Sarah Palin is the other whom Yoda spoke about.

calendar   Tuesday - March 24, 2015

A320 Crash Theory Time

one of the larger pieces of wreckage found, a section of fuselage with a couple windows in it.

link to flight path and altitude.


Ok, so this plane has computer systems up the kazoo, and the computer flies the plane from beginning to end most of the time, the pilots just being there for backup.

This flight crashed about a third of the way into a 2, perhaps 2.5 hour flight. Early reports of a Mayday call from the pilots - since “downgraded” to a “communication” or less [now being denied entirely] - happened about 40 minutes before the crash. This may or may not have happened at about the same time the airplane reached it’s cruising altitude of a surprisingly high 38,000 feet. The communication came within a few minutes of take off, in other words. Jets don’t take long to reach altitude.

After that there was no further communication with the aircraft. At least that is my understanding at this point.

8 minutes before the crash the plane began a perfectly controlled descent from 38,000 feet to 6,800 feet. It never deviated from it’s course. And then it flew right into a mountain. And shattered into a billion pieces.

IF France finds the flight recorders, and IF they aren’t mangled beyond use, and IF they make the actual contents public record, then I won’t be at all surprised to find they didn’t record a word of cockpit conversation from within a minute after that distress call, nor a peep from the passenger cabin. I bet there won’t be any records of any AirPhone usage, or any outgoing messages from any of the cell phones on board.

I think the plane was hacked. Brought down. A poison gas canister attached to the air system and triggered by the “seat belts” signal when the plane reached altitude. And exactly 30 minutes later, the engines were shut down. Either by programming or by remote control. And the computer flies the plane perfectly, like a glider in an 8 minute descent, right into an Alp.

I think looking at the passenger list could be very informative. This looks like a hit. A major hit, at the level of nation-states or the largest criminal cartels. Or a worldwide group of fanatics.  So, who was on this flight?

Don’t expect an honest answer. There are no honest governments.

Don’t expect a terrorist group to claim credit for this, IF they have the actual ability. Because if they do, then they’d be smarter to keep quiet and just take down planes at random, or when necessary.  And don’t ever think that any government or “official” investigation is going to tell you if that happened. The airlines would be out of business overnight.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/24/2015 at 12:10 PM   
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Ground Too Tall

German Wings A320 Crash Southern French Alps

AFP: No Survivors

DEVELOPING: A passenger plane with at least 142 people on board has crashed in the French Alps, according to reports.

Reuters, citing French police, reported that an Airbus A320 operated by Germanwings had crashed while flying to Dusseldorf, Germany from Barcelona, Spain. Germanwings is the budget airline run by Lufthansa.

The provincial newspaper La Provence reported that the plane was carrying 142 passengers, along with two pilots and four flight attendants.

(CNN)An Airbus A320 plane operated by Germanwings crashed Tuesday in southeastern France near Digne les Bains, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said.

Plane was flying at 6800 feet altitude. MayDay call came about 35 minutes before crash, content unknown. France reports wreckage spotted. No survivors are expected in this mountainous terrain.

Flight was between Dusseldorf and Barcelona. German Wings is a “Jet Blue” no frills carrier, a subsidiary of Lufthansa. A320 is a mid-size two engine jet.


Flight path followed darker blue dashed line. Red X shows approximate crash site.

The Airbus A320 making the flight for Lufthansa’s lowcost arm, Germanwings, crashed near the small mountain village of Barcelonette in the southern Alps. It had made a distress call at 10.47am then disappeared off the radar at around 11.20am, Le Figaro reported.

The wreckage has already been found. Reports are coming in that the pilot never deviated from course, although problems were evident early on in the flight. The A320 is heavily automated; computers fly the plane most of the time. Other reports are saying that the plane descended 31,000 feet in the 10 minutes before the crash.

Updates as they come in.



Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/24/2015 at 06:11 AM   
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calendar   Saturday - March 14, 2015

BBC - Get over Yourselves

A Fracas!

Corrosive loud mouth idiot Jeremey Clarkson suspended (yet again??) from Top Gear, the only show on BBC that actually makes them money.

Yes, but being a corrosive loud mouthed idiot is why we love him, and why the show is such a success. Take a Chill Pill, flush PC down the loo, and get out of his way.

Top Gear presenter Clarkson suspended over ‘fracas’

The BBC said it has suspended Jeremy Clarkson, the controversial host of popular motoring programme “Top Gear”, after he was involved in a “fracas” with a producer.

The outspoken 54-year-old presenter helped the show become the world’s most popular factual television programme, with 350 million viewers a week in 170 countries.

But he was on his final warning after a string of controversies including accusations he used racist language.

“Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation,” the BBC said in a statement. “No one else has been suspended.”

Magazine Radio Times said Clarkson was being accused of aiming a punch at a male producer in an incident that occurred last week but was reported to the BBC on Monday.

The broadcaster had earlier said “the BBC will be making no further comment at this time.”

No sooner had the suspension been announced than fans of Clarkson set up a petition to the BBC to re-instate him.

The online appeal, reading “We the undersigned petition the BBC to reinstate Jeremy Clarkson. Freedom to fracas”, quickly gained 30,000 signatures.

Clarkson has yet to comment on the incident, but in February he indicated he might have been unhappy with the show by tweeting:

“Wanted: new presenter for Top Gear. Applicant should be old, badly dressed and pedantic but capable of getting to work on time.”


“Top Gear” is one of the BBC’s biggest brands and is a major earner for the broadcaster, though it has been dogged by a series of scandals.

The show’s executive producer Andy Wilman described 2014 as “an annus horribilis” after accusations of racism and an incident in which the show’s crew were driven out of Argentina.

Protests broke out there over the number plate of a Porsche, “H982 FKL”, which was interpreted by some as a reference to the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina in 1982.

Clarkson was among those forced to abandon their vehicles after an angry crowd pelted the crew with stones, but the BBC denied the registration plate was intended as a deliberate provocation.

Most damaging for Clarkson have been accusations of racism while reciting an old nursery rhyme in leaked footage, something the presenter denied.

The show was censored by British broadcasting watchdog after a Clarkson comment as an Asian man crossed a bridge that was deemed racially offensive language by Ofcom.

“Top Gear” previously got into hot water over its depictions of Albanians, Romanians and Germans, and the BBC apologised to Mexico after the show described Mexicans as “lazy” and “feckless”.

Top Gear is one of the best things on TV, period. And Clarkson’s online essays are just as scathing and raucous. And simply superb.

I’m just relieved this was merely a fracas. Had it been a frumpus, the MOD would have been called out, and the entire cast and crew sent off to the Rainbow Ribbons Re-education Retreat.

Let’s face it, when you’ve got your own Lego kit and have shown up on Family Guy you’ve arrived and should thus be above the mundane BS that rules the rest of us little people.

What a bunch of berks.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/14/2015 at 09:33 AM   
Filed Under: • planes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobilesPolitically Correct B.S.TelevisionUK •  
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calendar   Monday - March 09, 2015

Another Blast From Out Of The Blue

A very long and busy weekend for me. And not without considerable consternation. Well, at least now that it’s an hour later than it was the other day, it seems that Spring may actually be almost ready to put in an appearance. Yay. Some things are thawing out. Others, not so much.
Sorry, don’t mean to be mysterious. But I don’t write about every thing that goes on in my life. Just the funner parts, sometimes.

I got all caught up doing research this weekend over a little news item I saw about this bit of military hardware called an SDB II. That’s the acronym for another piece of precision minimalist ordnance called a Small Diameter Bomb. It’s a stand-off weapons system that packs two artillery shells worth of boom behind a reactive armor defeating double bazooka like tandem shaped charge warhead, in a drain pipe barely 7” across and under 6’ long, and then adds a set of pop out wings that allow it to home in on targets from 40 miles away. A glide bomb. No heat signature, and a radar cross section about the same as a metal eagle. IOW, just about none. The -II version gets a vastly improved 3 way guidance system that turns this thing into a semi-intelligent Fire And Forget (aka “set it and forget it") munition. It’s a Hunter Seeker, straight out of Dune, only the larger, anti-tank version. Point it, tell it “there be targets that way”, let it go. And it works. And self destructs if your intel happens to be wrong. Amazing stuff.

Oh, and did I mention that reason the -II got the new guidance package was to enable the bomb to hit a moving target? Oh yes indeed. It can hit a pickup truck going 70mph. You want us to hit the driver or the passenger? Your choice. It’s that good.

Naturally, being me, I looked at it and saw the immediate shortcoming. You’ve got to fly the thing to within 40 miles of the target. Which could put your planes in SAM range. Risky business. Then I realized that the higher you can launch it, the further it can glide. And no matter how efficient the wing is, it isn’t going to fly along un-powered from over the horizon, where your planes could be out of enemy radar range. After all, from only 1066 feet up, you can see 40 miles. Radar can do that too, or better.

So I thought about it, and I looked at the pictures, and I noticed how the general shape and size of this one is remarkably similar to the Hellfire missile and it’s improved and strengthened cousin, the Brimstone missile, and that gave me a tiny epiphany.

Years ago the SDB I passed the “can we drop these things while flying at Mach 1.5?” test. So we know it’s tough enough. The Brimstone missile is the new, improved, jet worthy version of the Hellfire missile, which was designed to be launched from a helicopter or other slow flyer. Hellfire, Brimstone, and  STD  SDB are all about the same length, weight, and diameter. Almost exactly. The rocket motor from the Brimstone missile can shoot that missile for 20km. 12.4 miles. Why not hook one on the SDB as a booster? Sure, that could give you some kind of medium range supersonic mini cruise missile, but I’m sticking with the no heat signature, long range stand-off concept, and reducing risk to the launch platform. Strap this rig to a jet. A plane old fighter plane, not the magical and problematic F35 thing. Fly the plane up to 50,000 feet or so, go nearly vertical at Mach 1+, and push the GO button. You’re already up in the really thin air to begin with, so there is a whole lot less air friction. Which means the rocket motor should perform even better. Whoosh, and it shoots the SDB at least another 20km further up into the sky. That puts it 25 miles up, nearly in space. Which should give you a glide range of ... holy cow, a lot ... maybe 200 miles. Your launch planes still aren’t below the radar horizon, but they’re so far away that no SAM battery is going to bother with them. And the enemy radar guy has more to worry about than watching some crazy American jet jockeys punching holes in the sky way way way over thataway. And half an hour or so later, out of nowhere, all the enemy’s hard assets start exploding. A blast from out of the blue.

Damn, I should work for Raytheon.


Small Diameter Bomb II Completes Live Fire Test Destroying T-72 Tank

An Air Force F-15 Eagle recently destroyed a moving –model T-72 tank during a live-fire test of the Small Diameter Bomb II at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., service leaders said.

“Just this month we had a successful live fire mission. It was an F-15E that targeted a moving T-72 tank surrogate. We’re still analyzing the data to get the details of it but the visual indicated it was a direct hit,” Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, military deputy for Air Force acquisition, told in an interview.

The test earlier this month was the final live fire mission required for the developmental weapons program to move toward what’s called a “Milestone C” full rate production decision, she added.

Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall is expected to approve full-rate production of the weapon by May of this year — a move which would clear the path for large-scale manufacturing and delivery of the Small Diameter Bomb II, or SDB II, later this year.

Ultimately, the Air Force plans to acquire 12,000 SDB II weapons — which will enter service by 2017, service officials said.

“This was the graduation exercise. This is what the warfighter is going to drop on the bad guys. It is the end to end test. The warhead performed as expected and we ended up putting steel on target which is what the goal is,” Jeff White, senior manager, business development, Raytheon, told


The SDB II has had a couple of teething problems, like any other newly developed system. It can’t fit in the undersized magazine of the US Marine’s tiny version of the new F35, but it fits just fine in the standard one the Air Force uses. Carrying the SDB II on wing racks defeats the stealth aspects of the new wonder fighter, which is what lead me to the booster engine range enhancement idea. My idea is a cheap fix using off the shelf parts, and lets all the other regular planes join in the fun. Their fix will be to redesign the STOL F-35’s weapons bay, which could take years and is guaranteed to cost hundreds of millions.

First cousins, with added thrust: the Hellfire and the Brimstone missiles. All three are about the same size, weight, and diameter. The SDB II carries a lot more blast, but less fragmentation. Which could be provided by a bolt on iron collar, at the cost of added weight and lesser range. Such a collar already exists for the Hellfire, to enhance its use against softer targets. All the more reason to use a little booster engine!

image   image

One of many many links to more information

The Air Force is currently enjoying a daydream in which truckloads of these glider bomblets are packed into a B2 stealth bomber. 216 of them to be precise. And then one invisible plane flies off and silently destroys an entire army’s worth of tanks, trucks, cannons, radars, etc. A whole war fought from one plane.
The tripping thing is, it might not be a wet dream at all. It could work.

And that’s what happened to all my blogging time this weekend!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/09/2015 at 08:25 AM   
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calendar   Thursday - March 05, 2015

From Out Of The Blue, One Way Or Another

Chicken Little peeps out at the sky, to see if it has stopped falling.

So far, so good.

Looks like we had 2” of snow here today. 4 times.  We had 2” on the walk this morning. I shoveled it off. We had 2” on the walk a couple hours later when the condo guys came by. They shoveled it off. We had 2” in the late afternoon when I took the garbage out, so I shoveled. Then we had about 2” at some point this evening, when the condo guys came around again and shoveled once more.

Skies are overcast, but not much more than another flake or two is predicted. Followed by at least 36 hours of really friggin’ cold to set things, followed by a week(??!!!???!) of above freezing temperatures? No way.


Vilmar ran a neat post on an old airplane today. I saw it, and wanted to do a copycat post on the old Fairchild PT-19. But I couldn’t find a video of one flying in its proper colors, yellow and blue. This is a plane that I didn’t even know was real; I thought it was just some thing Cox put together. You see, the real PT-19 was the main pursuit pilot training plane from WWII.  And it looked like this


but millions of boys my age only knew of the one that Cox made, a learn to fly control line model plane with a real gas engine!!!, the fabulous Cox 0.049. The airplane was designed to crash, and held together loosely with a few rubber bands. And it looked like this


Ah, memories. Of the greasy, oily fuel the dinky little engine used. Of those horrible “dry cell” batteries that could barely heat the glow plug, which was half the size of grain of rice. Of the smell, and the smoke, and how everything got covered in the oily exhaust after you finally got the damn little engine running after 90 million attempts. Of continually crashing the plane because the elevator was way too sensitive. Get it going, fly it half a circle a few inches off the ground, give the handle some “up”, and watch the plane instantly go vertical, straight up, over your head at 400mph on the end of the 25 foot wires, and straight down into the ground. Smash! However, the plastic parts were very flexible and resilient, so get out another 4 or 5 rubber bands and put it back together again and try once more.

Seriously, until I was in my mid-20s I never knew that there was an actual real airplane this plastic toy SplatMaster crashing machine was based on. How about that?


In similar news, actor Harrison Ford has crashed his restored Ryan ST-22, another trainer aircraft from the WWII era. He had an engine failure and was forced to land on the fairway of a golf course. The plane is a bit bent, as is the pilot. Not the best landing landing Han, but good enough!


Harrison Ford crash-landed his vintage plane Thursday after losing engine power, suffering serious but not life-threatening injuries after using his extensive piloting skills to “beautifully” bring down the plane on a golf course and avoid nearby homes.

It was the latest and most serious in a series of crashes and close calls for the 72-year-old action-adventure A-lister, who like his “Star Wars” alter-ego Han Solo has a taste for aerial thrills. He was helped by golfers who saw the plane come down about a quarter-mile short of the runway at Santa Monica Municipal Airport and taken to a hospital conscious and breathing.

Fire officials would not confirm the pilot’s identity. However, an email from interim Santa Monica city manager Elaine Polachek sent to city officials said the plane was flown by Ford.

According to the email, Ford was about a half-mile west of the airport and flying at 3,000 feet when he told air traffic controllers that his engine failed. Ford’s plane “apparently hit a tree on the way down,” and in addition to a cut forehead Ford may have broken his leg, the email said.

The plane, a yellow 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR with stars on its wings, was upright and mostly intact after the crash. No one on the ground was hurt.

“I would say that this is an absolutely beautifully executed – what we would call – a forced or emergency landing, by an unbelievably well-trained pilot,” said Christian Fry of the Santa Monica Airport Association.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/05/2015 at 10:04 PM   
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A Little Extra Excitment In NY

Hey Bubba, watch this!

We’re gonna land a jet airliner on the ice during a snowstorm!  Yeeeeha!!



Three people were transported to hospitals Thursday morning after a Delta plane skidded off a runway at New York’s LaGuardia Airport during a snow storm, prompting the airport to announce it will be closed until 2 p.m. ET.

The plane, a MD-88 that was traveling from Atlanta to New York, was carrying 125 passengers and five crew members. Those on board were able to exit the plane on emergency slides. Passengers trudged through the snow in an orderly line after climbing off the plane.

The condition of those transported to hospitals was not immediately clear, but authorities reported only minor injuries.

Aaron Smith, a passenger in Row 13 told that the plane’s left wing was sheared off of the plane.

“Little shaken up,” Smith said. “I don’t think any of this is going to sink in until tomorrow.”

The airport announced that it was closed Thursday due to an “aircraft incident.”

Authorities are investigating the cause of the incident. Authorities said at a press conference Thursday afternoon that shortly before the incident, two planes landed without incident and pilots reported “good breaking action.”

No, no, you journalistic rider of the extra short school bus, wearer of the safety helmet with the double chin strap, good “braking” action. Good “breaking” action is exactly what you got when you didn’t have the other kind ... one wing snapped right off. D’uh.

And of course it was a Delta plane. From Atlanta. Southerners never could drive in the snow! tongue laugh


The plane spun out and stopped halfway down the runway, with the nose out over the icy waters of Flushing Bay. Another few dozen yards and this could have been a terrible calamity.

See more ... in the UK papers, of course, who have all the pictures.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/05/2015 at 02:07 PM   
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calendar   Friday - February 06, 2015

The Flying Robo-Jeep

AirMule Gets Closer To Approval

70 years ago, the idea of a little flying vehicle that could get in and out of the most inhospitable areas was just science fiction. 60 years ago the “flying jeep” idea was tried, but ... ahem ... never got off the ground. Until about a decade ago, when the IDF realized it needed some kind of go-anywhere helicopter vehicle about the size of a pickup truck. Much R&D later, coupled with the latest advances in drones, and ta-da. Awesome. The future is now.


It’s a helicopter that mated with a hovercraft. It’s a swing wing ducted rotor lifting body aircraft with no wings and all the rotors inside. It’s an ambulance drone. It’s a small package delivery system that can drop off 1000lb of gear at a go. It hovers. It flies at 70mph 3 miles up in the sky. It’s for real. And a good chunk of it is already FAA approved.

Flying tactical robots also are taking off in new directions. Urban Aeronautics, an Israeli company, is developing a compact, unmanned single-engine vertical take-off and landing aircraft with internal rotors called the AirMule. The features mean it can fly into obstructed areas, such as jungles or urban environments, and land on steep hillsides without concerns about rotor obstruction. As military operations move away from open-desert battlefields to more congested locations, maneuverability will become increasingly important.

AirMule can evacuate two casualties or reconfigure for other payloads. The vehicle can carry loads of 1,000 pounds or more, making it unique in its field. “There’s nothing that’s the size of a Humvee and can take off vertically with a 1,000-pound load,” said Rafi Yoeli, president and chief executive officer of Urban Aeronautics.

Making these capabilities a practical reality has been a long road. Research on the concept began about 12 years ago. In December 2013, the first fully autonomous flight took place, and a full-fledged mission demonstration is slated for some time next year.


The AirMule ... is an unmanned flying car UAS designed by Rafi Yoeli and build by Tactical Robotics LTD., a subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics LTD. in Yavne, Israel. It will be used in search and rescue operations where it would be too dangerous or inaccessible for a helicopter, such as evacuating people from the upper stories of burning buildings, or delivering and extracting police and soldiers while very close to structures, narrow streets, and or through holes into confined spaces.
After the 2006 Lebanon War, the IDF realized that it needed a special vehicle that could fly unmanned behind enemy lines in order to rescue its wounded. While the helicopter is the best evacuation vehicle, it requires an area clear of trees or electricity columns in order to land without obstructing the rotor. Chances of it safely leaving a fire-heavy zone are small as it attracts all sorts of weapons fire. The advantages of a ducted fan propelled unmanned air vehicle are that it could offer the same capabilities as helicopters, but without the serious operating limitations. It could navigate in and out of creeks, city streets, next to big buildings, compact alleyways and refugee camp warrens, while the shielded rotor blades make the “Air Mule” tougher than a regular helicopter. Being unmanned, the “Air Mule” could enter situations too risky for regular helicopters. It could deliver supplies or cargo, evacuate up to two casualties from the battlefield and transferring them to a field deployed hospital for medical treatment. Some missions may require to be conducted up to hundreds of kilometers from forward operating bases (FOB) and medical care facilities with the only medical support available on scene being unit medics or fellow soldiers. The war reports have shown that moving an individual only a few hundred yards can take an hour or more.

As of 2012 and into 2014, according to NATO STO TR-HFM-184 report, the “Air Mule” remains the only available design that meets NATO and IDF requirement for an unmanned MEDEVAC and CASEVAC vehicle.

Urban Aeronautics Ltd. has patented its design as Fancraft. The Fancraft technologies are supported by 37 registered (granted) patents and 12 additional are in the process.


The AirMule is a compact, unmanned, single engine, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft capable of evacuating two casualties or lifting significant payloads into urban or mountainous terrain. It is part of a new family of internal rotor (ducted fan) aircraft known as Fancraft™.

Urban Aeronautics is the world leader in the design of VTOL utility aircraft. These aircraft are capable of operating safely in a vast, new and significant range of missions in confined areas. This is possible via the exclusive reliance on internally mounted lift rotors.

Urban Aeronautics has taken the lead in the development of the AirMule. Flying autonomously or controlled remotely without on-board crew, the AirMule can carry a useful load of 500 kilograms and fly under the radar to land within a minimal space of 40m2 without a runway. It is designed to meet stringent US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) manned helicopter safety standards, fulfilling all airworthiness requirements for future implementation as a safe transporter of casualties from the disaster area.

Dr. Rafi Yoeli, president and chief executive officer of Urban Aeronautics, said: “Responsiveness, reliability and, above all, safety are the key requirements we have when selecting tools and components for our UAS craft. Green Hills Software has a proven track record of providing operating systems, middleware and development tools that meet these standards and so we had no hesitation in working with them.”


What’s more, the thing isn’t even very loud. Ducting the prop blades and keeping the fans internal and behind guidance vanes keeps the noise down to the 87dB range. All that fanwork also results in a minimized heat signature. The AirMule is naturally stealthy as a side effect. Plus it’s small, and made from carbon fiber, for an even lesser radar signature. Nifty. Stick a cockpit on them and they might make a great personal urban vehicle. Aside from the $2.5 million price tag.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/06/2015 at 11:09 AM   
Filed Under: • High TechIsraelNeat Inventionsplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Thursday - January 22, 2015

A bit of flying perspective

Thinking about airplanes while doodling around on the internet ...

I’ve never seen a B-29, the ultimate giant Allied bomber from WWII. Saw some sidebar news story the other day about how the restoration work is proceeding on one of them, such that there might be exactly two of the old birds actually flying by the end of this year. This is pretty amazing, especially since I didn’t know that there were any left at all. What a labor of love. And money. Lots and lots and lots of money.


So, I got to wondering, just how giant an airplane was this thing? Sure, you can Wiki up the specs and see that it was huge for its day, half again as long as a B-17, with a wingspan half again as wide, and a tail half again as tall. Which is nice, but meaningless unless you’ve got a B-17 around to play with. I’ve never seen one of those either, but I’ve heard from those who have how they seem so small given the role they played. A bit more research shows that a B-29 is almost exactly the same size as a modern C-130 Hercules cargo plane, although much narrower in the fuselage (9 feet vs. 13.75 feet) Body about 100 feet long, wings about 140 feet wide, tail about 30 feet tall.

C-130s I have seen. This workhorse transport is a great contradiction in terms, a great big fat little airplane, another one of those 1950s designs that keeps on keeping on forever, while getting incrementally better all the time. The latest C-130 version out-performs the venerable B-29 in every way, carrying much more load, flying faster, flying higher, flying further and climbing many times faster. Pretty impressive for a cargo plane. But that’s still a context-free comparison for the rest of us who never see military aircraft of any kind. Fine. A B-29 and a C-130 are both the size of a modern 737 airliner, but with wider wings. The 737 is the “baby” jet you take on the less popular routes United flies. They don’t seem very big either when you’re inside them, but walking up to one on the tarmac is a bit impressive. I’ve worked in smaller office buildings. And this thing flies. Seriously, this is about as small an airplane as I’m happy to travel in. Another Little Big Plane, fuselage diameter 12.3 feet. And this one is miniscule compared to the real jumbos? OM.F.G. And it goes without saying that this modern jet mini-airliner leaves either of the two propeller driven planes discussed here in the dust. It’s not even funny. All it needs is ... half again as much runway.


Closing the circle: the Marines land a C-130J on runway Baker, Tinian. Second plane since 1947

The above makes an interesting little read, but if you follow the link you’ll see that most of the troops arrived there at West Field, by 737 airliner. Which is kind of funny.


The beginning of the end, literally

Photo R-L: runways Alpha, Baker, Charlie in 2008, North Field, Tinian Island, still in usable shape 60 years later.  This is where Enola Gay and BocksCar were based, the two B-29s that dropped the atomic bombs that ended WWII in the Pacific in 1945


All pretty much the same size: a Navy C40A, the cargo version of the 737. With people for some scale perspective


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/22/2015 at 12:41 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - January 08, 2015

It’s Only Natural

Fish got to swim, and birds got to fly,

Ships got to float, whether listing or dry

Can’t keep the Hoegh Osaka stuck in the sand


Hoegh Osaka under tow, sideways

A cargo ship carrying high-quality cars has “freed itself” from the sandbank where it has been stranded since Saturday.

The Hoegh Osaka, which ran aground shortly after leaving Southampton on its way to Germany, began to move at high water.

Salvors had been pumping water out of the vessel, which is carrying 1,400 cars and construction equipment including Jaguars, Land Rovers and JCBs.

It will now be towed to a holding position in Southampton water and a full assessment will be carried out before she is moved any further.

It was thought the 590ft-long car carrier Hoegh Osaka had taken on too much water to sail free after being run aground in the Solent.

A £10million rescue was planned, with fears the ship and its cargo of 1,400 cars could be stuck for weeks.

The vessel was towed two miles east in the Solent and will be held by two tugs until Thursday for a full assessment by salvage company Svitzer.

The Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the vessel had “self-floated at high water”.

The ship was towed east of its grounding position to Alpha Anchorage, between East Cowes and Lee-on-the-Solent.

A temporary exclusion zone of 300m (984ft) was established around the vessel.

A full assessment of the ship’s condition is expected to be carried out on Thursday.

Pretty neat. All the cargo is still secure as well, except for a couple farm tractors and excavators.

If that header seemed a bit familiar, here’s why ...

... guess the Osaka is a bit of a Showboat as well now.

just not the Cotton Blossom.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/08/2015 at 05:53 PM   
Filed Under: • Eye-CandyMusicplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Monday - January 05, 2015

You Are So Grounded

Salty Sailors Snag Solent Sandbar, Save Slipping Ship


Loaded with a cargo of 1400 $400,000 Bentleys and other vehicles, the carrier ship MV Hoegh Osaka put out from Southampton England bound for Germany. The ship quickly developed a dangerous list to port. Fearing an imminent capsize, captain and crew slid the massive 51,770 tonne vessel up onto Bramble Bank in a superb feat of aquatic parallel parking in the middle of the night just a couple miles from the Isle of Wight.  British Coast Guard (MCA) and lifeboat crews (RNLI) plucked all 25 crew members from the stricken ship with only a few minor injuries. The ship is not leaking anything, and will be refloated soon.


A car transporter ship was grounded in the Solent deliberately after it began to list, its owners have said. The Hoegh Osaka was run aground off the Isle of Wight on Saturday evening after developing problems once it had left Southampton, Ingar Skiaker, chief executive of Hoegh Autoliners said.

The ship is now listing at more than 50 degrees and a salvage operation is expected to take several days. However, no oil is thought to have leaked from the ship.  Mr Skiaker said it was too early to speculate on the cause of the accident and thanked the rescue teams who took all 25 crew on board to safety.

He said two crew members had been taken to hospital with minor injuries.

The 51,000-ton MV Hoegh Osaka, with 1,400 high-end vehicles on board, got stuck on Saturday on the three-mile long sandbank.  The ship’s owners, Norwegian firm Hoegh, said the captain had acted to prevent the giant tanker from overturning.

CEO Ingar Skiaker said: “Our vessel developed a severe list shortly after she left port and the pilot and the master took the decision to save the vessel and its crew by grounding her on the bank. This showed great skill and seamanship.”

The ship was carrying a large fleet of expensive cars - including Bentleys worth up to £237,500 each - from Southampton to Bremerhaven in Germany. A coastguard helicopter and three lifeboats plucked 25 crewmen from the 590ft-long ship, which ran aground on Bramble Bank in the Solent.

more video here

The Hoegh Osaka is a ship that could have been designed by Noah; it’s a blunt ended floating box 590 feet long and 105 feet wide that needs 51.5 feet of water depth just to float. Built in 2000 as the MV Maersk Wind, a single 19,100hp engine can push her to over 19 knots.

It’s nice to see a bit of shipping news with a happy ending. Between war, weather, odd design, or just ill fate, so many ships are just bombed, burned, bashed, or sunk in a heartbeat with all hands. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/05/2015 at 09:48 AM   
Filed Under: • planes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Friday - January 02, 2015

Heartless Aqua Coyotes Do It Again

Ship full of migrants abandoned by smugglers towed to Italy

Politically Correct much? “migrants”, aka a boatload of illegal aliens, being smuggled into Italy. Again. This time, the boats aren’t coming up from North Africa, but instead coming West from Turkey or Syria. And this is now the second ship full where the smugglers have used a truly vile MO: get the boat somewhere near the coast, then abandon it. Screw the passengers and run; leave it to the Italian Navy or other patrolling safety/security force to try to rescue everyone before they sink or wreck.

There needs to be a better name for this kind of human scum than “aqua coyotes”, but that was all I could come up with on the spot. Pirates of some kind, no doubt. Attempted mass murderers by deliberate negligence. Really heartless bastards; you’d think they were trying out for ISIS.

ROME – An Icelandic Coast Guard ship was towing a cargo vessel to Italy Friday with about 450 migrants who were abandoned by smugglers, leaving the vessel in rough seas without a crew, authorities said Friday.

Italian Coast Guard Cmdr. Filippo Marini said that after several hours of struggling, Italian rescue teams shortly before dawn managed to secure the wave-tossed Ezadeen for towing toward the southern Calabrian region. The Icelandic ship Tyr, part of a European new European patrol force to detect and aid migrants at sea, was doing the towing.

Children and pregnant women were among the migrants, most of who were believed to be Syrian, said Marini. The Sierra-Leone-flagged cargo ship apparently set sail from Turkey, he said.


how ironic, the MV Ezadeen was built as a cattle hauler

The Ezadeen, sailing under the flag of Sierra Leone, lost power in rough seas overnight off the south-east of Italy.

A total of 796 migrants were rescued from another ship found abandoned without any crew earlier in the week.

Italian coast guard Cmdr Filippo Marini told reporters that the vessel was being towed by an Icelandic ship that is part of the EU Frontex border control mission.

Children and pregnant women were among the migrants, most of whom were believed to be Syrian, Mr Marini said.

He added that the 73-metre (240ft) Ezadeen was believed to have set sail from Turkey, although earlier reports suggested it was sailing from Cyprus.

The alarm was raised in a distress call from one of the migrants using the maritime radio on board, who told the Italian coastguard: “We’re without crew, we’re heading toward the Italian coast and we have no-one to steer.”

The Ezadeen was built nearly 50 years ago and is a livestock carrier. It appears to be registered to a Lebanese company and has come under the control of human traffickers.

The Ezadeen is the latest uncrewed ship full of would-be migrants to be left to drift to its fate in the Mediterranean Sea.

People-traffickers appear to be behind the phenomenon and one source with close knowledge of the rescue operations is concerned that it “seems to be something of a new trend”.

God willing, there’s a special kind of Hell for people like this.

The ship has been safely towed into port in Southern Italy.



Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/02/2015 at 10:04 AM   
Filed Under: • Illegal-Aliens and Immigrationplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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Notes In Passing

I’ve had a bit of writer’s block the past couple of weeks. Well, actually, it’s been more of a time block than anything. Holidays, relatives, shopping, visiting. All kinds of time constraints. I never realize just how much time this blog consumes until other things pop up and eat that time, and my internet surfing and story research time shrinks to nearly nothing.

I just saw the news, probably 14 hours old, that former NY governor Mario Cuomo has died. He was 82. He was very much a Liberal’s Liberal.

I just saw the news that bodies are being recovered from lost AirAsia flight 8501, some of them still strapped into their seats. I don’t think the black boxes have been found yet, but if Search & Rescue is finding bodies and wreckage, perhaps it’s only a matter of time. Right now the theory is that the plane stalled trying to climb out of a thunderstorm, but with those storms you always have to remember the intense updrafts and downdrafts. We can build the most wonderful airplanes ever, but nothing can outfox Mother Nature. Say a prayer for all these poor lost souls.

After nearly a week of searching for the victims of AirAsia Flight 8501, rescue teams battling monsoon rains had their most successful day yet on Friday, more than tripling the number of bodies pulled from the Java Sea so far. An Indonesian navy official said some of the dead were still strapped to their seats.

Of the 30 corpses recovered in total, 21 were found on Friday, many of them by a U.S. Navy ship, according to officials.

The Airbus A320 carrying 162 passengers and crew went down Sunday, halfway into a flight from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore. Minutes before losing contact, the pilot told air-traffic control he was approaching threatening clouds, but was denied permission to climb to a higher altitude because of heavy air traffic.

It remains unclear what caused it to plunge into the sea, but CBS News’ Allen Pizzey reports that investigators are working on the principal that the pilots attempted a steep climb anyway, to avoid the weather, which could have stalled the jet’s engines.

Col. Yayan Sofiyan, commander of the warship Bung Tomo, told MetroTV five bodies pulled in by his crew were still fastened in their seats.

I’ll do what I can to update these stories, and to steal time when I can to get back to some decent posting.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/02/2015 at 09:31 AM   
Filed Under: • Passing on, Death and Disasterplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Friday - September 12, 2014

Check Your Six. Or your Five.

A Shift In Time


Another article sounding the death knell of the manual transmission.

When Marlo Dewing went shopping for a car last year, she only had one requirement: a manual transmission.

“Any car that was only available as an automatic was a deal breaker,” said Dewing, 44. “I love to drive. I want to know that I am actually driving, that I am in control of the machine.”

That made her shopping list a very short one. Only around 10 percent of vehicles made in North America now have manual transmissions, down from 35 percent in 1980. And that number is expected to keep shrinking, according to the consulting firm IHS Automotive.

Manuals no longer have a fuel economy advantage. The five-speed manual transmission on the 2014 Honda Civic sedan gets 31 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, for example, while a Civic with Honda’s continuously variable automatic transmission — which moves automatically to the gear most appropriate for the car’s situation — gets 33 mpg.

The price gap does remain. A Honda Accord with an automatic transmission costs around $800 more than a manual one, while drivers opting for an automatic transmission on a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray have to pay $1,725 more. But that doesn’t seem to have stifled demand.

Driving enthusiasts like Dewing remain manuals’ biggest fans, and ensure that some brands will continue to produce them. Dewing eventually settled on a 2012 Volkswagen GTI with a six-speed manual transmission. It’s a 210-horsepower hatchback that’s popular with enthusiasts; Volkswagen says about half the GTIs it sells in the U.S. are manuals.

Earlier this week I read a news article that told how Cadillac is developing a self-driving car. Are you kidding me? Duh, when Cadillac sold real Caddys, cars you didn’t have to drive had a chauffeur. There is already at least one car on the market that does hands-off automatic parallel parking. And maybe that is a good idea, seeing how tall modern vehicles have become, which limits close-in visibility. OTOH, if your new high rider has power folding mirrors, just tilt them down 45° and ta-da, there’s the curb!

Rear view cameras and back up radar are out there now too. And I can’t say that those are bad things. Lane change warning systems. Fine, great. Low speed front radar braking ... probably a good idea too. It’s almost impossible to buy a new car that doesn’t have computer driven traction control. All of these things make cars safer and easier to drive. But a manual transmission makes a car fun to drive. And that’s what it’s all about. You don’t need thighs of iron to work a clutch any longer either; no matter how powerful the engine is, a modern hydraulic clutch reduces the pedal effort to just a couple pounds.

The old hot rodder argument that automatics are stronger doesn’t fly either; 5 speed manuals from Legend and 6 speed manuals from Tremec can handle 700lb ft of torque, which is crazy strong.

But oh no, manuals suck in traffic!! BS. I’ve been driving manuals since 1983, and I live in NJ, land of traffic. Trust me, it isn’t an issue. Right toe up, a flip of the right wrist, a slip of the left toe up, a touch of gas, left toe down, wrist flip back, left toe up, right toe down: you’ve just let off the brakes, put the car in gear, moved forward 5 feet in the traffic jam, come to a stop, and put the car back in neutral. It’s so easy you don’t even think about it. So is holding the car in position while stopped on a hill. It’s a tiny little skill, and once you learn it you do it for the rest of your life without thinking about it.

But it’s really all about the control. I want to drive the car, not have the car drive me. And when it’s time to go, I want to go. I don’t want to blurble away from the stop light, engine revving away like a buzzsaw with the car going nowhere. Which is what happens with a CVT. Plus a manual simply makes driving more fun.

Here’s Coach to help you through your driving desire to do something with your left foot:

2.97, 2.10, 1.46, 1:1, .74, .50: the standard gear ratios on the Tremec T56 wide ratio transmission (0.80 5th and 0.64 6th available): now your 400hp V8 with it’s 3.90 rear axle can get 20mpg at 80mph.


See More Below The Fold


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/12/2014 at 08:17 AM   
Filed Under: • Fun-Stuffplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Monday - September 08, 2014

Once More, Lafeyette, With Feeling

“So that freedom lives, men will always have to stand up and fight against indifference or resignation.”

Hermione Tastes The Waves

Nearly twenty years in the making, the 213 foot long replica French frigate went out for sea trials yesterday. Plans call for the oak square rigged 26 gun ship - a “fast light frigate” - to cross the Atlantic next spring to visit Canada and New England in time for Bastille Day.

The original Hermione was the ship that brought the Marquis of Lafayette over the aid George Washington, and she and her four sister ships carried several thousand troops, and stayed to harry the British and help the struggling colonists win the war of independence.

In those days crossing the Atlantic from Rochefort France by sail power alone took 38 days; the modern frigate sports a pair of hidden propulsor pods which could make the journey a bit faster.


A reconstruction of the 213-foot (65-meter) frigate used by France’s Marquis de Lafayette to bring reinforcements to American revolutionaries in 1780 has tested the waters for the first time.

The test run at high tide Sunday was a key step in an ambitious 17-year project aimed at sending the ship next year across the Atlantic, retracing Lafayette’s journey and the foundation of French-American relations.

Maritime and history experts and aficionados have made rebuilding the Hermione a major project for the French port of Rochefort in southwest France.

Ship builders and researchers have painstakingly rebuilt the ship using the same construction materials and methods as those used to build the original, from the pulley systems to the massive oak hull.

After some delays, the boat set out at high tide early Sunday morning from the Rochefort docks toward the Ile d’Aix. It is meant to be the first in several test runs before the ship sets sail for Boston.


To replicate the frigate exactly as it used to be, it was necessary to gather archive documents such as ‘L’Hermione’s log-book(s) and the blueprints of La Concorde, ‘L’Hermione’s sister-ship which had been drawn by the Royal Navy after she had been captured. To these documents, one had to add the informations delivered by the wreck of the original ‘L’Hermione’, which was discovered in 1992, off Le Croisic, where she had sunk in 1793.

Specializing in the restoration of historic monuments, the ASSELIN firm in Thouars was allotted the task of ‘L’Hermione’s timber-work. The association thus took advantage of the outstanding professional qualities and experience of carpenters’ fellows of the craft, as well as of the technical collaboration of Raymond Labbé, a naval architect from Saint-Malo and of the precious historical cooperation of Jean Thomas, a former student of Jean Boudriot, a renowned historian and a specialist in naval construction.

The undertaking of the project took place in conditions and circumstances as close as possible to those which had surrounded the building of the original ‘L’Hermione’, i.e. it took place in the double graving dock of the historical naval shipyard of Rochefort, “a modern city of the XVII th century”.

The construction of the frigate started in May 1977. On July 4th,1997, the American national day, after 3 years’ research and preparation, the ship’s keel was laid.


The new Hermione – also known as the ‘La frégate de la liberté’ or ‘freedom frigate’ – is an incredible achievement, especially as funds have come via donations. The ship and her armaments contain a total of 400,000 different bits of wood and metal, and there are more than 1,000 pulleys alone to build and fit. To provide the wood around 4,000 oaks have been felled in forests around France, the trees chosen for their natural curves. The gun carriages for the iron cannon barrels were cast in a foundry in Angoulême and transported by barge down the River Charente. On top of all this the modern builders have had to contend with safety rules over seaworthiness that didn’t really constrain their forbears.

Fifteen years after the project was started, the Hermione was launched in 2012, 65,000 people gathering in Rochefort to see her float in the water – the River Charente – for the first time.  The following year the masts were erected, towering above the Arsenal. Next came the crows nest, followed by the rigging, the latter requiring about 25 kilometres of hemp ropes.

The final stage of construction was completed in spring 2014 – the installation of the 19 different sails, all 2137 square metres of them and made from traditional flax.  Although virtually identical to the original, the Hermione does have one or two modern touches including an engine on board for safety reasons as well as a power generator for the comfort of the crew.

Still, sailing in the Hermione will still be tough for Commandant Yann Cariou and his 69 crew members – only 15 are professional sailors; the rest are volunteers trained up to sail and who will work in shifts. All have to be fit enough to climb the rigging in all weather and be prepared to live life as it was on an 18th century boat – sleeping in hammocks in often cramped conditions.

In April and May 2014 the sails were put up and the frigate was made ready for the sea trials which will precede the final exciting phase of the project – retracing Lafayette’s voyage by taking the ship to North America.



See More Below The Fold


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/08/2014 at 03:13 PM   
Filed Under: • FRANCEFREEDOMHistoryplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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