29 November 2007

NORAD Tracks Santa

In 1955, a Colorado Springs-based Sears store ran an advertisement encouraging children to call Santa Claus on a special telephone hotline. Due to a printing error, the phone number that was printed was the hotline for the Director of Operations at the Continental Air Defense (CONAD). Colonel Harry Shoup took the first Santa call on Christmas Eve of 1955 from a six-year old boy who began reciting his Christmas list. Shoup didn't find the call funny, but after asking the mother of the second caller what was happening, then realizing the mistake that occurred, he instructed his staff to give Santa's position to any child who called in.

Thus a tradition was born. I remember listening to and then later watching the NORAD reports on Christmas Eve as a kid. We were stationed at Fort Carson Colorado, in the shadow of Cheyenne Mountain so the reports were not to be doubted.

I've carried on the tradition and now we track Santa on the Internet.

Come join us.

25 November 2007

Putin Says- "Pimp My MiG"

Technically, "Pimp my Sukhoi". On November 25, 2007, the Russian Air Force accepted it's first batch of upgraded Sukhoi-24 fighter bombers. The Su-25 is the Soviet response to the American F-111. Having been in service for 32 years, it now sports the latest electronics and gadgets. Flat screen instruments, GPS and smart bombs are just some of the improvements.

While the upgraded Sukhoi is another step in Russian President Putin's path to making Russia a military superpower again, it also gives credence to another concern in the West. Take a look at this MiG-25.To prevent capture or destruction during Desert Storm, the Iraqis buried this MiG-25. Designed in the 1960's it was long feared as a "premier" fighter. It has since been reduced to an airborne target for Western fighters. Or so we thought. The MiG pictured in the picture above looks like a MiG-25 but it has been "pimped" as well. Old on the outside, everything inside is new. Electronics, engines, weapons. All courtesy of the French. This gives rise to speculation about how helpful the French have been.

Consider the plight of the Iranian F-14 Tomcats. Back in the 1970's the U.S. sold a bunch of Tomcats to the Shah of Iran. He was deposed and the planes fell into the hands of the Mullahs. Rumors abound of how the American technicians sabotaged the weapon systems before they were kicked out of the country. Coupled with a parts embargo by the U.S. this reduced the Iranian F-14 fleet to museum pieces. The last time they were used in combat was during the Iran/Iraq war of 1980 and even then they were used as airborne controllers rather than weapons.
In light of the upgrade of the Sukhoi and the story of the "Buried MiG", a question has to asked. Have the Iranians upgraded their Tomcats? Intelligence estimates are still guarded. A F-14 "pimped" by the French (or Russians) poses a real challenge to the U.S. and her allies.

23 November 2007

Fortress Under Fire

This is me at the National Aerospace museum in December of 1981.

In the background is the life sized mural by Keith Ferris, "Fortress Under Fire". Life sized in that from the viewing platform (where I'm standing) the B-17 is scaled to have the nose just touch the wall as if it's was flying into the room.

Keith Ferris specializes in historically hyper accurate paintings.

This image is the 25 foot high by 75 foot wide mural in the World War II Gallery of the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. The B-17G, 42-38050, “Thunder Bird” of the 303rd Bomb Group, based at Molesworth, England, is seen at 11:45 AM, 15 August 1944, over Trier, Germany, on its return to base from a mission to Weisbaden. B-17Gs “Bonnie B”, “Special Delivery”, and “Marie”, are seen below as a Messerschmidt 109G and Focke Wulf FW 190 attack “Thunder Bird’s” element. Ferris’ research for the mural revealed the names and aircraft identities of all U.S. and many German participants in this battle in which the 303rd lost nine Fortresses in this attack by Luftwaffe fighters.

“Thunder Bird” was to continue on as a “new crew” aircraft to reach 112 bombing missions. A total of 539 crew members flew bombing missions in “Thunder Bird.”

A woman once took her adult son to see the mural, As they stood there she explained that his father was a B-17 pilot during the war in which he was killed. "Your father flew a bomber much like this", she told her son. Upon a closer look she exclaimed, "My God, that IS your father in the cockpit!"

Ferris had researched the crew that day and did in fact paint portraits of each crew member visible in the mural.

21 November 2007

Foreflight- Flight Planner for the iPhone

Stumbled on to a really cool flight planning tool. It's called Foreflight and it's for the iPhone. With easy access to airport maps, radio frequencies, weather forecasts and more it's like having Jeppesen at your fingertips.

The question begging to be asked is, "Has the Foreflight been approved by the FAA?" At this point, it's unclear. Stay tuned for further developments on this great new tool.

View Demo


The Four things a Wingman is authorized to say are:
1. "Two".
2. "Two is BINGO fuel."
3. "Lead is on fire."
4. "I'll take the fat one".

The Four things an Assistant Crew Chief is authorized to say are:
1. "I already fixed that."
2. "I'll stay late."
3. "I'm going for beer."

4. "I'll take the fat one."

All Female Tanker Crew

For the record: It's not a cockpit, it's a box office.

NASA Celebrates 50th Anniversary

In honor of the 50th anniversary of NASA, I humbly offer this story.

Good Luck Mr. Gorsky

When Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, he not only gave his famous "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" statement but followed it by several remarks, usually com traffic between him, the other astronauts and Mission Control. Just before he re-entered the Lander, however, he made the enigmatic remark:

"Good luck Mr. Gorsky."

Many people at NASA thought it was a casual remark concerning some rival Soviet Cosmonaut. However, upon checking, there was no Gorsky in either the Russian or American space programs. Over the years many people questioned Armstrong as to what the "Good luck Mr. Gorsky" statement meant, but Armstrong always just smiled.

But, on July 5, 1995 in Tampa Bay FL, while answering questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the 26-year-old question to Armstrong. This time he finally responded. Mr. Gorsky had finally died and so Neil Armstrong felt he could answer the question.

When he was a kid, he was playing baseball with a friend in the backyard. His friend hit a fly ball, which landed in the front of his neighbor's bedroom windows. His neighbors were Mr. & Mrs. Gorsky. As he leaned down to pick up the ball, young Armstrong heard Mrs. Gorsky shouting at Mr. Gorsky, "Oral sex! You want oral sex?! You'll get oral sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!"

Apparently a true story.

AMC Patch

Got this in today's email. I couldn't resist.

20 November 2007

Seen Any UFO's Lately?

Gotcha! Welcome to the P-791. One Part Hovercraft. Two Parts Blimp. It's a hybrid airship developed by Lockheed-Martin and flown out the company's Palmdale Plant 42. It's maiden flight was on 31 January, 2006.

Did you spot the skunk on the tail?

If you're wondering, P-791 doesn't mean anything. It's just what the engineers call it. Engineers are queer that way.

Don't you hate when UFO pictures are all fuzzy and out of focus?

Just kidding...here's a better picture.

19 November 2007

Human Gliders

The history of human flight goes back to Icarus. Since 2000, a small group of parachutists have been doing jumps that Icarus would be proud of.

Since the 1930's inventors have been trying to develop a means of attaching wings to people and letting them fly. Between 1930 and 1961 71 out of 75 people have died trying to perfect a "wingsuit". French skydiver Patrick de Gayardon invented a wingsuit which brought the endeavor into the modern age. Unfortunately he died on April 13, 1998 while testing his latest modification.

The accident slowed progress in wingsuit development until 2000. Enter
Loïc Jean-Albert who perfected a one wing design and has marketed it as "Crossbow". He has since founded the company "Fly Your Body".


Since 2000, the use of wingsuits has grown in popularity. The United States Parachute Association (USPA) recommends in the Skydivers Information Manual, that any jumper flying a wingsuit for the first time have at least 200 jumps and be accompanied by an instructor or 500 jumps experience without instruction.

Watch Jean-Albert Do His Thing

B.A.S.E. jumper Jeb Corliss and test pilot Luigi Cani are currently testing the wingsuit in a World Recod attempt to land safely without using a parachute. An attempt can come as early as 2008.

17 November 2007

Airbus A340 Flies with Broken Wing

November 4, 2007, London- Wow! That was an exciting headline. The trick was that the SriLankan Airlines Airbus took of after it had clipped the wing of a 747 during taxi at Heathrow Airport. No biggie.

The British Airways 747 came off the loser in the mishap and sustained more damage. The Sirilakans merely removed the winglet and certified the aircraft for flight.

That's the British 747 on the right.

When the same passengers reboarded the aircraft the next day some of them noticed about five feet missing from the right wing. When the aircrew admitted that the right winglet was missing, some of the passengers balked. There was about a two hour delay as their baggage was off loaded. The Airbus then completed its 10 hour flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The winglets on modern aircraft are there to increase fuel efficiency by redirecting air flow coming off the wings. They are not part of the control systems nor do they provide lift as the wings do. The removal of the winglet, while unusual, did not pose a safety risk to flight.

If you were a passenger on this flight,what would you have done?

16 November 2007

F-15E Strike Eagles Back in the Air

Air Force officials are taking steps to lift the grounding orders on at least part of its F-15 fleet. The newest of the supersonic fighters, the F-15E Strike Eagles are to return to action if they
pass a detailed visual and non-destructive inspection.

Witnesses to the crash saw the aircraft break up just aft of the cockpit. This and evidence recovered from the crash site has led USAF officials to issue a Time Compliance Technical Order (TCTO). The TCTO calls for mandatory visual and non-destructive inspection of the hydraulic lines, fuselage longerons, and straps and skin panels around the environmental control system bays.

Original concern over the structural integrity of the vertical stabilizers has been premature.

The F-15E is the newest of the five models of the Eagle and was not involved in the crash. The older models will remain grounded until the full investigation is complete. This process may take another 30 days.

Gen. John Corley, ACC commander, said the F-15 remains vital to the defense of the nation and to joint forces serving in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

In a statement released through the Robins public affairs office, General Corley said:

"However, we will not rush the F-15E fleet back to flight. Safety is an essential focus. We are determined to complete a thorough evaluation of the F-15E fleet before their return to flight."

It was previously reported that the pilot involved in the mishap was uninjured. This was erroneous. The pilot, a member of the 131st Fighter Wing, successfully ejected but suffered a broken arm, a dislocated shoulder and several cuts and bruises.The pilot was taken to a St. Louis hospital Nov. 2 but released the following day.

The pilot's name has not been released.

The Air Force bought its last F-15 in 2004 and has long term plans to replace it with the F-22.

15 November 2007

P-38 Found on Welsh Beach

On September 27, 1942, Second Lt. Robert F. "Fred" Elliott, 24, of Rich Square, N.C. was having problems with his fuel system. Unable to remedy the situation he made an emergency landing on a beach near Cardiff, Wales. Due to wartime conditions the beach was off limits to the public.

So the P-38 fighter laid there for the next 65 years.
Its remains were spotted by a family in July, but it was thought to be an unmanned drone used for aerial target practice from the 1950s. However, freakish weather conditions in the area have revealed the wreckage to be Elliott's aircraft.

The Lightning has been identified using its serial number and other records. It was built in 1941 and reached Britain in 1942 before flying combat missions along the Dutch-Belgian coast. This makes it one of the oldest P-38's known to exist. Among those is the P-38 "Glacier Girl".Glacier Girl-2006

"Glacier Girl" was discovered discovered under 250 feet of ice in Greenland. Having crashed on 15 July, 1942, it had lain there for over fifty years before in was recovered and restored to flying condition. A number of groups have expressed interest in recovering Elliot's plane. It's rusted state makes the probability of its being restored to flying condition highly unlikely.

Robert Elliott (64), is the nephew of pilot Robert Elliott and has spent 30 years researching his wartime career. Less than three months after the crash and after 10 successful combat missions, Elliott was shot down over Tunisia. Neither his P-38 nor his body was ever found. His wartime diary mentions the Welsh crash but isn't very verbose:

"Ditched a P-38 and was uninjured"

Looting of historical sites is a problem in the United Kingdom. British aviation publications have been circumspect about disclosing the exact location, and local Welsh authorities have agreed to keep the plane under surveillance whenever it is exposed by the tides of the Irish Sea, he said. For now, the aircraft is again buried under sand.

Austrailia Has Doubts About F-35

There is only one of them so far and it has flown seven times. It has had a mysterious ground abort at Pax River awhile back and to my knowledge hasn't flown since.

Packaged as the Joint Strike Fighter, it will be flown by all of our services and as many allies as we can convince.

We have tried this before. In the sixties Defense Secretary Robert McNamara pushed the idea of a universal fighter plane. It resulted in a rounding success, the F-4 Phantom and an utter disaster, the F-111. Before you Aardvark fans go berserk, yes the F-111 became an historically great aircraft. For the Air Force. As a Joint Fighter it never cut it. It was too heavy for carrier operations which left the Navy and Marines high and dry. This was after the "Weight Reduction Program", the "Super Weight Reduction Program" and the (I'm not making this up) "Colossal Weight Reduction Program". The result was a snub nosed version of the F-111 that still didn't have the range or the payload to get off of a deck.

The F-111B

Don't misunderstand me. I'm hoping that the F-35 turns out to be everything it's designers (and the DoD) says it can be. On the other hand, aren't we reinventing the wheel here? History repeating itself?

Australia, God Love them, has agreed to go ahead with the F-35. However, there are questions being raised on whether the F-35 is right for Australia. This video raises more than a few good points. It begs the question, "Is the F-35 right for America?"


You decide.....

Jet Man

On June 24th, 2004 Yves Rossy drops out of the Pilatus airplane at an altitude of 4000m over the Yverdon airfield.

Just watch....

14 November 2007

Airline Names

Many people don't know why airlines are named what they are. Here are some examples:

TWA: Travel with Arabs
DELTA: Don't even let them aboard.
DELTA: Doesn't ever leave the airport.
RENO AIR: Rarely early, never on time. Always in Repair
ATA: Alcoholics Transporting Alcoholics
QANTAS: Quite A Nice Trip, Any Survivors?
QANTAS: Queers and Nancy Types as Stewards.
LUFTHANSA: Let Us Fuck The Horses, As No Stewardesses Available
BOAC: Bloody Old and Careless
JAL: Japan Arrives Late (Like Dec 7, 1941)
PSA: Probably will Stay Airborne.

Fly Yorkshire Airlines

More Aviation Humor...

Major Malachowski Leaves the Thunderbirds

It's a two year tour and it's been two great years. But all good things must end as Major Nicole Malachowski leaves the Thunderbirds. Major Malachowski entered the U.S. Air Force in 1996 after graduating from the Air Force Academy with a B.S. in Management and a minor in French. Before she joined the Thunderbirds, she served as an F-15E Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander in the
494th Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, U.K. She has amassed 1900 hours in the air, 1700 of that in the F-15 and F-16.

She has 200 combat hours. Kosovo in 1998 and Iraq in 2005.
She calls Las Vegas, Nevada her home.

As you might know, I work Transient Alert at Creech AFB, Nevada. The airfield where the Thunderbirds practice. A while back it was my pleasure to spend a morning with Malachowski, waiting for the weather to break and she could fly back to Nellis.

Up close and personal I found her to be extremely professional and yet warm and friendly. She didn't act like a Major. More like a Captain with money. That might sound flip, but it isn't.

What you don't know is that the school here in Indian Springs goes from Kindergarden to 12th grade. The school mascot are the Thunderbirds. Yes the team. Taking time from her very busy schedule, Nicole found time to come out to speak to the kids and visit with them on more than one occasion . Many of the children, especially the younger ones have taken to calling her
"Our Thunderbird".

"Our message to the next generation is to follow your passion, pursue excellence in it, and to always dream big!"
-Major Malachowski

Nicole humbly accepts her place in history as the first female Thunderbird. Well...as humble as one can expect from a Combat Fighter Pilot. I have it on good authority that she likes this picture and has it on her desk....

Ever the team player, she requested that her teammate, Major Samantha Weeks (opposing solo) be given "pink smoke" as well. No sweat Ma'am.

Malachowski is a good stick and great person.
Save your pictures people, this one will wear stars

13 November 2007

The DS Tail Code

As Desert Shield was cranking up to become Desert Storm, Hahn AB in Germany was closing. While in the process of transferring their F-16's to the Houston ANG, Hahn was tasked for the Desert. The 10th TFS had just completed their weapons training deployment to Zaragoza, Spain. Thus they were tapped to go. Ground support personnel were a composite of folks from all three Aircraft Maintenance Units at Hahn. The 10th AMU, 313th AMU and the 496th AMU.

To execute the deployment, eight F-16's were chosen. Four primary and four flying spares. The 10th TFS from Hahn AB was deployed to the "war" and flew along side of the 2 squadrons from Shaw, the 17th and the 33rd TFS. Together, these 3 fighter squadrons made up what was called the 363rd fighter wing Provisional.

Since the jets were going through the paint barn for transfer, the jets tagged for deployment got a special paint job.

Thus the legend of the DS tail codes was born.

Over the years I have been trying to track down which jets were given the DS tail and any pictures that might exist. For a long time there was only one. It was published in Code One magazine. You can barely make out the tail code in the picture.

The aircraft were: 84-1238 (14 missions), 84-1296 (29 missions) , 84-1300 (did not fly combat missions) and 84-1390. On 27 Feb 1991, 390 was shot down by a SA-16 SAM. The pilot, Capt. William Andrews (10th TFS), ejected and became a POW, but was released eight days later after the end of the war. He was awarded the Air Force Cross for preventing Iraqi SAMs from getting his wingman.
84-1238 was from the 10th TFS, "The Fighting Tenth". 84-1296 was from the 313th TFS, "The Lucky Puppies". It has been erroneously reported that 296 was from the 496th. As the jets transfered out of Hahn, the 313th was deactivated and their jets were folded into the 496th. Thus the confusion, but trust me 296 was a Lucky Puppy.
84-1300 was also in the 10th TFS. Of note, it had it's left main landing gear ripped off after striking a landing light tower during night ops at Hahn. She was repaired at Hahn and returned to service. She was a pig after that and no doubt contributed to the "no combat sorties" during DS.

It was highly unusual for the jets to get repainted with a "made up" tail code. The codes are designations for the base they are assigned to. So it was a big show of esprit de corps for them to be repainted. The DS does stand for "Desert Storm" although with typical crew chief humor DS also stood for "Designated Spare" (wink, wink).

Where Are They Now?

84-1238 is flown by the 163th FS of the Indiana Air National Guard and was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom on August 16th, 2004.

84-1300 is also flown by the 163rd FS and is still a "hangar queen".

84-1296 was last flown by the 63rd FS ,USAF AETC at Luke AFB. The picture above was taken one week before the aircraft was destroyed on 26 OCT, 2006. 296 experienced an engine fire during takeoff roll at Luke AFB, Arizona but aborted before lift off. Fire crews sprayed foam on the aircraft and the pilot was treated at the scene. Early reports said the pilot ejected, this turned out not to be the case as images from the scene show the canopy still in place. Early reports also incorrectly reported that the aircraft tookoff and returned to Luke AFB with an emergency landing. Excerpt from the crash report: "After being cleared for takeoff, Colonel Sherman taxied to the left side of the runway accompanied by Captain Cuadra on the right side. Upon ignition of the afterburner, Colonel Sherman heard an explosion and noticed that a fire had started on his aircraft. His wingman transmitted "Fire" on the radio and Colonel Sherman applied full brakes and initiated the appropriate critical action procedures to abort the takeoff due to fire and preparing to get out of the stopped, but burning aircraft. He was able to open the canopy and safely exit the F-16. Members of the Luke AFB fire department extinguished the aircraft fire". Cause was determined to be a failure of the 3rd stage when the disc fractured putting three holes in the airframe. The resulting fire burned the entire aft section of the aircraft.

The Air Force Chicken Crosses the Road

Here are some of my favorites....

C-130 crewmember:
Just put it in back and let's go.

C-17 crewmember:
I ordered a no. 4 with Turkey and ham, NOT chicken. Besides, where the heck are my condiments?! We ain't taking off til' I get my condiments!!!

Fighter dude:
The Chicken was only in the road for 30 seconds. There was no hazard. I saw my shot and I took it.

Navigator Dude:
What road?

Air Force Personnel Center:
Due to the needs of the Air Force, the chicken was involuntarily reassigned to the other side of the road. This will be a 3-year controlled tour and we promise to give the chicken a good-deal assignment afterwards. Every chicken will be required to do one road-crossing during its career, and this will not affect its opportunities for future promotion.

Air National Guard:
Due to a BRAC closure the Chicken was forced to cross the road. The Chicken is authorized full Per Deum and Travel Expenses while crossing the road. Upon crossing, the Chicken will be assigned to the Turkey Wing and assist them with preparations for their upcoming Operation Thanksgiving deployment.

We voted for the chicken to go onto the road. We support the Chicken while it’s in the road. We want a definite time and date that the Chicken will be off the road.

Air Demonstration Squadron:
The Chicken crosses the road, maintaining minimum separation with five other chickens, while a groovy soundtrack plays in the background.

Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron:
The chicken first crosses the road normally. Then crosses back while hopping on its left foot. Then it crosses a third time, but this time hopping on it's right foot. Then entire procedure is repeated at night.

Aggressor Squadron:
Four chickens disguised as ducks hide beside the road and pounce on any chicken they see crossing the road.

Aircraft Maintenance:
The chicken was scheduled to cross the road, so we greened up three spares, including the phase chicken. When it came time for the chicken to cross the road, he ground aborted at the side of the road, came back, and stepped to a spare, which he also ground aborted. Before the chicken could step to the third spare he missed his road crossing window. Maintenance supervision blamed the incident on bad housekeeping and made the entire AMU show up on a Saturday for open ranks and formation marching, to make sure the importance of the chicken crossing the road was pounded into our skulls.

Here's the entire list.

12 November 2007

F-15 Fleet Grounded After Crash

On 2 November, a F-15C belonging to the Missouri Air National Guard crashed. The pilot was uninjured and reported "structural failure" as the initial cause.
All models of the F-15 Eagle, including the F-15E "Strike Eagle" (pictured above), have been grounded pending the outcome of the official investigation. Combat taskings will be covered by other assets. The aircraft carrier U.S.S. Harry S. Truman (CVN-75)left Norfolk,Virginia on 7 November. This was a planned deployment replacing the U.S.S. Enterprise (CVN-65) currently on station in the Arabian Sea. However it was announced that the Truman will be assuming some of the F-15 combat missions.

The investigation is still on going and for that reason I've held off jumping on the band wagon to report this. The mishap aircraft was 27 years old. This is getting long in tooth for fighter aircraft. Caution is the word of the day for an aging fleet and groundings are a common precautionary response. After the official investigation concludes and a fleet wide inspection completed, the F-15 is expected to return to service.

The crash highlights a structural design flaw in the tail of the F-15 that was identified in the 1990's. Then 9/11 happened. The increased mission tempo brought on by the war has brought renewed focus on Non-destructive Inspections (NDI) to discover and repair defects . The Air Force x-rays the aircraft on a scheduled basis to see if anything is cracking. The grounding will no doubt provide an opportunity to NDI the fleet before anything else happens.

The F-22 "Raptor" is operational and is scheduled to replace the Eagle. The Air Force has ordered 187 of them to replace 688 Eagles. If this incident accelerates the F-15 retirement, it might be a hard row to hoe to get Congress to pay for any more of the 133 million dollar F-22's.

Newbie Prank

This one was pulled on me. It is a great one to pull on an officer or senior NCO.

I arrived at good old Hahn AB. It was December and snowy and cold. My Flight Chief told me to go ride around in the expedetor truck to get to know everyone and see where everything was.

Lamb to slaughter, I jump the expeditor truck. Grabbing a spot on the bench I noticed there are about five people there already.

The guy next to me says ....

"Hi, I'm Mike. Welcome to Germany."

Normal so far....

"I'm Walt, nice to meet you.", I replied.

The next guy holds out his hand. "Hi, I'm Mike."
The next guy, "I'm Mike."
"Mike's the name."

By the time I got to the fifth guy I said, "I guess you're Mike too."


A quick check of line badges revealed that they were all named "Mike".

Over the years we had a couple of sets of "Mikes", some "Joes", "Jims" and even "Davids".

Try it sometime. Great way to "Press to Test" the new Boss.

11 November 2007

Crash and Burn

Visit my Mishap Galleries:

More Videos on my Air Show Page

Predator Eulogy

"Trip" and "Snooze" are a couple of F-16 pilots who happen to sing. Actually, a lot of pilots sing, these guys are good at it. A while back they started emailing me to inquire about the F-16 bumper stickers I do.

One thing leads to another and they invite me out to a "gig" they were having at the Las Vegas Club. As it turns out, it was a Maintenance/Ops party for a squadron wrapping up their Red Flag TDY. Sporting my Lucky Puppy t-shirt, I infiltrated the party.

They opened with "Predator Eulogy". I turned to this guy standing next to me and said,

"The Thunderbirds are upgrading in 2008".

The guy says,
"The Thunderbirds are upgrading in 2008", I repeated.
"What did you say??", jeez this guy is deaf.

"I said, the Thunderbirds are upgrading to the Predator in 2008!"

He then gives me a weird look and whips out his business card. OMG! He's a Thunderkid! He then starts rolling his beer on the table.

"Okay, the line at the bar is kinda long but I'll go get you one."
"Nevermind", he says. "I was just pulling your chain."
"Oh no, I insist. We crew chiefs are used to giving you Thunderbirds whatever you want."

At that point he started to give me the "I'm not worthy" bow and I went and got him a beer.

The song goes something like this.....


Singapore Airlines Bans the Mile High Club

Singapore Airlines has become the first airline to put the Airbus A380 into service. The A380 is the world's largest airliner with a maximum passenger load of 840 people.

Singapore has opted to configure their jets to accommodate 471 passengers. This includes twelve fully enclosed suites with a double bed and a $50,000 ticket price.
The suite pictured comes with a catch. Singapore Airlines has announced that in flight sex is banned. Citing that the walls are not sound proof, Singapore Airlines says the ban is to ensure not to offend other passengers.

General Paul Tibbets has Died

General Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr has died after a two-month decline in health. He was 92.

Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr was born in Quincy, Illinois, in 1915 and spent most of his youth in Miami. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1937 and led bombing operations in Europe before returning to test the Superfortress.

The then Col Tibbets named his B-29 Enola Gay after his mother.

Tibbets was the Commander of the 509th Bomb Group and piloted the B-29 mission which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima Japan.

On the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima, the surviving members of the Enola Gay crew - Gen Tibbets, Theodore J "Dutch" Van Kirk (the navigator) and Morris R Jeppson (weapon test officer) said: "The use of the atomic weapon was a necessary moment in history. We have no regrets".

Gen Tibbets said then: "Thousands of former soldiers and military family members have expressed a particularly touching and personal gratitude suggesting that they might not be alive today had it been necessary to resort to an invasion of the Japanese home islands to end the fighting."

In 1995, Gen Tibbets denounced as a "damn big insult" a planned 50th anniversary exhibition of the Enola Gay at the Smithsonian Institution that put the bombing in context of the suffering it caused.

He and veterans groups said too much attention was being paid to Japan's suffering and not enough to its military brutality.

General Tibbets had asked for no funeral nor headstone as he feared opponents of the bombing may use it as a place of protest.

Take Off

Welcome to my brand new blog. To say I'm an "Aviation Fanatic" is putting it mildly. When I was six, I was playing in my yard in Fort Carson, Colorado. The Blue Angels passed over my head at about 200 feet and I was hooked for life.

My Dad was a veteran of World War Two, and I was weaned on episodes of "Twelve O' Clock High". Yes I have copies (plural) of the movie but have never figured out why the T.V. show hasn't made it to DVD.

When I was sixteen I told my parents that I wanted to take gliding lessons. As it happened, the news reported a fatal glider crash at Salinas airport. Talk about bad timing! Mom was horrified. Flying lessons put on back burner.

At the ripe old age of seventeen I started my professional life in aviation by working as a High School intern in the Turbo-Propulsion Lab of the Naval Postgraduate School. I did such a good job, the hired me. Alas, a GSA audit noted that I did not possess a B.S. so I was canned.

Flying lesson were cut short when I joined the Air Force in 1977. I still wanted to fly and had dreams of being a gunner on a AC-130. "Twelve O' Clock High", remember? The recruiter gave me a sob story about only NCO's flying and being an Army brat I took it, hook, line and sinker.

Thus began my life as a crew chief. I crewed F-4's, T-38's, F-16's and the F-117. That's me getting my ride in the F-4E in 1979 and on in the F-16D
in 1989.

I crewed the F-117 during Desert Storm. She was called "Unexpected Guest".

After the Air Force I earned my Airframe and Powerplant license and worked on Navajos for a while. From there I had a stint at McCarren airport here in Las Vegas.

Old crew chiefs never die, they work transient alert somewhere. Which is what I'm happily doing now at Creech AFB.