The new DoD budget passed on 09 February 2018 includes a request for additional Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. Navy Times is reporting a request in President Donald Trump’s new defense budget proposal could add 24 Super Hornets to the Navy’s air fleet and keep a Boeing plant in St. Louis alive, according to a report Thursday by Bloomberg News. The defense budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 is expected to be formally released on Feb. 12. If confirmed, the request for more Super Hornets would be the largest addition since 2012 and would reverse the Obama administration’s decision to stop buying the aircraft. The Trump administration has requested 14 Super Hornets, and House and Senate appropriators have proposed adding 10 more, according to Bloomberg. That total of 24 jets happens to be the key number needed to keep Boeing’s plant in St. Louis running. The plant’s future was believed to be at risk after the Navy committed to adopting the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter to replace the F/A-18E/F Hornets. The Hornets were originally set to retire by 2035, but the Navy was forced to reevaluate that date in 2015 due to persistent delays in the F-35’s development. The F-35Cs are expected to reach initial operational capacity this year, but the Navy needs additional Hornets to fill its inventory shortage until more of the new jets are purchased. The Navy has struggled recently with aviation readiness. As of last October, only one-third of the Navy’s Super Hornets were fully mission-capable and ready to fly. The Super Hornet fleet is scheduled to begin service life extension maintenance this year, and the Navy may take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade the Hornets to the more advanced Block III configuration. Fireball note: the upgraded to Block III is certainly warranted as this is the configuration we need moving forward to ensure fleet interoperability across varied carrier strike groups.) The upgrades would give the Hornets conformal fuel tanks and add to stealth capabilities. Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 9th through 11th 2018”
In the P-8A world, I see a P-8 from VP-45 deployed to Rota, Spain is kicking off Exercise Sea Shield today (T-1 below). Sea Shield is an annual military exercise hosted by Romania this year, designed to strengthen interoperability of NATO countries in the region. Also involved are the USS Porter (DDG-78) and units from NATO Standing Maritime Group 2. Countries involved include Bulgaria, Romania, Canada, Greece, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine. Porter is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. Porter is the fifth U.S. Navy ship to be named after U.S. Navy officers CommodoreDavid Porter, and his son, AdmiralDavid Dixon Porter. She is permanently homeported at Naval Station Rota, Spain.
USAF Promotion Lists are Out
Know some active duty Air Force folks up for promotion? The Air Force selected 818 active-duty officers for promotion to colonel, lieutenant colonel and major. FOD has all the news. The list of major selectees can be found here, lieutenant colonel selectees can be found here, and colonel selectees can be found here. I tried this link and it worked. I’m of the hope it will work for you. Otherwise, see the Air Force Times.
B-727 makes its first flight
On 09 February 1963, Boeing’s Chief Test Pilot, Samuel Lewis (“Lew”) Wallick, Jr., made the first flight of the prototype Boeing Model 727 jet airliner, N7001U (c/n 18293), from Renton Municipal Airport, Renton, Washington. Richards Llewellyn (“Dix”) Loesch, Jr., was the airliner’s co-pilot, and Marvin Keith (“Shuly”) Shulenberger was the flight engineer. The 727 remained airborne for 2 hours, 1 minute, and landed at Paine Field, Everett, Washington. Originally a prototype, it was later sold to United Airlines, which donated it to the the Museum of Flight in Seattle in 1991. At the time of its retirement it had carried about three million passengers during its years of service. United purchased the 727 for $4,400,000, and during its service life, it generated more than $300,000,000 in revenue. The jet was restored over 25 years by and was ferried from Paine Field in Everett, Washington to Boeing Field in Seattle, where it was put on permanent display at the Aviation Pavilion. Eastern Air Lines was the roll-out customer, in February 1964; the stretched 727-200 flew in July 1967 and entered service with Northeast Airlines that December. The 727 became a mainstay of airlines’ domestic route networks and was also used on short- and medium-range international routes. Passenger, freighter, and convertible versions of the 727 were built. Boeing had expected to sell approximately 250 727s. (200 were needed for the manufacturer to cover its costs.) In production from 1962 to 1984, Boeing built 1,832 Model 727s, making it one of the most successful airliners in history.
B-747 makes its first flight
Also on 9 February 1969: At 11:34 a.m., Boeing Chief Test Pilot Jack Wadell, with Engineering Test Pilots Brien Singleton Wygle, co-pilot, and Jesse Arthur Wallick, flight engineer, took off from Paine Field, Everett, Washington, aboard RA001, the prototype Boeing 747-121, FAA registration N7470,and made a 1 hour, 15 minute test flight.
The ship was named City of Everett after the home of the factory where it was built. The Boeing 100th Anniversary festivities brought to the forefront once more the incredible story of the B-747. Boeing was pressed by Juan Trippe, president of Pan American World Airways (Pan Am), one of their most important airline customers, to build a passenger aircraft more than twice the size of the 707. One of the principal technologies that enabled an aircraft as large as the 747 to be conceived was the high-bypass turbofan engine. The huge cost of developing the 747 and building the Everett factory meant that Boeing had to borrow heavily from a banking syndicate. During the final months before delivery of the first aircraft, the company had to repeatedly request additional funding to complete the project. Had this been refused, Boeing’s survival would have been threatened. The firm’s debt exceeded $2 billion, with the $1.2 billion owed to the banks setting a record for all companies. Allen later said, “It was really too large a project for us. Ultimately, the gamble succeeded, and Boeing held a monopoly in very large passenger aircraft production for many years. In 1985, development of the longer range 747-400 began. The variant had a new glass cockpit, which allowed for a cockpit crew of two instead of three, new engines, lighter construction materials, and a redesigned interior. Development cost soared, and production delays occurred as new technologies were incorporated at the request of airlines.
Insufficient workforce experience and reliance on overtime contributed to early production problems on the 747-400. Gee, where have I heard that before? The -400 entered service in 1989. The Boeing 747 has been in production for 48 years. More than 1,520 have been delivered to date. 205 of these were the 747-100 series. The U.S. Air Force has selected the Boeing 747-8 as the next presidential transport aircraft. We’ll see what President Trump decides in regard to the next Air Force One aircraft.
Satchel Paige gets nod for Hall of Fame
As baseball season approaches, there are a couple baseball stories to recall. On February 9, 1971, pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige became the first player of the American Negro league baseball to be nominated to the National Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF). He was inducted in the HOF in August 1971. He began his professional baseball career in 1926 with the Chattanooga Black Lookouts of the Negro Southern League and became one of the most famous and successful players from the Negro leagues. While his outstanding control as a pitcher first got him noticed, it was his infectious, cocky, enthusiastic personality and his love for the game that made him a star. On town tours across the United States, Paige would sometimes have his infielders sit down behind him and then routinely strike out the side. He played his last professional game on June 21, 1966, for the Peninsula Grays of the Carolina League. When Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson, a former teammate of Paige, Paige realized that it was for the best that Paige himself was not the first black player in major league baseball. The photo right shows Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson when they were teammates on the Monarchs. Finally, on July 7, 1948, with his Cleveland Indians in a pennant race and in desperate need of pitching, Indians owner Bill Veeck brought Paige in to try out with Indians player-managerLou Boudreau. On that same day, his 42nd birthday, Paige signed his first major league contract, for $40,000 for the three months remaining in the season, becoming the first Negro pitcher in the American League and the seventh Negro big leaguer overall. Larry Doby, who broke the color barrier in the American League at the age of 23 the same year Robinson did in the National League, would be a teammate of Paige. Paige became the oldest man ever to debut in the major leagues, at the age of 42 years and two days. Paige ended the 1948 season with a 6–1 record with a 2.48 ERA, 2 shutouts, 43 strikeouts, 22 walks and 61 base hits allowed in 72.2 innings. Joe DiMaggio once called Paige “the best and fastest pitcher I’ve ever faced.” He played with the St. Louis Browns until age 47, and represented them in the All-Star Game in 1952 and 1953. He was the first player who had played in the Negro leagues to pitch in the World Series, in 1948. In addition to being famous for his talent and longevity, Paige was also well-known for his sense of humor and colorful observations on life, including: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you” and “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
For Derek Jeter it is a big deal
And more recently, on this date in 2001, Derek Jeter, signed a $189M, 10 year contract, with the New York Yankees. A five-time World Series champion, Jeter is regarded as a central figure of the Yankees’ success of the late 1990s and early 2000s for his hitting, baserunning, fielding, and leadership. He is the Yankees’ all-time career leader in hits (3,465), doubles (544), games played (2,747), stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716), plate appearances (12,602) and at bats (11,195). His accolades include 14 All-Star selections, five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award. Jeter became the 28th player to reach 3,000 hits and finished his career sixth all-time in career hits and the all-time MLB leader in hits by a shortstop. Prior to throwing out the first pitch after 9/11, he gave this advice to President Bush, “Make sure your pitch reaches the catcher. If you don’t, the crowd will boo you.” Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada,, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter are referred to as the “Core Four” I have a baseball with all four of their autographs on it sitting on my mantle. Jeter’s number 2 will be retired on May 14, 2017 at Yankee Stadium. I’ll be there! How about you?
Today is National Chocolate Day
Today is National Chocolate Day. I don’t know why it’s this day and not Valentine’s Day and haven’t spent a lot of effort to determine why. But I know this: into everyday a little chocolate should fall. If you’re looking for something fun to do with visitors from out of town, take them to Theo Chocolate in Fremont. And there is a quote out there that says something like, “Your hand and your mouth agreed many years ago that, as far as chocolate is concerned, there is no need to involve your brain.”
Today is National Pizza Day
And prior to your chocolate, have a pizza, because it’s National Pizza Day. I’m a bit confused about this day as well because, October is National Pizza Month. Now I’ve always heard pizza was actually invented in New York City at the first US pizzeria, Lombardi’s, which opened in 1905 and then exported back to Italy. But likely the dish has been around for thousands of years and in fact foods similar to pizza have been made since the neolithic age. The ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese, and in the 6th century BC, the soldiers in Persian King Darius I‘s armies baked flatbreads with cheese and dates on top of their battle shields. No matter, in America, 94 percent of people eat pizza on a regular basis, consuming an average of 46 slices per year. On a global scale, over 5 billion pizzas are sold annually.