FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 01 through 04, 2018

Happy New Year

In 45 B.C. New Year’s Day was celebrated on January 1 st  for the first time as the Julian calendar takes effect.  Roman dictator, Julius Caesar designed a new calendar based upon solar year developed by the Egyptians and calculated the solar year to be 365 ¼ days and decreed a day be added every four years in February so as to keep the calendar from falling out of step.  However their calculations were a bit off as Caesar the his astronomer Sosigenes failed to calculate the correct value of the solar year as 365.242199 days and not 365.25 days.  Likely they used the wrong app for that.  The 11-minute/year error added seven days by the year 1000 and 10 more days by the mid-15th century.  In 1570, Pope Gregory XIII omitted 10 days in 1582, institutionalized leap year, and thus implementing the Gregorian calendar.  And they didn’t have the US Naval Observatory to give them a good time hack.  And work on your assigned New Year’s resolution of forwarding FOD to two new people and ask them to subscribe.

 

Boeing and Embraer Talks Continue

Reuters is reporting talks between Boeing Co and Embraer SA are continuing but  that key questions, specifically, who will control the Brazilian plane manufacturer remain unsettled or at least not reported.  That generally means the Brazilian government has not yet approved what such a combined corporate structure might look like.  Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico had reported that the talks have focused on joint ventures and joint business agreements to share costs and revenue or develop new products without changing control of Embraer.  Such an arrangement could ease approval from the Brazilian government, which holds a ‘golden share’ giving it veto rights over strategic decisions at Embraer and has expressed reservations about a foreign company taking control. However, a joint venture may not be an effective way to combine engineering resources, explore new business opportunities and satisfy Boeing’s interest in Embraer’s portfolio of regional passenger jets, defense programs and business aircraft, said one of the sources, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of talks.  Boeing has worked around concerns in foreign markets before, structuring defense subsidiaries in Australia and Britain to satisfy sovereignty demands, and those cases may serve as a reference in Brazil, the sources said.  The talks are widely seen as a way for Boeing to strengthen its position in the regional jetliner market, in which Embraer is strong, thanks largely to its 70- to 130-seat E-Jets.  Less than three months ago, Boeing’s European arch-rival Airbus SE agreed to buy a majority stake in Bombardier Inc’s 100- to 130-seat C-Series jet, putting pressure on the U.S. planemaker to seek a similar partnership.  The Boeing-Embraer talks involve Embraer’s defense business, as well as its passenger business, sources have said.  In the Tuesday report, Valor said Boeing was confident it could convince Brazil’s government that it could safely operate in Brazil’s defense sector, partially by pointing to defense deals the U.S. planemaker has made in countries such as Australia.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 01 through 04, 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 13-15, 2017

North Korea Missile Test Fails

Just one day after the  North held a massive parade to display is military might, including what experts said appeared to be new capabilities for long-range ICBMs, a North Korean missile had a catastrophic failure just after launch. The launch was attempted from Sinpo, a city on North Korea’s east coast, some 400 miles from Japan.  This is the second failure in the last two months where a North Korean missile has exploded just after launch.  Shin In-kyun, President of Korea Defense Network a civic group specializing in military affairs, told NBC News that Sinpo is North Korea’s submarine port and the failed missile was likely a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). “SLBMs are more threatening than any other type of missile of the same range because it can evade radar detection, including the THAAD,” Shin said, referring to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system provided to South Korea by the U.S. “If North Korea [can] complete building 3,000-ton submarine, they can then attack Guam, Hawaii and even Alaska with an SLBM.”  On the new live version of “Saturday Night Live,” Alec Baldwin, the best Trump impersonator around contemplates his first 100 days in office.   “These 100 days have been such a success, and I’m so sad my presidency is coming to an end,” Trump tells Vice President Mike Pence, played by cast member Colin Jost.  When Pence reminds Trump he has much longer than 100 days in office, Trump replies, “I don’t know, have you seen my tweets about North Korea?”  And then of course there’s a lot of banter about the Bannon and Kushner controversy.  You can’t make this stuff up.  Well, I guess you can.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 13-15, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 03 and 04, 2017

National Anthem Day

Hey, FOD hasn’t included many National Days lately.  March 3 rd the US National Anthem Day.  “The Star-Spangled Banner” was made the US national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.  The lyrics come from “Defense of Fort McHenry”, a poem written on September 14, 1814, by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. On September 3, 1814, following the Burning of Washington and the Raid on Alexandria, Francis Scott Key and John Stuart Skinner set sail from Baltimore aboard the ship HMS Minden, flying a flag of truce on a mission approved by President James Madison. Their objective was to secure an exchange of prisoners, one of whom was Dr. William Beanes, the elderly and popular town physician of Upper Marlboro and a friend of Key’s who had been captured in his home. Beanes was accused of aiding the arrest of British soldiers. Key and Skinner boarded the British flagship HMS Tonnant on September 7 and spoke with Major General Robert Ross and Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane over dinner while the two officers discussed war plans. At first, Ross and Cochrane refused to release Beanes, but relented after Key and Skinner showed them letters written by wounded British prisoners praising Beanes and other Americans for their kind treatment.  Because Key and Skinner had heard details of the plans for the attack on Baltimore, they were held captive until after the battle, first aboard HMS Surprise (see note) and later back on HMS Minden. After the bombardment, certain British gunboats attempted to slip past the fort and affect a landing in a cove to the west of it, but they were turned away by fire from nearby Fort Covington, the city’s last line of defense.  Key was inspired by the large American flag, the Star-Spangled Banner, flying triumphantly above the fort during the American victory. The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London. “To Anacreon in Heaven” (or “The Anacreontic Song”), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. Set to Key’s poem and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner”, it soon became a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one octave and one fifth (a semitone more than an octave and a half), it is a bit difficult to sing. Although the poem has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today.  “The Star-Spangled Banner” was recognized for official use by the United States Navy in 1889.  The next time you find yourself in Baltimore, it’s well worth your time to visit Fort McHenry.  Note: HMS Surprise was the ship named in the film version of film version of the nautical historical novel by the English author Patrick O’Brian, entitled Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. They sail in HM Sloop Sophie in the book however.

 

Turkish Airlines 981

Turkish Airlines Flight 981 was a regularly scheduled flight from Istanbul Yesilköy Airport to London Heathrow Airport with an intermediate stop in Paris at Orly Airport. On 3 March 1974 the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 operating the flight crashed into the Ermenonville forest outside Paris, killing all 346 people on board. At the time, it was the deadliest plane crash in aviation history. It still remains the fourth-deadliest plane crash in aviation history, is the deadliest involving a DC-10, the second deadliest with no survivors, the deadliest to have occurred on French soil, and the second worst aviation accident in Europe. The crash was also known as the Ermenonville air disaster, from the forest where the aircraft crashed.  The crash was caused when an improperly secured cargo door at the rear of the plane broke off, causing an explosive decompression which severed cables necessary to control the aircraft. Because of a known design flaw left uncorrected before and after the production of DC-10s, the cargo hatches did not latch reliably, and manual procedures were relied upon to ensure they were locked correctly. Problems with the hatches had occurred previously, most notably in an identical incident that happened on American Airlines Flight 96 in 1972, the so-called “Windsor Incident”. Investigation showed that the handles on the hatches could be improperly forced shut without the latching pins locking in place. It was noted that the pins on the hatch that failed on Flight 981 had been filed down to make it easier to close the door, resulting in the hatch being less resistant to pressure. Also, a support plate for the handle linkage had not been installed, although manufacturer documents showed this work as completed. Finally, the latching had been performed by a baggage handler who did not speak Turkish or English, the only languages provided on a warning notice about the cargo door’s design flaws and the methods of compensating for them. After the disaster, the latches were redesigned and the locking system significantly upgraded.

 

Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address

Abraham Lincoln‘s first inaugural address was delivered on Monday, March 4, 1861, as part of his taking of the oath of office for his first term as the sixteenth President of the United States. The speech was primarily addressed to the people of the South, and was intended to succinctly state Lincoln’s intended policies and desires toward that section, where seven states had seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of AmericaWritten in a spirit of reconciliation toward the seceded states, Lincoln’s inaugural address touched on several topics: first, his pledge to “hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government”—including Fort Sumter, which was still in Federal hands; second, his argument that the Union was undissolvable, and thus that secession was impossible; and third, a promise that while he would never be the first to attack, any use of arms against the United States would be regarded as rebellion, and met with force. The inauguration took place on the eve of the American Civil War, which began soon after with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter.  Lincoln denounced secession as anarchy, and explained that majority rule had to be balanced by constitutional restraints in the American system of republicanism:  “A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people.”  Desperately wishing to avoid this terrible conflict, Lincoln ended with this impassioned plea: “I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”  While much of the Northern press praised or at least accepted Lincoln’s speech, the new Confederacy essentially met his inaugural address with contemptuous silence. The Charleston Mercury was an exception: it excoriated Lincoln’s address as manifesting “insolence” and “brutality,” and attacked the Union government as ‘a mobocratic empire.  The speech also did not impress other states who were considering secession from the Union. Indeed, after Fort Sumter was attacked and Lincoln declared a formal State of Insurrection, four more states—VirginiaNorth CarolinaTennessee and Arkansas—seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy.  Modern writers and historians generally consider the speech to be a masterpiece and one of the finest presidential inaugural addresses, with the final lines having earned particularly lasting renown in American culture. Literary and political analysts likewise have praised the speech’s eloquent prose and epideictic quality.

 

FDR’s First Inaugural Address

The first inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt as the 32nd President of the United States was held on Saturday, March 4, 1933. The inauguration marked the commencement of the first four-year term of Franklin D. Roosevelt as President and John Nance Garner as Vice President. It was the last inauguration to be held on the constitutionally prescribed date of March 4; the 20th Amendmentratified in January 1933, moved Inauguration Day to January 20. As a result, Roosevelt’s first term in office was shorter than a normal term (as was Garner’s) by 43 days.  The inauguration took place in the wake of Democrat Roosevelt’s landslide victory over Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover in the 1932 presidential election. With the nation in the grip of the Great Depression, the new president’s inaugural speech was awaited with great anticipation. Broadcast nationwide on several radio networks, the speech was heard by tens of millions of Americans, and set the stage for Roosevelt’s urgent efforts to respond to the crisis.  The swearing-in ceremony took place on the East Portico of the United States Capitol, with Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes administering the oath of office. Roosevelt wore a morning coat and striped trousers for the inauguration, and took the oath with his hand on his family Bible, open to I Corinthians 13. Published in 1686 in Dutch, it remains the oldest Bible ever used in an inaugural ceremony, as well as the only one not in English, and was used by Roosevelt for his 1929 and 1931 inaugurations as Governor of New York as well as for his subsequent presidential inaugurations.  After taking the oath of office, Roosevelt proceeded to deliver his 1,883-word, 20 minute-long inaugural address, best known for his famously pointed reference to “fear itself” in one of its first lines:  “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

 

F-104 Starfighter’s First Flight

4 March 1954: Lockheed test pilot Anthony W. LeVier takes the prototype XF-104 Starfighter, 53-7786, for its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base in the high desert of southern California. The airplane’s landing gear remained extended throughout the flight, which lasted about twenty minutes.  The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter is a single-engine, supersonic interceptor aircraft which later became widely used as an attack aircraft. It was originally developed by Lockheed for the United States Air Force (USAF), but became widely used by US Allies around the world, and produced by several other NATO nations. One of the Century Series of fighter aircraft, it was operated by the air forces of more than a dozen nations from 1958 to 2004. Its design team was led by the legendary Kelly Johnson, who went on to lead or contribute to the development of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and other Lockheed aircraft.  The F-104 set numerous world records, including both airspeed and altitude records.  The Starfighter was the first combat aircraft capable of sustained Mach 2 flight, and its speed and climb performance remain impressive even by modern standards. Equipped with razor-edge thin blade supersonic wings (visible from the cockpit only in the mirrors), it was designed for optimum performance at Mach 1.4. If used appropriately, with high-speed surprise attacks and good use of its exceptional thrust-to-weight ratio, it could be a formidable opponent. It was exceptionally stable at high speed (600+ knots) at very low level, making it a formidable tactical nuclear strike-fighter. However, when lured into a low-speed turning contest with conventional subsonic opponents (as Pakistani pilots were with Indian Hunters in 1965) the outcome of dogfights was always doubtful. The F-104’s large turn radius was due to the high speeds required for maneuvering, and its high-alpha stalling and pitch-up behavior was known to command respect.[54] In reference to the F-104’s low-speed turn performance, a humorous colloquialism, referred to by F-104 pilots the world over, was coined by a Canadian pilot: “Banking with intent to turn.”  The F-104 series all had a very high wing loading (made even higher when carrying external stores). The high angle of attack area of flight was protected by a stick shaker system to warn the pilot of an approaching stall, and if this was ignored, a stick pusher system would pitch the aircraft’s nose down to a safer angle of attack; this was often overridden by the pilot despite flight manual warnings against this practice. At extremely high angles of attack the F-104 was known to “pitch-up” and enter a spin, from which in most cases it was impossible to recover.  When I was a young pup, flying F-8 Crusaders at NAS Miramar, Lockheed test pilot Darryl Greenamyer showed up one day with a F-104 built from parts he had collected. The aircraft, N104RB, first flew in 1976. On 2 October 1976, trying to set a new low-altitude 3-km speed record, Greenamyer averaged 1,010 miles per hour (1,630 km/h) at Mud Lake near Tonopah, Nevada. A tracking camera malfunction eliminated the necessary proof for the official record. On 24 October 1977 Greenamyer flew a 3 km official FAI record flight of 988.26 miles per hour (1,590.45 km/h).  On 26 February 1978, Greenamyer made a practice run for a world altitude record attempt. After the attempt, he was unable to get a lock light on the left wheel; after multiple touch-and-go tests at an Edwards Air Force Base runway, he determined that it was not safe to land. He ejected, and the N104RB crashed in the desert.  There was always speculation that perhaps there was an insurance motive involved.  I always wanted to fly the Zipper, but never had the opportunity.

Legendary aircraft designer Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson shakes hands with test pilot Tony LeVier after the first flight of the XF-104 at Edwards Air Force Base. (Lockheed via Mühlböck collection)

 

 

“Jackie” Robinson Day

04 March 2004:  Commissioner Bud Selig announces major league baseball will celebrate “Jackie Robinson Day” in every ballpark on April 15, the anniversary of the debut of the first black player in the major leagues. Jackie’s number (42) was retired for all time in a ceremony at Shea Stadium in April of 1997 to mark the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s achievement.  Robinson broke the baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. The Dodgers, by signing Robinson, heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s.  Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.Robinson had an exceptional 10-year baseball career. He was the recipient of the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949 through 1954, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored.  Robinson played in six World Series and contributed to the Dodgers’ 1955 World Series championship.  In 1997, MLB “universally” retired his uniform number, 42, across all major league teams; he was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored. MLB also adopted a new annual tradition, “Jackie Robinson Day“, for the first time on April 15, 2004, on which every player on every team wears No. 42.  Robinson’s character, his use of nonviolence, and his unquestionable talent challenged the traditional basis of segregation which then marked many other aspects of American life. He influenced the culture of and contributed significantly to the Civil Rights Movement.  Robinson also was the first black television analyst in MLB, and the first black vice president of a major American corporation, Chock full o’Nuts. In the 1960s, he helped establish the Freedom National Bank, an African-American-owned financial institution based in Harlem, New York. In recognition of his achievements on and off the field, Robinson was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of FreedomRachel Robinson (holding the award) accepts the posthumous Congressional Gold Medal for her husband from President George W. Bush in a March 2, 2005 ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. Also pictured are Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Hastert

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 4, 2017

Happy New Year!  OK I’m a few days late.  In 45 B.C. New Year’s Day was celebrated on January 1st for the first time as the Julian calendar takes effect.  Roman dictator, Julius Caesar designed a new calendar based upon solar year developed by the Egyptians and calculated the solar year to be 365 ¼ days and decreed a day be added every four years in February so as to keep the calendar from falling out of step.  However their calculations were a bit off as Caesar the his astronomer Sosigenes failed to calculate the correct value of the solar year as 365.242199 days and not 365.25 days.  Likely they used the wrong app for that.  The 11-minute/year error added seven days by the year 1000 and 10 more days by the mid-15th century.  In 1570, Pope Gregory XIII omitted 10 days in 1582, institutionalized leap year, and thus implementing the Gregorian calendar.

 

The 115th Congress was sworn in today.  It is the fervent hope of all Americans that Congress will not just be, but do.  And that doesn’t include gutting an ethics committee for Congressmen!  Do the Nation’s work, be respectful of all opinions and ideas, and compromise for the good of the nation.  It would be a nice change don’t you think?

 

From a consumer’s perspective we had some good news in 2016:                             Gas prices stayed low, although a slight increase is being seen in January as OPEC and other oil producing countries are declaring they will cut production in January.

Airfares went down.  That is the basic ticket costs decreased, but those fees for checked bags went up.  And did you see where United announced a Basic Economy fare.  You don’t get your seat assignment until you get to the airport and you can’t use the overhead bins.

Home prices rose significantly according to a new report from Zillow.  Home prices rose an average of 5.7% last year.

To go along with higher home prices, home loan rates were at historically low rates.

 

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which ends slavery in the rebelling states.  He had waited several months for a decisive Union victory in the field before signing the proclamation which freed all slaves in states that were still in rebellion.  The Union victory at the Battle of Antietam, afforded him that opportunity.  The measure is certainly one of the most important acts in American history, as it meant slavery would end when those areas were recaptured.  And it demonstrated an important shift in the goal of the Civil War from just reunification to include the eradication of slavery.  For Lincoln it was also a very shrewd political move.  It effectively scuttled all attempts by the Confederate states to secure recognition by foreign governments, particularly Great Britain.  When reunification was the sole goal, the Confederate states could be viewed as freedom fighters being held against their will, but now with the defense of slavery seen as the primary Southern cause, foreign aid to a slave nation would prove to be impossible.

 

On January 3, 1944, Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, USMC, Commanding Officer of VMF-214  led 48 fighters on an attack against the Japanese naval base at Rabaul on the island of New Britain.  He flew in an F4U-1 Corsair, BuNo 17883.  During aerial dogfights that day, he shot down four enemy aircraft, bringing his total to 26 confirmed kills and tied WWI ace  Eddie Rickenbacker‘s record .  He was then shot down by enemy aircraft and/or ground fire.  Wounded by bullets and shrapnel and with his Corsair on fire, he parachuted out at approximately 100 feet above the ocean.  He was taken prisoner by Japanese submarine a few hours later and was held as a POW for the next 20 months under the harshest of conditions.  He was believed to have been killed, as his capture and POW status were never reported to the Red Cross, and was “posthumously” awarded the Medal of Honor.  As a POW he was interned at Ōmori Prison Camp with former Olympic distance runner and downed aviator  lieutenant Louis Zamperini.  He was released shortly after the surrender of Japan received his Medal of Honor as well as a Navy Cross from President Truman.  Later he completed his autobiography, Baa Baa Black Sheep. Pappy was born in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, moved to the logging town of St. Maries, ID before his family moved to Tacoma, WA.  He graduated from the University of Washington with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and for a time worked at Boeing as an engineer. Eventually, he found his way into flight school at Pensacola, FL as a USMC pilot, but resigned his commission in August of 1941 to accept a position with the  Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CAMCO). They later became known as the American Volunteer Group (AVG), the famed Flying Tigers in Burma.  In 1942 he broke his contract with the AVG, returned to the US on his own and rejoined the USMC, where he was commissioned as a Major.  He acquired the callsign Pappy because at age 31 he a decade older than most of the Marines serving under him.

 

On January 3, 1920, the secret deal made on December 26th to sell Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000 (twice the amount every paid previously for any player) was announced publicly.  Harry Frazee, the owner of the Red Sox needed the money to produce a Broadway show and in particular needed the $300,000 loan from the Yankees as part of the deal.

 

And tomorrow, January 4, 1957 is the date Walter O’Malley, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, ordered a Convair 440 Metropolitan, serial number 406, for $770,000.  In doing so, those Brooklyn Bums become the first major league baseball team to own their own airplane.  The Dodgers’ pilot was Harry R. “Bump” Holman.  They took delivery of the aircraft in April, 1957, in time for the 1957 season.