Saturday, May 31, 2008

Same Planet, Different World

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being flush with moola. But there is a definite difference in thought patterns. Take for instance the trip earlier today. Mind you, this was scheduled in a Learjet. Something designed to fly high, preferable above 40,000 ft., and fast, something closer to Mach .80. That's 8/10ths the speed of sound. Something designed to save a person time.

So, where do these people want to go? LA? Orlando? Chicago? Nope. They want to fly from Tulsa to Rogers AR. That's an incredible 77 miles as the crow flies. If you drove it. It's 115. Now, I know there's a mystic of being able to charter a jet and fly around, but let's break this down.

The flight would take something close to 17 minutes wheels up to wheels down. We wouldn't be able to climb to any altitude to get a good fuel economy. And the crew prep time would take longer than the entire trip there and back combined. So, there you have it. A trip that cost them 2000 dollars for a savings of maybe an hour and a half of driving. Of course when you factor in the driving to the airport, renting a car when you get there and driving into town, it's a wash.

Like I said, same planet, different worlds.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

New of the Weird.

From this article. Okay, yes, spraying salt water on a woman's shoes is strange. Knowing that it's salt water is funnier. But the look on the mug shot's face is priceless.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another WTF?!?

I just read this little gem of an article. Tenn. man on death row despite high court ruling.

The part I loved was:

"...House said he's lost all faith in the criminal justice system. Embittered and cynical,..."

Gee, ya think?

Why a seagull.

I guess this is something I've never explained. I chose the seagull for my blog title not because I'm a seaplane pilot, or live on the coast. I've never gotten my seaplane rating and I grew up in Minnesota. It's because of that elusive perfect landing.

You see, as the saying goes, a pilot is only as good as his last landing. So, if you have a good one, you're Chuck Yeager or Wiley Post. Bounce it and you're Wrong Way Corrigan all over again. When I fly not only am I monitoring the airplane and it's systems, I'm monitoring myself. I'm trying to look for all those little thing that will improve me as a pilot. That's nothing special. We all do it in our chosen professions. The only time flying get tricky really, is on take off and landing. Take offs because you're going from an unstable 3 wheeled ungainly lump to a thing on grace and speed, hopefully without running off either side or the far end of a relatively thin strip of concrete.

Landings on the other hand are 10 times worse. I'm going to stick with airplane here, helicopters are a different story and can be dealt with some other time. A well designed airplane wants to fly. Hell, even a relatively less well (less well?) designed one wants to stay in the air. So, you've got to take this thing and make it do something that it really doesn't want to do. Namely stop flying. So, you're trying to slow the airplane down, descend and maneuver to a point on the earth. Easy right? Well, slowing down wouldn't be a problem, except that descending is using gravity to speed you up. And slowing down really isn't friends with maneuvering. Anyone who's sailed understands this. The slower you go the less steerage way you have. Not enough speed and the sailboat won't do what you just tried to do with tiller and jib. So, basically, you're trying to combine 3 things that don't want to be combined.

And finally, when you've juggled all that successfully and you're right there, just a couple of feet off the ground, physics gets in the way. When the airplane gets within, generally, half a wingspan of the ground, something called ground effect comes into play. This is a situation where the ability of the airplane to continue to fly is greatly enhanced. It's a thing with reduced drag due to interrupted airflow yada yada yada. Really, it just means that the airplane will continue to fly with much less needed power. There are some pretty neat flying machines that take advantage of this effect. Google them. The Russians created the incredible Ekranoplan using this bit of physics. Great. Now, you've got to deal with this. So, if you're unlucky the bird floats and then whoop, sits down on the runway, with varying degrees of comfort.

So, a perfect landing, one where the passengers hardly know you've landed is something of a holy grail for me. I'm forever seeking it. It always seems to be just out of reach though. If you've ever watched a seagull or gooney bird launch and land, I have to imagine they feel the same way. Graceful in the air. The laughing stock of the bird club on takeoff and landing.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day

Born out of a desire to honor our service members after the civil war. I hope we all take a moment to honor the service all members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard past and present have done for us. They have all sacrificed their rights and sometimes their lives so we could live free and enjor our rights.

Thank you all from one ex-service member.

US Army, Blackhawk Helicopter Crewchief, 101st Airborne & 2nd I.D.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Life of a charter pilot.

So, last evening, around 6:30, in comes a call. Quick as I can, get to the airport, launch down to Fort Worth, pick up two passengers and fly them to Madison WI. Then, the info sort of tapered off. The crew scheduler sort of faded off at that point. Now, nothing is more annoying than not being given all the information for a given trip. And when the schedulers fade out like that you know they're hiding something. So, at this point you either run out the door unprepared for what's about to happen or you are forced to harangue the scheduler for the information. I chose the latter. Turns out, the requesting agent was a charter outfit notorious for hanging airplanes and crews on the road with no end. This definitely affects how much I pack and plan the trip. Turns out the charter broker released us and we get to be home for the Memorial weekend. I got back around 6 pm today.

My particular whine today as to do with the schedulers. I've had to pull the trip info out of them more often than not. Listen, fine, I understand if it's not a nice trip. They can't all be little day trips back by beer o'clock. I get that. But they have to, have to, have to, get us crew all the pertinent information up front. Giving it to us in drips and drabs does nothing but slow us down and ultimately costing time and money in this business. I'm at the point that if I'm not told something and it delays the trip, I'm fully prepared to stop, call the boss and loudly tell him that the reason we're late is wholly due to the scheduler. I'm not one to normally get others in trouble. But, I've taken the blame for their screw-ups enough, no more. The standard response is to blame the crew for anything that goes wrong with the trip. Hell, we're the ones the customer see, we're the ones who take the heat. And facing the customer, we claim the fault. That's just the nature of the business. Unfortunately our boss accepts that as the truth as well. And that's rarely the truth. I've been sent to wrong airports, diverted to unusual places, not had passenger ground transportation available, catering snafu's, sent to airports that can not handle jet aircraft, exceeded duty time limits, exceeded flight time limits, and a host of other things that if the FAA found out, I'd possibly lose my license and I can tell you that I can honestly point to someone else making me do it.

Rant off.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

On the subject of concealed carry.

I just read an excellent Op-Ed article on the one year anniversary of Kansas' concealed carry law. One thing struck me as epitomizing the anti-gun crowds thought process.

"Recently, a legislator in an eastern state was pushing a law against allowing guns in the State House. Her argument was about as irrational as a person can be. She was given a “what if” scenario, “What if a killer came into the state house and started shooting people. Wouldn’t it be a good thing if honest citizens had a weapon to fight back?” She said, “I would worry about someone accidentally killing an innocent person while shooting at the killer." WHAT? Some one is standing there deliberately killing helpless people and she is worried that someone will “accidentally” kill an innocent person,"

I was left trying, I mean really trying, to fathom this particular persons thinking. Somehow, she believes that its better to meekly submit and ultimately die than to even think about trying to stop this kind of tragedy. This, and I've blogged about it before, is a professional victims mentality. This type of person just sits there and waits for it to happen. I've met and talked with these types. To be aware that something could happen and still do nothing about it is, well, insane. If I told you to go out to your car and take the spare tire and jack out and leave them at home you'd look at me like I was some kind of fool. Yet, that's the same sort of logic that leads this woman to wait to get gunned down.

Oft times, there are things that happen that give people wake up calls. Something shocking enough that they are forced to actually fire cerebral neurons on an idea. Unfortunately some wake up calls are less survivable for said thought.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Best wishes

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. While I don't agree with him on many of his political views, I have nothing but the greatest respect for the man. I wouldn't wish this on just about anyone. My prayers and thoughts go out to him and his family.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Hammer Syndrome

As the old adage goes. When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. And as I see it, that seems to be the root of some of the problems today. We have a whole crop of lawmakers at the city, state and national level that seem to think that since their job is to propose, draft and enact laws, that is their solution to any problem that crops up. For example, I give you the Chicago baggie crisis. The Chicago Times article mysteriously disappeared, so all I have is the laughter over the rest of the web.

I can just see the logic train on this one. OMG! We have a drug problem. I know this because I found all these little baggies on my stroll through the park today. Well, by golly, we're gonna have to DO SOMETHING. Well, let's just make a law banning those Eeevil baggies. There, now don't we all just feel better?

Because, all the other laws that make illegal drug sales, possesion, and use exactly that, illegal aren't good enough.

Sometimes DOING SOMETHING isn't necessarily the correct action. Because, in cases like this we end up attacking a symptom, and not the root problem. I'm no expert, but banning baggies seems to me to be a long way from solving the drug problem. It would make sense to me to prosecute and imprison the drug trafficers and stop mollycoddling them. If you're solution to a problem is by making something only preipherally related illegal, you're not doing anything about the problem. This is happening all over the place. Guns happen to be used in some crimes, so let's make guns illegal. We just have to look to England or Washington D.C. to see how effective that was.

So, we have a group of people with the idea that a hammer is their only tool and a problem perceived as important crops up. And, bingo, we have the situation we're in today. Politicians running around spewing out statutes left and right with no regard to whether or not they are effective to the problem or even appropriate.

Maybe we need to realize that not everything is a nail.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Why I carry.

I've been asked before and I've blogged about it before. Why do I carry. What am I compensating for. Usually I answer that I'm compensating for being old and slow. That's the easy answer.

This past week, two people were shot in my apartment complex. That's the second shooting and, I've lost count of the number of home invasions and violent crimes in my complex. Now I'm not saying that my carrying would have stopped me from being a victim of one of these types of crimes, but it does give me an opportunity to not be. I'm sorry if that's confusing. Let me try to explain. Without a defensive arm, and by that I mean a gun, a knife, a kubota, something, I have no other choice then to meekly pray that the goblins at my heels don't just kill me for whatever reason. I'm not saying that that's what will necessarily happen. But do you want to depend on mercy or compassion from someone that just looks at you as some sort commodity to be used for money or drugs? Without a means of self defense I've already decided to be the victim, with no ability to mitigate how much of a victim I become.

Also, Lawdog had a excellent post on not just our right, but our duty to defend ourselves. By being a sheep and laying down to be slaughtered, we're telling the bad guys out there that there is very little risk to what they've chosen to do. And since they see reward outweighing risk, they continue to do it. If the risk outweighed the reward, they'd turn to something else, that just basic human nature. It's sort of like house breaking a dog. Reward him for good behavior and punish him for bad. And unfortunately much like a dog, the reward or punishment has to be immediate for it to be connected to the activity. So, defenseless, high reward, low risk, happy thief, continued behavior. Defended, high risk, lower reward, unhappy thief, modifying behavior. Lawdog does a much better job of explaining it.

Why do I carry? Why don't you?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I've been blogging for a while over at Myspace. It's blog.myspace.com/aepilot_jim if anyone cares to visit it.

I opened this account because some of my daily reads don't like Myspace for some reason and I'm beginning to like the bells and whistles over here more and more. I'll try to make up my mind on which one I'll post on in the near future. Hey, I've got this week off, I'll have time to think about it.

First post

Just a place holder till I sit down and gen this thing up.