Monday, April 30, 2007

Living Off Bark And Elephant Dung

I really like the new Discovery channel show Man vs. Wild. The host is a former British SAS operator turned outdoor-crazy-survival-guy. And his name is Bear, so he has to be tough. The show is pretty amazing and his limey accent gives the program an unmistakable air of credibility. Plus he writes a blogspot blog, so he is definitely cool.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

The End Is Near

The "new" Juice, Barry Bonds, is going to be the all-time king this season. Tragic. I think MLB is in a quandary about how to commemorate the occasion. Issues that the Commish might be considering as he tries to boost ticket sales:

1. What if he breaks it on the road? He'll be booed mercilessly. Good.
2. Hank Aaron has already stated that he will not attend any event surrounding the record breaking. What would it take to get him into the parks as the inevitable day approaches?
3. What happens to the record and Bonds' impending Hall of Fame induction when proof surfaces that he was ingesting massive amounts of human growth hormone?
4. MLB needs Bonds more than Bonds needs MLB.
5. Some mega-record holders like Ripken are class acts. Bonds is a jackass. Who will pay Bonds to endorse anything short of a Girls Gone Wild video?

This Yahoo! page appeared when he surpassed Ruth last summer. Truly, an omen.

Lightheaded

Yesterday I flew a sim with the NVG HUD system. The system is fairly primitive in that it is essentially a bolt-on addition to the already heavy ANVIS-6 night vision goggles. There is plenty of symbology to display on the eyepiece; too much, in my opinion. And the information scheme doesn't really match the analog cockpit layout so I couldn't figure out where the "important" numbers were. I prefer to just look under the goggles at my trusty ol' steam gauges. Plus I save myself the extra 1.5 pounds pulling down on my head.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Feet Dry

Well, I've officially changed airframes. Seahawk driver is now a Blackhawk driver. Check ride complete, somewhat anticlimactically. My career goals in this aircraft are to complete a flight with four external tanks loaded and strap on a pair of skis. Living in Arizona, I think the skis might take awhile.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bird's Eye View

The other day I flew right over the tornadic aftermath in Enterprise, Alabama. Later in the week I drove through a neighborhood in the same area. The destruction is unbelievable. It looks as though bulldozers just pushed everything flat. The high school where eight students were killed looks like a bomb exploded on the campus. Blue tarps serving as temporary roofs dot the landscape for miles. Makes me glad to live in a disaster-free state.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Zowns!

Holy crap. I was attempting to study the intricacies of the Blackhawk hydraulic leak detection and isolation system while the BOS-NYY game droned in the background. But then...Manny hammers one into the streets outside Fenway and the next three batters follow suit. Four home runs in a row. Nothing like The Nation taking it to The Evil Empire.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Missing Man Formation

The Blue Angels lost one of their own in a mishap this weekend. I've always been awed by their performances, especially the tight formations. Unlike their North American counterparts, the Thunderbirds and the Snowbirds, the Blues' signature move is close form. Really close form. Form so close that you could stand up in the seat and touch the other aircraft. Form so close that they can, and do, swap paint during flight. And that is why it looks so amazing from the ground. Fair winds and following seas, #6.

The aviator's verse from the Navy Hymn:

Eternal Father, lend Thy grace
To those with wings who fly thro' space,
Thro wind and storm, thro' sun and rain,
Oh bring them safely home again.
Oh Father, hear an humble prayer,
For those in peril in the air! Amen.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Recycled

Now that I am a safety-officer-to-be, I thought I would dig up some of my safety related memorabilia. The below is my first (but not only, hopefully) published aviation writing. Reprinted from the December 2001 issue of the Naval Safety Center's monthly magazine, Approach. Please pardon the Navy jargon, but enjoy.

(Almost) Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Primary

As I sat in my tiny FFG stateroom, muddling through the final weeks of a counter-drug ops cruise, I realized there are axioms of aviation that, no matter what your experience level, will always hold true. I learned a few of these early in my career as a naval aviator, during primary flight training in the mighty T-34C Mentor. My on-wing, a Marine CH-46 driver, never failed to pass along the truisms of flying, often using colorful language to capture my attention. Here are the translations of his aviation oratories and how I have managed to incorporate them into fleet flying.

"What are you doing up there?" My esteemed instructor had his own way of developing the finer points of CRM from the back seat. In multi-place aircraft, the copilot and crew are there to help you, just as you are there to help them.

"Have you even read your NATOPS?" Despite his criticism of my systems knowledge, I really did read my NATOPS. Now that your fleet aircraft NATOPS is about four times as thick as the T-34s, there is plenty of reading to be done.

"Underwater is not the time to inspect your SV-2." Before you walk, make sure your HEED bottle has air and your PRC-90 and the rest of your gear works so you will be somewhat comfortable if you go for an unexpected swim.

"You're preflighting the wrong aircraft." Yes, I did this once. Checking the tail number is just part of the attention to detail demanded by every preflight, whether on the beach, at an airshow, or on the dark, cold, rain-slicked flight deck.

"Zip up your pockets." After witnessing numerous near-FOD incidents, this is part of my personal preflight every time I get on or in the aircraft. Extra change rolling around in the engine compartment never did anyone any good.

"Are you going to put the gear down?" Checklists aren't just a fact of life; they are the crux of safety in aviation. Rushing to meet the critical launch, becoming lax and not paying attention in the cockpit have caused more than just gear-up landings.

"Relax and take it one step at a time." When the master caution light or fire light comes on, don't rush to complete the immediate-action items. Take time to determine the precise nature of the problem, then methodically configure the aircraft. When fighting emergencies, speed can kill.

"Knock, knock. That's your ball trying to get back in." Nowhere is solid instrument flying more important than when launching into the inky blackness at sea. A poor scan and lack of proficiency can allow vertigo to seize even the most savvy aviator.

"This hop will be over when we run out of gas." Yes, it most certainly will. Ideally, that time also will coincide with a suitable runway or deck. Trying to stretch the legs of your aircraft can lead to disaster. Hawk your fuel, whether droning around your local NAS or venturing far from Mom on the big blue.
"It doesn't look like it's going to clear up. You're canceled." OK, sometimes bad weather has its benefits.

"Fly the aircraft. Don't let the aircraft fly you." Aviate. The first commandment of the always-germane rule: aviate, navigate, communicate.

"Where are you going?" Navigate. This is the second most important thing you can do in the aircraft. If you don't know where you are going, you won't be able to get back.

"Think, key, speak." Communicate. Tell your lead, wing or controller what you need and want. This will set you up for success. Keep in mind that comm brevity and radio discipline are essential elements of tactical flying. Just ask the air boss.

The author is a former detachment maintenance officer in HSL-47. His on-wing's whereabouts are unknown.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Dangerous Game

Why kids shouldn't play first person shooters. Seven years ago the APA studied what the world felt this week.