Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'm Shocked

Shocked I tell you. Last Saturday a local choir boy ho read to blind orphans and fed the sick was shot down at his apartment.

After it happened, the PD put out a statement that there was no danger to the general public and that they were investigating and expecting a quick resolution. No further statement by them was issued but the family and friends of the deceased were very quick to point out what a great person the victim was and how he was an honest hard working good friend.

Now the local constabulary has made three arrests. Turns out someone was not happy with the drugs they bought and didn't want to pay for them and retribution was had.

This is my shocked face. :o

This just gets better, Now the father of the seller of the drugs involved says his sons charges should be reduced because he was just in the wrong place with the wrong people at the wrong time. Never mind that he is the one who sold the dope to begin with and he is the one who supplied the guns to the other two who did the shooting.

Dad needs to pull his head out. His son sold drugs, argued with the person he sold them to, went and got friends and guns for backup (whom he had used in the past to help recover drug deals gone bad)and returned to the buyers to continue the argument with armed friends and now someone is dead. His son is guilty of murder, premeditated at that. His son is the root cause of this entire incident and death period.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Acceptable Risk

The death this last weekend of Dan Weldon brings back a post that I have been milling for a while. It started back when Jimmy Leeward crashed in Galloping Ghost out in Reno.

The question is, "What is an acceptable risk?"

This is different for everyone. I am sure that both of these men died doing what made them happy. For sure, both of them understood the risks they were taking and the steps taken to mitigate them. However, the idea that they could actually die doing this was a definite factor. Now, there are calls on all fronts for improvements to make things safer. Air racing has already gone through tragedy and as a result, crowd separation was increased. Unfortunately, in this case it was just not quite enough. So, how far do the spectators have to be moved away to make it acceptable and who determines that distance? The general public now at least here in America expect a fairly high level of safety for them when they attend professional events of any kind. In this lawsuit happy nation of ours it is pretty much standard that you are not going to get hurt and every ticket has a disclaimer that is just slightly less worthless than the paper it is printed on.

Ever been to a road rally race overseas? Ever seen video or pictures of one? Spectators are standing in the middle of the track trying to get a picture or just to show how brave they are. Right up until the race car comes screaming down a dirt road around a corner barely in control and misses them most of the time. When thing go all pear shaped in one of these races, it is usually quite spectacular.

Contrast that with a NASCAR or IRL race here in the states. The walls of the tracks have the new safer barrier, there is a huge catch fence over the top of the barrier to keep the cars from climbing up into the crowd. There are safety zones even in front of the grandstands that they try to keep people out of between the stands and the fence. Yet, there have still been instances of fans getting hit by tires, body panels off the cars and flaming liquids from crashed cars. How safe is safe enough and what is an acceptable risk?

Now, every year the ruling bodies make tweaks to the race vehicles to improve safety as well as to hopefully make the show better for the fans. You know this is all entertainment that is bought and sold don't you? The drivers safety protection improvements go into car / plane design such that the risks are reduced with each improvement. After Dale Sr died in his crash, the HANS device was required in NASCAR. Analysis was done to find most likely cause then ideas of how to prevent this from happening again were investigated and solutions were implemented in the rules.

When Galloping Ghost crashed, there was much made of the fact that there was no explosion or fireball. Well, aircraft racing had caught up with auto racing and the fuel cells that were originally designed for aircraft and improved for autos was brought back to aircraft and prevented the massive fireball from atomized fuels.

So how safe is safe enough and how safe is ridiculous?

We have Global Hawks, Predators and Reapers flying all over the world controlled by technicians in bunkers in the US South West. So, how about the drivers sit in their coaches and drive their cars from video game consoles in there? That way if a crash happens, they aren't even in the car to get hurt. For that matter, fans could still get hurt. So, since the input to the cars control is already digital, we just virtualize that and they race is not on the computer. Fans can tune in on their TV or game console and watch the "race" as it happens. Poof, no more rain delays!!!! Now, no one can possibly get hurt during a race. Just think of how much safer this would be.

Sorry, but there will always be risk. Just getting up in the morning comes with risk. Going to work each day involves some risks. Driving like a nutbag on the roads or even driving very conservatively on the roads involves some risk. At least on the racetrack, you know the other person next to you has at least some level of training and competency and knows pretty much that both of you are headed for the same goal. Not like the public roadways where the person next to you is just as likely to be a self absorbed sociopath as they are to be a concerned careful driver.

So, what is "acceptable risk" and who determines it?

What say you?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sniper Visit

These are F-5N's of the United States Marines VMFT-401 Snipers. they are the aggressor squadron for training Marine pilots in air to air combat. (Top Gun School) They stopped in here at Easterwood Field for lunch. Thing 1 touched down behind some aircraft parked on the ramp so I didn't get a good picture of him but Thing 2 held the nose in the air for about half the runway giving me more than enough time to click off a few shots. Also got a pretty good closeup as they taxied in to park.
I heard the noise as they made some low altitude high speed passes over the field before landing. By the time I got out to the ramp they were on final so I got their landing. We shall see if I can catch them when they are ready to leave and get them going as well.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

B-29 and B-24 Goodness

Took a break this morning to wander over and chat with the B-29 and B-24 crew chiefs and to have a look around before the crowds arrived. So, this is old school flying, real stick and rudder, knobs, switches and dials. no computers involved. The view outside the engineers window was pretty cool with the B-24 sitting next door.

The largest part of my existence is keeping the prop at the tunnel working. Talking to these guys and actually getting to talk to the right guys looks to make that so much more simple. As we were out on the ramp the Mrs commented that the blades had a cut line already painted on them about where we have to chop the blades to make them fit in our wind tunnel. that got the guys attention right quick.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More B-29 Goodness

Couple more pics from FiFi making a tour flyby today.


In addition to the B-29 FiFi, we have a few Tora birds laid over to weather the storms. This one is a replica VAL dive bomber built on a BT-13 airframe. Many people don't know that part of their surrender after WWII was the destruction of their war making capability. That included their Air Force. There were no flying Zero's, Val's or Kate's. For the movie, replicas were made based on American airframes such as the BT-13 and AT-6.

It would have been better if I could have gotten this Val in frame with FiFi, who is still sitting on the ramp. But, it was not to happen.

More B-29 Goodness

Just a couple more pictures of FiFi as she arrived in B/CS yesterday.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not So random Aircraft B-29

We have a very special visitor today at Easterwood Field. FiFi is the only flying B-29 in the world. She came in and flew over town a few times before coming in for a landing.

After landing they had to taxi into the ramp and cut two of the engines to conserve oil and maybe a little fuel.

Afterwards, I had a chat with one of the flight crew and have an appointment with the crew chief to talk B-29 Props. That is what we use here at the Texas A&M Low Speed Wind Tunnel as a driver for the air inside the tunnel. We are having a hard time finding replacement parts as you might imagine so I want to compare notes about any possible resources for spares.

These are three of about 200 pictures I took and I know there are another couple hundred from one of my tunnel mates. Have to wade through them all and pick out all the good ones. These were definitely the best of mine that I have found so far. Just need to get the chromatic aberrations out of the shots.

In-Laws Rock

Stopped by the mailbox yesterday to pick up packages from the In-Laws. Mine was a care package from FIL that included 20Lb melting pot, lubri-sizer, casting lube, flux, mold handles and a mold along with a variety of other assorted goodies. Pretty much everything to get me going on casting my own bullets.

Unfortunately, I just don't have time at the moment to do anything about it. Need to at least make time to try a batch out to make sure I am doing it right and have a usable product. Then I'll work onthe collection of lead like material.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dead Six Review

Well, since Amazon are being Idiots I will post my review here. After reading, if you can find something in here that violates Amazons review guidelines please let me know as they haven't answered inquiries asking just that.

On that note, If you want to purchase this book, Skip Amazon, go to Uncle Hugo's and get one or more from them. They may even still have copies with bookplates signed by both Larry and Mike.

So, here is the review as submitted to Amazon,

I got hooked on this story line ChoughHack years ago on The High Road when Larry and Mike posted the Welcome Back Mr Nightcrawler thread. Being a big fan of action adventure, technothriller and mil thriller books I was waiting impatiently for them to stop that nonsense and put this into a book form and publish it. It took them long enough but is well worth the wait. If you like old school Tom Clancy Coonts, Kuntz, WEB Griffin, Larry Bond, Dale Brown, Clive Custler, Michael Crichton type of books you WILL LOVE this one.

This is a well written account of the same events but from two characters perspectives. Instead of a single author just writing the other persons lines, you get two different people writing two different peoples experiences. It flows well and sucks you in. By the end you may even find yourself feeling for the characters. Don't be surprised it can happen.

Monday, October 3, 2011


So, let me introduce you to "tug".
Saturday mama presented a few times on and off but never got beyond front hooves and then retracted. Called the neighbor and he came over and we pretty well decided the calf was probably dead and needed to pull it to try and save mama.We got mama grounded and tied and set to pulling the calf out. Once we got the hooves and head out, the calf started to wag its tongue and blink its eyes! So, we quickly got her cleaned and set up so she could breath and got mom untied and stood up. Sunday morning, this was Tug with the rest of the herd up and walking around. She is still a bit wobbly but amazing considering her entrance into the world. She and mama hung out and she is definitely eating and mama is keeping an eye on her.