30 June 2005

Irritating Geese

We just finished doing a job we have done annually for 9 years:

Herding Canada Geese.

In our part of the world, Geese molt during June, and cannot fly. Interestingly, this is also the time they hatch their young, so flightless goslings (cute!) are protected by parents that also cannot take to the air.

The geese know they can't fly, so they tend to stay pretty close to water, and when threatened, the whole bunch is "on the pond".

The State Department of Natural Resources hires us to come with the R22 and run these critters off the water and into temporary fencing, so they can count and band them.

Birds without a band get one. Those birds also have their sex determined and noted. Older birds frequently have bands already, and those are documented so the DNR folks have an idea of the birds' history.

The bands we put on the geese are reported by hunters that shoot them, furthering the DNR's knowledge about this natural resource.

To do this job, we literally use the helicopter as a sheepdog, herding the uncooperative, (and sometimes obstreperous) animals out of the water and onto the bank to be surrounded by DNR biologists.

These guys are experts.......they love their jobs and are fun to be around.
We take a great deal of risk with the helicopter, hovering and maneuvering over water for extended periods to drive the geese aground.
But these DNR guys have learned to trust us enough to come under the rotor system during the last part of the drive to help push the geese out of the water! If they didn't take this risk, we'd lose a percentage of birds on each drive.

It's wonderful to know they have that much trust in us as pilots, but it's sobering to think we need to be that "situationally aware" of where our main and tail rotors are in relation to the 2, 3, or 4 guys that may be helping to make that final push.

There is lots of risk in the flying.......the hovering over water, trees and brush on the shore that the birds love to hide in..........the risk of sticking the tail rotor into that brush or dipping it into the water at such a low hover.

But at the end of the day when we are talking about the work, everyone is excited and complimentary about our skills, and about the overall job that we are doing. It makes ya proud to be a part of this team.

But we can't be complacent. Just one false move could mean disaster.....and it has happened before to predecessors.........two helicopters have ended up under water doing this job.

That's why it is doubly surprising that these guys are willing to do what they do with us!

This year, goose numbers were down because it has been exceedingly dry in this area.
We still moved over 2,000 birds in 3 days.

And when the work is done, we start looking forward to coming back next year!

Democranks vs. Repuglicans

Roger L. Simon strikes again.........boy I wish I could put thoughts to paper like this:


Be sure and read the comments too. Interesting stuff.

Todays' Trivia question:

What is Paul Harveys' last name?

(It's not Harvey!)

No fair searching........if you don't know, (and I'm bettin' you don't), just admit it!

I'll give ya the answer tomorrow.

Embarrassing Sara Jean

Last evening we went to eat Chinese again. The restaurant closes after lunch, then re-opens at 5 P.M. for dinner. We arrived before they opened for the evening crowd, so we had time to kill and walked along the mall.

One of the shops in the mall is "The Cash Store".
Obviously, it is a short-term, high interest loan outfit.
But the name........."The Cash Store"!

I like "Cash"!
And here is a store that specializes in it!

So as we walked by, I opened the door and popped in.........
From behind a counter, three heads popped up: two female and one male.

"How can we help you?"

"I'd like to know how much cash I can get for $100?"

Puzzled look on the face of the one that offered help, followed by puzzled glances between the three..........
"Excuse me?"

"This IS 'The Cash Store', isn't it?"


"Then how much cash can I get for $100?"

Mind you, I'm smiling........but they don't know if I'm kidding, or just daft!

More confused glances.......

"It's a joke, folks!"

........Smiles all around. Giggles from the gals.

Sara Jean is red faced, shaking her head.

What fun!

29 June 2005

Furious II

In my post "furious" I described my reaction when a fellow EMS Pilot got off into an area he knew nothing about when he compared Iraq to Viet Nam.

Now there is an aside to that story.........

He was on duty last night. In the wee hours, he was put on standby for a "gunshot wound to the head".

A few minutes later the flight converted and he was airborne........a 10 minute flight to the scene.

Four minutes from landing, with the red and blue lights of many emergency vehicles in sight, he was aborted..........the patient was pronounced dead.
He flew back to our base and landed.

Upon landing, the phone rang..........his girlfriend on the phone.
"Your brother just shot himself. He's dead."

Imagine the permutations of this story........

The aircraft arrives and the patient is still alive. The pilot, wanting to help his brother in whatever way he can, insists on loading him and flying him to the trauma center.

If you are the flight nurse and paramedic, do you trust the pilots' mental ability to fly under such circumstances?

If you refuse to fly because of the pilots' emotional involvement, and the patient dies because of the delay in waiting for another aircraft/ambulance, what are the legal, moral, and emotional ramifications?

I'm sure local EMS operations deal with similar circumstances, maybe not frequently, but certainly more often than we "flying ambulance" folks do.

But it's a hard question, and maybe one we should address before we have to do it under EXTREME pressure.

Paul Harvey

Since 1965, I've listened to "Paul Harvey News and Comment" whenever time and circumstances permitted.

He has one of those distinctly identifiable voices.
I enjoy his cadence, format, and mix of news and whimsy.

Obviously, he's not a young man. His biography doesn't list his birthdate, but does give us the kernel that "he began his radio career in 1933 while he was still in High School". A little math on that fact says that conservatively, he is 87 years old.

It is sometimes painful to hear his broadcast lately. His voice is weak, he sometimes reads copy he has already read, and he makes other simple mistakes that you know he is making because he is no longer mentally as sharp as he was.

40 years of dialing his Noon program may soon come to an end.
There will be a hole in my day when I can no longer hear him speak into that microphone.

And I think that will happen pretty soon.
If you are, or ever have been a fan of his show, you need to make a decision:
Should you start tuning him in to hear him deteriorate further, or avoid listening so you can remember him as vibrant and strong?

I can't answer the question for you, but I wanted you to be aware that one of those folks we feel we know because we have been listening for so long is coming into the "home stretch" of his career.

Paul.........for years, I have looked forward to my 15 minutes with you.

It is a tribute to say I feel I know and like you.

Thank you for giving me a little something to look forward to for all these years!

25 June 2005

What'd you say?

After graduation from High School, my Dad helped me get a job with a construction company that was clearing the right of way for a high tension electrical power line. At this job, I operated a chain saw.

In order to derive the most power from their saws, this company routinely removed the mufflers from them.

I would come home from the job with a ringing in my ears. When I mentioned this to my folks, their comment was "your ears will soon acclimate to the noise."

I don't blame them........only a few years before, Chesterfield cigarettes were advertised as "The Healthy Smoke", and we believed that too. My folks just didn't know any better.

When I started flying turbine helicopters, (Hueys), my instructor pitched me a set of earplugs and said, "I will not allow you to fly with me unless you are wearing those!" To this day I am grateful to CW2 Bailey for that rule!

Contemporaries of mine with similar flight time in their logbooks cannot hear the telephone ring. My hearing is now beginning to fail me, but I truly believe much of my problem stems from the scar tissue caused by the muffler-less chain saws!

I keep yellow foam earplugs at our home, and will not allow Big Bubba to mow the lawn without them. He also takes them to concerts, just in case they play their music at the threshold of pain. (Kids in cars going "whumpa, whumpa, whumpa" down the road will be saying "HUH?" by the time they are 50!)

If you or a loved one is exposed to loud noise, or even moderate noise over an extended period of time.........get yourself some "mickey mouse ears", or some foam earplugs, or both.

When you can still hear your grandkids and great-grandkids talk to you, you'll be glad you did!

24 June 2005

Todays' Trivia:

Via Coldfury.com........

What great patriot said the following?:

“I call on those who question the motives of the president and his national security advisers to join with the rest of America in presenting a united front to our enemies abroad.”

You'll be surprised!

It was Illinois Sen. Richard (Dick!) Durbin in 1998, when President Clinton attacked Iraq!

The Iraq Quagmire.......

From Yahoo.com news:


Wonder if Whiskey Ted will notice?

23 June 2005

Vertical Takeoff

Helicopters are the most amazing contraptions!

Just land in your back yard, and if necessary, you can take off vertically, right?

Nope. Not always.

In previous posts I said the Charley Model Hueys I flew in Viet Nam wouldn't hover, and we had to do "running takeoffs" to get them flying.

Here's a video of a pilot that is almost in that position. The video reportedly is from Sweden. The family of a 100 year old man bought him the helicopter ride to celebrate his birthday. Six people from his family join him on board the Russian MI-2 helicopter, so it's fairly heavy. The machine can hover close to the ground, but has trouble getting any higher.

The results are interesting:


It's also reported the Birthday boy got two helicopter rides that day........the second in an EMS helicopter.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

UPDATE, 25 June:
Aviatrix, www.airplanepilot.blogspot.com , comments she would like a better explanation of what happened here.

Again, I need you to visualize for me...........
When a helicopter hovers near the ground, it draws air from above the rotor and forces it down. That "donut" of air around the main rotor then strikes the ground, moves outbound and upward, and is then re-accelerated through the rotor. It makes the rotor VERY inefficient in a hover, because the air the machine is using to support itself is already moving as it enters the rotor from above and needs to be accelerated again.

If you recall, I said once you begin forward movement with the helicopter and the rotor begins to move into un-accelerated air, the rotor becomes more efficient. That transition into clean air is called "translational lift".

A helicopter will actually fly at MUCH lower power settings than those it needs to hover. That's how we took off in Viet Nam with Gunships that were so heavy they wouldn't hover......we slid them forward on the ground, (a "running takeoff"), until the rotor was in clean air.

This pilot no doubt was trying to accelerate the helicopter through translational lift so it would have the necessary power to climb out from the tight space he was in.......and yes, that is the reason he slid sidewards and backed up before he started forward movement.........to give himself as much room as possible to accomplish that.

Unfortunately, once he started down the narrow street, he was pretty much fully committed to the takeoff run.

One more thing.......striking a few leaves will probably not damage the rotor. I suspect the rotor on this machine could have even eaten a few fairly small branches without a problem. What finally brought his effort to an end was striking a utility pole!


As I write this, I'm as angry as I have been in years.

I just had a discussion with the outgoing pilot about the war.

This guy has never shot, or had a shot fired at him in anger......and he brought up the Viet Nam war.

Gasoline on an open flame.........

This guy voted for Kerry. That's all you need to know about him.

But here is the game plan folks, and I don't know how Teddy and his friends are gonna pull it off, unless we start drinking the same stuff, and the same amount Senator Kennedy drinks:

"We support our troops, but.......

The war is unwinnable. Bush has us involved in a quagmire. We need to set a date.....sooner is better than later, and bring our troops home."

Four thousand seven hundred folks dead, and what do we accomplish?

We teach the rest of the world that we have no stomach for defending ourselves.......come do it again!

In Viet Nam, the number was 58,000. Some were like brothers to me. When I have had too much of Teddy the lushes favorite brew, I'm sometimes reduced to tears about them.

I will fight like a Wolverine to insure that never happens again!

Put that in the bank!

The Right to Life, Liberty..........

And the pursuit of happiness?

Well, maybe not!


Is this the reason there is a 2nd Amendment to the Constitution?

Thomas Jefferson, where are you?

The Wild Goose Chase

I've been outta the loop for a couple days on a special job that I'll write more about later.

Neat work, but dangerous.

Watch this space!

20 June 2005

Gitmo again

It's all the talk on NPR this morning.

I have a question for those that think we should close the prison there........

Why are you not petitioning to have it in your back yard?

Start today!

Question #2..........

Have you seen the video of Nick Berg being beheaded?
"OH NO, I don't think I could stand to watch!"

I've seen it. Anyone that could do that to another human being is pure EVIL.

I would argue you cannot know the full character of our enemy until you have seen that video in full! It's impossible to discuss the issue of the war intelligently until you really know what we are dealing with.

It's available on the internet.
Go now.......
watch it in it's entirety.

When you're done, come back and we'll have an informed, intelligent discussion!

19 June 2005

CNN Abandoning its' Audience?

CNN President Jonathan Klein has a novel idea to compete with Fox News...............give us news that will actually keep us awake!

From MSNBC.com:

"These are only the first steps in a broad overhaul plan aimed at getting the pioneering and once dominant cable news network out of a seemingly perennial second-place finish, far behind Fox News. His unorthodox, even heretical game plan: serious news that doesn't put viewers to sleep."

Here's the article:


Now, here is the question.......will MSNBC then move to fill the vacuum if CNN actually starts reporting facts?

Can we depend on MSNBC to provide coverage of our soldiers targeting/murdering journalists?

What will we do........
what WILL we do?


When is an apology not an apology?

This is an example of an apology:

"I said a really stupid thing, and reflecting on how stupid I was, I realize I hurt a bunch of folks, maybe even got a few killed. For that I am truly sorry. I have learned from my mistake and will not do it again."

Now, the non-apology:

"I'm sorry if anyone was offended by my remarks. I realize now that my comments could have been misunderstood by some not-so-smart people."

I'm talking about Richard (DICK!) Durbin and Jane Fonda here.

As a Viet Nam veteran, I could easily hate Jane Fonda.

I don't.

I think she was a chameleon that took on the colors of whatever man she happened to have in her life at the time, and her man at the time of the "anti-aircraft gun in North Viet Nam" incident was liberal "bomb thrower" Tom Hayden.

And although she issued us a "non-apology", I forgive her.
She's a lightweight.
She doesn't know any better.

Durbin is another story. His impolitic speech starts us down the path of the "self fulfilling prophecy" that some Democrats seem to look forward to.........Iraq as Viet Nam!

I received an email from a loved one last week with this comment: "Bush has us in an unwinnable war."

Well, folks, Iraq is NOT like Viet Nam, unless we allow ourselve to be drawn into this negative "cut our losses and run" mentality!

I would agree she is correct in one sense........we cannot win the war in Iraq..........by ourselves. But we can insure Iraqi forces are strengthened enough to take on terrorists and win it, with our support.

Viet Nam vets know this better than anyone else. In spite of negative comments from Democrats and major news media sources, we see progress in Iraq that is spreading throughout the Middle East!

We will not allow naysayers to deny these gains, nor put our troops at risk by aiding and abetting the enemy. (Watch how veterans vote in the '06 elections!)

In the meantime, Let's hope we hear a genuine apology from the misguided Senator from Illinois!

18 June 2005


If I was a Catholic, (I am not), I would be furious with my church for being co-dependent in the abuse that has been made public in recent years.

Did I hear the figure right.........over a BILLION dollars to defend priests and settle the claims of those abused families?

Seems to me, parishoners had two choices here:

1. Vote with my feet and leave the church,

2. Continue to attend services, but withhold my tithe.

And apparently both are happening........several Catholic churches in the large town near us are being closed due to lack of support, and donations being received by Catholic churches are way, way down:


It's obvious that members of the church have the attention of their leadership.

Today, we have a similar situation with the United Nations...............

U.N. representatives have been caught sexually abusing children in areas where they were sent to provide aid and comfort.

The Iraqi "Oil For Food" program was a farce.........moneys intended to buy food and drugs for struggling Iraqi people ended up in the pockets of Russian, French, and German U.N. employees.

I have to believe the corruption brought about by mismanagement of this program is at the core of much of the tension surrounding our efforts in Iraq today........
Is it just a coincidence those countries most heavily involved in the scandal were the same countries that refused to support the U.S. with a unanimous vote for regime change in Iraq?

The House of Representatives yesterday voted to withhold half of the funds we normally allocate for support of the U.N..

I know next to nothing about our relationship with the U.N., such as it is today........it seems strained and ready to burst.

But I do know that I don't want my tax dollars going into the pocket of some U.N. pervert who, in his free time, is sexually molesting some 9 year old in Darfur!

This bill has little chance of making it to the Presidents' desk as it is presently written.
But the vote itself may attract enough attention at the U.N. to force leadership and other changes in that diseased and decomposing body.

17 June 2005

Howard Dean II

Can ya stand another Armadillo post?
Well, sort of an Armadillo post, anyway!


Don't Republicans have fun, Mr Dean?


Gunship pics:


I was trying to find a representation of the Charley model Huey gunship I flew in Viet Nam, and I came across this site..........

Jim Morris was in the same unit I was in at a later date.
His site has a pic of a Cobra and a
UH-1C gunship that I probably actually flew.

There is also a pic of the "Gambler Guns" logo I wore for a while.
If you're interested, have a look:


Thanks, Jim!

16 June 2005


Would you believe........a Lion Tamer afraid of housecats?

Well, this is ALMOST that bad!


And, "The right calibre for the job"..........old joke!

A Promise......

Comin' up now on two months of "Pitchpull", with at least one post every day!
I hope some of my posts have entertained, and educated.
I'm heartened by comments I receive from other bloggers.
Thank you Clint, Old Blind Dog, Aviatrix, and others I'm forgetting!

These folks write interesting aviation blogs.

Now an admission: I am a terrible procrastinator.
"Never do today what you can do in a crisis tomorrow!"

I want to start a blogroll and list these and other blogs I read and enjoy.
Some of the blogs are written by really experienced aviators........some are new students sharing their travails.
All of them have nuggets we can profit from reading and digesting.

So far, I have taken the easiest way, (and the only way I know), to link things for you to read. If you read other blogs, you know there is a cleaner, aesthetically nicer way to present links.
It entails learning a little "html" language.
I intend to learn how to do that, and I intend to have a blogroll of stuff I find interesting on this site soon.

Now I have to start learning/experimenting in order to learn the skill.

Please bear with me!

15 June 2005

Close Gitmo?

Powerful stuff.
Go and read:


Click comments and say so!

My Viet Nam Orientation Ride

Those that have never been in the military might be surprised to find that the services do many things pretty much like ordinary businesses do.

Replacements coming into a unit are welcomed by the commander and are brought "up to speed" on operating procedures and expectations while being mentored by an experienced member of the company.

I started my tour in Viet Nam with a unit based in the Central Highlands.
We were flying the UH1-C, a specialized gunship version of the Huey........the helicopter icon of Viet Nam.

The field elevation at our base airfield was 4300'. That, coupled with the fact that the temperature regularly reached 90+ degrees, meant the air was mighty thin for flying operations.

A mission ready Charley model gunship would not hover! Loaded down with 18 rockets, 3000 rounds of 30 calibre ammo for the two mini-guns, and more 30 cal. for the crewchief and door gunner, they were always over maximum gross weight on takeoff.

Takeoffs were accomplished by getting the aircraft as light as possible on the skids, then sliding forward until "effective translational lift" was reached. If you could successfully get the aircraft through translational lift before you lost too much rotor RPM, the helicopter would fly.......if you could call it that!

We would then pray that nothing happened to our Lycoming turbine until we had burned off enough fuel to do a successful autorotation if it quit!

I was scheduled to go out with an aircraft commander to a "free fire zone", to familiarize myself with the weapons system on the old Charley. After an uneventful runup, I was introduced to my first real "running takeoff".

After struggling to get airborne, we slowly accelerated and made our way toward the weapons test fire area. We were flying low-level down a valley that had rice planted in it. Ahead of us we saw four Montagnard people tending to the rice.

We were flying REALLY low. I turned to look at the Aircraft Commander, and he had a mischevious smile on his face. The four rice workers turned to look at our approach, then ducked as the Huey passed over their heads.

The AC laughed out loud, then begin a sharp 180 turn to buzz the workers again.

About halfway through the turn, at 60 knots and 40 feet of altitude and in a 60 degree bank, the engine quit producing power!

Then things became a blur. The AC had little time to respond as the ground rushed up to meet the grossly overweight Huey. He leveled the aircraft, brought the nose up to kill off the groundspeed, and pulled the collective to attempt to cushion our touchdown.

I remember thinking, "this is not gonna be good!" The aircraft hit the ground, and my head was forced downward hard enough for my chin to hit my chest protector. My helmet popped off my head, and I thought, "if that rotor comes around again, it'll take my head off!"

But it didn't. Things came to a stop. The engine continued to run at idle speed, and all I could think of was fire.

The crewchief appeared outside my door, pushed my armored seat wing back, and helped me get out of the aircraft. We turned to insure the other two crewmen were also free of the bird, and ran to a rise in the ground about 100 feet from the machine.

When we took count of our condition, the crewchief and gunner both had broken ankles and pain in their backs. The AC also had back pain, and had bitten off the end of his tongue and was bleeding from his mouth.

I felt fine.

The aircraft continued to run. We were still fearful it would explode. We realized that at the very least, there were folks very close to us that might be angry with us for our recent behavior.......and there might be really bad guys in the vicinity that could be headed our way to make things difficult.

The AC had a survival radio, and started a mayday call. Pretty quickly, he got a response. Help was on the way.

Since I seemed to be the only one not injured, I volunteered to return to the aircraft and shut it down. I was amazed at the appearance of the Huey. Normally 15 feet tall, the skids and fuselage were collapsed and the rotor broken and tilted forward. The aircraft was now half its' normal height!

Within an hour we were on another Huey on our way to a medical once-over. In addition to broken ankles, both the crewchief and gunner had compressed vertebrae, as did the AC. The AC's tongue was stitched up.

As for me, a duct to my salivary gland had been compressed by my head contacting my chest protector, and my chin began to fill with saliva, making me appear to have a goiter! The flight surgeon suggested we wait and see if the condition would correct itself, and if it didn't, he would have to do surgery to alleviate the problem. He seemed to look forward to that possiblilty!

I disappointed him. The swelling in my chin went down in three days.

Accident evaluation revealed the governor on the engine had failed and the Lycoming had gone to "flight idle".........not producing enough power to maintain flight.

Murphy's Law!

The Company Commander let me make the decision as to when I was ready to fly again. I waited a week, then went out with another AC and got acquainted with the weapons systems on the Charley model Huey.

I was surprised at how anxious I was about flying. Low level flying terrified me........I would actually try to crawl up in my seat as we got close to the ground. Formation flying was a near impossiblility for a while.

Things returned to near-normal in about two months.
But this incident did something for me I have never forgotten.........I was mortal, and taking risks could have repercussions. I may have been the safest pilot in Viet Nam, because my orientation ride proved to me how vulnerable I was!

14 June 2005

LongRanger in the East River

All the news outlets are carrying video of the Bell 206L "Longranger" down in the East River in New York.
Apparently all 7 people aboard are out and okay. Great!

I have logged about 1600 hours in this type machine in the EMS role.

No report yet on what might have happened, but I want to clue you in to something that is true about all helicopters.......

They are "top heavy".

In MOST helicopters, the heaviest stuff is all relatively high in the airframe......
Tail Rotor Drive system,
Tail Rotor and gearbox.

When you see one on its' side, or in this case, upside down in the water, remember that when all the weight is concentrated up high like this, it makes them want to do the "dying cockroach", naturally!

If this Longranger pilot did a perfect autorotation to the water,
then encountered some heavy wave action, a barge passing by, for instance........
the machine would have a tendency to tip over fairly easily.

It'll be interesting to see what caused this incident in the first place!
Stay tuned.

One of the passengers reportedly is in critical condition. An article in the New York Daily News says one passenger was put into an induced coma because she almost drowned.
Once again, this is a situation where the News Media is putting out confusing information. An earlier report has all seven people aboard clinging to the floats of the overturned helicopter as help arrived.

When a patient is put into a chemically induced coma, it is done to reduce brain activity to try to keep swelling of the brain, which can cause considerable damage, to a minimum.

If this report is true, it indicates one of the passengers might have been breathing water for a few minutes. If that is the case, her life could be at risk, and even if she recovers, she could have considerable deficits.

Keep an eye on the news........as poor as it is!

13 June 2005

Old Cars

In my garage, an old Corvette resides.
It's more than 30 years old.
Under the hood.......the biggest engine ever put into a Corvette.

When Big Bubba was born, I had no idea he would separate me from this car. But when he got his driver's license, my insurance company notified me I could continue to drive the old "plastic pig" if I would simply submit $2000 premium for 6 months coverage!

The car has been dormant in the garage for years.

Vettes don't really fall into the "exotic" category because at their heart, they are Chevrolets. They can be bought for less than half the cost of cars in their class.

But they are still "performance" cars, and you don't see them all that frequently.....particularly the older ones.

While I was still driving my car, folks would pull up next to me and flash me a "thumbs up". It looks great, and has the engine displacement displayed on the hood, so discerning folks know this car is a rare version amongst other Vettes of the same vintage.

My first date with Sara Jean happened in the Vette. She loved riding in it.........enjoyed the attention it attracted.........couldn't wait to drive it!

One day, with proper instructions on what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do, I let her drive it to work.

She didn't ask to drive the car again!

We take for granted how wonderful our newer cars are today. Quiet, comfortable riding, great radio, air conditioned, intermittent windshield wipers, six-way heated seats!

The old Vette rides like a Log truck, creaks and complains over rough roads, is noisy enough that the radio is background noise.

On your best behavior, it gets 13 miles to the gallon on PREMIUM gas!

I love going to car shows to see old and custom cars and talk with the folks that lovingly restore and care for them. But when you see a nice '57 Chevy convertible, remember that it came with an AM radio, and when you started uphill, the vacuum windshield wipers would quit when you needed them most! Driving older cars is work!

As they get older and more valuable, these cars become less and less practical to drive. Our 30+ year old Vette is probably now in that category. When Big Bubba finally moves out from under our roof, I'll have a decision to make.

But by then, I may be able to buy a new Vette for what the old "Big Block" will bring!

(Ssshhhh! Don't let it hear that!)

10 June 2005


"Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus".

I read it. You should too.
Made me laugh out loud!

The thing the author said that impacted me most was that when women talk, they are just expressing themselves and want others to listen.

Men however are "fixers". When a woman talks about something that could be considered a problem, men think they are being asked to make it better. Therefore, men frequently think women are nagging, when actually women are just talking to hear the sound of their own voice!
(Just kiddin', Sara Jean!)

But women ARE better communicators. With few exceptions, men don't express themselves as well as women.

I have always been a letter writer. After I was drafted into the Army, letters became one of the most important things in my life. Later, Mom and Dad and I bought tape recorders and sent 30 minute tapes back and forth, but even during this time, we continued to send letters now and then.

Letters to family were answered quickly. Letters to women were dependably answered. Letters to men were frequently ignored by the recipient!

Home from Viet Nam, the telephone became our main means of communicating. Obviously, telephones are immediate, and you get the benefit of hearing more than just the words......tone, cadence, inflection, emphasis.......things you have to work at to express in a letter. But when you hang up the phone, all you have is the memory. Letters can be re-read and re-re-read.

Now comes email.
I don't know what I would do without email!
Nearly instant.......Easy.......Free!
One of the things I love about email is that it's not a telephone!
(Duh, huh?)
When the telephone rings, you have got to drop what you're doin' and answer. Nothing irritates me more than to stop doing something I wanted to do in order to answer the telephone, only to find someone on the other end I didn't want to share my time with........sellers, politicians, survey takers, bores.

Sara Jean LOVES to talk on the phone! She can literally spend hours talking with friends and relatives........giggling and laughing!

Me.........."Greybeard here. Yeah..... No...... Okay........ Bye!" Done!

I got an answering machine for the phone. Some folks are uncomfortable leaving a message.
Too bad.
My time is important enough I don't want to be talking with someone about my long distance service or aluminum siding! Friends and relatives will identify themselves......we're screening the calls, and we'll pick up when we hear your voice.
Otherwise, when we listen to the messages, we know you called and will call back!

It took Sara Jean a while to acclimate to the machine. She'd answer the phone, and then hand it to me so I could tell the caller I didn't need a magazine subscription! She has finally seen the light and allows the machine do its' job!

But email!
I check mine two, three, six times a day! And it doesn't irritate me! It waits patiently in the ether until I turn on the computer and ask it to speak to me! Viagra and other irritating ads are easily and immediately eliminated! Important stuff can be put on hard copy for later reading/sharing!

I'm surprised at the reluctance I still see to computers and email. Relatives and friends that I love dearly have refused my offer to buy them Webtv or a computer just so I could communicate with them via email! I don't know if this is a fear of not being able to learn the skill to use them, or if they just don't want the complication that having the technology in their homes would bring. But they steadfastly refuse my offer, then complain that I don't "stay in touch"!

A couple weeks ago we emailed relatives we would be in their town staying with other relatives, and suggested they get in touch with us while we were there so we could get together. They later expressed anger with us because we hadn't called to tell them we'd be there. They have two computers at home and access to email at work, yet didn't get the message we sent. When I told them I had emailed, they said, "I don't have time to mess with it"!
But they have time to mess with the telephone!

I was thinking the other day about the impact of telephones,
and maybe to a larger degree.....email, on history.
If we want to know about the relationship Thomas Jefferson had with John Adams, we can go back and read the letters they exchanged.

Telephone conversations are gone when the receiver is back in the cradle.
I seldom make copies of corrrespondence I receive via email.
Future generations will have a much more difficult time trying to piece together the history of our times!

When I go back and read letters I sent home from Viet Nam, I realize progress has its' costs!

Viet Nam Snacks

"Here Greybeard, take my picture when I tell ya...."

And Warrant Officer Moe handed me his polaroid camera.
In his hand he held a can of "French's" Shoestring Potatoes.

The opening in the can was just slightly too small for a man to insert his hand.
Moe turned the label so the brand could easily be read, stuck his hand in top, made a terrible grimacing face, and said, "Okay, now!"

"Click........buzz", and out came the picture.

Moe then wrote a letter to French's.........

"Dear French's,
After a long day flying here in Viet Nam, there is nothing I look forward to more than returning to my quarters and enjoying a can of your wonderful shoestring potatoes with an ice cold beverage!
They are a tasty, quality product!

I do, however have one complaint........
My hands are too large to fit into the opening in the top of the can.
(Please see enclosed photo.)
I waste a small percentage of product from each can because I cannot reach it through the small opening!
Can you make the opening larger?"

He then signed the letter, included the picture, and sent it to the address listed on the can.

Two weeks later, a large package came from French's with this letter:

"Dear W01 Moe:
Thank you for pointing out what is obviously a serious problem with our packaging!
We immediately turned your letter over to our research and development people for review.
After much study and research, they think they have come up with a solution to your dilemma:
Extend your left hand out, palm up, about waist high.
Grasp the can of our product with your right hand, and carefully invert it over your left palm until a satisfactory amount of shoestring potatoes comes out.
Repeat as necessary until the can is empty.

The French's Company

P.S. Everyone here got the biggest laugh out of your letter.........we thank you for your attention, and your service!
Enclosed, please find a case of French's Shoestring Potatoes.
We hope you enjoy them!"

And Moe was nice enough to share!

09 June 2005

Uninsured Americans

We continually hear the bleat about people having no medical insurance. We are headed inexorably toward socialized medicine in the U.S..

In the E.R. in most U.S. hospitals you will see a sign that informs you that the facility must give you treatment to stabilize your problem, then either treat you, or transfer you to a facility that can properly treat you. No one in the U.S. can be turned away for lack of ability to pay!

Nevertheless, I believe we will see our system socialized within the next ten years. When that happens, we'll probably follow the model set by the U.K..

David Asman, news anchor for Fox News, recently had first-hand experience with medicine in London when his wife suffered a stroke there. The link will take you to an article sharing his experience with that system, and the U.S. system when he returned here. It's an objective article, pointing out advantages and disadvantages in both systems.

I think it's worth your time:


UPDATE......RELATED, from that great Canadian system........
Here's where we're headed.
If you have the money, you'll get great, immediate treatment.
If not, wait in line, in pain, for a year!
The link:

They're coming to America....

In the news yesterday, two stories of desperate people trying to make it to the country that runs "Modern Day Gulags".

First, Cubans attempt to cross the sea in a 1940's vintage taxi converted to a boat, (picture and video link) :


Next, a lady in Long Island, New York, heard a loud "thump" when something struck the roof of a building in her back yard. Here's the story about what she found, with a poor picture:


Both stories are just another reminder that we are truly blessed to live where others are willing to take extraordinary risks to try to join us!

08 June 2005

An Uncomfortable Subject

In my post about burns, I mentioned that in the Helicopter Ambulance, smells are a factor. For instance, if the patient moves his/her bowels, it's immediately known by everyone on board!

The R22 I train in is a MUCH smaller bird, so smells are a bigger factor when I'm teaching because I rub shoulders with the student.

What I want to talk about here is halitosis.
Bad breath.
No, make that BAAAAADDD breath!

A paramedic I work with is one of the sweetest, most caring people I have ever met. He knows his business and gives great care to our patients. But when we are on the outbound leg of our flight to pick up the patient, he invariably jumps into the front seat next to me. (This means he would be about as far away as he would be in a mid-size car like a Ford Taurus.)

Getting into the helicopter requires a little exertion, so he is breathing heavily as he enters, and his breath is SO bad, I am immediately uncomfortable!
(Why doesn't his wife tell him?)

I did a little searching......

A full 90% of the time, bad breath is caused by something called "gram negative anaerobic bacteria".


It can also be caused, obviously, by dental decay or gum disease, or other medical conditions like carcinomas, diabetes, sinus problems, or menstruation! (And the list of possible causes goes on for about a mile from there!)

There is a direct correlation between bacteria in the mouth and cardiac problems. I'll not list the problems you expose yourself to if you're not brushing your teeth properly, but if you have halitosis or gum problems, you are greatly increasing your chances of having a heart attack.......did ya know that?!

I am as thick skinned as anyone you are likely to meet. If my breath was so bad that I was offensive, I'd want someone to tell me so I could take care of the problem!

But I realize others might be embarrassed having someone tell them they need to check into why their breath is causing people to leave the party early!

Do you know a "socially acceptable" way to handle this situation?
I'd love to hear it!

07 June 2005

Democrat Party....an Early Warning!

From Powerline:


I think Veterans were the deciding factor in the '04 GWB victory.

Question is, will Democrats make the same mistake again?

So far, it looks like it!

How To Fly a Helicopter:

Five or six years ago, humorist Dave Barry wrote a column
on his first (and last?) helicopter flying lesson....

It was an absolute hoot!

I found it for your enjoyment:


06 June 2005

Everest Landing a Hoax?

Not sure yet what is true, but if the claim was a hoax, it's a considerable embarrassment for Eurocopter, who made a big deal of it!

Here's the link:



Ole Prairie Dog sent me this link last week.
I finally got around to reading it this morning.
I don't read quickly, so it took me 15 minutes, but it was worth my time.

Compelling, on this 61st anniversary of D-Day!

I'm continually amazed at ignorance of history.........
even recent history, by people you know are not at all stupid!
Brit Hume's comments on "spinning" by others just reinforces my feelings about some commentators.
His comments about Kuwaiti oil are points I have made myself in discussions with family.

Read and see what you think:



Two of our helicopters were launched to a small hospital 30 minutes to our South.......

"Your patient is a 34 year old man with burns to over 60 percent of his body."

Burns smell.

In the small space of the helicopter there is no way to avoid the smell.

Realizing the smell comes from the burned flesh of a human being, not some piece of meat ruined on a grill, makes the job difficult.

The story was heartbreaking:
Our patient, his brother, and his daughter were in a small car. The two men were seated in the front, daughter in the rear. They were on a two lane road, stopped, waiting on traffic to make a left turn.

They were struck from behind by another car traveling at a high rate of speed. Their car exploded. Both men were able to get out of the car.

Then they heard the screams of their daughter/niece.

Both men went back into roaring flames to try and extricate her.
They failed.

The hair on both these men was melted to their scalps. It reminded me of the "painted-on" hair of toy dolls with rubber heads that little girls played with when I was young.


These men were both in shock from the experience of trying to save the young girl. Their bodies were in trouble because burns this extensive begin to take a toll on the body.....trying to cleanse itself of all the toxins associated with the dead and dying tissue, liver and kidneys are overworked and fail.

Their prognosis was NOT good.

We took them to the burn center, where we knew they would get the best burn treatment available. Unfortunately, this wonderful treatment frequently just postpones the inevitable.

This was another case I didn't follow up on.

I didn't want to hear the answer, so I didn't ask the question.

05 June 2005

We Need to Know......

From U.S. News & World Report:

Mainstream media have been reluctant, in all the coverage of treatment of detainees at Guantanamo, to mention that the al Qaeda training manual specifically instructs all of its agents to make false claims of torture. The New York Times seems to have mentioned the manual's torture reference only once, in a short report from Australia. Several other papers mentioned it as a one-line quote from a military spokesman who pointed it out. But until the Washington Times ran a front-page piece last week, a Nexis search could find no clear and pointed article in the U.S. press like the one by Alasdair Palmer in the London Sunday Telegraph, with the headline "This is al Qaeda Rule 18: 'You must claim you were tortured.' " He wrote that the manual doesn't prove "that the Britons were not tortured in Guantanamo. But it ought to encourage some doubts about uncritically accepting that they were--which seems to be the attitude adopted by most of the media." Amen to both points in that last sentence."

The whole article is here:

The New Car, Part II

Disappointment. That's what we felt.

We thought we had made a deal. We were excited about bringing the beautiful demonstrator home, and felt cheated that the dealer had reneged on the agreement.

More and more, we were concerned about driving the poor old wagon. It wasn't dangerous, but it had nearly 200,000 miles on it, and we were concerned about it breathing its' last on some long trip.

Besides, we had gotten our hopes up for the new ride!

So, every day, I'd grab a newspaper and see what dealers in the area were offering. During October and November, prices of our chosen car stayed at the unaffordable level I had found when I initially checked on it.

Christmas came and went. We celebrated New Year's Day.

Then in late January, a dealer in a small town 30 minutes away began to advertise real deals on the car we were interested in!

Checking the mail one day, I found an envelope with a plastic container in it.
It was a sales promotion from this dealer.
In the plastic container was a key..........
"Bring this key to the dealership and open our lock, and choose any car on the lot for free!"

That evening, we went out to dinner, and afterward took the key to the dealership.

It didn't open the lock.

But when we expressed an interest in Sara Jean's "green" car, the salesman worked up a trade for the old wagon.

His initial offer, on a BRAND NEW CAR!, was $500 less than the previous dealer wanted for the demonstrator with 7000 miles on it!

I dickered and bargained for an hour or so, and we ended up signing a contract on EXACTLY the car we wanted!

They prepped it the next day and delivered it to us, then disappeared with our tired old Station Wagon.

That night we went out to the garage several times to just look at it and touch it.........shiny, wonderful, and with that distinctive smell!

But oddly, there was a downside.

No, I don't mean buyers remorse!

To be continued........

04 June 2005


I'm glad to see this discussion.


Wouldn't it by nice if we were on the way to a healing?



I sold insurance for a little while. Accident and health policies first, then life insurance for a bigger company later. Having done it for a while, I learned to appreciate salesmen. Sales people irritate us, but they do a necessary job.......a job that few people do well.

I'm grateful for having been in sales for a while. The first company I worked for put me through an intensive course to show me sales techniques and help get my state licensing done. In this course I learned one of the most important things you can learn.......PMA........a positive mental attitude! To be great at sales, you must have PMA!!

And the fact is, we are all salesmen. No matter what work you do, you sell yourself by doing your allotted work. You have the choice to do it with excellence, just adequately, or poorly. You can also do it with a smile on your face, or you can be a grump.

Think about who you want near you in your life. I find myself attracted to people that do quality work, that make me laugh.........make me feel better. These folks put you in a better mood and make it easier to do excellent work yourself!

Complainers are to be avoided..........when shopping, if you see one before they see you, do you duck down a different aisle, hoping they haven't seen you?
We all have!

Last night I picked up a 42 year old gentleman with an enlarged heart. He also has rhythm problems with his heart that get out of control and cannot be controlled with medication. This guy has been on a heart transplant list for more than a year, and may die before his number comes up. He had never been off the ground before. As we loaded him on the helicopter, he jokingly asked to see my "driver's license"! He made us all laugh. I'm sure the crew took extra good care of the guy, because we all liked him.

You can go through life complaining........being the one that catches glimpses of others ducking into the next aisle, OR...........
You can put a smile on your face and try to show a genuine interest in others, and be the one people are drawn to.

I love my job. I get paid to help people when they desperately need my services.
I'm healthy.
I have a beautiful, loving wife, and a fine home.
I live in a country that trusts its' citizens to travel without concern.

I want others to WANT to be around me!

How can I not have PMA?

The Monument

Identify the common thread.......

Dr. George Washington Carver,
Enterprise, AL.,

This could be a wonderful trivia question!

The common thread? The Boll Weevil!

Enterprise, AL. is a little town just outside Ft. Rucker, home of ARMY Aviation. Enterprise is the home of the only monument in the United States dedicated to a pest, the Boll Weevil!

Click the link:


It's an interesting story!

02 June 2005

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst!

Most of my Viet Nam flying was done in the UH1-C,
the "Huey" that we all think of when we imagine a helicopter in Viet Nam.

The "Charley model" Huey was underpowered for the job we asked it to do. They were replaced by the faster, more powerful AH1-G "HueyCobra", later shortened to just "Cobra".

The Cobra was designed from the outset to be a weapons platform and was a quantum leap better than the old "Charleys" I flew!

My unit started taking delivery of Cobras three months before I left Viet Nam, so I got a chance to fly them before coming home. They were stable, accurate, and menacing looking........a great gunship!

I found this narrative at the Viet Nam Helicopter Flight Crew website. It's the story of a Cobra gunship being hit by a Soviet SA-7 shoulder fired missile.

The enemy started using shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles after I had left the country.
I'm mighty glad I didn't have to worry about them!
At the end of the war, pilots had modified their tactics in order to avoid being acquired as a target by these missiles.

If you fly Robinson helicopters, particularly the R22, you should read this story and digest the emergency procedure this pilot uses.
Here's why:

During the Robinson Safety Course at Torrance, they tell the story of a Japanese woman on a solo flight in an R22, trying to adjust her kneeboard, when it gets away from her and flies out the left door of her aircraft.
It strikes and catastrophically fails the helicopters' tail rotor and tail rotor gearbox, which fall off the aircraft. The resulting forward shift of the Center of Gravity of the aircraft pitches the nose down and makes it uncontrollable.
She is killed in the accident.

With the tail of the aircraft shot off by the missile, this pilot finds himself in a similarly desperate situation. But because he had considered the possibility of this happening, he was able to manipulate the controls in a way that saved his life, and the life of his front seater!

So read the article.......Think about it.........Visualize it!


And let's pray none of us ever needs to use this technique in an emergency situation!

01 June 2005

Let's fly!

I learned to hover a helicopter in February of 1968 in Mineral Wells, TX.

In Army uniform......flight suit, boots, helmet, and sunglasses, I got hot enough from the concentration and exercise that sweat flowed from my scalp down the front of my face and into my eyes.........and down the back of my scalp, continuing down the valley of my back, and into the fissure where the sun doesn't shine!
It IS that difficult!

I was surprised though, when the instructor got the aircraft stablilized in flight, to find I could make the machine do what I wanted it to do!

So........we've learned to hover. Now it's time to go fly!

Getting the helicopter airborne once you're comfortable hovering, is actually fairly easy.

Which direction is the wind coming from? Point the nose thataway!

Now, check your power level. In a helicopter powered by a reciprocating engine, this means looking at your "manifold pressure" gauge.
In a turbine powered machine, power is normally measured in torque (twist) applied to the drive train, and is indicated on the "torque" gauge.

So in the R22, we check the manifold pressure gauge. A common hover power setting here locally is 23 inches of manifold pressure, (MP). Remember this value, because we'll use it most of the way around the traffic pattern.

Okay, our nose is into the wind, we are at a stable 5 foot hover,
using 23" of MP.
Lower the nose of the machine just enough to start moving forward. DO NOT dump the nose over like you see in TV shows or movies! If you have an engine failure with your nose in that attitude, you'll have a Dickens of a time trying to keep from spreading the helicopter over half a city block!

Allow the helicopter to slowly accelerate while maintaining 5 feet of altitude. Use extra collective only as needed to keep the machine 5 feet above the ground. Keep the nose pointed into the wind with the Tail Rotor pedals. Insure the machine is moving straight ahead with the Cyclic.

At about 10-15 knots of airspeed, the helicopter will begin to accelerate into air that has not been disturbed by the main rotor taking big bites of it and forcing it downward. The helicopter will have a natural tendency to lift it's nose as it encounters this clean air, (the main rotor in front is working more efficiently than in the rear), and you must keep the nose from coming up, because if it comes up, the helicopter will come to a stop!

This point of accelerating into clean air.......transitioning from hovering flight into forward flight, announces itself with a mild vibration in the aircraft as the main rotor moves completely into "clean air". This transition is called "translational lift".
Translational lift is that additional lift, or efficiency, the helicopter gains by having the rotor operating in undisturbed, unaccelerated, air.

With the rotor fully in undisturbed air, the helicopter will actually fly with less power than required to hover!

The machine will get more and more stable as you accelerate because of the stability provided by increased airflow "weathervaning" the helicopter.

In the R22 we climb at 60 knots indicated airspeed. At our local elevation, 23 inches of manifold pressure at 60 knots indicated normally results in a rate of climb of 500 to 600 feet per minute.

Let's make one circuit around the traffic pattern.........
Climb straight ahead until we reach an altitude of 400 feet above the ground, then turn 90 degrees to enter "crosswind" leg. On "Crosswind", we continue holding our manifold pressure setting and indicated airspeed until we reach 800 feet above the ground, then we make another 90 degree turn to parallel our takeoff course in the opposite direction. Since we took off into the wind, we will now be "downwind".......therefore this is our "Downwind" leg. We still maintain our power setting, 23" MP, but we lower the nose to maintain our 800 feet altitude above the ground and convert the power we were using to climb into airspeed.
The R22 will accelerate to 80-85 knots indicated on downwind leg under these conditions.

And now, you are flying.

Now, all we have to worry about is getting this symphony of moving parts safely back on the ground!

Next, the "Normal" approach!


Mount Everest Landing

Here is the video of the Eurocopter AStar 350 putting skids on the summit of Mount Everest.
The video is 4 and a half minutes long, so it is a long download.

I'm in awe of the idea of it........this machine is touching a skid and hovering at 29,000+ feet!
Literally, if he had a problem, HE WAS DEAD!


At this site, you can download the video either via either mov file, or wmv file.

It's worth the wait.....download and enjoy!