31 May 2007

Do You Detect The Smell of Sulphur?

UPDATED, with a look from a different angle, by Roger Simon.

He doesn't like George Bush, so obviously he's a man of the people!

Taking up the cause of the oppressed people of the world!

Liberal Democrats all can unite behind this great man!

So a TV station in Venezuela starts telling lies about him...
what's he supposed to do?
He does the same thing any good Progressive would do...

he insured the lying stopped!
Thousands of obviously rich Venezuelan Republicans have taken to the streets to protest this great man's actions at furthering the needs of the oppressed.

We have a phrase for this, don't we?
And now that he's in trouble, where are these good friends?
Why aren't they coming to his aid?
Fair-weather friends, indeed!
Another TV station has begun to tell the same lies... more swiftboating!

C'mon Cindy, Danny, and Harry!
Show your mettle...
Rally behind this great leader!

27 May 2007

From Exhaustion to Elation

Ted needed time off...
It's Memorial Day weekend, so it's nice to think he might spend it enjoying time with his bride and new baby. I agreed to work Friday and Saturday for him.
Friday unfolded normally... I had two flights, dodging a few area thunderstorms, and logged 1.9 hours of daytime in my logbook.

Saturday started similarly.
Thunderstorms in the area kept the BK117 in the hangar until the phone rang a little before 11 O'Clock-

"Can you check weather for a flight to *****?"
I checked. There were a few isolated cells around, but nothing we couldn't drive around.

We flew 15 minutes to pick up the 27 year old guy... trimming trees with his Dad, a 4 inch diameter branch had fallen on his head, knocking him down and out. We loaded him aboard the helicopter and flew another 12 minutes to the Trauma Center. After dropping off patient and crew, I flew to our downtown base to refuel and wait for my crew to call after finishing their paperwork.

But then the phone rang again.
"Can you take the Children's Hospital team to ******?"
Another weather check... more thunderstorms, but they were still pretty isolated.
"Yeah, I can do it. Call my crew and make arrangements to drive 'em back here."

Takeoff to landing at the Children's Hospital took 3 minutes. I loaded their stretcher aboard, insured the 3-person team, (Doctor, Nurse, and Paramedic) was safely situated aboard the aircraft, and gave them a safety briefing as we took off on the 60 minute flight to pick up a 2 year old girl in respiratory distress.

After landing and getting the team on the way to help the little girl,
I buttoned up the aircraft and flew 5 minutes to the local airport for enough fuel to make the flight back home, considering the possibility of having to dodge Thunderboomers along the way.

Hot refueling was quick, and kept me from having to log another expensive start on the BK...
Another 5 minute flight found me back at the hospital, waiting for the Children's team to finish their preparations to take the little girl to the city for the care she needed.

The 55 minute flight back was routine... a few showers served to clean the bugs off the windshield.

After dropping off the little girl and her caregivers, I returned to our downtown base and hot refueled, loaded my Nurse and Paramedic, and flew the 22 minute flight back to our remote base.

We didn't stay long. Thirty minutes later, the phone rang again...
"I need a weather check for a scene flight at ******."
"Okay, I can do that."
"Then your flight is a go, for a 19 year old male involved in an ATV accident."

We landed in the middle of a two-lane road 18 minutes later. The hard-headed 19 year old was not wearing a helmet when he crashed at something near 70 miles per hour, making mush of the back of his skull. I flew him to the Trauma Center, and by the time my crew was finished with all their legal responsibilities, I was earning overtime pay on the flight back home.
On my 12+ hour shift I logged 3.9 hours of flight time and 15 takeoffs and landings. I felt like I had been carrying the helicopter around on my back all day.

I popped an oldies CD in the player and called Sara Jean to let her know I was exhausted, but finally on my way home. We have a routine when I get home... I pull in the drive and shut off the ignition. Sara Jean opens the door and sends Lucy out to greet her "Pop". Then Lucy and I walk to the house together.

I drained my bladder and washed my hands. When I turned to walk out of the bathroom, the door was completely blocked...
Fatigued and confused, I had difficulty computing this vision blocking my way-
260 pounds and 6' 3" tall, Big Bubba had flown home over the long weekend for the first time since we moved him to Mesa, Arizona in February.

Hugs. Tears. More hugs.
"I'm so glad you're home."
"Me too, Dad."

What a wonderful gift!
Have a nice weekend everyone, and remember the reason we celebrate it.

23 May 2007

Liberator Vs. Flying Fortress-

In my previous post I asked if you could guess which of the two bombers I decided to ride in.

I chose the Liberator.
My thought process was pretty much in line with Teller's comment...
There were over 10,000 B24's built during WWII, yet "The Dragon and his Tail" was advertised as the only example of the type flying... the others presumably cut up for their scrap value.
There was some talk of a B24 being used as a firefighting water-bomber in South America, but knowing there are a handful of B17's making the fly-in circuit, I figured I might get a chance to fly in one of them at some future date.

I arrived at 0900 and received my briefing from the Captain. There would be three of us aboard... Captain, Co-Pilot, and yours truly. He led me to the crew compartment at the rear of the airplane, showed me my seat, and gave me my seat-belt brief. I was to remain seated and belted until he indicated it was safe to move around by sounding a bell and turning on an indicator light. At that point I was free to move around the airplane at will until he sounded the alarm prior to landing, when I was to return to my seat and buckle up.
He showed me the "catwalk" that extends over the bomb bay-
an approximately 12' long, six-inch wide walkway with cable handholds. He cautioned me to be careful while crossing the catwalk... "The Bomb Bay doors won't hold your weight if you fall on them."

The takeoff was wonderful-
Four big Pratt & Whitneys singing at the top of their lungs.
Then the Bell rang and light came on. I unbuckled and moved to the tail-gunners post and sat there, looking out the plexiglass windscreen, imagining I was firing a .50 Cal machine gun at menacing Messerschmitt 109's.

I took a deep breath and negotiated the catwalk, knowing we were at 2500' AGL and a stumble could make life interesting for a few seconds. I stuck my head up into the hole that provided access to the cockpit, chatted with the crew, and viewed an instrument panel that with the exception of a few new radios, was mostly original equipment.

I carefully made my way back to the crew station in the waist and took a picture of the shadow of the B24 making it's way across the ground. From that vantage point there is a great view of the big rudders and the rear of the wing.

As I said, the flight lasted 75 minutes, so it ended too soon...
But I have pictures and memories that will last the rest of my life.

20 May 2007


As often happens, a ThirdWaveDave post tweaked a "bloggable" memory-
With the coming of better flying weather that arrives with late Spring, local airports plan fly-ins to attract those that fly and the general public to their facilities to build goodwill and attract attention to themselves. Some of these events can be pretty extravagant affairs, complete with performances by military demonstration teams like the "Blue Angels", "Thunderbirds", or the Army's "Golden Knights".

I'm frequently asked by promoters to bring a helicopter and give rides at these events. They can be a lot of fun and I enjoy taking part in them, but giving helicopter rides is somewhat stressful because of safety factors, and is a lot of work for a little money.

A few years back I got a request I couldn't refuse. I got a call from a friend I had taught to fly helicopters who owned a local FBO. The festivities would last over Saturday and Sunday, and the "Collings Foundation" was flying in with a couple aircraft...
Their B24, "The Dragon and His Tail", and
their B17, "909":

Being part of the show might give me the opportunity to crawl through these historical artifacts. I couldn't resist!

Weather for the weekend was great. A larger than expected crowd showed up.I gave enough rides to make my participation worthwhile.

At the end of each day, the foundation was selling rides in each of the airplanes to those that could afford the price. I was one of those that could only stand by and drool as the airplanes started, taxied out, and took off.

My FBO friend/student dropped by, and we discussed the old Bombers. I expressed regret at not being able to afford the cost of flying in them.
He said, "I might be able to arrange something for ya. Lemme check."

"They are flying to "************" tomorrow, (a town 250 miles away). If you can be here at 0900 tomorrow morning, you can fly with them!"

I was scheduled to work at my EMS job. I called and got the day off.
The town was not far from my parent's home. I called them and asked if they could meet me. My Old Man, a WWII Veteran and civilian pilot understood completely:

The flight took 75 minutes. Other than the pilot and co-pilot, I was the only person on the airplane and got to go over it in flight from tail-gunner position to cockpit. It's an experience I'll never forget!

Can you guess which Bomber I chose to fly in, and why?

17 May 2007

The Hind

Hind is pronounced with a long-I sound.
I was flying Hueys in the Army Reserve at the time we first learned about the Hind, and we were terrified of this big, tough bird.
We were just beginning to consider the probability of helicopter to helicopter aerial combat, and the idea of taking on a Hind was something that caused us to wake at night in a cold sweat!

The Russians used the Hind extensively in their invasion of Afghanistan until the U.S. started providing Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to the Afghani resistance fighters.

Friend Mark brought this video to my attention. It gives ya a pretty good look at the Hind, and is interesting because the camera speed is in sync with the rotor RPM, which makes the rotor look as if it is completely stopped.
(Watch the landing gear retract.)
And if you're interested, there's a music video featuring several Hinds

11 May 2007

The "Rightwingosphere"

These folks on the political right simply have no sense of humor!
First folks in Baltimore share their humor with their neighbors,
then a couple liberal leaders "poke" fun at the Secretary of State.

C'mon Conservatives, can't ya take a joke?

10 May 2007

Barack Hussein Obama

Or as the inebriated Senior Senator from Massachusetts calls him- "Osama Obama"!
I've been fascinated watching his initial campaign steps, hoping he'd be a change from the Socialist-leaning party he represents. His speech during the Democrat National Convention indicated he might be a moderate. He was so new to National politics, none of us knew much about him.

Turns out he's a typical politician, living in a fabulous home none of the rest of us could hope for, accepting favors from contractors that show he too can dance the line of near-corruption. I'm sorry to have my hopes dashed.

Now comes this latest stumble, turning the 10 dead victims in Greensburg Kansas into 10,000 during a recent speech. Really, it's not a big deal... campaigning is tough and tiring, so all Candidates will eventually make similar mistakes. How much attention is drawn to those mistakes depends entirely on whether the Candidate puts a "D" or an "R" behind their name on the chyron on TV. No one will be talking about Obama's fumble for long, unless he continues to make similar mistakes.

Still, I wonder-
Bein' President of the United States is a tiring job. I can only imagine what it would be like to have every moment of your life scripted for four years, (or eight if you are re-elected).
Want some time to go fishing? You have to block it off months ahead of time, and even then you'll have a gaggle of reporters tagging along to see you bein' attacked by a killer rabbit!
And if some head of State dies while you are on vacation, your vacation is cut short so the U.S. can show proper respect.

The toughness of the campaign gives us an indication how a Candidate would withstand the pressures he/she will experience as President. It's seems early in this effort for Obama to be tired enough to mistake the Greensburg death toll by a factor of 1,000. The Marathon has just begun. What happens when he "hits the wall"?

07 May 2007

April 2007, Destin After-Action Report-

What do you call 10 days of cloudless mid-80 degree days, 70 degree, nearly full-moon lit nights, beer, fresh seafood, good company, and the whitest beach you have ever seen?
I think I know. There are a couple words that fit the bill, but they both mean practically the same thing.

Here's how bad it was... I've gained 5 pounds in 10 days.
Oh well, it was worth it, and I know how to lose it!

I went fishing.
I caught fish... several Red Snapper and a Bonita.
We brought 'em home and cooked 'em... absolutely wonderful.

We went on the Dolphin cruise again and saw lots of Dolphin (porpoise).

One of the things I don't think I've mentioned before is that the Condo is on the final approach course for Eglin Air Force Base. Couple that with the fact that there is a VFR corridor along the beach, and you can see we get our own informal airshow almost daily. We see C-130's at 100' about 200' offshore. Impressive.
F-18's and F-15's make frequent noisy appearances. Night-time "burner" displays are wonderful.

Coast Guard Dolphins make their way to their base on Okaloosa Island.
Navy TH-57's, Marine Cobras, and the occasional Air Force CH-53 are pretty common.
The Airheart EMS BO-105 and Air Methods EC-135 make their way along the beach.
It's a neat place for those of us interested in watching aircraft.

This week was special-
I hosted a mini-reunion of my High School class, and several of my classmates showed up with their spouses. All were impressed with Destin's beauty and have asked that we make this an annual event.
I agree, and am hopeful for a larger attendance next year. The plans are already unfolding.

It's been over a week since I last posted...
Watching the surf lick the sugar-white sand took precedence.
Back to reality now... I'll try to do better.