interesting:


They eat fire ants?

Next time I'll swerve a little harder to avoid passing over one!

Illinois? Are you kidding?


30 May 2005

Job Satisfaction

1 A.M., and it's DARK!
We landed on the centerline of the hilly, curvy highway
in a very tight LZ,
the red/blue lights of 15 or or so emergency vehicles flashing around us..........
Police Cars,
Fire Engines,
Rescue Trucks,

A BRAND NEW, Red, Pontiac Trans Am was bent nearly in half around a surprisingly small tree.
The car had departed the road at a high rate of speed at a sheer drop-off and had flown about 20 feet where it struck and wrapped itself around the tree........suspended 5 feet in the air, making it exceedingly difficult for first responders to extricate the driver!

He was bleeding pretty badly.
The car was full of Teens.......amazingly, three others, all belted in, were relatively unhurt and had somehow gotten out of the car and jumped to the ground to call for help for the trapped driver.

The extrication took so long, I finally shut the aircraft down to wait.
By the time they brought the 17 year old patient up the hill to the aircraft, my nurse was worried we didn't have enough fluids to replace his lost blood. She made the comment, "His heart needs something to pump........if we had a Coca Cola, I'd be tempted to put it in his IV!"

He made it alive to the Trauma Center. I didn't follow up on him.

About a year later I was giving R22 rides at a fly-in at a local airport when a classy looking, older couple walked up to the aircraft.........

We hear you also work for "**** ********?"
"Yes, I do, why?"
"Our son was involved in an accident a little over a year ago on Highway ###, do you know anything about it?"

"Was he driving a new Trans Am?"
"I was the pilot that flew him out."

And this attractive couple began to cry.

Their son was alive and in rehab. He was learning to walk and talk again, after being head injured and busted up badly.
He had to use crutches, but was at home after a long hospital stay.

The older gentleman was a pilot and owned a classic old Stearman Biplane.
He gave me his business card, which had a picture of the airplane on it.
He wrote "Thank You" on the back of the card and signed his name.

"If you ever make it here to the airport in the future, call me, and I'll take you for the best Stearman ride you have ever had!"

I never took him up on the ride.
I frequently wish I had.

But their tears said more than enough.

Memorial Day

This came today, addressed to several veterans, from a Paramedic that used to fly with me.......
(and Sis, this means you, too!)

Every Memorial Day and Veteran's Day I try to take a moment and simply inhale the freedom that surrounds me and my family.
I wouldn't have that opportunity if there were not men and women like you who stood up and said "I Will" when the call came.
The fields of battle have taken your brothers and sisters, and mine.
Husbands, wives, sons and daughters have given life and limb
so that I may not worry for mine.
Thank every one of you who has served, continues to serve or has lost one who served.
As long as I live I will thank you and remember you for your sacrifices.


"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."
General George S. Patton Jr.

It's wonderful to get a note like this.
Thank you, Mike, for taking the time to make me feel better!

And I say, to all those men and women out there selfless enough to risk their lives for others:
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And I also thank you for those that won't say it,
and use their freedoms to denigrate you and subvert your goals,
and are too self-centered to think how without you, their lives might not be worth living!

Fallout From the "Non" EU Vote

The French have voted NO on the EU Constitution.
Holland and Denmark are scheduled to vote soon, and may also vote "NO".

The long term fallout from this is impossible to predict, but it will be interesting to watch the near-term reaction of the rest of the world.

I would think there will be an immediate flight back into U.S. dollar assets, positively affecting our Bond and Stock markets, at least in the short term.

The negative effect on European Nations will make them less able to buy our exports, and that will have a negative long-term effect on our economy.

Is this the beginning of an economic "sea change"?

Keep your eyes open.

A Religion of Peace......

We all need to know what we are dealing with:


I guess this is what happens if you don't wear your Burkha?

29 May 2005

Try not to gloat!

From "U.S.S. Neverdock".........

"You may be forgiven if this is news to you: The mainstream media have chosen to ignore or downplay the significance of the UN’s vindication of President Bush’s policies. In fact, the predictably left-leaning Reuters news service blamed these WMD shipments…on America. Reuters wrote that “the U.S.-led occupation force” had not adequately “protected sites or items that inspectors tagged before the war because of their potential use in weapons of mass destruction.”


Don't ya love it when the truth catches 'em with their pants down?!

Inverted Aircraft

Today is the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500, my favorite auto race.

I'm always amazed, watching these cars, to realize these drivers are going faster down the back straight than I have ever gone in a helicopter!

A contemporary once related this story:
He was flying an Agusta 109 and was contracted to take videos of Mario Andretti in his Indy car at a test track at Phoenix.
They had to choreograph their timing to insure the helicopter was going full speed in the corner so they could video Mario come out of the corner and down the backstretch, going a full 60 miles per hour faster than the top speed of the Agusta.......a VERY fast helicopter!

These cars use lift in reverse (downforce) to stick them to the track. Above 120 m.p.h., theoretically they could actually drive upside-down, if they had a track that would allow them to do that!

I'd like to see a video of that!

27 May 2005

Hillary 2008, Part II

'Nuff said:


Roller Skates Don't Kill People.......

It made the news because it was odd:
A teenager in a town 20 miles South of us had killed an acquaintance with a roller skate!

(This was 20 years ago.........and was a "pre"-inline, metal, ya gotta have a key to attach them to your shoes- type skate.)

At the time I chuckled to myself:
"How long before there are calls to register roller skates?"

Now, from the U.K., on the heels of their disastrous gun control legislation, comes something just as ridiculous!

Emeril Lagasse beware......they're coming to your kitchen!

26 May 2005

Why They Get it Wrong

The New York Times is laying off 190 employees, mostly at their flagship newspaper.


I think they're in big trouble.

I regularly read the free online version of the newspaper, but I wouldn't subscribe to the "kill trees" version of the blurb because I don't want to put money into the pockets of an organization I perceive as having a terrible left leaning bias.

Faced with Democracy breaking out in Iraq, Egypt, and Lebanon...
and Libya and Syria looking more and more moderate, The Times has been unable to find a kind word to say about the President and his influence in the region.

As a retired soldier that truly believes we have been at war with Muslim fanatics since the first of the Palestinian hijackings back in the 1970's, I'm disheartened by the anti-military, anti-Bush harangue I am exposed to every time I try to read the Gray Lady! It's my impression they have an agenda to follow, and facts that don't advance their agenda don't make it into print.

But there is another problem, and the NYT isn't the only media outlet that fails this test:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ep/20050524/en_bpiep/studyjournospublicholddivergentviewsonmedia (Thanks to Rogerlsimon.com)

Their credibility is gone.
I think too many people have had the same experience I have had...
Let me relate why I'm concerned about the details of the news we recieve.

For several years I flew the traffic helicopter for a "50,000 watt Blowtorch" Midwestern AM radio station that is heard regularly in 43 states.

Suffice it to say, if I mentioned the station's call letters, you'd know them...
a "giant" in the information transmission business.

I had preflighted the aircraft. The traffic reporter and I were waiting until takeoff time, listening to the news on the station for whom we would be doing traffic reports in 15 minutes.

On the local news, there was a report that a well known owner of a large local business had been killed flying his "helicopter".

I knew this man, and I knew his machine.

At this time in my life, I frequently went to fly-ins at airports to give helicopter rides in the R22. At many of these events, you would run into the same folks you had seen at another meet in another town, just two or three weeks ago.

The gentleman in question had a bad heart. He could not pass an FAA flight physical, but he still wanted to fly.

There are ways of doing this... ultralight aircraft are not registered by the FAA, and no flight physical is required to fly them.
(The FAA's thought process on them is that they are so light, the only person at risk from them is the person flying them!)

This old fella had purchased an ultralight gyroplane, and flew it almost every weekend. He loved going to fly-ins to socialize with other people that fly.
He had a zest for life.......he was interesting and fun to be around.

My guess is that his ticker gave out while he was flying. He may have been dead before his aircraft hit the ground.
A sad event, certainly, but I take comfort knowing he died doing something he truly loved to do.

But back to the problem at hand. A gyroplane... sometimes called a "gyrocopter", is NOT a helicopter!
They cannot hover. They are more like airplanes... using a rotor instead of a fixed-wing to lift them into the air, and a regular propellor to drive them forward.

They DO NOT fly like helicopters... to fly them safely, you must fly them like an airplane.

I discussed the station's reporting error with the traffic reporter, and he suggested I call the newsroom to correct their mistake. I had him make the call, to lend credence to my information, then hand me the phone for the explanation. I talked with the woman that had filed the report and told her the report she had given was in error. She thanked me for my correction, and I got off the phone feeling like I had made the world a tiny bit better.

In half an hour she did the report again, and didn't change a word!
I couldn't believe it.

I realize the difference is unimportant to the general public, but how hard would it have been to have announced he died flying a gyroplane, rather than by crashing his "helicopter"? He didn't crash his helicopter... he didn't have one to crash! With the correct information at hand, why not get the story EXACTLY right?

And there is my question...
I consider myself an expert in my field. Media folks can be experts in their field... "the media", but they generally have no detailed knowledge of technology, protocols, or procedures they report on. Wouldn't you hope they would lean heavily on industry experts to get their stories straight?

How often does this happen? If they screw up every story they broadcast as they did this one, even if it is by the tiniest little bit, how often do they get the story right?

In this case, they didn't. They knew I was an expert and ignored my correction.
Why? Maybe because it was too much trouble. Maybe the reporter felt it made no difference to her listeners. In this case, I don't think there was a willful attempt to mislead.
I'm NOT sure of that in the case of political stories in the NYT!

With expert information just a keyboard away, the major media outlets have to strive to NAIL their information if they want to regain the confidence of their audience.

With some sources, I double and triple check the information they broadcast these days.
I'm amazed at the disinformation I receive from friends and family!
They still WANT to believe.

An Unbeatable Record!

Truly remarkable:


If he blew the landing, who'd come and get him?!

25 May 2005

Assisted Suicide

Five minutes into my shift we got the call:
"Your patient is a 21 year old male. He was a pedestrian, struck by a car."

But that wasn't the whole story.......

When we arrived at a very busy "Littletown" Regional Hospital, you could see the fatigue on the faces of all the ER personnel. This was early Saturday afternoon..........warm and comfortable...... prelude to an equally comfortable night. A night for beer, barbecue, and socializing.

The "Natives" were restless!
Already tired, the folks in this ER were in for a wild evening!

Our patient turned out to be schizophrenic. He had stepped in front of the car because he didn't want to hear voices anymore.

Banged up, bruised and lacerated, a broken femur was his worst injury.

But it made me think...........

Last fall, Sara Jean and I were driving home after eating dinner at a restaurant in a neighboring town. It was late.........drizzling and uncomfortable. Up ahead, I saw emergency flashers on a car pulled over on the shoulder. I slowed as I approached and noticed someone laying on the ground in front of the car. As we passed, I could also see the right headlight was not illuminated. First responders weren't yet on the scene, but I told Sara Jean, "someone got hit back there."

Three days later we got the full story: Friends of ours had also been out to dine, and while driving home, a young man, dressed in dark colors, had jumped out in front of them. He was dead.
Just an hour before, he had been released from the hospital, where he had been taken after an unsuccessful attempt to kill himself by jumping from a moving train!

It's impossible for most of us to understand the desire to end our lives.
It's harder still for me to understand the thought processes that bring someone to such a point of desperation they are willing to take an action that will give others a lifetime of nightmares!

I'm sure mental illness was a factor in this later event, also.
I hope we eventually are able to better identify and cure it.
Right now, we need to try and better understand it.

Main Rotor in Flight

I first saw this video in 1981 when I was at Ft. Rucker, AL., going to Aviation Safety Officer's school. The instructor had it running on the screen on an endless loop tape as we entered the class, and asked us to identify what we were looking at.

It took us a while, because we were actually confused by the intermittent passing of the tail rotor.

I think the helicopter in the video is a Sikorsky S-58, (CH-34).

The video is narrated in German.


Here's the translation:

"The rotortips absorb the turbulence with their flexibility. This recording was made, during flight, by a camera mounted to the leading edge of the rotorblade. At every turn you can see the tailrotor. If the flexible rotorblades wouldn’t absorb the the forces, they would be transmitted to drive mechanism and fuselage and the vibration would destroy the helicopter."

After watching the contortions the rotor makes, I wasn't too sure I wanted to get back into a helicopter!

I found this link at http://www.rapp.org
There are more interesting aviation videos there, if you want to take a look!

23 May 2005

Things That Go Bump in the Night

My attention was instantly focused on this new noise!

It's another of those old aviation adages: At night, the engine goes into "automatic rough". This means while flying at night, pilots are likely to be listening so closely to the sounds their aircraft makes, they'll notice normal vibrations and sounds and think they've not heard them before.

Good helicopter pilots are attuned to their machines in this way ALL of the time. So many things on helicopters move to do their jobs, the machines are wonders of noise and vibrations!
Abnormal sounds and vibrations need immediate attention!

I was teaching Jeff to land on inclined ground......."slope landings".
In my 35 years of teaching in helicopters, I've learned to watch a students' technique when doing this difficult task. In order to do them well, you must be comfortable with coordinating all the controls together. Many helicopter pilots never get completely comfortable with landing on sloping ground.

Jeff was one of those "naturals". He learned everything so quickly, there was a cockiness about him that concerned me a little. It was true with slopes too........he concentrated on trying to do each landing perfectly.

There it was again!
This, in a practically new R22! And once the bugs are worked out of a new R22, they are as dependable as your new Ford or Chevy!

So to Jeff:
"Did you hear that?"
He cocked an ear for a moment and answered, "Hear what?"
"That snapping sound. I heard a snap, snap, snap.....rhythmic.......
about once a second."

He brought the little bird to a stable hover and we both listened.
The engine hummed like a sewing machine.
No unusual vibrations.......no "snaps"!

So we went back to approaching the uneven ground........

"There Jeff! Hear that?"

Again, back to a normal hover......... four ears attuned to all the noises and vibrations.

"I don't hear anything out of the ordinary", Jeff replied.
"Okay, let's do one more and we'll do some hovering autorotations."

And as soon as he started his gentle descent........
"Snap..........snap...........snap..............snap!" This time I didn't say a thing.....I just listened to try to determine where the noise was coming from.


It was coming from my right.
Strange. Not, as I expected, from the rear of the helicopter!


I turned to look at Jeff. He was vigorously attacking a piece of "Juicy Fruit"!

My student was one of those that worked a little bubble of air into his gum as he chewed, then popped that bubble with a resounding "Snap"!

Like some of the teachers I had encountered in my early school days, I stuck my hand toward him, palm up............"okay, spit it out!"

No more strange noise in the cockpit. And from that point on, I "preflighted" Jeff to insure there was no "Juicy Fruit" on board when we started our lesson!

22 May 2005

Blacks/Whites in Viet Nam

According to Al Sharpton, a disproportionate number of Blacks were killed in Viet Nam.

Do ya believe that?

This, and several other "facts" are dispelled at this site:


Some interesting stuff here.......some of it, open to argument.

Worth a look, nevertheless!

Alcohol is a Powerful Drug!

"You have a scene response. Your patient is a 38 year old male with a head laceration. Your landing zone is the helipad at 'Littletown Regional'........the ambulance will meet you there."

Nine minutes flight time and we are on the pad, awaiting the arrival of the ambulance. A car drives into the parking lot and a woman gets out dressed in short-shorts and a halter top. She has the equipment to properly wear this uniform......

Two minutes later, the ambulance arrives. I stay and guard the still running helicopter as my crew gets in the ambulance and takes charge of the patient, prepping him for the 15 minute flight to the trauma center.

"Short-shorts" walks to the back of the ambulance like she knows what she's doing. No one challenges her.

When my crew gets out of the ambulance to move the patient to our stretcher, she bends down and says a few words to him. And I notice............no kiss.

He is so drunk he is nearly incoherent. He woke up in his bed in a pool of blood, and cannot remember how he got to the bed, or how he was injured.

"Short-shorts" is his ex-wife.

She says they were at the same bar earlier......but not together.

We are left to fill in the blanks of this drama ourselves.

The Expert Fliers

From the Animal Planet:


Interesting and entertaining!

21 May 2005

The New Car, Part I

"It was green." That was her answer.
The question was, "What kind of car is it?"
But I'm gettin' ahead of myself.

We had been driving the Station Wagon six years. I had taken great care of the car, and it had been a dependable part of our family. But with 186,000 miles on it, it had begun leaking oil from both the engine and transmission. I was afraid to set out on long trips with it.

Sara Jean and I began looking for a replacement.

I've owned several new cars in my life. She has not. I decided to treat her and buy her a new toy!

We started looking around at cars we liked. I like the utility a Station Wagon provides.....you get most of the benefits you get with a Minivan without having to drive a "mini-school bus".

The wagon would seat 8 people in a pinch. None of the Minivans would seat more than 7. Minivans are "draggy".....they push a lot of air in front of them. The wagon design is more aerodynamic and gets better gas mileage.

The wagon did better than any of the vans in safety tests.

She made it known right away.......she wanted no part of wagon OR minivan!. She wanted to buy a car she could drive with pride!

She came home one day and announced, "I saw the car I want today!"
"Great! What kind of car was it?"
"It was green."
"Uhh, okay. I'll buy you a green car!"
(Tim Allen sound here.)

So I had to quiz her.
Where was the car?
Dark green or light green?
Remember anything else about it?
I made a special trip into town to find the car. When I saw it, I had to agree......it was a nice ride.

But we couldn't afford it. It was about $5,000 more than I had planned on spending. I started looking for used versions of the car.

By chance, I stopped at a dealer about an hour away from home to see if he had any in his stable. As luck would have it, the owner of the dealership had been driving one as a demonstrator and was ready to sell!

Considering my trade and my down payment, I found we were still about $2,000 from agreement on the price of this car.

I gave the salesman my business card and walked out the door.

The phone rang the next morning. "What do we have to do to put you into this car?"
Don't ya hate that? I had made it VERY clear to this bozo what I needed the night before!

The calls continued for two weeks. Finally, the salesman called and said they were ready to agree to my requirements.

So I gathered up my checkbook and the title to the wagon and drove the hour to the dealership.
The sales guy brought the car around....clean, shiny.........seductive. He knew exactly the effect it would have on me!

We took a test drive. It had 7,000 miles on it, but it looked and smelled like a new car.
It was a dream to drive....it had an outstanding stereo, and bells and whistles I'd have to get the book out to learn how to use!

But when he brought out the sales contract I noticed he had dropped the trade-in value of the wagon by 2 grand, and had hidden this fact by scrambling the numbers in the loan agreement!
So again, I walked out the door.

If anyone wants to know why car dealerships, and particularly used car salesmen, have bad reputations, they should take a look at negotiations like these!

To be continued.........

"Main Stream" Media

In addition to the Dan Rather/CBS fiasco that was the subject of an earlier post, you need to read the following:

Bill Moyers-

Eason Jordan/CNN-

Linda Foley-


Ya gotta be aware of what is goin' on, so you can detect the smell early!

20 May 2005

Build Your Own Helicopter

It's a tempting offer:
Buy a helicopter kit and build your own machine for a fraction of what a new, factory built helicopter would cost!

"Your own helicopter in your own garage......just climb in and take off!"
What a neat dream!
But as always, sales brochures don't tell nearly the entire story.

The helicopter I teach in looks almost exactly like this one:


It is an R22, built by the Robinson Helicopter Company in Torrance, California. There have been about 3500 of them built. Although not perfect for the training mission, it is powerful, fast, sturdily built and economical, and is therefore the most popular helicopter being used to train students to fly helicopters today.

It is also very similar in size, weight, and flying characteristics to the most popular homebuilt helicopter kit being sold.

The kit helicopter I'm talking about is a beautiful thing when completed if the work is done well......prettier than the R22 by far! The company sells these kits by comparing the cost of their kit to the price of a new R22. In this light, the kit looks wonderful!

The kit company suggests that people who buy the kit make the trip to their factory for flight instruction. If the customer cannot make it to the factory for training, they tell their customers to find an instructor teaching in the Robinson R22, and once they get comfortable flying the R22, they'll be able to safely fly their homebuilt helicopter.

Several of my students have built these machines. With one exception, they have made the post-training decision to sell, or donate (!) their kit helicopters rather than fly them.

(The exception was a guy that tried to use his machine as a daily flyer, and was seriously hurt when he crashed and destroyed the bird on takeoff. The helicopter had less than 100 hours on it!)

To anyone considering the purchase of any homebuilt kit helicopter, I make this suggestion:
Go to one of the "fly-ins" where these kitbuilders meet, socialize, and show-off their machines.
Find out how many of them actually flew their machines to the fly-in.
Ask how many hours they fly their machines on a daily basis.
I think you'll find most have trailered their birds to the event.
Ask why!

If they are honest, you'll find they don't trust the machine to make a long distance flight.

They spend three years building this thing, then learn they cannot sell it for the price of a new kit when their project is done.
Then they don't trust the machine enough to fly it on a daily basis.
And who is the production test pilot? Look in the mirror!

In the long run, most of my students felt the machine was a disappointment........the risks too great and the costs too high to fly their homebuilts!

They end up flying the R22!


I was divorced from my first wife in the mid-70's.

I was a bad boy, and I got caught.
Although I succumbed to temptation, I still loved my wife.
I didn't want to be divorced.
I can tell you, getting a divorce really takes the wind out of your sails!

I found myself with few friends in a small town.
I was working in an outside sales job that I hated.
I was too bummed to socialize.
What I wanted to do most was sleep.
So I'd stay up until 3 A.M. watching TV, and would finally nod off.
But at 6 or 7 A.M., I would wake up looking at another miserable day to spend alone.

A little wine to relax me, right?

For about a month, I resorted to drinking a bottle of wine every evening. Surprisingly, it didn't help me sleep at all. At some point I realized that if I kept drinking a bottle of wine per night, I'd have to admit to myself that I had a serious problem with alcohol.
Being divorced was more problem than I could handle already. I didn't need another problem to contend with.

In addition to the hated sales job, I was flying with my Reserve Unit. At this point, it was the only thing in life I enjoyed.......the only thing I had that gave me direction.

A friend I sometimes flew with was the Chief Executive of a County near my Reserve outfit.
He took one look at my exhausted face and said, "What in the heck is wrong with you?"

When I explained that my life consisted of flying now and then and unsuccessfully trying to sleep the rest of my life away, he surprised me with a job offer:

"Come be a Dogcatcher!"

He explained he didn't really need me to catch dogs. All I needed to do was drive around in the County van and "show the colors".......demonstrate to the residents that their tax dollars were being used to look for stray dogs!

What a deal! Drive around the county all day long listening to the radio and get paid minimum wage! At the time, it was strangely appealing.......something to keep my mind off how miserable I was.

For about a week I was able to do just that, too! I drove around and worked hard at ignoring the fact that there really were strays roaming around that needed to be tended to. And then I got flagged down to tend to a dog that had been hit by a car. Still alive, it was obvious he was badly hurt. There was nothing I could do for him but try and comfort him as I picked him up and put him in the truck. I took him to our "on call" Veterinarian, who put him to sleep.

So I felt obligated to start actually doing the job, realizing the strays needed me to do it.
When dogs are a problem, it's not their fault. People make a mess of their animals lives!
I like dogs a lot. But during my tenure as dogcatcher, my feelings for dog owners became much less positive!

My friend the County Executive promoted me to Coordinator of the Rabies Control Department. In this capacity I eventually had 22 Rabies Control Officers working for me.

One of the jobs I reserved for myself, because I didn't want anyone else to have to do it, was euthanizing the animals.

This was a stressful, terrible part of the work. I won't go into the mechanics of this job, but I will tell you that it is an irony.......it's hard for an animal lover to do, but you wouldn't want someone that didn't love animals doing it.

Most people don't realize the scope of the problem we have with stray or uncontrolled animals. In the year I was in this job I euthanized over 2000 dogs and cats!
This was in a relatively small county......I can't imagine the numbers in a large municipal area!
Multiply this by the number of cities and counties across the U.S. to get a feeling for the magnitude of the problem.

Animal Control Officers do a much needed, emotionally stressful job.
There are many jobs in this world that most of us don't want to do for one reason or another. We should always remember to be grateful to those that "take up that yoke" in our stead.
Animal Control Officers do one of those jobs.

I'm glad to have had the job. It was a step to other opportunities, and helped me to overcome my post-divorce blues.

But I have a different perspective than most when I hear Bob Barker from "The Price is Right" say, "Spay or Neuter your pets"!
It's great advice!

"Last year about 35,000 cats and dogs were reportedly killed at the five shelters run by New York City’s Center for Animal Care and Control. At least a third of them were healthy and not dangerous. They were killed – euthanized, in the parlance of the field -- because there just wasn’t room for them. This is the way it has been for decades. Every day, as many as 200 animals -- lost, homeless, unwanted, sick or injured – are taken to these shelters. By the end of every week, about two-thirds of them have been put to death."

If you want to read it all:

Although 35,000 is horrible, I'm actually surprised this number isn't larger!

18 May 2005

First Date Jitters

In an earlier post I told you in 1971 the Army offered my instructors a chance to get out of the Army early by simply sending in a Post Card.

"Greg" was one of my instructors that accepted the offer.

6 foot 4 inch, 24 year old Greg was nice lookin'.....slim and athletic, with a "party" personality.

But with so much going for him, he would come to work many days discouraged, shaking his head, talking about his neighbor, "Jade".

Greg lived in a large apartment complex. Jade lived in one of the apartments above him. He had such a crush on her, he would adjust his schedule so he'd be home when she came home from work, just so he could watch her make her way to, and up the stairs to get to her apartment!

Greg would lament how he didn't have the courage to approach and talk to her......how much he wanted to take her out.......but how could he ever date her unless he could meet her?

And every time we would get into this discussion, I would advise Greg that "Faint heart never won fair maiden!"......that he needed to build up his courage and introduce himself to her, and if he didn't, he'd regret it forever!

One day he came in with a huge smile on his face!
"I just went out and introduced myself and told her I wanted to take her to dinner. We're going out tomorrow night!"

Now........here's what you need to know to understand this drama:
Greg owned a new MGB convertible.
I used to laugh that I could have made money charging people to watch Greg get his 76 inch frame in and out of this little car! He literally had to lift one leg out, then put his left hand on the ground to duck his head low enough to get the rest of his body extricated!

The BIG night arrives, and it's drizzling.
Greg and Jade are on their way to dinner,
windows up and Air Conditioning on full blast.....
Greg is so tense and excited, his stomach is rumbling.
He feels an irresistible pressure building in his gut........

You can imagine Greg's thoughts:
"I'm sitting next to the girl of my dreams.......how can I take care of this problem discretely?"

So my enterprising Warrant Officer friend comes up with a plan....
He thinks:
I'll say, "what was that noise?"
And she'll say, "What noise?"
And I'll say, "I heard a noise at the rear of the car, and just for the sake of safety, I think I'd better pull over and have a look."

Don't ya love a good plan?

"She'll be impressed with the fact that I care about her well-being,
and I can go to the back of the car and avoid embarrassing myself!"

So Greg says, "What was that noise?"
And Jade knows her part well....."what noise?"
"I heard a funny noise. I'm gonna pull over and take a look."

He already felt better!

He opened the door and extended his left leg, put his left hand on the ground, and as the rest of his body began to move toward his goal, the exertion of the exercise defeated him.
He was SO close!

Rather than go on with the charade, he sheepishly told her about his "plan".
His "dream girl" laughed out loud!

From that night on they were nearly inseparable. They were engaged in three months, and married shortly after he got his discharge papers from the Army.

So far as I know, they lived "happily ever after!"

17 May 2005

Do Chickens Fly?

December, 1968
Polei Kleng, Viet Nam

During major ground operations, in order to provide more responsive support, the Division would sometimes position our helicopter gunship team close to the action.

Polei Kleng was an artillery fire-support base and airfield in the middle of nowhere.
On one side of the airstrip was a Special Forces Base.
On the other side, just outside a barbed wire fence, was a village.
Chickens from the village would cross under the fence to scrounge for bits of food on our side.

We would sit at the airstrip, watching villagers and chickens, waiting for a call for emergency gunship support from the grunts.
There was always a lot of waiting.

One day, J.T., a Chicago boy unaccustomed to having livestock around asked, "Do chickens fly?"

I had a little experience with Chickens.....
"Well, I know they can fly short distances. I've seen them fly to the tops of small outbuildings to find a safe place to sleep."

"Wonder what would happen if you pitched one out of the helicopter at altitude?"

I had no idea. Fascinating!

So as we gathered our gear to fly back to our base at the end of the day, J.T. enlisted our wiry young crew chief to chase down a big white hen.
Straight out of "Rocky", this kid finally caught the unwilling bird with blocking help from three of us.

We fired the Hueys up and climbed to 3000 feet, right over "Clucky Lucky's" village.

In a slow right turn, we gave the crew chief the word to pitch her out.

What a glorious sight! She took to the air like an expert!
Chickens are actually pretty large birds, so the pure white-3 foot wing span on this hen made it easy to follow her as she spiralled her way back home. She was absolutely beautiful.

She made several graceful circles on her way down, and was lined up perfectly... into the wind on final approach when it happened:

I can't say if it was because she realized she had never landed from that altitude before, or if she simply was going much, much faster than she had ever gone in her life,
but about 10 feet above the ground, she pulled her wings in and tried to touch down, still going 20 miles per hour!

It was like a pillow exploded.......tumbling as she slowed, feathers everywhere.
And before she came to a stop, she got her feet beneath her, gathered herself up, and ran back to join her flock, obviously complaining to all that would listen.

But she put on a wonderful show for a few minutes! And with a little practice on those landings, she could soar with the Eagles!

16 May 2005

George W. Bush, A.W.O.L.!

If you believe that the President of the United States is Chimpy McHitlerburton, stop reading now.
Read any further and you will just be more confused!

I wrote in an earlier post that CBS's actions to cast a shadow on President Bush's record in the Air National Guard were what pushed me into reading blogs actively. CBS produced a memo which purported to prove President Bush was not present during a "rating period".
If you have never seen the memo in question, you can find it here:


The transposing memo you see there is the "smoking gun" that "Little Green Football's" Charles Johnson found. The clear version of the memo is the one Charles printed out on his computer using Microsoft Word.
The fuzzy one is the one that was supposedly written in 1973 by someone in President Bush's chain of command! As you can see, they are exact duplicates, with the exception that the fuzzy one has been run through a copier several times in order to artificially "age" it! Experts say producing it in 1973 would have been impossible!

Now let me tell you why I think all this was so much "manure" from the start!

In 1971, yours truly was a Flight Commander, supervising the work of 15 Warrant Officer flight instructors. Each had two students.
Supervising 15 Instructors, writing their evaluations, and keeping track of training records on 30 students was pretty much a full time job.

Then.......the Army made my life "interesting"!

Each of these Warrant Officers got an official letter from The Department of the Army notifying them that if they wanted to get out of their obligation to the Army and leave active duty, all they had to do was send the Army a post card with their name, address, service number, and a statement indicating their desire to get out early, and they would be out of the Army in three weeks! The Army was cutting back, and wanted to de-emphasize the active duty forces and drastically cut the military budget!

Six of my instructors took the Army up on its' offer!

And in three weeks, I was no longer commanding 15 Warrant Officers. I had only 9 instructors to teach 30 students!
So Greybeard, being a trained instructor in his own right, went back to actively teaching students himself!
Supervisor and 9 employees now had three students each!

My point here?
The Viet Nam War was winding down. The Army was trying to reduce its' costs. Reductions-in-force were taking place. What I have described here took place in the active duty Army. The Guard and Reserve programs weren't even on the radar screen!

I left active duty and became a Reservist in 1974. My Reserve unit was NOT a well oiled military machine! With little emphasis on the Reserve programs, even calling this unit "military" would have been a stretch! To take time away from the unit, all you had to do was consult with the Commander, and make arrangements to make the time up later, at HIS convenience!

During his run for the Presidency in 2000, CBS accused George W. Bush of being Absent Without Official Leave..........AWOL.

But I can imagine the scenario unfolding like this:

G.W. Bush goes to his Commander and says, "I have a friend down in Alabama that needs my help in his campaign for Senator, and I'd like to take some time off to go lend him a hand. I'll make up the time I use later in whatever way you need me most".

This sort of thing was commonplace in 1971-'76.
Commanders had a great deal of latitude in this arena, and were glad to give you the time off when they knew they could use you later for some odd job.......to help prepare for a difficult upcoming inspection, for instance.

But you'll still hear the Dan Rather types claim that "W" was A.W.O.L..
They don't want to hear a rational reason why young George may have been legitimately excused from his duty!

Their attitude?
"Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is already made up!"

15 May 2005

Motionless in Space!

Remember this?


So, we'll agree you do need a little help to learn the skill!

If you've not yet done it, go now and read the earlier post "Pitchpull?" for the description of the controls!

The VERY hardest part of learning to fly a helicopter is learning to hover. Learn to hover, and the rest is downhill!

Most students take about 5 hours learning to keep the helicopter in one zip code!
The very best student I ever had hovered in 3.

A story to illustrate:
One of my friends was an airplane pilot, and a good one. He was also an A&P (Airframe and Powerplant) mechanic. After twisting wrenches on helicopters for a couple years, he knew the mechanicals of the helicopter as well as anyone possibly could. He figured since he knew the principles, and knew what the controls were all used for, he'd be a natural and just get in and fly off, right?

He laughs about it now: It took him 5 hours to learn to hover.

The machine is simply the most sensitive thing you will ever put your hands on!

I once tried to operate the controls of a backhoe. That came close to the degree of difficulty.
Patting your head with your left hand, rubbing your belly with your right, while riding a unicycle would also be a good approximation!

Once again, give me your imagination......
The engine is running. The main rotor is turning above your head. We increase the throttle until we are at normal operating R.P.M......
Center the cyclic.
Slowly increase the collective.
The helicopter will begin to get light on the skids.
Because of the increase in torque, the fuselage will try to turn to the right, so increase your left pedal pressure slightly to keep the nose stationary.
Continue slowly up with the Collective lever.
Depending on the center of gravity of the machine and wind direction and strength, it will probably tend to move laterally across the ground as it gets lighter and lighter on the skids.
Stop any lateral movement of the machine with Cyclic in the opposite direction of the drift.

Remember that so long as you increase Collective, you'll need to increase pressure on the left pedal to keep the nose straight.

We normally hover during training at about 5 feet, so when you reach this height, stop increasing the collective.

Now, stay there......motionless in space!

Only it won't happen like that! There's too much goin' on, and you'll be overwhelmed with stimulation!

I normally take students to a large field.......wide, flat, and unobstructed. I stabilize the bird in a hover, and give my students one control at a time.
"Put your left hand on the Collective".
It's the simplest of all the controls.......up Collective results in up helicopter, down Collective eventually gets the skids to touch the ground. Students get comfortable with the Collective quickly.

Then I have them release the Collective, and put their feet on the pedals.
At a hover, the pedals are also simple.....push right, and the nose of the machine turns right. Use less pressure to slow the turn.......even less and the turn stops. Push left to turn left. Push harder......turn faster.

It's not long until the student is comfortable with the pedals, also.

Now comes the TIGER!

The cyclic is so sensitive, if you watch a proficient helicopter pilot, you'll wonder if he's moving it at all. I can take off, fly a long cross country flight, and land, and not move the cyclic outside a one inch circle!

Students can't begin to do that. And therein lies the problem: new students overcontrol the machine when learning to hover.

INERTIA is the problem.

The helicopter begins to move in a direction you don't want it to go, so you apply opposite Cyclic to stop it.
The rotor instantly moves in the direction of your control input, but the mass of the helicopter takes a while to stop because of inertia. The student, sensing he hasn't put in enough control movement, puts in a little more.
Not Good!

About this time, the first movement takes effect and the machine stops, but now the additional control movement takes effect, and the machine starts moving in the opposite direction!

Remember, the student is trying like crazy to remain motionless, and right now he is using one control......the Cyclic!

Watching this lesson as a spectator is a riot.......you can tell when the instructor has the controls, and when he gives the controls to the student. The bird gets out of control pretty quickly with the student at the controls, and motion immediately stops when the instructor takes over!

At the end of the first period, I always allow the student to momentarily take all the controls, just for the emphasis that were I not along, the student would bend the machine in about 2 seconds!

Students walk away from the first hour sweating, tired, and respectful of all helicopter pilots, especially the instructor! Most of them are also bitten by the "hoverbug"......the desire to prove that they can eventually do it themselves!

Be ready........in a later post, we'll transition from hovering to flying.

The Filibuster Issue

CNN and Democrats would have you believe the Filibuster is a 216 year old tradition.

If you are interested, and you should be, the truth is here:


And need I remind you to remember who tells you the truth when you gather news you need?

From Yahoo News:

The question we must ask here.....what's Newsweek's agenda?
Shame on them!

Classroom Control

It was a philosophy class, and it was required for many disciplines. The classroom was a large auditorium, filled with 400 students.

This professor was an intense sort. Tall and thin, with horned rim glasses, he would pace from one end of the large stage to the other as he lectured, stroking his chin, sometimes jabbing the air with his right hand to make a point. He seldom looked toward his audience.

But early in the semester he did something I'll never forget:

He stopped pacing and turned toward the class, looking into the middle of the mass of students. He stood motionless for a moment, obviously focusing on one point in the crowd.

"YOU!!" He called out as he pointed. "Yes...........YOU in the checked shirt!" "Stand Up!"

399 pairs of eyes turned to the center of this huge room!

"What's your name?"
"Joe Smith, sir."

Uncomfortable silence for a moment receiving the glare from the intense prof........

"Mr. Smith, if I have to stop this class because of your talking again, you will fail this course......do you understand?"

"Yes sir."

You could have heard a pin drop.
And there were no more interruptions in this large class for the rest of the semester!

12 May 2005

Rush Limbaugh

I still listen to Rush now and then, but my listening attitude has changed.

I may have been one of the first to catch his show, (1985?) when he went National. In those days there was no other way to hear "the other side" of an issue, so I listened avidly!

I always imagined him with a sly grin as he made some outlandish statement, tongue firmly planted in cheek!

Then he started his TV show, and I could see he wasn't kidding. He seemed so full of himself, I was uncomfortable watching. Ratings quickly fell, and the TV show didn't last long.

Rush is so conservative, I sometimes think he'd like to do away with the Federal Government completely.

I have difficulty with the question, "Are you a Republican or a Democrat?" I can't identify with either party strongly. I think I more often agree with the Libertarians, but there are things about them that trouble me too.

I generally agree with the Libertarians that when the subject is Government, less is better.

But there are things private industry doesn't do well: Defense, Police, Fire, Courts......and more.

Like controlling pollution.
In June of 1969 the Cuyahoga river flowing through Cleveland, Ohio, caught fire and burned for 20 minutes before being controlled.

That's right......a river caught fire!

Check it out:

Hard to believe today. But that shows what progress we have made. And the progress was made through sensible regulation by government agencies at several levels.

Eminent Domain problems have been in the news a great deal lately. Proper use of public or common property can also be contentious. Both are areas, in my opinion, where government tends to overstep.

But private industry is terrible at self-policing.
Controlling pollution costs money.

"Big Brother" sometimes needs to be there to insure they don't make the rest of us sick!

Somebody tell Rush!

Safety- Airplane vs. Helicopter

I made the comment earlier that helicopters are safer than airplanes. That's a statement that takes most people, particularly the fixed-wing drivers, by surprise!

I'll tell you why I think it's true, but first let me remind you that I fly both. My last logbook entry puts me over the mark of having two full years of flight time under my belt! That's hard for me to imagine......two full years being supported by air flowing over a wing!

The lion's share of that time is in something with a rotary-wing. But about 1,000 of those hours are in airplanes, both single, and twin engine.

"But what if the rotor falls off?" That's one I hear a lot, from folks that know almost nothing about aviating. The truth is, the likelihood of the rotor falling off a helicopter is about the same as pulling the wing off an airplane......not very.

Consider this: An airplane cannot, while it is flying and under control, go slower than its stall speed. And that is important. In an emergency landing, when the airplane wheels touch the ground, they will be traveling at or above the airplane's stall speed. Depending on the airplane, that will be 50 m.p.h. or above........ maybe considerably above. The airplane I have logged most of my time in stalled at 60, so I normally approached at about 65. Run into something stationary at that speed, and you're gonna know it!

If the engine begins to make interesting noises on an airplane, the pilot will grab the map and start looking for the nearest airport. Should the front fan quit turning, he'll be lookin' for the longest piece of flat, unobstructed real estate he can find!

Now, do this for me. Imagine again that you are at altitude in a helicopter. Point your finger straight beneath you. That's where you can land if the helicopter's engine begins to stutter.

And should everything get really quiet around you, the helicopter can "autorotate".......like the Maple seed we talked about in an earlier post, only as we approach the ground, we can slow the helicopter to a stop, and also apply "pitch" or angle of attack to the main rotor to slow our vertical speed.

Done properly, an autorotation can be done to an area the size of a tennis court.

So emergencies, and for that matter, marginal weather, are a lot less stressful in the helicopter.

If I need to get from point "A" to point "B" quickly, my weapon of choice will be the airplane, because of speed, and cost.

But if I want to fly for relaxation and fun, give me the helicopter ANY DAY!

11 May 2005

Breaking News.....

As I write this, I'm watching people run from the Capitol building. An evacuation order was issued to clear the White House and the Capitol.

This brings to mind something I have wondered since 11Sep01:

Do we learn nothing from history?

On 7Dec41, attackers were able to temporarily incapacitate the U.S. Navy because most of our battleship fleet was lined up in Pearl Harbor. They were disappointed to find our Aircraft Carriers weren't also there.

We made it easy for them......

On 8Dec41, most of our aircraft in Manila, Philippines, were lined up in pretty little rows and destroyed by the Japanese.

"Thank you sir, may I have another?"

Should our entire Federal Government system be located in Washington, D.C.?
If our worst fears are realized and some terrorist gets his hands on one of those 70 or so missing Russian "suitcase" nukes, we will have no one to blame but ourselves if they are able to wipe out the entire U.S. Government with the push of one button!

So I open this site to recommendations for relocating our Government. Let me start things off:

Put the new White House in Omaha, Nebraska!

Now, where do we locate the Senate, House, and Supreme Court?

The comments section is open for your suggestions!


Whenever a Major News Media outlet, (except Fox News), has anything to say about the '04 political ads run by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, you can bet the word "mistruth" or "deceivers" will be used.

Yeah, all 43 guys that appeared in that ad, including the Congressional Medal of Honor awardees, are LIARS!
And still, Senator "4 month war hero" Kerry won't sign the SF 180. Why? Because the "meat" of what the Swiftees were saying was true!

The "buzz" is starting about the '08 campaign. You can't talk about '08 without mentioning "You Know Who", and Major News Sources are preparing us for the "deceptions" we will hear about Hillary Rodham!

"It would doubtless be a circus, a revisitation of the carnival ugliness that infested public life in the 1990s. Already there are blogs, websites and fund-raising campaigns dedicated to denigrating her. According to the New York Observer last week, these sites aren't getting much traffic—yet. But they will. I remember several conversations with Senator Clinton after her health-care plan was killed 10 years ago, and she was clearly pained—nonplussed by the quality of anger, the sheer hatred, directed against her. That experience would be a walk in the park compared to the vitriol if she ran for President. And while I'd love to see someone confront, and defeat, the free-range haters on the right, the last thing we need is a campaign that would polarize the nation even more. Indeed, we could use the exact opposite—a candidate who would inspire America's centrist majority to rise up against the extreme special interests in both parties."

This, from a Time Magazine article posted on Drudgereport.

You need to read the entire article here:

"free range haters on the right". "Precambrian right"........Is he referring to me?! Will this language influence me to vote Democrat?

And the comment about her health-care plan.....could it possibly be a fact that all of us that hate the idea of "Socialized" medicine were instrumental in killing it because the plan sucked?

No one can argue Hillary will be polarizing. She's a strong politician, smart as a whip, and knows how the game is played! She's already moving to the Center in order to be more attractive to "Red Staters"........she has no chance of winning without a strong showing in "Red" States!

I imagine a large percentage of women, (and indeed a number of men!), will vote for her simply because she would be the first woman Commander-in-Chief.

But writer Joe Klein, and other left leaners, would have you believe that we voters don't have the ability to discern truth from fiction.......we don't know how to use a butterfly ballot, so we need "smart" folks like him to tell us what is truth!

Please......just give me the facts. I'm old enough to vote. And I don't need some Nationally published "very smart guy" to separate truth from lie for me!

And Hillary's a big girl.......she can take it! We'll learn much about her as she defends herself!

09 May 2005

My Little Handwasher.....

Our son was four. Like all four year olds, he was testing his boundaries, wanting to be as independent as he could........."I can do it!"

We were eating in a local restaurant. He needed to go to the bathroom, and he wanted to go by himself. The door to the Men's room was in plain sight, so after insuring there was no one in there, we saw no harm.

He marched in, chest puffed out......quite the little man! He had been taught to wash his hands thoroughly whenever he went to the bathroom, so I fully expected him to conduct his "business" and then call for help to wash his hands afterwards.....he wasn't tall enough to reach the faucets!

The door opens, and out struts our little peacock.........with wet hands.

Okay, you're gettin' ahead of me again, aren't you?!

"Did you wash your hands?"
"How did you wash your hands?"
And he gave me exactly the answer you are thinking of!

So.......we immediately went back into the bathroom, this time for a VERY thorough re-washing of tiny hands!

Yeah, he tried, so he got an "E" for effort!

Double Take, Part II

It's good to see the New York Times tackling their credibility problems:

"The report comes as the public's confidence in the media continues to wane. A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that 45 percent of Americans believe little or nothing of what they read in their daily newspapers, a level of distrust that may have been inflated because the questions were asked during the contentious presidential campaign when the media itself was often at issue. "

A newspaper should not be regarded as an arm of any political party!

The whole article:

Thanks to Instapundit.

Not the Donners!

We are home from our vacation in Shangri-La.
The trip takes half a day.
It's an amazing thing to think about.......

A trip of 700 or so miles, done in about 12 hours!
During the entire distance, we stayed dry, air-conditioned, and comfortable.
So comfortable in fact, Sara Jean reclined her heated seat and slept the last four or so hours of the journey!

We take it for granted.

Ever read the story of the "Donner Party"?
If you haven't, you should.
In 1846, the Donner party set out from Springfield, IL., headed to California in wagons. They were trying a new, "quicker" route, suggested by a man that had never made the trip himself!

The "shortcut" was a disaster. The terrain got more and more difficult, and their weather window closed just as the terrain became impossible. Soon they found themselves in snow 10 feet deep!
Literally starving to death, some of them resorted to cannibalism to survive.

As I hurtle down the highway averaging 60 miles an hour, including stops for gas, food, and rest stops, I often think of the Donner party.
For us, fuel and food are no problem. We take it for granted we will remain warm and dry. The ride in our "wagon" is so comfortable, sleeping while moving is not at all difficult!

We stay entertained and abreast of what is going on around us with an hourly news report via radio.
A GPS receiver tells me my speed, my height above sea level, my position on the earth within 500 feet, and my estimated time of arrival.
If we have an emergency, help is a cell phone call away.
In one day we can cover a distance that would take the Donners a month or more!

And this is in a car! Where's my helicopter?

08 May 2005

Crystal Gayle's Namesake

I'm in the land of "Krystal" hamburgers. I didn't know until I saw one of those "Behind the Music" special things that Ms. Gayle chose Crystal as her stage name because of her love of the little square hamburgers!

Crystal and I agree on "Krystals"!
I grew up in "White Castle" country. I also love them. As teenagers, late on weekend nights while out prowling around, we'd stop and get a bag of what we called "belly bombers" and have contests to see who could eat the most of 'em. Steve B. once ate 15 in one sitting!

Some readers haven't the foggiest what I'm talkin' about here.
These burgers are about 2" square. They are cooked by steaming on a bed of onions. The buns are steamed on top of the burgers while they cook. They have a distinctive flavor that seems to polarize people.......you either love 'em, or you hate 'em!

White Castles and Krystals are similar in taste. Krystals are larger, the bun is thicker, and in my opinion, the meat itself seems to have a slightly milder taste. I prefer Krystals......figures, doesn't it? The closest Krystal is 4 hours away from our home!

My nephew lives in Krystal land, but prefers White Castles. Forbidden fruit syndrome in action here? I made an agreement with him a year ago that I would bring him a box of White Castles if he would reciprocate with Krystals when I visit. So I brought him a box of 30 W.C.'s. So far, no Krystals have come my way. So much for buying White Castles for my nephew!

But while we're here, I scarf up the Krystals. Did I hear someone say "Root Beer Overdose?" Ahh....you've been paying attention! Makes me proud!

07 May 2005


There are no advertisements on this blog.
There are a "jillion" blogs, most with no ads!
How does Blogspot make money at this business?
It's a serious question. They are providing a great service at no cost!
Thank you Blogspot!


The time limit for us to lift off after we get the call from dispatch is 8 minutes. We get the call, and, weather permitting, we are told we have a flight, and where we are going.
We go to the helicopter, start it, and take off in the direction of the town they indicate on the phone. Once airborne, we're given the description of the patients' problem, and the destination hospital for the patient.

A number of years ago, this is what we heard: "Patient is a 32 year old male. Patients' complaint is an emasculation, and three bullet wounds to the abdomen."

The Flight Nurse was in the co-pilots seat. I turned and gave her "the look", only to find she was giving me "the look" in return! I asked, "does that mean what I think it means?"
"Yep!" she replied, "This'll be interesting!"

We arrived at the sending hospital and my crew got their gear out of the helicopter as I did the two minute cooldown and shutdown. When I entered the ER I saw my crew working with the patient, and walked over to an adjacent waiting room to watch the news on tv while they finished getting him ready for the transport. Entering the waiting room, I found an attractive 30-ish female crying while talking with a man that was taking notes........a detective from the local police force, questioning our patients wife.

My eavesdropping answered many questions. The wife explained that our patient was her second husband. This weekend was her first husbands' weekend for visitation with the two children they shared. He was late getting them back on time. The wife had even made a call to the police to report the fact that he was late returning the kids. Finally, at about 10 P.M., he called to say he was having car trouble and could she come to the city park and collect the kids there?

She agreed to do that. The new husband drove. He's angry. Husband #2 and husband #1 do not care much for one another. Hubby #2 drives to the city park and pulls up driver's door to driver's door to have a "talk" with hubby #1. The discussion quickly became heated. Hubby #2 gets out of the car to have a more "intimate" discussion with #1, at which time #1 pulls out his .38 caliber equalizer and puts three slugs into #2's gut.

Husband 2 falls to the ground. Husband 1 gets out of his car, pulls down #2's pants, hoists his manhood to it's fullest extension, and severs it at the base with a pair of old tinsnips! Hubby #1 then gets back into his car......two kids in the backseat having seen all this, and drives non-stop to a town in the Old West that is 20 hours away. Somewhere in the Great Plains, he disposes of hubby #2's "Bobbitt", hoping hungry coyotes will do away with the problem!

How do I know this?

Two weeks after this incident, a Security Guard/friend at the hospital where we transported #2 approached me with a strange smile......
"Hey Greybeard, did ya hear the story?"
No, I hadn't. Spill the beans!

............Hubby #1 had been apprehended and had been transported back to our location to face trial. The two kids, both under 10 years of age, had been telling him that husband #2 was sexually molesting them. Husband 1 decided that this behavior was gonna cease immediately, and took positive action to make sure it did!

I only hope the kids were telling the truth. If they were, I hope that hubby #1 got a verbal admonition and a slap on the wrist!

05 May 2005

Your Government Loves You!

Fasten your seat belt now! It's the law!
And although it is changing in some, in many states the law requires you to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle.
Yet the U.S. Government still subsidizes farmers to grow tobacco!
Remember the funny sound Tim Allen makes when he's confused?
Make it now!

I took a quick look at statistics for last year. Now, I know statistics can be manipulated, and in the case of smoking you cannot really pin down firm numbers for many reasons, but here's what it looks like:

42,800 dead in Automobile accidents.
442,000 dead due to tobacco related illnesses.
Granted, those that die from sickness caused by use of tobacco are older.....an average age in the 70's......and car accidents kill all ages....newborn, to old, old, old!

But it really does make me shake my head to think the same government that wants to make sure I "click it, or ticket", will pay someone to grow something that will kill me if I use it in the way it is supposed to be used!

If you see my "Uncle Sam", tell him I have a question I'd like to ask!

Emu Oil.....

On a magnetic sign attached to an SUV:

Genuine Emu Oil
Relieves arthritis pain
Cures all skin ailments
Call ### ### ####

Malignant melanoma sufferers will be thrilled!

Where's my phone?

It's Best to Be Nice!

We deal with a lot of drunks in my business! More than half the accident scenes we fly to have at least one driver that is legally drunk. We all know drunks can be obnoxious. Scared drunks can be even more so, and drunks that know they may go to jail can be frantic!

Head injured patients can also be combative and obnoxious. Something about getting your bell rung really well puts your body into "fight or flight" mode, and since you are strapped to our stretcher, your only recourse is to be obnoxious. Our crews know this, and take it into consideration.....head injured patients can't help it.

Years ago I flew a 17 year old soccer player that was head injured in a serious accident. This kid was 6' 2" and ALL muscle. He broke a leather restraint on his leg and proceeded to kick the window out of the helicopter! How did my crew handle this?

I love my med crews. They are professionals, and they don't do this job for the money.....you can make far more in the hospital environment! They do this job because they want to give great emergent care to people in big medical trouble! They regularly amaze me with their ability to do their jobs under stressful, changing conditions!

And they know how to handle combative patients. There are wonderful medicines...... succinylcholine chloride........pavulon, that paralzye patients. When paralyzed, patients quit breathing for themselves and my crews have to breath for them manually. With succinylcholine, (sux), the patient is fully concious and aware they can't breathe. Crews using "sux" will normally administer a strong sedative so the patient goes to "La La land".......the patient could care less who is in charge of the breathing! Life is wonderful!
This is great for everyone.......the patient doesn't kick out the window, and my crews have an easier time dealing with other injuries the patient may have.

I had a dream last night:

In my dream! We had picked up an obnoxious drunk and despite the best effort of my crew to rationalize with him, he was still spitting, cursing, and causing lots of trouble!
He raised the ire of my med crew, and after they had administered the "sux", they temporarily "forgot" to give him the sedative.

In my dream! My medic was looking the now calm drunk straight in the eye as he gave him a breath of air....... now and then.....making sure the "spitter" knew exactly who was in charge!

Of course, this was only a dream! Don't think this EVER happens in real life!
(I told you never to think this happens in real life......IT WAS ONLY A DREAM!)

My point is this. If you have been drinking and are involved in an accident, and find yourself in the bright light and extreme noise that describes the cabin of my helicopter ambulance..........be very nice to my crew! They have serious powers and can make your life better, or absolutely miserable!

I'd hate for my dream to come true!

04 May 2005

Yes, it can be done!

Pretty cool!:


Helicopters and tornadoes

One of the things I love about flight instructing is using examples of life experiences to reinforce a lesson I'm trying to teach.

I try to individualize instruction to the recipient. Midwestern students generally are familiar with the destruction caused by tornadoes. Believe it or not, there is a comparison between helicopters and tornadoes that helps students understand both.

Helicopter rotors rotate. DUH!
Ahh, but there are subleties that go with that rotation that are amazing! Gyroscopic precession. Coriolis Effect. No need to go look those up for now, unless I have "tweaked" ya! I'll get into them in detail later.

I need you to get into visualization mode again. Think of looking down at a helicopter in flight, moving at 100 miles per hour.

Now, think of the main rotor. For the sake of simplicity, let's assume a rotor blade is turning at 500 miles per hour at its' tip, (and actually, that's pretty close!)

Back to the view from the top.........when the rotor crosses the tail of the helicopter, the only wind it senses is its' rotational speed.......500 m.p.h.. But as it starts its' journey forward into the wind, the "relative wind" going across this airfoil increases until it reaches the 90 degree point...
directly abeam the helicopter. What is the total wind it is experiencing at this point?

500 m.p.h. tip speed
+100 m.p.h. helicopter speed
=600 m.p.h.

Now, the rotor continues its' journey forward to the point where it is exactly in front, and again, the only wind it feels is its' own speed........500 m.p.h..

From this point in the journey, our rotor feels continuing diminished wind, because it is running away from the wind of the helicopter's forward speed! At the "abeam" point, it senses:

500 m.p.h. tip speed
- 100 m.p.h. helicopter speed
= 400 m.p.h.!

Part of what produces "lift" and makes flying machines fly, is the amount of air flowing over the airfoil. The "advancing blade" on a helicopter has an easier job of producing lift than does the "retreating blade"! This can cause some interesting problems for helicopter pilots......which we'll get into in another lesson.

A tornado rotates. A tornado moves across the ground. If the wind at the edge of a tornado is 200 miles per hour, and the storm is moving across the ground at 70 m.p.h., the wind on the advancing side of the tornado is:

+ 70

The wind on the opposite side is:

- 70

If you get hit by a tornado, do you want your home to be on the advancing side of this storm, (270 m.p.h.), or the retreating side, (130)?
DUH again!

Now you know why some homes hit by tornadoes are totally destroyed, and some, just a few yards away, are relatively undamaged!

This applies to Hurricanes too, by the way, only on a much bigger scale, obviously!

Neat stuff, huh?

03 May 2005

Root Beer Overdose

I'm in paradise. My balcony overlooks the ocean. Beaches are snow white. The water is milky green in some places, medium green in others, and dark green where vegetation grows beneath the surface. The colors constantly change with the Westward movement of the sun. Dolphins sometimes play in my "front yard".

In some places they use what we Northerners would call "snow fences" to control the blowing sand. My senses play a game with my brain.......shouldn't it be cold? It was 82 cloudless degrees yesterday.

Rewind 44 years. I took a summer job at a Root Beer stand. One of the perks of the job was that the root beer was free! Wow! I liked Root Beer!
But you're getting ahead of me here, aren't you? It probably took less than a month to tire of Root Beer, even at the cost! After all this time, I still don't like it as much as I did before taking that job.

When Sara Jean and I drive here, we look forward to turning onto the beach highway. At that point we begin to get views of the water. It takes our breath away and makes the long drive getting here worth every second!

We have dreamed of buying property here. I'm afraid if we move here full time, we'll lose that feeling of how wonderful this view is! I don't want this to become "free" Root Beer!

7 Days

Today is the one week anniversary of "Pitchpull". (Cue the confetti blizzard, balloons, flashing lights, bells, whistles, and sirens!)

A few thoughts on this first week.......

You can see I have garnered a few comments. That's comforting. Someone is reading. This can be a lot of work if nobody is paying attention! I'm pleased and cautioned by the fact that there are other aviation people coming to the site. It makes ya try doubly hard to make sure you don't say something ignorant that causes one of them to correct, (and embarrass) you in the comments section. It'll happen, and when it does, I'll learn from it, and leave the comment for all to see my mistake, warts and all!

I'm spending more time editing than I thought I would. Fingers can't move as fast as the mind would like, so I make lots of mistakes in grammar, punctuation, and redundancy. I find it best to write, edit, edit again, and once again. After several readings, the words start to lose their meaning, so it's best to walk away and leave the post "as draft", then return to it hours later when you can almost read it as if the words are someone else's. Then I "preview" and edit for appearance. I'm learning with every post.

Email about the blog from family and friends has been heartening. Thank you all. I'll try to entertain, and tickle your curiosity!

Midland, TX 1963

Didja know this about the First Lady?


02 May 2005

Liquid Breathing

30 or so years ago I saw a documentary of a mouse submerged in a tank of liquid, walking around on the bottom.........breathing the fluid as if it was normal. It's one of those things that made such an impression on me I've never forgotten it.

Then I saw the movie "The Abyss", and was moved to get online and research what was true, and what was "Hollywood".

Diving to extreme depths is dangerous for numerous reasons. One of the problems is our body's inability to rid itself of nitrogen that becomes dissolved as a fluid in the bloodstream when under pressure. If the diver returns to the surface too quickly, this liquified nitrogen returns to a gaseous state in places like knees and elbows. It causes extreme discomfort and sometimes crippling injury........"the bends".

To avoid this problem, divers follow time schedules laid out in decompression tables....charts that show the amount of time you must remain at a certain pressure level to allow the nitrogen to leave your body naturally. If you're not a diver, you would be surprised at the length of time involved here. It can literally be days in the case of some deep dives. Decompression can either be done underwater, which requires LOTS of air tanks, or in a decompression chamber if one is available.

Breathing a liquid instead of a gas could be beneficial in eliminating the nitrogen and therefore the need to decompress for such long periods. Highly oxygenated liquids, being incompressible, would also allow divers to go to more extreme depths.

But we're not quite there yet. The weight of liquids makes them difficult to move in and out of our lungs. Clearing the liquid from the lungs in order to return to breathing air is problematic.

But the video of the mouse running around submerged in that tank still fascinates me. It'll be amazing to see humans, rather than mice breathing while submerged!


01 May 2005


Why pitchpull?
Sit down in a kitchen chair. In your mind, visualize that chair is the pilot's seat of a helicopter! Ready to take the controls?

Comfortably extend your feet with your toes pointed skyward. Each of your feet controls one of the "pedals", which are attached to the tail rotor. The pedals control the direction and rate of turn in a hover. To turn left, push left. To turn right, push right. To turn faster, push farther. The linkage is directly attached, so pushing the right pedal results in a corresponding and opposite movement of the left one.
In flight, they are used similarly to an airplane's rudder controls........they keep the nose of the machine straight in front of the tail and move the aircraft through the air most efficiently, thus presenting the smallest area to the passing air.

At your left hand is the "collective pitch control". It's called the "collective" for short and controls the angle of attack, or "pitch" of the main rotor turning above your head. Increasing this lever, or "pulling pitch" increases the angle of attack of both the rotor blades equally and forces more air downward. You lift the helicopter from the ground to a hover by increasing the collective pitch........"pitchpull".

Isaac Newton said "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." Pulling pitch increases the amount of torque being applied to the helicopter by the spinning main rotor. This torque attempts to turn the fuselage in the opposite direction of the spinning rotor. To keep the fuselage from turning, (action), you must increase the angle of attack of the tail rotor, (reaction), which moves air to counteract the torque effect. In American helicopters you do this by pushing on the left pedal as you increase the torque with the collective. (The French and Russians build helicopters that have main rotors that turn the opposite direction of American helicopters.) Contrarians!

On the machines I learned to fly years ago, the collective lever also had a motorcycle style twistgrip at the upper end which was used to increase or decrease the RPM of the engine. Your left hand was VERY busy!
In most modern helicopters the RPM is controlled by a governor. With one less thing to worry about, they are easier to fly!

Between your legs is another lever, similar to the "joystick" found in older airplanes. This lever is called the "cyclic pitch" because it increases the pitch in one blade while decreasing it in the other during the 360 degree cycle the rotor blades make in one revolution. The "cyclic" is rigged so as to tilt the rotor in the direction the cyclic is moved, pulling the helicopter in that direction. In a hover, the cyclic controls horizontal movement across the ground.....laterally or fore and aft. In flight, the cyclic controls the relationship of the helicopter to the horizon.......left bank/right bank, or nose up/nose down.

Clear as mud? In a later post, we'll go fly!