30 November 2005

Birds Do It!

I love........LOVE, to get a new student that is an experienced starch-wing aviator!

All I have to do is teach them to fly the helicopter.......
they already know how to read a map, how to use the radios, how to stay out of airspace they shouldn't be entering.
They understand Mr. Bernoulli's principle.

What still surprises me is the attitude some of them bring to the table.
I always tell new students not to expect to hover until they have about 5 hours of helicopter time in their logbook.

Many airplane pilots hear the words, but you can tell from their attitude they don't believe me.......they think they will be different. They'll be the guy that gets into the helicopter and amazes me with their virtuosity!


The first hour is a frustrating, humbling experience for anyone.....agreed,
  • Rubberducky?

  • Something else that surprises me.
    I ask ALL my students this simple question, and I almost always get an incorrect answer,
    (Even from the experienced fixed-wingers) :
    Why do we land into the wind?

    The most frequent incorrect answer?
    "Because landing into the wind produces more lift."

    Think you know the correct answer? Leave it in the comments.......no charge for entering my contest!
    I'll give you what I consider the correct answer in an update, here, later.

    UPDATE:Well, that didn't take long........
    Jason's answer is the answer I give to my students. In any aircraft, the difference in ground speed landing into the wind vs. downwind is twice the wind speed. For instance, if you land into the wind at 60 knots in a Cessna 150, and your wind speed is 10 knots comin' straight at ya, your ground speed will be 50 knots.
    But land downwind and you have to ADD the wind speed to your airspeed to get groundspeed, so it will be 70 knots.......
    a difference of 20 knots. On an airplane, the wear and tear on tires is reason enough to land into the wind.

    Of course the critical thing is safety. In airplanes, helicopters, automobiles, etc., as speed doubles, crash forces are squared. It just makes sense to be going as slow as you possibly can if there is a chance of a sudden stoppage in your future!

    Purple Tabby.......I don't know if I can make this really clear here, but I'll try.........For me, having learned to fly helicopters first, and then airplanes......crosswind landings were extremely difficult to learn. In the helicopter you do nothing different during a crosswind landing.......in order to maintain your course on final approach, you naturally tilt the rotor into the wind, and the machine takes care of the crosswind problem for you.
    You don't even think about the crosswind.

    In most airplanes, (not all), you bank into the wind to correct for it trying to blow you off your course, and use rudder to keep the nose headed the direction you want the airplane to go.
    For me, it was a VERY unnatural thing to have to do!
    I still hate crosswind landings in airplanes!

    The rotor is also the braking system on the helicopter. Similar to reversing thrust upon landing in an airplane, you just vector the rotor's thrust in the opposite direction of travel, and it provides an effective braking force, (just like birds do when they land!) And similarly to airplanes, if you apply it when you have no forward movement, you can actually go backwards, (except when you do it in the helicopter you are actually flying, not taxiing!)

    Fixed-wingers........is there a way to make this more clear?

    I Guess I'm Ignorant......

    Sitting here now, watching Senator Kerry from Massachusetts responding to the President's speech at the Naval Academy......

    Why is it whenever I watch either of the Senators from MA. give a speech, I feel as if I need a disinfecting bath?

    If Ms. Sheehan has absolute authority to question our presence in Iraq because of the loss of her son, does my year in Viet Nam give me carte blanche to ask questions about that war?

    If so, here are my questions:

    A tour of duty in Viet Nam was a year, minimum.
    Why did Albert Gore spend only 6 months there?
    Did he receive special treatment because someone in his family was a U.S. Senator from Tennessee?

    Why did John Kerry spend only 4 months in Viet Nam?
    (I know, this has been flogged to death already,
    but my real question is why he didn't want to go back to his unit after recuperating from his flesh wound?) Could his lack of loyalty to his troops be an indication of his character?

    And why has he STILL not signed his SF180 so the general public can find the truth about his Viet Nam service and the status of his discharge?
    What is he hiding there?

    Inquiring minds want,
    need to know!

    28 November 2005

    Living With The Train, and Amtrak Economics

    We live half a mile from a major rail line.
    We have a love/hate relationship with the tracks.......
    I love watching the big machinery, love hearing the whistle blow late at night as it crosses the intersection West of us.

    Big Bubba works a stone's throw on the other side of the tracks, and has been late for work more than once because of the intersection being covered.

    I waited 45 minutes in the wee hours one night for the crossing to clear so I could make my way to my bed. (I was too stubborn to drive a mile south to an overpass.)
    The law is that a train cannot cover a crossing for more than 15 minutes. This does not include time in switching.......so if a train is back-and-forthing, the 15 minute rule is inapplicable.
    On more than one occasion I have made a cell phone call about being delayed by the train, resulting in traffic citations being given to the railroad. The railroad is getting better about not covering the intersection.

    But the topic I really wanted to discuss here is Amtrak. When Big Bubba was 4 years old, he went through a phase, probably common to all kids, where he was fascinated with trains.
    He would ask us to slow down and intentionally be stopped by a train in order to be able to watch it pass.

    I had to make a trip to California to attend a course to renew my Flight Instructor Certificate. I decided this would be a good time to take the family along for a little vacation. I thought Big Bubba would be thrilled to ride the train, so I decided I would check on Amtrak to compare their rates with the airlines.

    The trip to L.A. would take 3 days........two nights on the train. Included in the cost of our 1st class tickets was a bedroom and three meals a day. Considering room/board/entertainment were included in the fare, we decided to take the train. We have very fond memories of this trip, but two things surprised me:
    I was surprised at how poorly we slept. The train is the main transport link to a lot of towns out West, and it stops every 45 minutes or so in towns like Hutchinson, Kansas.
    I was also surprised at the food.
    They have REAL chefs on those trains, and they know how to make great food and present it well!
    We got off that train feeling we shouldn't eat for days.

    Amtrak uses the tracks near us. The train passes twice a day in each direction, and with the exception of holidays when students are using it to return home, it is always empty. Not surprisingly, Amtrak is losing money by the trainload. We can drive our car to a major city serviced by the line for half the price of a single-fare ticket.........why would the three of us ever take Amtrak?

    My question then, is this: Would it not be better to have a standby rate for the train? If you allowed people to get on the train for almost nothing, space available, you'd certainly have more riders, and seeing the train with actual people occupying the seats might make others think taking the train wouldn't be such a downer.

    My idea is they could start the fare ridiculously low, then increase the price until they started seeing resistance. They'd establish ridership, and in the process get some cars off our highways.

    Some that started using the train under these circumstances might very well realize the value of the service, and continue using it even with a higher fare.

    The present situation is quickly leading to bankruptcy.
    Amtrak is under the microscope, and federal funding is shaky.
    Would it not be a good idea to try something dramatically different?
    I'd hate to see the service go away.

    25 November 2005

    No Shift is Typical

    One of the great things about coming to work at our Helicopter Ambulance Service is that no two shifts are alike. The night before Thanksgiving was a good example.........

    Our shift change happens at 1845 hrs., (6:45 P.M. to those not familiar with the 24 hour clock.)
    I meet with the day shift pilot and debrief him on his day.......clues about incoming weather, aircraft status, any other details of interest.
    I meet with my medical crew to see if they have further details on possible problems with the aircraft from the medical viewpoint.

    Hearing no problems, I do a weather check. I check current and forecast weather at several stations around our location to see what is out there, and what we will have to deal with later. I call our dispatchers and insure they have the names of the crew that will be manning the helicopter for the next 12 hours, and report the weather to them so they know if I will need to do another weather check prior to accepting any flight. Pilots are the final authority on weather decisions........If for any reason I'm not comfortable with the weather, no one questions my decision.
    I have turned flights down because the temperature and dewpoint were too close together, indicating the possibility of fog formation. My med crews know I am cautious, and they appreciate it.

    I then grab my helmet and go out to check the helicopter. I plug in and hang my helmet, adjust the seat and anti-torque pedals to my settings, and check the logbook to insure no pending inspection or maintenance will be due during our shift. If I find an item that may conflict with our ability to fly, I notify dispatch of that fact so that they can make plans to tag another aircraft with a flight later, if necessary.

    After checking the log, I do my preflight. I fly the BK117, a medium sized, twin engine helicopter built by American Eurocopter. It is a German machine, with American (Lycoming) engines. There's a lot to look at on this bird. A really thorough preflight on a machine I was not familiar with could easily take 45 minutes. Even under normal conditions, it takes half an hour.

    If a flight comes in during this process, we accept it. I'll do a VERY abbreviated preflight.......
    Main rotor, check. Tail rotor, check. Fluid in all reservoirs, check. All cowlings secure, check. General overall appearance of the machine.......check. Sufficient fuel for the flight, check. Startup with normal procedures, and go.
    Our goal is to be airborne within 8 minutes of getting notification of a flight.
    I can normally do it in 6.

    Wednesday night the phone rang at 2045 hrs.. A prisoner with a bowel obstruction needed to be transported to the State Capital for surgery. After coordinating with representatives of the prison and insuring they knew our rules for this flight, we were airborne at 2059 hrs, and landed at the sending hospital at 2123 hrs..

    My crew packaged the prisoner and I briefed the guard on what I expected of him. While my crew loaded the prisoner aboard the aircraft, I showed the guard how to operate the door, how to jettison it in case of emergency, the location of fire extinguishers, how to fasten and unbuckle the seat belts. I grabbed a headset, plugged it in for him, and showed him how to adjust the volume control.

    We took off at 2155 hours for the receiving hospital. It was a little bumpy, but a gorgeous night to fly..........50 miles visiblity. The guard loved it......our prisoner, in great discomfort, thought the bumpiness was the work of the devil.

    We landed at the receiving hospital at 2253 hrs.. Their rules require a cold offload, so I shut down the engines and used the rotor brake to stop the rotor. We offloaded the prisoner, and while the crew and guard took the prisoner downstairs, I started the helicopter and flew to the airport to refuel for the flight home.

    This flight took 3 minutes. At almost 11 P.M., the non-federal control tower was closed, so I made advisory radio calls of my position and landed on the ramp, where the fuel guy was waiting with flashlight/wands to guide me to my refueling pad. I shut down and showed him where the fuel tank was located, and he told me there was "Moose Tracks" ice cream waiting inside for me if I was interested.
    I left him to refuel the machine and quickly moved to the refrigerator!

    After a nice bowl of ice cream and a hot cuppa coffee, dispatch called and said my crew was ready to be picked up. I took off at 2341 hrs. and landed at the hospital at 2344. Again, I had to shut the engines down to load crew and stretcher. We left the capital at 2353 hrs. and landed at our company headquarters, (not our base), for fuel 44 minutes later.

    Here, I hot refueled the aircraft while my crew went for their cuppa. I was nearly finished with refueling when my paramedic came out and told me we were on standby for an accident scene 20 minutes south of us. Fueling complete and fuel cap secured, instead of going to the accident scene, we took off for a local hospital 15 minutes south, where the victim had been transported.
    Our patient was a 42 year old mother, whose two kids had been killed in the head on collision. Both her legs were broken, as was one of her arms. She had a suspected abdominal bleed.

    We completed this flight at 0240 hrs..
    Back at our home base, my crew finished paperwork on our flights while I shut down and refueled the aircraft. Having those tasks completed, I came in and closed out yesterdays flights in the aircraft log and brought forward the total airframe and component times for the following day, then logged the flight we had just completed.

    The phone rang again at 3:15. My crew groaned......they were on the last hours of their 24 hour shift, and had been awake all but three hours of 24. We were dispatched to another small town hospital to pick up an 83 year old man that had no pulse in his right leg. When we arrived, we found that he had lost his left leg the previous year to a circulation problem. In flight, over the intercom, I heard my nurse and paramedic discussing the fact that this poor man was now going to lose this leg also.

    We completed this flight at 0455 hours, and once again gathered in our base to tidy up the paperwork. By the time we were all done, it was 5:30, and we had the decision to make.......
    Do we bother to lie down and sleep for less than an hour, or do we brew fresh coffee and just wait for the morning crew to arrive?
    I sat down in front of Fox News on the TV and was asleep in short order, reclined in the chair.

    Our relief started filtering in at 6:15. Fresh cup in hand, I briefed my relief on the previous nights activities and wished him a "good day".

    In the 12 hour shift, I had been airborne four hours. I had transported three patients and one guard for the prisoner. I had shot 15 night landings to various rooftop/ground level pads. I had burned approximately 320 gallons of modified kerosene.

    I was tired. I drove 45 minutes to my home, kissed my beautiful Sara Jean, and was snoring in very short order, knowing the whole process would start again in less than 12 hours.

    But I don't get tired of this life, because it is never "routine". Our patients find ever more interesting ways to hurt themselves. I may or may not go back to these three hospitals over the next weeks or months.
    Although we didn't land "on-scene" Wednesday night, we frequently do, and "night, scene landings" are as close to combat flying as anything I have done as a civilian.

    I'm glad to have a job that I enjoy, where I can help people in serious trouble.
    I'll have a difficult adjustment when I can no longer pass a flight physical.

    24 November 2005

    Giving Thanks

    Got a full belly?
    Did you get to spend time with your family today?
    I hope so.
    I did, although it was much, much too short.

    I'm back at work as I type, waiting for the phone to ring, and the chance to go help someone in desperate need.

    I was up all night long last night, spreading three flights over twelve hours. I think I'll write about last night later, to give you a taste of what my life CAN be like.

    As I get older, I continually think about how blessed we are. We take so much of our lives for granted.......as if much of it couldn't disappear in a fraction of a second.
    My job continually reminds me of it, and for that I am thankful.
    We need reminders of other things too:

    I remember one Winter night long ago, waking in the wee hours to the sound of our oil-fired furnace making a funny noise. It was a metal-on-metal sound. Not loud, but loud enough that it woke me.
    Then the noise stopped. It was mighty cold outside, and the temperature in the house began to drop. I pulled the covers up snug under my neck........warm as toast.

    The next sound I heard was my Dad quietly making his way to the utility room. For several minutes I heard the tinkling of tools and other sounds indicating that the Old Man was "on the case".
    And sure enough, the furnace started making normal noises, and the chill in the house went away.
    I didn't say anything to Dad for getting out of his warm bed to take care of us.........I took it for granted..........it was his job.
    How easy it would have been to say, "Thanks Dad. It was wonderful staying in my warm bed while you lost sleep and took care of the problem."
    I wish I had.

    One of our flights last night was to transport a prisoner from one of the State Penitentiaries to a hospital in the State Capital. When we pick up a prisoner, they send a guard with us to insure a safe transport. The guy they sent along last night had the job description of "Jailer".

    Would you want to be a "Jailer"?
    I had a helicopter student that worked full time as a Nurse in a jail, and he told horror stories about the treatment he received from the inmates, all for much too little pay.
    It's a job I wouldn't take for ANY wages.
    I thanked this man for doing a job I wouldn't want to do.
    He was pleased to hear my thanks.

    It's easy to think of those that are overseas, doing a nasty job that needs to be done, protecting us, and be thankful for them.
    We all do, and that is only proper.

    But there are others too.........
    Last year we had an ice storm come through late one night and our power went out. We were mighty glad for the heat of our water bed!

    With the power being off in the entire neighborhood at 3 A.M. or so, it got mighty quiet.
    Sure enough, in very little time you could hear the trucks moving down the road crunching on the ice, and you could see the searchlights checking the lines to see where the problem was that needed fixing.
    We went back to sleep, knowing experts were awake, "on the case".

    When the power came back on, the refrigerator, furnace, and ceiling fans all came on and woke us up. I checked my watch.......the power was off for three hours.
    The Power guys spent three miserable hours outside in the freezing rain, while we were in a heated bed, able to take others for granted.
    (Remember that my Old Man worked for a power company, so I especially take note of them.)

    So please, in your prayers of thanks for our servicemen and women, remember that there are so many others that serve in ways we easily forget.
    Include them in those prayers.
    And if you get a chance to personally thank them, as I did with the jailer, they'll just give the stock, "just doing my job" answer.
    Doesn't cost a cent to thank them, anyway.
    And you know what?
    It'll make you feel better too!

    23 November 2005

    Bambi........mmmm, mmmm good!

    Deer Hunting season opened here last week.
    Dawn is punctuated with intermittent shots.......boom, boom.........boom.
    We've gotten accustomed to them and go right back to sleep.

    We live on 2 1/2 acres, adjoining a 5 acre pond on the outskirts of a small town, in a rural area.
    In our back yard I regularly see opposum, raccoons,
    coyotes, turkeys, squirrels (red and gray), red-tail hawks,
    Great Blue Herons, kingfishers.
    Now and then we see red foxes.
    Once we had a Bald Eagle perched in a tree overlooking the pond.

    We are overrun by white-tail deer.

    Big Bubba took Tae Kwan Do lessons at a business that devoted the second half of the building to an archery range. While he was going through his martial arts workout, I would go to the archery side and watch archers shoot.
    On the wall in that shop was a state map, showing the white-tail deer population of the approximately 100 counties.
    Two of the counties were red. One of the red counties was the county where we live. On the map's legend, I found that red indicated a deer population of more than 25 per square mile.
    My first thought was, "that's impossible!"
    25 deer per square mile is obviously a lot of deer.

    But we see graphic indications of the number of deer here. It's not out of the ordinary for me to pass two or three deer dead alongside the road on my 32 mile drive to work.
    I frequently have to use my "Mario Andretti" driving skills to avoid hitting a doe or two skittering across the road, generally followed by an amorous young buck at this time of year.

    Some time back I was called to an accident site where a car on one side of the road hit a deer and threw it into an approaching car, where it went through the windshield and seriously injured the driver.
    Blood everywhere, we couldn't tell if the blood was deer, or human.

    I was listening last month, late night, to a 50,000 watt blowtorch Midwest AM radio station. A representative of the Department of Natural Resources of that state was talking about the problem they were having with deer getting accustomed to living in upscale subdivisions, if there were trees to hide in during the day. She reported that in some of these areas, they had as many as 85 deer per square mile!
    (Made my surprise at 25-per seem pretty silly.)

    It isn't out of the ordinary to look beneath our apple tree in the back yard and see 5 or 6 deer munching on apples that have fallen. A pasture across the road frequently has 20 or so standing and watching us as we drive past.
    We put tulips out in our front yard, and when the plants got to be 3 inches tall they were irresistible to the deer.........munch, munch.
    We can't put out a garden.........deer don't share well.

    They are lovely to look at, and when the does are escorting their fawns you cannot help but smile. But they are quickly approaching "nuisance" levels, and I think the DNR people are gonna have to take some drastic action to control them.
    I'm glad the hunters are taking them, rather than automobile drivers.

    A mostly unrelated question to wrap this up:
    At the end of the Disney movie, Bambi became a Prince.
    Ever meet a guy named Bambi?
    I didn't think so!

    22 November 2005

    A Commie Behind Every Bush

    So, what were you doing 42 years ago today?

    I'm a little surprised at the way this day has passed. Very little has been mentioned about what did happen 42 years ago.

    I had intended to post about the history of the date, and noticed I had been beaten to the punch at

  • with a thoughtful and thought provoking post.

    I was a High School Junior. My recollection is that it was a gray, chilly, uncomfortable day in Central Indiana. Over the intercom system, Mr. Vandermeer broke into our class with the news:
    The President had been assassinated.

    How strange to look back on it now.
    Just a year before, I had gotten quite upset over the tension caused by the Cuban Missile Crisis.......I'm talkin' about upset enough to lose sleep.
    So looking back now, I'm surprised at my reaction to the news.
    I knew it was a big deal. I was upset that anyone would want to kill the President. But I had no concerns about the succession.....I was confident that our political system was efficient and would survive this tragedy without destroying the country.

    And of course, that's exactly what happened, thank God.

    But in hindsight, it's obvious how naive I was.......we all were.
    Historical scholars now say President Kennedy was unhappy with the way things were going in Viet Nam, and had planned on beginning a gradual troop withdrawal from there over the rest of his term. President Johnson did exactly the opposite, and forever changed my life.
    What course would my life, and that of the other millions, have taken if President Kennedy had survived?
    I can't imagine any scenario where I would be making a living flying helicopters today.

    And then there are the conspiracy theories.
    Don't believe in them?
    If you are ever in Dallas, go to Dealey plaza.
    What with the Zapruder film, and all the documentaries and news stories about it, you'll feel, as I did, that you've been there before.....discomforting.
    There are folks there at all times selling tabloids and magazines about different conspiracies......
    "a commie behind every bush!"

    But THIRDWAVEDAVE poses a valid question....
    why are all the records sealed until 2038?
    If I ever knew that to be the case, I had forgotten it. Who, besides someone with something to hide, benefits from that edict?

    And the question that has always amazed me:
    President Kennedy's brain was removed from his body, and transparencies were photographed as they sliced his brain into paper-thin slices to show how the bullet traveled through it.
    His brain, AND the transparencies, have disappeared!
    (Play Twilight Zone music here.)

    The history of this date deserves more attention than it is getting today.
    Thanks to THIRDWAVEDAVE for helping to make sure it gets more attention than you'll find on the major news media.

    P.S.......And GG, you almost certainly were in that same class.
    Your recollections would be interesting.

    20 November 2005

    Blogroll Editing

    Just as you can tell the political leanings of News sources by what they present, the emphasis they put on what they present, and sometimes what they DON'T present, your blogroll says something about Weblogs you read and would like others to review. It's a view into your character and personality.

    I think it would take an astute observer of this Blog to notice the changes I have made in my Blogroll over the last few weeks. I've added a couple Blogs and removed a couple I used to really like.

    One of the ones I removed was
  • Powerline

  • I loved Powerline. I still run by there now and then to check on goings-on, but I de-listed them from my blogroll for good reason.......

    There was a great deal of chatter after Hurricane Katrina about how much "Pork" Congress was gonna be spending. One of the most contentious projects was the "Bridge to nowhere" in Alaska.

  • Story Here

  • When pressure began to mount on Senators to review spending in light of all the hurricane damage, Senator Stevens from Alaska said, (and I'm paraphrasing here), "If Alaska is the ONLY State money is cut from, I will resign from this body."

    John Hinderaker from Powerline quoted Senator Stevens as saying, "If they cut money from Alaska, I will resign", and challenged him to put up or shut up.

    Hinderaker is a Lawyer in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and lists his office phone number, so I called and left a message on his answering machine, informing him of the misquote.

    One of the things I love about Blogs is that if someone posts BS,
    BS detectors go off everywhere, and mistakes, particularly at the major Blogs, and Powerline is certainly one of those, are corrected VERY rapidly.

    I expected John to correct the quote, or post an update to correct the post, within 24 hours.
    He didn't.
    I was disappointed.

    This whole "Blog" thing is changing rapidly, but I truly believe in the not-too-distant future more people will be relying on Blogs and the internet for their news than TV or Radio.
    Do you check Drudgereport often, as I do?
    Google news? MSN's Slate.com?

    I hope my Blogroll indicates how important facts are.

    Accuracy is important.
    Ask Dan Rather.

    What......It's not perfect?

    Johnny Depp is disappointed in

  • France!

  • I'm shocked! Shocked, to find things are not perfect for him there!

    Hat tip:
  • Ann Althouse
  • Super Glue?

    Amazing stuff, super glue!
    The package says it will glue glass, plastics, metal, ceramics........blah, blah, blah.

    A piece of trim on our car was loose. It's one of those "tab in slot" things that irreversibly locks in place when connected. The tab had somehow broken off, and the trim, visible from the driver's seat, vibrated in the slipstream.
    Absent replacing the whole piece, bonding it was the only solution.

    We keep our super glue in the 'fridge.....I don't know if that preserves it........ but it seems everyone does it, and we don't wanta be different, ya know?
    Of course it had been months since we bought it, so it was no longer in liquid form, requiring the purchase of a new tube.

    Yesterday, I applied glue to the trim, put a weight on it to hold the two pieces together firmly, and left it six hours to set up.
    On the next trip in the car, it vibrated loose and "waved" at me in scorn.

    With several years of intermittent research to fall back on, I have come to what I think is an indisputable conclusion:
    Super glue is wonderful..........IF you want to glue your
    thumb to your index finger.
    For other applications, it's pretty much crap!

    Immediately after publishing this post,
    I was reminded by a nurse (who might know),
    about another good use that I've heard of, but thankfully have no personal experience with.........
    It involves a peeved wife and a sleeping husband.
    I hear if used this way, it is VERY effective!

    18 November 2005

    With Friends Like These......

    Why did France vehemently oppose our actions in Iraq?

  • corruption
  • could be a factor?

    Ahh, that "Oil for Food" program!
    It may have even put escargot on the table!

    Hat tip: Instapundit

    How to Fail


    That's the easiest way I know to fail.......quit!

    There are lots of other ways, of course, but they're more complicated.

    Lately I've heard the analogy comparing Americans to runners:
    Many say we're sprinters, not marathoners.
    Our enemies have learned this and know that to defeat us, all they have to do is be patient.
    In our present, video game, "immediate gratification" society, we don't have the stomach to wait very long for success.

    When I came home from my year in lovely Southeast Asia,
    one of my heroes was a runner from Oregon
    named Steve Prefontaine.
    "Pre" was a long distance runner.
    He was a short man for his chosen sport......had to take several steps while the tall guys took one.
    But he was extraordinary.
    He knew that if he could suffer more short term pain
    than his opponents, he could outlast and defeat them.
    He ended up with records that still stand in NCAA history, and ran in the Olympics in 1972.

    Two very similar movies were made of his life, and I recommend them both:

  • Prefontaine

  • and
  • Without Limits

  • Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, a Democrat,
    and, I'm sorry to say, a fellow Viet Nam veteran,
    has started us down the "Iraq = Viet Nam" road.

    By reading books written by North Vietnamese authors like General Giap, we now know we had the Viet Nam conflict won, until the John Kerry types aided and abetted the enemy there.
    We believed their negativity. We allowed them to convince us the short term pain was not worth the long term success.

    We quit.
    And the failure, particularly knowing with hindsight that we were winning, makes Viet Nam veterans furious.

    Will we make the same mistake today?
    In the face of so much success.....Lebanon, Libya, trends in Egypt and Iran, successful elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, can we be convinced we are suffering too much pain and losing the upper hand?

    I hope not. Look at France today and think of the long term complications.

    Then think of "Pre's" recipe for success: keep the goal in sight and be ready to suffer more short term pain than your opponent.

    Any other plan is a recipe for long term decline.

  • Someone agrees with me
  • 15 November 2005

    Bird Flu Hysteria

  • Chuck Simmins

  • gives a sane answer to the question I've been asking.

    Frightened by media reports?
    Go have a look.

    14 November 2005

    527 !

    I couldn't remember what the GWB margin of victory over Gore was in Florida 2000, so I looked it up and was surprised...........527 votes!
    Millions of folks in Florida, and 527 votes separated the two candidates.
    We all know that is WELL within the margin of error of our voting systems, and that is why the election result was so hotly contested.

    As a conservative, it's chilling for me to think of those 527 votes.
    Let me tell you another story, and why you should be amazed at "527" too.

    Sara Jean had a brother, (Sam), who died within the last year.
    Sam had Down's Syndrome, and although he outlived all predictions and died in his late 40's, he had the mental abilities of a 4 year old.

    When Sara Jean's Mother was incapacitated by a stroke, Sara Jean became his Guardian. She/we controlled virtually every aspect of his life..........we were included in all decisions about him......
    Social life, health care, work related decisions......(yes, even with a mental age of 4 yrs., Sam had a job).

    When the 2000 election approached and was obviously going to be close,
    I got to thinking about Sam, and the 15 other mentally challenged inhabitants of his facility.

    I called and asked, "do they vote, and if so, how?"

    "Yes, they all vote. They are all registered voters."

    So I asked, "how do they know the issues? How do they know who to vote for?"

    "Well, we leave the TV on for them and they watch the news." (!!!!!!!!!!!)
    "So we ask them how they want to vote, and we assist them in the booth."

    (I just bet you do!)

    I don't know how you feel, but I am not comfortable with the idea of a "4 year old" voting.
    I'm even less comfortable with the idea of a 4 year old voting with the assistance of a person whose paycheck depends entirely on government programs and support.
    I'm pretty sure the person assisting Sam would not want to vote for a fiscal conservative, under any circumstance.

    Do you really believe this assistant asked Sam how he wanted to vote?
    If you had a 4 year old child, and that child could vote legally, would you bother to ask how they wanted to vote while you were "assisting" them?

    And here's the "elephant in the room".........how many mentally disabled people are there in Florida, that were "assisted" by a government supported social worker when they pulled the voting lever..............hundreds? Thousands?
    I'm guessing the number of people similar to Sam in facilities down there would be in the 10's of thousands.

    It was certainly more than 527.

    So you think it's not important for you to make your way to the polls?

    If you voted for GWB in Florida in '00, you can count yourself among an important roster of 527............a small number that should look even smaller now!

    09 November 2005

    Falling From The Sky


    This is disturbing stuff to think about!

    In previous posts, I mentioned that the main reason I continue teaching people to fly helicopters is because of the folks I meet along the way.
    (Believe me, there's NO money in it!)

    One of the first students I taught as a civilian,
    I'll call him Gary,
    got his private helicopter pilot's license in 1983.
    We've been friends since.

    In November of '86,
    Sara Jean and I were invited to his birthday party.
    I was standing near the refreshments when his Mother approached with a smile so strange, I immediately asked "what're you up to?"

    She answered, "I just thought one pilot would enjoy talking to another........come along, I have someone I want you to meet!"

    I followed like a puppy.

    Nice lookin' man.......One of Gary's in-laws.
    I shook his hand and introduced myself, then said,
    "She's up to something. What kind of craft do you pilot?"

    "A Mini-Sub."

    His company was based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
    When the Shuttle Challenger exploded,
    the U.S. Navy initially tried to handle the recovery themselves,
    but quickly found their machines were not
    the most efficient for the task.
    They hired Gary's in-law to come pick up all the pieces.

    Did you anticipate my first question?
    "Were they alive?"

    "Six of the seven had deployed and were wearing their emergency oxygen packs."

    As I recall, after the explosion, it took about 15 minutes
    for the first pieces of the spacecraft to start splashing in the water.

    Three years earlier........in 1983.
    Korean Air Flight 007, flying at 35,000 feet,
    is shot down by a Russian Fighter aircraft.
    It took 12 minutes for the Boeing 747 to crash into the sea.
    Did the passengers don their oxygen masks?
    Were they functional?
    If so, like the Challenger Astronauts, they had a long,
    terrifying time to think about their lives, and the reality of dying.

    It is macabre,
    thinking about how people would behave under such circumstances.
    Obviously, some would be hysterical.
    The Astronauts, the Pilots,
    and some individuals on the airliner
    would be methodical , trying to find a solution to the very end.
    But 12-15 minutes surely would seem
    like an eternity under such circumstances.

    It's difficult to imagine.

    The Challenger tapes are available,
    but to avoid distressing families
    NASA won't release them.
    Do you think they should be made public?
    If they were, would you want to hear them?

    07 November 2005

    How Much Risk is Too Much?

    What would it take to get you to do

  • THIS?

  • I'm regularly accused of being crazy for flying under a flinging wing, but this is really "pushing the envelope!"

    05 November 2005

    Monsoon Season in Viet Nam

    Imagine it raining as hard as you have ever seen it rain.
    Then think of rain that hard for over a month, non-stop.

    I was based 40 miles South of Da Nang. I could see the highest mountains in South Viet Nam from the front door of my hooch, and the South China Sea from the back door......
    Except in late January-Early February, when the rain came down in bucketloads, limiting visibility, and negating any chance to aviate.

    Since we couldn't fly, I had been up the hill to visit with a flight school buddy, Deane, who was attached as an OH-6 scout/forward observer Pilot with our Division Artillery, (DivArty).

    We always dreamed about what we were going to do when we made it back to "the world" at the end of our tour.
    During this visit we made plans to go to the Base Exchange the next day to get information on buying a new car through the PX system, so we could have new wheels waiting on us when we returned home.

    I was on "Standby" the next day. It was still raining cats and dogs, so there was little chance of flying at all, but I had to remain in the company area just in case the weather cleared and someone needed gunship support.

    And then the call came in......."could we go fly?"
    Absolutely not!
    The ceiling was about 400 feet, and visibility was less than two miles......
    Impossible weather in any case, much less near the most rugged terrain in the country!

    But 30 minutes later the phone rang again........
    "how 'bout now?"
    Then we made the mistake of asking.........
    "What's goin' on?"

    "Some scout ship is down along highway one, and they want us to go have a look."

    So the team got together for a conference........
    "if we hover down the highway we can at least check a mile or so on either side of the road, and surely no bad guys would be out in this weather to take a shot at two
    UH1-C's hovering at 100 feet, right?"

    So out we went.......cranked, lifted, and started slowly down the main highway going North/South the length of the country, in weather that kept sea gulls on the ground!

    Fifteen minutes into the flight we got the call from Operations: "Mission canceled, the aircraft has been found. Return to base."

    We hovered slowly back home, shut down and I made my way back to my hooch to get ready to go meet Deane to go to the PX.

    On the way to operations I overheard a conversation between two pilots in front of their hooches.........and I thought I heard Deane's last name mentioned.
    I stopped and asked, "What did you say?"

    "******..........The guy you were searching for.......his last name was ******"
    "And how is he?"
    "He's dead."

    It was like a sucker punch in the forehead.
    "No, that's not possible.
    I was just going up to meet him!"
    But it was possible.

    A DivArty forward observer and his radio man were stranded at Duc Pho, 40 miles South of us on Hwy 1. Deane was asked to fly down and return them to our base. He agreed to do the same thing we had decided.....follow the highway low and slow, pick them up, and return.

    Deane made it to Duc Pho, and started hovering back North.
    But the visibility got too bad to follow the highway. Deane had two choices.....go East to the coast and follow it North, or go West until the weather improved and then cut back East......back to the highway.

    Going West also put him near the hills, and into "Charlie Country".
    I don't know what his reasoning was, but he went West.

    They found the aircraft upright, intact, but on fire.
    All three men were out of the aircraft, stripped to the waist, in the kneeling position, shot, execution style, in the back of the head.
    Deane's OH-6 had either been shot down, or forced down by weather in exactly the wrong place.

    Do you ever recover from something like this?
    I think of Deane and his young widow more than you can imagine.
    I was 21.
    He was 22 or 23.

    Now there are other youngsters facing these kinds of perils.
    I thank God for them and pray for them every day.
    I hope you do also.

    04 November 2005

    Are We Paying Attention?

    There are terrible riots going on in Paris.
    There are reports of similar rioting in Denmark.

    Experts I am reading are frightened by these events, because,
    in the case of France, they don't have the money,
    or the attitude, to fix the problem.
    So it may get worse......much worse.

    We need to keep an eye on this situation.

    If you have been ignoring the news, or if you haven't been paying attention to the Muslimization of Europe, do yourself a favor:

    Go to Google.
    In the search block, type: Malmo Sweden Muslims

    Read the results.
    Then you'll be paying closer attention.

    And I'll reiterate........if you're not reading the blogs, you're not getting the real news!

    Update 4Nov:
    Need more proof?

    Hat tip.....Little Green Footballs!

    03 November 2005


    "Company, Atten............shun!

    Right Face!


    We all know one of the things you learn to do in Basic Training is how to March....."Drill and Ceremonies".
    At Officer Candidate School, they tortured us by making us learn FM22-5, the Army Field Manual devoted to the subject.

    In FM22-5 they describe in detail how, for instance, to do "Right Face."
    I was surprised at how hard it is to put the mechanics into words........trying to teach someone to do something that seems so basic is not really easy at all!.... ("From the position of Attention, quickly pivot 90 degrees simultaneously on the ball of your left foot and the heel of your right foot.....etc.")

    What I really want to discuss in this post is rest.
    In descending order from most restrictive to least, the person in charge can command his formation to stand at Attention, Parade Rest, At Ease, or Rest.
    When given the command, "Rest", a soldier can move about pretty freely, so long as he stays close to the real estate he occupied when the command was given.

    Please, someone give me the command, "Rest!"

    We are all suffering from too much stress.......life has become too complicated. During the last two months of my life, obligations in my professional and personal life came together in a "Perfect Storm".

    Have you ever gotten to the point where you wondered if you could maintain your sanity if just one more thing complicated your life........the "straw" that breaks the camel's back?
    I was literally to the point where one day, I put a sock on inside out. The thought of taking it off, reversing it and putting it back on was a stress factor that made me sigh!
    Take the time to sit down to write checks for Bills?..........okay, but give me a chance to adjust to the idea...it's more than I want to handle right now!
    It's times like these that fray or destroy relationships: Marriages, partnerships, friendships.

    We do this to ourselves.
    I accepted a leadership position in an organization that took more of my time than I planned. Coupled with that obligation, I had my annual checkride, my annual groundschool, quarterly company computer prompted training, and my Biennial Flight Instructor renewal come due during the same month.
    My sleep has been less than satisfactory, and there has been too little of it.
    I look, and FEEL ten years older than the birthdate on my driver's license.

    For several years now I have been trying to simplify my life. So far, I've failed.
    I've taken on obligations, voluntarily and otherwise, that use up most of my waking hours, and sometimes the hours I should be at rest or recreation.
    Retirement is around the corner. Is that what it will take to get me to slow down and enjoy my family and friends as I should?

    Reading other blogs indicates I'm not alone.
    Are we all that stupid?
    It appears so.
    In some cases, it's the pursuit of material things that motivates us to this self abuse, but for me, money is no longer the driving force.......why am I doing this to myself?

    The times we slow down and visit with friends and loved ones are the memories we reflect on when we need a break from the treadmill.
    Why don't we force ourselves to spend more time in this manner, rather than the pursuit of things that, in the end, just bring us more stress?

    I think we need to seek out those we love.......those with whom we can comfortably discuss absolutely ANY subject.........the people that help you relax because with them you can truly be yourself.
    Do we need to be ordered to spend a certain minimum amount of time with them daily.......weekly.......monthly?

    I'm not yet "King of the World",
    but I'm still askin' for your vote.
    If elected, I will give the command to us all: