Monthly Archives: July 2017

Those Were the Days

By lex, on October 5th, 2010

Everything you’ll need to know about Richard Cohen’s latest WaPo column is to be found in the first paragraph:

I still ride a bike. I do 12 miles, several days a week, and as I do so I listen to music — the Pandora service on my iPhone. I have created a station that plays folk rock. Lately, it has repeatedly played the Neil Young song “Ohio”: “What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground?” On the bike, I have to repress a tear.

Do you grok how green Richard Cohen is, riding his bike several days a week? How technologically hip, listening to Pandora? How gosh darned mournful he remains for that long lost summer of endless love? Before the National Guard fired live bullets into a crowd of peaceful dissenters expressing the highest form of patriotism?

Before the specter of AIDS clapped a stopper over the whole party?

Do you get how golly gee sensitive he is, repressing his tear? (We will assume that the columnist is talking about the lachrymose singular, rather than a wardrobe malfunction in his spandex. The alternative being rather too painful to contemplate.)

Stop reading right there and let Ann Althouse pick up the tale:

I’m supposed to have the right image of the Tea Party so I can just swallow that assertion whole. But I’ve been to Tea Party rallies — and heard about them from my husband — and the people seemed pretty nice and normal. To me, Cohen’s attempt to smear ordinary people is what’s ugly.

Or maybe Darleen Click:

I get why Cohen is to desperate to wallow in the past, to invoke the lyrics of Neil Young song, shut his eyes and pretend to grasp the dead students to him as his own. He needs to slander the Tea Party members; the millions of people who have admitted more than once to anyone honest enough to ask that they have never participated in any kind of protest before.

It is Obama vowing to “kick ass”, it is Pelosi calling for investigations into people raising questions about a mosque within the footprint of Ground Zero, it is Max Baucus calling on the IRS to investigate opposition groups, it is Alan Grayson dealing in hate-filled rhetoric and it is Democrats over and over again beating the drum, amplified and disseminated by their poodle media, of how evil and treasonous are conservatives, libertarians and Tea Party participants.

Michael Moynihan?

Richard Cohen doesn’t catch the irony: The dissent of Kent State protesters, he thinks, was met with deadly force because of rhetoric that “otherized them,” that turned them into a domestic enemy. Pretty much exactly what Richard Cohen is doing to the dissidents of the Tea Party movement. But he disagrees with those people, so…

Poor, pitiable stuff really. Risible too.

Dunno what Cohen is earning these days. Reckon it’s at least six figures too much for this kind of pap.

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Fleet Up

By lex, on October 3rd, 2010

In naval aviation squadrons, it has long been traditional for the squadron’s number two position (executive officer) to “fleet up” to the commanding officer billet after a prescribed interval. The intent was always to ensure continuity and minimize the sometimes jarring transition from one command style to the next. In the surface and submarine forces an alternate model has generally been employed: The executive officer’s position was administrative in nature, and intended to lighten the commanding officer’s burden of day-to-day trivia and allow him focus on warfighting, seamanship, engineering and navigation.

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Friday – Oct 2, 2010

By lex, on October 2nd, 2010

Worked half the day, and then boogied up to the Miramar Air Show, where the company had provided preferred parking places and a hospitality chalet. Which is really nobbut a tent with pot stickers, beverages and wee bit of AstroTurf leading out into the sunshine. But hard by the flightline at damned near show center, so who am I to grumble? Which is was all paid for.

Hot and muggy though, so there’s that. The overcast burning off only resentfully, but fully gone by the time The Blue Angles performed their show to wrap up the day’s events. First thing I saw was the F-16 dynamic demonstration, which is all well and good for them as likes zipping by in full grunt. Although he did do one loaded barrel roll there towards the end that caught my attention, not merely because, 1) It’d be hard to track a guy doing that through a gunnery solution, and 2) the tail seemed to break loose there for a moment, which causes the attentive air show observer to wonder, momentarily, how it all might work out.


Next up was Sean Tucker from Team Oracle, flopping around and sawing at the air in his 400-HP I-don’t-quite-know-what. Any desire I might have to join the pure airshow circuit being pretty much laid to rest right there and then, for it involved far more forward tumbling and negative g then I’ve got the remotest hankering for.

The Super Hornet demo was certainly impressive. The only thing that’s noisier than an AV-8B Harrier on approach is an FA-18E or F on take-off. Rattle your fillings out, and they can lay some instantaneous turns and AoA on that are truly impressive. Not quite as nimble as an FA-18A in roll perhaps (which in turn is nothing like as quick as an A-4E), but impressive nonetheless.

As a junior officer I spent a fair amount of time on the air show circuit. Always as a static display pilot rather than performing the dynamic demonstrations, though. The first more suited to public interaction (and air show parties), and the latter seeming, to me at least, to have summat a little too close to showing off about it. Not that I’m judging, mind. Just wasn’t my particular thing. Static displays were a fun way to spend your cross country hours, meet people, get introduced to a town.

Was a time standing by my brand new Lot XI FA-18C in Houston, I believe, when a man came up to me and asked which was newer, my airplane or the F-16A just alongside. He was shocked to learn that mine was only a year old, especially compared to the decade old lawn dart which was painted like it’d just come off the factory floor. We treated sea-going aircraft for corrosion using patch spray that gave it a leprous character to the untrained eye. There’d be all the usual questions from the crowd: How high will it fly? How fast will it go? Are those bombs on the wings? Pretty high, pretty fast, and no, they’re external fuel tanks. Then there was the polite man of exotic appearance who asked what the war reserve modes were of the APG-65 radar.

Ask the F-16 guy, I told him.

As an adversary pilot I flew into Ross Perot’s airport at Alliance near Fort Worth one weekend in an F-16N. There were two Russian pilots who had flown in a pair of MiG-29s, and I bet they got a kick out of seeing the Red Star painted on my Viper’s tail. For my own part, I got a kick out of looking at the finishing of their machines: Everything smooth as silk on the fuselage forward of the massive engine intakes. Plain old flush rivet heads aft, however.

Young men’s work however, and I grew out of it. Haven’t been to the Miramar show here but twice in the last 10 years, yesterday being the second time. The crowds press in, traffic is a bear, and anyway I’ve seen it all before.

Or I had, anyway. Until I saw the F-22 Raptor show.

It’s not just the one thing that the airplane does well. It’s the combination of speed, agility and – obviously – low observable technology. If I understand it correctly, the Raptor jocks like to supercruise in the 40′s, rain AIM-120s on unsuspecting foes and then turn tail and let the missiles sort it out. Coming back in again in wave after wave until there’s nothing left to shoot at.

But in a tight, turning fight, it’s hard to believe that there’s anything out there which can hang with the F-22. In one sequence, the Raptor demo pilot took her across show center, pitch pulsed into the vertical to probably four or five thousand feet and basically hovered there. Standing on his tail until he got tired of that, nosed her over a bit and pedal turned a 60,000 pound aircraft around in such a flat attitude that in any other plane I’ve ever seen, far less flown, you’d have had to call it a fully developed flat spin. When he got tired of that, he straightened her out, bunted for a few knots and then took her back over the top again in an Immelman, the two engines roaring like God hisself had lost something in the heavens, and was tearing the sky apart until he found it. I was left shaking my head at the brute, raw force of it.

An F-16 and a P-51 had taken off prior to the Raptor show, and they all rejoined for the legacy fly-by. I’ve flown the F-16, and will never fly the F-22, so it was the lovely song of the P-51′s 12-cylinder Merlin engine that entranced me, for someday yet I may get my chance at her. Probably not, of course. But maybe. As the three aircraft flew by in echelon, I could swear I heard the Merlin engine first before the jet noise overtook the whirring of the pistons. Made the hair on my arm stand up, so it did.

The Snow Birds were characteristically polite and professional, their choreography practically perfect. The announcer said that the team was happy to be down Sandy Eggo way, since the Great White Up had but ten months of winter and two months of bad hockey. There’s always something going on in the Snow Birds show, it is like a complex symphony whose various strains separate and rejoin, leaving you wonder if you’ve caught the composer’s true meaning or only glimpsed a part of it. You cannot capture all of it in a camera lens, nor even in the eye, and wherever you choose to look you know you are missing something equally compelling.

The Blues had a great show, which if you’re an admirer of the Blue Angels is saying quite a bit. The skipper is a post-command captain who worked for me when he was a lieutenant at TOPGUN, and if that don’t make you feel old, well I don’t know what it would take.

On invitation, I stopped by the Officer’s Club for the aftershow party just to see what was what. Full of young bucks in flight suits, comely young ladies and elderly gentlemen who were neither too proud nor too lingeringly envious to stand in their reflected light. I saw no one that I knew, and feeling rather too far separated from the former group and equally distant from the latter, I got back in my car after a few moments and headed home.

One dogfight hop today, in between breaks in the air show TFR.

I’m off for that.

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Day Off

By lex, on September 30th, 2010

So, it’s been a busy day today, and so it has. What with yesterday passing in a bit of a blur due to some unwelcome, but not entirely unanticipated news * from Balboa Naval Hospital. A very high success rate, I’m told. In and out on the same day. Never to fret.

Still, even a minor note version of The Big C is an unwelcome signpost on the road of mortality. This won’t get me, probably, but something will. Things tick down, and you’re left to wonder what any of it will mean.

But enough of that, and anyway, tomorrow’s never promised.

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One Team, One Scream

By lex, on September 29th, 2010

Two very different living conditions:

“Being in the Army and working on an Air Force post really opened our eyes,” Army Sgt. Nicholas Hub wrote on a Stars and Stripes survey, one of nearly 2,000 completed in August by troops in Iraq.

“Why can they live and eat so good compared to us? Every piece of equipment and every service they have is better! The Army needs to feed, shelter and supply like the Air Force does,” wrote Hub, 23, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment at Kirkuk Air Base in northern Iraq.

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Wisdom of the Ages

By lex, on September 29th, 2010

Or maybe a bit of a smile, anyway, courtesy of occasional reader dwas:

Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the airplane, the pessimist, the parachute.

If helicopters are so safe, how come there are no vintage helicopter fly-ins?

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Hope for the Best

By lex, on September 27th, 2010

I don’t know what’s more troubling in this excerpt from Bob Woodward’s new book “Obama’s Wars”: The fact that a novice executive stoutly refused to take the considered advice of his senior military advisers, or the fact that the country’s subordinated military essentially refused to be boxed into what they must have known was a losing strategy:

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The Horror

By lex, on September 27th, 2010

To the long list of indignities visited upon America’s guests in the tropical paradise squalid hell hole known as Guantanamo Bay, add this: The terror detainees are afforded only one serving of ice cream per day.

Detainees’ diets at Guantanamo Bay have been a controversial issue for some time and now the U.S. prison is said to be rationing ice cream.

The frozen dessert is allegedly being tightly measured, with only one ice cream allowed for each of its 147 detainees.

Journalist for The Miami Herald, Carol Rosenberg, photographed a refrigerator at Guantanamo, with two signs reading ‘DETAINEE FOOD ONLY’ and ‘Only 1 Ice Cream For each detainee!’

Journalist Danny Pearl, CPT Brian Freeman and 1LT Jacob Fritz could not be reached for comment.


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Tailhooker’s Prayer

By lex, on September 22nd, 2010

(Ed – An oldie but goodie)

In the Beginning, God created the heavens, and the Aircraft Carrier, and the seas upon which to float it; and yet there was complete Darkness upon the face of the earth. And, as we traveled there came to us, as a voice out of the darkness, an angel of the Lord, saying, “On centerline, on Glideslope, three quarters of a mile, call the ball.” I reflected upon these words, for I was still yet engulfed in complete darkness. With deep feeling and doubt overwhelming my countenance, I glanceth towards my companion at my right hand and saith, “What seeth thou, trusted friend?” And there was a great silence.

Gazing in a searching manner and seeing naught, I raised my voice saying, “Clara…”

And the Lord spoke to me, and He said, “You’re low…power.” As the Lord saith, so shall it be, and I added power; and lo, the ball riseth up onto the bottom of the mirror. But it was a tainted red glow, and surely indicateth Satan’s own influence. And the Lord spoke to me again saying, “Power..Power…Power!!!! …fly the ball.” And lo, the ball had risen up and off the top of the lens, and the great darkness was upon me.

And the voice of the Angel came to me again, saying, “When comfortable, twelve hundred feet, turn downwind.” Whereupon I wandered in the darkness, without direction, for surely the ship’s radar was beset by demons, and there was great confusion cast upon CATCC, and there was a great silence in which there was no comfort to be found. Even my TACAN needle spinneth…and lo, there was chaos; my trusted companion weepeth quietly unto himself and from close behind I heard weeping and gnashing of teeth of our flock. There was a great turmoil within my cockpit for a multitude of serpents had crept therein.

And though we wandered, as if by Providence I found myself within that Holy Corridor, and at twelve hundred feet, among my brethren seeking refuge; and the voice of the Angel of the Lord came to me again, asking of me my needles, and I raised my voice saying, “Up and centered,” and the voice answered, “Roger, fly your needles…”

I reflected upon these words, and I raised my voice in prayer, for though my gyro indicateth it not so, surely my aircraft hath been turned upside down. Verily, as Beelzebub surely wrestled with me, a voice, that of my trusted companion, saith to me calmly, “Friend…fly thy needles, and find comfort in the Lord.” And lo, with deep trembling in my heart, I did, and He guideth me to centered glideslope and centerline, though I know not how it came to be.

And out of the great darkness, the Lord spoke to me again saying, “Roger ball” for now I had faith. And though the ball began to rise at the in close position, my right hand was full of the Spirit, and it squeeketh off power and as in a great miracle my plane stoppeth upon the flight deck, for it hath caught the four wire which the Lord in his infinite wisdom hath placed thirty feet further down the flight deck than the three wire.

And thus bathed in a golden radiance from above, our pilgrimage was at an end, and my spirit was truly reborn. And as I basked in the rapture, the Lord spaketh to me one final time, and He saith, “Lights on deck…”


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By lex, on September 14th, 2010

Anwar al-Awlaki is a traitor to his country and a promoter of terrorism.  Let’s stipulate that right up front.

As such, I’d have no problem seeing him dance at the end of a rope once tried and convicted of his crimes. Since the American citizen is hiding in Yemen, my heart would rest easy if he met his maker courtesy of a Hellfire missile – now there’s a visionary name for a weapons system – fired by an MQ-9 Reaper.

But I have to admit to you that I found the lead to this AP article just a little chilling in an “enemy of the state” kind of way:

The Obama administration is considering filing the first criminal charges against radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in case the CIA fails to kill him and he’s is captured alive in Yemen.

See, a trial for an American citizen by a jury of his peers is being considered as a fallback plan to his targeted, extrajudicial assassination. This from the same bunch that just a few years ago got their panties in a twist about extending habeus corpus to non-citizen terrorists detained by the US military in Cuba.

Anybody else got a problem with that, or is it just me?

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