26 July 2007

Fear of Flying?

There are eleven BK117's similar to the one pictured in my company's fleet. It's not out of the ordinary for three or four of us to be flying at any given time.
Last night, on my way into Bigtown with a non-helmet using motorcycle accident victim, our #3, #4, #7, #9, and #11 aircraft were all airborne, talking on our company radio. The #4 aircraft had just called to report his takeoff, and our dispatcher gave this report about a patient similar to the one I had on board:

"Your patient is a 23 year old male, victim of a motorcycle accident. Your patient was not wearing a helmet. He has a head injury, a broken femur, multiple abrasions and lacerations. I also need to tell you that at this time his parents are reluctant to release him to fly."

Then, five minutes later-
"****#4, return to base, your flight is canceled. Patient will travel by ground."

Here's a guy brave and intelligent enough to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, yet his parents are afraid for him to fly in a helicopter!

Whassup with that?

A Gibbous Moon

Yeah, go ahead...
I had to look it up too.

25 July 2007

Lindsay Lohan

No, I'm not gonna go into details about the case.
I'm totally burned out on Britney, Paris, Lindsay, etc..

But ya know what struck me like a lightning bolt?
Looking at this picture I thought, "That photo is the most attractive picture I've seen of her in a long, LONG time!" (How sad... It's her mug shot!)
A young, talented, beautiful woman,
I hope she can get her life in order before she runs out of options.

24 July 2007

Gaia, Upside-Down

It seems we truly are in the world of "Bizarro Jerry"...
I can only shake my head and hope to awaken from what seems to be a frustrating nightmare-
Does the real world work this way?:

A woman charges a man with rape.
The Judge in the case prohibits certain words from being used in the trial.
Wanta take a shot at which words are forbidden?

A man allegedly rapes a 7 year old child. Although he normally carries on adequately in an English speaking environment, he is set free on what seems to be a pretty flimsy technicality.
(If you were the parents of this child being denied justice, what would you do?)
If I were them, I am fearful what I might do if he is released without a trial.

Appeals have been lodged in both cases.
Someone wake me!

23 July 2007

Fortress - Liberator Pics

Some time back, in this post, I blogged about riding
in the B24 "The Dragon and His Tail", and some asked "Where are the pictures?" I finally found 'em.
That's the B17, "Nine-0-Nine" starting #4, above, taken from beneath the wing of the B24.

The flight deck of the B17...

And the B24, taken in flight.

The B24, while it was in "The Dragon and His Tail" livery.

Looking at the vertical stabilizer from the open gunner's portside window at the waist.

I still want to fulfill my dream to one day get a ride in a B17!

16 July 2007

Open Your Eyes

From a comment to a Post below:

"Is this BS told to naive reporter?"

Fair question, right?
But let me tell ya what scares me, folks. There are too many intelligent people asking questions like that one. To fully understand my fear... go now and watch this video.
Then, and only then, those of you that are able to watch the complete video can come back here and discuss whether Islamic extremists are capable of baking an 11 year old child in an oven.

Please... head outta the sand everyone.

14 July 2007

Updated Profile

I've updated my profile and wanted to share it with ya:

Curious by nature, I enjoy learning how things work. Now in my 40th year flying helicopters, I've been a gunship pilot, tour pilot, traffic pilot for a radio station, and flight instructor. I've used helicopters to keep frost off peach trees, pollinate corn, dry racetracks, herd geese, and, as a Deputy Sheriff, chase criminals. I now make my bread and butter flying a helicopter ambulance. A Viet Nam Veteran, I now proudly add "U.S. Army, Retired" to my signature block. I'm fiscally Conservative, growing tired of pointing out the failures of Socialism. I like machines......cars, motorcycles, things that fly. Selfish with my time- I enjoy being around others, but I like being in control of when and where that happens. My idea of heaven on earth: Sara Jean alongside, a good book, an ice cold beer, white sand, and a warm breeze blowing in from the sea.

Lots of memories there. More to come!

12 July 2007

Rationalize? With What?

"The official reported that on a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al Qaeda invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking.
In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11 years old.
As LT David Wallach interpreted the man’s words, I saw Wallach go blank and silent. He stopped interpreting for a moment. I asked Wallach, “What did he say?” Wallach said that at these luncheons, the families were sat down to eat. And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family."

Yeah, let's try to "understand" these folks while they get stronger, please.
That report from Michael Yon, who is NOT filing his reports from the Baghdad Hilton!

Hat tip to OpFor

Why They Get It Wrong, Reprise

They ASSUME...
and you know how the word "assume" breaks down, don't you?

It's amazing how people who report the news don't serve us well.

John Springer, who wrote the following, is just plain (plane?) ignorant:
"Leaking jet fuel and blinding smoke prevented an off-duty firefighter — credited with pulling some victims from the wreckage of a fiery small plane crash — from going after more victims, including a young girl and infant boy who were among the five who died."

No question, this guy walked into chaos.
The article is about the crash of a Cessna 310, which burns AvGas, not JetA. AvGas is MUCH more volatile than JetA, and if John had done a little investigating he'd have known that, and could have reported that fact.
So there was a real danger of explosion, yet Firefighter John Cooper risked his life to save others... unquestionably the guy is a hero.
If you want to read an article that starts off with such a big error, it's

I've written before about ignorant news reporters.
You must question the clarity and breadth of everything you read and hear.
Some things don't change.

11 July 2007

Jet Lagged

Out with the old, in with the new(er)...

We're home safely.
Our return trip was an exact retracing of our flight to Phoenix-
first, the flight to Denver, followed by a two-hour layover, then the flight to Bigtown. No recalcitrant toilets this time. No ATC delays. I'm favorably impressed with Frontier Airlines and their A318's.

I'm also impressed with Phoenix International. I know that WHEN you show up for a flight can make all the difference in your experience... our flights have both departed in early afternoon.... but we've had two flights through PHX now, and getting through security there has taken us less than 15 minutes on both occasions. (Other hubs, please take a look at PHX!)

And Phoenix?
We've now been to Phoenix in February, when the weather was great...
April, when the weather was PERFECT...
and July...
July! E-Z Bake Oven.
It's such a neat town... Love the airport. Until this trip, love the weather. There is much to do in the area, and the roads to get where you need to go are all good. The cost of living is low.
But during daylight hours in July you are trapped indoors. Now that we're focusing on Phoenix, I'm interested in seeing how long these oppressive temperatures last. I'm told the "Monsoon" is on the way to make things right. I'll stay tuned.

About the above picture...
The '92 Cadillac with no Air Conditioning is gone, replaced by the 2002 Ford Explorer Sport Trac you see above. The pleasant expression you see on Big Bubba's face is there because the A/C on the truck is efficient enough it can be turned to a reduced power setting after a few minutes, even when the O.A.T. is 120 F! He's been sweating in the "no-air" Caddy for a couple months, so his new toy is a nice change for several reasons.

It's good to be home.
Predicted temperature tonight: 58 degrees Fahrenhei
We'll need light jackets on our walk.

09 July 2007

Second Verse, Same As The First!

The weather, that is.
Well, that's not quite true. Big Bubba has commented that it sure gets old waking to sunny skies every day. He's actually prayed for a few clouds and maybe some rain. His birthday (the reason for our trip West), was July 6th. After he had opened the gifts we brought, Sara Jean was on the way to the dumpster with the used wrapping paper and packaging. She took one step outside the apartment door and called back for us to "come quick!"
In honor of Big Bubba's birthday, it was pouring down rain. It rained for 15 minutes, the sun came out, and all indications it had rained were gone in another quarter hour. Other than that blip it has been sunny and 110+ every day we've been here.

We did venture to the pool yesterday at Noontime, just to see if we could stand being out with the thermometer registering 112. I was worried the pool would be like a hot bath, but the water was refreshing. There was a decent breeze, making it tolerable to be out of the pool so long as you were in the shade. We stayed 90 minutes, and I got enough "color" that I'm a little worried about going to the pool again today unless I go buy some powerful sunscreen.

If you're tired of hearing about the heat, skip this paragraph.
Back in the summer of 2000, Mommanurse,
Ole Prairie Dog, Mommanurse's better half and yours truly played golf on a course in a Southeastern State that is named after one of Greybeard and Mommanurse's great Uncles. The temperature and relative humidity were both above 90. At the tee for the 16th hole, desert acclimated and obviously uncomfortable O.P.D. said "I've got to sit the remaining holes out."
The remaining three of us, accustomed to the air's high water vapor content, played on without him. That weather was dangerous for anyone pushing themselves beyond their body's limitations. The weather here, at 100+ with humidity less than 10%, is dangerous for ALL human beings. We've noticed sore muscles. Sara Jean has had a couple Charlie Horses. When we are properly hydrated, the soreness and cramps disappear.

Talk around the table with local acquaintances after dinner last night momentarily turned again to the subject of Scorpions. Like snakes and spiders, I'm fascinated with them. When he was 12 years old, our hostess' husband caught them for a bounty provided by University of Arizona research folks. He says there are five or six types of scorpions in the area, some as large as four inches in length. I have never seen a scorpion anywhere other than in a zoo. Scorpions "glow" when illuminated with black light... I'd love to go out late one night and watch as they hunt for prey. I'm gonna try to talk someone in to doing that with me sometime in the future.

We'll spend one more night here, then board the flying silver tube for Bigtown tomorrow afternoon. Plans are to eat "in" this evening and enjoy one another's company. Eating "in" also means getting out and consuming the contents of all the doggy-bag cartons we have accrued while eating "out" all this week. I hope that food is nearly as good as when it was "first-run".

I'll have to admit to having a minor case of cabin fever, bein' trapped in the air conditioning for our entire visit. ("Cabin fever may be too strong a term. I just wish we could have gotten outside more.)
Rain is predicted for our arrival home.
It'll be a welcome sight.

08 July 2007

Como Se Dice "Cookie"?

Well, the people of Mexico may be sayin' no, but the Mexicans in Mesa, Arizona are saying YES!, resoundingly.
The stores here are packed with brown-skinned workers AND customers.

We were purchasing supplies for Big Bubba's 24th birthday party. There were no cookies in the bakery case. Sara Jean approached a worker there and asked, "Do you have any cookies?"

The worker turned and continued with her task at hand. Thinking she hadn't been heard, Sara Jean walked closer and spoke in a louder voice. "Do you have any cookies?"

The worker looked at her, then turned to a co-worker and said something in Spanish. The co-worker walked over and asked,
"Can I help you?"

I can only infer that Wal Mart is now hiring non-English speaking workers.

07 July 2007

It's a Small World!

I walked into the hallway with my keys out to open the apartment door. At the other end of the hallway the access door there also opened and the doorway was filled with a man the size of Paul Bunyan. He looked at my Army flight suit and said, "So you're a pilot?"
I told him I was just coming home from flying with my Huey unit. He said, "I'm a pilot too. When you get out of that monkey suit come knock on the door and I'll mix up some White Russians!"
So I did.

He'd been flying airplanes for years. His family owned a business in Birmingham, Alabama, and he was in Bigtown for a year or so to set up a subsidiary operation there. He regularly flew a Piper Aerostar between Birmingham and Bigtown. We became fast friends. When he had completed his job in Bigtown he moved back to Birmingham.

A year or so later I answered the phone and heard his booming voice on the other end-
"HEY, you ever fly an Enstrom?"
I hadn't. But I told him there wasn't anything special about the Enstrom to keep me from gettin' comfortable with it pretty quickly.
"Well, we just bought one, and we can get you a factory checkout. Come on down here and teach me to fly the sumbitch."
So I did.

He kept the helicopter a year or so, then sold it.
Four years pass.

The phone rings. The guy at the other end says, "I own a helicopter and I'm learning to fly it. I'm unhappy with my instructor and you came highly recommended. Do you have any time in an Enstrom?"
"Yeah, I've got about 50 hours in a 280C."
"Great! That's what I own."

I make an appointment to meet him and check out the aircraft. When I turn into his drive I see the helicopter. It looks VERY familiar!

Yep. Same machine. (That's it, shown above.)
Paul Bunyan sold it to a firm in Ft. Lauderdale. They owned it for a couple years, then sold it to an oil exploration company in Houston, Texas, who also kept it two years before selling it to my new student.

It's instructive, and if you're involved in aviation you need to remember-
We are a small family... the helicopter side of things even more so.
You're likely to frequently run into people and machines you've met before.
Try not to make enemies along the way!

06 July 2007

Bein' A Passenger

All of us "news junkies" saw the story-
A JetBlue airliner full of folks were held hostage on the tarmac for hours and hours...
denied food and beverages, the lavatories got filled to the point the passengers were complaining about the smell. I'm afraid of what I might have done under those circumstances... those folks were being held against their will, in some very uncomfortable conditions. The term "illegal arrest" comes to mind. There's no question that I would have been in touch with an attorney immediately upon getting off the airplane.

Frontier Airlines offered the best rates to Phoenix this trip. I hadn't flown Frontier in years. Back "in the day", Frontier was known for serving the best meals in the industry. I was interested to see how they compare with the other lines we have used lately.

If you fly Frontier, I hope you want to go to Denver.
All Frontier flights go to Denver. Want to Fly from Indianapolis to Memphis? You'll fly from Indy to Denver, then from Denver to Memphis. The only direct city-to-city flights are to tourist cities in Mexico.

We were loaded onto an Airbus 318... I'm surprised because it's July 4th... the airplane is full.
I prefer flying Boeing products, but the Airbus is a fairly comfortable airplane to fly in. We didn't push away from the gate at our designated time. Over the P.A. system we are informed that there is a problem with the toilets and they hope to resolve the problem quickly. We have a two hour layover in Denver before we leave for Phoenix, so this is no problem for us... we decide to sit back and enjoy the show. A diverse group of workers make their way back and forth down the aisle. Various P.A. announcements attempt to keep us informed... apparently there is an indicator that is showing a problem. They find the indicator is giving false information, then start work on replacing the indicator.

Forty-five minutes later we're on our way. I'm glad for our two-hour layover, but feel sorry for those that may miss their connections because of this delay.

The flight takes less than two hours. No food, but the attendants are attentive and insure we are happy with our beverages. I drink Tomato juice, then ask for coffee... no problem.

Denver is hot. The long walk up the Jetway is a little uncomfortable until we begin to feel the flow of cold air coming down from the terminal. The gate for our connecting flight is an easy three minute walk from our arrival gate.

The Denver to Phoenix flight boards uneventfully. We are departing at 5 P.M. Denver time, and there are many empty seats on this airplane.
We push away and taxi out on time, but before reaching the runway we hear the P.A. system once again:
"ATC has put us on a hold. There is a pile-up of arrivals at Phoenix, and we will be waiting 30 minutes or so for takeoff clearance."

I can understand the traffic jam and delaying the takeoff, but I ask the question:
"Why didn't they find out what the traffic situation was before loading us all onto this aircraft?"
We'd all have been much more comfortable in the terminal- Restrooms and food catering right there. Couldn't someone have checked the traffic situation before forcing all the cattle into the corral?

No, I guess not. It's too logical.

United Airlines

Over at Daily Aviator, Dennis has an AOPA link showing why you
should not fly United Airlines if you care about General Aviation.

05 July 2007

I Don't Think We're In Kansas Anymore...

It's 0945 local time as I start typing this post. Big Bubba has a time/temp bug on his computer that indicates it has just reached 100 degrees outside. It was 114 when we landed last evening at 1830 hours. Sara Jean is a sun worshipper and asked about going to the pool... my reply was to ask, "how long do you think you could sit in the sun when it's already 100 degrees outside?" If Big Bubba had an egg in his fridge, I'd go out on the sidewalk and see if I could successfully do one sunny-side-up for ya!

Now, help me with a mystery, please-
With the two hour time-change, our bodies were gently saying "hey, it's midnight!" when we finally hit the sack at 10 PM local last night. I was hoping for something like 12 hours of blissful, uninterrupted sleep. Desi the Dachshund was overjoyed that Mom and Pop were in for a visit, so he spent the night with us making sure Sara Jean and I didn't get too close to one another. Coupled with the natural "bein' in a different bed, different pillow, different noises" situation insured that sleep would be fitful at best. So when 8 O'Clock rolled around and we all began to have our eyes half-open, why was it deemed that the 60 year old, nearly retired old fart should be the one to take the dog out for his morning constitutional? Why can't the much younger, much better looking female half of the partnership get her beautiful hindside outta bed, leash up the dog, and parade down the street smelling every tree and light post until we get our "business" done, while the crusty old aviator smiles, turns over, and catches another 20 winks or so?
No, that ain't the way it works.
And the excuse of course- "I don't want anyone seein' me lookin' like this!"

Odd... this assumes I want anyone seein' me with "pillow hair" and what feel like little gold nuggets trapped in the corners of my eyes! I leashed Desi up, and we staggered down the stairs and down the sidewalk, sniffin' every bush, trash can, and car tire along the way... (not me, the dog!)

I don't know what catches your eye, but one of the things I have always keyed on is license plates. There's something about seeing a license plate from someplace far away that stirs something in me. After Desi had his business taken care of, we walked the circle that the parking lot makes here at Big Bubba's apartment complex, and I noticed the plate shown above. I can't make out the name of the State/Province, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the Country since I'm now in a State that shares a border with Mexico. Still, I don't see a tag like that often, and it made me wonder... the owner of the truck is someone that is willing to announce to the world that he is from Mexico... wonder what kind of business he is conducting here in Mesa?
It'd be interesting to hear.

Back to the heat...
I had an MSN Instant Message chat with Ole Prairie Dog this morning, and we discussed the heat here, comparing it to what we dealt with in Viet Nam and what the kids in Iraq are exposed to. In Viet Nam, most of us had no air conditioning, so we went to bed in 90 degree temps with the humidity also 'way up on the scale. I can remember frequently waking up with my sheets soaked from my perspiration... solid sleep there also came at a premium.
But the heat here is more like the heat our troops are suffering with in Iraq, and those that are having to Patrol are out in it while wearing helmet, protective body armor, and where there is a suspected threat, gas mask, gloves, etc..
Just walking the dog this morning was uncomfortable. I know there is a certain amount of acclimatization the body can do to its' environment, and I'm glad our guys in Iraq probably have access to air conditioning and plenty of water... but bein' here in Mesa is a reminder... a real slap in the face... keep 'em in your prayers, folks!

More from Mesa later.

A couple quickie updates at 1 PM:
110 degrees... When we got home from the airport, Big Bubba's Caddy made sounds like the coolant was boiling away, but there was no sign of steam. The car idles at about 2000 RPM when it is at operating temperature, and there is no way to get it to idle slower. The trim around the trunk lock fell off last week. The car has 180,000 miles on it... nearly half of that put on by a young male driver.

Since Big Bubba is trading cars today I didn't want to drive this poor lame Caddy any more than is absolutely necessary. So at Noon Sara Jean and I walked 15 minutes over to our favorite Mexican Restaurant here... "Chevy's". Fifteen minutes is about all I'd like to spend in this kind of heat... by the time we got to the restaurant our hearts were pounding and our feet were sending an S.O.S.. We ate a great meal, then forced a lot of water on ourselves in order to make the return trip to the apartment.

As a military officer, since 1967, I have had access to an insurance/financial services company called USAA. That company now has extended services to dependents, and Big Bubba has his renters and car insurance with them. When he started considering the purchase of a car I suggested he call USAA and check on the rate on a car loan. He did, and found their rates to be highly competitive. This morning there was a knock at the door. Opening the door I found a man from DHL Express on the other side with a special delivery envelope from USAA. I signed for the delivery and opened the envelope to find a blank check inside which can be filled out for any amount up to $48,000 toward the purchase of any automobile! That, folks, amazes me!

One more observation about the heat-
The birds aren't flying. We walked beneath several trees along our way to eat, and noticed Pigeons, Doves, and some kind of Blackbird were perfectly willing to stay roosted in the trees, even though we were passing at what would normally be "spook" distance for them. Smart!

Again, there may be more coming later.

03 July 2007

July, 2007

That's a picture of two-year-old Big Bubba at the dedication of the Indy Heliport. How things have changed! Big Bubba has grown and prospered. The heliport, one of the FAA's pet projects at the time, is now more helistop than heliport. But that's another story for a later time.

Tomorrow, Sara Jean and I will once again endure the aggravation of taking off our shoes for the TSA, and will board the flying Greyhound bus for Phoenix, this time to celebrate Big Bubba's 24th birthday. We poked around for the best rate and found that by flying on the 4th itself, we could save almost $100. So we depart tomorrow at 1400 hours, and taking the time change into consideration, we'll be arriving in plenty of time to bask in the (116F. predicted) sunshine. When the sun disappears in the West, there will be a fireworks display just down the street from BB's apartment, and we are hopeful the temps will have moderated enough for us to sit on his balcony with an adult beverage and "ooh and ahh" at the colors, shapes, and BOOMS.

Everyone involved in aviation knows that Murphy's Law reigns supreme, so it'll come as no surprise to you that the air-conditioner on Big Bubba's 1992 Cadillac ceased to work just about two months ago when the temps in Mesa first popped their heads above 100 degrees F. BB's drive to work is only 15 minutes or so, so he has been "toughing it out", sweating and saving like crazy for wheels he has been dreaming of for a couple years. He wanted to pay cash for the truck, but the heat finally got to him. He found the exact vehicle he wanted at a dealership just a few minutes away from his home, and on his own, just made a deal to trade the Cadillac for it. The Cadillac is titled in my name and I spent a few frantic moments looking for the title this afternoon... the cabinet those records were in was one we gave him when he moved, so all our titles were temporarily misplaced. But I found 'em, and now all but the Caddy title are in the fire-proof safe in my new office- Big Bubba's old bedroom!

So we're gonna be brave and risk traveling on our nation's birthday, on a day when fanatics would love find a way to blow us out of the sky. We're gonna thumb our noses at 'em and act like not bein' able to bring 4 ounces of hand lotion aboard the airplane is a normal thing!
I'll update you on the flight when we are safely in Mesa.

Happy Birthday U.S.A.! Have a safe and happy 4th of July everyone!

02 July 2007

Pre- July 4th Trivia:

Who said the following?

1. Your President is lying to you.

2. This war is illegal.

3. You cannot win the war.

The answer depends on the timeframe!

July 1942- Tokyo Rose...

July 2007- The Democratic Congress!

Tip o' the hat once again to Blackfive.

Living in a Little Town...

On the left is that big old Oak tree I referred to in an earlier post. Behind it- Casa Greybeard.
It's a small place, more than adequate for our needs now that we've converted Big Bubba's old bedroom to a TV/Computer room. On 2 1/2 acres, what you can't see in this picture is the full-of-fish 5 acre pond that abuts the property in the back.

I was thinking the other day about how we ended up in this home. Have you ever considered the chain of events that lead you to live where you live, or work where you work?

My parents bought a home in a small community South of Indianapolis, Indiana, and lived there for more than 30 years. When I was drafted in 1966, I could not remember living anywhere else. I went to school there, delivered newspapers for five years there, worked at a Service Station and two different Restaurants there. That community was a second family to me... kids couldn't get into too much mischief, 'cause if ya did some neighbor would be on the phone tattlin' on ya in a millisecond!

I've lived in lots of areas in this country... visited in many, many more.
I still have strong feelings and very fond memories of growing up in Central Indiana.
One of the reasons we live where we now live is because this area reminds me in many, many ways of the community where I grew up. Something that happened last week reinforced that feeling...

We still walk often, Sara Jean and I, for fitness and to help control our weight. One day last week we were finishing our 2.2 mile walk, and we waved at "Ed" as he worked in his garden.
Ed is elderly... just lost his lifetime bride a year or so ago. He stays busy in the Spring through Fall by planting and working a beautiful vegetable garden.
Ed waved back, then shouted and indicated we should stop. He got into his John Deere "Gator" and came our way...
The bed of the Gator was full of fresh produce...
"You guys like broccoli?"
"How 'bout cabbage? There's lots of cabbage... help yourself."

Fresh, straight outta the garden, and the price was RIGHT!
Hard to beat, huh?
Small town life can be wonderful.