31 December 2008
It's ten years since the year/focus of the song. So much apocalyptic worrying about the transition from 1999 to 2000, it all ended up just being so much unnecessary worry. We should always remember that, shouldn't we?...
Change the things you can, but ignore the things you have no power to change.
Are you, like me, worried about a financial collapse in the coming year? What are you doing to protect yourself?
Still, I love the song.
(Ya gotta put up with a short advertisement to view it.)
29 December 2008
The alarm went off this morning and I sat up in bed, sighed, and wiped the sleep from my eyes. Sara Jean turned my way and said, "Thank God, last day."
"Yep. And I'm sure ready for the time off."
Out the door half an hour later I have a 40 minute drive to work... enough time to catch up on news of the world and pour two cups of coffee from my thermos.
Approaching our base...
Phil's car is sitting in the parking lot. Not a good sign. I'm supposed to be relieving Dan, not Phil. Did he make an error reading the schedule, or did I? We're all tired, three of us doing the work of four. I walk in the door and he's as confused as me... he grabs the schedule, and I'm not supposed to be there. The Flight Nurse has baked fresh cinnamon rolls, so the trip is not without its rewards. I eat two, then get back in the car and drive 40 minutes back home to start my three day visit with my son.
It's a beautiful day and I'm up early to enjoy it.
Things could be worse!
28 December 2008
I love peanut butter cookies. This "Dunlop's disease" you see overhanging my beltline? That's them! Sara Jean can bake up a batch of peanut butter cookies, pour me an ice-cold glass of milk, and I need nothin' else... just go away a while and leave me alone to concentrate on doin' some damage to that pile of cookies.
I've decided I now know you well enough to share one of life's wonderful simplicities. Even if you don't like PB cookies yourself I know that you know someone who does and you'd secretly like them to be your cookie slave, wouldn't you? Here's your ticket to owning a Peanut Butter cookie lover...
My Aunt Violette's PB Cookie recipe.
Before we start, lemme tell ya... YOU GOTTA TRUST OL' GREYBEARD.
Have I ever done ya wrong? No! So when you see how simple this recipe is you're not gonna believe it, and you'll be tempted to tinker. DON'T!
Aunt Violette's Peanut Butter Cookies:
1 C. Sugar
1 C. Peanut Butter
Mix ingredients, flatten 'em like ya do with PB cookies, bake 'em at 350 degrees until they're done.
Sara Jean has learned to add just a touch of vanilla for flavoring and I like that, but it's not really necessary for excellent cookies.
Your peanut butter must be oily. We use Kroger's store brand and Sara Jean mixes half crunchy and half creamy Peanut Butter. I've tried Peter Pan PB and the cookies don't maintain their integrity coming out of the oven.
Some of my peeps reading this blog have actually masticated these wonderful morsels. Maybe a few of them can vouch for what I have written here.
How 'bout it Peeps?
26 December 2008
-Everyone smiles at the goofy guy wearing the Santa hat.
-Virtually everyone you meet while traveling is nice.
-No matter how comfortable the bed, sleeping in a strange room in a strange bed with another dude in the bed next to ya DOES NOT lead to restful sleep.
-Some people pass gas loud enough while sleeping to wake you.
(See above. I wasn't sleeping that deeply, but I thought Gabriel was sounding his trumpet!)
-While flying on Christmas Eve, you have airways and airports pretty much to yourself.
-Climbing to 9500 feet indicated with a sinus blockage is damned uncomfortable.
-Descending from 9500 feet with a sinus blockage is more uncomfortable.
-Tailwinds truly are a gift from God. Strong tailwinds are a near-miracle.
-A backup pair of sunglasses is only a luxury if you don't lose your first pair.
-There are too few good restaurants at, or within walking distance of small airports.
-Airport courtesy cars, although clean and serviceable, never seem to have fewer than 150,000 miles.
-Those airports I know have courtesy cars have first priority on my list of places to stay overnight.
-GPS may be the most dramatic change in aviation... or maybe even life, in my experience.
-There is a whole lotta country out there where you can go a long way without running into another soul.
-Anything living in the desert has a hard time making a living.
-I'm ready to do it again. Let's go!
25 December 2008
Flying locally can be a little like that. Dealing with familiar things... airport, landmarks, flying an aircraft you are accustomed to... you can relax and enjoy the sensory part of flying. There is almost no planning involved, and little worry about flying into "restricted" or "prohibited" airspace... you know where that is and know exactly how to avoid it.
Flying cross-country, particularly in a brand-new aircraft, is a little like renting a car in a big, unfamiliar city and trying to efficiently make it across town in a short amount of time. It comes with all sorts of stresses:
-You're flying a brand new aircraft.
Moving parts sometimes take a while to realize they all need to work as a team in order for the machine to do its job. Knowing this, you know you have to keep an eye (or ear) out for trouble.
-There truly is airspace out there you have to avoid or you'll be in big trouble. As an example, Disneyland is now a "no-fly" area. Accidentally overfly Disneyland and a commercial pilot may find himself without a certificate to earn a living.
-In your local area you know the signs dangerous weather is approaching. You know what to watch for and you know which indicators need immediate action and which can be put on a "watch" list. Flying far from home takes you out of this comfort zone. Unfamiliar terrain and unfamiliar weather patterns rightfully cause a little stress in a transient pilot. Smart cross-country pilots will seek the advice of a local pilot the moment she/he begins to feel uncomfortable with anything out of the ordinary.
-Ferrying an aircraft normally means you're on some sort of schedule. Someone wants the machine in a certain place at a certain time, and $$$$ are being spent to insure that happens. Just keeping everyone informed of your progress and happy with the situation can also be stressful.
We had some of all of that this trip. As I've indicated, the R44 gave us NO trouble at all... it ran like a sewing machine both days. We did however encounter some threatening weather, and anxiously watched the weather channel and took a look at weather radar whenever it was available at our fuel stops. We truly thought our last day would be delayed or postponed due to ice... we simply cannot fly in freezing rain, freezing drizzle, or a mix of snow/sleet/anything with "freezing" preceding the type of precipitation. Thankfully the forecast 24 hours prior to our flight Wednesday was wrong, wrong, wrong! We flew a little over 8 hours Wednesday without a cloud in the sky.
Little airports are like little towns... they roll up the sidewalk and shut down the lights at dusk. I don't like flying a new machine at night, but made an exception this time because we had several hours under our belts in this helicopter and it seemed to be working just fine, and we wanted to be home with family for Christmas. Still, we stayed VERY CLOSE to Interstate highways after dark, just in case something went "bump" in the night. Thank God, nothing went bump.
But flying after dark requires special planning for fuel and services. Little airports normally have signs in the terminal window saying "After hours call ....." with a telephone number for someone supposedly on call to come ASAP and fuel you if you need it, and they charge a call-out fee that makes this painful. If they're doing something they don't want to leave, like sleeping at 4 A.M., they sometimes won't answer the phone or will tell you "I'll be there in 3 hours." NOT GOOD.
So it's better to plan your stops around bigger airports with airline or commuter service after dark... there is almost always someone already there to pump your fuel.
And that's what we did last night. Fuel at bigger airports is normally more expensive, but it's not as expensive as fuel+ call out fee.
I love ferrying helicopters home from California. We get to see about 2/3rds of the country up close and very personal, and we're traveling at a speed that is fast enough not to be boring. We can fly low enough to see flora and fauna... we saw deer and wild pigs on this trip. Just North of Tucson we could see a fenced-in area full of critters we knew were different, and upon checking found several hundred ostriches slightly uncomfortable with our low pass. We're low enough that my (still pretty great) eyes can read the road signs and tell how far it is to EL Paso, for instance.
This particular trip went normally. For that I am grateful.
I don't recommend doing it with the remnants of a cold.
I do think most of you would enjoy the experience though.
Buy a helicopter and I'll give you an experience you'll remember the rest of your life!
And again, thanks to all for following along, and thanks especially for those with advice and comments.
24 December 2008
Weather looks good for getting outta here. We may catch up with this frontal movement on our way home and have to sit and wait for it to move in front of us, but if we can make it home for Christmas we'll be there!
Tim, Frank had the Angus Cheeseburger and fries at Marana. I had the Turkey with lettuce and tomato and onion rings. It wasn't the Ritz, but we were hungry and both sandwiches went down quite quickly. I'll take your suggestion at CHD at some point in the future though, and your lunch is on me.
Normally our first stop out of ELP is at Carlsbad, N.M.. It's a long leg, depending on wind... a little over two hours in the R44. If winds keep blowin' up our ass we might even make Hobbs, N.M., and that's what we'll try for... longer legs with fewer stops today because we have a little more faith in the reliability of this new machine. So far it has performed perfectly... burning less oil (but a little more fuel) than normal. All that may settle down as the day progresses.
Frank brought an MP3 player and has the ability to plug it into the intercom system. We've been listening to Beach Boys, Doobies, Eagles, Elvis, Herman's Hermits (!), and Cher. I've been thankful for the extra room the R44 provides... you can actually do a little boogying in that seat without changing the CG a great deal.
I can see home just over the horizon folks, and it feels great.
C'mon weather... give us a break!
23 December 2008
Out of Torrance this morning just after 9 A.M... gorgeous weather and wind out of the West.
First stop at Blythe California at 11 or so. Second stop at Marana, AZ, just north of Tucson. It had just finished raining at Marana and there were clouds noticeably building South of Tucson. We shot the gap between Davis-Monthan and Tucson International in a light rain, watching anxiously as low scud and rain showers grew South of us. But Interstate 10 makes a turn to the East just South of Tucson, and that turn kept us clear of the really ugly stuff. Visibilities went to about 10 miles in rain with moderate turbulence at Lordsburg, but headlights on the highway were comforting. And that was the worst of it... by the time we got to Deming the visibility improved dramatically. We landed ELP just after sundown, so the lights of Juarez were fantastic. It's 64 degrees here and the only thing keeping it from being perfect is a wind of about 10 knots... I'm glad to have a jacket.
We've had a tailwind all the way. I didn't realize until we started that Frank had brought his own Garmin 295, and his gps was indicating a ground speed of 147 knots most of the trip today. Keith's R44 is smooth and a joy to fly. We're having a ball, except we're watching sleet/snow/rain/mix along our route tomorrow. I plan to take an Easterly route out of ELP tomorrow to try to stay South of the freeze line, then tack Northbound after the front has passed our destination.
Keep your fingers crossed for us.
We're in good spirits. The extra day in L.A. was just what the Doc ordered for my coughing and snotting. I'm MUCH improved today, and Frank is thankful for that, although he's not without a cough or sneeze now and then himself.
Early start tomorrow. Home by nightfall?
Hope so. Christmas at home would be wonderful.
22 December 2008
We're done for the day. All the paperwork is done. Preflight is done. Stuff we need for the flight is already on board the R44. The delivery guys have been advised to push the aircraft onto the flight line first thing in the morning.
Front Desk Clerk Marlene is aware we'll be needing our room at the Ramada one more night. The forecast for tomorrow is better, but that forecast indicates we'll be fighting a rain/sleet/snow mix all the way home from the Texas panhandle. Not fun. I hope the forecast is wrong.
Big Bubba is home from Arizona. Sara Jean is on the way to pick him up as I post this. It's nice Sara Jean won't be alone tonight, but I sure wish I was there with them both to share this holiday time.
(You guys think of me while watching "The Snowman", and be prepared to watch it again when I'm home!)
Still more, later.
KEITH DID IT!
More on that in a sec.
It's raining. It's foggy.
I first brought a helicopter home from Torrance in 1988. Eighteen trips later and I awake to find, for the very first time, rain and poor visibilities. Traffic copters are zipping over the highways, but those folks know where every wire and tower is in the local area. Remember, Ol' Greybeard falls into the category of "Old Pilot" because he most generally avoided being a "Bold Pilot". Takeoff is gonna be delayed today, and may be postponed until much later... forecast winds in the foothills when this stuff blows Eastward are 50 knots. Ouch.
Keith is the new owner of this machine. When we made the arrangement for me to provide ferry services for him he said, "I'll have Mary Ann make your flight reservations, you take care of everything else."
What a deal.
He booked us on Southwest airlines, which brought a smile to my face. But we first flew to Jacksonville, Florida, then to Seattle Washington, then on to L.A..
That's because I just lied to ya. It's not quite that bad. Here's the true story:
We flew to Dallas Love, then to Albuquerque, and then to LAX. We were on airplanes or in airports more than 8 hours yesterday. THANK YOU KEITH! See if I allow Mary Ann to make my flight reservations again in this lifetime! NOT!
Booked into the Ramada, we went and ate Chinese. WARNING: When they say HOT and SPICY in Southern Cal. and you order "General Tso's Chicken", be sure you are in a restaurant where they provide unlimited beverage refills... you're gonna need 'em. I'm ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE I'll be reminded tomorrow of the wonderful meal we had last night!
Back in the motel room we got out charts and started initial planning for today's trip. Keith loaned us his new Garmin 496... nice gesture, huh? We had a 296 set out to bring along with us, but Keith's offer of the 496 was too good to refuse. I bought new batteries for it and Frank got the 496 out of his bag to install them. The Garmin looked like a Christmas tree with no star on top...
NO ANTENNA! New batteries or old, it's worthless to us! KEITH DID IT!
So now we wait and watch. There is a break in the weather forecast this afternoon and I'd like to get started Eastbound, even if we can only make it a short distance.
Please don't worry. I promise decisions will be made with safety utmost on the agenda.
Thanks for the generous offer. I'll keep your phone number at hand, and at minimum would like to buy lunch at some point. Keep your ears open for my ring.
21 December 2008
Did I pack everything I need?
Can't sleep. Woke at 5 A.M. and turned on the Weather Channel to see what the next few days have in store for us. Old man Winter blew in pretty forcefully here last night...
Temps down near single digits and the wind is invading the house wherever it can. Desi the Dachshund is still here visiting with us from Arizona and I think he's in total shock that it's not 70 degrees outside. Both dogs sleep with us, under the covers, and now I need to know... what's normal body temp for a dog? Whatever it is, thank GOD for it! They're better than any hot water bottle.
Within the half hour I'll be out the door with single carry-on in hand. Charts, hand-held radio, toiletries and clothing for three days. I have to be back at work in the BK bright and early Christmas morning, so there's little room for any surprises on this trip. Weather or maintenance glitches? I'll be forced into a rental car and we'll have to formulate a "plan B".
A side note for Tim and others:
There is a line of folks champing at the bit to make this trip home with me. I feel somewhat like Rod Blagojevich... what's my highest bid for this seat? Former student Frank is coming along with me this time. Making the trip will qualify him to make the next one by himself, and it'll be nice having another pilot capable to fly a machine Eastbound if I cannot do it myself.
The Weather Channel says L.A. will be 64 today, so it's a great day to vacate the Midwest. Viet Nam crew chief Warlord 840 cannot meet me this time so I'll be taxiing down the Pacific Coast Highway to Torrance and will have to find my own way to a good Mexican dinner. Yeah, next time Slick!
Wifi available, I'll post updates as possible. And this time I'm gonna try to take bunch of pictures to share, rather than put more mileage on a camera that gets left in its case.
Thanks everyone for your kind thoughts.
19 December 2008
Please, please, please, I want to get well.
Once again I'm headed to Los Angeles Sunday to spend the night at the Ramada Inn in Torrance. Bright and early Monday morning I'll sign my name to take possession of a machine much like the one pictured, then start Eastbound with it. This will be trip number 19 with a Robinson helicopter. I'm more concerned about weather this time than in past journeys... it's rained a lot in the Phoenix area this week. Maybe all that will be clear by the time we need to pass through. But the forecast is for a real "Alberta Clipper" to clobber the Midwest this weekend, and I'm a little fearful of what that might bring for my leg from EL Paso back into America's heartland.
Oh well, serenity prayer time, right?
We're still short a pilot at our base. I have to be back at my full-time job Christmas night. I need your kind thoughts and prayers.
Updates will be forthcoming.
18 December 2008
17 December 2008
So I gotta walk a balance beam here. At some point I hope to be able to share the problem with you but for now I'll just say, indirectly it has something to do with this post.
We're short a pilot at our base. We're short a pilot at several of our bases. Not long ago, if I called in sick, some greedy guy would jump on the chance to fill my slot at time-and-a-half.
I've worked 21 of the past 23 shifts. On New Year's day I will have worked 25 of December's 31 days. Big paychecks just before Christmas are wonderful, but two nights ago Sara Jean asked, "Are we okay?" It's been too long since we've had "together" time. We're both feeling the strain.
I've got a mild bug. I'm hackin', blowin' my nose, continually clearing my throat. So far, I've been controlling it with over the counter meds. But bein' short a pilot makes truly taking care of yourself difficult... there's no "down time".
Another of our pilots called in sick this morning. There's no one to take his place. Our BK sat idle in the hangar all day. My lead pilot just called and asked if I could come in an hour or two early to get the aircraft and crew back in service. I blew my nose, coughed, and said I'd be there.
Mucous. I'm intimately familiar with it right now and trying to figure an interesting way to blog about it.
You've been warned.
The idea came to me in that half-asleep state you sometimes experience as you first wake...
We're intent on saving the American auto industry and the jobs they provide, right? No matter the efficiency of these efforts or the economic sense of pouring money down a rat-hole... Jobs are to be preserved!
So... Why not "save" Studebaker?
Studebaker shuttered their auto making business in 1966, idling a big plant in the heart of the nation and leaving thousands of production workers, dealers, salespersons, parts suppliers, mechanics, and other associated workers out of jobs.
But all Studebaker's problems could be overcome with an infusion of, say, 15 Billion dollars, and the economy of South Bend Indiana would be revitalized by the plant's reopening.
The 1964 Studebaker Avanti shown above still looks like a car from the future. With a rust-free fiberglass body, an integral roll bar, and the first use of disc brakes by a major (?) U.S. automaker, it was YEARS ahead of its time. Take a look at the 1953 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe and I think you'll agree, Studebaker built beautiful, innovative cars. If we're gonna save this industry, why not reward folks that were making interesting, cutting-edge automobiles?
President Bush.... If you're gonna throw tons of money at a problem, logic be damned, throw a few Billions toward South Bend, Indiana!
16 December 2008
15 December 2008
Retail outlets have been playing Christmas music since Halloween. Right now I'm listening to Jose Feliciano sing "Feliz Navidad" on the Sirius music channel on DishTV. Sara Jean and I try to watch all the old classic Christmas movies this time of year- "The Bishop's Wife", "It's A Wonderful Life", and "Miracle On 34th Street" to name a few.
I have to watch "The Christmas Story" solo... she either doesn't understand or refuses to try to understand the humor there...
(At ten years my junior, maybe there's a generational disconnect?)
I can't say why I had never watched "White Christmas"... maybe it was because it was a musical, but Sara Jean and I had been together several years when we just happened to have it on the TV while we were doing other things, not really paying attention. Close to the end of the movie there is a dance scene, and I can only say when I glanced at the screen I was dumbstruck... stopped dead in my tracks watching the dancer's performance. At some point I noticed the dancer was having the same effect on my wife. When the scene was over we both noticeably exhaled and said "Wow, that gal has got some legs!" At that point I mistakenly thought it was Mitzi Gaynor.
But this dancer/actress's name is Vera-Ellen. Look at the pictures and see if you agree the two actresses resemble one another.
Here's the video clip that had me and my wife thunderstruck:
Like the Glenn Miller post below, Vera's life doesn't have a "storybook ending". In the clip you can see she is wearing a high neck... that's to disguise the fact that she was anorexic and her neck looked older than her years. In 1963 her infant daughter died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and she apparently never fully recovered from that blow. She died of Cancer at the age of 60.
It's bittersweet to watch this scene from the movie and take such pleasure in it, knowing she had so many troubles in her personal life. She danced with the best-
Astaire, Kelly, and in this movie, Danny Kaye.
Before she died I hope she was aware of how many of us love to watch her do what she did best.
Watching this clip, I'm still in awe.
14 December 2008
We lost him 64 years ago today. His Wikipedia entry is here, where you can read that trying to volunteer for service in WWII at age 38, initially none of the services were interested in him. Read the "Disappearance" section there... then read this link and come to your own conclusion about the mystery of his death.
Patriot and hero... his music still makes ya "pat your foot".
11 December 2008
I have a suggestion for my male friends back in Indiana...
Grow a full beard and long, bushy moustache.... long enough to cover your lips.
Shave the whole works off when you get home from the DMV.
Who do these damn people think they work for?
08 December 2008
"Weather check for Limetown, please."
"We can do that."
"Then your scene flight is a go. It's an MVA with extrication still in progress. We'll have more information to relay when you're airborne."
I was napping. I don jacket, stocking cap, and gloves and step outside toward the helicopter. My breath is taken away...
The temperature has dropped and the wind has picked up... 16 degrees F. with 12 knots of wind from the Northwest.
I start both engines, take off, and quickly turn on the bleed-air heater.
"Your coordinates are ********************.
Your patient is a 23 year old male victim of a two-car head-on collision. They are still extricating him. You are the second aircraft to respond to this scene. (Our competitor) has an aircraft on the ground at the scene now. Your point of contact is Unit 7201 on Fire-Mutual Aid."
I punch in the coordinates and announce "Our ETA is 12 minutes."
I change the frequency on my secondary radio to Fire-Mutual Aid and contact Unit 7201. He gives us LZ information and an update on our now extricated patient. Our patient is the unrestrained driver of one of the cars and somehow found himself trapped halfway outside the car when the machinery came to a stop and the dust settled.
In addition to having two broken legs, he's bruised and contused all over.
With 50 miles visibility, we see the flashing lights at the scene, 20 miles distant . The air-to-air frequency crackles...
"****** 4 this is ######### 8, over." It's our competitor.
I can see his anti-collision light as he lifts from the scene. He fills in details about the LZ and tells us his destination. I appreciate his professionalism.
We circle and recon the accident scene. There are wires to the East and South of our landing area and the wind is strongly out of the Northwest, so I'll have to cross over the wires to land. We're landing in a newly harvested soybean field, but we've had enough rain lately that dust and debris shouldn't be much of a problem. The ground guys have 4 red strobes marking the LZ for us. West of the scene we see 4 flashlights, well dispersed, searching for something. South of the scene we see 3 more searchers, also well dispersed.
"Base, *******4 is landing scene".
After turning on my fixed landing lights and adjusting my two moveable searchlights I say to my crew:
"As usual gang, this will be steep and slow. Shout if you see anything."
Safely on the ground my crew unloads the stretcher and heads to the ambulance. I log my landing time and exact coordinates, then dismount to keep innocents from walking into the tail rotor. The scene commander approaches and shakes my hand. I ask about the searchers....
"One of the victims thinks one of the passengers walked off, dazed and confused."
To myself I wonder if we'll be coming back here later for a hypothermia patient.
From a knoll behind our BK117 I can see the scene-
Two small cars collided head-on, and both cars have extensive left-front damage. The roof of one car has been cut at the "A" pillars and folded back over the trunk and the driver's door is bent open...
Our victim's car?
Ten minutes pass and my crew approaches with the assistance of two ground personnel... a guy at each corner of the stretcher trying to smooth the way across the rutted soybean field. I stand guard to insure no one strays too far toward the rear of the aircraft. Patient loaded, I direct our helpers away from the aircraft, then close the clamshell doors as my crew boards the aircraft. I do a final walk around to insure all doors are secure and nothing is hanging outside the aircraft, board, plug in, buckle up, and bring the engines to operating RPM. Searchlights/landing lights back on, I sweep the moveable searchlight left to right in several sweeps as we takeoff and climb out. I turn the heater on full-blast to help warm our patient. The flight to and landing at the Trauma Center are routine.
Now, please consider-
How do you dress when driving on these Winter days?
I'm not sure what time this accident happened, but the scene was in a very rural area, so from the time of the accident let's assume it took EMS personnel 20 minutes to arrive. After their arrival it took another 20 minutes to free our patient who was trapped by the mangled driver's door.
In shirtsleeves, he was exposed to 16 degree temperatures and 12 knot winds for at least 40 minutes. Had he and other people involved in this accident not been near homes that heard and quickly reported the collision, those times would have been much longer.
The force of any collision could break (all?) windows and will certainly send loose articles in the car flying. So if you are trapped you'd better be wearing warm clothing...
If you're immobilized you won't be able to search for and put them on, post-collision.
When driving, do you dress to prepare to be exposed to such conditions?
You (we) should!
04 December 2008
03 December 2008
02 December 2008
01 December 2008
I had never talked about it, so my son was surprised.
He was making a movie... a requirement toward his college degree. One of the characters in his movie was a cop doing a drug investigation, and my son had bought a cheesy looking plated pot-metal badge for the cop to flash in his movie.
"I was a Deputy Sheriff and I have a real badge and case you can use instead of that ugly thing."
"Man Dad! What else don't I know about you?"
Lots and lots.
I dug out my old badge case and he put it to good use in his film...
He got an "A" on that project, too!
My primary duty in what was, at the time, the fastest growing County in the Midwest, was to fly the helicopter to support the ground cops. Watching them doing their jobs convinced me I never wanted to actually do "Police work".
Cops have my ETERNAL GRATITUDE...
Even Barney Fife is at risk every day he puts on the uniform.
Wearing a regular holster in a helicopter is problematic. Those of you that have been reading "Pitchpull" since 2005 may remember I carried a .38 Special in a regular holster in Viet Nam and used it as genital body armor in order to keep it out of the way of the flight controls.
As a Deputy I carried a piece almost exactly like this one, and at the suggestion of another Deputy, carried it in a shoulder holster.
ON OR OFF DUTY, I carried one of these concealed in an ankle holster. During my three years as a Deputy I never had to pull either weapon from its holster, but it was always comforting knowing at least I had the .380 with me, "just in case".
(Along with some other nice, [bigger] hardware, I still have both guns.)
The latest Muslim savagery in Mumbai has badly shaken and angered me. I think, as a country, we are in BIG trouble because much of our population is still acting like the ostrich with its head buried... some of us refuse to admit we are at war with fundamentalist Muslims. It's my fear the fact we are at war will be obvious to all, and soon. Let me explain:
Watching my sitemeter, I've noticed an odd thing...
I'm now into my fourth year blogging, and in that time I've published 830 posts. One of those posts continues to draw a great deal of attention... This one.
Read the comments there, and realize I reject those that are profane or indecipherable. In light of the horrors we've just seen in Mumbai, I'm now wishing I could legally strap on that shoulder and ankle holster.
Police in Mumbai couldn't respond instantly to citizen's needs, and that's true of most communities...
The "joke" I often hear is "Minutes away when seconds count." Some of the Mumbai Police refused to do their jobs and defend the citizenry. What effect might an armed and trained populace have had on those events?
I fear for my family and I'm tired of being afraid. I'm also tired of feeling naked.
I refuse to be a helpless victim. It's time to get comfortable making tight groups in silhouettes again.
28 November 2008
27 November 2008
Help me here-
Is Barack Hussein Obama, former Junior Senator from Illinois, saying those that voted someone with virtually "no experience in Washington whatsoever" into the office of President of the United States,
Sounds like it to me.
For that, I give thanks.
If I hear a strange noise outside my window I can pick up the telephone, hardline or cell, and in a few minutes there'll be someone checking to see if I'm in danger. There's risk involved in that, and there are folks willing to take on that risk.
For that, I give thanks.
Power, water, phone service all work perfectly. If ever they should quit, someone will immediately begin the process of restoring those services. Sometimes there is risk involved there too. Most generally there is discomfort, either weather or just being pulled away unexpectedly from friends and loved ones. But they come, nevertheless.
For that, I give thanks.
If all this eating causes my heart to stop, someone will risk their lives to hurry and load my fat carcass onto a stretcher and race me toward the help I need, again, involving some degree of risk. But someone is willing to take that risk.
For that, I give thanks.
Right now there are brave people halfway around the world being shot at, exposed to explosive devices of all sorts, also physically removed from family and friends. I'm amazed at the number of heroes willing to take on that risk, in spite of so many of our fellow citizens giving aid and comfort to our enemies.
For that, I am overwhelmed.
Heavenly Father, I don't say it often enough-
Thank you for making me one of the richest people on earth.
AH1-G's were arriving, and with each new "Snake" we had to give up one of our UH1-C "Charley Models".
We were down to two "Charleys", so now and then I was tasked to fly as Co-Pilot carrying our Infantry squad in our UH1-H "Slick".
I had gone to Operations to check the tasking board the night before and found I would be "on standby" as Co-Pilot on the slick. This meant my chances of actually flying were pretty slim, so I felt comfortable partying and drinking with friends until the wee hours of the morning.
I dragged myself out of bed at first light, still feeling the residual effects of far too many adult beverages, pre-flighted the aircraft, and rushed back to bed to sleep... hopefully beyond the coming headache.
"Sir! Sir! They need you to scramble RIGHT NOW!"
It's the CQ runner from Operations.
Bleery eyed, I check my watch. It's 0930. I still need another three hours shuteye or so...
This can't be happening.
"Skeeter's been shot down!"
Skeeter was the call sign of our little OH-6 Scout.
Outta bed and into my flight suit... I grab and strap on my .38 revolver and my "chicken plate" body armor, then jog 300 feet to the flight line. Tom, the Aircraft Commander, cranks the Huey as soon as he sees me headed his way.
We fly to the scene of the crash and circle. The little bird is on it's side burning. It's pilot and gunner/observer have been rescued, the crew chief didn't get out in time. We see lots of bad guys flitting below from one covered area to another, and our gunships are hosing those areas down with mini-gun and rockets.
I'm beginning to be uncomfortable.
Pretty quickly I realize I've made a big mistake...
In my rush to get airborne I should have taken a few seconds to hit the latrine. I need to pee, and I'm beginning to feel some gastro-intestinal pain due to having too much fun the night before. Landing is impossible... we can see bad guys running all around beneath us.
The pressure got worse.
Finally I can stand the pain no longer. I fill the seat of my flight suit with warm, mushy stench. I'm not in pain any longer, but I'm now squishing around in my own waste and the foul smell makes everyone on the aircraft almost as uncomfortable as me.
Back home, I undressed in the shower and scrubbed myself down.
Lesson indelibly learned...
From that day forward I limited my alcohol intake before flying, even if I was just on standby. And I never got into another helicopter without first making a "pit-stop".
25 November 2008
Democrats are gonna pass this "card check" law, effectively allowing unions to legally use "Mafia" tactics.
Put yourself in the shoes of an employer faced with the higher costs that will inevitably result. If you are already being squeezed competitively because of high operating costs, what good choices do you have here?
-Fire or lay off employees.
-Reduce size, quality, or functionality of your product.
-Automate if possible, providing the long-term outlook indicates you can recover the costs.
-Move your operation offshore.
-Follow Detroit's lead and go bankrupt.
Sure democrats, that'll work!
Am I missing something?
Is this the "Hope and Change" Obama supporters voted for?
This is the path we're following, so all we have to do is watch the outcome there.
God help us, because we don't seem to have the intelligence to help ourselves.
All in ONE HANGAR:
(Click it to BIG it.)
Maybe the last Me-109 ever built.
Another angle of the above aircraft.
Me-109 tail feathers.
1963 Corvette Split-Window Coupe
DeTomaso Pantera, with Triumph (TR-6?) peeking just behind.
All belong to friend, Dr. Leo.
He intends to bring the Me-109 back to airworthy condition, and is no fool...
he know$ exactly what that will entail.
Still, he just bought a Folke-Wulf Fw 190, also in need of restoration, rather than allow it to slip away. Rebuilding the 109 will take precedence.
Big Boys, Big Toys.
But he's preserving history and I'm glad he and others are willing to do that for the rest of us.
Thank you Dr. Leo!
24 November 2008
Chicago is deep blue... a strong union town.
We were assaulted with BDS from the time we walked in the door. I'm actually quite patient when I have to be, so I absorbed the nearly constant barrage for three days. No amount of reasoning would convince our host that the problems GWB faced were inherited from the Clinton administration...
According to him, ALL the ills the country faced were Bush's fault... less than a year from assuming the office.
I found my limit... it's about three days.
There's a silver lining to every black cloud... I don't feel compelled to drive to Chicago any longer.
So now I have a yardstick to use, provided by my Chicago loved ones...
If all the country's ills are not resolved by October of 2009, that will be because "The One" has failed us, right?
I'll make you a wager now-
Obama's "fixes" for the country will probably make most problems worse. Solutions that do work will take longer than A.D.D. suffering constituents will like.
But it will all be Bush's fault...
For four years.
Who wants to take my money?
22 November 2008
Coffee is bad for you.
What's the latest "Scientific" ruling this week?
I've written before what a huge coffee drinker my Old Man was...
He probably drank more than a half-gallon per day, yet slept like a baby.
I like coffee, but when I drink more than four or five cups you'd think I have palsy.
Sara Jean is an addictive personality. When I first met her she didn't drink coffee, but Dad changed that in one weekend. All he had to do was show her how to add cream and sugar, and she was nearly keeping pace with his consumption. And though Dad is now gone, his tradition of coffee drinking continues in his beloved Daughter-in-law. Our "Mr. Coffee" perks an "Army pot" at 6 A.M., and if I don't roll my lazy hindquarters out of bed by 8, I'll have to brew a new pot... she'll smile like the Cheshire Cat and shrug her shoulders, and be second in line for a cup when the next pot finishes.
I don't know how folks like Dad and Sara Jean do it. Obviously, others have the same thoughts:
20 November 2008
19 November 2008
One of the fondest memories of my life started off badly. I need to give you a little background so you'll better understand...
He barely made it into High School, but my Dad was one of the smartest people on earth.
Give him something that didn't work and he generally could figure out why it wouldn't function.
Most frequently, if it was fixable he could fix it.
But if you looked in the dictionary under MACHO, you'd see a picture of my Dad. There was nothing he hated worse than being embarrassed. He'd do ANYTHING to avoid being thrust into a situation where he might be embarrassed.
Dad flew airplanes, and was fascinated by helicopters. When the guy that was supposed to come home from California with me in an R22 canceled out, Dad jumped at my offer to fill the seat.
I was delighted with the idea of spending three days flying cross-country with my Old Man.
I borrowed a Garmin 296 GPS from a friend for the trip. To my Dad I said, "Getting out of the L.A. basin, unfamiliar with the area, with all that controlled airspace and all the student pilot traffic is always stressful. I need your help to stay out of trouble."
So I put the unit in "simulation mode" and handed it to him-
"You can't hurt it Dad. Play around with it until you're comfortable. Let me know if you have any questions." And I walked away figuring he'd be busy for an hour or so.
Fifteen minutes later I check on him and find the unit turned off, sitting next to him on the end table. I disguise the fact that I'm furious as I ask, "So, you know how that thing works now?"
"I'm afraid I'm gonna break it."
I know him well enough to know it's hopeless. I'm stuck with flying, navigating, communicating, and avoiding other traffic safely out of L.A. with a live bag of potatoes in the co-pilot seat.
And with the necessary planning I did fine. I had Dad hold the 296 where I could refer to it, and he watched as I pushed buttons to get the information I needed. He watched as the moving map on the unit unfolded. He shook his head in amazement as he'd look at the airplane on the 296 fly over a railroad track, then look below the helicopter to see we were EXACTLY over a railroad track.
When we got home he asked, "How much do these things cost?"
Then he went and bought a Garmin Streetpilot III.
It wasn't cheap. At the time, I think he paid $1,300 for the thing. For three years he enjoyed showing it off to all his friends and family. A few days before he died, he gave it to me, and five years later it still works great.
But time marches on, and I've been exposed to newer GPS units. You've probably seen them or seen them advertised...
These machines talk to you.
They prompt you to enter an address and then guide you to your destination.
Push the "home" button, and they will guide you home when you are hopelessly lost in a scary neighborhood.
Two weeks ago, Sara Jean bought this unit for me.
For a little over $200 we got the GPS and a bean-bag mount that sits securely on the dash to keep the unit in place. I'll be able to program it and be confident Sara Jean won't drive into that dangerous neighborhood. Many of you probably have a GPS already. Those of you that don't, for whatever reason, need to look into buying one. And cost shouldn't be an issue...
We've seen some good ones selling for as little as $100 on EBay. Big Bubba bought one and is more than satisfied with it.
Pilots, have you ever used these?
Yeah, I know... Yikes! A thousand dollars?
We have two of them in the R22, and I think they're worth the cost. It's difficult to describe the amount of noise they cancel out. If you've never used them, find someone that has a set and have them demonstrate them to you. You'll be amazed.
In certain frequency ranges I'm nearly deaf. I believe a pilot starting her/his career today using an active-noise-canceling headset may not suffer my fate at career's end.
Here too, perfectly good substitutes are available for a lot less than $1,000.
There are several models of noise canceling headphones intended for use in non-aviation environments that are reasonably priced. I'll assume they're as effective as the aviation headsets at reducing noise levels, and I'd recommend buying one if your work exposes you to a lot of noise.
Sometimes gadgets seem like toys...
Until you start using them and get accustomed to 'em.
Then, (remember your first microwave oven?), you wonder "How did I ever get along without that?"
17 November 2008
14 November 2008
Since I was a kid, Popular Mechanics magazine has done this to me-
"Amazing new process promises Golden-Egg laying goose in every household!" And inevitably the article comes with wonderful pictures to help you visualize the goose dropping the golden orb into its nest on your hearth. Life will be nearly perfect.
I wish I had a nickel for every "build your own helicopter" article I've read. I'm disgusted enough with those that I quickly skip them... AFTER looking at the pictures.
Regular readers know I have a 32 mile drive to work. For this post, that's an important number. With present battery technology, 30-40 miles seems to be the max. range for most of the electric cars I've researched...
That's with NEW batteries and optimum weather conditions. And that leaves many questions unanswered:
-What if it's raining and I have to use windshield wipers for the entire drive?
-What effect will headlights have on nighttime range?
-What will cold temperatures do to battery performance?
-What about heat during Winter... A/C in the Summer?
I've had an ongoing conversation with a friend/former classmate about a movie she saw-
"Who Killed The Electric Car?"
It's another of those "Michael Moore" style movies that suggests there was some sort of Government/Big Oil conspiracy to keep electrics from gaining a foothold.
I'm really skeptical.
We've all used golf carts.
We have one at the airport that we use to run errands there. It's a wonderful tool and we use it a lot. But the batteries get weaker and weaker, shrinking the range of the cart until they have to be replaced. Then WOW... the cost of replacing the batteries is quite a shock!
Some time ago we discussed this same topic when Tesla issued the press release on their Roadster. Obviously it is gorgeous. It's also very quick, and Tesla claimed a range that would make it practical for me to use on my daily commute. But there was a six-figure problem: It comes with a $140,000 price tag. At $5 per gallon for gasoline, I could drive my present beater 700,000 miles with that money.
And then there's this.
Even with a six-figure price tag rich folks were lining up to buy the car, yet Tesla can't seem to get the cars to prospective buyers. Remember the DeLorean, folks? There's a reason we don't see new companies getting into the automobile business every day.
But with the present energy environment electrics are sexy. I've been watching this one for some time now. It's interesting because it will have "motorcycle" status in many states and will sneak underneath the safety requirements for cars, thereby lessening production costs. (Not to say it's not safe... check the link for details.)
Now, again thanks to Popular Mechanics magazine, I'm watching the new kid on the block. Sexy. An enthusiasts car, promising useful range. But there's still that $$$$ problem, isn't there?
At some point there will be a "Wilbur and Orville" moment in this industry, and it all revolves around some sort of battery revolution. We're not quite there yet.
But maybe tomorrow?
I'll keep reading Popular Mechanics and I'll update ya when something exciting happens.
13 November 2008
Try to imagine how I feel today.
11 November 2008
There were seven Infantry troops aboard the Huey.
Add Pilot, Co-Pilot, Crew Chief and Gunner, and you come up with 11 "Souls on Board".
If we found something of military interest on our recons, we could insert our "Animals" to investigate more closely. But something out of the ordinary popped up-
The Huey pilot called the team leader,
"Lead, Slick has a problem."
"What's your problem, Slick?"
"My transmission oil pressure is reading zero... segment caution light is on too."
"Well, what d'ya think?"
The Slick was a long way from friendly forces. Making a precautionary landing would put the entire crew at risk on the ground, and would cause lots of complications.
"I think we'll press on. If the transmission oil temperature goes up, I'll know we truly have a problem."
The transmission oil temperature gauge sending unit receives its reading from a probe that must be in contact with the oil flow to work properly. In a situation where the oil is all gone, it has nothing to read and will not indicate a rise in temperature.
This transmission was dry.
The Slick flew on for several minutes while the gears in the transmission, lacking the lubrication and cooling afforded by its oil supply, got hotter and hotter. It eventually got so hot it seized solid and the rotor came to a complete stop. The slick and all aboard plummeted 2,500 feet to the ground...
Eleven dead because the Pilot and Co-Pilot didn't know how the transmission lubrication system worked.
This incident happened to my Viet Nam unit shortly after I returned home.
The Pilot, a guy I knew well, was a serious, quiet, thoughtful young man.
Along with many others, I think of him and all the rest on that aircraft on Veterans Day.
Our military is the tip of our spear.
All who wear the uniform are at risk. We cannot say it often enough...
Thank you Veterans.
10 November 2008
I wasn't wrong.
You know the old saying, "All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing"?
Say it loud.
Say it again and again.
We are facing a very dangerous time in the country. Certain factions have bandied the terms "fascist" and "murderer" around so often and for so long, those words may have become meaningless to them, or they may have forgotten the true meaning of the words.
The same people that used them are now threatening and assaulting their fellow citizens.
Read it carefully.
Click and read the links.
Then realize, we are about to be represented by a democrat House of Representatives, a democrat Senate, and a democrat President who will likely nominate at least two activist Supreme Court Justices during his term...
Justices who are SUPPOSED to protect the freedom of speech of ALL citizens.
Hope and Change?
We're certainly getting the change.
And the thugs that resorted early in the Bush administration to allusion and nasty name-calling are HOPING for more of this.
God help us ALL to see the light.
09 November 2008
Those that have enjoyed GWB's malapropisms were concerned that the coming four years would be joyless. Imagine the rejoicing, hearing the treasure trove of "Bushisms" that issued forth:
"I have spoken to all of them (Presidents) that are living..."
Yep, he REALLY did say that!
Remind me... what is this guy's I.Q.?
Then, realizing what a foolish statement that was, he tried to make with the funny, and in doing so, made fun of an elderly widow. Bad form, mate.
At least he had the class to call and apologize to Nancy right away.
He's such an eloquent speaker, reading a prepared speech from a teleprompter. But when he "wings it" on his own, the sweat beads up on his forehead and he hems and haws and uhhhhs so much, he's really uncomfortable to watch. It's obvious he doesn't think quickly on his feet.
Regulars here know I view John McCain as "democrat lite", and had pretty much kissed this election off until he selected Sarah.
Liberal repubs are now attacking her with foolishness, fearful that another "Reagan Revolution" is about to take place.
Guess what sports fans...
Your fears are about to be realized.
The economy is a mess.
You can only "give the store away" for so long before the bills come due.
This economy was goin' into the pooper, no matter who was elected. Only question is, who would have the best ideas to bring us out of the malaise. Do we "bleed the patient" to rid it of toxins?
Recovery will be a long slog. No one is gonna be happy while we slog.
What happens to our military?
Will Obama support their mission, or will he follow through on his promise to an early withdrawal, thereby insuring Iraq will be another Viet Nam, as democrats have promised?
Will he cut the military budget so drastically we end up with another "Carter Era"?
And this Home Defense Corps he's planning...
What affect will that have on our fighting forces?
It'll be interesting to see how long it takes his adoring followers to realize he's just an ordinary man... a politician, brought up in the ways of Chicago politics.
Watching him stumble about in this press conference was a hoot.
And the malapropisms... What to call them?
My vote is for "Obama-Bushisms"!
07 November 2008
When I started blogging, I knew I didn't want to blog solely about flying. Flying is neat, and I've had many wonderful, and not-so-wonderful experiences flying,
I suspect I'll be able to blog about flying until I retire, and after. But I'm a curious sort and I wanted to blog about just about anything I encounter that interests me. Therefore, "Musings about life...."
It's obvious I enjoy jousting about politics. And if you're smart, you know most of life is about politics in one way or another. Those that realize that up front have a bit of an advantage in life.
But talking politics can cause tempers to rise.
The last few elections have been interesting and emotional because the country is split nearly 50/50, and voters on both sides think the other side is crazy and trying to destroy the country.
That ain't gonna change any time soon.
I started moderating comments two years ago.
I will publish a comment that vehemently disagrees with me, so long as the commenter makes an intelligent point, doesn't just rehash what he/she has already said, and isn't vulgar, stupid, or profane. In the two years I have been moderating comments I have "gleefully rejected" three comments...
One for profanity, one because it was mean-spirited and added nothing to the discussion, and one because it was stupid AND a personal attack on me... "The Decider".
And please, try to imagine my grin when I truly do "gleefully" push the button that commits a crappy comment to the ethereal ashcan-
"That'll make 'em angry!"
-Big Greybeard grin.
Some of you come here often because like me, you love blogs.
I was knocked out by "Little Green Football's" revelation that Dan Rather and CBS were lying about George Bush being AWOL a couple years ago. Those of us that read blogs regularly are better informed than other citizens because we are free to choose what subject to pursue and how deeply to pursue it. Commenters add a great deal to that learning experience.
And commenters should be allowed to say what's on their mind if they disagree.
So please, add to the conversation.
Just don't be stupid, profane, or dull.
06 November 2008
-McCain campaign workers apparently were upset when greeted by a Bath towel (bathrobe?) clad Sarah Palin.
Please, Sarah, greet me that way!
-In a comment below, DDF reminds us it took Jimmah to usher in the Reagan era.
We cannot forget that with each setback comes opportunity:
I still think this administration is going to be a disaster.
The mid-term elections are less than two years away.
Get to work.
05 November 2008
What a surprise...
What with Black Panthers with nightsticks and all the A.C.O.R.N. shenanigans, McCain had every right to pull an "AlGore" and muddy the waters for weeks to come. The fact he didn't says volumes, and illustrates the difference between class and classless.
Thank you Senator.
Some quick thoughts from my point of view:
Wonderful and horrible-
How wonderful that the U.S. showed a minority can accede to the highest office of the land!
Now that it is obvious minorities are truly equal, how long can affirmative action policies continue?
Are the days of thugs like Jesse Jackson coming to an end?
Will minorities in general, and blacks in particular now use Barack Obama as a role model, rather than Snoop Dogg?
We can hope.
But what a can of worms this man has been handed. And sadly... the methods he says he'll use to remedy the situation have been shown, historically, to make things worse.
I fear the next four years will be frustrating for him, and painful for us all.
And for Obama worshippers like Peggy Joseph, a huge disappointment is in store.
That's tough, and sad.
From the ashes rises the Phoenix.
The republican party is down so far, the bottom looks like up.
I'm hopeful party leaders will study the lessons of this election...
Nominating a "rino" and trying to attract left-leaning moderates almost made this election a fiasco. McCain's selecting Sarah Palin for a running mate re-invigorated his campaign. In order to survive, it's obvious the tack the party must take.
So here we are, making history.
Enjoy it now.
From this point on it will get painful.
They were showing video of the crowd celebrating Obama's victory outside the White House last night.
Carried by that happy crowd-
This flag, unnoticed by anyone but me, apparently.
Ten seconds later-
Video of a crowd somewhere in the Arab world, once again celebrating, carrying Old Glory like this.
UPDATE, 30 Minutes later.
Someone noticed and emailed.
Megyn focuses on the Hammer and Sickle.
Didn't turn out as I had hoped, but I take some degree of relief in the fact that, like any journey, you put one foot in front of the other until you get where you're goin'.
Things will get better, someday.
To those BHO supporters that stop by here- Congratulations.
Your candidate ran a smart campaign.
Many of us lived through the Carter years. Many have predicted the coming years will be as bad or worse than those years.
God help us.
I'm glad I'm not looking for a job in a technical field.
For those that didn't live through the Carter years, a primer is necessary:
When Jimmy Carter ran against Gerald Ford, he introduced most of us to
"the misery index"...
A simple formula-
The rate of inflation, added to the unemployment rate.
During his campaign in 1976 he asked voters, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"
Most folks had to answer no.
In 1976 the misery index stood at 14%.
Carter was a nice man... Navy Veteran, Christian, peanut farmer.
Folks were ready for change, and handily elected him.
(I voted for Jimmah.)
He was a poor leader, an indecisive President.
At the end of his term, candidate Ronald Reagan made a fool of him by asking, as Carter did four years before:
"Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"
In 1980, the last year of Carter's administration, the misery index hit its highest mark in history- 22%.
As a public service to all my dear readers, I intend to start keeping track of the misery index.
As you can see at the link, it currently stands at 11%.
I suspect that will change quickly.
Care to take a shot at a prediction?