In my last blog a couple days ago, I was remiss in not mentioning the legendary Bob Hoover was the pilot on the first flight of the North American FJ-2 Fury.
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and her carrier battle group outchopped (departed) last week from the Mediterranean and on their way home to Norfolk, arriving today (30 December 2016).
They are executing a plan established over a year ago limiting her deployment to seven months consistent with senior Navy and DoD leadership’s policy in an effort to stabilize personnel strain and equipment over utilization. Good for them. They did a great job supporting hundreds of air strikes in Syria and northern Iraq against ISIS forces. However the USS George H. W. Bush and her battle group are not there to replace IKE and her battle group. Likely she won’t leave Norfolk for several more months. Delays in her last yard period and work added to the work package by Naval Nuclear Reactors, Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Air Forces and US Fleet Forces Command extended her yard period. Sounds like the Closed Vent Layup on a larger scale. This gap in carrier battle group coverage in the Med comes at a most inopportune time. During our current period of Presidential transition, we’re likely to see provocative acts by other protagonists in the area including Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and ISIS. They will fill the vacuum we have created. What is also certain, in my opinion, is President Trump will be tested early in his administration and he currently has a really big hole in the Med.
On Wednesday, at long last the JSTARS Recap Program RFP has been released. The surprising item is the RFP included a waiver that will allow the USAF for pursue a so called hybrid contract strategy that includes both fixed-price and cost-plus elements http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/1039302/jstars-recap-program-takes-next-step-with-rfp-release.aspxs. There ya go Boeing team. The JSTARS recap program, worth about $6.9 billion during the EMD phase, will replace the original Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System fleet, a Boeing 707-based design that provides command and control and ISR capabilities.
29 December 1972: Eastern Air Lines Flight 401, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, was enroute from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York, to Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida, with a crew of 13 and 163 passengers. The flight was under the command of Captain Robert Albin Loft, a 32-year-veteran of Eastern Air Lines. The co-pilot was First Officer Albert John Stockstill, a former U.S. Air Force pilot who had flown with Eastern as a flight engineer for 12 years before upgrading to first officer the previous year. The Second Officer (flight engineer) was Donald Louis Repo. He was employed as a mechanic by Eastern in 1947, and had qualified as a flight engineer in 1955. On approach to MIA, the flight crew lowered the landing gear. The indicator light for the nose gear did not illuminate. Captain Loft informed the Miami control tower that he was abandoning the approach and requested a holding pattern. Miami Approach Control placed Flight 401 in a “race track” pattern at 2,000 feet (610 meters), west of MIA. The flight crew confirmed that the landing gear was operating properly, and confirmed that the incandescent light bulb for the gear position indicator was burned out. Still, all three members of the flight crew, as well as a fourth Eastern Air Lines employee who was in the cockpit, continued to investigate the light’s malfunction. While they did so, the airplane entered a very gradual descent which went unobserved by the crew. At 11:42:12 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Flight 401 impacted the surface of an Everglades swamp, 18.7 miles (30.1 kilometers) west-northwest of the end of Runway 9L. The TriStar hit the ground at 227 miles per hour (365 kilometers per hour) in a 28° left bank. Of the 176 persons on board, 99 were killed and 75 were injured. 2 of the injured died later.
This and the similar crash of a United Air Lines 173, a DC-8, at Portland, Oregon, 28 December 1978, led airlines to develop the system called Cockpit Resource Management (CRM) to ensure that the flight crews stayed focused on cockpit priorities while dealing with unexpected issues. These two events have also been the subject of numerous Human Factors studies and has resulted in both hardware and software changes to our modern cockpit systems. CRM programs are now mandatory in airline, military and and other flight operations organizations.
On December 28, 1938, the silent-film star Florence Lawrence commits suicide in Beverly Hills. She was 52 years old. Don’t remember her? Though she was best known for her roles in nearly 250 films, Lawrence was also an inventor: She designed the first “auto signaling arm,” a mechanical turn signal, along with the first mechanical brake signal. She did not patent these inventions, however, and as a result she received no credit for–or profit from–either one. And her mother, Charlotte Bridgewood, also an inventor, but perhaps a smarter one patented the first automatic windshield wipers.
Also on December 28, 1941, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell requests authority from the Bureau of Navigation to create a contingent of construction units able to build everything from airfields to roads under battlefield conditions. These units would be known as the “Seabees”—for the first letters of Construction Battalion.
The first Seabees were not raw recruits when they voluntarily enlisted. Emphasis was placed on experience and skill, so all they had to do was adapt their civilian construction skills to military needs. To obtain men with the necessary qualifications, physical standards were less rigid than in other branches of the armed forces. The age range for enlistment was 18–50 but, after the formation of the initial battalions, it was discovered that several men past 60 had managed to join. During the early days of the war, the average age of the Seabees was 37. The first recruits were the men who had helped to build Boulder Dam, the national highways, and New York’s skyscrapers; who had worked in the mines and quarries and dug the subway tunnels; who had worked in shipyards and built docks and wharfs and even ocean liners and aircraft carriers. By the end of the war, 325,000 such men had enlisted in the Seabees. They knew more than 60 skilled trades, not to mention the unofficial ones of souvenir making and “moonlight procurement”. Nearly 11,400 officers joined the Civil Engineer Corps during the war, and 7,960 of them served with the Seabees.
There’s a John Wayne movie out there called The Fighting Seabees that came out in 1944. It’s highly fictionalized, but speaks to the issues of finding and employing construction expertise volunteers to build infrastructure overseas. The Navy still has Seabees, six teams at Port Heuneme, CA and six teams at Dam Neck, VA.
And what would New Year’s be without some really great resolutions:
Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average… which means, you have met your New Year’s resolution.
Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever.
~ Mark Twain ~
This year, I’m just making one New Year’s resolution: Stop making resolutions. My only other resolution is to quit breaking my resolutions.