31 March 2007

Circa March, 1969

I'm not exactly sure of the date, but I know he's playin' double deck Pinochle!
The walls were plywood darkened with a blowtorch.
Music by TEAC.
I'm surprised there's no beer in the picture!
Is that the fourth trick in his hand?

28 March 2007

Drive Electric

We've talked before about oil concerns, about fuel mileage, and about energy alternatives.
I'm still drivin' the same old car (a '95 model with 208,000 miles on it), that I was driving when I discussed driving techniques to get the
best gas mileage in your own car.

Mike's comment to this post is an indication that like so many alternatives available to us today, nothing comes without cost, including the new Hybrid cars.
I'd like nothing better than to tell Hugo Chavez to "drink your oil!",
but there just aren't any really good alternatives for us right now.
(Oddly, the only Service Station that sells the new E85 ethanol fuel anywhere near me is one of loonie Hugo's "Citgo" stations!)

I'd love to drive one of these, but although it's a great first step and a wonderful "proof of concept" vehicle that I hope will open doors to more practical alternatives in the future, it presently comes with a price tag that only Warren Buffet or Bill Gates or their peers can handle.

I really like what I see here. With the power-to-weight ratio of a sports car, and the claim of 45 miles per gallon on the highway from the 2.3 liter engine, I'm tempted, in spite of the $30,000 entry cost.
Still, with the open cockpit the Stallion would be an uncomfortable ride during rain or snow, even though it has heat and air-conditioning for its occupants. Why doesn't someone produce something similar with an enclosed cabin?

Unfortunately, I can get similar fuel mileage with something like this, while carrying four people and their luggage in a heated/air conditioned environment, protected from the rain, snow, and road spray, for about half the cost of the Stallion, and one tenth the cost of the Tesla.

Oh well.
Do you know a better alternative?

26 March 2007

Docs Dilemma

Let's assume you're a damn good cancer specialist.
A patient comes to you, needing your expertise.
She is the wife of a guy running for
the office of President of the United States.
He happens to have become a multi-millionaire by suing Doctors for malpractice.
What do you do?
Is your dance ticket filled?

Hat tip-
Kevin, M.D.

A Strange, Wonderful Business

I'm now in my 40th year of earning my living by pushing air downwards.
To say it's been an interesting trip would be an understatement. There are memories of a thousand incidents running around in my head, waiting for something to happen to remind me to share them with you.

Aviating takes a lot of money. In order to make money, people frequently need to aviate. It's an interesting dance. The fact that aviating requires a lot of $$$$ frequently puts those of us that aviate in contact with, shall we say, some "interesting" elements of society.

The phone rang, and I answered. The guy at the other end said "I talked with Don XXXXX, and he recommended you highly. (Don was an FAA inspector and an old friend).

"Okay, how can I help you sir?"

"I need a good pilot to pick up a JetRanger in Houston and fly it to Ft. Lauderdale. There you'll pick up an associate of mine and fly to Newark, New Jersey. Could you do that next week?"

I was between jobs, so the idea of picking up a little cash certainly was attractive.
But in the back of my head an alarm went off...
Houston- to Ft. Lauderdale to pick up some Dude, then Newark? An interesting, inefficient trip for a helicopter, don't ya think?

I didn't bother to ask why he wanted me to take that strange route.
What I did say was,
"I'll do the job with one stipulation- I want $1,000 up front, and I promise you that if anywhere along the way I get the impression drugs are involved, I'll abandon the helicopter and board a commercial Jetliner home."

"Oh no!", says he... "No drugs involved here. I understand your concerns. Let me talk with the boss, and I'll be back in touch."
And he hung up.

I never heard from him again.

22 March 2007

Get 'Em While They're "In"!

I know you, like me, are concerned about the environment.
You're probably feeling real guilty about living in your big ol' home...
heating and air conditioning all that unneeded space.

Or like me, you grimace every time you start your "Belchfire 8" automobile and drive it half a mile to buy that quart of skim milk.

Have no fear, bunky... Old Greybeard is here to help!

I've decided to sell "Carbon Credits"!
Like our beloved prophet Al Gore, you can continue to fly around in your Gulfstream jet, or pay a huge electricity bill for your expansive digs...
and feel no guilt whatsoever...
you've cleansed yourself of sins by purchasing your "Greybeard Carbon Credits"!

Simply send your checks to:
"Blue Sky" Carbon Credits
c/o Greybeard
Farce, Missouri

20 March 2007

Non-Combat PTSD

It used to be a Honda Accord... I'm guessin' a mid-90's model.
It's on its side, impaled and bent around a scrub oak tree.
There are two teenagers inside.
One of 'em is alive. He's the reason I'm here.

The call came at about 2200 hours...
"Can you go to the 'LittleTown' area?"


"Then you have a primary go... a motor vehicle accident."

My crew is upstairs resting. I grab the phone and announce the flight over the intercom, then jog to, and start the aircraft. The crew boards as I bring both engines (and the rotor) up to operating RPM.

Our Dispatch-
"Your patient is a 15 year old male, victim of a high-speed MVA.
We have nothing further for you right now. They are still extricating him from the vehicle. Your coordinates are...."

I already have the nose pointed in the general direction, the airspeed indicator showing 130 knots... (150 m.p.h.)
Ten minutes out I radio my point of contact-
"We're ten minutes away from ya. At your convenience, can you give us a description of the LZ and a patient update, please?"

"Roger. We're gonna land you in a field adjacent to the road, just South and East of the scene. We have the LZ marked with red rotating beacons. I can't tell you much about your patient that you don't already know, except that this will be a long extrication... it may be half an hour."

Using my superior piloting skills, I land the helicopter in a barely lighted LZ in a sloping pasture, a football field away from the accident scene. My crew departs to provide assistance where they can. Knowing it's gonna be a long wait, after checking to insure I'll have enough battery to restart the engines, I shut the helicopter down.

They've knocked down a fence so we can move the stretcher to the scene. I walk across the downed fence to a road strewn with small pebbles... a result of the Honda leaving the road. A State Trooper has a measuring wheel, measuring skid marks. I overhear him talking to a Deputy Sherriff... "115", to which the Deputy responds,

"115? Wow."

The car departed the left side of the road sliding driver's side first, throwing gravel everywhere. About four feet down a slight embankment it encountered the little oak. I'm always amazed... in automobile-tree collisions, even small trees always win.
The tree cut through the driver's door and about halfway through the floorboard, at which point the car rolled up on the driver's side and bent itself in a slight "U" shape around the tree.
I can see them working around our patient. The other occupant of the car, our patient's 18 year old brother, is nowhere to be seen... wrapped up in bent metal somewhere.
He'll never feel pain again.

Twenty minutes after our arrival, he's free.
Wearing his seat belt, he's in surprising condition, all things considered.
His legs are both broken and his dilated eyes indicate he has had his "bell rung good"... a closed head injury. But he's not bleeding externally, his vital signs are strong, and he is responding to questions.

He remembers his older brother saying, "Let me show you how fast she'll go", then remembers looking at the speedo reading 115 as they headed for the bushes.
He doesn't ask about his brother. He knows.

We can never know what he's experienced.
Trapped in that confined space in that little car, how long did his brother live?
Did they converse?
Was he touching his brother in any way as the life drained from him and his body cooled?

The flight to the Trauma Center takes 25 minutes.
During the flight he answers questions when asked, but is otherwise eerily calm.
This young man has been through a life changing experience. He'll no doubt suffer from post-traumatic-stress-disorder as if he had been in combat.

The help will be there for him when he needs it.
For that, I am glad.

17 March 2007

Just A Question of Time, Guvna!, Part II

Or, maybe not-
Maybe it'll end up being a
European Civil War.

Are you a risk taker?
If this continues, there'll be money to be made selling the Euro short!
(European Declaration of Independence at the end of the article.)

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Oh, Happy St. Patty's Day everyone!

16 March 2007

First, Kill The Lawyers

I'm continually amazed by this sort of thing.
What sort of person considers bringing such a lawsuit?
Wonder why your health care costs are going through the roof?
Part of your healthcare cost is EMS companies having to defend themselves against frivolous lawsuits!

Hat tip to Kevin, M.D.

15 March 2007


We're bein' told genocide is being performed in Darfur.
I'm sure that's probably right.

Today I received a plea to petition President Bush to take action.
Why should I ask ChimpIdiotHalliburtonHitler Bush to do anything?
He'd probably do something stupid, like illegally invade Sudan!

The thing that absolutely boggles my mind is that the same boneheads that say the war in Iraq is illegal, in spite of 17 United Nations Resolutions which indicate it wasn't, now want the U.S. to do something that is the not U.S., but the U.N.'s responsibility.

I have a better idea...
France is actually smart...
Let's petition them to resolve Darfur's problems!

14 March 2007

Doing The Right Thing, Finally

Politics is such crap.
Ya gotta keep uppermost in your mind that all politicians are prostitutes.
It's been hard to watch the news lately because our government seems to be devouring itself. Some of it is fun to watch... the Loonie Left hounding "Lady Speaker" about "Viet Nam'ing" Iraq, for instance.

The revelations about Walter Reed hospital are a different matter though.
Remember the movie article 99?
Haven't seen it?
I recommend it... well acted, and a story that needs to be told.

Released in 1992, it's a black comedy, telling the story of Doctors trying to do what's right for their patients in a system that is sadly neglected and underfunded.

1992? Really?
This problem was highlighted before Sir William and Lady Hillary assumed the throne?

In their defense, the VA hospital system has been a disgrace for as long as I can remember. It's been neglected by Republicans and Democrats alike. That's why it's such a hoot to watch the news about Walter Reed and the rest of the VA system now.

So, as amusing as it is to watch, "BushDerangement Syndrome" may actually accomplish something this time...
Our Veterans deserve the best treatment we can give them.
It looks like the VA system may finally get the attention, (and let's hope the budget), it deserves.

Just don't be fooled-
Democrats, and Republicans, have shamefully ignored this problem for decades.

12 March 2007

Just A Question of Time, Guvna!

Shari'a law in British Public Schools? (From the U.K. Daily Express)

"When swimming is allowed, boys should wear clothing covering their bodies “from the navel to the neck”, even during single-sex pool sessions, while girls must be covered up completely at all times, apart from the face and hands."

Read it all

Muslims probably don't have the political power to pull it off just yet.
But with their proportional birth rate, it is just a matter of time.
Spain cowers.
France burns.
Now England?

But ladies, don't despair...

even under Shari'a, you can still make a fashion statement!

Hey Froggy, how's that water?

09 March 2007

Wasted Storage Space

If you're not a car nut you can stop reading now, because if you continue, you're gonna be bored.

"I coulda had a V-8!"
On the way to work the other day, I was thinking of stuff taking up space in my gray matter that needs to be deleted so it can be put to more profitable use.
Let me run some numbers past ya... those of you that are certified car enthusiasts will recognize them:

265, 272, 283, 292, 327, 350, 352, 383, 389, 390, 396, 409, 413, 421, 426, 427, 429, 454...

Are you smiling?
If you are, you already know where I'm headed with this thought-
Those numbers all have one thing in common... they are all V-8 engines that were available in American automobiles in the 50's, 60's, and 70's.
With one exception, a real car nut can tell you which manufacturer produced an engine that displaced the number of cubic inches corresponding with each of those numbers. Can you identify the ambiguous number? If you can, you are, as Barry Meguiar would say, "Car Crazy!"

That is the sort of information taking up space in the recesses of my brain.
Isn't that sad?

07 March 2007


R44 Pilot:
"Doc, it hurts when I do this."

"Don't do that!"

Well, something interesting is going on.
"Charley", the featured "super" helicopter pilot that wrecked his perfectly lovely helicopter, has forced YouTube to take down the video. Luckily, Cousin Jim found another one and forwarded it to me.
So, if you want to show your friends some very poor judgement displayed by a helicopter pilot, you can just click

05 March 2007

Moose Vs. Helicopter-

Ya don't mess with an animal the size of a small car.
He can change your plans.


I land to pick up the specialty team-
Doctor, Nurse, and Respiratory therapist, along with an isolette.
We are flying an hour South to pick up a very sick newborn.
The outside temperature is 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and these folks are all dressed in scrubs.
Blockheads! They've been told again and again how dangerous it is to fly unprepared.

Aviation is a risky business.
Some might quibble.... so let me qualify that statement a little-
Life is a risk.
None of us get out of life alive.

Part of the reason I love being involved with Aviation is because pilots know and gladly accept the risks that are involved. I'm still amazed by non-fliers that approach me and say, "I'd never fly in a helicopter... they're just too dangerous." And it's true, they certainly are more dangerous than sitting home on the sofa. But do you want to rub elbows with someone whose greatest interest in life is sitting on the sofa, watching "Deal, or No Deal"?
Not me!

So there's no question-
Flying is more dangerous than sitting at home watching TV.
As pilots we accept that fact and, to the degree we can, try to mitigate those risks:
We do a good preflight.
We take checkrides and flight reviews.
We learn and practice emergency procedures.
We wear seat belts and shoulder harnesses.
And so on...

In 1981 I attended the Aviation Safety Officer's Course at Ft. Rucker, Alabama.
The course prepared me to come back to my Division and observe our operations to insure our units were accomplishing the mission in the safest manner possible.

During the course, I heard a story that was like a ton of bricks bein' dropped on me:
In 1965, an Army Reservist took off from his base in a Hiller OH-23D, had an engine failure, and crashed in trees just 6 miles from his takeoff point. In the crash sequence the aircraft assumed a dramatic nose-down attitude, filtering it's way through the trees to the ground. The impact broke his right arm and both of his legs. The trees were covered in full summer foliage, which covered the wreckage in such a way that searchers couldn't see the crash site from the air.
The pilot somehow got out of the aircraft and used his good arm to get as far away from the helicopter as he could, then waited for rescuers to find him.

Three weeks later, by chance, a Hunter found him... dead.
Leaning against a tree, they found he had pulled out his wallet, and in a semi-circle in front of him had made a shrine of the pictures of his wife and two kids. He had also gathered kindling and tried, unsuccessfully, to light a fire. (Try striking a match with one hand.)

The thought of this guy... alone, critically hurt, waiting day after day for searchers to find him, had a profound effect on me.
When I finished that course and returned home, I decided to establish a survival school for my Division Aviators.

I signed up for a Cold Weather Survival School North of Ely, Minnesota, to get a feel for how I should write the syllabus for my school. When I arrived it was warm for that time of year... 15 degrees below Zero. We made our own shelters and spent three days and nights outside in the cold. I slept alone in a personally constructed snow shelter while the temperature outside dropped to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
(The long hours of darkness bothered me more than the cold temperatures.)
I hate cold weather, but I learned that if you are prepared for emergencies, have the proper attitude, and don't panic, you can survive almost anything.

When you go fly (or go drive your car), do you take emergencies into consideration?
If your journey ends short of it's intended destination, can you call for help? Can you survive until help arrives?

Be prepared.
Flying or driving, if bad things happen to you, you may end up being a pedestrian. It could be worse... you could be incapacitated in your vehicle with all the windows broken out, exposed to extreme cold until help arrives. If your rescue takes more than a few hours, access to food and water might also be critical.

It takes very little time, effort, and space to prepare for surprises.
Wear proper clothing for the weather... coat, headgear, gloves, footgear.
Have a "survival kit" appropriate for your circumstances-
blanket, flashlight, water, matches, snacks.
Cell phone coverage is expanding, and you don't have to subscribe to a service to make emergency calls... a working old phone will work in case of emergency.
Anytime I fly cross-country, I carry a handheld VHF transceiver...
just one more way to communicate.
I know I'm probably missing something here.
If you have something to add, please leave a comment.

No matter how much we plan, inspect, and practice, things can and do go wrong.
Flying, (and life), is safer when we are well prepared for the bad things that might happen

02 March 2007


I blogged about it in this post.
Virtually all Army Aviators pass through "Mother Rucker"... Ft. Rucker, Alabama.

Enterprise, Alabama is just outside the South gate of Mother Rucker, and is home to many soldiers and others that work there.
We Army Aviators are watching news of this terrible tornado with great sadness.

Our pride in watching part of our family, LTC Bruce Crandall, receive the Medal of Honor, is now tempered by the emotions of watching another part of our family suffer such tragedy.

Eight kids dead. That number may change, because several are seriously hurt.
Such a small town... so much heartache.

But one of the greatest thing about small towns is that feeling of family.
The Boll Weevil couldn't beat 'em...
The community will band together and heal from the wounds caused by this tornado too.

01 March 2007


I wondered if I should post on the subject of Bruce Crandall receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor at all, then decided I should, 'cause you need to hear my two cents.

And yet, I'm at a loss for words.

I saw
the movie.
Viet Nam Veterans will all be moved by it, but I've seen enough movies to know you have to take them with a grain of salt... (the tactics used by the gunship similar to the one I flew, near the end of the movie, are completely wrong and would never have happened that way!) One of these days, I look forward to reading General Moore's book and learning the straight scoop.

I know this much:
The Landing Zone was receiving so much fire, the Infantry Commander closed it down.
Bruce Crandall continued to fly into the closed zone for three days.
He landed in that zone 22 times.

He knew each time he started his approach that he was likely to take a bullet, yet he refused to abandon his comrades.
That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is unimaginable courage.