FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 23 through 26, 2017

Friends of FOD

A lot of FOD to pick up.  Comments welcomed of course.


Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts

We’re just beginning to grasp the scope of the devastation to Puerto Rico.  This American territory has been holding on by a thread for years and has been on the verge of bankruptcy several times.  Its infrastructure was already substandard and in need of major overhaul prior to Maria.  Military Times is reporting, two U.S. Navy ships, National Guard, Air National Guard, Reserve troops and Army helicopters are providing aid to Puerto Rico. But questions are mounting over whether the U.S. is doing enough for its territory and people, who are American citizens.  To date, the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge and dock landing ship Oak Hill have “conducted eight medical evacuations, 148 airlifts and delivered 44,177 [pounds] of relief supplies and cargo to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” U.S. Northern Command said in a statement.  U.S. forces have also restored a mobile communications tower at St. Thomas International Airport to enable the airport to receive additional aircraft to evacuate residents.  The amphibious assault ship Wasp has been conducting similar rescues in Dominica, but that ship will be departing the region to head to the Pacific, where it will eventually relieve the Bonhomme Richard, a Navy official said.  Approximately 2,600 U.S. military personnel and National Guard members are currently involved in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, the Pentagon said.  Currently, more than 700 Air National Guard airmen are deployed to Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to support relief efforts.  Most of Puerto Rico has no electricity or cell phone capabilities because of Hurricane Maria’s damage to the electrical grid and cell towers. There are long lines for food and water.  Likely we’ll need to do more and the more is likely to continue for years.




USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain Take Another Top Officer

The Commander of the  U.S. Pacific Fleet is retiring after learning there’s no possibility of him being promoted out of his current job, he said in a statement to NBC News on Monday. Admiral Scott H. Swift was in charge of the Pacific Fleet during the period this summer when two different ships, USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) and the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) sustained collisions at sea that left 17 sailors dead.  Swift said the Chief of Naval Operations  Admiral John M. Richardson told him that he would not be nominated for the United States Pacific Command post, which is senior to Pacific Fleet.  In a statement, he said he was retiring “with great appreciation and gratitude for the honor of having served so many Sailors and their families for what will be 40 years in January.”

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 23 through 26, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 1st and 2nd 2017

Happy Labor Day

Well here it is Labor Day already.  The long weekend holiday is the unofficial end of summer (hate that thought), the beginning of school (hated that), the time for expansion of the baseball rosters (hate that – 40 man rosters change the game too much going into the playoffs), and it’s time to save 50% or more on your next mattress set with no payments for at least two years (don’t need a new mattress).  But it is also the beginning of college football (Go Navy), the start of professional football (that’s good, but they only play once a week), a great weekend to grill some steaks (love that), International Bacon Day (love that – you can look it up), catch some of those Atlantic salmon that made good their escape and now need to be caught (love that), NASCAR’s  Southern 500 NASCAR auto race has been held on Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina from 1950 to 2003 and since 2015 (like it as it’s usually a good short track race), ride your bike (gotta love that), at Indianapolis Raceway Park, the National Hot Rod Association holds their finals of the NHRA U.S. Nationals (some great names and cars show up for this one), and of course it’s the last day it’s considered acceptable to wear white or  seersucker (who knew – OK fashion folk like Friend of FOD Mr. Fuzzy have this marked on their calendars to go along with the opening day of elk season).  Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.  Photo below right shows first Labor Day Parade in NYC in 1882.  I was pretty much against labor unions until I joined Northwest Airlines.  There was a snap back clause in the contract under which I was hired providing for a pay raise of the lesser of 3% or the average pay increase of the seven major airlines in business at the time.  The math clearly pointed to the 3% option as all those airlines had received increased wages as airlines were making money.  Imagine then our surprise when our paychecks in mid-September only included a 1.4% pay increase.  When management was queried as to this decision, the reply was, “we think that’s what it should be.”  Eight months later and utilizing binding arbitration, it took less than fifteen minutes for the pilot’s to prevail.  The back pay was returned over a two month period and we each received a note from management in our company mailbox stating, that as the company didn’t have to pay back interest on the monies withheld over that time period, it shouldn’t be taken as a personal matter as it was only a prudent company business decision.  They had an eight month interest free $84M loan paid for by the pilots.  That’s why pilots have unions (but I’m not bitter – well just a little – no a lot – OK, I’ll let it go – someday).


Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 1st and 2nd 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”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 17th and 18th, 2017

Fireball to Become Jeter’s Angel

The group led by Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush to purchase the Miami Marlins for an estimated $1.3 billion have lost an investor.  Bloomberg reported today that an investor who had been in talks to contribute $150 million to the $1.3 billion bid was unable to reconcile the terms of his investment.  When news of their accepted bid was first reported last month, it was said the ownership group included at least five investors. I have decided to step up to the plate and bail Jeter and Jeb out of their predicament.  I have communicated my offer of $1000.00 to make the deal go through.  And while I’ll share it with only Friends of FOD; because Jeter’s number 2 was just retired, I’m willing to go as high as $222.22 over that $1000.00 offer.  I’m only asking for 2.22% ownership, plus two seats in a really good box forever and I’ll also generously agree to be the bat guy when the Yankees come to town.  I’m expecting a reply very soon.  So I’m keeping my phone next to me all night, because I know these kinds of deals require personal involvement to make them happen.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 17th and 18th, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 31 through February 2, 2017

There’s a new FOD photo above.  Now there is some of that other fod.  I don’t know how long it will stay, but it’s something different to grace the opening of today’s FOD.


The comments box is working.  If you send a comment, after I see it, I can post it.  The subscribe box is still a work in progress.  It’s there, but not really functioning ….. yet.


Well it’s Ground Hog Day.  Well it’s Ground Hog Day.  Well it’s Ground Hog Day.  Dobber, a friend of FOD noted this morning: “So, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and said there would be 6 more weeks of winter.  Many activists decided to protest Phil’s position with crowds chanting “Lock him up” and “Shot him and eat him”.  In a related story Staten Island Chuck emerged from his lair today and said ‘eh…..I tink winter is over.  You get me?’  The White house declined to comment on either.” Likely Trump was in the midst of creating discontent with the PM of Australia and was unavailable to Tweet.  Australia has fought side-by-side with the US in every conflict since WW I.  Norm’s dachshunds, Max Throttle, Ben Norman and Floyd we bred to hunt badgers, prairie dogs and other burrow-dwelling animals.  The first Groundhog Day was in 1887 and Punxsutawney Phil has had his successes in predicting the coming of Spring, but it’s a secret as to how/if/when he actually sees his shadow.  Bill Murray was nowhere to be seen at this year’s event.  In the movie Ground Hog Day, starring Bill, the “Cherry Street Inn,” is and was a private home at the time of the filming and is on Fremont Street.



On Tuesday night, President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to become a Justice on the US Supreme Court.  He would fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016 (third from the left in the photo left).  Perhaps it is fitting to point out that on February 01, 1790, the Supreme Court met for the first time in the Royal Exchange Building on Broad Street, a few steps from Federal Hall, in New York City.  (right).  A few months earlier, on September 24, 1789, the  Judiciary Act of 1789 was passed by the First United States Congress and called for six justices.  The next day President George Washington appointed John Jay to head the Court as Chief Justice, John Rutledge of South Carolina, William Cushing of Massachusetts, John Blair of Virginia, Robert Harrison of Maryland, and James Wilson of Pennsylvania to serve as associate justices.  Two days later, all six were confirmed by the Senate.  I’m sure Neil Gorsuch would wish for that simpler confirmation process.  Article Three of the Constitution established the Supreme Court and granted the Court ultimate jurisdiction over all laws on cases involving US treaties, foreign diplomats, admiralty practice and maritime.  While the Supreme Court is the final interpreter of federal constitutional law, it can only act within the context of a case in which it has jurisdiction.  The Constitution does not prescribe the number of justices and Congress has added justices to correspond to the number of judicial circuits:  seven in 1807, nine in 1837 and ten in 1863. When the Court initially met, they had no cases to consider.  They waited a few days, adjourned and went home till September.  Justices have a life tenure , unless they retire, resign or are removed after impeachment.   Non have been removed by impeachment. Justices are addressed as “Justice” rather than “Judge.”  The Court meets in the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C, and I hope to be able to attend a session one of these days.




Mission STS-107 was the 113th Space Shuttle launch. Planned to begin on January 11, 2001, the mission was delayed 18 times and eventually launched on January 16, 2003, following STS-113.  Columbia was on her 18th mission. About 82 seconds after launch from Kennedy Space Center‘s LC-39-A, a suitcase-sized piece of foam broke off from the External Tank (ET), striking Columbia‘s left wing reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) panels. When Columbia re-entered the atmosphere of Earth, the damage allowed hot atmospheric gases to penetrate and destroy the internal wing structure, which caused the spacecraft to become unstable and break apart. As demonstrated by ground experiments conducted by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), this likely created a 6-to-10-inch (15 to 25 cm) diameter hole, allowing hot gases to enter the wing when Columbia later re-entered the atmosphere. At the time of the foam strike, the orbiter was at an altitude of about 66,000 feet (20 km; 12.5 mi), traveling at Mach 2.46 (1,626 miles per hour or 727 meters per second). A few previous shuttle launches had seen minor damage from foam shedding, but some engineers suspected that the damage to Columbia was more serious. NASA managers however limited the investigation, reasoning that the crew could not have fixed the problem if it had been confirmed.  The crew included:  Commander: Rick D. Husband, a U.S. Air Force Colonel and mechanical engineer, who piloted a previous shuttle during the first docking with the International Space Station (STS-96); Pilot: William C. McCool, Commander USN; Payload Commander: Michael P. Anderson, a U.S. LTCOL Air Force, Payload Specialist: Ilan Ramon, a colonel in the Israeli Air Force and Israel’s first astronaut;  Mission Specialist: Kalpana Chawla; Mission Specialist: David M. Brown, Captain USN; and Mission Specialist: Laurel Blair Salton Clark, a U.S. Navy captain and flight surgeon.  I knew Willy McCool (right) from my fleet days when he was a  EA-6B Prowler pilot and a Landing Signal Officer (LSO) with (VAQ-129) at NAS Whidbey IslandWashington, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea.  I also knew Dave Brown (left).  I remember him as a very funny and was a really smart guy. He was a good friend of a good friend of mine.  He was an M.D. who completed flight surgeon training and then was one of the very few flight surgeons to be selected for pilot training.  He flew the A-6E Intruder and later the F/A-18 Hornet.  He later went on and  graduated from U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.  It’s good to remember them both.  After the disaster, Space Shuttle flight operations were suspended for more than two years, as they had been after the Challenger disaster. Construction of the International Space Station (ISS) was put on hold; the station relied entirely on the Russian Roscosmos State Corporation for resupply for 29 months until Shuttle flights resumed with STS-114 and 41 months for crew rotation until STS-121.  In a risk-management scenario similar to the Challenger disaster, NASA management failed to recognize the relevance of engineering concerns for safety and suggestions for imaging to inspect possible damage, and failed to respond to engineers’ requests about the status of astronaut inspection of the left wing. Engineers made three separate requests for Department of Defense (DOD) imaging of the shuttle in orbit to more precisely determine damage. While the images were not guaranteed to show the damage, the capability existed for imaging of sufficient resolution to provide meaningful examination. NASA management did not honor the requests and in some cases intervened to stop the DoD from assisting.  The CAIB recommended subsequent shuttle flights be imaged while in orbit using ground-based or space-based DoD assets.  Throughout the risk assessment process, senior NASA managers were influenced by their belief that nothing could be done even if damage were detected. This affected their stance on investigation urgency, thoroughness and possible contingency actions. They decided to conduct a parametric “what-if” scenario study more suited to determine risk probabilities of future events, instead of inspecting and assessing the actual damage.  On August 26, 2003, the CAIB issued its report on the accident. The report confirmed the immediate cause of the accident was a breach in the leading edge of the left wing, caused by insulating foam shed during launch. The image left shows debris coming off the left wing of Columbia.  The image below shows the debris reentering the earth’s atmosphere over Texas. The report also delved deeply into the underlying organizational and cultural issues that led to the accident. The report was highly critical of NASA’s decision-making and risk-assessment processes. It concluded the organizational structure and processes were sufficiently flawed and that a compromise of safety could be expected no matter who was in the key decision-making positions.  The CAIB report found that NASA had accepted deviations from design criteria as normal when they happened on several flights and did not lead to mission-compromising consequences. One of those was the conflict between a design specification stating that the thermal protection system was not designed to withstand significant impacts and the common occurrence of impact damage to it during flight.  This phenomenon was termed “normalization of deviance” by sociologist Diane Vaughan in her book on the Challenger launch decision process and is a term used widely today when discussing risk analysis. The board made recommendations for significant changes in processes and organizational culture.  The Columbia disaster has been used as a very good Crew Resource Management (CRM) exercise as well.  Several technical and organizational changes were made, including adding a thorough on-orbit inspection to determine how well the shuttle’s thermal protection system had endured the ascent, and keeping a designated rescue mission ready in case irreparable damage was found. Except for one final mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, subsequent shuttle missions were flown only to the ISS so that the crew could use it as a haven in case damage to the orbiter prevented safe reentry.


On February 2, 1876, the National League of Major League Baseball (MLB) is founded.  The American League was not established until 1901 and the first World Series was played in 1903.  The National League was formed from the  National Association of Professional Base Ball Players  (N.A.) and had eight original members: Chicago White Stockings from the N.A. (now the Chicago Cubs, not to be confused with the current Chicago White Sox of the American League); Philadelphia Athletics; Boston Red Stockings, the dominant team in the N.A. (now the Atlanta Braves, not to be confused with the present-day Boston Red Sox of the American League); Hartford Dark Blues from the N.A. (folded after the 1877 season); Mutual of New York from the N.A. (expelled after the 1876 season); St. Louis Brown Stockings from the N.A. (folded after the 1877 season, having committed to Louisville stars for 1878); Cincinnati Red Stockings, a new franchise (expelled after the 1880 season) and the Louisville Grays, a new franchise (folded after the 1877 season when four players were banned for gambling).  The teams now known as the Cincinnati RedsLos Angeles Dodgers (originally Brooklyn) and Pittsburgh Pirates have their beginnings in the original National League as well as the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves (originally in Boston, and later Milwaukee). The Cubs are the only charter member to play continuously in the same city. The other two pre-1892 teams still in the league are the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants (originally New York), both of which joined in 1883.  And of course the Cubs have played within the “Friendly Confines” of Wrigley Field since 1916 and were last year’s World Series winners.  It’s on my list of places to see a game.




2 February 1974: Test pilot Philip F. Oestricher made the first test flight of the General Dynamics YF-16 Light Weight Fighter prototype, 72-1567, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. During the 90-minute flight the airplane reached 400 knots (740.8 kilometers per hour) and 30,000 feet (9,144 meters).  In that first flight photo (left) you can see EAFB off the right wing.  The Fighting Falcon has key features including a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while maneuvering, a seat reclined 30 degrees to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, and the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system which helps to make it a nimble aircraft.  it is the second most common currently operational military aircraft in the world.  While many F-16s were produced according to various block designs, there have been many other variants with significant changes, usually due to modification programs. Other changes have resulted in role-specialization, such as the close air support and reconnaissance variants. Several models were also developed to test new technology.  Generally speaking the F-16 has a moderate wing loading, reduced by fuselage lift. The F-16 design also inspired the design of other aircraft, which are considered derivatives. Older F-16s are being converted into QF-16 drone targets by Boeing.  Over 4600 F-16s have been built.  It’s a great aircraft to fly.