Posted by: blogengeezer | February 26, 2014

“In the Eye of the Storm” Max Lucado

We can all appreciate this one.

Old Guy and a Bucket of Shrimp

This is a wonderful story and it is true. You will be pleased
that you read it, and I believe you will pass it on.  It is an important
piece of American history.

It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the
sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean.

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier.
Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end
of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of
the sun is a golden bronze now.

Everybody’s gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. Standing
out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts…and his bucket
of shrimp.

Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a
thousand white dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward
that lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier.

Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings
fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the
hungry birds. As he does, if you listen closely, you can hear him say with
a smile, ‘Thank you. Thank you.’

In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed doesn’t leave.

He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another
time and place.

When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the
beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the
stairs, and then they, too, fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down
to the end of the beach and on home.

If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in
the water, Ed might seem like ‘a funny old duck,’ as my dad used to say.
Or, to onlookers, he’s just another old codger, lost in his own weird
world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp.

To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very
empty. They can seem altogether unimportant … maybe even a lot of
nonsense.

Old folks often do strange things, at least in the eyes of Boomers
and Busters.

Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in
Florida… That’s too bad. They’d do well to know him better.

His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero in World
War I, and then he was in WWII. On one of his flying missions across the
Pacific, he and his seven-member crew went down. Miraculously, all of the
men survived, crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft.

Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough
waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun. They fought sharks. Most of
all, they fought hunger and thirst. By the eighth day their rations ran
out. No food. No water. They were hundreds of miles from land and no one
knew where they were or even if they were alive. Every day across America
millions wondered and prayed that Eddie Rickenbacker might somehow be found
alive.

The men adrift needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple
devotional service and prayed for a miracle. They tried to nap. Eddie
leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose. Time dragged on. All
he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft…

Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap. It was
a seagull!

Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning
his next move. With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he
managed to grab it and wring its neck. He tore the feathers off, and he and
his starving crew made a meal of it – a very slight meal for eight men.
Then they used the intestines for bait. With it, they caught fish, which
gave them food and more bait . . . and the cycle continued. With that
simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea
until they were found and rescued after 24 days at sea.

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he
never forgot the sacrifice of that first life-saving seagull… And he
never stopped saying, ‘Thank you.’ That’s why almost every Friday night he
would walk to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart
full of gratitude.

Reference:
(Max Lucado, “In The Eye of the Storm”, pp…221, 225-226)

PS: Eddie Rickenbacker was the founder of Eastern Airlines. Before
WWI he was race car driver. In WWI he was a pilot and became America’s
first ace. In WWII he was an instructor and military adviser, and he flew
missions with the combat pilots. Eddie Rickenbacker is a true American
hero. And now you know another story about the trials and sacrifices that
brave men have endured for your freedom.

As you can see, I chose to pass it on. It is a great story that
many don’t know…You’ve got to be careful with old guys, You just never
know what they have done during their lifetime.

Posted by: blogengeezer | February 15, 2014

Captain Phillips, real story.

recd from former combat officer pilot.
_________________________________________________________________
I did not see the film, but if this is what really happened, then it’s another Benghazi.
Almost seems as though Obama celebrates when our servicemen are killed.

Does the actions (or in this case, inaction) of ZERO really surprise anyone? 
The real story of Captain Phillips

Interesting read.

Apparently the President “managed” the details of the rescue of
Captain Phillips. In doing so he earned the hostility of the Seals
entrusted with the mission.

Here’s an account by a career Naval
officer who had a distinguished career, Herb Schwartz, in which he
refers to the President as “Zero”. (Which gives you an indication that
he feels the President was more of an obstructionist than what the WH
would later characterize as “daring and decisive”, once success had been
achieved.

If you see the movie, keep these things in mind !

Herb Schwartz is a Navy Blue and Gold Officer for the Naval Academy 
and father of the highest ranked graduate at the USNA in 2000.
He flew missions over the former Soviet Union with Francis Gary
Powers, taught at the Judge Advocates college and briefed President
Kennedy as an intelligence officer.
The best is that he is my friend and a man I trust. Did I forget that
he is an author and a retired Military Judge.
Jim
O’Neal

From: Herb Schwartz, Subject:

The real story of Captain Phillips written shortly after the event by
someone who was there.
 

All of us want to raise our glass this week to the Navy
SEALs who popped those three Somali pirates. And I’m sure you want to
hear the real story of what happened. Especially because there is a
revoltingly opportunistic and cowardly side to it. Guess which side
Zero (aka: our president) is on.

Why, for example, did it take SEAL Team Six (aka DEVGRU, Navy Special
Warfare Development Group, the Navy’s equivalent of Delta Force) over
36 hours to get to the scene?

 

Because Zero refused to authorize the SEAL deployment for those 36
hours, during which the OSC – the on scene commander, Cmdr. Frank
Castellano of the USS Bainbridge – repeatedly requested them.

Once the SEALs arrived – parachuting from a C-17 into the ocean near
the ship – Zero then imposed ‘Rules of Engagement’ (ROE) specifying the
SEALs could not do anything unless the life of the hostage, Captain
Richard Phillips, was in “imminent” danger.

Thus, when Capt. Phillips attempted to escape by jumping off the
lifeboat into the ocean, the SEAL snipers had all four pirates (one
later surrendered) sighted in and could have taken them out then and
there – but they could not fire due to Zero’s ROE restrictions.

When the SEALs approached the lifeboat in a RIB (rigid-hull inflatable
boat) carrying supplies for Capt. Phillips and the pirates, the
pirates fired upon them. Not only was no fire returned due to the ROE,
but as the pirates were shooting at the RIB, SEAL snipers on the
Bainbridge had them all dialed in. No triggers were pulled due to the
ROE.

Two specific rescue plans were developed by Cmdr. Castellano and the
SEAL teams. Zero personally refused to authorize them.

After the second refusal and days of dithering, Cmdr. Castellano
decided he had the Operational Area and OSC authority to “solely
determine risk to hostage” and did not require any further approval of
the president.

Four hours later, the White House is informed that three pirates are
dead and Capt. Phillips has been rescued unharmed. A WH press release
is immediately issued, giving credit to the president for his “daring
and decisive” behavior that resulted in such success.

Zero has absolutely no military knowledge or experience whatsoever.
He demanded decisional control over the entire hostage drama to the
last detail. All actions required his personal approval. He dithered
like a coward while the world laughed at our warships flummoxed by
four illiterate teenagers with AKs in a lifeboat.

Only when the Navy Commander decided to ignore his Pantywaist-in Chief
and take action and responsibility himself, were the incredible skills
of the SEALs put into play.

That Zero could cynically and opportunistically claim that his “bold”
“calm” “tough” leadership was responsible should remind everyone that
not a single action, not a single word of this man can be trusted. He
is bereft of honesty and moral character. 
That’s why he’s Zero.

We raise a glass full of pride and gratitude to Navy Commander Frank
Castellano, the Navy SEALs for their incredible competence, and our
military as we also recognize Zero for what he is,

or more
appropriately, for what he is Not.

Posted by: blogengeezer | February 15, 2014

Knives and Kids ‘back in the day’

Having carried countless knives of many types and sizes all of my life, I discovered that in today’s protective nanny society, kids can no longer do that.

I had one time asked the boys why they didn’t carry knives while in school? They looked at me like I had suggested something evil, and said No Way, they would have been ‘cuffed and stuffed’ for carrying a deadly weapon in school.

Times sure have changed. Every boy I ever knew, along with a few girls, carried a knife to school and ‘Nothing’ ever happened… in ‘Our’ Culture. No one ever thought about stabbing anyone with them. We played games like ‘mumbly peg’ at recess.  Which included tipping the open knife off various things, knees, elbows, chins, foreheads etc, trying to ‘stick it’ :>)

We threw our knives at trees, dirt, logs to ‘stick’ em and see who could do it best. We whittled animals out of pieces of wood that we carried in our pockets, while waiting for class to start, or just while sitting around with each other or alone.

We compared any ‘new’ knife with pride, as ‘new’ anything was rare in those days. Hand me downs were far more common. Larry got new boots for Christmas. A knife pocket was sewn on the outer side. They were the new boots he was wearing while riding his bicycle, as he kicked the cats in the dark…Skunks. Those boots stunk for the rest of their life. He had to ‘wear them out’ because no new boots until the next year. Larry didn’t smell like Larry…. until his boots wore out.

My Boy Scout knife that mom ordered for Christmas, was very special. I carried that Camp Knife for years, until I broke it, doing something not realistic for any knife. Every time I see a Boy Scout knife, I remember mom getting that special knife for me. :>)

I had a Boy scout Axe with a sheath from one other Christmas. In excellent condition today, those are worth a few dollars. Mine was battered and used, after many camping and hiking trips. I was ‘rough on stuff’ :<(

Today the knife is considered a very irresponsible item for a well protected boy to own. Back then it was as common, as a dollar in your pocket is today.

Totalitarian Controlled ‘progressive’ Society by Design, authoritarian mandated Safety across the USA of today, has changed this once adventuresome nation into some dis-utopian, feel good imaginary dream state, that has far more flaws than ever existed in Mark Twain’s time. Heaven, filled with adventure and knowledge, seems ever more attractive in comparison.

Enjoy life in the Untied States of America. ‘One Nation Under God’

and ‘Pack a Knife, you will feel better about yourself’

Posted by: blogengeezer | January 25, 2014

Bye Bye Blackbird SR-71

A compilation of SR-71 stories.

BYE BYE SR-71 BLACKBIRD
SR-71 Blackbird


In April 1986, following an attack on American soldiers in a Berlin disco, President Reagan ordered the bombing of Muammar Qaddafi’s terrorist camps in Libya ..

My duty was to fly over Libya , and take photographs recording the damage our F-111’s had inflicted.

Qaddafi had established a ‘line of death,’ a territorial marking across the Gulf of Sidra, swearing to shoot down any intruder, that crossed the boundary.

On the morning of April 15, I rocketed past the line at 2,125 mph.


I was piloting the SR-71 spy plane, the world’s fastest jet, accompanied by a Marine Major (Walt), the aircraft’s reconnaissance systems officer (RSO).

We had crossed into Libya , and were approaching our final turn over the bleak desert landscape, when Walt informed me, that he was receiving missile launch signals.

I quickly increased our speed, calculating the time it would take for the weapons, most likely SA-2 and SA-4 surface-to-air missiles, capable of Mach 5 – to reach our altitude.
I estimated, that we could beat the rocket-powered missiles to the turn, and stayed our course, betting our lives on the plane’s performance.


After several agonizingly long seconds, we made the turn and blasted toward the Mediterranean …

‘You might want to pull it back,’ Walt suggested.
It was then that I noticed I still had the throttles full forward.

The plane was flying a mile every 1.6 seconds, well above our Mach 3.2 limit.

It was the fastest we would ever fly.

I pulled the throttles to idle, just south of Sicily , but we still overran the refueling tanker, awaiting us over Gibraltar …

Scores of significant aircraft have been produced, in the 100 years of flight, following the achievements of the Wright brothers, which we celebrate in December.Aircraft such as the Boeing 707, the F-86 Sabre Jet, and the P-51 Mustang, are among the important machines, that have flown our skies.

But the SR-71, also known as the Blackbird, stands alone as a significant contributor to Cold War victory, and as the fastest plane ever, and only 93 Air Force pilots, ever steered the ‘sled,’ as we called our aircraft.


The SR-71, was the brainchild of Kelly Johnson, the famed Lockheed designer, who created the P-38, the F-104 Starfighter, and the U-2.
After the Soviets shot down Gary Powers U-2 in 1960, Johnson began to develop an aircraft, that would fly three miles higher, and five times faster, than the spy plane, and still be capable of photographing your license plate.However, flying at 2,000 mph would create intense heat on the aircraft’s skin.
Lockheed engineers used a titanium alloy, to construct more than 90 percent of the SR-71, creating special tools, and manufacturing procedures to hand-build each of the (40 planes.. (WoW ! ! ! 40 planes???? I thought only 7.)
Special heat-resistant fuel, oil, and hydraulic fluids, that would function at 85,000 feet, and higher, also had to be developed.


In 1962, the first Blackbird successfully flew, and in 1966, the same year I graduated from high school, the Air Force began flying operational SR-71 missions.
I came to the program in 1983, with a sterling record and a recommendation from my commander, completing the weeklong interview, and meeting Walt, my partner for the next four years.He would ride four feet behind me, working all the cameras, radios, and electronic jamming equipment.

I joked, that if we were ever captured, he was the spy, and I was just the driver.

He told me to keep the pointy end forward.

We trained for a year, flying out of Beale AFB in California , Kadena Airbase in Okinawa , and RAF Mildenhall in England ..

On a typical training mission, we would take off near Sacramento , refuel over Nevada , accelerate into Montana , obtain a high Mach speed over Colorado , turn right over New Mexico, speed across the Los Angeles Basin, run up the West Coast, turn right at Seattle , then return to Beale.


Total flight time:- Two Hours and Forty Minutes.
One day, high above Arizona , we were monitoring the radio traffic, of all the mortal airplanes below us.
First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. ‘Ninety knots,’ ATC replied.
A Bonanza soon made the same request.
‘One-twenty on the ground,’ was the reply.

To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio, with a ground speed check.

I knew exactly what he was doing.

Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley, know what real speed was, ‘Dusty 52, we show you at 620 on the ground,’ ATC responded.

The situation was too ripe.

I heard the click of Walt’s mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walt startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace.
In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, ‘Aspen 20, I show you at 1,982 knots on the ground.’
We did not hear another transmission on that frequency, all the way to the coast.


The Blackbird always showed us something new, each aircraft possessing its own unique personality.
In time, we realized we were flying a national treasure.When we taxied out of our revetments for take-off, people took notice.

Traffic congregated near the airfield fences, because everyone wanted to see, and hear the mighty SR-71.

You could not be a part of this program, and not come to love the airplane.

Slowly, she revealed her secrets to us, as we earned her trust..

One moonless night, while flying a routine training mission over the Pacific, I wondered what the sky would look like from 84,000 feet, if the cockpit lighting were dark.

While heading home on a straight course, I slowly turned down all of the lighting, reducing the glare and revealing the night sky.

Within seconds, I turned the lights back up, fearful that the jet would know, and somehow punish me.

But my desire to see the sky, overruled my caution, I dimmed the lighting again.

To my amazement, I saw a bright light outside my window.

As my eyes adjusted to the view, I realized that the brilliance was the broad expanse of the Milky Way, now a gleaming stripe across the sky.

Where dark spaces in the sky, had usually existed, there were now dense clusters, of sparkling stars.

Shooting Stars, flashed across the canvas every few seconds.

It was like a fireworks display with no sound.

I knew I had to get my eyes back on the instruments, and reluctantly, I brought my attention back inside.

To my surprise, with the cockpit lighting still off, I could see every gauge, lit by starlight.

In the plane’s mirrors, I could see the eerie shine of my gold spacesuit, incandescently illuminated, in a celestial glow.

I stole one last glance out the window.
Despite our speed, we seemed still before the heavens, humbled in the radiance of a much greater power.

For those few moments, I felt a part of something far more significant, than anything we were doing in the plane.

The sharp sound of Walt’s voice on the radio, brought me back to the tasks at hand, as I prepared for our descent.


San Diego Aerospace Museum

The SR-71 was an expensive aircraft to operate.
The most significant cost was tanker support, and in 1990, confronted with budget cutbacks, the Air Force retired the SR-71.
The SR-71 served six presidents, protecting America for a quarter of a century.
Unbeknown to most of the country, the plane flew over North Vietnam , Red China , North Korea , the Middle East , South Africa , Cuba , Nicaragua , Iran , Libya , and the Falkland Islands .
On a weekly basis, the SR-71, kept watch over every Soviet Nuclear Submarine, Mobile Missile Site, and all of their troop movements.
It was a key factor in winning the Cold War.

I am proud to say, I flew about 500 hours in this aircraft.  I knew her well.
She gave way to no plane, proudly dragging her Sonic Boom through enemy backyards, with great impunity.
She defeated every missile, outran every MiG, and always brought us home.

In the first 100 years of manned flight, no aircraft was more remarkable.

The Blackbird had outrun nearly 4,000 missiles, not once taking a scratch from enemy fire.On her final flight, the Blackbird, destined for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, sped from Los Angeles to Washington in 64 Minutes, averaging 2,145 mph, and
setting four speed records.

Thank you, from an SR-71 pilot.
Ray Nesbit
Posted by: blogengeezer | December 15, 2013

SR-71 Blackbird communication to tower

This is a re-post, only because it was such a great story :>)

Thank you Hot Rod Forum, for the reminder

This was forwarded to me by LTC Robert Bent, US Army, Retired

SR-71 Blackbird Communication to Tower

Written by Brian Schul—former sled (SR-71 Blackbird) driver.

There were a lot of things we couldn’t do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane—intense, maybe, even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be the fastest guys out there, at least for a moment.

It occurred when Walt and I were flying our final training sortie. We needed 100 hours in the jet to complete our training and attain Mission Ready status. Somewhere over Colorado we had passed the century mark. We had made the turn in Arizona and the jet was performing flawlessly. My gauges were wired in the front seat and we were starting to feel pretty good about ourselves, not only because we would soon be flying real missions but because we had gained a great deal of confidence in the plane in the past ten months. Ripping across the barren deserts 80,000 feet below us, I could already see the coast of California from the Arizona border. I was, finally, after many humbling months of simulators and study, ahead of the jet.

I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Walter in the back seat. There he was, with no really good view of the incredible sights before us, tasked with monitoring four different radios. This was good practice for him for when we began flying real missions, when a priority transmission from headquarters could be vital. It had been difficult, too, for me to relinquish control of the radios, as during my entire flying career I had controlled my own transmissions. But it was part of the division of duties in this plane and I had adjusted to it. I still insisted on talking on the radio while we were on the ground, however. Walt was so good at many things, but he couldn’t match my expertise at sounding smooth on the radios, a skill that had been honed sharply with years in fighter squadrons where the slightest radio miscue was grounds for beheading. He understood that and allowed me that luxury. Just to get a sense of what Walt had to contend with, I pulled the radio toggle switches and monitored the frequencies along with him. The predominant radio chatter was from Los Angeles Center, far below us, controlling daily traffic in their sector. While they had us on their scope (albeit briefly), we were in uncontrolled airspace and normally would not talk to them unless we needed to descend into their airspace.

We listened as the shaky voice of a lone Cessna pilot who asked Center for a read-out of his ground speed. Center replied: “November Charlie 175, I’m showing you at ninety knots on the ground.” Now the thing to understand about Center controllers, was that whether they were talking to a rookie pilot in a Cessna, or to Air Force One, they always spoke in the exact same, calm, deep, professional tone that made one feel important. I referred to it as the “Houston Center voice.” I have always felt that after years of seeing documentaries on this country’s space program and listening to the calm and distinct voice of the Houston controllers, that all other controllers since then wanted to sound like that and that they basically did. And it didn’t matter what sector of the country we would be flying in, it always seemed like the same guy was talking. Over the years that tone of voice had become somewhat of a comforting sound to pilots everywhere. Conversely, over the years, pilots always wanted to ensure that, when transmitting, they sounded like Chuck Yeager, or at least like John Wayne. Better to die than sound bad on the radios.

Just moments after the Cessna’s inquiry, a Twin Beech piped up on frequency, in a rather superior tone, asking for his ground speed in Beech. “I have you at one hundred and twenty-five knots of ground speed.” Boy, I thought, the Beechcraft really must think he is dazzling his Cessna brethren.

Then out of the blue, a navy F-18 pilot out of NAS Lemoore came up on frequency. You knew right away it was a Navy jock because he sounded very cool on the radios. “Center, Dusty 52 ground speed check.” Before Center could reply, I’m thinking to myself, hey, Dusty 52 has a ground speed indicator in that million-dollar cockpit, so why is he asking Center for a read-out? Then I got it, ol’ Dusty here is making sure that every bug smasher from Mount Whitney to the Mojave knows what true speed is. He’s the fastest dude in the valley today, and he just wants everyone to know how much fun he is having in his new Hornet. And the reply, always with that same, calm, voice, with more distinct alliteration than emotion: “Dusty 52, Center, we have you at 620 on the ground.” And I thought to myself, is this a ripe situation, or what? As my hand instinctively reached for the mic button, I had to remind myself that Walt was in control of the radios. Still, I thought, it must be done—in mere seconds we’ll be out of the sector and the opportunity will be lost. That Hornet must die, and die now. I thought about all of our Sim training and how important it was that we developed well as a crew and knew that to jump in on the radios now would destroy the integrity of all that we had worked toward becoming. I was torn.

Somewhere, 13 miles above Arizona, there was a pilot screaming inside his space helmet. Then, I heard it—the click of the mic button from the back seat. That was the very moment that I knew Walter and I had become a crew. Very professionally, and with no emotion, Walter spoke: “Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?” There was no hesitation, and the replay came as if was an everyday request.

“Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground.” I think it was the forty-two knots that I liked the best, so accurate and proud was Center to deliver that information without hesitation, and you just knew he was smiling. But the precise point at which I knew that Walt and I were going to be really good friends for a long time was when he keyed the mic once again to say, in his most fighter-pilot-like voice: “Ah, Center, much thanks, we’re showing closer to nineteen hundred on the money.”

For a moment Walter was a god. And we finally heard a little crack in the armor of the Houston Center voice, when L.A. came back with, “Roger that Aspen. Your equipment is probably more accurate than ours. You boys have a good one.” It all had lasted for just moments, but in that short, memorable sprint across the southwest, the Navy had been flamed, all mortal airplanes on freq were forced to bow before the King of Speed, and more importantly, Walter and I had crossed the threshold of being a crew. A fine day’s work. We never heard another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast. For just one day, it truly was fun being the fastest guys out there.

Posted by: blogengeezer | December 9, 2013

Sandia Crest Antennas

Sandia Crest Antennas

Frosty Dec 6, 2013, from our home in Albuquerque, NM,

Posted by: blogengeezer | December 4, 2013

Queenstown New Zealand approach

Any pilot will appreciate this video.

Descent into Queenstown, New Zealand.

Gotta have faith in your instruments and your proficiency to fly the approach.

But the feeling of elation from doing well, what we’re trained to do, is it’s own reward.

…as if descending into an undercast over mountainous terrain doesn’t bother you too much.

http://www.chonday.com/Videos/pilotnewzdalnd1

Posted by: blogengeezer | August 1, 2013

Delta Flt 15 Gander Newfundland

An older post, good enough to repost.
Take a minute and read this true story!!!

Jerry Brown Delta Flight 15… (true story)

Here is an amazing story from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15,
written following 9-11:

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of
Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic.

All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the
cockpit, immediately, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I
noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The
captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in
Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United
States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest
airport. Advise your destination.”

No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious
situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain
determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander,
New Foundland.

He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic
controller and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked.
We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving
our request.

While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another
message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity
in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the
hijackings.

We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We
told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed
to land at the nearest airport in Gander, New Foundland, to have it
checked out.

We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was
much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty
minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was
12:30 PM! …. that’s 11:00 AM EST.

There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over
the world that had taken this detour on their way to the U.S.

After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following
announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these
airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The
reality is that we are here for another reason.” Then he went on to
explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the U.S. There
were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed
passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.

The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was
allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to
come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around
periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane. In the next
hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes
from all over the world, 27 of which were U.S. commercial jets.

Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and
for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World
Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC. People were
trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a
different cell system in Canada. Some did get through, but were only
able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines
to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.

Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade
Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted
in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically
exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly
calm. We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded
aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.

We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the
planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our
turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning. Passengers were not
happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much
noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the
airplane.

Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and
lavatory servicing. And they were true to their word. Fortunately we
had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who
was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The
night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping
arrangements.

About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed
up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went
through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red
Cross.

After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were
taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers
were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a
population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to
take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander! We
were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the
U.S. airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.

We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting
to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people
of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane
people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and
ended up having a pretty good time.

Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander
airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and
found out what they had been doing for the past two days. What we found
out was incredible.

Gander and all the surrounding communities (within MATCH about a 75
Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges,
and any other large gathering places. They converted all these
facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers. Some
had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to
take care of the “guests.” Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called
Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a
high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that
was arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers
were taken to private homes.

Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home
right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was
a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the
crowd for the duration.

Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available
to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered
“Excursion” trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and
harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests. Local bakeries
stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.

Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools.
People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful
meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their
clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft. In other words, every
single need was met for those stranded travelers.

Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when
they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to
the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or
late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts
of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on
and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything
beautifully.

It was absolutely incredible.

When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise.
Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their
stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight
back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just
stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.

Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their
first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.

And then a very unusual thing happened.

One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an
announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this
time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He
picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone
through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they
had received at the hands of total strangers. He continued by saying
that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of
Lewisporte.

“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15
(our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide
college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte. He
asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the
paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone
numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia, promised to match the donations and
to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that
he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to
donate as well.

As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million
and has assisted 134 students in college education.

“I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right
now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a
faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on
them.

It reminds me how much good there is in the world.”

“In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world
this story confirms that there are still a lot of good and Godly people
in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.

“God Bless America… and God Bless the Canadians.”

Posted by: blogengeezer | July 11, 2013

Pilot eyewitness account Asiana B-777


 Pilot Eyewitness account:

Asiana at SFO, from UA 885 who were RIGHT there…

ED Note: From latest accounts, Asiana pilots had turned off all Auto Functions in the flight deck and were ‘flying in’ manually, but forgot that they needed to manually control engine power on decent. By the time they realized it, and tried to get engine Thrust that takes 8-10 seconds to respond, it was too late. The tail struck the Approach apron. Aircraft then ‘hard landed’. That impact tore off the landing gear. Fuselage cartwheeled off to the left of the runway.

Subject: Eyewitness account: Asiana at SFO. Trained pilots, waiting for take off on the adjacent runway Waiting Aircraft was actually BETWEEN 28L and 28R and watched in horror.

Here is an email from a United crew holding short of the runway, as the Asiana B-777 approached:


On July 6, 2013 at approximately 1827Z, I was the 747-400 relief F/O on flt 885, ID326/06 SFO-KIX. I was a witness to the Asiana Flt 214 accident. We had taxied to hold short of runway 28L at SFO on taxiway F, and were waiting to rectify a HAZMAT cargo issue, as well as our final weights before we could run our ‘before takeoff’ checklist and depart.

 

As we waited on taxiway F heading East, just prior to the perpendicular holding area, all three pilots took notice of the Asiana 777 on short final. I noticed the aircraft looked low on glidepath and had a very high deck angle, compared to what would be normal.

 

I then noticed the apparent descent rate and closure to the runway environment, the aircraft looked as though it was going to impact the approach lights mounted on piers in the SF Bay. The aircraft made a fairly drastic looking ‘pull up’ in the last few feet and it appeared and sounded as if they had applied maximum thrust.

 

However the descent path they were on continued and the thrust applied didn’t appear to come soon enough to prevent impact. The tail cone and empennage of the 777, impacted the bulkhead seawall and departed the airplane.

 

The main landing gear sheared off instantly on impact. This created a long debris field along the arrival end of 28L, mostly along the right side of 28L. We saw the fuselage largely intact, slide down the runway and out of view of our cockpit. We heard much confusion and quick instructions from SFO Tower and a few moments later heard an aircraft ‘go around’ over the runway 28 complex. We realized within a few moments that we were apparently unharmed, so I got on the PA and instructed everyone to remain seated and that we were safe.

We all acknowledged, if we had been located between Runways 28R and 28L on taxiway F, we would have likely suffered damage to the right side aft section of our aircraft from the impacting 777.

Approximately two minutes later, I was looking out the left side cockpit windows and noticed movement on the right side of Runway 28L. Two survivors were stumbling but moving abeam of Runway 28L marking on the North side of the runway.

 

I saw one survivor stand up, walk a few feet, then appear to squat down. The other appeared to be a woman and was walking, then fell off to her side and remained on the ground until rescue personnel arrived.

 

The Captain was on the radio and I told him to tell tower what I had seen, but I ended up taking the microphone instead of relaying through him. I told SFO tower that there appeared to be survivors on the right side of the runway and they needed to send assistance immediately. It seemed to take a very long time for vehicles and assistance to arrive for these victims. The survivors I saw were approximately 1000-1500′ away from the fuselage and had apparently been ejected from the fuselage.

We made numerous PAs to the passengers telling them any information we had, which we acknowledged was going to change rapidly, and I left the cockpit to check on the flight attendants and the overall mood of the passengers, as I was the third pilot and not in a control seat.

 

A couple of our flight attendants were shaken up, but ALL were doing an outstanding and extremely professional job of handling the passenger’s needs and providing calm comfort to them. One of the flight attendants contacted unaccompanied minors’ parents to ensure them their children were safe and would be taken care of by our crew. Their demeanor and professionalism during this horrific event was noteworthy.

 

I went to each cabin and spoke to the passengers asking if everyone was OK and if they needed any assistance, and gave them information personally, to include telling them what I saw from the cockpit. I also provided encouragement that we would be OK, we’d tell them everything we learn and to please relax and be patient and expect this is going to be a long wait.

 

The passenger mood was concerned but generally calm. A few individuals were emotional, as nearly every passenger on the left side of the aircraft saw the fuselage and debris field, with fuselage traveling at over 100 knots past our aircraft…. only 300′ away.

 

By this point everyone had looked out the windows and could see the smoke plume from the 777. A number of passengers also noticed what I had seen with the survivors out near the end of 28L expressing concern that the rescue effort appeared slow for those individuals that had been separated from the airplane wreckage.

We ultimately had a tug come out and tow us back to the gate, doing a 3 point turn in the hold short area of 28L. We were towed to gate 101 where the passengers deplaned.


                    George W. “Jud” Schandel

Posted by: blogengeezer | July 10, 2013

Low down on S Korean Pilots

Received in email from career aircraft associate.

 
After I retired from UAL as a Standards Captain on the –400, I got a job as a simulator instructor working for Alteon (a Boeing subsidiary) at Asiana. When I first got there, I was shocked and surprised by the lack of basic piloting skills shown by most of the pilots. It is not a normal situation with normal progression from new hire, right seat, left seat taking a decade or two. One big difference is that ex-Military pilots are given super-seniority and progress to the left seat much faster. Compared to the US, they also upgrade fairly rapidly because of the phenomenal growth by all Asian air carriers. By the way, after about six months at Asiana, I was moved over to KAL and found them to be identical. The only difference was the color of the uniforms and airplanes. I worked in Korea for 5 long years and although I found most of the people to be very pleasant, it’s a minefield of a work environment … for them and for us expats.
 
One of the first things I learned was that the pilots kept a web-site and reported on every training session. I don’t think this was officially sanctioned by the company, but after one or two simulator periods, a database was building on me (and everyone else) that told them exactly how I ran the sessions, what to expect on checks, and what to look out for. For example; I used to open an aft cargo door at 100 knots to get them to initiate an RTO and I would brief them on it during the briefing. This was on the B-737 NG and many of the captains were coming off the 777 or B744 and they were used to the Master Caution System being inhibited at 80 kts. Well, for the first few days after I started that, EVERYONE rejected the takeoff. Then, all of a sudden they all “got it” and continued the takeoff (in accordance with their manuals). The word had gotten out. I figured it was an overall PLUS for the training program.
 
We expat instructors were forced upon them after the amount of fatal accidents (most of the them totally avoidable) over a decade began to be noticed by the outside world. They were basically given an ultimatum by the FAA, Transport Canada, and the EU to totally rebuild and rethink their training program or face being banned from the skies all over the world. They hired Boeing and Airbus to staff the training centers. KAL has one center and Asiana has another. When I was there (2003-2008) we had about 60 expats conducting training KAL and about 40 at Asiana. Most instructors were from the USA, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand with a few stuffed in from Europe and Asia. Boeing also operated training centers in Singapore and China so they did hire some instructors from there.
 
This solution has only been partially successful but still faces ingrained resistance from the Koreans. I lost track of the number of highly qualified instructors I worked with who were fired because they tried to enforce “normal” standards of performance. By normal standards, I would include being able to master basic tasks like successfully shoot a visual approach with 10 kt crosswind and the weather CAVOK.  I am not kidding when I tell you that requiring them to shoot a visual approach struck fear in their hearts … with good reason.  Like this Asiana crew, it didnt’ compute that you needed to be a 1000’ AGL at 3 miles and your sink rate should be 600-800 Ft/Min. But, after 5 years, they finally nailed me. I still had to sign my name to their training and sometimes if I just couldn’t pass someone on a check, I had no choice but to fail them. I usually busted about 3-5 crews a year and the resistance against me built. I finally failed an extremely incompetent crew and it turned out he was the a high-ranking captain who was the Chief Line Check pilot on the fleet I was teaching on. I found out on my next monthly trip home that KAL was not going to renew my Visa. The crew I failed was given another check and continued a fly while talking about how unfair Captain Brown was.
 
Any of you Boeing glass-cockpit guys will know what I mean when I describe these events. I gave them a VOR approach with an 15 mile arc from the IAF. By the way, KAL dictated the profiles for all sessions and we just administered them. He requested two turns in holding at the IAF to get set up for the approach.  When he finally got his nerve up, he requested “Radar Vectors” to final. He could have just said he was ready for the approach and I would have cleared him to the IAF and then “Cleared for the approach” and he could have selected “Exit Hold” and been on his way. He was already in LNAV/VNAV PATH. So, I gave him vectors to final with a 30 degree intercept.  Of course, he failed to “Extend the FAF” and he couldn’t understand why it would not intercept the LNAV magenta line when he punched LNAV and VNAV. He made three approaches and missed approaches before he figured out that his active waypoint was “Hold at XYZ.”  Every time he punched LNAV, it would try to go back to the IAF … just like it was supposed to do. Since it was a check, I was not allowed (by their own rules) to offer him any help. That was just one of about half dozen major errors I documented in his UNSAT paperwork. He also failed to put in ANY aileron on takeoff with a 30-knot direct crosswind (again, the weather was dictated by KAL).
 
This Asiana SFO accident makes me sick and while I am surprised there are not more, I expect that there will be many more of the same type accidents in the future unless some drastic steps are taken. They are already required to hire a certain percentage of expats to try to ingrain more flying expertise in them, but more likely, they will eventually be fired too. One of the best trainees I ever had was a Korean/American (he grew up and went to school in the USA) who flew C-141’s in the USAF. When he got out, he moved back to Korea and got hired by KAL. I met him when I gave him some training and a check on the B-737 and of course, he breezed through the training. I give him annual PCs for a few years and he was always a good pilot. Then, he got involved with trying to start a pilots union and when they tired to enforce some sort of duty rigs on international flights, he was fired after being arrested and JAILED!
 
The Koreans are very very bright and smart so I was puzzled by their inability to fly an airplane well. They would show up on Day 1 of training (an hour before the scheduled briefing time, in a 3-piece suit, and shined shoes) with the entire contents of the FCOM and Flight Manual totally memorized. But, putting that information to actual use was many times impossible. Crosswind landings are also an unsolvable puzzle for most of them. I never did figure it out completely, but I think I did uncover a few clues. Here is my best guess. First off, their educational system emphasizes ROTE memorization from the first day of school as little kids. As you know, that is the lowest form of learning and they act like robots. They are also taught to NEVER challenge authority and in spite of the flight training heavily emphasizing CRM/CLR, it still exists either on the surface or very subtly. You just can’t change 3000 years of culture.
 
The other thing that I think plays an important role is the fact that there is virtually NO civil aircraft flying in Korea. It’s actually illegal to own a Cessna-152 and just go learn to fly. Ultra-lights and Powered Hang Gliders are Ok. I guess they don’t trust the people to not start WW III by flying 35 miles north of Inchon into North Korea.  But, they don’t get the kids who grew up flying (and thinking for themselves) and hanging around airports. They do recruit some kids from college and send then to the US or Australia and get them their tickets. Generally, I had better experience with them than with the ex-Military pilots. This was a surprise to me as I spent years as a Naval Aviator flying fighters after getting my private in light airplanes. I would get experienced F-4, F-5, F-15, and F-16 pilots who were actually terrible pilots if they had to hand fly the airplane. What a shock!
Finally, I’ll get off my box and talk about the total flight hours they claim. I do accept that there are a few talented and free-thinking pilots that I met and trained in Korea. Some are still in contact and I consider them friends. They were a joy! But, they were few and far between and certainly not the norm.
 
Actually, this is a worldwide problem involving automation and the auto-flight concept. Take one of these new first officers that got his ratings in the US or Australia and came to KAL or Asiana with 225 flight hours. After takeoff, in accordance with their SOP, he calls for the autopilot to be engaged at 250’ after takeoff. How much actual flight time is that? Hardly one minute. Then he might fly for hours on the autopilot and finally disengage it (MAYBE?) below 800’ after the gear was down, flaps extended and on airspeed (autothrottle). Then he might bring it in to land. Again, how much real “flight time” or real experience did he get. Minutes! Of course, on the 777 or 747, it’s the same only they get more inflated logbooks.
 
So, when I hear that a 10,000 hour Korean captain was vectored in for a 17-mile final and cleared for a visual approach in CAVOK weather, it raises the hair on the back of my neck.
 

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