FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 9th through 14th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Begin procrastination early.  It will give you more time to reconsider it later on!  And today I thought I would offer this anecdote.  You have to be of a certain age to appreciate it.  When Jack Benny was invited to visit the White House, he was stopped by the Secret Service guard and asked what was in the violin case he was carrying?  “A machine gun,” Benny replied with a straight face.  The Secret Service guard with an equally straight face said, “Oh, okay.  I thought for a moment it was your violin.”


FOD Trivia Question

Only one town in the US bears the official name of Beach.  In what state in Beach located?


Previous FOD Trivia Answer

What fastening material was born from the inspiration of inventor George DeMestral after he returned from a walk in the 1950’s and noticed his jacket covered with cockleburs?  Answer:  Velcro


Hurricane Florence

A year ago I was at Carolina Beach and the greater Wilmington, NC area.  Let’s send some good prayers and thoughts to all those affected by Hurricane Florence.  I’ve heard so much about storm surge and how it’s affected by winds and tides.  This storm is moving so slowly, it will dump tremendous amounts of rain on all those inland rivers and we’ll likely see some major flooding in the region.  There will be dozens of rescues over the next days, mostly those who should have departed days ago.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 9th through 14th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 5th through 15th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Never let your best friends get lonely… keep disturbing them.  Thanks my friends!


I’m a Cabbage Patched Kid

I’m not a product of that Xavier Roberts designed Cabbage Patch doll from the 1980’s toy fad, but a successful beneficiary of quadruple Coronary artery bypass surgery, also called Coronary Artery Bypass Graft, but pronounced “cabbage.”  I had a coronary stress test as part of a full physical I prescribed for myself when I retired from Boeing.   That test indicated I might have something, but being asymmetric we didn’t proceed further.  I was also in spin class about 4 days/week, rode my bike on local trails, and skied more than 40 days last year.  About 16 months later when I changed doctors, the new guy suggested a cardiologist we do a coronary angiogram which, despite no symptoms showed several sections with atherosclerosis is characterized by yellowish plaques of cholesterollipids, and cellular debris deposited into the inner layer of the wall of a large or medium-sized coronary artery, most often resulting in a partial obstruction in the affected arteries – in short – cardiovascular disease  I was getting a cross-sectional narrowing of at least 50- 90 percent in some areas. And when the cardiac surgeon, the pump guy, as opposed to the vascular surgeon, pipes guy, says I have you on my schedule four days from now; you say –  it’s time to get a blog edition out.  My surgeon opted for the big kahuna.  The terms single bypassdouble bypasstriple bypass, and quadruple bypass bypass refer to the number of coronary arteries bypassed in the procedure. In other words, a double bypass means two coronary arteries are bypassed (e.g., the left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery and right coronary artery (RCA)); a triple bypass means three vessels are bypassed (e.g., LAD, RCA and left circumflex artery (LCX)); a quadruple bypass means four vessels are bypassed (e.g., LAD, RCA, LCX and first diagonal artery of the LAD), using the left and right mammary arteries.  Well as long as you’re in there muckin’ around I might as well get my full Medicare and TriCare for Life benefits (which I see are going up – see article below).  I did have several of the known risk factors – cigarette smoking (no), diabetes (no), high cholesterol (only slightly elevated), high blood pressure (again only slightly elevated), sedentary lifestyle (no), overweight (too many burritos with Mule) and family history of premature heart disease (both my grandfathers died of heart attacks in their 40’s).  I was lucky in that I found it.  So now it’s the summer of cardiac recovery (2 months before I can ride my bike again – a new Specialized Stumpjumper).  Thanks for all the good wishes I received along the way and I meant call more folks in advance, but I got busy.


Military Retirees To See Tricare Fees Increase

Military Times is reporting some military families would see some co-pays decrease under a Senate proposal to change the Tricare fee structure, but retirees under age 65 would see a major fee hike.  Working-age retirees now pay no enrollment fees to join Tricare Select. The proposal would create a $450 annual enrollment fee for an individual and a $900 annual enrollment fee for a family, in addition to a new out-of-network deductible for this coverage group that could cost retirees even more.  Retirees in Tricare Prime would see their enrollment fee increase to $350 per individual, from the current $289.08, or to $700 per family, from the current $578.16.  “Our concern is that in the course of a year this would be the second major Tricare hike for retirees under age 65,” said Kathy Beasley, a retired Navy captain who is director of government relations for health care for The Military Officers Association of America.  This proposal doesn’t affect military retirees and their family members age 65 and older, who are in Tricare for Life (Fireball note: YET). Active-duty families and working-age retirees/families could see some co-pays decrease, Beasley said, although not enough to offset the increase in enrollment fees for retirees.  The proposal, which is included in the Senate version of the defense authorization bill, was designed to fix a problem that caused higher co-pays for those eligible for Tricare before Jan. 1, when many of the Tricare reforms took effect.  The bill will go before the Senate for a vote, and the provision would then be considered in conference with House lawmakers. In its current form, if approved, the new cost structure would take effect Jan. 1, 2019.  “This provision would correct an inequity in the Tricare benefit among beneficiaries by establishing a single co-payment structure applicable to all Tricare beneficiaries,” stated a report accompanying the bill text. Senate Armed Services Committee members stated they were aware that those who were already in Tricare before the reform took effect in January were paying higher co-payments than beneficiaries who entered the military after Jan. 1.  But this provision doesn’t fix the overall problems with the new, higher co-pays introduced in January, said Karen Ruedisueli, government relations deputy director for the National Military Family Association. Instead, it “just increases overall out-of-pocket costs by hiking up retiree enrollment fees and the catastrophic cap while creating a new non-network deductible ― cost increases we’ve always opposed since Congress mandated them for new entrants and their families.”  Working-age retirees and their families in Tricare Select would also be subject to a new out-of-network deductible of $300 for individuals and $600 for families ― which has to be met before Tricare begins paying its share of medical bills.  “We are particularly disappointed [the proposal] doesn’t fix the unreasonably high co-pays for the physical, speech, occupational and mental health therapies ― co-pays so high, we are concerned that families won’t follow recommended treatment plans,” Ruedisueli said.  “After months of problems with the Tricare contract transitions, including disruptions in care, network problems, and customer service nightmares, it is outrageous to ask families to pay more out-of-pocket,” Ruedisueli said.  “The Tricare fee increases which took effect on Jan. 1 were disproportionately high and broke faith with currently serving families and those who have served full careers,” Beasley said. “The addition of these new Senate-proposed fee increases do nothing but place a more disproportionate burden on military beneficiaries.”  The provision would benefit the Defense Department by lowering health care costs by about $2.8 billion over the period between 2020 and 2023, according to a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. (CBO assumes this legislation wouldn’t be enacted in time to affect fees and enrollments for 2019.) CBO estimates that the average out-of-pocket cost for those in Tricare Select would be about $570 for individual retirees and $1,645 for those with families.  For those enrolled in Tricare before Jan. 1, the proposal would cut some in-network co-pays in the current fee schedule in Tricare Select. Some examples:

  • Primary care outpatient visits would decrease from $21 to $15 for active-duty family members, and from $28 to $25 for retirees and their families.
  • Specialty care outpatient visits would decrease from $31 to $25 for active-duty families, and from $41 to $40 for retirees and their families.
  • Emergency services would decrease from $81 to $40 for active-duty families, and from $109 to $80 for retirees and their families.


China Rapidly Militarizing South China Sea With Missile Exercise

China is continuing to militarize the South China Sea in ways similar to how Japan moved into the Pacific region in the years preceding WW II and in violation of their own statements and their obligations under international law.  The Japanese were in violation of agreements they made with the League of Nations and now China defies United Nations and international court decisions.  Reuters is reporting China’s navy carried out drills in the South China Sea to simulate fending off an aerial attack, state media said on Friday, as the country trades barbs with the United States over responsibility for heightened tension in the disputed waterway.  United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed concern during a visit to Beijing on Thursday over China’s efforts to militarize the seas.  His remarks came after a flurry of U.S. activity in the region, including reports last week that U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers had flown near disputed islands that drew a sharp rebuke from China.  China’s navy carried out a simulated missile attack in an unspecified area of the South China Sea using three target drones making flyovers of a ship formation at varying heights, the official army newspaper said.  The drills were part of efforts by a training base, also unspecified, to prepare for real-life combat with aerial targets after China’s leadership said some training failed to prepare troops effectively, it added.  The United States and China have frequently sparred over who is militarizing the South China Sea, with Beijing blaming tension on actions such as the “freedom of navigation” operations by the U.S. Navy.  Washington says such operations are necessary to counter China’s efforts to limit nautical movement there.  A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed through waters claimed by China in May just days after the United States withdrew an invitation to it for a major U.S. hosted naval drill.  Critics have said the operations have little impact on Chinese behavior and are largely symbolic.  Pentagon officials have long complained that China has not been candid enough about its rapid military build-up and its use of South China Sea islands to gather intelligence.  In addition to China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam all have competing claims in the South China Sea.  Strengthening their navy has been a key part of China’s ambitious military modernization overseen by President Xi Jinping, as it seeks to project power far from its shores.  State television on Friday showed pictures of Xi touring a submarine in the northern port city of Qingdao, where was briefed on its weapons systems, chatted with sailors and asked questions about the submarine fleet’s training. 


Congress Passes 19th  Amendment

I was remiss in not mentioning this in the previous edition of FOD.  On June 4, 1919, The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.  The women’s suffrage movement was founded in the mid-19th century by women who had become politically active through their work in the abolitionist and temperance movements. In July 1848, 240 woman suffragists, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, met in Seneca Falls, New York, to assert the right of women to vote. Female enfranchisement was still largely opposed by most Americans, and the distraction of the North-South conflict and subsequent Civil War precluded further discussion. During the Reconstruction Era, the 15th Amendment was adopted, granting African American men the right to vote, but the Republican-dominated Congress failed to expand its progressive radicalism into the sphere of gender.  In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association, led by Susan B. Anthonyand Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was formed to push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Another organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association, led by Lucy Stone, was organized in the same year to work through the state legislatures. In 1890, these two societies were united as the National American Woman Suffrage Association. That year, Wyoming became the first state to grant women the right to vote.  By the beginning of the 20th century, the role of women in American society was changing drastically; women were working more, receiving a better education, bearing fewer children, and several states had authorized female suffrage. In 1913, the National Woman’s party organized the voting power of these enfranchised women to elect congressional representatives who supported woman suffrage, and by 1916 both the Democratic and Republican parties openly endorsed female enfranchisement. In 1919, the 19th Amendment, which stated that “the rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” passed both houses of Congress and was sent to the states for ratification. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land. Eight days later, the 19th Amendment took effect.


Invasion of Normandy

Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe.  A 1,200-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving more than 5,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August.  The decision to undertake a cross-channel invasion in 1944 was taken at the Trident Conference in Washington in May 1943. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), and General Bernard Montgomery was named as commander of the 21st Army Group, which comprised all the land forces involved in the invasion. The coast of Normandy was chosen as the site of the invasion, with the Americans assigned to land at sectors codenamed Utah and Omaha, the British at Sword and Gold, and the Canadians at Juno. To meet the conditions expected on the Normandy beachhead, special technology was developed, including two artificial ports called Mulberry harbours and an array of specialized tanks nicknamed Hobart’s Funnies. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deceptionOperation Bodyguard, using both electronic and visual misinformation. This misled the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. Adolf Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in charge of developing fortifications all along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an invasion.  The Allies failed to accomplish their objectives for the first day, but gained a tenuous foothold that they gradually expanded when they captured the port at Cherbourg on 26 June and the city of Caen on 21 July. A failed counterattack by German forces on 8 August left 50,000 soldiers of the 7th Army trapped in the Falaise pocket. The Allies launched an invasion of southern France (code-named Operation Dragoon) on 15 August, and the Liberation of Paris followed on 25 August. German forces retreated across the Seine on 30 August 1944, marking the close of Operation Overlord.  From D-Day to 21 August, the Allies landed 2,052,299 men in northern France. The cost of the Normandy campaign was high for both sides.  Between 6 June and the end of August, the American armies suffered 124,394 casualties, of whom 20,668 were killed.  Casualties within the First Canadian and Second British Armies are placed at 83,045: 15,995 killed, 57,996 wounded, and 9,054 missing.  Of these, Canadian losses amounted to 18,444, with 5,021 killed in action.  The Allied air forces, having flown 480,317 sorties in support of the invasion, lost 4,101 aircraft and 16,714 airmen (8,536 members of the USAAF, and 8,178 flying under the command of the RAF).  The Free French SAS paratroopers suffered 77 killed, with 197 wounded and missing.  Allied tank losses have been estimated at around 4,000, with losses split evenly between the American and British/Canadian armies.  Historians slightly differ on overall casualties during the campaign, with the lowest losses totaling 225,606 and the highest at 226,386.


First Machine Gun on An Aircraft

On 07 June 1912, then Lieutenant Roy C. Kirtland, flying a Wright Model B at College Park, Maryland, Captain Charles deForest Chandler was the first person to fire a machine gun mounted on an aircraft. The weapon was a prototype designed by Colonel Isaac N. Lewis.  Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico was named for him. He was among the first American military aviators and he recommended Henry “Hap” Arnold for aviation training.


X-15 First Flight

8 June 1959: At Edwards Air Force Base, California, North American Aviation’s Chief Engineering Test Pilot, Scott Crossfield , made the first flight of the X-15A hypersonic research rocketplane.  56-6670 was the first of three X-15s built for the U.S. Air Force and NASA. It was airdropped from a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, NB-52A-1-BO 52-003, at 37,550 feet (11,445 meters) over Rosamond Dry Lake at 08:38:40, Pacific Time. This was an unpowered glide flight to check the flying characteristics and aircraft systems, so there were no propellants or oxidizers aboard other than hydrogen peroxide which powered the pumps and generators.  The aircraft reached 0.79 Mach (522 miles per hour, 840 kilometers per hour) during the 4 minute, 56.6 second flight. The North American X-15 was a hypersonic rocket-powered aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as part of the X-plane series of experimental aircraft. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and returning with valuable data used in aircraft and spacecraft design. The X-15’s official world record for the highest speed ever recorded by a manned, powered aircraft, set in October 1967 when William J. “Pete” Knight flew Mach 6.72 at 102,100 feet (31,120 m), a speed of 4,520 miles per hour (7,274 km/h), has remained unchallenged as of June 2018.  The X-15 was a research program and changes were made to various systems over the course of the program and between the different models. The X-15 was operated under several different scenarios including attachment to a launch aircraft, drop, main engine start and acceleration, a ballistic flight into thin air/space, re-entry into thicker air, and an unpowered glide to landing. Alternatively, if the main engine was not started the pilot went directly to a landing. The main rocket engine operated only for a relatively short part of the flight, but was capable of boosting the X-15 to its high speeds and altitudes. Without main engine thrust, the X-15’s instruments and control surfaces remained functional, but the aircraft could not maintain altitude. Because the X-15 also had to be controlled in an environment where there was too little air for aerodynamic flight control surfaces, it had a reaction control system (RCS) that used rocket thrusters.  There were two different X-15 pilot control setups: one used three joysticks; the other, one joystick.  The X-15 type with multiple control sticks for the pilot included a traditional rudder and stick, and another joystick on the left which sent commands to the reaction control system.  A third joystick on the right side was used during high-G maneuvers to augment the center stick.  In addition to pilot input, the X-15 “Stability Augmentation System” (SAS) sent inputs to the aerodynamic controls to help the pilot maintain attitude control.  The Reaction Control System (RCS) could be operated in two modes, manual and automatic.  The automatic mode used a feature called “Reaction Augmentation System” (RAS) that helped stabilize the vehicle at high altitude.  The RAS was typically used for approximately three minutes of an X-15 flight before automatic power off.  The second setup used the MH-96 flight control system which allowed one joystick in place of three and simplified pilot input.  The MH-96 could automatically blend aerodynamic and rocket controls depending on how effective each system was at controlling the aircraft.  The initial 24 powered flights used two Reaction Motors XLR11 liquid-propellant rocket engines, enhanced to provide a total of 16,000 pounds-force of thrust as compared to the 6,000 pounds-force that a single XLR11 provided in 1947 to make the Bell X-1 the first aircraft to fly faster than the speed of sound. The XLR11 used ethyl alcohol and liquid oxygen.  By November 1960, Reaction Motors was able to deliver the XLR99 rocket engine, generating 57,000 pounds-force of thrust. The remaining 175 flights of the X-15 used XLR99 engines, in a single engine configuration. The XLR99 used anhydrous ammonia and liquid oxygen as propellant, and hydrogen peroxide to drive the high-speed turbopump that delivered propellants to the engine.  It could burn 15,000 pounds of propellant in 80 seconds.  The X-15 reaction control system (RCS), for maneuvering in low-pressure/density environment, used high-test peroxide (HTP), which decomposes into water and oxygen in the presence of a catalyst and could provide a specific impulse of 140 seconds.  The HTP also fueled a turbopump for the main engines and auxiliary power units (APUs).  Additional tanks for helium and liquid nitrogen performed other functions, for example the fuselage interior was purged with helium gas, and the liquid nitrogen was used as coolant for various systems.  Albert Scott Crossfield was an American naval officer and test pilot. In 1953, he became the first pilot to fly at twice the speed of sound.  One year to the day after his first X-15 flight, on June 8, 1960, he had close call during ground tests with the XLR-99 engine. He was seated in the cockpit of the No. 3 X-15 when a malfunctioning valve caused a catastrophic explosion. He was uninjured as Dr. Toby Freedman, NAA Medical Director, pried open the cockpit to save him and despite being subjected to a later calculated acceleration force of near 50 Gs (although Crossfield stated in the Discovery Channel’s series Frontiers of Flight that he began to have debilitating issues with his night vision after the accident) and the airplane was completely rebuilt. On November 15 of the same year, he completed the X-15’s first powered flight with the XLR-99 engine. Two flights later, on December 6, he brought North American’s demonstration program to a successful conclusion as he completed his final flight in the X-15. Although it had been his hope to eventually pilot one of the craft into space, the USAF would not allow it, and gave strict orders which basically amounted to “stay in the sky, stay out of space.”  From 2001 to 2003, Crossfield trained pilots Terry Queijo, Kevin Kochersberger, Chris Johnson and Ken Hyde for The Wright Experience, which prepared to fly a reproduction Wright Flyer on the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers‘ first flight on December 17, 1903. The training was successful, but the re-creation of the flight on December 17, 2003 was ultimately not successful due to low engine power and the flyer’s rain-soaked fabric covering which added considerably to its takeoff weight. The Wright replica did fly successfully at Kill Devil Hills, NC after the Centennial jubilee but without media coverage. On April 19, 2006, a Cessna 210A piloted by Crossfield was reported missing while flying from PrattvilleAlabama toward ManassasVirginia.  On April 20, authorities confirmed his body was found in the wreckage of his plane in a remote area of LudvilleGeorgia. There were severe thunderstorms in the area when air traffic monitors lost radio and radar contact with Crossfield’s plane.  Scott Crossfield was the first member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots to welcome me to the organization at a new member’s happy hour in 1991.  I also sat next to him at lunch at an SETP Symposium several years later.  He was always interesting, always engaged and very personable.  When asked to name his favorite airplane, Crossfield replied, “the one I was flying at the time,” because he thoroughly enjoyed them all and their unique personalities.


Porsche No. 1 Completed

In 1948, building cars in post war Germany was a risking proposition at best.  The Austrian automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche debuted his first design at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900. The electric vehicle set several Austrian land-speed records, reaching more than 35 mph and earning international acclaim for the young engineer. He became general director of the Austro-Daimler Company (an outpost of the German automaker) in 1916 and later moved to Daimler headquarters in Stuttgart. Daimler merged with the Benz firm in the 1920s, and Porsche was chiefly responsible for designing some of the great Mercedes racing cars of that decade. Porsche left Daimler in 1931 and formed his own company. A few years later, Adolf Hitler called on the engineer to aid in the production of a small “people’s car” for the German masses. With his son, also named Ferdinand (known as Ferry), Porsche designed the prototype for the original Volkswagen (known as the KdF: “Kraft durch Freude,” or “strength through joy”) in 1936. During World War II, the Porsches also designed military vehicles, most notably the powerful Tiger tank.  At war’s end, the French accused the elder Porsche of war crimes and imprisoned him for more than a year. Ferry struggled to keep the family firm afloat. He built a Grand Prix race car, the Type 360 Cisitalia, for a wealthy Italian industrialist, and used the money to pay his father’s bail. When Porsche was released from prison, he approved of another project Ferry had undertaken: a new sports car that would be the first to actually bear the name Porsche. Dubbed the Type 356, the new car was in the tradition of earlier Porsche-designed race cars such as the Cisitalia. The engine was placed mid-chassis, ahead of the transaxle, with modified Volkswagen drive train components.  On June 8, 1948, a hand-built aluminum prototype labeled “No. 1″ becomes the first vehicle to bear the name of one of the world’s leading car manufacturers: Porsche.  I bought my first car, a Porsche 1969 911E, in 1971 and since then have always owned a Porsche 911.


Committee of Five Formed

The Second Continental Congress meeting at the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia  decided upon a committee of five to draft and present to the Congress what would become America’s Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776. This Declaration committee operated from June 11, 1776 until July 5, 1776, the day on which the Declaration was published.  The members of the committee were: John Adams, representative of Massachusetts – became the second US President;  Thomas Jefferson, representative of Virginia – became the third US President; Benjamin Franklin, representative of Pennsylvania – known as one of the most famous of the Founding Fathers, and first US Minister to France; Roger Sherman, representative of Connecticut – the only person to sign all four of the US state papers: the Continental Association, the Declaration, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution; Robert Livingston, representative of New York – negotiated the Louisiana Purchase as the Minister to France.  The revolutionary treatise began with reverberating prose:

When, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.  We hold these Truths to be self-evident that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.


Pioneer 10 Departs Solar System

Jun 13, 1983.  After more than a decade in space, Pioneer 10, the world’s first outer-planetary probe, leaves the solar system. The next day, it radioed back its first scientific data on interstellar space.  It was launched on March 2, 1972, by an Atlas-Centaur expendable vehicle from Cape CanaveralFlorida. Between July 15, 1972, and February 15, 1973, it became the first spacecraft to traverse the asteroid belt. Photography of Jupiter began November 6, 1973, at a range of 16,000,000 mi, and a total of about 500 images were transmitted. The closest approach to the planet was on December 4, 1973, at a range of 82,178 mi. During the mission, the on-board instruments were used to study the asteroid belt, the environment around Jupiter, the solar windcosmic rays, and eventually the far reaches of the Solar System and heliosphereRadio communications were lost with Pioneer 10 on January 23, 2003, because of the loss of electric power for its radio transmitter, with the probe at a distance of 12 billion kilometers (80 AU) from Earth.  Headed in the direction of the Taurus constellation, Pioneer 10 will pass within three light years of another star–Ross 246–in the year 34,600 A.D. Bolted to the probe’s exterior wall is a gold-anodized plaque, 6 by 9 inches in area, that displays a drawing of a human man and woman, a star map marked with the location of the sun, and another map showing the flight path of Pioneer 10. The plaque, intended for intelligent life forms elsewhere in the galaxy, was designed by astronomer Carl Sagan.


TWA 847 Hijacking

TWA Flight 847 was a flight from Cairo to San Diego with en route stops in Athens, Rome, Boston, and Los Angeles.  On the morning of Friday, June 14, 1985 TWA 847 was hijacked by members of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad shortly after takeoff from Athens. The hijackers were seeking the release of 700 Shiite Muslims from Israeli custody.  The passengers and crew endured a three-day intercontinental ordeal. Some passengers were threatened and some beaten. Passengers with Jewish-sounding names were moved apart from the others.  TWA 847 was operated with a Boeing 727-200, registration N64339.  The flight originated in Cairo on the morning of June 14. After an uneventful flight from Cairo to Athens, a new crew boarded TWA 847. The new Athens  TWA crew were: Captain John Testrake, First Officer Philip Maresca, Flight Engineer Christian Zimmermann, Flight Service Manager Uli Derickson, Flight Attendant Judith Cox, Flight Attendant Hazel Hesp, Flight Attendant Elizabeth Howes, and Flight Attendant Helen Sheahan.  At 10:10am, Flight 847 departed Athens for Rome. It was commandeered shortly after takeoff by two Arabic-speaking Lebanese men who had smuggled a pistol and two grenades through the Athens airport security. One was later identified as Mohammed Ali Hamadi, who was later captured and sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany.  The plane was diverted from its original destination of Rome, in airspace over Greece, to the Middle East and made its first stop, for several hours, at the Beirut International Airport in Lebanon, where 19 passengers were allowed to leave in exchange for fuel. Shortly before landing, air traffic control initially refused to let them land in Beirut. Captain Testrake argued with air traffic control until they relented.  “He has pulled a hand-grenade pin and he is ready to blow up the aircraft if he has to. We must, I repeat, we must land at Beirut. We must land at Beirut. No alternative.”  At the time, Lebanon was in the midst of a civil war, and Beirut was divided into sectors controlled by different Shia militia Amal and Hezbollah.  That afternoon, the aircraft continued on across the Mediterranean to Algiers, Algeria, where 20 passengers were released during a five-hour stop before heading back to Beirut that night.  Beirut International Airport was surrounded by a Shia neighborhood. It had no perimeter security, which had been over-run by Islamic militias, and nearby residents could simply drive onto the runway.  The hijackers had systematically and regularly beaten all the US military passengers.  During this stop they selected U.S. Navy diver, Steelworker Second Class (SW2) Robert Stethem, was singled out.  When their demands were not met, Stethem, was targeted, beaten, and tortured. Finally, the hijackers shot him in the temple and dumped his body onto the tarmac at the Beirut airport and shot him again, seeking permission from other Shia Muslims operating the control tower to obtain more fuel.   He posthumously received the Bronze Star for his heroism during this situation.  Seven American passengers, alleged to have Jewish-sounding surnames, were taken off the jet and held hostage in a Shia prison in Beirut.  Nearly a dozen well-armed men joined the hijackers before the plane returned to Algiers the following day, Saturday, 15 June, where an additional 65 passengers and all five female cabin crew members (flight attendants and purser) were released.  The hijackers wished to fly to Tehran, but mysteriously returned to Beirut for a third time on Sunday afternoon, 16 June, and remained there for unknown reasons. (The pilot working as Flight Engineer deemed this portion of events could be dangerous to any who may be involved in future situations. The other pilots agreed with him to withhold details of his actions from the media.)  The initial demands of the hijackers included:

  • the release of the “Kuwait 17,” those involved in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kuwait
  • the release of all 766 mainly Lebanese Shias transferred to Israel’s Atleat Prison in conjunction with immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon

The Greek government released the accomplice, Ali Atwa, and in exchange the hijackers released eight Greek citizens, including Greek pop singer Demis Roussos, to be flown by a Greek government business jet from Algiers back to Athens.  By Monday afternoon, June 17, the 40 remaining hostages had been taken from the plane and held hostage throughout Beirut by the Hezbollah. Nabih Berri was the chief of the Amal militia and the Minister of Justice in the fractured Lebanon cabinet. One of the hostages was released when he developed heart trouble. The other 39 remained captive until intervention by US President Ronald Reagan with Lebanese officials on 30 June, when they and the pilots held captive on the airplane were collected in a local schoolyard and met with international journalists, then driven to Syria by the International Red Cross to the Sheraton Hotel and a press conference in Damascus. The hostages then boarded a U.S. Air Force C-141B Starlifter cargo plane and flew to Rhein-Main ABWest Germany, where they were met by US Vice President George H. W. Bush, debriefed and given medical examinations, then flown in a TWA Lockheed L1011 Tristar non-stop to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home by President and Mrs. Reagan (accompanied by Reagan’s Chief of Staff Donald Regan). Over the next several weeks, Israel released over 700 Shia prisoners, while maintaining that the prisoners’ release was not related to the hijacking.  Flight attendant Uli Derickson was credited with calming one of the hijackers during a fuel-quantity incident during the first leg to Beirut, because she spoke German, the only European language which either hijacker spoke. Notably, she interrupted an attempt to end the hijacking in Algiers when airport officials refused to refuel the plane without payment by offering her own Shell Oil credit card, which was used to charge about $5,500 for 6,000 gallons of jet fuel, for which she was reimbursed. She also refused to cooperate with the hijackers in identifying for them the passports of any passengers with Jewish-sounding names so they could not be singled out.  USS Stethem (DDG-63), an Aegis Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, commissioned in 1995, was named in honor of SW2 Robert Dean Stethem.


1777 Congress Adopts Stars and Stripes

Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.  The United States Army also celebrates the U.S. Army Birthdays on this date; Congress adopted “the American continental army” after reaching a consensus position in the Committee of the Whole on June 14, 1775.  The week of June 14 (June 12–18, 2016; June 11–17, 2017; June 10–16, 2018) is designated as “National Flag Week.” During National Flag Week, the president will issue a proclamation urging U.S. citizens to fly the American flag for the duration of that week. The flag should also be displayed on all government buildings.  The Betsy Ross House has long been the site of Philadelphia’s observance of Flag Day.  Coincidentally, June 14th is also annual anniversary of the “Bear Flag Revolt.” On June 14th 1846, 33 American settlers and mountain men arrested the Mexican general in Sonoma, and declared the “Bear Flag Republic” as an independent nation. A flag emblazoned with a bear and a star was raised to symbolize independence from Mexico. The Bear Flag was adopted as California’s state flag upon joining the union in 1850.  Prominently flying both the U.S. and state flag on June 14th is a tradition for some Californians.  I flew my US flag yesterday.


Invasion of Saipan Begins

The Battle of Saipan was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought on the island of Saipan in the Mariana Islands from 15 June to 9 July 1944. The Allied invasion fleet embarking the expeditionary forces left Pearl Harbor on 5 June 1944, the day before Operation Overlord in Europe was launched. The U.S. 2nd Marine Division4th Marine Division, and the Army’s 27th Infantry Division, commanded by Lieutenant General Holland Smith, defeated the 43rd Infantry Division of the Imperial Japanese Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Yoshitsugu Saito.  In the campaigns of 1943 and the first half of 1944, the Allies had captured the Solomon Islands, the Gilbert Islands, the Marshall Islands and the Papuan Peninsula of New Guinea. This left the Japanese holding the Philippines, the Caroline IslandsPalau Islands and Mariana Islands.  It had always been the intention of the American planners to bypass the Carolines and Palauan islands and to seize the Marianas and Taiwan. From these latter bases, communications between the Japanese archipelago and Japanese forces to the south and west could be cut. From the Marianas, Japan would be well within the range of an air offensive relying on the new Boeing B-29 Superfortress long-range bomber with its operational radius of 1,500 mi.  While not part of the original American plan, Douglas MacArthur, commander of the Southwest Pacific Area command, obtained authorization to advance through New Guinea and Morotai toward the Philippines. This allowed MacArthur to keep his personal pledge to liberate the Philippines, made in his “I shall return” speech, and also allowed the active use of the large forces built up in the southwest Pacific theatre. The Japanese, expecting an attack somewhere on their perimeter, thought an attack on the Caroline Islands most likely.  The bombardment of Saipan began on 13 June 1944. Fifteen battleships were involved, and 165,000 shells were fired. Seven modern fast battleships delivered 2,400 16 in (410 mm) shells, but to avoid potential minefields, fire was from a distance of 10,000 yd (9,100 m) or more, and crews were inexperienced in shore bombardment. The following day the eight older battleships and 11 cruisers under Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf replaced the fast battleships but were lacking in time and ammunition.  The landings began at 07:00 on 15 June 1944. More than 300 LVTs landed 8,000 Marines on the west coast of Saipan by about 09:00. Eleven fire support ships covered the Marine landings. The naval force consisted of the battleships Tennessee and California, the cruisers Birmingham and Indianapolis, the destroyers Norman ScottMonssenCoghlanHalsey PowellBaileyRobinson and Albert W. Grant. Careful artillery preparation — placing flags in the lagoon to indicate the range — allowed the Japanese to destroy about 20 amphibious tanks, and they strategically placed barbed wire, artillery, machine gun emplacements and trenches to maximize the American casualties. However, by nightfall, the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions had a beachhead about 6 mi wide and 0.5 mi deep.  The Japanese counter-attacked at night but were repulsed with heavy losses. On 16 June, units of the U.S. Army’s 27th Infantry Division landed and advanced on the airfield at Ås Lito (now the location of Saipan International Airport). Again the Japanese counter-attacked at night. On 18 June, Saito abandoned the airfield.  The invasion surprised the Japanese high command, which had been expecting an attack further south. Admiral Soemu Toyoda, Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Navy, saw an opportunity to use the A-Go force to attack the U.S. Navy forces around Saipan. On 15 June, he gave the order to attack. But the resulting battle of the Philippine Sea was a disaster for the Imperial Japanese Navy, which lost three aircraft carriers and hundreds of planes. The garrisons of the Marianas would have no hope of resupply or reinforcement.  Without resupply, the battle on Saipan was hopeless for the defenders, but the Japanese were determined to fight to the last man. Saito organized his troops into a line anchored on Mount Tapotchau in the defensible mountainous terrain of central Saipan. The nicknames given by the Americans to the features of the battle — “Hell’s Pocket”, “Purple Heart Ridge” and “Death Valley” — indicate the severity of the fighting. The Japanese used the many caves in the volcanic landscape to delay the attackers, by hiding during the day and making sorties at night. The Americans gradually developed tactics for clearing the caves by using flamethrower teams supported by artillery and machine guns.  By 7 July, the Japanese had nowhere to retreat. Saito made plans for a final suicidal banzai charge. On the fate of the remaining civilians on the island, Saito said, “There is no longer any distinction between civilians and troops. It would be better for them to join in the attack with bamboo spears than be captured.” At dawn, with a group of 12 men carrying a great red flag in the lead, the remaining able-bodied troops — about 3,000 men — charged forward in the final attack. Amazingly, behind them came the wounded, with bandaged heads, crutches, and barely armed. The Japanese surged over the American front lines, engaging both army and Marine units. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 105th Infantry Regiment were almost destroyed, losing 650 killed and wounded. However, the fierce resistance of these two battalions, as well as that of Headquarters Company, 105th Infantry, and of supply elements of 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Artillery Regiment, resulted in over 4,300 Japanese killed. For their actions during the 15-hour Japanese attack, three men of the 105th Infantry were awarded the Medal of Honor — all posthumously. Numerous others fought the Japanese until they were overwhelmed by the largest Japanese Banzai attack in the Pacific War.  By 16:15 on 9 July, Admiral Turner announced that Saipan was officially secured.  Saito — along with commanders Hirakushi and Igeta — committed suicide in a cave. Vice-Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, the naval commander who led the Japanese carriers at Pearl Harbor, also committed suicide in the closing stages of the battle. He had been in command of the Japanese naval air forces stationed on the island.  In the end, almost the entire garrison of troops on the island — at least 30,000 — died. For the Americans, the victory was the most costly to date in the Pacific War: out of 71,000 who landed, 2,949 were killed and 10,464 wounded.  Future Hollywood actor Lee Marvin was among the many Americans wounded. He was serving with “I” Company, 24th Marine Regiment, when he was shot in the buttocks by Japanese machine gun fire during the assault on Mount Tapochau. He was awarded the Purple Heart and was given a medical discharge with the rank of Private First Class in 1945.  When I flew for Northwest Airlines, I flew in and out of Ås Lito (now the location of Saipan International Airport) on at least five trips.  I was a 33 hour layover and I got to tour all parts of the island.  Saipan International Airport was a sugarcane field before the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (IJNAS) constructed a temporary landing field on the site in 1933. The landing field was used for training purposes and had two runways configured in an “L” pattern. In 1937, the Navy began upgrading the airfield for full military use, despite an international law ban on constructing military facilities within the South Pacific Mandate. Following the attack against the United States in 1941, the field was named Aslito Field (アスリート飛行場), based on the indigenous Chamoru name for the area of its location, As Lito.  The IJNAS assigned two squadrons of Mitsubishi A6M5a-52 Zeros to the airfield in mid-June 1944. These squadrons took part in the occupation of the Mariana Islands during the Battle of the Philippine Sea later that month, being almost wiped out by the American forces during the battle.  As mentioned above, the airfield was liberated by the United States Army 27th Infantry Division on June 18, 1944 during the Battle of Saipan. Once in American hands, Isley Field was expanded considerably to support Twentieth Air Force B-29 Superfortress operations. The XXI Bomber Command had been assigned the overall responsibility of the B-29 operations out of the Marianas bases, and Isley Field was used by the 73rd Bombardment Wing (which consisted of the 497th498th499th, and 500th Bombardment Groups).  During the battle of Saipan, just after the fall of Isley Field, a Zero from Guam actually landed at Aslito Airfield, the pilot being unaware that the field was under American control. As it landed, the aircraft was fired at and damaged, crashing at the end of the runway. The pilot survived and the plane was captured. The field was renamed Isley Field after United States Navy Commander Robert H. Isley who was killed on June 13, 1944, while strafing the base.  One sees just south close by, the island of Tinian allowing you can fully realize US forces had to take Saipan; for without Saipan you could not build and sustain runways capable of supporting B-29’s capable of striking mainland Japan on Tinian.  The North Field and West Field on Tinian are today mostly abandoned, but you can make out the taxiways, runways.  Limited tourist is attempting to take hold.  You can see the pits where the first atomic bombs would be loaded aboard B-29s. There is a small US memorial on Saipan, but no American cemetery.  There are many monuments and memorials to various Japanese military units and one at the cave where Saito committed suicide.  Suicide Cliff and Banzai Cliff, along with a number of surviving isolated Japanese fortifications, are recognized as historic sites on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The cliffs are also part of the National Historic Landmark District Landing Beaches; Aslito/Isley Field; & Marpi Point, Saipan Island, which also includes the American landing beaches, the B-29 runways of Isley Field, and the surviving Japanese infrastructure of the Aslito and Marpi Point airfields.

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 24th through 26th, 2017

Some Events From November 23:

1936 First issue of Life is published

1981 Reagan gives CIA authority to establish the Contras

1984 BC wins on Hail Mary



DB Cooper Hijacking

  1. D.B. Cooper in popular culture still holds a great deal of interest as a case that has not been solved nor explained. On the afternoon of Thanksgivingeve, November 24, 1971, a man carrying a black attaché case approached the flight counter of Northwest Orient Airlines at Portland International Airport. He identified himself as “Dan Cooper” and purchased a one-way ticket on Flight 305, a 30-minute trip to Seattle. Flight 305, approximately one-third full, departed on schedule at 2:50 pm, PST. Shortly after takeoff, Cooper handed a note to Florence Schaffner, the flight attendant situated nearest to him in a jump seat attached to the aft stair door.  Schaffner, assuming the note contained a lonely businessman’s phone number, dropped it unopened into her purse.  Cooper leaned toward her and whispered, “Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.  The note was printed in neat, all-capital letters with a felt-tip pen.  Its exact wording is unknown, because Cooper later reclaimed it, but Schaffner recalled that it indicated he had a bomb in his briefcase, and directed her to sit beside him.  Schaffner did as requested, then quietly asked to see the bomb. Cooper cracked open his briefcase long enough for her to glimpse eight red cylinders (“four on top of four”) attached to wires coated with red insulation, and a large cylindrical battery.  After closing the briefcase, he dictated his demands: $200,000 in “negotiable American currency,” four parachutes (two primary and two reserve); and a fuel truck standing by in Seattle to refuel the aircraft upon arrival.  Schaffner conveyed Cooper’s instructions to the pilots in the cockpit: when she returned, he was wearing dark sunglasses.
    24 Nov 1971, Seattle, Washington, USA — Seattle: Northwest Airlines 727, hijacked on a flight from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, sits on the ground here 11/24. before being refueled and continuing on to Reno, Nevada. The hijacker received $200,000 here before allowing the 35 passengers and 2 stewardesses off the plane. He also demanded and received parachutes. When the plane landed in Reno, the hijacker was gone. This photo was made by photographer Bruce McKim with a 500 mm lens and a 4 minute exposure. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

    The pilot, William Scott, contacted Seattle-Tacoma Airport air traffic control, which in turn informed local and federal authorities. The 36 other passengers were told that their arrival in Seattle would be delayed because of a “minor mechanical difficulty”.  Northwest Orient’s president, Donald Nyrop, authorized payment of the ransom and ordered all employees to cooperate fully with the hijacker.  The aircraft circled Puget Sound for approximately two hours to allow Seattle police and the FBI time to assemble Cooper’s parachutes and ransom money, and to mobilize emergency personnel.  Just think how the hijacking plan of action has changed over the years.  Schaffner recalled that Cooper appeared familiar with the local terrain; at one point he remarked, “Looks like Tacoma down there,” as the aircraft flew above it. He also correctly mentioned that McChord Air Force Base was only a 20-minute drive (at that time) from Seattle-Tacoma Airport. Schaffner described him as calm, polite, and well-spoken, not at all consistent with the stereotypes (enraged, hardened criminals or “take-me-to-Cuba” political dissidents) popularly associated with air piracy at the time. Tina Mucklow, another flight attendant, agreed. “He wasn’t nervous,” she told investigators. “He seemed rather nice. He was never cruel or nasty. He was thoughtful and calm all the time.”  He ordered a second bourbon and water, paid his drink tab (and attempted to give Schaffner the change), and offered to request meals for the flight crew during the stop in Seattle.  FBI agents assembled the ransom money from several Seattle-area banks—10,000 unmarked 20-dollar bills, most with serial numbers beginning with the letter “L” indicating issuance by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and most from the 1963A or 1969 series —and made a microfilm photograph of each of them.  Cooper rejected the military-issue parachutes offered by McChord AFB personnel, demanding instead civilian parachutes with manually operated ripcords. Seattle police obtained them from a local skydiving school.  At 5:24 pm Cooper was informed that his demands had been met, and at 5:39 pm the aircraft landed at Seattle-Tacoma Airport.  Cooper instructed Scott to taxi the jet to an isolated, brightly lit section of the tarmac and close each window shad in the cabin to deter police snipers. Northwest Orient’s Seattle operations manager, Al Lee, approached the aircraft in street clothes (to avoid the possibility that Cooper might mistake his airline uniform for that of a police officer) and delivered the cash-filled knapsack and parachutes to Mucklow via the aft stairs. Once the delivery was completed, Cooper permitted all passengers, Schaffner, and senior flight attendant Alice Hancock to leave the plane.  During refueling Cooper outlined his flight plan to the cockpit crew: a southeast course toward Mexico City at the minimum airspeed possible without stalling the aircraft—approximately 100 knots at a maximum 10,000 foot altitude. He further specified that the landing gear remain deployed in the takeoff/landing position, the wing flaps be lowered 15 degrees, and the cabin remain unpressurized.  Copilot William Rataczak informed Cooper that the aircraft’s range was limited to approximately 1,000 miles under the specified flight configuration, which meant that a second refueling would be necessary before entering Mexico. Cooper and the crew discussed options and agreed on Reno, Nevada, as the refueling stop.  Finally, Cooper directed that the plane take off with the rear exit door open and its staircase extended. Northwest’s home office objected, on grounds that it was unsafe to take off with the aft staircase deployed. Cooper countered that it was indeed safe, but he would not argue the point; he would lower it himself once they were airborne.  After takeoff, Cooper told Mucklow to join the rest of the crew in the cockpit and remain there with the door closed. As she complied, Mucklow observed Cooper tying something around his waist. At approximately 8:00 pm, a warning light flashed in the cockpit, indicating that the aft airstair apparatus had been activated. The crew’s offer of assistance via the aircraft’s intercom system was curtly refused. The crew soon noticed a subjective change of air pressure, indicating that the aft door was open.  At approximately 8:13 pm, the aircraft’s tail section sustained a sudden upward movement, significant enough to require trimming to bring the plane back to level flight.  At approximately 10:15 pm, Scott and Rataczak landed the 727, with the aft airstair still deployed, at Reno Airport. FBI agents, state troopers, sheriff’s deputies, and Reno police surrounded the jet, as it had not yet been determined with certainty that Cooper was no longer aboard; but an armed search quickly confirmed that he was gone.  Initial extrapolations placed Cooper’s landing zone within an area on the southernmost outreach of Mount St. Helens, a few miles southeast of Ariel, Washington, near Lake Merwin, an artificial lake formed by a dam on the Lewis River.  Search efforts focused on Clark and Cowlitz Counties, encompassing the terrain immediately south and north, respectively, of the Lewis River in southwest Washington.  FBI agents and Sheriff’s deputies from those counties searched large areas of the mountainous wilderness on foot and by helicopter. Door-to-door searches of local farmhouses were also carried out. Other search parties ran patrol boats along Lake Merwin and Yale Lake, the reservoir immediately to its east.  No trace of Cooper, nor any of the equipment presumed to have left the aircraft with him, was ever found.  The FBI also coordinated an aerial search, using fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters from the Oregon Army National Guard, along the entire flight path (known as Victor 23 in standard aviation terminology but “Vector 23” in most Cooper literature.  From Seattle to Reno. While numerous broken treetops and several pieces of plastic and other objects resembling parachute canopies were sighted and investigated, nothing relevant to the hijacking was found.  Shortly after the spring thaw in early 1972, teams of FBI agents aided by some 200 Army soldiers from Fort Lewis, along with Air Force personnel, National Guardsmen, and civilian volunteers, conducted another thorough ground search of Clark and Cowlitz Counties for 18 days in March, and then an additional 18 days in April.  Electronic Explorations Company, a marine salvage firm, used a submarine to search the 200-foot depths of Lake Merwin.  Two local women stumbled upon a skeleton in an abandoned structure in Clark County; it was later identified as the remains of a female teenager who had been abducted and murdered several weeks before.  Ultimately, the search operation—arguably the most extensive, and intensive, in U.S. history—uncovered no significant material evidence related to the hijacking.  In 1978, a placard printed with instructions for lowering the aft stairs of a 727 was found by a deer hunter near a logging road about 13 miles east of Castle Rock, Washington, well north of Lake Merwin, but within Flight 305’s basic flight path.  In February 1980, eight-year-old Brian Ingram, vacationing with his family on the Columbia River at a beach front known as Tina (or Tena) Bar, about 9 miles downstream from Vancouver, Washington and 20 miles southwest of Ariel, uncovered three packets of the ransom cash as he raked the sandy riverbank to build a campfire. The bills were significantly disintegrated, but still bundled in rubber bands. FBI technicians confirmed that the money was indeed a portion of the ransom—two packets of 100 twenty-dollar bills each, and a third packet of 90, all arranged in the same order as when given to Cooper.  In 1986, after protracted negotiations, the recovered bills were divided equally between Ingram and Northwest Orient’s insurer; the FBI retained 14 examples as evidence.  Ingram sold fifteen of his bills at auction in 2008 for about $37,000.  To date, none of the 9,710 remaining bills have turned up anywhere in the world. Their serial numbers remain available online for public search.  Speculation as to how Cooper could have survived, if he survived, motive, etc. continue to frustrate investigators.    The Cooper hijacking marked the beginning of the end for unfettered and unscrutinized airline travel. Despite the initiation of the federal sky marshal program the previous year, 31 hijackings were committed in U.S. airspace in 1972; 19 of them were for the specific purpose of extorting money and most of the rest were attempts to reach Cuba.  In 15 of the extortion cases the hijackers also demanded parachutes.  In early 1973 the FAA began requiring airlines to search all passengers and their bags. Amid multiple lawsuits charging that such searches violated Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure, federal courts ruled that they were acceptable when applied universally, and when limited to searches for weapons and explosives.  In contrast to the 31 hijackings in 1972, only two were attempted in 1973.  In the wake of multiple “copycat” hijackings in 1972, the FAA required that all Boeing 727 aircraft be fitted with a device, later dubbed the “Cooper vane,” that prevents lowering of the aft airstair during flight.  Also the electrical components were rewired to include their deactivation once the WOW (weight on wheels) switch opens after take-off. Also mandated as a direct result of the hijacking was the installation of peepholes in all cockpit doors, making it possible for the cockpit crew to observe events in the passenger cabin with the cockpit door closed.


And Also On November 24:

1859 Origin of Species is published

1960 Wilt Chamberlain sets NBA rebounds record


Battle of St. George Remembered

As mentioned in the previous edition of FOD, the Battle of Tarawa during World War II was fought on 20–23 November 1943.  Just a bit north of the site of that battle, The Battle of Cape St. George was fought on 25 November 1943, between Cape St. GeorgeNew Ireland, and Buka Island (now part of the North Solomons Province in Papua New Guinea). It was the last engagement of surface ships in the Solomon Islands campaign. During the engagement, a force of five US Navy destroyers led by Captain Arleigh Burke interdicted a similar sized Japanese force that was withdrawing from Buka towards Rabaul, having landed reinforcements on the island. In the ensuing fight, three Japanese destroyers were sunk and one was damaged, with no losses amongst the US force.  Americans had landed troops on Bougainville on 1 November 1943, landing troops from the 3rd Marine Division around Torokina. This posed a threat to the Japanese base on Buka Island to the north, and 920 Japanese Army troops were embarked on the destroyers AmagiriYūgiri and Uzuki under the command of Captain Katsumori Yamashiro and were sent to reinforce the garrison, escorted by the destroyers Ōnami and Makinami under the command of Captain Kiyoto Kagawa. The United States Navy learned of the convoy, (likely through a combination of good reconnaissance operations combined with decoding of Japanese messages).  Once spotted by reconnaissance aircraft, observations were sent Captain Arleigh Burke‘s Destroyer Squadron 23 composed of Destroyer Division 45 (Charles Ausburne, (below left), Claxton, and Dyson) under Burke’s direct command and Destroyer Division 46 (Converse and Spence) under the command of Commander Bernard Austin to intercept it. Meanwhile, nine PT boats under Commander Henry Farrow moved into the Buka Passage to engage the Japanese if Burke’s force was unable to make contact.  The Japanese battle plan divided their force into two columns,[7] with the three transport destroyers trailing the two escort destroyers. The American battle plan also divided their force into two columns using tactics devised by Burke and first employed successfully by Commander Frederick Moosbrugger at the Battle of Vella Gulf the previous August. One column would make a torpedo attack while the other took up a supporting position ready to open gunfire as soon as the first column’s torpedo attack struck home.  The Japanese destroyers landed the 920  troops and supplies and embarked 700 Navy aviation personnel being withdrawn as Allied bombing had rendered the airfield at Buka non operational.  The Japanese force was returning to Rabaul when Farrow’s PT boats spotted four of the Japanese ships on their radar just after midnight; however, the PT boats mistook the Japanese vessels for friendly forces and hove to further ashore. Two of the Japanese ships subsequently attacked the PT boats, firing on them and attempting to ram PT-318. They were unsuccessful in scoring any hits, though, while one of the PT boats, PT-64, fired a torpedo which missed its target.  Afterwards, the Japanese destroyers steamed west towards Cape St. George.  Around 01:41, Kagawa’s two screening destroyers were picked up by radar by Burke’s destroyers, which had moved into position between Cape St. George and Buka with Dyson making contact first.  Poor visibility prevented the Japanese from spotting the American ships in turn. Burke elected to use his own division for the torpedo attack. Superior radar allowed the American ships to approach within 5,500 yards and launch their torpedoes at about 01:55 before the Japanese sighted them. Onami was hit by several torpedoes and sank immediately with all hands, including Kagawa. Makinami was hit by one torpedo and disabled.  Burke’s force gained radar contact with the rest of the Japanese force at 13,000 yards soon after launching their torpedoes and turned to pursue; Yamashiro’s three transport destroyers fled north under pursuit by Burke’s division while Converse and Spence from Austin’s division finished off the disabled Makinami with torpedoes and gunfire. Burke’s three destroyers steadily gained on the three heavily laden Japanese destroyers, opening fire upon them with their guns around 02:22, scoring several hits. Uzuki was hit by one dud shell and escaped without significant damage. Amagiri escaped untouched. Around 02:25, the Japanese ships split up and fled in different directions. Burke chose to pursue Yugiri with his entire force and sank her at about 03:28 after a fierce engagement.  By 03:45, the Burke and Austin’s divisions linked up, continuing to push north to pursue the withdrawing Japanese ships.  Burke subsequently called off the attempt at 04:04, low on fuel and ammunition, and needing to withdraw before daylight, when Japanese aircraft would likely begin operations to search for them. In the event, the only aircraft the US ships spotted once daylight came were friendly AirSols P-38 Lightnings.  The battle was represented a significant victory for the Americans and was later described as an “almost perfect action” and Burke was awarded a Navy Cross.  It was the final surface engagement of the Solomon Islands campaign.  Although the Japanese were able to land their troops, and withdraw their supporting personnel, they lost three destroyers sunk and one damaged, without inflicting any losses on the American force.  Amongst the Japanese crews, a total of 647 were killed.  A total of 278 survivors were rescued from Yugiri by the submarine I-177.


CNO Admiral Stark Warns COMPACFLT Admiral Kimmel of Potential Japanese Attack

In August 1939, Admiral Harold R. Stark became Chief of Naval Operations. In that position, he oversaw the expansion of the Navy during 1940 and 1941, and its involvement in the Neutrality Patrols against German submarines in the Atlantic during the latter part of 1941.  It was at this time that he authored the Plan Dog memo, which laid the basis for America’s Europe first policy and which I covered in an earlier edition of FOD. He also orchestrated the Navy’s change to adopting unrestricted submarine warfare in case of war with Japan; Stark expressly ordered it at 17:52 Washington time on 7 December 1941, not quite four hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It appears the decision was taken without the knowledge or prior consent of the Government. It violated the London Naval Treaty, to which the U.S. was signatory.  His most controversial service involved the growing menace of Japanese forces in the period before America was bombed into the war by the attack on Pearl Harbor. The controversy centers on whether he and his Director of War Plans, Admiral Richmond K. Turner provided sufficient information to Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, Commander of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, about Japanese moves in the fall of 1941 to enable Kimmel to anticipate an attack and to take steps to counter it. That warning came in the form of a vague message to Admiral Kimmel on November 25, 1941.  Captain (later Rear Admiral) Edwin T. Layton was Kimmel’s chief intelligence officer (later also Adm. Chester W. Nimitz‘s intelligence officer) at the time of the attack. In his book, And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway—Breaking the Secrets (1985), Layton maintained that Stark offered meaningless advice throughout this period, withheld vital information at the insistence of his Director of War Plans, Admiral Turner, showed timidity in dealing with the Japanese, and utterly failed to provide anything of use to Kimmel.  John Costello (Layton’s co-author), in Days of Infamy (Pocket, 1994), points out that MacArthur had complete access to both PURPLE and JN-25, plus over eight hours warning, and was still caught by surprise. Moreover, as SCAP official historian Gordon Prange and his colleagues note in December 7, 1941 (McGraw-Hill, 1988), defense of the fleet was General Short‘s responsibility, not Kimmel’s. Turner’s insistence on having intelligence go through War Plans led Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) to a wrong belief that ONI was only to collect intelligence; Turner did not correct this view, nor aid Stark in understanding the problem.  Among others, Morison and Layton agree that Turner was most responsible for the debacle, as does Ned Beach in Scapegoats (Annapolis, 1995). In addition, there was considerable confusion over where Japan might strike, whether against the USA, the Soviet Union, or British colonies in Asia. I’ve read a couple of the accounts above.  Hindsight is always 20 -20.  One conclusion is evident however; senior leadership did not know how to adapt the new technology of code-breaking into practical planning.  Certainly part of the fault lies with extremely tight compartmentalization the code-breaking program was handled, in that so few individuals were allowed to know of capability.  However I believe the failure to properly evaluate Japanese plans lies in how intelligence assets and political figures failed to link the myriad facets of the political and military climate in Japan.  That’s tough to do with certainty.  Contributing to the problem is the fact that the code-breaking was a new and developing science, in its infancy without the highest degrees of reliability or predictability.


Some Other Notable Events From November 25:

1783 Last British soldiers leave New York

1990 Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge sinks to the bottom of Lake Washington

1986 Iran-Contra connection revealed


Last Flight of the Last Concorde

26 November 2003: Concorde 216, G-BOAF, made the final flight of the Concorde fleet when it flew from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Bristol Filton Airport (FZO) with 100 British Airways employees on board. The aircraft was under the command of Captain Les Brodie, with Chief Pilot Captain Mike Bannister and Captain Paul Douglas, with Senior Flight Engineers Warren Hazleby and Trevor Norcott. The duration of the flight was just over 1 hour, 30 minutes, and included both supersonic and low-altitude segments.  Concorde 216 was the last of twenty Concordes to be built. It was originally registered G-BFKX and made its first flight at Bristol Filton Airport, 20 April 1979. The new airliner was delivered to British Airways 9 June 1980 and was re-registered G-BOAF. “Alpha-Foxtrot” had flown a total of 18,257 hours by the time it completed its final flight. It had made 6,045 takeoffs and landings, and had gone supersonic 5,639 times.  G-BOAF was placed in storage at Filton. It is intended as the centerpiece of Bristol Aerospace Centre, scheduled to open in 2017.


LCDR “Butch” O’Hare Killed in Action

26 November 1943: At sunset, Lieutenant Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare,, United States Navy, Commander Air Group 6, took of from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) as part of an experimental three-plane night fighter team. The U.S. Navy task force was operating in the waters northeast of Tarawa, supporting Operation Galvanic (again discussed in the previous edition of FOD). Two Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat fighters of Fighting Squadron TWO (VF-2), piloted by O’Hara and Ensign Warren Andrew Skon, flew formation with a radar-equipped Grumman TBF-1 Avenger torpedo bomber, call sign “Tare 97,” flown by Lieutenant Commander John C. (“Phil”) Phillips, commander, Torpedo Squadron 6 (VT-6).  Butch O’Hara was flying his personal airplane, Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat, Bu. No. 66168. The Hellcat was marked with “00” in white on both sides of its fuselage, the traditional identification of an air group commander’s (“CAG”) airplane.  The Avenger’s radar operator would guide the two fighters to intercept the groups of Japanese Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” torpedo bombers that had been making nightly attacks against the ships of Task Force 50.2.  The night fighter team engaged several enemy bombers, with the TBF’s pilot, Phillips, credited with shooting down two G4Ms with his Avenger’s two forward-firing .50-caliber machine guns. O’Hare and Skon both fired on other enemy bombers with their Hellcats’ six machine guns.  At about 7:30 p.m., the TBF was flying at about 1,200 feet (365 meters), staying below the cloud bases, while the two F6Fs rejoined the formation. The TBF’s gunner, Al Kernan, saw both Hellcats approaching to join on the the Avenger’s right wing. When O’Hara was about 400 feet away, the gunner saw a third airplane appear above and behind the two fighters.  A Japanese G4M opened fire on O’Hara’s fighter with its 7.7 mm (.303-caliber) nose-mounted machine gun. Kernan returned fire with the TBF’s turret-mounted .50-caliber machine gun. The G4M quickly disappeared into the darkness.  Butch O’Hara’s F6F was seen to turn out of the formation, passing to the left underneath Skon’s fighter. Skon called O’Hara by radio but there was no response. The CAG’s Hellcat went into a dive then disappeared in the darkness. Skon tried to follow O’Hara, but had to pull out at about 300 feet (90 meters) to avoid crashing into the ocean.  Neither O’Hara or his airplane were ever seen again. He is believed to have gone into the water at 7:34 p.m., 26 miles north-northwest of the carrier Enterprise.  O’Hare graduated from  the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland and appointed an Ensign on June 3, 1937, he served two years on board the battleship USS New Mexico (BB-40). In 1939, he started flight training at NAS Pensacola in Florida, learning the basics on Naval Aircraft Factory N3N-1 “Yellow Peril” and Stearman NS-1 biplane trainers, and later on the advanced SNJ trainer.  O’Hare’s most famous flight occurred during the Pacific War on February 20, 1942. LT O’Hare and his wingman were the only U.S. Navy fighters available in the air when a second wave of Japanese bombers were enroute to attack his aircraft carrier Lexington.  Butch O’Hare was on board the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, (below right) which had been assigned the task of penetrating enemy-held waters north of New Ireland. While still 450 miles from the harbor at Rabaul, at 10:15, the Lexington picked up an unknown aircraft on radar 35 miles from the ship. A six-plane combat patrol was launched, two fighters being directed to investigate the contact. These two planes, under command of Lieutenant Commander John Thach shot down a four-engined Kawanishi H6K4 Type 97 (“Mavis“) flying boat about 43 miles out at 11:12.  At 16:49, the Lexington’s radar picked up a second formation of Bettys from 1st Chutai of 4th Kōkūtai only 12 miles out, on the disengaged side of the task force, completely unopposed. The carrier had only two Wildcats left to confront the intruders: Butch and his wingman “Duff” Dufilho. As the Lexington’s only protection, they raced eastward and arrived 1,500 feet above eight attacking Bettys nine miles out at 17:00. Dufilho’s guns were jammed and wouldn’t fire, leaving only O’Hare to protect the carrier. The enemy formation was a V of Vs flying very close together and using their rear-facing guns for mutual protection. O’Hare’s Wildcat, armed with four 50-caliber guns, with 450 rounds per gun, had enough ammunition for about 34 seconds of firing.  In fact, O’Hare destroyed only three BettysNitō Hikō Heisō Tokiharu Baba’s from 3rd Shotai, Ittō Hikō Heisō Susumu Uchiyama’s (flying at left wing of the leading V, 1st Shotai) and the leader of the formation, Shōsa Takuzo Ito’s. This last (flying on the head of leading V) Betty’s left engine was hit at the time it dropped its ordnance. Its pilot Hikō Heisōchō Chuzo Watanab tried to hit Lexington with his damaged plane. He missed and flew into the water near Lexington at 1712. Another two Bettys were damaged by O’Hare’s attacks. Ittō Hikō HeisōKodji Maeda (2nd Shotai, left wing of V) safely landed at Vunakanau airdrome and Ittō Hikō Heisō Bin Mori was later shot down by LT Noel Gayler (“White F-1”, VF-3) when trying to escape 40 miles from Lexington.  With his ammunition expended, O’Hare returned to his carrier, and was fired on accidentally but with no effect by a .50-caliber machine gun from the Lexington. O’Hare’s fighter had, in fact, been hit by only one bullet during his flight, the single bullet hole in F-15’s port wing disabling the airspeed indicator. According to Thach, Butch then approached the gun platform to calmly say to the embarrassed anti-aircraft gunner who had fired at him, “Son, if you don’t stop shooting at me when I’ve got my wheels down, I’m going to have to report you to the gunnery officer.”  By shooting down five bombers O’Hare became a flying ace, was selected for promotion to lieutenant commander, and became the first naval aviator to receive the Medal of Honor. With President Franklin D. Roosevelt looking on, O’Hare’s wife Rita placed the Medal around his neck. After receiving the Medal of Honor, then-Lieutenant O’Hare was described as “modest, inarticulate, humorous, terribly nice and more than a little embarrassed by the whole thing.”  O’Hare received further decorations later in 1943 for actions in battles near Marcus Island in August and subsequent missions near Wake Island in October.  As a tribute to Butch O’Hare, on September 19, 1949, the Chicago-area Orchard Depot Airport was renamed O’Hare International Airport. A training F4F Wildcat similar to the one flown by Butch O’Hare was restored after recovery from Lake Michigan. It is currently on display in Terminal 2 of the O’Hare International Airport.  I always make a point of visiting this display when I’m at O’Hare running from plane to plane.



Kidō Butai Combined Japanese Armada Leaves Japan For Operation AI

Not so coincidentally and referencing Admiral Stark’s warning to Admiral Kimmel discussed above on November 26, 1941, a Japanese task force (the Striking Force) of six aircraft carriers—AkagiKagaSōryūHiryūShōkaku, and Zuikaku—departed Hittokapu Bay on Kasatka (now Iterup) Island in the Kurile Islands, under the greatest of secrecy, enroute to a position northwest of Hawaii, intending to launch its 408 aircraft to attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941: 360 for the two attack waves and 48 on defensive combat air patrol (CAP), including nine fighters from the first wave.  The commander-in-chief of the First Air Fleet, the IJN′s main aircraft carrier force, is Admiral Chūichi Nagumo largely due to his seniority. Many contemporaries and historians have doubted his suitability for this command, given his lack of familiarity with naval aviation.  The first wave was to be the primary attack, while the second wave was to attack carriers as its first objective and cruisers as its second, with battleships as the third target.  The first wave carried most of the weapons to attack capital ships, mainly specially adapted Type 91 aerial torpedoes which were designed with an anti-roll mechanism and a rudder extension that let them operate in shallow water.  The aircrews were ordered to select the highest value targets (battleships and aircraft carriers) or, if these were not present, any other high value ships (cruisers and destroyers). First wave dive bombers were to attack ground targets. Fighters were ordered to strafe and destroy as many parked aircraft as possible to ensure they did not get into the air to intercept the bombers, especially in the first wave. When the fighters’ fuel got low they were to refuel at the aircraft carriers and return to combat. Fighters were to serve CAP duties where needed, especially over U.S. airfields.


And On November 26:

1941 FDR establishes modern Thanksgiving holiday

1922 Archaeologists enter tomb of King Tut

1942 Casablanca premieres in NYC


Your Christmas List

Now I know all of you have been hitting the stores, looking for those Black Friday bargains and checking on line to see if you can find the very best of everything.  I found a couple of items you’re going to need to include on your list to Santa.

First this is the way to impress all your fishing buddies:

PowerVision PowerRay underwater drone

This underwater drone can submerge up to 98 feet (30 meters) and records 4K video streamed to your phone, which you use to navigate. Not impressed? OK, with its add-on Fishfinder sonar it can detect fish up to 131 feet (40 meters) away and lures them with a blue light. Still not wowed? PowerVision will be offering VR goggles that allow you to robot around by tilting your head.

In Stock.

Want it Wednesday, Nov. 29? Order within 8 hrs 21 mins and choose Two-Day Shipping at checkout. Details

Ships from and sold by eDigitalUSA.

  • The Best Underwater Drone! Great for Fishing, Exploring, Mapping, Treasure Hunting, Studying Marine Life or Recording for Film Projects.
  • 4K UHD Video, 1080p Real-Time Streaming- 98′ Depth Rating, 210′ Tether
  • See & Record in 4K UHD the Underwater World from Boat
  • PowerSeeker Fishfinder & Bait Drop Line
  • 12MP Photos, 5-fps Burst Mode




New Hot Sexy Shampoo And Shower Gel Breast Soap Dispenser Gadgets Shower Breasts

5.0 out of 5 stars    3 customer reviews

Price: $15.91 & FREE Shipping

Get it as soon as Dec. 1 – 6 when you choose Expedited Shipping at checkout.

Ships from and sold by Brother Momo.

  • Type: Liquid Soap Dispensers
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Size: Length:24 cm Width:13 cm high:8cm
  • Color: as in picture
  • Quantity: 1 piece

New (16) from $15.90 & FREE shipping.




RainBowl Motion Sensor Toilet Night Light – Funny Unique Gift Idea for Him, Her, Men, Women & Birthday Kid – Cool New Fun Gadget, Best Gag Christmas Present


Price: $16.95 Free Shipping for Prime Members
FREE Shipping on orders over $25—or get FREE Two-Day Shipping with Amazon Prime
Buy 3, get 20% off  2 Applicable Promotion(s)


Want it tomorrow, Nov. 26? Order within 12 hrs 24 mins and choose One-Day Shipping at checkout.Details

Sold by RainBowl and Fulfilled by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

  • FUN AND SAFETY GO HAND IN HAND. You must know that feeling when, woken up by nature’s call you’re lying there in bed, planning out your bathroom trip. Whether you’re stressed about turning on the blinding lights, bumping into stuff (FYI, there are yearly over 30.000 toilet related injuries in the US alone) or worried about waking up your better half, RainBowl is the BEST SOLUTION.
  • FLAWLESS SENSORS set off the motion activated nightlight only during nighttime, when you and your family need it most and in order to SAVE ENERGY RainBowl will stay on for just 2 minutes after last detected movement. THE STURDY ADJUSTABLE ARM allows a hassle-free installation on ANY TOILET BOWL. Forming a firm grip around the toilet rim, it makes sure the lighting accessory STAYS SNUG, without dropping whenever you raise or lower the toilet seat. So easy.
  • THE MULTI COLOR CAROUSEL will entertain your child while POTTY TRAINING. Simply by pressing a single button your toddler can choose to freeze his / her favorite rainbow shade and, if he / she gets bored, press again to switch back to the SMOOTH COLOR TRANSITIONING mode. The LED lamp at the end of the rod is encased in FULL ABS PLASTIC preventing water damage from casual splashes. However, please be gentle.
  • DON’T KEEP ALL THE AWESOMENESS TO YOURSELF! Hands down, have you ever seen a more versatile and unusual GIFT IDEA? Random mugs and other boring presents are ancient history! Whether it’s your mom & dad’s anniversary, a co-worker’s retirement or you’re attending a Secret Santa exchange party, this novelty item brings a smile to everybody’s face and unlike other gag gifts, this smart device will also prove USEFUL. How’s that for a stocking stuffer?
  • BUY WITH CONFIDENCE. Last but not least, we’d like to assure you that our product is of TOP-NOTCH QUALITY and SUPERIOR DURABILITY. To support our claims we offer LIFETIME WARRANTY to our customers. If anything goes wrong with the device, we GUARANTEE its replacement. Simply write us and we’ll take care of the rest! Or get in touch anyway, we won’t bite.


From the land of strange tattoos here are a couple that need captions


And some unusual facts

And I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!


FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 8th through 13th 2017

US Navy Ships Delivering Food and Water to Irma Victims

Positioned off the coast of Florida, helicopters from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) are now delivering food and water to Florida as part of the Hurricane Irma relief effort.  As part of the ongoing recovery in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Navy and Coast Guard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and USS New York (LPD 21) are expected to join the relief effort Tuesday.  As part of the ongoing recovery in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Navy and Coast Guard helicopters and ships are continuing to evacuate people and shuttle food, water, and supplies to the U.S. Virgin Islands and south Florida.  Near Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Military Sealift Command’s dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS William McLean (T-AKE 12) started providing supplies to the USS Wasp (LHD-1), USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and USS Oak Hill (LSD-51), along with 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Federal Emergency Management Agency staff, which started providing humanitarian aid and medical airlifts Friday. William McLean pumped 620,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 40,000 gallons of jet fuel, and delivered 40 pallets of supplies to Navy units, according to the Navy.  USNS Wright (T-AVB 3), aviation logistics support ship, is expected to leave Philadelphia Tuesday to support relief efforts in near the Virgin Islands. Wright is assigned to the Military Sealift Command Prepositioning Program and carries aviation maintenance equipment to support U.S. Marine Corps fixed and rotary wing aircraft.


Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 8th through 13th 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 12th through 14th, 2017

T-45 OBOGS News – No News

In a FOD update from the last edition, Marine Times reports, After more than two months, the Navy still has no idea what is causing serious problems with the OBOGS (On-Board Oxygen Generating System) oxygen systems in its training aircraft and fighters.  “We’re not doing well on the diagnosis,” Vice Adm. Paul A. Grosklags, Naval Air Systems Command , told lawmakers on Tuesday. “To date, we have been unable to find any smoking gun.”  In April, the Navy temporarily grounded all of its T-45 training jets after dozens of instructor pilots refused to fly, citing a spike in pilots suffering from dangerous symptoms caused by a lack of oxygen or contaminants in the oxygen system. FOD and Navy Times first reported in May 2016 that Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers also experience oxygen system failures with alarming regularity.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 20, 2017) A T-45C Goshawk training aircraft assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 1 approaches the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The ship is conducting aircraft carrier qualifications during the sustainment phase of the optimized fleet response plan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)

Worse: The potentially catastrophic failures have been becoming more frequent.  Most of the problems in the T-45s involve breathing gas, while the F/A-18s tend to have problems with cockpit pressurization, Grosklags told the Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee on Tuesday.  The Navy has literally torn T-45s apart at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, where investigators have tested every single component in the aircraft, yet the root cause for the problem remains elusive, he said.  “To date, we have not been able to discover a toxin or a contaminant in the breathing gas, despite our testing,” Grosklags said. And in a related story, the Air Force’s variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is also experiencing problems with its oxygen systems. Flight operations at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, have been suspended after five pilots from the 56th Fighter wing reported suffering symptoms from lack of oxygen.  In May 2012, F-22 Raptor pilots went public with their concerns about the aircraft’s oxygen system. Two months later, the Air Force determined the cause of the problem was a valve on the pilot’s Combat Edge life support vest, which improperly tightened, making it harder for the pilots to breathe. More news as FOD hears about it.


Senators Push Bill to Raise Military Pay

Frustrated over increasing issues with military salaries, a pair of senators on Wednesday June 14th will introduce new legislation to ensure “equal compensation” among senior enlisted service members and limit the president’s ability to reduce troops’ pay raises, according to Military Times.    Under the measure, the president would no longer be able to use “economic concerns” as a reason to decouple the military pay raise from the Employment Cost Index, which estimates private sector wage growth.  The bill — sponsored by Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. — could affect President Trump’s plans for the 2018 military pay raise, if lawmakers finalize the measure before the end of August.  But it faces an uncertain future, given the busy budget schedule facing Congress in coming weeks and the restrictions it would place on the executive branch.  Both Trump and President Barack Obama used that clause in recent years to offer smaller-than-expected pay raises for troops, redirecting the money to other readiness and modernization accounts. The bill sponsors criticized that as bad policy. “Our men and women in uniform serve this country with honor,” said Warren in a statement. “They know they won’t get rich in the military, but they serve with skill and dedication, and they are entitled to basic pay increases that will give them a chance to build some economic security.”  Trump’s suggested pay increase for 2018 is 2.1 percent, equal to the 2018 pay raise but 0.3 percentage points below the Employment Cost Index figure.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 12th through 14th, 2017”