FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 25 and 26, 2017

Friends of FOD

Two new active duty Navy folks have joined Friends of FOD.  Scott is an F/A-18 pilot and Kallie is currently deployed with CVW-8 aboard USS George H.W. Bush.  Thanks for your service and welcome.



The preliminary election over the weekend in France saw two candidates emerge. Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! and Marine Le Pen of the National Front (FN), will face off in the election be held on 7 May 2017.  It is the first time since 2002 that a National Front candidate continued to the second round and the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic that the runoff will not include a nominee of the traditional center-left or center-right parties.  While many think Macron has the better chance at winning, Marine Le Pen has shown that a more nationalistic platform has grabbed many voters in France as well as other countries in Europe.  She favors greatly reduced free trade, restricted immigration and less tolerance for Islam within France.  Free trade within the EU has raised the standard of living for all Europeans since WW II and if France were to leave the EU, it would likely spell its demise.


Kitty Hawk “Flying Car” Takes Flight

Likely most of your noticed the first public demonstration of the one of the Kitty Hawk prototypes under development.  Kitty Hawk is showing its hand… and the Flyer, isn’t so much the flying car of sci-fi fame as a recreational vehicle.  Kitty Hawk notes that there are several prototypes in the works.  Airbus may test a more practical flying car by the end of the year.  Others are looking to fly passenger drones during the summer, and personal jets are supposedly becoming viable.  I think they’re further off than we might imagine.  With the number of people I see every day talking and texting while driving, I would be unwilling to support their operating a flying vehicle.


Trump and China’s President Xi Junping Show “United” North Korean Front

The publically released information of Monday’s (April 24th) phone call between President Trump and China’s Xi, would appear to support Beijing’s strong opposition to Pyongyang’s nuclear brinkmanship while also ­urging the United States to show military restraint as tensions ­escalate on the Korean peninsula.  In a released statement it was noted, “China resolutely opposes any act that violates resolutions of the United Nations Security Council … and hopes that the parties ­concerned will exercise restraint and refrain from taking any action that will aggravate tensions on the peninsula,” Xi was quoted by ­Xinhua as saying. Xi said that with the international situation changing rapidly, it was necessary for China and the US to keep close contact and to exchange views on important issues of common ­concern, including North Korea, in a timely manner.  Of course this comes as President Trump looks to impose new sanctions on North Korea ahead of the lunch with ambassadors from countries on the UN’s National Security Council.  What sanctions could possibly be left to impose?


China’s Newest Aircraft Carrier Launching Very Soon

China and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has expressed interest in operating an aircraft carrier as part of its blue water aspirations going back to the 1970’s.  Since 1985, China has acquired four retired aircraft carriers for study, the Australian HMAS Melbourne and the ex-Soviet carriers MinskKiev and Varyag. Reports stated that up to two 60,000-ton Type 001A aircraft carriers based on Varyag were due to be started by 2015.  Sukhoi Su-33s were the aircraft that seemed most likely to be flown from these carriers.  However, it seems that China’s own multirole fighter, the Shenyang J-15, would instead be the candidate planes flown from them according to recent accounts.  (J-15 is based on the Su-33s).  The 68th anniversary of the founding of the PLAN is Sunday and the scaffolding around the ship, temporarily named the Type 001A, was removed and the deck was cleared, Shanghai-based news portal reported, suggesting that the launch date was getting close.  As noted in an earlier FOD, China spent just five years to produce the 001A. Even though its layout is almost the same, the new carrier features the latest equipment, including a bigger hangar to carry more J-15 fighters and more space on deck for helicopters and other aircraft.



John Paul Jones Exhumation and Reburial

I should have mentioned this is yesterday’s FOD, but on April 24, 1906, the remains of John Paul Jones were installed in Bancroft Hall at the United States Naval AcademyAnnapolis, Maryland, following a ceremony in Dahlgren Hall, presided over by President Theodore Roosevelt who gave a lengthy tributary speech.  On January 26, 1913, the Captain’s remains were finally re-interred in a magnificent bronze and marble sarcophagus at the Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis.  






P-8A Poseidon First Flight

I stood on the taxiway at the Renton Airport and watched Friends of FOD Norm and DA Benj take the first P-8A airborne on April 25, 2009.  (photo of T-1 shown below left).  Since then we’ve sold 60 aircraft (8 to India (P-8I) and 52 to the US Navy).  Number 61 was flown yesterday and Boeing hopes to ‘sell” it to the US Navy after Thursday’s flight.  The P-8 is a militarized version of the 737-800ERX, a 737-800 with 737-900-based wings.  The P-8 features the Raytheon APY-10 multi-mission surface search radar; and five operator stations (two naval flight officers plus three enlisted Aviation Warfare Operators/naval aircrewman) are mounted in a sideways row, along the port side of the cabin. None of the crew stations have windows; a single observer window is located on each side of the forward cabin.  A bomb bay for torpedoes and other stores opens behind the wing. The P-8 is to be equipped with the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability (HAAWC) Air Launch Accessory (ALA), turning a Mark 54 torpedo into a glide bomb for deploying from up to 30,000 ft.  And it flies like a B-737.  It’s been a most successful program for the US Navy and P-8’s are now being deployed world-wide.  Australia has signed on to purchase the first four of a proposed 12 aircraft.   On 11 July 2016, Boeing announced that the signing of a procurement contract with the Royal Air Force for nine P-8 aircraft and support infrastructure at a cost of $3.87 billion (£3 billion). Manufacture will be spread across three production lots over a ten-year period, with deliveries commencing in 2019.
In November 2016, it was reported that Norway plans to order five P-8s to replace its aging P-3s.  As the US Navy gains more experience with the P-8 they will adjust their tactics and mission profiles so as to move from the P-3C to the modern P-8A. That’s me in the P-8 and Friend of FOD Bart in the P-3 over Pax River above right.  Friend of FOD Norm’s Racing Wiener Dogs don’t have anything to do with this story.  I just told they like to be in FOD and of course fly around in the Aerostar.  Norm, I’m still waiting for my $100 hamburger flight!




X-2 Goes Supersonic

25 April 1956: At Edwards Air Force Base, California, test pilot Lieutenant Colonel Frank Kendall (“Pete”) Everest, United States Air Force, was airdropped from a Boeing EB-50D Superfortress in the USAF/NACA Bell X-2 supersonic research rocket plane, serial number 46-674. This was the tenth flight of the X-2 program, and only the third powered flight.  For the first time, Everest fired both chambers of the Curtiss-Wright XLR25 rocket engine. On this flight, the X-2 reached Mach 1.40 and 50,000 feet (15,240 meters). It was the first time an X-2 had gone supersonic.  The Bell X-2 was developed to provide a vehicle for researching flight characteristics in excess of the limits of the Bell X-1 and D-558 II, while investigating aerodynamic heating problems in what was then called the “thermal thicket”.  Not only did the X-2 push the envelope of manned flight to speeds, altitudes and temperatures beyond any other aircraft at the time, it pioneered throttleable rocket motors in U.S. aircraft (previously demonstrated on the Me 163B during World War II) and digital flight simulation.  The XLR25 rocket engine, built by Curtiss-Wright, was based on the smoothly variable-thrust JATO engine built by Robert Goddard in 1942 for the Navy.  The aircraft was built from stainless steel and K-Monel, a copper-nickel alloy.  The X-2 eventually reached a maximum speed of Mach 3.196 (2,094 miles per hour/3,370 kilometers per hour) and maximum altitude of 126,200 feet.  Pete Everest flew the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk during WW II, and completed 94 combat missions in AfricaSicily and Italy with the 314th Fighter Squadron, 324th Fighter Group. During that tour of duty he shot down two German Ju-52 transports on April 18, 1943, and damaged another.  In May 1944 he was assigned to a fighter squadron at Venice, Florida as an instructor. He asked for combat duty again and was assigned to the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations. There he was assigned to command the 17th Provisional Fighter Squadron, 5th Provisional Fighter Group of the Chinese-American Composite Wing at ChinkiangChina. This wing consisted of both USAAF and Republic of China pilots flying in mixed elements. He completed 67 combat missions and shot down 4 Japanese aircraft before his plane was shot down by ground fire in May 1945. He was captured and tortured as a Japanese prisoner of war before being repatriated at the end of hostilities.  Following a rest leave, Everest was assigned in February 1946 to the Flight Test Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio as a test pilot. He took part in many experimental tests of the Bell X-1 and established an unofficial world altitude record of 73,000 feet.  In September 1951 he was transferred to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force BaseCalifornia, and became the chief Air Force test pilot as head of the Flight Test Operations Division. During his stay at Edwards, Pete Everest tested the X-1, 2, 3, 4 and 5; XF-92 and YB-52. He also took part in test programs for the F-88, 100, 101, 102, 104 and 105; the B-52, 57 and 66 aircraft. On October 29, 1953, he established a world speed record of 755.149 mph in an F-100A.  Everest test-flew the Bell X-1B to a speed of Mach 2.3 (2.3 times the speed of sound) in December 1954, making him the second fastest man in the world, Later flights in the Bell X-2 rocket plane established him as “the fastest man alive” when he attained a new unofficial speed record of 1,957 mph or Mach 2.9.


Lieber Code Issued to Union Troops

The Lieber Code of April 24, 1863, also known as Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field, General Order № 100,  or Lieber Instructions, was an instruction signed by US President Abraham Lincoln to the Union Forces of the United States during the American Civil War that dictated how soldiers should conduct themselves in wartime. Its name reflects its author, the German-American legal scholar and political philosopher Franz Lieber.  Lieber had fought for Prussia in the Napoleonic Wars and had been wounded at the Battle of Waterloo. Prior to the Civil War, he had lived and taught for two decades in South Carolina, where he was exposed to the horrors of slavery.  During the American Civil War, soldiers were faced with a number of ethical dilemmas. Lieber (photo left) knew about some from his own European wartime experiences, as well as through his sons (two of whom fought for the Union, and another died fighting for the Confederacy near Williamsburg. While in St. Louis searching for one of his sons, who had been wounded at Fort Donelson, Lieber met Union General Henry Halleck, who had been a lawyer in civilian life. As the war dragged on, the treatment of spiesguerrilla warriors, and civilian sympathizers became especially troublesome. So too was the treatment of escaped slaves, who were forbidden to return to their owners by an order of March 13, 1862. After Halleck became general-in-chief in July, 1862, he solicited Lieber’s views. The professor responded with a report, “Guerilla Parties Considered With Reference to the Laws and Usages of War”, and Halleck ordered 5000 copies printed.  By year’s end, Halleck and Stanton invited Lieber to Washington to revise the 1806 Articles of War. Other members of the revision committee included Major Generals Ethan Allen HitchcockGeorge Cadwalader, and George L. Hartsuff, and Brigadier General John Henry Martindale, but essentially Lieber was left to draft instructions for Union soldiers facing these situations. Halleck edited them to ensure nothing conflicted with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Then Lincoln issued them in April, 1863.  Both the Lieber Code and the Hague Convention of 1907, which took much of the Lieber Code and wrote it into the international treaty law, included practices that would be considered illegal or extremely questionable by today’s standards. In the event of the violation of the laws of war by an enemy, the Code permitted reprisal (by musketry) against the enemy’s recently captured POWs; it permitted the summary execution (by musketry) of spies, saboteursfrancs-tireurs, and guerrilla forces, if caught in the act of carrying out their missions. (These allowable practices were later abolished by the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949, following World War II, which saw these practices in the hands of totalitarian states used as the rule rather than the exception to such.)  Some features of the Lieber Code are still evident in the Geneva Conventions of 1949.  After the Civil War, Lieber was given the task of accumulating and preserving the records of the former government of the Confederate States of America. While working in this capacity, Lieber was one of the last known people to possess the infamous Dahlgren Affair papers. Shortly after obtaining them, Lieber was ordered to give them to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who likely disposed of them, as they have not been seen since.



Just the word Chernobyl conjures up how an experiment can go so very wrong when the established procedures are not followed and in particular when the participants don’t know what they’re doing.   During the night of 26 April 1986, a late night safety test which simulated power-failure and in which safety systems were deliberately turned off, a combination of inherent reactor design flaws, together with the reactor operators arranging the core in a manner contrary to the checklist for the test, eventually resulted in uncontrolled reaction conditions that flashed water into steam generating a destructive steam explosion and a subsequent open-air graphite “fire.”  This “fire” produced considerable updrafts for about 9 days, that lofted plumes of fission products into the atmosphere, with the estimated radioactive inventory that was released during this very hot “fire” phase, approximately equal in magnitude to the airborne fission products released in the initial destructive explosion.  Practically all of this radioactive material would then go on to fall-out/precipitate onto much of the surface of the western USSR and Europe.  Thirty-two people died and dozens more suffered radiation burns in the opening days of the crisis, but only after Swedish authorities reported the fallout did Soviet authorities reluctantly admit that an accident had occurred.  As part of their poorly designed experiment, the engineers disconnected the reactor’s emergency safety systems and its power-regulating system. Next, they compounded this recklessness with a series of mistakes: They ran the reactor at a power level so low that the reaction became unstable, and then removed too many of the reactor’s control rods in an attempt to power it up again. The reactor’s output rose to more than 200 megawatts but was proving increasingly difficult to control. Nevertheless, at 1:23 a.m. on April 26, the engineers continued with their experiment and shut down the turbine engine to see if its inertial spinning would power the reactor’s water pumps. In fact, it did not adequately power the water pumps, and without cooling water the power level in the reactor surged.  To prevent meltdown, the operators reinserted all the 200-some control rods into the reactor at once. The control rods were meant to reduce the reaction but had a design flaw: graphite tips. So, before the control rod’s five meters of absorbent material could penetrate the core, 200 graphite tips simultaneously entered, thus facilitating the reaction and causing an explosion that blew off the heavy steel and concrete lid of the reactor. It was not a nuclear explosion, as nuclear power plants are incapable of producing such a reaction, but was chemical, driven by the ignition of gases and steam that were generated by the runaway reaction. In the explosion and ensuing fire, more than 50 tons of radioactive material were released into the atmosphere, where it was carried by air currents.  The nearby city of Pripyat was not immediately evacuated. The townspeople went about their usual business, completely oblivious to what had just happened. However, within a few hours of the explosion, dozens of people fell ill. Later, they reported severe headaches and metallic tastes in their mouths, along with uncontrollable fits of coughing and vomiting.  Thousands eventually died, mostly from thyroid cancer and it’s estimated thousands more will die over the next twenty years from cancer and other related disorders from Chernobyl.
The Chernobyl reactor is now enclosed in a large concrete sarcophagus, which was built quickly to allow continuing operation of the other reactors at the plant (photo above left).  A New Safe Confinement was to have been built by the end of 2005; however, it has suffered ongoing delays and as of 2010, when construction finally began, was expected to be completed in 2013. This was delayed again to 2016, the end of the 30-year lifespan of the sarcophagus. The structure is being built adjacent to the existing shelter and will be slid into place on rails. (photo above right) It is to be a metal arch 105 metres (344 ft) high and spanning 257 meters (843 ft), to cover both unit 4 and the hastily built 1986 structure.

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 31 through April 3, 2017

A Lot to cover in this post

Congrats to Friend of FOD Pat on retiring

The reach of FOD is increasing, as demonstrated by a Friend of FOD Kevin running into another a Friend of FOD Pat, drinking wine in Anacortes, WA a couple days ago.  FOD is doing its part to reduce that six degrees of separation concept.  Maybe we can bring back that discussion of “e” from the 07 and 08 Feb edition of FOD,  … or not?  Congrats Pat on your retirement from Boeing and for all you did to keep sanity in Flight Test.  It was always great flying with you.  Semper Fi, my Brother.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 31 through April 3, 2017”

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

Afghanistan Developments

Negative developments in Afghanistan are in the news everyday it seems.  We still have 8400 troops deployed in our 16th year of struggle in what has now become a stalemate at best and more accurately deterioration in our positions.  Four points of interest should concern us.  First, the Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani has requested more US troops to meet shortfalls in their efforts against the Taliban.  Mostly they want/need increased training, more intelligence support, reconnaissance capabilities increases and ground/air support.  Another ominous sign is we’re starting to see operations launched through cooperative efforts of ISIS AND the Taliban.  US General John Nicholson, our commander in Afghanistan supports such an increase.  I have not heard whether the Trump administration supports any troop or capabilities increases.  Second, Russia is filling the power vacuum left by the US general withdrawal from the region’s scene by hosting and leading a multi-nation summit, extending talks held in February involving China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Iran.  See any players there we need to be concerned about?  The US has announced it will not participate in those discussions.  Third, just last month, General Nicholson stated Russia is publicly supporting efforts to legitimize the Taliban.  Other US officials now acknowledge there is evidence of Russian military material being supplied to the Taliban.  WTF, its Charlie Wilson’s War in reverse! It’s all part of Russia and Iran’s determination to undermine US and NATO efforts in Afghanistan.  Fourth, the Taliban have taken the important district of Sangin in the Helmand province (shaded area on the map above, dot denotes Sangin).  You may recall this district, central to the opium trade is strategically important because it controls the Helmand River and access to Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city. More British troops and later US Marines were lost here than in any other location in Afghanistan.  It would appear their sacrifices have come to naught.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 24 through 26, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 10 and 11, 2017

China buildup also in the Paracel Islands

China is continuing to expand construction activities in yet another set of islands in the South China Sea.  Beijing has undertaken substantial upgrades to its military infrastructure in the Paracel islands, with the construction of harbors, helipads and a full-fledged helicopter base on several islands in the chain.  This is in addition to those facilities being constructed on the Spratly Islands.  The latter having been the subject of recent public comment by the Trump administration. The interests of the nations contesting these island groups include retaining or acquiring the rights to fishing areas; the exploration and potential exploitation of crude oil and natural gas under the waters of various parts of the South China Sea, and the strategic control of important shipping lanes. Free access to the shipping lanes for all countries is of strategic importance to the US.  The Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (CSIC), has been following China’s activities for some time.  CSIS is one of the very finest American think tank organizations based in Washington, D.C.  It was founded in 1962 and continues to be sponsored by Georgetown University . The center conducts policy studies and strategic analyses of political, economic and security issues throughout the world, with a specific focus on issues concerning international relations, trade, technology, finance, energy and geostrategy.  The current Chinese actions follows closely emulate the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) strategy in WW II.  That scheme centered on the Japanese strategic initiative predicated on offensively extending their outer defensive perimeter in the south and central Pacific.  The US counter offensive resulted in the Guadalcanal Campaign mentioned in more than one edition of FOD in recent days.  This could become a greater issue for the new presidential administration.


Did you see that lunar eclipse last night?

Last night, stargazers were be able to view a penumbral lunar eclipse, a stunning full moon, and a comet flyby. If you were fortunate to have a view, you had a most unusual Friday night.  Lunar eclipses  occur only  during a full moon, but penumbral lunar eclipses are still pretty special, albeit more subtle. These sorts of eclipses occur when the Moon enters the outer region of Earth’s shadow, called the penumbra. Observers, like me down here in AZ (where it’s warm) were able to notice an unusual dark shade toward the top of the moon when it reaches mid-eclipse.  Since this was the region closest to the Earth’s full shadow, called the umbra. Since penumbral eclipses are more subtle than partial eclipses, you had to look more carefully to see this slightly darker shade.  Every year, two to five lunar eclipses occur, and one in every three will be penumbral. However, this was be the only penumbral lunar eclipse of 2017.


‘Pre’ Ball and Convair 880

10 February 1960: Delta Air Lines’ Chief Pilot, Captain Thomas Prioleau “Pre” Ball, (below) made the delivery flight of Delta’s first jet airliner, Ship 902, a Convair 880 named Delta Queen, FAA registration N8802E, from San Diego, California, to Miami, Florida, setting a United States National Record for Speed Over a Commercial Airline Route. The elapsed time was 3 hours, 31 minutes, 54 seconds, averaging 641.77 miles per hour (1,032.83 kilometers per hour) over 2,266 miles (3,647 kilometers).  The Convair 880 was fast with a top speed was 880 feet per second (600 miles per hour, or 966 kilometers per hour), faster than its Boeing 707 or Douglas DC-8 rivals.  Four of the U.S. National Speed Records set by Pre Ball remain current. In addition to the record set with the Convair 880 on 10 February, on 6 November 1948, Ball flew a Delta Air Lines Douglas DC-6 from Los Angeles, California, to Charleston, South Carolina, in 6 hours, 24 minutes, 32 seconds, at an average speed of 344.19 miles per hour (553.92 kilometers per hour). On 18 March 1954, he flew a Douglas DC-7 from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida, in 05:29:33, averaging 392.25 miles per hour (631.27 kilometers per hour). Finally, on 24 February 1962, Captain Ball flew a Douglas DC-8 from Miami, Florida, to Atlanta, Georgia, in 01:28:11, for an average of 406.1 miles per hour (653.56 kilometers per hour).  The Convair was built by the Convair division of General Dynamics.  It was powered by General Electric CJ-805-3 turbojets, a civilian version of the J79 which powered the F-104 StarfighterF-4 Phantom and Convair B-58 Hustler.  The airliner never became widely used and the production line shut down after only three years. The 880’s five-abreast seating made it unattractive to airlines, while Boeing was able to out-compete it with the Boeing 720, which could be sold much more cheaply as it was a minimal modification of the existing 707. In addition, the General Electric engines had a higher specific fuel consumption than the Boeing’s Pratt & Whitney JT3Cs.  Elvis Presley had a Convair 880 that he named after his daughter, Lisa Marie.  A modified version of the basic 880 was the “-M” version.   The -M incorporated four leading edge slats per wing, Krueger leading edge flaps between the fuselage and inboard engines, power-boosted rudder, added engine thrust, increased fuel capacity, stronger landing gear, greater adjustment to seating pitch and a simpler over-head compartment arrangement.  One 880-M was purchased by the FAA from Convair and for eighteen years was used to train FAA flight examiners.  The United States Navy acquired that 880-M in 1980 modifying it as an in-flight tanker. I tanked off of it when it came out to NAWCWPNS Pt Mugu once.  It was damaged beyond the reasonable-cost-to-repair in a cargo hold explosive decompression test at NAS Pawtuxet River, Maryland in 1995. Most of the remaining Convairs were scrapped by 2000.


Yalta Conference Ends – Big Wins for Stalin

On February 11, 1945, a week of intensive bargaining by the leaders of the three major Allied powers ended in Yalta, a Soviet resort town on the Black Sea.  The  Yalta Conference was held from February 4 to 11, 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D. RooseveltPrime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin, respectively, for the purpose of discussing Europe’s post-war reorganization. The conference convened in the Livadia Palace near Yalta in

CrimeaUSSR.  It’s often said Stalin insisted on the venue as he was supposedly afraid to fly, but the more likely reason was that Stalin would not leave the USSR for fear of a coup d’état.  The meeting was intended mainly to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe. Within a few years, with the Cold War dividing the continent, Yalta became a subject of intense controversy. To a degree, it has remained controversial.  Each leader had an agenda for the Yalta Conference: Roosevelt wanted Soviet support in the U.S. Pacific War against Japan, specifically for the planned invasion of Japan (Operation August Storm), as well as Soviet participation in the UN; Churchill pressed for free elections and democratic governments in Eastern and Central Europe (specifically Poland); and Stalin demanded a Soviet sphere of political influence in Eastern and Central Europe, an essential aspect of the USSR‘s national security strategy. Significant was the fact FDR was near death and British influence was minimal in that they were broke. Yalta was the second of three wartime conferences among the Big Three. It had been preceded by the Tehran Conference in 1943, and was followed by the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, which was attended by Stalin, Churchill (who was replaced halfway through by the newly elected British Prime Minister Clement Attlee) and Harry S. Truman, Roosevelt’s successor. The Yalta conference was a crucial turning point in the Cold War and gave significant advantages to the Soviet Union..


President-Elect Lincoln goes to Washington

On February 11th in 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln leaves home in Springfield, Illinois, and embarks on his journey to Washington, D.C.  On a cold, rainy morning, Lincoln boarded a two-car private train loaded with his family’s belongings, which he himself had packed and bound. His wife, Mary Lincoln, was in St. Louis on a shopping trip, and joined him later in Indiana. It was a somber occasion. Lincoln was leaving his home and heading into the jaws of a national crisis. Since his election, seven Southern states had seceded from the Union. Lincoln knew that his actions upon entering office would likely lead to civil war. He spoke to a crowd before departing: “Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young man to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being… I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail… To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”  A bystander reported that the president-elect’s “breast heaved with emotion and he could scarcely command his feelings.” Indeed, Lincoln’s words were prophetic—a funeral train carried him back to Springfield just over four years later.


The Channel Dash embarrasses England and the RAF

The Channel Dash or Unternehmen Zerberus (Operation Cerberus) was a German naval operation during World War II..  Kriegsmarine (German navy) squadron consisting of both Scharnhorst-class battleships and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen along with escorts, ran a British blockade

from Brest in

Brittany, where they had been a latent threat to British trans-Atlantic convoys. At Brest and La Pallice, the ships had been attacked by Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command and by RAF Coastal Command torpedo-bombers from March 1941, which inflicted periodic damage to the ships, reducing their seaworthiness. In late 1941, Adolf Hitler ordered Oberkommando der Marine (OKM Navy high-command), to plan an operation to return the ships to German bases, to counter a possible British invasion of Norway.

Schlachtschiff Scharnhorst

The short route up the English Channel was preferred to a detour around the British Isles, to benefit from surprise and from air cover by the Luftwaffe.  The British attempted to exploit decrypted messages from German radio messages coded with the Enigma machine.  However on 11 February 1942, the Kriegsmarine ships left Brest at 9:14 p.m. and escaped detection for more than twelve hours, approaching the Strait of Dover without discovery.  (Prinz Eugen below) The RAF, the Fleet Air Arm, Navy and coastal artillery operations were costly failures but Scharnhorst and

Gneisenau hit mines in the North Sea and were damaged (Scharnhorst being put out of action for a year). By 13 February, the ships had reached German ports and Winston Churchill ordered an inquiry into the debacle.  The London Times denounced the British fiasco.


Wickenburg Gold Rush Days – Great Small Town Traditions

We escaped Seattle to come to the warm sunny weather around Phoenix yesterday.  And today we rediscovered some great small town traditions in Wickenburg, AZ.  They put it all together, a multi-day rodeo, car show, wild-west show performers and a great parade.  It’s their sixty-ninth Gold Rush Days here.  It was lots of good fun and in a venue where the parade participants know those watching the parade.  They pass out candy to the kids from every float.  This year there were 146 horses in the parade.  I counted them.  Find a small town that’s having a parade and join the fun!

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 4 and 5 2017

A bit shorter blog today, as I have to get to Bart’s house, a great friend of FOD, for the Super Bowl!  Thanks for hosting Bart.


While the battle for Bataan continued throughout the night of February 4 1942, the USS Trout (SS-202) rendezvoused with PT-34 off Corregidor and was escorted through its minefields to its South Dock.  Trout delivered 20 tons of ammunition to the besieged American forces on CorregidorTrout unloaded her ammunition cargo, refueled, loaded two torpedoes, and requested additional ballast. Since neither sandbags nor sacks of concrete were available, she was given 20 tons of gold bars and silver pesos to be evacuated from the Philippines. The specie came from twelve Philippine banks emptied of their assets, absent the paper money, all of which had been burned to prevent it from falling into Japanese hands. She also loaded securities, mail, and United States Department of State dispatches before submerging shortly before daybreak to wait at the bottom in Manila Bay until the return of darkness.  Trout is credited with sinking 12 enemy ships for 37,144 tons according to JANAC records. During her first ten war patrols she made 32 torpedo attacks, firing 85 torpedoes, including 34 hits, 5 confirmed premature detonations, 5 confirmed duds, and 25 suspected duds. She was also involved in six battle surface actions and was attacked with depth charges eight times.  She was reported overdue on 17 April 1944 and presumed lost on her eleventh war patrol.



Who is allowed to immigrate to the US is not just a topic for today, but has been the subject of friendly and unfriendly discourse since the beginning of our nation.  The first rules regarding immigration date back to the Naturalization Act of 1790.  This law limited naturalization to immigrants who were free white persons of good character. It thus excluded American Indians, indentured servantsslaves, free blacks, and later Asians. Through a series of laws and through varied political climates attitudes have changed and changed again.  On February 5, 1917, the Immigration Act of 1917 was passed by a two-thirds majority, over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto the previous week.  It was the first bill aimed at restricting, as opposed to regulating, immigrants and marked a turn toward nativism. The law imposed literacy tests on immigrants, created new categories of inadmissible persons and barred immigration from the Asia-Pacific Zone. It’s interesting to note by looking at the enclosed Asiatic Barred Zone, that it included the majority of countries covered by President Trump’s travel ban, now on hold.  It governed immigration policy until amended by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 also known as the McCarran–Walter Act.  Native Americans were finally granted citizenship by the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, whether or not they belonged to a federally recognized tribe.  Almost immediately, the provisions of the law were challenged by Southwestern businesses. US entry into World War I, a few months after the law’s passage, prompted a waiver of the Act’s provisions on Mexican agricultural workers. It was soon extended to include Mexicans working in the mining and railroad industries and the exemptions continued through 1921.  The Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943. The Luce-Celler Act of 1946 ended discrimination against Asian Indians and Filipinos, who were accorded the right to naturalization, and allowed a quota of 100 immigrants per year. The Immigration Act of 1917 was later altered formally by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, known as the McCarran-Walter Act. It extended the privilege of naturalization to Japanese, Koreans, and other Asians. The McCarran-Walter Act revised all previous laws and regulations regarding immigration, naturalization, and nationality, and collected into one comprehensive statute.  Legislation barring homosexuals as immigrants remained part of the immigration code until passage of the Immigration Act of 1990.  And the debate goes on.  Then there is the sonnet that American poet Emma Lazarus wrote in 1883 to raise money for the construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.   In 1903, the poem was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal’s lower level.


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!