FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 16th through 21st 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Give a man a beer and he drinks for a day.  Teach a man to hang out with guys who brew beer and he has beer for a lifetime.  Thanks Friend of FOD Roger for a great FOD Saying of the Day suggestion.   This evolved from the famous fish saying:  Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he’ll buy a boat, poles, reels, waders, tackle, bad boat beer, and numerous ‘fish whisperer’ guides; all far surpassing the cost of buying fish from your local fish monger.  But – when you catch that fish – it’s all worth it.  This parable goes along with sell a man a streetrod and he has a car to show and be proud of.  Teach a man to build a streetrod and he’ll spend years and thousands of dollars trying to build a better one, or two or more of them.  What’s up with that?

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 16th through 21st 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 9th through 11th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Remember: Don’t Insult the Alligator till after you cross the river.

 

Taiwan Under Siege From Chinese Cyber Attacks

I’ve reported here in FOD previously China is beginning to threaten Taiwan in a variety of ways in a not so subtle attempt to reign in what China considers to be rough province of China.  Asia Times is reporting Taiwan has admitted that cyber attacks from China are taking a toll on the island’s digital infrastructure, with government computer systems now subjected to as many as 40 million incidents each month.  The Department of Cyber Security (DCS) revealed earlier this week that there were 288 successful attacks from Beijing’s state-sponsored apparatus and affiliated groups in 2017. Targeting servers and intranets in civil, military and research departments, the incidents were mostly categorized as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs).  And China is just practicing to see what they can do against a government like Taiwan in preparation to do serious cyber battle against peer adversaries like the US.  DCS head Chien Hung-wei told Central News Agency that there were between 20 million and 40 million attacks each month, in addition to billions of probing actions made by hackers looking for weaknesses.  He said the overwhelming majority of cyberattacks were level one or level two incidents, the least serious categorization, and had resulted in unauthorized changes to web pages or other minor damage.  But the government’s digital domains were also infiltrated by 10 level three attacks, which means they might have compromised sensitive and classified data stored on the affected systems.  “The increasing precision of Chinese attacks is a matter of concern for Taiwan.”  Chinese hackers are said to route their attacks through servers in the US and European countries like Russia, as well as other nations, which makes it difficult to identify their point of origin. However, Taiwanese technicians are able to identify specific patterns, traits and even styles of coding that are typical of Chinese hackers.  Taiwan is often used as a testing ground for new hacking tools or techniques before their deployment against targets in other nations, Chien said in a filing to the island’s legislature. As a result, hackers from countries like North Korea and Russia were also highly active.  In one recent incident, a Taiwanese cabinet official received an e-mail containing an embedded virus that was designed to penetrate the government’s internal networks. It arrived the day he was sworn in.  The home page of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party was hacked in 2016, and visitor profiles were sent to cyber espionage groups in China. It is even rumored that President Tsai Ing-wen’s personal  e-mail account has come under attack, though it is not clear if any information was stolen.  At one time her advisors suggested that her computer be disconnected altogether from the internet because it contains sensitive information.

 

China Has Installed Radar and Communications Jammers on South China Sea Islands

I have commented in FOD previously on the continued Chinese militarization of their facilities on disputed islands in the South China Sea.  Other observers are beginning to pick up the thread.  Let there be no mistake, China is intent on controlling the South China Sea, exploiting its resources, denying other countries in the region access to fishing and other resources traditionally within their spheres of influence.  They intend to control access to and access through this strategically important crossroads of transportation and communication.  According to the Washington Examiner, China has installed equipment on two fortified outposts on the Spratly Islands capable of jamming communications and radar systems, which U.S. officials say signifies a stepped-up militarization of the South China Sea.  “China has deployed military jamming equipment to its Spratly Island outposts,” a Department of Defense official said.  The Chinese military is conducting a large exercise in the South China Sea, including maneuvers with China’s first aircraft carrier and air force and ground units. Some U.S. officials describe it as the largest military exercise in that region to date, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The move to install the communication and radar jamming systems will strengthen China’s ability to assert territorial claims in the South China Sea and stop U.S. military operations in that region, which includes some of the world’s largest and busiest shipping routes.  The assessment by the U.S. is supported by photo evidence by commercial satellites last month that show a suspected jammer system with its antenna extended on one of the seven Spratly outposts where China has built artificial islands.  Although China says the islands are for defensive purposes only, the activity has spurred fears that the outposts could be used to enforce territorial claims overlapping with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.  China’s Defense Ministry has not yet responded to a request for comment.

 

Sri Lanka Cedes Major Port to China

My last rant regarding to China – for the moment anyway.  You’ll recall in previous editions of FOD I have pointed out China’s Road and Belt initiative is a thinly veiled land and resources grab.  Now Defense News notes Sri Lanka, an island nation in the Indian Ocean the size of West Virginia, has become another flashpoint in regional naval competition.  That’s because in December, Sri Lanka turned over the strategic port in the southern city of Hambantota to a Chinese company on a 99-year lease. The deal, which allowed the country of 20 million to lessen its debts to China, marked another toehold for Beijing in the heart of the Indian Ocean.  The Sri Lankan government officially sold an 80 percent stake in the Hambantota port to a Chinese state-owned company on Dec. 9 after falling behind in repaying $1.5 billion borrowed from Beijing to build it. That prompted complaints the deal was too favorable to Beijing and fueled concerns about Sri Lanka’s soveignty.  The port is expected to play a key role in China’s Belt and Road initiative, which will link ports and roads between China and Europe. It’s been touted in the Chinese press as attracting further foreign investment and launching factories.  India, considered a rival with China, has reacted to the deal with suspicion, prompting Sri Lankan officials to repeatedly offer assurances the port will not be used by the Chinese military. (Fireball note:  China’s assurances in this regard are not to be believed).  On Monday at the sprawling Sea-Air-Space Expo outside Washington, D.C., the naval attaché of the Sri Lankan Embassy in the United States, Rear Admiral Dharmendra Wettewa, repeated the assurances his government has made to India, that there would be no foreign military activity at Hambantota.  “We have to walk the talk,” he said, adding that, “The Sri Lankan government needs to be as transparent as possible… You will see that happening.”  Under the administration of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, since voted out in 2015, Sri Lanka extended billions of dollars in loans for mega infrastructure projects. But the Chinese investment has fueled protests and police clashes, over what critics see as Beijing’s excessive demands and unfavorable financing.  Wettewa said on the panel about international maritime cooperation, beside U.S., Australian and Italian naval officials, that his country has no definitive military agreement with China, but there is a commercial relationship.  Sri Lanka has no special military relationship with any country, he added, but has strong lateral partnerships with India, Pakistan, Japan, Australia and the United States.  On the commercial side, China has made a lot of investment in Sri Lanka, Wettewa acknowledged.  In late February, The Sri Lankan chief of defense staff, Adm. Ravindra Wijegunaratne, reportedly assured India that the Hambantota for would not be given to any foreign navy. He reportedly made the remarks at an Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue, in the presence of Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.  “There had been this widespread claim about the port being earmarked to be used as a military base,” Wijegunaratne is reported to have said. “I can assure you in this forum that no action, whatsoever will be taken in our harbor or in our waters that jeopardizes India’s security concerns.”

 

 

Trump Promises Decision on US Response After Suspected Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria

Military Times is reporting President Donald Trump has promised a decision within 24 to 48 hours on how the U.S. will respond to the latest attack against civilians in Syria.  Fireball opinion: We should have lined up a collision of allies in advance and the President should have had at his fingertips several courses of action.  The President’s team should have known it was never about if, but when Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and/or his Russian backed cronies would again employ chemical weapons against his own population.  At a White House meeting on Monday, Trump condemned the attack as “atrocious” and “horrible.”  “This is about humanity, and it can’t be allowed to happen,” Trump said, according to remarks released through a media pool report. “If it’s the Russians, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out.”  Also on Monday, during a separate meeting with the Qatari defense minister, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he won’t rule out striking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.  “I don’t rule out anything right now,” Mattis responded when asked by reporters if the U.S. military would launch airstrikes against Assad’s chemical weapons facilities, following an alleged use of the deadly weapons by Assad’s forces.  President Donald Trump has promised a decision within 24 to 48 hours on how the U.S. will respond to the latest attack against civilians in Syria.  At a White House meeting on Monday, Trump condemned the attack as “atrocious” and “horrible.”  “This is about humanity, and it can’t be allowed to happen,” Trump said, according to remarks released through a media pool report. “If it’s the Russians, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out.”  Also on Monday, during a separate meeting with the Qatari defense minister, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he won’t rule out striking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.  “I don’t rule out anything right now,” Mattis responded when asked by reporters if the U.S. military would launch airstrikes against Assad’s chemical weapons facilities, following an alleged use of the deadly weapons by Assad’s forces.  “The first thing we have to look at is why are chemical weapons still being used at all, when Russia was the framework guarantor of removing all the chemical weapons,” Mattis said. “And so, working with our allies and our partners from NATO to Qatar and elsewhere, we are going to address this issue.”  Amid the tough talk from the White House, the U.S. military appeared to be in position to carry out any attack order. A Navy destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, was underway in the eastern Mediterranean after completing a port call in Cyprus. The guided missile destroyer is armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, the weapon of choice in a U.S. attack one year ago on an airfield in Syria following an alleged sarin gas attack on civilians.  On Saturday, a chemical weapons attack in the formerly rebel-held town of Douma, Syria, allegedly killed dozens of civilians, according to multiple news reports. One video, recorded by the White Helmets, a group of rescue workers, shows men, women and children lying lifeless in a living quarters, some with foam coming from their mouths.

 

Boeing 737 First Flight

At 1:15 p.m., 9 April 1967, the prototype Boeing 737-130, N73700, (internal number PA-099) took off from Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington, with test pilots Brien Singleton Wygle and Samuel Lewis (“Lew”) Wallick, Jr., in the cockpit. After a 2 hour, 30 minute flight, the new airliner landed at Paine Field, Everett, Washington.  When asked by a reporter what he thought about the new airplane, Boeing’s president, Bill Allen, replied, “I think they’ll be building this airplane when Bill Allen is in an old man’s home.”   He was correct.  In the 1990s, Boeing introduced the 737 Next Generation, with multiple changes including a redesigned, increased span laminar flow wing, upgraded “glass” cockpit, and new interior. The 737 Next Generation comprises the four -600 (no longer made), -700, -800, and -900 models, ranging from 102 ft to 138 ft in length. Boeing Business Jet versions of the 737 Next Generation are also produced.  The 737 series is the best-selling jet commercial airliner in history.  The 737 has been continuously manufactured by Boeing since 1967 with 9,448 aircraft delivered and 4,506 orders yet to be fulfilled as of March 2017.  Assembly of the 737 is performed at the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton, Washington. Many 737s serve markets previously filled by 707727757DC-9, and MD-80/MD-90 airliners, and the aircraft currently competes primarily with the Airbus A320 family.  Boeing produces over 50 737s per month and expects to increase that number with the 737MAX coming on line.  As of 2006, there was an average of 1,250 Boeing 737s airborne at any given time, with two departing or landing somewhere every five seconds.  In 2011, Boeing announced the 737 MAX program. Boeing will be offering three variants-the 737 MAX 7, 737 MAX 8 and the 737 MAX 9. These aircraft will replace the 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900ER, respectively. The main changes are the use of CFM International LEAP-1B engines, the addition of fly-by-wire control to the spoilers, and the lengthening of the nose landing gear. Deliveries began in 2017.  Southwest Airlines announced on December 13, 2011 that it would order the 737 MAX and became the launch customer.  Since entering service in 1968, the 737 has carried over 12 billion passengers over 74 billion miles (65 billion nm), and has accumulated more than 296 million hours in the air. The 737 represents more than 25% of the worldwide fleet of large commercial jet airliners.  After the flight test and certification program was complete, Boeing handed N73700 over to NASA at Langley Field, where it became NASA 515 (N515NA) and was used for research in cockpit design, engine controls, high lift devices, etc. Because of it’s short and stubby appearance, NASA named it “Fat Albert”.  The prototype Boeing 737 ended its NASA career and was returned to Boeing, landing for the last time at Boeing Field’s Runway 31L, 3:11 p.m., PDT, 21 September 2003. Today, PA-099 is on display at the Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington.

 

Robert E. Lee Surrenders

After four long years and many battles fought, more won than lost, Confederate Army general Robert E. Lee‘s Army of Northern Virginia  surrendered to the Union Army under Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant on 09 April 1865.  The signing of the surrender documents occurred in the parlor of the house owned by Wilmer McLean on the afternoon of April 9. Interesting is the fact Wilmer McLean was an American wholesale grocer from Virginia. His house near Manassas, Virginia was involved in the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861. It was the first major battle of the American Civil War.  After the battle he moved to Appomattox, Virginia, to protect his family and business from further involvement in the conflict.  His houses were, therefore, involved in one of the first and one of the last encounters of the American Civil War.  Later, McLean is supposed to have said “The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.” Well dressed in a full general’s uniform, Lee waited for Grant to arrive. Grant, whose headache had ended when he received Lee’s note proposing to discuss surrender, arrived at the house in a mud-spattered uniform—a government-issue sack coat with trousers tucked into muddy boots, no sidearms, and with only his tarnished shoulder straps showing his rank.  It was the first time the two men had seen each other face-to-face in almost two decades.  Suddenly overcome with sadness, Grant found it hard to get to the point of the meeting and instead the two generals briefly discussed their only previous encounter, during the Mexican–American War. Lee brought the attention back to the issue at hand, and Grant offered the same terms he had offered the previous day:

In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th inst., I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of N. Va. on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate. One copy to be given to an officer designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and each company or regimental commander sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officer appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.

The terms were as generous as Lee could hope for; his men would not be imprisoned or prosecuted for treason. Officers were allowed to keep their sidearms.  In addition to his terms, Grant also allowed the defeated men to take home their horses and mules to carry out the spring planting and provided Lee with a supply of food rations for his starving army; Lee said it would have a very happy effect among the men and do much toward reconciling the country.  Lee never forgot Grant’s magnanimity during the surrender, and for the rest of his life would not tolerate an unkind word about Grant in his presence. Likewise, General Gordon cherished Chamberlain’s simple act of saluting his surrendered army, calling Chamberlain “one of the knightliest soldiers of the Federal army.  On April 10, Lee gave his farewell address to his army.

Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia, 10th April 1865.

General Order
No. 9

After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.

I need not tell the survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to the result from no distrust of them.

But feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I have determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.

By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection.

With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

— R. E. Lee, General, General Order No. 9

 

First Astronauts Introduced

On April 9, 1959, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) introduces America’s first astronauts to the press: Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Walter Schirra Jr., Alan Shepard Jr., and Donald Slayton. The seven men, all military test pilots, were carefully selected from a group of 32 candidates to take part in Project Mercury,America’s first manned space program. NASA planned to begin manned orbital flights in 1961.   In January 1959, NASA began the astronaut selection procedure, screening the records of 508 military test pilots and choosing 110 candidates. This number was arbitrarily divided into three groups, and the first two groups reported to Washington. Because of the high rate of volunteering, the third group was eliminated. Of the 62 pilots who volunteered, six were found to have grown too tall since their last medical examination. An initial battery of written tests, interviews, and medical history reviews further reduced the number of candidates to 36. After learning of the extreme physical and mental tests planned for them, four of these men dropped out.  The final 32 candidates traveled to the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they underwent exhaustive medical and psychological examinations. The men proved so healthy, however, that only one candidate was eliminated. The remaining 31 candidates then traveled to the Wright Aeromedical Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, where they underwent the most grueling part of the selection process. For six days and three nights, the men were subjected to various tortures that tested their tolerance of physical and psychological stress. Among other tests, the candidates were forced to spend an hour in a pressure chamber that simulated an altitude of 65,000 feet, and two hours in a chamber that was heated to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. At the end of one week, 18 candidates remained. From among these men, the selection committee was to choose six based on interviews, but seven candidates were so strong they ended up settling on that number.  After they were announced, the “Mercury Seven” became overnight celebrities. The Mercury Project suffered some early setbacks, however, and on April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth in the world’s first manned space flight. Less than one month later, on May 5, astronaut Alan Shepard was successfully launched into space on a suborbital flight. On February 20, 1962, in a major step for the U.S. space program, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. NASA continued to trail the Soviets in space achievements until the late 1960s, when NASA’s Apollo program put the first men on the moon and safely returned them to Earth.  In 1998, 36 years after his first space flight, John Glenn traveled into space again. Glenn, then 77 years old, was part of the Space Shuttle Discovery crew, whose 9-day research mission launched on October 29, 1998. Among the crew’s investigations was a study of space flight and the aging process.

 

Bataan Death March

the Bataan Death March was the forcible transfer by the Imperial Japanese Army of 60,000–80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war from Saysain Point, Bagac, Bataan and Mariveles to Camp O’DonnellCapas, Tarlac, via San Fernando, Pampanga, where the prisoners were loaded onto trains. The transfer began on April 9, 1942, after the three-month Battle of Bataan in the Philippines during World War II. The total distance marched from Mariveles to San Fernando and from the Capas Train Station to Camp O’Donnell is variously reported by differing sources as between 60 and 69.6 miles.  Differing sources also report widely differing prisoner of war casualties prior to reaching Camp O’Donnell: from 5,000 to 18,000 Filipino deaths and 500 to 650 American deaths during the march. The march was characterized by severe physical abuse and wanton killings, and was later judged by an Allied military commission to be a Japanese war crime.  Following the surrender of Bataan on April 9, 1942 to the Japanese Imperial Army, prisoners were massed in Mariveles and Bagac town.  As the defeated defenders were massed in preparation for the march, they were ordered to turn over their possessions. American Lieutenant Kermit Lay recounted how this was done:  They pulled us off into a rice paddy and began shaking us down. There [were] about a hundred of us so it took time to get to all of us. Everyone had pulled their pockets wrong side out and laid all their things out in front. They were taking jewelry and doing a lot of slapping. I laid out my New Testament. … After the shakedown, the Japs took an officer and two enlisted men behind a rice shack and shot them. The men who had been next to them said they had Japanese souvenirs and money.  Word quickly spread among the prisoners to conceal or destroy any Japanese money or mementos, as the captors assumed it had been stolen from dead Japanese soldiers.  Prisoners started out from Mariveles on April 10, and Bagac on April 11, converging in Pilar, Bataan, and heading north to the San Fernando railhead.  At the beginning of capture there were rare instances of kindness by Japanese officers and those Japanese soldiers who spoke English, such as sharing of food and cigarettes and permitting personal possessions to be kept. This was fast followed by unrelenting brutality, theft, and even knocking men’s teeth out for gold fillings, as the common Japanese soldier had also suffered in the Battle for Bataan and had nothing but disgust and hatred for his “captives” (Japan did not recognize these people as POWs).  The first atrocity—attributed to Colonel Masanobu Tsuji —occurred when approximately 350 to 400 Filipino officers and NCOs under his supervision were summarily executed near the Pantingan River after they had surrendered.  Tsuji—acting against General Homma’s wishes that the prisoners be transferred peacefully—had issued clandestine orders to Japanese officers to summarily execute all American “captives.”  Though some Japanese officers ignored the orders, others were receptive to the idea of murdering POWs.  During the march, prisoners received little food or water, and many died.  Prisoners were subjected to severe physical abuse, including being beaten and tortured.  On the march, the “sun treatment” was a common form of torture. Prisoners were forced to sit in sweltering direct sunlight, without helmets or other head covering. Anyone who asked for water was shot dead. Some men were told to strip naked or sit within sight of fresh, cool water.  Trucks drove over some of those who fell or succumbed to fatigue, and “cleanup crews” put to death those too weak to continue, though some trucks picked up some of those too fatigued to continue. Some marchers were randomly stabbed by bayonets or beaten.  The Death March was later judged by an Allied military commission to be a Japanese war crime.  Once the surviving prisoners arrived in Balanga, the overcrowded conditions and poor hygiene caused dysentery and other diseases to spread rapidly.

Taken during the March of Death from Bataan to the prison camp march at Cabanatuan. (Defense department USMC 114,540, National Archives).

The Japanese did not provide the prisoners with medical care, so U.S. medical personnel tended to the sick and wounded with few or no supplies.  Upon arrival at the San Fernando railhead, prisoners were stuffed into sweltering, brutally hot metal box cars for the one-hour trip to Capas, in 110 °F heat. At least 100 prisoners were pushed into each of the trains’ unventilated boxcars. The trains had no sanitation facilities, and disease continued to take a heavy toll on the prisoners. According to Staff Sergeant Alf Larson: The train consisted of six or seven World War I-era boxcars. … They packed us in the cars like sardines, so tight you couldn’t sit down. Then they shut the door. If you passed out, you couldn’t fall down. If someone had to go to the toilet, you went right there where you were. It was close to summer and the weather was hot and humid, hotter than Billy Blazes! We were on the train from early morning to late afternoon without getting out. People died in the railroad cars.  Upon arrival at the Capas train station, they were forced to walk the final 9 mi to Camp O’Donnell.  Even after arriving at Camp O’Donnell, the survivors of the march continued to die at rates of up to several hundred per day, which amounted to a death toll of as many as 20,000 Filipino and American deaths.  Most of the dead were buried in mass graves that the Japanese had dug behind the barbed wire surrounding the compound.  Of the estimated 80,000 POWs at the march, only 54,000 made it to Camp O’Donnell.  Credible sources report widely differing prisoner of war casualties prior to reaching their destination: from 5,000 to 18,000 Filipino deaths and 500 to 650 American deaths during the march. 

 

Some Other Events From April 9:

1859 Mark Twain receives steamboat pilot’s license

1881 Billy the Kid convicted of murder

1940 Germany invades Norway and Denmark

 

John Paul Jones Sets Sail

After having mentioned Captain John Barry in the most recent edition of FOD, it seems only appropriate to mention the other “Father of the American Navy, John Paul JonesOn June 4, 1777 Jones was assigned command of the newly constructed USS Ranger, the same day that the new Stars and Stripes flag was adopted.  Jones sailed for France on November 1, 1777, with orders to assist the American cause however possible.  (Now those are orders – Go forth, protect and defend American interests abroad – Report when you get back).  On February 6, 1778, France signed the Treaty of Alliance with America, formally recognizing the independence of the new American republic. Eight days later, Captain Jones’s Ranger became the first American naval vessel to be formally saluted by the French, with a nine-gun salute fired from captain Lamotte-Piquet‘s flagship. Jones wrote of the event: “I accepted his offer all the more for after all it was recognition of our independence and in the nation.”  April 10, 1778, Commander John Paul Jones and Ranger set sail from Brest, France, for the western coasts of Britain.  He engaged in a variety of raids and encounters along the Irish Sea.  He later, crossed the Solway Firth from Whitehaven to Scotland, hoping to hold for ransom the Earl of Selkirk, who lived on St Mary’s Isle near Kirkcudbright. The Earl, Jones reasoned, could be exchanged for American sailors impressed into the Royal Navy. The Earl was discovered to be absent from his estate, so his wife entertained the officers and conducted negotiations. Canadian historian Peter C. Newman gives credit to the governess for protecting the young heir and to the butler for filling a sack half with coal, and topping it up with the family silver, in order to fob off the Americans.  Jones claimed that he intended to return directly to his ship and continue seeking prizes elsewhere, but his crew wished to “pillage, burn, and plunder all they could.”  Ultimately, Jones allowed the crew to seize a silver plate set adorned with the family’s emblem to placate their desires, but nothing else. Jones bought the plate set himself when it was later sold off in France, and returned it to the Earl of Selkirk after the war.  Jones now led Ranger back across the Irish Sea, hoping to make another attempt at the Drake, still anchored off Carrickfergus. This time, late in the afternoon of April 24, 1778, the ships, roughly equal in firepower, engaged in combat. Earlier in the day, the Americans had captured the crew of a reconnaissance boat, and learned that Drake had taken on dozens of soldiers, with the intention of grappling and boarding Ranger, so Jones made sure that did not happen, capturing Drake after an hour-long gun battle which cost the British captain his life. Lieutenant Simpson was given command of Drake for the return journey to Brest. The ships separated during the return journey as Ranger chased another prize, leading to a conflict between Simpson and Jones. Regardless of any controversy surrounding the mission, Ranger’s capture of Drake was one of the Continental Navy’s few significant naval victories during the Revolution, and was of immense symbolic importance, demonstrating as it did that the Royal Navy was far from invincible. By overcoming such odds, Ranger’s victory became an important symbol of the American spirit and served as an inspiration for the permanent establishment of the United States Navy after the revolution.

 

 

USS Thresher‘s on 10 April

The USS Thresher (SS-200) was a Tambor-class submarine, and the first United States Navy ship to be named for the thresher shark.  She was commissioned on 27 August 1940.  She was employed on the first wartime sub patrols and completed 15 patrols during WW II.  Thresher departed 23 March 1942 for a patrol area near the Japanese home islands. There, she was to gather weather data off Honshū for use by Admiral William Halsey‘s task force (the carriers Enterprise (CV-6) and Hornet (CV-8), then approaching Japan. Embarked in Hornet were 16 United States Army Air Forces B-25 Mitchell medium bombers, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, intended to attack Tokyo on 18 April.  On 10 April 1942, she spotted and attacked a Japanese ship. One torpedo broke the back of freighter Sado Maru (3,000 tons) off Yokohama, sending it to the bottom in less than three minutes. The subsequent depth charge attack was delivered by three or four patrol vessels (one of the most severe of the war), caused Thresher to lose depth control and she plunged to 400 feet before control was regained. She then disobeyed orders and remained to assist Halsey. She conducted periscope patrols in the advance screen of Halsey’s task force, searching for any enemy craft that could warn the Japanese homeland. She was detached from this duty on 16 April and, after evading two Japanese patrol planes, returned to Pearl Harbor on 29 April.  Thresher received 15 battle stars and a Navy Unit Commendation for World War II service, making her the most decorated submarine and amongst the most highly decorated US ships of World War II.  The second USS Thresher (SSN-593) was the lead boat of her class of nuclear-powered attack submarines in the United States NavyAt the time she was built, she was the fastest, and quietest submarine in the world.  SSN 593 was considered the most advanced weapons system of its day, created specifically to seek out and destroy Soviet submarines. Its new sonar (both passive and active) was able to detect other submarines and ships at greater range, and it was intended to launch the U.S. Navy’s newest anti-submarine missile, the SUBROC.  On 10 April in 1963, during deep-dive tests some 220 miles east of Boston, she broke up and sank, killing her complement of 129 crew and shipyard personnel aboard.  The bathyscaphe Trieste, was used to originally discover the debris field as being six major sections in some 8400 feet of water.  Recovered artifacts, underwater photographs and many simulated dock-side test on Thresher‘s sister sub, Tinosa allowed the Court of Inquiry to conclude Thresher had probably suffered the failure of a salt-water piping system joint which relied heavily on silver brazing instead of welding; earlier tests using ultrasound equipment found potential problems with about 14% of the tested brazed joints, most of which were determined not to pose a risk significant enough to require a repair. High-pressure water spraying from a broken pipe joint may have shorted out one of the many electrical panels, causing a shutdown (“scram“) of the reactor, with a subsequent loss of propulsion. The inability to blow the ballast tanks was later attributed to excessive moisture in the sub’s high-pressure air flasks, moisture which froze and plugged the flasks’ flowpaths passing through the valves.  Unable to restart her reactor and with no propulsion she continued to sink further and rapidly until she imploded at a depth of 1,300–2,000 ft.   The U.S. Navy has periodically monitored the environmental conditions of the site since the sinking and has reported the results in an annual public report on environmental monitoring for U.S. Naval nuclear-powered craft. These reports provide specifics on the environmental sampling of sediment, water, and marine life which was done to ascertain whether Thresher‘s nuclear reactor has had a significant effect on the deep ocean environment. The reports also explain the methodology for conducting deep-sea monitoring from both surface vessels and submersibles. The monitoring data indicates there has been no significant effect on the environment. Nuclear fuel in the reactors remains intact.  According to newly declassified information, the Navy sent Commander (Dr.) Robert Ballard, the oceanographer credited with locating the wreck of RMS Titanic, on a secret mission to map and collect visual data on both the Thresher and Scorpion wrecks.  The Navy used Ballard’s search for Titanic as a screen to hide the mission. Ballard approached the Navy in 1982 for funding to find Titanic with his new deep-diving robot submersible. The Navy saw the opportunity and granted him the money on the condition he first inspect the two submarine wrecks. Ballard’s robotic survey discovered Thresher had sunk so deep that it imploded, turning into thousands of pieces. The only recoverable piece was a foot of marled pipe.  His 1985 search for Scorpion revealed such a large debris field that it looked “as though it had been put through a shredding machine.” Once the two wrecks had been visited, and the radioactive threat from both was established as small, Ballard was able to search for Titanic. Due to dwindling funds, he had just 12 days to do so, but he used the same debris-field search techniques he had used for the two subs, which worked, and Titanic was found.  As the lead vessel, the class name was originally the Thresher-class. However, when Thresher was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 16 April 1963, out of respect for naval tradition its name was retired and the class name was changed to that of the second boat, Permit: thus, despite being the lead boat, Thresher is, officially, referred to as a Permit-class submarine. Having been “lost at sea,” Thresher was not decommissioned by the U.S. Navy and remains on “Eternal Patrol.”  A recent update calls for a declassification of the Thresher files.  Retired Navy CAPT Jim Bryant, who served on board three Permit-class subs and commanded the USS Guardfish (SSN 612), recently authored a new analysis of the submarine disaster, highlighting discrepancies between the Naval Court of Inquiry’s (NCOI) findings and evidence available for its investigation at the time. He raises concerns about the court’s accuracy in recording the last understandable message sent by the sub, at about 9:12 a.m., pieced together from the testimony of several witnesses:

“Experiencing minor difficulties. Have positive up angle. Am attempting to blow. Will keep you informed.”

In his analysis, Bryant said, “Thresher’s difficulties were anything but minor by the time Skylark received that message.”  The USS Skylark (ASR 20) was the submarine rescue ship that accompanied the Thresher for its sea trials about 200 miles off the Massachusetts coast.  Bryant’s paper, excerpted and paraphrased below, faults the Navy for not being forthcoming enough regarding the historic disaster.  “The NCOI report cannot be accepted verbatim. It is not an acceptable reference for defining the sequence of events that occurred as the Thresher lost control and sank,” Bryant said in his analysis.  “The boat was below test depth of about 1,300 feet and its nuclear reactor had just shut down. The Thresher had negative buoyancy and there was no power to drive it back to the surface,” he continued.  The Thresher tried to blow its main ballast tanks with no effect. According to Bryant, it would take the crew at least another 20 minutes to restore main propulsion — time they did not have.  The Thresher kept sinking until its hull imploded at a depth of about 2,400 feet, releasing energy equivalent to the explosive force of about 22,000 pounds of TNT. The hull collapsed in 47 milliseconds, about one-twentieth of a second.  The Thresher’s crushed and shattered hull was later found just off the Continental Shelf, at a depth of more than 8,000 feet.  Bryant said the Thresher’s final descent and implosion was recorded on paper time-frequency plots in great detail by the Navy’s underwater Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS).  “All of the data recorded by SOSUS was available to the Naval Court of Inquiry,” he said. “But it wasn’t used effectively because the court didn’t trust it. If the NCOI had thoroughly understood the acoustic data, it could have ruled out major flooding as a cause of the disaster, since the resonances created by such an event were not detected.”  Bryant said the court did hear the testimony (in closed session) of a single acoustics expert: Navy LT Bruce Rule, analysis officer for the SOSUS Evaluation Center in Norfolk, Va. He went on to become the lead acoustic analyst for the Office of Naval Intelligence.  Rule analyzed the acoustic data from the Thresher during her final dive. Not only did he discount a major flooding incident, Bryant said, he indicated that the sub’s nuclear power plant shut down completely at a critical moment — from an electrical failure — when all the main coolant pumps stopped.  Rule said the NCOI softened its conclusion by stating that the Thresher’s main coolant pumps “slowed or stopped,” a phrase that would deflect blame from ADM Hyman G. Rickover, who created the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program and who had selected each officer involved in the Navy’s submarine force and therefore every officer on the NCOI.  And at this time, he had dictatorial power over every member of the court.  “In fact, I was aggressively confronted by a couple of Navy commanders who challenged my data,” Rule said. “I don’t recall their names, but I do remember their vicious — and unsuccessful — attempt to get me to change my testimony.”  Because the court of inquiry didn’t trust the SOSUS data, Bryant said, it relied heavily on the Skylark’s underwater telephone communications log and testimony from crew members in defining the tragic sequence of events.  The NCOI interviewed many witnesses about underwater communications with the Thresher during its final dive, he said. Yet the Navy has released only a small portion of that testimony since 1963.  “We have no way of comparing the original words from witnesses with the language of the NCOI’s final report on the Thresher’s loss,” Bryant wrote.  As far as Bryant is concerned, it is time for the Navy to release all remaining documents related to the Thresher disaster.  “The entire NCOI report, especially all of the testimony, should be made available to scholars and the public at large,” he wrote. “That report is sitting in a federal records center, waiting for more than a decade to be transferred to the National Archives.”  In other words, he argues the Navy should comply with the spirit of Executive Order 13526, issued in December 2009. It created the National Declassification Center to facilitate the timely and systematic release of classified material.  Bryant said that even a small gesture, such as releasing the unclassified Sea Trial Agenda, would demonstrate a concern for transparency and provide greater insight for historians.  “To date,” he said, “formal requests for Thresher’s Sea Trial Agenda have been repeatedly and systematically deferred by the Navy.”  For more information, see “Thresher Disaster: New Analysis” by Capt. Jim Bryant, USN (ret.), a research paper currently under review for publication by the Naval Engineers Journal. A 3,000-word article based on this paper is tentatively scheduled for publication in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings magazine.

 

Some Other Events From April 10:

1866 ASPCA is founded

1970 Paul McCartney announces the breakup of the Beatles

1933 FDR creates Civilian Conservation Corps

 

Apollo 13 Launches

On April 11, 1970, Apollo 13, launches from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.  It was to have been the seventh manned mission to land on the MoonThe mission was commanded by James A. Lovell with John L. “Jack” Swigert as Command Module Pilot and Fred W. Haise as Lunar Module Pilot. Swigert was a late replacement for the original CM pilot Ken Mattingly, who was grounded by the flight surgeon after exposure to German measles.  Approaching 56 hours into the mission, Apollo 13 was approximately 205,000 miles (330,000 km) from Earth en route to the Moon.  Houston flight controllers asked Swigert to turn on the hydrogen and oxygen tank stirring fans in the Service Module, which were designed to destratify the cryogenic contents and increase the accuracy of their quantity readings. Two minutes later, the astronauts heard a “loud bang,” accompanied by fluctuations in electrical power and the firing of the attitude control thrusters.  The crew initially thought that a meteoroid might have struck the Lunar Module (LM). Communications and telemetry to Earth were lost for 1.8 seconds, until the system automatically corrected by switching the high-gain S-band antenna used for translunar communications from narrow-beam to wide-beam mode.  Immediately after the bang Swigert reported a “problem,” which Lovell repeated and clarified as a “main B bus undervolt”, a temporary loss of operating voltage on the second of the spacecraft’s main electrical circuits. Oxygen tank 2 immediately read quantity zero. About three minutes later, the number 1 and number 3 fuel cells failed. Lovell reported seeing out the window that the craft was venting “a gas of some sort” into space. The number 1 oxygen tank quantity gradually reduced to zero over the next 130 minutes, entirely depleting the Service Module’s (SM) oxygen supply.  Because the fuel cells generated the Command/Service Module’s electrical power by combining hydrogen and oxygen into water, when oxygen tank 1 ran dry, the remaining fuel cell finally shut down, leaving the craft on the Command Module’s limited-duration battery power and water. The crew was forced to shut down the Command Module (CM) completely to save the battery power for re-entry, and to power up the LM to use as a “lifeboat.”   This situation had been suggested during an earlier training simulation, but had not been considered a likely scenario.  Without the LM, the accident would certainly have been fatal.   Mission planners in Houston selected the free-return trajectory using the lunar module’s Descent Propulsion System (DPS) engine.  A 30.7 second burn was initiated to establish the free-return trajectory and was used again two hours after pericynthion, the closest approach to the Moon (“PC+2 burn”), to speed the return to Earth by 10 hours and move the landing spot from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.  The availability of lithium hydroxide (LiOH) canisters for removing carbon dioxide presented a serious problem. The LM’s internal stock of LiOH canisters was not sufficient to support the crew until return, and the remainder was stored in the descent stage, out of reach. The CM had an adequate supply of canisters, but these were incompatible with the LM. Engineers on the ground improvised a way to join the cube-shaped CM canisters to the LM’s cylindrical canister-sockets by drawing air through them with a suit return hose. NASA engineers referred to the improvised device as “the mailbox”.  Another problem to be solved for a safe return was accomplishing a complete power-up from scratch of the completely shut-down Command Module, something never intended to be done in-flight. Flight controller John Aaron, with the support of grounded astronaut Mattingly and many engineers and designers, had to invent a new procedure to do this with the ship’s limited power supply and time factor.  This was further complicated by the fact that the reduced power levels in the LM caused internal temperatures to drop to as low as 4 °C (39 °F). The unpowered CM got so cold that water began to condense on solid surfaces, causing concern that this might short out electrical systems when it was reactivated. This turned out not to be a problem, partly because of the extensive electrical insulation improvements instituted after the Apollo 1 fire.  The last problem to be solved was how to separate the Lunar Module a safe distance away from the Command Module just before re-entry. The normal procedure was to use the Service Module’s reaction control system (RCS) to pull the CSM away after releasing the LM along with the Command Module’s docking ring, but this RCS was inoperative because of the power failure, and the useless SM would be released before the LM. To solve the problem, Grumman called on the engineering expertise of the University of Toronto. A team of six UT engineers, led by senior scientist Bernard Etkin, was formed to solve the problem within a day. The team concluded that pressurizing the tunnel connecting the Lunar Module to the Command Module just before separation would provide the force necessary to push the two modules a safe distance away from each other just prior to re-entry. The team had 6 hours to compute the pressure required, using slide rules. They needed an accurate calculation, as too high a pressure might damage the hatch and its seal, causing the astronauts to burn up; too low a pressure would not provide enough separation distance of the LM. Grumman relayed their calculation to NASA, and from there in turn to the astronauts, who used it successfully.  As Apollo 13 neared Earth, the crew first jettisoned the Service Module, using the LM’s reaction control system to pull themselves a safe distance from it, instead of the normal procedure which used automatic firing of the SM’s RCS. They photographed it for later analysis of the accident’s cause. It was then that the crew was surprised to see for the first time that the entire Sector 4 panel had been blown off. According to the analysts, these pictures also showed the antenna damage and possibly an upward tilt to the fuel cell shelf above the oxygen tank compartment.    The CM, Odyssey regained radio contact and splashed down safely in the South Pacific Ocean, 21°38′24″S 165°21′42″W, southeast of American Samoa and 6.5 km (3.5 nmi) from the recovery ship, USS Iwo Jima. The crew was in good condition except for Haise, who was suffering from a serious urinary tract infection because of insufficient water intake. The Apollo 13 mission was called “a successful failure” by Lovell, because of the successful safe return of the astronauts, but the failed lunar landing. Lead Flight Director Gene Kranz and Flight controller Sy Liebergot, the first one to see the telemetry of the initial oxygen tank failure, both describe it decades later as “NASA’s finest hour.  President Nixon awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the crew and the Apollo 13 Mission Operations Team for their actions during the mission.  The original lunar plaque affixed to the front landing leg of Aquarius bore Mattingly’s name, so a replacement plaque with Swigert’s name was carried in the cabin, for Lovell to place over the other after he descended the ladder. He kept the plaque as a souvenir. In his book Lost Moon (later renamed Apollo 13), Lovell stated that, apart from the plaque and a couple of other pieces, the only other memento he possesses is a letter from Charles Lindbergh.   The Apollo 13 crew patch featured three flying horses as Apollo’s “chariot” across space. Given Lovell’s Navy background, the logo also included the mottoes “Ex Luna, scientia” (“From the Moon, knowledge”), borrowed from the U.S. Naval Academy‘s motto, “Ex scientia tridens” (“From knowledge, sea power”).   As a joke following Apollo 13’s successful splashdown, Grumman Aerospace Corporation pilot Sam Greenberg (who had helped with the strategy for re-routing power from the LM to the crippled CM) issued a tongue-in-cheek invoice for $400,540.05 to North American RockwellPratt and Whitney, and Beech Aircraft,  prime and subcontractors for the CSM, for “towing” the crippled ship most of the way to the Moon and back. The figure was based on an estimated 400,001 miles (643,739 km) at $1.00 per mile, plus $4.00 for the first mile. An extra $536.05 was included for battery charging, oxygen, and an “additional guest in room” (Swigert). A 20% “commercial discount,” as well as a further 2% discount if North American were to pay in cash, reduced the total to $312,421.24. As a young midshipman at USNA in 1970, we were all shuffled over to the Field House after evening meal one night in May, where Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Ken Mattingly gave the 4000 man brigade an in-depth debrief of their mission.  It was a great moment for me.  The story of the Apollo 13 mission has been dramatized multiple times, most notably in the 1995 film Apollo 13.

 

Events From April 11:

1814 Napoleon exiled to Elba

1961 Bob Dylan plays his first major gig in New York City

1945 The U.S. army liberates Buchenwald concentration camp

 

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 2nd through 8th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Laughing is one of the best exercises; it’s like running inside your mind. You can do it almost anywhere and it’s even better with a friend.

 

Fireball Opinion: Better the Rule Of Law Than The Rule of Deals

President Trump is the first president in recent memory that has not emerged from the ranks of professional politicians, but rather a professional businessman.  I applaud President Trump’s efforts to “make America great again.”  I never thought we were not great!  Lots can be said regarding the current discussions regarding tariffs against China.  I do believe it’s appropriate to listen to experts or at least economists regarding the benefits of tariffs.  I have not heard from a single economist who favors or even endorses tariffs as an appropriate tool to use against China.  While no one argues the need to curtail China’s theft of intellectual property, it is important to look at each opportunity American’s companies have entered into and evaluate whether that individual company knowingly or unknowingly entered into an agreement that made  their intellectual property vulnerable to being compromised by a totalitarian regime intent on stealing every manufacturing advancement and/or technology advancement for their own benefit.  It has always been the case and has accelerated since the US allowed and supported admitting China to the World Trade Organization.  There is ample evidence to support multiple violations of nearly every rule.  Yet the US and other nations has been the beneficiary of cheaply produced goods that has continued to support the US and other nation’s economies for decades.  I would encourage the President to use the rule of law to counter China’s activities rather than attempting to make another deal.  The Rule of Deals never goes smoothly and is not consistent with our nation’s values.  And while I’m at it, I think in particularly inappropriate for the President to attack a public corporation like Amazon for what appears to be a veiled personally vindictive attack on the Jeff Bezos, who in addition to being the founder and CEO of Amazon also owns the Washington Post.  President Donald Trump lit into Amazon.com Inc. for the second time in three days with a pair of Twitter messages last week that said the online retailer “must pay real costs (and taxes) now!”  The president on Saturday claimed, citing reports he didn’t specify, that the U.S. Postal Service “will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon” and added that the “Post Office scam must stop.” Amazon has said the postal service, which has financial problems stretching back for years, makes money on its deliveries.  Amazon shed $53 billion in market value on Wednesday after Axios reported that the president is “obsessed” with regulating the e-commerce giant, whose founder and chief executive officer, Jeff Bezos. Those losses were pared on Thursday, the final day of a shortened trading week, even as Trump tweeted that Amazon was using the postal service as its “Delivery Boy.”  The Postal Service is losing money, but its package delivery service is profitable, unlike its letter delivery.  The Postal Service is required by law to cover its costs for delivering competitive products, such as packages for Amazon. The Postal Regulatory Commission, which oversees the service, set the appropriate share of the costs of package delivery at 5.5% a little more than a decade ago.  Since then, the service’s delivery of packages has grown substantially, and the United Parcel Service argued in a submission to the commission in 2015 that a realistic appropriate share of costs for those deliveries should be about 24.6%.  A Citigroup analysis last year found that that difference would amount to about $1.46 per parcel, which might serve as the basis for Trump’s $1.50 figure. An op-ed penned in July by Josh Sandbulte in the Wall Street Journal cited that analysis in arguing the Postal Service’s estimate of costs for delivering packages should be revised. In response, US Postal Service executive Joseph Corbett wrote that the op-ed provided an “inaccurate and unfair account,” and that the Postal Regulatory Commission has determined each year that the service is covering its costs for package deliveries.  Sandbulte is co-president of Greenhaven Associates, a money management firm that owns FedEx common stock.  Corbett asserted the Postal Service’s financial insolvency is the result of its inability to overcome “systemic financial imbalances caused by legal and other constraints,” such as a price cap on revenue-producing products that doesn’t take changes in delivery volumes and costs into account.  The Postal Service’s biggest money problem is that it has billions in retirement obligations to its workers that it can’t afford.  Amazon pays the US Post Office to deliver packages to customers’ doors, including on Sundays, and because Amazon ships so many packages though the post office, it’s charged at a lower rate than most customers.  But Amazon does not receive a special rate; it pays the rate that the post office charges other bulk shippers.  Neither Amazon nor the post office has disclosed the details of its agreement, but the Postal Service says the deal is mutually beneficial.  On Thursday, Trump tweeted another accusation about Amazon not paying “taxes to state & local governments” and “putting many thousands of retailers out of business.”  Amazon collects sales tax in every state that charges one and remits it to the states, which is nearly every state. Amazon also pays local property taxes on its distribution centers as well as on the Whole Foods stores it purchased last year.  Amazon maintains it helps small businesses in a tough retail climate, helping vendors reach a mass audience.  This isn’t the first time Trump has accused The Washington Post of being a lobbying arm of Amazon. While both companies are owned by Jeff Bezos, Amazon does not have a stake in The Washington Post.

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 2nd through 8th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 28th through April 1st 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

The man who smiles when things go wrong has thought of someone to blame it on – Richard Bloch

 

Support Needed

Each day when send our children to school.  It’s time we support those teachers by paying them commensurate with their responsibilities – educating the next generation of American citizens.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 28th through April 1st 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 25th through March 4th 2018

Friends of FOD

Where does the time go?   Sorry for the delay in getting this edition on the street.  A lot to cover – let’s get to it!

 

FOD Saying of the Day

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.” — Albert Einstein 

 

Trump, Boeing Reach Handshake Agreement to Cap Air Force One Program at $3.9B

Defense News is reporting the White House and Boeing have reached an informal deal on the new Air Force One planes that will cap the cost of developing and producing the aircraft at $3.9 billion.  CNBC and Fox News both reported the handshake agreement on Tuesday, which was confirmed to Defense News by officials with knowledge of the negotiation. According to a Boeing official, the price includes all previously definitive contracts — including a $600 million contract for design work and a still-undisclosed contract for two Boeing 747 planes — as well as the engineering, manufacturing and design contract, which has not yet been awarded.  “Boeing is proud to build the next generation of Air Force One, providing American presidents with a flying White House at outstanding value to taxpayers. President Trump negotiated a good deal on behalf of the American people,” Boeing said in a statement. The White House claims the deal will save taxpayers $1.4 billion, as the original total cost for two new presidential transport aircraft was originally estimated at more than $5 billion.  However, it is not immediately clear where that $5 billion figure was derived. When President Donald Trump, then the president-elect, tweeted in December 2016 that he would cancel the program if costs did not come down, he stated that the program was worth more than $4 billion. Experts and officials with knowledge of the budget told Defense News at the time that the $4 billion estimate was accurate.  Last February, Trump claimed he had already shaved $1 billion from the program. Subsequent reporting by Defense One shed light on many cost-saving cuts, including a requirements changethat stripped a mid-air refueling capability and the decision to buy two 747s that were built — but never owned — by a Russian airliner.  However, budget documents continued to show an estimated $4 billion total cost estimate. Experts said Trump would be hard-pressed to cut $1 billion from the Air Force One program, where the price is driven by the design work needed to transform two commercial airliners into highly-fortified flying White Houses, complete with advanced communications and hardening that would protect the president against nuclear attacks.  Under the Air Force’s Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program, Boeing will produce two new Air Force Ones and is expected to start aircraft modifications in 2019. The new Air Force One planes could begin replacing the aging VC-25A models as early as 2024.

 

 

DARPA Program Turns Creatures Into Sensors

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military.  Navy Times is reporting A new program launched by the agency that brings you stealth technology is looking to use living sea creatures, from mollusks and crustaceans to certain types of fish, as part of a sensor network to monitor what threats to U.S. naval vessels are lurking beneath the waves.  But DARPA made clear that not every creature will be studied, specifically those who are protected or on endangered lists such as many sea-dwelling mammals.  “DARPA expressly forbids the inclusion of endangered species and intelligent mammals, such as dolphins and whales, from researchers’ proposals on the PALS program,” said Jared Adams, DARPA spokesman.  The Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors, or PALS, program will “study natural and modified organisms to determine which ones could best support sensor systems that detect the movement of manned and unmanned underwater vehicles,” according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency website.  The program, run by Lori Adornato in the DARPA Biotech Office, will study the responses of living organisms in the ocean to vehicles, and use a network of hardware devices to relay, capture and interpret the data.  Current hardware-based ocean sensor systems require a wealth of resources, so they can only be used for specific assets such as an aircraft carrier, Adornato said.  “If we can tap into the innate sensing capabilities of living organisms that are ubiquitous in the oceans, we can extend our ability to track adversary activity and do so discreetly, on a persistent basis, and with enough precision to characterize the size and type of adversary vehicles,” Adornato said in the DARPA release.  Living organisms could give researchers advantages over hardware, according to the release. They adapt and respond to their environment, and they can sense stimuli such as optical, chemical, tactile, acoustic and electrical, according to the release.  The hardware systems that researchers aim to create will collect data from a 500-meter distance to avoid disturbing the sometimes-delicate environments.  “Our ideal scenario for PALS is to leverage a wide range of native marine organisms, with no need to train, house, or modify them in any way, which would open up this type of sensing to many locations,” Adornato said.  But, researchers will leave open opportunities to “tune organisms’ reporting mechanisms” while using appropriate environmental safeguards, according to DARPA.  The organization made clear it will not be testing these methods or equipment in the open ocean, opting to do so instead in “contained, bio secure facilities.”  Those with ideas for how to begin this living sensor research project will have a chance to share ideas this week at a “Proposer’s Day” event in Arlington, Virginia.  In early January, DARPA held a similar exhibition, launching a program that would create an “Ocean of Things” sensor project that seeks to create environmentally-safe sensors to deploy in strategically sensitive areas of the ocean.

 

USAF T-6 Texans To Resume Flying After Their Own Physiological Events

FOD has reported the latest of what we know regarding OBOGS on Naval platforms.  The USAF has been conducting their own independent investigations into their physiological events.  Air Force Times is reporting The Air Force resumed flying its T-6 Texan II training aircraft Tuesday after a rash of hypoxia-like scares grounded them for nearly a month.  But while the Air Force is homing in on what led to the physiological problems, the final root cause has not yet been determined.  The 19th Air Force grounded its T-6 fleet Feb. 1 after 13 pilots at three bases experienced “unexplained physiological events” during the last week of January.  AETC said that the incidents were different from “classic hypoxia” ― a condition that occurs when someone has too little oxygen in their body, putting them at risk of becoming confused, faint or even passing out. But the release did not offer any more details about the events pilots experienced, and how they differed from hypoxia.  Maj. Gen. Patrick Doherty, commander of the 19th Air Force, ordered the grounding lifted after the Air Force ― along with experts from the Navy, NASA and medical specialties ― collected and analyzed data from pilots who experienced the problems and their aircraft. The Air Force also studied the Navy’s similar experiences with its T-45 Goshawk.  “The operational pause was required to provide a robust and intrusive look at every component on every aircraft connected to or critical to the On-Board Oxygen Generating System,” or OBOGS, Doherty said in the release. “Our intent was to ensure aircrew awareness of UPEs, as well as newly-required aerospace physiology training, checklist procedures, and flight equipment modifications that ensure aircrew safety.”  AETC spokesman Master Sgt. Joshua Strang said there are no known flight restrictions at this time.  But the 19th will conduct new and recurring inspections of the OBOGS components to catch problems and, AETC hopes, reduce the number of hypoxia or hypoxia-like incidents in the future.  So we have two services experiencing similar problems with OBOGS and neither one has found evidence of a cause, but yet we’re still going back to flying these aircraft.

 

 

Xi Jinping Extends Power, and China Braces for a New Cold War

One new wrinkle over there in China will allow Xi Jinping to serve for life.  Asia Pacific is reporting China is bracing for relations with the United States to enter a dangerous period under the continuing leadership of President Xi Jinping, intending to stand firm against President Trump and against policies it sees as attempts to contain its rise, according to Chinese analysts.  Even before the announcement on Sunday that he could rule for the foreseeable future, Mr. Xi had ordered the Chinese military to counter the Pentagon with its own modernization in air, sea, space and cyber weapons, the analysts said, partly in response to Mr. Trump’s plans to revitalize American nuclear forces.  Rather than beginning a final term next month as a lame duck, Mr. Xi will govern with new authority to pursue his agenda of making China a global power even if it risks putting Beijing in conflict with Washington and triggering a new Cold War after 40 years of mutual engagement, the analysts said.  “In the Asia-Pacific, the dominant role of the United States in a political and military sense will have to be readjusted,” said Cui Liru, former president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a think tank under the Ministry of State Security that often reflects official thinking. “It doesn’t mean U.S. interests must be sacrificed. But if the U.S. insists on a dominant role forever, that’s a problem.”  Asked if conflict was likely in the region, Mr. Cui said: “I don’t exclude that possibility. In this transitional period, it depends on how the two sides handle it.”  He added that it was “not normal for China to be under U.S. dominance forever. You can’t justify dominance forever.”  Mr. Xi appears to share the view of many Chinese analysts and military officials that the United States is a superpower in decline — and that China must step into the vacuum it leaves behind.  He has accelerated the military’s plans to build a blue-water navy, increased spending on weaponry in outer space, and established China’s first military bases abroad. He has promoted a global infrastructure program to extend Beijing’s influence and ignored Western concerns about human rights, which have diminished under the Trump administration.  The move in Beijing to scrap constitutional limits on presidential terms comes as former officials in Washington have expressed growing remorse about the longstanding bipartisan push for trade with China — which they now worry has allowed Beijing to prosper at America’s expense.  Mr. Xi’s emergence as a strongman has driven home the disappointment among American policymakers that China has not become more open and democratic as it has become more wealthy. At the same time, Beijing has rejected pleas for fairer terms of trade, angering both Democrats and Republicans.  President Trump himself has veered between sharp criticism of China on trade and lavish praise of Mr. Xi. He congratulated Mr. Xi on his “extraordinary elevation” at a leadership congress in October and likened him to a “king.”  Mr. Xi’s attitude toward China’s place in the world was echoed Tuesday in the state-run newspaper, Global Times, which proclaimed in an editorialthat “the country must seize the day, must seize the hour.”  “Our country must not be disturbed by the outside world or lose our confidence as the West grows increasingly vigilant toward China,” it said.  In some respects, Mr. Xi’s move to extend his rule in tandem with his drive to make China a dominant global power should not have surprised the United States, Chinese analysts said.  “It is now clear Xi’s agenda to rebuild an Asian order with China at its center is here to stay,” said Hugh White, a scholar and former defense official in Australia who has argued that the United States must be prepared to share power with China in the Asia-Pacific region.  “I think Xi is impatient,” Mr. White added. “He wants China to be the predominant power in the Western Pacific. He wants to do it himself and for it to go down in history as his achievement. That makes him formidable.”  At the same time, analysts said, Mr. Trump has shown little interest in global institutions and ripped up an ambitious trade pact that included more than a dozen Asia-Pacific nations as one of his first acts in office.  “Xi is exploiting the space that America voluntarily abandoned,” said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University. In contrast, he said, “China speaks again and again of globalization as a good thing.”  Most worrying for the United States, analysts said, was the strategic competition emerging in Asia, where China is seeking to challenge American military dominance that has been the status quo since World War II.  “China’s military objective is to break through the first chain of islands,” said Mr. Cui, referring to the waters beyond Japan and Taiwan where the Chinese military wants to establish a presence.  Chinese military experts have also emphasized the importance of dominating nuclear, space and cyber technologies, said Phillip C. Saunders, a China expert at the National Defense University in Washington.  Their views mirror those of American strategists who also see these fields as critical to success in modern war, he said.  The Trump administration announced this month a new nuclear policy calling for revitalization of the nation’s nuclear arsenal to counter Russia and to a lesser degree China — an approach that has upset Beijing.  “Trump is obsessed with strategic forces,” Mr. Shi said. “He is determined to maintain American military predominance in face of China’s strategic buildup. That will make the relationship more profoundly confrontational.”  The United States has also tried to build a stronger “Indo-Pacific” coalition with Australia, India and Japan as a counterweight to China’s rise. The four democracies would increase military cooperation and invest in infrastructure to compete with Chinese projects in the region.  But Chinese analysts said that Beijing did not believe the effort would amount to much because the United States was unwilling to spend money on the projects.  “In the short term,” Mr. Shi said, “China does not care about it because the ability to form a real coalition is limited.”

 

Sir Roger Bannister Passes

Roger Bannister was the first human to break what was long thought to be impossible – the four minute mile.  In the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Bannister set a British record in the 1500 meters and finished fourth. This strengthened his resolve to be the first 4-minute miler. He achieved this feat on 6 May 1954 at Iffley Road track in Oxford, with Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher providing the pacing. When the announcer, Norris McWhirter, declared “The time was three…”, the cheers of the crowd drowned out Bannister’s exact time, which was 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. Bannister’s record lasted just 46 days. He had reached this record with minimal training, while practising as a junior doctor.  Bannister went on to become a distinguished neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, before retiring in 1993. When asked whether the 4-minute mile was his proudest achievement, he said he felt prouder of his contribution to academic medicine through research into the responses of the nervous system and his family. His attitude is much the same as Archibald “Moonlight” Graham in the movie Field of Dreams played by Burt Lancaster where he assures us all that living an honorable and productive life was more important than sporting accomplishments.  Bannister was patron of the MSA Trust. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011.  He passed away on March 3, 2018.  The four minute mile has since been broken by many male athletes, and is now the standard of all male professional middle distance runners. In the last 50 years the mile record has been lowered by almost 17 seconds, and currently stands at 3:43.13

 

 

Russell Wilson News

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is in Yankees camp for spring training. At least for a week or so. Originally the idea was just for him to work out and hang out, but he made an unexpected appearance in a pre-season game on 02 March against the Braves.  The good news: though it’s been a while since he actually played baseball for real, he looked like an actual hitter up there. The bad news: he struck out. The good news: he at least worked the count a bit and fouled a good pitch off.  He got a warm reception from the crowd.  Wilson played football and baseball for North Carolina State University from 2008 to 2010 before transferring to Wisconsin. Wilson also played minor league baseball for the Tri-City Dust Devils in 2010 and the Asheville Tourists in 2011 as a second baseman.  I don’t expect he’ll be changing careers as he’s currently the second highest rated NFL passer of all time behind Aaron Rodgers.

 

Claims That Baseballs Have Changed Is Likely True

For years MLB officials have claimed repeatedly that nothing has changed regarding the baseball used, but no one can deny its going a lot further.  Last year two different studies — one by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman for The Ringer, and another by FiveThirtyEight’s Rob Arthur — found evidence that baseballs were altered at some point around the middle of the 2015 season. In 2015, 4,909 home runs were hit across the league. That wasn’t an alarming number. However, in 2016, 5,610 homers were hit, which was then the second-highest total of all time, trailing only 5,693 in 2000. In 2017, 6,105 home runs were hit, vastly eclipsing 2000’s all-time record.  The upshot of those studies was that the outside of the ball had changed to increase bounciness, to lower the seams and thus to reduce wind resistance, which could increase the distance a ball could fly. On March 01 Arthur and Tim Dix of FiveThirtyEight have a new report about baseballs which show that something inside the ball has changed too: the core. The core of the balls used since the 2015 All-Star break — when homers suddenly and simultaneously spiked around baseball — is less dense than the core used before, which could add additional distance onto the flight of balls.  Arthur and Dix note that homers have increased 46% since 2014 and suggest that the changed ball could account for over half of that, while uppercut swing strategies recently adopted by hitters could account for the rest.  Major League Baseball continues to be cagey about all of this, declining comment on these sorts of stories and offering disingenuous excuses for increased homers in order to avoid blaming the ball. The league is reportedly now studying the matter itself and is supposed to issue some sort of report about it all at some point.  If the league’s report does not deal with the above-mentioned studies and observations head-on and, instead, reads like a position paper denying such claims without providing underlying evidence and testing methodologies, it should be dismissed out of hand.  Maybe it’s all fake baseball news.

 

 

 

Legal Tender Act

To finance the Civil War, the federal government on February 25, 1862 passed the Legal Tender Act, authorizing the creation of paper money not redeemable in gold or silver. About $430 million worth of “greenbacks” were put in circulation, and this money by law had to be accepted for all taxes, debts, and other obligations—even those contracted prior to the passage of the act.  A few years later, in Hepburn v. Griswold (Feb. 7, 1870), the Court ruled by a four-to-three majority that Congress lacked the power to make the notes legal tender. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, who as secretary of the Treasury during the Civil War had been involved in enacting the Legal Tender Act, wrote the majority opinion, declaring that the congressional authorization of greenbacks as legal tender violated Fifth Amendment guarantees against deprivation of property without due process of law.  On the day the decision was announced, a disapproving President Grant sent the nominations of two new justices to the Senate for confirmation. Justices Bradley and Strong were confirmed, and at the next session the court agreed to reconsider the greenback issue. In Knox v. Lee and Parker v. Davis (May 1, 1871), the Court reversed its Hepburn v. Griswold decision by a five-to-four majority, asserting that the Legal Tender Act of 1862 represented a justifiable use of federal power at a time of national emergency.

 

 

Two National Parks Created

On 26 February, two national parks were established in the United States 10 years apart–the Grand Canyon in 1919 and the Grand Teton National Park in 1929.  Located in northwestern Arizona, the Grand Canyon National Park is the product of millions of years of excavation by the mighty Colorado River. The chasm is exceptionally deep, dropping more than a mile into the earth, and is 15 miles across at its widest point.  The canyon is home to more than 1,500 plant species and over 500 animal species, many of them endangered or unique to the area, and it’s steep, multi-colored walls tell the story of 2 billion years of Earth’s history.  In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the site and said: “The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled through-out the wide world… Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”  I completed a raft trip through the Grand Canyon a few years ago.  I recommend it highly.  The Grand Teton National Park includes the major peaks of the 40-mile-long (64 km) Teton Range as well as most of the northern sections of the valley known as Jackson Hole. It is only 10 miles (16 km) south of Yellowstone National Park, to which it is connected by the National Park Service-managed John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. Along with surrounding National Forests, these three protected areas constitute the almost 18,000,000-acre (7,300,000 ha) Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the largest intact mid-latitude temperate ecosystems in the world.  The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806) passed well north of the Grand Teton region. During their return trip from the Pacific Ocean, expedition member John Colter was given an early discharge so he could join two fur trappers who were heading west in search of beaver pelts. Colter was later hired by Manuel Lisa to lead fur trappers and to explore the region around the Yellowstone River. During the winter of 1807/08 Colter passed through Jackson Hole and was the first Caucasian to see the Teton Range.  John Colter is widely considered the first mountain man and, like those that came to the Jackson Hole region over the next 30 years, he was there primarily for the profitable fur trapping; the region was rich with the highly sought after pelts of beaver and other fur bearing animals. Between 1810 and 1812, the Astorians traveled through Jackson Hole and crossed Teton Pass as they headed east in 1812.   After 1810, American and British fur trading companies were in competition for control of the North American fur trade, and American sovereignty over the region was not secured until the signing of the Oregon Treaty in 1846. One party employed by the British North West Company and led by explorer Donald Mackenzie entered Jackson Hole from the west in 1818 or 1819. The Tetons, as well as the valley west of the Teton Range known today as Pierre’s Hole, may have been named by French speaking Iroquois or French Canadian trappers that were part of Mackenzie’s party.  Earlier parties had referred to the most prominent peaks of the Teton Range as the Pilot Knobs. The French trappers’ les trois tétons (the three breasts) was later shortened to the Tetons.  Leave it to the French to notice that.  The Colter Stone pictured here has a story as well. Sometime between 1931 and 1933, an Idaho farmer named William Beard and his son discovered a rock carved into the shape of a man’s head while clearing a field in Tetonia, Idaho, which is immediately west of the Teton Range. The rhyolite lava rock is 13 inches (330 mm) long, 8 inches (200 mm) wide and 4 inches (100 mm) thick and has the words “John Colter” carved on the right side of the face and the number “1808” on the left side and has been dubbed the “Colter Stone.”  Its authenticity has not been verified.

 

Getty Museum Gets Its Cash

And on February 28, 1982, the J. Paul Getty Museum became the most richly endowed museum on earth when it received a $1.2 billion.  The bequest followed years of legal wrangling over his fortune by his children, ex-wives and of course lawyers who kept his will in probate for the six years following his death.  During that period of time the original $700 million bequest nearly doubled.  The Getty Center, in Los AngelesCalifornia, is a campus of the Getty Museum and other programs of the Getty Trust. The $1.3 billion Center opened to the public on December 16, 1997 and is well known for its architecture, gardens, and views overlooking Los Angeles.  Located in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, the Center is one of two locations of the J. Paul Getty Museum and draws 1.3 million visitors annually. (The other location is the Getty Villa in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los AngelesCalifornia.) The Center branch of the Museum features pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; and 19th- and 20th-century American, Asian, and European photographs.  In addition, the Museum’s collection at the Center includes outdoor sculpture displayed on terraces and in gardens and the large Central Garden designed by Robert Irwin. Among the artworks on display is the Vincent Van Gogh painting Irises.  Designed by architect Richard Meier, the campus also houses the Getty Research Institute (GRI), the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, and the J. Paul Getty Trust. The Center’s design included special provisions to address concerns regarding earthquakes and fires.  Both facilities are well worth your time to visit.

 

 

 

LBJ Reveals Top Secret Plane

And since this year is not a leap year, we might remember that on 29 February 1964,  President Lyndon B. Johnson  publicly revealed the existence of the Top Secret Lockheed   YF-12 prototype interceptor, a Mach 3+ interceptor designed and built by Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson’s “Skunk Works.” President Johnson referred to the interceptor as the “A-11.”  The reason for President Johnson’s announcement of the existence of the YF-12A prototypes was to conceal the existence of the Central Intelligence Agency’s fleet of Lockheed A-12 Oxcart reconnaissance aircraft based at Groom Lake, Nevada. Any sightings of CIA/Air Force A-12s based at Area 51 in Nevada could be attributed to the well-publicized Air Force YF-12As based at Edwards Air Force Base in California.  The YF-12 was a twin-seat version of the secret single-seat Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft, which led to the U.S. Air Force’s Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird twin-seat reconnaissance variant. The YF-12 set and held speed and altitude world records of over 2,000 mph (3,200 km/h) and over 80,000 ft (later surpassed by the SR-71), and is the world’s largest manned interceptor to date.  On your next visit to the National Museum of the USAF, you can view one.

 

Beech Baron First Flight

And on February 29, 1960, Beech Aircraft Corporation test pilot S.Little made the first flight of the Beechcraft 95-55 Baron, serial number TC-1.  One of the most popular light twin airplanes, the original production variant was flown by a single pilot and could carry 3 to 4 passengers. This was the time of a great many developments in light civil aircraft.  The direct predecessor of the Baron was the Beechcraft 95 Travel Air, which incorporated the fuselage of the Bonanza and the tail control surfaces of the T-34 Mentor military trainer. To create the new airplane, the Travel Air’s tail was replaced with that of the Beechcraft Debonair, the engine nacelles were streamlined, six-cylinder engines were added, and the aircraft’s name was changed. In 1960, the Piper Aztec was introduced, utilizing two, 250 hp Lycoming O-540 engines; Cessna too had improved their 310 with two Continental IO-470 D, producing 260 hp.  Meanwhile, Beechcraft’s Bonanza had been improved with a Continental IO-470-N, but the answer to competition was to make a true Twin Bonanza. The first model, the 55, was powered by two, six-cylinder IO-470-L engines, producing 260 hp at 2,625rpm; it was introduced in 1961. It included the fully swept vertical stabilizer of the Debonair, while still retaining the four to four+five place seating of the Travel Air.  The T-42A Cochise is a military version of the Baron 95-B55 for use by the United States Army as an instrument training aircraft. The Army Aviation School took delivery of 65 aircraft.

 

First Guy To Jump Out Of A Perfectly Good Airplane

 

1 March 1912: At Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri, Captain Albert Berry, United States Army, made the first parachute jump from an airplane.  Pilot Antony H. Jannus and Captain Berry took off from Kinloch Field, a balloon-launching field in Kinloch Park, (now, Lambert–St. Louis International Airport, STL) and flew aboard a 1911 Benoist Type XII School Plane, 18 miles (29 kilometers) to the drop zone at Jefferson Barracks. The airplane was a pusher biplane which was based on a Curtiss pusher, and is also called the Benoist Headless.  Barry had his parachute packed inside a conical container mounted beneath the airplane’s lower wing. They climbed to an altitude of 1,500 feet (457.2 meters).  When the reached the desired altitude and were over the barracks’ parade grounds, Berry attached the parachute to a harness that he was wearing, then lowered himself on a trapeze-like bar suspended in front of the wings. He pulled a lanyard which released him. The parachute was opened by a static line.

 

Grant Nominated for Lieutenant General

 

On March 02, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln promoted Ulysses S. Grant  to lieutenant general, giving him command of all Union Armies, answering only to the President.  At the time he was only the second general in US history to hold that rank, the first having been George Washington.  In late March 1865, Grant’s forces finally took Petersburg, then captured Richmond that April. Grant, Sherman, Admiral Porter, and Lincoln held a conference on the River Queen to discuss the surrender of Confederate armies and Reconstruction of the South.  Lee’s troops began deserting in large numbers; disease and lack of supplies also diminished the remaining Confederates. Lee attempted to link up with the remnants of Joseph E. Johnston‘s defeated army, but Sheridan’s cavalry were able to stop the two armies from converging, cutting the line of advance to the Confederate supply trains. Lee and his army surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Going beyond his military authority, Grant, in effect, gave Lee and his men amnesty; Confederate troops surrendered their weapons and were allowed to return to their homes, on the condition that they would not take up arms against the United States.

 

 

Concorde Makes Its First Flight

 

2 March 1969: At Aéroport de Toulouse – Blagnac, Toulouse, France, the first supersonic airliner prototype, Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde Aircraft 001, registration F-WTSS, made its first flight. On the flight deck were Major André Edouard Turcat, Henri Perrier, Michel Retif and Jacques Guinard. The flight lasted 29 minutes.  During its testing, 001 flew a total of 812 hours, 19 minutes, including 254 hours 49 minutes supersonic.  Concorde was jointly developed and manufactured by Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) under an Anglo-French treaty. Twenty aircraft were built, including six prototypes and development aircraft. Air France (AF) and British Airways (BA) were the only airlines to purchase and fly Concorde. The aircraft was primarily used by wealthy passengers who could afford to pay a high price in exchange for Concorde’s speed and luxury service. Among other destinations, Concorde flew regular transatlantic flights from London’s Heathrow Airport and Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Washington Dulles International Airport and Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados; it flew these routes in less than half the time of other airliners.  You can see one at the Boeing Museum of Flight.

 

National Anthem Day

Hey, FOD hasn’t included many National Days lately.  March 3rd 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 HooverThe 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 Fort McHenry’s 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 known for being 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, its 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 America.  Written 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.”  Addressing himself to the causes of the economic crisis and its moral dimensions, Roosevelt placed blame squarely on the greed and shortsightedness of bankers and businessmen, as seen in the following excerpts:  “…rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.  The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.  Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing.  Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.”

 

 

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 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. Its success was marred by the Lockheed bribery scandals, in which Lockheed had given bribes to a considerable number of political and military figures in various nations in order to influence their judgment and secure several purchase contracts; this caused considerable political controversy in Europe and Japan.  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