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

Fireball Saying of the Day

Actual meanings of various terms: TEAM WORK: Having somebody else you can blame it on. HARDWARE: The part of a computer you can kick when there are software problems. IMPATIENT: Somebody who is waiting in a hurry. INFLATION: Paying today’s prices with last year’s salary.

 

Baseball News

I’ve been a bit reticent to comment on individual baseball games, because … well because it could be bad luck.  Having said that I couldn’t help pointing a really nice sweep by the New York Yankees over a very good and very talented Seattle Mariners.

 

 

 

Fireball Book Review

If you’re sitting around in a rehab wondering why the hair on your legs and arms is growing back so unevenly, or you’re working with your favorite goat to perfect your team goat plank, (ah, goat yoga), pick up a book.  I’m recommending Lincoln’s Last Trial, by Dan Abrams and David Fisher.  It’s a great account of Abraham Lincoln, who having participated in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, is just beginning his political career.  But at this moment we are able to glean amazing insight into the Lincoln, the man.    Lincoln is anchoring the defense in what even today would be a high profile murder trial, The State of Illinois v. “Peachy” Quinn Harrison.  He is a most accomplished lawyer taking on a complex murder trial.  Every quotation cited from the trial comes directly from the handwritten pages meticulously recorded by the book’s protagonist, Robert Roberts Hitt. And in fact, Hitt’s original transcript of the of the trial was bound and put aside, only to be discovered in 1989 in a shoebox stored in the Fresno, California garage, home of the Quinn Harrison’s great-great grandson. Thanks Friend of FOD Roger for the book.  It’s a good read.

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

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 5th through 15th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Never let your best friends get lonely… keep disturbing them.  Thanks my friends!

 

I’m a Cabbage Patched Kid

I’m not a product of that Xavier Roberts designed Cabbage Patch doll from the 1980’s toy fad, but a successful beneficiary of quadruple Coronary artery bypass surgery, also called Coronary Artery Bypass Graft, but pronounced “cabbage.”  I had a coronary stress test as part of a full physical I prescribed for myself when I retired from Boeing.   That test indicated I might have something, but being asymmetric we didn’t proceed further.  I was also in spin class about 4 days/week, rode my bike on local trails, and skied more than 40 days last year.  About 16 months later when I changed doctors, the new guy suggested a cardiologist we do a coronary angiogram which, despite no symptoms showed several sections with atherosclerosis is characterized by yellowish plaques of cholesterollipids, and cellular debris deposited into the inner layer of the wall of a large or medium-sized coronary artery, most often resulting in a partial obstruction in the affected arteries – in short – cardiovascular disease  I was getting a cross-sectional narrowing of at least 50- 90 percent in some areas. And when the cardiac surgeon, the pump guy, as opposed to the vascular surgeon, pipes guy, says I have you on my schedule four days from now; you say –  it’s time to get a blog edition out.  My surgeon opted for the big kahuna.  The terms single bypassdouble bypasstriple bypass, and quadruple bypass bypass refer to the number of coronary arteries bypassed in the procedure. In other words, a double bypass means two coronary arteries are bypassed (e.g., the left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery and right coronary artery (RCA)); a triple bypass means three vessels are bypassed (e.g., LAD, RCA and left circumflex artery (LCX)); a quadruple bypass means four vessels are bypassed (e.g., LAD, RCA, LCX and first diagonal artery of the LAD), using the left and right mammary arteries.  Well as long as you’re in there muckin’ around I might as well get my full Medicare and TriCare for Life benefits (which I see are going up – see article below).  I did have several of the known risk factors – cigarette smoking (no), diabetes (no), high cholesterol (only slightly elevated), high blood pressure (again only slightly elevated), sedentary lifestyle (no), overweight (too many burritos with Mule) and family history of premature heart disease (both my grandfathers died of heart attacks in their 40’s).  I was lucky in that I found it.  So now it’s the summer of cardiac recovery (2 months before I can ride my bike again – a new Specialized Stumpjumper).  Thanks for all the good wishes I received along the way and I meant call more folks in advance, but I got busy.

 

Military Retirees To See Tricare Fees Increase

Military Times is reporting some military families would see some co-pays decrease under a Senate proposal to change the Tricare fee structure, but retirees under age 65 would see a major fee hike.  Working-age retirees now pay no enrollment fees to join Tricare Select. The proposal would create a $450 annual enrollment fee for an individual and a $900 annual enrollment fee for a family, in addition to a new out-of-network deductible for this coverage group that could cost retirees even more.  Retirees in Tricare Prime would see their enrollment fee increase to $350 per individual, from the current $289.08, or to $700 per family, from the current $578.16.  “Our concern is that in the course of a year this would be the second major Tricare hike for retirees under age 65,” said Kathy Beasley, a retired Navy captain who is director of government relations for health care for The Military Officers Association of America.  This proposal doesn’t affect military retirees and their family members age 65 and older, who are in Tricare for Life (Fireball note: YET). Active-duty families and working-age retirees/families could see some co-pays decrease, Beasley said, although not enough to offset the increase in enrollment fees for retirees.  The proposal, which is included in the Senate version of the defense authorization bill, was designed to fix a problem that caused higher co-pays for those eligible for Tricare before Jan. 1, when many of the Tricare reforms took effect.  The bill will go before the Senate for a vote, and the provision would then be considered in conference with House lawmakers. In its current form, if approved, the new cost structure would take effect Jan. 1, 2019.  “This provision would correct an inequity in the Tricare benefit among beneficiaries by establishing a single co-payment structure applicable to all Tricare beneficiaries,” stated a report accompanying the bill text. Senate Armed Services Committee members stated they were aware that those who were already in Tricare before the reform took effect in January were paying higher co-payments than beneficiaries who entered the military after Jan. 1.  But this provision doesn’t fix the overall problems with the new, higher co-pays introduced in January, said Karen Ruedisueli, government relations deputy director for the National Military Family Association. Instead, it “just increases overall out-of-pocket costs by hiking up retiree enrollment fees and the catastrophic cap while creating a new non-network deductible ― cost increases we’ve always opposed since Congress mandated them for new entrants and their families.”  Working-age retirees and their families in Tricare Select would also be subject to a new out-of-network deductible of $300 for individuals and $600 for families ― which has to be met before Tricare begins paying its share of medical bills.  “We are particularly disappointed [the proposal] doesn’t fix the unreasonably high co-pays for the physical, speech, occupational and mental health therapies ― co-pays so high, we are concerned that families won’t follow recommended treatment plans,” Ruedisueli said.  “After months of problems with the Tricare contract transitions, including disruptions in care, network problems, and customer service nightmares, it is outrageous to ask families to pay more out-of-pocket,” Ruedisueli said.  “The Tricare fee increases which took effect on Jan. 1 were disproportionately high and broke faith with currently serving families and those who have served full careers,” Beasley said. “The addition of these new Senate-proposed fee increases do nothing but place a more disproportionate burden on military beneficiaries.”  The provision would benefit the Defense Department by lowering health care costs by about $2.8 billion over the period between 2020 and 2023, according to a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. (CBO assumes this legislation wouldn’t be enacted in time to affect fees and enrollments for 2019.) CBO estimates that the average out-of-pocket cost for those in Tricare Select would be about $570 for individual retirees and $1,645 for those with families.  For those enrolled in Tricare before Jan. 1, the proposal would cut some in-network co-pays in the current fee schedule in Tricare Select. Some examples:

  • Primary care outpatient visits would decrease from $21 to $15 for active-duty family members, and from $28 to $25 for retirees and their families.
  • Specialty care outpatient visits would decrease from $31 to $25 for active-duty families, and from $41 to $40 for retirees and their families.
  • Emergency services would decrease from $81 to $40 for active-duty families, and from $109 to $80 for retirees and their families.

 

China Rapidly Militarizing South China Sea With Missile Exercise

China is continuing to militarize the South China Sea in ways similar to how Japan moved into the Pacific region in the years preceding WW II and in violation of their own statements and their obligations under international law.  The Japanese were in violation of agreements they made with the League of Nations and now China defies United Nations and international court decisions.  Reuters is reporting China’s navy carried out drills in the South China Sea to simulate fending off an aerial attack, state media said on Friday, as the country trades barbs with the United States over responsibility for heightened tension in the disputed waterway.  United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed concern during a visit to Beijing on Thursday over China’s efforts to militarize the seas.  His remarks came after a flurry of U.S. activity in the region, including reports last week that U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers had flown near disputed islands that drew a sharp rebuke from China.  China’s navy carried out a simulated missile attack in an unspecified area of the South China Sea using three target drones making flyovers of a ship formation at varying heights, the official army newspaper said.  The drills were part of efforts by a training base, also unspecified, to prepare for real-life combat with aerial targets after China’s leadership said some training failed to prepare troops effectively, it added.  The United States and China have frequently sparred over who is militarizing the South China Sea, with Beijing blaming tension on actions such as the “freedom of navigation” operations by the U.S. Navy.  Washington says such operations are necessary to counter China’s efforts to limit nautical movement there.  A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed through waters claimed by China in May just days after the United States withdrew an invitation to it for a major U.S. hosted naval drill.  Critics have said the operations have little impact on Chinese behavior and are largely symbolic.  Pentagon officials have long complained that China has not been candid enough about its rapid military build-up and its use of South China Sea islands to gather intelligence.  In addition to China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam all have competing claims in the South China Sea.  Strengthening their navy has been a key part of China’s ambitious military modernization overseen by President Xi Jinping, as it seeks to project power far from its shores.  State television on Friday showed pictures of Xi touring a submarine in the northern port city of Qingdao, where was briefed on its weapons systems, chatted with sailors and asked questions about the submarine fleet’s training. 

 

Congress Passes 19th  Amendment

I was remiss in not mentioning this in the previous edition of FOD.  On June 4, 1919, The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.  The women’s suffrage movement was founded in the mid-19th century by women who had become politically active through their work in the abolitionist and temperance movements. In July 1848, 240 woman suffragists, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, met in Seneca Falls, New York, to assert the right of women to vote. Female enfranchisement was still largely opposed by most Americans, and the distraction of the North-South conflict and subsequent Civil War precluded further discussion. During the Reconstruction Era, the 15th Amendment was adopted, granting African American men the right to vote, but the Republican-dominated Congress failed to expand its progressive radicalism into the sphere of gender.  In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association, led by Susan B. Anthonyand Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was formed to push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Another organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association, led by Lucy Stone, was organized in the same year to work through the state legislatures. In 1890, these two societies were united as the National American Woman Suffrage Association. That year, Wyoming became the first state to grant women the right to vote.  By the beginning of the 20th century, the role of women in American society was changing drastically; women were working more, receiving a better education, bearing fewer children, and several states had authorized female suffrage. In 1913, the National Woman’s party organized the voting power of these enfranchised women to elect congressional representatives who supported woman suffrage, and by 1916 both the Democratic and Republican parties openly endorsed female enfranchisement. In 1919, the 19th Amendment, which stated that “the rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” passed both houses of Congress and was sent to the states for ratification. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land. Eight days later, the 19th Amendment took effect.

 

Invasion of Normandy

Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe.  A 1,200-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving more than 5,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August.  The decision to undertake a cross-channel invasion in 1944 was taken at the Trident Conference in Washington in May 1943. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), and General Bernard Montgomery was named as commander of the 21st Army Group, which comprised all the land forces involved in the invasion. The coast of Normandy was chosen as the site of the invasion, with the Americans assigned to land at sectors codenamed Utah and Omaha, the British at Sword and Gold, and the Canadians at Juno. To meet the conditions expected on the Normandy beachhead, special technology was developed, including two artificial ports called Mulberry harbours and an array of specialized tanks nicknamed Hobart’s Funnies. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deceptionOperation Bodyguard, using both electronic and visual misinformation. This misled the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. Adolf Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in charge of developing fortifications all along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an invasion.  The Allies failed to accomplish their objectives for the first day, but gained a tenuous foothold that they gradually expanded when they captured the port at Cherbourg on 26 June and the city of Caen on 21 July. A failed counterattack by German forces on 8 August left 50,000 soldiers of the 7th Army trapped in the Falaise pocket. The Allies launched an invasion of southern France (code-named Operation Dragoon) on 15 August, and the Liberation of Paris followed on 25 August. German forces retreated across the Seine on 30 August 1944, marking the close of Operation Overlord.  From D-Day to 21 August, the Allies landed 2,052,299 men in northern France. The cost of the Normandy campaign was high for both sides.  Between 6 June and the end of August, the American armies suffered 124,394 casualties, of whom 20,668 were killed.  Casualties within the First Canadian and Second British Armies are placed at 83,045: 15,995 killed, 57,996 wounded, and 9,054 missing.  Of these, Canadian losses amounted to 18,444, with 5,021 killed in action.  The Allied air forces, having flown 480,317 sorties in support of the invasion, lost 4,101 aircraft and 16,714 airmen (8,536 members of the USAAF, and 8,178 flying under the command of the RAF).  The Free French SAS paratroopers suffered 77 killed, with 197 wounded and missing.  Allied tank losses have been estimated at around 4,000, with losses split evenly between the American and British/Canadian armies.  Historians slightly differ on overall casualties during the campaign, with the lowest losses totaling 225,606 and the highest at 226,386.

 

First Machine Gun on An Aircraft

On 07 June 1912, then Lieutenant Roy C. Kirtland, flying a Wright Model B at College Park, Maryland, Captain Charles deForest Chandler was the first person to fire a machine gun mounted on an aircraft. The weapon was a prototype designed by Colonel Isaac N. Lewis.  Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico was named for him. He was among the first American military aviators and he recommended Henry “Hap” Arnold for aviation training.

 

X-15 First Flight

8 June 1959: At Edwards Air Force Base, California, North American Aviation’s Chief Engineering Test Pilot, Scott Crossfield , made the first flight of the X-15A hypersonic research rocketplane.  56-6670 was the first of three X-15s built for the U.S. Air Force and NASA. It was airdropped from a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, NB-52A-1-BO 52-003, at 37,550 feet (11,445 meters) over Rosamond Dry Lake at 08:38:40, Pacific Time. This was an unpowered glide flight to check the flying characteristics and aircraft systems, so there were no propellants or oxidizers aboard other than hydrogen peroxide which powered the pumps and generators.  The aircraft reached 0.79 Mach (522 miles per hour, 840 kilometers per hour) during the 4 minute, 56.6 second flight. The North American X-15 was a hypersonic rocket-powered aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as part of the X-plane series of experimental aircraft. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and returning with valuable data used in aircraft and spacecraft design. The X-15’s official world record for the highest speed ever recorded by a manned, powered aircraft, set in October 1967 when William J. “Pete” Knight flew Mach 6.72 at 102,100 feet (31,120 m), a speed of 4,520 miles per hour (7,274 km/h), has remained unchallenged as of June 2018.  The X-15 was a research program and changes were made to various systems over the course of the program and between the different models. The X-15 was operated under several different scenarios including attachment to a launch aircraft, drop, main engine start and acceleration, a ballistic flight into thin air/space, re-entry into thicker air, and an unpowered glide to landing. Alternatively, if the main engine was not started the pilot went directly to a landing. The main rocket engine operated only for a relatively short part of the flight, but was capable of boosting the X-15 to its high speeds and altitudes. Without main engine thrust, the X-15’s instruments and control surfaces remained functional, but the aircraft could not maintain altitude. Because the X-15 also had to be controlled in an environment where there was too little air for aerodynamic flight control surfaces, it had a reaction control system (RCS) that used rocket thrusters.  There were two different X-15 pilot control setups: one used three joysticks; the other, one joystick.  The X-15 type with multiple control sticks for the pilot included a traditional rudder and stick, and another joystick on the left which sent commands to the reaction control system.  A third joystick on the right side was used during high-G maneuvers to augment the center stick.  In addition to pilot input, the X-15 “Stability Augmentation System” (SAS) sent inputs to the aerodynamic controls to help the pilot maintain attitude control.  The Reaction Control System (RCS) could be operated in two modes, manual and automatic.  The automatic mode used a feature called “Reaction Augmentation System” (RAS) that helped stabilize the vehicle at high altitude.  The RAS was typically used for approximately three minutes of an X-15 flight before automatic power off.  The second setup used the MH-96 flight control system which allowed one joystick in place of three and simplified pilot input.  The MH-96 could automatically blend aerodynamic and rocket controls depending on how effective each system was at controlling the aircraft.  The initial 24 powered flights used two Reaction Motors XLR11 liquid-propellant rocket engines, enhanced to provide a total of 16,000 pounds-force of thrust as compared to the 6,000 pounds-force that a single XLR11 provided in 1947 to make the Bell X-1 the first aircraft to fly faster than the speed of sound. The XLR11 used ethyl alcohol and liquid oxygen.  By November 1960, Reaction Motors was able to deliver the XLR99 rocket engine, generating 57,000 pounds-force of thrust. The remaining 175 flights of the X-15 used XLR99 engines, in a single engine configuration. The XLR99 used anhydrous ammonia and liquid oxygen as propellant, and hydrogen peroxide to drive the high-speed turbopump that delivered propellants to the engine.  It could burn 15,000 pounds of propellant in 80 seconds.  The X-15 reaction control system (RCS), for maneuvering in low-pressure/density environment, used high-test peroxide (HTP), which decomposes into water and oxygen in the presence of a catalyst and could provide a specific impulse of 140 seconds.  The HTP also fueled a turbopump for the main engines and auxiliary power units (APUs).  Additional tanks for helium and liquid nitrogen performed other functions, for example the fuselage interior was purged with helium gas, and the liquid nitrogen was used as coolant for various systems.  Albert Scott Crossfield was an American naval officer and test pilot. In 1953, he became the first pilot to fly at twice the speed of sound.  One year to the day after his first X-15 flight, on June 8, 1960, he had close call during ground tests with the XLR-99 engine. He was seated in the cockpit of the No. 3 X-15 when a malfunctioning valve caused a catastrophic explosion. He was uninjured as Dr. Toby Freedman, NAA Medical Director, pried open the cockpit to save him and despite being subjected to a later calculated acceleration force of near 50 Gs (although Crossfield stated in the Discovery Channel’s series Frontiers of Flight that he began to have debilitating issues with his night vision after the accident) and the airplane was completely rebuilt. On November 15 of the same year, he completed the X-15’s first powered flight with the XLR-99 engine. Two flights later, on December 6, he brought North American’s demonstration program to a successful conclusion as he completed his final flight in the X-15. Although it had been his hope to eventually pilot one of the craft into space, the USAF would not allow it, and gave strict orders which basically amounted to “stay in the sky, stay out of space.”  From 2001 to 2003, Crossfield trained pilots Terry Queijo, Kevin Kochersberger, Chris Johnson and Ken Hyde for The Wright Experience, which prepared to fly a reproduction Wright Flyer on the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers‘ first flight on December 17, 1903. The training was successful, but the re-creation of the flight on December 17, 2003 was ultimately not successful due to low engine power and the flyer’s rain-soaked fabric covering which added considerably to its takeoff weight. The Wright replica did fly successfully at Kill Devil Hills, NC after the Centennial jubilee but without media coverage. On April 19, 2006, a Cessna 210A piloted by Crossfield was reported missing while flying from PrattvilleAlabama toward ManassasVirginia.  On April 20, authorities confirmed his body was found in the wreckage of his plane in a remote area of LudvilleGeorgia. There were severe thunderstorms in the area when air traffic monitors lost radio and radar contact with Crossfield’s plane.  Scott Crossfield was the first member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots to welcome me to the organization at a new member’s happy hour in 1991.  I also sat next to him at lunch at an SETP Symposium several years later.  He was always interesting, always engaged and very personable.  When asked to name his favorite airplane, Crossfield replied, “the one I was flying at the time,” because he thoroughly enjoyed them all and their unique personalities.

 

Porsche No. 1 Completed

In 1948, building cars in post war Germany was a risking proposition at best.  The Austrian automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche debuted his first design at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900. The electric vehicle set several Austrian land-speed records, reaching more than 35 mph and earning international acclaim for the young engineer. He became general director of the Austro-Daimler Company (an outpost of the German automaker) in 1916 and later moved to Daimler headquarters in Stuttgart. Daimler merged with the Benz firm in the 1920s, and Porsche was chiefly responsible for designing some of the great Mercedes racing cars of that decade. Porsche left Daimler in 1931 and formed his own company. A few years later, Adolf Hitler called on the engineer to aid in the production of a small “people’s car” for the German masses. With his son, also named Ferdinand (known as Ferry), Porsche designed the prototype for the original Volkswagen (known as the KdF: “Kraft durch Freude,” or “strength through joy”) in 1936. During World War II, the Porsches also designed military vehicles, most notably the powerful Tiger tank.  At war’s end, the French accused the elder Porsche of war crimes and imprisoned him for more than a year. Ferry struggled to keep the family firm afloat. He built a Grand Prix race car, the Type 360 Cisitalia, for a wealthy Italian industrialist, and used the money to pay his father’s bail. When Porsche was released from prison, he approved of another project Ferry had undertaken: a new sports car that would be the first to actually bear the name Porsche. Dubbed the Type 356, the new car was in the tradition of earlier Porsche-designed race cars such as the Cisitalia. The engine was placed mid-chassis, ahead of the transaxle, with modified Volkswagen drive train components.  On June 8, 1948, a hand-built aluminum prototype labeled “No. 1″ becomes the first vehicle to bear the name of one of the world’s leading car manufacturers: Porsche.  I bought my first car, a Porsche 1969 911E, in 1971 and since then have always owned a Porsche 911.

 

Committee of Five Formed

The Second Continental Congress meeting at the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia  decided upon a committee of five to draft and present to the Congress what would become America’s Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776. This Declaration committee operated from June 11, 1776 until July 5, 1776, the day on which the Declaration was published.  The members of the committee were: John Adams, representative of Massachusetts – became the second US President;  Thomas Jefferson, representative of Virginia – became the third US President; Benjamin Franklin, representative of Pennsylvania – known as one of the most famous of the Founding Fathers, and first US Minister to France; Roger Sherman, representative of Connecticut – the only person to sign all four of the US state papers: the Continental Association, the Declaration, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution; Robert Livingston, representative of New York – negotiated the Louisiana Purchase as the Minister to France.  The revolutionary treatise began with reverberating prose:

When, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.  We hold these Truths to be self-evident that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

 

Pioneer 10 Departs Solar System

Jun 13, 1983.  After more than a decade in space, Pioneer 10, the world’s first outer-planetary probe, leaves the solar system. The next day, it radioed back its first scientific data on interstellar space.  It was launched on March 2, 1972, by an Atlas-Centaur expendable vehicle from Cape CanaveralFlorida. Between July 15, 1972, and February 15, 1973, it became the first spacecraft to traverse the asteroid belt. Photography of Jupiter began November 6, 1973, at a range of 16,000,000 mi, and a total of about 500 images were transmitted. The closest approach to the planet was on December 4, 1973, at a range of 82,178 mi. During the mission, the on-board instruments were used to study the asteroid belt, the environment around Jupiter, the solar windcosmic rays, and eventually the far reaches of the Solar System and heliosphereRadio communications were lost with Pioneer 10 on January 23, 2003, because of the loss of electric power for its radio transmitter, with the probe at a distance of 12 billion kilometers (80 AU) from Earth.  Headed in the direction of the Taurus constellation, Pioneer 10 will pass within three light years of another star–Ross 246–in the year 34,600 A.D. Bolted to the probe’s exterior wall is a gold-anodized plaque, 6 by 9 inches in area, that displays a drawing of a human man and woman, a star map marked with the location of the sun, and another map showing the flight path of Pioneer 10. The plaque, intended for intelligent life forms elsewhere in the galaxy, was designed by astronomer Carl Sagan.

 

TWA 847 Hijacking

TWA Flight 847 was a flight from Cairo to San Diego with en route stops in Athens, Rome, Boston, and Los Angeles.  On the morning of Friday, June 14, 1985 TWA 847 was hijacked by members of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad shortly after takeoff from Athens. The hijackers were seeking the release of 700 Shiite Muslims from Israeli custody.  The passengers and crew endured a three-day intercontinental ordeal. Some passengers were threatened and some beaten. Passengers with Jewish-sounding names were moved apart from the others.  TWA 847 was operated with a Boeing 727-200, registration N64339.  The flight originated in Cairo on the morning of June 14. After an uneventful flight from Cairo to Athens, a new crew boarded TWA 847. The new Athens  TWA crew were: Captain John Testrake, First Officer Philip Maresca, Flight Engineer Christian Zimmermann, Flight Service Manager Uli Derickson, Flight Attendant Judith Cox, Flight Attendant Hazel Hesp, Flight Attendant Elizabeth Howes, and Flight Attendant Helen Sheahan.  At 10:10am, Flight 847 departed Athens for Rome. It was commandeered shortly after takeoff by two Arabic-speaking Lebanese men who had smuggled a pistol and two grenades through the Athens airport security. One was later identified as Mohammed Ali Hamadi, who was later captured and sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany.  The plane was diverted from its original destination of Rome, in airspace over Greece, to the Middle East and made its first stop, for several hours, at the Beirut International Airport in Lebanon, where 19 passengers were allowed to leave in exchange for fuel. Shortly before landing, air traffic control initially refused to let them land in Beirut. Captain Testrake argued with air traffic control until they relented.  “He has pulled a hand-grenade pin and he is ready to blow up the aircraft if he has to. We must, I repeat, we must land at Beirut. We must land at Beirut. No alternative.”  At the time, Lebanon was in the midst of a civil war, and Beirut was divided into sectors controlled by different Shia militia Amal and Hezbollah.  That afternoon, the aircraft continued on across the Mediterranean to Algiers, Algeria, where 20 passengers were released during a five-hour stop before heading back to Beirut that night.  Beirut International Airport was surrounded by a Shia neighborhood. It had no perimeter security, which had been over-run by Islamic militias, and nearby residents could simply drive onto the runway.  The hijackers had systematically and regularly beaten all the US military passengers.  During this stop they selected U.S. Navy diver, Steelworker Second Class (SW2) Robert Stethem, was singled out.  When their demands were not met, Stethem, was targeted, beaten, and tortured. Finally, the hijackers shot him in the temple and dumped his body onto the tarmac at the Beirut airport and shot him again, seeking permission from other Shia Muslims operating the control tower to obtain more fuel.   He posthumously received the Bronze Star for his heroism during this situation.  Seven American passengers, alleged to have Jewish-sounding surnames, were taken off the jet and held hostage in a Shia prison in Beirut.  Nearly a dozen well-armed men joined the hijackers before the plane returned to Algiers the following day, Saturday, 15 June, where an additional 65 passengers and all five female cabin crew members (flight attendants and purser) were released.  The hijackers wished to fly to Tehran, but mysteriously returned to Beirut for a third time on Sunday afternoon, 16 June, and remained there for unknown reasons. (The pilot working as Flight Engineer deemed this portion of events could be dangerous to any who may be involved in future situations. The other pilots agreed with him to withhold details of his actions from the media.)  The initial demands of the hijackers included:

  • the release of the “Kuwait 17,” those involved in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kuwait
  • the release of all 766 mainly Lebanese Shias transferred to Israel’s Atleat Prison in conjunction with immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon

The Greek government released the accomplice, Ali Atwa, and in exchange the hijackers released eight Greek citizens, including Greek pop singer Demis Roussos, to be flown by a Greek government business jet from Algiers back to Athens.  By Monday afternoon, June 17, the 40 remaining hostages had been taken from the plane and held hostage throughout Beirut by the Hezbollah. Nabih Berri was the chief of the Amal militia and the Minister of Justice in the fractured Lebanon cabinet. One of the hostages was released when he developed heart trouble. The other 39 remained captive until intervention by US President Ronald Reagan with Lebanese officials on 30 June, when they and the pilots held captive on the airplane were collected in a local schoolyard and met with international journalists, then driven to Syria by the International Red Cross to the Sheraton Hotel and a press conference in Damascus. The hostages then boarded a U.S. Air Force C-141B Starlifter cargo plane and flew to Rhein-Main ABWest Germany, where they were met by US Vice President George H. W. Bush, debriefed and given medical examinations, then flown in a TWA Lockheed L1011 Tristar non-stop to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home by President and Mrs. Reagan (accompanied by Reagan’s Chief of Staff Donald Regan). Over the next several weeks, Israel released over 700 Shia prisoners, while maintaining that the prisoners’ release was not related to the hijacking.  Flight attendant Uli Derickson was credited with calming one of the hijackers during a fuel-quantity incident during the first leg to Beirut, because she spoke German, the only European language which either hijacker spoke. Notably, she interrupted an attempt to end the hijacking in Algiers when airport officials refused to refuel the plane without payment by offering her own Shell Oil credit card, which was used to charge about $5,500 for 6,000 gallons of jet fuel, for which she was reimbursed. She also refused to cooperate with the hijackers in identifying for them the passports of any passengers with Jewish-sounding names so they could not be singled out.  USS Stethem (DDG-63), an Aegis Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, commissioned in 1995, was named in honor of SW2 Robert Dean Stethem.

 

1777 Congress Adopts Stars and Stripes

Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.  The United States Army also celebrates the U.S. Army Birthdays on this date; Congress adopted “the American continental army” after reaching a consensus position in the Committee of the Whole on June 14, 1775.  The week of June 14 (June 12–18, 2016; June 11–17, 2017; June 10–16, 2018) is designated as “National Flag Week.” During National Flag Week, the president will issue a proclamation urging U.S. citizens to fly the American flag for the duration of that week. The flag should also be displayed on all government buildings.  The Betsy Ross House has long been the site of Philadelphia’s observance of Flag Day.  Coincidentally, June 14th is also annual anniversary of the “Bear Flag Revolt.” On June 14th 1846, 33 American settlers and mountain men arrested the Mexican general in Sonoma, and declared the “Bear Flag Republic” as an independent nation. A flag emblazoned with a bear and a star was raised to symbolize independence from Mexico. The Bear Flag was adopted as California’s state flag upon joining the union in 1850.  Prominently flying both the U.S. and state flag on June 14th is a tradition for some Californians.  I flew my US flag yesterday.

 

Invasion of Saipan Begins

The Battle of Saipan was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought on the island of Saipan in the Mariana Islands from 15 June to 9 July 1944. The Allied invasion fleet embarking the expeditionary forces left Pearl Harbor on 5 June 1944, the day before Operation Overlord in Europe was launched. The U.S. 2nd Marine Division4th Marine Division, and the Army’s 27th Infantry Division, commanded by Lieutenant General Holland Smith, defeated the 43rd Infantry Division of the Imperial Japanese Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Yoshitsugu Saito.  In the campaigns of 1943 and the first half of 1944, the Allies had captured the Solomon Islands, the Gilbert Islands, the Marshall Islands and the Papuan Peninsula of New Guinea. This left the Japanese holding the Philippines, the Caroline IslandsPalau Islands and Mariana Islands.  It had always been the intention of the American planners to bypass the Carolines and Palauan islands and to seize the Marianas and Taiwan. From these latter bases, communications between the Japanese archipelago and Japanese forces to the south and west could be cut. From the Marianas, Japan would be well within the range of an air offensive relying on the new Boeing B-29 Superfortress long-range bomber with its operational radius of 1,500 mi.  While not part of the original American plan, Douglas MacArthur, commander of the Southwest Pacific Area command, obtained authorization to advance through New Guinea and Morotai toward the Philippines. This allowed MacArthur to keep his personal pledge to liberate the Philippines, made in his “I shall return” speech, and also allowed the active use of the large forces built up in the southwest Pacific theatre. The Japanese, expecting an attack somewhere on their perimeter, thought an attack on the Caroline Islands most likely.  The bombardment of Saipan began on 13 June 1944. Fifteen battleships were involved, and 165,000 shells were fired. Seven modern fast battleships delivered 2,400 16 in (410 mm) shells, but to avoid potential minefields, fire was from a distance of 10,000 yd (9,100 m) or more, and crews were inexperienced in shore bombardment. The following day the eight older battleships and 11 cruisers under Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf replaced the fast battleships but were lacking in time and ammunition.  The landings began at 07:00 on 15 June 1944. More than 300 LVTs landed 8,000 Marines on the west coast of Saipan by about 09:00. Eleven fire support ships covered the Marine landings. The naval force consisted of the battleships Tennessee and California, the cruisers Birmingham and Indianapolis, the destroyers Norman ScottMonssenCoghlanHalsey PowellBaileyRobinson and Albert W. Grant. Careful artillery preparation — placing flags in the lagoon to indicate the range — allowed the Japanese to destroy about 20 amphibious tanks, and they strategically placed barbed wire, artillery, machine gun emplacements and trenches to maximize the American casualties. However, by nightfall, the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions had a beachhead about 6 mi wide and 0.5 mi deep.  The Japanese counter-attacked at night but were repulsed with heavy losses. On 16 June, units of the U.S. Army’s 27th Infantry Division landed and advanced on the airfield at Ås Lito (now the location of Saipan International Airport). Again the Japanese counter-attacked at night. On 18 June, Saito abandoned the airfield.  The invasion surprised the Japanese high command, which had been expecting an attack further south. Admiral Soemu Toyoda, Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Navy, saw an opportunity to use the A-Go force to attack the U.S. Navy forces around Saipan. On 15 June, he gave the order to attack. But the resulting battle of the Philippine Sea was a disaster for the Imperial Japanese Navy, which lost three aircraft carriers and hundreds of planes. The garrisons of the Marianas would have no hope of resupply or reinforcement.  Without resupply, the battle on Saipan was hopeless for the defenders, but the Japanese were determined to fight to the last man. Saito organized his troops into a line anchored on Mount Tapotchau in the defensible mountainous terrain of central Saipan. The nicknames given by the Americans to the features of the battle — “Hell’s Pocket”, “Purple Heart Ridge” and “Death Valley” — indicate the severity of the fighting. The Japanese used the many caves in the volcanic landscape to delay the attackers, by hiding during the day and making sorties at night. The Americans gradually developed tactics for clearing the caves by using flamethrower teams supported by artillery and machine guns.  By 7 July, the Japanese had nowhere to retreat. Saito made plans for a final suicidal banzai charge. On the fate of the remaining civilians on the island, Saito said, “There is no longer any distinction between civilians and troops. It would be better for them to join in the attack with bamboo spears than be captured.” At dawn, with a group of 12 men carrying a great red flag in the lead, the remaining able-bodied troops — about 3,000 men — charged forward in the final attack. Amazingly, behind them came the wounded, with bandaged heads, crutches, and barely armed. The Japanese surged over the American front lines, engaging both army and Marine units. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 105th Infantry Regiment were almost destroyed, losing 650 killed and wounded. However, the fierce resistance of these two battalions, as well as that of Headquarters Company, 105th Infantry, and of supply elements of 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Artillery Regiment, resulted in over 4,300 Japanese killed. For their actions during the 15-hour Japanese attack, three men of the 105th Infantry were awarded the Medal of Honor — all posthumously. Numerous others fought the Japanese until they were overwhelmed by the largest Japanese Banzai attack in the Pacific War.  By 16:15 on 9 July, Admiral Turner announced that Saipan was officially secured.  Saito — along with commanders Hirakushi and Igeta — committed suicide in a cave. Vice-Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, the naval commander who led the Japanese carriers at Pearl Harbor, also committed suicide in the closing stages of the battle. He had been in command of the Japanese naval air forces stationed on the island.  In the end, almost the entire garrison of troops on the island — at least 30,000 — died. For the Americans, the victory was the most costly to date in the Pacific War: out of 71,000 who landed, 2,949 were killed and 10,464 wounded.  Future Hollywood actor Lee Marvin was among the many Americans wounded. He was serving with “I” Company, 24th Marine Regiment, when he was shot in the buttocks by Japanese machine gun fire during the assault on Mount Tapochau. He was awarded the Purple Heart and was given a medical discharge with the rank of Private First Class in 1945.  When I flew for Northwest Airlines, I flew in and out of Ås Lito (now the location of Saipan International Airport) on at least five trips.  I was a 33 hour layover and I got to tour all parts of the island.  Saipan International Airport was a sugarcane field before the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (IJNAS) constructed a temporary landing field on the site in 1933. The landing field was used for training purposes and had two runways configured in an “L” pattern. In 1937, the Navy began upgrading the airfield for full military use, despite an international law ban on constructing military facilities within the South Pacific Mandate. Following the attack against the United States in 1941, the field was named Aslito Field (アスリート飛行場), based on the indigenous Chamoru name for the area of its location, As Lito.  The IJNAS assigned two squadrons of Mitsubishi A6M5a-52 Zeros to the airfield in mid-June 1944. These squadrons took part in the occupation of the Mariana Islands during the Battle of the Philippine Sea later that month, being almost wiped out by the American forces during the battle.  As mentioned above, the airfield was liberated by the United States Army 27th Infantry Division on June 18, 1944 during the Battle of Saipan. Once in American hands, Isley Field was expanded considerably to support Twentieth Air Force B-29 Superfortress operations. The XXI Bomber Command had been assigned the overall responsibility of the B-29 operations out of the Marianas bases, and Isley Field was used by the 73rd Bombardment Wing (which consisted of the 497th498th499th, and 500th Bombardment Groups).  During the battle of Saipan, just after the fall of Isley Field, a Zero from Guam actually landed at Aslito Airfield, the pilot being unaware that the field was under American control. As it landed, the aircraft was fired at and damaged, crashing at the end of the runway. The pilot survived and the plane was captured. The field was renamed Isley Field after United States Navy Commander Robert H. Isley who was killed on June 13, 1944, while strafing the base.  One sees just south close by, the island of Tinian allowing you can fully realize US forces had to take Saipan; for without Saipan you could not build and sustain runways capable of supporting B-29’s capable of striking mainland Japan on Tinian.  The North Field and West Field on Tinian are today mostly abandoned, but you can make out the taxiways, runways.  Limited tourist is attempting to take hold.  You can see the pits where the first atomic bombs would be loaded aboard B-29s. There is a small US memorial on Saipan, but no American cemetery.  There are many monuments and memorials to various Japanese military units and one at the cave where Saito committed suicide.  Suicide Cliff and Banzai Cliff, along with a number of surviving isolated Japanese fortifications, are recognized as historic sites on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The cliffs are also part of the National Historic Landmark District Landing Beaches; Aslito/Isley Field; & Marpi Point, Saipan Island, which also includes the American landing beaches, the B-29 runways of Isley Field, and the surviving Japanese infrastructure of the Aslito and Marpi Point airfields.

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 31st through June 4th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Life always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow.

 

INDOPACOM Is The New US Pacific Command

In a move that has been coming for awhile, the US Pacific Command is being renamed.  Military Times reports Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced Wednesday that U.S. Pacific Command would now be called  U.S. Indo-Pacific Command , in the latest move to counter Chinese economic and military pressure in the region.  Mattis said he directed the name change in recognition that “all nations large and small are essential to the region, in order to sustain stability in ocean areas critical to global peace.”  Mattis made the remarks at the change of command ceremony in Pearl Harbor for incoming INDOPACOM Commander ADM Philip S. Davidson (USNA ’82).  “In recognition of the increasing connectivity of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, today we rename the U.S. Pacific Command to U.S.-Indo Pacific Command,” Mattis said.  While Mattis stressed that the change was not meant to be combative, it did signal America’s commitment to ensure that every country “no matter its size …. [is] not bound by any nation’s predatory economics or threat of coercion.”  However, outgoing commander of the former U.S. Pacific Command, Navy ADM Harry B. Harris Jr., was more direct in his assessment of China’s impact on the region.  “Great power competition is back,” Harris said. “I believe we are reaching an inflection point in history…. A geo-political competition between free and oppressive visions is taking place in the Indo-Pacific.”  INDOPACOM is a unified combatant command of the United States Armed Forces responsible for the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. It is the oldest and largest of the unified combatant commands. Its commander, the senior U.S. military officer in the Pacific, is responsible for military operations in an area which encompasses more than 100 million square miles (260,000,000 km2), or roughly 52 percent of the Earth’s surface, stretching from the waters off the west coast of the United States to the west coast of India, and from the Arctic to the Antarctic. The Commander reports to the President of the United States through the Secretary of Defense and is supported by Service component and subordinate unified commands, including U.S. Army PacificU.S. Pacific FleetU.S. Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Marine Forces PacificU.S. Forces JapanU.S. Forces KoreaSpecial Operations Command Korea, and Special Operations Command Pacific. USINDOPACOM also has two direct reporting units (DRUs) – U.S. Pacific Command Joint Intelligence Operations Center (JIOC) and the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DMHA) as well as a Standing Joint Task Force, Joint Interagency Task Force West (JIATF-W). The USINDOPACOM headquarters building, the Nimitz-MacArthur Pacific Command Center, is located on Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 31st through June 4th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 23rd through 30th 2018

Friends of FOD

I’ve been remiss again about getting the blog out in a timely manner.  As a result, there’s a lot to cover.  Let’s get to it!

 

FOD Saying of the Day

Dear humans, in case you forgot, I used to be your Internet. Sincerely, The Library.  Oh, that’s just dating oneself as being too, too old.

 

USN Ships Cruise Chinese-Claimed Waters of South China Sea

The latest Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) are being reported in Navy Times.  The guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG-76) and the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54) sailed within 12 nautical miles of the disputed Paracel Islands during a scheduled freedom of navigation operation, Reuters reported.  The move angered Chinese officials, who claim the island group as sovereign territory.  China’s Defense Ministry said it sent ships and aircraft to warn the U.S. vessels to leave the area. The U.S. military did not directly comment on the incident, but maintained its right to conduct routine and regular FONOPS in the region.  During a stop in Hawaii to mark a change in leadership at U.S. Pacific Command, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday that the U.S. will continue to confront China’s militarization of manmade islands in the South China Sea.  Mattis said Beijing hasn’t abided by its promise not to put weapons on the Spratly Islands.  (Did anyone think they would?)  He said American ships are maintaining a “steady drumbeat” of naval operations around disputed islands, and “only one country” seems to be bothered by the vessels’ activities.  Mattis said the U.S will confront “what we believe is out of step with international law.”  China has controlled the Paracels entirely since violently seizing Vietnam’s holdings in the area in 1974. Called “Xisha” in Chinese, the islands have been incorporated into the southern province of Hainan and are being developed for tourism, (except that no one can visit them) as well as being equipped with weapon systems meant to enforce China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea.  According to the Japan Times, China’s Defense Ministry has vowed to bolster its “combat readiness” to defend against what it said was a “serious infringement” of the country’s sovereignty after the U.S. Navy dispatched two warships for an apparent “freedom of navigation” operation (FONOP) in disputed South China Sea waters.  The ministry said late Sunday that the Chinese military had warned the two U.S. warships to leave after they entered waters near the contested Paracel Islands in the strategic waterway.  The two warships, the USS Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser home-ported in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and the USS Higgins, a destroyer, had “arbitrarily entered China’s territorial waters around the Xisha Islands without permission of the Chinese government,” spokesman Wu Qian said, using the Chinese name for the Paracels.  The patrol was apparently the first time the U.S. had sent warships two simultaneously conduct a FONOP in the area.  The Chinese military dispatched naval vessels and aircraft “to conduct legal identification and verification of the U.S. warships and warn them off,” Wu said, according to a statement posted to the ministry’s website.  “The U.S. has seriously violated China’s sovereignty, undermined strategic mutual trust, and undermined peace and security in the South China Sea,” Wu added.  The Chinese military “is unshakeably determined to strengthen its naval and air combat readiness, raise defense level, safeguard national sovereignty and security and maintain regional peace and stability,” he said.  Both vessels reportedly came within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of the Paracels, carrying out maneuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands, Reuters quoted an unidentified U.S. official as saying.  The U.S. Defense Department refused to confirm the operation took place.  “U.S. forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan told The Japan Times in a statement. “All operations are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.”  Logan said that the U.S. military will continue “regular FONOPS, as we have routinely done in the past and will continue to do in the future.”  Beijing has built up a series of military outposts in the area as it seeks to reinforce effective control of much of the waterway.  The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.  The incident over the weekend comes at a time of mounting tensions between the two nations. The Pentagon officially uninvited China from this year’s Rim of the Pacific naval exercise last week, citing the country’s “continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea.”  I was going to comment on that story, but let’s just say the Chinese were uninvited and another potential opportunity of observe US Naval operations and gather intelligence has been recognized for what it was and has been discontinued.

 

Former USS John S. McCain Pleads Guilty At Special Court Martial

Navy Times is reporting on the guilty plea of Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez , former commanding officer of the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) at his May 25 special court-martialThe impassioned words of Thomas Bushell cut through the hushed Washington Navy Yard courtroom during the May 25 special court-martial as the grieving father fought back tears to pay tribute to his son, Electronics Technician 1st Class Kevin S. Bushell, one of 10 sailors killed when the destroyer John S. McCain collided with a 600-foot-long oil tanker on Aug. 21.  “Arrogance killed my son. The arrogance of one man killed 10 sailors.”  The father was one of a handful of Kevin Bushell’s relatives who made statements about his son. He was joined by family members of other sailors who also died on the ship, including Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., Electronics Technician 2nd Class Dustin Doyon, Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Logan S. Palmer, Chief Interior Communications Electrician Abraham Lopez, and Chief Electronics Technician Charles N. Findley.  One-by-one, 15 gut-wrenching statements were read while the destroyer’s crestfallen former commanding officer, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, sat only feet away, listening intently. The statements came during the sentencing phase of the court-martial following Sanchez’s guilty plea for dereliction of duty.  The destroyer John S. McCain collided with the oil merchant ship Alnic MC  a little after 5 a.m. on Aug. 21, puncturing a 28-foot hole in the warship and sending hundreds of bewildered sailors into a frenzy of survival and rescue.  Sea water and oil rushed into the newly-created cavity on the port side of the ship that had once seemed impenetrable to those serving onboard.  “I’m on a nuclear armed destroyer,” Charles Findley, 31, once told his sister, Amy Winters. “This ship is the safest place to be.”  Assigning blame has proven difficult in the collisions of both the destroyer Fitzgerald and the McCain. It took extensive reviews by the Navy to determine that the sea service, not the other vessels, were at fault in both catastrophes.  Deciphering which sailors were most culpable in each wreck has added yet another layer of complexity in the subsequent proceedings.  Many family members of the McCain sailors, however, implied that blame doesn’t need to be equally divided.  After the final family member in attendance was seated, Sanchez was offered the opportunity to issue a statement of his own.  “They were under my charge and I failed,” he said to the families. “I willingly accept accountability and responsibility. Nothing in Navy training can prepare you for the deaths of your sailors.”  The former commanding officer then asked the families to find some solace in the notion that their loved ones “were with family” when they died.  As part of a pretrial agreement, Sanchez pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty for his role in the collision. He was sentenced by Navy judge advocate Capt. Charles Purnell to a letter of reprimand and a forfeiture of $2,000 per month for three months. He currently has a base pay of $9,009 per month.  Also as part of the plea deal, Sanchez will submit a retirement request.  “Don’t be the eleventh casualty of McCain,” the judge told Sanchez. “You still have a lot to contribute.”

 

India and Russia Team Up To Overcome US Sanctions On Defense

Defense News is reporting India and Russia have pledged to jointly create a plan to resolve U.S. sanctions on Russia that is hampering defense deals between New Delhi and Moscow.  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to formulate the plan during a May 21 informal summit in the Russian city Sochi.  The U.S. law, Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, is negatively affecting defense business with Russia, according to an official with the Indian Ministry of Defense, who spoke on condition of anonymity.  “It is an extremely complex issue and has direct consequences on defense supplies from Russia, but Indian government will ensure that [defense] ties are not with Moscow,” the official said.  Notably mum about the impact of CAATSA on Russian defense deals, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs released a statement May 21 saying: “The two leaders agreed that the special and privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia is an important factor for global peace and stability. (That’s BS) The two leaders also reiterated the significance of longstanding partnership in the military, security and nuclear energy fields and welcomed the ongoing cooperation in these areas.“  Russia and India maintain a high strategic level of partnership with close cooperation between the two countries defense ministries, Putin said. “Our Defense Ministries maintain very close contacts and cooperation. It speaks about a very high strategic level of our partnership,” he said, according to TASS news agency.  The U.S. principal deputy assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs said Friday in Washington that U.S. allies should consider the law, under which any significant purchase of military equipment from Moscow would attract American sanctions.  “CAATSA is a feature, and we need to take it seriously. The (Trump) administration is always bound by U.S. law. This is a U.S. law. I’m hoping that not just India, but all of the partners that we engage with will understand that we will have to evaluate any potential large defense purchase from Russia seriously because that’s what the law demands of us,” Tina Kaidanow told reporters.  Earlier this month, Modi dispatched top Indian officials to Moscow to find a solution to the U.S. sanctions on Russian defense companies that are doing business in India.  Nearly 65 percent of Indian weaponry is of Russian origin, an Indian MoD official noted, and so sanctions could impact the supply of spare parts.  Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited Moscow in April to speed up the procurement of new weapons worth more than $10 billion.  India’s national security adviser, Ajit Doval, and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale also held talks with top Russian officials, including national security adviser Nikolai Pathrushev and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on May 10.  Another Indian MoD official said the government will continue to pursue new defense deals will Russia, noting that price negotiations are nearly over for the purchase of 5 Russian-made S-400 air-defense systems at a cost of $5 billion, with a deal expected to be signed in the next four months.  India is working out ways to keep this deal out of CAATSA, he added.

 

 

Memorial Day Weekend

This past weekend was the unofficial beginning of summer, but I think it appropriate to remember all those who gave their last full measure in defense of our nation this Memorial Day The holiday, which is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers.  By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.  Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.  The preferred name for the holiday gradually changed from “Decoration Day” to “Memorial Day,” which was first used in 1882.  Memorial Day did not become the more common name until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967.  On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend.  The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.  After some initial confusion and unwillingness to comply, all 50 states adopted Congress’ change of date within a few years.  And in an abhorrent self-aggrandizement move our President tweeted Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!

5:58 AM – May 28, 2018

 

God Tells Televangelist Jesse Duplantis To Buy A Falcon 7X

No sooner had I digested the President’s slap at those who have died for the values of our nation when I see that televangelist Jesse Duplantis, who lives in a 35,000 square foot mansion tax free, asked his followers to donate money to him so that he could buy a new $54 million private jet, the Dassault Falcon 7X. Duplantis said that his organization, Jesse Duplantis Ministries, had already paid for three private jets by 2006, and that he had been using them by “just burning them up for the Lord Jesus Christ.” Duplantis defended his choice by saying: “I really believe that if Jesus was physically on the earth today he wouldn’t be riding a donkey. Think about that for a minute. He’d be in an airplane preaching the gospel all over the world.”  Previously in 2016, Duplantis and fellow televangelist Kenneth Copeland defended their use of private jets as firstly, commercial planes were full of “demons” which would bog down their schedules with requests for prayers; and secondly, on a commercial airplane, Duplantis would not be able to unbuckle his seat belt to speak to God standing up.  Fellow televangelist Kenneth Copland just bought a $36 million Gulfstream V jet.  Copeland thanked his followers and Jesus for buying it when it was delivered at the Fort Worth airstrip, wearing a pilot jacket and sunglasses.  Copeland had earlier stated that flying commercial was like entering “a long tube with a bunch of demons,” and defended the use of private jets as it was important, it lets for prayer in privacy ‘as the Lord leads’ and avoids unnecessary demons.  Now, the church is asking another $17 or $19.5 million for the building of a hangar, upgrading the runway and maintenance.  I’m in the wrong line of work.

 

Bismark Sinks HMS Hood

The Battle of the Denmark Strait during the Second World War was made famous because of the participants and the effect the battle had on the countries involved.  Ships of the Royal Navy took on the German Kriegsmarine; initiated action on 24 May 1941. The British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and

Seegefecht des Schlachtschiffes “Bismarck” unter Island.
Nunmehr richtet Schlachtschiff Bismarck seine ganze Feuerkraft auf das sich zurückziehende Schlachtschiff “Prince of Wales”.
Prop.Kp.:MPA Nord Film-Nr. 100/27
Bildberichter: Lagemann
Wilhelmshaven; Herausgabedatum: Juni 1941

the battlecruiser HMS Hood fought the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, the latter battle group were attempting to break out into the North Atlantic to attack the Allied merchant shipping (Operation Rheinübung) bound for the UK from the US.  For 20 years after her commissioning in 1920, Hood was the largest and heaviest warship in the world. Combining eight massive BL 15 inch Mk I naval guns with a top speed greater than any battleship on the seas, Hood was the pride of Great Britain’s navy, and embodied the world dominance of British naval power. Despite this, Hood had one conspicuous flaw as compared to the super-dreadnought battleships she served alongside.  As a battlecruiser, her design focused on engine power as opposed to comprehensive armor coverage. This was in accordance with the evolving theory originally propounded by First Sea Lord Jackie Fisher that “speed is armor.”

Seegefecht des Schlachtschiffes “Bismarck” unter Island.
Mit zwei Treffern im Vorschiff verlässt das Schlachtschiff Bismarck den Schauplatz des Seegefechtes unter Island.
Prop.Kp.: MPA Nord Film-Nr.: 100/28
Bildberichter: Lagemann
Wilhelmshaven, Herausgabedatum: Juni 1941

(Not to be confused with the term, “speed is life” used in discussing aircraft fighter tactics, especially in the F-4 Phantom II.)  While her 12-inch belt armor was considered equivalent to contemporary capital ships she was likely to encounter, her 3 inches of deck armor was only rated against shell splinters, leaving her badly unprotected against plunging fire (vertical shells) at long range. At the time of her commissioning in World War I, naval gunnery lacked the accuracy at those extended ranges necessary to produce plunging fire, and Hood’s greater speed and maneuverability were rightly seen as an acceptable trade-off. However, as the accuracy and range of naval gunfire increased in the inter-war period, she became vulnerable.  Hood had been scheduled to receive an upgrade in 1939 that would have doubled her deck armor to 6 inches, but the outbreak of World War II meant the upgrade never took place. She thus sortied to war at a marked disadvantage against the new capital ships of the Axis.  British Vice-Admiral Holland’s battle plan was to have Hood and Prince of Wales engage Bismarck while Suffolk and Norfolk engaged Prinz Eugen (which, Holland assumed, still steamed behind Bismarck and not ahead of her). He signaled this to Captain John C. Leach of Prince of Wales, but did not radio Rear Admiral Wake-Walker, who as Commander of the 1st Cruiser Squadron directing Suffolk and Norfolk, for fear of disclosing his location. Instead, he observed radio silence. Holland hoped to meet the enemy at approximately 02:00. Sunset in this latitude was at 01:51 (ship’s clocks were four hours ahead of local time). Bismarck and Prinz Eugen would be silhouetted against the sun’s afterglow while Hood and Prince of Wales could approach rapidly, unseen in the darkness from the east, to a range close enough not to endanger Hood with plunging fire from Bismarck.  The Germans would not expect an attack from this quarter, giving the British the advantage of surprise.  The plan’s success depended on Suffolk‘s continual and unbroken contact with the German ships. However, Suffolk lost contact from 00:28. For 90 minutes, Holland neither sighted the German ships nor received any further news from Norfolk or Suffolk who likewise failed to signal Holland. Reluctantly, Holland ordered Hood and Prince of Wales to turn south-southwest while his detached destroyers continued search to the north.  Just before 03:00, Suffolk regained contact with BismarckHood and Prince of Wales were 30 nm away, slightly ahead of the Germans. Holland signaled to steer toward the Germans and increased speed to 28 kt.  Suffolk‘s loss of contact had placed the British at a disadvantage. Instead of swiftly closing head-on as Holland had envisioned, he would have to converge at a wider angle, much more slowly. This would leave Hood vulnerable to Bismarck‘s plunging shells for a much longer period. The situation worsened further when, at 03:20, Suffolk reported the Germans had made a further course alteration to the west, placing the German and British squadrons almost abeam of each other (again decreasing the approach angle).  Hood opened fire at 05:52 at a distance of approximately 26,500 yd.  Holland had ordered firing on the leading ship, Prinz Eugen, believing from his position that she was Bismarck. Holland soon amended his order and directed both ships to engage the rear ship, BismarckPrince of Wales had already correctly identified and targeted Bismarck, whereas Hood is believed to have continued to fire at Prinz Eugen for some time.

HMS HOOD (HU 50190) HMS HOOD going into action against the German battleship BISMARCK and battlecruiser Prinz Eugen, 24 May 1941. This image taken from HMS PRINCE OF WALES was the last photo ever taken of HMS HOOD. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205086674

The Germans also had the weather gauge, meaning that the British ships were steaming into the wind, spray drenching the range finder lenses of Prince of Wales “A” turret’s 42 ft (13 m) Barr and Stroud coincidence rangefinder and both British ships’ “B” turret 30 ft (9.1 m) rangefinders. This necessitated using the shorter based rangefinder in the director towers. In addition, Admiral Holland retained Prince of Wales close to Hood, conforming to Hood‘s movements instead of varying courses and speeds independently. This made it easier for the Germans to find the range to both British ships, although it would have aided Holland’s gunners if they had both fired upon Bismarck as originally planned, since they could then precisely time each other’s salvos to avoid mistaking one ship’s fire for the other. They could also have

Gefechtsbildfahren in der Ostsee mit der “Bismarck” (im Hintergrund)
Vorne Brückennock Prinz Eugen

used Concentration Fire, where both ships’ main armament salvos could have been controlled by one ship’s fire control computer—probably Prince of Wales‘ modern Admiralty Fire Control Table.  The Germans held their fire until 05:55, when both German ships targeted and opened fire on Hood.  At 06:00, Holland ordered his force to turn once again to port to allow their aft main guns on both Hood and Prince of Wales to bear on the German ships. During the execution of that turn, a salvo from Bismarck, fired at a range of about 9 mi was seen by men aboard Prince of Wales to straddle Hood abreast her mainmast. It is likely that one 38 cm (15 in) shell struck somewhere between Hood‘s mainmast and “X” turret aft of the mast.  This was immediately followed by a huge pillar of flame that shot upward ‘like a giant blowtorch,’ in the vicinity of the mainmast. An explosion followed immediately destroying a large portion of the ship from amidships clear to the rear of “Y” turret, blowing both aft turrets into the sea. The ship broke in two; the stern falling away and sinking. Ted Briggs, one of the survivors, claimed Hood heeled to 30 degrees at which point ‘we knew she just wasn’t coming back.’ The bow raised clear of water, pointed upward and pivoting about her position.  Hood fired one last salvo while in this upright position, possibly from the doomed gun crew, just before the bow section followed the stern shortly thereafter.  Steel splinters rained down on Prince of Wales .5 mi away. Hood sank in less than three minutes, taking 1,415 men, including Vice-Admiral Holland, with her. Only three of her crew (Ted Briggs, Bob Tilburn and Bill Dundas), survived to be rescued two hours later by the destroyer HMS Electra.  Now alone, Prince of Wales was struck four times by Bismarck and three times by Prinz Eugen. One shell passed through her upper superstructure, killing or wounding several crewmen in the Compass Platform and Air Defense Platform. Pieces of another shell struck her radar room aft, killing the crewmen within. On Bismarck, there was tremendous elation at the sinking of Hood. There was also a keen expectation they would close on Prince of Wales and possibly finish her off. Bismarck‘s captain, Ernst Lindemann, requested Admiral Lütjens allow Bismarck to do just that. Lütjens refused to allow Lindemann to give chase, giving no explanation. Lindemann repeated his request, this time more assertively.  Lütjens held firm orders from the German Naval Commander, Groß Admiral Erich Raeder, to avoid unnecessary combat with the Royal Navy, especially when it could lead to further damage that could hasten allowing Bismarck to engage with the British Navy. Bismarck suffered sufficient damage from three hits likely fired from Prince of Whales during their course separations.  Lütjens broke off combat instead of pursuing Prince of Wales and ordered a course of 270°, due west.  Bismarck had fired 93 of her 353 base-fused Armor Piercing (AP) shells during the engagement.  The British public was shocked their most emblematic warship and more than 1,400 of her crew had been destroyed so suddenly. The Admiralty mobilized every available warship in the Atlantic to hunt down and destroy Bismarck. The destruction of Hood spurred a relentless pursuit by the Royal Navy involving dozens of warships. Two days later, heading for occupied France to effect repairs, Bismarck was attacked by 16 obsolescent Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal; one scored a hit that rendered the battleship’s steering gear inoperable. In her final battle the following morning, the already-crippled Bismarck was severely damaged during a sustained engagement with two British battleships and two heavy cruisers, was scuttled by her crew, and sank with heavy loss of life. Most experts agree that the battle damage would have caused her to sink eventually. The wreck was located in June 1989 by Robert Ballard, and has since been further surveyed by several other expeditions.

 

Brooklyn Bridge Opens 

On May 24, 1883 the Brooklyn Bridge opened for use.  Construction of the bridge began in 1869.  The bridge was designed by German immigrant John Augustus Roebling, who had previously designed and constructed shorter suspension bridges, such as Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, the Waco Suspension Bridge and the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Covington, Kentucky (all still in use). The bridge’s two towers were built by floating two caissons, giant upside-down boxes made of southern yellow pine, in the span of the East River, and then beginning to build the stone towers on top of them until they sank to the bottom of the river. Compressed air was pumped into the caissons, and workers entered the space to dig the sediment, until the caissons sank to the bedrock. The whole weight of the bridge still sits upon a 15-foot thickness of southern yellow pine wood under the sediment.  Many workers became sick with the bends in this work.  This condition was unknown at the time, and was first called “caisson disease” by the project physician Andrew Smith.  The bridge was built with numerous passageways and compartments in its anchorages. New York City rented out the large vaults under the bridge’s Manhattan anchorage in order to fund the bridge. Opened in 1876, the vaults were used to store wine, as they were always at 60 °F.  This was called the “Blue Grotto” because of a shrine to the Virgin Mary next to an opening at the entrance. When New York magazine visited one of the cellars about 102 years later, in 1978, it discovered, on the wall, a “fading inscription” reading: “Who loveth not wine, women and song, he remaineth a fool his whole life long.”  The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge is detailed in the 1972 book The Great Bridge by David McCullough and Brooklyn Bridge (1981), the first PBS documentary film by Ken Burns.  Burns drew heavily on McCullough’s book for the film and used him as narrator. (McCullough narrated many of Ken Burns’ projects including The Civil War and Baseball) Thousands of people attended the opening ceremony and many ships were present in the East Bay for the occasion. President Chester A. Arthur and Mayor Franklin Edson crossed the bridge to celebratory cannon fire and were greeted by Brooklyn Mayor Seth Low when they reached the Brooklyn-side tower. On that first day, a total of 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed what was then the only land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Emily Warren Roebling was the first to cross the bridge. The bridge’s main span over the East River is 1,595 feet 6 inches.  The bridge cost US$15.5 million in 1883 dollars (about US$385,554,000 in today’s dollars) to build and an estimated 27 people died during its construction.  At the time it opened, and for several years, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world—50% longer than any previously built—and it has become a treasured landmark. Since the 1980s, it has been floodlit at night to highlight its architectural features. The architectural style is neo-Gothic, with characteristic pointed arches above the passageways through the stone towers. The paint scheme of the bridge is “Brooklyn Bridge Tan” and “Silver”, although it has been argued that the original paint was “Rawlins Red.”  At the time the bridge was built, engineers had not discovered the aerodynamics of bridge construction. Bridges were not tested in wind tunnels until the 1950s, well after the collapse of the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, known as Galloping Gertie, in 1940. It is therefore fortunate that the open truss structure supporting the deck is by its nature less subject to aerodynamic problems. Roebling designed a bridge and truss system that was six times as strong as he thought it needed to be. Because of this, the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing when many of the bridges built around the same time have vanished into history and been replaced. This is also in spite of the substitution of inferior quality wire in the cabling supplied by the contractor J. Lloyd Haigh—by the time it was discovered, it was too late to replace the cabling that had already been constructed. Roebling determined that the poorer wire would leave the bridge four rather than six times as strong as necessary, so it was eventually allowed to stand, with the addition of 250 cables. Diagonal cables were installed from the towers to the deck, intended to stiffen the bridge. They turned out to be unnecessary, but were kept for their distinctive beauty.

 

American Airlines Flight 191 

American Airlines Flight 191 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight operated by American Airlines from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago to Los Angeles International Airport. A McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 used for this flight on May 25, 1979, crashed moments after takeoff from Chicago. All 258 passengers and 13 crew on board were killed, along with two people on the ground. It is the deadliest aviation accident to have occurred in the United States.  Investigators found that as the jet was beginning its takeoff rotation, engine number one, on the left wing, separated and flipped over the top of the wing. As the engine separated from the aircraft it severed hydraulic lines that locked the wing’s leading edge slats in place and damaged a three-foot section of the left wing’s leading edge. Aerodynamic forces acting on the wing resulted in an uncommanded retraction of the outboard leading edge slats. As the jet began to climb, the damaged left wing, with no engine, produced far less lift (it stalled) than the right wing, with its slats still deployed and its engine running at full takeoff speed. The extremely disrupted and unbalanced aerodynamics of the aircraft caused it to roll abruptly to the left until it was partially inverted, reaching a bank angle of 112 degrees, before crashing in an open field by a trailer park near the end of the runway. The engine separation was attributed to damage to the pylon structure holding the engine to the wing, caused by faulty maintenance procedures at American Airlines. While maintenance issues and not the actual design of the aircraft were ultimately found responsible for the crash, the accident and subsequent grounding of all DC-10s by the Federal Aviation Administration added to an already unfavorable reputation of the DC-10 aircraft in the eyes of the public, caused by several other incidents and accidents involving the type. The accident investigation revealed other DC-10s had been damaged caused by the same faulty maintenance procedure American Airlines had either shared with other operators or performed for other DC-10 operators. The faulty procedure was banned, and the aircraft type went on to have a long career as a passenger and cargo aircraft (It was a good flying aircraft).  Witnesses to the crash were in universal agreement that the aircraft had not struck any foreign objects on the runway. Also, no pieces of the wing or other aircraft components were found with the separated engine, other than its supporting pylon, leading investigators to conclude that nothing else had broken free of the airframe and struck the engine. Hence the engine/pylon assembly separation resulted from a structural failure.  During the investigation, an examination of the pylon attachment points revealed damage to the wing’s pylon mounting bracket that matched the shape of the pylon’s rear attachment fitting. This meant that the pylon attachment fitting had struck the mounting bracket at some point. This was important evidence, as the only way the pylon fitting could strike the wing’s mounting bracket in the observed manner was if the bolts that held the pylon to the wing had been removed and the engine/pylon assembly was being supported by something other than the aircraft itself. Hence investigators were able to conclude that the observed damage to the rear pylon mount had been present before the crash, rather than being caused by it.  Examination of the aircraft’s maintenance history revealed that eight weeks before the crash, the aircraft had undergone routine service, during which the engine and pylon had been removed from the wing for inspection and maintenance. The removal procedure recommended by McDonnell-Douglas called for the engine to be detached from the pylon before detaching the pylon itself from the wing. However, American Airlines, as well as Continental Airlines and United Airlines, had developed a different procedure that saved approximately 200 man-hours per aircraft and “more importantly from a safety standpoint, it would reduce the number of disconnects (of systems such as hydraulic and fuel lines, electrical cables, and wiring) from 72 to 27.”  This new procedure involved removal of the engine and pylon assembly as a single unit, rather than as individual components. United Airline’s implementation involved use of an overhead hoist to support the engine/pylon assembly during removal and installation. The method chosen by American and Continental procedure supported the engine/pylon assembly with a large forklift.  It was learned that if the forklift were incorrectly positioned the engine/pylon assembly would not be stable as it was being handled, causing it to rock like a see-saw and jam the pylon against the wing’s attachment points. The forklift operator was guided only by hand and voice signals, as he or she could not directly see the juncture between pylon and wing. Positioning had to be extremely accurate or structural damage could result. Compounding the problem, maintenance work on N110AA did not go smoothly. The mechanics started to disconnect the engine and pylon, but there was a shift change halfway through the job. (How many times have you heard issues regarding shift changes).  When work was resumed, the pylon was jammed on the wing and the forklift had to be re-positioned, resulting in unseen structural damage to the wing’s pylon attachment points.  The structural damage was not enough to cause an immediate failure. However, fatigue cracking developed, and worsened with each takeoff and landing cycle during the eight weeks that followed the maintenance on N110AA. Finally, the damaged rear pylon mount reached its breaking point and failed. Due to the absence of this attachment, the engine, at full takeoff power, swung itself and the pylon upward on the latter’s still-attached forward mount. The structure surrounding the forward pylon mount failed from the resulting stresses, and the engine/pylon assembly broke free of the wing.  Inspection of the DC-10 fleets of the three airlines revealed that while United Airlines’ hoist approach seemed to be harmless, there were several DC-10s at both American and Continental with severe and potentially fatal damage to their pylon mounts.  The field service representative from McDonnell-Douglas stated the company would “not encourage this procedure due to the element of risk” and had so advised American Airlines. McDonnell-Douglas, however, “does not have the authority to either approve or disapprove the maintenance procedures of its customers.”  In addition to the use of a faulty procedure for engine/pylon assembly removal and installation, the accident investigation also concluded that the design of the pylon and adjacent surfaces made the parts difficult to service and prone to damage by maintenance crews, even when using approved procedures.”  Absent was a condemnation of the FAA which has oversight responsibility for both approval and monitoring of airline maintenance procedures.  The DC-10 continued to serve with passenger airlines for over 30 years after the crash of Flight 191.  In the end, it was newer, more fuel-efficient twin-engined airplanes from Boeing and Airbus and not safety concerns that ultimately ended the passenger career of the DC-10.  I only have a few hours in the DC-10 and about forty hours in the MD-11.  They were both nice flying aircraft, with good handling qualities.

 

Constitutional Convention Opens in Philadelphia

Constitutional Convention (United States) took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although the Convention was intended to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, was to create a new government rather than fix the existing one. The delegates elected George Washington to preside over the Convention. The result of the Convention was the creation of the United States Constitution, placing the Convention among the most significant events in the history of the United States.  The most contentious disputes revolved around composition and election of the Senate, how “proportional representation” was to be defined (whether to include slaves or other property), whether to divide the executive power between three persons or invest the power into a single president, how to elect the president, how long his term was to be and whether he could run for reelection, what offenses should be impeachable, the nature of a fugitive slave clause, whether to allow the abolition of the slave trade, and whether judges should be chosen by the legislature or executive. Most of the time during the Convention was spent on deciding these issues, while the powers of legislature, executive, and judiciary were not heavily disputed. Once the Convention began, the delegates first agreed on the principles of the Convention, then they agreed on Madison’s Virginia Plan and began to modify it. A Committee of Detail assembled during the July 4 recess eventually produced a rough draft of the constitution. Most of the rough draft remained in place, and can be found in the final version of the constitution. After the final issues were resolved, the Committee on Style produced the final version, and it was voted on and sent to the states.

 

 

Reflecting on the First Greatest Generation

On May 27, 1813, former President Thomas Jefferson (below left) writes former President  John Adams (below right) to let him know that their mutual friend, Dr. Benjamin Rush has died.  Rush’s passing caused Jefferson to reflect upon the departure of the Revolutionary generation. They were part of the FIRST Greatest Generation.  He wrote to Adams, “We too must go; and that ere long. I believe we are under half a dozen at present; I mean the signers of the Declaration.”  Although Jefferson and Adams were bitter political enemies by the time of the presidential election of 1800, in which Jefferson narrowly defeated Adams, the two leading intellectuals and politicians of Virginia and Massachusetts had been allies and confidants during the heady, revolutionary days of the late 1770s. Following 12 years of bitter silence caused by their disagreement over the role of the new federal government, the two old friends managed to reestablish the discourse of their younger years spent in Philadelphia, where they both served in the  Continental Congress, and Paris, where they served together as ambassadors to France. In 1812, Benjamin Rush, a Patriot and physician from Philadelphia, initiated a renewed correspondence and reconciliation between his two friends and ex-presidents. The correspondence continued until Adams and Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence that all three friends had signed in 1776.  The letters between Jefferson and Adams provide great insight into what these founding fathers were thinking and how they formulated the government of a new country.  They are worth a read.

 

Golden Gate Bridge Opens

Another bridge opening!  May 27, 1937 marked the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait, the one-mile-wide, one-point-seven-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the American city of San FranciscoCalifornia – the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula – to Marin County, carrying both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the strait. The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco.  It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.  Until 1964, the longest suspension bridge main span in the world, at 4,200 feet.  As mentioned, the bridge-opening celebration began on May 27, 1937 and lasted for one week. The day before vehicle traffic was allowed, 200,000 people crossed either on foot or on roller skates.  On opening day, Mayor Angelo Rossi and other officials rode the ferry to Marin, then crossed the bridge in a motorcade past three ceremonial “barriers”, the last a blockade of beauty queens who required Joseph Strauss to present the bridge to the Highway District before allowing him to pass. An official song, “There’s a Silver Moon on the Golden Gate,” was chosen to commemorate the event. Strauss wrote a poem that is now on the Golden Gate Bridge entitled “The Mighty Task is Done.” The next day, President Roosevelt pushed a button in Washington, D.C. signaling the official start of vehicle traffic over the Bridge at noon. Joseph Strauss, was an ambitious engineer and was chief engineer in charge of overall design and construction of the bridge project.  However, because he had little understanding or experience with cable-suspension designs, responsibility for much of the engineering and architecture fell on other experts. Strauss’s initial design proposal (two double cantilever spans linked by a central suspension segment) was unacceptable from a visual standpoint. The final graceful suspension design was conceived and championed by Leon Moisseiff, the engineer of the Manhattan Bridge in New York CityIrving Morrow, a relatively unknown residential architect, designed the overall shape of the bridge towers, the lighting scheme, and Art Deco elements, such as the tower decorations, streetlights, railing, and walkways. The famous International Orange color was originally used as a sealant for the bridge.  The US Navy had wanted it to be painted with black and yellow stripes to ensure visibility by passing ships.  Senior engineer Charles Alton Ellis, collaborating remotely with Moisseiff, was the principal engineer of the project.  Moisseiff produced the basic structural design, introducing his “deflection theory” by which a thin, flexible roadway would flex in the wind, greatly reducing stress by transmitting forces via suspension cables to the bridge towers.  Although the Golden Gate Bridge design has proved sound, a later Moisseiff design, the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, collapsed in a strong windstorm soon after it was completed, because of an unexpected aeroelastic flutter.  Ellis was also tasked with designing a “bridge within a bridge” in the southern abutment, to avoid the need to demolish Fort Point, a pre-Civil War masonry fortification viewed, even then, as worthy of historic preservation. He penned a graceful steel arch spanning the fort and carrying the roadway to the bridge’s southern anchorage. Construction began on January 5, 1933.  The project cost more than $35 million, completing ahead of schedule and $1.3 million under budget.  The Golden Gate Bridge construction project was carried out by the McClintic-Marshall Construction Co., a subsidiary of Bethlehem Steel Corporation founded by Howard H. McClintic and Charles D. Marshall, both of Lehigh UniversityThe project was finished and opened May 27, 1937. The Bridge Round House diner was then included in the southeastern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, adjacent to the tourist plaza which was renovated in 2012.  The Bridge Round House, an Art Deco design by Alfred Finnila completed in 1938, has been popular throughout the years as a starting point for various commercial tours of the bridge and an unofficial gift shop.  The diner was renovated in 2012 and the gift shop was then removed as a new, official gift shop has been included in the adjacent plaza.  During the bridge work, the Assistant Civil Engineer of California Alfred Finnila had overseen the entire iron work of the bridge as well as half of the bridge’s road work.  With the death of Jack Balestreri in April 2012, all workers involved in the original construction are now deceased.

 

Phantom II First Flight

27 May 1958: At Lambert Field, St. Louis, Missouri, McDonnell Aircraft Corporation’s Chief Test Pilot (and future company president) Robert C. Little made the first flight of the YF4H-1 prototype. The twin-engine Mach 2+ airplane was the first pre-production model of a new U.S. Navy fleet defense interceptor that would be developed into the legendary F-4 Phantom II fighter bomber. Early testing resulted in redesign of the air intakes, including the distinctive addition of 12,500 holes to “bleed off” the slow-moving boundary layer air from the surface of each intake ramp. And if you look at the intakes of the MiG-21 you will note the same 12,500 holes and barricade cutters (required for carrier barricade arrestment landings) – coincidence – I think not.  Series production aircraft also featured splitter plates to divert the boundary layer away from the engine intakes. The aircraft soon squared off against the XF8U-3 Crusader III (a truly great aircraft, but it wasn’t two seat and it wasn’t twin engine). Due to operator workload, the Navy wanted a two-seat aircraft and on 17 December 1958 the F4H was declared a winner. Delays with the J79-GE-8 engines meant that the first production aircraft were fitted with J79-GE-2 and −2A engines, each having 16,100 lb of afterburning thrust. In 1959, the Phantom began carrier suitability trials with the first complete launch-recovery cycle performed on 15 February 1960 from Independence.  There were proposals to name the F4H “Satan” and “Mithras.”  In the end, the aircraft was given the less controversial name “Phantom II”, the first “Phantom” being another McDonnell jet fighter, the FH-1 Phantom. The second prototype YF4H-1, Bu. No. 142260, flown by Commander Lawrence E. Flint, Jr., USN, set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Altitude, 6 December 1959, when it zoom-climbed to 98,556 feet).  On 22 November 1961, 142260, flown by Lieutenant Colonel Robert B. Robinson, USMC, also set an FAI World Record for Speed over a Straight 15/25 Kilometer Course, averaging 2,585.425 kilometers per hour (1,606.509 miles per hour).  On 5 December 1961, the same Phantom set an FAI World Record for Altitude in Horizontal Flight at 20,252 meters (66,444 feet) with Commander George W. Ellis, USN, in the cockpit.  The last Phantoms in service with the Navy were QF-4 target drones operated by the Naval Air Warfare Center at NAS Point Mugu, California.  These airframes were subsequently retired in 2004.  I have 2812 hours in the Phantom in most every model USN, USAF, German F-4F and the QF-4N and QF-4S.  It’s a fine aircraft to fly with several well recognized handling issues.  It was designed to be an interceptor rather than a close-in fighter.  Phantoms remain in front line service with five countries. Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built, making it the most numerous American supersonic military aircraft.  The F-4 remains in service with IranJapanSouth Korea, and Turkey. It has been used in combat against the Islamic State.

 

 

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan Released

On May 27,1963, Bob Dylan releases his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, which goes on to transform him from a popular local act to a global phenomenon.  “Of all the precipitously emergent singers of folk songs in the continuing renascence of that self-assertive tradition,” wrote journalist and critic Nat Hentoff, “none has equaled Bob Dylan in singularity of impact.” Dylan’s impact on the folk scene stemmed at first from his mastery and idiosyncratic performances of a vast repertoire of traditional folk songs. His devotion to the music of the great Woody Guthrie is what brought Bob Dylan to New York in the first place, and his “Song To Woody” was one of only two original numbers on his widely ignored debut album, Bob Dylan (1962). The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, on the other hand, included only two non-original numbers, and the speed with which Dylan’s own songs from that album were added to the repertoires of other musicians is what really turned him into a household name.  Freewheelin‘ represented the beginning of Dylan’s writing contemporary words to traditional melodies. Eleven of the thirteen songs on the album are Dylan’s original compositions. The album opens with “Blowin’ in the Wind“, which became an anthem of the 1960s, and an international hit for folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary soon after the release of Freewheelin‘. The album featured several other songs which came to be regarded as among Dylan’s best compositions and classics of the 1960s folk scene: “Girl from the North Country“, “Masters of War“, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.”  The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan reached number 22 in the US (eventually going platinum), and became a number-one album in the UK in 1964. In 2003, the album was ranked number 97 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2002, Freewheelin’ was one of the first 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording RegistryDylan has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of FameMinnesota Music Hall of FameNashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2008 awarded him a special citation for “his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.” In May 2012, Dylan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. In 2016, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

 

Battle of Tsushima 

The Battle of Tsushima also known as the Battle of Tsushima Strait and the Naval Battle of the Sea of Japan, in Japan, was a major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. It was naval history’s only decisive sea battle fought by modern steel battleship fleets, and the first naval battle in which wireless telegraphy (radio) played a critically important role. It has been characterized as the “dying echo of the old era – for the last time in the history of naval warfare ships of the line of a beaten fleet surrendered on the high seas.”  And it was the last major naval battle without aviation assets playing a role.  Russian Czar Nicholas II hoped that the Russian Baltic fleet under Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky would be able to challenge Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō  supremacy at sea, but during the two-day Battle of Tsushima Strait, beginning on May 27, 1905, more than 30 Russian ships were sunk or captured by the superior Japanese warships. Because of the 18,000-mile journey from the Baltic, the Russian fleet was in relatively poor condition for battle. Apart from the four newest Borodino-class battleships, Admiral Nebogatov’s 3rd Division consisted of older and poorly maintained warships. Overall neither side had a significant maneuverability advantage.  The long voyage, combined with a lack of opportunity for maintenance, meant the Russian ships were heavily fouled, significantly reducing their speed.  The Japanese ships could sustain 15 knots, but the Russian fleet could reach just 14 knots, and then only in short bursts.  Tōgō achieved “crossing the T” twice. Additionally, there were significant deficiencies in the Russian naval fleet’s equipment and training. Russian naval tests with their torpedoes exposed major technological failings.  Tōgō’s greatest advantage was that of experience, being the only active admiral in any navy with combat experience aboard battleships.  (The others were Russian Admirals Oskar Viktorovich Stark, who had been relieved of his command following his humiliating defeat in the Battle of Port Arthur, Admiral Stepan Makarov, killed by a mine off Port Arthur, and Wilgelm Vitgeft, who had been killed in the Battle of the Yellow Sea.)  At 06:34, before departing with the Combined Fleet, Admiral Tōgō wired a confident message to the navy minister in Tokyo:

In response to the warning that enemy ships have been sighted, the Combined Fleet will immediately commence action and attempt to attack and destroy them. Weather today fine but high waves.

The final sentence of this telegram became famous in Japanese military history. At the same time the entire Japanese fleet put to sea, with Tōgō in his flagship Mikasa leading over 40 vessels to meet the Russians. Meanwhile, the shadowing Japanese scouting vessels sent wireless reports every few minutes as to the formation and course of the Russian fleet. There was mist which reduced visibility and the weather was poor. Wireless gave the Japanese an advantage; in his report on the battle, Admiral Tōgō noted the following:

Though a heavy fog covered the sea, making it impossible to observe anything at a distance of over five miles, [through wireless messaging] all the conditions of the enemy were as clear to us, who were 30 or 40 miles distant, as though they had been under our very eyes.

At 13:40, both fleets sighted each other and prepared to engage. At around 13:55, Tōgō ordered the hoisting of the Z flag, issuing a predetermined announcement to the entire fleet:

The Empire’s fate depends on the result of this battle, let every man do his utmost duty.

By 14:45, Tōgō had ‘crossed the Russian T‘ enabling him to fire broadsides, while the Russians could only reply with their forward turrets.  The battle was humiliating for Russia, which lost all its battleships and most of its cruisers and destroyers. The battle effectively ended the Russo-Japanese War in Japan’s favor. The Russians lost 4,380 killed and 5,917 captured, including two admirals, with a further 1,862 interned.  The Russians lost eleven battleships, including three smaller coastal vessels, either sunk or captured by the Japanese, or scuttled by their crews to prevent capture. Four ships were lost to enemy action during the daylight battle on 27 May: Knyaz SuvorovImperator Aleksandr IIIBorodino and OslyabyaNavarin was lost during the night action, on 27–28 May, while the Sissoi VelikyAdmiral Nakhimov and Admiral Ushakov were either scuttled or sunk the next day. Four other battleships, under Rear Admiral Nebogatov, were forced to surrender and would end up as prizes of war. This group consisted of only one modern battleship, Oryol, along with the old battleship Imperator Nikolai I and the two small coastal battleships General Admiral Graf Apraksin and Admiral Seniavin.  The small coastal battleship Admiral Ushakov refused to surrender and was scuttled by her crew.  The battle had a profound cultural and political impact upon Japan. It was the first defeat of a European power by an Asian nation in the modern era.  It also weakened the notion of white superiority that was prevalent in some Western countries.  The victory established Japan as the sixth greatest naval power, while the Russian navy declined to one barely stronger than that of Austria-Hungary.  In The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles, the British historian Geoffrey Regan argues that the victory bolstered Japan’s increasingly aggressive political and military establishment. According to Regan, the lopsided Japanese victory at Tsushima:

…created a legend that was to haunt Japan’s leaders for forty years. A British admiral once said, ‘It takes three years to build a ship, but 300 years to build a tradition.’ Japan thought that the victory had completed this task in a matter of a few years … It had all been too easy. Looking at Tōgō’s victory over one of the world’s great powers convinced some Japanese military men that with more ships, and bigger and better ones, similar victories could be won throughout the Pacific. Perhaps no power could resist the Japanese navy, not even Britain and the United States.

Regan also believes the victory contributed to the Japanese road to later disaster, “because the result was so misleading. Certainly the Japanese navy had performed well, but its opponents had been weak, and it was not invincible… Tōgō’s victory [helped] set Japan on a path that would eventually lead her” to the Second World War.  Isoroku Yamamoto, the future Japanese admiral who would go on to plan the attack on Pearl Harbor and command the Imperial Japanese Navy through much of the Second World War, served as a junior officer (aboard Nisshin) during the battle and was wounded by Russian gunfire.  In August, the stunning string of Japanese victories convinced Russia to accept the peace treaty mediated by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (Roosevelt was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this achievement.) In the Treaty of Portsmouth, Russia recognized Japan as the dominant power in Korea and gave up Port Arthur, the southern half of Sakhalin Island, and the Liaotung Peninsula to Japan.

 

 

 

 

Battle of Totopotomoy Creek

The Battle of Totopotomoy Creek also called the Battle of Bethesda Church, Crumps Creek, Shady Grove Road, and Hanovertown, was a battle fought in Hanover County, Virginia in May 28–30, 1864, as part of Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses Grant‘s Overland Campaign against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee‘s Army of Northern VirginiaAs Grant continued his attempts to maneuver around Lee’s right flank and lure him into a general battle in the open, Lee saw an opportunity to attack the advancing V Corps, under Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren with the Second Corps of Lt. Gen. Jubal Early. Early’s divisions under Maj. Gens. Robert E. Rodes and Stephen Dodson Ramseur drove the Union troops back to Shady Grove Road, but Ramseur’s advance was stopped by a fierce stand of infantry and artillery fire. Grant ordered his other corps commanders to conduct a supporting attack along the entire Confederate line, which was entrenched behind Totopotomoy Creek, but only the II Corps of Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock crossed the stream; they were quickly repulsed. After the inconclusive battle, the Union army resumed its moves to the southeast and the Battle of Cold Harbor.  Grant’s forces are now less than twenty miles from the Confederate capital of Richmond.  Federal casualties were 731 (679 killed and wounded, 52 captured), versus 1,593 (263 killed, 961 wounded, 369 missing/captured) Confederate.  Of more concern to Lee than Early’s failed attack was intelligence he received that reinforcements were heading Grant’s way. Just as Hoke’s division was leaving Bermuda Hundred, the 16,000 men of Maj. Gen. William F. “Baldy” Smith‘s XVIII Corps were withdrawn from Butler’s Army of the James at Grant’s request and they were moving down the James River and up the York to the Pamunkey. If Smith moved due west from White House Landing to Cold Harbor, 3 miles southeast of Bethesda Church and Grant’s left flank, the extended Federal line would be too far south for the Confederate right to contain it. Lee sent his cavalry under Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee to secure the crossroads at Cold Harbor.  On May 31 Hancock’s II Corps again crossed Totopotomoy Creek, but found that the Confederate defense line stood well behind the actual creek bed. Grant realized that the strength of the Confederate position meant another stalemate was at hand. He began shifting his army southward toward Cold Harbor on the night of May 31, the site of the next major battle.

 

 

The Rite of Spring Opens in Paris with a Near Riot

Granted, I’m not much of a student of the ballet as it were, but if The Rite of Spring comes to a theater near you, I recommend you go see it, just to see what all the mayhem was about in 1913.   The Rite of Spring (French: Le Sacre du printemps; “sacred spring”) is a ballet and orchestral concert work by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was written for the 1913 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev‘s Ballets Russes company.  Stravinsky’s score contains many novel features for its time, including experiments in tonalitymetre, rhythm, stress and dissonance. Analysts, (not me) have noted in the score a significant grounding in Russian folk music, a relationship Stravinsky tended to deny. The music has influenced many of the 20th-century’s leading composers and is one of the most recorded works in the classical repertoire.  From the first notes of the overture, sounded by a bassoon playing well outside its normal register, Stravinsky’s haunting music set the audience on edge. It was the combination of that music with the jarring choreography of the great Vaslav Nijinsky, however, that caused the uproar that followed. “The curtain rose on a group of knock-kneed and long-braided Lolitas jumping up and down,” Stravinsky later remarked of the brutal opening seen of Le Sacre du printemps, which depicts a virgin sacrifice in an ancient pagan Russia. Catcalls began to issue from the audience as they took in the bizarre scene playing out before them. The noise became great enough that the orchestra could not be heard from the stage, causing Nijinsky to climb atop a chair in the wings shouting out instructions to his dancers onstage. While Stravinsky sat fuming as his music was drowned out by jeers, whistles and—if one witness is to be believed—members of the audience barking like dogs, Serge Diaghelev, impresario of the Ballets Russes, frantically switched the house lights on and off in a futile effort to restore order. It was, in other words a scene that bore a closer resemblance to the Marx Brothers’ A Night At The Opera than it did to a typical night at the Ballets Russes.  In retrospect, Stravinsky’s score can be seen as paving the way for 20th-century modern composition, and it sounds no more daring to today’s listeners than the average dramatic film scores. Yet no present-day listener—and certainly no listener who first encountered it as part of the soundtrack to Disney’s animated Fantasia (1940)—can possibly appreciate how shocking the dissonance, droning and asymmetrical rhythms of Le Sacre du printemps sounded to its premiere audience on this night in 1913.

 

Because It Was There

On 29 May 1953, Edmund Hillary  and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. They were part of the ninth British expedition to Everest, led by John HuntTIME magazine named Hillary one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Hillary served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a navigator during World War II. Prior to the 1953 Everest expedition, Hillary had been part of the British reconnaissance expedition to the mountain in 1951 as well as an unsuccessful attempt to climb Cho Oyu in 1952. The expedition set up base camp in March 1953 and, working slowly, set up its final camp at the South Col at 25,900 feet (7,890 m). On 26 May, Bourdillon and Evans attempted the climb but turned back when Evans’ oxygen system failed. The pair had reached the South Summit, coming within 300 vertical feet (91 m) of the summit.[19][20] Hunt then directed Hillary and Tenzing to go for the summit.  Snow and wind held the pair up at the South Col for two days. They set out on 28 May with a support trio of Lowe, Alfred Gregory, and Ang Nyima. The two pitched a tent at 27,900 feet on 28 May, while their support group returned down the mountain. On the following morning Hillary discovered that his boots had frozen solid outside the tent (What – Who leaved their boots outside on Mt. Everest?) He spent two hours warming them before he and Tenzing, wearing 30-pound packs, attempted the final ascent.  The crucial move of the last part of the ascent was the 40-foot rock face later named the “Hillary Step“. Hillary saw a means to wedge his way up a crack in the face between the rock wall and the ice, and Tenzing followed.  From there the following effort was relatively simple. Hillary reported that both men reached the summit at the same time, but in The Dream Comes True, Tenzing said that Hillary had taken the first step atop Mount Everest. They reached Everest’s 29,028 ft summit, the highest point on earth, at 11:30 AM.  As Hillary put it, “A few more whacks of the ice axe in the firm snow, and we stood on top.” As part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition Hillary reached the South Pole overland in 1958. He subsequently reached the North Pole, making him the first person to reach both poles and summit Everest.  Following his ascent of Everest, Hillary devoted most of his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which he founded. Through his efforts, many schools and hospitals were built in Nepal.  On 6 June 1953 Hillary was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire and received the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal the same year.  To mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Everest the Nepalese government conferred honorary citizenship upon Hillary at a special Golden Jubilee celebration in Kathmandu, Nepal. He was the first foreign national to receive that honor.  In 1992 Hillary appeared on the updated New Zealand $5 note, thus making him the only New Zealander to appear on a banknote during his or her lifetime, in defiance of the established convention for banknotes of using only depictions of deceased individuals, and current heads of state.

 

F4U Corsair First Flight

29 May 1940: Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Division test pilot Lyman A. Bullard, Jr. took the U.S. Navy’s new prototype fighter, the Vought XF4U-1 Corsair, Bu. No. 1443, for its first flight at the Bridgeport Municipal Airport, Bridgeport, Connecticut. Designed by Rex B. Beisel, this would be developed into the famous F4U Corsair certainly one of the most iconic and beautiful aircraft ever built.  The size of the propeller was responsible for the Corsair’s most distinctive feature: the inverted gull wing. The width of the wing (chord) limited the length of the main landing gear struts. By placing the gear at the bend, the necessary propeller clearance was gained. The angle at which the wing met the fuselage was also aerodynamically cleaner.Demand for the aircraft soon overwhelmed Vought‘s manufacturing capability, resulting in production by Goodyear and Brewster: Goodyear-built Corsairs were designated FG and Brewster-built aircraft F3A. From the first prototype delivery to the U.S. Navy in 1940, to final delivery in 1953 to the French, 12,571 F4U Corsairs were manufactured, in 16 separate models, in the longest production run of any piston-engined fighter in U.S. history (1942–53).  The Corsair was designed as a carrier-based aircraft but its difficult carrier landing performance rendered it unsuitable for Navy use until the carrier landing issues were overcome by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. The Corsair thus came to and retained prominence in its area of greatest deployment: land based use by the U.S. Marines.  The role of the dominant U.S. carrier based fighter in the second part of the war was thus filled by the Grumman F6F Hellcat, powered by the same Double Wasp engine first flown on the Corsair’s first prototype in 1940.  The Corsair served to a lesser degree in the U.S. Navy. In addition to its use by the U.S. and British, the Corsair was also used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the French Navy Aéronavale and other, smaller, air forces until the 1960s. After the carrier landing issues had been tackled, it quickly became the most capable carrier-based fighter-bomber of World War II.  The Corsair served almost exclusively as a fighter-bomber throughout the Korean War and during the French colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria.  Production F4U-1s featured several major modifications compared with the XF4U-1. A change of armament to six wing-mounted .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns (three in each outer wing panel) and their ammunition (400 rounds for the inner pair, 375 rounds for the outer), meant that the location of the wing fuel tanks had to be changed. In order to keep the fuel tank close to the center of gravity, the only available position was in the forward fuselage, ahead of the cockpit. Accordingly, as a 237 gal (897 l) self-sealing fuel tank replaced the fuselage mounted armament, the cockpit had to be moved back by 32 in (810 mm) and the fuselage lengthened.  In addition, 150 lb of armor plate was installed, along with a 1.5 in (38 mm) bullet-proof windscreen which was set internally, behind the curved Plexiglas windscreen. The canopy could be jettisoned in an emergency, and half-elliptical planform transparent panels, much like those of certain models of the Curtiss P-40, were inset into the sides of the fuselage’s turtledeck structure behind the pilot’s headrest, providing the pilot with a limited rear view over his shoulders. A rectangular Plexiglas panel was inset into the lower center section to allow the pilot to see directly beneath the aircraft and assist with deck landings.  The engine used was the more powerful R-2800-8 (B series) Double Wasp which produced 2,000 hp.  On the wings the flaps were changed to a NACA slotted type and the ailerons were increased in span to increase the roll rate, with a consequent reduction in flap span. IFF transponder equipment was fitted in the rear fuselage. These changes increased the Corsair’s weight by several hundred pounds.  The performance of the Corsair was superior to most of its contemporaries. The F4U-1 was considerably faster than the Grumman F6F Hellcat and only 13 mph slower than the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.  All three were powered by the R-2800.  From February 1943 onward, the F4U operated from Guadalcanal and ultimately other bases in the Solomon Islands. A dozen USMC F4U-1s of VMF-124, commanded by Major William E. Gise, arrived at Henderson Field (code name “Cactus”) on 12 February 1943. The first recorded combat engagement was on 14 February 1943, when Corsairs of VMF-124 under Major Gise assisted P-40s and P-38s in escorting a formation of Consolidated B-24 Liberators on a raid against a Japanese aerodrome at Kahili.  Corsairs were flown by the “Black Sheep” Squadron (VMF-214, led by Marine Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington) in an area of the Solomon Islands called “The Slot“. Boyington was credited with 22 kills in F4Us (of 28 total, including six in an AVG P-40, although his score with the AVG has been disputed).  Other noted Corsair pilots of the period included VMF-124’s Kenneth Walsh, James E. Swett, and Archie DonahueVMF-215‘s Robert M. Hanson and Don Aldrich, and VF-17‘s Tommy BlackburnRoger Hedrick, and Ira Kepford.  Nightfighter versions equipped Navy and Marine units afloat and ashore. One particularly unusual kill was scored by Marine Lieutenant R. R. Klingman of VMF-312 (the “Checkerboards”), over Okinawa. Klingman was in pursuit of a Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (“Nick”) twin-engine fighter at extremely high altitude when his guns jammed due to the gun lubrication thickening from the extreme cold. He flew up and chopped off the Ki-45’s tail with the big propeller of the Corsair. Despite missing five inches off the end of his propeller blades, he managed to land safely after this aerial ramming attack. He was awarded the Navy Cross.  U.S. figures compiled at the end of the war indicate that the F4U and FG flew 64,051 operational sorties for the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy through the conflict (44% of total fighter sorties), with only 9,581 sorties (15%) flown from carrier decks.  F4U and FG pilots claimed 2,140 air combat victories against 189 losses to enemy aircraft, for an overall kill ratio of over 11:1.  Against the best Japanese opponents, the aircraft claimed a 12:1 kill ratio against Mitsubishi A6M and 6:1 against the Nakajima Ki-84Kawanishi N1K-J and Mitsubishi J2M combined during the last year of the war.  The Corsair bore the brunt of U.S. fighter-bomber missions, delivering 15,621 short tons (14,171 metric tons) of bombs during the war (70% of total bombs dropped by U.S. fighters during the war).

 

DC-8 First Flight 

30 May 1958: Douglas Aircraft Company Flight Operations Manager and engineering test pilot Arnold G. Heimerdinger, with co-pilot William M. Magruder and systems engineer Paul H. Patten, were scheduled to take off from Long Beach Airport (LGB) on the coast of southern California, at 10:00 a.m., to make the first flight of the new Douglas DC-8 jet airliner, c/n 45252, FAA registration N8008D.  The DC-8 (also known as the McDonnell Douglas DC-8) is a four-engine long-range narrow-body jet airliner built from 1958 to 1972 by the Douglas Aircraft Company. Launched after the competing Boeing 707, the DC-8 nevertheless kept Douglas in a strong position in the airliner market, and remained in production until 1972 when it began to be superseded by larger wide-body designs, including the Boeing 747McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. The DC-8’s design allowed it a slightly larger cargo capacity than the 707 and some re-engined DC-8s are still in use as freighters.  Donald Douglas proposed to build and test the DC-8 at Santa Monica Airport, which had been the birthplace of the DC-3 and home to a Douglas plant that employed 44,000 workers during World War II. In order to accommodate the new jet, Douglas asked the city of Santa Monica, California to lengthen the airport’s 5,000-foot runway. Following complaints by neighboring residents, the city refused, so Douglas moved its airliner production line to Long Beach Airport.  The first DC-8 N8008D was rolled out of the new Long Beach factory on 9 April 1958 and flew for the first time, in Series 10 form, on 30 May for two hours seven minutes.  Later that year an enlarged version of the Comet finally returned to service, but too late to take a substantial portion of the market: de Havilland had just 25 orders. In August Boeing had begun delivering 707s to Pan Am. Douglas made a massive effort to close the gap with Boeing, using no less than ten aircraft for flight testing to achieve FAA certification for the first of the many DC-8 variants in August 1959. Much was needed to be done: the original air brakes on the lower rear fuselage were found ineffective and were deleted as engine thrust reversers had become available; unique leading-edge slots were added to improve low-speed lift; the prototype was 25 kt short of its promised cruising speed and a new, slightly larger wingtip had to be developed to reduce drag. In addition, a recontoured wing leading edge was later developed to extend the chord 4% and reduce drag at high Mach numbers.  On August 21, 1961, a Douglas DC-8 broke the sound barrier at Mach 1.012 (660 mph/1,062 km/h) while in a controlled dive through 41,000 feet (12,497 m) and maintained that speed for 16 seconds. The flight was to collect data on a new leading-edge design for the wing, and while doing so, the DC-8 became the first civilian jet – and the first jet airliner – to make a supersonic flight.  The aircraft was DC-8-43 registered CF-CPG later delivered to Canadian Pacific Air Lines. The aircraft, crewed by Captain William Magruder, First Officer Paul Patten, Flight Engineer Joseph Tomich and Flight Test Engineer Richard Edwards, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California, and was accompanied to altitude by an F-104 Starfighter supersonic chase aircraft flown by Chuck Yeager.

 

Fly Martin-Baker

 

30 May 1949: While testing a radical “flying wing” aircraft, the Rolls-Royce Nene-powered Armstrong Whitworth AW.52, test pilot John O. Lancaster, DFC, encountered severe pitch oscillations in a 320 mile per hour (515 kilometer per hour) dive. Lancaster feared the aircraft would disintegrate.  In the very first use of the Martin-Baker Mk1 ejection seat in an actual emergency, Lancaster fired the seat and was safely thrown clear of the aircraft. He parachuted to safety and was uninjured. The aircraft was destroyed.  To date, more than 7,300 airmen have been saved worldwide by Martin Baker ejection seats. I’m a two-time survivor and attribute Martin-Baker for saving the ass I’m sitting on today.

 

B-17F Flying Fortress First Flight 

I covered a bit about the Memphis Belle in the last edition of FOD, but here’s some additional info on the B-17.  30 May 1942: The Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress makes its first flight. B-17F-1-BO 41-24340 was the first of a new series of the famous World War II bomber. While visually similar to the B-17E, it had more than 400 improvements based on early wartime experience with the B-17D and B-17E.  The Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress was a four-engine heavy bomber operated by a flight crew of ten. It was 74 feet, 9 inches (22.784 meters) long with a wingspan of 103 feet, 9-3/8 inches (31.633 meters) and an overall height of 19 feet, 1 inch (5.187 meters). Its empty weight was 34,000 pounds (15,422 kilograms), 40,437 pounds (18,342 kilograms) loaded, and the maximum takeoff weight was 56,500 pounds (25,628 kilograms).

TMOF Boeing B-17F Boeing Bee in flight

The B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engine heavy bomber developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry outperformed both competitors and exceeded the air corps’ performance specifications. Although Boeing lost the contract because the prototype crashed, the air corps ordered 13 more B-17s for further evaluation. From its introduction in 1938, the B-17 Flying Fortress evolved through numerous design advances.  The B-17F variants were the primary versions flying for the Eighth Air Force to face the Germans in 1943, and had standardized the manned Sperry ball turret for ventral defense, replacing the earlier, ten-panel well-framed bombardier’s nose glazing from the B subtype with an enlarged, nearly frameless Plexiglas bombardier’s nose enclosure for improved forward vision.  The air corps (renamed United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) on 20 June 1941), using the B-17 and other bombers, bombed from high altitudes using the then-secret Norden bombsight, known as the “Blue Ox,” which was an optical electro-mechanical gyro-stabilized analog computerThe device was able to determine, from variables input by the bombardier, the point at which the aircraft’s bombs should be released to hit the target. The bombardier essentially took over flight control of the aircraft during the bomb run, maintaining a level altitude during the final moments before release.  Before the advent of long-range fighter escorts, B-17s had only their .50 caliber M2 Browning machine guns to rely on for defense during the bombing runs over Europe. As the war intensified, Boeing used feedback from aircrews to improve each new variant with increased armament and armor.  The number of defensive guns increased from four 0.50 in machine guns and one 0.30 in nose machine gun in the B-17C, to thirteen 0.50 in machine guns in the B-17G. But because the bombers could not maneuver when attacked by fighters, and needed to be flown straight and level during their final bomb run, individual aircraft struggled to fend off a direct attack.  A 1943 survey by the USAAF found that over half the bombers shot down by the Germans had left the protection of the main formation.  To address this problem, the United States developed the bomb-group formation, which evolved into the staggered combat box formation where all the B-17s could safely cover any others in their formation with their machine guns, making a formation of the bombers a dangerous target to engage by enemy fighters.  Luftwaffe fighter pilots likened attacking a B-17 combat box formation to encountering a fliegendes Stachelschwein, “flying porcupine”, with dozens of machine guns on a combat box formation of bombers, aimed at them from almost every direction. However, the use of this rigid formation meant that individual aircraft could not engage in evasive maneuvers: they had to fly constantly in a straight line, which made them vulnerable to the German flak. Moreover, German fighter aircraft later used the tactic of high-speed strafing passes rather than engaging with individual aircraft to inflict damage with minimum risk.  As a result, the B-17s’ loss rate was up to 25% on some early missions (60 of 291 B-17s were lost in combat on the second Raid on Schweinfurt), and it was not until the advent of long-range fighter escorts (particularly the North American P-51 Mustang) resulting in the degradation of the Luftwaffe as an effective interceptor force between February and June 1944, that the B-17 became strategically potent.  The B-17 was noted for its ability to absorb battle damage, still reach its target and bring its crew home safely. Wally Hoffman, a B-17 pilot with the Eighth Air Force during World War II, said, “The plane can be cut and slashed almost to pieces by enemy fire and bring its crew home.  Martin Caidin reported one instance in which a B-17 suffered a midair collision with a Focke-Wulf Fw 190, losing an engine and suffering serious damage to both the starboard horizontal stabilizer and the vertical stabilizer, and being knocked out of formation by the impact. The B-17 was reported as shot down by observers, but it survived and brought its crew home without injury.  Its toughness was compensation for its shorter range and lighter bomb load compared to the B-24 and British Avro Lancaster heavy bombers.

Boeing B-17F-10-BO “Memphis Belle” in flight. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Stories circulated B-17s returning to base with tails shredded, engines destroyed and large portions of their wings destroyed by flak.  This durability, together with the large operational numbers in the Eighth Air Force and the fame achieved by the Memphis Belle, made the B-17 a key bomber aircraft of the war. Other factors such as combat effectiveness and political issues also contributed to the B-17’s success.  The B-17 Flying Fortress first flew in 1935, and was in production from 1937 to 1945. 12,731 B-17s were built by Boeing, Douglas Aircraft Company and Lockheed-Vega. (The Manufacturer Codes, -BO, -DL and -VE, follow the Block Number in each airplane’s type designation.) 3,405 of the total were B-17Fs, with 2,000 built by Boeing, 605 by Douglas and 500 by Lockheed-Vega.  Only three B-17F Flying Fortresses remain in existence and one of them can be seen at The Museum of Flight at Seattle’s Boeing Field.

 

Wilber Wright Remembered

30 May 1912: Wilbur Wright, co-inventor with his brother Orville of the Wright Flyer, the first powered, controllable, heavier-than-air vehicle, died at the family home in Dayton, Ohio, of typhoid fever.

 

 

 

 

 

Last James Dean Photo

This is the last known official photo shoot of James Dean before his death which occurred later this same day in 1955. Here he sits in the infamous Porsche 550 Spyder he named “Little Bastard.”  

One of the creepy tales surrounding Dean and his deathmobile, is when he met up with actor Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan Kebobi) to show it off and Guinness told Dean then and there he thought the car had a “sinister” appearance. He went on to tell Dean: “If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week.” Seven days later, Dean was killed in his beloved “Little Bastard.” And it doesn’t stop there, this Porsche is believed to be cursed because after killing James Dean, but it’s killed and maimed others who came in contact with it over the years!  That part is not true.

 

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 19th through 22nd 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

I got to work this morning and my boss told me ‘have a good day’, so I went home and had a great day!

US Criticizes China’s Militarization of South China Sea

It’s a we’re watching you kind of response, Military Times is reporting The Pentagon criticized what it called China’s “continued militarization” of island outposts in the disputed South China Sea, where the Chinese air force landed long-range bombers for the first time, putting entire Southeast Asia within their range.  The China Daily newspaper reported Saturday that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force conducted takeoff and landing training with the H-6K bomber (below left) in the South China Sea.  China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.  A statement from the Defense Ministry late Friday said the exercise was conducted on an island reef, but it did not specify when or where, saying only that it took place recently at a “southern sea area.” It involved several H-6Ks taking off from an air base and making a simulated strike against sea targets before landing, the ministry said.  Wang Mingliang, a military expert, was quoted in the statement as saying that the exercises will help the air force improve its “real combat ability against all kinds of marine security threats.”  The U.S., which doesn’t have any territorial claims but insists on freedom of navigation and a peaceful resolution of the disputes without coercion or threat of force, criticized the move.  “The United States remains committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a Pentagon spokesman, Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, said in an email. “We have seen these same reports and China’s continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilize the region.”  The Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, using Chinese social media posts, identified the location of the exercise as Woody Island, China’s largest base in the Paracel Islands that are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.  With a combat radius of nearly 1,900 nautical miles (3,520 kilometers), the H-6K bomber would put all of Southeast Asia in its range from Woody Island, AMTI said.  Farther south in the Spratly group of islands, China has constructed seven man-made islands and equipped them with runways, hangers, radar and missile stations, further cementing its vast territorial claims in the busy waterway.  The U.S. and others accuse Beijing of militarizing the region to bolster its claims. Washington has said it violates a pledge by President Xi Jinping to former President Barack Obama not to militarize the area. China says it has a legitimate right to build up defenses on the islands.  Adm. Phil Davidson, the new head of the Pacific Command, said recently that China had reached the tipping point in its control over the South China Sea.  Beijing’s island bases can be used to challenge the U.S. presence in the region, “and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants,” Davidson wrote in recent testimony to Congress.  And as an aside, The Philippines has expressed “serious concerns”  and vowed to take “appropriate diplomatic action” over Chinese long-range bombers operating in disputed areas of the South China Sea.  No indication as to what would be considered “appropriate diplomatic action” might be.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 19th through 22nd 2018”