The Wood Shed

You never know what you're going to find in the pile.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

June 1st, 1954

I'm a tad early on this one, forgive me. On June 1st in 1954 the US Navy conducted the first test of a steam catapult from USS Hancock (CV/CVA-19). Prior to steam, hydraulic power was used and before that it was the unassisted deck run! The early straight decks weren't much fun either. No touch-and-goes or bolters back then. One shot at the deck and if you missed the wires you went into the parking lot up front. Messy. Makes today's launch and recovery evolutions look positively civilized.

This official Navy photo from 1944 shows the Hancock with her aircraft pulled aft for launching. Upon returning, the recovered aircraft would be spotted forward leaving the aft end of the deck clear to recover the remaining pilots. CV-19 served her country in various configurations from 1944 until 1976 when she was decommissioned and scrapped.

Here CVA-19 is pictured in her "modern" configuration: two steam catapults forward, angled landing area, and A-4 Skyhawks aboard just prior to her final Westpac deployment. Still awful smallish at 27,100 tons by today's standards (97,000 tons).

That's much better (bigger is better when you have to land on it).

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

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Video courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corporation. In honor of all those who went to sea and never made it home.

In keeping with the Reagan theme of this post, John over at Op-For has an excellent Memorial Day post that includes President Reagan's tribute from the 40th anniversary of the Normandy invasion to the US Soldiers who gave their lives on the beach. If Reagan's words don't touch your heart then I'm afraid you may already be dead inside.

Senate Votes to Give Benefits to Illegal Aliens

Absolutely astounding. See how your Senator(s) voted here. This was the vote on S. 3985 amendment to S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. The vote tabled the amendment which would have prevented a legal immigrant from collecting Social Security benefits that accrued from employment while in an illegal status.

You shouldn't be able to collect Social Security benefits based on illegal employment. "Illegal alien" and "benefits" shouldn't even appear in the same sentence much less in our legislation. Charles Hurt over at The Washington Times has a good take on this nonsense.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Observe Memorial Day

It's not about sales, the beginning of summer, or another vacation day. It is about remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice that we may continue to enjoy our freedom. Take time from your activities at 3PM local time to honor the fallen with a moment of silence. Teach your kids the significance of Memorial Day.

Image courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery. For more information regarding ANC go here.

Chris Michel over at has an excellent piece titled Take Back Memorial Day.

Enjoy your freedom and remember those who made it possible.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Soft-serve or Allah?

You be the judge. Rashad Akhtar has pledged to "bring down" England over his ice cream jihad. Give this guy an ink blot test and I'm sure they will all look like Allah. Just like the commercial where all the dog sees is bacon.

Robert has the story on this radical idiot over at Jihad Watch.

Update: Ran the sprinklers on my yard this evening and now the driveway is covered in worms that all appear to be spelling Allah. Too much wine, maybe?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Unreported Side of Katrina

Remember the mainstream media reports in the days following Katrina? According to the MSM it was days before help arrived. It may have been days before FEMA showed but the National Guard and Coast Guard mounted the largest search and rescue mission ever managed as soon as the winds allowed rotors to turn. Lou Dolinar over at RCP has a heart-warming article on what the MSM missed/ignored in their slanted coverage of the aftermath. It's long but well worth the read. For those of you with ADD, here are some highlights:

From the Dome, the Louisiana Guard's main command ran at least 2,500 troops who rode out the storm inside the city, a dozen emergency shelters, 200-plus boats, dozens of high-water vehicles, 150 helicopters, and a triage and medical center that handled up to 5,000 patients (and delivered 7 babies). The Guard command headquarters also coordinated efforts of the police, firefighters and scores of volunteers after the storm knocked out local radio, as well as other regular military and other state Guard units.

Jack Harrison, a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Virginia, cited "10,244 sorties flown, 88,181 passengers moved, 18,834 cargo tons hauled, 17,411 saves" by air. Unlike the politicians, they had a working chain of command that commandeered more relief aid from other Guard units outside the state. From day one.

Meanwhile, late Monday, Louisiana National Guard HQ moved its high tech "unified command suite" and tents to the upper parking deck of the Superdome. This degraded communications for about four hours but ultimately gave them satellite dishes for phone and Internet connections to the outside world, Wi-fi, plus radios that were the only talk of the town. Helicopters and boats, as we noted, were already bringing in survivors there. About fifty men and women, black and white, worked per shift, equipped with maps, laptops, phone and radios to coordinate the rescue operation. The rescuers called it the "eagles' nest".

The operation was impossible to hide or ignore and some news outlets may have mentioned it in passing. Still, I haven't seen anything reported that sounded like what the two Majors described Tuesday morning: helicopters landing every minute; big ones, like the National Guard Chinooks, literally shaking the decking of the rooftop parking lot; little ones like the ubiquitous Coast Guard Dolphins; Black Hawks everywhere, many with their regular seats torn out so they could accommodate more passengers, standing. Private air ambulance services evacuating patients from flood-threatened hospitals. Owners of private helicopters who showed up to volunteer, and were sent on their way with impromptu briefings on basic rescue needs. Overhead, helicopters stacked in a holding pattern.
By the end of the week 150 National Guard aircraft were operating, plus regular military and Coast Guard units who also dropped off survivors. The biggest problem rescuers faced, according to crew members I've interviewed, was the danger of aerial collisions.

In all this time, Dressler said, "We didn't see a single camera crew or reporter on the scene. Maybe someone was there with a cell phone or a digital camera but I didn't see anyone." This was in the headquarters area. Maj. Ed Bush, meanwhile, did start seeing reporters on Tuesday and Wednesday, but inside the Dome, most were interested in confirming the stacks of bodies in the freezers, interviews with rape victims, he said, and other mayhem that never happened. He pitched the rescue angle and no one was interested. A few reporters and film crews did hitch rides on helicopters, came back, and produced stories of people stuck on rooftops, not stories about rescues, he said.

Neither Maj. Bush nor Dressler saw TV until the end of the week. They were aghast. Apart from sporadic mentions, the most significant note taken of this gigantic operation was widespread reporting of the rumor that a sniper had fired on a helicopter. What were termed evacuations in some cases, rescue operations in others, were said to have been halted as a result. "I never knew how badly we were being killed in the media," Maj. Ed Bush says. In reality, the only shots fired at the Guard were purely metaphorical and originated with the media. Rescues continued 24/7 at a furious pace.

Why did we not see coverage of such a massive operation? I remember seeing reporters wading through the streets of New Orleans. It is virtually impossible that they failed to notice the scale of flight operations being conducted over their heads. Where were the video clips of the holding pattern over the dome? Someone decided that the largest search and rescue mission in history was not the story. Bad media, as usual. Congratulations to the National Guard and Coast Guard for a job well done.

DC Snipers Revisited

Remember the carnage caused by John Allen Muhammad and his step-son Lee Malvo? Michelle has a good write-up this morning. Two points worth noting:

1. Malvo and his mother were illegal alien stowaways from Jamaica that entered the US through Miami. Malvo was later arrested by the Border Patrol in Bellingham, Washington, and subsequently released by the INS against federal law. He should have been deported without trial based on his status.

2. Malvo and Muhammad were Muslim terrorists. Doubt it? Go read Michelle's post.

Still think amnesty and open borders are good ideas?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Question

It invariably gets asked. Usually at parties or gatherings where stories are told once the beer starts flowing and someone gets curious. "What was it like? What was the most terrifying experience you had flying off carriers?"

That would be the night my pilot got vertigo. Without a doubt. Night tanker hop. (There's that word night again, dark one too.) We launched as the recovery tanker aka "Texaco". Extra gas in the air for those unfortunate souls taking their turn in the barrel, having trouble getting aboard. First joined up on the off-going tanker overhead the ship and took the lead so he could plug in and confirm the on-coming tanker "sweet". That done we swapped the lead again and plugged in to take his excess fuel to get him down to max trap weight without dumping.

It was a dark night over the eastern Med with no moon and a nice haze to obscure the horizon. Stars above and lights from shipping on the sea below all blended into a dark, hazy bubble with dots of light all around. My pilot, flying formation on the other tanker, was completely outside the cockpit relying on the other pilot to get us where we needed to be. Our job was to stay on his wing. Standard procedure in the overhead tanker pattern was to fly an orbit, a constant-rate turn. For some reason never explained the pilot of the lead aircraft was flying a race-track pattern: 180 degree turn, straight leg, 180 degree turn, straight leg and so on. My pilot was thinking constant-rate turn when he was actually in and out of turns all the while keeping his scan glued to the plane mere feet to our left. Time came for us to detach. Break off from the lead, my pilot brings his scan back inside on instruments and his brain rejects what he sees. At 5000 feet over the Med he rolls inverted, lets go of the stick and tells me, "You have the aircraft - I can't tell which way is up!" Rather odd time to be testing me on unusual attitude recoveries but...

For the next half hour I flew gently around in the dark describing each move I made while he stared at the instruments trying to get his inner ear in sync with the movements. "Now we're going into a 30 degree right-hand turn, etc. etc." Once he declared he was cured I gave control of the jet back to him. We orbited overhead in the tanker pattern listening to the recovery in progress below. Once everyone else was aboard we were vectored a few miles out behind the ship and hooked back in to intercept a straight-in. I watched the ACLS needles track and when we hit the glideslope we started down. He was moving the aircraft around a bit more than usual but it had been a rough night. As we closed in on the ship he began overcorrecting, chasing.

"You ok?" I asked.

"Make sure you call vertigo on the ball," came the response.

"Ah, ok." (Oh s#%t!)

No time to second-guess, we're seconds from landing. LSO calls, "Three quarters of a mile, call the ball."

"Got it. Call it," he says from the left seat.
"702, Viking ball, 4.5, vertigo on the ball," I reply to the call from the platform.
Silence. Our wings are rocking and yet I hear no coaching from the platform so I start chattering like a verbal auto-pilot. Right wing down, wings level, now your left wing's down and so on. Still no calls from the boys on the platform. As we cross the ramp the radio finally comes to life, "STOP ROCKING YOUR WINGS!"
From the left, "God I hope we don't bolter."
We didn't. Good thing too. Come to find out the reason the gods were silent was we were on centerline, on glideslope. There was nothing to say. They timed his rocking and locked him up with that non-standard call just as we rolled wings-level coming across the ramp. Nice touch.

Might have to work that into the book.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Life in the Fast Lane

We do it to ourselves. No one else to blame but the one in the mirror. We scurry around in a mad dash to get to our next appointed task rarely appreciating the small joys we blast through. If life is the journey then why is everyone in such a sprint to get to the finish? It doesn't make much sense if you stop long enough to think about it.

Having just returned from my annual decompression on my favorite little island the contrasts are still painfully fresh. Admittedly my wife needed the stress relief far more than I but we both refreshed our souls for another stretch in the battle that has become commonplace in the American lifestyle. Our society demands instant gratification. The pace of our lives has intensified with each generation and each passing year. It's all about speed and convenience. Why are we in such a hurry? After all, once you're there it's done.

Mid week into our escape I was amused by the rude arrival of the ugly, demanding American. Never got his name but no matter, the stereotype doesn't require one. We had fully adjusted to "island time" and were peacefully enjoying the early morning as the island came to life. Slowly as is the nature of the place. I had already been out on the water, watching the sunrise under the pretense of fishing, and had returned refreshed to collect my wife for breakfast. Sitting patiently in the screened-in dining area, we were waiting for the coffee to finish brewing enjoying the rising sun and breeze contemplating what the day might hold. Shouting punched through the morning air coming from the direction of the office. The source of the offense made his way across the deck demanding to no one in particular that his needs be satisfied. Where was the staff? Where was the coffee? Didn't these people realize that he had a schedule to keep? Apparently he was due to meet up with his guide to go bonefishing that morning. Pity the poor guide who I new from observing the local patterns was not going to show for at least an hour yet.

Later in the week I witnessed this same deluded self-important individual berating his wife who seemed entirely too sweet to tolerate the fool. They were both headed out with a guide again and it seemed that the departure time of their afternoon charter flight was still unsure. The wife attempted to quietly remind him that they had still not finished packing. His astounding response assured her that the couple they were traveling with (specifically the other wife) could handle the remaining chores. His own wife quietly protested while the other remained silent and I immediately understood she was attempting to tell him that it was not an appropriate request but he missed the point and persisted by stating that he had complete trust in his friend's wife to finish his packing while he fished. Poor bastard, the friend that is.

My wife and I shook our heads in disbelief. How could someone be so self-absorbed. Rude. Ugly. The American that gives us all a bad name when we travel.

The book I took with me was Pat Conroy's Beach Music. I read it years ago, far enough back that it was time to enjoy it again. There is a line somewhere in the midst of all that great writing that sums it up nicely:

Throughout his life, [his] greatest fear was that he would be buried alive in that American topsoil of despair and senselessness where one felt nothing, where being alive was simply a provable fact instead of a ticket to a magic show.

Yes, by all means necessary, slow down and enjoy the show.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas

For those of you wondering "where in the world" did that last post refer to, now you have the answer.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Where in the World?

Talk about banker's hours!

Here's a hint: typical American demands that life adhere to some sort of schedule are met with "get a Goombay and chill, mon."

Home. Damn. "Honey, do you still have those red shoes from OZ?" I can't seem to get Jimmy Buffett out of my head....

PS. Commercial air travel having deteriorated along with the rest of society it's safe to say that the myth of the ugly American is fact not fiction.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Surf's Up, Dude

Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Matthew Kaczynski, assigned to Inshore Boat Unit Four Two (IBU-42), mans his .50-caliber machine gun during a Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron Four (NCWS-4) demonstration at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek. The squadron's primary mission is conducting anti-terrorism and force protection in harbors and coastal waterways overseas. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 3rd Class Matthew D. Leistikow

I really don't think I'd mess with these guys!

Just a heads up, posts will likely be slim for a week depending on access among other things. Maybe we'll play the "Where in the World" game. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Cool Blue

The following images are from the 2005 season provided courtesy of the US Navy and the premier Flight Demonstration Squadron, The Blue Angels. Let's have a little fun with the world's best bug drivers, shall we?

"All these boats in the way... sure wish my radar altimeter was working today."
Alternate: "Jet wash?"

From the tower: "GEAR!!"

"Hey Boss, was this what they meant at Fighter Weapons School when they talked about a 360 degree scan?"

"Man, I'm three quarts low after every flight."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Idiot-proof Video Posting on Blogger

After several frustrating hours of monkeying around with HTML code for various plug-ins that were supposed to be "simple" I finally came across Video Egg: "Video publishing over easy". Big sigh of relief. Establish an account (no cost), upload video, compose post as it loads, and publish to Blogger all from Video Egg's site! No #%$^ code, zero frustration. As it should be!

Fuel From... Water?

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Video courtesy of Fox News.

I want, make that need, this technology for my Yukon! HHO gas generator for welding/cutting is currently in production and available. I'm waiting on the automotive version. Denny, need another test vehicle?

Sound of Freedom

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This short clip was taken several years ago, an F-14 doing a supersonic deck-level pass as part of an air show. These at-sea air shows are usually done for the benefit of visiting foreign dignitaries who always seem impressed by the "flex of American muscle". Live ordnance and chest-thumping supersonic passes are routine at these off-shore displays, things that can't be done back on the beach for obvious reasons. Note the shockwave on the water. You can also see the pilot punching flares as he approaches the ship. Normally these are used to draw off heat seeking missiles - just extra style points in this case.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Technical Difficulty

I've got two video clips that I've been attempting to post but am having trouble doing so within the constraints of Blogger so please bear with me. Anyone with knowledge in this area feel free to comment with assistance!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Moussaoui Sentenced to Life

NYT reports this morning that the federal jury in the Moussaoui case rejected the death penalty citing, among other things, his troubled childhood (this defense angers me every time I see it). At first I was enraged when I read that he would live but I pressed on and finished reading. There is no indication in the article that the jury spared him for any other reason than he was a product of abuse etc, etc. Now we will have to support him for "the rest of his life in solitary confinement in a federal prison in Colorado with no possibility of release." Hmmm. Death would have made him a martyr in certain circles and, in his twisted mind, sent him on his way to paradise. I don't think the jurors considered this but it certainly helps to rationalize sparing him. I'll gladly pay tax dollars to let him rot in solitary confinement for the rest of his days and deny him the outcome he had no doubt hoped to receive.

Mr. Moussaoui, 37, seemed to go numb when Judge Leonie M. Brinkema received the verdict from the jury forewoman, a public school mathematics teacher, and read aloud the part that said, "We the jury, do not unanimously find that a sentence of death should be imposed on the defendant."

May he spend an eternity in the living hell of his mind trapped behind steel and concrete denied his entrance into paradise.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Zero-Sum Game

If you haven't read Lex yet here's a taste of his latest post regarding Monday's unrest:
Perhaps it is only a poor metaphor and I over-react, but when identity groups play identity politics as a way of “gaining a seat at the table,” one does not readily imagine that they are necessarily there to negotiate for the common benefit. No, the image is rather of a diner seeking to carve out a larger slice of a finite national pie for the benefits of his constituency. A zero-sum game, in other words, and someone’s ox is bound to get gored.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Now go read the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Open Borders?

The left is rallying behind the "Open Borders" movement and wants to bail out of Iraq straight into Darfur.

Let's recap shall we? Porous borders, forged or expired documents, and complacency were directly responsible for the first attack on civilian targets, on our shores, in history. Have they forgotten the sight of the burning towers, the Pentagon in flames, and civilian airliners being turned into missiles? I haven't. I never will. We are at war with an enemy that seeks to destroy our way of life, whose camouflage is to penetrate our society and live amongst us with total impunity. Open our borders? Sounds like a great idea (note sarcasm). Amnesty for those already here is not the answer. It sends the wrong message to others considering jumping the fence and it's an insult to those who came here legally. On a positive note, it was encouraging to hear naturalized citizens (aka immigrants) calling in to radio shows Monday and expressing their support for legal immigration reform. Even they "get it", why can't Congress? Problems with enforcement should not be rationale for killing the laws that are difficult to enforce. Under such pretense we should legalize drugs, let anyone consume alcohol who feels so inclined, and remove all speed limit signs. Think of the money we would save if we didn't have to enforce all those laws.

Now, establishing a stable Iraq in the midst of the hot-bed collectively known as the Middle East is quite simply a waste of time so lets move on (note sarcasm again). The Darfur province of Sudan has become the pet project of Hollywood et al what with images of starving children and all. Nevermind that we've been pressuring the UN to move on this for over a year. Bush is clearly the enemy here (note... hopefully you're picking up on it by now). My intent here is not to trivialize the human suffering taking place in Darfur. It is without a doubt a moral tragedy of epic proportion and the civilized nations of the world need to put a stop to the bloodshed. It amounts to genocide even though the UN refuses to label it as such. But to pitch into Darfur with no real plan or backing would be another Somalia in the making. Seems the left has forgotten that one too.

The liberals with their loathing of all things military always seem more than eager to send troops in [insert PC location here] as peace-keepers. Don't shoot anyone, just establish peace. Rules of engagement: there shall be no engagement. This region of Africa has been locked in conflict for decades and a commitment on the ground would easily last years. The UN needs to drive this one and should have acted long ago. We will no doubt be heavily involved in any UN action but this is not something we ought to take on solo.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The $100 Pacifier

When I first read about the proposed plan to send taxpayers a $100 rebate to help ease the pain of higher gas prices I thought, "C'mon, you've got to be kidding!" This is the best congress can come up with? Stick your finger in the dike and watch it pour over the top on your head. Kind of like that $400 tax rebate we got a few years back. Nice but now what?

An article in this morning's NYT offered some insight into the logic(?) behind the offering that I had not heard prior to today.

Under the proposal, $100 checks would be sent late this summer to an estimated 100 million taxpayers, regardless of car ownership. Single taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes above about $146,000 would be ineligible for the checks, as would couples earning more than about $219,000. The $100 figure was determined by Mr. Frist's office, which calculated that the average driver would pay about $11 per month in federal gas taxes over nine months.

Seems to me that the income thresholds are set somewhat high but at least the rebate as a refund of federal gas taxes makes a little more sense. However, I doubt that this would even be on the table if it were not for the upcoming elections. I would much rather see some substantial legislation designed to address the root problem: our dependence on foreign oil. We elected this group supposedly to tackle important issues that warrant their time and our money. Time to put aside the party gamesmanship and get the job done. Use the money to fund alternative fuel technology research, something that has a realistic chance at a long term solution to the problem. Stop throwing money at the symptoms and attack the real issue.

The price of oil is not going to decline as a result of any action or inaction by our elected representatives. We don't control enough of this planet's oil reserves for our government to have that type of effect. As China's economy continues to grow and consume ever more oil world prices will reflect the basic laws of supply and demand. Drilling/refining capacity cannot keep pace with increasing world demand and the price will continue to increase. Reduce demand and the price will drop. Stop fixating on the price and concentrate on the demand component of the equation.

What's your opinion? When you get done commenting, copy/paste and include it in an email to your congressman/woman.