Archive for the ‘Planes’ Category

Headline of the day.

Monday, November 13th, 2017

These crabs can grow up to 3 feet, but did they eat Amelia Earhart?

Obit watch: November 8, 2017.

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Roy Halladay, former pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, was killed in the crash of his small plane yesterday. Tampa Bay Times. Miami Herald.

There are a few things in these articles that are…interesting. The plane was an ICON A-5:

The A5 is a single-engine, high wing aircraft that seats two people. It’s amphibious, so it can land on solid ground or water. It’s unique in that its wings fold to allow towing.
The plane is a light sport aircraft, meaning it falls below certain weight and maximum speed thresholds. The Federal Aviation Administration mandates fewer hours of training for light sport pilots.

Here’s a run-down of the sport pilot requirements from the EAA. But this is interesting because Mr. Halladay was pretty well trained:

Halladay said last March that he had accrued about 800 hours in the air. He had received his instrument rating and multi-engine rating. He was working toward a commercial rating.

(The A-5 also has some interesting safety features: it isn’t absolutely clear to me that the $389,000 “Founders Edition” comes standard with the parachute, but for that money, I’d expect it to come with everything including a full IFR panel and Otto Pilot.)

Halladay did not file a flight plan Tuesday, according to flightaware.com, which tracks aircraft movement. The National Weather Service reported clear skies and unlimited visibility in the area at the time of the crash.

So it sounds like he was flying VFR in CAVU conditions. RoadRich or someone else with more light aircraft experience can correct me, but the way I understand it, it’s perfectly normal not to file a flight plan for VFR flights.

No recording devices were recovered in the wreckage, according to the sheriff.

Of course, light sport aircraft and small planes aren’t required by FAA regulations to have recording devices.

Halladay is not the first Major League player to die piloting a plane, joining former New York Yankees captain Thurman Munson in 1979, the Chicago Cubs’ Ken Hubbs in 1964 and most recently Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, who crashed a small aircraft in New York City in 2006. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Roberto Clemente also died in a plane crash, as a passenger on a mission to deliver aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims in 1972.

I’m not sure why they threw in the reference to Roberto Clemente, since he wasn’t piloting the DC-7 that crashed, and (from what I’ve read) that was just a completely f-ed up situation.

Obit watch and random notes: September 14, 2017.

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Obit watch: Pete Domenici, former Senator from New Mexico.

Long, but kind of fascinating, NYT article about the hunt for test models of the Avro Arrow.

For those of you who are not Canadian, the Avro Arrow was a legendary Canadian jet fighter project of the 1950s. It was pretty cutting edge for the time, but the project was cancelled in 1959.

In the decades since the program was abruptly dropped, the Arrow’s story has become one of Canada’s greatest bits of folklore, and not just among the military or aviation buffs sometimes known as Arrowheads.

The Smithsonian’s Air and Space magazine ran a good article about the Arrow some time ago, but I can’t find it on their website or in Google. Sigh.

Full internal affairs reports on Payne and Tracy, obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune through a public records request, found both officers violated five policies: conduct unbecoming of an officer; courtesy in public contacts; a policy that states misdemeanor citations should be used instead of arrest ”whenever possible”; violation of the department’s law enforcement code of ethics; and a city-mandated standards of conduct policy.

Remember, folks: that’s Detective Jeff Payne and Lt. James Tracy of the Salt Lake City Police Department. Detective Jeff Payne also failed to file a “use of force” report, which is another policy violation.

Investigators wrote Payne’s conduct was ”inappropriate, unreasonable, unwarranted, discourteous, disrespectful, and has brought significant disrepute on both you as a Police Officer and on the Department as a whole.
“You demonstrated extremely poor professional judgment (especially for an officer with 27 years of experience), which calls into question your ability to effectively serve the public and the Department in a manner that inspires the requisite trust, respect, and confidence,” the report adds.

And as for Lt. James Tracy:

Investigators took a similarly critical view of Tracy’s actions. They noted Wubbels had told them in an interview that she felt Tracy was “ultimately responsible for this incident.”
“[Y]our conduct, including both giving Det. Payne the order to arrest Ms. Wubbels and your subsequent telephone discussions with Hospital administrators, was discourteous and damages the positive working relationships the Department has worked hard to establish with the Hospital and other health care providers,” the report states.

And more:

The report says neither Tracy nor Payne fully understood current blood draw laws or hospital policies, and — unlike the nurse, Wubbels — they did not seek legal clarification from the department’s attorneys or other sources.
It also outlines how Payne visibly “lost control of his emotions” and his “self-control” over the course of the incident — yet no other law enforcement officers at the scene, including those from Salt Lake City and the University of Utah, thought to intervene.

And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.

DEFCON 25 updates: July 31, 2017.

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Things are going to be a little busy this week, but I do plan to keep an eye out for updates. In the meantime, please enjoy this latest set:

  • TJ Horner has a nice blog post up about his experiences hacking voting machines in DEFCON 25’s “Voting Village”.
  • “The Adventures of AV and the Leaky Sandbox” (Itzik Kotler and Amit Klein) didn’t catch my attention the first time around, but the abstract sounds intriguing: “In this presentation, we describe and demonstrate a novel technique for exfiltrating data from highly secure enterprises whose endpoints have no direct Internet connection, or whose endpoints’ connection to the Internet is restricted to hosts used by their legitimately installed software. Assuming the endpoint has a cloud-enhanced antivirus product installed, we show that if the anti-virus product employs an Internet-connected sandbox in its cloud, it in fact facilitates such exfiltration.” Slides. White paper. GitHub repo.
  • GitHub repo (including slides and white paper) for the Marc Newlin/Logan Lamb/Chris Grayson presentation, “CableTap: Wirelessly Tapping Your Home Network”.
  • Here’s some stuff from “Tracking Spies in the Skies” (Jason Hernandez, Sam Richards, Jerod MacDonald-Evoy): North Star Post summary of their presentation. GitHub repo.
  • Slides from the David Robinson talk, “Using GPS Spoofing to control time”, are here. Slides contain links to code, per Mr. Robinson. I’ve only had a chance to take a quick look at this, but I’m fascinated.

Bookity bookity bookity bookmark!

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

By way of @newsycombinator:

A whole big bunch of free NASA e-books in various formats, including Kindle and PDF.

A few titles that pique my interest:

  • Unlimited Horizons: Design and Development of the U-2
  • X-15: Extending the Frontiers of Flight
  • Breaking the Mishap Chain: Human Factors Lessons Learned from Aerospace Accidents and Incidents in Research, Flight Test, and Development

I’ll admit some of these are a little geeky even by my standards. It takes either a professional or a special kind of person to want to read a history of pressure suit design, or one of the Langley wind tunnel. But guess what: I am that person, and I bet some of my readers are, too.

Besides, who doesn’t love the X-15 and the U-2?

(No, really, who doesn’t? Raise your hands. No, I’m not noting your IP address…)

Of airlines and men.

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

I have no joke here. I just wanted to say:

Tell us about the rabbits, United!

(United Airlines: the Lennie of aviation.)

Obit watch: April 19, 2017.

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Kevin O’Brien, who blogged under the pseudonym “Hognose” at WeaponsMan, passed away yesterday.

I wasn’t a personal friend of Hognose, and I was a relative newcomer to his blog. I think I found it by way of a link from Tam last year. But this is a huge loss to the gun blogging community.

Hognose was an ex-Special Forces guy (the obit linked above goes into more detail on his service) who wrote a great deal…and I could stop there, because he often turned out three or more posts a day. Substantial posts, too, not stuff that was quickly tossed off.

And he wrote on a wide variety of topics. He wrote a lot about historic and contemporary military weaponry, drawing from his SF background. He also covered military history, contemporary military leadership, and politics (mostly as it related to the military).

He was interested in historical arms in general, but especially obscure Czechoslovakian arms (military and sporting) and was working on a book about Czech guns. He wrote a great deal about the problems with the VA system. He covered defensive shootings (and sort of picked up the “When Guns Are Outlawed…” mantle from Weer’d). Hognose and his brother were building their own plane; hr wrote quite a bit about the build process, and some about aviation in general. He was on Kathleen Kane like a fat man on a Chinese buffet.

The list goes on. He was eclectic. And if he said something, he was good about backing it up with sources.

Nice tribute from Tam.

My hope is that his family leaves the blog up, or at least makes the content available for download. We are already diminished by the loss of Hognose as a blogger; it would be worse if the valuable information he provided over the last five years was irrevocably lost as well.

Obit watch: December 29, 2016.

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

The Grim Reaper finally caught up with Vesna Vulovic (or Vesna Vulović). She was 66 years old, and had managed to outrun him for nearly 45 of those years.

If that sounds callous, well, Ms. Vulovic had an amazing story. You might even remember it if you were an obsessive reader of the Guinness Book of World Records when you were young.

Ms. Vulovic was a flight attendant on JAT Flight 367 between Stockholm and Belgrade on January 26, 1972. She had actually swapped places with another girl and wasn’t originally scheduled to work this flight. As we see so often in movies and television, this never ends well…

An hour into the flight, the plane, a DC-9, blew up over the Czech village of Srbska Kamenice. As others were believed to have been sucked out of the jet into subfreezing temperatures, Ms. Vulovic remained inside part of the shattered fuselage, wedged in by a food cart, as it plunged.
Trees broke the fall of the fuselage section and snow on the hill cushioned its landing.

Ms. Vulovic is believed to have fallen 33,000 feet, which (according to Guinness, at least) is the longest documented fall survived without a parachute. She was badly injured, but Ms. Vulovic was the only survivor of Flight 367. It is generally believed that the plane was blown up by a terrorist bomb in the forward cargo hold.

But an investigation by two reporters in Prague in 2009 challenged that account. They concluded that the DC-9 was mistakenly shot down by the Czechoslovak Air Force at an altitude of only 800 meters, or about 2,625 feet.

I think the Wikipedia page (I know, I know) on Flight 367 has a fairly good explanation of why this theory is bolshie bushwa. Here’s a hint: the black boxes…

…which provided the exact data about the time, speed, direction, acceleration and altitude of the plane at the moment of the explosion. Both black boxes were opened and analysed by the service companies in Amsterdam in the presence of experts from Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the Dutch Aviation Office (Raad voor de Luchtvaart).

I could buy a couple of Communist countries being in on the conspiracy. But the Dutch?

Sometimes there’s just nothing you can say. Debbie Reynolds: NYT. LAT. A/V Club.

Obit watch: December 9, 2016.

Friday, December 9th, 2016

John Glenn roundup: NYT. Lawrence. WP. Sweet story about Mrs. Glenn: they were married for 73 years. LAT. NASA Glenn Research Center.

(My dad worked at the Glenn Research Center a long time ago; so long ago, it wasn’t called the Glenn Research Center back then.)

Edited to add: Borepatch on Glenn. NYT obit for Greg Lake.

Firing watch and norts spews: November 29, 2016.

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

This is an actual ESPN headline:

espn
Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. May the dead rest peacefully, and may the survivors recover and find peace as well.

Recent firings that I missed over the past few days:

Brian Polian out in Nevada, though this is being spun as “by mutual agreement”. The team was 23-27 over his four years, and 5-7 this year.

Ron Caragher out at San Jose State. 19-30 in four seasons, 4-8 this year.

Random links: October 30, 2016.

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

A handful of random links that I’ve accumulated over the past few days. Some of these are arguably appropriate for the season, some not…

By way of Lawrence, the first air hijacking.

… Midway through the third of these sessions, while airborne at 5,000 feet and sitting in the rear seat of a tandem training plane equipped with dual controls, he pulled a revolver from a trouser pocket and, without giving any warning, sent two .32 calibre bullets through Bivens’s skull. Pletch then managed to land the plane, dumped the instructor’s body in a thicket, and took off again, heading north to his home state to… well, what he intended to do was never really clear…

By way of Hognose over at the Weaponsman blog, a retrospecitve from Philly.com on a crime story I’d never heard of: 75 years ago, a spaghetti salesman and his co-conspirators murdered somewhere between 50 and 100 people with arsenic. It was your typical life insurance/double indemnity scam, distinguished perhaps only by the number of victims.

By way of Stuff from Hsoi, through Lawrence: Massad Ayoob’s latest “Ayoob Files” entry for American Handgunner is about John Daub’s shooting incident. Briefly, Mr. Daub (who instructs part-time for KR Training) shot and killed a man who kicked down the front door of his house while he was inside with his wife and kids:

Few people are able to recall how many shots they fired in self-defense when the matter goes beyond two or three rounds. John was no exception. What we have with him, however, is the rare case of a man who was a deeply trained firearms instructor becoming involved in a shooting. It’s rather like an oncologist who is diagnosed with cancer himself: an uncommon opportunity for someone heavily experienced in the thing from the outside, to experience it from the inside.

For the record: NYT obit for Jack Chick.

By way of the News@Ycombinator Twitter: ESPN lost 621,000 subscribers in one month.

So if we’re very conservative and project that ESPN continues to lose 3 million subscribers a year — well below the rate that they are currently losing subscribers — then the household numbers would look like this over the next five years:

2017: 86 million subscribers
2018: 83 million subscribers
2019: 80 million subscribers
2020: 77 million subscribers
2021: 74 million subscribers

At 74 million subscribers — Outkick’s projection for 2021 based on the past five years of subscriber losses — ESPN would be bringing in just over $6.2 billion a year in yearly subscriber fees at $7 a month. At $8 a month, assuming the subscriber costs per month keeps climbing, that’s $7.1 billion in subscriber revenue. Both of those numbers are less than the yearly rights fees cost.

On a personal note, my mother is planning to dump cable in the next few days, and I don’t even think she realizes that she’s paying $80 a year for the NFL and other crap she doesn’t watch on ESPN, and another $30 a year for the NBA (which she also doesn’t watch).

NYT obit for John Zacherle, aka “Zacherley”, one of the early TV horror movie hosts.

I didn’t grow up in the NYC/Philly area, so I never saw “Zacherley”, but the obit got me to thinking about him and Ghoulardi and all those other guys who seem to have died off or disappeared with the increasing corporatization of television. I missed this when I was young: as I’ve noted before, I was culturally deprived as a child. Also, I’m not sure we had any “horror hosts” in Houston. I do remember “Captain Harold’s Theater of the Sky”, but I don’t recall that fitting into the “horror host” genre. (Also, I would have sworn it was called “Captain Harold’s Theater of the Air” when I was growing up: is nostalgia a moron, or did the name change at some point?) This is another one of those things where I almost regret not watching those people when I was young, so that I could have grown up to be a famous horror writer with groupies and a cocaine problem, but I digress.

There is a guy on one of the nostalgia TV channels on Saturday night who seems to be trying to revive the Zacherley/Ghoulardi schtick. I don’t even know his name, but we’ve caught a few minutes of his show during movie night at Lawrence’s. The 51-year-old me says, frankly, he’s not very good. The 11-year-old boy inside me says, “Well, yeah, you think he’s not very good. But you’re a jaded 51-year-old man who is incapable of experiencing joy, and can watch things like…well, like “John Carpenter’s The Thing” anytime you feel like it. What about me? When you were my age, you would have lapped this stuff up like a thirsty man in the desert, bad puns and all!” The 51-year-old me thinks the 11-year-old me is being a little unfair with that “incapable of experiencing joy” comment, but he does have a point.

With all the old “horror hosts” dying away, and nobody seeming to replace them, who or what is fueling the imaginations of the 11-year-olds out there? What are they going to write or draw or film when they grow up? Who is educating them in the classics like “Island of Lost Souls” (about which, more, later), even if those classics are kind of chopped up?

What have we lost?

Obit watch: October 26, 2016.

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Bob Hoover, possibly the greatest pilot ever, has passed away at the age of 94.

I don’t think that statement is hyperbole, though I suspect I might get arguments from some people.

Even General Yeager, perhaps the most famous test pilot of his generation, was humbled by Mr. Hoover, describing him in the foreword to Mr. Hoover’s 1996 autobiography, “Forever Flying,” as “the greatest pilot I ever saw.”
The World War II hero Jimmy Doolittle, an aviation pioneer of an earlier generation, called Mr. Hoover “the greatest stick-and-rudder man that ever lived.”

“Well, if he was such a hot stick, why wasn’t he the one who broke the sound barrier?” Answer: because he got crosswise with his superiors for doing some unauthorized low-level flying, so they put him in the chase plane for Yeager. When Chuck freakin’ Yeager says, “I want you to have my back on this one”, well…there’s your sign.

“Nazis?” Yes:

As a pilot with the 52nd Fighter Group, based in Corsica, Mr. Hoover, a lieutenant, flew 58 successful missions before his Spitfire fighter was shot down by the Luftwaffe in February 1944. He spent 16 months in Stalag Luft I, a prisoner of war camp in Germany reserved for Allied pilots.
Mr. Hoover and a friend escaped from the camp in the chaotic final days of the war, according to his memoir. Commandeering an aircraft from a deserted Nazi base, they flew it to freedom in the newly liberated Netherlands, only to be chased by pitchfork-wielding Dutch farmers enraged by the plane’s German markings.

He went on to become a hugely popular performer on the air show circuit:

Mr. Hoover’s trademark maneuver on the show circuit was a death-defying plunge with both engines cut off; he would use the hurtling momentum to pull the plane up into a loop at the last possible moment.
But his stunts were not foolhardy. Each involved painstaking preparation and rational calculation of risk. “A great many former friends of mine are no longer with us simply because they cut their margins too close,” he once said.

I regret that I never saw him perform: somehow, it just never seemed that he came anywhere near me in Texas. (There’s video of part of his routine on the NYT page.)

I did read, and liked, Forever Flying. There’s a story in there that I sometimes pull out and tell to younger technicians who have messed up and feel bad about it.

The story goes: Mr. Hoover was flying back from an airshow and stopped to have his plane refueled. He took off again, and very shortly after takeoff, the engines quit. By dint of superior airmanship, he managed to land the plane: nobody on board was killed or even injured, but the plane was pretty much a total loss.

When Mr. Hoover removed the gas cap, he found out what the problem was: as I recall, the guy who filled the plane put in the wrong type of fuel. (I want to say he put in jet fuel instead of aviation gasoline, but don’t quote me on that: I don’t have the book in front of me.)

So Mr. Hoover hikes back to the airfield, and the guy who filled up the plane is staring off into the distance looking like the whole world has come down on him. Because he realizes he screwed up Bob Hoover’s plane.

And Mr. Hoover comes over, puts his arm around the guy, and says, “Son, I just want you to know: nobody was hurt. The plane got bent, but we can replace that. I have another plane coming in tomorrow morning, and when it gets here, I want you to be the one who puts fuel in it…

…because I know you’re never going to make that mistake again.”

By all accounts I’ve read and heard, he was a pretty kind gentleman, too. 94 is a good run, but the world is still a smaller, lesser place today.