Saturday, March 28, 2009

Walkin' in a Winter Global Warming Wonderland

This morning I awoke to a scene of Global WarmingTM all over the place.

I now have to go out and scrape the Global WarmingTM off of my car and see if I can get some errands done.

That was fun.

"Quick" out and back tonight. Well, this afternoon and tonight. That's max duty day for those who care. Took off from home just after a Level 3/4-ish storm rolled through. Which was neat, in a hang on to your seat sort of way. Then climbed to FL410 (41,000 ft.) and skimmed across the tops of the storms all the way to Florida. Then a quick hop across the state, west to east, and turned as fast as possible to get home before the snow and ice got here. Of course the storms had built in the intervening hours and we clawed our way up to FL430 and still didn't clear the tops. Lots of electrical activity. Which is pilot speak for a fuck load of lighting all around us. The flight back was pretty much bouncing off the tops of one line of thunderstorms after another. I think we crossed 4 lines on the way back. With a descent into some moderate stuff as we got home. F-f-f-fun. And I was worried I'd have trouble staying awake on the leg back.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Great Experiment.

And no I don't mean that one. Or that one either.

Last month I took a look at my cable bill and I decided that I didn't need to afford that anymore. I was basically only watching TCM anyway. So earlier this month I turned in my cable box. I had to keep my internet, but no more TV. It just isn't worth it. It dropped that little bill by a little over 60 bucks a month. And no, I didn't have any pay cable channels like HBO or the like. In fact I had one "tier" because that was the only way to get TCM. Which would have saved me a whopping 5 bucks if I'd dropped it.

Srsly, what am I being charged for?

I've been a couple of weeks without TV. If I decide I miss a show I can always get it online. I'm going to box my TV up sometime this week and store it in the back of my closet.

I think I'll turn my TV stand in to a rolling reloading table.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Light Blogging ahead.

Expect light bloggging for the next few days. I'm just getting back from an overnight. (It's 3:15 am) I'm out on 2 two day trips back to back. Then I'm off to chase a plane to who knows where for up to 8 days. Fun, fun, fun.

On a side note. I've noticed that I'm blogging more and more about politics and what the cerebrally challenged in D.C. are doing and less and less about flying and shooting. So, I'm going to try to flip that around. As stupid as some of our representatives-in-name-only can be, I'll let that be blogged by better writers than I. Which pretty much means everybody I read.

We'll see how long I last.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Un. Fucking. Believable.

Yesterday was not a good day. I'd read about Mr. Hopeychangy's plan to drop our injured vets and his defunding of the Federal Flightdeck Safety Officer Program. I did some surfing around to find out more and the more I read, the more I just went ballistic. I've written a couple of posts and had to trash them because they devolved into barely semi-coherent run on sentences that would be generous to call rants.

First off, to take $2M from the FDSO and try to tout his "fiscal responsibility" in the face of the 9000 earmarks in the last bill is the acme of delusional thought.

Second, the end of the FDSO program means we're taking a step backwards in the safety of air travel. Full Stop.

Now, about the whole leaving the vets high and dry.

I'm surprised at myself. I would have thought that the man who supposedly is the commander-in-chief of our armed forces would have the honor to support these men and women. Why would I think that this person would have anything that would even simulate honor, or integrity, or well, guilt.

This just illustrates the type of thing we've put in the oval office. Billions for the entitlement generation that put him in there. Less than nothing for the man and women who, voluntarily, have given up basic rights to protect us. Did you get that, us. We. You and I. Everyone in this country. There's no picking and choosing for them. They can't say, "I'm here for you but not you.", or "This deserves protection, but that doesn't." I guess that's the pervue of the Yes We Can crowd.

It must be getting crowded under that bus.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Off week

Off pilot is off!


Paddy's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone.

But I still don't get the connection with green beer. I mean Guinness is black and Whiskey is sort of a golden brown.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday mind game.

Just a quick one. I've got to get ready for a trip. I'll be covering about 2/3 of the country this weekend. Nature of the job. Most of our working is getting others away from work. Enjoy and dont forget to go insane. It's for the chillun's.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

AR Build Update.

I know it's been a while. I haven't left it on the back burner, believe me. Today, I picked up an M16 bolt carrier group and assembled it. I thought I had found an AR BCG, but when I got there, the guy said all he had were M16 carriers, so for only $20 more, I went for it. Below is a picture of the current state of the build. As you can see and I blogged about a while ago, the lower is completed.

And that's an EOTech 556 holographic sight in the upper right hand corner.

Trust me, putting the bolt together is a pretty easy task. If you have one of these.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Astronomical Debt.

Okay, everybody is going on about the amount of debt the US Congress and Executive branch are racking up. So I decided to crunch some numbers.

The length of a US dollar bill is 6.14"
The current stimulus package is somewhere between 787 and 825 Billion dollars.
The Apollo missions averages about 2000 mph.
The fastest man made object is the Helios 2 solar observation satellite at approximately 150,000 mph.
The speed of light is approximately 3.0x10^8 m/s or 186,000 miles/sec.
One inch is approximately 2.54 centimeters.
5280 feet per statute mile.

Are you ready?

800 billion 1 dollar bills laid end to end measures 4,912,000,000,000 inches or 409,333,333,333.33 feet or 77,525,252.53 miles.

Still just big numbers.

The average jet would take about 20 years to fly from one end to another.

The Apollo mission would have taken around 4.4 years to do the distance.

The fastest man made object ever would take about 21 and a half days to travel from end to end.

Light itself would take about 6.9 minutes to travel from one side to the other.

The bills would stretch from the Earth out past the orbit of Mars.

So astronomical. Yeah, pretty much.

I'm still alive.

The power port on my laptop broke saturday night. So, I've been without 21st century convenience for the weekend. All I can say is Praise be to the computer service center here in Fla. They took my computer at 10 a.m. today and had it back to me by 11:30. So, H'Ray computer techs.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday mind game.

In honor of my copious amounts of time to enjoy at home tonight.

I'm Home!

Sort of.

The checkride went smoothly. Really, during the checkride, the guy flying has it easy. It's the guy sitting right seat that has it hard. Checklists were flying everywhere. Anyway, it went without a hitch. That came after we climbed out of the sim. My little day trip tomorrow morphed into a 6 day trip. So, by next thursday I'll have spent 12 of the last 12 days on the road. Our boss being the giving soul that he is has decreed that recurrent doesn't count as road time. Because, you know the whole away from home in a hotel flying everyday after sitting in a classroom all morning really isn't flying because... umm...

Like I said he's a giving soul. He has no problem giving away our time. Company policy is anything over 16 days on the road per month is considered 'overtime', and we get a little stipend for it. And before you see dollar signs cha-ching before your eyes, it's little. By not counting recurrent time, he gets an extra week out of us. It's a win/____ situation. But enought griping. I've got to finish laundry, get my uniforms ironed and repack.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

T-t-t-t-training Day Four.

Actually, day last. The only thing left for us is the checkride tomorrow morning. In class today we finished up all the other systems we hadn't covered in the last 3 days. Things like Ice & Rain Protection, Oxygen, Landing Gear, Drag Chute, Hydraulics. Then we had the mandatory test of everything we've covered over the last four days. Multiple choice, open book, but still a test all the same.

Sim was sort of the same thing. We covered the last bits of our training syllabus; Emergency Descents, Fuel Emergencies, Overspeed, Evacuation, Inadvertent Thrust Reverser Deployment, Fire and the Circle-to-Land approach.

Don't blink, a circle to land approach at night, in bad weather will kill you deader than shit if you're not on the ball. And having a thrust reverser hanging out when your trying to fly, well, think of it as one engine pushing you forward and the other pushing in the opposite direction. Fun.

My instructor continued to be the magnificent sadist. I had a fuel pressure warning light come on AS I'm blasting through 25,000 ft. It would sort of be like trying to suck a can of pop through a straw from 2 stories up. A failed engine inside the final approach fix on a precision approach. Yes, I know it's called the outer marker, but we're not all pilots reading this, are we. Not one, not two, but 3 reverser deploys are various phases of flight. The worst being just micro seconds after starting my rotation on take off. Try maintaining directional control when everything goes wonky like that in a transitory phase. What else... Oh yeah, I had a runaway engine followed by the other engine catching on fire on an ILS set to 1800 RVR. "Let it burn, it's the only thing that's get us to the runway." But say it calmly. It's a nasty situation. We train to pull a burning engine. But if you've already shut the other one down.... You have to think BEFORE you react to the pretty flashing red lights.

Like I said tomorrow is the checkride, then I get to drive several hours home, repack and catch a plane up to pick up another one coming out of maintenance the next day. Because you know, getting some time off after a recurrent pressure cooker is really ridiculous.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

T-t-t-t-training Day Three.

More of the same. Classroom was Fuel Systems (What's that smell?), Powerplant (What's that noise?), Fire Protection (What's that smoke?), Pneumatics and Air Conditioning (What's that stench?), and Pressurization (What's that Payne Stewart thing?). All pretty interesting in a new and interesting way to die sort of way.

Oh, and air conditioning isn't about blowing cold air on a hot August afternoon. You see (you can take a nap now) we tap air for pressurization off the engines. We tap it after the turbines but before the combustion chamber. Big deal you say. Well, physics being what it is and gas laws being the way they are, we're tapping air that's either 350-ish (degrees F) or close to 800 F. That's just from compressing the air from ambient. There's not fire going on yet. Well, even with losses in the system, we'd be pouring 130-150 F air into the cabin if we didn't run it through a heat exchange systems first. Thus we condition the air. See, Bob's your uncle.

The sim was a fun day. We did hot and heavy. Which is fun if you're on a date with someone of non-traditional ethics, but not so much when you're watching the end of a runway rolling up way too quickly. We sat down first, figured out the numbers to give us a V1 cut that was 40 feet shorter than the runway we were using and believe me, they got those performance numbers right. Then it was engine outs on takeoff, runaway trim , jammed stabilator (or I don't need to do arms in the gym today), hydraulics failure, no flap landing (which follows nicely from the hydraulics failure), wind shear and then a right seat pattern. And the sadist that is my sim instructor failed an engine on me in the right seat. Thanks for the warning, buddy.

No seriously, we've got one of the better instructors and surprising us with odd stuff like that makes me respect him even more.

On the other hand, the new sim schedules with shorter periods means we don't have any extra time in any of the sessions anymore. It used to be if you were on the ball and worked through the scheduled stuff you could do stuff you wanted to work on with any of the extra time. Stuff like what wind shear looks like on takeoff, what a lightning strike does, asymmetric flap or spoileron deployments, or how we would've fared in the USAir Hudson landing in the jet we're flying. Stuff that might not be on the company or feds lesson plan, but we individual pilots either worry about or would like to try. Yes, some of us ask to fly under the bridges at St. Louis, but really, where's the benefit to training there. Just a gripe on my part. I might mention it on the course critique. And these guys take those critique comments seriously. These guys do a helluva job as it is. I don't want to belittle that at all.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

T-t-t-t-training Day Two.

Okay. I'm definitely getting more tired. Today was more classroom and sim. We finished up flight controls. Mostly the secondary flight controls, CRM, Electrical, Flight Planning and Performance, and Weight and Balance.

CRM (cockpit resource management) is funny, depressing or frightening. Depending on what your company is like. For me it's depressing.

Electrical is just a nightmare. The old story goes that Mr. Lear, being an electrical engineer, loved to go in and rewire the airplanes to meet any customer request. The end being that electrical diagrams are almost literally individual per serial number. Yeah, I get headaches too.

The sim was more of the same. 600 RVR taxi and takeoff, V1 cuts, air restart, DME Arc to a Localizer Back Course followed by a miss and hold, then a VOR or NDB approach, and then a raw data ILS. And no autopilot today. Weee?

Are ya bored silly yet?

Monday, March 2, 2009

T-t-t-t-training Day One.

Same old, same old. Basic housekeeping paperwork, Intro and Rules, then Limitations (Hey, I don't think the airplane does what you think it does...), Avionics (There are 4 different RVSM kits available for the airplane. How many do of them do you have in your fleet? Five.) and Flight Controls (H'Ray cables and pulleys). Forty Five minutes for lunch then into the sim for: Start Malfunctions, Taxi, Noise Abatement, Air Work (Steep Turns, Stalls, Slow Flight, and Dutch Rolls) Just in case you were wondering, that's not were some little blonde kid with his finger in a dyke mugs you at knife point. A precision approach coupled with the autopilot to low mins, missed approach and a engine failure in flight followed by a single engine approach to landing. All in an hour and a half. Yeah, I'm tired. I've said this before. It's like trying to fill a dixie cup with a fire hydrant.


I'm up in recurrent training for the week. Early days and long ones. Well not so long actually. They revamped the sim sessions, so they're shorter. But we have more of them. So, same amount of time. I'll post if I get time. Maybe I'll try to document what exactly we cover each day. That should be immensely boring.