31 May 2008

31 May 1919

Familiar with that flying boat?
Well you should be. It made history
89 years ago.

More, about mid-page at this site, with a photo to give you a better idea of the size of the airplane.
More detailed information about the mission and Commander here.

30 May 2008


There are a few that can do it. Some do it pretty well.
Others write stuff that has you clicking the "back" button after reading a few words. Still others will publish a post, go off on a deployment to Iraq, publish a post, then take off on a deployment to Scofield Barracks.
I'm talking about Aviation Bloggers. If you read them, as I do, it's obvious most of them avoid the "third rail" issues. I accept that, but it's not for me. I agree with the statement I've seen written on T-Shirts...
"Everyone is entitled to my opinion."
You don't have to agree with me... Hell, if everyone agreed with me, I wouldn't be motivated to find I'm mistaken while trying to prove they're mistaken! (And that happens often enough. ;>)

But Aviators are just people...
Intelligent people...
Interesting, full of life people.
Put me in a roomful of Aviators and the conversation won't lag.

I Blog about life. I figure if I find it interesting, there's a pretty good chance you will too.
So when I read
this post and it painted a visual picture of events I've also experienced, I thought you'd like it too.
Drop by and let Scud Runner know what you think.

(Now I'm going to go do something he motivated me to do...

read up on Mutt Muffs!)

Gimme A Dollars Worth!

I still love cars. When I was Sixteen I thought I might want to make them the center of my life. Impossibly greasy, dirty hands and fingernails changed my mind...
I'm obsessive/compulsive about my hands being dirty. But for a year I worked pumping gas and as a mechanic at a local filling station. While working there the price of gasoline fluctuated around the price you see above... 32 cents per gallon, plus or minus a couple cents. Customers would pull in next to the pumps, running over an air filled rubber hose as they came to a stop. The weight of their car running over the hose would cause a bell to ring in the station, causing me to run out like one of Pavlov's dogs to pump gas into the waiting vehicle. I would then normally hear one of two things:

"Fill 'er up."
"I'll take a dollars worth."

Hard to believe, isn't it? One dollar would buy about 3 gallons of gasoline. Most cars back then got around 15-17 miles to the gallon, so customers asking for a dollars worth would expect to be back at my pumps in 51 miles or so. Those asking for their tank to be filled would be handing me something over $5.00 after I finished washing their windshield and checking their engine's oil and water levels, assuming their tank was nearly empty when they pulled in.

Back then, when you were in the market to buy a used car, an average car could be expected to have 10,000 miles per year on it. More miles than that decreased the value of the car considerably, and caused many unscrupulous used car dealers to "roll back" the odometers. State Attorneys General put a stop to that practice long ago.

Low fuel prices enabled us to make changes in our lives...
We've moved farther from our workplaces. We use our cars to travel more. I think most people expect a car to accrue 15,000 miles or so in a year now.

But the latest uptick in gas prices have changed my family's behavior. We postpone even starting the car until we can accomplish several errands at the same time. Some trips are cancelled altogether. An auto mechanic I chatted with yesterday said his business has already been affected... people who drive less have fewer breakdowns.

There will be other ramifications that we haven't considered. The BK117 helicopter ambulance I fly burns 60+ gallons of kerosene an hour. Our company didn't foresee a 25% increase in the cost of fuel... Guess who will end up paying for that increase?

We live in interesting times. There will be changes... some of them will come pretty quickly, and some not soon enough.

27 May 2008

Something's Happened

I'm at work.
I'm bummed enough that I almost called in sick tonight, although I'm not sick...
Well, not physically sick anyway. I'm heartsick.
Let me draw your attention to this post from a few months ago over at John's blog. Read the post. Read the comments... all of 'em.
It's important.

On more than one occasion I have helped take car keys away from someone too drunk to get into a car and drive. One of those instances literally resulted in one friend striking another in the face, knocking him off his feet in order to let him know we were serious that he would not drive away while we watched.
In the morning, ALL of these drunks were glad we did what we did.
But this is different...

When you allow someone to get into your aircraft as a passenger, you are, in effect, establishing a contract with them. This taken-for-granted contract says, "If you get into my flying machine, I promise to deliver you safely back to the ground."
As pilots, we are telling our passengers, "Yes, even if something goes terribly wrong with the machine, or if the weather does something unforeseen, I am trained and capable of handling the situation."

But like the pilot-subject of John's post, we've all seen pilots we knew in our heart were unsafe. Most pilots have pretty big egos. When does the big ego become a problem, and what can the rest of us do about it?

Some months ago I got into the rear seat, as a passenger, of an aircraft piloted by a guy I felt was competent. Two aircraft were flying to a restaurant fifteen minutes away for dinner. We took off and I was immediately uncomfortable... this pilot was flying fast and low-level...
at treetop level for the majority of the flight. Five minutes into the flight I said, "Hey ********, I am REALLY not comfortable flying this low!" My friend chuckled and said, "you're not, huh?", and continued flying fast and low until we arrived at our destination. I flew home in the other aircraft and never flew with the guy again.

Now he's had a terrible accident, and for his benefit and mine I won't share details with you, except to say HE survived.

Could I...
SHOULD I have done more to get this guy's attention? To illustrate to this guy the risks he was taking could be disastrous?
This guy knew me, respected my opinion, and in fact might never have become a pilot had I not trained him for a short time. Yet when I cautioned him about his risky attitude, he laughed and shrugged it off. If I had made a bigger deal of it, he would have been angry and I likely would have lost his friendship... and it's doubtful his behavior would have changed anyway.

But now his life and behavior are changed forever.
And my heart aches.
Tell me...
What should I have done? Is there anything we can do to prevent such accidents, short of hitting someone and knocking them off their feet?

26 May 2008

But We're Losing, Ya know!??

"2002 and 2003 was the first time we responded to terror attacks by doing something they REALLY don't want us to do. We cold-bloodedly and effectively brought democracy and freedom to two Islamic countries, and most importantly, one of them right in the Arab heartland. If our project in Iraq succeeds, al-Qaeda and its project are locked out of that country forever. They know it, they've said it, they've thrown their best efforts into the counter-attack."

That quote comes from an article here, and comes complete with a little jab at the Messiah Candidate and a poke at my favorite Presidential failure. There's also a touching photo of Iraqi girls... FEMALES mind you, at school(!) with their new chalkboards.
Yeah, you can't help but be reminded of the wisdom in that old song...
"War, HUH!, Good God y'all, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!"

Although you wouldn't know it watching most news programs, freedom is extending it's cancerous tendrils more and more into the heart of Arabville.
Let's bring our troops home now, before this cancer can spread any further!

Hat tip to Instapundit.

The candidate telling you we're not safer since our actions following 9-11 is lying to you.

23 May 2008

Twenty... (42?) Years Ago

Forty-two years ago today I left the home I had known for 18 years and rode a bus to Ft. Knox, KY, drafted by my Uncle Sam.
I tried to turn lemons into lemonade, and that desire finds me where I am today.
Still, once in a while I go home and look at my old neighborhood and think of all the water that has passed beneath the bridge.
This song brings on the rain:

Twenty Years Ago - Kenny Rogers

Posted Nov 07, 2006

22 May 2008


Midway along my route to work, there is a small town with a couple stop signs, put there just to slow me down and make me consume extra fuel. At a corner where I make one of those stops I watched with interest as work was done to replace a Chinese restaurant with a Barbecue joint. In my youth I worked at/managed two different restaurants and heard over and over how, when opening a new eatery, you needed to have enough capital to keep the doors open for a year in order to establish a positive cash-flow. Four months after this Barbecue shop opened, I turned to take a look while stopped and had to pull into the parking lot so I could share this bit of irony with you:

Added as a clarifier:
I published this post as I was headed off to bed and realized I'd left a loose end...
Yes, the place is shuttered and closed for good. Wonder if someone would like to try a Chinese Restaurant on that site?

21 May 2008

14 Cents

I took this photo about three weeks ago. I had just filled my tank with fuel and had stopped just down the street for hamburgers. It's painful that the price of gas has gone up so much in such a short period of time isn't it? Most of us would love to pay $3.60/gallon for gasoline, wouldn't we?
But wait!
Click on the picture and look at the larger image. Look farther down the street at the advertised price at "Fuelman", where I had just refueled.
Fourteen cents difference in price in less than half a city block.
Why would anyone buy fuel at the BP? (And they were!)

20 May 2008

What's That Ahead?

We're headed South to Destin, about 4 hours into the drive, and I'm bored outta my gourd.
On the horizon... what IS that?!!
On a trailer behind a truck... it's squat and odd looking. And then it begins to look familiar...
My old friend, the "flying tadpole".
It's a Huey.

I had Sara Jean take the wheel from the right seat while I grabbed the camera and shot these photos as we passed. About 10,000 of these machines were produced in the 60's and early 70's.
With 3000 hours in UH-1's, what are the chances I flew this machine?
It's neat just thinking it's a possibility.
It's a 1966 model Huey, so it almost certainly had Viet Nam service, complete with patched-up bullet holes in the floorboards.

19 May 2008

Winding Down, May 2008

I'm weird.
(And a large chorus of acquaintances sing "Amen" in unison!)

I hate leaving home... always have.
I like the IDEA of traveling. I'm pleased reviewing memories gathered while I travel. I enjoy sharing adventures with people I love. But I hate loading the car. I hate not having all the "stuff" that makes my life comfortable within easy reach. I hate boring long distance drives. I'm on edge while driving to make a flight, knowing an accident along the way or car trouble could delay us long enough to miss the flight, (and the tickets I buy these days are worthless under those circumstances.) Sometimes I wish I had never agreed to travel in the first place.
I'm envious of people who gush about preparing for a trip, but know I'll never be one of them... it's just never gonna be me.

We returned from 9 days in our beloved Destin last night, after driving most of the day, pulling into our drive at Midnight. We put lots more good times into memory, ate fantastic caught-yesterday seafood, and spent a little time on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I'm glad we did it and look forward to the next trip. But is there anyone I can hire to make sure we have everything we need, then load the car and drive us?

One of the things I love about Destin is the airshow. Destin is just South of Eglin Air Force Base and just East of Hurlburt Field. So in addition to the normal civil aircraft you assume will be checking the beach, we see some pretty expensive military metal doing their "training". This time we saw the normal C-130's and CH-53E's flying low enough to take your breath away. But in addition to that I can add a personal first: I saw two V-22's in airplane mode, about 5 minutes apart, flying Eastbound, not too low. Neat.
I'm hopeful that'll happen more often.

So it's back to work tonight after almost two weeks of absence. Long breaks away from work make me rusty, so I'll climb back into my seat at the controls when I've finished my preflight and reconnect with all the levers, buttons, switches, and instruments. It's good to be home and back into my routine.

Now, to truly get back into the swing of things, can I order up an exciting night accident scene to share with you?
We'll see.

Oh, and just one more thing...
In my email this morning I found something I'd like to share with all Veterans.
Direct link here.
Thanks Cary.

16 May 2008

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em!

That's an old Bob Newhart routine from the late '50's or early '60's.
I've never smoked, and that one line has always been hilarious to me...
"You do WHAT with it, Walt?!"
With the attention to, and education about tobacco, not to mention the cost, I don't understand anyone starting or continuing the habit these days.

The numbers are decreasing, but when I first started working in EMS I was shocked by how many folks in health care smoke.
Docs, Nurses, etc.,... I always thought these folks were cream-of-the-crop, Mensa types. Surprise, surprise! It became obvious pretty quickly that even Mensa-types can be stupid enough to start a habit more addictive than shooting heroin into your veins. Still, so long as those around me are considerate, I take a "live and let live" attitude.
Smoke... Enjoy. It's your life.

Now let's talk about something even more stupid-
You've been tasked with booking a location for the "International Tobacco Show".
Where should you book the event? I've got a great idea... let's gather at the Chicago suburb of St. Charles, Illinois, where they have just passed a State law banning the use of tobacco products indoors. That way we'll have to walk half a mile to a tent to try products we might be interested in purchasing. What a great idea!

Sometime in the future I'll blog about morbidly obese EMS personnel.
I swear, in some ambulance districts I think "huge-avoirdupois" is a job prerequisite!

14 May 2008

Thank You Panera Bread!!

Dateline Destin, Florida-

Things could be worse. Actually, things could hardly be better. But I have been, in a way, speechless for four days now.
The wi-fi connection I was hijacking here in the past is now password-protected. There are four very strong wi-fi signals irradiating my body, 24 hours a day... all password-protected. So here I sit at Panera Bread, sipping on an excellent cup of Hazelnut coffee, checking my email and communicating to you why I haven't published a post in a while. I just wanted to let you know nothing is wrong... we're suffering under sunny skies with 82 degree temperatures and winds of 15-20 knots. Free beer might put a bigger smile on my face.

Post-West Virginia I want your thoughts...
I'd call that a first class whuppin'.
Rodolfo will minimize it, 'cause West Virginia doesn't put our gal that much closer to the goal line. But nevertheless, 67-26 can only be called "wiping the floor with him" time.
Will it cause more buyer's remorse?
And we're still talking about Michigan and Florida!

Ain't this fun?

08 May 2008

Dear Senator Kerry,

See how easy this is?
Sign that SF180 like you promised, you jerk!
(H/T- Just One Minute.

Not So Fast, Bunky!

The media, (those same wise folks that said she was out of the running months ago), are saying our gal Hill is outta here. Let me tell you, (with some help from a friend), why she'll hang on, and MAYBE take all the marbles home:

Who would you say has the most powerful political machine running today? Now I can only repeat what is said by folks that know more about the issue than me, but most folks I respect indicate Bill and Hill are the powerhouses of politics. I can only imagine the reason she is holding on is because she knows something we don't... she's hiding an ACE.

Rezko and Ayres.
These are nasty, NASTY people... people you wouldn't want for neighbors. People you wouldn't want close to your children.
They are Obama's neighbors. Obama has worked with them, and in the case of Ayres, FOR him.
Now to be sure, no strong Obama/Rezko connection has been uncovered, YET. So far, as I've indicated before, there is just a TON of smoke coming from beneath that nasty pile of Chicago politics that is Obama's campaign. But if you were Hillary, looking forward, what would cause you to continue? What would cause you to lend $6.4 million to your own campaign? Somethin's afoot!

Friend John at Marathon Pundit is watching the Rezko trial closely.
A verdict in that trial is pending. If Rezko is found guilty he faces serious time. The amount of "serious time" he spends could depend on what information he shares before sentencing. I'm mighty glad I'm not the Governor of Illinois right now.

And watching Hillary's behavior in the face of what appear to be impossible odds, I think I'm also glad I'm not Barack Obama.

I could be wrong.
Still, it's fun to watch nasty people squirm!

07 May 2008

Newt Gingrich Called!

Got a call today from some conservative group, asking if I would participate in a "one question survey". I laughed out loud at the thought of it.
I agreed, wanting to hear if it was possible for anyone to conduct a survey with one question. They played a pre-taped message by Newt Gingrich that took one minute. Newt talked about how the Republican party has lost it's rudder. When Newt's one minute message was done a different female came on the line and asked, "Are you dissatisfied with the present leadership of the republican party?"
I think the outburst of uncontrolled laughter hurt her ears.

No Matter What, I Pledge-

The past 8 years HAVE been a fun time for cartoonists, comedians, and political junkies, haven't they?
Down-to-earth, good 'ol boy GWB can't properly string a full sentence together, so he has provided comics and pundits with plenty of amusing material to use against him. Those qualities have actually endeared him somewhat to those of us raised in "fly-over" country, where actions speak louder than words. But Bush's stumbles have embarrassed some of our more "tightly-wound" citizens...
Like that other "seemingly laid-back" Texan, LBJ, there have been times when GWB should have been more aware that not all those around him had his best interest at heart. He's been a relatively easy target. Cartoonists and photographers have had a field day with some of his goofy expressions.

Those that come here regularly know I'm disappointed in GWB.
When I cast my vote for him in 2000 I mistakenly thought I was voting for a conservative.
I cast my vote for him in 2004 because for a Veteran, the thought of his opponent becoming President was unthinkable.

Now we face a new election, unfolding with all the drama and suspense of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Everyone on the ballot is 'way to the left of my political stance, so I cannot get worked up about voting this time.
Can McCain convince me he knows he screwed up BIG TIME on the immigration issue?
Will Obama be able to satisfy my fears about his numerous
"Birds of a Feather"?

I bet not.
And if not, I am gonna act out my threat and write "NONE OF THE ABOVE" in the block where it asks for my candidate's name.

We'll see.
But I'm ready to promise ya this... and having watched how the game is played for eight years, I'll bet lots of others feel the same way. The gloves are definitely off.
If the most liberal Senator in the U.S. Senate is elected President of the United States, I'll support him every bit as much as the left has supported GWB.
I'll be doing my patriotic best to point out every single mis-step he makes and litter his path with as many obstacles as possible. If he makes another gaffe like he did on the campaign trail, mistakenly reporting 100 tornado deaths as 10,000... I'll be one of the first pointing out what an idiot our new President is!

And what about the caricatures?
Oh my! This surely is a "target-rich" environment!
Here's one artists conception, (and I think this was intended to be becoming) :

What animal do you think he most resembles?
All's fair here, right?
I think the "Chimp" theme might continue in the future, don't you?
No matter what, this election is gonna be a riot.

05 May 2008

(Not So) "Good Vibrations"

Flying things vibrate.
Folks that fly twin engine airplanes know the drill...
Every now and then you have to tweak your power settings to keep the engines singing from the same page.
But helicopters are absolutely the worst!

Engine(s), main rotor(s), transmission(s), drive shaft(s), tail rotor... all vibrate at their own frequency and all need to be harmonizing.
Things that vibrate affect other things, sometimes detrimentally.
I found this video interesting and topical:

03 May 2008

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

I liked the looks of her. She was proud... full of spirit.
It was a match race at Belmont Park, and for those that love horses it was a "must watch".
I was at a party. We were all supposed to choose a horse and throw $10 into a pot. Those that picked the winning horse would win/share the money.

Fillies are normally at a disadvantage against the larger, stronger males, but this filly had proven up to the task against lots of stallions. I was one of a minority of partiers willing to take a chance on her.
Her name was Ruffian. She hit her shoulder pretty heavily leaving the gate and favored it for the first part of the race but nevertheless led. She was still in front by a head when her right leg broke. That's when her spirit became a disadvantage.
She was quickly euthanized.

Today Sara Jean called while I was at work...
"They're gettin' ready to run the Kentucky Derby. Which horse ya pickin'?"
"Is there a filly in the field?"
"Yep... as a matter of fact there are two."
"I'll take the one with the shortest name." (Some horse expert I am, right?)

In a little while my cell phone rang...
"I have good news and bad news. She came in second. But she broke both front legs and they had to put her down."

My job exposes me to too much tragedy and I have to be stoic about it. It's gotten to be more than I can handle at times. Many times the strangest, slightest things will reduce me to tears. Today the death of "Eight Belles" made me a blubbering fool in front of friends.

Two years ago, Barbaro looked like he was gonna beat the odds. News reports got my hopes up for a year or so, but it just wasn't to be.

So it's a sad list...
Ruffian, Barbaro, and now Eight Belles.
It makes me wonder...
Will public opinion of thoroughbred racing force them to do something to reduce the number of these injuries? I know just enough about the sport to be dangerous, but I'm tired of being "punked" when these beautiful equine athletes have to be euthanized.
If the trend continues, I'll have to quit watching horse racing in order to quit looking like an emotional basket-case.

02 May 2008

"Jersey Boys"

I grab the phone...

"Hey, whatcha doin' tomorrow night?"
"I'm working days tomorrow... won't be off until 7:30 in the evening."
"'Cause I got four tickets to see the "Jersey Boys". Any way you can get the day off?"
"Boy, that's short notice! Lemme check and I'll call ya back."

And although he had worked an extra shift the day before and was gonna work an extra shift the day after, Dan came to my rescue and we got to go see the show.

If you are a fan of 60's Rock and Roll...
If you are a fan of "Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons"...
Or if you, like me, just enjoy most music...
Go see this show!

I should qualify the following statement, because when "Sherry" first hit the airwaves I was a testosterone-filled 16 year old male with my own AM-Radio equipped automobile. I LOVE "The Four Seasons" music!
But I have seen most of the big shows that have toured the nation, and I think this may be the BEST show I have ever seen. (And Sara Jean, who is 10 years my junior, concurs.)

It's presently showing in 10 or so major cities across the U.S..
Go see it. I think you'll be pleased. Then come back here and tell us all about it.