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.