FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 1st and 2nd 2017

Happy Labor Day

Well here it is Labor Day already.  The long weekend holiday is the unofficial end of summer (hate that thought), the beginning of school (hated that), the time for expansion of the baseball rosters (hate that – 40 man rosters change the game too much going into the playoffs), and it’s time to save 50% or more on your next mattress set with no payments for at least two years (don’t need a new mattress).  But it is also the beginning of college football (Go Navy), the start of professional football (that’s good, but they only play once a week), a great weekend to grill some steaks (love that), International Bacon Day (love that – you can look it up), catch some of those Atlantic salmon that made good their escape and now need to be caught (love that), NASCAR’s  Southern 500 NASCAR auto race has been held on Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina from 1950 to 2003 and since 2015 (like it as it’s usually a good short track race), ride your bike (gotta love that), at Indianapolis Raceway Park, the National Hot Rod Association holds their finals of the NHRA U.S. Nationals (some great names and cars show up for this one), and of course it’s the last day it’s considered acceptable to wear white or  seersucker (who knew – OK fashion folk like Friend of FOD Mr. Fuzzy have this marked on their calendars to go along with the opening day of elk season).  Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.  Photo below right shows first Labor Day Parade in NYC in 1882.  I was pretty much against labor unions until I joined Northwest Airlines.  There was a snap back clause in the contract under which I was hired providing for a pay raise of the lesser of 3% or the average pay increase of the seven major airlines in business at the time.  The math clearly pointed to the 3% option as all those airlines had received increased wages as airlines were making money.  Imagine then our surprise when our paychecks in mid-September only included a 1.4% pay increase.  When management was queried as to this decision, the reply was, “we think that’s what it should be.”  Eight months later and utilizing binding arbitration, it took less than fifteen minutes for the pilot’s to prevail.  The back pay was returned over a two month period and we each received a note from management in our company mailbox stating, that as the company didn’t have to pay back interest on the monies withheld over that time period, it shouldn’t be taken as a personal matter as it was only a prudent company business decision.  They had an eight month interest free $84M loan paid for by the pilots.  That’s why pilots have unions (but I’m not bitter – well just a little – no a lot – OK, I’ll let it go – someday).


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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 01 and 02, 2017

My Rant For the Day

On January 29, 2017, a United States-led Special Operations Forces operation conducted the Yakla raid , carried out in Yakla, Qifah District in the Al Bayda province in central Yemen.  The operation was authorized by President Donald Trump.  Its goal was to gather intelligence on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and also, as claimed by unnamed sources, targeted the group’s leader Qasim al-Raymi.  The operation, the first commando raid authorized by Trump, did not follow the rigorous planning procedures of the prior administrations.  United States Central Command (CENTCOM) was involved with the Special Operations Command, which oversees global counter-terrorism military operations, and the CIA.  Approval protocols during the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, involved a Situation Room meeting that detailed the operational plan, operational goals, a risk assessment (to both U.S. personnel and civilians), and a legal assessment of the operation. Instead, the raid was approved over dinner conversations between Trump, his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, his special adviser Stephen Bannon, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.  Mattis, along with General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presented the plan.  The National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was also at the dinner.  The decision did not go through the normal National Security Council (NSC) channels, through which heads or deputy heads of all agencies with a stake in the operation would/should have been consulted.  U.S. military officials stated that the assault went forth “without sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations.”  President Trump noted the other day that our military leaders “lost” SEAL Operative Senior Chief Petty Officer William Owens I’m calling out to my brothers and sisters of all services: send a copy of Reef Points, The midshipman handbook of the United States Naval Academy, or whatever handbook you had at your respective academy or college to our Commander and Chief, President Trump.  Highlight the appropriate passage:  RHIP – RHIR.  Rank Has Its Privileges – Rank Has Its Responsibilities.  YOU, Mr. President are responsible when you commit our service personnel to ‘sail’ in harm’s way.



Farewell to “The Mick”

On March 1, 1969, Mickey Mantle announced his retirement from baseball.  Mantle played his entire Major League Baseball (MLB) career with the New York Yankees as a center fielder and first baseman, from 1951 through 1968. Mantle was one of the best players and sluggers, and is regarded by many as the greatest switch hitter in baseball history.  Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.  Mantle was arguably the greatest offensive threat of any center fielder in baseball history. He has the highest career OPS+ of any center fielder and he had the highest stolen base percentage in history at the time of his retirement. In addition, compared to the four other center fielders on the all-century team, he had the lowest career rate of grounding into double plays (by far) and he had the highest World Series on-base percentage and World Series slugging percentage. He also had an excellent 0.984 fielding percentage when playing center field. Mantle was noted for his ability to hit for both average and power, especially tape measure home runs.  He hit 536 MLB career home runs, batted .300 or more ten times, and is the career leader (tied with Jim Thome) in walk-off home runs, with a combined thirteen, twelve in the regular season and one in the postseason.  Mantle won the Triple Crown in 1956, leading the major leagues in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in (RBI); he later wrote a book about his best year in baseball.  He was an All-Star for 16 seasons, playing in 16 of the 20 All-Star Games that were played.  He was an American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) three times and a Gold Glove winner once. Mantle appeared in 12 World Series including seven championships, and holds World Series records for the most home runs (18), RBIs (40), extra-base hits (26), runs (42), walks (43), and total bases (123).  The photo above is his plaque in Monument Park (Yankee Stadium).  I got to see him play a few times in person at Yankee Stadium.  For all us kids he was our hero. His book, The Last Boy is a must read if you’re a baseball fan.



Iraqi Soldiers Surrender to “Mighty Mo’s” Drone 

During  Operation Desert Storm, the USS Missouri (BB-63) provided shore bombardment of Faylaka Island with her 16 in guns on 01 March 1991.  She later launched her Remotely Piloted Vehicle to conduct damage assessment.  Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers waved while flags and thus surrendered to the Mighty Mo’s drone.  Today, she is docked at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, just 500 yd (460 m) from the Arizona MemorialOn 29 January 1999, Missouri was opened as a museum operated by the MMA.  I’ve mentioned this great historic ship in FOD in the past.  Do visit her on your next visit to Honolulu.




First Guy To Jump Out Of A Perfectly Good Airplane 

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



Grant Promoted to Lieutenant General

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



Concorde Makes Its First Flight 

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